About Exposing the Big Game

Jim Robertson

U.S. drops plans to send destroyers into the Black Sea due to concerns over Russia

By Natasha Bertrand and Lara Seligman  38 mins ago


Twin snowstorms to paste the Rockies and Northeast tonight into FridayChina Building Destructive Space Weapons to ‘Blind’ U.S. Satellites, Intelligence…

The Pentagon has scrapped a potential Black Sea transit by two Navy destroyers this week due to concerns about escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the plans.a large ship in a body of water: The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt arrives in Souda Bay, Greece, for a logistics and maintenance period.© U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kelly M. Agee/Released The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt arrives in Souda Bay, Greece, for a logistics and maintenance period.

Earlier this month, the Navy notified Turkey, which manages traffic through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits leading to the Black Sea under the 1936 Montreux Convention, that they were tentatively planning a routine transit by the two destroyers, according to a U.S. defense official.https://products.gobankingrates.com/r/e48f149e71a19f66115d5f5c8edaefd8?subid=

The tentative transit, first reported by CNN, was not unusual or designed to send any particular new signal, as the U.S. Navy typically conducts eight or nine such movements per year, the person said.

But after new fighting erupted in Eastern Europe between Ukrainian soldiers and Russian-backed separatists, officials decided not to undertake the transit to avoid needlessly escalating the situation, the person said.

Naval movements are frequently subject to change due to maintenance or shifting operational plans, the person said. This particular transit was scrapped due to a “myriad” of reasons, including a desire not to provoke Moscow during a delicate time, the person said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in an interview with NTV TV that the U.S. had notified Turkey on Wednesday that the ships would not be heading to the Black Sea. Reuters first reported that the movement was called off, quoting diplomatic sources who, like Çavuşoğlu, did not provide a specific reason.

The Pentagon has declined to discuss the possible transit since the reports first surfaced. “We routinely operate and conduct operations in the Black Sea and throughout the European Command [area of operations],” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters last week. “And as you also know, I’m not going to forecast or speak about hypotheticals or about future operations.”

The ships, the USS Donald Cook and the USS Roosevelt, are in the Mediterranean Sea conducting maritime security operations, the person said. They were still a few days from the Black Sea when the decision was made to scrap the transit, so they were not forced to abruptly reverse course.

But some in Kyiv were disappointed that the destroyers would not be traveling to the Black Sea after all, said a former senior Ukrainian official. The show of force from the U.S. in the region would have been welcomed as Russia continues to amass thousands of troops at the eastern Ukrainian border, this person said.

Ukrainian officials are also tracking Russian movements suggesting a buildup along the Kerch Strait Bridge to Crimea. The strait connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, and officials are wary of Russia moving to block access to the Black Sea and link its mainland to Crimea.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday that Russia announced it would be closing part of the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait for foreign warships until October, under the pretense of conducting military exercises. A spokesperson said Russia’s actions violate international law and reiterated that Ukraine “has the right to regulate shipping in these waters of the Black Sea.”

U.S. officials note that President Joe Biden has repeatedly reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and recently approved an additional $125 million worth of lethal aid to help the country defend its borders, including two armed patrol boats and counter-artillery radar.

And NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday during a joint press conference with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the organization has increased its military presence in the Black Sea region, including with additional air policing and naval presence.

“We are committed to assisting Ukraine with its self-defense needs,” he said.

Still, the situation is escalating quickly: Russia has sent more than 85,000 troops to the border in recent weeks, and at least seven Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since late last month amid a spike in violence in the Donbass region. Ukrainian government forces have been battling Russia-backed separatists there since 2014.

The G-7 foreign ministers — representing Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union — condemned Russia’s buildup on Ukraine’s borders in a Monday statement, saying they were “deeply concerned” by the move.

“These large-scale troop movements, without prior notification, represent threatening and destabilising activities,” they wrote. “We call on Russia to cease its provocations and to immediately de-escalate tensions in line with its international obligations.”

Meanwhile, Pentagon leaders have been eyeing the Russian military buildup along the border with Ukraine as well as increased Russian activity at sea and in the air.

The commander of U.S. forces in Europe on Thursday predicted there is a “low to medium” likelihood that Russia will invade Ukraine over the next several weeks.

Gen. Tod Wolters, the head of U.S. European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, gave the terse assessment during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on military posture on the continent.

“It is of great concern and our vigilance is high,” the four-star general testified, noting sizable upticks in Russian ground, air and maritime forces.

Pressed on whether the threat of a Russian invasion would increase or decrease outside of the coming few weeks, however, Wolters suggested the threat of an incident could subside given the trends his command observes.

“It depends … on the disposition of the forces,” Wolters said. “My sense is, with the trend that I see right now, the likelihood of an occurrence will start to wane.”

Connor O’Brien contributed to this report.

Noisy humans are preventing forests from regrowing

Exposing the Big Game

Noisy humans are preventing forests from regrowing (msn.com)

Mike Wehner14 hrs ago


Twin snowstorms to paste the Rockies and Northeast tonight into FridayChina attacked America as being divided as the world takes noticea close up of a bird: noise pollution © Provided by BGRnoise pollution

Humans are great (well, that’s debatable) but we’re also super noisy. Think about all of the noise we make with our vehicles, machines, various types of entertainment devices, and even our voices and you’ll quickly come to the conclusion that humans as a species are one of the noisiest around. We’re so noisy, in fact, that other animals tend to avoid us. Cities often push many species away just by gobbling up their habitat but beyond that our incredible noise can make other types of animals like birds search for homes elsewhere.

Scientists have been telling us about the effects of our noise on animal life for some time, but new…

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Scientists Create Early Embryos That Are Part Human, Part Monkey

Exposing the Big Game

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/04/15/987164563/scientists-create-early-embryos-that-are-part-human-part-monkey

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April 15, 202111:01 AM ET

Rob Stein, photographed for NPR, 22 January 2020, in Washington DC.

ROB STEINTwitterFacebook

Using fluorescent antibody-based stains and advanced microscopy, researchers are able to visualize cells of different species origins in an early stage chimeric embryo. The red color indicates the cells of human origin.Weizhi Ji/Kunming University of Science and Technology

For the first time, scientists have created embryos that are a mix of human and monkey cells.

The embryos, described Thursdayin the journalCell, were created in part to try to find new ways to produce organs for people who need transplants, says the international team of scientists who collaborated in the work. But the research raises a variety of concerns.

“My first question is: Why?” saysKirstin Matthews, a fellow for science and technology at Rice University’s Baker Institute. “I think the public is going to be concerned, and I am as well…

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Pandemic helps boost rhino population in Nepal

Exposing the Big Game

Pandemic helps boost rhino population in Nepal (msn.com)

John Bowden2 hrs ago


Twin snowstorms to paste the Rockies and Northeast tonight into FridayChina Capable of ‘Substantially Subduing’ U.S. at Sea, State Media Boasts

The endangered rhino population in Nepal saw its numbers rebound in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic largely putting a halt to the world’s tourism industry.a rhinoceros standing in a body of water: A rhino in Nepal© Getty ImagesA rhino in Nepal

Officials with Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC)told CNNthat a manual count of the greater one-horned rhinos across Nepal’s four national parks counted 752 of the animals, the first time more than 650 have been seen in one survey since 2000.https://www.dianomi.com/smartads.epl?id=3533

The rise in population was attributed by the officials to a drop in tourism, which allowed the national park habitats to remain largely undisturbed. Other factors including government-run conservation projects were also credited with the rhino…

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PETA: WHO’s New Live-Market Call to Action: Too Little, Too Late?

Exposing the Big Game

ShareTweetPublishedApril 14, 2021byKatherine Sullivan.

BREAKING:In response to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) partial call to action—suspending the sale of live mammals at food markets—PETA is nominating PETA Asia Director Jason Baker for the agency’s executive board.

WITH EXPERT BAKER ON BOARD, PERHAPS WE’D GET SENSIBLE AND TIMELY DECISIONS ABOUT SAFETY.

PETA, PETA Asia, and our other affiliates have done the research, and we know that preventing future zoonotic diseases cannot be achieved by feebly halting the sale of only live mammals at food markets.Did avian flu teach the world nothing?It’s not just mammals, and it’s not just food markets—sales of birds, reptiles, and fish;furandexotic-skinsfarms; androadside zoosall risk the possibility—no, make that theprobability—of spawning the next pandemic.

SO LONG AS LIVE-ANIMAL MARKETS ARE OPEN AND…

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Vaccines Are Still Overwhelmingly Our Best Weapon Against COVID

People wait in line at the opening of the Cal State L.A. walk-up mass vaccine site which is administering the Johnson & Johnson one dose shot on April 8, 2021, in Los Angeles, California.
People wait in line at the opening of the California State University, Los Angeles, walk-up mass vaccination site, which is administering the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine on April 8, 2021, in Los Angeles, California.

BYWilliam Rivers PittTruthoutPUBLISHEDApril 13, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via Email

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READING LISTECONOMY & LABORPassing Climate Bills Without Labor Standards Won’t Transition the EconomyPRISONS & POLICINGCapitol Police Knew Trump’s Mob Would Attack Congress But Were Unprepared AnywayENVIRONMENT & HEALTHFossil Fuel Phase Out Must Begin Where the Industry Has Hurt People the MostENVIRONMENT & HEALTHResuscitating Normalcy Will Kill Us. What We Need Is a Just Recovery. ECONOMY & LABORDem Senators Propose New Standards to Permanently Increase Unemployment BenefitsENVIRONMENT & HEALTHVaccines Are Still Overwhelmingly Our Best Weapon Against COVID

The national and global vaccination effort to combat COVID-19 suffered a notable setback on Monday morning. According to The New York Times, production of the vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson has been put on hold over health concerns for those who have already received this specific inoculation.

“Federal health officials on Tuesday called for a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, saying they are reviewing reports of six U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in people after receiving the vaccine,” reports the Times. “All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination, according to a statement issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

While officials from those agencies state these occurrences are “extremely rare,” they have recommended that anyone who has received the Johnson & Johnson injection who experiences severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of being vaccinated should contact their doctor.

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Later on Monday morning, the Biden administration announced that all vaccination sites in the U.S. will temporarily suspend the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The FDA and CDC held a press conference on Monday seeking to assure the population that the risk to them is extremely low, and that all steps are being taken to address the issue. Some 190 million doses have been administered to date, according to the CDC (although many of these still require a future second shot). The number of people adversely affected so far, while of great concern, is a fantastically small fraction out of the main.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been popular for a number of reasons. It requires only one injection to reach maximum protection — around 86 percent — and does not require the deep cold storage of vaccinations manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. This makes it easier to bring to recipients in remote and rural areas of the country. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine appeared to be the optimal choice for the vaccination of children, whenever that next stage is deemed safe, because of its one-shot effectiveness.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet tomorrow to discuss the significance of these developments, and investigations will continue. “Until that process is complete,” reads the FDA and CDC statement, “we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution. This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the second to confront issues of blood clotting in patients. The vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca has spent the last several weeks wrestling with blood clotting issues within its own vaccine program. “In Europe, at least 222 suspected cases have been reported among 34 million people who have received their first dose of the [AstraZeneca] vaccine. More than 30 have died,” reports the journal Science.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, called Vaxzevira, is currently being analyzed to see if it might be safer for use in specific groups, such as older people. Some countries are limiting the use of Vaxzevira to that group, and in the meantime, work continues to determine whether this vaccine should continue to be used.The number of people adversely affected so far, while of great concern, is a fantastically small fraction out of the main.

“Researchers stress that the troubles by no means spell Vaxzevria’s end,” continues Science. “In the vast majority of cases, its benefits outweigh the risks, and the cheap and easy to store vaccine is still the best hope for vaccinating large numbers of people in low- and middle-income countries. And some scientists suggest a simple strategy could reduce the risk while stretching supplies: Cut the vaccine dose in half.”

The concerns over the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines will not have a significant impact in the U.S., which is flush with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Globally, however, the clotting issue could become an anchor on the effort to inoculate the world against COVID.

“Between them,” reports the Guardian, “the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines were the best chance for many developing countries. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is being produced at no profit and is easy to transport and store at room temperature. That was deliberate — the university and the company have pledged to make it highly accessible. The J&J vaccine is the other great hope, because it is given as one dose, not two, cutting the cost and making it easier for countries with shaky health systems to mass-vaccinate.”

There have been no reports of these types of side effects in the vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna, each of which uses the new mRNA technology as the basis for their effectiveness.

Certainly, the developments with Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca are not something anyone wants to hear at this juncture. Vaccines have provided the first real sense of hope for many people in more than a year, and flies in the ointment are not welcome.

Moreover, anti-vaccination advocates will use this pause as a weapon to frighten an already-spooked population. I dread what Tucker Carlson and that lot over at Fox News will do to distort this situation, but the moment speaks to a far larger concern regarding mass media’s ability to successfully deliver the actual facts in this post-Trump/post-truth age.

“I am extremely skeptical of the ability of public messaging to disaggregate ‘the J&J vaccine is under review as a precaution’ from ‘the J&J vaccine is not safe and the others may not be either’ in the minds of normal people,” tweeted Media Matters for America Senior Fellow Matthew Gertz early Monday morning.“An incredibly crucial, high-stakes test for the press.”

We shall see.

More than 190 million individual doses of COVID-19 have been injected in this country as of today. The percentage of side effects has been astonishingly low, while the rate of effectiveness has exceeded even the wildest dreams of the researchers who developed them. By orders of magnitude, COVID-19 is more deadly than any of the vaccines crafted to destroy it.

I am deeply grateful for having received my inoculation. I still wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash my hands like a surgeon on his way to remove an appendix. Because of the variants that are still out there, and because understanding of how long these vaccines work is still under study, I am not starry-eyed about the Band-Aid on my arm. But I am safer than I was, and as this vaccination technology develops, we will all become safer still if we participate.

I am comforted by my inoculation, and careful, because I believe in science but nothing is perfect. As soon as possible, you should get the shots. Once you do, be mindful of yourself, and go to a doctor with any concerns if you can. We are into a fourth-wave inflection point with COVID. This is no time to disdain the best weapon we have in this fight.

US ‘heading into troubled waters’ with China, Russia and Iran

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/us-relations-china-troubled-waters-pillsbury

1 day ago

Wall Street Journal article says China’s message to America is that they’re ‘equal’

By Joshua Q. Nelson | Fox News

https://static.foxnews.com/static/orion/html/video/iframe/vod.html?v=20210412161329#uid=fnc-embed-1

The U.S. warns against ‘increasingly aggressive’ China

Michael Pillsbury, Director for Chinese Strategy at the Hudson Institute, joined ‘America’s Newsroom’ to weigh in on China ‘aggressive’ impact, calling it a ‘dangerous situation that the Biden team is very much aware of.’

The threat the United States faces from China is “troubling,” The Hudson Institute’s Michael Pillsbury told “America’s Newsroom,” warning about Russia and Iran acting in concert with Beijing.  

“The Chinese, in their comments on the Biden administration, say that there are two factions, there’s kind of a continuity with President Trump group that wants to be tough or even tougher on China. But there’s also a softer group that wants to cooperate, work together on climate change,” said the author of “Hundred Year Marathon.”

Pillsbury explained further that China notices the “split” within the Biden administration, adding that he’s worried about China’s “saber-rattling about Taiwan.” 

BLINKEN ADMITS COVID-19 ‘GOT OUT OF HAND FASTER’ BECAUSE OF CHINAVideo

Pillsbury reacted to a piece by the Wall Street Journal detailing China’s message toward the United States that they are “equal.” The piece titled, “China’s Message to America: We’re An Equal Now” goes in-depth on China’s plans to challenge the United States as the “global leader.” 

“As Biden administration officials expected in their first meeting with Chinese counterparts, Yang Jiechi, Mr. Xi’s top foreign-policy aide, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi asked them to roll back Trump-era policies targeting China. Beijing wanted to restore the kind of recurring “dialogue” Washington sees as a waste of time, say U.S. and Chinese officials briefed on the Alaska meeting,” the piece says.

The piece went on to say, “Mr. Yang also delivered a surprise: a 16-minute lecture about America’s racial problems and democratic failings. The objective, say Chinese officials, was to make clear that Beijing sees itself as an equal of the U.S. He also warned Washington against challenging China over a mission Beijing views as sacred—the eventual reunification with Taiwan.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPVideo

Pillsbury said that though a “global world order” was set up by the United States in 1945, the Russians and Chinese want to challenge that world order.

“This is a strange challenge coming from these two powers. And when they bring in Iran, I mean, Iran is the source of their oil and gas. It’s got a lot of money to buy weapons. They see it as the main way to tie down the Americans in the Middle East.”

Pillsbury concluded, “So we’re heading into troubled waters.”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said Sunday on Fox News that China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are the “new axis of evil” and that the communist regime in Beijing is “testing the Biden administration.” 

Russia warns U.S. to stay away for its “own good” as Ukraine standoff intensifies

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/russia-ukraine-united-states-standoff-fears/

BY ALEXANDRA ODYNOVA

APRIL 14, 2021 / 11:07 AM / CBS NEWShttps://www.cbsnews.com/embed/video/?v=61af7d535a1e13becc730ea87c48b7eb#vVZtb9w2DP4rhj8O0Vnyuw8YhmTttm5tkTXNhy4uDnqh77TYlmHZdwmK%2FPdRtu%2BSZgMKDG0RJJEliqQekg%2F5yefjYLqa3%2FvroR%2FhzN9rBcZff%2FL1AI311zef%2FOG%2BA3%2Ft743yz3ytcFnwTNGcAxG5SElM84TwSgKpqioqYpWkMg9Rtunu3kH1yt14U4e3H36t%2FtoIPbwMmw9QbdI3v3dSh%2Be%2F3P%2FZXaO0rcctSo63Pdet5i3hrSLD2N9quyNdDxY9awdLlLZytJb02up2SwZorTatJQc97EiPJ5qjtkEPtfP6Z9NK6FvrcWHGwXs3nbfe0BvTWZRTcItSuKjGuj5euj764KEP3vvZB%2B%2FRB2%2FxwZt98I4%2BeM6HxQaqlLw1rZa8fv919Q66ATvwpvPXLGU5zcI0TSml%2BJqx5wPe8NdJnj5%2BvuYCarRPi3WcooJ6%2Fm7xyRjRhm%2FBupBbF6ndMHR2XQZlIIVt4WCjFS402hu0XEnTlMFuFGWgy6Avg5CGrAxoXAaMlkFFGWSyCgmkXJCYi5iItEgJK0JVUCaSIs3KYNiNjWi5rssgjeldlOJNYCDDnIm8kAWXRSUqVgDNcq4SwWjCZ29INTo8yNfIEXJyg6R5kYQFWZxZ%2Fd1tEaPdf4LBviEYLMzpXRbi1SiPElHEWSriLONVklGIVMKSTEWhUFHxvdF4OPNR3V7D4bqvP4PFdrWWsOJNvV1pUwa8Qyj2If46HimDL9V9GSyKy8A%2Fkc8T%2FV1v1AqZZzpZLUGYgV8%2B0BRCv6vtc%2FxZnkd5ksYJSykiNj0r20yCDbcD9KsmGvOj1fC7m61M3%2FABzfLOgTgVahnckaaD7fW71ygxPgP7cDh87ssC8tdIgAl%2FbV81nXFO%2BuuK1xb7AXYHLad%2B4Ooh51Em00QQKVRMYiEFEVSlpBIUuAyzgmX5I5U7X10laeh5L3fYY27mvY%2BYT7xH19477W95MzH1xdXbp9IX9%2FPBzXzyEZMQOm2Nwj2GNoBbR3Q%2BcwZh26C6%2BWDs3NPt6Qm8rs%2BlxJ2L2sjbE%2B3Zawv91Sis7LUAdRK3HUJj%2BqPcDu7OX0DFx9rFip7hjz%2FtXjzuRsVZnJwlhePmnstbBNlBhjGy0vQwrTHBIkoT6nhZxst7l0i6XpHi1g%2FOJH60dmOHzdah4oI97%2FBuw91735bB%2BUlGOvN7ydhpxw7PdD8gcM14d9mbDvrh%2Fg%2FAOPhhnIHiSRqxTLEkLuKChVHEo9R%2FwOA0MPCpIeBrBtjeuzXu7Yya0xVaNald4lwBx6QDRaTrN%2BDGhGVmQPuIpovMY0fGJbIELk75e7fDUpKmrkHORXC6hiz6THcZ%2FKTtpjbbLaiNbn%2Bkjpyegq7ty5aL2gV0nmh4j1xdw%2FmI%2FvduGLnxaZUo7C8xTi0FI3FRKZKHgpIkZ3GGIw0XWeaS9LOrx2zkNdxhnfXcM%2Bq%2BNXv%2BRHKadTJeRBCrkNAkxCKJsVKwp3ECCqk7p2EYYwqfrlyO4gU%2BzMUEeYTQmLDIY%2FE6TNdJ%2Bih2HCHmavUO3M0048quvMF42I%2FuPX7AP0gqnsZBovTNofW2xqjS9zhKThQBTrJVpqo83U4sUGmwT4wco%2BYOh82y67LzFJwZwAgyHrEU3yRTSpDrKBEZhETwJIdKQS7VBODjvSN6R0c0zmBj3xhdOzmFPUAezSuwt0g7Ex%2B9gL1DxneEsT0KuJrYuPnUVT7%2B%2F007wrrxD6avlVPnNq9muyg%2Bb8%2B7iwbkB1fleg%2FeAYS%2F0NwUvZRmSYUjLcmSXBHG8FWFYhhMyvIKck6poMcLC3MdDdS60Vh98QnPKzP2EmYm9JZKFj1G4LLmg%2BP%2FyeJC6Rvn3%2Bbx8e5zMbBIOLPAaz02LtGxR1W6fnLsLqAItA4y18FcaZxm0Oed%2B1%2FNZO5qyziwhImMLSpVxA08YMkxewhWZW%2BnltGA0vzSoG0Ee0G3Bq6WiH0jq071gs3%2FVTFxzxfd%2B7od9uHhHw%3D%3D

Moscow — Russia warned the United States on Tuesday against sending warships to the Black Sea, urging American forces to stay away from the annexed Crimean peninsula “for their own good” as the situation along Ukraine’s border caused increasing concern in the West. The U.S. Secretary of State, meeting with Ukrainian and NATO officials in Brussels, made it clear that the Biden administration, along with its allies in Europe, has Ukraine’s back and considers Russia’s ongoing military buildup in the region “very provocative.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Friday that Washington had informed Ankara that two U.S. warships would pass through Turkish waters this week to be deployed in the Black Sea. The deployment would come amid a significant escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukraine’s forces, which have U.S. and European support.

Hostilities first flared in 2014 when Russia unilaterally annexed Crimea — a peninsula that sticks out into the Black Sea and is home to a Russian navy base — away from Ukraine, drawing condemnation from the Western world and a series of sanctions. 

Ukraine map after Crimean crisis 2014
GETTY/ISTOCKPHOTO

Russian Deputy Foreign Ministry Sergei Ryabkov was cited by Russian news agencies on Tuesday as calling the deployment of U.S. warships in the Black Sea a provocation designed to test Russia’s nerves.https://www.cbsnews.com/newsletters/widget/e879?v=61af7d535a1e13becc730ea87c48b7eb&view=compact#tVNNb9swDP0rgs5RYjt2%2FHHr0AHbZSjQ7bQMAS3RrVBFMiQ5XlH0v49KnLbYccAuhv34yEc%2B0i%2FcjVE7G3j3wlE6hbzj2NQtX%2FGTxpm%2BpDuOICMBows6kQm8CQEj%2B%2BTUM39d8ehBPmn7kIro8NlCb1DxLvoJVxx81NLgzRQfnf9K8E%2BeDZXKWywFDG0uynZQoin6TFRNXtZNv4O%2Brvmvv1K%2FwRFTMhj8DVZ5YKRu3Qk%2BMFN5XkO7xVIVIquKUpSlKkULEgQqtW2brChKmvIt5W7qbyGmsYusyEVWinzL8rIrdl21e6d919Ekkp9C0MBm8DawaR3WLDoWIjwzmOkxOM90DGzP3WzZg3NqzxkQ88mDtpiYVrlhYNpGtEEPGsMHkecRz46nYDwsKMWlMwZl8v5i4BZr2OY7mknuMlFWeSb6GgvRQ9XgoLCR6mzge97VvWsj2rI4%2BaPTJvEUnrS8yisMT9GNJKvDLZ6SM2n58HAlWJzDQUc8EkwXgV80%2BlR7dt6oVC6B9xddol%2FgC7pU8BhGOjp9QjZjTzHS0%2FK8vV1WV0OZNaKuGiXynKZqVU7LzPJmwAayrM%2BuCZeh3gSmgH4RAEvSK270UUfelW8O37vJy7PHfWBpDiL1nnZyZyDS8o7nHih4njF1fHi3I30ukgsjNYJg9HRMpz96N2jzIZwSiII2mUhRlX4WmXrTEswPbwh%2BjHEM3X6z38zzvF4S1%2FTT7Tfpbb%2B5XJxYFicmS0WVoEOKGMT1nsSA4Im8LOo%2Fll4M%2BLcSr69%2FAA%3D%3D

“There is absolutely nothing for American ships to be doing near our shores,” Ryabkov said, warning there was a very high risk of unspecified incidents if U.S. military hardware were to be positioned in the Black Sea.

“We warn the United States that it will be better for them to stay far away from Crimea and our Black Sea coast,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying. “It will be for their own good.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby declined during a regular press briefing on Friday to confirm the Turkish government’s statement that U.S. warships were being sent to the Black Sea. He noted that the U.S. “routinely” operates in the Black Sea, but said he wouldn’t “speak to operations.”

UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CONFLICT
Ukrainian servicemen hold a position on the frontline with Russia backed separatists near small city of Marinka, Donetsk region on April 12, 2021.STR/AFP/GETTY

The current escalation has added strain to already tense U.S.-Russian relations. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Russia against aggressive actions in an interview aired over the weekend, saying any aggression in Ukraine would have consequences.

Ukraine in Turmoil 

Ryabkov responded on Tuesday, accusing the Russian “adversary” of trying to undermine Russia’s position on the international stage. He reiterated Russia’s readiness to defend the interests of its citizens, and ethnic Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was preparing itself in the event any new sanctions should be imposed on Moscow by the U.S. or its global partners.

Shmel-class gunboat of the Russian Navy's Caspian Flotilla sails along the Don River in Rostov-on-Don
A Shmel-class gunboat of the Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla sails past a cruise ship on the Don River during the inter-fleet move from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, April 13, 2021.SERGEY PIVOVAROV/REUTERS

Meanwhile, Russia has continued to move forces into both Crimea and the region along its border with Ukraine. The Defense Ministry reported on Tuesday that 15 warships and vessels of the Caspian Flotilla had been sent to the Black Sea as part of previously announced military exercises.

Ukraine said earlier this week that Russia had already massed more than 40,000 troops along its border, and at least 40,000 more in Crimea. Russia says the troop buildup is part of exercises, and has stressed that its forces will go where they want, when they want on Russian territory.WATCH MOREWill Mitt Romney challenge Trumpfor president?SKIP AD

“Very provocative action”

Top U.S. officials are in Europe this week, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Blinken. Austin announced during a stop in Germany on Tuesday that the U.S. was going to deploy an additional 500 troops to that country. 

When asked if the move was meant as a message to Russia, he said it was “a sign to NATO” of the U.S. commitment to the transatlantic alliance, and of the firm commitment to Germany. Under President Donald Trump, Washington said it would withdraw thousands of the American forces who’ve been stationed in Germany for decades. That decision was suspended by the Biden administration, and now the force is set to grow.

Blinken, meanwhile, was in Brussels, meeting NATO partners, and he met separately with his Ukrainian counterpart to discuss the standoff with Russia.

“The United States stands firmly behind the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and I’m her to reaffirm that with the foreign minister today,” Blinken said. “That’s particularly important in a time when we’re seeing, unfortunately, Russia take very provocative action when it comes to Ukraine. We’re now seeing the largest concentration of Russian forces on Ukraine’s border since 2014. That is a big concern not only to Ukraine, but to the United States and indeed to many of our allies and partners.”   

BELGIUM-UKRAINE-US-DIPLOMACY
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) meets with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (L) in Brussels on April 13, 2021.JOHANNA GERON/POOL/AFP/GETTY

Sitting across from him, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the Russian buildup was “taking place not only along the border of Ukraine, but along the border of the democratic world. For thousands of kilometers to the north and to the east of our border with Russia, there is no democracy. So, this is the struggle that is taking place between democracies and authoritarianism, and in this struggle the support of the United States is absolutely crucial, and deeply appreciated.”

Kuleba thanked NATO, also, and said that warnings already conveyed to Moscow through diplomatic channels, “will be supported by actions that make it very clear for Russia that the price of further aggression against Ukraine will be too heavy for it to bear.”

He said the Ukrainian and U.S. delegations in Brussels, and more broadly the NATO allies at large, would continue discussing ways to ensure stability along his country’s tense border with Russia.https://www.cbsnews.com/embed/video/?v=61af7d535a1e13becc730ea87c48b7eb#1VZta%2BS2Fv4rxtD7oURjye8eWErSTenSNKSbDffSuBhZkmfU2JaR5JlJl%2Fz3e2R7Jmm2sOyWfmiG2LJ0js77c85Hn45WDS199NcNbY0483eSC%2BWvP%2FrSis746%2FuPvn0chL%2F2d4r7Z77ksCyKKElYTlCRRAWKo5ohGjYhyqM64VmBCS0Y0HbD4b1o3k0cd9Ze3J5fqt9%2F6fBl8tMFHyrT%2FXi1j%2F%2F43%2FbX6hGoTTtugHJEBnWylZbqR0QlRxR11FqhkWqQGfVO7miLZI%2FGB01lL4DTSts6De9WtyvvyOsBr0e9mddTjXfk9WTv3T3o1WoFrFw8ACMsmrFtv%2BqeRQdGe9VLRtsPf%2BMSKzthLO0Gf02SLMUhiUIMf6DnqKmVqoeD9MXnFa1FC8JwuI4xXNDO3z0YA6Hq6EYYF0vjQrC1djDrMigDVpte7E20goUEeVayFVNdGWzHugxkGegyCDEpyoCE8E%2FKIMpyTBjPIeAxBDxsYliFGIVxE2dRQljMmjKw27GreyrbMkhjfIhSXAaC0prjIk1TXBQZ4VmTigRMiuKiThirnQyCkTjF04V8L9tW0s4gUhQhTjBarlv9PmzAyu1fmkP%2BQXNImONDFoI9cI%2FgOClSwmpc0IbmYZLWEY%2FDmiSUsi%2B35%2BnMH7TYSbG%2F0%2B2fDDNDK5lY0a7drKQqAzqAMTuwYSrSMvhcUZXBcnEZ%2BKfKfnH%2Ffr9fLc6bHTYLAAc1shVWGQOmf2fUqJl4IwfKkbFa0E72m%2F8M1G7ffBP%2B0AkuqXsPB3g6N8OLhO6B3SNNkpTgOEryjEwnBFeX19WS8%2BeSV%2F99d3X17vzn2%2Br95c3V%2BfeX1eykqLK0Bi1WXTTmR%2FXDf6%2F%2BjdJQ%2FqA%2FHVxYp%2FItgwPqBrG5e38FFOOr8H9i3hL2L0XIKfrSvOsGZYDqBPWA%2FJJNUO%2FqKcJJTuskR1mSc0SICFHBSYgwJnkjcopxjZ9RWuxED25ETjlXkVJoqtkW%2Bsj98cybzn6D7KZa9PaDk3ZNO4eN31%2FcepcL1fWrGy4eZ6L7T6l%2Bg1IRgzSKwzkBXQQ1DhJ94hQTmw7EzAfjAJlvzMlU2rbnjMHORavYwwkgzZ0R%2BnasDdOyFvxEbgbVG6WPdFtxOH8rGjq2Ln74DH7%2BtHvxvBsVZ3FylhQOxTVlD6C0cy3EzTClxbSG7I0wlH%2BeQr%2BIZz9cL9F1LSSFrW%2BdSPjoTWVstXHeWnwMO3SoqLP3ugzOTzTMid8xQk47xr66%2B%2BnJNajBpZz5sk5w5Po82Kwor6tD53TvxsONVoPQ9vEnASnhh3EmOE3SiGScAOTGBQmjiEap%2FwT50QlLpy4FjrNi8%2BjWsLdVfK4W0fPJgiX1pipAaic0zC1oUMPYUu3cPo8poD5Ez2XC82AAS4AGWJxq6LCFpsBU2wo2F%2BKJbSF5LQCARJqqVZuN4JXs32CH2y8jLc1l7woelLZ6dDmnwZutOB%2FBEu2GoHsfNwmH%2FhEj2hQExUXDUR7WGCU5ibO8TmmdZa5i%2FsR6LAfaigPtuaae4o%2B92tEXlNOMldEiEjGHkk3CGMUxh65GGUWC86jIcRjG3A0ZC8vNWL8Fd7vowJyBcIxI5JF4HabrJH0mO44zejRGUm9PdW%2B8cWVWnlUeZAyMNnt4ALp50hqv9NW%2B9zZK8dL3KFDOEOQoe66aBuYdK3ojGynMCyHH0LlDWy27riROEZodGImMRiQFm1iKUZxAp60zQKqaJrlouMgZnxz4zHf03lERmLfsqDslW0fHoT2yo3guzANg4gSWb8XOecZ36LU5ErhSqdxc7OAG3j9Kh6b3%2Fl7plrvr3ObtLBfI5%2B15d7kBQMlBi9wJby9qf8HgKXopzpImxp%2FDX%2FsCRo8CRkCxRYCbQt0cKDsJIBCfPHw7NUHn49p4C6DUGmJy01LrWtOkwwIHldO4enaH%2B1xELhROEUFbOXYu9QetXMN9PnYMQCJ650Q45f7Tiwn59ZjzSZ9zK5japow7NjE09nCp6%2BCQtAYd8wk1gmozdbipk98okA3uX9whOgfrcxD%2FIbHu6sU5X3vFBDifVe%2Fru%2F%2FT0%2F8B

While no NATO deployments have been confirmed, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed the alliance was planning to position 40,000 more troops and 15,000 pieces of military equipment close to Russian territory. He didn’t elaborate, but said that “in response to the military activity of the alliance that threatens Russia, we have taken appropriate measures.” 

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier on Tuesday that he was “seriously concerned” by Russia’s deployment of additional forces to the Ukrainian border.

“Russia is now trying to reestablish some kind of sphere of influence where they try to decide what neighbors can do,” Stoltenberg said. 

CBSNews.com’s Tucker Reals contributed to this report.

Neighbors and anglers cry foul over Sunoco’s pollution of Chester County trout stream

Exposing the Big Game

Sunoco construction site behind the Meadowbrook Manor development in West Whiteland Township. Muddy water continues to flow and pollute the West Valley Creek, a stocked trout stream. (Susan Phillips / WHYY)
Sunoco construction site behind the Meadowbrook Manor development in West Whiteland Township. Muddy water continues to flow and pollute the West Valley Creek, a stocked trout stream. (Susan Phillips / WHYY)

Easter Sunday brought more than chocolate bunnies and spring blossoms to the Meadowbrook Manor neighborhood of West Whiteland Township. Retired schoolteacher Libby Madarasz says one of her neighbors noticed muddy water flowing from beneath a barrier to Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline construction site. It filled a wetland behind the Chester County Library, across from Exton Square mall, where the clay-like runoff continues to pollute a tributary to West Valley Creek.

Madarasz says she and her neighbors are fed up with the noise from Sunoco’s trucks and construction operations, and the fear that they could lose their homes if continued work causes more sinkholes.

Libby Madarasz, a resident of Meadowbrook Manor, surveys the damage caused by…

View original post 1,021 more words

“PLASTICS NOW SPIRAL AROUND THE GLOBE”

Earth

Getty ImageTARA YARLAGADDA4.12.2021 12:56 PM

MICROPLASTICS can be thought of as litter that never, ever goes away. New research into this seemingly invisible pollution shows just how durable they can be as they go from land to sea to air and back again.

Every day, microplastics — often smaller than the head of a sewing needle — infiltrate our oceans, our seafood, and even our own bodies. Now, scientists say the problem is more extreme than previously realized.MORE LIKE THISSCIENCE4.2.2021 3:30 AMTHE ASTEROID THAT KILLED DINOSAURS CAUSED THE BIRTH OF SOMETHING GREATBy SHAENA MONTANARISCIENCE3.30.2021 4:00 PMSCIENTISTS REVEAL THE STRANGE CAUSE BEHIND A “BIBLICAL PLAGUE” IN LAS VEGASBy TARA YARLAGADDASCIENCE4.9.2021 7:10 AMSEASPIRACY FACT CHECK: A MARINE SCIENTIST DEBUNKS THE CONTROVERSIAL NETFLIX DOCBy JAKE KLEINMANEARN REWARDS & LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY.SUBMIT

In a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, researchers suggest atmospheric microplastics — bits of fibers and fragments in the air — can re-enter the atmosphere, even if they’ve already settled on land or water.

Three striking findings are:

  1. 84 percent of atmospheric microplastics in the western U.S originate from road dust.
  2. The greatest concentration of atmospheric microplastics is estimated to be over the ocean.
  3. While Antarctica contributes no microplastic emissions, it’s still polluted by microplastics.

WHAT’S NEW — Co-author Natalie Mahowald is a Cornell University professor whose specialty is Earth and atmospheric science. While previous research shows microplastics can reach remote parts of Earth — far away from their origin — this study provides new and alarming data, Mahowald tells Inverse.

“Our paper suggests that not only are microplastics getting to remote regions, but they are being resuspended from the ocean, agricultural regions, or roads into the atmosphere,” Mahowald says.

Microplastic particles in atmospheric dust.Janice Brahney

Furthermore, Mahowald and colleagues found approximately 1 gigagram (Gg) of microplastic sits in the atmosphere over the western United States. For context, 1 gigagram equals 1,000,000 kilograms.

The study team found three sources that contribute to the pervasiveness of microplastics in the atmosphere above the western U.S.: roads, the ocean, and dust from agricultural production.

  • The largest contributor to microplastics was roads (84 percent)
  • The second-highest contributor was oceans (11 percent)
  • The final and least contributing source was agricultural dust (5 percent)

On average, the study suggests particles linger in the atmosphere for different periods of time, ranging anywhere from an hour to 6.5 days. This depends on the size and source of the microplastic.

A figure from the study illustrating how microplastics enter the atmosphere.

HOW THEY DID IT — To measure microplastic abundance, the team sourced information collected by data stations throughout the western United States for 14 months.

Armed with this data, the scientists modified atmospheric models to determine where atmospheric microplastics were coming from, their time spent in the atmosphere, and where they accumulated above Earth’s surface.

They also examined the size of microplastics, dividing them up by big, medium, and small particles (though they used the medium-sized particles as their baseline for reference).

They included only microparticles that were bigger than 4μm (micrometers), as smaller particles can be harder to track and measure. Four micrometers is 0.004 millimeters.

For comparison, the head of a sewing needle ranges from half a millimeter to 1 millimeter, so microparticles really can be quite tiny.

Finally, the scientists applied their model to a global context to understand the bigger impact of microplastics in the atmosphere.

Microplastic particles in atmospheric dust.Janice Brahney

DIGGING INTO THE DETAILS — While previous research already found microplastics can enter Earth’s atmosphere, this data provides new insight into the range of sources contributing to the polluted spread.

“Our combination of model and data suggest that those microplastics may well come from not only road sources, but also agricultural dust and oceans,” Mahowald says.

Critically, roads may not specifically contribute to atmospheric microplastics. Instead, it’s more about plastic particles are being carried — through winds or other means — and being deposited on roads, including roads that are far from human cities.

Tires driving over these roads then break down plastic particles — which would otherwise be too big to ascend into the atmosphere — into finer microplastics, enabling them to be launched into the atmosphere.

However, we can’t discount the important role that oceans play in circulating microplastics, the study argues. “Most continents were net importers of plastics from the marine environment, underscoring the cumulative role of legacy pollution in the atmospheric burden of plastic,” the scientists write.

A figure from the study demonstrating distribution of microplastics around the globe. Oceans are a high depositing area for microplastics.

WHY IT MATTERS — Ultimately, the team found microplastics could wind up far from their original dumping site. The research suggests the greatest concentration of atmospheric plastics is above the ocean, while Antarctica was found to have its own microplastic pollution — despite being so far from the actual creation of microplastics.

“The idea that microplastics are being resuspended means that all the unmanaged plastics we are accidentally dumping into the ocean or on land could be ending up in other remote regions,” Mahowald says.

Furthermore, Mahowald’s research suggests microplastic pollution is increasing. And while recent research found microplastics in the placenta of unborn children, we still don’t really know how microplastics affect health.

“Given these preliminary findings, the accumulation and transport of microplastics in the natural environment may have negative and as yet unknown consequences for ecosystems and human health,” the study team writes.

A figure from the study showing the microplastics by size. Smaller microplastics constitute a greater share of the mass.

WHAT’S NEXT — The researchers write that their study “leads to more questions than it definitively answers.”

Some of these questions have to do with constraints in the data. The study relies on data from the western U.S, which means that there’s a high degree of uncertainty about the application of these findings on a global scale. As the study authors put it, “plastics now spiral the globe.”

For example, the authors suggest that plastic is used more in road materials in Europe and Asia than in the U.S. — which could alter the degree of plastics entering the atmosphere from roads. The researchers also hypothesize that Africa and Asia are the largest global source of plastic, so further studies are required on these continents specifically.

Different agricultural practices around the globe — such as greater use of plastic mulch in China’s agricultural fields — could lead to a bigger release of microplastics into the atmosphere in those regions. Meanwhile, coastal areas may face a greater atmospheric concentration of microplastics from ocean spray. Changing ocean currents could also affect the distribution of microplastics.

Ultimately, the team argues that our “relative ignorance” should spur us to improve plastic waste management and technologies that can capture and remove plastics from the ocean.

Abstract: Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental and social issues of the 21st century. Recent work has highlighted the atmosphere’s role in transporting microplastics to remote locations’S. Allen et al., Nat. Geosci.12, 339 (2019) and J. Brahney, M. Hallerud, E. Heim, M. Hahnenberger, S. Sukumaran,Science368, 1257–1260(2020)]. Here, we use in situ observations of microplastic deposition combined with an atmospheric transport model and optimal estimation techniques to test hypotheses of the most likely sources of atmospheric plastic. Results suggest that atmospheric microplastics in the western United States are primarily derived from secondary re-emission sources including roads (84%), the ocean (11%), and agricultural soil dust (5%). Using our best estimate of plastic sources and modeled transport pathways, most continents were net importers of plastics from the marine environment, underscoring the cumulative role of legacy pollution in the atmospheric burden of plastic. This effort uses high-resolution spatial and temporal deposition data along with several hypothesized emission sources to constrain atmospheric plastic. Akin to global biogeochemical cycles, plastics now spiral around the globe with distinct atmospheric, oceanic, cryospheric, and terrestrial residence times. Though advancements have been made in the manufacture of biodegradable polymers, our data sug-gest that extant nonbiodegradable polymers will continue to cycle through the earth’s systems. Due to limited observations and understanding of the source processes, there remain large uncertainties in the transport, deposition, and source attribution of microplastics. Thus, we prioritize future research directions for understanding the plastic cycle.