Displaying items by tag: USA
The world has been watching what is happening in Ukraine with shock and sadness. Thousands across the USA are taking to the streets to show their support, including a large group who gathered recently in Virginia Beach. For many who attended, the war is personal. Hundreds marched along the oceanfront with signs, songs, and desperate prayers to raise awareness and funds to help Ukrainians who are right now fighting not just for their country, but for their very lives. ‘Every day we text him and make sure he's alive!’ said 32-year-old Olga who was born and raised in Ukraine now living in Virginia Beach with her husband. She marched with her parents, who came to America two months ago. Her twin brother is still in Ukraine.
Foreign minister Wang Yi says that China is not a party to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, as pressure grows on it to withdraw support for Moscow. He said China rejects sanctions in principle and ‘has the right to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests’, calling the three-week conflict in Ukraine ‘the product of the accumulation and intensification of European security contradictions over the years’. There was no mention of recent reports that Russia had asked China for military and economic help after the start of the war. On 13 March US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told Beijing that there will be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them. China’s foreign ministry spokesman said the US had been spreading disinformation targeting China on the Ukraine issue. Asked if he could clarify whether China had received a request for military help from Russia, Mr Zhao said this was ‘fake news’ but did not deny it.
With fears that the war in Ukraine could push global energy prices even higher, Washington recently met Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro to discuss conditions for repealing the crippling US sanctions in place against his country. Washington, which broke off relations in 2019 over Maduro’s rigged elections and crackdowns on opposition protests, is reportedly demanding free and fair presidential elections and extensive reforms to the Venezuelan oil sector. Maduro, for his part, wants an end to the sanctions and to be readmitted to the SWIFT global financial platform. Venezuela is a close ally and partner of Russia. Some members of Congress have criticised any effort to rekindle relations, saying that efforts to isolate Putin should not boost other authoritarian leaders. Aside from the political whiplash of resuming oil trade, Venezuela’s oil fields have long suffered from mismanagement. Some industry analysts say it could be slow to increase supply. See
China is engaged in a massive nuclear weapons buildup that includes hundreds of new strategic missiles, and Chinese President Xi Jinping is preparing the military to retake Taiwan, USA’s most senior intelligence official told Congress on 8 March. Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, disclosed new information on threats from China and dangers posed by Russia, North Korea and Iran at the annual briefing on threats to US security around the globe. China’s military buildup includes the largest ever nuclear force expansion and arsenal diversification in its history, and there were 39 incursions Into Taiwan's airspace by fighter planes in one day. The Pentagon is warning that China is preparing for a military campaign, so it is sending new sales of advanced-grade military drones to Taiwan.
The congressional committee investigating the attack on Capitol Hill said in a court filing, ‘Evidence and information available to the Committee establishes a good-faith belief that Mr Trump and others may have engaged in criminal and/or fraudulent acts. The select committee also has a good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his campaign engaged in criminal conspiracy to defraud the USA.’ If John Eastman is proven to have worked unethically for Mr Trump his legal licence may be suspended, and it increases political pressure on the Attorney General to charge Trump.
Joe Biden's first formal State of the Union speech came as only 40.6% of Americans are happy with his job performance. After describing his foreign policies on the invasion of Ukraine, Mr Biden confronted a host of domestic troubles dogging his presidency, from the enduring pandemic to soaring consumer prices, a wave of violent crime, and inflation hitting a 40-year high even though the jobless rate has sunk to 4%. The president sought to empathise with hard-pressed working families, saying ‘I get it.’ He promised a plan for ‘building a better America’ by boosting domestic production of cars and semiconductors, as well as rebuilding the nation’s roads and bridges. Republican response to the speech portrayed a presidency reflecting the late '70s ‘when runaway inflation hammered families, a violent crime wave crushed cities, and the Soviet army was trying to redraw the world map’.
A year after Donald Trump was banned from Twitter he launched his own social-media platform, Truth Social, in a limited form, on the US Apple app store. Commentators noted the app had similarities to Twitter. Some of those trying to register were told, ‘Due to massive demand, we have placed you on our waiting list’. Project lead former congressman Devin Nunes said it was expected to be fully operational by the end of March. Created by the year-old Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG), Truth Social had previously been made available to 500 beta testers. Truth Social describes itself as a ‘big tent' social-media platform that encourages an open, free and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology. Mr Nunes vowed it would be a ‘censorship-free experience’.
On 15 February the Republican-led Senate in Arizona voted in favour of a bill to ban abortion after fifteen weeks of pregnancy. Senator Nancy Barto, who sponsored the bill, said, ‘The state has an obligation to protect life, and that is what this bill is about. A 15-week-old baby in the womb has a fully formed nose, lips, eyelids. They suck their thumbs. They feel pain. That’s what this bill is about.’ Democrats argue that any abortion ban would disproportionately affect low-income and minority women who are unable to travel to other states with no such restrictions. Doctors who violate the bill could face felony charges and lose their licences. At present, the bill moves to the GOP-controlled State House, which has previously ruled against abortion. If passed, it goes to governor Doug Ducey’s desk to be signed. In the past seven sessions, Ducey, who opposed abortion, has signed every abortion-related bill that has reached his desk.
Ukraine’s president has said joining NATO would guarantee his country's security. He says it will not be easy, but there is no other path for Ukraine. The UK's defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said Russia will be judged by its actions. ‘We've seen the opposite of some of Russia’s statements. We've seen an increase of troops over the last 48 hours up to 7,000, we've seen a bridge constructed from Belarus into Ukraine - or near Ukraine. At the moment Russia’s troop build-up continues.’ Wallace says NATO is united and is ‘deadly serious on how we're going to face the threat being posed to Ukraine and potentially our security’. Speaking after a meeting of defence ministers, he says it's becoming ‘tragically normal’ for Russia to use ‘malign activity and threats to try and get its way’ and Europe has to respond to that, adding, ‘This is a real challenge to the stability of Europe.’
Since the start of the pandemic 200,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses, an alarming increase over previous years. Numbers for 2021 are not yet released but look to be higher still. The crisis is driven by a new, ultra-potent drug called fentanyl. Only two milligrams are lethal. It is the most powerful painkiller on the market, and 100 times more potent than morphine. In 2021 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized over 11,000 pounds of fentanyl, enough to kill 2.5 billion people. Fentanyl is being laced into less potent drugs like marijuana and heroin, often without the knowledge of the user. CBP said, ‘Almost every methamphetamine positive also has a fentanyl positive. Once that first high occurs, nothing after that compares.’ Pray for the pandemic casualties, now experiencing depression, to turn to Christ for inner peace and avoid illegal substances. Pray for God to touch the lives of the families of addicts.