COMING UP SHORT THIS MONTH.
Thought for the day
"The first panacea of a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permeant ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists." -- Ernest Hemingway
The world's first ukulele lesson at 30,000 feet took place last Friday on a Southwest Airlines flight from Long Beach to Honolulu.
Sadly, the class was not warmly welcomed on social media with one user even suggesting that a war crimes trial would be suitable for whomever okayed the idea of handing out free ukuleles to passengers.
The project was a collaboration between Southwest and instrument retailer Guitar Center. The organizers called it the 'first ever in-flight ukulele lesson.' The passengers were taught to play 'Hello, Aloha. How are you?' in its entirety.
NASA's new moon rocket sprouted more fuel leaks on Wednesday in a test ahead of a possible launch attempt next week - but engineers managed to get the problems down to acceptable levels.
There was no immediate decision on whether NASA would try for a liftoff on Tuesday, given the sporadic nature of the hydrogen leaks, which have bedeviled the launch team for months.
Launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson wouldn't commit to a launch attempt date, although she said the test went well.
Webmaster addition: It feels like NASA is running a bit too close to the edge on this, like they did with Challenger.
It’s been awe-inspiring to see the bottomless generosity of Martha’s Vineyard residents after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sent them 50 illegal immigrants from Venezuela last week.
Unlike angry, white MAGA voters upset about their towns being flooded with illegals, Vineyard residents would LOVE to be sort of a — what’s the word? — “sanctuary” for illegals. Really, they would. But that won’t be possible.
“Two of every four Somali-Minnesotans intercepted at New York’s JFK airport on route to an ISIS training camp had used federal financial-aid funds to pay for their travel.”
As Lisa Belcastro, manager of the Vineyard’s homeless shelter, succinctly put it: “We are definitely supplying them with a lot of love … They need to be off island.” The illegals “need” to hustle off because “Their immigration appointments are not here.” (Are their appointments in the Trump-supporting working-class town they were bussed to?)
In any event, GREAT NEWS, LISA! Nearly half of released illegals don’t appear for their hearings anyway. And guess what? There are absolutely no consequences. (A dozen anti-American websites claim that vast, gigantic numbers of illegals show up for their hearings, but they’re counting illegals who are being held in detention.)
UPDATE The head of Russia’s tourism agency said no restrictions have been imposed on travelling abroad so far and that Aeroflot, the country’s flag-carrying airline, said it was not limiting ticket sales.
Webmaster addition: Truth is the first casualty of war!
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will face off on Thursday with his Ukrainian and Western counterparts, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, when the United Nations Security Council meets over atrocities committed in Ukraine.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan will brief the 15-member body, which is meeting during the annual gathering of world leaders for the U.N. General Assembly.
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 as the Security Council met in New York to discuss Western concerns that Moscow was planning such a move.
"A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment," Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the assembly on Wednesday in a recorded video. "The crime was committed against the lives of our people. The crime was committed against the dignity of our women and men."
Ukraine, the United States and others have accused Russia of war crimes in Ukraine. Russia denies targeting civilians during what it calls its "special military operation," describing accusations of human rights abuses as a smear campaign.
Mike Lindell of MyPillow was raided by the FBI outside a Hardee’s restaurant.
Sperry has been covering the FBI-DOJ Spygate Scandal since its inception. For years the FBI-DOJ went after President Trump based on lies and manufactured evidence.
Former President Donald Trump posted a scorching reply to the fraud lawsuit filed against him and his children by “failed” New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Navy officials are investigating how traces of jet fuel got into the potable water system aboard the aircraft carrier Nimitz last week, cutting off the crew’s drinking water for three days.
On Friday, as the carrier was underway in the Pacific Ocean, fuel was discovered in the water and the system was secured, with sailors receiving bottled water, according to Nimitz spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Adam Demeter.
Three months after the Russian invasion, Ukraine is no longer talking specifically about NATO, but rather a series of “binding” security guarantees now being sought from its Western partners.
Last week, former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak, the co-chairs of the Working Group On International Security Guarantees for Ukraine, published the Kyiv Security Compact. The elaborate document includes a “multi-decade effort of sustained investment in Ukraine’s defence industrial base, scalable weapons transfers and intelligence support from allies” through “binding” bilateral agreements between Ukraine and a “core group of allied countries” including the U.S., UK, Canada, Poland, Italy, Germany, France, Australia, and Turkey, as well as Nordic, Baltic, Central and Eastern European countries.
Russia has released 215 Ukrainians it took prisoner after a protracted battle for the port city of Mariupol earlier this year, including top military leaders, a senior official in Kyiv said on Wednesday.
The freed prisoners include the commander and deputy commander of the Azov battalion that did much of the fighting, said Andriy Yermak, the head of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office.
The move is unexpected, since Russian-backed separatists last month said there would be a trial of Azov personnel, who Moscow describes as Nazis. Ukraine denies the charge.
We previously reported that the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, along with other elected officials and state pension fund trustees, have requested that major credit card companies implement a weapon code for the purchase of firearms and ammunition.
A federal judge on Wednesday “ruled that the federal government cannot require Head Start program teachers, staff and volunteers be vaccinated against COVID-19, nor can they require that adults and students wear masks.” the Liberty Justice Center announced.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday said Iran was attempting to “buy” Lebanon by having it rely on the Hezbollah terror group for fuel and repairing the country’s failing power network.
“Iran, through Hezbollah, is trying to buy Lebanon by supplying fuel, repairing the electricity system and building power plants,” Gantz said at an event in the northern town of Katzrin.
For more than two years, Lebanon has been facing a crippling economic, political and energy crisis that has left citizens without basic necessities and created a vacuum for the Hezbollah terror group to take further hold in the nation.
Vladimir Putin warned the West on Wednesday that his nuclear threat is “not a bluff.”
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi called Israel a “savage power” and insisted his country’s nuclear program is peaceful in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.
Raisi further said the US had trampled the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers. He also vowed to obtain justice for the US assassination of Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian general killed by a drone strike in 2020.
“The region has not seen an occupying savage power such as the Zionist regime in its midst in the past,” Raisi said. “The killing of children and women are present in the dark report card of the Zionist regime. It has managed to form the biggest prison in the world in Gaza and the expansion of settlements and housing illegally on Palestinian territories.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a partial military mobilisation in Russia for the seven-month-old war in Ukraine, warning it is “not a bluff”.
In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, Putin said he was defending Russian territories and that the West wanted to destroy the country. He said Russia would use all the means at its disposal to protect its territory.
Russians fearful of being conscripted by the Russian military's partial mobilisation, announced by President Vladimir Putin, have purchased all direct flights between Moscow and Istanbul for the next three days.
Turkish Airlines don’t have available seats for a direct flight until Sunday and the cheapest flight is 81,000 roubles ($1,340). At the time of publication, Pegasus, a low-cost Turkish airliner, only had one available flight, on Saturday, with a price of $1,599.
Russian national airline Aeroflot also has no available seats until Sunday, and the cheapest direct flight is $1,217. Indirect flights are routed via awkward destinations, and are going for $2,500.
All economy seats have gone, leaving only business class available for customers.
Russia has released U.S. citizens Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, in a prisoner exchange brokered by Saudi Arabia, a family representative told Reuters on Wednesday.
The pair, both from Alabama, were captured in June while fighting in eastern Ukraine where they went to support Ukrainian troops resisting Russia's invasion.
Russia on Wednesday released 10 foreign prisoners of war captured in Ukraine, following a mediation by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi foreign ministry said.
Drueke and Huynh were believed to be the first U.S. citizens confirmed captured by Russia's forces in eastern Ukraine when they were reported missing in mid-June.
In the last few months, the U.S. Air Force has modified Ukrainian MiG-29s to carry Western anti-radar missiles, turned U.S. strategic bombers into cargo carriers, and transformed airlifters into long-range strike aircraft, officials said this week, as Russia and the changing Indo-Pacific security environment have forced the service to think outside the box.
The modifications to the Soviet-era MiG-29s, which were done by an undisclosed Air Force contractor, will allow Ukraine to wield U.S. AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles. It’s one way to get Kyiv Western-compatible capabilities without the policy decision on whether to provide Ukraine U.S. fighter aircraft, and the Air Force is interested in seeing what else can be done, said Chief of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown Jr.
“These are the conversations I want to make sure we are having,” Brown said at the Air & Space Forces Association’s annual conference outside Washington, D.C.. “Whether we decide to do it or not, I think we actually need to have the conversations on some of these to see what options there are.”
NATO has brought in reserve troops assigned to its KFOR peacekeeping mission to Kosovo for training, one of the mission commanders said, as a deadline approaches in a spat between the Serbian minority and the government that may spark fresh unrest.
KFOR's regional commander east, Colonel Christopher Samulski, told reporters the reserves had been brought in "as part of normal contingency planning." Samulski spoke at Camp Bondsteel, one of KFOR's bases.
The U.S. officer did not give any concrete figures of how many reserve troops have arrived in Kosovo but spoke of a "battalion-size" unit. A battalion usually comprises between 500 and 1,000 troops.
The British government has ordered an update of its defense and security review published last year and hopes to complete a revised plan by the end of 2022, Prime Minister Liz Truss has announced.
Touted as the biggest defense review since the Cold War when it was unveiled in March 2021, Britain’s update of strategic aims and capabilities has been overtaken by events following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Europe is drawing up plans to hit Russia with fresh sanctions amid demands for a swift response, after Vladimir Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons in his war against Ukraine.
The Russian dictator announced a major escalation on Wednesday, including the mobilization of 300,000 Russian reservists and a warning that he will use “all resources” at his disposal to win. “This is not a bluff,” Putin said.
Condemnation among Western allies was immediate. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called Putin’s plan a sign of “desperation” while French President Emmanuel Macron said the Russian leader was making “a new mistake.” Speaking at the U.N. in New York, U.S. President Joe Biden said Putin's threats should "make your blood run cold."
Webmaster addition: Why not? I mean, look how well the last sanctions worked!
There are four possible scenarios for how everything could unfold:
1) Armenia remains in the CSTO and doesn’t receive US military equipment;
2) Armenian remains in the bloc but ends up receiving such aid;
3) Armenia announces its withdrawal from the bloc;
4) Armenia unilaterally hosts US forces and is kicked out of the CSTO.
US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Armenia and the very warm welcome that she received while in that country prompted speculation among some that America is attempting to “poach” this Russian ally from the CSTO mutual defense pact. Secretary of the Security Council Armen Grigoryan expressed dissatisfaction with the bloc’s response to Azerbaijan’s undeclared “special military operation” from earlier this month, declaring that his country’s expectations weren’t met despite having thought that an intervention similar to the one carried out in Kazakhstan in January could be in the cards.
Armenian Parliament Speaker Alen Simonyan, meanwhile, compared the CSTO to a gun that doesn’t fire and said that Azerbaijan therefore isn’t deterred by it.
He ominously noted that Armenia has drawn conclusions from the latest events, but just like Grigoryan, Simonyan also downplayed the possibility of withdrawing from the bloc. In response to Pelosi’s quip in the Armenian capital that her hosts “were disappointed they got fact-finders and not protection”, mission chief Col. Gen. Anatoly Sidorov stated that the organization “prioritizes political-diplomatic methods” and is “not in a rush to draw the saber.”
Carmen Obeso was pulling weeds at a strawberry field in Ventura County, California when she smelled something strange. Nearby she spotted a machine spraying pesticides; soon, her eyes were watering and she felt sick to her stomach. Obeso, a Latina farmworker, reported the incident to her crew leader and was evaluated at an on-site health care clinic. A doctor there reassured her that she had not been exposed to anything harmful, and the company expected her back at work the following Monday.
But Obeso didn’t feel better by the next week, nor in the weeks that followed. Her eyes continued to water and felt gritty, and her vision was changing. She knew something was wrong, but the on-site physician still insisted she was fine. Finally, Obeso went to see a different doctor, who confirmed that her eyes had been affected.
It has been two years since the spray incident, and Obeso said in a recent interview that her vision continues to worsen. She is almost blind in sunny conditions unless she wears shaded glasses, she said.
Image: Carmen Obeso stands in a strawberry field in Ventura County. Photo by Teresa Gomez.
Now, instead of working in the fields, she volunteers with farmworker advocacy groups, and is one of a growing number of Hispanic/Latino farmworkers pushing for improved working conditions, including protections for pesticides.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed his NATO-member country’s intention to become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), suggesting Ankara is seeking alternatives to its problematic ties with the West.
Erdogan, who made the remarks after attending last week’s SCO summit in Uzbekistan, was also quoted as saying by the Turkish media that the SCO’s 2023 meeting in India will be a venue to discuss this prospect further.
A deadly cholera outbreak in Syria has killed at least 39 people and infected hundreds more this past month, health officials said Wednesday, raising concerns about whether the war-torn country can put a stop to its spread.
The U.N. and Syria’s Health Ministry have said the source of the outbreak is believed to be linked to people drinking unsafe water from the Euphrates River and using contaminated water to irrigate crops, resulting in food contamination.
The outbreak hit government-held parts of the country as well as the areas in the northeast. Syria’s health services have suffered heavily from its yearslong war and much of the country is short on cleaning water supplies.
Former President Donald Trump is warning that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine could end up starting World War III.
The United States is providing nearly $200 million in additional humanitarian assistance through international organizations and non-government partners in Mexico and Central America, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.
"Our assistance will support the humanitarian and protection needs of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, stateless persons, and vulnerable migrants in Mexico and Central America," Blinken said in a statement.
Washington has provided more than $594 million to the region since fiscal year 2018, he added.
New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday announced a new lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and his family.