December 15-31 Support

December 15-31 Support

Late December SITREP Support


Trump Disqualified from Colorado 2024 Ballot by Colorado Supreme Court 

The Colorado Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, barred former President Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot, citing the "Insurrection Clause" of the Fourteenth Amendment. This decision overturned a prior ruling and challenges the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene by January 4, 2024. The ruling, stating Trump engaged in insurrection, ignores his acquittal and asserts speech on January 6 wasn't protected by the First Amendment. Trump's campaign vowed an appeal. Dissenting judges noted lack of due process and questioned admissibility of evidence. This Colorado case is part of a nationwide effort using similar arguments to exclude Trump from ballots. While Trump secured wins in some states, this ruling has significant implications, impacting Colorado's primary scheduled for March 5, 2024, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to act before January 5 certification.

US Releases Final $250MN Military Aid Package for Ukraine 

The US government declared the final batch of weapons available for Ukraine against Russia's invasion, urging Congress, divided on Ukraine support, to act swiftly. President Biden prioritizes aiding Ukraine, but right-wing Republicans seek tough measures on illegal migration, stalling support. The $250 million aid includes air-defense systems, artillery, and ammunition. Over 50 countries assist Ukraine. Urgency mounts for Congress to bolster national security and aid Ukraine. Ukrainian officials appreciate the assistance. Despite prior attempts, agreement in Congress remains elusive, with immigration complexities posing a challenge. The Senate reconvenes soon, aiming to resolve the aid impasse. However, reaching consensus, especially on immigration, appears daunting in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. 

CBP Reports Busiest November on Record with Encounters at Southern Border 

November marked the busiest month on record for the United States' southern border, recording 242,418 encounters, a stark increase from previous years. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics showcased a surge, notably surpassing past Novembers where numbers hadn't exceeded 80,000. The majority of encounters occurred outside ports of entry, deemed illegal, while lawful entries involved over 43,000 migrants processed via the CBP One app. Drug seizures spiked, with notable jumps in fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine. CBP, encountering 483,404 individuals since the fiscal year's start, emphasized the need for increased resources amid a global migration spike. Despite President Biden's proposed $105 billion spending supplemental, disagreements over border policy stalled negotiations as Republicans advocated for policy changes and border wall construction. Congressional talks hit a holiday-season standstill, delaying potential resolutions until Congress reconvenes. 

US Airlines Fly Illegal Immigrants from AZ Processing Center into Domestic US 

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has emerged as a significant hub for transporting undocumented immigrants across the U.S. by the Biden administration. Reports from Ari Hoffman and Tayler Hansen detail scenes of migrants sleeping on airport floors, boarding flights to various destinations like New York, often using premium seats funded by taxpayers. Hoffman's interaction with a Delta representative revealed the nonchalant approach toward the situation. St. Clair's firsthand account during a Delta flight highlighted migrants boarding with minimal possessions, some still carrying processing center bags. The influx has strained cities like New York, prompting budget cuts. Hansen's footage showed confused migrants receiving priority treatment from American and Delta airlines, raising concerns about expedited travel and destinations. The revelations sparked outrage, with calls for accountability, especially toward Delta's involvement in what's being labeled as human trafficking. 

US Suspected of Drone Attack on Russian Wagner Group Plane in Libya 

Satellite images confirm the destruction of a Russian Il-76 transport plane at Libya’s Al-Jufra base, likely targeted by American forces to eliminate Wagner Group members. The Il-76, a Soviet design since 1974, boasts civilian and military versions, with the latter slightly larger and armed with a 23 mm tail automatic cannon. Requiring a 6-7 person crew, it hits around 559.23 mph at 42,650 feet and offers 8,310.57 cubic feet of cargo space. With four Soloviev D-30KP turbojet engines, it covers a range of 2,485.48 to 2,734.63 miles. While the aircraft’s origin at Al-Jufra isn’t certain, it’s linked to Russia, stationed at a base used by the Wagner Group. This adds to recent losses outside Ukraine, where five were destroyed in an attack by defenders of Ukraine on a base near Pskov. 

To Combat Smog in Lahore, Pakistan Creates First-Ever Artificial Rain 

Pakistan achieved a milestone by conducting its inaugural artificial rain experiment in Lahore to combat severe smog. With support from the UAE, planes employed cloud seeding technology in ten polluted areas, resulting in slight showers across the city. The process, involving 48 flares released over ten days, aimed to alleviate Lahore's hazardous air quality. The UAE’s expertise in cloud seeding contributed to this groundbreaking effort. Lahore, struggling with smog due to various factors, witnessed exceedingly high PM2.5 levels, posing severe health risks. This initiative represents a novel approach to tackle the city's persistent air pollution, marking a significant step in combating the health hazards associated with prolonged exposure to such conditions. 




Massive Underground Tunnel Discovered in Gaza by Israeli Army 

The Israeli army recently discovered a large attack tunnel built by Hamas, originating in Jabaliya and ending near the Erez Border Crossing. The tunnel is about 4 kilometers long, up to 50 meters deep, and wide enough for vehicles. Hamas views the tunnel as a strategic asset for potential large-scale attacks against Israeli communities. The tunnel’s construction involved specialists and special digging machines, costing millions of dollars. Despite the IDF’s advanced intelligence capabilities, the tunnel was only discovered during the current war. The systematic discovery, mapping, and destruction of such tunnels are among Israel’s main goals in the Gaza war. The tunnel system includes several branches and a wide network involving various infrastructures. The tunnel was discovered when terrorists emerged from one end to attack Israeli soldiers.

High-Ranking IRGC Member Killed by Israeli Airstrike in Syria 

An Israeli airstrike in Syria reportedly killed Sardar Seyed Razi Mousavi, a high-ranking member of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and an advisor to the IRGC in Syria. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi confirmed the incident and vowed retribution. He offered condolences to Mousavi’s family and the people of Iran, and condemned the attack as a sign of the “frustration and helplessness” of the “usurping Zionist regime.” Mousavi was a close associate of IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2020. The Iranian foreign ministry also condemned the attack, describing it as a “terror act of aggression.” The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Mousavi was targeted after entering a farm in the Al-Saida Zainab area of Damascus, a known headquarters for the Iran-backed Hezbollah. Amid these developments, Hezbollah has been attacking Israel from both Lebanon and Syria, raising concerns about the spread of the conflict in Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on Mousavi’s death.


Ukraine Boldly Claims They Will Produce ‘One Million Drones’ in 2024 

Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelensky, declared plans to produce one million drones in the upcoming year, highlighting their pivotal role in the conflict with Russia. These devices, to be locally manufactured, will equip Ukrainian soldiers with modern, domestically made technology. Both nations actively utilize drones for reconnaissance, explosive deployment, and targeting. The intelligence gathered aids combat decisions or directs attacks. The proliferation of drone warfare initiated an arms competition, prompting Ukraine's focus on artificial intelligence for improved targeting and defense against Russian forces. Ukrainian officials emphasized the need for 100,000 to 120,000 drones monthly to bolster defense efforts against the invading Russian troops.

Belarus Leader Announces Delivery of Russian Nuclear Weapons Complete 

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko confirmed Russia's completion of delivering nuclear weapons to Belarus during the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in St. Petersburg. The last delivery of tactical nuclear weapons from Russia arrived in early October, although the quantity wasn't disclosed. President Vladimir Putin's decision in March to station short-ranged land-based tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus amid the conflict with Ukraine drew condemnation from Western nations, raising concerns of potential escalation. Lukashenko affirmed receipt of the first delivery in June, marking the first time Kremlin nuclear arms have been stationed outside Russia since 1991. The move triggered debates at the United Nations, with critics citing violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, while Russia defended the action, citing Western sanctions against Belarus and U.S. nuclear presence in Europe.


North Korean Leader Kim Urges ‘Accelerated’ Preparation for War 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un urged swift war preparations, emphasizing nuclear advancements, amidst heightened tensions and confrontations with the US. At a year-end party meeting, Kim emphasized accelerating military readiness, citing an extreme military situation due to intensified anti-North actions. Regional alliances have fortified defense cooperation in response to North Korea's continuous weapons tests. Pyongyang views joint drills involving US strategic assets as provocative. In 2023, North Korea claimed significant victories, while the UN atomic agency reported the operation of a second reactor at a nuclear facility. Experts anticipate tactical nuclear deployments near the inter-Korean border. The US and South Korea discuss nuclear deterrence, warning of dire consequences if Pyongyang initiates a nuclear attack. Pyongyang remains resolute in its nuclear pursuits despite international resolutions urging cessation. 

China Claims to Have Developed Tech to Disguise Missiles as Civilian Planes 

China claims to have created the "Golden Veil," a technology disguising cruise missiles as commercial planes on enemy radar. This innovation, akin to an umbrella, alters a missile's appearance to mimic Boeing 737s or Airbus A320s, transitioning between visibility and stealth mid-flight. It aims to reduce response time for military commanders, strengthening China's capabilities amid US tech competition. Composed of gold-plated metal threads, it's lightweight and compatible with various missiles, potentially signaling high demand due to its low-cost materials. The technology promises to reshape aerial combat strategies but faces challenges in mass production, necessitating consistency in performance through investments in advanced automation and production methods. China's invention, while promising, requires further development for reliability in practical use.


Shipping Vessels Avoid Red Sea as US Navy Shoots Down 14 Drones 

The U.S. military shot down 14 drones in the Red Sea, launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. This has led to major shippers like MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co. SA and CMA CGM suspending their vessels’ transit through the Red Sea due to rising threats. The drones were taken down by the USS Carney guided missile destroyer, and the UK’s Royal Navy also repelled a suspected drone attack. The MSC Palatium III was attacked, causing “limited fire damage” and leading to its withdrawal from service. Some services will be rerouted via the Cape of Good Hope. The conflict threatens to increase freight rates and cause delays across global supply chains. About 5% of global trade depends on the Panama Canal and 12% on the Suez Canal.

10-Nation Coalition Announced to Combat Houthi Attacks 

The U.S. has announced a 10-nation coalition, including the UK, France, Bahrain, and Italy, to counter Houthi missile and drone attacks on ships in the Red Sea. The Iran-backed Houthi rebels have escalated attacks on vessels, disrupting a transit route that carries up to 12% of global trade. The coalition aims to ensure freedom of navigation and bolster regional security. The Houthis have attacked two vessels, disrupting global trade to pressure Israel over its war against Hamas militants. Several companies, including BP and Evergreen, have suspended transit through the Red Sea due to the attacks. The situation has been described as a “maritime security crisis” with significant commercial and economic implications. The U.S. is leading efforts to uphold freedom of navigation, with a U.S. destroyer recently shooting down 14 drones in the Red Sea.

Injuries Reported in New Drone Attack Against US Troops in Iraq 

A military base in northern Iraq, used by US and anti-jihadist coalition forces, was targeted by a drone attack on Monday. The number of such attacks has increased since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7. The drone was launched towards a base near Arbil airport, causing injuries. Another drone attack was claimed by Islamic Resistance in Iraq against a base near Harir, northeast of Arbil. This group, affiliated with the Hashed al-Shaabi coalition, has claimed the majority of the 103 attacks against US troops in Iraq and Syria since October 17. They oppose US support for Israel in its war against Hamas. In early December, the US embassy in Baghdad was targeted with rocket fire, the first such attack since the Gaza war began. The office of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani announced several arrests linked to the security services. The US has approximately 2,500 soldiers in Iraq and 900 in Syria, fighting the Islamic State group since 2014.


Banks Worldwide Terminate 60K Workers in Worst Year for Industry Since 2008 

The banking sector saw significant upheaval with the collapse of major US regional banks and the global banking job losses reaching 61,905 in 2023, reflecting a move to protect profit margins amid high interest rates and reduced deal activity. This downsizing, although significant, was less than during the 2007-08 financial crisis. Job cuts hit Wall Street hardest, with major banks like UBS, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America reducing staff numbers. Experts attribute this to both economic challenges and a response to overexpansion, expecting continued caution and conservatism in banking through 2024. Regional bank job cuts might elevate the total loss. Despite interventions and mergers by central banks, stability and growth remain elusive in the industry. 

California Raises Minimum Wage to $20 an Hour Forcing Pizza Hut to Layoff 1,200 Workers 

Over 1,200 Pizza Hut delivery drivers in California are set to lose their jobs due to the state's impending fast food minimum wage hike to $20. Pizza Hut franchises in areas like Los Angeles plan to replace drivers with third-party delivery services like DoorDash and GrubHub. The layoffs, starting in February, deeply impact drivers in various counties. One affected driver criticized the $400 severance offered for years of service, calling it inadequate. California's Assembly Bill 1228 spurred this wage increase, affecting around 550,000 fast food workers and 30,000 restaurants. Despite opposition from fast food corporations and previous legislative attempts for a higher wage, the new law stands. Yum! Brands, the parent company of Pizza Hut, acknowledges these changes at certain franchise locations but emphasizes adherence to local regulations.

Amid Enforcement Crackdown, IRS Takes in Record $4.9Trillion From US Taxpayers 

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration's report highlights the IRS's record-breaking revenue collection of $4.9 trillion in fiscal year 2022, a $790 billion increase driven by enhanced enforcement activities. Despite a slight decline in examination and enforcement agents, automation significantly boosted revenue, with 74% collected through automated systems. The IRS plans to intensify enforcement with a substantial funding boost, allocating $46 billion and aiming to hire 3,700 more enforcers. Additional taxes assessed after audits soared to $30.2 billion, a 75% increase from 2019, and individual income taxes surged by 47%. The debate over auditing those earning under $400,000 remains contentious, with assurances from IRS officials conflicting with concerns raised by the watchdog. The lack of clarity on "high-income" thresholds and potential audit rate increases for this group sparks debate and scrutiny over IRS pledges and their enforcement strategies.

Iran and Russia Officially Move Away from Using US Dollar for Trade 

Russia and Iran recently solidified a pact to conduct trade using their local currencies instead of the US dollar, a move that challenges dollar dominance and counters US sanctions affecting both nations. Iran's state media confirmed this shift, allowing banks and economic actors to use non-SWIFT interbank systems for transactions in local currencies. Russia’s increasing ties with Iran include a recent arms deal. The global de-dollarization movement, ongoing for years among BRIC countries and other nations under US scrutiny, aims to reduce dollar dependence. Despite efforts, most cross-border transactions involving BRICS nations are still dollar-based due to the dollar’s stability and dominance in global trade, hindering complete de-dollarization.


GEOPOLITICS - Turkey Parliament Committee Approves NATO Membership for Sweden 

The Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee has approved Sweden’s NATO membership, a significant step in the Nordic country’s accession process following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Sweden and Finland abandoned their military non-alignment and sought to join NATO after the invasion. While all NATO members except Turkey and Hungary quickly approved their bids, Turkey and Hungary have now ratified Finland’s membership. Sweden’s bid, however, had been complicated by President Erdogan linking it to Ankara’s request for F-16 fighter jets from the US. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the committee’s vote and urged Turkey and Hungary to complete their ratifications soon. The next step is a vote in the Turkish parliament. Despite Erdogan lifting his objections to Sweden’s NATO membership after Stockholm addressed Ankara’s concerns about Kurdish groups, the process remains complex due to issues including the potential sale of F-16s to Turkey and Ankara’s support for Hamas.

Poll Numbers Show Biden Hitting New Approval Low 

President Joe Biden faced a new setback as a Monmouth University survey revealed his lowest approval rating yet: 34%. With 61% disapproving, concerns about his performance centered on inflation (68% disapproval) and immigration (69% disapproval). The administration's efforts to highlight economic growth clashed with public discontent over rising prices. Reports emerged of Biden and the First Lady expressing dismay over his declining ratings and worries about reelection prospects. Criticisms of his age and public gaffes added to concerns about his suitability for a second term. Biden’s sharp retorts to questions about his age and election plans and his dismissal of polling raised further doubts about his political trajectory.

Trump Gets Major Victory in Jan 6 Case by Supreme Court 

The US Supreme Court declined an expedited ruling on whether former President Donald Trump has immunity from prosecution over alleged interference in the 2020 election. This decision allows the appellate courts to follow regular procedures. Special Counsel Jack Smith sought a faster process due to the upcoming 2024 presidential election. Charges against Trump include obstructing an official proceeding, defrauding the US, and conspiring against American rights. The ruling might delay Trump’s trial scheduled for March 4 in Washington, D.C. The D.C. Circuit’s Court of Appeals planned to expedite the immunity case, prior to the Supreme Court’s decision. Trump’s legal team argued that a full lower court review should precede the Supreme Court’s consideration, deeming it crucial given the case's historical significance. 

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