Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Wake-Up Call: Ukraine Military Pushes Back Russian Forces

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that his country's military was slowly pushing Russian forces away from the eastern city of Kharkiv. The Ukrainian General Staff said the Russians had been driven out of four villages northeast of Kharkiv, pushed back toward the Russian border. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Financial Times that they'd initially viewed victory as Russian forces withdrawing to positions in the eastern part of the country where they were before the invasion. But he suggested they now may be able to go beyond that, stating, "[I]f we are strong enough on the military front, and we win the battle for Donbas . . . of course the victory for us in this war will be the liberation of the rest of our territories."

Ukraine's natural gas pipeline operator said Wednesday that it would stop Russian shipments through a key hub in eastern Ukraine in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists, citing interference from what it called "occupying forces," including the apparent siphoning of gas. The move may force Russia to shift flows of its natural gas through territory controlled by Ukraine to reach its clients in Europe. The pipeline operator said the hub handles about one-third of Russian gas passing through Ukraine to Western Europe, while Russia's state-owned natural gas company Gazprom said it's about one-quarter.

House Approves $40 Billion for Ukraine: The House approved $40 billion more in aid for Ukraine yesterday, adding $7 billion to President Biden's initial request from April. The measure, passed on a 368-57 vote, includes funds for both defense and humanitarian assistance, including military and economic aid to Ukraine, help for regional allies, and money to address global food shortages caused by the crippling of Ukraine’s food exports. The new legislation would bring American support for the Ukraine effort to nearly $54 billion.

➤AL JAZEERA JOURNALIST KILLED WHILE COVERING ISRAELI RAID IN WEST BANK: An Al Jazeera journalist was shot and killed early Wednesday while covering an Israeli raid in the West Bank town of Jenin. Shireen Abu Akleh was a well-known Palestinian female reporter for the Qatar-based broadcaster’s Arabic language channel. Al Jazeera and a reporter who was wounded in the incident blamed Israeli forces, while Israel said there was evidence the two were hit by Palestinian gunfire. Al Jazeera said in a statement, "We pledge to prosecute the perpetrators legally, no matter how hard they try to cover up their crime, and bring them to justice." Israel's military said its forces came under attack with heavy gunfire and explosives while operating in Jenin and they fired back. Israel said it had proposed a joint investigation and autopsy with the Palestinian Authority, but they refused the offer.

👼FDA SAYS WORKING TO ADDRESS BABY FORMULA SHORTAGE: The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that it is taking steps to address the shortage of baby formula across that country that has left many parents having a difficult time finding it. The shortages are due to supply disruptions and a major safety recall by Abbott, which closed its largest U.S. formula manufacturing plant in February due to concerns about contamination. The FDA said yesterday that it's working with U.S. manufacturers to increase their output of formula and streamlining paperwork to allow more imports of it. Parents who can't find formula are being urged to contact food banks or doctor’s offices, and being warned against watering down formula to make it last longer or using recipes found online to make it.

➤CONGRESSMAN REED RESIGNS AFTER MISCONDCUT CLAIM: Congressman Tom Reed announced Tuesday that he is resigning, the move coming more than seven months before the end of his term. After he was accused of sexual misconduct last year, the New York Republican said he wouldn't run for reelection, but he wasn't expected to step down before his term came to an end. Reed said yesterday, "I am leaving to continue that work and hope to have a greater impact on our country," and said there is more to do to put, quote, "people before politics." Reed was accused of rubbing a female lobbyist’s back and unhooking her bra without her consent at a 2017 networking event. Reed apologized after the allegations were reported, saying it happened at a time when he was, quote, "struggling" and entered treatment after realizing he was "powerless over alcohol."

➤MUSK SAYS HE WOULD REVERSE TRUMP TWITTER BAN: Elon Musk said Tuesday that he would reverse Twitter's ban of former President Donald Trump if his purchase of the social media company is approved and finalized. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO said at an auto conference that Twitter's ban of Trump after the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of the then-president was a, quote, "morally bad decision" and "foolish in the extreme." Musk said, "I think that was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice." He said he instead prefers temporary suspensions and narrowly tailored punishments for content that is illegal or otherwise, quote, "destructive to the world." Musk had said earlier that he supports a new European Union law on social media after he met with the E.U. Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton. Breton told the AP that he explained to Musk how the regulations' goal is to uphold free speech while ensuring that whatever is illegal, quote, "will be forbidden in the digital space."

➤PEOPLE HIGH IN NARCISSISM LESS LIKELY TO COMPLY WITH COVID-19 MITIGATIONS:  People who are high in the personality trait of narcissism are less likely to comply with COVID-19 mitigation strategies. Penn State researchers found after controlling for personal politics, perception of risk, state policies, and other important demographics, participants higher in grandiose narcissism were less likely to wear a mask or get vaccinated. But, those in the group who did choose to wear a mask were also more likely to tell others to wear one as well. Meanwhile, those higher in vulnerable narcissism were also less likely to wear a mask or get vaccinated if their personalities were also more self-centered and egocentric. However, they were more likely to participate in these mitigations if their personalities also made them more sensitive to feeling judged. Researcher Peter Hatemi adds, “We all have some level of grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. It’s a natural part of all humans’ personalities because without it, we wouldn’t function properly. But this part of narcissism we all have, it can get easily fed by political messaging and hijacked into these different stories, which is what we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

➤ONLINE SEARCHES FOR VASECTOMY INFO SURGES: The number of online searches for information about vasectomies has soared since the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that suggests the high court is poised to overturn the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Research company Innerbody Research says that daily searches about vasectomies jumped by 99 percent since the draft opinion was published last week. Searches specifically for the questions, "Is a vasectomy reversible?" -- it is -- and "How much is a vasectomy?" increased by 250 percent. Innerbody Research researcher told Today Parents, "Men are joining the conversation around reproductive rights and some are stepping up to help prevent unwanted pregnancies themselves."

🚸CHILDREN GROW FASTER DURING SCHOOL YEAR THAN DURING SUMMER:  The time of year affects how children grow. In Western countries, it’s long been recognized that children are more likely to become overweight or obese over the summer months, but a new study finds this could be caused by children growing faster over the school year than over the summer. Also, because Body Mass Index (BMI) is the ratio of body weight (in kilograms) and height (in meters) squared, faster vertical growth during the school year leads to increased BMI during summers. What causes the strong seasonality of vertical growth is not known—but researchers note, “It’s possible that the demands of the school year alter children’s exposure to the daily light-dark cycle, which may cause the seasonal pattern in height. Additional studies on children who receive year-round schooling might help to answer this question.”  

⚾ANGELS ROOKIE DETMERS PITCHES NO-HITTER: Los Angeles Angels rookie Reid Detmers pitched a no-hitter last night, as L.A. trounced the Tampa Bay Rays 12-0. The 22-year-old threw the no-hitter at Angel Stadium in just his 11th major league start, striking out two and walking one as he made a career-high 108 pitches.

🏀NBA PLAYOFFS: Results from second-round games yesterday:
  • Miami Heat 120, Philadelphia 76ers 85 - Miami leads series 3-2
  • Phoenix Suns 110, Dallas Mavericks 80 - Phoenix leads series 3-2

🏒NHL PLAYOFFS: Results from first-round games yesterday:
  • Carolina Hurricanes 5, Boston Bruins 1 - Carolina leads series 3-2
  • Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 3 - Toronto leads series 3-2
  • St. Louis Blues 5, Minnesota Wild 2 - Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko had a hat trick, with all three goals in the third period. - St. Louis leads series 3-2
  • L.A. Kings 5, Edmonton Oilers 4 (OT) - L.A. leads series 3-2

🏀GRIZZLIES' MORANT DOUBTFUL FOR REST OF POSTSEASON: Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant is doubtful for the rest of the postseason with a bone bruise in his right knee, the team announced Tuesday. Morant was injured in Game 3 of the Grizzlies' second-round playoffs series against the Golden State Warriors. He missed Game 4, and now won't be in Game 5 tonight, when Memphis is facing elimination, down 3 games to 1.

🏌PGA DENIES RELEASE FOR GOLFERS TO PLAY IN SAUDI-FUNDED EVENT: The PGA Tour had denied releases to golfers who asked to play in the first of a series of Saudi-funded tournaments next month in England, with the players told yesterday. The first LIV Golf Invitational is set for June 9th to 11th. A memo to the players reportedly said that it wasn't allowed under PGA Tour regulations. Phil Mickelson has said he asked for a release, as did Lee Westwood, and the Daily Telegraph reported that Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and Ian Poulter also sought releases. Greg Norman has been trying to start a rival league and is the CEO of LIV Golf Investments, which is mostly funded by the Saudis. He called the decision "anti-golfer, anti-fan, and anti-competitive." If the players decide to participate anyway, they risk losing their PGA membership.

🏀NBA HALL OF FAMER BOB LANIER DEAD AT 73: NBA Hall of Famer Bob Lanier, a center who was one of the top players of the 1970s, died Tuesday after a short illness. He was 73. The eight-time All-Star, who was the Number 1 draft pick in 1970, played for 14 seasons with the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks and averaged 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds for his career. After his playing career, Lanier was a global ambassador for the NBA for more than 30 years.

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