Global Review – 14th February

Ukraine seeks meeting with Russia to discuss build-up

Ukraine has called for a meeting with Russia and other members of a key European security group over the escalating tensions on its border. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Moscow should be transparent about its plans.

Russia has denied any plans to invade Ukraine despite the build-up of some 100,000 soldiers on Ukraine’s borders. Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko has told the BBC that his country may contemplate shelving its ambition to join NATO in order to avoid military conflict.

Zelensky asks Biden to visit Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on his US counterpart Joe Biden to fly into Kiev “in the coming days.” The invitation, which was made by Zelensky during a phone call with Biden on Sunday, comes as several nations, including the US itself, ordered most of their diplomatic staff out of the Ukrainian capital citing fears of a possible Russian invasion. The trip to Kiev, however, does not appear to be on Biden’s schedule, as a senior Ukrainian official told CNN such a visit would be “extremely unlikely”. After US officials repeatedly said that Russia could launch a military offensive in Ukraine “any day now”,  Zelensky complained that recurrent warnings by Western officials and media of a looming threat of a Russian invasion are destabilising Kiev’s economy.

US, NATO ‘rooting for Russia to invade Ukraine’

Former US congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has told Fox News that President Joe Biden and his NATO allies could easily prevent war in Ukraine but would rather see Russia invade their ally to justify harsh sanctions against Moscow and spur a money-making cold war, Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran who ran unsuccessfully for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said the US and its allies could prevent an armed conflict by pledging that Ukraine won’t be allowed to join NATO. It’s “highly, highly unlikely” that Kiev will ever be approved as a NATO member, so refusing to promise what’s already a reality shows that leaders of the alliance don’t want peace.

Australian Liberals set for upset in state by-elections

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal Party suffered a major upset in New South Wales state’s by-elections, preliminary reports indicated today, presenting a challenge for his ruling coalition ahead of federal elections due in May. Official results of the four by-elections won’t come for weeks until mail-in votes are counted, but New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet has conceded the Liberals will lose a seat which has never been won by the opposition Labour Party. The loss of the regional seat of Bega, in the state’s south, has pushed Perrottet’s government further into minority. It has also sent a potential warning to Morrison who must call federal election by May 21.

Police arrest last protesters at US-Canada border

Canadian authorities made a push on Sunday to remove the last of the protesters from Ambassador Bridge and surrounding areas after having to close the border crossing in Windsor, Ontario with barricades last week. Police began arresting non-compliant demonstrators and towing vehicles supporting the anti-COVID mandate trucker protest in Canada on Saturday. Police pushed protesters on Sunday away from the bridge before making arrests, of which there were a dozen, according to authorities. Windsor police said approximately 12 people were arrested.

Swiss overwhelmingly reject ban on animal testing

Voters have decisively rejected a plan to make Switzerland the first country to ban experiments on animals. According to results of a referendum, 79% of voters did not support the ban. Around 500,000 animals – including mice, rabbits, rats, and others – are killed in laboratories in Switzerland each year.In another vote on Sunday, voters approved further restrictions on tobacco advertising, with 56.6% in favour. The measure would bar tobacco ads from billboards, newspapers, movie theatres, cultural events, as well as online. Voters also rejected plans to increase financial support for the media by 54.6%. A proposed law sought to avert the closure of more local newspapers and radio stations by providing an aid package of €144 million.

Super Bowl goes to the Rams

The Los Angeles Rams won Super Bowl 56, beating the Cincinnati Bengals 23 to 20 – their first Super Bowl victory in 22 years. A sold-out stadium that exploded in a liberating cry for victory. The interval was a real show, with hip hop heavyweights on the pitch, from Dr Dre to Snoop Dogg, from Eminem to Mary J Blige and Kendrick Lamar. Their performance wowed the audience: in a clear celebration of Los Angeles and California, Snoop and Dre sang ‘California Love’. Mary J. Blige performed some of her biggest hits, while Kendrick Lamar sang ‘Alright’. Eminem sang ‘Lose Yourself’ and in what appears to be an NFL challenge he knelt down during his performance, in a gesture of protest against racial injustice in the country. The commercials were the other protagonists, with crypto-currencies playing the lion’s share. Dozens of VIPs in the stands: LeBron James, Justin Bieber and his wife Haley, couple Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, actress Charlize Theron, Jay-Z and model Kendall Jenner. A stellar parade for a Super Bowl that is a taste of the new normal after COVID-19.

Valentine’s Day lovers advised to wear masks during sex

Thai authorities have recommended that lovers wear masks to refrain from “deep kissing” and avoid face-to-face positions during sex, due to the risk of COVID-19. The romantic occasion is popular in Thailand, with many couples wishing to wed on the day. But as coronavirus cases rise in the kingdom, the authorities have become concerned about certain Valentine’s Day celebrations. “COVID isn’t a sexually transmitted disease, but catching COVID is possible through close-contact breathing and exchanging saliva,” the Bureau of Reproductive Health told AFP, adding that “wearing face masks while having sex” might decrease the risk.

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