The Wider World

Tensions over Russia-Ukraine

PROTESTERS in Ukraine over Russian moves to annex Crimea in 2014 (Wikipedia).

The border between Russia and Ukraine could soon become an international flashpoint.

According to the Associated Press, the possibility that that the new year might bring an invasion by Russia is worrying the United States and other Western allies.

Oleksii Reznikov, the Ukrainian defense minister, said Friday that there were nearly 95,000 Russian troops at the border, and warned that a “large scale escalation” could push that to as many at 175,000 troops is possible in January.

The Biden administration is responding that the U.S. would react to any incursions into Ukraine with “meaningful initiatives,” most likely strict economic sanctions.

Ukraine is a former member of the old Soviet Union. When that nation fractured in 1991, Ukraine declared its independence, as did several other “republics.” However, under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has made several moves to expand its influence, including the 2014 annexation of Crimea, a part of Ukraine the Russians considered theirs.

Ukraine, a nation of 41 million people, is seeking membership in the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Its membership has not yet been approved, but Russia has voiced strong objections. “The threat on our western borders is, indeed, rising, as we have said multiple times,” said Putin, according to The New York Times.

A phone call or video-conference between Putin and Biden is considered likely in an effort to find a middle ground.

Parents of shooting suspect charged

THE PARENTS of a shooting suspect in Michigan are charged with manslaughter (Shutterstock).

Criminal charges are being filed against the parents of the Michigan teenager arrested in the fatal shooting of four persons and the wounding of several others at his high school on Tuesday.

According to United Press International, James and Jennifer Crumbley are facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter. A potential sentence of 15 years is possible, if convicted.

Their 15-year-old son, Ethan Crumbley, is being charged as an adult, and faces one count of terrorism and four counts of first-degree murder, and other offenses. The weapon used in the shooting was purchased last week by his father.

The parents, under Michigan law, may be held liable for failing to keep a deadly weapon and ammunition from a minor child.

Sports: Utah beats Oregon for Pac-12 title

Reprising an earlier 38-7 win, the Utah Utes defeated the Oregon Ducks 38-10 in the Pac-12 football championship Friday night. With the win, Utah (now 10-3) will host the Rose Bowl game against the winner of the Big 10 title game between Michigan and Iowa on Saturday.

Cameron Rising threw for 170 yards and one score for the winners, and also ran for 61 yards. Oregon was led by Anthony Brown, who passed for 147 yards. Both quarterbacks were intercepted twice.

Tavon Thomas ran for 63 yards and two TDs for the Utes. Travis McGee rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown for the Ducks.

Saturday’s biggest matchup could be the SEC championship game between number one-ranked Georgia (12-0) and third-ranked Alabama (11-1). The game will be broadcast at 1 p.m. on CBS.

Weather: Welcome to the 60s

Winter weather – at least the California variety – is settling in for West Orange County, with daytime highs in the 60s for the week ahead. The forecast for Saturday calls for a high of 64 (overnight low of 50) under partly cloudy skies. Sunday will be slightly warmer at 67(49) and Monday is expected to rise to 68(54). In coastal areas of Huntington Beach, partly cloudy and cool conditions are also expected. Saturday looks like a 63 daytime high (52 overnight) with Sunday at 64 and Monday at 68.

Finance: Not thankful for Friday

One day after a major rebound on Wall Street, the major stock indexes all declined on Friday, responding to worries about the omicron variant and a disappointing jobs report.

The S&P 500 dropped 38.67 points (0.84 percent) to 4,538.43.  The Dow fell 59.71 points (0.17 percent) to 34,580.08 and Nasdaq declined 295.85 points (1.92 percent) to 15,085.47.

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