Britain Faces Travel Bans Amid Soaring Delta Variant Infections

Several countries have imposed restrictions on travelers from Britain amid rising cases of the delta variant of the coronavirus. Scientists say the delta mutation is more infectious and now makes up around 95 percent of new cases in Britain. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Biden Administration Names First African American Forest Service Head

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration announced this week career forester Randy Moore will lead the country’s forest service, the first African American to hold the position in its 116-year history.U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the appointment. The department includes the forest service. Vilsack said Moore will take over for current Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen, when she steps down July 26. Christiansen has held the position since 2018.Moore has overseen 18 national forests in California since 2007. He is also responsible for management of state and private forestry programs in Hawaii and the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands.  Moore began his government career in 1978 at the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in North Dakota. His forest service career began at the Pike and San Isabel National Forests in Colorado and the Comanche and Cimarron National Grasslands in Kansas.

Namaste! Summer Solstice Yoga Returns to NYC’s Times Square

Solstice Yoga returned to New York City’s Times Square in 2021, after being suspended last year because of the pandemic. The all-day event brought together over 2,000 enthusiasts with their yoga mats to the very heart of Times Square. Evgeny Maslov filed this story narrated by Anna Rice.Camera: Michael Eckels

Princes William, Harry to Unveil Diana Statue as Royal Rift Simmers

They were once so close.Princes William and Harry grew up together, supported each other after their mother’s untimely death and worked side by side as they began their royal duties — two brothers seemingly bonded for life by blood, tradition and tragedy.But those links are now painfully strained as William sits in London defending the royal family from allegations of racism and insensitivity made by Harry and his wife, Meghan, from their new home in Southern California.Royal watchers will be looking closely for any signs of a truce — or deepening rift — on Thursday when William and Harry unveil a statue of their mother, Princess Diana, on what would have been her 60th birthday. The event in the Sunken Garden at London’s Kensington Palace will be their second public meeting since Harry and Meghan stepped away from royal duties over a year ago.A display to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Britain’s Diana, Princess of Wales, a recreation of the desk where Princess Diana worked in her Sitting room at Kensington Palace, on display at Buckingham Palace in London, July 20, 2017.People shouldn’t expect a quick resolution of the conflict because the two men are fighting over core beliefs, says Robert Lacey, a historian and author of “Battle of Brothers: William, Harry and the Inside Story of a Family in Tumult.” William is defending the monarchy, and Harry is defending his wife.  “It’s a matter of love versus duty, with William standing for duty and the concept of the monarchy as he sees it,” Lacey said. “And then from Harry’s point of view, love, loyalty to his wife. He is standing by her. These are very deeply rooted differences, so it would be facile to think that there can just be a click of the fingers.”But finding some sort of rapprochement between the princes is crucial to the monarchy as Britain’s royal family seeks to appeal to a younger generation and a more diverse population.BBC Under Mounting Pressure Over Princess Diana InterviewThe public broadcaster has been plunged into a major crisis of trust after an inquiry found her participation was secured through deception, fraud and forgeryWhen Harry married Meghan just over three years ago, it seemed as if they would be central figures in that next chapter of the royal story.  The Fab Four — William and his wife, Kate, together with Harry and Meghan — were seen as a cadre of youth and vigor that would take the monarchy forward after the tumultuous 1990s and early 2000s, when divorce, Princess Diana’s death, and Prince Charles’ controversial second marriage to Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, cast doubt on the future of the institution.Meghan, a biracial former TV star from Los Angeles, was expected to be an important part of that effort, with Black and Asian commentators saying that for the first time there was a member of the royal family who looked like them.But the words “Fab Four” were quickly replaced in tabloid headlines by “Royal Rift.”  First, their joint royal office was dissolved. Then, Harry stepped away from royal duties and moved his family to North America in search of a more peaceful life. William pressed on with royal tasks, including goodwill events like accompanying his grandmother to Scotland this week to tour a soft drink factory.The relationship was further strained in March when Harry and Meghan gave an interview to U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey.  Harry confirmed rumors that he and his brother had been growing apart, saying “the relationship is ‘space’ at the moment” — though he added that “time heals all things, hopefully.” Harry also told Winfrey that his father, Prince Charles, didn’t accept his calls for a time.And then came the real shocker. The couple revealed that before the birth of their first child, an unidentified member of the royal family had expressed concern about how dark his skin might be. Days after the broadcast, William responded, telling reporters that his was “very much not a racist family.”But whatever their disagreements, out of respect for their mother, William and Harry won’t put their differences on display during the statue ceremony, said historian Ed Owens, author of “The Family Firm: Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public 1932-1953,” which examines the royal family’s public relations strategy.”We’re not going to see any acrimony or animosity between the brothers on Thursday,” Owens said. “I think reconciliation is a long way off, but nevertheless these are expert performers. Harry and William have been doing this job for long enough now that they know that they’ve got to put, if you like, occasional private grievances … aside for the sake of getting on with the job.”Lacey believes William and Harry will ultimately reconcile because it is in both of their interests to do so.Harry and Meghan need to repair relations to protect the aura of royalty that has allowed them to sign the lucrative contracts with Netflix and Spotify that are funding their life in California, Lacey said. If they don’t, they risk becoming irrelevant like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, who were shunned by the royal family after the duke gave up the throne in the 1930s to marry an American divorcee. His brother, Queen Elizabeth II’s father, then became king.”It’s very appealing, particularly in America, the idea that they rebelled against this stuffy old British institution,” Lacey said. “But there’s a point they can’t go too far, and they’re approaching that point.””On William’s side, it is impossible to go on ostracizing, boycotting the only members of the royal family who are of mixed race in a multiracial world of diversity,” he added.The critical moment may be next year, when the queen celebrates her platinum jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne.Under normal circumstances for these big occasions, the queen would want the whole family together on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, where the royals have traditionally gathered to wave to the public.”Who’s going to be on the balcony at Buckingham Palace?” Lacey asked. “That family grouping has surely got to include Meghan and Harry and their two children, Archie and Lili, alongside their cousins, the children of William and Kate.”

Germany Completes Troop Exit from Afghanistan

Germany has removed its last remaining soldiers from Afghanistan, ending almost two decades of deployment to the war-torn country alongside U.S. and other coalition troops.The United States and NATO plan to fully withdraw their militaries from the South Asian nation by September 11 in line with orders by U.S. President Joe Biden. The drawdown process formally started on May 1.Germany announced its military withdrawal without much fanfare shortly after the last 250 German soldiers were airlifted Tuesday night out of their base in northern Afghanistan.“After nearly 20 years of deployment, the last soldiers of our Bundeswehr have left Afghanistan this evening,” German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a statement she tweeted.“They are on their way home. A historic chapter comes to an end, an intensive deployment that challenged and shaped the Bundeswehr, in which the Bundeswehr proved itself in combat,” she wrote.The minister thanked the 150,000 German men and women who had been part of the mission in Afghanistan since 2001, saying they could be proud of their achievements.Germany has lost 59 troops, 39 of them in battles or insurgent attacks, during the course of their service, according to the German army. “You will not be forgotten,” said the German defense minister while paying tribute to those killed and wounded in service in Afghanistan.Germany still had about 1,100 soldiers in the country when Biden announced his withdrawal plans in mid-April. They were part of a non-combatant NATO-led military mission tasked to train, advise and assist Afghan soldiers battling the Taliban insurgency.A spokesman for Afghanistan’s National Security Council said while NATO countries are winding down their military missions, that does not mean bilateral state-to-state ties are also ending.“Afghanistan maintains close ties and cooperation with Germany. They have conducted extensive training of our police forces and that collaboration will continue,” said Rahmatullah Andar in a video statement.NATO’s senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, Stefano Pontecorvo, reassured Afghans of the alliance’s continued engagement as it completes the withdrawal of the military forces. “This is not the end of our partnership. Together, we are entering a new phase in our relationship,” Pontecorvo said in a vide message his official released. “The military may be leaving but my civilian office and myself will be staying and we are committed to supporting the Afghan security forces through financial assistance and through training.” Fighting has surged across Afghanistan since U.S.-led international forces began leaving. Taliban insurgents claim to have captured more than 100 of the country’s 419 districts within the past two months.Afghan commando forces are seen at the site of a battlefield where they clashed with Taliban insurgents in Kunduz province, Afghanistan, June 22, 2021.A spokesman for NATO’s Resolute Support mission told AFP the withdrawal of their forces is proceeding in an “orderly and coordinated manner.”The Taliban advances have raised fears they aim to regain control of Afghanistan by force once all international forces exit the country.The U.S.-led international coalition invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, just days after the terror strikes on American cities that killed nearly 3,000 people.The military invasion ousted the Islamist Taliban from power for sheltering al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and his aides, whom the United States says plotted the carnage. The Taliban later launched a deadly insurgency against Afghan and foreign troops. Now, they currently control or hotly contest nearly half of Afghan territory.Armed men who are against Taliban uprising guard their check post, at the Ghorband District, Parwan Province, Afghanistan, June 29, 2021.The foreign military drawdown stems from a February 2020 deal Washington negotiated with the Taliban to end what has been the longest war in U.S. history. In return, the insurgents stopped attacks on international forces and pledged to prevent terrorists from using Afghan soil for foreign attacks. The Taliban also opened peace talks in Qatar last September with representatives of the U.S.-backed Afghan government. But the dialogue has since stalled without making any significant progress, nor has the process eased hostilities between the two Afghan rivals.The U.S. commander of foreign troops in Afghanistan said Tuesday he was deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation.Gen. Austin Scott Miller, who is overseeing the troop exit, told reporters in the Afghan capital, Kabul, that the overall security situation “is not good,” saying recent insurgent territorial gains were concerning.Brown University’s Costs of War Project estimated in April this year that the two-decade-long war in Afghanistan had killed 241,000 people, including more than 2,400 American soldiers, and cost the United States $2.26 trillion to date. Some Information from Agence France-Presse was used in this report. 

Biden, Western Governors to Discuss Wildfire Response

U.S. President Joe Biden is holding talks Wednesday with a group of governors from eight Western states about wildfire preparedness as much of the region deals with drought. Biden and other administration officials will be speaking from the White House with the governors joining by video. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week the meeting will “focus on how the federal government can improve wildfire preparedness and response efforts, protect public safety, and deliver assistance to our people in times of urgent need.” Those attending include Democratic governors Gavin Newsom of California, Jared Polis of Colorado, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Steve Sisolak of Nevada, Kate Brown of Oregon and Jay Inslee of Washington, along with Republican governors Spencer Cox of Utah and Mark Gordon of Wyoming. Not among the group are three other Republican governors from the region: Doug Ducey of Arizona, Brad Little of Idaho and Greg Gianforte of Montana. Gianforte tweeted Friday that he was “disappointed to learn in news stories” that the president “didn’t offer a seat at the table to Montana and other states facing a severe wildfire season.” The National Interagency Fire Center, which coordinates the mobilization of resources to battle wildfires in the United States, has warned that many Western states are facing a greater than usual likelihood that significant wildfires will occur in the next few months. The U.S. Drought Monitor reports wide areas of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah are experiencing extreme or exceptional drought. 

Death Toll in Florida Building Collapse Rises to 12 

Search-and-rescue crews have confirmed a 12th death in the partial collapse of an apartment building in Surfside, Florida. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters late Tuesday the crews are “continuing to make headway,” while 149 people remained unaccounted for. About half of the 12-floor, 136-unit Champlain Towers South collapsed last Thursday, and since then rescue workers have slowly picked their way through the rubble using cranes, infrared scanners and dogs. Levine Cava said the rescue crews were continuing “the brave and very, very difficult task, putting themselves in danger.” “They have been working non-stop for nearly six days,” she said. U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden are scheduled to visit Surfside on Thursday. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the Bidens want to thank those who have been “working tirelessly around the clock,” and meet with the families who have had to endure the difficult process of waiting for news about their loved ones.  Psaki said the president will also talk with state and local officials to ensure they have the resources they need. Levine Cava, in a statement Tuesday, welcomed the president’s upcoming visit and the efforts of federal and state agencies in response to what she called the “largest non-hurricane emergency operation” in Florida’s history. Miami-Dade Office of Emergency Management Division Director Charles Cyrille told reporters late Tuesday more than 50 agencies were operating at the collapse site, including more than 900 personnel. 

Культурні цінності І тисячоліття до н.е. намагалися вивезти з України – СБУ

Під час обшуків правоохоронці виявили, крім виробів і прикрас І тисячоліття до н.е. та періоду Київської Русі, також і холодну зброю, срібні монети та предмети побуту

US Capitol Riot Arrests Mount While Some Defendants Plead Out

Sandy Weyer is the latest Trump supporter to be arrested in connection with the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.The Pennsylvania woman is accused of breaching the Capitol and filming an assault on a New York Times photographer inside the building while encouraging the attackers to spray the journalist with Chemical Mace.”Get her out! Mace her!” she can be heard yelling in the video recording of the assault, one of several she posted on Facebook, according to a criminal complaint federal authorities filed against her on Friday.Weyer was arrested early Monday in her hometown of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and charged with three misdemeanor counts and one felony count of obstructing Congress’ certification of the November presidential election results. The New York Times photographer was not identified in the complaint, but details of the incident matched an account by Times photographer Erin Schaff published on January 7.Weyer’s arrest exemplifies the doggedness with which the FBI is pursuing virtually every person who took part in what officials have decried as an unprecedented assault on American democracy. The attack left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer, and more than 100 other officers injured. Prosecutors say the hours long rampage also caused at least $1.5 million in damage to the historic building.In recent days, the FBI has made at least a half dozen arrests in connection with the attack. Among them: an employee of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, a Pennsylvania conspiracy theory podcast host, and a Florida couple featured in a recent HBO documentary about QAnon.Attorney General Merrick Garland departs after speaking at the Justice Department in Washington, June 15, 2021.Last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that total arrests had topped 500, highlighting the 100th arrest of a defendant on charges of assaulting a federal law enforcement officer and the first arrest on charges of attacking a journalist.”I assure the American people that the Department of Justice will continue to follow the facts in this case and charge what the evidence supports to hold all January 6th perpetrators accountable,” Garland said in a statement.What’s more, with “hundreds” of additional investigations still ongoing, prosecutors will bring more serious charges against some defendants who have already been charged, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray.FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing about worldwide threats, on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 14, 2021.”So this is far from over,” Wray told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. “And with each arrest and each case we bring, not only are we driving toward accountability for the attack but we’re also learning more about what was out there beforehand so we can use that to get better moving forward.”The charges against the 500-plus suspects arrested to date fall into three broad categories. At one end of the spectrum are more than 200 defendants accused of illegally entering the Capitol but not engaging in any violence. They face misdemeanor charges such as trespassing and disorderly conduct, both of which carry little to no jail time.At the other end are some three dozen members of three far-right groups — the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters and the Proud Boys — who, according to prosecutors, planned and coordinated their attack on the Capitol months in advance. They face multiple felony charges of conspiracy and other offenses.More serious charges are comingThe rest of the defendants face a combination of lesser misdemeanor charges and more serious felony charges of destruction of property and assaulting police officers.While an overwhelming majority of criminal defendants in the United States enter into plea agreements with prosecutors, to date only eight defendants in the Capitol attack have pleaded out. In April, Jon Schaffer, an alleged member of the Oath Keepers, became the first to plead guilty to charges related to January 6. In early June, Paul Hodgkins, a Florida man who took a selfie inside the Senate chamber during the Capitol siege, became the second defendant to plead out. And last week, in a significant development in the investigation, Graydon Young, one of 16 members of the Oath Keepers charged with conspiracy to storm the Capitol, pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.”This is a very emotional case. It is a politically charged case. When you marry those two things, it is far more difficult for clients to make rational and intelligent decisions about what is best for them legally,” said Randy Zelin, the head of the criminal practice group at the Wilk Auslander law firm in New York and an adjunct professor at Cornell Law School.More plea agreements in future?However, the Justice Department is likely to authorize more plea agreements in the coming weeks, added David Haas, a former federal prosecutor who is now a criminal defense attorney in Orlando, Florida.”You’ll probably see those that were charged at the beginning start to receive their plea agreements faster than the more recent defendants indicted,” Haas said.Only one defendant has so far been sentenced. Last week, Anna Morgan-Lloyd, an Indiana woman who described January 6 on Facebook as “the best day ever,” was sentenced to three years of probation after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count and accepting responsibility.While acknowledging that he was giving Morgan-Lloyd a “break,” federal Judge Royce Lamberth cautioned that he didn’t want to “create the impression that probation is the automatic outcome here, because it’s not going to be.”