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Russia tells NATO to leave eastern Europe | Illawarra Mercury


Michael_Novakhov
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from Illawarra Mercury – The Border Mail Local News.

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news, politics

Russia says it wants to negotiate a legally binding guarantee that the NATO military alliance would give up any military activity in eastern Europe and Ukraine. The demands form a package that Russia says is an essential requirement for lowering tensions in Europe and defusing a crisis over Ukraine, which other countries have accused Russia of sizing up for a potential attack – something it has denied. They also contained elements – such as an effective Russian veto on NATO membership for Ukraine – that the US and its allies have already ruled out. Presenting the demands in detail for the first time, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters that Russia and NATO must start from a clean sheet in rebuilding relations. “The line pursued by the United States and NATO over recent years to aggressively escalate the security situation is absolutely unacceptable and extremely dangerous,” he said. “Washington and its NATO allies should immediately stop regular hostile actions against our country, including unscheduled exercises… and manoeuvres of military ships and planes, and stop the military development of Ukrainian territory.” Sam Greene, professor of Russian politics at King’s College London, said on Twitter that President Vladimir Putin was “drawing a line around the post-Soviet space and planting a ‘keep out’ sign”. “It’s not meant to be a treaty: it’s a declaration,” he said. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean this is a prelude to war. It’s a justification for keeping Moscow’s hair-trigger stance, in order to keep Washington and others off balance. Question is, how long can that be maintained, before it loses its efficacy?” Ryabkov said Russia was not willing to put up with the current situation any more. He urged the United States to take the proposals seriously and come up with a constructive response fast. Ryabkov said Russia was ready to start talks as soon as Saturday, with Geneva a possible venue, and that its negotiating team was ready. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States had seen the proposals and was speaking to allies. “There will be no talks on European security without our European allies and partners,” Psaki told reporters. Russian news agency TASS quoted Ryabkov as saying later that his government was extremely disappointed by the signals coming from the United States and NATO. Russia handed over its proposals to the US earlier this week amid soaring tensions over a build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine. It says it is responding to what it sees as threats to its own security from Ukraine’s increasingly close relations with NATO and aspirations to join the alliance although there is no imminent prospect of Ukraine being allowed to join. The Russian proposals were set out in two documents – a draft agreement with NATO countries and a draft treaty with the United States, both published by the foreign ministry. Important points of the two documents include: – To rule out further NATO expansion and Ukraine’s accession to the alliance – Not to deploy additional troops and weapons outside the countries in which they were in May 1997 (before any eastern European countries joined the alliance) except in exceptional cases with the consent of Russia and NATO members – To abandon any NATO military activities in Ukraine, eastern Europe, the Caucasus and central Asia – Not to deploy intermediate and shorter-range missiles where they can hit the territory of the other side – Not to conduct exercises with more than one military brigade in an agreed border zone, and to regularly exchange information about military exercises – To confirm that the parties do not consider each other as adversaries, and agree to resolve all disputes peacefully and refrain from the use of force – To commit not to create conditions that might be perceived as a threat by the other party – To create hotlines for emergency contacts – To agree that neither Russia nor the United States may deploy nuclear weapons outside their own territories. Australian Associated Press

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Russia says it wants to negotiate a legally binding guarantee that the NATO military alliance would give up any military activity in eastern Europe and Ukraine.

The demands form a package that Russia says is an essential requirement for lowering tensions in Europe and defusing a crisis over Ukraine, which other countries have accused Russia of sizing up for a potential attack – something it has denied.

They also contained elements – such as an effective Russian veto on NATO membership for Ukraine – that the US and its allies have already ruled out.

Presenting the demands in detail for the first time, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters that Russia and NATO must start from a clean sheet in rebuilding relations.

“The line pursued by the United States and NATO over recent years to aggressively escalate the security situation is absolutely unacceptable and extremely dangerous,” he said.

“Washington and its NATO allies should immediately stop regular hostile actions against our country, including unscheduled exercises… and manoeuvres of military ships and planes, and stop the military development of Ukrainian territory.”

Sam Greene, professor of Russian politics at King’s College London, said on Twitter that President Vladimir Putin was “drawing a line around the post-Soviet space and planting a ‘keep out’ sign”.

“It’s not meant to be a treaty: it’s a declaration,” he said.

“But that doesn’t necessarily mean this is a prelude to war. It’s a justification for keeping Moscow’s hair-trigger stance, in order to keep Washington and others off balance. Question is, how long can that be maintained, before it loses its efficacy?”

Ryabkov said Russia was not willing to put up with the current situation any more.

He urged the United States to take the proposals seriously and come up with a constructive response fast.

Ryabkov said Russia was ready to start talks as soon as Saturday, with Geneva a possible venue, and that its negotiating team was ready.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States had seen the proposals and was speaking to allies.

“There will be no talks on European security without our European allies and partners,” Psaki told reporters.

Russian news agency TASS quoted Ryabkov as saying later that his government was extremely disappointed by the signals coming from the United States and NATO.

Russia handed over its proposals to the US earlier this week amid soaring tensions over a build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine.

It says it is responding to what it sees as threats to its own security from Ukraine’s increasingly close relations with NATO and aspirations to join the alliance although there is no imminent prospect of Ukraine being allowed to join.

The Russian proposals were set out in two documents – a draft agreement with NATO countries and a draft treaty with the United States, both published by the foreign ministry.

Important points of the two documents include:

– To rule out further NATO expansion and Ukraine’s accession to the alliance

– Not to deploy additional troops and weapons outside the countries in which they were in May 1997 (before any eastern European countries joined the alliance) except in exceptional cases with the consent of Russia and NATO members

– To abandon any NATO military activities in Ukraine, eastern Europe, the Caucasus and central Asia

– Not to deploy intermediate and shorter-range missiles where they can hit the territory of the other side

– Not to conduct exercises with more than one military brigade in an agreed border zone, and to regularly exchange information about military exercises

– To confirm that the parties do not consider each other as adversaries, and agree to resolve all disputes peacefully and refrain from the use of force

– To commit not to create conditions that might be perceived as a threat by the other party

– To create hotlines for emergency contacts

– To agree that neither Russia nor the United States may deploy nuclear weapons outside their own territories.

Australian Associated Press

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12/31/2021 – News Review

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5:50 AM 12/31/2021 – News Review: President Biden speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin as Ukraine tensions rise – Post Link

The New York Times @nytimes: What happens at a newspaper when there’s not very much news? At The New York Times, editors are always preparing for that situation.

5:50 AM 12/31/2021

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На конкурсе жополизов в 1937 с большим отрывом победил Сергей Михалков. Он лучше всех похвалил палача и садиста Сталина, лишившего детства миллионы детей.
Ныне его потомок, Никита Михалков, также лидирует в анналогичном конкурсе. Преемственность!

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Biden and Putin speak amid fears of Russian invasion of Ukraine.


Michael_Novakhov
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from GANNETT Syndication Service.

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WASHINGTON xe2x80x93xc2xa0President Joe Bidenxc2xa0spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin for nearly an hour Thursday amid growing concerns over Moscow’s military buildup along the border with Ukraine.xc2xa0

Biden told Putin that the United States and its allies “will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine,xe2x80x9d White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement released after the phone call.xc2xa0

A senior administration official said Biden told Putin he has two options: diplomacy leading to de-escalation or further aggression leading to xe2x80x9cserious costs and consequences.xe2x80x9d

The possible consequences include economic sanctions, adjustments of NATO forces in allied nations and additional assistance to Ukraine to defend its territory, said the official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity.

The White House has repeatedlyxc2xa0warned Russia against invading its neighborxc2xa0xe2x80x94 with a senior administration official labeling the situation a “moment of crisis” Wednesdayxc2xa0xe2x80x94 and Bidenxe2x80x99s call with Putin marked a new test of American diplomacy and leadership.xc2xa0

xe2x80x9cBiden is under pressure to show results and to show whether the United States, with its allies, can deter Russia and get it to step down from this build up,xe2x80x9d said Angela Stent, director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University.

Biden’s call with Putin lasted roughly 50 minutes, ending at 4:25 p.m. EST, according to the White House.

Russia has ramped up its military presencexc2xa0along Ukraine’s eastern border over the past several months. Biden and America’s Westernxc2xa0allies have said they will impose tough economic sanctions against Russia if its aggression against Ukraine escalates.

Ukraine declaredxc2xa0independencexc2xa0from the former Soviet Union in 1991, and it is now a fledgling democracy with a pro-Western tilt.xc2xa0U.S. foreign policy experts say it is in Americaxe2x80x99s interest to stave off Russian aggression, particularly as Putin looks to rebuild the Soviet empire.

Russia annexed thexc2xa0Crimean peninsulaxc2xa0in 2014, a swath of Ukrainianxc2xa0territory located between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The Kremlin has continued to try to undermine the countryxe2x80x99s sovereignty, militarily and in other ways.

The White House has previously said discussions with Russia would be more productive if Putin withdraws some of thexc2xa0estimated 100,000 Russian troops from Ukraine’s border.xc2xa0However, troop presence has remained consistent, worrying the White House.

What is happening at Ukraine’s border?:Putin’s buildup of Russian troops sparks concern

Biden and Putinxe2x80x99s call camexc2xa0ahead of a bilateral meeting between U.S. and Russian officials scheduled for Jan. 10.xc2xa0That same week, there will also be meetings between NATO and Russia, as well as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where Ukraine will be present.

The administration official said Biden viewed his conversation with Putin on Thursday as an opportunity to lay the groundwork for the upcoming January meetings.xc2xa0

xe2x80x9cBoth leaders acknowledged that there were likely to be areas where we could make meaningful progress,xe2x80x9d the official said.

Putin has said he wantsxc2xa0the U.S. and Western allies to not allow Ukraine to join NATO xe2x80x94 a move he argues would pose a threat to Russian security. The Russian leader has also demanded that NATO no longer station troops orxc2xa0military equipment in countries that were formerly part of thexc2xa0Soviet Union.

xe2x80x9cWe have made it clear that any further movement of NATO to the East is unacceptable,xe2x80x9d Putin said at a news conference on Dec. 23. xe2x80x9cIs there anything unclear about this? Are we deploying missiles near the US border? No, we are not. It is the United States that has come to our home with its missiles and is already standing at our doorstep.”xc2xa0

Biden held a high-stakes video teleconference with Putin earlier this month, where he emphasized that he preferred a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine. However, the president warned that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. would send additional defense resources to Ukraine and would look to deploy additional forces to fortify its NATO allies in the area.

Contributing: Michael Collins, Matthew Brown and Joey Garrison

Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_

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Russia May Underestimate Ukraine and NATO


Michael_Novakhov
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from The RAND Blog.

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Moscow has unveiled outlandish security demands which sound aggressive and suggest that it may underestimate both NATO and Ukraine. Although any new Russian invasion could be devastating, they must prepare for the possibility.

The Brezhnev-era Kremlin underestimated the West. In the late 1970s, the USSR began deploying SS-20 theater-range ballistic missiles aimed at Europe and Japan. Despite Moscow’s fierce campaign (PDF) of propaganda, disinformation, and intimidation, NATO responded by deploying in Europe missiles of comparable range. Having failed to scare NATO into submission, hidebound Soviet leaders lost face. Then a liberalizing leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, came to power and agreed with President Ronald Reagan to ban both sides’ missiles.

Soviet leaders in the xe2x80x9cera of stagnationxe2x80x9d may have believed their own false propaganda that the West was weak and disunited. Today’s Kremlin may be making the same mistake.

On December 17, Moscow publicized proposed demands which would in effect require the United States to withdraw from Europe and NATO to collapse. Only a day later, the Kremlin said it might xe2x80x9cup the ante.xe2x80x9d Nonetheless, on December 21 U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan said the United States was ready for talks in xe2x80x9cfull coordination with our European allies and partners.xe2x80x9d

In his December 23 press conference, Putin said he had xe2x80x9cso far seen a positive reactionxe2x80x9d to Moscow’s proposals, but satellite photos show that in mid-December Russia was still deploying more tanks, short-range ballistic missiles, and other arms near Ukraine.

Russia’s demands would force the United States to remove its nuclear weapons from Europe and forego deployment of theater-range missiles, even though such weapons could be deployed in European Russia. Proposed accords would ban NATO from admitting any xe2x80x9cformer Soviet republicxe2x80x9d even though NATO has rejected such a ban. They would require that NATO withdraw infrastructure in its eastern members, but the heightened Russian threat to Ukraine may spur NATO to do the opposite. Evidently anxious about popular uprisings against its rule, the Kremlin also demands a ban on xe2x80x9cactions aimed at changing the political or social order.xe2x80x9d

Putin hinted that the purpose of new unrealistic demands was to help create a justification for war.

The Kremlin knows how to negotiate constructively, as it did successfully when it achieved the New START Treaty and the Iran nuclear agreement. On December 21, President Vladimir Putin hinted that the purpose of the new unrealistic demands was to help create a justification for war: xe2x80x9cIf our Western counterparts continue a clearly aggressive line, we will undertake proportionate military-technical countermeasures.xe2x80x9d

Thus, NATO might be wise to consider that Russia could launch a wider invasion of Ukraine. Wars always bring uncertainties, but several considerations could be relevant.

First, any attempt to seize a large area east of the Dnipro River, including such cities as Karkhiv, Dnipro, and Odessa, and possibly Kyiv, would pose a major military operational challenge and take time. Looking at a notional scenario of an invasion by 130,000 Russian troops, RAND found that the operation would take xe2x80x9cweeks, if not months, to fully develop and execute.xe2x80x9d And an invasion could meet resistance and incur heavy casualties.

Second, in 2014 Russian invaders faced a disorganized but determined Ukrainian opposition, but this time they would confront a better trained, armed, and motivated fighting force. Even a Russian xe2x80x9cshock and awexe2x80x9d assaultxe2x80x94mass cyber and electronic attacks, and a multi-front combined arms operationxe2x80x94might not easily carry the day.

Ukraine’s defenses could be stressed but still slow invaders. Many Ukrainian commanders and soldiers are battle-hardened from the seven-year war in the Donbas. To reduce risks from drone attacks, some Ukrainian forces could disperse in small squads on ATVs or other mobile platforms. Equipped with precision-guided mortars, guided anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, and loitering munitions, mobile forces could frustrate some Russian battle plans.

Third, if Ukraine were at risk of being overrun or if adjacent NATO allies were threatened, NATO might intervene. As in the 1973 Yom Kippur War when Israel was threatened with potential defeat, the United States could airlift military aid. Washington has not provided Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, which could down Russian helicopters and low-flying fixed-wing aircraft, but in an extreme scenario it might do so. Although Biden says that providing U.S. troops is xe2x80x9cnot on the table,xe2x80x9d in compelling circumstances NATO could unleash formidable air and naval power.

Fourth, the Kremlin might be tempted think that fears of a widened war or of attacks by cyber weapons, long-range precision-guided missiles, or even limited use of nonstrategic nuclear forces would deter NATO from intervening militarily. These concerns might be a factor, but the alliance has prepared to respond to aggression with its own tools of coercion. For example, it could mount cyber assaults that disrupt Russia’s economy and financial system and military logistics for its fighters in Ukraine.

The Kremlin may err if it thinks Ukraine or NATO would easily submit to aggression.

Fifth, Ukraine could mount a longer-term insurgency against Russian occupiers, which might be stretched thin or rely partly on ill-trained conscripts. On December 19, The Washington Post said the Biden administration was exploring ways to aid guerillas. An insurgency might be sustainable if Ukraine west of the Dnipro River or an adjacent NATO member state were to be a sanctuary and source of resupply. At the same time, Russian reactions to armed resistance could be xe2x80x9cswift, direct, and brutal.xe2x80x9d

The Kremlin may err if it thinks Ukraine or NATO would easily submit to aggression. The hour is late, but Kremlin leaders might consider instead seeking a stable European security architecture that protects Russia’s interests while also allowing for a vibrant and sovereign Ukraine.


William Courtney is an adjunct senior fellow at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation, and was U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Georgia, and a U.S.-Soviet commission to implement the Threshold Test Ban Treaty. Peter A. Wilson is an adjunct international/defense researcher at RAND.

This commentary originally appeared on Moscow Times on December 27, 2021. Commentary gives RAND researchers a platform to convey insights based on their professional expertise and often on their peer-reviewed research and analysis.

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Denver shooting spree investigation continues; books probed


Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
from GANNETT Syndication Service.

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DENVER xe2x80x93 A Colorado police officer and a tattoo shop employee were in the hospital Thursday after a gunman injured them and fatally shot five others in a Denver-area killing spree that he foreshadowed in a dark series of self-published books.

Ashley Ferris, a three-year veteran of the Lakewood Police Department, underwent surgery at a local hospital and was in stable condition, surrounded by family, police said. Ferris confronted the gunmanxc2xa0Monday evening in a busy Lakewood shopping district, where he shot her in the abdomen.xc2xa0Ferris, on the ground, fired back, killing the man.

“All of us at the Lakewood Police Department are incredibly proud of Agent Ferris and the bravery shown by her and her fellow law enforcement officers during this active shooter situation,” Lakewood Police Chief Dan McCasky said in a statement Wednesday evening. “The entire Lakewood family will be here to support Agent Ferris and her family as she embarks on this recovery process.”

DENVER SHOOTING:Company published series of books that mirrored deadly rampage, named 2 victims

Jimmy Maldonado, a piercer at one of thexc2xa0tattoo shops targeted in the attack,xc2xa0was shot in the neck and shoulder area and remains in the hospital, he told the Denver Gazette on Wednesday.

His wife, former yoga instructor Alyssa Gunn Maldonado, 35, was killed in the shooting, along with four other people: tattoo artists Alicia Cardenas, 44, and Danny Schofield, 38;xc2xa0hotel clerk Sarah Steck, 28; and Michael Swinyard, 67.

Two of the shooter’s victims were named in a series of books published by a company he once owned. Authorities on Tuesday identified the gunman as Lyndon James McLeod, 47.

According to Colorado state business records, McLeod was the owner of Flat Black Ink, a Denver business that opened in 2005, was declared delinquent in 2017 and was listed as having a name change in 2018.

A business by the same name published a series of three books fromxc2xa02018 toxc2xa02020, according to an Amazon listing for the series and a Patreon link to an audiobook version, which were taken down Wednesday.

In the books, a main character named “Lyndon James MacLeod” brutally murders people inside a tattoo parlor along the same street as one of the shootings Monday, as well as a man named Michael Swinyard inxc2xa0a condo building near Denver’s Cheesman Park, where another of the shootings happened, according to a USA TODAY review of the books.

The character alsomurders a woman named Alicia Cardenas. He targets two more people with the same first names of two employees of Cardenas’ tattoo parlor, as well as a man with the same full name as another Denver-area tattoo artist who wasn’t killed in the attacks. The book also includes characters identified only as “Sarah” and “Danny.”

One of the tattoo parlors targeted in the shooting, World Tattoo Studio,xc2xa0now operates at the same Denver address listed for Flat Black Ink. World Tattoo owner Ian Lxc3xbctz told USA TODAY that one of the victims, Cardenas, previously owned the shop.

Denver Police are “aware” of the book series, which has become “a component of our ongoing homicide investigation,” the department told USA TODAY in a statement Wednesday.

McLeod was known to law enforcement and officers investigated him fromxc2xa0mid-2020 toxc2xa0early 2021, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen told reportersxc2xa0Tuesday. Neither investigation resulted in criminal charges, Pazen said. He would not give further details about the incidents.

McLeod had “personal” or “business” relationships with nearly all of the victims and “was targeting specific people,” Matt Clark, Denver police commander of the Major Crimes Division, said.

The incidentsxc2xa0erupted Monday evening in Denver, Clark said, when the gunman fatally shot Gunn Maldonado and Cardenas and wounded Maldonado inside Sol Tribe Tattoo & Piercing. Maldonado hid under a car in a parking lot after he was shot, he told the Denver Gazette.

Minutes later, at an address at or near another tattoo parlor, World Tattoo Studio, McLeod shot at people inside a hybrid residence-business, but no one was injured, Clark said. He then set a van on fire in the alley behind the business, Clark said.

Police received a call about the shooting, then another call minutes later, Clark said, after McLeod fatally shot Swinyard in his residence at One Cheesman Park.

McLeod was dressed as “a police officer in tactical gear with a police logo and badge and carrying a rifle” when he entered the lobby of the condo building, according toxc2xa0an email sent from property management to residents and obtained by USA TODAY.

Building manager Joshua Schroeder, who signed the email, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Asked about the email, axc2xa0spokesperson for Denver police said the department was “unable to provide further details” about the investigation.

Officers located McLeod minutes after he shot Swinyard and exchanged gunfire, but McLeod disabled the officers’ car and took off onto the highway, Clark said.

McLeod drove to Lakewood and fatally shot Schofield inside Lucky 13 Tattoo & Piercing, Lakewood Police spokesman John Romero said.

Romero said Lakewood police agents later found McLeod’s vehicle near or at a Wells Fargo bank in a busy shopping district, and officers exchanged gunfire before McLeod fled. The gunman then entered a nearby restaurant, where he threatened people with a gun but did not fire any shots or injure anyone, Romero said.

McLeod went around the corner to the nearby Hyatt House hotel, walked inside, had a “brief conversation” with the front desk worker, Steck, and shot her several times, Romero said.

Less than two minutes later, McLeod was walking through a shopping center when he encountered Ferris.

Steck, who worked at the Hyatt, was taken to the hospital Monday and died from her injuries Tuesday, police said. Police said McLeod had “previous interactions with the hotel” but not Steck, specifically.

Travis Leiker, president of Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods, told USA TODAY he was in a meeting at his organizationxe2x80x99s office and community center next to One Cheesman Parkxc2xa0when he heard the gunshots Monday.

“I heard a pop, pop, pop,” Leiker said. First responders arrived within minutes and later taped off the area, Leiker said.

“The mood in Denver is of shock and concern,” he said. “There is a feeling of not being safe in our neighborhoods.”

Leiker said he was recently informed of the existence of McLeodxe2x80x99s books from a reporter. Leiker said it was strange to read the gunmanxe2x80x99s detailed description of the alleyway between the condo building and his organizationxe2x80x99s community center.

He said it was “abundantly clear”xc2xa0there was a “breakdown of communication” between law enforcement and residents and that residents should have been informed of the “looming threat.”

“Why or how were specific people named in a manifesto and properties, including our own, were cased as part of this writing and none of us knew anything about it?”xc2xa0Leiker said.

Members of the Colorado tattooing and body piercing community said they were shocked by the shootings and grieving the losses of beloved friends and colleagues. Several described Cardenas,xc2xa0one of the victims, as a groundbreaker who paved the way for women and people of color in the industry.

Cardenas was a tattooer, mural artist and cultural anthropologist who owned Sol Tribe Tattoo & Piercing, according to the shop’s website. The website describes Cardenas as a “true Denver Native” and a “proud Indigenous artist.” She is survived by her 12-year-old daughter.

Maldonadoxc2xa0is an Aztec dancer and Denver activist who works as a piercer at Sol Tribe, according to the shop’s website.xc2xa0His late wife,xc2xa0Gunn Maldonado,xc2xa0taught yoga at Sol Shine in Denver, according to a post on its Facebook page. She also said on her Instagram that she was a doula in Denver.

Schofield, another fatal victim, was a tattoo artist and Colorado native, according to the Lucky 13 website. He had been tattooing for about 15 years, according to the site. He was also known as Dano Blair. Schofield leaves behind three young children.

The Lakewood Police Department said it was setting up a resource center Thursday for anyone “affected by the senseless tragedy.” Trauma resources and mental health therapists would be available across from the Hyatt House, where Steck was killed, police said.

Denver and Lakewood police were also encouraging people to donate to a Colorado Healing Fund for the victims of the shootings. The fund was founded in 2018 in an effort to contribute to victims of mass casualty crimes in Colorado.

Monday’s rampage was the 13th mass shooting in Colorado this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks gun violence nationally using a combination of police statistics and media reports. The archive defines a mass shooting as four or more people shot, not including the shooter, at the same general time and location.

Contributing: Bill Keveney, USA TODAY

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Strictly’s male couple and Superman coming out: 2021’s uplifting LGBTQ+ stories | The Independent


Michael_Novakhov
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This year has been a difficult one for all, but for the LGBTQ+ community there have been some major milestones amid the doom and gloom.

From Instagramxe2x80x99s new pronoun feature to Strictlyxe2x80x99s first all-male couple, here are some of the uplifting moments of 2021.

xe2x80x93 First all-male couple appear on Strictly Come Dancing

In September, John Whaite and Johannes Radebe made history on this yearxe2x80x99s Strictly Come Dancing as the first all-male couple on the show, and the only same-sex couple to reach the final.

The Great British Bake Off star and his professional dancing partner were only the second same-sex couple to dance on the show ever, with Nicola Adamsxe2x80x99s time in the 2020 competition being cut short due to Covid-19.

Whaitexe2x80x99s appearance on the show, which ran for 13 weeks, has been hailed a momentous moment for LGBTQ+ representation.

He said: xe2x80x9cItxe2x80x99s been incredible, really incredible.

xe2x80x9cThe amount of people who have messaged saying their kids can grow up in a world where two men or two women can dance together is mega.xe2x80x9d

xe2x80x93 Lewis Hamilton wore a rainbow helmet in xe2x80x98incredible act of allyshipxe2x80x99

F1 star Lewis Hamilton was praised for showing xe2x80x9can incredible act of allyshipxe2x80x9d by debuting a rainbow-coloured helmet during the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix in November.

Hamiltonxe2x80x99s helmet bore the colours of the Progress Pride flag xe2x80x93 a banner that includes the traditional rainbow design in addition to a series of coloured chevrons that recognise the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community.

The 36-year-old spoke out about the poor human rights record of the Gulf state, highlighting the xe2x80x9cpretty terrifyingxe2x80x9d LGBTQ+ laws and calling on F1 and other sportspeople to do the same.

With same-sex relationships illegal in both Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Hamilton wore the specially designed helmet again around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in December.

Richard Morris a British racing driver and co-founder of Racing Pride, told the PA news agency that Hamiltonxe2x80x99s gesture xe2x80x9cfills me with hopexe2x80x9d.

xe2x80x93 Swiss government announced same-sex couples can marry

Switzerlandxe2x80x99s executive body announced that same-sex couples can get married from July 1 next year.

The Alpine country is one of the few remaining nations in western Europe where gay and lesbian couples do not already have the right to wed.

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The referendum, approved by an overwhelming majority on September 26, will put same-sex partners in the nation on an equal legal footing with heterosexual couples, including by allowing them to adopt children together and to sponsor a spouse for citizenship.

Switzerland will also recognise the marriages of same-sex couples who wed in other countries instead of continuing to treat the unions as simple civil partnerships.

xe2x80x93 Instagram added a pronouns option to user profiles

In May the social media site Instagram added a new section on user profiles allowing people to specify their pronouns for the first time.

The Facebook-owned platform now allows users to pick up to four pronouns to appear in the bio section of their profile.

Actor Emma Corrin, known for playing Princess Diana on Netflixxe2x80x99s The Crown, updated their pronouns to xe2x80x9cshe/theyxe2x80x9d following the update.

xe2x80x93 Channel 4xe2x80x99s Itxe2x80x99s A Sin got people talking about HIV/Aids

Russell T Daviesxe2x80x99s five-part series Itxe2x80x99s A Sin got people talking about HIV/Aids.

The writer and producer, known for his work on Queer As Folk and Doctor Who, returned to screens in late January with a drama exploring the lives of a group of gay friends living in London during the 1980s Aids crisis.

The series showcased new acting talent including Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander, Lydia West and Omari Douglas xe2x80x93 and became Channel 4 streaming service All 4xe2x80x99s xe2x80x9cmost binged new series everxe2x80x9d.

The show, praised by viewers as being xe2x80x9cbeautifulxe2x80x9d and xe2x80x9cheartbreakingxe2x80x9d, led to more people than ever before getting tested during HIV Test Week, according to Terrence Higgins Trust.

xe2x80x93 Joe Biden reversed Donald Trumpxe2x80x99s transgender military ban

In January 2021, the newly elected President of the United States, Joe Biden, signed an order reversing a Trump-era Pentagon policy that largely barred transgender individuals from serving in the US military.

During his first year in office Donald Trump had caught military leaders by surprise by tweeting that the government would not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve xe2x80x9cin any capacityxe2x80x9d in the military.

His policy, which fell short of an all-out ban, was approved in April 2019 barring transgender troops and military recruits from transitioning to another sex.

Under President Bidenxe2x80x99s new policy, no one in the military will be discharged based on their gender identity, and transgender service members can serve in their preferred gender once their transition is complete.

xe2x80x93 Superman came out as bisexual in a new comic

Superman came out as bisexual in a comic book released by DC Comics in November.

The comic saw Jon Kent, the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, become romantically involved with reporter Jay Nakamura.

Supermanxe2x80x99s coming out was the latest example of comic books embracing LGBT-inclusive backgrounds for its heroes.

Tim Drake, the latest incarnation of Batmanxe2x80x99s sidekick Robin, also came out as bisexual this year.

And Marvel announced the first gay Captain America, another classic superhero typically associated with traditional ideals of masculinity.

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Uncontrolled HIV likely led to the Omicron variant.


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No one is safe until everyone is safe.xc2xa0The UN Refugee Agency

The stigmatization of people in South Africa with HIV has likely led to the Omicron variant state medical researchers in a Nature Study say.

People worried about their jobs, being beaten up or killed, and losing family and friends over their diagnosis are less likely to seek treatment. All over the world, particularly in South Africa, where the most significant number of people with HIV resides ( estimates are thatxc2xa0two out of three worldwide cases HIV cases), most of which are not taking anti-virals that can suppress the virus. People on anti-virals are slightly less susceptible than people that are fully vaccinated.xc2xa0

The variant sweeping across the world hasxc2xa0xe2x80x9c50 mutations, of whichxc2xa0at least 30Trusted Sourcexc2xa0are in the spike protein that the virus uses to gain entry to host cells. These mutations may affect how the variantxc2xa0behave trustedxc2xa0Source, spreads, and the severity of the disease it causesxe2x80x9d.

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Departing NYPD Chief Slams ‘Magical Thinking’ of Reformers


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photo of ,man

Outgoing NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea. Photo via CBS-TV New York.

Blaming the rise in violent crime on xe2x80x9cmisinformedxe2x80x9d efforts to overhaul the justice system, outgoing New York police commissioner Dermot Shea said authorities should stick with the kind of policies that were proven to keep people safe.

xe2x80x9cI can also tell you that more than 80 percent of the people arrested for illegal gun possession this year are not in custody. Does that sound like a formula for success?xe2x80x9d he wrote in an essay for the New York Post.

The essay, framed as advice to his incoming replacement, Keechant Sewell, on exactly what kind of job she is taking on in a city grappling with both a spike in crime and a department steeped in low morale, encouraged her to follow strategies that had already demonstrated success in crimefighting.

xe2x80x9cShe will have a hard enough job keeping nearly 9 million people safe with the tools we have,xe2x80x9d he wrote.xc2xa0 xe2x80x9cWhen I hear some officials say, xe2x80x98We canxe2x80x99t arrest our way out of our problems,xe2x80x99 I have to wonder: What problems are you talking about? If itxe2x80x99s opioid abuse, probably not; if itxe2x80x99s a rise in gang-related gun violence, if youxe2x80x99re not making arrests, youxe2x80x99re not addressing the problem.xe2x80x9d

Shea, who was appointed commissioner in 2019, said that as a result of focused policing policies introduced by his predecessors and continued by him, the department made 44 percent fewer arrests than they had five years before.

But in 2020, following the onset of sweeping changes to New Yorkxe2x80x99s legal system enacted by the state legislature, xe2x80x9cideology triumphed over expertise,xe2x80x9d he wrote.

Bail reform meant that only defendants charged with a narrow range of offenses could be held before trial. A defendantxe2x80x99s history of violence xe2x80x94 the best predictor of future violence xe2x80x94 could not be considered by a judge. Discovery reform required DAs to produce a vast amount of documentation, much of it which he called irrelevant, before proceeding with a prosecution.

Shea drew a connection between these changes and the fact that, in the first two months of 2020, major crime in New York City went up 23 percent.

xe2x80x9cDuring the past year and a half, all across the country, debates over criminal justice have been characterized by magical thinking, a wishful insistence that we can have public safety without police,xe2x80x9d Shea complained.

xe2x80x9cBudgets have been slashed. Resignations and retirements have further reduced police manpower. Morale is in a tailspin, which makes police recruitment xe2x80x94 particularly among young Black men xe2x80x94 especially challenging.xe2x80x9d

As proof that arrests often yield results, Shea points to the 1980s, when police departments around the country shifted away from a laissez-faire approach to drunk driving and, as a result,xc2xa0 alcohol-related vehicular fatalities fell by 52 percent. In the 90s, a comparable change took place with the approach to domestic violence, with a xe2x80x9cmust arrestxe2x80x9d approach to acts of physical injury by an intimate partner, resulting in a 65 percent reduction in domestic violence victimization rates between 1995 and 2015.

And while Shea agreed that we should have better preventative programs to put young people on a path to school and career success, and to interrupt violence before it happens, he warns that investments like these will take years to yield positive results and that many people today do not have that kind of time.

Many criminologists counter the arguments made by critics like Shea, pointing out that the evidence shows no correlation between bail reform and increasing crime rates.xc2xa0 In most categories other than violence, crime rates have continued to decline.

See also:xc2xa0 The Danger of a Return to Crime Alarmism, The Crime Report. Nov 23, 2021.

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Opinion: Germany must face up to Russia′s aggression | Opinion | DW


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The government coalition’s agreement was right to dedicate one of its longest sections to Russia. In addition to friendly words that attest to the depth and diversity of German-Russian relations, there is clear criticism of Russia’s aggressive actions towards its neighbors.xc2xa0

There are direct references to “attempts to destabilize Ukraine, the violence in eastern Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea” as well as the “comprehensive restriction of civil and democratic freedoms.” In simple terms: Russia is waging a psychological, hybrid war that is not limited to Ukraine and neighboring countries xe2x80x94 and is an increasing threat to the West.

Recent developments paint a grim picture. Nuclear-capable Russian bombers are being intercepted by NATO fighter jets over the North Sea. The Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko is using refugees to blackmail the EU, with the backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin. On the Russian-Ukrainian border, the Kremlin has amassed close to 100,000 soldiers and heavy artillery. Cyber attacks on Ukraine and the EU are the order of the day.

Don’t abandon Ukraine again

A Russian invasion of Ukraine, reminiscent of the 2014 incursion, is a real possibility. Seven years ago, Europe and the United States left Ukraine in the lurch. But they can and should be at Kyiv’s side now. Appeasement of the Kremlin would have disastrous consequences xe2x80x94 for the whole of Europe, not just Ukraine.xc2xa0

Security expert Oliver Rolofs

Security expert Oliver Rolofs

To shield Ukraine, Germany and other allies must understand that Russian aggression is not limited to tanks and troops. The Kremlin’s hostilities towards Ukraine run deep and are part of a broader pattern of belligerence, which includes energy blackmail and economic warfare.xc2xa0

Russia is using gas as a political weapon at a time when Europe is hit by a crippling energy crunch. This is not a new tactic and Ukraine is by no means the only victim: last month, Moscow weaponized the energy card to discourage the new pro-EU Moldovan government from strengthening links to the bloc.xc2xa0

Beyond pipeline politics, Russia has threatened Ukraine’s territorial integrity through underhand economic warfare aimed at forcing the Ukrainian government into a financial cul-de-sac. These pressure tactics have included tightening customs procedures leading to long delays for exporters at the border, imposing import bans for Ukrainian products and launching campaigns to shutter factories in eastern Ukraine.xc2xa0

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EU warns Russia of ‘massive consequences’

According to estimates by the Atlantic Council, a think tank, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Eastern Ukraine has cost Ukraine at least $100 billion (xe2x82xac88 billion). This, of course, is just the stone-cold economic analysis. The human toll has been far greater, with 14,000 dead and counting.xe2x80xafxc2xa0

Is the EU willing and able to act?

The EU has the tools and political muscle to push back xe2x80x94 but can it act swiftly and decisively enough? The EU needs to carve out a new strategic framework for dealing with Russia. In the first instance, Brussels should unpack its regulatory toolbox and continue the diversification and unbundling of energy markets.xc2xa0

Working in tandem with France, the German government should open the door to tighter regulation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and strong-arm Gazprom into supplying gas to the Russian-Ukrainian border. The recent move to suspendxc2xa0Nord Stream 2’s operationsxc2xa0by Germany’s energy regulator sends a powerful, albeit overdue, message to the Kremlin that its bullying tactics will no longer go unchecked. The EU’s Green Deal to meet itsxc2xa0ambitious climate targets can also be used as a pressure point. Climate change creates new geopolitical realities that, over time, will cost Russia lucrative sources of income and its main means of influence.

Berlin and Paris should also redouble efforts to revive the Normandy Format, a negotiation platform bringing together the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France.xc2xa0

Sending a clear message to Russia

While pushing back against Russian aggression, the EU must also make sure that the Ukrainian government has the necessary support to stay on course. If left alone, there is a high risk that the country could once again fall prey to politically active oligarchs such as Viktor Medvedchuk and former President Petro Poroshenko, who are opening the door to the Russians at a time when a united front is crucial.

The German government should use its communication channels with Moscow to draw clear red lines which drill home the cost of Russian aggression. Europe faces a long, cold winter if the combined diplomatic and economic power of the EU, the USxc2xa0and the UKxc2xa0fails to deter Russia.

Edited by: Rob Mudge

Oliver Rolofs is a security expert. He was previously the head of communications at the Munich Security Conference, where he established the Energy Security Program.

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Russia-Ukraine crisis: Life on the border

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Great power politics is back with a twist | ORF


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