First thing: Biden threatens Putin with personal sanctions against Ukraine | American News

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Joe Biden has said he would consider personal sanctions against Vladimir Putin if Russia invades Ukraine, as Western leaders step up military preparations and draw up plans to protect Europe from the Russian gas cut.

The rare threat of sanctions came as NATO placed forces on standby and bolstered Eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets in response to Russian troop buildups near its border with Israel. Ukraine.

If Russia attacked, Biden said, it would be the biggest invasion since World War II and “change the world.” The president said he would consider adding direct sanctions against Putin to a series of measures being developed.

“Yes. I would see that,” Biden said when asked by reporters in Washington about targeting Putin, whom opponents have long accused of holding massive secret wealth.

  • Why are Germany and France at odds with the Anglosphere over how to handle Russia? The differences not only reflect differing short-term assessments on intelligence, but a deep split going back decades over what Germany and France, as opposed to the Anglosphere, see as the best way to handle Russia. .

Boris Johnson prepares for holiday report to be released during lockdown

Boris Johnson departing from 10 Downing Street. Photography: Andy Rain/EPA

The UK Prime Minister faces the most perilous time in his tenure, with exasperated Tory MPs due to see an official report into allegations from Downing Street parties that have now sparked a criminal investigation.

The report could lead to a vote of no confidence in Johnson, and in turn an election for the Tory leadership and potentially a new prime minister for the UK. Or Johnson can choose to just quit, even though it’s said he intends to fight.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick announced yesterday that her officers are investigating allegations of law breaking within the Government based on evidence uncovered during the investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray.

Former No 10 staff told the Guardian that the police investigation would uncover evidence that has not yet been put to Gray. A senior Tory official said Scotland Yard’s investigation was a ‘different ball game’, adding: ‘Officials who don’t tell Sue Gray the whole truth won’t hold back from the cops.

  • What’s going on today? Johnson faces MPs during the Prime Minister’s Weekly Question Time today. You can follow here. Last week, during the fixed session, some of his own MPs called on him to resign.

  • Did Johnson host a locked-out birthday party? Apparently so, although a Tory MP claimed it wasn’t a real party and that Johnson had been “ambushed with a cake”. Social media erupted in mockery at the MP’s remarks.

US Coast Guard searches for 39 people after boat sinks off Florida

An image provided by the Coast Guard shows a capsized vessel about 45 miles east of Fort Pierce Inlet, Florida
An image provided by the Coast Guard shows a capsized vessel. Photography: AFP/Getty Images

The US Coast Guard has been searching for 39 people who have been missing for days after a boat suspected of being used for human smuggling capsized off the coast of Florida from the Bahamas.

A Good Samaritan called the Coast Guard early on Tuesday after rescuing a man from the boat 72 miles east of Fort Pierce, the Maritime Safety Agency reported on Twitter.

The man said he was with a group of 39 other people who left Bimini Island in the Bahamas on Saturday evening. He said the boat capsized in heavy weather and no one was wearing life jackets.

The Coast Guard calls it a human smuggling case. The agency tweeted earlier yesterday about the search, then later posted a photo of the stranded man.

  • What did the agency say? “Sailing the seas on overloaded and unseaworthy vessels is extremely dangerous and can lead to loss of life,” he said on Twitter. He searched by air and sea over an area of ​​approximately 135 miles stretching from Bimini to Fort Pierce Inlet.

Out-of-control SpaceX rocket on collision course with the Moon

The moon
Space watchers believe the Falcon 9 rocket is on track to hit the Moon in a few weeks. Photography: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A SpaceX rocket is on a collision course with the Moon after spending nearly seven years traversing space, experts say.

The booster was originally launched from Florida in February 2015 as part of an interplanetary mission to send a space weather satellite on a journey of one million miles. Space observers believe the rocket – about four metric tons of “space junk” – is on course to cruise past the Moon at a speed of about 2.58 km/s within weeks.

Bill Gray, who writes software to track near-Earth objects, asteroids, minor planets and comets, said Falcon 9’s upper stage would most likely reach the far side of the Moon, near the equator, March 4.

  • Has something like this ever happened? “This is the first unintentional case [of space junk hitting the moon] which I am aware of,” said Bill Gray, who writes software to track near-Earth objects, asteroids, minor planets and comets.

  • Will the collision be visible from Earth? Gray says it will likely go unnoticed. “Most of the moon is in the way, and even though it was close, the impact occurs a few days after the new moon.”

In other news…

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks via video link from prison
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks via video link from prison. Photograph: Evgeny Feldman/AP
  • A documentary film about Alexei Navalny, who narrowly survived an apparent novichok poisoning attempt, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The 90-minute film, simply titled Navalny, was shot during the several months he spent in Germany in late 2020 while recovering from poisoning.

  • Seattle cement workers are on strike on unfair labor practices, accusing their employers of refusing to bargain in good faith. Strikers fear employers want to purge unionized workers from the region’s construction industry and are trying to bankrupt the union through lawsuits.

  • Cardi B was awarded $4 million in damages in a libel lawsuit against a celebrity gossip blogger who claimed the rapper was a prostitute who used cocaine and contracted sexually transmitted infections. Cardi B, née Belcalis Almánzar, sued the blogger known as Tasha K in 2019.

  • Joe Manchin, a darling of the US coal industry, has sparked global anger over the climate crisis. The West Virginia senator’s name is being reviled on the streets of Bangladesh and other countries facing climate catastrophe as he blocks Joe Biden’s efforts to limit global warming gases.

Stats of the day: ghostly monkey and slug snake among 224 new species discovered in Mekong region

A popa langur
A popa langur is among 224 new species listed in the World Wildlife Fund’s report on the Mekong region. Photography: AP

A monkey with ghostly white circles around its eyes is among 224 new species listed in the World Wildlife Fund’s latest update on the greater Mekong region. The conservation group’s report, released on Wednesday, highlights the need to protect the rich biodiversity and habitats of the region, which includes Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. There are also dozens of newly identified reptiles, frogs and newts, fish and 155 species of plants.

Don’t miss this: Could a ‘fun-intervention’ improve my life – in just one month?

Elle Hunt trying out the piano at Assembly House, Norwich.
The keys to pleasure? Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

The author of a new book, The Power of Fun, says having more fun builds resilience and will help us get through the next stage of the pandemic. Pleasure, argues Catherine Price, is not something pleasant to have, but in fact essential to a happy and healthy life – and it is possible to have more of it, even during a pandemic. But can she get Guardian writer Elle Hunt out of her funk?

Climate report: Xi Jinping warns China’s low-carbon ambitions must not interfere with ‘normal life’

Xi Jinping
China is concerned about the risk to jobs and growth. Photography: EyePress News/Rex/Shutterstock

China, the world’s biggest source of global warming greenhouse gas emissions, has come under pressure to “step up its ambition” and take more drastic action to tackle global warming. However, President Xi Jinping said China’s ambitious low-carbon targets should not come at the expense of energy and food security or the “normal life” of ordinary people, signaling a more cautious approach to the climate change as the economy slows.

Last thing: the strange “iceberg” was a wonder of nature, but not an iceberg

Photograph by Simone Engels of the apparent iceberg off Vancouver Island
Photograph by Simone Engels of the apparent iceberg off Vancouver Island. Photography: Simone Engels

Clear winter skies and the promise of a beautiful sunset on a recent evening led photographer Simone Engels to a nearby park on Vancouver Island. But as she aimed her lens at the dewy hue of the Pacific Coast landscape, she was shocked to see a large iceberg-like shape on the horizon. “It was this huge shiny three-dimensional tubular structure,” she said. “It looked so real.” She later learned that the mysterious iceberg was really a mirage.

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