U.S. retaliates against Russia, orders closure of Consulate, annexes

admin   •   September 1, 2017   •   2491

The United States has told Russia to close its Consulate in San Francisco and buildings in Washington and New York that house trade missions, the state department said on Thursday, in retaliation for Moscow cutting the U.S. diplomatic presence in Russia.

“These closures have to be completed by September 2nd. We’ve taken a firm and measured action in response to Russia’s unfortunate decision earlier this year. We want to halt the downward spiral and we want to move forward to build towards better relations. We’ll look for opportunities to do that but we also want to have equity in the decisions,” said White House Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee.

The announcement was the latest in tit-for-tat measures between the two countries that have helped to drive relations to a new Post-Cold War low.

Last month, Moscow ordered the United States to cut its diplomatic and technical staff in Russia by more than half, to 455 people, after the US Congress overwhelmingly approved new sanctions against Russia. — Beverly Sayson | UNTV News & Rescue

New York governor proposes ban on flavored e-cigarettes

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2019

A man smokes an electronic cigarette vaporizer, also known as an e-cigarette, in Toronto, August 7, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed legislation on Monday (September 9) to ban flavored e-cigarettes statewide in an effort to protect young people from the unknown consequences of vaping.

“Common sense says if you don’t know what you’re smoking, don’t smoke it,” Cuomo told reporters at a news conference. “And right now, we don’t know what you’re smoking in a lot of these vaping substances,” he said.

The governor’s announcement comes after a nationwide surge in mysterious, serious lung illnesses possibly related to vaping, which has also been linked to five deaths in the United States.

The decision is of a piece with how vaping is currently being viewed by many on the street in New York.

“You don’t know what the hell you’re smoking,” Brian, a construction worker, told Reuters. “You don’t know what they’re putting in that oil.”

U.S. public health officials on Friday announced that they are investigating about 450 cases of the illness across 33 states and one U.S. territory, including 41 cases in the state of New York. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said they have not linked the illnesses to any specific e-cigarette product or ingredient.

If the proposed legislation were to become law, New York would become the second state to ban flavored e-cigarettes, following Michigan, which passed a ban on Wednesday.

While e-cigarettes are promoted as a product to help smokers cut down or quit, health officials have expressed concerns that many e-cigarette flavors are designed to get a new generation hooked on nicotine.

Many of the reported illnesses involved vaping products, including cannabis products, containing vitamin E acetate, an oil derived from vitamin E that is potentially dangerous if inhaled,

Cuomo, sitting beside New York Commissioner of Health, Dr. Howard Zucker, also announced that the state’s Department of Health was issuing subpoenas to three e-cigarette companies, Honey Cut Labs LLC, Floraplex Terpenes and Mass Terpenes LLC. The Department of Health obtained samples from the three companies and found high levels of vitamin E acetate in their products.

Cuomo said stores that sell e-cigarettes will be required to disclose potential health consequences.

“It’s quite simple: Don’t do it,” Cuomo said. “Don’t do it because we don’t know if it’s safe.” (Reuters)

(Production by: Dan Fastenberg and Hussein al Waaile)

Abe expects to discuss Russia-Japan peace treaty with Putin

UNTV News   •   September 5, 2019

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (right)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday (September 5) he expects to have an open exchange of opinions with Russian President Vladimir Putin on a peace treaty between the two countries.

Abe was speaking in Vladivostok where he met with Putin at the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum.

Japan claims a string of Russia-controlled western Pacific islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan and Southern Kuriles in Russia.

The territorial row over the island chain, seized by Soviet troops at the end of World War Two, has upset diplomatic relations ever since, precluding a formal peace treaty between the two countries.

Abe said earlier he wanted to make progress towards joint economic activities in the four disputed Russian-held islands.

The Eastern Economic Forum is also attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, and Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga. (REUTERS)

Walmart to stop selling ammunition for handguns, assault-style weapons

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 4, 2019

 Walmart Inc said on Tuesday (September 3) it would discontinue sales of ammunition for handguns and some assault-style rifles in stores across the United States, in response to the recent mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

The largest U.S. arms retailer, which has been under pressure to change its policies on gun sales, also said it would discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, the only state where it still sells these guns.

Walmart has already ended sales of assault rifles and raised the minimum age for gun purchases to 21. The latest move will leave it focused on weapons for hunting, including deer rifles, shotguns, and related ammunition.

The company will stop selling all handgun ammunition and some short-barrel rifle ammunition, such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber after clearing current stock.

While short-barrel ammunition is commonly used in some hunting rifles for small animals such as prairie dogs, they can also be used in military-style weapons with high-capacity magazines.

The retailer said it took the action following the death of 22 people in a mass shooting in a Walmart store in Texas as well as deadly shootings in Ohio and Saturday’s incident in Midland and Odessa, Texas.

Just last month, the company said it would not change its policy on selling firearms even as it took down signs and playable demos of violent video games.

“As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same,” Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said in a letter to Walmart’s associates. (REUTERS)

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