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The Spill: Biden Airstrikes

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Mr. Biden’s Military Airstrikes

Tensions in the Middle East are on the rise once again. Last Sunday evening, President Biden ordered several strikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups near the Iraq-Syria border. This is his second set of strikes since taking office. Immediately, Iraq condemned the airstrikes and called for revenge against the U.S. Pentagon Public Affairs Secretary John Kirby clarified that militias were using the targeted facilities to launch drone attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq.

Kirby explained that the U.S. military bombed three weapons storage facilities —one in Iraq and two in Syria. The Pentagon has released videos of the airstrikes by Air Force F-15 and F-16 aircraft over the coordination center that processed advanced conventional weapons to be shipped or transferred for use.

Kirby went further, claiming the strikes were defensive and necessary: “The United States took necessary, appropriate, and deliberate action designed to limit the risk of escalation — but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message.” The Iran-backed Iraqi militia factions released a joint statement in response: “We … will avenge the blood of our righteous martyrs against the perpetrators of this heinous crime, and with God’s help, we will make the enemy taste the bitterness of revenge.”

Mr. Biden said the airstrikes warned about what the opposition militia would face if they continued attacking the U.S. military. “You can’t act with impunity. Be careful,” is the message loud and clear Mr. Biden projected.

President Donald Trump Visits the US-Mexico Border

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Former President Trump visited the Rio Grande sector in Texas with other Republicans this past week at the invitation of Governor Greg Abbott. This sector is the hardest hit section in terms of criminal crossings. Trump went directly to the border to visit with residents and tour the towns of Weslaco and Granjeno.

The trip was timed so that he would be there with a congressional delegation from the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC). RSC members, led by Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), hiked into dangerous desert terrain to talk with asylum seekers – most of whom were minors.

Trump and Abbott held a roundtable discussion with the RSC, former Trump officials, former Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan, and former acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. A widescreen to the right of the podium flashed photos of illegal immigrants crossing through dangerous border sections without any barrier or deterrent.

Both leaders gave remarks. Mr. Abbott spoke of the heroics of Border Patrol agents in rescuing abandoned children and immigrants who could not make it across the harsh landscape. President Trump explained the necessity to continue to erect border barriers in an effort to keep both Americans and those who seek asylum safe from drug and human traffickers.

Although many people believed Trump would announce whether he would run for president in 2024, he only hinted that he had made a decision.

Picasso and Mondrian Recovered

After nearly a decade-long mystery, two priceless works of art have been located in a forest outside Athens. Greek authorities recovered Pablo Picasso’s 1939 painting, Woman’s Head, and Piet Mondrian’s 1905 work, Stammer Windmill. Both were reported stolen in 2012 from Greece’s National Gallery by an art-loving construction worker who finally came clean, confessed, and led police to his stash. Sadly, yet another work was damaged in the pilfering and subsequently destroyed: a sketch by Italian painter Guglielmo Caccia, who died in 1625. The thief claimed to have flushed the sketch down the toilet.

Pablo Picasso, Three Musicians Photo by Andrew Milligan sumo

But Athens reacted with joy upon the recovery. Culture Minister Lina Mendoni praised authorities for returning the gift from Picasso for Greece’s assistance against the Nazi regime during WWII: “This painting is of particular importance and sentimental value … as it was personally dedicated by the great painter to the Greek people for their fight against fascist and Nazi forces.” During the happy news conference, Mendoni told reporters, “It would have been impossible to sell.”

Listed on the black market, no one offered to buy the Picasso painting, which is why the thief was caught. As authorities were closing in, they knew the paintings would not be an easy sell and had likely remained in the country. But the larceny was a near-perfect crime, taking only seven minutes: The lone guard was distracted, the canvasses stripped off frames, and the art-loving bandit crashed through a balcony and was away. The alarm system has now been upgraded.

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