Gleanings & Observations

China launched a nuclear-capable rocket that circled the globe and is harder to track, taking U.S. intelligence by surprise reports the FT. And announced the launch of a sun observation satellite to monitor solar eruptions.

Russia launched a hypersonic missile from a nuclear submarine for the first time. And announced the missile is capable of striking the U.S.

North Korea tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile firing a Pukguksong-3 from an underwater platform. And announced it is “the world’s most powerful weapon.”

America revealed that a nuclear attack submarine ran aground in the South Pacific after smashing into an undersea mountain that was not on its charts. And announced that the design developed by Ralph Lauren for team USA at the Beijing Olympics will feature red-and-blue puffer jackets made of recycled polyester and recycled down.

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“For our country the choice is simple, get more people vaccinated, or prolong the pandemic and its impact on our out country. … Too many people remain unvaccinated for us to get out of this pandemic for good.” President Joe Biden, November 4, 2021. Hence sweeping mandates to force employers to require vaccination or testing, and giving many Americans that choice or the loss of jobs.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement tell ABC News it “cannot force individuals in detention to be vaccinated.

Some 1.7 million migrants were encountered trying to enter the U.S. illegally in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021. The American Immigration Council estimates that about 28%, or 425,000 illegal immigrants, mostly families and unaccompanied children, “have been allowed to come into the country.” The Attorney General of Arizona reports that “migrants who cross the southern border illegally are not subject to any vaccination requirements even when released directly into the United States.”

Most in the caravans that have come and are headed to the United States were from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The fully vaccinated rates from these countries, according to the NYT World Vaccination Tracker, are: El Salvador, 61%; Guatemala, 20%; Honduras, 35%. The comparable U.S. figure is 58% according to the NYT.

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The recently passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill includes $73 billion to modernize the nation’s electricity grid, raising the question of why it has fallen into obsolescence and disrepair.

Two reasons. First, environmentalists have opposed efforts to build the high voltage transmission lines needed to move power from remote locations to consumer centers. Second, rates utilities can charge their customers for electric service are regulated by a variety of government agencies who have prevented the owners of these lines from earning rates of return that would attract sufficient investment to these investors, or yield enough to pay for tree pruning and other maintenance of these lines.

Policies for the use of the $73 billion will now by in the hands of environmentalists and government agencies.

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“For the second time this year, Russia has massed thousands of troops and armored equipment near its border with Ukraine” reports the WSJ’s estimable Gerald Seib.

Biden sent former CIA Director and Ambassador William Burns to Moscow “to let the Kremlin know that the U.S. is watching” reports Seib. Putin’s reaction is not recorded.

In July tiny Moldova elected a pro-EU government. Russia has cut gas supplies to Moldova, allegedly over a price dispute. Russia’s state company, Gazprom, says the FT, “has proposed that Moldova adjust its free trade deal with the EU and delay energy market reforms agreed with Brussels in exchange for cheaper gas for the country.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned Russia not to use “energy as a tool, or some would say a weapon of its foreign policy, especially as we get to winter.”