Yahoo Finance's Akiko Fujita breaks down today's world headlines, which include NATO ramping up its presence in Europe as Russia-Ukraine tensions escalate, Mexico seeing its second journalist killed in one week, and Beijing easing its COVID-19 rules for Olympic athletes ahead of the Winter Games.
AKIKO FUJITA: In our World View today, NATO is boosting its presence in Eastern Europe amid growing concerns about an imminent Russian attack on Ukraine. NATO said its allies were sending in ships and fighter jets to reinforce its deterrence and defense while the Biden administration also considers sending thousands of US troops to Europe as part of the military buildup.
This follows warnings from both the US State Department and the UK urging families of diplomats to leave Ukraine out of fears of escalating violence. The US embassy is also reportedly authorized non-emergency employees to leave the country.
Russia has been amassing more than 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine and deployed additional forces to Belarus. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused NATO and the US of stoking informational hysteria and denied any plans of military action.
Over in Mexico, another journalist has been murdered in Tijuana, marking the second media-related death in a week. Police say Lourdes Maldonado Lopez was murdered in Tijuana in her car in a residential neighborhood just days after photographer Margarito Martinez was shot outside of his home. Officials say they are now investigating both killings along with possible motives.
Mexico is considered one of the deadliest countries for journalists, with seven killed last year alone, according to nonprofit group Article 19. Maldonado Lopez worked for multiple media outlets and had called on Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to provide protection two years ago, saying that she feared for her life, citing an ongoing lawsuit with her former employer, the former governor of Baja California. In all, three journalists have been murdered in Mexico so far this year.
And organizers of the Beijing Olympics are relaxing some of China's strict COVID rules with less than two weeks to go until the Winter Games. The new rules raise the threshold for a positive PCR test. And it reduces the amount of time a person is considered in close contact with a COVID patient from 14 to seven days. The change comes as China struggles to maintain its zero COVID policy, with athletes and officials from the International Olympic Committee traveling over the next few weeks.
The country reported 57 new COVID infections on Sunday, while 177 infections have been tied directly to the games so far this month. Meanwhile, air pollution has reemerged as a new threat to athletes, with heavy smog enveloping Beijing. The level of hazardous particles has risen to 40 times the level the World Health Organization considers safe.