Tag Archive for: Travel


Over half of Mississippians struggling to pay household bills, the most in the nation.

FAA seeks to address string of near-collisions at US airports.

Poland, Slovakia to send Soviet-era jets to Ukraine.



Over half of Mississippians struggling to pay household bills, the most in the nation

A recent Household Pulse Survey by the Census Bureau found that more than half of Mississippians (52.9%) are struggling to pay typical household bills. This is the highest percentage in the nation and the only one over 50%. Mississippi narrowly edges out neighboring Alabama which came in second at 49.7% and far exceeds the national average of 39.7%. 

Over that same period (the week of Feb. 4-13), Mississippi was 5th in the nation at 48.6% among states whose residents fear eviction or foreclosure in the next two months. Mississippians also led in the category of householders that were unable to pay an energy bill in full in the last 12 months with 30.5%.

Median household income is the lowest in the nation at $46,637, far below the national average of $70,784. Recent data shows that Mississippi has the highest poverty rate in the nation with 19.07%.

State Republicans suddenly remember this is an election year

During the pandemic, states received millions in federal dollars to help people get through the economic downturn. Despite the great need, average Mississippians received far less help than people in other states. Instead, the state government decided to use this windfall to push for income tax cuts.

While income tax reduction is popular in the state (62%), the suspension of the state’s 7% grocery tax is far more popular (74%). Mississippi is one of the few states to tax groceries and has the highest rate of any of them. Grocery taxes disproportionately burden the poor while income tax cuts disproportionately benefit the wealthy. But the state’s Republican leadership hasn’t considered using the state’s surplus to cut grocery taxes, despite rising food costs. 

State legislators recently narrowly rejected proposals that would have eliminated income taxes in the state. This means the stalled bills likely won’t move forward in this year’s legislative session. However, House Ways and Means Chairman Trey Lamar said the bills’ failure was “more of a timing issue with some of these representatives as opposed to any real opposition to income tax elimination. Coming off the heels of last year’s income tax bill, and this being an election year, there are a few that would just prefer to wait a little longer before making further cuts”.

Reeves believes life begins at conception, but when does it end?

In a rare win for public welfare in the state, Gov. Reeves has just signed a bill to extend Medicaid coverage to new mothers and babies from 60 days after birth to 12 months.

Mississippi has some of the worst rates of infant mortality and maternal mortality in the country. Until Reeves signed this latest bill, Mississippi was the only state in the nation that had neither extended Medicaid coverage for new mothers nor expanded Medicaid eligibility overall. 

Reeves touted expanding Medicaid coverage for new moms and babies to 12 months as being in line with the state’s pro-life stance. However, Reeves was quick to remind us he still opposes expanding eligibility for Medicaid for low-income families under Obamacare. Maybe Reeves thinks life ends at 12 months?


FAA seeks to address string of near-collisions at US airports

So far in 2023, there have been at least nine near-collisions of commercial airplanes at eight US airports. That number may seems small in light of the fact that there are about 45,000 flights taking off each day. But when you consider the hundreds of lives put at risk each time, even one near-miss is unacceptable.

The circumstances vary in each case, but in some instances, the near-miss was the result of air traffic control clearing two planes to use the same runway. This was the case in the most dramatic near-collision in Austin, TX, in which a FedEx cargo plane came within 100 feet of a Southwest Airlines passenger plane. Controllers had cleared the FedEx plane to land on the same runway where the Southwest Airlines flight was taking off. In this case, it was the quick thinking of the FedEx pilot that averted disaster, rather than any action by air traffic control.  

On Wednesday, FAA held an emergency summit this week, its first in 14 years, to discuss the issue. The panel of aviation experts cited low staffing numbers at the FAA and a lack of experience among new hires as a major factor. The staffing issues come at the same time that US demand for air travel is surging, making accidents and near-accidents more likely.

It may also be significant that 8 of the 9 incidents took place after an outage of the FAA’s automated NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) system which notifies pilots of potential hazards they may encounter during their flights. The NOTAM system went dark late in the night of Jan. 10 and grounded all flights in the US for two hours the following morning. An investigation found that the outage was the result of FAA contractors deleting files.

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Poland, Slovakia send Soviet-era jets to Ukraine

After nearly a year of requests from Kiev, Poland yesterday agreed to send about a dozen Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. Today, Slovakia followed suit, promising 13 MiG-29s. At the time of Russia’s invasion last year, Ukraine had several dozen MiG-29s that it had retained following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It’s not clear how many of these remain in service over a year later.

According to Slovakia’s Defense Minister, the European Union is offering Slovakia 200 million euros ($213 million) in compensation for giving the jets to Ukraine. Slovakia will also receive $745 million in unspecified arms from the US, the minister said. There’s no reporting on whether Poland is receiving similar compensation for its pledge. However, Poland’s Defense Minister did mention that they would be replacing their MiGs with South Korean and American-made fighter jets.

The White House says it was informed of Poland’s decision before it was announced. Biden has long been under pressure to give Ukraine F-16s, a request the US has so far steadfastly refused. National Security advisor John Kirby neither endorsed nor condemned Poland and Slovakia’s decision, but said it would have no bearing on the US position on sending F-16s. 

Unlike F-16s, Ukraine’s fighter pilots require no additional training to fly MiG-29s. But maintaining them may pose a problem. Slovakia had previously grounded its MiG-29 fleet due to difficulties obtaining spare parts and the departure of Russian maintenance workers.

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Texas: Five women sue after abortion bans put their lives at risk.

DOJ moves to block merger between discount airlines JetBlue and Spirit.

Was Mexico kidnapping a case of mistaken identity?



Texas: Five women sue after abortion bans put their lives at risk

Five women from Texas have filed a lawsuit demanding greater clarity for medical exceptions in Texas’ various abortion bans. All of Texas’ anti-abortion laws contain exceptions for preserving the life of the mother. However, according to women’s health advocates, these exceptions are written in a way that is deliberately vague and that make it unclear when a medically-necessary abortion is permitted.

The laws have discouraged healthcare providers in the state from providing or even suggesting abortions to their patients, even when there is no viable alternative. That lack of clarity put the lives of these five women, and countless others, at risk. Two healthcare providers have also joined them in the suit. 

Click here to read the women’s stories

Women and healthcare providers in many states that have laws banning abortion have faced similar problems. Most healthcare providers have interpreted the laws to mean an abortion is only permissible once the mother is at the point of death. Even in situations where a fetus cannot survive, such as when the mother’s water breaks prematurely, medical practitioners won’t provide abortions until the fetus no longer has a detectable heartbeat.

Putting off abortions in these situations puts mothers at risk of sepsis and other deadly complications. If an infection becomes too advanced, it can also necessitate a hysterectomy, an outcome that can be avoided with early intervention.

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DOJ moves to block merger between discount airlines JetBlue and Spirit

In a rare move, the Department of Justice has sued to block a proposed merger between two discount airlines, JetBlue and Spirit. The DOJ argues that this merger will decrease competition and raise prices for travelers on all routes that these two airlines serve, whether or not they’re flying with one of the discount airlines.

According to Attorney General Merrick Garland, “Spirit’s own internal documents estimate that when it starts flying a route, average fares fall by 17%. And an internal JetBlue document estimates that when Spirit stops flying a route, average fares go up by 30%”.

The merger between JetBlue and Spirit would create the nation’s 5th largest airline. Thanks to decades of buyouts and consolidation in the airline industry, 80% of the US air travel market is controlled by just four airlines.

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Was Mexico kidnapping a case of mistaken identity?

After a four-day ordeal, two Americans kidnapped in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas last week were released yesterday. Two friends that were traveling with them did not survive injuries from an initial shooting. Now theories abound as to why these four Americans, one of whom was there for a medical procedure, fell victim to this attack in the first place, and why they were held captive for so many days.

Kidnapping for ransom is common in several Mexican states. Usually, people traveling alone on a remote road are grabbed, forced to withdraw a large amount of money from an ATM, and then let go unharmed. However, ransom does not appear to have been the motive in this case. 

Some have raised the possibility that members of the Gulf cartel, which has long dominated this area, mistook the four Black Americans for rival Haitian gang members. As the political and economic situation in Haiti has worsened in recent years, thousands of Haitians have relocated to Mexico. Some Haitian gangs that smuggle drugs or people have also gained a foothold in this part of Mexico. Officials have not commented on this theory, but have said they believe the kidnapping resulted from a “misunderstanding”.

Mexican drug war analyst Alejandro Hope also speculates that the Gulf cartel members soon realized their mistake. Fearing that the full force of both American and Mexican law enforcement would soon come down on them, Hope says the cartel likely tipped off their local law enforcement and government connections to the location of the safehouse where the captives were. 

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Computer system failure grounds all US air travel for hours.

Debt ceiling fight ahead in Congress, jeopardizing economy.

Peru under genocide investigation after deadly protests.




Computer system glitch grounds all US air travel for hours

An overnight malfunction in the system that notifies pilots of hazards grounded all US air travel for several hours up until 9am (ET) this morning. According to the flight tracking website FlightAware, over 8000 flights were delayed today and over 1000 were canceled. The numbers of delays continue climbing as a knock-on effect of delays or cancellations this morning.

The system that crashed was the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) uses this system to notify pilots of unusual hazards and conditions and to convey other vital safety information. 

It isn’t clear what caused the system to crash. Analysts have said it is unlikely to have been the result of a cyber attack because of the way the outage progressed. It’s possible that the system became overloaded or couldn’t cope with the complexity of tasks it had to perform. A former FAA official suggested that NOTAM may have encountered a capacity problem, similar to the problem that forced Southwest airlines to cancel thousands of flights between Christmas and the first week of January.

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Debt ceiling fight ahead in Congress, jeopardizing economy

The federal government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling will soon max out, possibly as soon as the end of this month. The Treasury Department can then implement some measures that may carry the country through until the summer. Before those measures run out, Congress will have to agree to raise the debt ceiling to pay debts the federal government has already incurred, not to allow for new spending. If this does not happen, the government will shut down and the country will default on its debts. This would be catastrophic for the national and global economy and for everyday Americans.

With Republicans now in control of the House, the stage is set for a showdown over the debt that could jeopardize the US economy. During the Obama administration in 2011, Republicans in Congress held the debt ceiling hostage in order to win major concessions on government spending, mostly by cutting government programs to support the poor. After months of brinksmanship, Congress finally hammered out an agreement. But the debt rating company Standard & Poor’s downgraded the US credit rating, citing the turmoil and delay in raising the debt ceiling. This downgrade in credit rating raised the borrowing costs for the US by billions of dollars.

The recent fight over the Speakership in the House resulted in the new Speaker Kevin McCarthy making concessions that could make it much harder for him to force through a deal to raise the debt ceiling. Some of those who blocked McCarthy from winning the Speakership through 14 ballots have vowed to challenge his leadership again if he tries to force a debt ceiling vote without massive spending cuts.

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Related: What happens if the US defaults on its debt? (opens in new tab).



Peru under genocide investigation after deadly protests

Back in December, Peru’s elected President Pedro Castillo attempted to break an impasse with Congress by dissolving the body and calling snap elections. This led to Castillo being deposed and arrested for rebellion. Castillo’s VP Dina Boluarte then became President, though it appears the Cabinet is really in charge of the country.

Castillo’s arrest angered many Peruvians, especially poor indigenous people in rural areas for whom Castillo had been a long-sought champion. Days of deadly protests followed, leading the Cabinet to impose martial law. The measures criminalized any public assembly, severely restricted people’s movements, and empowered the country’s police force to raid anyone’s home without a court order.

Since Castillo’s ouster in early December, at least 46 civilians have been killed most of them indigenous. On Monday alone, security forces killed at least 17 people. The country’s interior minister claimed the protesters were attempting to storm an airport and that the security forces acted appropriately. The office of Peru’s National Human Rights Coordinator disagrees, calling Monday’s deaths “extrajudicial killings”. 

Peru’s Attorney General has announced that Boluarte and her Cabinet are under investigation for possible acts of genocide in connection with the deaths of these protesters.

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Jackson mayor says latest water disruption “worst case scenario”.

Southwest Airlines: Pilot union says weather not solely to blame for mass cancellations.

US, other countries consider travel restrictions for China.



Jackson mayor says latest water disruption “worst case scenario”

Jackson, MS, has been under a boil water notice since Christmas Day after freezing weather caused a drop in water pressure. Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba declared a state of emergency yesterday and declared the situation a “worst case scenario”. Local authorities hoped that increasing output from two water treatment plants might remedy the immediate problem. But even after increasing output at the O. B. Curtis and J.H. Fewell water treatment plants, much of the city remains without adequate water pressure. An official press release on Monday said “We are producing significant amounts of water and pushing that into the system, but the pressure is not increasing — despite those efforts at the plants.”

This would seem to suggest unidentified leaks somewhere in the city’s pipe network. Residents are being asked to keep taps closed to maintain what pressure there is. Officials are also urging residents to report any leaks so that they can be repaired and hopefully restore pressure. However, there are numerous anecdotal reports on Jackson’s government Facebook page from residents who say they’ve been reporting leaks for days and that no crews have yet arrived.

Mayor Lumumba explained to residents that the boil water notice is a requirement of the EPA when water pressure falls below a certain level. He did not say whether there were any indications that any water that flows out of taps poses a danger to residents. The city is continuing to work with the recently-appointed third-party manager, Ted Henifin. 

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Southwest Airlines: Pilot union says weather not solely to blame for 1000s of cancellations

Over the weekend, major airlines were forced to cancel thousands of flights due to the severe weather across the country. All but one, Southwest Airlines, were largely back to normal by Tuesday. On Monday, the carrier canceled 70% of its flights and then 60% on Tuesday. In contrast, most major airlines were only canceling about 2% of their flights by Tuesday.

A Southwest spokesman solely blamed the weather for leaving them “chasing our tails, trying to catch up”. However, Casey Murray, president of Southwest’s pilots union, says weather is the least of the airline’s problems. Firstly, Murray says the company’s scheduling software dates to the 1990s – when the airline was much smaller – and is no longer up to the job. Secondly, he cited an overall failure of leadership. “Whether it was pilots, whether it was customer service agents, whether it was ramp agents – they weren’t given the tools to do their job,” Murray said. “Nor were they given the leadership to answer the questions and to be able to provide solutions.” 

The Department of Transportation has taken notice of Southwest’s disproportionately high number of cancellations and is investigating. After a disastrous summer for many air travelers, DOT at last put airlines on notice, promising fines and other consequences if airlines continued to book more flights than they could handle given industry-wide staffing shortages.

The cancellations disrupted plans for thousands of customers and left many stranded. Democratic Senators Edward Markey (MT) and Richard Blumenthal (CT) are demanding that Southwest payout “significant monetary compensation” to customers. “Southwest is planning to issue a $428 million dividend next year – the company can afford to do right by the consumers it has harmed,” the senators said on Tuesday.

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US, other countries consider travel restrictions for China

Just China’s COVID infections are taking off at an astronomical rate, the country has announced an end to three years of tight travel restrictions. Under China’s Zero COVID policy, travel between provinces and abroad were tightly controlled, with lengthy quarantine periods for returning travelers. Next month is Chinese New Year, which is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. During this time, millions of Chinese people crisscross the country visiting relatives. This has raised concerns that city dwellers will bring COVID infections to rural areas, where health systems are more limited.

Many Chinese also take advantage of the extended New Year holiday to go abroad.  Following the announcement that travel restrictions would be lifted next month, Chinese people flocked to travel websites to book trips. But some of their favorite destinations will be tightening their controls on travelers from China due to the COVID surge. Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan and India have already announced requirements for negative COVID tests or 7-day quarantines for Chinese arrivals. The US may be following suit, blaming China’s “lack of transparent data” on its COVID surge.

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Freezing temperatures and snow to hit much of the US this week. White House eyes new strategy to combat homelessness: prevention. Researchers identify 168 new Nazca line glyphs.




Freezing temperatures and snow to hit much of the US this week

Much of the country is expecting dangerously low temperatures, ice and snow this week as an Arctic wind tracks behind a cold front. The Northwest, Great Plains, Great Lakes and Southeast regions are all expected to see hazardous conditions. The weather is likely to force flight delays and cancellations as people prepare to travel for the holidays. Yesterday, the Seattle-Tacoma Airport had to cancel nearly 200 flights due to snow, rain and low visibility. More cancelations are likely today. Icey roadies will also create dangerous conditions for drivers. Travelers are urged to check local weather conditions before venturing out.

The Southeast from Texas to Tennessee to Central Florida is also expecting wet weather and freezing temperatures. The conditions will be similar to conditions that created a massive days-long power outage in Texas in February 2021. During that freeze, much of the core power infrastructure failed and hundreds of people died. The state’s grid will be put to the test once again.

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White House eyes new strategy to combat homelessness: prevention

One night a year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) conducts a count of homeless people in the US. Data from this year’s count showed that 582,462 were homeless, which is only slightly more than the last full pre-pandemic count in 2020. This would suggest that the US homeless population has stabilized. But that number should be falling. Government and private outreach organizations help bring hundreds of thousands back from homelessness every year. Unfortunately, a roughly equal number of people are falling into homelessness right behind them.

This week, the Biden administration unveiled its new plan to reduce homelessness by 25% by 2025. The focus of this plan is on preventing homelessness before it happens. The premise is that it is easier and costs less money to keep someone in a home than it is to get an unhoused person into a home. By implementing this plan, the White House hopes to stop the churn into and out of homelessness by interrupting the cycle.

Creative individualized solutions

The White House Plan builds on efforts during COVID to keep people in their homes by offering rental assistance. Biden has requested a $360 million increase in the 2023 budget for HUD. The plan is for HUD to coordinate with local officials and organizations to identify people who are at risk of homelessness and offering individualized assistance that can help keep them in work and in their homes.

Sean Read of the Washington, D.C., nonprofit Friendship Place says its important to find “the creative solutions, like, three steps before the full-blown emergency”. Read gives an example of a person who needs their car to get to work. If the car breaks down, having the money to repair the car could be the difference between that person staying in their home or losing it. “If you can do an $800 car repair that keeps them in work {and] able to pay the $2,000 a month rent, you’ve addressed the issue earlier on at a lower cost,” Read says.

Jeff Olivet, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, who helped craft the White House plan, says the government must also do a better job of identifying people at risk. For example, individuals transitioning out of rehab, foster care or prison are often at higher risk for homelessness. “At those critical moments of transition,” Olivet says, “we have an opportunity. We know where people are. We could bridge that in-patient, or incarceration, or foster care experience straight into housing. It does not have to result in shelter or living in a tent”.

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Researchers identify 168 new Nazca line glyphs

Visitors and archaeologists have long marveled at the famous Nazca lines in the Peruvian desert. These glyphs are excavated from the dry earth in trench-like formations. Some take the form of long straight lines while other have more complicated shapes depicting humans, animals, plants or sacred symbols. They range in size from tens to hundreds of feet across and are anywhere from 1700 to 2100 years old. In the nearly 100 years since they were rediscovered by military and civilian pilots, many have speculated as their purpose, but there remains no universal consensus.

A two-year project by Japanese and Peruvian researchers has discovered an additional 168 previously unrecorded glyphs. That’s in addition to the over 1100 glyphs previously identified. The latest research project involved the use of aerial photography and drones. Further studies using artificial intelligence may help in efforts to identify more glyphs and preserve them. Many of the glyphs are unfortunately under threat from mining activity and other development in the area.

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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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NEMiss.News Union County Courthouse at sunset


The Union County Board of Supervisors approved two major expenditures during its Monday, Oct 3 meeting.

The air conditioning system in the 113-year-old courthouse building has required extensive maintenance in recent years, but it has still failed to keep the building cool. The board voted Monday to have a new “chiller” installed for $88,487.

A controller/thermostat for the new unit will cost an additional $8,822, a total of $97,309.

There was only one bid for the chiller, which came from Tristar Company. As board president C. J. Bright commented, “You can’t go to Walmart and get one of those.” The board voted unanimously to approve the purchase.

The board approved a contract for labor for paving County Road 1. The bids were originally opened a week ago on Sept. 26. The contract was awarded to Roberts Paving at a total price of $71,300 or $46 per ton. The next lowest bid for the same paving labor was $50 per ton.

In other routine business, the supervisors also:

  • approved longevity raises,
  • authorized travel for training, and
  • authorized payment of routine fees to constitutional officers.

The next meeting of the Union County Board of Supervisors will be Monday, Nov. 7, at 10 a.m. There will be only one Board of Supervisors meeting this October.

Click the link below for video of Oct 3, 2022, meeting of Union County Board:



Air travel chaos likely to worsen this weekend. SCOTUS rulings: EPA can’t cap carbon emissions from power plants; Biden can end Remain in Mexico policy.




Passengers brace for July 4th weekend travel chaos

With millions of travelers flying over the weekend, industry experts are expecting many long delays and hundreds of flight cancellations. Yesterday, airlines cancelled over 450 flights. At the time of this writing, there have been over 250 cancellations today with more possible. The same is likely to be true over the weekend.

The reasons for these travel snarls are numerous, most having to do with airline staffing shortages. The airlines have received much criticism and scrutiny for the 21,000+ cancellations since Memorial Day, more than twice the number over the same period last year. Airline industry groups are attempting to shift the blame to the FAA, which is experience staffing shortages of its own.

At the start of the pandemic, the airline industry received $54 billion in federal funds from one of the CARES packages. The money was supposed to help the industry to maintain its staff and equipment as airline travel dipped sharply. Instead, airlines furloughed and laid off thousands of employees. Since travel started picking up again, airlines have yet to get their staff numbers up to pre-pandemic levels, despite the surge in demand and higher prices.

One key shortage is pilots. After taking the billions in federal funds, airlines offered pilots nearing retirement lucrative packages to entice them into retiring early. But flight schools were also closed during that time, so there aren’t enough new pilots in the pipeline to replace the ones who’ve left.

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Supreme Court guts EPA’s authority to cap carbon emissions

As one of its final acts before the summer recess, the Supreme Court’s 6-3 conservative majority dealt a major blow to the federal government’s ability to set carbon emissions targets. During the Obama and Biden presidencies, the EPA set caps on carbon emissions for power plants by state. The court ruled that the EPA lacked the authority to do that without specific Congressional approval. This means that the states and even individual businesses will now be able to set their own caps regardless of federal guidelines.

Environmentalists say that the ruling is a huge setback in the fight to slow down climate change. With, so far, no major legislation having passed to fund climate policies and actions, Biden’s running out of avenues to meet his professed climate goals. Not only has the federal government lost the ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, there is a possibility it will soon be unable to regulate emissions from coal, gas and oil.

Even if Congress were not currently deadlocked on climate policy, it’s a lot to ask of lawmakers to make the best scientifically-grounded decision. That’s why federal agencies have generally had broad authority to regulate in their respective fields.

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SCOTUS rules Biden can end controversial Remain in Mexico policy

Trump appointee Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s three liberals in a ruling that will allow Biden to end a controversial immigration policy. The Remain in Mexico policy came into effect early in the Trump administration. The policy requires asylum seekers who attempt to cross the Southern border to await their US asylum hearings in Mexico rather than in the US.

At it’s high point during the Trump era, as many as 70,000 people were subject to the policy. Most had little choice but to wait in some of Mexico’s border towns in shelters or encampments. These are some of the most dangerous areas in Mexico and immigrants staying there were vulnerable to theft, abuse and violent crime.

Biden had lifted the policy in the early days of his presidency. However, after several conservative states brought lawsuits, a lower federal court ruled that the policy had to remain in place. In the majority opinion, Justice Roberts wrote that the lower courts had erred in its premise that Biden did not have the authority to lift the policy. Since the Remain in Mexico policy is also a matter of foreign policy, that places it squarely in the federal government’s purview.

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Reagan shooter John Hinckley Jr., to be released after 41 years. Pilot shortage caused Memorial Day travel chaos. Shanghai lockdown eases after 2 months.



Reagan shooter John Hinckley Jr., to be released after 41 years

In 1981, John Hinckley Jr., shot and seriously wounded then-President Ronald Reagan outside a Washington DC hotel. Three others were also wounded in the attack.

At the time, Hinckley was suffering from acute psychosis. He was obsessed with the actress Jodie Foster, and believed that killing Reagan would impress her. For this reason, Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He remained in a psychiatric institution until 2016, when he was allowed to live with his mother with numerous restrictions on his freedom.

Now, a judge has ruled that Hinckley, now 67, will receive an unconditional release as of June 15.

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Memorial Day travel chaos caused by pilot shortage

In 2020, Congress gave over $50 billion to the commercial airline industry after aggressive lobbying from major airlines. Airlines said they needed the money to keep their personnel on their payrolls and maintain equipment as air travel came to a near standstill.

Despite receiving the needed funds, airlines failed to do both these things. Instead, they furloughed and laid off flight attendants and offered buyouts to pilots who took early retirement. Meanwhile, recruitment and flight instruction were on hold.

As a result, there is now a nationwide shortage of pilots across the commercial aviation industry. As more pilots continue to retire going forward, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be more than 14,000 new openings for pilots each year over the next decade. 

Now airline execs are playing catch-up on training and recruitment for pilots. Two airlines have opened their own flight schools to lower the barrier of entry for new pilots. Flight training can cost upwards of $100,000. However, until pilot recruitment catches up with demand, airlines will continue having to cancel flights. Some airlines have predicted they’ll have to cancel 150 flights a day over the summer.

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Shanghai lockdown eases after 2 months

Back in March, authorities in China told residents of Shanghai that they would be going into a 5-day lockdown after a rise in COVID cases. Now after almost two months of residents almost total confinement, much of the city now has its freedom back. 

Shanghai has a population of 25 million and is China’s most populous city. Reports emerged early on that many residents did not have enough food and had little or no access to medical care and medications. Videos telling the story of residents’ hardships circulated widely on the internet, including within Chinese social media platforms.

Smaller cities across China had previously endured draconian lockdowns, but Shanghai was the first major city to do so. Until Shanghai, Chinese citizens were largely accepting of the country’s “Zero COVID” policy and the heavy restrictions that came with it.

Since Shanghai is a global commercial hub and a major port city, the lockdown also had a serious impact both on China’s economy and worldwide supply chain issues.

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Related: Zero COVID causes wave of emigration from China.


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Body of Mississippi WWII soldier coming home after 80 years. Delta wants unruly passengers on no-fly list. Ottawa mayor declares state of emergency over ‘Freedom Convoy’.




Body of Mississippi WWII soldier coming home after 80 years

After nearly 80 years, the remains of Private Andrew Joseph Ladner will be laid to rest in his home state. Ladner, who was 30 at the time of this death in November 1942, was from Lizana, MS, an unincorporated community in Harrison County. 

Ladner was killed in action at the battle of Buna-Gona in what is now Papua New Guinea. Ladner’s unit’s mission was to cut off Japanese supply and communications lines from the village of Sanananda. They set up a blockade, known as the Huggins Roadblock. The unit held the position for 22 days before Australian reinforcements arrived to relieve them.

When the war was over, the American Graves Registration Service searched the area for years for the remains of American soldiers. In 1950, the AGRS declared Ladner non-recoverable. We now know that, in fact, Ladner’s remains had been found in 1943 and interred at a temporary U.S. cemetery in the area. Later, U.S. authorities exhumed the remains in that cemetery and transferred them to the Philippines. But many of those remains were unidentified, with Ladner’s remains labeled only as X-1545.

In 1995, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) renewed efforts to identify the remains of soldiers who perished at the Huggins Roadblock. Last year, the DPAA managed to identify Ladner’s remains last year using dental and mitochondrial DNA analysis.

Ladner was a graduate of Perkinston Junior College, now Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. A newspaper clipping from the time of his death listed his immediate survivors as his mother, Mary Laura Ladner, and three brothers, Alphonse, George and Purvis Ladner. 

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Delta wants unruly passengers put on no-fly list

After two years dealing with record numbers of unruly and even violent passengers, Delta airlines is asking the Department of Justice to take a tougher stance. Delta CEO Ed Bastian has asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to adopt a “zero tolerance” stance on disruptive behavior on flights. In the last two years, Delta has put 1,900 people on its own “no-fly list” and now wants the FBI to add those names to the federal no-fly list.

Disputes over masking and other on-board compliance issues have increased Delta’s unruly passenger reports incidents by nearly 100% since 2019. Last year, the FAA received nearly 6,000 unruly passenger reports from U.S. airlines, 4,290 of them mask-related. But investigations and prosecutions of unruly passenger incidents increased even more dramatically. The FAA initiated 1,099 investigations of those incidents in 2021, with only 146 in 2019.

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Ottawa mayor declares state of emergency over ‘Freedom Convoy’

Yesterday, the mayor of Canada’s capital Ottawa declared a city-wide state of emergency over the “Freedom Convoy” protests. Last week, truckers from all over Canada descended on Ottawa, protesting a new rule requiring truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Local police say there are about 7000 individuals and 1000 vehicles participating in the protest. Those trucks are clogging up roads in the city center near Canada’s Parliament, blocking traffic and forcing many businesses to close.

There have also been troubling incidents of violence and harassment. Locals say that protesters harangue them on the street if they are wearing a mask. Police are also investigating reports of racial violence as well was attacks on a local homeless shelter. 

City residents have criticized the police for their seeming unwillingness to confront the protesters. But the state of emergency granted greater policing powers. On Sunday, police seized thousands of gallons of fuel the protesters had stockpiled to keep their trucks running. They’re also threatening to arrest anyone supplying the protesters with things like fuel and toilet paper.

But the protesters are unusually well-provisioned and seem prepared to stay indefinitely until they achieve their goals. These goals vary, but most are demanding the repeal of all public health mandates. 

While the protesters are vocal and determined, they are very much in the minority in Canada. About 80% of Canadians are vaccinated, including 90% of truckers. Polls also show that 67% of Canadians want more restrictions on the unvaccinated, while 68% felt they had “very little in common” with the protesters.

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NEMiss.News Pennsylvania bridge collapses



Pittsburg bridge collapses hours before Biden touts infrastructure. Two union votes ahead for Amazon. 20,000 coconuts found full of liquid cocaine.




Pittsburg bridge collapses hours before Biden touts infrastructure

Just hours before President Biden is to speak in Pittsburg about his $1 trillion infrastructure package, a commuter bridge in the city has collapsed. Images went viral online showing the back end of an articulated Port Authority bus dangling precariously over the edge of a collapsed bridge deck.

Fortunately, there weren’t many vehicles on the bridge at the time and emergency services were quick to respond. First responders formed a human chain to help evacuate passengers from the beleaguered bus. Rescuers also had to rappel down about 150 feet to ensure no one was trapped under the collapsed portion of the bridge. Officials have reported no fatalities from the incident, but said “slips and falls” had caused some injuries.

Later today, President Biden will be in the city speaking about the infrastructure package he signed into law in November. The bill includes $110 billion in spending to improve roads and bridges. Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey said it’s “critical that we get this funding, and we’re glad to have the president coming today”. The bridge that collapsed today passed an inspection last September.

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Two union votes ahead for Amazon

Retail giant Amazon is facing upcoming unionization votes at two of its warehouses, one in Bessemer, AL, and another in Staten Island, NY. The vote in Bessemer will be a do-over after the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Amazon had interfered in a vote that took place at that facility last year. The vote last year overwhelmingly rejected the proposition to join a labor union. But pro-union activists said that Amazon co-opted the vote in a way that made it look as though Amazon was running the ballot itself. Many Bessemer workers have since said they were intimidated by Amazon’s tactics and would vote in favor of the union if given another chance.

In Staten Island, workers at another Amazon warehouse have also just won approval for a vote to create a workers’ union. Christian Smalls, a former employee of that warehouse, is the leading organizer of the vote. Smalls was fired in 2020 for protesting working conditions and a lack of COVID safety at the warehouse.

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Related: The ongoing, 10-month long coal miner strike in Alabama you’ve never heard of.



20,000 coconuts found full of liquid cocaine

Drug traffickers are nothing if not inventive. Colombian officials inspecting a ship’s cargo in Cartagena discovered nearly 20,000 coconuts filled with liquid cocaine. The ship was bound for Genoa, Italy. Colombian officials alerted Italian authorities to be on the look out for the shipment’s intended recipients.

This isn’t the first time that drug traffickers have smuggled their wares inside fruit. In a previous instance, Spanish authorities discovered 60 grams of liquid cocaine hidden inside a shipment of coconuts. At a food market in Madrid, police discovered a shipment of pineapples containing 65 kilos of cocaine. 

In 2020, British police found over $5 million worth of cocaine secreted inside hollowed-out potatoes and yams from Jamaica. 

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Officers charged in shooting death of 8-year-old girl. Airlines cancel, delay flights in U.S. over 5G row. Ukraine prepares for war despite diplomatic push.




Three police officers charged over shooting of 8-year-old girl

Back in August, three police officers in Delaware County, PA, were monitoring a crowd of people leaving a high school football game. At the crowd filed out, gunshots rang out and Officers Devon Smith, Sean Dolan, and Brian Devaney returned fire. They fired toward a car where they believed the shots had originated. They struck people in the car and others leaving the event. It later came to light the two women in the car had not fired the shots. At least 4 of the 5 people shot were struck by the officers themselves. One of them was 8-year-old Fanta Bility, who died of her injuries.

Initially, authorities charged two teens- Angelo “AJ” Ford, 16, and Hasein Strand, 18- in connection with the initial gunshots. But the Delware County District Attorney’s office announced yesterday that they were dropping the murder charges against Ford and Strand in Fanta Bility’s death. Both Ford and Strand will be facing other charges for their role in the night’s mayhem. The DA has now charged Officers Smith, Dolan, and Devaney with a total of twelve criminal counts of manslaughter and reckless endangerment in connection with Bility’s death and other injuries at the scene.

This is an unusual development because the typical presumption is that if a suspect’s actions lead to police killing innocent bystanders, the suspect is criminally responsible for those deaths. In this case, the DA has concluded that the officers’ actions were reckless enough to warrant charges.

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Airlines cancel, delay flights in U.S. over 5G concerns 

For months, U.S. airlines have been voicing concerns over the potential impact of the 5G rollout on onboard navigational systems. Specifically, airlines are worried that the frequency used by AT&T and Verizon’s wireless networks is too close to that used by altimeters on some older aircraft. Altimeters measure the difference between the plane and the ground and can be crucial when flying in less than ideal weather conditions.

Experts say the dispute arose in 2020 when the FCC sold those frequencies to the telecoms giants for billions of dollars without in-depth consultation with the FAA and airlines. Yesterday, AT&T and Verizon said they would delay activating 5G equipment in close proximity to certain airports. But that last minute decision has not appeased the airlines, several of which have canceled or delayed flights today.

United Airlines is advising customers who are angry about flight delays to take it up with the FCC. Several major international airlines have also canceled flights to the U.S., but many are flying as normal.

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Blinken steps up diplomatic push to head off Russian invasion of Ukraine

This week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling across Europe, shoring up alliances and making a final push to find a diplomatic solution in the Russia-Ukraine standoff. Blinken is currently in Ukraine, speaking with President Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky has been adamant that there should be no agreement with Russia about Ukraine’s future without Ukraine’s participation.

From Kyev, Blinken will fly to Germany to meet with NATO allies, before flying to Geneva for new talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. Blinken warns that with Russia increasing its already 100,000-strong troop presence on Ukraine’s border, an invasion could come at “very short notice”.

In Ukraine, volunteers are training up as part of a WWII-style home guard. The volunteers are largely people who are too old for active military service, some of them veterans. They’re receiving training to fend off potential Russian incursions into their towns and cities.

Peter Zwack, a former U.S. Army Brigadier General, has sized up the situation and says that a Russian invasion of Ukraine may prove more costly for Russia and Vladimir Putin than the 2014 annexation of Crimea. Zwack says Ukrainians are now better prepared and more willing to fight for their homeland than was the case in 2014. The U.S. will also be providing the Ukrainian military with defensive weapons.

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