Ukraine needs to source new consumer drones that it can retrofit with explosives as China dials back sales to the country

China recently implemented new export restrictions on drone components, posing a challenge for Ukrainian forces.

Alina Smutko/Reuters

Chinese consumer drones are essential to Ukraine’s war effort.
But recent restrictions placed by China on exporting drones have complicated things.
Ukraine is now trying to source consumer drones and their parts from elsewhere — no easy task.

China implemented a new rule earlier this month restricting the export of civilian drone materials, citing concerns about their use in foreign wars.

The move came more than a year after DJI, a major Chinese technology company, stopped selling drones to Russia and Ukraine. DJI also cited concerns that the two countries were using their products for military operations. 

It was true. They were. For Ukraine, these low-cost, Chinese-made drones have become essential to the war effort. Ukrainians retrofit the consumer drones in all kinds of ways so they can deliver added payloads on Russian forces and territory. Ukraine burns through thousands of them every month. 

So the new restrictions have hurt Ukraine’s ability to obtain the tech they need, widening Russia’s advantage as winter approaches. Nearly one month after the export restrictions went into effect, Ukraine is now scrambling to source consumer drones and their parts from anywhere they can.

“At night we do bombing missions, and during the day we think about how to get new drones,” Oles Maliarevych, a Ukrainian officer who helps supply drones for his unit, told The New York Times.

One Ukrainian, the Times reported, brought back a couple from a recent trip to Boston, Mass.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How you can use Facebook to its maximum potential in 22 tips

About 40% of the world’s population is now on Facebook — but most of the new users came from outside the US and Canada.

Getty Images

As a beginner, it can be difficult to navigate Facebook’s basic features
There are also hidden hacks to make the flow of information easier to manage.
From notification management to data conservation to saving favorites, Facebook offers lots of ways to customize.

Over three billion people — almost 40% of the world’s population — are active on Facebook every month, the company said during the second-quarter 2023 Meta earnings results announcement. 

Whether you’re finding the latest news or trying to stay in touch with friends, checking Facebook can become an addictive habit.

We’ve collected some of the best tips and tricks you may not know about — from hiding people you don’t want to see on Facebook to managing notifications.

1. Save posts

See something interesting in your News Feed but don’t have time to look at it now? You can save it for later.

Click the three dots next to any post and hit “Save post.”

Your bookmarked links, videos, photos, places, and more are accessible from the “Saved” page on your Facebook profile. The page is included under the “Menu” tab in the Facebook mobile app.

2. Turn off auto-playing videos in your News Feed.

If you don’t want videos on Facebook automatically playing when you scroll past them in your News Feed, make sure to turn the setting off.

Under Menu tab on the righthand side of the Facebook mobile app, tap Settings & Privacy, and then under Preferences, select “Media.” From there, under Autoplay,  you can choose to auto-play videos over cellular and Wi-Fi connections, just Wi-Fi, or never.

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3. Unfollow people without unfriending them

If you want to stop seeing someone’s posts in your News Feed but don’t have the guts to completely unfriend them, you can unfollow them to hide their activity.

From someone’s profile in the Facebook mobile app, tap on “Friends” under their profile picture and then “Unfollow” to get rid of their posts completely. You can also tap the three dots next to a post and select “Unfollow” or “Snooze,” which will temporarily Unfollow the person for 30 days.

You can do this for multiple people in the Settings section of Facebook, under News Feed Preferences.

4. See your Facebook activity on the same day from years past.

Facebook’s “On This Day” feature shows your activity on its social network on the same day from years past. Think of it like your personal time capsule on Facebook.

Only you see your “On This Day” activity, and you can find the feature from the link facebook.com/memories. Facebook also lets you hide certain people from showing up in your past activity, which is helpful for not seeing memories of your ex. You can also hide certain dates, or choose whether Facebook sends you notifications of all memories, highlights, or none at all.

5. Activity Log

Your Activity Log shows everything you’ve liked, shared, and commented on in the past. Tap the Menu tab, then tap your name. Under your name on your profile, next to “Edit Profile,” tap the three dots and select “Activity Log.”

You can also go to the Menu tab, under Settings, scroll to “Your Activity” to find the Activity Log.

Your Activity Log on Facebook documents all of your activity on the social network. It’s easily accessible on your profile from both the mobile app and desktop site.

6. Favorites

If there are certain people or pages you want to see first in your News Feed no matter what, you can select them in the Facebook mobile app. 

Tap “Settings” under the app’s Menu tab and then “News Feed Preferences” to get started.

People and pages you’ve marked to see first will have a little blue star next to their posts in your feed.

7. Tell people how to pronounce your name correctly.

Sick of people pronouncing your name wrong? You can teach them on Facebook.

In the app on your profile, tap “Edit Profile,” then at the bottom, tap “Edit Your About Info.” Scroll below “Basic Info.” You can also add a nickname or maiden name for yourself to display with your profile.

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8. Friend vs. Follower

There are two ways you can connect with someone on Facebook: by becoming friends with them or by following them. 

Being friends means that you and the other person have approved the connection and likely know each other, while following an account means that the person hasn’t added you back as a friend.

When someone follows you, they’ll only see posts you share publicly. You can turn off the ability for people to follow your account at any time from the “Followers” section of your account settings.

9. Post-specific privacy options

Your Facebook posts can be shared with your friends, specific friends, or anyone on the Internet. 

You can select these sharing options on a case-by-case from the drop-down menu at the top right of a post. On the mobile app, select “Edit Privacy” and select one of the options. From the desktop, just click the little friends or globe icon next to a post’s time stamp.

If you want everyone except a few people to see a post, you can choose to hide it from specific people by selecting “Friends except…” on the mobile app and “Custom” on the desktop. If you’ve created Friend Lists on Facebook, you can also hide posts from entire lists.

If you’ve tagged people in the post, you can also choose whether their friends can see it.

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10. See what your profile looks like to others

This is handy for seeing what on your profile is visible to others, including individual friends you may have hidden certain information from in the past.

On the app, go to your profile, click the ellipsis next to “Edit Profile,” and then “View as…” You can type in any name, from friends to non-friends, to see what your profile looks like to them.

11. Hide your list of friends from everyone but you.

If, for some reason, you don’t want people seeing who you’re friends with, you can hide the list entirely.

On the desktop, click the “Friends” tab on your profile, then next to “Find Friends,” click the ellipses and then “Edit Privacy.” Then, you can change who can see your friends list, the people you follow, and your followers.

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12. Hide your relationship status change from your friends.

It could be potentially disastrous for your Facebook friends to see your relationship status change. The good news is that you can prevent relationship changes from being seen by anyone except you. This means the change won’t appear in your friends’ News Feeds.

In the app on your profile, tap “Edit Profile,” then at the bottom, tap “Edit Your About Info.” Scroll down to “Relationship,” change the privacy filter to “Only Me.”

13. Block people from being able to contact you.

If someone is spamming you with messages or you just want to ensure they can’t see your profile, go to their profile page and click on the three dots to the far right. Select “Block.”

14. See everywhere you’re logged into Facebook and remotely log out.

From the Facebook mobile app, tap the far right Menu tab, then Settings, Accounts Center, Password & Security, and finally, “Where You’re Logged In.” You’ll see all your Meta accounts. You can open details for each session and log out of Facebook if you like.

From your Security Settings on Facebook’s desktop site, the “Where You’re Logged In” menu shows active logins and lets you end them.

15. Get alerted whenever a log-in attempt is made for your account.

Facebook Login Alerts and Login Approvals can be enabled under Security Settings in the mobile app and desktop site.

From the Facebook mobile app, tap the far right Menu tab, then Settings, Accounts Center, Password & Security, and under Security Checks, “Login Alerts.”

You can choose to get in-app notifications or email whenever a login is made to your Meta accounts. Login Approvals mean that you must enter a secondary code sent to your phone before logging in to Facebook on a new device.

16. Unsubscribe from notifications for posts you’ve commented on.

We’ve all probably commented on a post and regretted it later because of the onslaught of notifications that followed from other people commenting. 

You may not know that you can unsubscribe from activity on any post, which could be a godsend next time you decide to comment on a friend’s politically charged opinion.

When you get a notification for a comment or like on a post on Facebook’s desktop site, click the “X” to the right of the notification and then “Turn off.”

The reverse is also true. You can turn on notifications for activity on any post from the right drop-down arrow.

17. Get a notification every time a specific person posts something.

If you want to keep tabs on someone’s Facebook activity, you can get alerted whenever they share something. Just add them to your Close Friends list. To do that, go to the Friend’s profile, tap “Friends” and “Edit Friend Lists.”

18. Search for posts and photos liked or commented on by you

You can search for posts you’ve either created, liked or commented on with certain search phrases.

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You can even get specific and look for things just from today. You can also look for all posts liked by your friends.

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19. Search for specific keywords and topics

Facebook lets you search for a lot more than just other people’s profiles.

Everything that’s publicly shared on the social network is searchable, which means that if you search for something like “James Bond” or “iPhone help,” you’ll see related posts from news sources, friends, and other pages.

20. Make Friend lists 

Designating groups within your list of friends can be useful for filtering what everyone is talking about in your News Feed. For instance, you may want to see what everyone from your hometown is sharing or just your friends from college.

Facebook creates a list of friends by default based on common affiliation, whether it be the same hometown, school, etc. On Facebook’s desktop site, you can see all of your friend lists at facebook.com/bookmarks/lists and add people to them. This creates individual News Feeds within Facebook for you to browse.

21. Give yourself a short bio.

Facebook lets you create a short bio for yourself that sits above your other profile information, such as city, work, and relationship status.

You can edit it anytime from your profile on the desktop site and mobile app.

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22. Download all your data

On the Menu tab under the Settings gear, scroll to “Your Information,” where you can tap “Download Your Information.” You can now also “Transfer Your Information” in the same section – with easy options to transfer to popular services like Dropbox or Google Photos.

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Trump Mocks Hammer Attack on Pelosi’s Husband in Insane Speech

David McNew/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump made heartless comments about the brutal hammer attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, during a bizarre pitch to California voters Friday.

Paul Pelosi was violently attacked with a hammer last year during a home break-in by David DePape, and underwent surgery for a fractured skull.

“How’s her husband doing?” Trump said, jeeringly, adding, “She’s against having a wall at our border even though she has a wall around her house—which obviously didn’t do a very good job.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive raises doubts about whether the US and Western militaries are training their troops for the right kind of war

A soldier gives instructions to a tank crew during an exercise in Ukraine on May 5.

Viktor Fridshon/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

The slow progress of Ukraine’s counteroffensive led to criticism of the training provided by Western militaries.
Some Ukrainian troops said the training didn’t reflect the kind of fighting they faced against Russian forces.
That has raised doubts about whether Western militaries are training themselves for the right kinds of operations.

The slow progress of the counteroffensive Ukraine launched in early June led to criticism that Ukrainian troops were failing to apply properly the training they received from Western militaries.

But what if the problem isn’t with the Ukrainians but rather with Western tactics? Ukraine’s woes may be an omen of what might happen if NATO armies have to fight without ample air support and logistics.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive was never going to be easy. Russian forces spent months building up their defenses, using a longstanding and still-effective Soviet-era approach to fortifications and adapting new tactics, such as bigger and more concentrated minefields.

The notion that Ukrainian troops would be able to replicate Western-style tactics after a few weeks of training — and discard decades of rigid, top-down Soviet-style command and control — was always a stretch. Learning a new way of war is tough enough in peacetime, let alone in the midst of an offensive against some of the most formidable fortifications on Earth.

A British Royal Marine leads training for Ukrainian Army recruits at a base in southern England on June 20.

HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images

Yet that Western training, while not bad in terms of teaching basic soldiering skills, doesn’t appear to have been well-suited for the war in Ukraine, Ukrainian soldiers who trained in Britain told the UK-based media outlet openDemocracy.

In particular, their instruction didn’t address how to deal with obstacles such as trenches, minefields, barbed wire, anti-tank ditches, and dragon’s teeth. While Ukraine has made progress in penetrating the first and deadliest of Russia’s three fortified lines, these defenses have slowed the advance and caused heavy casualties.

In the early days of the counteroffensive, Ukrainian assault units went in NATO-style: armored columns equipped with German-made Leopard 2 tanks and US-made Bradley armored troop carriers were supposed to breach Russian defenses quickly and penetrate into rear areas. Instead they were pinned down in minefields and picked off by Russian artillery and attack helicopters.

Ukraine eventually junked those Western tactics in favor a playbook from the Western Front circa 1917. Methodical advances by small units of soldiers on foot to grab a few dozen or a few hundreds yards at a time in “bite then hold” attacks while artillery hammers trenches to keep Russian heads down and interdict Russian reserves and supplies.

Some argue that Ukraine lacks the equipment to implement Western doctrine properly, but Western militaries themselves would likely struggle to implement that doctrine under such conditions.

Ukrainian soldiers prepare to clean the gun barrel of a Leopard 1 A5 tank at a training area in Germany on August 17.

Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/picture alliance via Getty Images

European nations — such as Germany, which had a powerful army during the Cold War — have reduced their defense budgets over the past 30 years, leaving their militaries with tanks and aircraft that can’t function and munitions stockpiles insufficient for more than a few days of intense combat.

The US military is shifting its focus to competition with powerful rivals, namely Russia and China, but is doing so with aircraft and ships facing maintenance backlogs and parts shortages that leave officials worrying about whether they’re ready for that kind of fight.

Critics point to the failure of Western military thinkers to adapt training and tactics to a changing world. For example, breaching minefields with explosive charges and mine-clearing vehicles was a technique that worked in World War II but may not work in an era when an enemy can quickly put a minefield in place using artillery shells and drones and then cover it with drone-guided long-range munitions that disrupt breaching operations.

Behind all this is a deeper worry: The West is prepared for the wrong war, lingering on its experiences during the two decades its militaries fought insurgencies and terrorists. Indeed, Ukrainian trainees told openDemocracy that their instructors frequently taught them lessons based on their experiences from the Middle East, such as how to identify insurgents among civilians.

The commander of Ukrainian marine battalion told The New York Times that he had argued with his US trainers whose opponents in Iraq and Afghanistan who were “not like the Russians.” The marines even repainted their US-provided Humvees, covering the desert camouflage with a green paint scheme better suited for Ukraine.

A Ukrainian military Humvee in the Zaporizhzhia Region on July 21.

Ukrinform/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Pentagon has belatedly realized that its focus on fighting low-tech insurgents has led the skills it needs for large-scale mechanized warfare to atrophy. For years, highly trained tank and artillery crews were relegated to checkpoint duty. In Iraq and Afghanistan, US and NATO forces could count on support from aircraft operating with near impunity against foes whose heaviest weapons were IEDs and small arms.

During those campaigns against terrorism and insurgents, many resources were focused on developing equipment, such as counter-IED systems, that will have limited utility in the kind of mechanized warfare the US military is likely to face in the future.

Should the US and its allies battle Russia or China, it would be a large-scale conventional clash against a well-armed adversary with comparable or superior equipment — from one-way attack drones and field artillery to thickets of surface-to-air missiles and hypersonic weapons, not to mention jamming, cyberwarfare, and information operations.

Are Western armies adequately trained to function if their communications are blocked, their command posts knocked out, and their movements are under constant surveillance by drones? Can they breach a fortified line if their combat engineers have been destroyed by artillery?

Most important, how well will NATO troops perform if their airpower is neutralized by enemy interceptors and anti-aircraft missiles or if they face attacks from enemy aircraft, which the US military hasn’t endured at scale since World War II? Already, the US Air Force is contemplating how it will fight when it cannot achieve sustained air superiority.

Ukrainian Territorial Defense troops train on trench-storming and anti-mine tactics on July 31.

Scott Peterson/Getty Images

Short of fighting a major war, it’s not clear how the US and its allies can answer those questions, but the indications are that preparation for this future will be difficult.

Despite the success of cheap drones and modern cruise missiles, the war in Ukraine has shown that old-fashioned weapons — armor, artillery, mines, and mine-clearing systems — are still the backbone of mass warfare. The lethality of these weapons, and the attritional nature of the conflict, suggest that nations will have to accept heavy losses in equipment and personnel.

Of the many lessons Ukraine’s experience offers, perhaps the most valuable is being able to adapt. Many experts expected Russia to conquer Ukraine within days of invading, but Ukraine defied those expectations by finding ways to use its limited resources — and to exploit Russian vulnerabilities — so well that it not only halted the invasion but recaptured swathes of territory and forced Russian troops to hunker down as it counterattacks.

The price has been brutal and victory is uncertain, but it shows that those who best adapt — by shifting tactics, embracing new technology, and doing it quickly — are most likely to prevail.

Michael Peck is a defense writer whose work has appeared in Forbes, Defense News, Foreign Policy magazine, and other publications. He holds a master’s in political science. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Trump suggests bizarre plan to keep forests damp to prevent wildfires in California

Former President Donald Trump.

AP Photo/John Locher

Donald Trump suggested that California keep its vast forests damp to prevent wildfire.
Trump said he would “get it done so fast” but added that Gov. Newsom probably couldn’t be convinced.
The former president also criticized the state for “very poor land management.”

Former President Donald Trump revealed an unusual plan to stop wildfires from raging in California.

Trump suggested that the Golden State’s rougly 33 million acres of forest should be kept damp while speaking at a California Republicans’ convention in Anaheim on Friday.

“They say that there’s so much water up north that I want to have the overflow areas go into your forests and dampen your forests, because if you dampen your forests you’re not gonna have these forest fires that are burning at levels that nobody’s ever seen,” Trump said to a cheering crowd.

“All the currently dry canals will be brimming and used to irrigate everything, including your own homes and bathrooms and everything, you’re going to be happy, and I’m going to get it done fast,” he added.

The former president also took the opportunity to criticize the state for “very poor land management.”

Trump has previously falsely claimed that California wildfires were sparked by trees that “explode,” and he has long subscribed to the theory that wildfires could be prevented if forests were cleared of dead trees and debris.

In 2018, Trump suggested raking leaves on forest floors could help prevent fires. 

While accumulated debris is part of the problem, California is prone to wildfires because of its high population density and its predominantly dry, warm climate.

“California has a lot of people and a really long dry season,” Park Williams, a bioclimatologist and associate research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, told The New York Times.

“People are always creating possible sparks, and as the dry season wears on and stuff is drying out more and more, the chance that a spark comes off a person at the wrong time just goes up. And that’s putting aside arson,” he added.

Trump did not provide further details about his damp forests plan, but he said California Governor Gavin Newsom would probably roadblock him.

“I couldn’t convince this guy Gavin,” he said.

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A government shutdown would be a ‘gut punch’ to Head Start programs that serve 10,000 low income children

Alliance for Community Empowerment, Director of Early Learning Tanya Lloyd, right, interacts with a child in the Head Start program, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Jessica Hill/AP

A government shutdown looked increasingly likely on Saturday as the midnight deadline approached.
It would have serious consequences for key programs that poor and disadvantaged families and children rely on.
Head Start programs, which serve over 10,000 children across the nation, would lose funding.

As Monette Ferguson braces for the looming government shutdown to strip funding from her Head Start program for disadvantaged children in Connecticut, she harkens back to a decade ago when another congressional budget fight forced her to close preschools.

This time around she is more prepared, with money in reserve to keep serving around 550 children at 14 Head Start sites operating in three different towns. But only for about 30 days.

“It’s like a gut punch to our system,” said Ferguson, who is the executive director of the Alliance for Community Empowerment.

If the shutdown isn’t averted, Head Start programs serving more than 10,000 children would immediately lose federal funding, including Ferguson’s program. Lawmakers have until Saturday to reach a deal, but that is looking less and less likely.

The programs set to lose money serve just a fraction of the 820,000 children enrolled nationally at any given time. Located in Florida, Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts and South Carolina, they are in trouble because their grants start on Sunday, just as the shutdown would begin, said Tommy Sheridan, the deputy director for the National Head Start Association.

They wouldn’t necessarily close their doors immediately. Various entities run the programs, including school districts, YMCAs and other nonprofits. Depending on how deep their pockets are, some of these operators, like Ferguson’s program, could readjust their finances to keep the programs going, at least short term.

“But from the ones that I’ve spoken to, there are some that really don’t have extensive possibilities,” Sheridan said.

Many are located in poor communities, close to the families they seek to lift out of poverty with programs that include preschool as well as services to infants and toddlers that include home visits. Over the course of a year, as children come and go, the number served tops 1 million.

Programs whose grants don’t start on Sunday will continue getting money, said Bobby Kogan, the senior director of federal budget policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. But, he said, if the shutdown drags on, the number of affected programs will grow as more grants come up up for renewal.

“This will get worse and worse and worse,” he said.

That’s what worries Lori Milam, executive director of the West Virginia Head Start. One of its grants is up for renewal in November, so she’s been making back-up plans and reassuring worried staff and parents.

“It’s consuming an enormous amount of our time,” she said.

Complicating the situation further, one budget proposal would cut $750 million from the nearly $12 billion program, which would eliminate tens of thousands of spots. All the uncertainty has spooked some workers into considering looking for what “they believe is a more stable job,” said Philip Shelly, a spokesperson for Democratic U.S. Rep. Nikki Budzinski, of Illinois.

This is a particular concern with nearly 20% of Head Start staff positions vacant nationwide, according to the National Head Start Association.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Child care programs were propped up during the pandemic with $24 billion in federal relief, but the last of the money has to be spent by Saturday. Another pot of COVID-19 relief funds that helped Head Start ran out in the spring.

Some states, like Minnesota, New York and Maine, have chipped in extra money to fill in the gaps as the federal funding dries up, but those efforts are not universal, said Maureen Coffey, a policy analyst on the early childhood policy team at the Center for American Progress.

“It’s going to be a really messy time for child care,” she said.

Child care already was strained before the pandemic closed some centers, said Lynn Karoly, a senior economist at the Rand Corp., a nonprofit global policy think tank.

“We haven’t addressed really, in most cases, the fundamental problem of an underfunded system overall,” she said. “But now you have the potential of a shutdown on top of it.”

The 16-day October 2013 shutdown was the last to hit Head Start hard, affecting 19,000 children and shuttering programs in several states.

About half as many programs are affected now because many moved away from having their grant start date coincide with the beginning of the federal fiscal year. One reason, Sheridan said, is that the Oct. 1 date makes them more vulnerable when Congress deadlocks over the budget.

It was so bad a decade ago that Connecticut chipped in emergency funds, which allowed Ferguson’s program to reopen.

Meanwhile, John and Laura Arnold, a wealthy Houston couple, pledged up to $10 million to the National Head Start Association to help other programs. Among the programs the donation helped reopen was one in Florida.

Tim Center, the chief executive officer at the Capital Area Community Action Agency, lived through that mess. This time around he has a backup plan that will allow him to keep serving more than 370 kids and families at six centers in three counties in northern Florida for several weeks. But it means tapping into savings and a line of credit.

Families still are spooked. Laketia Washington, a mother of eight whose 3- and 5-year-olds attend Head Start programs in Tallahassee, Florida, lamented the turmoil as she rang up customers at a discount store.

“The nerve wracking thing,” she said, “is not knowing what’s next.”

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US government shutdown: WIC, a program that feeds and provides medical help to 7 million mothers and children, could run out of funds in days

A government shutdown puts the health of millions of children at risk.

andreonegin via Getty Images.

US lawmakers have until midnight on Saturday to avoid a government shutdown. 
It puts programs at risk, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
WIC supports 7 million mothers and children with food and health resources.

The clock is ticking – not only for US lawmakers to avoid a shutdown, but also for millions of Americans who rely on government salaries and programs to stay healthy and fed. 

Lawmakers have until midnight Saturday to keep from shuttering the government as they try to reach a spending agreement, but as usual, their lives aren’t the ones that would be most directly impacted. (After all, they still make their $174,000 annual salary, even during a government shutdown that they cause!)

About 10,000 children will lose the benefits of Head Start programs, which support low-income babies and young children with nutrition and family support, if a shutdown isn’t averted, The New York Times reported. 

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (or WIC), which serves nearly half the infants born in the country, has just a few days of funding in the event of a shutdown, per the Times.

The program serves some 7 million mothers and children, providing nutritional foods and health care referrals to some of the most vulnerable in the country. It serves about half of the infants born in the US, according to the US Food and Nutrition Service

Much of the blame for the shutdown has been placed on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has struggled to get the more extreme members of his party to fall in line and prevent the shutdown

“During an Extreme Republican Shutdown, women and children who count on WIC would soon start being turned away at grocery store counters, with a federal contingency fund drying up after just a few days and many states left with limited WIC funds to operate the program,” read a statement from the White House five days ahead of Saturday’s deadline. 

Ironically, McCarthy’s home state of California serves the highest number of WIC recipients at a total of 972,418, according to White House data. The fates of some 206,282 women, 587,139 children, and 178,997 infants in California rest in McCarthy’s hands. 

Tick tock. 

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Russia is luring Cubans to Ukraine with fast-tracked citizenship and a lucrative signing bonus: ‘Almost all of our friends have gone’

Cuban men in Villa Maria, Cuba.

REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

Russia lures Cubans to fight in Ukraine with offers of fast-tracked citizenship, Reuters reported.Recruiters are also offering a signing bonus worth more than what the average Cuban makes in a year.”Almost all of our friends have gone over there,” one Cuban man told the news agency.

The Russian government is luring poor Cubans to fight in its war in Ukraine by offering a fast track to citizenship and a signing bonus worth more than most residents of Havana make in a year, according to an investigation by Reuters.

Russia has lost tens of thousands of soldiers since invading Ukraine in February 2022. In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin has expanded the draft, spurring tens of thousands of Russian men to flee the country.

Hundreds of Cubans, meanwhile, have headed in the other direction as Russia turns to foreign fighters to fill its trenches.

“Almost all of our friends have gone over there,” 24-year-old Cristian Hernandez told Reuters. One man interviewed by the news agency said he personally knew of more than 100 people who had been recruited.

In early September, the Cuban government, an otherwise staunch ally of Russia, described the recruitment of its citizens as being part of a “human trafficking network.” Some recruits have complained of a bait and switch, saying they signed up for civilian jobs — a truck driver or a construction worker — only to end up in a war zone.

But Cubans interviewed by Reuters said people generally know what they are signing up for. They described being recruited over WhatsApp by another Cuban. Messages shared with the outlet show a woman, identifying herself as “Dayana,” quickly offering a contract to people who message her.

“This is a contract with the Russian military by which you receive citizenship,” she said in one message reviewed by Reuters.

Russia is also offering relatively generous terms to residents of a country where the average salary is under $200 a month. According to the terms offered by “Dayana,” the signing bonus alone is just over $2,000 a month; the annual salary is nearly $25,000.

“Everyone here knew what they were coming for,” a Cuban man at a training camp in Russia told Reuters. “They came for the war.”

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2 paratroopers who hid out in Russian-occupied territory for 18 months were rescued by Ukraine’s special forces, Navy says

Ukrainian forces are seen together after a successful rescue operation.

Ukrainian Navy

Two Ukrainian soldiers were rescued after hiding for 18 months in Russian-occupied territory.
They were able to hide with the help of locals, Ukraine’s Navy said in a Facebook post.
The men managed to evade capture despite being “seriously injured” while fighting Russian troops.

Ukraine’s special forces successfully rescued two paratroopers who had been hiding for over a year and a half in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, Ukraine’s Navy said in a Facebook post.

The paratroopers had been “seriously injured” while fighting Russian forces, but they managed to evade capture by hiding with the help of local communities, the post said.

The two servicemen were successfully removed from the occupied territory and returend to the safety of Ukrainian-controlled regions. 

“Every life is important,” the Ukrainian Navy said in the post, which included a video of soldiers hugging each other.

“A decision was made to conduct a special operation to rescue and evacuate the servicemen, the preparation and conduct of which was entrusted to the special unit of the Navy “Angels,” the post says.

“Thanks to joint efforts, two servicemen who had been in the occupied territory for more than a year and a half have recently been brought to the territory controlled by Ukraine,” it adds.

Units from Ukraine’s Air Assault Forces Command were also involved in the operation, providing covering fire for the Angels unit, the post says.

A former British paratrooper was killed in November while trying to rescue Ukrainians during a battle, the BBC reported.

Simon Lingard, 38, died in the war-torn region of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. Lingard was hit by fragments from artillery fire, with a post-mortem examination finding that he died of wounds sustained to his head and chest.

His ex-partner Stacey Longworth said he was “an amazing dad and not just a soldier,” per the BBC.

“There’s a lot of people that don’t agree with what Simon did and have voiced opinions but his family are unbelievably proud of him and we backed him every step of the way,” she added.

 

 

 

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