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Russia Backs Down; Begins Removing Troop Buildup from Ukraine Border

Putin’s puffery is over…for now.

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After several weeks of back-and-forth bantering, it appears as though Vladimir Putin is done puffing out his chest.

The Russian President has been a fly in the ointment of global diplomacy for months now, as he continued to move a grand number of troops to strategic locations near the Ukrainian border.  After forcefully annexing Crimea from Ukraine years ago, many believed that Putin would simply steamroll into Kiev and take the whole of Ukraine sometime in the near future.

His massive troop buildups on the border, complete with “invasion stripes” being painted on military vehicles, drew harsh criticism from US President Joe Biden, as well as from a number of international agencies.

Trending: Southern Cities Running Out of Gas as Pipeline Remains Crippled

After some tough talk between Biden and Putin, it appears as though Putin is backing down.

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Russia’s defense minister on Thursday ordered troops back to their permanent bases following massive drills in Crimea that involved dozens of navy ships, hundreds of warplanes and thousands of troops in a show of force amid tensions with Ukraine. After watching the drills, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared the maneuvers over and ordered the military to pull the troops taking part in maneuvers in Crimea and western Russia back to their permanent bases.

“I consider the goals of the snap check of readiness fulfilled,” Shoigu said. “The troops have shown their defense capability and I decided to complete the drills in the South and Western military districts.”

Putin has been a big fan of bluster in recent years, intercepting a number of US jets in sovereign airspace, blocking access to the Black Sea, and constantly touting his “hypersonic” missiles capable of evading even the most robust defense systems.

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Ohio Now Offering Lottery-Like Jackpots to Promote Vaccinations

Ohio’s vaccination push has become a gameshow, apparently.

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Vaccine hesitation has been one of the most worrisome parts of the coronavirus pandemic of late, especially as we approach the next critical stage in our economic recovery. You see, in America, there is a very real feeling that the government should not be able to mandate what it is that we decide to do with our bodies, and, more importantly, what we decide to put into  our bodies.  This is about personal sovereignty, and rightly so.  After all, this is the land of the free. That’s why the government has long avoided mandating vaccinations for the COVID-19 pandemic – it simply wouldn’t work, in all honesty, and there would be a massive revolt if they did choose to go down that path. So, instead, officials are trying to entice citizens to be inoculated either by making the unvaccinated into second-class citizens, or by luring them in with cash and prizes like some two-bit gameshow. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has come up with an unorthodox incentive for Ohioans to get vaccinated. Starting next Wednesday, adults who have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and are at least 18 years old, may enter a lottery that will provide a $1 million prize each Wednesday for five weeks. DeWine, a Republican, said the pool of names for the drawing will come from the Ohio Secretary of State’s publicly available voter registration database. Those who are not in the database can sign up for the drawings on a separate webpage, DeWine said. In random drawings, the state will also provide five full four-year scholarships to an Ohio public university—including tuition, room-and-board, and books—to Ohioans under the age of 18 who have been vaccinated. The Ohio Lottery will conduct the drawings, and the money will come from existing federal pandemic relief dollars, DeWine…

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Free At Last: CDC Updates Mask Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated

This is HUGE!

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The moment that many of us have been waiting for has seemingly arrived, as the CDC has now updated their COVID-19 mask guidelines to reflect the state of affairs here in the United States. After 14 months of worry and wonder, the nation’s top health officials are now suggesting that fully-vaccinated individuals can shed their protective face coverings, should they choose to do so. People fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 briefing. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.” Calling it an “exciting and powerful moment,” Walensky said the science supports the updated CDC guidance that “anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities — large or small — without wearing a mask or physical distancing.” The decision followed the science, with the CDC using an amalgamation of studies from both the US and Israel to come to their conclusion. And while the mask mandate will certainly change the way many of us interact at the grocery store or inside of a restaurant, the CDC has not lifted their mandates for travelers, who are often packed into airplanes or busses with recirculating air and no way of knowing who is at-risk and who is not.

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