Putin likely supplied the missile that downed flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014, investigators say

Insider

Putin likely supplied the missile that downed flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014, investigators say

Sinéad Baker – February 8, 2023

Lawyers attend the judges' inspection of the reconstruction of the MH17 wreckage, as part of the murder trial ahead of the beginning of a critical stage, on May 26, 2021 in Reijen, Netherlands.
Lawyers attend the judges’ inspection of the MH17 wreckage, on May 26, 2021 in Reijen, Netherlands.Photo by Piroschka van de Wouw – Pool/Getty Images
  • Putin likely gave separatists the missile that hit flight MH17, investigators said on Wednesday.
  • 298 people died when the Malaysian Airlines flight was shot down in 2014.
  • But prosecutors said they can’t pursue suspects due to the high bar of proof necessary.

Russian President Vladimir Putin likely supplied the missile system that shot down flight MH17 in July 2014, killing 298 people onboard, international investigators said on Wednesday.

The team has been investigating the crash since August 2014, and said in a statement that there are “strong indications” that the Russian president decided on supplying the missile system to separatists in Ukraine.

Investigators have previously said that the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down by a Buk missile brought from Russia to a field in Ukraine.

They said on Wednesday that the separatists had asked for longer-range anti-aircraft systems and that there is “concrete information” that the separatists’ request was presented to the Russian president, and that this request was granted.

But, they added, it’s not known whether their request explicitly mentioned the missile system that was later used to shoot down MH17.

Nor was it ultimately clear if Putin “deliberately assisted in the downing of MH17.”

Russia has always denied any involvement in the fate of the plane.

MH17
The site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near Grabovo in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, July 17, 2014.Reuters

Investigators said on Wednesday that the evidence was not strong enough to formally accuse Putin.

“Although we speak of strong indications, the high bar of complete and conclusive evidence is not reached. Furthermore, the President enjoys immunity in his position as Head of State,” they said in the statement.

Prosecutors also said on Monday that they did not have enough evidence to pursue criminal proceedings against anyone else associated with the crash.

Dutch court sentenced three men  — Russian nationals Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy and Ukrainian national Leonid Kharchenko — to life in prison last November over the downing of the plane. But the men are still at large.

The plane, a Boeing 777, was flying from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was shot down over eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists had taken over parts of the country.

MH17 inquiry: ‘Strong indications’ Putin OK’d missile supply

Associated Press

MH17 inquiry: ‘Strong indications’ Putin OK’d missile supply

Mike Corder – February 8, 2023

Digna van Boetzelaer, the Netherlands, Andy Kraag, the Netherlands, David McLean, Australia, Asha Hoe Soo Lian, Malaysia, Eric van der Sypt, Belgium, and Oleksandr Bannyk, Ukraine, from left to right, are seen during the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) holds a news conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, on the results of the ongoing investigation into other parties involved in the downing of flight MH17 on 17 July 2014. The JIT investigated the crew of the Buk-TELAR, a Russian made rocket launcher, and those responsible for supplying this Russian weapon system that downed MH17. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Netherlands Ukraine MH17
Digna van Boetzelaer, the Netherlands, Andy Kraag, the Netherlands, David McLean, Australia, Asha Hoe Soo Lian, Malaysia, Eric van der Sypt, Belgium, and Oleksandr Bannyk, Ukraine, from left to right, are seen during the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) holds a news conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023.
Digna van Boetzelaer, the Netherlands, Andy Kraag, the Netherlands, David McLean, Australia, Asha Hoe Soo Lian, Malaysia, Eric van der Sypt, Belgium, and Oleksandr Bannyk, Ukraine, take their seats for the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) news conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, on the results of the ongoing investigation into other parties involved in the downing of flight MH17 on 17 July 2014. The JIT investigated the crew of the Buk-TELAR, a Russian made rocket launcher, and those responsible for supplying this Russian weapon system that downed MH17. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Digna van Boetzelaer, the Netherlands, Andy Kraag, the Netherlands, David McLean, Australia, Asha Hoe Soo Lian, Malaysia, Eric van der Sypt, Belgium, and Oleksandr Bannyk, Ukraine, take their seats for the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) news conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, on the results of the ongoing investigation into other parties involved in the downing of flight MH17 on 17 July 2014. The JIT investigated the crew of the Buk-TELAR, a Russian made rocket launcher, and those responsible for supplying this Russian weapon system that downed MH17. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
FILE - People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, July 17, 2014. An international team is presenting an update Wednesday Feb. 8, 2023 on its investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. The announcement comes nearly three months after a Dutch court convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian rebel for their roles in shooting down the Boeing 777 and killing all 298 people on board on July 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, File)
People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine, July 17, 2014. An international team is presenting an update Wednesday Feb. 8, 2023 on its investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. The announcement comes nearly three months after a Dutch court convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian rebel for their roles in shooting down the Boeing 777 and killing all 298 people on board on July 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, File)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An international team of investigators said Wednesday it found “strong indications” that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the supply of heavy anti-aircraft weapons to Ukrainian separatists who shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014 with a Russian missile.

However, members of the Joint Investigation Team said they had insufficient evidence to prosecute Putin or any other suspects and they suspended their 8½-year inquiry into the shooting down that killed all 298 people on board the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Russia has always denied any involvement in the downing of the flight over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, and refused to cooperate with the international investigation.

Dutch prosecutors said that “there are strong indications that the Russian president decided on supplying” a Buk missile system — the weapon that downed MH17 — to Ukrainian separatists.

“Although we speak of strong indications, the high bar of complete and conclusive evidence is not reached,” Dutch prosecutor Digna van Boetzelaer said, adding that without Russian cooperation, “the investigation has now reached its limit. All leads have been exhausted.”

She also said that, as head of state, Putin would have immunity from prosecution in the Netherlands. The team played a recording of an intercepted phone call in which they said Putin could be heard discussing the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

“Are we disappointed? No, because we think we came further than we had ever thought in 2014. Would we have liked to come further? Of course, yes,” said Andy Kraag of the Dutch police.

The team informed relatives of those killed in the downing of MH17 of their findings before making them public.

“There was disappointment because … they wanted to know why MH17 was shot down,” Kraag said. “We’re really clear on what has happened, but the answer to the question why MH17 was shot down still remains in Russia.”

Van Boetzelaer said that while the investigation is being suspended, phone lines will remain open for possible witnesses who may still want to provide evidence. If that happens, the inquiry could be reactivated.

Russian officials say that a decision to provide rebels with military support over the summer of 2014 was in Putin’s hands.

A decision to supply arms was even postponed for a week “because there is only one who makes a decision (…), the person who is currently at a summit in France,” the investigative team said, citing a phone conversation that was referring to Putin.

Prosecutors said that at the time Putin was at a commemoration of D-Day in France.

The announcement by the investigative team comes nearly three months after a Dutch court convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian rebel for their roles in shooting down the plane. One Russian was acquitted by the court.

None of the suspects appeared for the trial and it was unclear if the three who were found guilty of multiple murders will ever serve their sentences.

The convictions and the court’s finding that the surface-to-air Buk missile came from a Russian military base were seen as a clear indication that Moscow had a role in the tragedy. Russia has always denied involvement. The Russian Foreign Ministry accused the court in November of bowing to pressure from Dutch politicians, prosecutors and the news media.

But the November convictions held that Moscow was in overall control in 2014 over the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, the separatist area of eastern Ukraine where the missile was launched. The Buk missile system came from the Russian military’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, based in the city of Kursk.

The Joint Investigation Team is made up of experts from the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, Belgium and Ukraine. Most of the victims were Dutch. It had continued to investigate the crew of the missile system that brought down the plane and those who ordered its deployment in Ukraine.

As well as the criminal trial that was held in the Netherlands, the Dutch and Ukrainian governments are suing Russia at the European Court of Human Rights over its alleged role in the downing of MH17.

The findings revealed Wednesday will likely strengthen the case at the human rights court and could also be used by prosecutors at the International Criminal Court who are investigating possible war crimes in Ukraine dating back to the start of the separatist conflict.

What a brain expert does daily to ward off dementia

The Telegraph

What a brain expert does daily to ward off dementia

Hattie Garlick – February 7, 2023

Sahakian says she has reduced her coffee since a study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex last year showed it was associated with reduced grey matter in the cerebral cortex - David Rose
Sahakian says she has reduced her coffee since a study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex last year showed it was associated with reduced grey matter in the cerebral cortex – David Rose

Barbara Sahakian, an expert in grey matter from the University of Cambridge, describes the lifestyle habits she employs to keep brain deterioration at bay.

Breakfast

I like getting up early when it is quiet and listening to the birdsong while I drink my coffee.

I used to drink more coffee, but have cut down my intake since our study, published in the journal Cerebral Cortex last year, showed that coffee was associated with reduced grey matter in the cerebral cortex.

Our findings also highlighted the importance of a “cereal” breakfast for reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. So I have  muesli cereal, with no added sugar, for breakfast every day.

Learning
Sarakian regularly visits museums and is looking forward to an exhibition at the V&A this spring - Sam Mellish
Sarakian regularly visits museums and is looking forward to an exhibition at the V&A this spring – Sam Mellish

Recently, I co-wrote an article for The Lancet called “Use It or Lose It”.  In essence, in order to keep your brain functioning at its best, you need to drive its neural networks through cognitive activities, including learning new things. We hear a lot about how learning a language or musical instrument can build cognitive reserve but actually learning anything new will have benefits. Different areas of the brain will be activated during different kinds of learning, be it music, a foreign language or motor skills such as cycling.

Fortunately, I keep my mind active through my research work and teaching.

I learn a lot when I travel, too. I like to read about the cities I’m staying in, as well as their history and culture. I’ll visit art, history, textile and fashion museums. When I was in Chengdu, I was taken to see the bronze masks discussed so brilliantly on TV by Simon Schama, and I’m looking forward to seeing the exhibition “Hallyu! The Korean Wave” at the Victoria and Albert Museum this April.

Lunch

I’ll often have tuna fish sandwiches or zero per cent fat yoghurt and fruit. Oily fish provides omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects.  I always have several different kinds of fruit in the house, my favourite being blueberry. Oxidative stress has been identified as a major factor in diseases including Alzheimer’s, and these berries are high in antioxidants that prevent oxidative damage to cells.

Meanwhile, Vitamin C,  which is found in most citrus fruits, is thought to have a therapeutic role in a number of diseases, including ischemic stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.

Exercise
Sahakian swears by the power of a brisk daily walk - Kevin Dodge
Sahakian swears by the power of a brisk daily walk – Kevin Dodge

I get out every day for a brisk, one hour walk. Exercising is vital for your physical health, brain health, cognition and mood. It actually increases neurogenesis in the brain (the creation of new brain cells), including in the hippocampus, which is an important area involved in learning and memory.

When I walk, I usually practise mindfulness and stay in the moment, listening to birds and appreciating the natural world around me. If I have a difficult problem to solve, I often find my mind is clearer and my decision-making improved after a fast, long walk. The key is to do exercise that you enjoy, so you will be sure to stick with it.

Supper

For dinner I often have chicken and dark green vegetables, which are important for brain healthdue to the protective effects of vitamin K and other nutrients.  I like Indian-style vegetables and South Korean kimchi rice.

Socializing

Our study, published in Neurology last year, showed that socially isolated individuals had a higher risk of developing dementia. Keeping socially connected is good for your brain, cognition, wellbeing and mental health, so it’s really important to keep in touch with family and friends. I meet mine at restaurants, theatres and museums or, on sunny days, just to go on long walks together.

Sleep
Seven hours of sleep is the optimal amount, says Sahakian - iStockphoto
Seven hours of sleep is the optimal amount, says Sahakian – iStockphoto

Our study, published in Nature Aging in 2022, showed that seven hours of sleep is ideal in middle and old age, for cognition and mental health. The brain recharges itself and stores memories during sleep, as well as removing toxic waste by-products and boosting the immune system. Sleeping four hours or less increases your risk of death, but sleeping more than seven probably means that you have had poor quality or disrupted sleep. So I try to get those seven hours each night.

It is important to be relaxed and not stressed when you get into bed, so I try to not work or watch thrillers immediately before sleep. I like reading, but if my work has already required me to read for much of the day, then I’ll usually relax and watch something light on TV – a comedy or romantic comedy.

To some extent, how much screen time is beneficial or detrimental to your brain will depend on what you are watching. For example, some nature or history programmes can be very educational, but there’s no harm in switching off occasionally.

At bedtime I make sure my bedroom is dark and quiet, and the room temperature is right for me and my bed comfortable. It also helps, sometimes, to think of a relaxing event when falling asleep. I might drift off thinking of how I felt when lying on a beautiful beach in the sun, watching the ocean and listening to the sound of the waves.

Biden, Republicans engage in fiery debt ceiling back-and-forth during State of the Union address

Yahoo! News

Biden, Republicans engage in fiery debt ceiling back-and-forth during State of the Union address

 David Knowles, Senior Editor – February 7, 2023

President Biden and Republican lawmakers engaged in an animated back-and-forth during Tuesday’s State of the Union address over whether to raise the debt ceiling.

“Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage, I get it,” Biden said over threats made by Republican lawmakers to insist on spending cuts before they would agree to raise debt ceiling, “unless I agree to their economic plan. All of you at home should know what those plans are.”

As Biden continued his speech, a handful of Republicans began voicing their displeasure, calling out and interrupting the president.

Joe Biden with Kamala Harris and Kevin McCarthy
President Biden delivers the State of the Union address as Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy look on. (Jacquelyn Martin/Pool via AP)

“Instead of making the wealthy pay their fare share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security sunset,” Biden said as many Republican booed him.

“Anybody who doubts it,” Biden said as a chorus of Republican boos ensued, “contact my office, I’ll give you a copy of the proposal.”

As Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, continued to boo and taunt the president, he quipped, “That’s OK, I enjoy conversation.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene heckling President Biden
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene heckling President Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“If Congress doesn’t keep the programs the way they are, they can go away, Republicans say. I’m not saying it’s a majority of you. I don’t even think it’s a significant majority—” Biden said before being cut off by more jeering. “It’s being proposed by individuals. I’m politely not naming them, but it’s being proposed by some of you.”

At one point, Greene could be heard calling Biden a liar.

“The idea is, we’re not going to be moved into being threatened to default on the debt if we don’t respond,” Biden said, drawing applause from his Democratic colleagues.

After Republican curtailed their vocal objections, Biden concluded by saying, “So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right? They’re not to be touched. All right.”

That again gave Democrats something to cheer.

While it’s unusual for lawmakers to shout during presidential addresses to Congress, it’s not entirely unprecedented. In 2009, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., yelled out “You lie!” during a health care speech by President Barack Obama.

Wilson’s outburst was roundly criticized by Republican leaders at the time and he quickly issued an apology.

Romney tells embattled Republican George Santos he ‘shouldn’t be in Congress’

Reuters

Romney tells embattled Republican George Santos he ‘shouldn’t be in Congress’

February 7, 2023

U.S. Senators at the U.S. Capitol in Washington
U.S. Senators at the U.S. Capitol in Washington
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Mitt Romney told embattled fellow Republican Representative George Santos on Tuesday that should not be in Congress and shouldn’t have taken a central seat at President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.

Romney, an elder statesman of the party and former Republican presidential candidate, was seen having a brief exchange with Santos, who has made multiple false claims about his past on his way into the House of Representatives chamber before the address.

“He shouldn’t be in Congress and they’re going to go through the process and hopefully get him out,” Romney told reporters after the speech. “But he shouldn’t be there and if he had any shame at all he wouldn’t be there.”

Romney said he had told Santos as much.

Santos, who represents a New York district, had taken a seat along the center aisle of the chamber, which the president, members of this Cabinet, Supreme Court justices and senators use to enter the hall.

Santos is facing ethics complaints from fellow members of Congress, but the House Ethics Committee has yet to organize for the next two years and thus cannot launch any potential investigation, an aide to Speaker Kevin McCarthy said earlier on Tuesday.

Santos has apologized for “embellishing” his resume but has rebuffed calls for his resignation from constituents and fellow New York state Republicans, saying he would vacate his seat only if he loses the next election, in 2024.

(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller)

C-SPAN captured a tense back-and-forth between George Santos and Mitt Romney at the State of the Union

Insider

C-SPAN captured a tense back-and-forth between George Santos and Mitt Romney at the State of the Union

Bryan Metzger – February 7, 2023

Republican Rep. George Santos of New York at the State of the Union Address on February 7, 2023.
Republican Rep. George Santos of New York at the State of the Union Address on February 7, 2023.Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • George Santos and Mitt Romney had what appeared to be a tense exchange at the State of the Union.
  • C-SPAN cameras captured the interaction, but the two men gave competing accounts.
  • Following the speech, Santos tweeted that Romney “will NEVER be PRESIDENT!”

Before President Joe Biden entered the chamber to deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, Rep. George Santos found himself in an apparently tense conversation with fellow Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.

C-SPAN cameras captured the tense interaction between Santos — the scandal-plagued Long Island congressman — and Romney, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee.

Following the speech, the Utah Republican told reporters that Santos is a “sick puppy” who “shouldn’t have been there.”

“He should be sitting in the back row and being quiet instead of parading in front of the president,” he told reporters, noting the ethics inquiries Santos faces.

Santos — not exactly the most reliable interlocutor — claimed to Semafor’s Kadia Goba that Romney called him an “ass” and that Santos retorted that Romney is a “much bigger asshole.”

And according to CNN, Romney simply told Santos: “You don’t belong here.”

Santos sat in a seat on the center aisle beside fellow Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, giving him the opportunity to shake dignitaries’ hands as they entered the chamber.

He could be seen shaking hands with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Whip John Thune, Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville, and even a couple of Democrats: Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Dick Durbin of Illinois.

Following the speech, Santos tweeted that Romney “will NEVER be PRESIDENT!”

McCarthy warns Republicans not to misbehave at State of the Union, promises no ‘childish games’ like Pelosi’s infamous speech tearing moment

Business Insider

McCarthy warns Republicans not to misbehave at State of the Union, promises no ‘childish games’ like Pelosi’s infamous speech tearing moment

Oma Seddiq, Nicole Gaudiano – February 7, 2023

Kevin McCarthy, Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy; former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images; MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images
  • McCarthy swiped at Pelosi ahead of Biden’s state of the union address on Tuesday.
  • “We’re not going to do childish games tearing up a speech,” he told CNN.
  • Pelosi infamously ripped up a copy of Trump’s speech after his 2020 SOTU address.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy insisted that Republicans would show proper decorum during President Joe Biden’s state of the union address on Tuesday evening, swiping at former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s viral moment tearing up former President Donald Trump’s speech during his 2020 speech.

“We’re members of Congress. We have a code of ethics of how we should portray ourselves,” McCarthy told CNN’s Manu Raju on Tuesday. “And that’s exactly what we’ll do. But we’re not going to do childish games tearing up a speech.”

Privately, however, McCarthy has expressed concerns about his own caucus’ behavior and has warned them about their conduct, according to CNN’s Melanie Zanona.

Pelosi made headlines when she ripped up a copy of Trump’s speech after he delivered his third state of the union address three years ago. The top Democrat at the time remarked to reporters that “it was a courteous thing to do, considering the alternatives.”

“It was such a dirty speech,” she said.

McCarthy, the newly elected House speaker, will take Pelosi’s previous seat on the platform behind Biden during his address on Tuesday night. The president is planning to lay out his plans to advance his “unity agenda” this year, including policies to fight cancer, help veterans, provide mental health treatment, and fight opioid addiction.

In a closed-door meeting with the House Republican conference on Tuesday, McCarthy and other GOP leaders warned their members to behave during the address, CNN’s Melanie Zanona wrote.

The “cameras are on,” and the “mics are hot,” House GOP leadership reportedly said in the meeting.

Republicans in the past have made headlines with outbursts during past presidential State of the Union speeches, which are viewed by millions.

Rep. Lauren Boehbert of Colorado heckled Biden last year when he talked about how his son Beau’s death may have been linked to burn-pit exposure during his Iraq deployment. She shouted that he put “13 of them” in coffins, a reference to 13 American troops who were killed in Afghanistan during the US’ chaotic withdrawal.

Boehbert and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia also tried to start a “build the wall” chant last year during Biden’s speech.

Former President Barack Obama later said he was “shocked” and wanted to “smack” Rep. Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, for yelling “you lie” during Obama’s 2009 State of the Union Address when he was talking about his plans for the Affordable Care Act.

“My initial instinct is, ‘Let me walk down and smack this guy on the head. What is he thinking?'” Obama said during a CBS interview in 2020 when his book “A Promised Land” was released.  “And instead, I just said, ‘That’s not true,’ and I just move on. He called afterward to apologize – although, as I point out in the book, he saw a huge spike in campaign contributions to him from Republicans across the country who thought he had done something heroic.”

12 of the most unforgettable moments from State of the Union addresses

Insider

12 of the most unforgettable moments from State of the Union addresses

Shelby Slauer and Rebecca Cohen – February 7, 2023

12 of the most unforgettable moments from State of the Union addresses
obama state of the union
Former President Barack Obama during a State of the Union address.REUTERS/Mandel Ngan/Pool
  • The State of the Union address allows the US president to update Congress on the nation’s progress.
  • Former President Harry S. Truman’s speech in 1947 was the first to be broadcast on television.
  • Nancy Pelosi ripped up a copy of Donald Trump’s speech after he finished speaking.

Parts of Abraham Lincoln’s State of the Union speech were leaked and it prompted an investigation.

Abraham Lincoln
His wife was accused of leaking information, but Lincoln said she hadn’t seen the speech in advance.Hulton Archive / Stringer / Getty Images

Hours after Abraham Lincoln sent his State of the Union address to Congress, the newspaper The New York Herald published a few excerpts from the speech that had been leaked. Readers of the paper got to see parts of the speech before it was formally released.

The leak prompted the House Judiciary Committee to launch an investigation into the cause of the leaks in February 1862.

Harry S. Truman’s speech in 1947 was the first to be broadcast on television.

harry truman state of the union
Former President Harry S. Truman giving the State of the Union address.AP/Byron Rollins

In 1947, Harry S. Truman’s State of the Union address was the first to be televised. At the time, television owners were only in the thousands, so most Americans missed his debut, instead listening to it on the radio.

Richard Nixon called for an end to the Watergate investigation during his State of the Union address in 1974.

nixon state of the union
President Richard Nixon delivering the State of the Union address in 1974.AP Photo

In Nixon’s 1974 address, he called for an end to the Watergate investigation, saying, “one year of Watergate is enough.”

Then, just seven months later, the Watergate Scandal led Nixon to resign after five and a half years in office.

Ronald Reagan invited Lenny Skutnik to the address in 1982, starting a new tradition for State of the Union addresses.

Lenny Skutnik being recognized during the State of the Union speech. His wife (L) and Mrs. Reagan (R) applaud. (Photo by
Lenny Skutnik being recognized during the State of the Union speech in 1982.Frank Johnston/Washington Post/Getty Images

Reagan was the first president to bring a guest to honor at the State of the Union address, which began an annual tradition of recognizing everyday American heroes.

Congressional Budget Office employee Lenny Skutnik was honored for saving the life of Priscilla Tirado after an Air Florida plane crashed into the freezing Potomac River. He sat beside the First Lady during the address.

Bill Clinton called for an end to big government during his address in 1996.

president clinton state of the union
President Clinton during one of his State of the Union addresses.AP/ RON EDMONDS

In President Clinton’s 1996 address, which came after a 21-day government shutdown, he spoke of the need for an end to big government.

Later that year, he approved a Republican-sponsored idea for welfare reform.

Networks cut away from Clinton’s State of the Union address in 1997 to air the OJ Simpson verdict.

oj simpson
Defendant OJ Simpson during his trial.Reuters

Clinton’s 1997 address was coming to an end right as the jury was about to deliver the verdict for OJ Simpson’s highly publicized criminal trial.

Networks cut straight from his address to the Simpson trial before the Republican response to Clinton’s address was aired.

George W. Bush coined “Axis of Evil” in his 2002 address, marking the beginning of the Iraq War.

george w bush state of the union
George W. Bush giving a State of the Union address.Luke Frazza/Getty Images

Soon after the 9/11 attacks, Bush labeled North Korea, Iran, and Iraq as an “Axis of Evil,” arguing in favor of what would become the Iraq War.

Justice Samuel Alito shook his head in disagreement during Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, left, and Sonia Sotomayor, center, are seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, prior to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito prior to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.AP Photo/Pablo Martinez

As Obama criticized the Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance, the camera cut to Justice Samuel Alito, who quietly mouthed “not true,” according to Politico’s reports.

Joe Biden pointed during Obama’s State of the Union address.

Joe biden state of the union
Biden’s facial expressions went viral.Fox News

During Obama’s State of the Union address in 2014, many couldn’t help but be distracted by former Vice President Joe Biden’s sudden pointing and laughing behind the president.

Many wondered what or who Biden was pointing at during the speech

It instantly became a meme and Biden later explained he was pointing up at a senator who he neglected to name.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fell asleep during Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address.

ruth bader ginsberg sleeping during obama address
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during Obama’s State of the Union address.Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Justice Ginsburg was caught on camera during Obama’s 2015 address with her head fully bowed, taking a nap.

Later, as per Reuters reports, she explained why her head was down: “The audience, for the most part, is awake, but they’re bobbing up and down all the time. And we sit there as stone-faced, sober judges. But we’re not. At least I wasn’t 100% sober when we went to the State of the Union.”

Donald Trump shrugged off a handshake from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ahead of the 2020 State of the Union.

Trump Pelosi 2020 State of the Union
Nancy Pelosi extending a hand to Donald Trump ahead of the State of the Union address on February 4, 2020.OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

When Trump entered the chambers to give his 2020 State of the Union speech, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi offered a handshake in an attempt at being cordial with the president.

He seemed to ignore her handshake and walked right past her. Pelosi shrugged it off and was seen shaking her head and looking down throughout the duration of his address.

Pelosi ripped up a copy of Trump’s 2020 State of the Union speech after he finished speaking.

Pelosi Trump
Nancy Pelosi ripping up pages of the prepared speech at President Donald Trump’s State of the Union on February 4, 2020.Mark Wilson/Getty Images

After he finished speaking during his 2020 State of the Union, Pelosi was seen ripping up a copy of Trump’s speech right behind him.

When asked why she did that, she said, “Because it was the courteous thing to do. It was the courteous thing to do considering the alternative.” It is not clear what she meant by “the alternative.”

Vladimir Putin is about to make shock gains

The Telegraph

Vladimir Putin is about to make shock gains

Colonel Richard Kemp – February 7, 2023

A Russian Armata tank
A Russian Armata tank

With Russia back on the offensive after significant Ukrainian combat successes around Kharkiv and Kherson in the second half of 2022, the past few weeks have been the bloodiest so far of an already bloody war, with both sides taking extraordinarily heavy casualties. Expect it to get worse.

Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov says Russia has mobilised “much more” than 300,000 troops, perhaps up to half a million, and these are pouring into Ukraine in preparation for what is expected to be a major offensive in the coming days and weeks. Although Kyiv has also been building up its forces and supplying them with modern equipment donated by the West, Putin has a much greater advantage in troop numbers than he did when he invaded a year ago. Despite repeated optimistic reports of Russia running low on artillery shells – a battle winner in this conflict – Putin’s war stocks are vast, and his factories have been working around the clock to churn out even more.

Under pressure towards the end of last year, Russia withdrew its forces to positions of strength, trading ground for time as it massed resources for a planned hammer blow while grinding down the Ukrainians in the east, softening them up for the assault to come. Much of this has been done by infantry attack, throwing away “expendable” troops in time-honoured Russian style. The Kremlin has at the same time been conserving artillery shells (though expending thousands each day around Bakhmut alone) and the armoured vehicles that are so essential for the fast-moving blitzkrieg Putin is planning.

Until now, the narrative in the West has been that Ukraine is comfortably winning this war, albeit while sustaining heavy bombardments on its major cities. The reality is more complex. The latest estimates suggest that each side may have taken upwards of 120,000 casualties already – hardly indicative of a triumph for Ukraine. And there may be worse to come: the truth is that recent promises of new combat equipment for Ukraine – especially longer range missiles, tanks and other armoured vehicles – are unlikely to be fulfilled in time to have an impact in this battle if Putin launches his offensive on the timetable Kyiv predicts.

With so many more men and resources at its disposal, Moscow will be able to sustain higher casualty rates. This is why Russia tends to do better in wars the longer they go on – it can bring more to bear over time. Even today, Putin does not fear high casualties: disproportionate numbers of his troops are recruited from distant provinces rather than cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg, where a stream of body bags could have some effect on what still remains rock solid support for him and his war.

Another concern is that, while Russian forces have performed abysmally – thwarted by low troop morale, inadequate numbers, badly maintained equipment, clumsy tactics, substandard battle discipline, poor logistics, the stiffest Ukrainian resistance and an unexpectedly united effort from the West – some Ukrainian reports from the front indicate the Russians have been learning hard lessons and making much needed improvements, at least at the level of battle tactics and discipline. The Russian army was bleeding before, but it appointed new commanders and – as in the Second World War – may be recovering from its earlier disasters.

We must therefore be prepared for significant Russian gains in the coming weeks. We need to be realistic about how bad things could be – otherwise the shock risks dislodging Western resolve. The opposite occurred last summer and autumn, as flagging support in parts of Europe and the US was galvanised by Ukrainian success.

It is essential that we not only maintain our combat supplies to Ukraine, but step it up even further and even faster. If Putin gains more ground, then Kyiv will need to counterattack more strongly, and will need more armoured vehicles, better air defences, longer-range missiles and vast quantities of artillery shells and ammunition. The only alternative is that President Zelensky is forced to come to terms, handing victory to Russia and defeat to Ukraine and Nato.

Colonel Richard Kemp is a former infantry commander

A 14-year-old thought she had ‘butterflies’ from dancing with a boy at winter formal. It was a heart attack.

Insider

A 14-year-old thought she had ‘butterflies’ from dancing with a boy at winter formal. It was a heart attack.

Anna Medaris – February 7, 2023

Ceirra Zeagler with husband
Zeager, now 23, married her husband in October 2020.Courtesy of Ceirra Zeagler
  • Ceirra Zeager thought her pounding heart was excitement from attending her first school dance.
  • But it turned out to be the beginning of a heart attack, caused by a congenital heart defect.
  • Zeager, now 23, is sharing her story as a volunteer for the American Heart Association.

As a high school freshman in rural Pennsylvania, Ceirra Zeager was a wallflower who focused on her schoolwork and art. She didn’t play sports or music, and had just two close friends — one of whom was her sister.

So when Zeager, then 14, went to the winter formal and danced with a boy for the first time, she wasn’t sure how to interpret her racing heart, which continued to pound long after she’d returned home. “I was thinking, ‘Is this how it is to have feelings?'” Zeager, now 23, told Insider.

But the next morning, Zeager’s “butterflies” had morphed into such a deep fatigue and heaviness in her arm that she struggled to put on her shirt. When she tried to walk to her parents’ bedroom for help, her vision narrowed, her ear flooded with warmth, and she collapsed.

“Before I knew it, I was on the floor,” Zeager said. “It felt like an elephant was on my chest.”

Zeager later learned she’d suffered a heart attack, and is now sharing her story as a volunteer for the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women “Real Women” campaign. She wants other other young women to know the signs of a heart attack, and to speak up when they know something is wrong.

A doctor at the hospital told Zeager it was just ‘teenage anxiety’

The morning after the dance in 2014, Zeager’s dad, a pharmacist, saw her on the ground and asked if the family needed to go to the hospital instead of her brother’s birthday party, as planned. “I have no idea what’s going on, but I think we do,” she said.

At the hospital, Zeager said she wasn’t treated like someone in an emergency situation. She waited hours to be seen and developed “an intense burning pain” in her upper arm, but wasn’t given pain medicine. She now knows arm pain is often a sign of heart attacks in women.

Eventually, a doctor told Zeager she likely had “teenage anxiety.”

“It really broke me to hear that because I felt embarrassed that my whole family was there, and I was ruining my brother’s birthday get-together,” Zeager said.

Still, the doctor recommended Zeager visit a children’s hospital just to be safe. While there, she learned tests had identified a blockage in or around her heart, and that she needed to undergo a cardiac catheterization procedure to identity the location of the clot.

When Zeager awoke from the surgery, more than 12 hours after showing up at the first hospital, she saw her sister crying. “You had a heart attack,” her sister said.

Zeager learned she had ‘sticky’ blood and a hole in her heart

Later testing revealed Zeager had elevated lipoprotein A, which means her red blood cells are “extra sticky,” leading to a blood clot. She was also born with a hole in her heart, called patent foramen ovale (PFO), which allowed the clot to get lodged in her coronary artery, causing the heart attack.

While about 1 in 4 people have PFO, it alone usually doesn’t cause any problems, according to the Mayo Clinic. But for Zeager, the defect in combination with high lipoprotein A levels — something that can’t be controlled through diet and exercise — was dangerous.

Zeager’s treatment included surgery to repair the hole, six months on blood thinners, and a several-week long hospital stay.

Ceirra Zeagler in hospital
Zeager underwent open heart surgery in February 2021 to repair a leaky valve.Courtesy of Ceirra Zeagler

About seven years later, Zeager experienced extreme fatigue, but chalked it up to the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic or planning her wedding. But a cardiologist told her she needed open-heart surgery to repair a leaky heart valve that had been damaged during the heart attack.

Zeager underwent the surgery in February 2021, just a few months after her wedding. The emotional recovery was the hardest part, she said.

“You’re swollen, you’re bruised, you don’t feel like yourself, you’re on all sorts of painkillers, and you’re just barely making it through each day,” she said. While she’s usually a positive person, she said, “In that moment, I was not positive. I was not happy.

“https://www.instagram.com/p/CiV8rykLVBV/embed/captioned?cr=1&v=12

Since then, Zeager, now a human resources professional in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, maintains a healthy lifestyle, but still has an “ejection fraction” — a measure of heart strength — around 44%. A healthy range is 50% to 70%, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

That may mean she’ll be unable to safely carry a pregnancy. “Having that taken away from you as a woman is very, very hard,” she said.

But Zeager finds comfort in spreading her message. “Listen to your body, advocate for yourself, and try to find the silver lining,” she said. “It’s cliche, but it’s so true.”