WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department on Sunday ordered the families of all American personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to leave the country amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion.
The department told the dependents of staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv that they must leave the country. It also said that non-essential embassy staff could leave Ukraine at government expense.
The move came amid rising tensions about Russia’s military buildup on the Ukraine border that were not eased during talks Friday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.
State Department officials stressed the Kyiv embassy will remain open and that the announcement does not constitute an evacuation. The move had been under consideration for some time and does not reflect an easing of U.S. support for Ukraine, the officials said.
In a statement, the State Department noted recent reports that Russia was planning significant military action against Ukraine. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry has accused NATO countries of escalating tensions around Ukraine with disinformation.
The State Department added: “The security conditions, particularly along Ukraine’s borders, in Russia-occupied Crimea, and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and can deteriorate with little notice. Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly occur throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv.”
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Grimes is doing her part to support the Black, Indigenous and people of color of Ukraine by auctioning off some of her most memorable fashion accessories.
“I’m auctioning stuff from my Met gala look last year to raise money to help get BIPOC families out of Ukraine since they’re having trouble exiting at the border,” she shared in an Instagram post on May 16, adding that the auction on display at Los Angeles’ HVW8 Gallery includes “the works of 50 distinguished artists who aim to support Emergency Response & BIPOC families in and out of Ukraine.”
All proceeds from the auction will go to non-profit organizations Diaspora Relief and Razom for Ukraine, which will use the funds to provide food, shelter, and evacuation support to those in need, the “Genesis” singer explained. Bidding is open exclusively on Artsy and will start closing on May 26.
Grimes, 34 — who shares two children with ex Elon Musk — is just one of many celebs who has made efforts to help Ukraine amid Russia’s recent invasion. In March, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis shared a video on Instagram to announce that they had achieved their goal of raising $30 million to help the European country.
“Over 65,000 of you donated,” shared Kunis, who moved from Ukraine to the United States in 1991. “We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the support. While this is far from [solving] the problem, our collective effort will provide a softer landing for so many people as they forge ahead into their future of uncertainty.”
Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have reached their donation goal of $30 million for Ukraine amid the Russia invasion. The couple took to Instagram on Thursday to share the exciting news.
Miami-Dade keeps expanding its electric bus fleet, with a new buy of 15 buses to roll down the South Dade Transitway starting in August 2023.
Commissioners on Tuesday OK’d a grant pact with the Florida Department of Transportation to get the 60-foot electric buses for a $17.47 million total cost, of which the state is to pay $8.7 million and the county the remainder from half-penny transit surtax funds. Kionne McGhee cast the only ‘no’ vote.
The South Dade Transitway Corridor is one of the six rapid transit corridors of the Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (SMART) Plan. The 19.8-mile route runs from Dadeland South Metrorail station along US 1 to SW 344th Street.
The bus buy is part of an active solicitation of 100 60-foot electric buses, a memo from Chief Operations Officer Jimmy Morales details. “These are articulated buses with more passenger capacity,” said Luis Espinoza, transportation department spokesperson.
The Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization Governing Board OK’d an amendment to the Transportation Improvement Program last week to include new federal funding to buy ten battery-powered electric buses.
The county has been shifting toward electric power since 2019, when commissioners agreed to buy 33 battery-electric buses and install depot chargers from Proterra. In 2021 the county bought 42 more buses, bringing total electric-powered transit buses to 75.
The shipment of 33 electric buses will begin to arrive in July, followed by another 42 from October through January 2023, Mr. Espinoza said. “Upon the full delivery of the 75 vehicles, DTPW will run one of the largest fleets of 40-foot battery-powered electric buses in the United States.”
The department is now testing for service its first-ever all-electric bus, Mr. Espinoza added.
Proterra battery-electric buses feature zero tailpipe emissions, saving about 230,000 pounds of greenhouse gases a year when replacing a diesel bus, a county press note says.
Miami-Dade commissioners seek immediate action to protect cyclists just days after a Jeep SUV fatally injured two bicyclists on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
Commissioners Tuesday brainstormed actions and agreed to discuss cyclists’ safety in a Transportation Mobility Committee meeting June 7. Raquel Regalado and Eileen Higgins said they would craft a proposal and Ms. Higgins asked Mayor Daniella Levine Cava for immediate actions beforehand.
Commissioners proposed immediately erecting barricades in high-incident areas and having tough conversations about funding needed improvements. For the long term, they said, the county should target federal and private funds and begin teaching people of all ages to respect cyclists.
“I am directing our department immediately to take urgent measures; I have in my authority up to $250,000 that we will be using for short-term bicyclist safety enhancement measures on the Rickenbacker, exactly at the places that are most vulnerable,” the mayor said.
Key Biscayne Mayor Michael Davey said the county’s public works department is working with the village’s staff to develop a conceptual plan for the causeway.
“While we appreciate the discussions that are taking place concerning the short-term ways to improve safety along the causeway, we believe that it is critical to work together toward a long-term solution for the Rickenbacker,” he said.
Commissioner Regalado advocated barricades to protect cyclists in high-incident areas. “I don’t know what else is it going to take for us to take some immediate steps, so I would like the administration to respond to that,” she said.
Chairman Jose “Pepe” Díaz said enhancing the cyclist’s security is going to take time to study before the county starts spending money on solutions.
“The issue of protected bike lanes in this county it’s embarrassing how behind we are. I don’t know if we’re one decade, two decades or an entire century behind the rest of this country,” said Ms. Higgins.
She criticized that the county’s Vision Zero plan, whose aim is to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030, “I think is an absolute joke.”
“I just think the cycling [tragedy] on the Rickenbacker Causeway is similar to gun violence in my neighborhood and around North Miami and Liberty City,” Commissioner Jean Monestime said. “We just don’t want to do what we’re supposed to do about these things. It costs a lot of money to solve these issues [and] it requires very tough decisions.”
Kionne McGhee argued for the temporary barricades to protect cyclists. “The temporary barricades, the partnership with someone on the outside, a private company or private donor, I think that needs to be done now.”
Vice Chairman Oliver Gilbert agreed. “If we can do things like barricades now, to make specific areas safer, which we know are high-incident areas, I think that we should do it because I would much rather explain why we moved quickly to do something than explain to someone that we move slowly and did nothing and someone else died,” he said.
Sen. Javier Souto advocated educating people of all ages to respect cyclists. “Bikers need to be respected, and that starts home and starts with the school,” he said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners approved a report by the mayor in which the Department of Transportation and Public Works identifies steps needed to replace the causeway’s Bear Cut Bridge, another needed infrastructure project without funds allocated yet for design or construction.