Reports: Russian missiles strike NATO ally Poland – National & International News – TUE 15Nov2022



Reports: Russian missiles strike NATO ally Poland. Jan. 6 panel weighs contempt charge for Trump. DOT fines airlines over cancelations, delays. FBI to probe killing of American journalist in Israel.





Jan. 6 committee weighs contempt charge after Trump skips deposition

Mississippi Congressman and Jan. 6 committee chair Bennie Thompson says that contempt of Congress charges against former President Trump “could be an option” after Trump failed to show up for a deposition with the committee that was scheduled yesterday. A few weeks before the mid-terms, the committee issued a subpoena compelling Trump to testify about his role in stoking the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in 2021. On Friday, Trump filed a lawsuit to try to block the subpoena. Thompson says Trump’s lawsuit, “parades out many of the same arguments that courts have rejected repeatedly over the last year”.

The committee will disband at the end of the year. With the House likely to come under Republican control, Trump is likely hoping to run out the clock on the subpoena. Unless the committee and the DOJ act quickly, he will probably succeed.

Why is Trump planning to announce his 2024 candidacy now?

Today, Trump is expected to formally announce his candidacy for President in 2024. Republican strategists have begged Trump to hold off on any announcement until after the Dec. 6 runoff in the Senate race between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker. GOP operatives believe that Trump’s candidacy will actually hurt Walker’s chances. 

Trump himself has little to gain and a lot to lose from announcing his candidacy this early. His reputation as a GOP kingmaker just took a big hit in the mid-terms. Many of his handpicked candidates lost, while his chief GOP rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis did very well. 

Trump also stands to lose financially from announcing this early. Once his candidacy his official, his finances and fundraising are subject to greater scrutiny. Moreover, the Republican National Committee has said publicly they will stop paying Trump’s attorney fees in his various legal fights if he announces a 2024 run.

Former US Attorney Dennis Aftergut believes there is only one reason for Trump to announce his candidacy at this time. Trump hopes his candidacy for President will head off criminal indictments in at least two cases. A Georgia District Attorney is currently probing efforts by Trump and his circle to overturn his 2020 loss to Biden in the state. Fani Willis, the Fulton County DA, hopes to bring indictments in that case as soon as December. The Justice Department may also be preparing to indict Trump for his mishandling of classified documents.

Unfortunately for Trump, the law doesn’t shield Presidential candidates from investigation or prosecution. Aftergut says Trump wants to exploit his candidacy and accuse prosecutors of politically-motivated attacks. However, given his waning influence, Aftergut thinks that strategy may blow up in Trump’s face. 


DOT orders 6 air carriers to repay $600 million in refunds for cancelations, delays

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced that 6 air carriers have been ordered to pay a total of $7.5 million in fines and refund $600 million to customers whose flights were either cancelled or unreasonably delayed. In one of the early COVID stimulus packages in 2020, US airlines received over $50 billion to keep its workforce whole and prepared for when normal travel would resume. Instead, the airlines furloughed thousands of employees and pushed many experienced pilots into early retirement. Airline CEOs used the billions it received from US taxpayers for stock buybacks.

As a result, airlines were not prepared when Americans took to the skies again. Throughout the summer of 2022, airlines canceled thousands of flights within hours of their scheduled take-off. Others were delayed to the extent that it violated consumer protection laws. Under these circumstances, US law requires the airlines to refund passengers’ money. But most airlines will only offer vouchers in these cases, which often expire quickly. There have been thousands of complaints to the DOT for airlines’ refusal to refund customers’ money. All the while, Buttigieg and the DOT did little other than publicly wag their fingers at the airline CEOs.

While they welcomed the announcement of fines and refunds, consumer advocate groups say it is “too little, too late”.  Consumer advocates are particularly unhappy that Frontier was the only US carrier to be punished, the rest were foreign. There have been complaints against all the major airlines, including Delta and United.  

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Reports: Russian missiles strike NATO ally Poland

Since its forces withdrew from the southern Ukrainian province of Kherson last week, Russia has escalated missile strike across Ukraine. For the first time in weeks, missiles have struck the capital Kyiv and the major city of Lviv in the west of the country. Russian forces have targeted energy infrastructure, leaving much of the country without power. 

Lviv is quite close to Ukraine’s Polish border. There are unconfirmed reports that Russian missiles struck on the Polish side of the border, killing two people. According to reports, the missiles struck near a facility for drying grain. This is the first time since the war began that Russian missiles have struck on NATO soil. 

A Pentagon spokesman says the US is still evaluating the situation and seeking to confirm the reports. Russia has denied its missiles struck Polish soil and called the reports a “deliberate provocation. Some analysts have said the missiles could have come from Ukraine’s air defense system. 

Poland’s PM Mateusz Morawiecki has called an emergency national security meeting and placed his country’s military in heightened readiness. Poland is also weighing a call for an emergency NATO meeting.

What it means

It’s difficult to overstate the gravity of the situation. A strike on a NATO ally could trigger Article 5 and force other NATO countries, including the US, to take a more active military role in the war.

While an unintentional strike is unlikely to trigger Article 5, Poland’s government has pushed for more active involvement in the conflict since the beginning. Back in March, Poland attempted to transfer some of its warplanes to Ukraine via US military bases in Germany. The Pentagon says Poland didn’t consult with them about this plan. Poland apparently hoped to circumvent US objections by presenting it as a fait accompli. The US Department of Defense nevertheless shot this plan down immediately, calling it untenable.

If a Russian strike is confirmed on their territory, Poland may use it as a pretext to escalate their involvement in the war.

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Israel angry after FBI announces probe of Palestinian-American journalist’s killing

In May this year, Israeli military snipers opened fire on a group of journalists covering Israeli raids against Palestinian militants. Shireen Abu Aqla, a Palestinian-American reporter working for Al-Jazeera, was killed. An internal probe by the Israeli military ruled the death accidental. But Abu Aqla’s family and colleagues believe that she was targeted for assassination. Abu Aqla and the other journalists present wore brightly colored vests and helmets identifying them as press. Journalism advocates, Abu Aqla’s family, and even members of Congress have called for the US to investigate.

Today, the finally got their wish. The US Department of Justice and the FBI have informed the Israeli government that they will be investigating Abu Aqla’s death. Abu Aqla’s family welcomed the news, but Israel’s government has responded angrily. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz called the FBI’s decision “a mistake” and vowed not to cooperate with the US investigation.

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