From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved

    This file is attached to from “Beast That Came Out Of The Sea” - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved.
    This link will return you to Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.
    These links will take you back to King Of The West 2022 February or continue to King Of The West 2022 April


3/1/2022 Ukraine Envoy To U.S. Says Russia Used A Vacuum Bomb In Its Invasion by Patricia Zengerle
FILE PHOTO: Smoke rising after shelling on the outskirts of the city is
pictured from Kyiv, Ukraine February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Mykhailo Markiv/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Human rights groups and Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States on Monday accused Russia of attacking Ukrainians with cluster bombs and vacuum bombs, weapons that have been condemned by a variety of international organizations.
    Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both said that Russian forces appeared to have used widely banned cluster munitions, with Amnesty accusing them of attacking a preschool in northeastern Ukraine while civilians took shelter inside.
    Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, told reporters after meeting with members of the U.S. Congress that Russia had used a thermobaric weapon, known as a vacuum bomb, in its invasion of her country.     “They used the vacuum bomb today,” Markarova said after a meeting with lawmakers.    “…The devastation that Russia is trying to inflict on Ukraine is large.”
    A vacuum bomb, or thermobaric weapon, sucks in oxygen from the surrounding air to generate a high-temperature explosion, typically producing a blast wave of a significantly longer duration than that of a conventional explosive and is capable of vaporizing human bodies.
    There has been no official confirmation that thermobaric weapons have been used in the conflict in Ukraine. CNN reported that one of its teams had spotted a Russian thermobaric multiple rocket launcher near the Ukrainian border early on Saturday afternoon.
    White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she had seen reports but did not have confirmation that Russia had used such weapons.    “If that were true, it would potentially be a war crime,” she told a press briefing, noting that there are international organizations that would assess that and President Joe Biden’s administration “would look to be a part of that conversation.”
    The Russian embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.
    Markarova said Ukraine was working actively with the Biden administration and Congress to obtain more weapons and tougher sanctions.
    “They should pay, they should pay a heavy price,” she told reporters after leaving the meeting.
    One lawmaker who attended the meeting, Democratic Representative Brad Sherman, said the Ukrainians had asked for a U.S.-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine but that he felt that was too dangerous because it could provoke conflict with Russia.
    Amnesty International said international humanitarian law prohibits the use of inherently indiscriminate weapons such as cluster munitions.    Launching indiscriminate attacks that kill or injure civilians constitutes a war crime.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Leslie Adler, Rosalba O’Brien, Mary Milliken and Sandra Maler)

3/1/2022 UK Intelligence Indicates Russian Advance On Kyiv Has Made Little Progress
People walk past a burnt vehicle, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues,
in Kyiv, Ukraine February 28, 2022. Jedrzej Nowicki/Agencja via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) – Russia’s advance on Kyiv has made little progress in the past 24 hours due to logistical difficulties and the army has increased its use of artillery north of the capital, a British military intelligence update said.
    “The Russian advance on Kyiv has made little progress over the past 24 hours probably as a result of continuing logistical difficulties,” the British defence ministry said in a military intelligence update.
    “Russian forces have increased their use of artillery north of Kyiv and in vicinities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv.    The use of heavy artillery in densely populated urban areas greatly increases the risk of civilian casualties.”
    “Russia has failed to gain control of the airspace over Ukraine prompting a shift to night operations in an attempt to reduce their losses,” it said.
    Reuters was unable to immediately verify the information.

3/1/2022 Prospects For Diplomatic Resolution To Ukraine Crisis Slim - UK’s Raab
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab walks
outside the Cabinet Office in London, Britain February 7, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson
    LONDON (Reuters) – The prospects of a diplomatic resolution to the Ukraine crisis are slim at the moment, Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said on Tuesday.
    Asked on LBC Radio whether Russian billionaire businessman Roman Abramovich, who has accepted a Ukrainian request to help negotiate an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, could be key to the solution, Raab responded: “Who knows?
    “I would say this … I think the prospects for diplomacy at the moment are slim, but we must always make sure that we keep the door to a diplomatic resolution open without, I think, instilling too many hopes in it,” he added.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

3/1/2022 Polish PM To Discuss EU Membership For Ukraine With European Commission’s Von Der Leyen
FILE PHOTO: Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks to press as he arrives for an
emergency European Union (EU) summit at The European Council Building, on the situation in Ukraine after
Russia launched an invasion in Brussels, Belgium February 24, 2022. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS
    WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will discuss support for Ukraine joining the European Union with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels on Tuesday, a government spokesman said.
    “This afternoon in Brussels, Prime Minister @MorawieckiM meets the President of the European Commission @vonderleyen,” Piotr Muller Wrote on Twitter.    “The topic will be systemic support for Ukraine in the context of its membership in the EU.”
(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Kim Coghill)

3/1/2022 Russian Military Convoy North Of Kyiv Stretches For 40 Miles - Maxar
A satellite image shows southern end of convoy armour towed artillery trucks, east of Antonov
airport, Ukraine, February 28, 2022. Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Satellite images taken on Monday show a Russian military convoy north of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv that stretches for about 40 miles (64 km), substantially longer than the 17 miles (27 km) reported earlier in the day, a U.S. private company said.
    Maxar Technologies also said additional ground forces deployments and ground attack helicopter units were seen in southern Belarus, less than 20 miles (32 km) north of the Ukraine border.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Tim Ahmann)

3/1/2022 U.N. General Assembly Set To Isolate Russia Over Ukraine Invasion by Michelle Nichols
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during the 11th emergency special session
of the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the United Nations Headquarters
in Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S. February 28, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The 193-member United Nations General Assembly began meeting on the crisis in Ukraine on Monday ahead of a vote this week to isolate Russia by deploring its “aggression against Ukraine” and demanding Russian troops stop fighting and withdraw.
    The General Assembly will vote this week on a draft resolution similar to a text vetoed by Russia in the 15-member Security Council on Friday.    No country has a veto in the General Assembly and Western diplomats expect the resolution, which needs two-thirds support, to be adopted.
    While General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, they carry political weight.    The United States and allies see action at the United Nations as a chance to show that Russia is isolated because of its invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
    The draft resolution already has at least 80 co-sponsors, diplomats said on Monday.    More than 100 countries are due to speak before the General Assembly votes.
    French U.N. Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere said: “No one can avert their gaze, abstention is not an option.”
    Ceasefire talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials failed to make a breakthrough on Monday.
    U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he hoped the talks would “produce not only an immediate halt to the fighting, but also a path towards a diplomatic solution.”
    He described Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision on Sunday to put Russia’s nuclear deterrent on high alert as a “chilling development,” telling the General Assembly that nuclear conflict is “inconceivable.”
    Ukraine’s U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya described Putin’s order to put Russian nuclear forces on alert as “madness.”
    “If he wants to kill himself he doesn’t have to use a nuclear arsenal, he has to do what the guy in Berlin did in a bunker in 1945,” Kyslytsya told the General Assembly, referencing Adolf Hitler’s suicide.
    Guterres also warned about the impact of the conflict on civilians and said it could become Europe’s worst humanitarian and refugee crisis in decades.
    “Although Russian strikes are reportedly largely targeting Ukrainian military facilities, we have credible accounts of residential buildings, critical civilian infrastructure and other non-military targets sustaining heavy damage,” he said.
    Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Russia’s actions in Ukraine were being “distorted.”    He told the General Assembly: “The Russian army does not pose a threat to the civilians of Ukraine, is not shelling civilian areas.”
    Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbor’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.
    U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths briefed the U.N. Security Council later on Monday on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.    France has said it plans to put forward a draft council resolution on aid access and the protection of civilians.
    “The scale of civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure, even in these very early days, is alarming,” Griffiths told the council.    “Civilian children, women and men have been injured and killed.”
    U.N. refugee chief Filippo Grandi said the U.N. agency is planning for up to 4 million refugees in the coming days and weeks.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

3/1/2022 G7 Will Seek To Seize Assets Of Key Russian Elites - Yellen by Christian Kraemer and Chris Gallagher
FILE PHOTO: German Finance Minister Christian Lindner answers questions during a plenary session of
the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag in Berlin,Germany February 16, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
    BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Group of Seven major economies will convene a task force to focus on freezing and seizing assets of key Russian elites as it aims to put further pressure on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday.
    The move “will inflict financial pain on the powerful individuals surrounding (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and make clear that no one is beyond our collective reach,” Yellen said in a statement after a virtual G7 meeting of finance chiefs.
    The G7 will also continue to endorse removing key Russian financial institutions from the SWIFT banking system, she said, adding that the group expects that sanctions imposed so far will “hamstring the Russian government’s ability to fund its invasion.”
    Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation.”
    The sanctions have had an immediate impact on Russia’s economy, with queues forming outside banks as Russians rush to salvage their savings.    Oil company Royal Dutch Shell Plc on Tuesday became the latest big Western firm to pull out of the country.
    The measures limit Moscow’s use of a $640 billion war chest to defend its currency but it remains to be seen whether Russia can find other channels for trade and financing of its economy.
    Notably, Chinese businesses and banks are looking for ways to limit the impact of sanctions on their relations with Russia, with settlement of transactions in yuan seen rising at the expense of the dollar.
    Earlier on Tuesday, Germany’s finance minister, Christian Lindner, said the G7 expected an agreement in the coming days on possible further sanctions, though he gave no details about what moves were under discussion.
    “We want to isolate Russia politically, financially and economically,” Lindner told reporters after the virtual meeting chaired by Germany.
    “We had an exchange on the implementation of the current sanctions and we also exchanged proposals on what additional measures could be taken,” he said, adding: “And in the coming days there will be an agreement on this.”
    Lindner said the impact of measures curbing the activities of the Russian central bank and excluding Russian banks from the SWIFT inter-bank messaging system had already exceeded expectations.
    “The rouble is in free-fall,” he said as the Russian currency weakened to around 112 to the dollar in trade on Tuesday.
    Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said G7 capitals had stressed the need for tight coordination of their measures against Moscow during the talks, which Ukraine’s finance minister, Sergii Marchenko, also joined.
    Meanwhile, France’s Bruno Le Maire declared an “all-out economic and financial war” against Russia to bring down its economy before rowing back on language he later said was inappropriate.
(Reporting by Christian Kraemer in Berlin and Chris Gallagher in WashingtonAdditional reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto in TokyoWriting by Mark JohnEditing by Ross Finley and Matthew Lewis)

3/1/2022 Pentagon Announces Security Packages To Aid Ukrainians by OAN Newsroom
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon
in Washington, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    Pentagon officials provided an update discussing the upcoming movement of U.S. forces in Europe as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions over his invasion of Ukraine.    On Monday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby announced additional security assistance packages coming to the aid for Ukrainians to help them defend their country.
    “The kinds of material that are going to be in these security systems packages going forward, I think you’ve rightly said with detail,” Kirby stated.    “It’s going to be some weapons that can support them on the ground as well as weapons that could support the airborne challenges they have, and I think I think we feel comfortable going about that far.”
    With the invasion pressing forward, the Pentagon official stressed Russian forces have set their sights on the capital city of Kiev. Kirby also emphasized that they believe Russia’s intent is to move into the capital.
    “Make no mistake, Mr. Putin still has at his disposal significant combat power,” said the press secretary.    “He hasn’t moved all of it into Ukraine, but he’s moved the majority of it.    He still has a lot that he hasn’t moved into Ukraine…they continue to want to move on Kiev, to capture Kiev, to take Kiev and although we don’t know everything about this convoy, it is certainly in keeping with what we believe their intent with respect to the capital city.”
    However, Kirby commended the Ukrainians for putting up a strong resistance to invading Russian forces while pointing out the setbacks the Russians have encountered.
    “What we also have seen is Ukrainians resisting quite effectively around, I think, continuously and they have made it a tough slog for the Russians to move further south,” he noted.    “The Russians have not only experienced a stiff and determined resistance by the Ukrainians, but logistics and sustainment problems of their own.”
    This as Russia’s nuclear forces were placed on high alert on Sunday, a move Kirby denounced while assuring they are closely monitoring the situation and will take the necessary steps in securing the safety of the the U.S. nation.
    “We’ve seen Mr. Putin’s announcement, we believe is as unnecessary as it is escalatory, but we’re reviewing and analyzing that announcement,” Kirby stated.    “And I would only just tell you that that as we continue to review and analyze and monitor, Secretary Austin is comfortable with the strategic deterrence posture of the United States and our ability to defend the homeland, our allies and our partners.”
    In the meantime, Kirby said while its not possible to know exactly what the Russian war plan is for Ukraine, it’s believed their plans may have been delayed as a result of the unexpected resistance by Ukrainian forces.    Looking ahead, he recommended caution in assessing the situation in Ukraine, especially when it relates to drawing conclusions about Russian military plans, efforts or capabilities.

3/1/2022 UN Holds Emergency General Assembly Meeting To Address Russian Invasion Of Ukraine by OAN Newsroom
Sergiy Kyslytsya, permanent representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, speaks during a meeting of the Security Council, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022,
at United Nations headquarters. The U.N.’s two major bodies, the 193-nation General Assembly and the more powerful 15-member Security Council,
are holding separate meetings Monday on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
    The United Nations General Assembly held an emergency meeting over the crisis in Ukraine.    On Monday, diplomats from around the world aired their grievances with the Russian Federation.
    Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, called on the General Assembly to stand with his country in its efforts to resist Russian aggression.    He also derided Vladimir Putin’s calls to put his deterrence forces, including nuclear arms on high alert.
    “If Ukraine does not survive, international peace will not survive,” Kyslytsya stated.    “If Ukraine does not survive, the United Nations will not survive.    Have no illusions, if Ukraine does not survive we cannot be surprised if democracy fails next.    Now we can save Ukraine, save the United Nations, save democracy and defend the values we believe in.”
    The emergency meeting was called after the UN Security Council failed to pass a resolution late last week calling for Russia to pull its troops out of Ukraine.    Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia who is one of the permanent UNSC members and has veto powers, killed the measure by being the only member to vote against it.
    While Ukrainian officials say they were not surprised by Russia’s actions, other members of the UN decried the vote while arguing it goes against the UN Charter.    Meanwhile, Russia maintains it launched a special operation to keep peace in the Donbas region, where leaders have claimed independence from Ukraine.
    “Russia counted on the world to remain silent, but we are acting,” stated Danish Ambassador to the UN, Martin Bille Hermann.    “And on this day, and until peace prevails and every Ukrainian can safely return to their homes, we stand with Ukraine.    The devastating consequences of this aggression not only for Europe but globally, cannot be overstated.”
    Russian Ambassador Nebenzia added, Ukraine failed to meet the terms of the Minsk Agreement of 2015 that looked to quell violent uprisings in the region. He, along with Russian allies in the UN which includes Syria, believe the West is actually at fault for the crisis for supporting Ukraine with military aid.
    “Our western colleagues have shamelessly inundated the country with weapons, have sent to the country instructors and effectively incited Ukrainians, who are facing a 120,000 strong military contingent to in prompted them to engage in armed provocation against the Donbas,” Nebenzia stated.
    Other bodies within the UN are sounding the alarm on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.    Officials warn more than 160,000 residents have been internally displaced while more than 500,000 Ukrainians have been forced to flee the country.    They further lamented more than 400 civilians have been reported injured amid the fighting with 102 of those being declared dead.
    “As we feared, as we all feared, civilians are already paying the price,” said Under Secretary General for UN Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths.    “The scale of civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure even in these very early days is alarming.    Humanitarian needs are growing at an alarming pace in the hardest hit areas.”
    In the meantime, the emergency session is expected to continue Tuesday with the remaining speakers set to give their analysis of the conflict.    A vote on a resolution to press Russia to stop its invasion is expected to take place Wednesday.    Diplomats sympathetic to Ukraine remain hopeful the resolution will pass, believing the world is united behind the Ukrainian people and Russia’s veto power will be ineffective.

3/1/2022 Gov. DeSantis: Face Masks Have No Place In Fla. by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses a joint session of a legislative session, Jan. 11, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Florida’s governor on Thursday, March 25, announced new recommendations called “Buck the CDC” that discourage mask wearing —
even though the CDC says the state still has wide areas at high levels of concern. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
    Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R) recently reiterated face mask mandates have no place in his state.    In the new COVID guidelines released Sunday, the Republican said force-masking of employees by private businesses makes no sense.
    DeSantis added, people want to live freely in Florida without the government or corporations creating two classes of citizens.    The governor has also opposed vaccine mandates, saying they are unconstitutional and illegal.
    DeSantis went on to say face masks do not serve any practical purpose.    The governor added, his focus remains on therapeutics and treatment of COVID patients after all alleged “prevention” strategies have been discredited.

3/1/2022 Oil up $8.30 to $104.17, DOW down 598 to 33,299, so Joe Biden is doing his State of the Union tonight so we want to hear all his excuses of why this is all bad for his administration but he will most likely lie it away like he has done for the last 13 months and to me it is just another failure which I attribute to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob doing to him just like he did to the Pharoah of Egypt to show him how each one of his ten gods were struck down with ten plagues with the last one was the death of his first born so Hunter you better stop your father's actions.

3/2/2022 U.N. General Assembly Set To Censure Russia Over Ukraine Invasion by Michelle Nichols
The United Nations headquarters building is pictured with a UN logo in the
Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 1, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United Nations General Assembly is set to reprimand Russia on Wednesday over its invasion of Ukraine and demand that Moscow stop fighting and withdraw its military forces, a move that aims to diplomatically isolate Russia at the world body.
    By Tuesday evening nearly half the 193-member General Assembly had signed on as co-sponsors of a draft resolution ahead of a vote on Wednesday, diplomats said.    The text “deplores” Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine.”
    It is similar to a draft resolution vetoed by Russia in the 15-member Security Council on Friday.    No country has a veto in the General Assembly and Western diplomats expect the resolution, which needs two-thirds support, to be adopted.
    “Russia’s war marks a new reality.    It requires each and every one of us to take a firm and responsible decision and to take a side,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told the General Assembly on Tuesday.
    While General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, they carry political weight.
    The draft text “demands that the Russian Federation immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”
    Dozens of states are expected to formally abstain from the vote or not engage at all.    In two votes by the 15-member U.N. Security Council on the Ukraine crisis in the past week, China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained.
    “We must leave space for a diplomatic off-ramp,” UAE U.N. Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh said on Tuesday.    “Channels must remain open and those countries that did abstain have those channels with President Putin and will use them to help and support in whatever way we can.”
    The General Assembly vote will come at the end of a rare emergency special session of the body, which was convened by the Security Council on Sunday.    Russia was unable to veto the move because it was a procedural matter.
    More than 100 countries will have addressed the session before the vote.
    The moves at the United Nations are mirroring what happened in 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region.
    The Security Council voted on a draft resolution opposing a referendum on the status of Crimea and urged countries not to recognize it. It was vetoed by Russia.
    The General Assembly then adopted a resolution declaring the referendum invalid.    It received 100 votes in favor, 11 against and 58 formal abstentions, while two dozen countries didn’t take part.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mary Milliken and Richard Pullin)

3/2/2022 What Happened To Russia’s Air Force? U.S. Officials, Experts Stumped by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali
FILE PHOTO: Russian Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters fire missiles during the Aviadarts competition, as part of the International
Army Games 2021, at the Dubrovichi range outside Ryazan, Russia August 27, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. intelligence had predicted a blistering assault by Moscow that would quickly mobilize the vast Russian air power that its military assembled in order to dominate Ukraine’s skies.
    But the first six days have confounded those expectations and instead seen Moscow act far more delicately with its air power, so much so that U.S. officials can’t exactly explain what’s driving Russia’s apparent risk-averse behavior.
    “They’re not necessarily willing to take high risks with their own aircraft and their own pilots,” a senior U.S. defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
    Vastly outmatched by Russia’s military, in terms of raw numbers and firepower, Ukraine’s own air force is still flying and its air defenses are still deemed to be viable – a fact that is baffling military experts.
    After the opening salvos of the war on Feb. 24, analysts expected the Russian military to try to immediately destroy Ukraine’s air force and air defenses.
    That would have been “the logical and widely anticipated next step, as seen in almost every military conflict since 1938,” wrote the RUSI think-tank in London, in an article called “The Mysterious Case of the Missing Russian Air Force.”
    Instead, Ukrainian air force fighter jets are still carrying out low-level, defensive counter-air and ground-attack sorties. Russia is still flying through contested airspace.
    Ukrainian troops with surface-to-air rockets are able to threaten Russian aircraft and create risk to Russian pilots trying to support ground forces.
    “There’s a lot of stuff they’re doing that’s perplexing,” said Rob Lee, a Russian military specialist at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
    He thought the beginning of the war would be “maximum use of force.”
    “Because every day it goes on there’s a cost and the risk goes up.    And they’re not doing that and it just is really hard to explain for any realistic reason.”
    The confusion over how Russia has used its air force comes as President Joe Biden’s administration rejects calls by Kyiv for a no-fly zone that could draw the United States directly into a conflict with Russia, whose plans for its air force are unclear.
    Military experts have seen evidence of a lack of Russian air force coordination with ground troop formations, with multiple Russian columns of troops sent forward beyond the reach of their own air defense cover.
    That leaves Russian soldiers vulnerable to attack from Ukrainian forces, including those newly equipped with Turkish drones and U.S. and British anti-tank missiles.    David Deptula, a retired U.S. Air Force three-star general who once commanded the no-fly zone over northern Iraq, said he was surprised that Russia didn’t work harder to establish air dominance from the start.
    “The Russians are discovering that coordinating multi-domain operations is not easy,” Deptula told Reuters. “And that they are not as good as they presumed they were.”
    While the Russians have been under-performing, Ukraine’s military has been exceeding expectations so far.
    Ukraine’s experience from the last eight years of fighting with Russian-backed separatist forces in the east was dominated by static World War One-style trench warfare.
    By contrast Russia’s forces got combat experience in Syria, where they intervened on the side of President Bashar al-Assad, and demonstrated some ability to synchronize ground maneuvers with air and drone attacks.
    Ukraine’s ability to keep flying air force jets is a visible demonstration of the country’s resilience in the face of attack and has been a morale booster, both to its own military and Ukraine’s people, experts say.
    It has also led to mythologizing of the Ukrainian air force, including a tale about a Ukrainian jet fighter that purportedly single-handedly downed six Russian aircrafts, dubbed online as “The Ghost of Kyiv.”
    A Reuters Fact Check showed how a clip from the videogame Digital     Combat Simulator was miscaptioned online to claim it was an actual Ukrainian fighter jet shooting down a Russian plane.
    Biden led a standing ovation in support of Ukrainians in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, praising their determination and mocking Putin for thinking he could just “roll into Ukraine” unopposed.
    “Instead he met a wall of strength he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people,” Biden said.
    United States estimates that Russia is using just over 75 aircraft in its Ukraine invasion, the senior U.S. official said.
    Ahead of the invasion, officials had estimated that Russia had potentially readied hundreds of the thousands of aircraft in its air force for a Ukraine mission.    However, the senior U.S. official on Tuesday declined to estimate how many Russian combat aircraft, including attack helicopters, might still be available and outside Ukraine. Both sides are taking losses.
    “We do have indications that they’ve lost some (aircraft), but so have the Ukrainians,” the official said.     “The airspace is actively contested every day.”
(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Editing by Mary Milliken, Lincoln Feast and Sandra Maler)

3/2/2022 Biden Predicts Dark Endgame For Putin In State Of The Union by Trevor Hunnicutt
US President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union Address before lawmakers
in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, U.S., March 1, 2022. Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday vowed that Russia’s Vladimir Putin will pay dearly over the long run even for his invasion of Ukraine, even if his military campaign succeeds in the short term.
    “While he may make gains on the battlefield – he will pay a continuing high price over the long run,” Biden said in his State of the Union address.    Straying from the prepared text, Biden added “He has no idea what’s coming.”    He did not elaborate.
    Biden spoke to Congress on the sixth day of Russia’s invasion of its European neighbor and as Kyiv stared down a miles-long armored Russian column potentially preparing to take over the Ukrainian capital, and the U.S. and a growing group of allies tighten sanctions.
    In the prime time speech, Biden announced a new step banning Russian flights from using American airspace and a Justice Department effort to seize the yachts, luxury apartments and private jets of wealthy Russians with ties to Putin.
    He also signaled steps to hobble Russia’s military in the future, even as he acknowledged it could improve its position in Ukraine.
    “We are choking off Russia’s access to technology that will sap its economic strength and weaken its military for years to come,” he said.
    “When the history of this era is written Putin’s war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger,” he said.
    Biden, who spoke earlier in the day with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has rejected direct U.S. military participation on the ground in Ukraine.
    But the U.S. government has shared intelligence on Russia’s operations and led the world in imposing a historic set of economic sanctions on Putin’s government, allies and the country’s largest banks, sending the currency into freefall.
    Nearly a week since Russian troops poured over the border, they have not captured any major Ukrainian cities after running into fiercer resistance than they expected.
(Reporting by Makini Brice and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons and Alistair Bell)

3/2/2022 EU Commission Proposes Temporary Residence Rights For Ukraine Refugees
FILE PHOTO: Flags of European Union and Ukraine flutter outside EU Parliament
building, in Brussels, Belgium, February 28, 2022. REUTERS/Yves Herman
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission on Wednesday proposed to grant temporary protection to people fleeing war in Ukraine, including a residence permit and access to employment and social welfare.
    With EU members Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary having land borders with Ukraine, more than 650,000 people have fled there since the Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, the EU executive said.
    Designed to deal with such mass arrivals of displaced persons in the EU, the new legislation would apply in all member states, without having to go through lengthy asylum processes.
    The proposal will be discussed on Thursday by EU interior ministers, who had already given it broad support last week, the Commission said.
    Once adopted, temporary protection will start applying to Ukrainian refugees immediately for one year, and can last for up to three years – unless the situation in Ukraine improves sufficiently for people to go back home and the scheme to end.
    “All those fleeing Putin’s bombs are welcome in Europe,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said.    “We will provide protection to those seeking shelter and we will help those looking for a safe way home.”
    In practice, this means everyone fleeing war in Ukraine, independently of their nationality, should be allowed to enter EU countries, the European Commission said.
    Temporary protection will then be granted to Ukrainian nationals as well as those who were already benefiting from international protection or asylum seeker status in Ukraine.
    However those on short-term stay in Ukraine and who can safely go back to their country of origin will not benefit from this new legislation.
(Reporting by Ingrid Melander; additional reporting by Marine Strauss; editing by John Stonestreet and Philippa Fletcher)

3/2/2022 Senators Meet With Ukrainian Ambassador To Discuss Supplemental Funding by OAN Newsroom
Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova, center, meets with members of the Senate Ukraine Caucus
including co-chairs Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., center left, and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio,
center right, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    Members of the Senate met with the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. to discuss supplemental funding that could be given to the European country.    On Monday, senators from both parties discussed options with Oksana Markarova in regards to furthering U.S. involvement in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
    The meeting came while Congress works on providing arms ammunition and direct funding to the Ukrainian government as they continue to push back an invading Russian forces.    Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said that he doesn’t believe Russian President Vladimir Putin can win the war as even if he’s victorious in Ukraine, he will have spent any goodwill from NATO and any other civilized country.
    “Vladimir Putin will lose this battle, he will lose this war,” stated the Virginia lawmaker.    “He will be a pariah amongst not only NATO and America, but among all civilized nations around the world.    That will be his legacy.”
    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) concurred with Warner’s characterization and went even further, saying he doesn’t believe the Ukrainian people would accept a puppet government run by Putin.
    “I don’t know how Putin wins one way or the other,” said the Florida Republican.    “Even if he crushes the military, he can’t possibly…that country will never accept him or his puppet government that he leaves behind as their rightful leaders.”
    Many of the senators, including Democrats, are also acknowledging that American energy independence is a national security issue more than anything.    They pointed out that the U.S. buys over half a million barrels of oil everyday from Putin’s Russia.    The senators believe that the time to drill in the U.S. is now, not only to keep U.S. energy prices down, but to help Europeans who will suffer after being cut off from Russian gas.
Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova speaks during a news conference
at the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) noted that the ambassador is only asking for two things: a ban on Russian gas imports and further U.S. involvement through weapons sales as well as economic aid.
    “The one thing we’re not doing that would affect him the most is sanction the oil and gas sector of Russian economy,” explained the South Carolina lawmaker.    “The Ukrainian ambassador was begging for two things: go after Putin’s oil and gas industry and continue to supply us with weapons and economic assistance.”
    Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) also believes that Putin’s aggression needs to be countered by reversing course on energy.    He said it’s time for the U.S. to step up to the plate with energy production and end the ban on new drilling at home.
    “We’re buying over 600,000 barrels a day of crude from Russia,” he stated.    “We’ve been doing this for quite some time.    And I just think that basically for us to set the example and ask the rest of the world to step up to the plate, we have to step up to the plate.    That means basically reversing some of the decisions have been made on no leasing, not drilling and basically cutting back.    We need energy independence more now than ever before.”
    The senators explained they are finishing the final details of legislation to provide more aid to the Ukrainians with committee chair Chris Coons (D-Del.), while noting the details are in the scale of the package.
    As they try to work out a deal, Putin continues his offensive against Ukraine.    The Russian president was reportedly hoping to take the country without much resistance, but is now bogged down in increasingly violent offensive campaigns to take outlying areas as he threatens to cutoff Kiev from supplies in an attempt at a final capitulation.

3/2/2022 Iowa Gov. Reynolds Delivers GOP State Of The Union by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a news conference at Iowa Spring Manufacturing,
Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, in Adel, Iowa. Reynolds delivered the Republican response to
President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
    Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds delivered the GOP response to Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, accusing him of failing to make America respected and united.
    From the Iowa State Capitol Building Tuesday, Reynolds began her speech by criticizing Biden’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal and how the U.S. sanctions on Russia are inadequate.    While wearing a pin of crossed American and Ukrainian flags, she noted Russia’s invasion of Ukraine poses a threat to democracy, freedom and the rule of law.
    Earlier, Biden had touted the U.S. to be stronger today than it was a year ago.    However, Reynolds insisted the country has changed for the worse.
    “This is not the same country it was a year ago,” she noted.    “The President tried to paint a different picture tonight, but his actions over the last 12-months don’t match the rhetoric.    It’s not what he promised when he took office.”
    Reynolds referred to the pandemic as COVID-19 theater, pushing the idea Americans are tired of Democrats making the country a place where elites tell people what they can and cannot say and believe.    The governor said Republicans are offering an alternative vision for how the country can operate, one that does not require government mandates.    She continued to stress the importance of Americans making decisions for their own families and future.
    During her remarks, the governor attested that Biden has refused to protect the American people by allowing the ongoing border crisis to spiral out of control.
    “Families also have every right to live in a safe and a secure community,” she stated.    “And that begins with a safe and secure country, but the Biden administration has refused to secure our border.    They have refused to provide the resources to stop human trafficking, to stop the staggering influx of deadly drugs coming in to our neighborhoods.    They’ve refused to protect you.”
    Reynolds also argued Biden has taken the country backwards for working families with runaway inflation driving Americans to feel the pain as a result of his decisions.    She accused the administration of calling rising prices a “high class problem,” saying “it’s an everybody problem.”
    Additionally, Reynolds blasted Washington D.C. for spending trillions and sending inflation soaring while Republicans around the country are balancing budgets and cutting taxes.    Towards the end of the governor’s speech, she emphasized that Republicans are doing what they can to fill the nation’s leadership vacuum.
    “We’re standing up for parents and kids, we’re standing up for life,” said the Iowa governor.    “We’re keeping our communities safe and thanking those in uniform.    We’re fighting to restore America’s energy independence and that includes biofuels. We’re getting people back to work, not paying them to stay home.    Most of all, we’re respecting your freedom.”
    Reynolds closed her speech by quoting Iowa’s state motto, asking Biden to remember that the greatness of this country lies within its people.

3/2/2022 Oil up $5.16 to $111.42, DOW up 596 to 33,891.
    From the U.S. perspective, the price of crude oil determines a big portion of what drivers pay to fill up their cars with gasoline.    The national average for a gallon of gas is $3.61, which is 26 cents more than a month ago and 90 cents more than a year ago, according to motor club federation AAA.
    In November, Biden announced a release of 50 million barrels of oil in coordination with other energy-importing countries, but the measure had only a fleeting impact on oil prices, which have continued to rise.    Now he is getting 60 million out of it to give 30 million to the International Energy Agency’s 31 member countries agreed Tuesday to release 60 million barrels of oil from their strategic reserves – half of that from the United States – 'to send a strong message to oil markets' that supplies won’t fall short after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.    It holds 650 million barrels minus 90 leaving 560 for Joe to attempt and will not replace because he is an idiot, like Obama was.

3/3/2022 UK Intelligence Says Russian Advance On Kyiv Has Made Little Progress
People walk on a partially destroyed bridge, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine,
in Bucha, Ukraine, March 2, 2022 in this still image taken from video. REUTERS/via Reuters TV
    LONDON (Reuters) – Russia’s advance on the Ukrainian capital has made little progress over the past three days and the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol remain in Ukrainian hands, according to British military intelligence.
    “The main body of the large Russian column advancing on Kyiv remains over 30km from the centre of the city having been delayed by staunch Ukrainian resistance, mechanical breakdown and congestion,” Britain’s defence ministry said in an intelligence update.
    “The column has made little discernible progress in over three days,” it said.    “Despite heavy Russian shelling, the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol remain in Ukrainian hands.    Some Russian forces have entered the city of Kherson but the military situation remains unclear.”
    “The Russian defence ministry has been forced to admit that 498 Russian soldiers have already been killed and 1,597 wounded in Putin’s war.    The actual number of those killed and wounded will almost certainly be considerably higher and will continue to rise.”
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by William James)

3/3/2022 Germany Registers Over 5,300 Refugees From Ukraine So Far
FILE PHOTO: Volunteers wait for refugees as a train from Poland arrives at Berlin's central train station,
following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Berlin, Germany, February 28, 2022. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
    BERLIN (Reuters) – A total of 5,309 people have been registered entering Germany from Ukraine according to federal police, the government said on Wednesday.
    “But as you know, there are no border controls, at least no regular border controls, only random checks.    That’s why it is very possible that significantly more people have already reached Germany,” an interior ministry spokesperson told a regular news conference.
(Reporting by Zuzanna Szymanska and Miranda Murray, editing by Emma Thomasson)

3/3/2022 Yellen Says U.S. Will Address Potential Gaps In Russia Sanctions by David Lawder
FILE PHOTO: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies before a Senate Banking Committee hybrid hearing on oversight of the Treasury Department
and the Federal Reserve on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 30, 2021. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photo
    CHICAGO (Reuters) -The United States will address potential gaps in tough sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Wednesday, adding the measures would “continue to bite.”
    Yellen said financial sanctions on the Russian central bank, commercial banks and members of the country’s wealthy elite were having a significant impact, as demonstrated by the rouble’s sharp fall.
    “Russia is increasingly an economic island,” she said at the University of Illinois-Chicago after visiting Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood.
    “We will continue to look at how the sanctions work and whether there are leakages and we have the possibility to address them.”     Asked whether sanctions to curb Russia’s oil and gas exports could follow, she said “nothing is off the table,” but added that the United States had not taken this step to spare Americans, Europeans and other people around the world from “punishing consequences.”
    Sanctions imposed last Sunday and Monday have so far restricted 80% of the Russian banking sector’s assets and “immobilized” about half of the Russian central bank’s assets, she said.
    The rouble, which has lost about a third of its value since the start of the year, touched a fresh record low of 110 to the dollar in Moscow on Wednesday as the country’s financial system teetered under the weight of Western sanctions.
    Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its neighbour’s military capabilities.
    The former chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve said she knew there were concerns about members of Russia’s elite using cryptocurrencies as a possible means to evade sanctions, but noted there were anti-money laundering laws in place to prevent that from happening.
    “That is a channel to be watched,” she said.    “But … many participants in the cryptocurrency networks are subject to anti-money-laundering (laws) and sanctions.    So it’s not that that sector is completely one where things can be evaded.”
    Yellen said she does not expect the sanctions on Russia to have a major impact on the economic trajectory of the United States, due to limited U.S. trade and financial connections with Russia.    Their effects will most likely be transmitted through higher energy prices, she said, adding that Biden was seeking to keep the United States well-supplied with oil.
    The Treasury will continue to “go after oligarchs or Russian elites who are key to President Putin’s corrupt power,” she said.
    “We have sanctioned many of these individuals over the last few weeks and we are assembling a task force with Justice Department colleagues and our allies to uncover, freeze, and seize their wealth around the world.”
    Washington is preparing a sanctions package targeting more Russian oligarchs as well as their companies and assets, two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
    Yellen, also said stronger economic policies were needed to strengthen America at home, despite an economic recovery from COVID-19 that has exceeded most expectations and U.S. growth that looks poised to continue.
    At the University of Chicago’s Innovation Center, she called for Congress to pass key Biden economic investment proposals, including funding for research, child care, universal pre-school and clean energy.
(Reporting by David Lawder; writing by Andrea Shalal; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Richard Pullin and Edwina Gibbs)

3/3/2022 U.S. Says Russia Blocks Independent News Outlets, Social Media
FILE PHOTO: A view of the TV Rain (Dozhd) online news channel studio in Moscow, Russia August 20, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Kaminev
    (Reuters) – The United States accused Russia on Wednesday of launching a “full war on media freedom and the truth” by blocking independent news outlets and preventing Russians from hearing news of the invasion of Ukraine.     “Russia’s government is also throttling Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram platforms that tens of millions of Russia’s citizens rely on to access independent information and opinions,” the State Department said in a statement.
    Russians also used social media to connect to each other and the outside world, it added.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

3/3/2022 U.S. Preparing Further Sanctions Against Russian Oligarchs - Sources by Daphne Psaledakis and Matt Spetalnick
FILE PHOTO: The White House is seen at sunrise, from the South Lawn
Driveway, in Washington, U.S, December 7, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is preparing a sanctions package targeting more Russian oligarchs as well as their companies and assets, two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, as Washington steps up pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
    Some sanctions could be announced as early as this week, one of the sources told Reuters, adding that details are still being worked out.    Washington is also readying sanctions against more officials in Putin’s inner circle, the source said.
    The U.S. Treasury Department issued new guidance on Wednesday to close loopholes it said Russia was exploiting to evade sanctions.
    “Today’s guidance makes clear that such actions on behalf of Russia’s Central Bank are prohibited, closing off attempts to access the U.S. financial system,” the Treasury Department said.
    Washington has repeatedly warned that it was prepared to impose further costs on wealthy Russians.    The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday launched a task force known as “KleptoCapture” aimed at straining the finances of Russia’s oligarchs.
    Washington has so far imposed several rounds of sanctions, including against Putin and the central bank, after Russia’s forces invaded Ukraine in the biggest assault on a European state since World War Two. Moscow calls the assault a “special operation.”
    The measures have included sanctions against what the U.S. Treasury Department said were Russian “elites,” including some with ties to Sberbank, VTB, Rosneft and the Federal Security Service (FSB).     The Washington Post, which first reported the United States was preparing to expand sanctions on Russian oligarchs, said the list of people being readied by the White House and Treasury will overlap with some of those sanctioned by the European Union on Monday, including Alisher Usmanov, the owner of an iron and steel conglomerate.
    The EU on Monday imposed sanctions on 26 prominent people over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including oligarchs and business people active in the oil, banking and finance sectors.
    It also targeted government members, high-level military people and “propagandists who contributed to spread anti-Ukrainian propaganda,” the EU said in a statement.
    Several people included on the EU’s list on Monday are not yet designated by the United States, including Nikolay Tokarev, the chief executive of energy giant Transneft, Dmitry Chernyshenko, Russia’s deputy prime minister, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
    State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday said that U.S. sanctions “will ultimately be symmetrical and mutually reinforcing” with those of U.S. allies and partners.
    Washington has repeatedly warned that it is prepared to take further measures to hold Moscow to account over its invasion of Ukraine.
    In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, U.S. President Joe Biden said the United States would work to seize the yachts, luxury apartments and private jets of wealthy Russians with ties to Putin.
    “We are coming for your ill-begotten gains,” Biden said.
    The United States and its allies last week announced they would launch a task force to identify and freeze the assets of sanctioned Russian companies and oligarchs.
    The White House on Wednesday said the United States is “very open” to imposing sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas industry as it also weighs the potential market impact, as global oil prices touched eight-year highs and supply disruptions mounted.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Matt Spetalnick and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Catherine Evans, Nick Zieminski, Matthew Lewis and Cynthia Osterman)

3/3/2022 Russia-Owned SCF Oil Tankers Rerouting From Canada, Returning To Russia by Marianna Parraga and Laura Sanicola
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Russian state shipping company Sovcomflot is seen on the multifunctional icebreaking standby
vessel "Yevgeny Primakov" moored in central St. Petersburg, Russia February 3, 2018. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov/File Photo
    HOUSTON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two oil tankers owned and managed by Sovcomflot, the Russian maritime and freight shipping company that the United States blacklisted last week, are rerouting from their Canadian destinations, while another is returning to Russia after discharging, according to tracking data and marine sources.
    The two tankers are the first Russian-owned oil vessels to change course after Canada this week ratcheted up pressure on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine by shutting ports to Russian-owned ships and barring them from Canadian waters.
    The Liberia-flagged tanker SCF Neva carrying crude oil changed course from Canada’s Saint John port on Thursday and is now headed to the Caribbean, sources and vessel data show.
    The vessel loaded crude oil at Colombia’s Mamonal port in mid-February.    After stopping at a storage terminal in St. Eustatius it was due to continue to the Port of St. John in New Brunswick, Canada, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.
    A refined products tanker chartered by Suncor, the SCF Ussuri, has slowed down on Thursday and is currently near the Gulf of St. Lawrence after suspending its original route to Montreal, Canada, according to vessel data and sources.
    The vessel loaded at New York on Feb. 24 and was due to arrive in Montreal on March 1. As the SCF Ussuri loaded in the U.S. East Coast, it cannot return to the United States without violating the Jones Act.
    “It’s incredibly confusing for where these ships go, whether they will be received or not and if ports will accept them,” said Dan Yergin, vice chairman of energy research and consultancy IHS Markit.
    The Biden administration is considering following Canada in barring Russian ships from U.S. ports, a government official said on Wednesday.
    A third Sovcomflot tanker that was also near a North American terminal, the SCF Yenisei, changed its destination on Thursday to return to Russia’s Vanino port after discharging refined product earlier this month at the port of Anacortes, on the U.S. West Coast, according to the Eikon data.
    As countries impose formal and informal restrictions on Russian vessels, many might be also rerouted to Asia, Yergin added.
    Russian-flagged ships represent a very small percentage of U.S. traffic, but barring Russian cargo from the United States would have a dramatically larger impact.    It was not clear if the administration is seriously considering that more drastic step.
(Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston and Laura Sanicola in Washington; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Lisa Shumaker)

3/3/2022 EU Considers Suspending Equal Treatment For Russia At WTO
FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) building before a ministerial meeting to discuss a draft agreement
on curbing subsidies for the fisheries industry in Geneva, Switzerland, July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union said it was looking into suspending ‘most-favoured nation’ (MFN) treatment for Russia at the World Trade Organization over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, meaning the bloc would be able to hike tariffs or set quotas on Russian imports.
    “We are discussing options available to us in the WTO context.    This includes the possibility of removing MFN treatment to Russia on the basis of the WTO national security exception,” a European Commission spokesperson said on Thursday.
    Trade representatives from EU countries are due to discuss options in Brussels on Friday.
    The most-favoured nation principle involves treating all other WTO members, including Russia, equally.
    Excluding bilateral trade agreements, the European Union on average applied tariffs of 5.1% on imports from WTO members in 2019, according to WTO data, with higher rates for agricultural products than for industrial goods.
    EU imports from Russia were worth 95.3 billion euros ($105.4 billion) in 2020, according to the European Commission, about 70% of them oil and gas and sizeable chunks agriculture and raw materials, chemicals, iron and steel.
($1 = 0.9043 euros)
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Alison Williams and Andrew Heavens)

3/3/2022 Sen. Graham Introduces Resolution To Hold Russia Accountable For War Crimes Committed During Invasion by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks about a Senate resolution calling for accountability for Russian President
Vladimir Putin, Wednesday, March 2, 2022, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)
    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a resolution calling for an international court to investigate Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes.    He, along with Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), announced the measure in a press conference Wednesday, which supports a complaint filed by Ukraine in the International Criminal Court.
    The complaint alleges Putin committed war crimes in Russia’s ongoing attack on the sovereignty of the Ukrainian people.    Graham denounced Putin as a “war criminal” and vowed to pursue justice for Ukraine.
    “I will do everything in my power, as long as it takes, to be a voice for justice for the Ukrainian people,” stated the Republican lawmaker.    “To hold one of the most vicious people on the planet finally accountable.    Putin and all of his cronies, enough of the murder, enough of the destruction.    There will come a day when the rule of law trumps the rule of the gun.”
    The senator went on to further discuss the possible consequences in the aftermath if Russia were to successfully invade Ukraine.
    “If Ukraine falls to Putin, it will set in motion dire consequences for us as a nation,” he asserted.    “China will get the signal that they can take Taiwan.    The Iranians will believe that we have no will to stop their nuclear ambitions.”
    Graham also addressed the Russian people, emphasizing the U.S. understands their is a difference between them and Putin and they too are a victim of his actions.    Meanwhile, Spartz, the only Ukrainian-American in Congress, is also condemning the invasion of her native country.
    “It’s not a war, it’s a genocide and destruction and killing of people…they just killing us like we are animals,” she stated.    “It’s awful.    This is criminal.    These people cannot get away with that.”
    This comes after the International Criminal Court said earlier this week that it would seek court approval to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in the Eastern European nation.    However, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday he believes Putin’s actions toward Ukraine already qualify as a war crime.    Looking ahead, the Sen. Graham said he hopes if the U.S. supports the complaint, more nations will follow suit.

3/3/2022 Speaker Pelosi’s ‘Toxic Burn Fire Pit Dance’ Raises Eyebrows by OAN Newsroom
President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, as Vice President
Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., watch, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Washington. (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s giddy response to Joe Biden’s remarks about toxic burn pits leaves critics baffled.    In a tweet on Wednesday, the president of Real Clear Politics, Tom Bevan, noted Pelosi’s movements looked even more bizarre in the light of morning.
    Pelosi was seen rising in her seat at Biden’s State of the Union address as he spoke about U.S. soldiers breathing in toxic fumes from burn pits during deployment.    Meanwhile, the Independent Journal Review’s Caleb Hull commented that the 81-year-old’s dance was the weirdest and creepiest thing he has ever seen.
    That wasn’t the only eyebrow raising moment of Biden’s speech.    Vice President Kamala Harris appeared mortified when he mixed up “Ukrainians” with “ranians.”    Camera footage showed Harris reacting to Biden’s biggest gaffe during the address.
    This occurred when Biden claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin will “never gain the hearts and souls of the Iranian people.”    Harris was seen mouthing words through clenched teeth and making a disturbed face as the camera panned toward her and Biden.
    Harris was cropped out from the White House’s video on YouTube. However, the awkward moment was not missed on social media with conservative critics saying it’s the latest sign of Biden’s cognitive decline.
[Pelosi was having withdrawals to tear up paper so went into some weird dance and was acting out and Joe Biden does not know what country he is supposed to say or worse he has to squint his eyes to read the tele-prompter.]

3/3/2022 Oil down $2.71 to $108.67, DOW down 96 to 33,795.

3/4/2022 Biden Meets Finnish Leader As Russia Rattles European Neighbors by Trevor Hunnicutt
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at Yellowjacket Union during his visit to the
University of Wisconsin-Superior, in Superior, Wisconsin, U.S. March 2, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden meets his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö at the White House on Friday as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has roused fresh concern by Vladimir Putin’s other European neighbors.
    The talks come as the Russian president’s more than week-long invasion of Ukraine has primed discussions in Finland over a closer alliance with NATO, with which it already cooperates but is not a member.    Biden and Niinistö have spoken to each other twice in the past few months.
    Finns have traditionally been wary of Russia, given the Nordic country’s shared 833-mile (1340-km) border and a history of two wars between 1939 and 1944 that cost Finland territory.
    But Finland, a European Union member which was part of the Swedish kingdom until 1809 and then was under Russia’s control until gaining independence in 1917, has also sought to preserve friendly relations with Moscow.
    Russia does not want Finland to join NATO, but Niinistö has said the country retains the right to apply for membership.    Ukraine’s government maintained its right to do so as well prior to Russia’s invasion.
    Biden and Niinistö “will discuss the U.S.-Finnish defense relationship, which is very strong and in fact complements Finland’s close partnership with NATO,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in previewing the visit.
    The Finnish public is growing fonder of the idea of joining NATO.    A poll by public broadcaster Yle last Monday said 53% of Finns support joining, compared to 28% when the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper asked the question in late January.
    Finland’s government has sought to calm campaigns to join the U.S.-led defense bloc.    Niinistö said in a statement that people should “keep a cool head and assess carefully the impact of the changes that have already taken place and of those that might still happen.”
    Finland joined other countries on Thursday in boycotting Arctic Council meetings that Russia planned to host in May.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Leslie Adler)

3/4/2022 Ukraine Nuclear Reactors Being Safely Shut Down – U.S. Energy Official
FILE PHOTO: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm speaks during a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, European Union
High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell Fontelles, and European Commissioner
for Energy Kadri Simson at the State Department in Washington, U.S., February 7, 2022. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Thursday the reactors at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station “are protected by robust containment structures and reactors are being safely shut down.”
    Granholm said on Twitter she had just spoken with Ukraine’s energy minister about the situation at the plant, where a fire broke out during fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
    “We have seen no elevated radiation readings near the facility,” Granholm said.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

3/4/2022 French Minister Beaune: Latest Russian Attacks In Ukraine “Extremely Worrying”
FILE PHOTO: Clement Beaune, France's Secretary of State for European affairs, speaks at the European
Railway Summit in Saint-Denis, near Paris, France, February 21, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
    PARIS (Reuters) – France’s European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said the European Union must stand firm as Russian attacks in Ukraine intensify, adding it was too early to assess the consequences of a fire that broke out near the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.
    “One can see the attacks intensify, which is extremely worrying and serious,” Beaune told reporters as he arrived at a meeting of EU European Affairs Ministers in Arles, southern France.
    A fire that broke out in a training building near the largest nuclear power plant in Europe during intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces had been extinguished, Ukraine’s state emergency service said on Friday.
    U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said there was no indication of elevated radiation levels at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which provides more than a fifth of total electricity generated in Ukraine.
    Earlier, a video feed from the plant verified by Reuters showed shelling and smoke rising near a five-storey building at the plant compound.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

3/4/2022 Exclusive-Americans Broadly Support Ukraine No-Fly Zone, Russia Oil Ban - Poll by Jason Lange
A woman holds a placard as people watch Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on a screen addressing anti-war demonstrations
in several European cities including Frankfurt, Vienna, Lyon, Tbilisi, Vilnius and Prague, as Russia's invasion of
Ukraine continues, at the famous city centre Roemerberg, in Frankfurt, Germany, March 4, 2022. REUTERS/Tim Reichert
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A broad bipartisan majority of Americans think the United States should stop buying Russian oil and gas and work with NATO to set up “no-fly zones” to protect Ukraine from Russian air strikes, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Friday.
    The poll, conducted Thursday and Friday, suggests that U.S. outrage is growing over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which in recent days has increasingly involved Russian bombing of urban areas.
    That puts pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden to take more aggressive actions against Moscow, although he has dismissed the notion of no-fly zones because of the risk of open conflict between NATO and Russian forces.
    It was not clear if respondents who supported a no-fly zone were fully aware of the risk of conflict, and majorities opposed the idea of sending American troops to Ukraine or conducting air strikes to support the Ukrainian army.
    Some 74% of Americans – including solid majorities of Republicans and Democrats – said the United States and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should impose a no-fly zone in Ukraine, the poll found.
    An equally bipartisan 80% of Americans said the United States should stop buying Russian oil.    The White House on Friday said it was weighing cuts to U.S. imports of Russian oil, though it is proceeding cautiously, concerned about a spike in gasoline prices that would add to high inflation.
    Moreover, 81% of Americans think Washington should impose additional sanctions on Russia, up from 77% in a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday.    Support for more sanctions was also bipartisan.
    Some 77% of respondents said the United States should seize the assets of Russian oligarchs associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    Pressure is growing on Biden to ramp up economic pressure on Russia by targeting its massive exports of oil and gas.    Some Western leaders worry such an approach could trigger a global energy crunch and possibly escalate the conflict.
    However, some 62% of respondents in the Reuters/Ipsos poll said paying more for fuel and gas because of the crisis was worthwhile to defend another democratic country.
    “You see increasing willingness among the American public to pay costs for that support” of Ukraine, said Craig Kafura, a public opinion expert at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
    Most respondents in the Reuters/Ipsos poll – 72% – said they believed the United States should provide Ukraine with weapons.
    The United States has pledged to boost weapons shipments to Ukraine, whose forces have put up more resistance to Russian forces than many experts initially expected.
    Biden has also asked the U.S. Congress to approve an additional $10 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
    Some 74% of Americans said their country should take Ukrainian refugees, a level of support Kafura said was surprising.
    Biden’s handling of the crisis is getting better marks, with 45% approval from the public, up from 34% last week.    But it is unclear if this will lift his overall approval rating, which has been below 50% since August.
    A separate Reuters/Ipsos poll earlier this week showed Biden’s overall popularity was near the low point of his presidency, a warning sign for his Democratic Party ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm congressional elections.
    The poll on Ukraine was conducted online and in English throughout the United States.    It gathered responses from 831 adults and has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 4 percentage points.
(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman)

3/4/2022 Oil up $7.43 to $115.49, DOW down 180 to 33,615 and it looks like oil will keep going up until Joe Biden opens up U.S. pipelines and Joe I will never buy an electric vehicle because I could not afford it as most people and also I cannot repair it.

3/5/2022 Mexican Crime Reporter Killed In Zacatecas, Adding To ‘Chilling’ Journalist Death Toll by Kylie Madry and Lizbeth Diaz
A view shows the cordoned-off crime scene of a murdered journalist in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Mexico, March 4, 2022,
in this pictured obtained from social media. Courtesy of Jesus Enriquez/Hablando Claro Fresnillo/via REUTERS
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A Mexican journalist was shot and killed in the central state of Zacatecas on Friday, officials said, the latest in a string of assassinations of media workers this year that has piled criticism on President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government.
    Juan Carlos Muniz, who worked for local news website Testigo Minero and was also a taxi driver, was shot in the head while driving at least two passengers, an employee at the outlet told Reuters.
    Muniz’s death, which was confirmed by state police, follows at least five other murders of media workers in Mexico this year.
    Local activists along with international groups and U.S. lawmakers have called on Lopez Obrador to ramp up efforts to rein in the violence and protect reporters, including in Zacatecas.
    Muniz worked at Testigo Minero for two years covering crime in the city of Fresnillo, said the other employee, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation.
    The state’s governor, David Monreal, condemned the killing on Twitter.
    “I have asked (local police) to investigate and find those guilty as quickly as possible,” he tweeted.
    Police said they would investigate the murder in relation to Muniz’s work as a reporter.
    Around 145 journalists were killed in Mexico from 2000 to 2021, according to human rights organization Article 19, making the country one of the deadliest for journalists.
    The worst year in recent history was 2017, with 12 murders, followed by 2010, with 10.
    Jan-Albert Hootsen, the Mexico representative to the Committee to Protect Journalists, said Muniz’s death added to a concerning toll of killings this year.
    “The frequency in which murders are occurring this year is chilling,” he said.
(Reporting by Kylie Madry and Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

3/5/2022 U.S. Embassy In Ukraine Calls Nuclear Power Plant Attack ‘War Crime’
Surveillance camera footage shows the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant following shelling,
amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Enerhodar, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine March 4, 2022, in this
screengrab from a video obtained from social media. Zaporizhzhya NPP via YouTube via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine said that attacking a nuclear power plant is a war crime, after Russia on Friday seized a Ukrainian nuclear facility that is the biggest in Europe.
    The statement on the embassy’s Twitter account went further than any U.S. characterization of Russia’s actions in Ukraine since it launched its invasion on Feb. 24.
    “It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant.    Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further,” U.S. Embassy Kyiv said in its post.
    Russian invasion forces seized Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant in heavy fighting in southeastern Ukraine, triggering global alarm, but a blaze in a training building was extinguished and officials said the facility was now safe.
    Russia’s defense ministry blamed a fire at the plant on a “monstrous attack” by Ukrainian saboteurs and said its forces were in control.
    The State Department sent a message to all U.S. embassies in Europe telling them not to retweet the Kyiv Embassy’s tweet calling the attack a war crime, according to CNN, which said it reviewed the message.
    The State Department did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters asking if the Kyiv Embassy’s tweet reflects the position of the entire U.S. government.
    Rights groups have alleged violations of international war crimes law in Ukraine, including the targeting of civilians, as well as indiscriminate attacks on schools and hospitals.
    On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden stopped short of calling Russia’s actions war crimes, saying, “It’s too early to say that.”
    Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Friday declined to answer the question, saying he would leave that determination to the International Criminal Court.
    “This just underscores how reckless the Russian invasion has been and how indiscriminate their targeting seems to be.    It just raises the level of potential catastrophe to a level that nobody wants to see,” Kirby said in an interview with CNN.
    “It is certainly not the behavior of a responsible nuclear power.”
    Britain has publicly accused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government of war crimes.
    The ICC, the world’s top war crimes prosecutor, on the request of 39 member states, is investigating reports of cluster bombs and artillery strikes on Ukrainian cities.
    Karim Khan, a British lawyer named as the chief prosecutor of the ICC last year, said the crisis in Ukraine is a chance to demonstrate that those committing war crimes would be held to account.
    Intentionally targeting civilians and civilian objects is a war crime, a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Reuters, adding that it is backing the investigation, particularly Khan’s efforts to preserve evidence of possible atrocity crimes.
    Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has strongly denied claims that Russian forces have struck civilian infrastructure targets or residential complexes.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Nick Zieminski, Daniel Wallis and William Mallard)

3/5/2022 Global News Media On Defensive After Putin Signs ‘Fake News’ Law
FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian walks past a BBC logo at Broadcasting House
in central London October 22, 2012. REUTERS/Olivia Harris
    LONDON/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Global news media said they were suspending reporting in Russia to protect their journalists after a new law that threatened jail terms of up to 15 years for spreading “fake news.”
    Britain’s BBC said Friday it had temporarily halted reporting in Russia, and by the end of the day, the Canadian Broadcasting Company and Bloomberg News said their journalists were also stopping work.    CNN and CBS News said they would stop broadcasting in Russia, and other outlets removed Russian-based journalists’ bylines as they assessed the situation.
    With Russia’s attack on Ukraine drawing almost universal condemnation, Moscow has sought to hit back in the information war.    Its communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, blocked Meta Platform Inc’s Facebook, citing 26 cases of discrimination against Russian media.    TASS news agency reported that Russia also restricted access to Twitter.
    Russian officials have said that false information has been spread by Russia’s enemies such as the United States and its Western European allies in an attempt to sow discord among the Russian people.
    Lawmakers passed amendments to the criminal code making the spread of “fake” information an offence punishable with fines or jail terms.    They also imposed fines for anyone calling for sanctions against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
    The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the media companies’ moves to suspend reporting.
    News executives said the new law would hamper independent reporting and imperil journalists, and that their organizations must balance the obligation to audiences to report the news with protecting journalists against retaliation.
    “The change to the criminal code, which seems designed to turn any independent reporter into a criminal purely by association, makes it impossible to continue any semblance of normal journalism inside the country,” Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait wrote in a message to his staff.    “We will not do that to our reporters.”
    BBC Director General Tim Davie said the new legislation appeared to criminalise the process of independent journalism.
    “It leaves us no other option than to temporarily suspend the work of all BBC News journalists and their support staff within the Russian Federation while we assess the full implications of this unwelcome development,” he said in a statement.
    He added that the BBC News Service in Russian would continue to operate from outside Russia.    Jonathan Munro, an interim director of BBC News, said the corporation was not “pulling out” journalists from Moscow but assessing the impact of the new law.
    The Canadian Broadcasting Corp., the country’s public broadcaster, said it had temporarily suspended reporting from the ground in Russia so it could seek clarity on the new law.
    U.S. television newscaster ABC News said it would pause broadcasting from Russia as it assessed the situation.    The Washington Post, Dow Jones and Reuters said they were evaluating the new media law and the situation.
    “Our top priorities are the safety of our employees and covering this important story fairly and fully,” said Dow Jones spokesperson Steve Severinghaus.    “Being in Moscow, freely able to talk to officials and capture the mood, is key to that mission.”
    By ordering his forces into Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has sparked the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War, battering financial and commodity markets, sending the rouble into a tailspin and triggering an economic isolation never before visited on such a large economy.
    Western governments and tech platforms have also banned the Russian news network RT, with the European Union accusing it of systematic disinformation over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
    Russia’s Foreign Ministry says that the Western media offer a partial – and often anti-Russian – view of the world while failing to hold their own leaders to account for corruption or devastating foreign wars like Iraq.
    Western leaders including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former U.S. President Barack Obama have long raised concerns about the dominance of state media in Russia and say the freedoms won when the Soviet Union collapsed have been rolled back by Putin.
    The new legislation was drafted by Russia’s upper house of parliament and signed into law by Putin, TASS reported.    It appeared to give the Russian state much stronger powers to crack down, by making it a criminal offence to spread fake information, with a jail term.
    “If the fakes lead to serious consequences, then imprisonment of up to 15 years threatens,” the lower house of parliament, known as the Duma in Russian, said in a statement.
    Russia had earlier cut access to several foreign news organisations’ websites, including the BBC, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle, for spreading what it said was false information about its war in Ukraine.
    The BBC said it would start broadcasting four hours of news a day in English on shortwave radio in Ukraine and parts of Russia, reviving an antiquated technology used in the Cold War to circumvent state censorship.
(Writing by Kate Holton and Guy Faulconbridge; Additional reporting by Joseph Nasr, Dawn Chmielewski and David Ljunggren; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Daniel Wallis)

3/5/2022 U.S., Allies Slam Russia At U.N. Over Its Seizure Of Ukraine Nuclear Plant by Humeyra Pamuk and Doina Chiacu
FILE PHOTO: A general view of the United Nations Security Council meeting after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the
United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S. February 28, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
    (Reuters) -The United States and its allies heavily criticized Russia on Friday at the United Nations over its shelling and seizure overnight in Ukraine of Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, and some demanded that Moscow not let such an attack happen again.
    Many of the Security Council’s 15 envoys expressed “grave concern” and shock, warning against the possibility of a repeat of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster – a nuclear accident in Ukraine when it was part of then Soviet Union considered to be the worst in history.
    They said the attack was against international humanitarian law and urged Moscow to refrain from any military operations targeting the nuclear facilities and allow Ukrainian personnel to be allowed onto the plant to carry out their work.
    “The world narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe last night,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, told an emergency meeting of the Security Council, convened following the seizure of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine by Russian troops.
    “Russia’s attack last night put Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at grave risk.    It was incredibly reckless and dangerous.    And it threatened the safety of civilians across Russia, Ukraine and Europe,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
    As shells hit the area early on Friday, a blaze broke out in a training building – triggering a spasm of alarm around the world before the fire was extinguished and officials said the facility was safe.
    Ukraine ambassador to the U.N. Sergiy Kyslytsya called for all Russian forces to be withdrawn from the plant and a no-fly zone over the country to protect the civilian population from air attacks.
    Officials remained worried about the precarious circumstances, with Ukrainian staff operating under Russian control in battlefield conditions beyond the reach of administrators.
    “France strongly condemns this attack on the integrity of a nuclear structure, which we need to guarantee,” Nicolas de Riviere said in his speech.    “The results of the aggression of Russia against Ukraine are possibly devastating for human health and the environment,” he added.
    United Kingdom ambassador to the United Nations Barbara Woodward said: “It must not happen again.    Even in the midst of an illegal invasion of Ukraine, Russia must keep fighting away from and protect the safety and security of nuclear sites.”
    International Atomic Energy Agency chief Raphael Grossi described the situation as “normal operations, but in fact there is nothing normal about this.”
    Thousands of people are believed to have been killed or wounded and more than 1 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russian began its invasion on Feb. 24.    Western nations retaliated with sanctions that have plunged Russia into economic isolation.
    Russia’s envoy to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia dismissed Western uproar over the nuclear power plant and called Friday’s Security Council meeting another attempt by Ukrainian authorities to create “artificial hysteria.”
    “At present, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and adjacent territory are being guarded by Russian troops,” he said.
    Separately, France and Mexico are working on a resolution to the U.N. Security Council next week that will address the humanitarian impact of Russia’s invasion, diplomats said.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Doina Chiacu in WashingtonEditing by Grant McCool)

3/5/2022 Biden, Niinisto Forge Deeper Ties As Finnish Support For NATO Grows by Trevor Hunnicutt and Anne Kauranen
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at Yellowjacket Union during his visit to the
University of Wisconsin-Superior, in Superior, Wisconsin, U.S. March 2, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
    WASHINGTON/HELSINKI (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden agreed to deepen security ties with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto on Friday, but stopped short of making any formal guarantees to the country nervously watching Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
    Both men also stopped short of saying Finland would seek to join NATO or become a major non-NATO ally of the United States, a designation granting enhanced security cooperation.
    Yet during an hour-and-a-half long White House meeting, Biden called Finland a “strong defense partner” helping a “united trans-Atlantic response to holding Russia accountable.”
    Russia does not want Finland or Sweden to join NATO and just a week ago Moscow made its latest warning to them of “serious military-political consequences” if they did.    Niinisto has maintained that Finland, a European Union member, has a right to seek NATO membership but tamped down talk of doing so in the midst of a crisis.
    Ukraine’s government had said it wanted to seek membership in the U.S.-led military alliance and Moscow had wanted the West to guarantee Kyiv would never become a member.
    “Finland has stirred clearly towards closer cooperation with the United States,” Niinisto told reporters after thanking Biden for “leadership” in “very difficult times.”
    He said the United States and Nordic countries would “initiate a clear process to step up defense and security cooperation” after a meeting with Biden that included a call to Magdalena Andersson, the prime minister of Finland’s western neighbor Sweden.    Andersson and Niinisto plan to meet in Finland on Saturday.
    The war in Ukraine has roused concerns among other European countries neighboring Russia.    Finland shares a 833-mile (1,340-km) border with Russia and opinion polling shows support for full membership of NATO has grown since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
    “This process of security cooperation is about concrete security and defense factors, not so much about memberships,” Niinisto said after meeting Biden.    But he added that Finland meets the criteria to join NATO.
    “The Presidents committed to start a process that would strengthen U.S.-Finnish security cooperation, which would be conducted in close consultation with other Nordic countries,” the White House said in a statement that alluded to NATO’s policy of welcoming new members who meet its requirements.    “The Presidents also discussed the importance of NATO’s Open Door policy.”
    Deeper security ties will be on display when Finnish defense minister Antti Kaikkonen travels to the United States next week, where he will meet with his U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin and visit Lockheed Martin facilities in Texas.
    Last month, Finland sealed a $9.4 billion deal to buy dozens of F-35 stealth warplanes from the United States.    Kaikkonen also plans to visit a U.S. air base in Florida to see the planes.
    Finland, which was part of the Swedish kingdom until 1809 and then was under Russia’s control until gaining independence in 1917, has historically sought to preserve cordial relations with Moscow.
    During a small portion of the Oval Office meeting open to reporters, Biden said his predecessor Barack Obama believed the world would be fine if they left matters up to Nordic countries.
    “Well, we usually don’t start wars,” Niinisto replied.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington and Anne Kauranen in Helsinki; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool)

3/5/2022 Russia Calls On EU, NATO To Stop Arms Supplies To Ukraine
FILE PHOTO: Service members of the 35th Separate Naval Infantry Brigade of the Ukrainian
Armed Forces take part in troops deployment drills in Odessa, Ukraine, in this handout picture released
January 28, 2022. Press Service of the 35th Separate Naval Infantry Brigade/Handout via REUTERS
    (Reuters) – Russia’s foreign ministry called on European Union and NATO countries on Saturday to “stop pumping weapons” to Ukraine, the Russian RIA news agency said.
    It said Moscow was particularly worried that portable anti-aerial Stinger missiles could end up in the hands of terrorists, posing a threat to airlines.
(Editing by William Maclean)

3/5/2022 No Oil or DOW info.

3/6/2022 Ukraine Health Centres Have Been Attacked, WHO Chief Says
FILE PHOTO: World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gives a statement on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination,
during a European Union - African Union summit, in Brussels, Belgium February 18, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Pool/File Photo
    GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization has confirmed “several” attacks on health care centres in Ukraine and is investigating others, the agency’s chief said on Sunday.
    The attacks caused multiple deaths and injuries, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added in a Twitter message.
    “Attacks on healthcare facilities or workers breach medical neutrality and are violations of international humanitarian law,” he said.
    In his brief post, Tedros did not mention Russia, which invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Frances Kerry)

3/6/2022 UK Intelligence Says Russia Targeting Populated Areas In Ukraine
A view shows a destroyed building following recent shelling during Ukraine-Russia
conflict in Kharkiv, Ukraine March 5, 2022. REUTERS/Oleksandr Lapshyn
    LONDON (Reuters) – British military intelligence said on Sunday that Russian forces were targeting populated areas in Ukraine but that the strength of resistance was slowing the Russian advance.
    “The scale and strength of Ukrainian resistance continue to surprise Russia,” British military intelligence said in an update.    Russia “has responded by targeting populated areas in multiple locations, including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol.”
    “Russia has previously used similar tactics in Chechnya in 1999 and Syria in 2016, employing both air and ground-based munitions,” British military intelligence said.
    Russia has repeatedly denied that it is targeting civilian areas.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kim Coghill)

3/6/2022 Russia, Without Evidence, Says Ukraine Making Nuclear “Dirty Bomb”
Service members of the Ukrainian armed forces are seen atop of a tank at their positions outside the settlement
of Makariv, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, near Zhytomyr, Ukraine March 4, 2022. REUTERS/Maksim Levin
    (Reuters) – Russian media cited an unnamed source on Sunday as saying that Ukraine was close to building a plutonium-based “dirty bomb” nuclear weapon, although the source cited no evidence.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, with the aim to “demilitarise” and “denazify” its pro-Western neighbour and prevent Kyiv from joining NATO.
    The West, dismissing that rationale as a pretext, has responded with harsh sanctions on Moscow and heavy military and other aid to Kyiv.
    The TASS, RIA and Interfax news agencies quoted “a representative of a competent body” in Russia on Sunday as saying Ukraine was developing nuclear weapons at the destroyed Chernobyl nuclear power plant that was shut down in 2000.
    Ukraine’s government has said it had no plans to rejoin the nuclear club, having given up its nuclear arms in 1994 following the break-up of the Soviet Union.
    Shortly before the invasion, Putin said in a grievance-filled speech that Ukraine was using Soviet know-how to create its own nuclear weapons, and that this was tantamount to preparation for an attack on Russia.
    He cited no evidence for his claim.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by William Mallard)

3/6/2022 Biden, In Call With Zelenskiy, Welcomes Visa, Mastercard Decisions On Russia
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden listens as he meets with Finland's President Sauli Niinisto to discuss "Russia's
attack on Ukraine, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 4, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden, in a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, welcomed decisions by Visa and Mastercard to suspend their operations in Russia, the White House said on Saturday.
    “President Biden noted his administration is surging security, humanitarian, and economic assistance to Ukraine and is working closely with Congress to secure additional funding,” a White House readout of the call added.
(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Paul Simao)

3/6/2022 No Oil or DOW info.

3/7/2022 France Warns Russia Against Blackmail Over Iran Nuclear Talks by John Irish, Parisa Hafezi and Francois Murphy
FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
headquarters in Vienna, Austria July 10, 2019. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo
    VIENNA (Reuters) - France on Monday warned Russia not to resort to blackmail over efforts to revive a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, after Moscow demanded a U.S. guarantee that sanctions it faces over Ukraine would not hurt its trade with Tehran.
    Russia raised the potential stumbling block on Saturday, just as months of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington in Vienna over reviving the pact struck in 2015 appeared headed for agreement.
    In Tehran, a foreign ministry spokesperson said Iran was awaiting an explanation of the Russian demand via “diplomatic channels,” adding however that the talks should not be affected by sanctions imposed on Moscow, whose contribution to negotiations so far had been constructive.
    On Saturday, a senior Iranian official speaking to Reuters had called Russia’s move unconstructive.
    Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia wanted a written U.S. guarantee that Moscow’s trade, investment and military-technical cooperation with Iran would not be hindered by Western sanctions imposed since Russia invaded its neighbour.
    A French presidency official told reporters late on Sunday that diplomats tended to treat each issue on its merits and not conflating them.
    “Because otherwise, in reality, it’s just blackmail and not diplomacy,” he told reporters.
    Western officials say compartmentalising the Iran nuclear dossier has been possible due to a common interest in avoiding a non-proliferation crisis.
    They are trying to ascertain if what Russia is demanding regards only its commitments to the Iran deal.    That would be manageable, but anything beyond that would be problematic, they say.
    The 2015 deal between Iran and the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China, eased sanctions on Tehran in return for limiting Iran’s enrichment of uranium, making it harder for Tehran to develop material for nuclear weapons.
    It fell apart after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States in 2018.
    The French presidency official urged Russia to assess what was at stake in Vienna, “that is to say Iran’s return to respecting its obligations under the JCPOA,” referring to the 2015 deal by its formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
    A European diplomat added: “The Russians are really trying it on and the Iranians aren’t happy although of course not saying too much publicly.    We’re trying to find a way through,” Iran’s top security official Ali Shamkhani said on Monday that negotiators were evaluating new components that had affected the Vienna talks and that Iran was adapting initiatives to accelerate an agreement.
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sought on Sunday to dispel talk of obstacles, saying the sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine had nothing to do with the nuclear deal.
    Diplomats said Washington and Tehran were also still trying to resolve other outstanding issues, which were also stalling an agreement.
    European negotiators have temporarily left the talks as they believe they have gone as far as they can and it is now up to the two main protagonists to agree, three diplomats said.
    Russia’s concerns about the impact of Western sanctions on its dealings with Iran follow a push by senior Iranian officials for deeper ties with Russia since the election of Iran’s hardline president Ebrahim Raisi last year.
    Iran’s top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, has been calling for closer ties with Russia due to his deep mistrust of the United States.
(Editing by Tom Hogue, Michael Georgy and John Stonestreet)

3/7/2022 EU Asks U.N. Watchdog To Safeguard Ukraine’s Nuclear Plants by Kate Abnett
FILE PHOTO: Surveillance camera footage shows the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant following shelling,
amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Enerhodar, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine March 4, 2022,
in this screengrab from a video obtained from social media. Zaporizhzhya NPP via YouTube via REUTERS
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union has asked the U.N. nuclear watchdog to safeguard Ukraine’s nuclear plants, two of which are now under Russian control, and mobilise international help in case of an emergency, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
    Russian forces have seized Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’ biggest, and the spent-fuel and radioactive waste facilities at Chernobyl, next to the now defunct power plant where the world’s worst nuclear accident happened in 1986.
    “I… request that IAEA does its utmost to ensure the nuclear safety of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities under the current conditions of war,” EU energy policy chief Kadri Simson wrote in a letter to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director Rafael>     Russia “should immediately cease its violent actions against Ukraine and first and foremost return all of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities to the full operational and regulatory control of Ukraine,” said the letter, dated March 4 and seen by Reuters.
    Ukrainian authorities said Russian forces had seized control of Zaporizhzhia on Friday after setting an adjacent training facility on fire.    Russia’s defence ministry blamed the attack on Ukrainian saboteurs.
    Russian forces have since placed staff running the facility under their command and restricted communications with the outside world – developments the IAEA said on Sunday it was “extremely concerned” about.
    While the fire at Zaporizhzhia was quickly extinguished and there was no damage to its reactors, it highlighted concerns about the potentially disastrous consequences should the conflict damage one of Ukraine’s four operating nuclear power plants.
    Simson called on the IAEA to mobilise the international community “to be ready to provide Ukraine with assistance in case of an emergency
    Ukrainian power producer DTEK called on Sunday for Western countries, NATO and the U.N. to introduce no-fly zones over Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.
    The EU is preparing to urgently link Europe’s electricity system to Ukraine’s grid, which would allow Ukraine to receive emergency power from Europe if military attacks caused power outages.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Alex Richardson)

3/7/2022 Britain Vows To Speed Up Ukrainian Refugee Proces by Muvija M and William James
FILE PHOTO: British Home Secretary Priti Patel gives a statement on Ukraine following the Russian invasion of Ukraine,
at the House of Commons, in London, Britain March 1, 2022. Courtesy Uk Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) -Britain defended its record on welcoming refugees fleeing Ukraine on Monday, after criticism it was not doing enough and was far behind its European neighbours in helping address the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War Two.
    The United Nations estimates that more than 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia started bombarding its neighbour, with hundreds of thousands pouring into Poland, Romania, Slovakia and elsewhere.
    The British government has been condemned by charities, opposition lawmakers and France after its insistence that refugees first acquire a visa means some Ukrainians have been stuck in the French city of Calais, unable to enter Britain, and provoking a diplomatic spat.
    Britain has announced visa schemes for those who have family in the country or a willing sponsor.    Media reports at the weekend said Britain had only issued about 50 visas for Ukrainians so far.
    “You’ve got to remember that two weeks ago this situation didn’t exist at all,” Europe minister James Cleverly told BBC TV.    “We’re looking to create something at a very, very large scale very, very quickly.
    Initially, of course, it will be slower than we would like.    But that will pick up.”
    He said there would be significantly more than the 50 visas reported but could not say what the numbers would be.
    “This is the largest refugee crisis since the second world war,” Cleverly said.    “This is a scale that I think very few of us are used to dealing with.”
    Interior minister Priti Patel told the Sun newspaper she wanted to create a humanitarian route that would allow anyone from Ukraine to come to Britain, but Cleverly said he did not expect the existing requirements to change.
    “We can’t do with ‘no questions asked’ because when people come to the UK we need to make sure they are supported,” he said.
    The European Union has agreed to grant temporary residency to Ukrainians fleeing the invasion and give them access to employment, social welfare and housing for up to three years.
(Writing by Kate Holton; editing by Michael Holden)

3/7/2022 Blinken Says U.S. Has ‘Sacrosanct’ Commitment To NATO’s Article 5
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint news conference with the Lithuanian
foreign minister in Vilnius, Lithuania March 7, 2022. Olivier Douliery/Pool via REUTERS
    VILNIUS (Reuters) – The United States has a “sacrosanct” commitment to NATO’s Article 5 guarantee of mutual defense between member-states, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a visit to Lithuania on Monday.
(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Andrius Sytas, editing by Terje Solsvik and Gwladys Fouche)

3/7/2022 Italy Says EU Countries Need To Move Quickly On Sanctions Against Russia
FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi makes a statement on the
Ukraine crisis, in Rome, Italy, February 24, 2022. Remo Casilli/REUTERS/Pool
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Italy’s Prime Minister on Monday called for countries of the European Union to act swiftly with sanctions against Russian people and entities following Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.
    “And now we have to act, all of us, with speed on this point,” Mario Draghi said in Brussels speaking at a conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
    On Saturday, the Italian government said police seized villas and yachts worth 143 million euros ($154.94 million) from five high-profile Russians who were placed on sanctions lists following Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.
($1 = 0.9229 euros)
(Reporting by Angelo Amante and Giuseppe Fonte, editing by Giulia Segreti)

3/7/2022 Biden Looks Back At Trump Presidency For Future by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Jan. 20, 2021, file photo, President Joe Biden signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office
of the White House in Washington. Six of Biden’s 17 first-day executive orders dealt with immigration, such as halting work on
a border wall in Mexico and lifting a travel ban on people from several predominantly Muslim countries. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
    Joe Biden seems to be taking pages out of Donald Trump’s presidential playbook as several policies seem to mirror his predecessor’s.
    During the recent State of the Union address, Biden seemed to change his tune on border security while stressing halting illegal immigration at America’s southern border is a top priority. During his first year, Customs and Border Protection officials reported more than 2 million migrants illegally crossed the border while more than 146,000 migrants were resettled across America.
    Additionally, Biden halted all contracts related to the construction of the border wall.    This put a considerable amount of stress on America’s immigration system and forced migrants to be packed in border facilities that didn’t have the resources to swiftly process them.
    However, Biden has been returning to Trump-era policies, including continuing the Title 42 policy enforced by Trump in an attempt to stop COVID-positive migrants from entering the country.    Biden now says securing the southern border is imperative.
    “We need to secure the border and fix the immigration system, we can do both,” he stated.    “At our border, we’ve installed new technology like cutting-edge scanners to better detect drug smuggling.    We’ve set up joint patrols with Mexico and Guatemala to catch more human traffickers.”
    Additionally, Biden is making strong calls to keep schools open.    Democrats took immense heat amid the COVID-19 pandemic with Chicago’s mayor facing off against America’s most powerful teachers union over shutdowns and districts nationwide keeping face mask mandates.    Biden has also capitulated to medical assessments, saying infection and transmission rates among children are extremely low.
    The Democrat has even echoed ‘America First’ sentiments while talking about bringing back American manufacturing jobs.    Following a bridge collapse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania late January, the president touted his more-than-infrastructure package.    He said his plan aims to invest in cities and towns across the country in hopes of modernizing them and making them “cities of the future.”
    Just this month, Biden vowed to shore up resources to fix the supply chain by boosting funds to bring manufacturing jobs back to America and establishing a supply of rare earth minerals independent from foreign partners.    He has claimed more American made products will hit domestic shelves in the future.
    “We need a future that’s made in America,” Biden stated.    “Almost exactly a year ago, I issued an executive order to prioritize strengthening our domestic supply chain because when I found out was that, you know, if I was going to follow through on my commitment to say we were going to make it in America and build it in America and have all of it built in America, we needed a supply chain that was that was reliable.    And including critical materials like lithium, graphite, rare earth materials which are badly needed for so many American products.”
    In the meantime, critics lament it’s too late for Biden to bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats.    They cited soaring inflation and crime rates plaguing America under his watch as well as his mistakes in the international arena as a rallying cry behind the GOP in the 2022 midterm elections.
    Polls surveying voters and Washington insiders are predicting a Republican takeover in the House of Representatives, which could pose an obstacle for Biden to push through his policies.

3/7/2022 Secy. Of State Blinken Speaks Out On U.S. Preparedness To Defend NATO Member Nations by OAN Newsroom
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference with Latvia’s Foreign Minister
Edgars Rinkevics at the National Art Museum in Riga, Latvia, Monday March 7, 2022. U.S. Secretary of State
Antony Blinken is on a lightning visit to the three Baltic states that are increasingly on edge as they
watch Russia press ahead with its invasion of Ukraine. (Olivier Douliery/Pool via AP)
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the U.S. is prepared to come to the defense of any NATO member nation if they are attacked.    While speaking at a joint press conference in Lithuania with the nations foreign minister Monday, he stated an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all.
    Blinken added, no one should doubt the readiness or resolve of the U.S. and pointed out the country is engaged with NATO allies about defense posture, including extending troop deployments in Baltic Nations.    He also spoke about the impact of sanctions on Russia amid concerns it may expand it’s ongoing assault beyond Ukraine’s borders.
    “We see Russia’s credit rating coming basically to zero, to junk status as we would call it,” said the U.S. Secretary of State.    “We see its stock market shut down, we see an exodus of virtually every leading company from Russia.    All of those things are happening, they’re happening in real time.    At the same time other steps that we’ve taken, including export controls on the most important technology that Russia needs to modernize for the future, including its defense and aerospace industries, including its energy sector, that technology is being denied to Russia, that’s going to have a powerful impact over time.”
    This comes as the U.S. has deployed thousands of additional troops to Poland and other nations in recent weeks.    Additionally, the U.S. House of Representatives is poised to approve billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine as it considers taking further action against Russia’s economy.
    In a letter to members of the Democrat caucus Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress intends to act on the Biden administration’s request for $10 billion in humanitarian, military and economic support for Ukraine.    She also said the House is “currently exploring strong legislation that will further isolate Russia from the global economy.”     The bill would ban Russian oil and energy imports, terminate normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus as well as take the first step to deny Russia access to the World Trade Organization.

3/7/2022 Oil up $4.92 to $119.98, DOW down 797 to 32,817 and it worse today.
3/7/2022 Oil price rises more than $10 a barrel by Yuri Kageyama, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    TOKYO – The price of oil jumped more than $10 a barrel and shares were sharply lower Monday as the conflict in Ukraine deepened amid mounting calls for harsher sanctions against Russia.
    Brent crude oil briefly surged over $10 early Monday.    Benchmark U.S. crude was up nearly $9 at more than $124 a barrel.
    The surge followed a warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin that Ukrainian statehood was imperiled as Russian forces battered strategic locations.    A temporary ceasefire in two Ukrainian cities failed over the weekend – and both sides blamed each other.
    Oil prices came under additional pressure after Libya’s national oil company said an armed group had shut down two crucial oil fields.    The move caused the country’s daily oil output to drop by 330,000.
    Higher fuel costs are devastating for Japan, which imports almost all its energy.    Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped 3.5% in morning trading to 25,>     By late morning in Tokyo, U.S. crude had jumped $8.08 to $123.72 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.    The all-time high was marked in July 2008, when the price per barrel of U.S. crude climbed to $145.29, pushing the average price for gasoline in the U.S. above $4 a gallon, a milestone already reached again this year.
    Brent crude, the international standard, hit $139.13 per barrel before falling back.    It was trading up $9.75 at $127.86 a barrel.
    “The Ukraine-Russia conflict will continue to dominate market sentiments and no signs of conflict resolution thus far may likely put a cap on risk sentiments into the new week,” said Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist at IG in Singapore.
    “It should be clear by now that economic sanctions will not deter any aggression from the Russians, but will serve more as a punitive measure at the expense of implication on global economic growth.    Elevated oil prices may pose a threat to firms’ margins and consumer spending outlook.”
    Markets worldwide have swung wildly recently on worries about how high prices for oil, wheat and other commodities produced in the region will go because of Russia’s invasion, inflaming the world’s already high inflation.
    Russian forces intensified shelling of cities in Ukraine’s center, north and south, according to a Ukrainian official, as a second attempt to evacuate civilians collapsed.    Russia has made significant advances in southern Ukraine and along the coast, although many of its efforts have stalled, including an immense military convoy north of Kyiv.
    Wall Street finished last week with shares falling despite a much stronger report on than economists expected.    The S& P 500 fell 0.8% to 4,328.87, posting its third weekly loss in the last four.    It is now down just under 10% from its record set early this year.
    The Dow, initially fell more than 500 points.    It closed 0.5% lower at 33,614.80.    The Nasdaq fell 1.7% to 13,313.44.
    The Russell 2000 index of small companies dropped 1.6% to 2,000.90.
    In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 114.93 Japanese yen from 114.86 yen.    The euro cost $1.0846, down from $1.0926.

3/8/2022 UK Says It Will Back Poland If Decides To Sends Jets To Ukraine
FILE PHOTO: British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace greets the crew onboard
Danish frigate Niels Juel in Copenhagen, Denmark March 4, 2022. REUTERS/Stine Jacobsen
    LONDON (Reuters) – British defence minister Ben Wallace said on Tuesday Britain would support Poland if it decided to provide Ukraine with fighter jets, but warned that doing so might have direct consequences for Poland.
    “I would support the Poles and whatever choice they make,” Wallace told Sky News, adding that the United Kingdom could not offer aircraft that the Ukrainians would be able to use.
    “We would protect Poland, we’ll help them with anything that they need,” he said. “Poland will understand that the choices they make will not only directly help Ukraine, which is a good thing, but also may bring them into direct line of fire from countries such as Russia or Belarus.”
    Britain has provided Ukraine with defensive weapons as well as other military and humanitarian aid.
    Wallace said he would make a statement to parliament on Wednesday setting out what further lethal and non-lethal aid Britain would be providing, as well as what measures the British government would urge other countries to do.
(Reporting by Michael Holden and Kylie MacLellan)

3/8/2022 UK’s Wallace Says Putin Is A Spent Force In The World
FILE PHOTO: British Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace walks outside
Downing Street, in London, Britain, February 21, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson
    LONDON (Reuters) – Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is a spent force in the world whatever happens in Ukraine, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Tuesday.
    “Whatever … happens, President Putin is a spent force in the world and he is done, his army is done … and he needs to recognise that,” Wallace told Times Radio.    “The international community has united against him … he is in a position where he is going to cause huge economic hardship to his people.”
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Michael Holden)

3/8/2022 Biden Thanks S.Korea For Joining Russia Sanctions - Blue House
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks as he meets with Finland's President Sauli Niinisto to discuss "Russia's
attack on Ukraine, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 4, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
    SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden has sent a letter of thanks to South Korean President Moon Jae-in for joining financial sanctions and export controls against Russia, Moon’s spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
    The country began halting transactions with the Russian central bank and immobilising its assets held in won currency from Tuesday, after stopping transactions with seven other Russian banks and their affiliates.
    “South Korea’s resolute decision will be a strong message that it supports Ukraine’s sovereignty,” the spokeswoman quoted Biden as saying in the letter.
    The move followed similar action by the United States and the European Union in a global effort to isolate Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
    Seoul has also said it will tighten export controls against Russia by banning shipments of strategic items, and release 4.42 million barrels of national oil reserves to make up disruptions to supply.
    Biden said the oil reserves decision also showed the strength of the united effort and a resolve to stabilise the world energy market and achieve the shared goal of energy security, the spokeswoman added.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

3/8/2022 U.S. Lawmakers Pressure Biden To Help With Transfer Of European Aircraft To Ukraine by Patricia Zengerle
FILE PHOTO: A French Rafale fighter jet over France, January 14, 2020. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. lawmakers pushed President Joe Biden’s administration on Monday to facilitate the transfer of fighter aircraft to Ukraine from Poland and other NATO and Eastern European countries, after a plea on Saturday from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
    The White House said it did not oppose planes being sent to Ukraine but saw logistical challenges to it. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin calling for Washington to commit to replace any donated jets with upgraded Western aircraft, including through concessionary financing and loans as well as subsidized pricing.
    He also said NATO should redeploy fighter aircraft to any base where donated aircraft had been stationed.     Zelenskiy made a “desperate plea for European countries to provide Russian-made planes” for Ukraine’s fight against Russian invaders during a video call Saturday with U.S. lawmakers, participants in the call said.
    Many air forces in Eastern Europe fly Russian-made warplanes, and transferring such aircraft to Ukraine would mean Ukrainians could pilot the planes without additional training.
    “I will support efforts in the Senate to implement measures to compensate our allies that provide their aircraft for Ukraine’s defense,” Menendez wrote.
    Members of the U.S. Senate who attened a briefing on Ukraine by State Department officials on Monday evening said they did not believe Poland yet made up its mind about whether to send the aircraft.    Some said other countries might also send planes, but declined to identify any.
    A State Department spokesperson said the department was working with Poland and consulting with other NATO allies.
    “This is Poland’s sovereign decision to make.    We have in no way opposed Poland transferring planes to Ukraine,” the spokesperson said in an email.
    Administration officials said there were logistical challenges both in moving aircraft into Ukraine, and providing replacement U.S. planes.
    “It is not as easy as just moving planes around,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
    Many lawmakers – both Biden’s fellow Democrats and Republicans – have appealed for Washington to do all it can to get aircraft to Ukraine, including by letting countries that send Russian-made MiGs “jump the line” to quickly obtain U.S.-made F-16s – made by Lockheed Martin – to replace them.
    Russia describes its actions as “a special military operation” whose aim is to disarm Ukraine, counter what it views as NATO aggression and capture Ukrainian leaders it calls neo-Nazis.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Andrea Shalal and Steve Holland; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Michael Perry)

3/8/2022 Oil up $4.51 to $124.51, DOW down 185 to 32,633.
3/8/2022 Stocks fall worldwide as oil prices push higher - Reports say US officials may consider easing sanctions on Venezuela by Stan Choe and Alex Veiga, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    NEW YORK – Wall Street had its biggest drop in more than a year Monday as another leap for oil prices threatened to squeeze inflation’s grip on the global economy.
    The S& P 500 fell 3%, its biggest decline in 16 months, after a barrel of U.S. oil surged to $130 overnight on the possibility the U.S. could bar imports from Russia.    Stocks around the world also fell earlier in the day, taking their cue from oil’s movements.
    The benchmark S& P 500 fell 122.78 points to 4,201.09.    The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 797.42 points, or 2.4%, to 32,817.38.
    The Nasdaq composite slid 482.48 points, or 3.6%, to 12,830.96.    The techheavy index is now 20.1% below its record set in November.    Such a decline means the index is now in what Wall Street calls a bear market.    The S& P 500 is down a more modest 12.4% from the peak it set in early January.
    Gold and a measure of nervousness on Wall Street also rose, though not by quite as much as when oil prices hit their peak.    The price of gold briefly rose above $2,000 an ounce before settling at $1,995.90, up 1.5%.
    “This could be something that drags on for a while as the tensions in Ukraine persist, as oil prices remain elevated,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA.    “The higher and longer oil prices stay elevated, the greater the eroding impact that they will have on economic growth.”
    Oil prices have soared recently on worries that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will upend already tight supplies.    Russia is one of the world’s largest energy producers, and oil prices were already high before the attack because the global economy is demanding more fuel following its coronavirus-caused shutdown.
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to her colleagues on Sunday that “the House is currently exploring strong legislation” to further isolate Russia because of its attack on Ukraine.    That could include a ban on imports of Russian oil and energy products, she said.
    It’s a major step that the U.S. government has not yet taken, despite a long list of moves to punish Russia, as the White House has said it hopes to limit disruptions to oil markets.    It wants to limit price jumps at the gasoline pump.
    Reports also said U.S. officials may be considering easing sanctions against Venezuela. That potentially could free up more crude oil and ease concerns about reduced supplies from Russia.
    A gallon of regular already costs an average of $4.065 across the country after breaching the $4 barrier on Sunday for the first time since 2008. A month ago, a gallon averaged $3.441, according to AAA.
    A barrel of U.S. crude oil settled at $119.40 per barrel, up 3.2%, after earlier touching $130.50.    Brent crude, the international standard, settled at $123.21 per barrel, up 4.3%, after earlier topping $139.
    Markets worldwide have swung wildly recently on worries about how high prices for oil, wheat and other commodities produced in the region will go because of Russia’s invasion, inflaming the world’s already high inflation.    In the     United States, prices for consumers jumped last month from their year-ago level at the fastest rate in four decades.
    The conflict in Ukraine also threatens the food supply in some regions, including Europe, Africa and Asia, which rely on the vast, fertile farmlands of the Black Sea region, known as the “breadbasket of the world.”
    The war puts extra pressure on central banks around the world, with the Federal Reserve on course to raise interest rates later this month for the first time since 2018.
    The value of the Russian ruble continued to slide amid all the financial pressure, falling 12% to 0.7 cents.
Martin Bruinsma takes pictures of gas prices in Los Angeles on Monday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to her
colleagues on Sunday that “the House is currently exploring strong legislation” to further isolate Russia because of its
attack on Ukraine.    That could include a ban on imports of Russian oil and energy products, she said. JAE C. HONG/AP

3/9/2022 UK Says Ukraine’s Air Defences Having Considerable Success Against Russian Jets
FILE PHOTO: A trail of rocket smoke is seen in the sky over Kyiv, Ukraine March 5, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
    LONDON (Reuters) – Britain on Wednesday said Ukraine’s air defences were having success against Russian jets, likely preventing Russia from controlling the airspace.
    “Ukrainian air defences appear to have enjoyed considerable success against Russia’s modern combat aircraft, probably preventing them achieving any degree of control of the air,” the Ministry of Defence intelligence update posted on Twitter said.
    Britain’s assessment also said Russian forces had failed to make any significant breakthroughs in fighting north west of Kyiv.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

3/9/2022 Venezuela Frees Two Americans After Talks With U.S by Vivian Sequera, Matt Spetalnick and Diego Oré
FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks beside Russian Deputy Prime Minister
Yury Borisov (not pictured) after signing documents of a bilateral agreement at the Miraflores Palace
during his visit to Caracas, Venezuela February 16, 2022. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria
    CARACAS/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Venezuela released two jailed U.S. citizens on Tuesday in an apparent goodwill gesture toward the Biden administration following a visit to Caracas by a high-level U.S. delegation.
    One of the freed prisoners was Gustavo Cardenas, among six Citgo oil executives arrested in 2017 and convicted on charges the U.S. government says were fabricated.    The other was a Cuban American, identified as Jorge Alberto Fernandez, detained on unrelated charges.
    “Tonight, two Americans who were wrongfully detained in Venezuela will be able to hug their families once more,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.
    “We are bringing Gustavo Cardenas and Jorge Fernandez home,” he said.    He gave no more details about their release.
    The weekend visit by the U.S. delegation focused not only on the fate of detained Americans but on the possibility of easing U.S. oil sanctions on the OPEC member to fill a supply gap if Biden banned Russian oil imports in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine – something he did on Tuesday. Venezuela is Russia’s closest ally in South America.
    Washington has sought the release of at least nine men, including those known as the “Citgo 6,” two former Green Berets and a former U.S. Marine.
    The freeing of the two could set a more positive tone for talks between the United States and Venezuela, which have had hostile relations through successive American administrations.
    The U.S. delegation, the highest-ranking to travel to Venezuela in recent years, met the detainees on Sunday in a Venezuelan prison. U.S. hostage envoy Roger Carstens was part of the group, and he was believed to have stayed behind to finalize the release.
    Tuesday’s release followed talks with socialist President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday as the Biden administration sought ways to stave off the impact of soaring U.S. gasoline prices spurred by efforts by the West to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
    Biden ramped up the pressure campaign on Moscow on Tuesday with his announcement of a U.S. ban on Russian oil and other energy imports.    The ban could further increase prices at the pump for American consumers, adding to inflationary pressure.
    Engagement with Maduro, a longtime U.S. foe, was also aimed at gauging whether Venezuela is prepared to distance itself from Russia.
    But the Biden administration faced strong criticism on Capitol Hill for its contact with Maduro, who is under U.S. sanctions for human rights abuses and political repression.
    Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged the White House not to pursue a deal with Venezuela.
    Maduro, he said in a statement, “is a cancer to our hemisphere and we should not breathe new life into his reign of torture and murder.”
    The United States in 2019 recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president following Maduro’s 2018 re-election, which Western governments dismissed as a sham.
    Cardenas was one of six executives of U.S.-based Citgo Petroleum, owned by Venezuela’s state-own oil company PDVSA, arrested during a business trip to Caracas in 2017. A Venezuelan court in November 2020 sentenced the men, who were accused of crimes including embezzlement, money laundering and conspiracy, to prison terms ranging from eight to 13 years.
    The executives – five naturalized U.S. citizens and one permanent U.S. resident – have been in and out of prison and house arrest in recent years, their circumstances often appearing to depend on the state of U.S.-Venezuela relations.
    Their detention has been a major sticking point between Caracas and Washington, which has repeatedly demanded their release and called their detention unlawful.
    Among the Americans still held in Venezuela is Matthew Heath, a Marine veteran charged with terrorism and arms trafficking.     Heath denied the charges.    U.S. officials said Heath was not sent by Washington and accused Venezuelan authorities of holding him illegally.
    Two other Americans still detained are former U.S. special forces members, Luke Denman and Airan Berry, who were arrested in 2020 in connection with a botched raid aimed at ousting Maduro.
(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Washington, Vivian Sequera in Caracas and Diego Ore in Mexico City; additional reporting by Marianna Parraga and Mayela Armas; Editing by Leslie Adler, Robert Birsel)

3/9/2022 Oil down $15.16 to $109.70, DOW up 680 to 33,316.
3/9/2022 Prices at the pump spike in Louisville - Nears record, reaching $4.25 in some areas by Krista Johnson, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Gas prices in Louisville and across the country have risen sharply this past week, with prices in some areas of the city just shy of breaking the 2008 record.
    The average as of Tuesday morning for Louisville is $4.15 a gallon, though some areas had rates up to $4.25 a gallon. The record for the city was set in June 2008 at $4.26, said Lynda Lambert, spokesperson for the AAA East Central region.     That average rate went up 15 cents in just one day and is up 78 cents since last week.
    The average for the western half of Kentucky is $3.93, which has risen 68 cents in the past week, and costs are expected to continue to go up.
    “All the trends are pointing to prices continuing to rise,” Lambert said.    “As far as how high or how long it will last — it’s impossible to say at this point.    There are too many uncertainties.”

3/10/2022 U.S. Speeds Licensing For Gun, Ammunition Shipments To Ukraine by Andrew Hay
One of the first pieces of body armor Texas marketing executive Bret Starr is shipping to colleagues in Lviv, Ukraine,
who have asked for helmets and bullet proof vests as they plan to defend their country from Russia's invasion,
is seen in this handout picture taken March 6, 2022. Picture taken March 6, 2022. Bret Starr/Handout via REUTERS
    (Reuters) – The United States is rapidly processing requests from Americans to export firearms and ammunition to Ukraine, the U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday.
    Americans are collecting weapons for Ukraine after President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on his citizens to defend the country from invading Russian forces and promised to arm them.
    The Commerce Department said it had imposed export controls on Russia to “degrade its ability to sustain military aggression” and Americans should check agency regulations to see if a license was needed to ship specific firearms to Ukraine.
    “The department has been processing requests rapidly for the export of firearms and ammunition to Ukraine under its existing processes and authorities,” a department spokesperson said.
    Americans are donating thousands of sets of body armor and millions of rounds of ammunition in response to Ukraine’s pleas for military support.
    Equipment donors and U.S. volunteers for Ukraine’s armed forces must navigate U.S. export license requirements for items like military-grade bullet proof vests.
    Controls at airports on volunteers carrying such body-armor appear to have eased, a U.S. volunteer in Poland said.
    “From the latest wave of people carrying plates this week, not a single person has been stopped,” said the volunteer, who asked not to be named, referring to the ceramic plates that make vests bullet-proof.
    Two Americans shipping military supplies to Ukraine, who asked to remain anonymous, said they had seen rapid export license approvals.
    Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, on New York’s Long Island, on Wednesday sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting immediate federal approval to ship more than 50 rifles he had gathered in a donation drive for Ukraine.
    “The fact that we do have a lot of legal gun ownership in the United States means that, you know, people may have a spare gun to contribute,” said Blakeman, adding that he had received interest from across the country in similar gun drives.
(Reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Donna Bryson and Leslie Adler)

3/10/2022 UK Adds Abramovich, Sechin, Lebedev To Russian Sanctions List
    LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Thursday it had imposed asset freezes on seven Russian businessmen including Roman Abramovich, Igor Sechin, Oleg Deripaska and Dmitri Lebedev after they were added to the country’s sanctions list.
    “There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
    Abramovich is the owner of Chelsea soccer club, Deripaska has stakes in En+ Group, Sechin is the Chief Executive of Rosneft and Lebedev is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bank Rossiya.
(Reporting by Kate Holton; writing by Michael Holden; editing by Paul Sandle and William James)

3/10/2022 Saudi Arabia, UAE Reportedly Snub Biden Over Oil, Ukraine Crisis by OAN Newsroom
President Joe Biden announces a ban on Russian oil imports, toughening the toll on Russia’s economy in retaliation for its
invasion of Ukraine, Tuesday, March 8, 2022, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    The leaders of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are reportedly refusing to talk to Joe Biden amid the Ukraine crisis.    According to the Wall Street Journal, White House officials tried to arrange phone calls between Biden, Saudi and Emirati leaders.    However, those attempts were unsuccessful.
    Biden reportedly wanted to ask Saudi Arabia as well as the UAE to produce more oil and to join anti-Russian sanctions, which both those countries have refused to do.    Both Saudis and the UAE recently reasserted support for the OPEC-plus agreement with Russia and voiced opposition to Biden’s efforts to restore the nuclear deal with Iran.
    This comes as President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order banning Russian oil imports.    One America’s Chanel Rion has more on the ban.

3/10/2022 U.S. Under Secy. Of State Nuland Confirms Bioweapons Labs In Ukraine by OAN Newsroom
State Department Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria J. Nuland speaks during a briefing
at the State Department in Washington, Jan. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)
    The Biden administration has continued to deny that the U.S. had any involvement with chemical weapons labs in Ukraine, yet the U.S. Under Secretary of State confirmed their existence.
    This comes as China claims it’s concerned about an alleged biological weapons development program in Ukraine.    On Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian echoed Russian allegations of a U.S.-run chemical and biological warfare     laboratory in Ukraine.    He called for its immediate inspection.
    “We urge the U.S., once again, to fulfill its international obligations, make comprehensive clarifications on its domestic and foreign biological military activities, accept multilateral verification, and complete the destruction of its stockpile of chemical weapons as soon as possible,” Lijian stated.
    While the Pentagon has rejected those allegations, Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland confirmed the existence during a hearing on Capitol Hill just days ago while referring to them as biological research facilities.
    “Ukraine has biological research facilities which we are now quite concerned Russian troops, Russian forces, may be seeking to gain control of,” she explained.    “So we are working with Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach.”
    Further, a U.S. National Academy of Sciences article reported that in 2005 then-Sen. Barack Obama negotiated the construction of a level three bio-safety lab in Odessa, Ukraine.    The Interim Central Reference Lab was geared to handle “especially dangerous pathogens.”
    Nuland’s statement comes as the U.S. claims any allegations of a bio-lab in Ukraine are “misinformation and propaganda.”    Pentagon spokesman John Kirby even denied the claims, seemingly going against what the Under Secretary of State said just days prior.    While speaking to reporters Wednesday, Kirby echoed the White House in calling the claims false.
    This came in response to Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson who said they have documents showing Ukraine ordered the destruction of plague, cholera, anthrax and other pathogen samples in an attempt to erase evidence of the military program.
    Kirby dismissed the report as Russian “disinformation.”    Also Wednesday, the State Department claimed Russia is inventing false pretexts in an attempt to justify its own horrific actions in Ukraine.

3/10/2022 GOP Lawmakers Blast Biden’s War On American Energy by OAN Newsroom
Republican Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) speaks during a press conference at the
US Capitol on December 17, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
    Republican lawmakers are demanding Joe Biden provide real solutions as the nation’s energy crisis continues to unfold.    While speaking at a press conference Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Biden must reverse course on his anti-American energy regulations.    He also noted Biden’s domestic regulations in the name of so-called climate change are illegitimate.
    Additionally, congressman Garret Graves (R-La.) agreed while criticizing Biden’s energy policies, saying he’s “doubling down on stupid.”    He said Biden must use the country’s resources to produce low cost, high-security energy and stop funding dictators overseas.
    Meanwhile, Biden appeared to drum up support for electric cars as the national gas price average hit a record high on Wednesday.    He claimed Americans will not need fossil fuels to drive a car and suggested they use alternative methods of transportation.

3/10/2022 New York Times Reporter Admits Jan. 6 Protests Were Exaggerated by OAN Newsroom
FILE – A sign for The New York Times hangs above the entrance to its building on May 6, 2021 in New York. The New York Times Co.
is buying sports site The Athletic for $550 million, drilling down on subscriptions as the newspaper print ads business fades.
The Athletic covers national and local sports — more than 200 teams, according to the Times’ press release. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
    A New York Times reporter was caught admitting the coverage of the January 6 protest was over exaggerated.    During an undercover Project Veritas video released on Wednesday, New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg was captured criticizing the left’s reaction to the Capitol Hill protests and even mocking some of his colleagues who were “emotionally scarred.”
    In the video, Rosenberg is seen privately ranting about the news establishment’s continuous coverage of the event while calling it “overblown in its reliance on fear and trauma.”    He commented that he “was so over it at this point.”    Rosenberg witnessed the protests first hand, admitting there were FBI informants among the people who attacked the capitol.
    The undercover conversation covered how journalists pitched January 6 pieces for the New York Times, revealing they were obligated to keep up the polarizing narrative between left and right wing politics.    The reporter confessed the capitol protests was not an organized event despite what he and left wing media outlets led the public to believe.
    “The left’s reaction to it (January 6), in some places, was so over the top,” he stated.    “It was like me and two other colleagues who were there, who were outside, and we were just having fun…we were not in any danger.”
    As the conversation progressed, Rosenberg spoke on the divide between reporters at the left leaning paper, saying he’s not impressed with the writing quality of his some of colleagues.    He also elaborated how ivy league schools and liberal ideas have seeped into the work of journalists, acknowledging the woke generation is getting worse.
    Furthermore, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe later confronted Rosenberg about his remarks to which Rosenberg replied he “absolutely stands by his comments.”

3/10/2022 Biden Touts Electric Vehicles As Gas Prices Surge by OAN Newsroom
President Joe Biden attends an event to support legislation that would encourage domestic
manufacturing and strengthen supply chains for computer chips in the South Court Auditorium on
the White House campus, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
    Joe Biden attempted to drum up support for electric cars as the national gas price average hit a record high.     While speaking at a ‘Made in America’ event on Wednesday, he claimed Americans will not need fossil fuels to drive a car and suggested they use alternative methods of transportation.
    “We don’t need to propel most of what we have in the future with regard to oil products,” Biden stated. “And, you know, I was really pleased when we met the the CEOs of the automobile companies.”
    The President then claimed he helped convince General Motors CEO, Mary Barra to drop her lawsuit against California for setting higher emission regulations than the national standard.    Biden also dismissed concerns about surging gas prices despite everyday Americans with traditional vehicles struggling to fill up their tanks.
    Additionally, Biden falsely claimed U.S. gas prices went down by 14 percent in one day.    The average U.S. gas price rose to $4.25 earlier in the day, which was up from $4.17 the day before and $3.46 a month ago.
    Biden’s remarks come as analysts advise drivers to gear up for high gas prices until at least Labor Day and predicted the national average could easily jump to $4.50 a gallon in the coming weeks.    However, some reports have claimed a $5 per gallon national average is a real possibility in the near future.

3/10/2022 Oil down $2.82 to $106.61, DOW down 118 to 33,173.

3/11/2022 Inflation hits 40-year high of 7.9% as gas prices surge - from rent to breakfast bacon, everything costs more by Paul Davidson, USA TODAY
    Soaring gasoline prices are pouring more fuel on the flames of inflation.
    Inflation reached a 40-year high in February as pump prices, propelled by the Ukraine war, combined with rent, food and other rapidly rising costs to squeeze Americans already struggling with sky-high costs.
    The consumer price index jumped 7.9% annually, the fastest pace since January 1982, the Labor Department said Thursday.    That’s up from 7.5% in January, which was nearly a four-decade high.
    Gasoline prices leaped 6.6% and made up nearly a third of February’s rise.    Pump prices were up 38% from a year earlier.
    Inflation has hit fresh 40-year highs for four straight months.
    As recently as January, economists had expected the price surges to ease by now as COVID-19 cases declined, pump costs leveled off and supply chain snarls started to unwind.

3/11/2022 U.N. Security Council To Convene On Friday At Russia’s Request - Diplomats by Humeyra Pamuk
FILE PHOTO: First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nation
Dmitry Polyanskiy speaks during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council at the 76th Session of the
U.N. General Assembly in New York, U.S. September 23, 2021. John Minchillo/Pool via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United Nations Security Council will convene on Friday at Russia’s request, diplomats said, to discuss Moscow’s claims, presented without evidence, of U.S. “biological activities” in Ukraine, a move Washington described as gaslighting.
    The meeting is expected to be in the morning.
    “Russian Mission asked for a meeting of #SecurityCouncil for 11 March to discuss the military biological activities of the US on the territory of #Ukraine,” Dmitry Polyanskiy, First Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations said in a tweet.
    The United States on Wednesday denied renewed Russian accusations that Washington was operating biological warfare labs in Ukraine, calling the claims “laughable” and suggesting Moscow may be laying the groundwork to use a chemical or biological weapon.
    “This is exactly the kind of false flag effort we have warned Russia might initiate to justify a biological or chemical weapons attack,” Olivia Dalton, spokesperson, U.S. Mission to the United Nations said on Thursday.
    “Russia has a well-documented history of using chemical weapons and has long maintained a biological weapons program in violation of international law…We’re not going to let Russia get away with gaslighting,” she added.
    Late on Tuesday, Russia repeated its accusation of several years that the United States is working with Ukrainian laboratories to develop biological weapons.    Such assertions in Russian media increased in the run-up to Moscow’s military move into Ukraine and were made as recently as Wednesday by foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.
    In a statement, also released on Wednesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Russia “is inventing false pretexts in an attempt to justify its own horrific actions in Ukraine.”
    Like many other countries, Ukraine has public health laboratories researching how to mitigate the threats of dangerous diseases affecting both animals and humans.    Its laboratories have received support from the United States, European Union and World Health Organization.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Eric Beech; editing by Diane Craft and Lincoln Feast.)

3/11/2022 Jailed Navalny Calls For Anti-War Protests Across Russia On Sunday
FILE PHOTO: Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny takes part in a rally to mark the 5th anniversary
of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov's murder and to protest against proposed amendments to the
country's constitution, in Moscow, Russia February 29, 2020. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) - Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny called for anti-war protests in Moscow and other cities on Sunday.
    “Mad maniac Putin will most quickly be stopped by the people of Russia now if they oppose the war,” a message on Navalny’s Instagram account said.
    “You need to go to anti-war rallies every weekend, even if it seems that everyone has either left or got scared…You are the backbone of the movement against war and death,” he said.
    Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, the biggest assault on a European country since World War Two.    Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to disarm and “denazify” Ukraine.    Ukraine and Western allies call this a baseless pretext for a war of choice that has raised fears of wider conflict in Europe.
    The protest monitoring group OVD Info says 13,908 people have been detained at anti-war demonstrations in Russia since the start of the invasion.
    Navalny was jailed last year when he returned to Russia after receiving medical treatment in Germany following a poison attack with a nerve agent during a visit to Siberia in 2020.    Russian authorities denied carrying out such an attack.
    He is able to publish social media posts through his lawyers and allies.
(Reporting by ReutersEditing by Mark Heinrich)

3/11/2022 Hope And Uncertainty As Chile Shifts Left Under Boric by Alexander Villegas
Chile's President-elect Gabriel Boric and Chilean author Isabel Allende meet
in Santiago, Chile March 10, 2022. President-elect press office/Handout via REUTERS
    SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile will shift to the left on Friday when Gabriel Boric, 36, is sworn in as the South American country’s youngest ever president after pledging social and economic reforms, and riding a wave of voter dissatisfaction with the political status quo.
    Boric, a tattooed former protest leader and lawmaker, marks a sharp departure from outgoing billionaire Sebastian Pinera.    He has sparked hope among progressives as well as fears that Chile’s decades of economic stability will come under attack.
    The leader of a broad leftist coalition including Chile’s communist party, has vowed to overhaul a market-led economic model to fight inequality that sparked violent protests in 2019, though he as moderated his fiery rhetoric in recent months.
    He arrives in office facing an economic slowdown, high inflation and a split Congress that will test his deal-making abilities to push through reforms in healthcare and pensions, while toughening environmental regulation.
    “A new political horizon comes with challenges,” wrote Nicholas Watson, Managing Director at advisory Teneo, adding that Boric would have to battle against a divided Congress where he lacks a majority.
    “The main challenge facing the incoming administration is to channel public desire for a new social contract without negatively impacting institutions or economic stability.”
    Boric’s ascension marks a crossroads for Chile, long a bastion of free-markets and economic responsibility in volatile South America.    The country is redrafting its Augusto Pinochet-era Constitution that has underpinned growth but been blamed for stoking inequality.
    Boric’s female-majority Cabinet will be sworn in on Friday before he takes the presidential sash.    Delegations from the United States, Spain, Argentina and others will be in attendance.
    “This is an era full of hope for the defense of society, young people, a green future and equality,” tweeted Yolanda Diaz, Spain’s second vice-president who flew to Chile, referring to Boric’s environmental and feminist agenda.
    High hopes may quickly butt up against a divided electorate and legislature, split down the middle between the right and left.    Bubbling issues of crime, immigration and indigenous rights mean Boric’s government also has a full in-tray.
    “I wish him not only success in his future government,” outgoing President Pinera said in his final address.    “But the wisdom to distinguish right from wrong.”
    Pinera said he was worried about identity politics, weakening of the judiciary, and a weak stance on crime.
    Carlos Ruiz, an academic at the University of Chile who taught Boric, said the country’s right-wing had risen in recent years, helping propel ultra-conservative candidate Jose Antonio Kast, who was eventually beaten by Boric in a December run-off.
    He said Boric would have to deal with this powerful conservative bloc and find consensus to push through reforms on tax, environment, mining and others.
    “This is the task now ahead of Boric,” he said.
(Reporting by Alexander Villegas; Additional reporting by Natalia Ramos; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Lincoln Feast.)

3/11/2022 Two Weeks Into Ukraine War, Analysts Detect Faint Glimmers Of Compromise Emerge by Catherine Belton
People shelter from shelling in a metro station, as Russia's attack on
Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv, Ukraine March 10, 2022. REUTERS/Vitalii Hnidyi
(This was refiled to add attribution to headline in March 10 story.)
    LONDON (Reuters) – Talks between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers produced no apparent progress towards a ceasefire on Thursday but analysts said the fact they were even meeting left a window open for ending Russia’s war against Ukraine.
    Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba said his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov had indicated he did not have the authority to negotiate even a 24-hour ceasefire or a humanitarian corridor in Mariupol, the besieged southern Ukrainian city under heavy fire from Russian artillery.
    But Lavrov left the door open for further talks and an eventual meeting between presidents Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
    “I hope that this will become necessary at some point,” Lavrov said.    “But preparatory work needs to take place for this.”
    Moscow’s position – at least rhetorically — has appeared to soften in recent days, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying the war could stop “in a moment” if Kyiv agreed to a list of demands that has appeared to narrow since the start of the war.
    The focus has switched to neutrality for Ukraine and the status of Russian-occupied regions, while the Russian foreign ministry said it was not seeking to overthrow the Kyiv government.
    But the Kremlin has continued its military onslaught regardless, striking a maternity hospital in Mariupol with missiles and seeking to move relentlessly closer to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
    French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that Russian forces were “indiscriminately” using lethal weapons against civilian targets.    “I am worried, pessimistic,” the French leader said, adding he saw no diplomatic solution in the coming days.
    Analysts said the road ahead for any negotiation would be difficult, but Moscow’s slower than expected military progress and the stinging cost of economic sanctions imposed by a united West had potentially opened an opportunity for a compromise.
    “The position of Moscow in this war has weakened because they have not been able to implement their initial plans,” said Nikolai Petrov, senior research fellow for Eurasia at Chatham House.
    “For Putin, the imposing of sanctions has been a terrible thing.    They are killing the Russian economy and also acting on the people around him.”
    Petrov said Putin faced an increasingly difficult situation, including with his army.
    “The army is demoralised and is not ready for a long-term operation. When they spoke of days initially that was one thing, but with a longer war it is absolutely different,” he said.
    “For the political elite for whom the war was a shock, there is a complete feeling that Putin made a colossal and tragic mistake.    The Russian side has softened its position but it can’t soften it any further.”
    Others, however, cautioned that Putin could still seek to escalate.    A defiant Kremlin leader on Thursday said Russia would emerge stronger from the economic sanctions, while ultimately the measures would rebound on the West.
    “There is pressure from the elite” to find a compromise, said Sergei Guriev, the well-connected former chief economist for the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.
    “The question is how effective it can be. Putin so far seems to be doubling down.    If he believes in the foreseeable future he will manage to encircle Kyiv and destroy it, he may say I will go on.
    “In that sense an immediate decision on a further EU embargo on Russian oil imports would be important,” Guriev said, referring to discussions ongoing in the EU on whether to join a US and UK ban on purchases of Russian oil.
    Jonathan Eyal, associate director at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said the Kremlin’s reframing of its demands had provided “the first indication that Moscow is prepared to climb down on regime change

    “There is also an element of compromise in Zelenskiy’s declaration about an alternative to NATO membership,” he said.
    “We have moved the dial for the process from zero to at least having the possibility for a discussion.    But the indications of troop movements toward Kyiv may indicate that the worst may still be ahead of us,” Eyal said.
    On Tuesday Zelenskiy responded to the apparent softening of Moscow’s demands by saying he was ready to withdraw the prospect of     Ukraine joining NATO, an aim that is currently enshrined in the Ukrainian constitution but has long been a source of deep concern for Russia.
    Zelenskiy said instead, however, he wanted a collective security agreement with the participation of Ukraine’s neighbours, as well as the United States, France, Germany and Turkey, that would provide security guarantees in case of further attack.
    He also said he was willing to seek a compromise over Crimea, the peninsula Russia annexed in 2014.    Kremlin spokesman Peskov said Moscow was now demanding Kyiv accept Crimea was Russian territory and recognise the independence of the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.
    Analysts cautioned the path was still fraught for both sides.
    “The conditions being forwarded by Russia would still amount to a significant blow for Ukraine… Zelenskiy is being asked to accept the de jure loss of Ukrainian territory,” Eyal said.
    While there had been no discussion of any withdrawal of Russian troops from territory it had taken since the start of the war, Zelenskiy’s desire for a collective security agreement instead of NATO membership meant “effectively he wants a bespoke NATO,” Eyal said.
    Petrov said it would be psychologically difficult for Ukrainians to accept any loss of territory, particularly after Russia’s devastating invasion and Ukraine’s success so far in fiercely slowing it down, Petrov said.
    But this had to be weighed against the chance of stopping a war in which people were dying in their hundreds every day.
    “The Ukrainians are in euphoria that they have been able to heroically resist when no one believed that they could, and in the belief that if the West will help, they just need to keep fighting and they will win,” Petrov said.
    “But this is not correct and it does not help find a rational solution.”
(Reporting by Catherine Belton, Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jon Boyle)

3/11/2022 Republicans Attack Biden’s Handling Of Polish Jet Proposal, Urge Him To Reconsider Decision by OAN Newsroom
Several Senate Republicans continue to drill the Biden administration after denying Poland’s proposal
to send fighter jets to Ukraine. In a joint press conference Thursday, Senate Minority Leader
Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed his frustration at the lack of urgency from Joe Biden’s White House.
    “This administration has been a step behind every, every step of the way, if you will,” stated the Kentucky lawmaker.    “Never quite doing things soon enough.    The Ukrainians need airplanes and they need equipment to fight with of all kinds, much of it located throughout the eastern bloc countries of NATO.    They need this assistance and they need it right now.”
    Additionally, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) accused the White House of abandoning an ally in its time of need.
    “The Russians have backed the administration down,” he stated.    “When the Poles wanted our help in the transfer to have their back and did something pretty clever…all of a sudden these jets are going to be given by the Poles to defend Ukraine.    We’re now the tool for the Ukrainians to invade Russia.    A squadron of MiG 29s. This stinks.    This is dishonorable and we need to change course.”
    Fellow Sen, Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) also weighed in and said the U.S. isn’t sending the right message to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    “Because if we continue, if we continue to blink every time Vladimir Putin says ‘boo,’ it’s not going to stop in Ukraine,” said the Arkansas lawmaker.    “It’s not going to stop in Europe.    We might as well call the commanding general at Fort Lewis outside Seattle and tell him to go, take down the flag and surrender our position because we will never stand up to Russia if every time Vladimir Putin says ‘boo’ we back down.”
    The remarks came after the Pentagon called Poland’s offer to give its Soviet-era fighter jets to the U.S. “untenable,” further adding that involving the U.S. and a NATO air base would run high risk of escalating the war.    At least a dozen senators have since urged Biden to reconsider such decision.

3/11/2022 Project Veritas Questions Possible Media-Govt. Collusion On Jan. 6 by OAN Newsroom
A large group of protesters stand on the East steps of the Capitol Building
on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)
    The latest report by Project Veritas is raising questions about possible collusion between the mainstream media and government agencies to discredit Donald Trump and Republican voters. A new investigation by the non-profit journalism enterprise revealed mainstream media knew that FBI informants were inside the capitol during the January 6 protest.
    The latest expose features confessions by Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg who has covered the capitol protest as a “matter on national security.”    However, Rosenberg now admits the entire January 6 narrative was greatly exaggerated or even made up.
    Over the past year, Rosenberg has written stories painting the capitol protest as a pre-mediated conspiracy by Donald Trump and friends to “subvert” American democracy.    For example, on February 1 last year his article claims “a lie the former president had been grooming for years overwhelmed the Republican Party and stoked the assault on the capitol.”    However now Rosenberg says nobody was in danger during that protest, including mainstream media reporters who went inside the capitol
    The New York Times reporter also spoke about FBI presence at the January 6 rally, which in the past raised questions by Republican lawmakers.    In particular, Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene have voiced concerns the breach of U.S. Capitol could be a ploy to discredit Republican voters.
    Meanwhile, Rosenberg appeared to suggest the New York Times editorial stance on the matter is shifting towards downplaying those events as if it’s no big deal.    He went on to suggest slanted January 6 coverage is only part of a greater narrative aimed at attacking and discrediting Donald Trump.    This includes attacks on Trump before the 2016 election, during his time in office and beyond.
    Rosenberg’s confessions suggest mainstream media is presenting wishful thinking of its writers as factual news, which it is not.    Meanwhile, potential efforts by federal agencies to manipulate public opinion may pose a greater concern moving forward.

3/11/2022 Oil up $3.23 to $109.16, DOW down 230 to 32,844.

3/12/2022 Guatemala Receives First Arrivals Of Ukrainians Fleeing Conflict
A Ukrainian family fleeing their homeland following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, arrive at La Aurora International
airport in Guatemala City, Guatemala March 11, 2022. Guatemala Ministry of Foreign Relations/Handout via REUTERS
    GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Guatemala on Friday received its first arrivals of Ukrainian families fleeing their homeland since Russia’s invasion of its neighbor last month, authorities said.
    The eight Ukrainians were the first to arrive in the Central American country “for humanitarian reasons,” an immigration spokesperson told Reuters.
    Another flight carrying more Ukrainians arrived several hours later, officials said.    It is unclear how many may have arrived privately in Guatemala since the Russian attacks on Ukraine began.
    “I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I hope the war ends soon,” said one of the arrivals in a video disseminated by Guatemalan authorities.    “It’s hard to say how much my heart hurts for my mother and father in Ukraine, who can’t leave.”
    Guatemala’s announcement was the first on Ukrainian arrivals from the Central American countries known as the Northern Triangle – also including Honduras and El Salvador – which have themselves seen much of their populations emigrate due to violence and poverty.
    A rising number of Ukrainians and Russians have fled to Latin America in recent months, including those who turn up at the United States-Mexico border.
(This story corrects to add dropped word ‘the’ in fourth paragraph)
(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by Stephen Coates and William Mallard)

3/12/2022 Jailed Nicaraguan Opposition Leader Chamorro, Brother Found Guilty by Ismael Lopez
FILE PHOTO: Presidential hopeful Cristiana Chamorro, who seeks to challenge longtime President Daniel Ortega in the
national elections in November, arrives at the Nicaragua Attorney General of the Republic office after the government
announced a money laundering investigation against her, in Managua Nicaragua May 21, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Herrera
    MANAGUA (Reuters) – A former Nicaraguan presidential hopeful and her brother were found guilty of several financial crimes late Friday, relatives of the two told Reuters.
    Cristiana Chamorro, who was ahead of current President Daniel Ortega in the polls when she was arrested in June 2021, and her brother, former lawmaker Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Barrios, had been outspoken critics of Ortega’s administration until their arrests, which the United States and international human rights groups have denounced as politically motivated.
    The two are the children of former President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, who beat Ortega in the 1990 elections to end his first term.    He took office again in 2007 and won re-election a fourth consecutive time last year after many of his opponents were jailed.
    Chamorro was convicted of laundering money through a free speech organization she ran, which was dissolved early last year after laws restricting nonprofit operations in the country were passed.    Prosecutors said Chamorro received money from abroad through the organization “to destabilize the government.”
    She and her brother were also convicted of abusive management and misappropriation and retention of funds.    Prosecutors are seeking a 13-year sentence for Chamorro, which she will be able to serve under house arrest.    Three former foundation employees were also convicted.    Her brother could receive up to seven years in prison.
    Lawyers for Chamorro and her brother had denied the charges.
    “My siblings Pedro Joaquin and Cristiana Chamorro proclaimed their innocence in the few minutes they had to speak,” their brother Carlos Chamorro said in a Tweet after the conviction.
    Chamorro was arrested the same week as seven other potential political rivals.    A total of 46 opponents to leftist Ortega, a former guerrilla commander, were jailed during last year’s elections.
    Earlier this week, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged Ortega to re-establish a “credible, fair and transparent electoral process” ahead of municipal elections in the Central American country later this year.
(Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

3/12/2022 Italy Seizes Russian Oligarch Melnichenko’s Sailing Yacht A
A Finance Police officer boards the superyacht from Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko which has been sequestered
at the northern port of Trieste, Italy, March 12, 2022, in this screen grab taken from video, Finance Police/Handout via REUTERS
    ROME (Reuters) – Italian police have seized a superyacht from Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko, the prime minister’s office said on Saturday, a few days after the businessman was placed on an EU sanctions list following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
    The 143-metre (470-foot) Sailing Yacht A, which has a price tag of 530 million euros ($578 million), has been sequestered at the northern port of Trieste, the government said.
    Designed by Philippe Starck and built by Nobiskrug in Germany, the vessel is the world’s biggest sailing yacht, the government said.
    Melnichenko owns major fertiliser producer EuroChem Group and coal company SUEK.
    Last week Italian police seized villas and yachts worth 143 million euros ($156 million) from five high-profile Russians who have been placed on the sanctions list.
    The police operations were part of a coordinated drive by Western states to penalise wealthy Russians linked to President Vladimir Putin.
($1 = 0.9167 euros)
(Reporting by Emilio Parodi; Writing by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Frances Kerry)

3/12/2022 Lawmaker Calls For Block On Instagram After Meta Allows Hate Speech Against Russians
FILE PHOTO: Meta logo is placed on a Russian flag in this illustration
taken February 26, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
    (Reuters) – Russia on Friday condemned Meta Platforms’ move to temporarily lift a ban on calls for violence against the Russian military and leadership, and an influential parliamentarian called for Instagram to be blocked in Russia.
    In a temporary change to its hate speech policy, Meta Platforms will allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion, according to internal emails seen by Reuters.
    “Meta’s aggressive and criminal policy leading to incitement of hatred and hostility towards Russians is outrageous,” the Russian embassy in Washington said in a statement on Friday.
    “The company’s actions are yet another evidence of the information war without rules declared on our country,” it said.
    A Meta spokesperson confirmed it had temporarily eased its rules for political speech, allowing posts such as “death to the Russian invaders,” although it would not allow calls for violence against Russian civilians.
    Internal emails seen by Reuters showed it had also temporarily allowed posts that call for death to Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
    Alexander Khinshtein, the head of the information policy and IT committee at the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said the Duma would appeal to the Russian prosecutor general’s office and Investigative Committee over the move.    It was not clear what action it expected those bodies to take.
    “If this is true, then of course Instagram should be blocked in Russia after Facebook,” he said.
    Facebook and Instagram are both owned by Meta.    Last week, Russia said it was banning Facebook in the country in response to what it said were restrictions of access to Russian media on the platform.
    “They should think about how they are using these platforms.    They incite hatred, and even more, they call for the murder of Russian citizens,” Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said in a post on VKontakte, Russia’s answer to Facebook.
    Moscow has also cracked down on tech companies, including Twitter, which said it is restricted in the country, during its invasion of Ukraine, which it calls a “special operation.”
    Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia’s space agency Roskosmos, had deleted his Facebook profile, news agency RIA Novosti reported on Friday.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Stephen Coates)

3/12/2022 U.S.’S Harris Slams Putin, Credits Romania For Ukraine Refugee Help by Nandita Bose and Luiza Ilie
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris holds a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister
Justin Trudeau in Warsaw, Poland, Poland March 10, 2022. Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS
    BUCHAREST (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin shows no sign of being willing to engage in diplomacy, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said on Friday during a visit to Romania three weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
    Harris credited Romania for taking in thousands of people fleeing the fighting in neighbouring Ukraine and said Washington was constantly reassessing support levels for its NATO allies according to the dynamic situation on the ground.
    “From everything that we know and have witnessed, Putin shows no sign of engaging in serious diplomacy,” Harris said at a news conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.
    Her visit to Bucharest came a day after talks between Ukraine and Russia’s foreign ministers failed to bring any pause in the conflict.
    Asked if Washington intends to increase the number of troops in Romania, Harris said, “We will on a daily basis, assess the needs that we have to maintain stability in this region.”
    Iohannis said he underscored the need to make the NATO battle group in Romania operational as soon as possible during his talks with Harris.
    Bucharest was Harris’ second stop on a three-day trip through eastern Europe.    Meanwhile, the United States, together with the Group of Seven nations and the European Union, will move to revoke Russia’s “most favoured nation” status in an effort to pressure it to end the conflict with Ukraine.
    Harris met Polish leaders and Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw on Thursday and offered U.S. support to calls for an international war crimes investigation against Russia.    Her visit to Poland came amid a rift between the United States and Poland over supplying warplanes to Ukraine.
    Polish President Andrzej Duda asked for more help to house and feed Ukrainians fleeing the conflict, and said he had asked Harris that Washington speed up the process for refugees who sought to go to the United States and might have family there.
    About 1.43 million Ukrainians have fled to Poland since the invasion began on Feb. 24. Over that same time, more than 291,081 Ukrainians have fled to Romania.
    In total, more than 2.3 million people have fled Ukraine as of March 10, according to the United Nations, which has warned that up to 5 million people could flee.    That would make it the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War Two.
    President Joe Biden was expected to sign legislation on Friday to help Ukraine finance ammunition and other military supplies, as well as humanitarian support.
    Russia, which calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation,” to disarm its neighbour and dislodge leaders it calls neo-Nazis, has denied targeting civilians.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose and Luiza Ilie; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

3/12/2022 U.S. Rushing $200 Million Worth Of Weapons For Ukraine’s Defense Against Russia by Andrea Shalal and Steve Holland
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden arrives aboard Air Force One at Philadelphia International
Airport in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. March 11, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Saturday said it would rush up to $200 million in additional small arms, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine, as Ukrainian officials pleaded for more equipment to defend against heavy shelling by Russian forces.
    President Joe Biden on Saturday authorized the additional security assistance, the White House said, paving the way for the “immediate” shipment of fresh military equipment to Ukraine, a senior administration official said.
    Biden’s decision brings total U.S. security aid provided to Ukraine to $1.2 billion since January 2021, and to $3.2 billion since 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine, according to senior administration officials.
    In a memorandum to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Biden directed that up to $200 million allocated through the Foreign Assistance Act be designated for Ukraine’s defense.
    Blinken said he had authorized a fourth drawdown of U.S. defense stocks, in line with Biden’s directive, “to help Ukraine meet the armored, airborne, and other threats it is facing” as the war entered a third week.
    He lauded the “great skill, iron will and profound courage” being shown by the Ukrainian armed forces and citizens, and said the United States would also continue to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need.
    “The United States and our allies and partners stand in solidarity with the people and government of Ukraine in the face of the Kremlin’s aggression,” he said in a statement.    “The international community is united and determined to hold (Russian President Vladimir) Putin accountable.”
    Russia says it is engaged in a “special military operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its neighbour’s military capabilities and “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
    The funds “will provide immediate military assistance to Ukraine, including anti-armor, anti-aircraft systems, and small arms in support of Ukraine’s front-line defenders,” one of the U.S. officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
    Ukraine has been asking for more Javelin anti-tank weapons and Stinger missiles to shoot down aircraft.
    Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, on Saturday underscored Ukraine’s need for additional military supplies in an interview with the non-profit Renew Democracy Initiative.
    The United States has drawn from U.S. weapons stocks to supply Ukraine repeatedly, beginning in the fall of 2021 and then again in December and February.
    The last batch of U.S. weapons provided in February included anti-armor, small arms, body armor and various munitions, according to the Pentagon, as well as anti-aircraft systems.
    On Thursday night the U.S. Congress approved $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine as part of a $1.5 trillion measure to fund the U.S. government through September.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Steve Holland; Editing by Alistair Bell, Grant McCool and Daniel Wallis)

3/12/2022 No Oil or DOW info.

3/13/2022 Brits To Get 350 Pounds A Month To Open Homes To Ukraine Refugees by Andrew MacAskill
FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator holds a British flag during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine,
at Parliament Square in London, Britain, March 6, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will pay people to open their homes to Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion as the government moves to deflect anger over its response to the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War Two.
    The new scheme called “Homes for Ukraine” will let refugees from the war come to Britain even if they do not have family ties, the government said on Sunday.
    Britain will pay people 350 pounds ($456) a month if they can offer refugees a spare room or property for a minimum period of six months.
    Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sought to portray Britain as helping lead the global response to the Russian invasion – which Moscow calls a “special operation” – but his government has faced criticism over delays in accepting refugees.
    Lawmakers from all the main political parties have attacked the government’s insistence that Ukrainians seek visas and biometric tests before arriving in Britain, saying this prioritised bureaucracy over the welfare of those fleeing war.
    Under the new scheme, members of the public, charities, businesses and community groups should be able to offer accommodation via a web page by the end of next week, the government said.
    “The UK stands behind Ukraine in their darkest hour and the British public understand the need to get as many people to safety as quickly as we can,” Michael Gove, the minister for housing, said in a statement.
    “I urge people across the country to join the national effort and offer support to our Ukrainian friends.    Together we can give a safe home to those who so desperately need it.”
    Anyone offering a room or home will have to show that the accommodation meets standards and they may have to undergo criminal record checks.
    The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine could rise to more than 4 million, double the current estimates of about 2 million, the UN’s Refugee Agency said last week.
($1 = 0.7671 pounds)
(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

3/13/2022 NATO Chief Says Russia May Use Chemical Weapons – German Paper
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during an interview with Reuters on the
sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Antalya, Turkey March 11, 2022. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
    BERLIN (Reuters) – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that Russia might use chemical weapons following its invasion of Ukraine and that such a move would be a war crime, according to an interview in German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
    “In recent days, we have heard absurd claims about chemical and biological weapons laboratories,” Stoltenberg was quoted by Welt am Sonntag as saying, adding that the Kremlin was inventing false pretexts to justify what could not be justified.
    “Now that these false claims have been made, we must remain vigilant because it is possible that Russia itself could plan chemical weapons operations under this fabrication of lies.    That would be a war crime,” Stoltenberg was quoted as saying.
    He added that although the Ukrainian people were resisting the Russian invasion with courage, the coming days are likely to bring even greater hardship.
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

3/13/2022 Germany To Take 2,500 Ukrainian Refugees From Moldova by Alexander Ratz
Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey visits an emergency camp that has been set up at the fair grounds for the refugees who
fled from Ukraine following the Russian invasion, in Berlin, Germany, March 11, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
    CHISINAU (Reuters) - Germany will take in 2,500 refugees who have fled to Moldova from Ukraine, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Saturday, as eastern Europe’s efforts to aid refugees come under strain.
    The number of refugees who have fled Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24 now totals nearly 2.6 million and some cities in eastern Europe are running out of accommodation.
    Speaking after meeting her Moldovan counterpart in Chisinau, Baerbock said Germany was committed to helping Ukraine’s neighbours look after refugees and a corridor would be set up via Romania to bring people to Germany, mainly by bus.
    “Europe and our country stands in solidarity with you, we will take refugees from you,” she said.
    Around 300,000 people have crossed into Moldova from Ukraine since war broke out. More than 100,000 of them have stayed in the country.
    Later, Baerbock met refugees at Palanca, just 65 km from the Black Sea port of Odessa in Ukraine.
    “We fled as soon as the town was bombarded,” a young woman from Sumy in northeastern Ukraine told Baerbock.    Relieved to have made it over the border with her two children, aged four and 12, she was standing just metres from a queue of hundreds of women and children still seeking permission to enter Moldova.
    A border official said up to 5,000 people were arriving in Palanca every day.
    Some 109,183 refugees from Ukraine have so far been registered in Germany, the interior ministry said on Friday and Germans have offered up to 300,000 private homes to house them.
(Reporting by Alexander RatzWriting by Madeline ChambersEditing by Frances Kerry and Ros Russell)

3/13/2022 No Oil or DOW info.

3/14/2022 French Interior Minister Heading For Corsica For Talks After Violent Protests
FILE PHOTO: French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin attends an Extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting, after Russia
launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium, February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron
    PARIS (Reuters) – France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Monday that he would travel to Corsica later this week and hold talks with local elected officials after violent protests erupted on the weekend, a few weeks before the presidential election.
    Calm must be restored immediately, the minister said in a statement.
    Darmanin will head to Corsica on Wednesday and Thursday.
    Protesters in the northern Corsican town of Bastia attacked public buildings and threw projectiles at police on Sunday in the latest demonstration over an attack on a jailed nationalist at a mainland French prison.
    Colonna, a Corsican shepherd, is serving a life sentence for the 1998 murder of Claude Erignac, who as prefect of Corsica embodied the power of the French state on an island with a history of separatist violence.
    The attack left the Corsican militant in a coma and led to renewed calls for nationalist prisoners to be transferred from the French mainland to the island, closer to their families. [L5N2V62VV]
    Authorities have long rejected these demands, saying nationalist prisoners were special status prisoners.
    In a bid to ease tensions, Prime Minister Jean Castex last week removed this status for Colonna and two other detainees, members of the so-called “Erignac commando.”    But the move was seen as too little too late by Colonna’s supporters in Corsica.
    French prosecutors have also launched a terrorism investigation as Colonna’s attacker was serving a nine-year sentence for planning terrorist attacks.
(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel, Editing by Dominique Vidalon and Kim Coghill)

3/14/2022 U.S. To Warn China Of Perils Of Aiding Russia At Rome Meet by David Brunnstrom, Andrea Shalal and Michael Martina
FILE PHOTO: U.S. White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks to the news media about the situation in Ukraine
during a daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 11, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan plans to meet China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Rome on Monday and will stress the economic penalties Beijing will face if it helps Russia in its war in Ukraine, U.S. officials say.
    Sullivan will warn of the isolation China could face globally if it continued to support Russia, one U.S. official said, without providing details.
    Officials of the United States and other countries have sought to make clear to China in recent weeks that siding with Russia could carry consequences for trade flows, development of new technologies and could expose it to secondary sanctions.
    Chinese companies which defy U.S. restrictions on exports to Russia may be cut off from American equipment and software they need to make their products, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said last week.
    It will be Sullivan’s first known meeting with Yang since closed-door sessions in Zurich in October that sought to calm tension after an acrimonious public exchange between the two in Alaska a year ago.
    China is the world’s largest exporter, the European Union’s largest trading partner, and the United States’ top foreign supplier of goods, and any pressure on Chinese trade could have knock-on economic effects for the United States and its allies.     On Sunday U.S. officials told Reuters Russia had asked China for military equipment after its invasion, sparking concern within the Biden administration that Beijing might undermine Western efforts to aid Ukraine by helping to strengthen Moscow’s military.
    Sullivan told CNN on Sunday Washington was watching closely to see how far Beijing provided economic or material support to Russia.
    “We are communicating directly, privately to Beijing, that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them,” he said.
    “We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country, anywhere in the world.”
    Ties between the two nations, already at their lowest in decades, took a further plunge last month when leaders Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin announced an upgraded “no limits” strategic partnership just weeks before the Ukraine invasion.
    Beijing, a key trading partner of Russia, has refused to call Moscow’s actions an invasion, although Xi last week did call for “maximum restraint” and express concern about the impact of Western sanctions on the global economy, amid growing signs that they limit China’s ability to buy Russian oil.
    Washington and its allies have imposed sweeping, unprecedented sanctions on Russia and banned its energy imports, while providing billions of dollars of military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.
    China’s Washington embassy expressed surprise about reports of Russia’s request for military aid, which first appeared in the Financial Times newspaper, and a leading Chinese analyst suggested Beijing could act as a mediator in Ukraine.
    Embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu called the current situation in Ukraine “disconcerting” and added, “We support and encourage all efforts that are conducive to a peaceful settlement of the crisis.”
    Daniel Russel, who served as the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia under President Barack Obama and has close ties to the Biden administration, called the prospect of China serving as a mediator to end the war “far-fetched.”
    That remained the case even if “Beijing may talk a good game about ceasefires and mediation to insulate itself from blame,” he added.
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Michael Martina and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Heather Timmons)

3/14/2022 Germany To Buy Up To 35 Lockheed F-35 Fighter Jets – Sources
FILE PHOTO: A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show
in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt/File Photo
    BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will purchase F-35 fighter jets built by U.S. firm Lockheed Martin to replace its ageing Tornado aircraft, according to two government sources, with one of the sources saying Berlin aims to buy up to 35 of the stealth jets.
    A German defence source told Reuters in early February that Germany was leaning toward purchasing the F-35 but a final decision had not been taken.
    The Tornado is the only German jet capable of carrying U.S. nuclear bombs, stored in Germany, in case of a conflict.[nL8N2SD2XD]
    But the air force has been flying the jet since the 1980s, and Berlin is planning to phase it out between 2025 and 2030.
    The F-35 buy will be a blow for Boeing, whose F-18 was favoured by former German defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to replace the Tornado.
    The decision could also upset France.    Paris has watched Germany’s deliberations over the F-18 or more advanced F-35, concerned a deal could undermine the development of a joint Franco-German fighter jet that is supposed to be ready in the 2040s.
    Chancellor Olaf Scholz two weeks ago backed the ongoing joint programme with Paris.
    At the time, Scholz also announced that the Eurofighter jet, built by Franco-German Airbus, would be developed further to be capable of electronic warfare, a role the Tornado also fulfils.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke, Sabine Siebold; writing by Miranda Murray; editing by Kirsti Knolle and Jason Neely)

3/14/2022 Europe’s Arms Imports Jump Amid Tensions With Russia, Says Think-Tank SIPRI
FILE PHOTO: A visitor looks at an MP5K sub-machine gun at the Defence and Security Equipment International trade show in London, Britain, September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
    STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Arms shipments to Europe jumped amid deteriorating relations with Russia in the five years through 2021, even as the global arms trade slowed, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) think-tank said on Monday.
    Compared with the previous five-year period, international transfers of major arms shrank 5% globally, SIPRI said in a statement.    But imports to states in Europe increased 19% – the biggest growth in any world region.
    “The severe deterioration in relations between most European states and Russia was an important driver of growth in European arms imports, especially for states that cannot meet all their requirements through their national arms industries,” SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman said.
    Britain, Norway and the Netherlands were Europe’s biggest importers, it said.    Ukraine’s imports of major arms were very limited in the period despite tensions with Russia in the run-up to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last month.
    “Other European states are also expected to increase their arms imports significantly over the coming decade, having recently placed large orders for major arms, in particular combat aircraft from the USA,” the think-tank said.
    The United States remained the world’s biggest arms exporter, growing its market share to 39% from 32%.
    SIPRI’s data is based on information and estimates on international arms transfers including sales, gifts and production under licence and reflects delivery volumes, not the financial value of deals.
(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

3/14/2022 U.S. Working To Help Iraq Get Missile Defense Capabilities – Sullivan
FILE PHOTO: White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan addresses the daily press
briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday condemned Iran’s ballistic missile attack on Iraq’s northern Kurdish regional capital of Erbil, and said Washington was working to help Iraq get missile defense capabilities to defend itself.
    Sullivan told CBS’s “Face the Nation” program that no U.S. citizens were harmed in the attack, and no U.S. facilities were hit, but the United States would do whatever it takes to defend its people, interests and allies.
    “We are in consultation with the Iraqi government and the government in Iraqi Kurdistan, in part to help them get the missile defense capabilities to be able to defend themselves in their cities,” Sullivan said.
    Iran’s Revolutionary Guards claimed responsibility for a dozen ballistic missiles that struck Iraq’s northern Kurdish regional capital of Erbil in the early hours of Sunday, Iran’s state media reported.
    The missiles targeted the U.S. consulate among other sites, according to the Kurdish regional government.
    Sullivan, in a subsequent statement released by the White House, said the United States backs Baghdad and governments across the region in the face of threats from Tehran.
    “We will support the Government of Iraq in holding Iran accountable, and we will support our partners throughout the Middle East in confronting similar threats from Iran,” he said.
    Asked about the impact on negotiations over a nuclear agreement with Iran that are already at an impasse, Sullivan said: “The various negotiators are back home in their capitals and we will have to see what happens in the days ahead with respect to the diplomacy around the nuclear deal.”
    He said President Joe Biden remained strongly committed to stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
    “One thing I will say is that the only thing more dangerous than Iran armed with ballistic missiles and advanced military capabilities is an Iran that has all of those things and a nuclear weapon,” he said.
    U.S. forces stationed at the Erbil International Airport complex had previously come under fire from rocket and drone that attacks Washington blames on Iran-aligned militia groups, but no such attacks have occurred for several months.
    The Defense Department referred all queries about Sullivan’s comments on missile defense capabilities to the State Department, which oversees security assistance agreements with other countries.
    The State Department had no immediate comment on any new security assistance packages for Iraq.
(Reporting by Andrea ShalalEditing by Marguerita Choy, Richard Chang and Tom Hogue)

3/14/2022 U.S. Says Supports Iraq, Other Middle East Partners After Iran Attack
FILE PHOTO: U.S. National security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a press
briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 13, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
    (Reuters) – The United States condemned on Sunday an Iranian attack on Iraq’s northern city of Erbil and backs Baghdad and governments across the region in the face of threats from Tehran, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.
    “We will support the Government of Iraq in holding Iran accountable, and we will support our partners throughout the Middle East in confronting similar threats from Iran,” he said in a statement released by the White House.
(Reporting by Costas Pitas in Los Angeles; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

3/14/2022 Pfizer CEO: Fourth Booster Shot ‘Necessary’ by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla attends a ceremony in the northern city
of Thessaloniki, Greece, Oct. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos, file)
The CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, believes Americans will have to prepare for getting an annual booster shot the same as the flu.    He said a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine will be necessary.
    During an interview on Sunday, Bourla affirmed that just like the flu shot, the vaccine could become a yearly occurrence for Americans.
    “Right now, the way that we have seen, it is necessary a fourth booster right now,” he stated.    “The protection that you are getting from the third, it is good enough, actually quite good for hospitalizations and deaths.    It’s not that good against infections.    It doesn’t last very long, but we are just submitting those data to the FDA and then we will see what the experts also will say outside Pfizer.”
    The CEO said Pfizer is working diligently to make a vaccine that can protect against all variants for at least a year.    Bourla reiterated this during this interview.    His comments came after mixed messaging regarding Pfizer and Biontech’s third booster shot as well as the FDA’s expanded use of a single booster dose to kids ages 12-to-15 in January.
    In the meantime, Bourla said the industry, CDC and FDA must better coordinate in order to prevent further confusion amongst the American people.

3/14/2022 WikiLeaks’ Assange Denied Permission To Appeal Extradition Decision At UK Supreme Court
FILE PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a speech from the balcony of the
Ecuadorian Embassy in central London, Britain February 5, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been denied permission to appeal at Britain’s Supreme Court against a decision to extradite him to the United States, the court said on Monday.
    While Assange’s extradition must still be approved by the government, Monday’s decision deals a serious blow to Assange’s effort to fight his deportation from Britain in the courts.
    U.S. authorities want Australian-born Assange, 50, to face trial on 18 counts relating to WikiLeaks’ release of vast troves of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables which they said had put lives in danger.
    In December, the High Court in London overturned a lower court’s ruling that he should not be extradited because his mental health problems meant he would be at risk of suicide, and on Monday the Supreme Court itself said it would not hear a challenge to that ruling.
    “The application has been refused by the Supreme Court and the reason given is that application did not raise an arguable point of law,” a spokesperson for Britain’s Supreme Court said.
    The extradition decision will now need to be ratified by interior minister Priti Patel, after which Assange can try to challenge the decision by judicial review.    A judicial review involves a judge examining the legitimacy of a public body’s decision.
    An interior ministry spokesperson said it would not be appropriate to comment on the court’s decision.
    The High Court had accepted a package of assurances given by the United States, including that Assange would not be held in a so-called “ADX” maximum security prison in Colorado and that he could be transferred to Australia to serve his sentence if convicted.
    Assange’s lawyers said the decision to extradite Assange based on those pledges was “highly disturbing.”
    “We regret that the opportunity has not been taken to consider the troubling circumstances in which Requesting States can provide caveated guarantees after the conclusion of a full evidential hearing,” Assange’s lawyers said in a statement on Monday.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout and Michael Holden; editing by William James and Mark Porter)

3/14/2022 Oil down $7.62 to $101.47, DOW up 105 to 32,945.

3/15/2022 U.S. Raises Concerns About China Aligning With Russia At Meeting It Calls ‘Intense’ by Antonio Denti, Michael Martina and Andrea Shalal
FILE PHOTO: U.S. White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks to the news media about the situation in Ukraine
during a daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 11, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo
    ROME/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday raised concerns about China’s alignment with Russia in a seven-hour meeting with Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi as Washington warned of the isolation and penalties Beijing will face if it helps Moscow in its invasion of Ukraine.
    The meeting took place in Rome as Washington told allies in NATO and several Asian countries that China had signaled its willingness to provide military and economic aid to Russia to support its war, two U.S. officials said.
    The U.S. message, sent in a diplomatic cable, also noted China was expected to deny those plans, said one of the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.
    “It’s real, it’s consequential, and it’s really alarming,” the second U.S. official said, although the U.S. government offered no public evidence to back its assertions of China’s willingness to provide such aid to Russia.
    After talks ended, the White House issued a short statement, saying Sullivan raised a “range of issues in U.S.-China relations, with substantial discussion of Russia’s war against Ukraine.”
    “We have deep concerns about China’s alignment with Russia at this time, and the national security adviser was direct about those concerns and the potential implications and consequences of certain actions,” a senior administration official told reporters.
    Sullivan described to Yang “the unity of the United States and its allies and partners … in bringing costs on Russia for its actions,” this official added.
    The official described the meeting as “intense,” reflecting “the gravity of the moment,” although it had long been planned, was not timed to events in Ukraine and covered other issues including North Korea, Taiwan and tense bilateral relations.
    The official said the exchanges had been “candid” but led to no specific outcomes.
    Before the talks, U.S. officials had said Sullivan planned to warn of the isolation China could face globally if it supported Russia.
    Officials of the United States and other countries have sought to emphasize in recent weeks that siding with Russia could carry consequences for trade flows, development of new technologies and expose China to secondary sanctions.
    Chinese companies defying U.S. restrictions on exports to Russia may be cut off from American equipment and software they need to make their products, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said last week.
    “We have communicated very clearly to Beijing that we will not stand by…(and) we will not allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told a regular briefing in Washington.
    It was Sullivan’s first-known meeting with Yang since closed-door sessions in Zurich in October that sought to calm tensions after an acrimonious public exchange between the two in Alaska a year ago.
    China’s official Xinhua news agency cited Yang as saying that Beijing was committed to promoting negotiations to resolve the Ukraine conflict.
    “China firmly opposes any words and deeds that spread false information and distort and smear China’s position,” Yang said, in an apparent oblique reference to Washington’s claims about support for Russia.    China and the United States should strengthen dialogue, properly manage differences, and avoid conflict and confrontation, he said.
    Ryan Hass of the Brookings Institution said Chinese support for Russia “would considerably narrow its path for preserving non-hostile relations with the United States and the West” and not likely alter the trajectory of the conflict.
    China is the world’s-largest exporter, the European Union’s largest trading partner and the top foreign supplier of goods to the United States.    Any pressure on Chinese trade could have economic effects on the United States and its allies.
    U.S. officials told Reuters on Sunday that Russia had asked China for military equipment after its invasion.    Russia denied asking China for military assistance and said it has sufficient military clout to fulfill all of its aims in Ukraine.
    Sino-U.S. ties, already at their lowest point in decades, took a further plunge last month when leaders Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir Putin of Russia announced an upgraded “no limits” strategic partnership just weeks before the Ukraine invasion.
    China, a key trading partner of Russia, has refused to call Moscow’s actions an invasion, although Xi last week did call for “maximum restraint” and express concern about the impact of Western sanctions on the global economy, amid growing signs that they limit China’s ability to buy Russian oil.
    Russia itself calls its moves into Ukraine a “special military operation.”
    The United States and its allies have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia and banned its energy imports, while providing billions of dollars of military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.
(Reporting by Antonio Denti in Rome and Michael Martina, Andrea Shalal, David Brunnstrom, Steve Holland, Simon Lewis and Phil Stewart in Washington and Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; Editing by Heather Timmons and Howard Goller)

3/15/2022 Biden Expected To Meet With NATO Leaders In Brussels On Russia-Ukraine – Sources by Andrea Shalal, Trevor Hunnicutt and Steve Holland
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One for travel to
Philadelphia from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. March 11, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to travel to Brussels next week to meet with NATO leaders to discuss Russia’s war in Ukraine, U.S. and foreign sources familiar with the situation said on Monday.
    The plan, which is still being finalized, calls for Biden to meet with other leaders from the NATO alliance in Brussels on March 23, said three of the sources.
    They cautioned that the plans could still change given the rapidly evolving situation in Ukraine.
    The meeting comes as Russian forces continue to escalate their attacks on Ukraine.
    One source said Biden could also travel to NATO member Poland, where concerns are running high after a Russian attack on a large Ukrainian base just miles from the border killed 35 people.
    NATO members are worried about being drawn into a military conflict with nuclear power Russia.    Biden has repeatedly said that the United States will not send forces into Ukraine, but will defend “every inch” of NATO territory.
    White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the United States was closely engaged with its NATO partners and European allies but that there had not been any final decision about a presidential trip.
    Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two, the United States and its allies have coordinated broad sanctions against Moscow and President Vladimir Putin as punishment.
(Reporting by Steve Holland, Andrea Shalal and Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington, writing by Kanishka Singh and Andrea Shalal; editing by Grant McCool and Stephen Coates)

3/15/2022 Zelensky Urges European Leaders To Provide More Support For Ukraine by OAN Newsroom
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson listens as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses by video link
leaders attending a meeting of the leaders of the the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a coalition of 10 states
focused on security in northern Europe, in London, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (Justin Tallis/Pool Photo via AP)
    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke with a group of European prime ministers, urging them to provide more support against the ongoing invasion.
    Zelensky virtually addressed Joint Expeditionary Force leaders Tuesday, warning them Russia is targeting more nations and Europe will be in peril if his country falls.    The Ukrainian leader stressed his forces need more fighter jets among other forms of aid.
    The group, which includes British Nordic and Baltic nation leaders, is meeting in London for a summit on defense and security.    U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the nations have a duty to help Ukraine and praised the Ukrainian people for fighting for their sovereignty.
    “I think already it is clear that (Vladimir) Putin has gravely miscalculated,” Johnson asserted.” He’s underestimated the heroism and determination of the Ukrainians to resist under President Zelensky.    I think he’s also gravely underestimated the unity of the West, which is expressed not least in this meeting today.”
    Johnson also called out Russian forces for bombarding innocent civilians and firing on population centers.    The British primer minister suggested Europe hasn’t seen such brutality since WWII.
    Meanwhile, the United Nations hs ramped up humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.    On Monday, the UN announced it will allocate $40 million in aid towards those affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
    The funds will include critical supplies of food, water, medicine and cash assistance to nearly 2 million displaced residents.    The UN noted the funds are critical to a fast and flexible response on the ground in Ukraine.    The move follows the organizations initial $20 million allocation issued at the start of the invasion last month.

3/15/2022 48 GOP Senators Sign Letter Demanding End To Iran Nuke Talks by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and fellow Republicans criticize President Joe Biden’s policies on Iran’s nuclear
weapons, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    President Joe Biden has come under immense scrutiny by Republicans in the upper chamber, over his diplomatic efforts with Iran.    On Monday, all but one GOP senator sent a letter to Biden urging him to stop trying to ink a deal with the Iranian regime to revive the controversial 2015 nuclear deal.
    The opponents of the deal led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) say it would be much weaker than the one former President Donald Trump withdrew from. The senators added, the current proposal would lift several restrictions and sanctions of Iran, which they say would kindle the country’s nuclear ambitions and aggression on regional rivals.
    “In Vienna, Biden diplomats have been furiously bending over backwards to surrender to the Ayatollah,” said Cruz.    “The same Ayatollah who is a theocratic dispute, regularly chants ‘death to America and death to Israel.’    This administration wants nothing more than to give them hundred of billions of dollars in sanctions relief.    Money that would inevitably be used to murder Americans.”
    The urgency from the GOP senators come as various international organizations, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, warn Iran has enriched uranium to the point that it’s near a nuclear weapon.    Additionally, officials have linked Iran to several acts of terror, including a recent airstrike launched near the U.S. consulate in Iraq.
    Several senators lament Iran’s disregard for the international rules and threats from America is a sign President Biden is a weak leader.    Sen. Cruz further warned Biden’s negotiations will help out other adversaries to the U.S.
    “This Iran deal, if and when it is announce, will be a massive win for Vladimir Putin because the Biden administration has been eager to tell Putin and to tell the Ayatollah ‘of course, we will have a carve out for the Iran deal on Russia’s sanctions,’ which means Putin will make billions in oil and gas transactions, in nuclear transactions and in weapons transactions,” explained the Republican lawmaker.    “Putin wants to be the leading arms dealers to the Ayatollah.”
    Meanwhile, both current Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett and his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu believe a new Iran deal will further destabilize the Middle East.    They stressed, their country has been targeted in several attacks from Iran and have warned of further acts of terror on their people as well as on the rest of the world.
    In the meantime, Biden is showing no signs of walking away from the negotiating table despite a snag in international talks following Russia’s recent demands.
    The sole dissenting Republican, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), warned lawmakers against pushing to end talks when there isn’t a finalized deal on the table yet.    Paul asserted, “condemning a deal that is not yet formulated is akin to condemning diplomacy itself, is not a very thoughtful position.”

3/15/2022 Pentagon Gives Updates On U.S. Response To Ukraine Invasion by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon
in Washington, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
    The Pentagon hosted a press conference to provide an update on the war in Ukraine.    Department spokesperson John Kirby addressed a recent airstrike conducted on a training facility in Ukraine over the weekend.
    During the briefing Kirby revealed that the Florida National Guard conducted training exercises at the facility a few weeks prior to the attack, but that the facility was uninhabited at the time of the strike.
    “Our understanding is that these were cruise missiles fired from aircraft, long range, on the Yavoriv training facility there in Western Ukraine,” he explained.    “I can assure you that there were no U.S. military personnel there at that training facility.
    That’s where the Florida National Guard had been doing their training before they left a few weeks ago.    No U.S. contractors there, no U.S. civilians, no government, U.S. government personnel there at all
    Kirby also gave an update to the Pentagon’s reaction to Russia’s progress in the aftermath of the attack. He also confirmed the absence of any plans to establish a no-fly zone, stating Russia lacks the air superiority over Ukraine to justify the move.
    “It doesn’t change,” he noted.    “I think our general understanding that they continue to be frustrated by a very stiff Ukrainian resistance and they are not making the kind of progress on the ground that we believe they thought they would be making by this point.”
    The briefing concluded with Kirby addressing the Biden administration’s efforts to send aid to Ukraine.    According to the spokesman, they are close to running out of the $350 million package signed by President Joe Biden.
    “We’re nearly at the end of the $350 million package that the president signed over a week ago,” he stated.    “We’ve got almost all of that into their hands.    The remaining the remaining items should be arriving very, very soon.    And then we are already at work trying to figure out what the next drawdown package of $200 million is going to look like.”
    In the meantime, the Pentagon remains confident in the Ukraine military’s efforts to fight off the Russian invasion.

3/15/2022 Rep. Malinowski Says Parental Rights Activists Just Want To Ban Books by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this March 10, 2021, file photo, Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., speaks during
a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Ken Cedeno/Pool via AP, File)
    Embattled Democrat Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) says parents opposed to far-left ideologies being pushed in schools are just a part of a fringe movement.    During a town hall event in New Jersey recently, the lawmaker claimed Florida’s Parental Eights in Education bill is going to lead to an increase in youth deaths.
    Malinowski added, parents opposed to critical race theory and gender theory in schools are just seeking power and are trying to distract from “real issues” like so-called climate change.    The representative went on to suggest that those asking for parental rights are trying to ban books while supporting gun violence.
    “When I was talking about crazy, right, there are a lot of examples,” stated the Democrat.    “And one of the crazy things happening in America right now is you’ve got a political movement that says they care about kids, but the way they express that care is by banning books.    And they don’t want to do a damn thing about the guns.”
    Most agree the 2021 red wave was due to increased focus on parental rights issues by Republicans, which could spell trouble for Malinowski who is, after redistricting, in a Republican leaning district.

3/15/2022 BLM Co-Founder Demands Release Of Former Convicted Actor Jussie Smollett by OAN Newsroom
This booking photo provided by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office shows Jussie Smollett. A judge sentenced Jussie Smollett to
150 days in jail Thursday, March 10, 2022, branding the Black and gay actor a charlatan for staging a hate crime against
himself while the nation struggled with wrenching issues of racial injustice. (Cook County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
    The co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement is demanding disgraced actor Jussie Smollett be released from prison.    In a recent interview, Patrisse Cullors said she visited Smollett in a psych ward at the Cook County Jail in Chicago, where he had been sleeping on a “restraint bed.”
    The Empire star is serving a five-month sentence after being convicted on charges stemming from staging a hate crime in which he paid two men to pretend to beat him up, tie a noose around his neck and shout racist slurs at him.
    Despite this, Cullors urged people to keep tagging #FreeJussie on social media and call the jail to release him.
    “We need folks to call the jails and check up on him, but also say that you think she should be freed,” she stated.    “And the last thing is we need folks to challenge the misinformation and disinformation around this case, that’s so critical its completely.    What happened to Jussie could happen to any of us and it’s completely unacceptable.”
    This comes as Smollett’s legal team has filed an emergency motion to pause his sentence and grant bond as they claim he is in harm’s way as long as he is behind bars.

3/15/2022 Oil down $6.34 to $95.69, DOW up 583 to 33,536 WHAT WE DO NOT KNOW IS WHO IS JOE GETTING OIL FROM TO MAKE IT GO DOWN.

3/16/2022 Explainer-Why Isn’t The U.S. Accepting More Ukrainian Refugees? by Ted Hesson
FILE PHOTO: A Ukrainian flag, a larger flag planted amid 500 smaller Ukrainian flags in
a park, flies in downtown Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., March 14, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than 3 million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, according to United Nations data, but the United States has only admitted several hundred Ukrainian refugees so far, leaving some critics questioning U.S. government policy.
    U.S. President Joe Biden and his top officials have said the United States stands ready to accept refugees if needed, but the administration has repeatedly signaled that Europe should be the primary destination for Ukrainians.
    “We’re going to welcome Ukrainian refugees with open arms if, in fact, they come all the way here,” Biden said on March 11 during a meeting of fellow Democrats in Philadelphia.
    Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki have made similar comments.    Psaki said on March 10 that the administration believes the “vast majority” of refugees will want to remain in neighboring countries where many have family, friends and former employers.
    The U.S. State Department has said that it will work with the United Nations to bring refugees to the United States in the event Ukrainian refugees lack protection in Europe, “bearing in mind that resettlement to the United States is not a quick process.”
    Refugee resettlement can take years, though the Biden administration sped up the process for Afghans following the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan last August. Lessons from that experience could help expedite the resettlement of other refugees, three U.S. officials told Reuters.
    A group of more than three dozen Democratic lawmakers urged Biden in a March 11 letter to increase refugee admissions and allow Ukrainians with family members in the United States to enter faster through a temporary mechanism known as “humanitarian parole.”
    Representative Raul Ruiz, a physician trained in emergency medicine and chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which wrote the letter, traveled to the Poland-Ukraine border earlier this month as part of a delegation of Democrats and Republicans.
    “The crisis could overwhelm the countries currently hosting many of the Ukrainian refugees, and the United States must lead in the effort to assist these countries in helping the vulnerable escape war,” he wrote in the letter to Biden.
    Representative Victoria Spartz, a Republican from Indiana and Ukrainian immigrant, was in the delegation and told Fox News that the humanitarian response cannot be neighbor Poland’s “problem alone.”
    The urgency of the crisis was underscored by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s wife Olena Zelenska, who told ABC News she was calling on American women to support Ukrainian women and children seeking refuge.
    A coalition of more than two dozen Jewish-American organizations also pressed Biden last week to increase admissions of Ukrainian refugees, saying that “our community knows painfully too well what happens when America shuts its doors to refugees.” COULD THE U.S. ACCEPT MORE UKRAINIAN REFUGEES?
    No data is publicly available yet for March although the United States admitted only 514 Ukrainian refugees in January and February during Russia’s build-up to the war, according to U.S. State Department data.
    Biden set the overall refugee ceiling for this year at 125,000 after his predecessor Donald Trump, a Republican, slashed admissions to a record-low 15,000, which gutted the program and led to processing delays already worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Biden has set aside 10,000 of the 125,000 refugee slots for people from Europe and Central Asia, which encompasses Ukraine, but that allotment can be expanded if needed, and is expediting certain cases.
    Thousands of Ukrainians and Russians have been traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum, a trend that could accelerate as the humanitarian crisis worsens, Reuters reported earlier this month.
    During the first five months of this fiscal year, which began last October, U.S. authorities at the southwest border encountered about 1,300 Ukrainians, mostly at ports of entry, compared to about 680 for all of the last fiscal year.
    Most Ukrainians have been allowed into the United States to pursue their immigration cases, unlike migrants from other countries who are often expelled to Mexico or other countries under a pandemic-era order known as Title 42.
    Anecdotal reports have surfaced, however, of a handful of Ukrainians arriving at the southwest border in recent days and being refused entry.
    The U.S. government is devoting significant economic aid to assist the European countries receiving refugees.     Biden signed into law a spending bill on Tuesday that provides $13.6 billion to help Ukraine and European allies, including about $4 billion to aid people fleeing.
    The U.S. government also announced earlier this month that it will grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to an estimated 75,000 Ukrainians already in the United States.
    The status will offer them deportation relief and work permits for 18 months and can be renewed at the end of that period, but will not apply to people who arrived after March 1.
(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Additional reporting by Kristina Cooke in San Francisco; Editing by Mica Rosenberg and Grant McCool)

3/16/2022 Ninety Percent Of Ukrainian Population Could Face Poverty In Protracted War – UNDP by Stephanie Nebehay
FILE PHOTO: A woman walks with a bicycle next to a building damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the separatist-controlled
town of Volnovakha in the Donetsk region, Ukraine March 15, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
    GENEVA (Reuters) – Nine out of 10 Ukrainians could face poverty and extreme economic vulnerability if the war drags on over the next year, wiping out two decades of economic gains, the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) said on Wednesday.
    Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, said that his agency was working with the Kyiv government to avoid a worst case scenario of the economy collapsing.    It aimed to provide cash transfers to families to buy food to survive and keep them from fleeing while propping up basic services.
    “If the conflict is a protracted one, if it were to continue, we are going to see poverty rates escalate very significantly,” Steiner told Reuters.
    “Clearly the extreme end of the scenario is an implosion of the economy as a whole.    And that could ultimately lead to up to 90% of people either being below the poverty line or being at high risk of (poverty),” he said in a video interview from New York.
    The poverty line is generally defined as purchasing power of $5.50 to $13 per person per day, he added in a video interview from New York.    Before Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24, an estimated 2% of Ukrainians lived below the $5.50 line, he said.
    Ukraine’s top government economic adviser Oleg Ustenko said last Thursday that invading Russian forces have so far destroyed at least $100 billion worth of infrastructure and that 50% of Ukrainian businesses had shut down completely.
    “We estimate that up to 18 years of development gains of Ukraine could be simply be wiped out in a matter of 12 to 18 months,” Steiner said.
    UNDP is looking at “tried and tested” programmes that it has used in other conflict situations, he said.
    “Cash transfers programmes particularly in a country such as Ukraine where the financial system and architecture is still functional, where ATMs are available, a critical way in which to reach people quickly is with cash transfers or a temporary basic income,” he said.
    The logistical challenges were significant but “not insurmountable,” he said.
    “Clearly some of the recent announcements by World Bank and International Monetary Fund in terms of credit lines and funding that is being made available will obviously assist Ukrainian authorities to be able to deploy such a programme,” he said.
    The UNDP report said that an emergency cash transfer operation, costing about $250 million per month, would cover partial income losses for 2.6 million people expected to fall into poverty.    A more ambitious temporary basic income programme to provide $5.50 per day per person would cost $430 million a month.
    Ukraine’s economy is expected to contract by 10% in 2022 as a result of Russia’s invasion, but the outlook could worsen sharply if the conflict lasts longer, the IMF said in a staff report released on Monday.
    The World Bank on Monday approved nearly $200 million in additional and reprogrammed financing to bolster Ukraine’s support of vulnerable people.    The funding comes on top of $723 million approved last week and is part of a $3 billion package of support that the World Bank is racing to get to Ukraine and its people in coming weeks.
    Steiner emphasized Ukraine’s importance to the economies of other nations, especially a group of African nations who he said get a third of their wheat supplies from Ukraine and Russia.
    “We are also trying to stabilise an economy that is for 45 African nations, least developed countries, the breadbasket for them,” Steiner said.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)

3/16/2022 U.S. Targets Russians Over Ukraine Invasion, Human Rights Violations
FILE PHOTO: Russian and U.S. flags are pictured before talks between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and U.S. Deputy
Secretary of State Wendy Sherman at the United States Mission in Geneva, Switzerland January 10, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Russian military leaders and people it accused of being connected to human rights violations while slapping fresh measures on Moscow’s close ally Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.
    They were the latest sanctions imposed on Moscow since Russian forces invaded Ukraine nearly three weeks ago in the biggest assault on a European state since World War Two.    Moscow calls the assault a “special operation.”
    The U.S. State Department announced the sanctions on 11 Russian military leaders, including several deputy ministers of defense and Viktor Zolotov, chief of Russia’s national guard and a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s security council.
    The sanctions freeze any U.S. assets those targeted may have and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.
    The Russian embassy in Washington said the penalties were “another hostile action (that) drives Russian-U.S. relations further into an even more dead end,” in a statement on its Facebook page.
    It said the measures would not go unanswered, without going into further detail.
    The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions on four Russians and one entity it accused of playing a role in concealing events around the death of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky or of being connected to human rights violations against human rights advocate Oyub Titiev.
    A Treasury statement said it was adding to its sanctions against Lukashenko and also targeting his wife.
    Andrea Gacki, the head of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in the statement its sanctions were the consequences for people engaged in corruption or connected to gross violations of human rights.
    “We condemn Russia’s attacks on humanitarian corridors in Ukraine and call on Russia to cease its unprovoked and brutal war against Ukraine,” she said.
    Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer arrested in 2008 after alleging that Russian officials were involved in large-scale tax fraud.    Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after complaining of mistreatment.
    Tuesday’s measures targeted Judge Natalia Mushnikova, accused by Treasury of “participating in efforts to conceal the legal liability for the detention, abuse, or death” of Magnitsky.
    Sanctions were also imposed on the Kurchaloi District of the Chechen Republic Branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, whose officers arrested Titiev in 2018 and charged him with possession of drugs.
    Those sanctioned include Nurid Salamov, the investigator who opened the case against Titiev; Khusein Khutaev, the officer who allegedly spotted drugs in Titiev’s car; and Dzhabrail Akhmatov, who the Treasury said decided to bring charges against Titiev.
    Titiev, head of the Memorial human rights centre in Chechnya, was detained and accused of possessing illegal drugs in 2018.    Titiev said the police had planted the drugs on him during a shake-down.    He was sentenced to 4 years in a penal colony.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Simon Lewis; Editing by Howard Goller and Andrew Heavens)

3/16/2022 Group Of Seven To Hold Meeting Over Russia, Japan Finance Minister Says
FILE PHOTO - Japan's Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki wearing a protective face mask
delivers his policy speech during the start of an extraordinary session of the lower house of the parliament,
amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan December 6, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato
    TOKYO (Reuters) – The Group of Seven (G7) industrialised nations will hold an online meeting after 1200 GMT to discuss Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said on Wednesday.
    Suzuki, who made the comment in parliament, did not specify whether the meeting would be held among G7’s financial leaders or other representatives.
(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim)

3/16/2022 NATO Vows More Help For Ukraine, Begins Planning To Adapt To ‘New Reality’ by Robin Emmott and Ingrid Melander
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin meet on the day of
a NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, March 16, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Pool
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The United States and other NATO members said on Wednesday they would keep helping Ukraine fight off Russia’s invasion, while also adapting the alliance’s own security to the “new reality” triggered by the war.
    Diplomats and military analysts estimate that NATO allies have sent more than 20,000 anti-tank and other weapons to Ukraine since the invasion started on Feb. 24.
    “We remain united in our support of Ukraine,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said as he arrived at an emergency meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels.    “We support their ability to defend themselves and will continue to support them.”
    NATO countries will continue to deliver weapons to Ukraine even as those deliveries could become the target of Russian attacks, Dutch defence minister Kajsa Ollongren told reporters, adding: “Ukraine has the right to defend itself.”
    Ukraine is not a member of NATO. Although it has repeatedly said it wants to join to benefit from its protection, Kyiv said on Tuesday it understood it does not have an open door to NATO membership and was seeking other types of security guarantees.
    Ministers will also hear from their Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov, who is expected to plead for more weapons from individual NATO countries, as Russian attacks on Ukraine’s cities continue and the Russian military seeks control of Kyiv.
    Ahead of a summit of NATO leaders on March 24, NATO defence ministers are also set to tell military commanders at Wednesday’s meeting to draw up plans for new ways to deter Russia, including more troops and missile defences in eastern Europe.
    While at least 10 of NATO’s biggest member states, including the United States, Britain and France, have deployed more troops, ships and warplanes to its eastern flank and put more on stand-by, the alliance must still consider how to face up to a new security situation in Europe over the medium term.
    “We need to reset our military posture for this new reality,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.    “Ministers will start an important discussion on concrete measures to reinforce our security for the longer term, in all domains.”
    Russian missiles hit a Ukrainian base near the border with NATO member Poland on March 13, bringing the invasion right up to NATO’s doorstep.
    Those missiles were fired from Russia, the United States has said, underscoring Moscow’s ability to hit NATO’s eastern allies.    The United States has also warned of undefined consequences for Moscow if Russia were to launch a chemical attack in Ukraine.
    NATO, founded in 1949 to contain a military threat from the Soviet Union, is not treaty-bound to defend Ukraine.    But it must defend its 30 allies.
    However, diplomats say NATO wants to avoid directly stating its plans, or what would trigger its “Article 5” collective defence pledge, saying “strategic ambiguity” is also a defensive instrument against any Russian aggression.
    “The surprise for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin was the West was so united.    He didn’t believe that.    He has the wrong picture about western countries,” Estonian Defense Minister Kalle Laanet said as he arrived at the NATO meeting.
    “We can’t be afraid, we have to stay calm, because Putin would like to see that everybody is afraid.”
(Reporting by Robin Emmott, Bart Meijer and Ingrid Melander; editing by Grant McCool, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Alex Richardson)

3/16/2022 World Court To Rule On Emergency Measures In Ukraine Vs Russia Case by Stephanie van den Berg
A view shows a residential building damaged by shelling, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine,
in this picture released on March 16, 2022. State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS
    THE HAGUE (Reuters) – The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is set to rule Wednesday on emergency measures sought by Ukraine in a case against Russia, including an order for Moscow to stop its military campaign.
    The decision by the top United Nations court, also known as the “World Court,” will be read out in The Hague’s Peace Palace at 4 p.m. local time (1500 GMT).
    Although the court’s rulings are binding, it has no direct means of enforcing them and in rare cases, countries have ignored them, in the past.
    Ukraine filed its case shortly after Russia’s invasion began on Feb. 24, saying that Russia’s apparent justification, that it was acting to prevent a genocide in Eastern Ukraine, is unfounded.
    At the hearings, Ukraine said there is no threat of genocide in Eastern Ukraine, and the U.N.’s 1948 Genocide Convention, which both countries have signed, does not allow an invasion to prevent one.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin has described the invasion as a “special military action” needed “to protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide” – meaning those whose first or only language is Russian – in eastern Ukraine.
    Russia said it skipped World Court hearings on March 7 “in light of the apparent absurdity of the lawsuit.”
    However, Moscow did file a written document with the court saying the ICJ should not impose any measures.
    Russia argued that Putin’s use of the word “genocide” does not automatically imply that it is basing its actions on the Genocide Convention.    Without a dispute over the interpretation of the treaty, the court has no jurisdiction, Russia argued.
    In an urgent situation the court can order emergency measures in a matter of days, even before it decides on whether it has jurisdiction in a case.    That usually takes many months, while decisions on the actual merits of a case takes years.
(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Michael Perry)

3/16/2022 U.S. Defense Secretary: ‘We Remain United In Our Support Of Ukraine’
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during a news
conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, February 19, 2022. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO allies will continue to send defensive weapons to Ukraine and are unanimous in supporting Kyiv, U.S Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Wednesday as he arrived for a meeting with his NATO counterparts.
    “We remain united in our support of Ukraine,” he told reporters.    “We condemn Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion … We support their (the Ukrainians’) ability to defend themselves and will continue to support them,” he said, adding that NATO’s pledge to defend all allies was “ironclad.”
    Ukraine is not a member of the alliance.
    Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation.”
(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

3/16/2022 UK Supplying Starstreak Anti-Aircraft Missiles To Ukraine, Defence Minister Wallace Tells BBC
FILE PHOTO: British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace gives a statement on Ukraine, amid Russia's invasion of
Ukraine, at the House of Commons, in London, Britain, March 9, 2022. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is supplying starstreak anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, defence minister Ben Wallace told the BBC on Wednesday.
    “We are supplying them – they will go into theatre,” the BBC quoted Wallace as saying.
    Last week Wallace said a decision in principle had been taken to supply the weapons system.
(Reporting by William James; editing by Michael Holden)

3/16/2022 Oil up $0.30 to $95.48, DOW up 519 to 34,063.

3/17/2022 Jussie Smollett Released On Bond After 6 Days In Jail by OAN Newsroom
This booking photo provided by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office shows Jussie Smollett. A judge sentenced Jussie Smollett to
150 days in jail Thursday, March 10, 2022, branding the Black and gay actor a charlatan for staging a hate crime against
himself while the nation struggled with wrenching issues of racial injustice. (Cook County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
    Disgraced actor Jussie Wmollett was released from an Illinois jail after lawyers claimed he was in physical danger.    On Wednesday, the Empire star left the Cook County Jail after serving just six days and posting a $150,000 bond.
    A panel of three appellate judges ordered the release of Smollett on bond, but only while his lawyers appeal his conviction.    The decision came after Smollett’s lawyers demanded his release while claiming inmates were yelling homophobic and racist slurs at the actor.
    Smollett lawyer Nenye Uche alleged his client had already been fined for his charges and was being unconstitutionally punished twice.
    “His $10,000 fine hasn’t even been returned to him, right?” asked Uche.    “And then you reindict the case and you give him 30-months probation for a Class 4 felony with a man with no criminal record, felony record.    Thirty-months probation, you give him 150 days in jail.    You give him what else? You make him do restitution of$120,000.”
    The lawyer then claimed Smollett was the victim of a racist court system that sought to unfairly incarcerate black men.    He also blasted the Judge James Linn for grand standing during sentencing and expressed hopes that the appellate hearing would yield better results for his client.
    “I’ve never seen that and I thought it was unprofessional, that’s my personal opinion,” Uche continued.
    “Not happy with that, and we look forward now that this case is gone to the appellate court to actually have finally an intellectual conversation about the constitutionality of this case and not playing politics.”
    Some legal experts disagree with Uche’s claim of double jeopardy as Smollett never submitted a plea when he paid his initial $10,000 fine to the state of Illinois.
    Smolett was convicted of lying to authorities about a staged hate crime committed against him.    His release was quick to spark backlash with special prosecutor Dan Webb asserting there was “no emergency that warrants” the judge’s decision.

3/17/2022 Russia Pulls U.N. Vote On Ukraine Over ‘Arm-Twisting’ Claims by Michelle Nichols
A Ukrainian girl waits for news on where she and her family spend the night after arriving in Madrid with a group of Spanish taxi driversa
who drove to Poland to support the mass evacuation of refugees in Madrid, Spain, March 17, 2022. REUTERS/Susana Vera
    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -The U.N. Security Council will no longer vote on Friday on a Russian-drafted call for aid access and civilian protection in Ukraine as Russia’s U.N. envoy accused Western countries of a campaign of “unprecedented pressure” against the measure.
    Diplomats said the Russian move would have failed with most of the 15-member council likely to abstain from a vote on the draft resolution because it did not address accountability or acknowledge Russia’s invasion of its neighbor nor did it push for an end to the fighting or a withdrawal of Russian troops.
    “Many colleagues from many delegations tell us about unprecedented pressure by Western partners, that their arms are being twisted, including blackmail and threats,” Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Thursday.
    Speaking at a council meeting on Ukraine’s humanitarian situation, requested by Western council members, Nebenzia said: “We do understand how difficult it is for those countries to withstand this kind of onslaught.”
    U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told Reuters after the meeting: “The only people who do arm-twisting around here are the Russians and they have to if they want to get anybody to support them.”
    Nebenzia said that Russia had instead requested the council meet on Friday – when the vote had been scheduled – to discuss “U.S. bio-laboratories in Ukraine using the new documents we obtained in the course of the special military operation.”
    At a U.N. Security Council meeting on the same issue last week, also requested by Russia, Thomas Greenfield said the there are no Ukrainian biological weapons laboratories supported by the United States.    The United Nations also said it had no evidence Ukraine had a biological weapons program.
    Russia refers to its invasion of Ukraine as a “” targeting Ukraine’s military infrastructure.    Moscow denies attacking civilians.
    The U.N. human rights agency has recorded 726 deaths, including 52 children, and 1,174 people injured, including 63 children, between Feb. 24 and March 15, U.N. political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council on Thursday.    The “actual number is likely much higher,” she said, without specifying who was to blame.
    “Most of these casualties were caused by the use in populated areas of explosive weapons with a wide impact area.    Hundreds of residential buildings have been damaged or destroyed, as have hospitals and schools,” DiCarlo said.
    “The magnitude of civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine cannot be denied.    This demands a thorough investigation and accountability,” she said.
    The World Health Organization has verified 43 attacks on healthcare in Ukraine that have killed 12 people and injured dozens more, including health workers, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the Security Council.
    “In any conflict, attacks on healthcare are a violation of international humanitarian law,” Tedros told the council, without specifying who was to blame.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Leslie Adler, Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman)

3/17/2022 Oil up $8.48 to $103.83, DOW up 418 to 34,481.

3/18/2022 U.S. Soldiers Alive, Despite Russia ‘Fake News’ Report, U.S. Military Says by Phil Stewart
FILE PHOTO: A Ukrainian soldier directs a Russian tank that Ukrainians captured after fighting with Russian troops,
as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, outside Brovary, near Kyiv, Ukraine, March 10, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three current and former members of the Tennessee National Guard falsely identified in a Russian media report as mercenaries who were killed in Ukraine are in fact alive and well, the Tennessee National Guard said on Thursday.
    President Joe Biden ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Ukraine prior to Russia’s invasion of the country as part of a broader effort to avoid a direct confrontation with the nuclear-armed adversary.
    But the report published in Russia’s Pravda newspaper identified the Americans by name and gave military ranks for each of them, citing information from pro-Russian militia in Ukraine’s Donetsk.
    The report even offered an intricate explanation for how the three were identified, using items from a backpack “near the remains of one of the militants” — including a Tennessee state flag.
    “The Tennessee Guard is aware of the fake news coming out of Russia,” said Tracy O’Grady, a spokesperson for the larger U.S. National Guard.
    The Tennessee Guard said in a statement: “They are accounted for, safe and not, as the article headline erroneously states, U.S. mercenaries killed in Donetsk People’s Republic.”
    A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said two of the men were still in the Tennessee National Guard and in Tennessee.    The other man had left the service was but was alive and accounted for — and not in Ukraine, the official said.
    The National Guard speculated the militia picked the three men while reviewing official imagery associated with a 2018 deployment by Tennessee’s 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment to Ukraine, suggesting all three had been in Ukraine.
    “All members of the Tennessee National Guard returned safely to their home state in 2019 after a successful mission,” it said.
    Russia on Sunday attacked the main base where, prior to Biden’s pullout, the U.S. military had long trained Ukrainian forces.    It fired air-launched cruise missiles from Russian airspace at the Yavoriv International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security.
    The base is located just 15 miles (25 km) from the Polish border.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

3/18/2022 Biden And Xi Set To Clash Over Putin’s War In Ukraine by Trevor Hunnicutt
FILE PHOTO: A TV screen shows news of a video meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden
and Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Hong Kong, China November 16, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to tell Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday that Beijing will pay a price if it supports Russia’s military operations in Ukraine, a warning that comes at a time of deepening conflict between the nations.
    Biden and Xi will speak by phone, scheduled for 9 a.m. Eastern time (1300 GMT), and Washington has already threatened lower-level Chinese government officials privately and publicly that greater support for Russia risks isolation for Beijing.
    The conversation between Biden and Xi, their first since November, will be loaded with tension.
    Biden “will make clear that China will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia’s aggression, and we will not hesitate to impose costs,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday.
    “We’re concerned that they’re considering directly assisting Russia with military equipment to use in Ukraine,” he said.
    China has denied such plans.
    Washington is also concerned that China could help Russia circumvent economic sanctions imposed by Western nations.
    Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its fourth week, has killed hundreds of civilians, reduced city areas to rubble and sparked a humanitarian crisis as millions flee the country.
    It has also added a new front in the contentious U.S.-Chinese relationship, deflating Biden’s initial hopes of easing a wide range of disputes by using a personal connection with Xi that predates his term in office.
    Biden greeted Xi warmly during the first moments of a video conference in November.    Xi called Biden an “old friend.”
    U.S. officials increasingly view relations with Beijing through the prism of inherent competition, even though they want to avoid a ‘cold war’ or a direct confrontation between the rival powers.
    Washington sees China growing even closer to Russia after Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin last month announced a “no-limits” strategic partnership last month.
    China has refused to condemn Russia’s action in Ukraine or call it an invasion, and it has censored online content in China that is pro-West or unfavorable to Russia.
    Beijing, while saying it recognizes Ukraine sovereignty, has also said Russia has legitimate security concerns that should be addressed, and has urged a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
    While Biden’s administration has threatened unspecified counter-measures if China helps Russia’s effort in Ukraine, officials have grown more resigned to that likelihood.
    The United States and its allies have not yet decided on precisely what steps to take against China, according to one person involved in those conversations.
    Targeting Beijing with the sort of extensive economic sanctions imposed on Russia would have potentially dire consequences for the United States and the world, given that China is the second largest economy and largest exporter.
    A seven-hour meeting in Rome on Monday between lower-level aides to Biden and Xi were described as “tough” and “intense” by officials.
    Biden’s administration has not yet offered evidence of the claim that China has signaled a willingness to help Russia.
    Moscow has denied asking China for military assistance, and China’s foreign ministry called the idea “disinformation.”
    Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said this week the country was counting on China to help it withstand the blow to its economy from punishing Western sanctions aimed at isolating Russia’s economy from the rest of the world.
    The European war is not the only challenging topic on the agenda for Biden and Xi.
    The two leaders are also expected to compare notes on the Iran nuclear talks, North Korea’s missile launches and Taiwan.    China and the United States are also engaged in separate trade talks.
(This story refiles to correct day to Thursday in fourth paragraph)
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

3/18/2022 Argentina’s Senate Gives Thumbs Up To $45 Billion IMF Debt Deal by Nicolás Misculin
Police officers stand in front of the National Congress as the senate debates the government's agreement with
the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in Buenos Aires, Argentina March 17, 2022. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian
    BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s Senate voted late on Thursday to approve a $45 billion debt deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), converting the agreement into law and ensuring that the economically battered country can avoid another messy default.
    After an extended debate, the IMF debt restructuring deal backed by President Alberto Fernandez was passed with 56 senators voting in favor, 13 against, along with three abstentions.
    The South American country’s center-left Peronist government led by Fernandez struck a staff-level agreement with the international lender at the beginning of March, which was then approved last week by the Chamber of Deputies.
    It now needs to be signed off by the IMF board.
    The deal lays out a fresh schedule of financing over a 30-month period to replace a failed $57 billion program from 2018 that the grains-producing country was unable to pay back after years of recession, spiraling inflation and capital flight.
    It garnered broad support from the center-right opposition, though some ruling party lawmakers have opposed it citing the economic strings attached, which include reducing the fiscal deficit, raising interest rates and cutting energy subsidies.
    “This agreement will allow us to accumulate reserves, which will favor Argentina’s exchanges with the world and will allow sustained growth,” Senator Sandra Mendoza, from the ruling Peronists, said during the debate.
    Roberto Basualdo, a senator from the opposition alliance Together for Change, told Reuters earlier in the day that approving the deal was key to any future economic expansion.
    “We need to grow and the only way to grow is to be in international markets,” he said.
    Many lawmakers stressed that the vote removes the worst-case scenario for near-term economic prospects.
    “By approving this agreement we are prioritizing the interests of the Argentine republic by preventing default,” said Senator Jose Torello, of the opposition alliance.
    Fernandez wants a quick approval of the agreement ahead of a $2.8 billion payment due to the IMF at the beginning of next week and billions more later this year.    The new program would see repayments made between 2026 and 2034.
(Reporting by Nicolás Misculin; Additional reporting by Lucila Sigal and Eliana Raszewski; Editing by Adam Jourdan, Hugh Lawson and David Alire Garcia)

3/18/2022 White House Press Secy. Psaki: Biden To Ask Xi About China-Russia Ties by OAN Newsroom
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the
White House, Thursday, March 17, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
    White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki discussed an upcoming phone call with Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.     She said Biden is planning to ask Xi whether he will continue supporting good relations with Russia.
    On Thursday, Psaki told reporters the Biden administration is concerned about warming ties between Russia and China.    Earlier this week, U.S. and Chinese diplomats held a seven-hour meeting in Rome, Italy after which China reasserted its commitment to a “rock solid” friendship with Russia.
    “As we have made clear, our deep concerns about China’s alignment with Russia and the potential implications and consequences of that,” Psaki stated.    “So, the President will also share his assessment of that during the call, but I don’t have another an update for you on any internal assessment that is just how we are approaching or he is approaching the call tomorrow.”
    The secretary further expressed concerns that China’s support for the Kremlin regime could be a pretext for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces to attack Ukraine with chemical or biological weapons, even though they deny such claims.    Psaki reiterated if the two countries collectively threaten Ukraine, actions would be taken.
    “It is a high concern, a significant concern given our Secretary of State just conveyed that and certainly our concerns about China assisting in any way Russia as they invade a foreign country is of significant concern,” she noted.
    “And would the response to that would be consequences.”
    Meanwhile, Biden is set to speak with President Xi on Friday.

3/18/2022 Oil up $1.10 to $104.71, DOW up 273 to 34,754.

3/19/2022 Draghi leads push for EU response to energy crisis - Plans to discuss gas price cap next week by Frances D'Emilio, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    ROME – Italian Premier Mario Draghi hosted leaders from three fellow Mediterranean countries Friday to push for an urgent, common European response to the energy crisis, which has been worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and is threatening the economic recovery of small businesses and ordinary citizens.
    The prime ministers of Spain and Portugal participated in person in the meeting in Rome, while Greece’s leader, who has tested positive for COVID-19, joined by a video from Athens.
    In statements to reporters following their discussions, the four leaders said they agreed on the pressing need for a European Union-wide response on rising energy prices emerge from next week’s European Council meeting in Brussels.
    Prices for gas and electricity were already soaring in Europe and elsewhere even before Russia began the war against its neighbor last month.
    Draghi has been pushing for EUwide stockpiling of energy resources plus a deal for all 27 countries in the bloc to cap gas prices.
    “The invasion of Ukraine by Russia opened up a period of strong volatility for the markets for raw materials, gas and oil,” which were already high in price before the war, Draghi said.    “We must intervene right away.    We (the four leaders) all have the impression that something substantial, significant must be done right away” by all EU members.
    “Europe reacted united to the invasion.    Now it must find the same determination and unity” on energy, the Italian premier said.    “A common market in energy is beneficial to all.”
    He said the four discussed a price cap on gas but did not elaborate.
    Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the four Mediterranean leaders “commit ourselves to diversifying energy sources as fast as possible.”    And action is needed immediately on prices, Sanchez said, noting that “small businesses and citizens can’t bear” the soaring costs of gas and electricity.
    “All the European countries are hit by this energy crisis, that was provoked by one person, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” Sanchez said.    “So we must have a European response.”
    Portuguese Premier Antonio Costa said next week’s meeting in Brussels “must be a European Council of immediate decisions,” so that Europe’s recovery, after the damage dealt by the pandemic, isn’t interrupted.
    Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, sounded a warning that high prices for heating and electricity might lead to “re-awakening the nightmare of populism” on the European continent.
    Spain deployed more than 23,000 police officers amid a truckers’ strike Friday and farmers in France and Greece were snarling traffic with their protests over high energy prices.
    Meanwhile, European nations are taking measures to ease the burden of skyrocketing energy prices on consumers and businesses.
    After a Cabinet meeting Friday evening, Draghi announced that gasoline will cost 25 euro cents less per liter ($1.06 less per gallon) through the end of April.    A temporary lowering of excise taxes will make that possible.
    In addition, as part of a 4.4 billioneuro energy price relief package, now 5.2 million low-income families in Italy will be eligible for caps on the costs of their energy bills.
    “We’re taking important measures prompted by the need to give a response to the consequences of the war," Draghi said.    “We are intervening to help citizens and business,” including the most exposed sectors.
    Most of the assistance will be funded by taxing energy companies on the “extraordinary profits they are making," the premier said.
    The four prime ministers also discussed security concerns in Friday’s talks.    U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to Brussels next week for talks with leaders of NATO member countries as well as leaders gathered for the European Council.
    “If there is a lesson that Putin gave us with his unjust and unjustifiable war it is that peace must be defended,” Sanchez said.
    The two meetings in Brussels next week, the Spanish leader said, could help develop a “strategic compass” helpful for integrating European defense with NATO’s defense.
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, left, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Spanish Prime Minister
Pedro Sanchez meet Friday in Rome to discuss energy security in Europe ahead of this week’s European Council meeting
in Brussels. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attended via videoconference. GREGORIO BORGIA/AP

3/19/2022 Mexico’s Migration Institute Suspends Operations In Tapachula After ‘Violent’ Incident
Migrants are detained by members of the National Guard after some staff were injured in what was called a
"violent" incident at the office of the National Migration Institute (INM) involving migrants who are waiting for papers
to be able to freely travel through the country, in Tapachula, Mexico March 18, 2022. REUTERS/Jose Torres
    (Reuters) – Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM) said on Friday it has temporarily suspended operations in the city of Tapachula, in Chiapas, after some staff were injured in what it called a “violent” incident involving migrants.
    Tapachula, a city on the border with Guatemala, has been the site of previous clashes between authorities and migrants who are waiting for papers to be able to freely travel through the country.
    The INM said some of its staff members were hurt in a “violent eruption” caused by “pseudo-leaders” among migrants.    Some of the INM’s facilities were also damaged, it said in a statement.
    Operations were suspended until further notice because the safety of its property and staff could not be assured, the INM said.
    Every year, hundreds of thousands of mostly Central American migrants flee violence and poverty but must wait for permits to cross Mexico and reach the United States, or responses to their asylum requests to stay in Mexico.
(Reporting by Carolina Pulice; additional reporting by Diego Ore; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)


3/19/2022 No Oil or DOW info.

3/20/2022 Top Ballet Performers ‘Dance For Ukraine’ In Charity Event by Edward Baran
Ballet dancers acknowledge a standing ovation during 'Dance for Ukraine', a charity gala to raise funds for people
in need in Ukraine, at The London Coliseum, in London, Britain, March 19, 2022. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
    (Reuters) – Away from the fighting in Ukraine, Russian and Ukrainian ballet dancers rubbed shoulders in London on Saturday in a charity event that united some of the world’s leading dance performers for humanitarian relief in the war-torn eastern European nation.
    About 20 dancers, with glistening bodies and graceful moves, received a thunderous applause from the packed auditorium at the London Coliseum theatre for the ‘Dance for Ukraine’ gala.
    “We have so many loved ones back home.    We couldn’t just sit idly at home and just watch news, we wanted to do something,” Ivan Putrov, who is from Ukraine and organised the event with Romanian Alina Cojocaru, told Reuters.
    Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, an attack Moscow calls a “special operation” to demilitarise its neighbour.
    The U.N. human rights office has said at least 847 civilians had been killed and 1,399 wounded in Ukraine as of Friday.    More than 3.3 million refugees have fled Ukraine through its western border, with around 2 million more displaced inside the country.
    Some audience members were draped in the Ukrainian flag for the event, with dancers from many countries including Brazil, Italy and Britain providing glamour to the stage that was lit in shades of yellow and blue.
    Katja Khaniukova from Ukraine and Natalia Osipova from Russia were among those who took part.    There were also dancers from the United States, France, Japan and Argentina at the event, which the organisers said raised at least 140,000 pounds ($184,520.00) for the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine appeal.
    “So many of the artists contacted us wanting to join so it is inspiring how overwhelming the support is from the people, but we need more support in Ukraine, more support from different governments around the world,” said Putrov.
($1 = 0.7587 pounds)
(Writing by Muralikumar Anantharaman; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

3/20/2022 U.S. Suggested Turkey Transfer Russian-Made Missile System To Ukraine - Sources by Humeyra Pamuk
FILE PHOTO: A view shows a new S-400 "Triumph" surface-to-air missile system after its deployment at a
military base outside the town of Gvardeysk near Kaliningrad, Russia March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Vitaly Nevar
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has informally raised with Turkey the unlikely possibility of sending its Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems to Ukraine to help it fight invading Russian forces, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
    U.S. officials have floated the suggestion over the past month with their Turkish counterparts but no specific or formal request was made, the sources told Reuters.    They said it also came up briefly during Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s visit to Turkey earlier this month.
    The Biden administration has been asking allies who have been using Russian made equipment and systems including S-300s and S-400s to consider transferring them to Ukraine as it tries to fend off a Russian invasion that began on Feb. 24.
    The idea, which analysts said was sure to be shot down by Turkey, was part of a wider discussion between Sherman and Turkish officials about how the United States and its allies can do more to support Ukraine and on how to improve bilateral ties.
    The Turkish authorities have not commented on any U.S. suggestion or proposal relating to the transfer to Ukraine of Ankara’s S-400 systems, which have been a point of long-standing contention between the two NATO allies.
    Turkish foreign ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.
    Turkish sources and analysts said any such suggestion would be a non-starter for Turkey, citing issues ranging from technical hurdles related to installing and operating the S-400s in Ukraine, to political concerns such as the blowback Ankara would likely face from Moscow.
    Washington has repeatedly asked Ankara to get rid of the Russian-built surface-to-air missile batteries since the first delivery arrived in July 2019.    The United States has imposed sanctions on a Turkey’s defence industry and removed NATO member Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet programme as a result.
    Ankara has said it was forced to opt for the S-400s because allies did not provide weapons on satisfactory terms.
    U.S. officials are keen to seize this moment to draw Turkey back into Washington’s orbit. Efforts to find “creative” ways to improve the strained relationship have accelerated in recent weeks, even though no specific proposal has so far gained traction, U.S. and Turkish sources have said.
    “I think everyone knows that the S-400 has been a long standing issue and perhaps this is a moment when we can figure out a new way to solve this problem,” Sherman told Turkish broadcaster Haberturk in an interview on March 5.
    It was not clear what exactly she meant and the State Department has not answered questions about her comments.    The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the suggestion made during her visit to Turkey.
    The effort is also part of a wider bid by the Biden administration to respond to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s plea to help protect Ukraine’s skies.    Russian or Soviet-made air defense systems such as S-300s that other NATO allies have and S-400s are sought after.     One source familiar with U.S. thinking said Washington’s floating of the possibility came as a result of the renewed effort to improve ties at a time when Ankara has been spooked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
    Turkish President Erdogan had not received a specific heads up from Russian President Vladimir Putin on his plans of a full-scale attack on Ukraine, another source familiar with the discussions said.
    Turkey shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea and has good ties with both.    It has said the invasion is unacceptable and voiced support for Ukraine, but has also opposed sanctions on Moscow while offering to mediate.
    Ankara has carefully formulated its rhetoric not to offend Moscow, analysts say, with which it has close energy, defence and tourism ties.    But Ankara has also sold military drones to Kyiv and signed a deal to co-produce more, angering the Kremlin.    Turkey also opposes Russian policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its 2014 annexation of Crimea.
    “Turkey has managed to walk on the razor’s edge and a transfer of a Russian S-400 would certainly lead to severe Russian ire,” said Aaron Stein, director of research at the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute.
    “And for Erdogan, the S-400 has become a symbol of Turkish sovereignty, so trading it away wouldn’t be all roses and flowers.”
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart and Steve Holland; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

3/20/2022 No Oil or DOW info.

3/21/2022 EU To Mull Russian Oil Embargo With Biden Set To Join Talks by Robin Emmott and John Irish
FILE PHOTO: European Union flags fly outside the European Commission
headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union governments will consider whether to impose an oil embargo on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine as they gather this week with U.S. President Joe Biden for a series of summits designed to harden the West’s response to Moscow.
    Seeking to force a military withdrawal from Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the EU – along with Western allies – has already imposed a panoply of punishing sanctions including a freezing of the assets of the Russian central bank.
    “We are working on a fifth round of sanctions and many new names are being proposed,” a senior EU diplomat said on condition of anonymity because the discussions are not public.
    EU governments will take up the discussion among foreign ministers on Monday, before Biden arrives in Brussels on Thursday for summits with NATO’s 30 allies, as well as the EU and in a Group of Seven (G7) format including Japan.
    The Kremlin has so far not been moved to change course in Ukraine by four rounds of EU sanctions imposed over the past three weeks, including on 685 Russians and Belarusians and on Russian finance and trade.
    That leaves the bloc with the economically toughest choice of whether to target Russian oil, as the United States and Britain have done but not the 27-nation EU, given its dependence on Russian gas for energy.
    Diplomats told Reuters that Baltic countries including Lithuania are pushing for an embargo as the next logical step, while Germany is warning against acting too quickly because of already high energy prices in Europe.
    Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.    Putin has called Russia’s actions a “special operation” meant to demilitarize Ukraine and purge it of what he sees as dangerous nationalists.    Ukraine and the West say Putin launched an aggressive war of choice.
    Moscow has warned that EU sanctions on Russian oil could prompt it to close a major gas pipeline to Europe.    The EU relies on Russia for 40% of its gas, with Germany among the most dependent of the EU’s large economies.
    Germany is also the largest EU buyer of Russian crude.
    Bulgaria, which is almost completely dependent on gas supplies from Russia’s Gazprom, has said it might seek an opt-out.    Bulgaria’s sole oil refinery is owned by Russia’s LUKOIL and provides over 60% of the fuel used in the Balkan country.
    All EU sanctions decisions require consensus.    France, which heads the EU’s six-month presidency, will likely prove crucial.
    President Emmanuel Macron has said that if the situation worsens in Ukraine – where thousands have been killed, over 5 million people have been displaced and some cities devastated by shelling – there should be no “taboos” in terms of sanctions.
    “These sanctions are meant to force President Putin into a new calculation,” a French presidency official said.    “Among our partners and among the countries trading with Russia, there are some who are more sensitive on the issue of oil and gas.    Nevertheless, the president (has) said, there is no taboo.”
    Diplomats said a Russian chemical weapons attack in Ukraine, or a heavy bombardment of the capital Kyiv, could be a trigger for an energy embargo.
(Writing by Robin Emmott; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

3/21/2022 Biden Administration Rules Myanmar Army Committed Genocide Against Rohingya by Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis
FILE PHOTO: Rohingya refugees sit on wooden benches of a navy vessel on their way to the Bhasan Char
island in Noakhali district, Bangladesh, December 29, 2020. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration has formally determined that violence committed against the Rohingya minority by Myanmar’s military amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity, U.S. officials told Reuters, a move that advocates say should bolster efforts to hold the junta that now runs Myanmar accountable.
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken will announce the decision on Monday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, U.S. officials said, which currently features an exhibit on the plight of the Rohingya.    It comes nearly 14 months after he took office and pledged to conduct a new review of the violence.
    Myanmar’s armed forces launched a military operation in 2017 that forced at least 730,000 of the mainly Muslim Rohingya from their homes and into neighboring Bangladesh, where they recounted killings, mass rape and arson.    In 2021, Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup.
    U.S. officials and an outside law firm gathered evidence in an effort to acknowledge quickly the seriousness of the atrocities, but then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to make a determination.
    Blinken ordered his own “legal and factual analysis,” the U.S. officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.    The analysis concluded the Myanmar army is committing genocide and Washington believes the formal determination will increase international pressure to hold the junta accountable.
    “It’s going to make it harder for them to commit further abuses,” said one senior State Department official.
    Officials in Myanmar’s embassy in Washington and a junta spokesperson did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment on Sunday.
    Myanmar’s military has denied committing genocide against the Rohingya, who are denied citizenship in Myanmar, and said it was conducting an operation against terrorists in 2017.
    A U.N. fact-finding mission concluded in 2018 that the military’s campaign included “genocidal acts,” but Washington referred at the time to the atrocities as “ethnic cleansing,” a term that has no legal definition under international criminal law.
    “It’s really signaling to the world and especially to victims and survivors within the Rohingya community and more broadly that the United States recognizes the gravity of what’s happening,” a second senior State Department official said of Blinken’s announcement on Monday.
    A genocide determination does not automatically unleash punitive U.S. action.
    Since the Cold War, the State Department has formally used the term six times to describe massacres in Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq and Darfur, the Islamic State’s attacks on Yazidis and other minorities, and most recently last year, over China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslims.    China denies the genocide claims.
    Blinken will also announce $1 million of additional funding for the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM), a United Nations body based in Geneva that is gathering evidence for potential future prosecutions.
    “It’s going to enhance our position as we try to build international support to try to prevent further atrocities and hold those accountable,” the first U.S. official said.
    U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who led a congressional delegation to Myanmar and Bangladesh in 2017, welcomed the move.
    “While this determination is long overdue, it is nevertheless a powerful and critically important step in holding this brutal regime to account,” Merkley said in a statement.
    Days after U.S. President Joe Biden took office, Myanmar generals led by Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing seized power on Feb. 1, 2021, after complaining of fraud in a November 2020 general election won by democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi’s party. Election monitoring groups found no evidence of mass fraud.
    The armed forces crushed an uprising against their coup, killing more than 1,600 people and detaining nearly 10,000, including civilian leaders such as Suu Kyi, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a campaign group, and setting off an insurgency.
    Reuters was unable to independently verify the figures from the AAPP.    The junta has said the group’s figures are exaggerated and that members of the security forces have also been killed in clashes with those opposing the coup. The junta has not provided its own figures.
    In response to the coup, the United States and Western allies sanctioned the junta and its business interests, but have been unable to convince the generals to restore civilian rule after they received military and diplomatic support from Russia and China.
    Blinken’s recognition of genocide and crimes against humanity refers mainly to events in 2017, before last year’s coup.    The step comes after two State Department examinations – one initiated in 2018 and the other in 2020 – failed to produce a determination.
    Some former U.S. officials told Reuters those were missed opportunities to send a firm message to the Myanmar generals who later seized power.     Activists believe a clear statement by the United States that genocide was committed could bolster efforts to hold the generals accountable, such as a case in the International Court of Justice where The Gambia has accused Myanmar of genocide, citing Myanmar’s atrocities against the Rohingya in Rakhine state.
    Myanmar has rejected the charge of genocide and urged the court’s judges to drop the case.    The junta says The Gambia is acting as a proxy for others and had no legal standing to file a case.
    The International Criminal Court (ICC), a separate court at The Hague, is also investigating the deportation of Rohingya from Myanmar, and the IIMM in Geneva is gathering evidence that could be used in future trials.
    Myanmar opposes the investigations and has refused to cooperate, asserting the ICC does not have jurisdiction and that its decision to launch a probe was swayed by “charged narratives of harrowing personal tragedies which have nothing to do with the legal arguments in question.”
    John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said Myanmar’s military has faced “few real consequences for its atrocities, whether against Rohingya or other ethnic minority groups in Myanmar.”
    As well as imposing more economic sanctions on the junta, the United States should press for a U.N. Security Council resolution that would refer all the military’s alleged crimes to the International Criminal Court, Sifton said.    If Russia and China veto a resolution, as is likely, Washington should lead action in the U.N. General Assembly, he said.
    “Condemnations of Myanmar should be coupled with concrete actions,” he said.
    Before Blinken made the decision this month, officials debated whether blaming Myanmar’s government – rather than specifically its military – for the atrocities could complicate U.S. support for the country’s deposed democratic forces, according to a source familiar with the matter.
    The State Department opted to pin the blame on the military, said the second senior department official.
    “It’s not clear to what degree the civilian leadership had control over actions that were happening in Rakhine State and so that’s where the determination ends at this point,” said that official, who did not comment on the internal deliberation.
    Suu Kyi, forced to share power with the generals, traveled to the International Court of Justice in 2019 to reject the genocide charges brought by The Gambia.
    She said the country would itself prosecute any soldiers found to have committed abuses, but maintained the alleged violations did not rise to the level of genocide, for which the specific intent to destroy a group has to be proven.
    When they seized power, the generals put Suu Kyi on trial in nearly a dozen cases that could see her sentenced to more than 100 years in prison. She remains in detention.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis; Editing by Mary Milliken, Daniel Wallis and Himani Sarkar)

3/21/2022 Biden To Travel To Poland To Discuss Ukraine Crisis With Duda by David Shepardson
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden walks to board Marine One, before traveling to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for
the weekend, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 18, 2022. REUTERS/Al Drago/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joseph Biden will travel to Poland on Friday to discuss the international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that has sparked a “humanitarian and human rights crisis,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said late Sunday.
    Biden will travel to Warsaw where he will hold a bilateral meeting with President Andrzej Duda, the White House said.    Over 2 million refugees have entered Poland from Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, the Polish border guard said on Friday.
    Biden’s Poland trip will come a day after he meets in Brussels with NATO Allies, G7 Leaders and European Union Leaders to discuss international efforts to support Ukraine after Russia’s invasion, the White House said.
    The White House also said Biden will host a call Monday at 11 a.m. EST with President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom to discuss their coordinated responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
    United Nations data showed as of Thursday about 3.2 million have fled abroad from Ukraine since last month, in what has become Europe’s fastest growing refugee crisis since World War Two.    The U.N. said some of the 2 million people entering Poland from Ukraine have moved on to other countries in the EU but the “the majority are believed to be still in Poland.”
    On Thursday, Biden will attend an emergency NATO Summit on Ukraine as well as a G7 meeting.    He will also join a scheduled European Council Summit to discuss Ukraine “including transatlantic efforts to impose economic costs on Russia, provide humanitarian support to those affected by the violence, and address other challenges related to the conflict,” the White House said.
    Earlier on Sunday, Psaki said Biden was not planning to visit Ukraine during his European trip this week.
(Reporting by David Shepardson and Ismail Shakil; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Michael Perry)

3/21/2022 German Resort’s Rift Over Russian Oligarch Resonates Across Country by Tom Sims
FILE PHOTO: Boats cruise on lake Tegernsee during a hot, sunny day in Germany, July 31, 2020. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
    FRANKFURT (Reuters) – A German politician who mobilized a protest against a now-sanctioned Russian resident of his resort town has attracted a following, but also angry emails and a threatening phone call.
    This mirrors Germany’s ambivalence to becoming a sanctuary for wealth in a culture that cherishes privacy but that critics say has allowed the mega-rich to squirrel away assets in secrecy.
    And while Britain, France, Italy and Spain have seized yachts and other property since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent imposition of sanctions on influential Russians, Germany appears to have sat on its hands.
    “For years, Germany has been a magnet for dirty money from all over the world.    For too long, we did not look closely enough, and now we are suffering the consequences,” Lisa Paus, a member of Germany’s parliament, said.
    A government task force to enforce sanctions is just getting off the ground.
    Germany’s uneasy relationship with oligarchs has shone an uncomfortable spotlight on the Bavarian lakeside community around Tegernsee, where locals and officials say at least three homes belong to Uzbekistan-born businessman Alisher Usmanov.
    Usmanov, who has interests in mining and telecommunications and a net worth that Britain estimates at more than $18 billion, was described by the European Union as a “pro-Kremlin oligarch with particularly close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin” when it imposed sanctions on him.
    His holding company USM, whose website describes Usmanov as an entrepreneur, investor and “one of the world’s most generous philanthropists,” did not respond to requests for comment.    Two other companies he owns did not respond.
    Thomas Tomaschek, a member of the council of Rottach-Egern on Tegernsee’s southern tip, this month called a demonstration to say Usmanov was no longer welcome, even though restaurants, carpenters and hoteliers had profited from his presence.
    The event attracted 300 people, representing prominent members of all parties in a town of 5,000, but also a backlash.
    Tomaschek says he received an email saying “shame on you” for demonstrating “against a Russian who clearly lives as a private person in Rottach-Egern.”    Another wrote: “Should anyone who has shaken Putin’s hand be deprived of assets in Germany?
    A caller screamed “Nazi pig” down the phone, prompting him to file a complaint and to remove an axe for chopping wood from his doorstep in case someone violent appeared.    The local police confirmed it was investigating.
Graphic: Germany wrestles with oligarch ties:
    Angry grass roots activists are now drawing attention to Germany’s impotence when it comes to seizing assets.     Mathis Lohaus, a researcher at Freie Universitaet Berlin who focuses on corruption, is outraged that no one had seized a superyacht that the United States says is owned by Usmanov and has been berthed in the port of Hamburg.
    Lohaus said he took to Twitter to express his frustration when Germany failed to seize the ship, which has an indoor pool, two helipads and is valued at more than $600 million.
    “The whole history of Germany over the last few years has been one of unenthusiastic enforcement,” Lohaus said.
    There has been no confiscation of the yacht, a spokesperson for Hamburg’s economics ministry said last week.
    Meanwhile, a prominent campaign group against financial crime recently launched a petition addressed to German finance minister Christian Lindner demanding action.
    “Germany offers them all a safe haven for their dirty money. This has to stop now!” the Finanzwende petition reads.    The finance ministry said in an emailed response to Reuters that it has been working on measures to clamp down.
Graphic: Suspicious transactions:
    Part of Germany’s problem with enforcement has been bureaucracy, with responsibility spread across ministries.
    In an effort to address this, Germany last week said that it was forming a task force to oversee the implementation of sanctions across its finance, economy and interior ministries, as well as customs and police.
    There are cultural and historical factors at play too.
    Hartmut Baeumer, a former judge and now chair of Transparency International Germany, said Germans are risk-averse when it comes to confronting legal issues, while a belief in strong protection of an individual’s rights runs deep.
    “We Germans are still working through the consequences of the Nazi era.    The pendulum has swung very far in the direction of privacy and individual freedoms,” Baeumer said.
    German and international elites have long sought refuge in the rolling hills around Tegernsee, which sits between Munich and the Alps, and Rottach-Egern markets itself as home to Europe’s first beauty farm and “first-class and elegant” hotels.
    Last week the average price of homes in Rottach-Egern on a popular real-estate portal was more than 4 million euros, while the average taxpayer in the surrounding county pays 66% more income tax than those in the rest of Germany.
    “Tegernsee is a billionaires’ place,” one prominent local businessman said on condition of anonymity.
    Gerhard Hofmann, Rottach-Egern’s city manager, said he had never witnessed such uproar in his native town.     Usmanov “just wanted to have his peace,” Hofmann said, adding that the oligarch had helped the local economy by employing local architects and companies.
    “As a town, we are neutral,” he added.
(Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Alexander Smith)

3/21/2021 Ukraine Says No To Russia Demands Of Laying Down Arms In Mariupol
Local residents walk near residential buildings which were damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict
in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 18, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer
    LONDON (Reuters) – Ukraine said there is no question of surrendering the city of Mariupol after Russia called on Ukrainian forces on Sunday to lay down arms in the besieged port city.
    “There can be no question of any surrender, laying down of arms,” the Ukrainska Pravda news portal cited Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk as saying.    “We have already informed the Russian side about this.”
    Russia said a “terrible humanitarian catastrophe” was unfolding in Mariupol.
    “Lay down your arms,” Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, the director of the Russian National Center for Defense Management, said in a briefing distributed by the defence ministry.
    “A terrible humanitarian catastrophe has developed,” Mizintsev said.    “All who lay down their arms are guaranteed safe passage out of Mariupol.”
    Mariupol has suffered some of the heaviest bombardment since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.    Many of its 400,000 residents remain trapped in the city with little if any food, water and power.
    Mizintsev said humanitarian corridors for civilians would be opened eastwards and westwards out of Mariupol at 10 a.m. Moscow time (0700 GMT) on Monday.
    Ukraine has until 5 a.m. Moscow time to respond to the offer on humanitarian corridors and laying down arms, he said.
    Vereshchuk said Russia’s actions are “a deliberate manipulation.”
    “Instead of spending time on eight pages on letters, just open the corridor,” she said.
    Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the failure to open such corridors in recent weeks.
    Mizintsev, without providing evidence, said that Ukrainian “bandits,” “neo-Nazis” and nationalists had engaged in “mass terror” and gone on a killing spree in the city.
    Ukraine says it is fighting for its existence and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday that the siege of Mariupol was “a terror that will be remembered for centuries to come.”
    Russian President Vladimir Putin says the “special military operation” in Ukraine was necessary to disarm and “denazify” its neighbour. Russia says it is not targeting civilians.
    Mizintsev said Russia was not using heavy weapons in Mariupol.    He said Russia had evacuated 59,304 people out of the city but that 130,000 civilians remained as effective hostages there.    He said 330,686 people had been evacuated from Ukraine by Russia since the start of the “operation.”
    The Mariupol city council said on its Telegram channel late on Saturday that several thousand residents had been “deported” to Russia over the past week.
    Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands of people, displaced more than 3 million and raised fears of a wider confrontation between Russia and the United States.
    The West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia that the Kremlin says amount to a declaration of economic war by the United States and its allies.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Lidia Kelly; Editing by Alexander Smith, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Michael Perry)

3/21/2022 Oil up $7.00 to $112.32, DOW down 202 to 34,553.

3/22/2022 Russia bans Meta apps for ‘extremism’ charges - Prohibition affects Facebook, Instagram by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    MOSCOW – A Moscow court banned Facebook and Instagram on Monday for what it deemed extremist activity in a case against their parent company, Meta.
    The Tverskoy District Court fulfilled a request from prosecutors to outlaw Meta Platforms Inc. and banned Facebook and Instagram for what they called “extremist activities.”    Russian prosecutors have accused the social media platforms of ignoring government requests to remove what they described as fake news about Russian military actions in Ukraine and calls for anti-war protests in Russia.
    The court’s ruling bans Meta from opening offices and doing business in Russia.    Meta declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.
    Prosecutors haven’t requested to ban the Meta-owned messaging service WhatsApp, which is widely popular in Russia.    The authorities also emphasized that they do not intend to punish individual Russians who use Facebook or Instagram.
    Instagram and Facebook were already blocked in Russia after the country’s communications and media regulator Roskomnadzor said they were being used to call for violence against Russian soldiers.    In addition to blocking Facebook and Instagram, Russian authorities also have shut access to foreign media websites, including BBC, the U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and Latvia-based website Meduza.
    Continuing the effort, Roskomnadzor on Monday blocked the website of Euronews, a European news network.    The regulator has also cut Euronews broadcasts.
    The court’s verdict comes amid multipronged efforts by Russian authorities to control the message about Russia’s military action in Ukraine, which the Kremlin describes as a “special military operation” intended to uproot alleged “neo-Nazi nationalists.”
    A new law fast-tracked on March 4 by the Kremlin-controlled parliament, a week after Russia launched the attack on Ukraine, envisions prison terms of up to 15 years for posting “fake” information about the military that differs from the official narrative.
A Moscow court has banned Facebook and Instagram for what it deemed extremist activity
in a case against Meta, the company which owns the services. TONY AVELAR/AP FILE

3/22/2022 Ukraine Needs A ‘Marshall Plan’ – German Finance Minister
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner speaks during a budget session, in the plenary hall of the lower house
of the German parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany March 22, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Ukraine needs a Marshall Plan to deal with the consequences of Russia’s invasion, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Tuesday.
    “Our support for the (Ukrainian) people’s fight for freedom will continue,” Lindner said in a speech to the Bundestag lower house of parliament.    “Our solidarity with our European neighbour has a lasting basis and that’s why we need an international Marshall Plan for Ukraine.”
(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Paul Carrel)

3/22/2022 France’s Socialist Party Facing Irrelevance In Presidential Vote by Elizabeth Pineau and Richard Lough
Supporters of Fabien Roussel, French communist party (PCF) leader and candidate for the
2022 French presidential election, are seen before a campaign political rally in Valenciennes, France,
March 15, 2022. Picture taken March 15, 2022. REUTERS/Clotaire Achi/File Photo
    VALENCIENNES, France (Reuters) – In France’s former mining heartland, promises by the Communist Party’s first presidential candidate in 15 years to raise the minimum wage, lower the retirement age and tax big business hard resonate with voters who feel ignored by the mainstream left.
    That Fabien Roussel, a native of France’s industrial north, has for months polled higher than Parti Socialiste contender Anne Hidalgo is a sign of how far the traditional centre left has fallen in a decade, and now risks irrelevance.
    Hidalgo’s difficulty reviving a once-powerful political force in post-war France points to a broader struggle by social democratic parties across Europe to recover from a haemorrhaging of support, despite signs of a come-back in Portugal, the Nordics and Germany.
    The economy around Valenciennes, a town of 44,000 people near the Belgian border, was once driven by coal and lace.    Today, unemployment runs at over 12%, nearly double the national average even if it is now falling as new jobs are created.
    “I’m reaching out to those who no longer believe in politics, those who doubt, those who abandoned a Left which let them down and betrayed them when it was in power,” Roussel told Reuters before addressing some 2,000 supporters in Valenciennes.
    The latest IFOP poll showed Roussel with nearly 5% of voter support, almost double his Parti Socialiste (Socialist Party) rival.    Such a score in April’s election would be the communists’ highest since 1995.
    Meanwhile, compounding the centre left’s troubles, another hard-left challenger, Jean-Luc Melenchon, who would impose capital controls and guarantee jobs for the long-term jobless, has emerged as an outsider for a place in the runoff, behind President Emmanuel Macron and the far-right Marine Le Pen.
    France’s election comes after a decade which saw politics across much of Europe shift to the right, with working-class voters deserting the centre left after the global financial crisis.
    For the Parti Socialiste, which in 2012 under President Francois Hollande controlled the Elysee, parliament, most big cities and nearly all regions, it has been a tumultuous period.    Hidalgo is currently polling at between 2%-3%.
    “The Parti Socialiste has gone from its pinnacle to being on the verge of disappearing,” said Pascal Delwit, professor of political sciences at the Free University of Brussels.
    For many Parti Socialiste voters, Hollande’s pro-business volte-face halfway through his term was an act of treachery at a moment when, scarred by the effects of the worldwide financial meltdown, they sought shielding from the forces of globalisation.
    Isabelle Perello, a pensioner who backed former Socialist presidents Francois Mitterrand and Francois Hollande, said the mainstream left had failed voters.
    “There wasn’t much change when it came to purchasing power and the sharing of wealth,” she said as she marched through Paris in support of Melenchon on Sunday.
    Other voters lamented the Parti Socialiste’s failure to unite a fragmented left-wing electorate.    Psychologist Frederic Clemence praised the centre left’s progressive policies on civil rights but added: “Leftist policies must also have a socio-economic aspect.”
    Parti Socialiste membership numbers have sunk to 22,000 in 2021 from 220,000 in 2007, according to media reports.
    Hidalgo points to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and, most recently, Portugal as evidence that social democrats are seeing a revival.
    She promises to raise the minimum wage by 15% to 1,465 euros ($1,615) per month after tax, and would reimpose a wealth tax abolished by Macron, punish polluters financially and raise inheritance tax for the richest.
    “It’s true that the financial crisis of 2008 in particular raised doubts about the response of social democrats and of the welfare state,” Hidalgo told Reuters.
    “My programme is deeply connected to the fight against social injustice and inequalities.”
    If the polls are right, voters are not convinced.    Moreover, if Hidalgo scores below 5%, she will not recoup a large chunk of her campaign costs from the state, piling more financial difficulty on party which already gave up its old headquarters.
    Delwit said the Parti Socialiste appeared short of answers to the leading socio-economic worries of voters, after a period in which many of Europe’s centre-left parties directed more attention to issues including gay rights and gender equality.
    “When socialist parties abandon socialism, you lose your traditional voter base,” Delwit said.
($1 = 0.9062 euros)
(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau and Richard Lough; Additional reporting by Michaela Cabrera; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Alison Williams)

3/22/2022 Gas Thefts On The Rise As Fuel Prices Climb by OAN Newsroom
FILE – A California street sign is shown next to the price board
at a gas station in San Francisco, on March 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
    Rising gas prices are fueling thieves to take extreme measures.    The stealing of gas is also on the rise across a number of states as more Americans are struggling to afford fuel.
    According to reports, the number of gas thefts skyrocketed in California, Illinois, Texas and at least seven other states.    An expert from AAA cautioned people to be on the lookout while at the pump.
    “This is a sign of the times, you know, it’s thieves looking for ways they can make money by stealing what is becoming an increasingly more expensive and valuable commodity — gasoline,” said Doug Shupe, AAA employee.
    Thieves are also getting creative when it comes to stealing fuel with some going as far as drilling holes into the tanks of vehicles, which can cost up to $1000 to repair.
    Multiple reports say gas thieves are even stealing fuel from under ground tanks at gas stations through a trap door inside their trucks.    A Los Angeles gas station manager, Jerry Thayil, said 360 gallons of fuel was stolen in just three days.
    “The van drives on top of the fuel tank and then that’s all you see,” Thayil explained.    “No one comes out, so they have a trap door inside their vehicle, which is crazy.”
    AAA recommends people park their cars under bright lights or inside a parking garage to discourage thieves from targeting them.    The organization also advises looking out for tell tale signs such as a check engine light, the smell of fuel inside the vehicle or a puddle on the side of the tank.
    In the meantime, customers at gas stations around the country are becoming frustrated as they see the number at the pump rising every week.    Overall, average U.S. gas price rose to $4.31 last week, which is more than a 60 percent surge from a year ago.

3/22/2022 Canada’s Trudeau Strikes Surprise Deal To Keep Power Until 2025 by Steve Scherer and Ismail Shakil
FILE PHOTO: Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh shake hands following the Federal leaders
French language debate in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, October 10, 2019. Adrian Wyld/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s ruling Liberal Party and opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) have reached a surprise agreement that aims to keep the minority government in power until 2025, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.    Governments with a minority of seats in parliament, like the one Trudeau now leads, tend to last an average of about two years, but this rare agreement could permit it to last the entire four-year term, Trudeau said.
    “What this means is that during this uncertain time, the government can function with predictability and stability, present and implement budgets, and get things done for Canadians,” Trudeau said.
    The two parties published a list of priorities they had agreed upon.
    The Liberals agreed to back a national dental-care program for low-income Canadians and to move forward on a national prescription-drug coverage program, both cornerstone campaign pledges for the NDP.
    The Liberals and New Democrats also said they would develop a plan to phase out financing for the fossil fuel sector, starting in 2022.
    Trudeau, who has been in power since 2015, will be able to deliver on his main campaign promises, like fighting climate change or addressing a national housing shortage.
    “We have a document … that will be used to analyze and verify the government’s actions,” New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters.    “We will use our power to help people.”
    Singh six months ago ruled out a deal to keep the minority Liberal government in power, but added he was willing to support Trudeau on a case-by-case basis.
    Opposition Conservative leader Candice Bergen said Canadians had been “hoodwinked” and “deceived” by Trudeau.     “This is nothing more than a Justin Trudeau power grab,” Bergen said, adding that it would lead to “the decimation” of the country’s oil and gas sector.    Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet called the deal a “false majority” that betrayed last year’s vote.
    In the House of Commons, the deal will give the government 184 total votes.    A majority is 170 and the Liberals have 159 by themselves.    Singh said the deal would stay in place as long as the Liberals lived up to their commitments.
    Trudeau has failed to gain a majority of seats in parliament in the past two elections.    So the left-leaning NDP has backed Trudeau in key votes since 2019, but this agreement formalizes future support.
    While a so-called “supply and confidence agreement” is not unheard of in Canadian politics, it is unprecedented to have such an agreement in writing at the federal level.
    In 2004, Conservative leader Stephen Harper sought to unite the opposition to bring down Paul Martin’s Liberal government, but failed.    However in 2017 an NDP government in British Columbia functioned with the informal support of the Green Party until 2020.
    The deal does not create a formal coalition and the New Democrats will not be part of Trudeau’s cabinet.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru, Rhea Binoy and Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa;Editing by Nick Zieminski and Bernadette Baum)

3/22/2022 Foreign Forces Could Profit From Germany’s $110 Billion Defence Boost – Draft Law
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz touches his face mask during a budget session, in the plenary hall of the lower
house of the German parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany March 22, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Part of the 100 billion euros ($110 billion) pledged by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to boost defences may be used to support foreign security forces such as Ukraine with equipment and training, according to a draft law agreed by the government.
    “The projects (that can be invested in) comprise measures… designed to equip and strengthen security forces of partners,” the draft law aiming to enable the government to set up the special fund says.
    The draft still needs parliamentary approval.
    It was not immediately clear whether the German government intended to spend part of the money on arms supplies to Kyiv.    A government source said that “partners” meant third countries, hence non-EU countries.
    In a landmark speech three days after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Scholz announced that Germany would sharply increase its defence spending to more than 2% of its economic output and inject 100 billion euros into the Bundeswehr defence force.
    In another major policy shift, Germany also started to supply anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons from military stocks to Kyiv.
    Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht, however, said later the German military could not give away any more of its weapons, suggesting the government should buy arms to pass them on to Ukraine.
($1 = 0.9070 euros)
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Christian Kraemer, writing by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Nick Macfie)

3/22/2022 Blinken Says Myanmar Army Committed Genocide In ‘Widespread And Systematic’ Attacks On Rohingya by Simon Lewis and Humeyra Pamuk
FILE PHOTO: Rohingya refugees cross the Naf River with an improvised raft to reach to
Bangladesh in Teknaf, Bangladesh, November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States formally determined that Myanmar’s army committed genocide and crimes against humanity in its violence against the Rohingya minority, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday, warning that as long as a military junta was in power nobody in the country would be safe.
    Announcing the decision, which was first reported by Reuters on Sunday, Blinken said the attacks against Rohingya were “widespread and systematic” and that evidence pointed to a clear intent to destroy the mainly Muslim minority.
    The determination could bolster efforts to hold the Myanmar generals accountable and help prevent further atrocities, U.S. officials believe.    Activists welcomed the move, but called for concrete actions like tougher sanctions on the junta.
    In his speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, the top American diplomat read out tragic and chilling accounts of victims, who had been shot in the head, raped and tortured.
    Myanmar’s armed forces launched a military operation in 2017 that forced at least 730,000 Rohingya from their homes and into neighboring Bangladesh.    In 2021, Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup.
    “Since the coup, we have seen the Burmese military use many of the same tactics.    Only now the military is targeting anyone in Burma it sees as opposing or undermining its repressive rule,” Blinken said.
    “For those who did not realize it before the coup, the brutal violence unleashed by the military since February 2021 has made clear that no one in Burma will be safe from atrocities so long as it is in power,” he added.
    Myanmar’s state-run MRTV on Tuesday said the foreign ministry strongly condemned and rejected Blinken’s determination, which it said was based on false information and was an attempt to interfere in its domestic affairs.
    Days after U.S. President Joe Biden took office, Myanmar generals led by Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing seized power on Feb. 1, 2021, after complaining of fraud in a November 2020 general election won by democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi’s party.    Election monitoring groups found no evidence of mass fraud.
    The armed forces crushed an uprising against their coup, killing more than 1,600 people and detaining nearly 10,000, including civilian leaders such as Suu Kyi, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an advocacy group, and setting off an insurgency.
    Blinken’s recognition comes after two earlier State Department examinations failed to produce a determination on the atrocities, which U.S. officials had only referred to as “ethnic cleansing” until now.
    “There is no doubt that being allowed to get away with genocide of the Rohingya encouraged the military to think it could get away with holding a coup as well,” said Tun Khin, a Rohingya activist who heads the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK and attended Blinken’s address.
    “Accountability for Rohingya genocide will not just help protect the Rohingya, it will help protect all the people of Burma.”
    In response to the coup, the United States and Western allies sanctioned the junta and its business interests, but have been unable to persuade the generals to restore civilian rule after they received military and diplomatic support from Russia and China.
    Advocates say Monday’s declaration, which does not automatically unleash any punitive measures but carries political weight, could help judicial efforts worldwide to hold the junta accountable, but say more action needs to follow.
    Washington should work through U.N. bodies to push for accountability while also extending sanctions to target the foreign currency reserves Myanmar’s junta gathers from oil and gas revenues, said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.
    “The Myanmar military will continue to commit atrocities so long as other governments fail to impose measures to hold them accountable,” Sifton said.
    Blinken on Monday announced $1 million in new funding for a U.N. investigation on Myanmar and said the United States has shared information with Gambia connected to its case at the International Court of Justice, where it has accused Myanmar of genocide.
    Monday’s announcement comes after more than four years of examinations by the State Department, including a 2018 report prepared with outside lawyers that surveyed more than 1,000 Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh.
    Three-quarters of those surveyed had witnessed the military kill someone and more than half witnessed acts of sexual violence, Blinken said, adding the findings “demonstrate that these abuses were not isolated cases.”
    Blinken also recalled the experience of his stepfather, Samuel Pisar, who was sent to the Nazis’ first concentration camp at Dachau a dozen years after it was built – an example of how the groundwork for genocide is laid over years or even decades.
    An exhibit at the museum showed how Rohingya had their rights and citizenship “methodically stripped away” over many years, Blinken said.
(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

3/22/2022 U.N. Chief Says Time To End Russia’s ‘Absurd War’ In Ukraine by Michelle Nichols
FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks to the media regarding Russia's invasion
of Ukraine, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, U.S., March 14, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged an end to the “absurd war” started by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine one month ago, warning that the conflict is “going nowhere, fast” and that the Ukrainian people are “enduring a living hell.”
    “Continuing the war in Ukraine is morally unacceptable, politically indefensible and militarily nonsensical,” Guterres told reporters in New York.
    Russia is pounding the besieged Ukrainian port of Mariupol into the “ashes of a dead land,” its local council said on Tuesday, describing two more huge bombs that fell on the city that has been sealed off for weeks.
    “Even if Mariupol falls, Ukraine cannot be conquered city by city, street by street, house by house,” Guterres said.    “This war is unwinnable.    Sooner or later, it will have to move from the battlefield to the peace table.”
    “It is time to end this absurd war,” he said.
    Russia launched what it calls a “special military operation” on Feb. 24 to destroy Ukraine’s military infrastructure.    Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Moscow of attacking civilians indiscriminately. Moscow denies attacking civilians.
    Guterres said some 10 million Ukranians have fled from their homes and warned the reverberations of war were being felt globally “with skyrocketing food, energy and fertilizer prices threatening to spiral into a global hunger crisis.”
    “There is enough on the table to cease hostilities – now … and seriously negotiate – now,” Guterres said.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Rami Ayyub; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

3/22/2022 Day 2 Of Supreme Court Justice Confirmation Hearings by OAN Newsroom
Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation
hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    Supreme Court Justice nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson was questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee about her judicial record as well as her views on several issues.    She appeared before the panel Tuesday in the second day of her confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill.
    The nominee addressed concerns she did not follow federal sentencing guidelines in cases involving child pornography offenders.    Jackson asserted she understands how horrible the crime is and has placed adequate restraints on those convicted.    She also emphasized the importance of being impartial while ruling on cases.
    “Over the course of my almost decade on the bench, I have developed a methodology that I use in order to ensure that I am ruling impartially and that I am adhering to the limits on my judicial authority,” stated the Supreme Court nominee.    “I am acutely aware that as a judge in our system, I have limited power and I am trying in every case to stay in my lane.”
    Jackson was also questioned about court-packing, but declined to give her stance on the issue.    She also made her stance on the Second Amendment clear.
    When asked by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) whether the right to bear arms is a fundamental one, Jackson pointed to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the matter.    She said it has been established by the nation’s highest court to be a fundamental right.    Gun rights appear to be a blank space on Jackson’s resume, but pro-gun control groups have signaled their support for her while the NRA remains skeptical.

3/22/2022 Biden Speaks With Key Europe Allies Regarding Ongoing Ukraine-Russia Crisis by OAN Newsroom
FILE – President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus,
March 18, 2022, in Washington. Biden quietly dispatched a team to NATO headquarters in Belgium just days before
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. What emerged from the meetings was an export ban and the groundwork to
immobilize about half the foreign holdings of Russia’s central bank. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
    Joe Biden spoke with a number of European leaders on the phone to address latest developments in the Ukrainian conflict.
    According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, the U.S, President spoke with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany on Monday.    The leaders discussed ways to further prop up the Ukrainian government as it struggles to accept Russia’s peace offers.
    “They discussed their serious concerns about Russia’s brutal tactics in Ukraine, including its attacks on civilians,” Psaki explained.    “They underscored their continued support for Ukraine, including by providing security assistance to the brave Ukrainians who are defending their country from Russian aggression and humanitarian assistance to the millions of Ukrainians who have fled the violence.    They also reviewed recent diplomatic efforts in support of Ukraine’s effort to reach a cease fire.”
    The White House Press Secretary noted that talks with EU leaders will continue.
    “It may have been last week they talked about doing this on a regular basis,” she continued.    “Not necessarily because there is a big deliverable out of it, but just to keep an open line of communication.”
    Biden is planning to travel to Europe later this week to discuss the economic and security fallout of his foreign policies.

3/22/2022 Harris Ridiculed For Repeating The Same Phrase At La. Library Talks About ‘Significance Of Passage Of Time’ by OAN Newsroom
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks about accessible internet in
Sunset, La., Monday, March 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
    A recent public appearance by Vice President Kamala Harris is raising further questions of incompetence in the Biden administration.    While speaking at a library in Sunset, Louisiana on Monday, Harris attempted to address the importance of broadband internet access to improve education in the state.
    However, she appeared to struggle with her prepared remarks.    At one point during her speech, Harris repeated the same phrase at least three-times, which left the audience wondering what her message really was.
    Harris was trying to promote Joe Biden’s plan to spend $277 million to widen internet access out of his $1.5 trillion spending bill.

3/22/2022 Oil down $3.25 to $109.07, DOW up 254 to 34,807.

3/23/2022 WikiLeaks’ Assange To Get Married In Prison
FILE PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian
Embassy in central London, Britain February 5, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will marry his long-term partner Stella Moris inside a high-security prison in southeast London on Wednesday at a small ceremony attended by four guests, two official witnesses and two guards.
    Assange is being held in jail while U.S. authorities seek his extradition to face trial on 18 counts relating to WikiLeaks’ release of vast troves of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables more than a decade ago.
    The 50-year-old Australian, who denies any wrongdoing, has been in Belmarsh prison since 2019 and before that was holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for seven years.
    While living at the embassy he fathered two children with Moris, a lawyer more than a decade his junior, whom he met in 2011 when she started work on his legal team.    Their relationship began in 2015.
    The registrar-led ceremony will take place during visiting hours at the prison, where some of Britain’s most notorious criminals have served sentences, including child murderer Ian Huntley.
    The prison has refused permission for journalists or a photographer to be present as witnesses on security grounds.
    “I am convinced that they fear that people will see Julian as a human being,” Moris wrote in an article for the Guardian newspaper.    “Not a name, but a person.    Their fear reveals that they want Julian to remain invisible to the public at all costs, even on his wedding day, and especially on his wedding day.”
    She said she was marrying the “love of her life” whom she described a wonderful, intelligent and funny.
    Moris’s wedding dress and Assange’s kilt – a nod to his family ties to Scotland – have been created by British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, who has previously campaigned against his extradition.
    Assange suffered a blow earlier this month when he was denied permission to launch an appeal at Britain’s Supreme Court against a decision to extradite him.    However, he could still challenge the government’s ratification of the extradition.
(Reporting by William James and Michael Holden; Editing by David Goodman and Nick Macfie)

3/23/2022 Kremlin Accuses U.S. Of Pressuring Other Countries Over Russia’s G20 Membership
FILE PHOTO: Head of delegates prepare for a meeting on the last day of the G20 finance ministers and central
bank governors meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 18, 2022. Mast Irham / Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    (Reuters) – The Kremlin on Wednesday accused the United States of putting pressure on other countries regarding Russia’s membership in the Group of Twenty (G20) major economies, but said some powers were sticking to their sovereign points of view.
    The United States and its Western allies are assessing whether Russia should remain within the G20, sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Reuters)

3/23/2022 EU Must Support Western Balkans Membership To Secure Peace – Scholz
FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz looks on as he delivers a speech during a budget session of Germany's lower
house of parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi/File Photo
    BERLIN (Reuters) – The European Union must support the Western Balkan countries in their bid to join the bloc as soon as possible as part of its strategy to secure regional peace, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday.
    “In the European Council, determined as never before, we will agree tomorrow and the day after a new European security strategy,” Scholz told the Bundestag lower house of parliament.
    Scholz said Europe needed to strengthen its crisis resilience regarding economic policy but also new technologies and cyberspace, as well as support Western Balkan countries in their EU membership bids.
    Many in the Balkans doubt the EU’s pledge, first made 18 years ago, to eventually admit Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania to the bloc.
(Reporting by Paul Carrel and Miranda Murray; Writing by Sarah Marsh)

3/23/2022 Nearly 239,000 Refugees From Ukraine In Germany So Far - Interior Min
FILE PHOTO: Refugees fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine arrive in Goerlitz via Poland, on their way to
Leipzig, at the central station in Goerlitz, Germany, March 22, 2022. REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel/File Photo
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Nearly 239,000 refugees from Ukraine have been recorded in Germany so far, the German Interior Ministry said.
    Federal police said 238,932 people – mostly women, children and the elderly – have arrived from Ukraine as of Wednesday, according to the ministry.
(Reporting by Miranda Murray, editing by Kirsti Knolle)

3/23/2022 U.S. Republicans Want Higher Defense Spending, Citing Ukraine And China
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, gestures
during committee's hearing on "Ending the U.S. Military Mission in Afghanistan" in the Rayburn House
Office Building in Washington, U.S., September 29, 2021. Rod Lamkey/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A group of 40 U.S. Republican members of the Senate and House of Representatives Armed Services Committees urged President Joe Biden to include a 5% increase above inflation for defense spending in his proposal for the fiscal 2023 U.S. budget.
    Biden is expected to announce his budget next week.
    “As you prepare your fiscal year 2023 budget for submission to Congress, we strongly encourage you to reject the approach you took last year when you proposed to cut defense spending below the rate of inflation,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter, made public on Wednesday.
    In his first year in office, Biden submitted a budget keeping Department of Defense spending basically flat, as he and many of his fellow Democrats sought to rein in the Department of Defense budget, which has risen to more than $750 billion.
    “Unprecedented Chinese military modernization has left us behind in key areas in the Western Pacific, and each day the Chinese Communist Party more clearly shows us that its interests are diametrically opposed to ours,” the lawmakers said in the letter.
    “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s aggression against Ukraine has already left us and our NATO allies less secure, and his appetite and erratic behavior is likely to grow,” they said.
    The letter’s signatories were led by Representative Mike Rogers, the top Republican on House Armed Services, and Senator Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on Senate Armed Services.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

3/23/2022 Italy’s Draghi Urges China To Support Peace Efforts In Ukraine
FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi speaks after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's address to the Italian parliament
via videolink, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Rome, Italy, March 22, 2022. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/Pool/File Photo
    ROME (Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi urged China on Wednesday not to support Russia after its invasion of Ukraine and to throw its weight behind efforts to bring peace to the country.
    Speaking to the Italian parliament, Draghi also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not appear to be interested in agreeing a ceasefire that could allow negotiations to succeed.
    “We need to repeat that we expect Beijing to avoid actions supporting Moscow and participate actively and with authority in peace efforts,” Draghi said.
    “The diplomatic effort can only succeed when Moscow really wants it too,” the prime minister added.
    However, Draghi said Putin appeared to be focused on securing more territory almost a month after the invasion began.
    “His plan seems to be rather to gain military ground, including by means of carpet bombing like what we are seeing in Mariupol,” Draghi said.
    Turning his attention to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the Ukraine conflict, Draghi said it was a priority for European countries to increase production of computer chips to protect key industries.
    “The shortage of semiconductors – essential for many strategic industries such as transport, industrial machinery, defence – has been particularly damaging.”
(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Writing by Keith Weir)

3/23/2022 West Fla. Gov. DeSantis Signs Bill To Require Financial Literacy Courses In High School by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action
Conference (CPAC), Feb. 24, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux, file)
    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill to require all high school students to take a financial literacy class before graduation.    The legislation is aimed at ensuring high school students in the Sunshine State are prepared to manage their finances in the future.
    During a press conference on Tuesday, DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1054, also known as the Dorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Act, at the Innovation Preparatory Academy in Pasco County, Florida.
    The bill requires high school students to earn one half credit in a financial literacy course in order to receive a standard high school diploma.    The legislation is also aimed at helping young Floridians be better prepared for economic challenges when they enter the work force.
    Florida Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera was also in attendance Tuesday and stressed the bill was critical to set students up for success in the future.    The legislation will officially become a graduation requirement for students who enter high school in the 2023-2024 school year and will not affect students currently enrolled in high school.

3/23/2022 State Dept.: Iran Deal Not Certain, Not Imminent by OAN Newsroom
State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks during a news conference at the State
Department, Thursday, March 10, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, Pool)
    The State Department is lowering its expectations of returning to the controversial 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.    It’s just over a year into the Joe Biden presidency and his administration is already backing away from its top foreign policy goal.
    While speaking with reporters on Tuesday, U.S. Department of State spokesperson Ned Price lamented “the jury’s still out” regarding the return to the Obama-era Iran Nuclear Deal.
    Biden diplomats have reportedly exhausted months of third party negotiations to resurrect the agreement and even offered to lift Trump-imposed sanctions on the Ayatollah regime as well as lift the terrorist designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
    Earlier this month, Biden’s national security apparatus and international partners espoused optimism for a return to the deal.    However, talks stalled in response to U.S sanctions imposed on Russia who reportedly has a heavy influence in negotiations with Russian diplomats threatening to derail the talks all together.
    Price claims Russia has since simmered down their threats and all parties are continuing to hash out differences.    However, Price said it’s not up to the Biden administration to force a deal.
    “We know that there has to be a great deal of urgency and we know that now the onus is on Tehran to make decisions regarding its willingness to enter into, once again, a mutual return to compliance or not,” he stated.
    Price went on to claim Biden’s diplomats have always planned for a world where there was no deal with Iran.    He also praised the efforts of the Trump administration to foster peace in the Middle East while citing the historic Abraham Accords.
    This came after leaders of Israel, the UAE and Egypt all met to bolster trilateral relations and strategize how to combat Iran’s influence in the region.    Many Arab state governments condemned the original Obama-era deal, arguing it gave the Ayatollah a slap on the wrist concerning its support for terrorist activities carried out by Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen.
    Price commended the new trilateral partnership, stressing their goals align with America’s.    In the meantime, the official said the State Department, along with Special Envoy to Iran Rob Malley, will continue to monitor negotiations.    However, he now suggested a deal is neither imminent nor certain.

3/23/2022 Biden’s Supreme Court Justice Nominee Challenged On CRT, Basic Biology by OAN Newsroom
Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her Senate Judiciary Committee
confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said she cannot define the word “woman.”    On the second day of her confirmation hearing, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) asked Jackson a series of questions about gender.
    Blackburn probed the judge about hot-button issues, including efforts to ban biological male students from playing on female teams.    However, when Jackson was asked to define the word “woman,” the judge said she was not a “biologist.”
    Blackburn went on to say Jackson’s inability to give a straight answer about something as fundamental as basic biology points to a much larger issue.    Joe Biden’s nominee also went toe to toe with another GOP lawmaker over critical race theory.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., questions Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson during her Senate Judiciary
Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) grilled the supreme court nominee judge on her association with the movement.    Jackson said she serves on the board of trustees for an elite Georgetown day school, which Cruz said has a curriculum that is “filled and overflowing with critical race theory.”
    The Texas Republican brought out several props, singling out one of the books titled "Antiracist Baby,” which argues babies are taught to be racist.    Cruz. asked Jackson if she agreed with the book and after a long pause, she said equality and justice is at the core of the school’s mission.
    Despite Jackson denying she has any involvement with the curriculum, the senator pointed out the school’s website indicates the Board of Trustees is, in fact, involved with executing their anti-racism action plan.    Meanwhile, Jackson’s role at the elite day school was just one part of Cruz’s focus on critical race theory.
    The senator questioned Jackson’s stance on the New York Times’s controversial 1619 Project, which recast the nation’s founding as the year when enslaved Africans first arrived in the colonies. She responded by saying she has never studied critical race theory nor has it ever come up in her work.
    However, Cruz recited a 2015 speech made by Jackson, where she explicitly talks about the theory as a judge.    Furthermore, several GOP members contested Jackson’s board position with Sen. Blackburn saying “it raises red flags.”
A simple majority is needed for her confirmation in an evenly divided Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaker.    If confirmed, Jackson would be the 116th justice and the sixth woman to serve on the high court.

3/23/2022 Oil up $5.77 to $114.44, DOW down 449 to 34,359.

3/24/2022 U.S. Imposes Sanctions Targeting North Korea’s Missile Program
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. flag flies in front of the Capitol Dome at the U.S. Capitol
in Washington, U.S., September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States has imposed sanctions on two Russian companies and a North Korean entity for transferring sensitive items to North Korea’s missile program, the State Department said on Thursday.
    It named the Russian entities as the Ardis Group of Companies LLC (Ardis Group) and PFK Profpodshipnik LLC.    The North Korean entity targeted for sanctions was named as the Second Academy of Natural Science Foreign Affairs Bureau.
    In addition, Russian national Igor Aleksandrovich Michurin and North Korean national Ri Sung Chol were also sanctioned, the State Department said.
    The sanctions announcement came on the same day North Korea said it tested a new, powerful type of intercontinental ballistic missile.
    “These measures are part of our ongoing efforts to impede the DPRK’s ability to advance its missile program and they highlight the negative role Russia plays on the world stage as a proliferator to programs of concern,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement, referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name.
    The United States also sanctioned Zhengzhou Nanbei Instrument Equipment Co Ltd for supplying Syria with equipment controlled by a chemical and biological weapons nonproliferation regime known as the Australia Group.
    The State Department said the sanctions on the Chinese company underscored Beijing’s shortcomings in implementing export controls and its nonproliferation track record.
(Reporting by Eric BeechEditing by Chris Reese)

3/24/2022 Analysis-Biden Faces Worsening North Korea Threat With Fewer Options by David Brunnstrom
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference in the framework of a European Union leaders summit
amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium March 24, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After U.S. President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, his future policy chief for the Indo-Pacific region said the new administration would have to decide quickly its approach to North Korea and its nuclear and missile programs.
    Delay during the Obama administration saw “provocative” North Korean steps “that basically headed off any possibility of engagement,” Kurt Campbell said.
    High-profile summits between former President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un produced little.
    Yet Biden left North Korea entirely out of his maiden foreign policy speech in February 2021 and hours after his first news conference as president the following month, North Korea launched a new tactical missile, highlighting its relentless military advances.
    At that time, Biden agreed with a questioner in saying that North Korea was the top foreign policy issues he faced, yet it was another month before he settled on a strategy that kept the door open to diplomacy but rejected the idea of offering the sanctions relief Pyongyang sought before it took steps to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
    North Korea called this evidence of “hostile” U.S. intent and this year embarked upon an unprecedented spate of missile testing, culminating with what appears to have been its largest ever intercontinental ballistic missile launch on Thursday.
    The return to testing of missiles capable of hitting the United States and Kim’s vow to develop a system with multiple warheads capable of evading U.S. missile defenses presents a fresh major headache for Biden at a time when he is consumed by countering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and prepares for challenging mid-term elections in November.
    But responding to the first launch of an ICBM since 2017 will be far more difficult than it was then, with the world powers that are capable of imposing new sanctions on North Korea at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), as they did after the last ICBM tests, at odds over Ukraine.
    After his ICBM tests in 2017, North Korea’s Kim launched into an unprecedented period of engagement with Trump, which ultimately did nothing to roll back Pyongyang’s weapons programs.
    “The Biden administration … had the chance to try to start off on a more productive foot with the North Koreans,” said Jenny Town of the North Korea project, 38 North.
    Progress could have been made in confidence-building steps, including towards declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War and clearing obstacles for humanitarian aid, that should have been dealt with when relations were warming under Trump
    “But now – the moment is gone,” Town said.    “And with the U.N. Security Council effectively paralyzed, the tools we have – even to build off-ramps to escalation, are much more limited.”
    “We’re not in a good spot … this was entirely predictable,” said Sue Mi Terry, a former CIA Korea analyst now with Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank (CSIS), adding that there could be worse to come in terms of North Korean tests.
    “This is … the perfect time because the whole world is distracted and there’s going to be no real consequences,” she said.    “What is UNSC going to do? Is Russia going to help, is China going to help?.”
    A particular worry is that Kim might also resume nuclear bomb tests for the first time since 2017.
    Victor Cha, a former White House North Korea expert now with CSIS, said satellite imagery had shown renewed activity at North Korea’s main nuclear testing site at Punggye-ri.    While it was not yet possible to determine exactly what that implied, “any activity there is not a good sign,” he said.
    Matt Pottinger, who served as Trump’s deputy national security adviser, told a Hoover Institution event on Thursday that North Korea would have been emboldened by the Biden administration’s “appeasement” of Iran over its nuclear program.
    Former Obama administration officials close to the current administration defended its approach.
    Daniel Russel, Obama’s top diplomat for East Asia, said there were no good options for dealing with North Korea and that Trump’s “ill-advised” summits with Kim in 2018 and 2019 had “eased pressure on North Korea without restraining its nuclear and missile programs.”
    “In fact, the ICBM just launched was surely developed and produced while Kim and then-president Trump were exchanging ‘love notes,'” he said, referring to the letters between them.
    Abraham Denmark, the senior Pentagon official for East Asia under Obama, argued that Biden’s efforts to strengthen U.S. alliances and its leadership of the international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, meant “deterrence against North Korean aggression is far stronger today.”
    He said Kim’s calculations were not only driven by Washington, and the demonstration of a more credible ICBM capability could be aimed signaling strength and resolve in response to incoming South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who has declared his intention to adopt a much harder line against Pyongyang and strengthen Seoul’s U.S. alliance.
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; additional reportng by Michael Martina; Editing by Mary Milliken and Alistair Bell)

3/24/2022 Biden Highlights New Sanctions On Russia, More Aid For Ukraine After Meeting With NATO Allies by OAN Newsroom
President Joe Biden arrives for a round table meeting at an EU summit
in Brussels, Thursday, March 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    President Joe Biden highlighted the latest sanctions against Russia and efforts to help Ukraine after meeting with fellow NATO leaders in Belgium.    During a press conference in Brussels Thursday, Biden said the sanctions are targeting hundreds of Russian lawmakers, oligarchs and defense companies that “fuel the nation’s war machine.”
    He confirmed plans to commit more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid to help Ukrainians affected by the war as well as plans to allow up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees into the U.S. Biden also noted NATO is fortifying the alliance’s eastern flank in a move which could lead to more U.S. troops in Europe.
    Biden notably said sanctions were never meant to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from attacking Ukraine, but suggested the long-term impact of such measures will prompt him to end the war.
    Separately, House GOP Conference chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asserted that Putin is “committing genocide” in his ongoing assault on Ukraine. She made the comment while speaking to reporters Thursday at the House GOP annual retreat and also called Putin an authoritarian and war criminal.
    Stefanik also told reporters House Republicans have been consistent in their opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.    The Republican’s condemnation of Putin comes as U.S. and European allies have strongly denounced Russia over suspected war crimes in Ukraine.
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared Russian forces have committed war crimes during their invasion. In a statement on Wednesday, he highlighted the countless accounts and images of suffering and destruction.
    According to Blinken, nearly 5,000 Ukrainians have died as a result of Russia’s attacks.    Secretary Blinken described Russia’s assaults as unjust and unprovoked. He noted, his declaration is based on the Biden administration’s ongoing review of information from public and intelligence sources.

3/24/2022 Beverly Hills Jewelry Store Hit By Smash & Grab Robbers In Broad Daylight by OAN Newsroom
Pedestrians walk past a boarded up Luxury Jewels of Beverly Hills on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Los Angeles police are warning people that wearing expensive jewelry in public could make them a target for thieves — a note of
caution as robberies are up citywide. The police department’s suggestion Tuesday, March 22, came as robbers smashed the front
window of a Beverly Hills jewelry store in broad daylight and fled with millions of dollars’ worth of merchandise. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
    A group of unidentified smash-and-grab thieves robbed a jewelry store in broad daylight and made off with millions of dollars worth of jewelry.    Police were called to investigate the incident at Luxury Jewels of Beverly Hills on Tuesday afternoon after at least five armed individuals broke through the front window with a sledgehammer and proceeded to rob the place.
    “I was sitting in my office and I heard what I thought was gunshots,” recounted store owner Peter Sedghi.
    “Really loud, literally sounded like gunshots.    So I told my staff, I yelled out, ‘everyone on the floor!’ I got on the floor, pushed the panic button.    I waited until what I thought were gunshots stopped.    I grabbed my gun and I came running out.”
    The group reportedly arrived in a stolen vehicle wearing hooded sweatshirts and surgical-style masks.    They stole an estimated $3 million to $5 million worth of merchandise.    The suspects then fled the scene in a different vehicle, which was later determined to be a white Audi sedan.
    “The suspects fled on foot, however, they left the vehicle that they traveled to the location behind,” stated Lt. Giovanni Trejo, Beverly Hills Police Department.    “That vehicle was reported stolen out of a location in the city of Long Beach.    We, at this point, detectives are following up on all the leads.    We believe that there was another vehicle that was used.    The only preliminary information on that vehicle we have on that vehicle that I have right now is that it was a white Audi.”
    Although the suspects remain at large, a neighboring store owner was able to trip one of the burglars and recover several stolen watches.    Luckily no injuries were reported, but several within the community are now worried about the safety of businesses.
    “I was sitting at my desk and I heard a loud bang, so I thought it was a gunshot, but then I look up and I see the guys with sledgehammers breaking the window,” explained Luxury Jewels employee Cindy Delaguerra.    “I got down.    I was pressing the alarm button and Peter, I just told him to shoot them.    I go, just get your gun and shoot them.    I said shoot them.    And by the time he came out, they were just gone.”
    Meanwhile, police say robberies in the Los Angeles area alone have increased by 18 percent over this past year.

3/24/2022 Oil down $2.99 to $111.42, DOW up 329 to 34,686.

3/25/2022 U.S. Ambassador Urges Mexico To Side With Ukraine In Russia Conflict
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar attends a news conference
in Mexico City, Mexico, November 9, 2021. REUTERS/Gustavo Graf/File Photo
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The U.S. ambassador to Mexico on Thursday urged Mexican lawmakers to join the United States in supporting Kyiv against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a day after his Russian counterpart encouraged Mexico to defy “Uncle Sam.”
    “The Russian ambassador was here yesterday making a lot of noise about how Mexico and Russia are so close.    This, sorry, can never happen.    It can never happen,” U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar said in remarks at Mexico’s lower house of Congress on Thursday.
    “We have to be in solidarity with Ukraine and against Russia,” he said, before invoking the history of World War II.
    “I remember very well that during the Second World War there was no distance between Mexico and the United States, both were united against what Hitler was doing,” he added.
    In May 1942, Mexico’s Congress approved a formal resolution of war against the Axis powers, about half a year after the United States declared war on Germany.
    Salazar’s comments came after Russia’s ambassador to Mexico, Viktor Koronelli, addressed lawmakers at a newly inaugurated “Mexico-Russia friendship committee” on Wednesday.
    “On the orders of Uncle Sam, Mexico will never answer ‘Yes, Sir'” Koronelli said, drawing applause from some legislators.
    During his appearance, Russia’s ambassador repeated his government’s position that it is conducting a “special military operation” to “de-Nazify” Ukraine, whose president is Jewish.
    “Russia did not begin this war, it is finishing it,” Koronelli said.
    Ukraine and Western allies call this a baseless pretext for a war of choice that has raised fears of wider conflict in Europe.
    Ukraine’s ambassador to Mexico Oksana Dramaretska earlier this month urged Mexican lawmakers to support international sanctions and other efforts to isolate Russia.
    Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has sought to remain neutral in the Ukraine conflict.
    While supporting a United Nations vote urging Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine, his government has also criticized Europe for sending arms to other countries.
(Reporting by Laura Gottesdiener; Editing by Dave Graham and Michael Perry)

3/25/2022 Biden Seals LNG Deal As EU Grapples With Energy Crunch by Jarrett Renshaw and Philip Blenkinsop
U.S. President Joe Biden and European Council President Charles Michel shake hands, during a European Union
leaders summit, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The European Union and United States unveiled a deal on Friday to supply Europe with more U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG), as leaders of the European bloc meet to curb their reliance on Russian fossil fuels and deal with an energy crunch.
    The pact announced during a visit by U.S. President Joe Biden to Brussels, follows a day of three summits in the EU capital where leaders lambasted Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and offered fresh support to Kyiv.
    The invasion by Europe’s top gas supplier has pushed already-high energy prices to records and prompted the EU to pledge to cut Russian gas use by two-thirds this year by hiking imports from other countries and boosting renewable energy.
    “The United States will work with international partners and strive to ensure additional LNG volumes for the EU market of at least 15 bcm in 2022, with expected increases going forward,” the White House said in a factsheet.
    The longer-term objective would be to ensure, until at least 2030, about 50 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year of additional U.S. LNG, the factsheet said.
    EU leaders will discuss on Friday what more they can to do rein in high energy bills.
    Spain, Greece and others will make their case for power price caps and market intervention, while a group that includes Germany and Netherlands will push back and seek to delay such moves, diplomat said.
    The divisive issue of whether to impose an embargo on Russian energy, on top of the slew of sanctions already targeted at Moscow, will also come up but no decision is expected.
    Russia supplies 40% of the EU’s gas needs and more than a quarter of its oil imports.    Those most dependent on this supply – in particular Germany – are reluctant to take a step that would have a major economic impact.
    The 27 leaders will also commit to start jointly buying gas and fill storage ahead of next winter to build a buffer against further supply shocks.
(Writing by John Chalmers and Ingrid Melander)

3/25/2022 Russia Running Out Of Precision Munitions In Ukraine War - Pentagon Official
Service members of pro-Russian troops are seen atop of an armoured vehicle with the symbols "Z" painted on its side in the course of
Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 24, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russia is running out of precision guided munitions and it is more likely to rely on so-called dumb bombs and artillery, a senior Pentagon official said on Thursday.
    Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl speculated that he did not believe President Vladimir Putin wanted to have an all out conflict with NATO.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

3/25/2022 Oil up $2.10 to $113.32, DOW up 109 to 34,817.

3/26/2022 McConnell: I won’t vote for Jackson - Supreme Court nominee lacks ‘paper trail,’ he says by Morgan Watkins, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday he’ll vote against Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
    Jackson, the first Black woman ever nominated to the nation’s most powerful court, went through confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.
    “I enjoyed meeting the nominee.    I went into the Senate’s process with an open mind.    But after studying the nominee’s record and watching her performance this week, I cannot and will not support Judge Jackson for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,” he said.
    He criticized Jackson’s refusal to publicly oppose the possibility of expanding the number of seats on the Supreme Court, saying: “I assumed this would be an easy softball for Judge Jackson, but it wasn’t.”
    Among other concerns he raised Thursday, McConnell indicated Jackson has a relatively small track record of rulings for senators to study, particularly on constitutional matters, compared to former President Donald Trump’s three Supreme Court appointees.    He suggested that’s important because “for decades, activist judges have hurt the country by trying to make policy from the bench.”
    “This has made judicial philosophy a key qualification that senators must consider,” he said.    “If the nominee had a paper trail on constitutional issues, perhaps it could reassure us.    But she doesn’t. ... Judge Jackson has been on the D.C. Circuit for less than one year.    She has published only two opinions.”
    McConnell, who voted against confirming Jackson to her current role on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., previously called for an “exhaustive review” of Jackson, whom President Joe Biden nominated to fill Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the court
    He offered a critical assessment of her recent judicial work before that Senate review began.
    “Since then, I understand that she has published a total of two opinions, both in the last few weeks, and that one of her prior rulings was just reversed by a unanimous panel of her present colleagues on the D.C. Circuit,” McConnell said last month.    “I also understand Judge Jackson was the favored choice of far-left dark-money groups that have spent years attacking the legitimacy and structure of the Court itself.”
    McConnell has played a pivotal role in reshaping the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court, in recent years.
    His handling of Supreme Court vacancies in the presidential election years of 2016 and 2020 were especially controversial.    He led the GOP’s successful efforts to appoint three judges to the high court during former President Donald Trump’s administration.
    Morgan Watkins is The Courier Journal’s chief political reporter.    Contact her at Follow her on Twitter: @morganwatkins26.
Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson meets March 2 with Senate Minority
Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Capitol Hill in Washington. EVAN VUCCI/AP

3/26/2022 Biden To Call On ‘Free World’ To Stand Against Putin In Poland Speech by Jarrett Renshaw, Trevor Hunnicutt and Justyna Pawlak
U.S. President Joe Biden gives a joint press statement with European Commission President Ursula
von der Leyen at the U.S. Mission in Brussels, Belgium March 25, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
    WARSAW (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will argue in a speech in Poland on Saturday that the “free world” opposes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and that there is unity among major economies on the need to stop Vladimir Putin, the White House said.
    After three days of emergency meetings with allies of the G7, European Council and NATO, and a visit with U.S. troops in Poland, Biden will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
    Biden, who took office last year after a violently contested election, vowed to restore democracy at home and unite democracies abroad to confront autocrats including the Russian president and China’s leader Xi Jinping.
    Putin’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, which Russia calls a “special operation,” has tested that promise and threatened to inaugurate a new Cold War three decades after the Soviet Union unravelled.
    In what U.S. officials were billing as a major address in Poland, Biden “will deliver remarks on the united efforts of the free world to support the people of Ukraine, hold Russia accountable for its brutal war, and defend a future that is rooted in democratic principles,” the White House said in a statement.
    Warsaw, the backdrop for the remarks, was until the collapse of communist rule in 1989 behind the Iron Curtain for four decades, under Soviet influence and a member of the Moscow-led Warsaw Pact security alliance.
    Now, Poland is the biggest formerly communist member of the European Union and NATO, the security alliance founded to counter the Soviet Union.    The rise of rightwing populism in Poland in recent years has put it in conflict with the European Union and Washington, but the threat of Russia pressing beyond its borders has drawn Poland closer to its Western neighbours.
    Biden’s election put Warsaw’s nationalist Law and Justice government in an awkward position after it had set great store in its relationship with his predecessor Donald Trump.
    But with tensions with Russia mounting ahead of the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Duda appeared to seek to smooth relations with Washington.    In December, he vetoed legislation that critics said aimed to silence a U.S.-owned 24-hour news broadcaster.
    Biden and Duda will meet privately and are expected to address a dust-up over how to arm Ukraine with warplanes, and other security guarantees.
    Washington, seeking to avoid a direct conflict with Russia, rejected a surprise offer by Poland to transfer Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets to a U.S. base in Germany to be used to replenish Ukraine’s air force.
    Now, Poland wants to accelerate the purchase of U.S.-made Patriot missiles, F35 fighter jets and tanks for its own security, and seek reassurance on NATO commitments to defend its members.
    “Above all, we want the unshakable guarantee that the United States provides within the framework of the alliance,” the head of the National Security Bureau, Pawel Soloch, said on Friday.    “Especially here, to Poland and the countries of the region.    If there was an attack on Poland, the USA would defend Poland.”
(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw in Warsaw and Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington; Additional reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington and Justyna Pawlak in Warsaw; Writing by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons and Grant McCool)

3/26/2022 Malta Goes To Polls With Labour Expected To Win Third Term
FILE PHOTO: Malta's Prime Minister Robert Abela arrives for an extraordinary meeting of EU leaders to discuss the Ukraine and Russia situation
at the European Council building in Brussels, Belgium February 17, 2022. Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    VALLETTA (Reuters) – Polling stations opened on Saturday in Malta where the ruling Labour Party of Prime Minister Robert Abela is expected to win a third successive five-year term in an election to the 65-seat parliament.
    Opinion polls have shown the centre-left Labour Party winning up to 55% of the vote thanks to a strong economy and the government’s management of the COVID-19 crisis, where state handouts helped businesses and consumers alike.
    Abela has been largely unaffected by repeated allegations of corruption against the Labour Party made by the centre-right Nationalist Party led by Bernard Grech. Grech, like Abela, is a lawyer.
    Just over 356,000 people are eligible to vote.
    Malta has a proportional representation system and its politics are dominated by two political parties.    All governments since independence in 1964 have been formed of a single-party majority.
    The electoral system has been tweaked this year, lowering the minimum voting age to 16 from 18.    Voting continues till 10 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Saturday with first results expected on Sunday morning.
(Reporting by Christopher Scicluna; Editing by Frances Kerry)

3/26/2022 No Oil or DOW info.

3/27/2022 Russia Hits Ukraine’s Lviv With Cruise Missiles, Defence Ministry Says
Rescuers work at a site of fuel storage facilities hit by cruise missiles, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Lviv,
in this handout picture released March 27, 2022. Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) – Russia struck military targets in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv with high-precision cruise missiles, the Russian defence ministry said on Sunday.
    Russia hit a fuel depot being used by Ukrainian forces near Lviv with long-range missiles and used cruise missiles to strike a plant in the city being used to repair anti-aircraft systems, radar stations and sights for tanks, the ministry said.
    “The armed forces of the Russian Federation continue offensive actions as part of the special military operation,” the ministry’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.
    The ministry showed video of the missile strikes in Lviv.
    Officials in Lviv, just 60 km (40 miles) from the border with NATO-member Poland, said people had been wounded in the missile attacks.
    Russia also used sea-based long-range missiles to destroy an arsenal of S-300 missiles and BUK anti-aircraft missile systems near Kyiv, the ministry said.    Russian forces also destroyed a number of drones, it said.
    Russia has started destroying Ukrainian fuel and food storage depots, meaning the government will have to disperse the stocks of both in the near future, Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko said on Sunday.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Edmund Blair)

3/27/2022 Biden Says Putin ‘Cannot Remain In Power’ In Fiery Speech On Ukraine War by Jarrett Renshaw and Karol Badohal
U.S. President Joe Biden gives a joint press statement with European Commission President
Ursula von der Leyen at the U.S. Mission in Brussels, Belgium March 25, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
    WARSAW (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden said that Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” in Poland Saturday, remarks a White House official said later were meant to prepare the world’s democracies for extended conflict over Ukraine, not back regime change in Russia.
    Biden’s comments on Saturday, including a statement earlier in the day calling Putin a “butcher,” were a sharp escalation of the U.S. approach to Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
    In a major address delivered at Warsaw’s Royal Castle, Biden evoked Poland’s four decades behind the Iron Curtain in an effort to build a case that the world’s democracies must urgently confront an autocratic Russia as a threat to global security and freedom.
    But a remark at the end of the speech raised the spectre of an escalation by Washington, which has avoided direct military involvement in Ukraine, and has specifically said it does not back regime change.
    “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden told a crowd in Warsaw after condemning Putin’s month-long war in Ukraine.
    A White House official said Biden’s remarks did not represent a shift in Washington’s policy.
    “The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region,” the official said.    “He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”
    Asked about Biden’s comment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters: “That’s not for Biden to decide.    The president of Russia is elected by Russians.”
    Calling the fight against Putin a “new battle for freedom,” Biden said Putin’s desire for “absolute power” was a strategic failure for Russia and a direct challenge to a European peace that has largely prevailed since World War Two.
    “The West is now stronger, more united than it has ever been,” Biden said.    “This battle will not be won in days or months, either.    We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead.”
    The speech came after three days of meetings in Europe with the G7, European Council and NATO allies, and took place roughly at the same time as rockets rained down on the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, just 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the Polish border.
    “Their brave resistance is part of a larger fight for essential democratic principles that unite all free people,” Biden said.    “We stand with you.    Period.”
    In his speech, Biden said NATO is a defensive security alliance which never sought Russia’s demise and he reiterated that the West has no desire to harm Russia’s people even as its sanctions threaten to cripple their economy.
    Poland was under communist rule for four decades until 1989 and was a member of the Moscow-led Warsaw Pact security alliance.    It is now part of the European Union and NATO.
    The rise of right-wing populism in Poland in recent years has put it in conflict with the EU and Washington, but fears of Russia pressing beyond its borders has drawn Poland closer to its Western allies.
    Speaking to a crowd holding U.S., Polish and Ukrainian flags, Biden said the West is acting in unison because of the “gravity of the threat” to global peace.
    “The battle for democracy could not conclude and did not conclude with the end of the Cold War,” Biden said.    “Over the last 30 years the forces of autocracy have revived all across the globe.”
    Reaction was mixed in Warsaw.    Mykyta Hubo, a Ukrainian from Dnipro who has been living in Poland for several years called the speech “ordinary”: “Lots of talk, little action,” he said.
    Pawel Sterninski, who traveled nearly three hours to Warsaw from elsewhere in Poland to hear Biden, came wrapped in a U.S. flag.
    “The U.S. can’t really engage militarily because that could result in a third world war.    Putin is unpredictable.    If you’re threatening with nuclear weapons, it takes just a moment to turn into a global conflict.”
    Earlier in the day, Biden dropped in on a meeting with Ukraine’s foreign and defense ministers and made additional, unspecified security pledges on developing defence cooperation, according to Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba.
    In Warsaw, Biden also visited a refugee reception centre at the national stadium.    More than 2 million people have fled the war to Poland.    Altogether, about 3.8 million have left Ukraine since fighting began.
    Putin calls Russia’s military actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” the country.
(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Karol Badohal in Warsaw and Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington, Additional reporting by Natalia Zinets in Lviv, Nandita Bose in Washington, Humeyra Pamuk, Alan Charlish, Justyna Pawlak and Joanna Plucinska in Warsaw and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Writing by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons, Grant McCool, Frances Kerry, Timothy Heritage, Nick Zieminski and Andrea Ricci)

3/27/2022 No Oil or DOW info.

3/28/2022 FIGHT FOR SECOND AMENDMENT - GOP lawmakers want to quash new gun laws - Police officers could be charged for enforcement by Jonathan Bullington, Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    FRANKFORT, Ky. — State and local police officers could face misdemeanor charges and lose their jobs for enforcing any new or expanded federal gun laws under a bill House Republicans have already passed and is bound for the Senate.
    Opponents fear the new restrictions will hobble efforts to quell Kentucky’s gun violence crisis.
    Sponsored by Rep. Joshua Bray, RMount Vernon, House Bill 29 prohibits the commonwealth’s public agencies and public employees from enforcing any new federal gun laws, rules or executive orders enacted on or after Jan. 1, 2021 — or any “new and more restrictive interpretation” of existing federal gun laws.
    It also prevents state and local agencies from using public money or resources to assist in the enforcement of a “federal ban” on guns or ammo or gun accessories.
    A “ban,” the bill says, is defined as any law that “infringes upon, calls into question, prohibits, restricts or requires individual licensure for or registration of the purchase, ownership, possession, transfer, or use of any firearm, ammunition or firearm accessory.”
    The measure would not stop federal agencies like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from enforcing gun laws in the commonwealth, Bray said.    It also wouldn’t prevent state and local police from continuing to work with agencies such as the ATF — so long as their efforts aren’t for the “primary purpose” of enforcing or investigating violations of the federal gun laws in question.
    “What is in this bill is the affirmation that Kentuckians, and only Kentuckians, through this general assembly should decide the future of our Second Amendment rights,” Bray said on the House floor before the bill passed, 75--20, as amended by Rep. Savannah Maddox, R-Dry Ridge, to include the threat of a misdemeanor charge or job termination for violators of its provisions.
Kentucky would be latest ‘Second Amendment sanctuary state’
    Two years ago, gun-rights activists successfully lobbied all but a handful of Kentucky’s 120 counties to adopt socalled Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions: Declarations of opposition, with no legal force behind them, toward any real or perceived infringement of what those activists see as their Godgiven right to keep and bear arms.
    At least a dozen states — including Tennessee, West Virginia and Missouri — have passed laws that essentially designate themselves as Second Amendment sanctuary states, borrowing language and tactics used by cities and states to skirt federal immigration and marijuana laws.
    Missouri’s law, called the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” has drawn considerable attention since its adoption last summer.
    The law threatens a $50,000 fine against agencies whose officers enforce any federal law that deprives Missouri’s residents of firearms rights spelled out by the Second Amendment and by that state’s constitution.
    Some city and county leaders as well as a group of Missouri police chiefs have criticized the law, arguing its confusing language has caused police departments to pull their officers from federal taskforces and to halt the use of ATF tools that are critical to stemming the flow of illegal weapons.
    Leaders of St. Louis and Jackson counties, which includes part of Kansas City, responded with a lawsuit attempting to block the law.    Earlier this year, NPR reported that the U.S. Department of Justice has also challenged Missouri’s law in court.
    Lawmakers in Missouri told the New York Times their primary goal was to protect against future federal efforts to regulate firearms.
    “Missouri law almost mirrors federal law currently,” one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Jered Taylor, told the newspaper.    “So really I think the concern is what’s next — what’s coming down the road from the federal government?
    President Joe Biden’s administration has discussed a broad range of new measures aimed at reducing gun violence, including expanded background checks for nearly all firearms sales and bans on assault weapons.
    Few have been enacted so far. Last spring, the president ordered the Justice Department to issue proposed rules that, among other things, would regulate the use of pistol stabilizing braces — an accessory that allows for greater accuracy when firing AR-15 style pistols that resemble short-barreled rifles but are not subject to the same heightened federal regulations as those rifles.
    A similar firearm, with the stabilizing brace, was reportedly used during a March 22, 2021, mass shooting that killed 10 people at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.
‘A dereliction of duty’
    Pistol stabilizing braces are a popular accessory in Kentucky, Bray said, and the potential for increased regulation of them was one of the key reasons for his bill.
    “This ban would make felons out of thousands of Kentuckians overnight,” he told his colleagues in the House.    “Let me be clear.    This would be without a single legislative vote cast.    We’re talking about law-abiding Kentuckians criminalized by the change in a regulatory interpretation.”
    Some of his Democratic colleagues fear the consequences of his proposal would be far worse.
    Describing the bill as a “performance,” Rep. Josie Raymond, D-Louisville, called it “an unnecessary affront, an injury to survivors of gun violence and people in my community who fear for their children’s lives every day when they send them to the bus stop.”
    “If one of the primary roles of this body is to provide for public safety and public protection,” she said on the House floor, “this bill is a dereliction of duty.”
    Kentucky already has some of the least-restrictive gun laws in the country, noted Rep. Lisa Willner, D-Louisville.    And the result, she said, has been thousands of lives – and billions of dollars – lost each year to gun violence.
    “This puts Kentuckians at risk,” Willner said.
    There could be additional financial costs to the proposal.
    A report from the Legislative Research Commission says the bill, if passed, could prevent some law enforcement agencies from receiving federal grant dollars, while cities and counties could face hefty legal bills in defending against litigation.
    House Minority Floor Leader Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, said police officers have told her Bray’s bill is a “very bad idea.”
    “They want to provide public safety in our communities,” she said, “and this only confuses them when they have to make split-second decisions.”
    Shawn Morrow, special agent in charge of the ATF’s Louisville Field Division, issued a statement praising the agency’s existing partnerships with state and local law enforcement in Kentucky and West Virginia.
    “The ability to collaborate and work together,” Morrow said, “allows law enforcement to address alarming violent trends in our communities and work to prevent additional violent crime before it occurs.    We have not yet experienced a significant impact with relationships in our area of responsibility.    If they were to be limited or if our ability to collaborate was restricted, it would be detrimental to the communities we serve.”
    The head of the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police did not respond to a Courier Journal request for comment on the proposal, nor did the Louisville chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.
    Jerry Wagner, executive director of the Kentucky Sheriffs’ Association, said the state’s sheriffs take an oath to uphold the constitution of Kentucky and of the United States.
    “As long as we follow the oath that we’ve taken, I don’t feel that this law really changes anything that we’re doing as of now,” he said.
    Still, organizers with the Kentucky chapter of the gun-safety group, Moms Demand Action, fear the bill will make law enforcement’s jobs more difficult.
    “If law enforcement’s jobs are hampered, we all suffer,” said Cathy Hobart, a volunteer with the group.    “Our state’s leaders should be working in the interests of Kentuckians, not actively endangering them.”
    The bill now sits with the Senate’s Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee.
Two years ago, gun-rights activists successfully lobbied all but a handful of Kentucky’s 120 counties
to adopt so-called Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions. ALTON STRUPP/COURIER JOURNAL

3/28/20222 UN Security Council Asks Taliban To Allow Afghan Girls To Attend School
FILE PHOTO: A 4th grade primary school student attends a class in
Kabul, Afghanistan, October 25, 2021. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo
    (Reuters) – The United Nations Security Council has expressed deep concern over a decision by Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers to deny girls access to high school education and called on the group to reopen schools for female students without delay.
    “The members of the Security Council … reaffirmed the right to education for all Afghans, including girls?,” a statement from the United Nations on Sunday said.
    Last week, the Taliban backtracked on an announcement that high schools would open for girls, saying they would remain closed until a plan was drawn up in accordance with Islamic law for them to reopen.
    The United States abruptly cancelled meetings with the Taliban in Doha that were set to address key economic issues because of the decision, U.S. officials said on Friday.
    The Security Council asked Deborah Lyons, the U.N. Special Representative for Afghanistan, to engage with relevant Afghan authorities and stakeholders on the issue and report back on progress.
(Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

3/28/2022 Analysis-Locked Russian Assets Add To War Woes For British Pension Funds by Carolyn Cohn and Iain Withers
FILE PHOTO: Wads of British Pound Sterling banknotes are stacked in piles at the Money Service Austria
company's headquarters in Vienna, Austria, November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – British pension fund managers are writing off billions of pounds of frozen Russian assets held for their members as they run out of options to sell them safely, adding to the risks to their funding positions from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
    The funds have in many cases marked those assets down in value, after the invasion last month – which Russia calls a “special military operation” – led to rounds of sanctions by Western governments and countermeasures by Russia.
    There are around two trillion pounds ($2.64 trillion) of assets in defined benefit, or final salary pension funds, which provide a guaranteed income in retirement for millions of workers including refuse collectors, supermarket staff and bank tellers.
    Pensions trade bodies and major pension funds contacted by Reuters said Russia investments likely accounted for up to 0.5% of pension holdings in Britain, or 10 billion pounds.
    Many pension funds are in deficit after years of ultra-low interest rates curbed gains in their investments.    But their funding levels improved during the COVID-19 pandemic, as economic stimulus in response to the virus lifted asset prices.
    Now the invasion is providing some shocks.
    “As soon as the conflict happened, actually most investment managers have written that (Russia) investment down to zero,” David Fairs, executive director of regulation policy at The Pensions Regulator (TPR), told Reuters.
    “The bigger impact is what’s happening to inflation, to the markets, what’s happening in terms of energy prices, what’s happening to supply chains,” he added.
    As well as the hit to pension fund investments, the war’s economic ripples could affect the financial strength of the companies backing the pension schemes, he said.
    A poll of 2,000 UK adults from campaign group Make My Money Matter found this month that 86% of people want their pension schemes to get out of Russia.
    But with tit-for-tat restrictions snarling up trading and payment systems, it’s not easy to sell.
    “You can make the decision in principle (to sell), but actually you can’t trade in all likelihood at the moment,” Fairs said.
    Even if you can find a buyer, strenuous due dilligence is needed to check who you’re selling to.
    “If it’s a bargain basement price, it’s probably an oligarch trying to buy it,” said a source at one major pension fund.
    “It might be as bad to sell it at 1 cent in the dollar to an oligarch as holding onto it for now.”
    Asset managers are also struggling to exit Russia, many of which are managing money on behalf of company and local government pension schemes.
    Many funds with heavy Russian exposure have been frozen since shortly after the invasion, after Russia suspended its stock market.
    Major funds centre Luxembourg last week said two-thirds of such funds are frozen.
    The situation may become a little easier after April 1 when non-residents will again be able to sell shares on the Moscow Exchange, although capital controls Moscow has introduced in retaliation for Western sanctions mean it will be hard to repatriate the proceeds.
    In addition to defined benefit schemes, there is 500 billion pounds invested in defined contribution schemes, where members build up a pot of money to spend on retirement.
    The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association says around a third of all pension schemes have less than 0.1% of their assets in Russia, though overall the figure is “less than 0.5%” among funds the trade body has checked with, according to PLSA director of policy and advocacy Nigel Peaple.
    Major pension funds such as local authority West Yorkshire, the Railways Pension Scheme, the BBC and NatWest have 0.1% or less of their investments in Russia.
    Some funds have set out public positions on how they will treat Russian investments, such as the HSBC Bank Pension Trust, which said Russian-domiciled assets made up 0.01% of assets.
    The scheme said it would not buy any more, and would look to divest existing ones when appropriate.
    Britain’s finance minister Rishi Sunak has asked asset owners such as pension funds to scale down Russian investments.
    Richard Farr, managing director of pensions consultancy Cardano Advisory, said clients were also looking at restricting indirect investments in Russia, with some considering “do not buy” policies for companies with Russian operations.
    TPR cautioned in recent guidance, however, that pension funds have a fiduciary duty to their members – to do the best for them they can financially.
    If pension funds sell their Russian assets as fast as they can, that will likely be for little or nothing.    But if they hold onto them in the expectation that the assets will rise in value on resolution of the conflict, they may be breaking their own ethical guidelines.
    “It’s a difficult call,” said Farr.
($1 = 0.7590 pounds)
(Editing by Toby Chopra)

3/28/2022 White House: Biden’s Call For Regime Change In Russia Not Planned by OAN Newsroom
President Joe Biden leaves Holy Trinity Catholic Church after attending
Mass, Sunday, March 27, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
    The White House raced to clarify President Joe Biden’s apparent calls for a “regime change” in Russia after facing massive backlash sparked by his ad-libbed statements in Poland.
    According to reports citing White House officials Sunday, Biden’s statements about Russian President Vladimir Putin were not part of his speech as prepared and were not screened on the teleprompter either.
    The White House attempted back-pedal the presidents remarks, affirming his point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region.    Several officials, both in the U.S. and abroad, are denouncing Biden’s unplanned statements.
    “I wish he would stay on script,” said Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho).    “Whoever wrote that speech did a good job for him, but my gosh, I wish they would keep him on script…it’s gonna cause a huge problem."     Additionally, Secretary of State Antony Blinken also shed light on Biden’s speech Sunday.    He reinforced what the President meant is Putin cannot be empowered to wage war and said the U.S. does not have a strategy of regime change in Russia or anywhere else.
    “In this case, as in any case, it is up to the people of the country in question,” Blinken stated.    “It is up to the Russian people, but what we do have is a strategy to strongly support Ukraine.    We’ve been doing that and rallying partners and allies around the world to do that.”
    French President Emmanuel Macron also criticized Biden, saying his remarks could cause unnecessary escalation in tensions with Russia.    Meanwhile, Moscow has since responded to Biden’s statement, saying it’s up to the people of Russia to decide who remains in power in their country.
    Biden was forced to clarify his statement about removing Putin from power.    While leaving a church in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, a group of reporters called out asking if Biden was, in fact, calling for regime change.
    Biden did not stop and just before getting into his vehicle shouted out, “no!”    The White House has been working intently on walking back the President’s statements from his speech in Poland.

3/28/2022 Ex-Separatist Leader Calls Russian Attack On Ukraine A Mistake
A Ukranian serviceman stands on top of a Russian tank captured after fighting with Russian troops in the village of
Lukyanivka outside Kyiv, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, Ukraine, March 27, 2022. REUTERS/Marko Djurica
    LONDON (Reuters) – One of the architects of the Moscow-backed separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine eight years ago said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a mistake, in comments that show the Kremlin cannot count on support from all pro-Russian opponents of Kyiv.
    Alexei Alexandrov was one of the leaders of a movement in 2014 to reject Kyiv’s rule and create an autonomous pro-Moscow territory in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, triggering a war against Ukrainian government forces.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Russia attacked Ukraine last month in part to protect the separatist territory from Kyiv, though Western states say that is a pretext for an unprovoked land grab.
    In an interview with Reuters last Friday, Alexandrov said: “All this could have been resolved earlier, mainly through diplomatic means and perhaps an insignificant use of force.    But that was not done, and that is a mistake on all sides.”
    He said that because Moscow failed to negotiate a settlement with Kyiv guaranteeing autonomy for the Donbas and rights for its residents, by the start of this year armed conflict became unavoidable.
    Alexandrov said Moscow had, over many years, failed to grasp how to deal with Ukraine, whose rulers he said were set on crushing the identity of the Russian-speaking community in eastern Ukraine, an allegation that Kyiv and its allies deny.
    “Moscow’s reaction was always late, and never got to grips with the situation,” he said.    “That was a mistake, and we are reaping the consequences now in blood, and multiple victims on both sides.”
    Contacted by Reuters, the Kremlin did not provide a comment about the remarks by Alexandrov, who was chief of staff to the head of the self-proclaimed republic’s parliament, Andrei Purgin, until both men were pushed out of their roles in 2015.
    In the interview, Alexandrov said once the active phase of the conflict in Ukraine is over, the long-term outlook for Donbas was unclear.    He said he doubted Russia had the resources to bring the whole of Ukraine under its control.
    If Russia kept its presence in eastern Ukraine, there would therefore be a high likelihood of a renewed armed conflict with the Ukrainian state, Alexandrov said.
    “This is not how it should have ended,” he said.    “It’s not worth all the victims.”
    Alexandrov was among a group of people who created the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in 2014, defying Kyiv’s rule, after pro-Moscow Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted by popular protests and replaced with Western-leaning leaders.
    Since 2015, when his boss Purgin was dismissed and briefly detained for reasons that were never spelled out, Alexandrov has lived as a private citizen inside Russian-controlled territory and has not held any official roles or elected office.
(Editing by Philippa Fletcher)

3/28/2022 Oil down $7.30 to $105.36, DOW up 59 to 34,920.

3/29/2022 Peru’s Castillo Survives Impeachment Vote In Congress by Marco Aquino
Peruvian President Pedro Castillo leaves congress as he faces an
impeachment vote, in Lima, Peru March 28, 2022. REUTERS/Sebastian Castaneda
    LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian President Pedro Castillo survived on Monday an impeachment vote in Congress that fell short of the votes needed to oust the leftist leader eight months after he took office.
    Overall, 55 lawmakers out of 130 in the unicameral Congress voted in favor of the impeachment.    Congress needed 87 votes to oust Castillo.     The result will avoid a new political crisis in the short term although Castillo’s administration has been turbulent anyway, with four Cabinets in less than a year in office.
    Castillo, a former teacher from a peasant farming family who shot to prominence when he narrowly won election last year, has been facing accusations of graft that he strongly denies.    He survived an attempt to impeach him late last year.
    “Unfortunately, a bid to oust me through impeachment has become the central axis of the political and journalistic agenda since my election; this cannot continue,” Castillo said in a speech to lawmakers before the vote.
    He said he had not broken the law since taking office and called for unity to deal with the political and economic crisis, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as exacerbating problems in the world’s second biggest copper-producing country.
    “I am aware we all make mistakes and have defects, but I am loyal to my commitments, values and principles,” he said.    “Members of Congress, I ask that you vote for democracy, vote for Peru, vote against instability.”
    Still, Castillo is facing a plummeting approval rating, which is hovering around 25%, according to an IEP poll published over the weekend.
    In a sign of the pressure Castillo is under, prosecutors earlier in the day raided the homes of some of his former officials and relatives who are under investigation for alleged corruption.
    Protesters took to the streets in Lima, the capital, over the weekend calling for Castillo to be voted out of office.
    “People can’t take it anymore.    We are fed up, the people demand justice and all the corrupt people to be gone,” said one protester, Claudia Iriarte.
    The Andean country has had five presidents since 2016.    In 2018, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned before an impeachment vote. Martín Vizcarra was impeached in 2020.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Editing by Adam Jourdan, Leslie Adler and Cynthia Osterman)

3/29/2022 Explainer-Omicron ‘Stealth’ COVID Variant BA.2 Now Dominant Globally by Jennifer Rigby and Julie Steenhuysen
FILE PHOTO: Policemen and staff workers get tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
at a makeshift nucleic acid testing centre inside barriers of an area under lockdown amid the
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Shanghai, China March 24, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song
    (Reuters) – A sub-variant of the highly transmissible Omicron version of coronavirus known as BA.2 is now dominant worldwide, prompting surges in many countries in Europe and Asia and raising concern over the potential for a new wave in the United States.     Below is a summary of what is known about BA.2.
    BA.2 now represents nearly 86% of all sequenced cases, according to the World Health Organization.    It is even more transmissible than its highly contagious Omicron siblings, BA.1 and BA.1.1, however the evidence so far suggests that it is no more likely to cause severe disease.
    As with the other variants in the Omicron family, vaccines are less effective against BA.2 than against previous variants like Alpha or the original strain of coronavirus, and protection declines over time.    However, according to UK Health Security Agency data, protection is restored by a booster jab, particularly for preventing hospitalisation and death.
    The rise of BA.2 has been blamed for recent surges in China as well as record infections in European countries like Germany and the UK.    Yet some European countries are now seeing a slower uptick in new cases, or even a decline.
    BA.2 has been called the “stealth variant” because it is slightly harder to track.    A missing gene in BA.1 allowed it to be tracked by default through a common PCR test.    BA.2 and another sibling, BA.3, which is also increasing in prevalence but is currently at low levels, can only be found by genomic sequencing, which some countries do more of than others.
    A key concern about BA.2 was whether it could re-infect people who had already had BA.1, particularly as a number of countries seemed to be experiencing “double peaks” in infection rates surprisingly close together.    But data from both the UK and Denmark have shown that while Omicron can reinfect people who had other variants, such as Delta, only a handful of BA.2 reinfections in people who had BA.1 have been found so far among tens of thousands of cases.
    Scientists say a possible explanation for the recent rise in BA.2 could be that the global uptick happened at the same time that many countries lifted public health interventions.
    “In some ways, it could just be that BA.2 was the variant that was circulating when all these people stopped wearing masks,” said Dr Andrew Pekosz, a virologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
    As such, other U.S. experts such as Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California, said it was “a little too early” to call whether the U.S. too would see a significant BA.2 wave.
    But whatever the reason for BA.2’s rise, scientists said it was a reminder that the virus continues to cause harm, particularly among unvaccinated, under-vaccinated and vulnerable populations.
    “It is still a huge public health problem and it is going to continue to be,” said Mark Woolhouse, an epidemiologist at the University of Edinburgh.
(Reporting by Jennifer Rigby and Julie Steenhuysen, editing by Michele Gershberg)

3/29/2022 U.S., Allies To Aim Sanctions At More Russian Sectors, Supply Chains-Treasury’s Adeyemo
FILE PHOTO: Plastic letters arranged to read "Sanctions" are placed in front of Russian
flag colors in this illustration taken February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
    LONDON (Reuters) – The United States and its allies plan new sanctions on more sectors of Russia’s economy that are critical to sustaining its invasion of Ukraine, including supply chains, Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said on Tuesday.
    Adeyemo, speaking in London on European trip to consult with allies on strengthening and enforcing sanctions to punish Russia, said that the broadening of these efforts was aimed at undermining “the Kremlin’s ability operate its war machine.”
    “In addition to sanctioning companies in sectors that enable the Kremlin’s malign activities, we also plan to take actions to disrupt their critical supply chains,” Adeyemo said in remarks prepared for deliver at London-based think tank Chatham House.
    “These are actions we will take in coordination with the more than 30 partners and allies that have joined our coalition in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” he added, without identifying specific sectors or companies.
    Sanctions imposed since the invasion began Feb. 24, including freezing the Russian central bank’s foreign currency assets, banning key Russian banks and wealthy elites from hard currency transactions and export restrictions on advanced semiconductors and other technology have proven extremely effective, Adeyemo said, plunging Russia into a financial crisis.
    The sanctions have weakened the Russian economy and left the Kremlin with fewer resources.
    “Our allies and partners are committed to taking additional significant steps to constrain the Russian economy, for as long as Russia’s invasion continues,” Adeyemo said.
    He attributed the success of the sanctions to a strong multilateral effort and the strength of an international economic and financial system built by democratic countries at the end of World War Two, which created institutions including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the precursor to the World Trade Organization.
    These institutions created international rules, norms and values that set the stage for decades of prosperity, but which have been rejected by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, he said.
    “Our multilateral response demonstrates that the international financial system and economic marketplace are not open to those that fail to respect the core principles of territorial integrity and self-determination,” Adeyemo said.
    That includes Russian oligarchs targeted by sanctions and those who may attempt to help them hide their assets, he said, adding that they, too would face sanctions.
    Adeyemo said that the international system that gave rise to the sanctions needed strengthening, including by addressing food insecurity resulting from the conflict, which has disrupted grain shipments from Ukraine.
    He also said that the international community needed to finalize the global minimum corporate tax agreement and continue provide the resources needed to end the COVID-19 pandemic, with broader vaccine access.
    Adeyemo also said the use of economic sanctions must be refined to preserve their efficacy, including avoiding unilateral actions and ensuring that they are tied to clear policy objectives and can be easily reversed when these are met.
(Reporting by David Lawder. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

3/29/2022 Oil up $0.91 to $104.41, DOW up 278 to 35,233.

3/29/2022 GOP Lawmakers Decry Biden’s $5.8T Budget Proposal by OAN Newsroom
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., attends a news conference, Tuesday, Feb., 1, 2022, after
a weekly Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
    GOP lawmakers are decrying yet another massive spending proposal from the Biden administration.    On the Senate floor Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned Joe Biden’s nearly $6 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2023 is just another far left wish list.
    McConnell stressed he called on the President to pivot his economic agenda toward the center to create policies that would benefit the average American.    However, he claimed Biden has not listened to his advice and is looking to bolster Democrat-friendly federal agencies and punish American energy producers.    Additionally, the Kentucky Republican lamented that Biden’s increase of the defense budget by only 4 percent will leave the U.S. military “treading water.”
    “They want to pour money into absurdities like the UN green climate fund, borrow from China to fund a global bureaucracy that will hand free money back to China,” he explained.    “There’s plenty of money for things like anti-gun regulations, free lawyers for illegal immigrants and something called environmental justice.    This whole far-left feast leaves out the reckless taxing and spending spree that Democrats failed to pass last year are are now trying to revive.”
    Other GOP lawmakers further sounded the alarm on what Biden’s budget would do to the already dire economic and supply crises.    Missouri Representative and Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, Jason Smith stressed Biden’s proposal would add $15 trillion to the national deficit.    Smith went on to point out Americans are already suffering from a $3,500 inflation tax and Biden would add $8 million to the federal spending limit.    He asserted this will only hurt American families and job creators.
    Additionally, several Republicans, including Arizona Representative Andy Biggs and Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville, condemned Biden for not addressing pressing issues like border security and cracking down on fentanyl distribution in the U.S.
    “We don’t need a bureaucrat talking point or a bureaucrat wasting our time,” Tuberville stated.    “We need a plan and we need a plan now to stop these drugs.    Since President Biden has been in office, he has failed to take charge in every situation.    Sadly, the drug overdose epidemic is no different.”
    Meanwhile, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul said the current inflation crisis is indicative of several Democrat economic strategies, including deficit spending and promising free programs to Americans while making retired and poor Americans front the bill.    However, Paul remained optimistic that America’s financial institutions are strong enough to prevent hyperinflation and reverse the economy from heading to disaster.
    If not, economists have warned inflation will only get worse.    They also warned that if the Federal Reserve doesn’t act quickly, the U.S. is likely headed for a recession.

3/29/2022 Secy. Of State Blinken: Iran Will Never Acquire A Nuclear Weapon by OAN Newsroom
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference with Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita,
at the Foreign Ministry in Rabat, Morocco, Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
    The U.S. State Department is revamping its calls to stomp Iran’s nuclear ambitions. On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with top diplomats from Israel, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and Morocco in Jerusalem to discuss the threat posed by Iran’s growing power.
    Experts pointed out, this meeting between Israel and several Gulf Arab States suggests monumental strides to achieve peace in the Middle East.    Additionally, they stressed this builds off of President Donald Trump’s 2020 Abraham Accords, which aimed to normalize relations between Israel and the rest of the region.
    Despite this, Blinken argued the best way to combat Iran’s aggression and development of its nuclear program is to return to the controversial Obama-era nuclear deal.
    “An Iran with a nuclear weapon or the capacity to produce one on short notice would become even more aggressive and would believe it could act with a false sense of impunity,” asserted the Secretary of State.    “The United States believes that a return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best way to put Iran’s nuclear program back in the box that it was in, but has escaped from since the United States withdrew from that agreement.”
    Since taking office, reviving the 2015 agreement had been a top priority for the Biden administration.
    However, this week the State Department lamented the deal is now in the hands of the Ayatollah regime after months of stalled talks and negotiating with Iran through third party diplomats.
    Biden had already made concessions to Iran by waiving sanctions on its civilian nuclear program and possibly taking the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps off of the U.S. terrorist list.    The delisting of the IRGC has been a major criticism from regional partners, especially from the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu.    They warned the IRGC has been aiding terrorist activities in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
    “Their proxy, the Houthis, just this weekend carried out a horrific attack on Saudi Arabia,” Bennett explained.    “I hope the United States will hear the concerned voices from the region, Israel’s and others on this very important issue.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett gives a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, after their
meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office, Sunday, March 27, 2022, in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
    Meanwhile at a forum in Doha, Qatar, Special U.S. Envoy to Iran, Rob Malley stressed the nuclear deal does not cover the IRGC designation.    Malley added, President Joe Biden has no intention of taking the group off the terror list.
    “I can tell you that the IRGC will remain sanctioned under U.S. law,” he stated.    “And our perception and our views, our policy towards the IRGC, will not have changed.”
    In the meantime, Blinken vowed to continue to push for a nuclear deal with Iran while claiming it would hinder the rouge state’s nuclear ambitions.    The Secretary of State added, he and Israeli diplomats will work together to combat Iran’s attacks in the region.    Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid accepted the continuance of a U.S.-Israel partnership, but reiterated his country does not support the deal with Iran.
    “Israel will do anything we believe is needed to stop the Iranian nuclear program, anything,” he stated.    “From our point of view, the Iranian threat is not theoretical.    The Iranians want to destroy Israel.    They will not succeed; we will not let them.”
    The U.S. State Department has lamented it’s not clear if a deal with Iran will be reached anytime soon.

3/29/2022 Biden’s ‘Tax The Rich’ Plan Sugarcoats Massive Tax Hikes On All by OAN Newsroom
President Joe Biden speaks about Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s invasion
of Ukraine after unveiling his proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 in the State Dining Room
of the White House, Monday, March 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
    President Joe Biden unveiled a $5.8 trillion budget proposal for 2023 with a record increase in taxes.    The White House released the budget proposal on Monday while asserting it’s an attempt to ensure “fiscal responsibility, safety and security” at home and abroad.
    The 2023 budget would spend billions of dollars on security programs in Europe and Ukraine while also allocating $773 billion to the Pentagon.    It would also increase taxes on wealthy Americans, which economists believe will further discourage investment and hinder economic growth.
    “This is un-American, this idea,” stated Venture investor Kevin O’Leary.    “It’s fundamentally against 60 percent of the economy where the companies I fund, the men and woman who create family businesses are vehemently opposed to this regardless of what side of the aisle they’re on.”
    “It’s un-American that’s what it is,” O’Leary continued.    “And I can predict this, not that I want to get into politics, Biden is going to get decimated in the midterms.”
    Biden’s new budget would also allocate $26 billion to NASA, which is an 11 percent increase from fiscal year 2022.    Meanwhile, members of the GOP in both chambers of Congress issued dire warnings against this proposal.
    One America’s Chief White House Correspondent Chanel Rion has more on the new budget and the controversy now surrounding it.
Above left image Joe reminds me of Nero playing the violin while Rome burned.
The above right image lets us know who Joe really is.    He is the Butthead

3/29/2022 Rep. Cawthorn: Washington, D.C. Is A Pit Of Vipers by OAN Newsroom
Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) is pictured. (AP Photo)
    Freshman firebrand Madison Cawthorn said Washington, D.C. is a pit of vipers.    Clips of a recent interview of North Carolina representative on the Warrior Poet Society Podcast have been circulating online over the past few days due to bold statements made by the congressman.
    Cawthorn outlined his experience during freshman orientation, saying the procedures were explained but not in a way that was easily understood.    He explained that this makes new congressman rely heavily on their leadership.    The Republican said this leads to consolidated power in the chambers.
    Cawthorn also described seeing lawmakers being lobbied by special interest groups.    He noted, he’s lucky to have his grassroots donors who don’t ask him to vote in a certain way just because they contribute to his campaign.
    “I am very fortunate in my position to where I get, you know, probably $5 from 500,000 people a year versus most people who have to rely on that $70,000 check from one individual person.”
    While the most picked up soundbite has been one in which he accused fellow lawmakers of engaging in unsavory activities that contradict the image they project to the American people, Cawthorn touched on many shortcomings within the federal government.
    “Then there’s the kind of the whole espionage aspect that goes on in Washington,” he stated.    “You know, so many people trade in secrets and there’s a currency in secrets.    It’s wild.”
    The North Carolina lawmaker said he’s labeled an “extremist” for wanting to return to an America with conservative values.     “I don’t want the government to be involved in your life,” he explained.    “I think they federal government should make sure we never lose a war, we have good roads and we have dominate trade deals.    Aside from that, keep your hands off my life.”
    Cawthorn went on to say it’s time for conservatives to set the narrative and go on the offensive, while blaming Democrats and so-called Republicans In Name Only for many of the problems facing Americans today.

3/30/2022 Canada To Help Offset Food And Energy Shortages Caused By Ukraine Crisis – PM Trudeau
FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons
on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, March 22, 2022. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle/File Photo
    OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that his government can help the world overcome food and energy shortages in the coming months that may result from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
    “For the coming months, Canada can help put food on the table and keep the lights on,” Trudeau said in a speech in Vancouver centered mainly on his government’s efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
    “The leaders I spoke with in Europe over the last couple of weeks are clear: they don’t just want to end their dependence on Russian oil and gas.    They want to accelerate the energy transformation to clean and green power.    And Canadians have a big role in that work,” he said.
(Reporting by Steve Scherer, Editing by Franklin Paul)

3/30/2022 UK Taking Sceptical View Towards Russian Pledges, Deputy PM Says
    LONDON (Reuters) -Britain will take a very sceptical view towards Russia and its pledge to scale down military operations around Kyiv, with Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab saying London will judge Moscow on its actions not words.
    Russia has promised in negotiations to scale down some military operations to “increase mutual trust,” but Western countries expect that to lead to an intensification of its offensive in other parts of the country.
    Britain mirrored Ukraine in reacting with scepticism.     “The door to diplomacy will always be left ajar, but I don’t think you can trust what is coming out of the mouth of Putin’s war machine,” Raab told Sky News.
    Talks took place in an Istanbul palace more than a month into the largest attack on a European nation since World War Two that has killed or injured thousands, forced nearly 4 million to flee abroad and drawn sanctions that have pummelled Russia’s economy.
    “Ultimately, they need to be tested by their actions and they need to withdraw from Ukraine, not just reposition,” Raab told Times Radio
    “But I think we take a very sceptical view about anything coming out of Moscow.”
(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by William James)

3/30/2022 ‘Find Roubles’ If You Want Russian Oil, Grain Or Metals, Top Lawmaker Says by Guy Faulconbridge
FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, at the Novo-Ogaryovo
state residence outside Moscow, Russia October 26, 2020. Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) - Russia’s top lawmaker warned the European Union on Wednesday that if it wanted Russian natural gas then it would have to pay in roubles, and cautioned that oil, grain, metals, fertiliser, coal and timber exports could also soon be priced the same way.
    After the West imposed crippling sanctions on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that natural gas exported to Europe or the United States should be paid for in his country’s currency.
    Europe, which imports about 40% of its gas from Russia and pays mostly in euros, says Russia’s state-controlled gas giant Gazprom is not entitled to redraw contracts.    The G7 group of nations rejected Moscow’s demands this week.
    “European politicians need to stop the talk, stop trying to find some justification about why they cannot pay in roubles,” Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, said in a post on Telegram.    “If you want gas, find roubles.”
    “Moreover, it would be right – where it is beneficial for our country – to widen the list of export products priced in roubles to include: fertiliser, grain, food oil, oil, coal, metals, timber etc.”
    If was not immediately clear whether such a move could become official Russian policy, though Putin, when announcing the rouble decision for natural gas, said it was only the start of the process.
    Russian officials have repeatedly said the West’s attempt to isolate one of the world’s biggest producers of natural resources is an irrational act of self harm that will lead to soaring prices for consumers and tip the economies of Europe and the United States into recession.
    Russia says the West’s sanctions – and in particular the freezing of about $300 billion in Russian central bank reserves – amount to a declaration of economic war.
    Putin says the freezing of central bank reserves was a default on the West’s obligations to Russia that would torpedo confidence in the U.S. dollar and the euro.
    “Through these sanctions, through your attempts to isolate us, you have isolated yourselves,” Volodin said.
    “They have done everything they could to undermine confidence in the U.S. dollar and the euro so that Russia now refuses to settle in these currencies,” he said.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Conor Humphries and Frank Jack Daniel)

3/30/2022 Rep. Gaetz Enters Contents Of Hunter Biden’s Laptop Into Congressional Record by OAN Newsroom
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) arrives for a House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing with members of the Fort Hood
Independent Review Committee on Capitol Hill on December 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
    Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) submitted the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive and the receipt from the computer repair shop where it was dropped off into the congressional record.
    During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, the conservative firebrand cross examined FBI’s Cyber Division Assistant Director Bryan Vorndran.    The FBI seized the laptop in December of 2019, however, Vorndran claimed he didn’t know where the laptop currently is.    Gaetz pressed the issue and demanded answers.
    “How are Americans suppose to trust that you can protect us from the next Colonial Pipeline if it seems that you can’t locate a laptop that was given to you three years ago?” asked the Florida lawmaker.    “So where is it, the laptop?
    Further into the hearing, the Republican slammed the assistant director over how little he knew about how compromised the Biden family could potentially be. Vorndran said he was only there to answer questions about the bureau’s cyber program.
    “I would think that the President’s son who does international business referencing the now-President with the Chinese, with Ukrainians…I mean have you assessed whether or not the Hunter Biden laptop gives Russia the ability to harm our country?” Gaetz asked.
    The assistant director didn’t share who the committee could question about the laptops location or its content on Biden’s international business dealings.    Although there was some resistance from Democrats on the committee, Gaetz was able to go on record with the evidence.
    “After consultation with majority staff, I seek unanimous consent to enter into the record of this committee content from files from and copies from the Hunter Biden laptop,” he stated.
    On top of this, congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told One America News that he’s laying the groundwork for a probe into the media’s efforts to suppress the laptop story.    If the GOP succeeds in taking control of the lower chamber after the midterms, the door to potentially subpoena Hunter Biden could open.

Peter Schweizer On Hunter Biden Laptop Developments
    With the mainstream media finally paying attention to the Hunter Biden laptop story, they are now catching up to what Peter Schweizer has been saying for over a year.    One America’s Stefan Kleinhenz sat down with the Government Accountability Institute president and author of “Red Handed” to discuss the latest developments.

3/30/2022 Biden, Harris Meet With Prime Minister Of Singapore To Discuss Threats From China, North Korea by OAN Newsroom
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, with Vice President Kamala Harris, right, speaks at the Eisenhower
Executive Office Building on the White House complex, in Washington, Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    The Biden administration is grooming Singapore to be a top ally in the Indo-Pacific region.    On Tuesday, President Joe Biden met with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to bolster bilateral relations.
    The two leaders discussed several security concerns in the region, including aggression from the Chinese Communist Party in the South China Sea, North Korea’s increase in missile tests and ramifications of the 2020 military coup in Myanmar.    Biden also noted the U.S. and Singapore are working together to ensure the region stays free, deepen economic ties and fight COVID-19 as part of a broad agenda they both share.
    “I’m really proud of the partnership between Singapore and the United States,” he stated.    “It’s as close and as strong as it’s ever been.    And together, we’re working to uphold a rules based order, international order, supporting the founding principles of the United Nations and advance a future for the Indo-Pacific that is both free and open.”
    Prime Minister Lee added, the U.S. and Singapore have blossomed their more than 80-year partnership into one with massive influence in shaping and stabilizing the region.    He stressed threats from China and spillover from the Russian war with Ukraine have cemented the need for international unity and multilateral cooperation.    Lee further warned, if the Ukraine crisis continues then Indo-Pacific countries could see devastating economic and political consequences.
    “There are potential flash points and contentious issues in our region too, which if not managed well could escalate to open conflict,” stated the official.    “Countries with interests in the region need to pursue all efforts to settle disagreements through peaceful means, so that we can avoid reaching a point of no return.”
    Additionally, Vice President Kamala Harris met with Lee to discuss the modern concerns facing both the U.S. and Singapore.    They touted several joint programs tackling how to bolster cybersecurity technology and others to explore the vastness of the universe.
    “Singapore has signed the Artemis Accords, which aim to promote the peaceful, sustainable and beneficial use of space,” Lee stated.    “We are the first Southeast Asian country to sign on…so I’m very glad that the Vice President and I were able to meet again to discuss ways to take our partnership to even greater heights.”
    Last month, the Biden administration unveiled its strategy in bolstering ties between the U.S. and Indo-Pacific countries.    The booklet vowed to strengthen the region’s military and economic infrastructure, so countries can maintain their sovereignty and loosen China’s grip on the region.    Since then, top Biden diplomats and defense officials have traveled to several countries Indo-Pacific countries.    The Pentagon even welcomed a delegation of Singapore defense officials recently.
    Additionally, Biden was originally set to host several leaders from participating ASEAN countries this week, but that meeting has been postponed.    However, Biden maintains further entangling relations with East Asian and Indo-Pacific countries will secure America’s influence in the greater Asian continent for decades.

3/30/2022 Oil up $2.29 to $107.58, DOW down 65 to 35,229.

3/31/2022 Insiders say Biden to tap oil reserve to help combat rising energy prices by Zeke Miller and Josh Boak, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is preparing to order the release of up to 1 million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve, according to two people familiar with the decision, in a bid to control energy prices that have spiked as the U.S. and allies have imposed steep sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.    The announcement could come as soon as Thursday, when the White House says Biden is planning to deliver remarks on his administration’s plans to combat rising gas prices.    The duration of the release hasn’t been finalized but could last for several months.    The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the decision.
    High oil prices have not coaxed more production, creating a challenge for Biden.    The president has seen his popularity sink as inflation reached a 40-year high in February and the cost of petroleum and gasoline climbed after Russia invaded Ukraine.
[Gas prices rose because Biden is not allowing oil output in U.S. and the Mideast Nations will not pump oil for him because Trump gave them Nuclear Generation due to earthquakes which formed the Abraham Accord with Israel.]
    Crude oil on Wednesday traded at nearly $105 a barrel, up from about $60 a year ago.
    Still, oil producers have been more focused on meeting the needs of investors, according to a survey released last week by the Dallas Federal Reserve.    About 59% of the executives surveyed said investor pressure to preserve “capital discipline” amid high prices was the reason they weren’t pumping more, while fewer than 10% blamed government regulation.
    The steady release from the reserves would be a meaningful sum and come near to closing the domestic production gap relative to February 2020, before the coronavirus caused a steep decline in oil output.
    The Biden administration in November announced the release of 50 million barrels from the strategic reserve in coordination with other countries.

3/31/2022 Russian Hackers Targeted NATO, Eastern European Militaries – Google
FILE PHOTO: A NATO flag is seen at the Alliance headquarters ahead of a NATO Defence Ministers
meeting, in Brussels, Belgium, October 21, 2021. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – Russian hackers have recently attempted to penetrate the networks of NATO and the militaries of some eastern European countries, Google’s Threat Analysis Group said in a report published on Wednesday.
    The report did not say which militaries had been targeted in what Google described as “credential phishing campaigns” launched by a Russian-based group called Coldriver, or Callisto.
    “These campaigns were sent using newly created Gmail accounts to non-Google accounts, so the success rate of these campaigns is unknown,” the report said.
    Russia, which is now under heavy Western economic sanctions following its decision to invade Ukraine on Feb. 24, regularly denies accusations of mounting cyber attacks on Western targets.
    In 2019, Finnish cybersecurity firm F-Secure Labs described Callisto as an unidentified and advanced threat actor “interested in intelligence gathering related to foreign and security policy” in Europe.     The group also targeted a NATO Centre of Excellence, Wednesday’s Google report said, without elaborating.     In a statement, NATO did not directly address Google’s report but said: “We see malicious cyber activity on a daily basis.”
    “NATO Centres of Excellence work alongside the Alliance but they are not part of NATO as such.    We are in touch with them on this issue,” the statement said.
(This story corrects to clarify that statement was from NATO, not a NATO Centre of Excellence)
(Reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Gareth Jones)

3/31/2022 Oil down $6.59 to $100.85, DOW down 471 to 34,726.

3/31/2022 Ukraine Delegation Asks For More Aid From U.S. by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, center, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., right, hold a meeting with members of the Ukrainian Parliament,
at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 30, 2022. From left are: Ukrainian Parliament members Yevheniya Kravchuk
and Lesia Zaburanna, Ukrainian Amb. Oksana Markarova, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Ukrainian Parliament
members Maria Ionova, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, and Anastasia Radina. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    Members of Ukraine’s Parliament visited the U.S. Capitol to advocate for more aid to be sent to the Eastern European nation.    The all female delegation spoke to reporters on Wednesday at the Ukrainian Embassy, where they laid out a list of what they need in terms of military equipment.    Their list includes proper air defense systems and fighter jets.
    “We need to kick Russian soldiers off our land and for that, we need all, all possible weapons,” stressed Anastasia Radina, member of Ukrainian Parliament.    “We have been discussing the major issue of providing Ukraine with proper air defense systems.     We should include jets and we hope that this issue will be dealt with in a in a timely manner because for Ukraine promises or discussions or any other kinds of, frankly inaction, are not helpful anymore.”
    They went on to justify their list by saying that it’s the only way for the conflict in their country to end while referencing the city of Mariupol, which has been besieged by the Russian military.
    “This is the background on which we assess Russia’s promises and this is why we are saying that the only option to actually receive peace in Ukraine would be for Ukraine to be able to clear our land of Russian troops,” Radina explained.    “And for that, we need all kinds of weapons, including fighter jets.”
    The delegation then requested for more sanctions to be placed on Russia while also asking for new financial instruments to help Ukraine recover from the war economically.
    “We need more sanctions because in mid-term perspective, it’s a great instrument in this battle,” stated Lesia Zaburanna, member of Ukraine Parliament.    “And of course, we need new financial instruments, which will help our economy to a life after our victory and be absolutely sure that this, our nation with our president with all our people and with your support, Ukraine in future will be a symbol of victory for all the world.”
    Their visit comes as President Joe Biden agreed on Wednesday to send an additional $500 million in aid to the war torn country.

3/31/2022 Okla. Gov. Stitt Signs Bill Banning Transgender Competitors From Playing On Women’s Sports Teams by OAN Newsroom
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signs a bill in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, that
prevents transgender girls and women from competing on female sports teams. Stitt signed the bill flanked
by more than a dozen young female athletes, including his eighth-grade daughter Piper. (AP Photo/Sean Murphy)
    Oklahoma enacted a new bill, banning transgender competitors from playing on women’s sports teams.    On Wednesday, Governor Kevin Stitt (R) officially signed into law the Save Women’s Sports Act.
    The Republican took to Twitter to state that Oklahoma stands with female athletes and will protect women’s sports.    The governor thanked the group of female athletes who joined him during the legislation’s signing.
    This comes amid controversy over collegiate swimmer Lia Thomas competing as the first-ever transgender athlete to win an NCAA division title.
FILE – Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas waits for results after swimming the women’s 200 freestyle final at the
NCAA swimming and diving championships, Friday, March 18, 2022, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Republican governors of
two states this week vetoed legislation to ban transgender players from girls’ sports, but their decisions to buck
the party’s conservative wing could prove short-lived against a fired-up GOP base. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
    “Boys should compete against boys and let’s be clear, that’s all this bill says,” stated the Oklahoma governor.    “It says athletic teams designated for females, woman, or girls shall not be open to students of the male sex.    What we are trying to accomplish here is very, very simple.    We are protecting women’s sports.”
    Stitt said this bill is “just common sense.”    The governor added, he wants to ensure “a level playing field” for girls who want to excel in their respective sport.

3/31/2022 Mo. Announces End Of COVID-19 Pandemic Phase by OAN Newsroom
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announces that the state is switching to an endemic phase of handling COVID-19
during news conference on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, at the state Capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Parson declared that “the COVID-19 crisis is over” in Missouri. (AP Photo/David A. Lieb)
    Missouri is ending its COVID-19 emergency designation and will transition to an endemic phase of the pandemic.    During a press conference on Wednesday, state Governor Mike Parson (R) said that Missouri will begin treating the virus as an endemic starting on Friday.
    Parson asserted Missouri has learned a lot over the past two years, but noted the virus shows no sign of completely going away.    He explained that this means there’s no need to continue living life in “crisis mode.”
"Endemic does not mean the end, it refers to the constant presence of the disease within a population
or geographic area just as Influenza, HIV, Tuberculosis and Strep Throat are endemic in our country,” explained
Paula Nickelson, Acting Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
“Entering an endemic phase does not mean there will not be future periods of increased cases and medical surges.”
    Nickelson stressed the new approach will allow local and state officials to closely monitor the virus and hotspots without imposing overbearing restrictions on residents.

3/31/2022 Italy Defers NATO Defence Spending Goal To 2028 In Coalition Compromise by Crispian Balmer and Angelo Amante
FILE PHOTO: New Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi holds the cabinet minister bell next to outgoing
Premier Giuseppe Conte, during the handover ceremony at Chigi Palace Premier's office,
in Rome, Italy February 13, 2021. Andrew Medichini/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    ROME (Reuters) – Italy will only hit the NATO goal of spending 2% of GDP on defence in 2028, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Thursday, confirming it will miss an original target of 2024 after opposition from within his ruling coalition.
    The government currently earmarks around 1.4% of economic output for military spending and would have had to increase its defence budget by 12 billion euros ($13.4 billion) over the next two years to reach a goal established by members of the Atlantic alliance in 2014.
    Before Russia invaded Ukraine, no one had expected Italy to meet the 2024 timeline, but the conflict has piled pressure on NATO states to beef up their armed forces.
    Draghi has said Italy would honour its international commitments, but the ruling 5-Star Movement had threatened to torpedo any spending splurge, saying the money would be better used to alleviate poverty.
    Stepping back from a potential political bust-up, Draghi told foreign correspondents that the 2024 deadline should be seen as “an indication, not as an objective,” adding that 2028 was a more achievable target.
    “This is a goal which we must aim for with continuity and realism,” he said.
    The 5-Star said this week that spending should be increased gradually over the next eight years, and signalled that 2028 was an acceptable compromise.Today we can finally all agree, thanks to 5-Star, that this objective is a trend and must be spread out well beyond 2024,” the party said in a statement.
    Of the other heavyweights within the multi-party coalition, the centre-left Democratic Party also favoured a 2028 target date while the far-right League expressed no preference in public.
    Italy was sixth from bottom in the 29-nation NATO in terms of defence spending by GDP in 2021, NATO has said.    Some 60.5% of the budget went on salaries, the second highest ratio within the alliance, leaving proportionally less cash for military procurement, training, maintenance and infrastructure.
    The dispute over military spending comes as parties jostle for position ahead of elections set for next year.
    The 5-Star, led by former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte but struggling in the polls, has pacifist roots and is looking to tap into strong opposition within Italy to boosting arms purchases.
    An EMG opinion poll released on Tuesday showed 54% of Italians were against hiking the defence budget to 2% of GDP, while just 23% were in favour.
    Draghi told reporters that the ideal would be for European Union nations to pool military spending.    “If we are serious about European defence we must immediately coordinate action and understand who spends how much and for what,” he said.
($1 = 0.8974 euros)
(editing by John Stonestreet)

3/31/2022 Far-Right Le Pen Now Second Most-Liked French Politician, Poll Shows
FILE PHOTO: Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party candidate for French
2017 presidential election, smiles before voting in the second round of 2017 French presidential election
at a polling station in Henin-Beaumont, France, May 7, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) – France’s veteran far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is the second most-liked politician in the country, according to a poll on Thursday which came 10 days ahead of the first round of voting.
    According to the Elabe poll for Les Echos newspaper and Radio Classique, 35% of those polled said they had a “good image” of Le Pen.    In 2017, when she lost to Emmanuel Macron in the presidential election’s runoff, the figure stood at 32%.
    Le Pen has overtaken former President Nicolas Sarkozy in the poll, who came in third with 33% of positive opinions.    She still lags, however, former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who scored 44%.
    The Elabe poll did not test the popularity of President Emmanuel Macron nor that of his Prime Minister Jean Castex.
    In 2017, 46% of those polled by Elabe had a “very poor image” of Le Pen, who is gearing up for her third presidential bid, against 34% now.
    Le Pen has softened her image since 2017, ditching unpopular plans to drop the euro, tweeting about her passion for cats, and on one occasion taking selfies with a veiled Muslim girl.
    Although polls showed Macron received a boost in voting intentions after Russia waged war on Ukraine, he is now falling back as Le Pen gains ground.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon ; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

    This page created on 3/1/2021, and updated each month by 3/31/2021.

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