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    (CNN)Alarm bells are ringing in Europe's halls of diplomacy. In recent days, senior Western officials have expressed their concern at the thousands of Russian forces that have appeared near the eastern borders of Ukraine.On Monday, NATO's Secretary-General warned Moscow against "potential aggressive actions" after Ukrainian officials estimated there were 90,000 Russian troops "near the border and in the temporarily occupied territories," as well as in the Black Sea.Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that the US was "concerned by reports of unusual Russian military activity" and mentioned the possibility that Russia may be "attempting to rehash" its 2014 invasion of its neighbor. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Russia to "adopt a posture of restraint" because any attempt to "undermine Ukraine's territorial integrity would have serious consequences."The questions that require answers are: 1) How immediately dangerous is the situation; 2) What can the Western alliance do, if anything, to dissuade Russia from further provocation; and 3) What does the Russian President Vladimir Putin actually want? In private, European diplomats and officials answer these...
    BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — At the main hospital in Romania’s capital, the morgue ran out of space for the dead in recent days, and doctors in Bulgaria have suspended routine surgeries so they can tend to a surge in COVID-19 patients. In the Serbian capital, the graveyard now operates an extra day during the week in order to bury all the bodies arriving. For two months now, a stubborn wave of virus infections has ripped mercilessly through several countries in Central and Eastern Europe, where vaccination rates are much lower than elsewhere on the continent. While medical workers pleaded for tough restrictions or even lockdowns, leaders let the virus rage unimpeded for weeks. “I don’t believe in measures. I don’t believe in the same measures that existed before the vaccines,” Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said last month as the Balkan nation sustained some of its worst daily death tolls of the pandemic. “Why do we have vaccines then?” A World Health Organization official declared earlier this month that Europe is again at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. While...
    For much of this month the eyes of the world have been focused on Glasgow, where world leaders have been wrestling with climate change. Meanwhile, 2000 miles away, and with a lot less fanfare, another global drama has been unfolding. The gathering of thousands of would-be immigrants to the EU on the border between Eastern Europe's last dictatorship, Belarus, and Poland is creating a crisis that, if mishandled, could have consequences every bit as grave as those debated at Cop26 – but far sooner. Yesterday, the temperature rose further when Russian paratroopers started landing in Belarus – just 20 miles from the Polish border. This was the Kremlin showing its backing for its only ally in Europe. On paper it does not look too alarming. Yes, the thought of Russian troops mobilising will always prompt a chill in the West, a legacy of the bad old days of the Cold War. But for most of us, Belarus is a remote outpost and its politics reverberate little beyond its borders. The truth is, however, that the mounting tensions there should be...
    An alleged Capitol rioter on the FBI's Most Wanted List has fled to the eastern European country of Belarus, where he is being portrayed on state-run media as a 'simple American' fleeing 'political persecution.' Evan Neumann, 48, was charged in July on six separate criminal charges, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, as well as for assaulting, resisting and obstructing law enforcement at the Capitol insurrection on January 6. But shortly after the charges were filed, Neumann sold his house in California's Bay Area, traveled around the country, and eventually fled to Ukraine and then Belarus. He reportedly had to dodge wild hogs, snakes and even the Ukrainian secret service on his way.  The FBI lists him as a 'defendant at large.'  Evan Neumann, 48, appeared on Belarus 1 on Sunday for a sit-down interview for a segment entitled Goodbye, America He spoke to a reporter about how he fled the United States as he faced six charges for his alleged involvement in the January 6 riots How Evan Neumann says he fled prosecution in the United...
    KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Truck driver Andriy Melnik never took the coronavirus seriously. With a friend, he bought a fake vaccination certificate so his travel documents would appear in order when he hauled cargo to other parts of Europe. His view changed after the friend caught COVID-19 and ended up in an intensive care unit on a ventilator. “It’s not a tall tale. I see that this disease kills, and strong immunity wouldn’t be enough — only a vaccine can offer protection,” said Melnik, 42, as he waited in Kyiv to get his shot. “I’m really scared and I’m pleading with doctors to help me correct my mistake.” He added: “Death from coronavirus appears much closer than I imagined.” Ukraine is suffering through a surge in coronavirus infections, along with other parts of Eastern Europe and Russia. While vaccines are plentiful, there is a widespread reluctance to get them in many countries — though notable exceptions include the Baltic nations, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Hungary. The slow pace of vaccinations in Eastern Europe is rooted in several factors,...
    April 2021 has been frigid in many parts of Europe. Data from the European agency Copernicus confirm that it has been the coldest April since 2003 in Western Europe. However, globally, it is consistent with the warming trend. April was 0.2º C above the mean of the historical series. The month was marked by strong variability. However, a wide swath of western Europe between Iceland and the Black Sea, passing through the Iberian Peninsula had temperatures well below average, breaking some records. France, where a few hot weeks had allowed many crops to flourish, declared a state of “agricultural calamity” after a series of brutal frosts. There were persistent north winds and the UK had its lowest average minimum temperature since 1922 and the highest number of frosts in April since 1960. Other regions with temperatures lower than normal for this time of year were eastern Siberia, northwestern Canada, and many areas of Asia and Oceania. The relative cold of this month of April does not prevent it from being in line with the trend towards global...
    President Joe Biden is being tested by Russia. How he responds will have a dramatic impact on U.S. policy in Eastern Europe as well as the nation’s position of power in Europe overall. If we are strong, our influence in the region as a defender of democracy and independence will remain strong. If we are weak, potential allies may look elsewhere for leadership – including to the Kremlin. One immediate test is how Biden responds to his face to face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Brussels. The messages coming from the leaders’ press conferences and leaked reports of what was said during the meetings will be instructive on what relations will look like going forward. One issue likely to come up is Russia’s controversial pipeline from Russia to Germany. The United States has taken no action to date to impose sanctions on the companies building the pipeline, angering many in Congress. It has not gone unnoticed that the same Biden administration that shut down the domestic Keystone XL Pipeline has not lifted a finger to oppose a Russian...
    A cybersecurity adviser says he warned SolarWinds of a potential 'catastrophic' attack if the company didn't amp up internal security measures and the firm's move to Eastern Europe may have exposed it to the massive Russian hack.     In late December it was revealed that the sprawling cyber-espionage attack led by state-backed Russian hackers affected more than 250 federal agencies and private companies beginning as early as October 2019, but went undetected for months. Though US officials say Russian was behind the hacking campaign, the Kremlin denies it.  In the breach, hackers gained access to government and private networks by inserting malicious code recent versions of SolarWinds' premier software product, Orion.   Ian Thornton-Trump, a former cybersecurity adviser at SolarWinds, said he urged management in 2017 to take a more aggressive approach with its internal security, warning that a cybersecurity episode would be 'catastrophic', according to a New York Times report published Saturday. He said he gave a PowerPoint presentation to three SolarWinds executives urging them to install a cybersecurity senior director because he thought a major breach was inevitable, Bloomberg reported.    When his recommendations were...
    SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — With the arrival of cold and foggy winter weather amid the pandemic, eastern Europe is facing an extra respiratory health hazard — air pollution. Countries such as Bosnia and Serbia in the Balkans, and even European Union nations Poland and Croatia, traditionally report high levels of dangerous pollution from heating in winter months. The United Nations has warned in previous years that people in all major cities across the Western Balkans face alarming levels of air pollution that are reducing their life expectancies. This year, the problem is coupled with the soaring COVID-19 infections. Thousands of new cases have been reported daily in most countries in the region. Hospitals are practically full and many departments treating other diseases or chronic ailments have been converted to COVID-19 wards, bringing the health systems in the former Communist-run nations near breaking-point. High pollution was reported Thursday throughout Poland, a major producer and consumer of coal for energy. The concentration of dangerous dust particles was particularly bad in the southern, coal-mining and industrial areas. The problem has long plagued Poland...
    Florida Gov. DeSantis’s new data analyst: an anti-mask sports blogger pushing coronavirus conspiracies Internet sleuths use misinformation in attempt to prove dead people voted in Michigan Mask Orders in Eastern Europe; Russia Vaccine Data: Virus Update (Bloomberg) -- A resurgence of cases and deaths continued in Europe, with Germany reporting its highest daily fatalities since mid-April. A state premier warned that German Christmas markets and religious services may be in jeopardy with the current rate of infection. Load Error The developer of Russia’s flagship vaccine said it shows a 92% efficacy rate in preventing infections, as the country pushes for a top slot in the fight against the coronavirus after Pfizer Inc. reported a similar breakthrough for its shot. The coronavirus is also roaring back in U.S. cities. Hospitalizations in the country reached a record, and cases topped 1 million in the first 10 days of November alone. In Asia, a travel bubble that will let people move between Singapore and Hong Kong will begin operating on Nov. 22.Key Developments:Global Tracker: Cases top 51.5 million; deaths at...
    During the recent ABC town hall in Philadelphia, Joe Biden compared Poland and Hungary to Byelorussia, and claimed that they were in a league of totalitarian states that are being embraced by President Donald Trump. Speaking during a town hall event on Thursday the #DemocraticParty presidential nominee Joe #Biden criticised Donald #Trump’s foreign policy for siding with thugs and placed #Poland alongside #Belarus and totalitarian regimes.@JoeBiden#Election2020More:https://t.co/Bu8HBF5FFT pic.twitter.com/CdAxHOnE7t — Poland In (@Polandin_com) October 16, 2020 But Poland and Hungary are countries that are members of NATO and the European Union. Both have fully functioning democracies. Byelorussia (Belarus) is a dictatorship, largely under the control of Russia. Poland, on the other hand, was the leader in the fight for freedom from communism with its revolutionary trade union, Solidarity. It is now a leader in Western effort to assist Byelorussian workers who want to make their own country more like Poland, a country of freedom and democracy. Joe Biden’s words are not a real criticism of these countries. Rather, they simply demonstrate who he is: a pawn of the European Left, concentrated around...
    Former Vice President Joe Biden received a question about foreign policy during his ABC News town hall on Thursday night. His response included trivializing the historic Middle Eastern peace deals brokered by President Donald Trump and repeating a debunked New York Times article that claimed Trump ignored Russia paying bounties for dead American soldiers. The questioner, Mark Hoffman, asked if President Trump deserves credit for “peace breaking out all over the world.” He referenced Serbia talking to Kosovo and the Arabs talking to the Israelis, which he called “a modern-day miracle.” He also praised Trump for bringing American troops home. “A little, but not a whole lot,” Biden replied to the question about giving Trump credit. “We find ourselves in a position where we’re more isolated in the world than we’ve ever been. Our allies are, our go it alone, our, you know, America first has made America alone,” Biden continued, stumbling through a talking point about Trump’s “America First” platform. “You have Iran closer to having enough nuclear material to build a bomb. North Korea has more bombs...
    A Georgia newspaper publisher has revealed how he and his daughter thought they were starring in a new movie about cotillion only to be duped into being part of Borat 2.   Will Davis, the publisher of the Monroe County Reporter, said he was contacted in February to be part of a movie scene about a girl from Eastern Europe attending her first cotillion.  Davis' two teenage children took cotillion classes where they learned etiquette and how to waltz and fox trot and friends asked them to take part in the movie scene. Davis and his 18-year-old daughter Abby thought it seemed like a good idea as all they would have to do is dress up, dance, enjoy free food and they'd get paid $50 each.   When the big filming day finally came they were shocked to find a father and daughter duo from Eastern Europe acting 'wildly', flashing the crowd and accosting the guests, before they realized they were being conned. 
    PRAGUE – The Czech government announced further restrictions Thursday to contain the pandemic in the hardest hit-country in struggling Central and Eastern Europe, where a record surge of infections was also recorded in most other countries. Calling his country's record spike “alarming,” Health Minister Roman Prymula said the Czech health care system has been facing a steep increase of people needing intensive care, while more COVID-19 patients have been dying. “We have to limit those increases,” Prymula said. The Czech Republic currently has more people testing positive daily than any other country in Central and Eastern Europe, even neighboring Germany whose population is eight times bigger. Starting Monday, all theaters, cinemas and zoos will be closed for at least two weeks. “We have to limit the numbers of people who meet each other outside their families,” Prymula said. At the same time, all indoor sports activities will be banned. Outdoors, only up to 20 people will be allowed to participate in competitions, a measure that will badly hit professional sports such as soccer. Prymula said planned outdoor international...
    BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases spiked Friday in parts of eastern Europe, with Hungary and the Czech Republic registering all-time daily highs. Signs of the pandemic’s resurgence were also evident in Britain and the Netherlands. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his government was drafting a “war plan” to defend against the second wave of the pandemic. The plan’s aim was “not for everyone to stay at home and bring the country to a halt … but to defend Hungary’s functionality,” Orban said. The prime minister said measures meant to protect the economy and spur growth would be introduced in the coming weeks. In the second quarter of the year, Hungary’s gross domestic product fell 13.6%, the worst drop in the region. Orban reiterated the need to protect the elderly, one of the group’s most at-risk during the pandemic, and authorities have banned most visits to retirement homes and hospitals to stem the spread of the virus. Wearing masks or other face coverings is mandatory on public transportation, in stores and in many public...
    By PABLO GORONDI, Associated Press BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases spiked Friday in parts of eastern Europe, with Hungary and the Czech Republic registering all-time daily highs. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his government was drafting a “war plan” to defend against the second wave of the pandemic. The plan's aim was “not for everyone to stay at home and bring the country to a halt ... but to defend Hungary’s functionality," Orban said. The prime minister said measures meant to protect the economy and spur growth would be introduced in the coming weeks. In the second quarter of the year, Hungary's gross domestic product fell 13.6%, the worst drop in the region. Orban reiterated the need to protect the elderly, one of the group's most at-risk during the pandemic, and authorities have banned most visits to retirement homes and hospitals to stem the spread of the virus. Wearing masks or other face coverings is mandatory on public transportation, in stores and in many public institutions. In Budapest, Hungary's capital city, people not...
    BUDAPEST – The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases spiked Friday in parts of eastern Europe, with Hungary and the Czech Republic registering all-time daily highs. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his government was drafting a “war plan” to defend against the second wave of the pandemic. The plan's aim was “not for everyone to stay at home and bring the country to a halt ... but to defend Hungary’s functionality," Orban said. The prime minister said measures meant to protect the economy and spur growth would be introduced in the coming weeks. In the second quarter of the year, Hungary's gross domestic product fell 13.6%, the worst drop in the region. Orban reiterated the need to protect the elderly, one of the group's most at-risk during the pandemic, and authorities have banned most visits to retirement homes and hospitals to stem the spread of the virus. Wearing masks or other face coverings is mandatory on public transportation, in stores and in many public institutions. In Budapest, Hungary's capital city, people not wearing a mask on public transit...
    The U.S. Army will initiate on Friday the deployment of about 500 troops to Lithuania as part of a military operation, though government officials have said the strategy has nothing to do with recent political tensions in the region. “The United States is Lithuania’s strategic transatlantic defense partner and one of the main allies ensuring the security of the entire Baltic region,” Lithuanian Minister of National Defense, Raimundas Karoblis said Thursday. “The rotation of the U.S. troops in Lithuania is a deterrence factor of particular significance contributing to NATO efforts in the Baltic region.” Lithuania neighbors Belarus, the site of heightened political tensions as protests have erupted following the August presidential election that international critics and protesters believe was rigged. But Lithuania claimed that the strategic move was a part of a previously planned NATO policy to move troops from Poland for military trainings. NATO DENIES TROOP BUILDUP AT BELARUS BORDER AS LUKASHENKO OPPOSITION PROTESTS ENTER THIRD WEEK “All the exercises taking place in the country are of a defensive nature and are not directed against any state, including Belarus,"...
    Spotify is expanding to 13 additional markets. Starting today, music fans in Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia and Ukraine can check out the platform. With the expansion, the streaming app is available in 92 countries globally. In all, Spotify says the move gives it access to 250 million potential customers. However, Russia, in particular, is a critical market for the company. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, approximately 87 percent of people in Russia stream music online. That makes the eastern European country the 17th biggest streaming market globally, and it’s on pace to break into the top 10 by 2030. So as you might imagine, Spotify is going out of its way to make its platform appealing to Russian users. 
    BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Countries in Eastern Europe are facing rising waves of coronavirus infections, leading to riots in Serbia, mandatory face masks in Croatia and travel bans or quarantines imposed by Hungary. The new restrictions come as the World Health Organization reports that daily global infections hit over 228,000 last week, and the U.S. confirmed over 66,600 new cases on Friday, another record, according to Johns Hopkins University. Virus deaths are rising in the U.S., especially in the South and West, with the seven-day rolling daily average increasing from 578 two weeks ago to 664 on Friday — still well below the heights hit in April — according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins. Daily infection records were hit in at least six states. “It’s consistently picking up. And it’s picking up at the time you’d expect it to,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher. Researchers expect U.S. deaths to rise for weeks, but some think the count will not go up as dramatically as it did in the spring. Hungarian authorities...
    By PABLO GORONDI, Associated Press BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Countries in Eastern Europe are facing rising waves of coronavirus infections, leading to new restrictive measures such as the mandatory use of face masks in Croatia and travel bans or quarantines to be imposed by Hungary. Hungarian authorities said Sunday that they would put countries in three categories — red, yellow and green — based on their rate of new coronavirus infections, and would impose restrictions, including entry bans and mandatory quarantines, depending from which country people were coming from. “We see worrisome signs about an increase in the number of cases in the neighboring countries, Europe and the whole world,” said Gergely Gulyas, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff. Foreigners from countries in the red category — those with a high rate of infections, including Albania, Ukraine, Belarus and practically all of Asia, Africa and South and Central America — are banned from entering, while Hungarian citizens arriving from those locations will have to stay quarantined for two weeks or until they test negative twice, 48 hours apart. Both...
    BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Countries in Eastern Europe are facing rising waves of coronavirus infections, leading to new restrictive measures such as the mandatory use of face masks in Croatia and travel bans or quarantines to be imposed by Hungary. Hungarian authorities said Sunday that they would put countries in three categories — red, yellow and green — based on their rate of new coronavirus infections, and would impose restrictions, including entry bans and mandatory quarantines, depending from which country people were coming from. “We see worrisome signs about an increase in the number of cases in the neighboring countries, Europe and the whole world,” said Gergely Gulyas, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff. Foreigners from countries in the red category — those with a high rate of infections, including Albania, Ukraine, Belarus and practically all of Asia, Africa and South and Central America — are banned from entering, while Hungarian citizens arriving from those locations will have to stay quarantined for two weeks or until they test negative twice, 48 hours apart. Both Hungarians and foreigners arriving from...
    The parents of Otto Warmbier, the American student who died in 2017 shortly after being released from North Korean detention, want North Korea to suffer financially for their son's death. They're on a mission to track down and seize the North Korean government's assets worldwide.   In an interview with VOA's Korean service this week, Fred and Cindy Warmbier said they have their eyes on North Korean activities in Eastern Europe.  "The North Koreans continue to run illegal operations out of their embassies in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Russia. These are illegal businesses, and we will work to close them down," Fred Warmbier said.   He added, "We anticipate that we would go and take a look at those situations and see if we could make a difference there. We just want to see what the laws are there and how people feel about the laws."   Fred Warmbier said the family is contemplating "creative" lawsuits against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his sister. Otto's mother, Cindy Warmbier, stressed, "There are so many attorneys around the world willing...
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