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How Biden came around to banning Russian gas and oil

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The White House knows it risks a serious political hit if gas prices continue to rise.

But on Tuesday, President BidenJoe Biden‘Batman’ scene criticized for portraying subway attack on Asian man GAO says 114 Capitol Police officers reported injuries on Jan. 6 Trump calls Barr a ‘Bushie’ who went to the other side MORE decided the risk was worth it in order to punish Moscow further for its war in Ukraine, and to respond to bipartisan calls to cut off Russia oil and gas.

A few factors made a difference in Biden’s decision.

Political support for cutting off Russia in Washington and nationwide is high, and voices in both parties were calling for the move.

Russian imports also make up a relatively small amount of the U.S. supply. Russia last year accounted for about 3 percent of U.S. foreign imports of crude oil, and about 1 percent of the U.S. supply overall. 

The desire to take a stand against Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinOvernight Defense & National Security — More troops dispatched to Europe amid crisis On The Money — Biden faces pressure to ban Russian oil Gas prices spike as support for Russian oil ban grows MORE is also high, making it difficult to avoid the choice even in a difficult midterm election year and a populace already irritated with rising prices.  

“These decisions aren’t easy. There are risks involved but I don’t think anyone can stand by and watch what’s happening over there and not take action,” one Biden ally said in judging the move.

In his remarks announcing the decision, Biden acknowledged the risk he was taking — and the potential costs for Americans.

“I said I would level with the American people from the beginning, and when I first spoke to this, I said defending freedom is going to cost us as well in the United States,” he said.  

He then played to anti-Putin sentiment in the United States, which is being fed by horrific images of civilian casualties at the hands of the Russian military in the media.

“Americans have rallied to support the Ukrainian people and made it clear we will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war,” he said.

The White House made the announcement after several days of internal deliberations and conversations with European allies and members of Congress.

It took the step after Russia had escalated its military attack on Ukraine in recent days, striking urban areas and killing civilians.

In describing the decision, officials said the administration couldn’t stomach not making Putin pay as much as possible.

“The president, he’s said many times now that dictators need to pay a price for their aggression or they’ll just cause more and more chaos and increase costs and threats for America and people all over the world. So, that’s why he has decided to stand up to Putin’s aggression,” a senior administration official told reporters. “We think this is a time for American resolve. There will be costs for standing up to Putin but we’re doing all we can to mitigate those costs.”

The administration also hopes the public will blame Putin.

Aboard Air Force One on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiMenendez slams Biden administration over reported oil talks with Venezuela Gas prices spike as support for Russian oil ban grows Overnight Health Care — Florida sets off COVID-19 vaccine firestorm MORE dubbed it a “Putin spike at the gas pump.” 

The decision was easier because of the momentum building on Capitol Hill for the step — even with gas topping $4 per gallon from coast to coast.

Polls also gave the administration some confidence. The polls suggest Americans concerned about the Russian hostilities in Ukraine are willing to pay the added price. 

“It is very popular even knowing it may increase gas prices,” said John Anzalone, Biden’s leading pollster during his 2020 campaign.

Anzalone, who was not involved in the White House decision, pointed to recent polls from Reuters and Morning Consult showing that large swaths of U.S. voters support such a ban. 

When reporters asked Biden –who was traveling in Texas on Tuesday afternoon– if he had a message for Americans about the rise of gas prices, he replied bluntly, “They’re going to go up.” 

Asked if there’s anything he could do about it, he doubled down: ““Can’t do much right now. Russia is responsible.”

The White House has concurrently been assessing options to mitigate any increase in fuel costs, including encouraging nations like Saudi Arabia to boost production. Biden has already approved a release of millions of barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve and the administration has indicated in recent weeks a gas tax holiday is a possibility. 

“There are a range of options on the table,” Psaki told reporters Tuesday, without providing specifics.

While Republicans back Tuesday’s move, they’ve also been sharpening their attacks on Biden over spikes in gas prices and other everyday costs. Democrats say they’re ready for the hit.

“Republicans are going to attack him no matter what he does so unlike Trump, he’s acting like a President and doing what’s best,” said Democratic strategist Eddie Vale. “A brutal dictator is attacking Ukraine and Biden has done amazing work to help unify NATO and the world on sanctions and now including energy, too. 

“And if Republicans are going to try and make a political fight out of this, not sure they want to end up on the side of Trump and others who are siding with Putin over America.” 

Tuesday’s move was different from other sanctions done in concert with Western Europe, which is dependent on Russian gas supplies.  

“We did not expect, nor did we ask them to take the same step that we announced this morning,” Psaki said Tuesday. 

Still, European nations offered their own intentions to reduce reliance on Russian energy. The European Union pledged to phase out Russian oil and gas imports by 2030 and the United Kingdom said it would cut off imports of Russia oil and oil products by the end of this year.

“A unilateral move was done in a coordinated way, which is exactly the way to do it,” said Charles Kupchan, who served as the senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council under President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDOD: Gitmo detainee who sought to participate in 9/11 sent home to Saudi Arabia GOP senators press Biden to rescind pro-labor construction order The world can learn from Colombia as the Ukrainian refugee crisis grows MORE. “At no point do you want to give Putin a sense that there are cracks in transatlantic unity.”

Kupchan said Biden’s decision taken together with other sanctions would further squeeze the Russian economy and encourage American companies to stop doing business in Russia. 

“I see this as a strategy of starting big and then turning up the heat overtime,” he said.

 

 

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Hailey Bieber Details Terrifying ‘Life-Altering’ Mini-Stroke She Suffered And Procedure To Close Hole In Her Heart

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Hailey Bieber has spoken out in her “own words” about the “life-altering,” “scariest moment” of her life she had after suffering what she called a mini-stroke, and later underwent a procedure to close a hole in her heart.

The 25-year-old supermodel and wife of superstar singer Justin Bieber took to her YouTube channel Wednesday and opened up about the terrifying experience of being hospitalized last month after she suffered a blood clot to her brain that traveled through a hole in her heart between 12 and 13 millimeters, reported People magazine.

“I had, like, a very scary incident on March 10, basically,” Bieber shared. “I was sitting at breakfast with my husband, having a normal day … and all of the sudden, I felt this really weird sensation that kind of like traveled down my arm from my shoulder all the way down to my fingertips. And it made my fingertips feel really numb and weird.”

“Justin [her husband] was like, ‘Are you okay?’” she added, as she explained that she tried to respond to him, but she “couldn’t speak.” “The right side of my face started drooping; I couldn’t get a sentence out.”

“Obviously, immediately, I thought I was having a stroke,” the supermodel continued. “He thought I was having a stroke. Right away, he asked for somebody to please call 911 and get a doctor.”

Hailey said that where they were, there happened to be a medic who started asking her lots of questions and testing her arms, calling it definitely the “scariest moment” of her life. The model talked about how the “facial drooping lasted for probably like thirty seconds.” Her speech did came back, but her “anxiety” about what was happening just made “everything worse.”

“By the time I got to the emergency room, I was pretty much back to normal – [I] could talk, [I] wasn’t having any issues with my face or my arm,” Bieber explained.

She said scans revealed she had, in fact, suffered a “small blood clot” to her brain which was labeled a “TIA” [Transient Ischemic Attack]. Hailey told her followers it was basically like having a “mini-stroke.”

Doctors still weren’t sure what caused it, but she said it was widely believed it was a combination of birth-control issues, recently having COVID-19, and having just traveled “to Paris and back in a very short amount of time,” calling it a “perfect storm.”

Further testing at the University of California, Los Angeles, revealed Bieber had a Grade 5 PFO [a small opening in the heart that usually closes after birth]. The outlet said the hold measured between 12 and 13 millimeters. She later underwent a procedure to close the hole, and said it went “very smoothly” and she’s recovering.

“The biggest thing I feel is I just feel really relieved that we were able to figure everything out, that we were able to get it closed, that I will be able to just move on from this really scary situation and just live my life,” Hailey shared.

“If there’s anybody that watches this that has gone through the same thing or something similar, I definitely really empathize with you,” she concluded. “And I understand how life-altering and scary it is.”

Bieber, who’s the daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin and Kennya Baldwin, married her husband Justin in 2018.

Related: Hailey Baldwin Credits Christian Faith For Marriage To Justin Bieber

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Wikipedia’s Left-Wing Bias

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I love Wikipedia. I donated thousands of dollars to the Wikimedia Foundation.

Before Wikipedia, all we had were printed encyclopedias—out of date by the time we bought them.

Then libertarian Jimmy Wales came up with a web-based, crowd-sourced encyclopedia.

Crowd-sourced? A Britannica editor called Wikipedia “a public restroom.” But Wales won the battle. Britannica’s encyclopedias are no longer printed.

Congratulations to Wales.

But recently, I learned that Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger now says Wikipedia’s political pages have turned into leftist “propaganda.”

That’s upsetting. Leftists took over the editing?

Sadly, yes. I checked it out.

All editing is done by volunteers. Wales hoped there would be enough diverse political persuasions that biases would be countered by others.

But that’s not what’s happening.

Leftists just like to write. Conservatives build things: companies, homes, farms.

You see the pattern comparing political donations from different professions: Surgeons, oil workers, truck drivers, loggers, and pilots lean right; artists, bartenders, librarians, reporters, and teachers lean left.

Conservatives don’t have as much time to tweet or argue on the web. Leftists do. And they love doing it. This helps them take over the media, universities, and now, Wikipedia.

Jonathan Weiss is what Wikipedia calls a “Top 100” Wikipedian because he’s made almost half a million edits. He says he’s noticed new bias: “Wikipedia does a great job on things like science and sports, but you see a lot of political bias come into play when you’re talking current events.”

Weiss is no conservative. In presidential races, he voted for Al Gore, Ralph Nader, and Barack Obama. Never for a Republican. “I’ve really never identified strongly with either political party,” he says.

Maybe that’s why he notices the new Wikipedia bias.

“People on the left far outweigh people on the center and the right … a lot [are] openly socialist and Marxist.” Some even post pictures of Che Guevara and Lenin on their own profiles.

These are the people who decide which news sources Wikipedia writers may cite. Wikipedia’s approved “Reliable sources” page rejects political reporting from Fox but calls CNN and MSNBC “reliable.”

Good conservative outlets like The Federalist, the Daily Caller, and The Daily Wire are all deemed “unreliable.” Same with the New York Post (That’s probably why Wikipedia called Hunter Biden’s emails a conspiracy theory even after other liberal media finally acknowledged that they were real).

While it excludes Fox, Wikipedia approves even hard left media like Vox, Slate, The Nation, Mother Jones, and Jacobin, a socialist publication.

Until recently, Wikipedia’s “socialism” and “communism” pages made no mention of the millions of people killed by socialism and communism. Even now, deaths are “deep in the article,” says Weiss, “treated as an arcane academic debate. But we’re talking about mass murder!”

The communism page even adds that we cannot ignore the “lives saved by communist modernization”! This is nuts.

Look up “concentration and internment camps” and you’ll find, along with the Holocaust, “Mexico-United States border,” and under that, “Trump administration family separation policy.”

What? Former President Donald Trump’s border controls, no matter how harsh, are very different from the Nazi’s mass murder.

Wikipedia does say “anyone can edit.” So, I made a small addition for political balance, mentioning that President Barack Obama built those cages.

My edit was taken down.

I wrote Wikipedia founder Wales to say that if his creation now uses only progressive sources, I would no longer donate.

He replied, “I totally respect the decision not to give us more money. I’m such a fan and have great respect for you and your work.” But then he said it is “just 100% false … that ‘only globalist, progressive mainstream sources’ are permitted.”

He gave examples of left-wing media that Wikipedia rejects, like Raw Story and Occupy Democrats.

I’m glad he rejects them. Those sites are childishly far left.

I then wrote again to ask why “there’s not a single right-leaning media outlet Wiki labels ‘reliable’ about politics, [but] Vox, Slate, The Nation, Mother Jones, CNN, MSNBC” get approval.

Wales then stopped responding to my emails.

Unless Wikipedia’s bias is fixed, I’ll be skeptical reading anything on the site.

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Public Health England to blame for sending patients to care homes without Covid tests

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Speaking on condition of anonymity, Whitehall officials alleged that Prof Duncan Selbie, the former PHE chief executive, was ultimately responsible for informing Mr Hancock of the risks.

Prof Selbie is working as a senior adviser to the DHSC. Neither he nor the department responded to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Mr Hancock, who was replaced by Sajid Javid last year, claimed the High Court ruling had exonerated him and the had been cleared “of any wrongdoing” because PHE “failed to tell ministers what they knew about asymptomatic transmission”.

The High Court judges concluded that care home policies in March and April 2020 were “irrational” because they failed to advise that those discharged from hospitals “should, so far as practicable, be kept apart from other residents for up to 14 days”.

“Since there is no evidence that this question was considered by the secretary of state, or that he was asked to consider it, it is not an example of a political judgment on a finely balanced issue,” they said. “Nor is it a point on which any of the expert committees had advised that no guidance was required.”

After the ruling, Boris Johnson said he wanted to “renew my apologies and sympathies” to relatives who lost loved ones, adding: “The thing we didn’t know in particular was that Covid could be transmitted asymptomatically in the way that it was.”

However, the risks of asymptomatic transmission had been highlighted by Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser for England, who said it was “quite likely” as early as March 13 2020. Varying levels of risk had been outlined in papers from late January, the ruling said.

The judicial review was brought by Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris, whose fathers, Michael Gibson and Donald Harris, died after testing positive for Covid.

‘Opens the floodgates for potential claims’

Paul Conrathe, a solicitor at Sinclairslaw who was instructed by both women, said: “It’s possible that care home providers and relatives who lost loved ones in the first wave could bring compensation claims. The Government was found to have acted ‘irrationally’ – that’s a very high legal hurdle.”

Nadra Ahmed, who chairs the National Care Association, said the ruling “opens the floodgates for potential claims to be brought against government policy”.

“This will be especially pertinent where the individual was not given a choice,” she said. “There will be a lot of people assimilating to the information as they consider if the loss of their loved one was premature, and holding the Government to account is the only way forward for them.”

Helen Wildbore, the director of the Relatives and Residents Association, said that the ruling proved “the protective ring around care homes was non-existent” and that older people were “abandoned at the outset of the pandemic”.

A government spokesman said it had been a “very difficult decision” to discharge hospital patients into care homes, taken when evidence on asymptomatic transmission was “extremely uncertain”.

The spokesman added: “We acknowledge the judge’s comments on assessing the risks of asymptomatic transmission and our guidance on isolation, and will respond in more detail in due course.”


‘He was in a home and should have been safe’

They stood outside the Royal Courts of Justice, two women unknown to each other before the Covid pandemic but brought together by tragedy, writes Tom Ough.

Cathy Gardner spoke first, delivering a steely reading of a statement. Matt Hancock’s boast of a “protective ring” encircling care homes, Dr Gardner said, was “a despicable lie of which he ought to be ashamed and for which he ought to apologise”.

Fay Harris, more downcast in demeanour but no less forthright, told journalists: “I have lost precious years with my wonderful Dad.”

Both women lost their fathers in early 2020, arguing that they might still be alive were it not for hospital patients having been discharged into care homes without having been tested for Covid.

Michael Gibson, born in 1931, had been a superintendent registrar of births and deaths. “He was in a home and should have been safe,” Dr Gardner told The Independent after his death.

Mr Gibson, who had advanced dementia, had fallen ill a couple of weeks before the first lockdown. Staff at his care home were unable to procure tests for Covid, but the virus is believed to have struck him down.

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