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Editorial: China getting away with murder



Editorial: China getting away with murder

Davos is a place out of “Lost Horizon,” the 1933 novel that told of a magical Shangri-La. In Switzerland, that’s Davos.

But musings from a mountainous utopia is the last thing the world needs right now. As the wire services say of this past week’s virtual economic conference in Davos, the event is known for “hosting elites touting high-minded but often empty goals deemed out of touch with regular people.” Welcome to pandemic postulating. They hope to meet live in May, so all hope is not lost.

This past week, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry and sidekick Bill Gates waxed about climate change.

The World Health Organization spoke about vaccine inequities.

Chinese President Xi Jinping pushed for “win-win outcomes” and sharing of vaccine technology. This coming from a country that ignores intellectual property rights.

They should have invited the Herald to the virtual conference, because we’d counter with what the world really needs: For starters, China should apologize to everyone for caring more about their economy than the health of the world.

The slow walk to sharing news of a killer pneumonia outbreak has doomed the rest of us to COVID-19 fears and frustrations. That’s a topic that should have been at the top of the agenda in Davos. If you have an outbreak, of any kind, alert the world immediately. China, you failed to do so and that has caused economic pain.

Why we tip-toe around the Chinese is baffling.

China’s president announced plans during the Davos mini-forum to send an additional 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine to other countries, including a donation of 600 million doses to Africa, according to the Associated Press.

That’s reactive rather than proactive. The world economy — all the places below the towering ski slopes of Davos where the hot chocolate flows — is tied to public health. So why not use this august gathering, virtual or not, to warn China that triggering a pandemic comes with consequences?

Intel Corp., the Wall Street Journal reports, gets it. The company announced Friday it plans to invest at least $20 billion in new chip-making capacity in Ohio. If China wants to rule the marketplace, then CEOs need to push back hard.

It’s time to send a message that openness is not up for debate. If the WHO won’t scold China, Davos must. Thugs only react to force. Russian President Vladimir Putin is in this category as well.

If China won’t admit guilt and vow to never slow walk an outbreak again, then they should be banned from the May session in Davos. Spring will be upon us then and the virus, hopefully, might already be easing. But world economic leaders should not forget the harm done.

The Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker shows nearly 345 million COVID cases worldwide with almost 5.6 million deaths as of this weekend. Go look at that grim tally. What you’ll see is China has fallen to 118th on a world count of cases.

The U.S. is first, followed by India, Spain, Argentina, Australia, Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Canada, Portugal, Israel, Netherlands, Greece, Russia, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, Mexico, Colombia, Vietnam, Philippines, Sweden, Peru, Ireland, Poland, Japan, Austria, Bolivia, Serbia, Norway, South Africa, Ukraine, Romania, Croatia, Thailand, Uruguay, Hungary, Finland, Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Panama, Bulgaria … past Iceland and tiny Luxembourg until you hit China.

That should be enough fodder for the elites at Davos to once and for all put China on notice.


Russia faces diplomatic and battlefield setbacks on Ukraine



Russia faces diplomatic and battlefield setbacks on Ukraine


KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Moscow suffered another diplomatic setback Monday in its war with Ukraine as Sweden joined Finland in deciding to seek NATO membership, while Ukraine’s president congratulated soldiers who reportedly pushed Russian forces back near the border.

Russian forces pounded targets in the industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine known as the Donbas, and the death toll, already many thousands, kept climbing with the war set to enter its 12th week on Wednesday.

The eastern city of Sievierdonetsk came under heavy shelling that killed at least 10 people, said Serhiy Haidai, the governor of the Luhansk region. In the Donetsk region, Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Facebook that nine civilians were killed in shelling.

But Ukrainian troops also advanced as Russian forces pulled back from around the northeastern city of Kharkiv in recent days. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the soldiers who reportedly pushed all the way to the Russian border in the Kharkiv region in a symbolic gain.

Video showed Ukrainian soldiers carrying a post that resembled a Ukrainian blue-and-yellow-striped border marker. Then they placed it on the ground while a dozen of the soldiers posed next to it, including one with belts of bullets draped over a shoulder.

“I’m very grateful to you, on behalf of all Ukrainians, on my behalf and on behalf of my family,” Zelenskyy said in a video message. “I’m very grateful to all the fighters like you.”

The Ukrainian border service said the video showing the soldiers was from the border “in the Kharkiv region,” but would not elaborate, citing security reasons. It was not immediately possible to verify the exact location.

Ukrainian border guards said they also stopped a Russian attempt to send sabotage and reconnaissance troops into the Sumy region, some 90 miles (146 kilometers) northwest of Kharkiv.

Russia has been plagued by setbacks in the war, most glaringly in its failure early on to take the capital of Kyiv. Much of the fighting has shifted to the Donbas but also has turned into a slog, with both sides fighting village-by-village.

Howitzers from the U.S. and other countries have helped Kyiv hold off or gain ground against Russia, a senior U.S. defense official said. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the U.S. military assessment, said Ukraine has pushed Russian forces to within a half-mile to 2.5 miles (1 to 4 kilometers) of Russia’s border but could not confirm if it was all the way to the frontier.

The official said Russian long-range strikes also appeared to target a Ukrainian military training center in Yavoriv, near the Polish border. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

A glimmer of hope emerged for wounded Ukrainian troops trapped in the remains of a giant steel plant, the last stronghold of resistance in the shattered port city of Mariupol. The Russian Defense Ministry announced an agreement for the wounded to leave the steelworks for treatment in a town held by pro-Moscow separatists.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Ukrainian side, and there was no word on whether the wounded would be considered prisoners of war.

After nightfall Monday, several buses pulled away from the steel mill accompanied by Russian military vehicles, but it wasn’t clear who was on the buses.

The international response to the Russian invasion picked up pace.

Sweden’s decision to seek NATO membership followed a similar decision by neighboring Finland in a historic shift for the counties, which were nonaligned for generations.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said her country would be in a “vulnerable position” during the application period and urged her fellow citizens to brace themselves.

“Russia has said that that it will take countermeasures if we join NATO,” she said. “We cannot rule out that Sweden will be exposed to, for instance, disinformation and attempts to intimidate and divide us.”

But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, a NATO member, ratcheted up his objection to their joining. He accused the countries of failing to take a “clear” stance against Kurdish militants and other groups that Ankara considers terrorists, and of imposing military sanctions on Turkey.

He said Swedish and Finnish officials who are expected in Turkey next week should not bother to come if they intend to try to convince Turkey of dropping its objection.

“How can we trust them?” Erdogan asked at a joint news conference with the visiting Algerian president.

All 30 current NATO members must agree to let the Nordic neighbors join.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow “does not have a problem” with Sweden or Finland as they apply for NATO membership, but that “the expansion of military infrastructure onto this territory will of course give rise to our reaction in response.”

Putin launched the invasion on Feb. 24 in what he said was an effort to check NATO’s expansion but has seen that strategy backfire. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said the membership process for both could be quick.

Europe is also working to choke off funding for the Kremlin’s war by reducing the billions of dollars it spends on imports of Russian energy. A proposed EU embargo faces opposition from some countries dependent on Russian imports, including Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Bulgaria also has reservations.

“We will do our best in order to deblock the situation,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. “I cannot ensure that it is going to happen because positions are quite strong.”

Also Monday, McDonald’s said it has started selling its business in Russia, ending a relationship that has lasted more than three decades. It cited the humanitarian crisis caused by the war, noting that staying in Russia “is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values.” The company was the first fast-food restaurant to open in the Soviet Union.


McQuillan reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Mstyslav Chernov and Andrea Rosa in Kharkiv, Elena Becatoros in Odesa and other AP staffers around the world contributed.


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Photos: Lunar eclipse thrills stargazers in the Americas



Photos: Lunar eclipse thrills stargazers in the Americas

By The Associated press

A total lunar eclipse provided a spectacular celestial show as it unfolded Sunday night into early Monday in the Americas.

The eastern half of North America and all of Central and South America were prime locations to see the eclipse, while partial stages were visible across Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Among those watching the eclipse where skies were clear were residents of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who bundled up in the chilly night and relaxed on blankets in a park to look at the event. In Caracas, Venezuela, some people brought laser pointers as a crowd gathered to watch.

The moon was bathed in the reflected red and orange hues of Earth’s sunsets and sunrises for about 1 1/2 hours, one of the longest totalities of the decade. It was the first so-called “blood moon” in a year.

A total eclipse occurs when Earth passes directly between the moon and the sun, and casts a shadow on the lunar surface. The moon was 225,000 miles (362,000 kilometers) away at the peak of the eclipse — around midnight on the U.S. East Coast.

There’ll be another lengthy total lunar eclipse in November, with Africa and Europe being the best places to see it, but not the Americas. Then the next one isn’t until 2025.

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Ravens sign versatile LB Vince Biegel, helping defensive depth and special teams



Ravens sign versatile LB Vince Biegel, helping defensive depth and special teams

The Ravens signed linebacker Vince Biegel to a one-year deal Monday, adding a versatile veteran to a position with limited depth. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Injuries have limited Biegel, 28, to just five games over the past two seasons, but he’s played both inside linebacker and outside linebacker and contributed regularly on special teams over his four-year NFL career. He tried out during the team’s rookie minicamp earlier this month and has ties to first-year outside linebackers coach Rob Leonard, who overlapped with him in Miami.

After missing the Dolphins’ 2020 season with a torn Achilles tendon, the 6-foot-3, 246-pound Biegel opened last season on injured reserve before returning to action in late November. Over his five games with Miami, he had two tackles and played primarily on special teams.

Biegel’s best season came in 2019, when he had 2 1/2 sacks, seven tackles for loss and 59 tackles over 15 Dolphins games (10 starts). The Wisconsin product started his career with the Green Bay Packers, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2017. He was cut before the next season and signed with New Orleans in 2018, playing a reserve role and contributing on special teams for the Saints.

The Ravens, who lost inside linebacker and special teams stalwart Chris Board in free agency, didn’t draft an inside linebacker last month and are cross-training Malik Harrison at outside linebacker this offseason. Biegel could also see snaps this offseason at outside linebacker, where Tyus Bowser and rookie Odafe Oweh are recovering from torn Achilles tendons.


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