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U.S. tight lipped over claims Russia deployed chemical weapons in Ukraine

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The White House has remained tight lipped over reports that Moscow has used chemical weapons within Ukraine

The United States will not confirm whether Russian forces have deployed chemical weapons during their invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was responding to a warning by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Russia may deploy chemical agents to weaken and incapacitate Ukraine’s military.

Blinken says there is credible information Russia may use a combination of chemical agents as part of its attempt to take the besieged city of Mariupol.

Speaking shortly after, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price added the United States has provided appropriate equipment to Ukrainians to safeguard them from such attacks and assist them with their fight against the Kremlin.

Putin makes new public appearance.

Putin’s rare appearance

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also made a rare public appearance, using it to defend what he is describing as a “noble” war.

The Russian leader has largely stepped out of the spotlight after his forces were driven away from the capital of Kyiv, and into eastern Ukraine.

Putin says peace talks with his neighbouring nation have come to a “dead end”… and Moscow has no choice but to intervene and protect Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas region.

Any signs of war crimes being committed by Russian troops are “fake”, according to the Russian president.

He also says Russia’s economy is holding up despite ever-increasing sanctions imposed by the West.

When asked whether the operation in Ukraine would achieve its goals, Putin told reporters “absolutely. I don’t have any doubt at all.”

Tech

Amazon limits sale of morning-after pills following Roe v. Wade abortion decision

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Amazon has limited sales of morning-after pills as demand spikes following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning abortion rights

There’s now a limit of three Plan-B units per week on emergency contraceptive pills sold through its website.

They aren’t the first to limit pills, many U.S retailers are capping purchases of emergency contraceptive pills.

Demand has surged following last week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and ending the constitutional right to have an abortion.

Social media is flooding with calls to stock up on Plan B in anticipation of possible restrictions on contraceptive pills.

Amazon is one of several retailers to put curbs on morning after pills

A review of emergency contraceptive pills sold on Amazon showed varying quantity limits. 

A listing for Plan B, a popular brand of the drug Levonorgestrel, showed purchases were capped at three products per shopper.

Meanwhile, one listing for a generic version of the drug, called My Choice, allowed users to purchase up to 30 units.

Walmart said many of the chain’s products have online purchase limits that can change “during times of fluctuating demand.”

Walgreens said purchases of emergency contraceptive pills were not being limited.

Emergency contraceptive pills, often referred to as “morning after pills” and sold under the Plan B brand, can be purchased over-the-counter and without an ID or prescription.

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U.S. veep Kamala Harris breaks silence on Texas migrant deaths

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U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris has broken her silence on 53 Texas migrant deaths

Kamala Harris hit out at Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s response to the news that at least 53 migrants had died after being left in an abandoned semitruck in San Antonio, Texas.

“How the governor of that state responded really highlights part of the problem because his response when there are 50 dead bodies in his state is to go straight to politics,” Harris said in an interview with NPR.

“Instead of dealing with the realities of the issue.”

kamala harris

Officials are investigating what appears to be one of the deadliest human smuggling cases in modern U.S. history.

Body bags lie at the scene where a tractor trailer with multiple dead bodies was discovered, Monday, June 27, 2022

Republicans are blaming the horrific incident on the Biden administration’s immigration policies.

“These deaths are on Biden,” Abbott tweeted on Monday night. “They are a result of his deadly open border policies. They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”

President Joe Biden hit back at the governor and accused him of “political grandstanding”.

Harris argued the administration is taking “seriously” the issue of human smuggling.

“There have been over 2,000 arrests just in the last three months. I think there are at least eight indictments that have happened,” she said.

“We need to deal with that, right, in terms of the consequences of criminal behavior that results in death.”

“We also need to take seriously the fact that we have a broken immigration system that was decimated by the last administration,” she continued.

“And we’ve been trying, and we are on the path doing it, to fix that broken system.”

Harris was deemed the “border czar” by Biden upon entering office.

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Ukraine Crisis

U.S. President Biden plans huge military build-up in Europe to counter Putin

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U.S. President Joe Biden announces increase in America’s military presence across Europe over threat from Vladimir Putin

It comes as tensions between Russia and the West remain tense over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

There will now be a permanent U.S. army headquarters in Poland, with new warships on their way to Spain, fighter jets to the UK and even ground troops to Romania.

President Biden announces plans to bolster U.S. presence in Europe

Biden says the strategic alliance will be “strengthened in all directions across every domain – land, air and sea”.

NATO’s longstanding commitment to ‘defend every inch of its territory’ has been reaffirmed and Biden warns “an attack against one is an attack against all.”

The pledge from Biden includes more naval destroyers stationed in Spain, two F-35 fighter jet squadrons positioned in the United Kingdom and a permanent headquarters in Poland for the U.S. 5th Army Corps.

This increased force posture comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drags on and countries in Europe grow increasingly nervous about the war on their continent.

“The United States and our allies, we’re going to step up,” Biden said the start of the NATO summit in Madrid.

“We’re proving that NATO is more needed now than it ever has been and it’s as important as it ever has been.”

The current location of 13 U.S. bases in Europe

U.S. presence grows

Since February, when Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. Department of Defense has increased the number of U.S. troops in Europe to more than 100,000 service members, up from 80,000.

Here’s what the U.S plans to do in each European country:

  • Poland: permanent station for the 5th Army Corps Headquarters Forward Command Post, an Army garrison headquarters, and a field support battalion, to allow the U.S. to more easily deploy combat troops along NATO’s eastern flank
  • Romania: position a rotational brigade combat team
  • The Baltic region: increase rotational deployments of armored, aviation, air defense, and special operations forces
  • Spain: increase the number of destroyers stationed at Rota from four to six
  • United Kingdom: station two squadrons of F-35 fighter jets.
  • Germany: forward-station an air defense artillery brigade headquarters, a short-range air defense battalion, a combat sustainment support battalion headquarters, and an engineer brigade headquarters
  • Italy: forward-station a short-range air defense battery

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