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The Ukraine conflict continues to dominate headlines. In a speech Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treat Organization hadn’t adequately addressed his concerns over NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe.
Putin wants NATO to retract the military alliance back to a “1997 status quo” and for the U.S. to pull back missile systems in the region.
The Russian president said Moscow had been “swindled, basically lied to” about NATO’s expansion eastward.
“NATO refers to the right of countries to choose freely, but you can not strengthen someone’s security at the expense of others,” Putin said.
In a Tuesday call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State Antony Blinken “urged immediate Russian de-escalation and the withdrawal of troops and equipment from Ukraine’s borders,” according to State Department spokesman Ned Price.
Want to know more?: As the situation worsens at the Ukrainian border, U.S. and Russian diplomats weigh the best response to a possible invasion by Russia.
Polls say the president is struggling in Florida ahead of midterms
A new Suffolk University/USA TODAY Network poll suggests that likely Florida voters view President Joe Biden’s job performance unfavorably, which may affect the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections in the politically pivotal state.
Most of those surveyed, 53%, disapprove of the job Biden is doing versus 39% who approve. Nearly 60% believe the nation as a whole is on the wrong track, and a similar percentage disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy.
Florida is the largest of a handful of states that could effectively decide presidential elections. Biden lost the state to former President Donald Trump by three percentage points in 2020 and, as it stands now, risks losing it again in 2024 to a Republican opponent.
Real quick: stories you’ll want to read
- Breyer’s impact on abortion is in jeopardy: Associate Justice Stephen Breyer wrote some of the Supreme Court’s most important decisions on abortion over the course of his tenure. But as Breyer prepares to step down this year, his legacy on abortion may go with him.
- ‘Do we even know they’re Nazis?’: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis dismissed criticism of his administration on Monday after an aide questioned, in a since-deleted tweet, whether Democratic staffers were posing as neo-Nazis at a weekend rally that members of both parties condemned.
- Wicker slammed for racist comment about SCOTUS pick: Republican Sen. Roger Wicker drew outrage from the White House, a member of his own party and beyond for a comment that compares President Joe Biden’s pledge to nominate a Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court to affirmative action.
- White House says Trump is ‘unfit’ for office: White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Donald Trump is unfit for office after the former president suggested he might pardon supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
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China’s COVID strict protocols continue at the Olympics
For two years, China’s government has targeted a zero-tolerance strategy for battling the coronavirus pandemic. Authorities have gone to herculean lengths to keep the virus from spreading.
This month, the thousands of overseas visitors who have converged on China from dozens of countries for the Beijing Winter Olympics could complicate the country’s efforts to remain substantially free of COVID-19 and its highly transmissible and faster-spreading omicron variant.
Games organizers in Beijing are taking coronavirus precautionary measures to new heights. For a start, athletes, coaches, observers and media are separated from “mainland China” by a closed-loop Olympic bubble that cordons them off from the outside world.
There is mandatory daily coronavirus testing, the closed loop is enforced by guarded fences and Beijing police warned locals to stay away from Olympic vehicles even in the event of an accident. There are no international spectators, and organizers have been coy on how many, if any, locals will be allowed to attend.
How well is China handling COVID? Since the start of the pandemic, China has recorded about 4,600 COVID-19 deaths, compared with 883,000 in the USA, according to Our World in Data, an online statistics website affiliated with Oxford University researchers. Western nations have accused China of a lack of transparency over its pandemic data, raising concerns over the accuracy of its official figures.
China disputes these allegations. Some studies have shown that because of differing testing capacities, data collection methods and other discrepancies, China might not be the only nation undercounting COVID-19 cases and deaths. South Korea, Italy, Japan, France, Spain, Iran and the USA, among others, may under-represent the pandemic’s scope and toll, according to those studies.
Happy Lunar New Year! 🐯🧧 Click here to learn more about the holiday and what the year of the tiger represents. — Amy and Chelsey