Top Biden aide says Ukraine invasion could come ‘any day’
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday that Russia could invade Ukraine “any day,” launching a conflict that would come at an “enormous human cost.”
The senior adviser to President Joe Biden offered another stark warning the day after U.S. officials confirmed that Russia has assembled at least 70% of the military firepower it likely intends to have in place by mid-month to give President Vladimir Putin the option of launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“If war breaks out, it will come at an enormous human cost to Ukraine, but we believe that based on our preparations and our response, it will come at a strategic cost to Russia as well,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan did not directly address reports that the White House has briefed lawmakers that a full Russian invasion could lead to the quick capture of Kyiv and potentially result in as many as 50,000 casualties as he made appearances on a trio of Sunday talk shows.
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U.S. officials, who discussed internal assessments of the Russian buildup on the condition that they not be identified, sketched out a series of indicators suggesting that Putin intends to start an invasion in the coming weeks, although the size and scale are unclear. They stressed that a diplomatic solution appears to remain possible.
AP investigation: Women’s prison fostered culture of abuse
WASHINGTON (AP) — Inside one of the only federal women’s prisons in the United States, inmates say they have been subjected to rampant sexual abuse by correctional officers and even the warden, and were often threatened or punished when they tried to speak up.
Prisoners and workers at the federal correctional institution in Dublin, California, even have a name for it: “The rape club.”
An Associated Press investigation has found a permissive and toxic culture at the Bay Area lockup, enabling years of sexual misconduct by predatory employees and cover-ups that have largely kept the abuse out of the public eye.
The AP obtained internal federal Bureau of Prisons documents, statements and recordings from inmates, interviewed current and former prison employees and inmates and reviewed thousands of pages of court records from criminal and civil cases involving Dublin prison staff.
Together, they detail how inmates’ allegations against members of the mostly male staff were ignored or set aside, how prisoners could be sent to solitary confinement for reporting abuse and how officials in charge of preventing and investigating sexual misconduct were themselves accused of abusing inmates or neglecting their concerns.
Trump tirade on ‘racist’ DAs echoes other racist tropes
NEW YORK (AP) — Looking out at a sea of faces at a Texas fairground, most of them white, former President Donald Trump seethed about his legal troubles and blamed them on malicious prosecutors.
“These prosecutors are vicious, horrible people. They’re racists and they’re very sick, they’re mentally sick,” Trump said, before warning his audience: “In reality, they’re not after me. They’re after you.”
He repeated his charge of racism, but skipped over an obvious detail: Those prosecutors are Black.
His diatribe left the clear impression that Trump, who rode the politics of white grievance into the White House, thinks he can’t possibly be treated fairly by Black officials.
The comments carry the echoes of racist messages that have proliferated in recent years –- that Black people and other minorities are taking power, and that they will exact revenge on white people, or at the very least treat white people as they have been treated.
U.S. airborne infantry troops arrive in Poland amid tensions
RZESZOW-JASIONKA, Poland (AP) — A few dozen elite U.S troops and equipment were seen landing Sunday in southeastern Poland near the border with Ukraine, following President Joe Biden’s orders to deploy 1,700 soldiers there amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Hundreds more infantry troops of the 82nd Airborne Division are still expected to arrive at the Rzeszow-Jasionka airport, 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Poland’s border with Ukraine. A U.S. Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster plane brought a few dozen troops and vehicles.
Their commander is Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, who on Aug. 30 was the last American soldier to leave Afghanistan.
“Our national contribution here in Poland shows our solidarity with all of our allies here in Europe and, obviously, during this period of uncertainty, we know that we are stronger together,” Donahue said at the airport.
In Warsaw, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak hailed the deployment, saying that “deterrence and solidarity are the best response to Moscow’s aggressive policy, to the aggressive attempt at reconstructing the Russian empire.”
Inside the Olympic bubble, looking for China — or ‘China’
BEIJING (AP) — Explore Guangzhou’s old city. Wander a historic neighborhood in Shanghai. Visit with the giant pandas out west in Sichuan province. All these experiences are available to those attending the Beijing Olympics. By videolink — without ever leaving the press center.
Welcome to China. But not really.
The Olympics are usually a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the host country to showcase its culture. This year, however, athletes, coaches and others traveling to the Winter Games in Beijing are entirely sequestered in a bubble so complete that it even contains its own intercity trains. It’s all part of the elaborate effort by China to control the spread of COVID-19 (and, some say, control the curious visitors as well).
Nothing is supposed to leave this alternate universe. But what clues of China might seep in?
The country is celebrating Lunar New Year. That much is clear. Traditional lantern decorations adorn the streets outside (as seen from the Olympic shuttle buses) and the venues inside. You’re unlikely to participate in any actual celebrations — but the Games’ swag bag includes a small lantern decoration. If you have the souvenir, did you also have the experience?
COVID-19 robs Olympic curlers of beloved social culture
There is a photograph from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics that captured curling fans’ hearts worldwide. In it, Canadian curler John Morris and American rival Matt Hamilton sit side by side, arms draped around each others’ shoulders, grinning faces inches apart, beer cans mid-clink.
It was a moment that perfectly captured the spirit of curling, a sport best known for its sweeping but perhaps best loved for its socializing. Yet it is a moment that will likely be impossible to repeat in the socially distanced world of the Beijing Games.
“One of the things I love about curling is being able to curl against my friends and then enjoy a weekend or a week around them, as well as playing cards and having a beer,” said Morris, who won the gold medal in mixed doubles in Pyeongchang and is hoping to do the same in Beijing. “That’s the best part of curling. On the ice is great, and that accomplishes my competitive drive, but the actual going to cool places, playing with and against your friends — that’s been really hard.”
Of all of COVID-19’s cruelties, the necessity of distance has caused particular angst throughout the curling community. This is a sport built around closeness, from the pregame handshakes between opponents, to the postgame drinking sessions, in which the winners typically buy the losers a round. That tradition, dubbed “broomstacking” for the original practice of opponents stacking their brooms in front of a fire after a game and sharing a drink, all but vanished after the coronavirus emerged.
Curling competitions were canceled. Ice rinks where the athletes trained were shut down. And curlers, like much of the world, were forced into isolation.
Shiffrin seeks 3rd Olympic gold: ‘Best … I’ve ever seen’
BEIJING (AP) — Bode Miller remembers first seeing Mikaela Shiffrin ski, more than a decade ago. She was in her early teens, not yet old enough to compete at the sport’s top level; he already owned a handful of Olympic medals and a pair of World Cup overall titles.
The Americans were training at Golden Peak in Vail, Colorado, and Miller was impressed by the junior across the way. Her slalom style brought to mind Vreni Schneider, a Swiss racer in the 1980s and 1990s who was a three-time Olympic champion.
“Almost like she wasn’t moving down the hill. There just wasn’t the variables that it felt like were always present in my skiing, which was this three-dimensional wobble in every direction. Seemed like she was just moving laterally, just dut-dut-dut-dut-dut-dut-dut-dut-dut,” Miller said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, mimicking a metronome’s back-and-forth clicking. “Effortlessly staying in balance.”
Everyone in Alpine skiing keeps an eye on Shiffrin nowadays, of course, and the rest of the world will do so at the Beijing Olympics starting Monday, when she will be the defending champ in the giant slalom.
Her accomplishments at age 26 include three Olympic medals (two golds), 11 world championship medals (six golds), three World Cup overall titles and 73 career race wins (behind only Ingemar Stenmark’s 86 and Lindsey Vonn’s 82).
Jackson, in high court mix, traces law interest to preschool
WASHINGTON (AP) — When Ketanji Brown Jackson’s younger daughter was 11, she drafted a letter to the president suggesting her federal judge-mom for a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
“Dear Mr. President,” Leila Jackson wrote. “She’s determined, honest and never breaks a promise to anyone even if there are other things she’d rather do. She can demonstrate commitment and is loyal and never brags. I think she would make a great Supreme Court justice.”
Jackson wasn’t nominated for the vacancy her daughter was writing about, one created by the 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia. And Republican lawmakers blocked then-President Barack Obama’s ultimate nominee, Merrick Garland, who is now President Joe Biden’s attorney general.
But Jackson might have another shot.
She is considered to be among the top prospects to replace retiring justice Stephen Breyer as Biden seeks to fulfill a campaign pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the court.
Black worker at Confederate site raises race complaint
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama welcomes visitors at the “First White House of the Confederacy,” a historic home next to the state Capitol where Confederate President Jefferson Davis lived with his family in the early months of the Civil War.
The museum managed by the state’s Department of Finance says it hosts nearly 100,000 people a year, many of them school children on field trips to see such things as the “relic room” where Davis’ slippers and pocket watch are preserved. Near the gift shop, a framed article describes Davis as an American patriot who accomplished “one of the most amazing feats in history” by keeping the “north at bay for four long years.”
Evelyn England, an African-American woman who worked for 12 years as a receptionist at the historic site, said some visitors, both Black and white, were surprised to see her there.
“I’m in a unique position because whites don’t really want me here, and Blacks don’t want to come here,” England told The Associated Press.
England, 62, retired this week from the $34,700 state job, and it wasn’t the friendliest of departures: State records show she was suspended for three days last month for refusing to sign a performance review, and she said she filed a racial discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A spokeswoman said the Department of Finance declined to comment on the personnel matter.
Nearly 50, surfing icon Slater still catching winning waves
On Day 3 of the Winter Olympics, America’s biggest victory might very well have come not on a frozen halfpipe in China, but in the warm waves of the Banzai Pipeline, thousands of miles away in Hawaii.
The win belonged to Kelly Slater, the surfing great who turns 50 this week. Slater defeated a rider less than half his age to capture one of the sport’s iconic events, the Billabong Pro Pipeline near the renowned reef off of Oahu.
Now that he’s on top — again — Slater is starting to consider retirement. Nothing official, of course. Just thinking about it. For advice on the matter, Slater messaged with his buddy, Tom Brady, for a back and forth from one athlete dubbed the GOAT, or Greatest of All Time, to another.
“It would be interesting if that happened in the same week,“ Slater cracked in an interview Sunday (Saturday in Hawaii) with The Associated Press, on the possibility that he’d retire on the heels of Brady’s announcement. “We’ll see how that goes. I’m contemplating whether I stop now or really go full bore this whole year, which would be, in my eyes, really for the fans and saying goodbye to everybody after all the years of support they’ve given me.”
Should he step away, he already has his retirement plans: surfing.
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