The Wider World

U.S. troops are called to alert

IN ADDITION TO putting 8,500 troops on alert, the U.S. is sending military equipment and supplies to Ukraine (Department of Defense).

Reacting to concerns that Russia may soon invade the neighboring nation of Ukraine, the U.S. Department of Defense ordered 8,500 troops to a higher alert level.

According to the Associated Press, those forces could deploy to Europe as part of a NATO “response force,” intended to emphasize the resolve of the Western allies against Russian expansionism.

The threatened nation does not have a military alliance with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and therefore the U.S. does not have an obligation to defend it.

However, some observers fear that Russian President Vladimir Putin is hoping to reassemble the old Soviet Union, which had been dominated by Russia before its dissolution in 1991.

Russia is denying it plans to invade the Ukraine, but it has an estimated 125,000 troops on the border, and seized by force the province of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Good news in Omicron onslaught?

The European director of the World Health Organization held out hope on Monday that the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus could help move the pandemic to “manageable” this year in Europe.

According to The New York Times, Dr. Hans Kluge, a combination of vaccination and natural immunity – the latter created by the antibodies created in people who contracted the Omicron variant – could offer “plausible hope for stabilization and normalization.”

New infections are down in Europe, and there are some signs of that in the U.S. However, the possibility of new, unpredictable variants could not be discounted, the head of WHO emphasized.

Sports: Auburn hoops make history

For the first time ever, the Auburn University’s men’ basketball team is ranked atop the AP’s Top 25 poll. The Tigers are 18-1 overall and 7-0 in the Southeast Conference.

They displaced Gonzaga (15-2 overall) into second. The rest of the top five are Arizona (16-1), Baylor (17-2) and Kansas (16-2). The next five are Purdue (16-3), UCLA (13-2), Houston (17-2), Duke (15-3) and Michigan State (15-3).

USC was 15th. Oregon was unranked but received some votes.

Weather: A chilly interval

That sunny and warm weather we’ve been enjoying for a while in the West Orange County area will take a one-day leave of absence. According to the forecast for Tuesday, the daytime high will dip to 69 (46 overnight) under partly cloudy skies.

The warmer air should return with Wednesday’s temperature hitting 75 and rising all the way to 78 on Friday.

Business/Finance: Way down, and then up

Stockholders and traders had a wild ride on Monday, as Wall Street seemed at first to fall down a steep flight of stairs, only to climb into the sunlight at last. The major indexes plunged by as much as 10 percent before rebounding into positive territory.

The S&P 500 closed at 4,410.13, up by 0.28 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the day 34,364.50, an increase of 0.29 percent. That works out to 99.13 points. The Nasdaq Composite was up 0.63 points to 13,855.13.

Cause of the wild swing?  Some analysts suggest that it was due to jitters about possible increases in interest rates by the Federal Reserve.


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