By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top U.S. arms makers are straining to meet surging demand for precision missiles and other weapons being used in the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State and other conflicts in the Middle East, according to senior U.S. officials and industry executives. Global demand for U.S.-made missiles and so-called smart bombs has grown steadily since their use in the first Gulf War. But the United States and a host of allies are now rushing to ensure a stable supply of such weapons for what is expected to be a long fight against Islamic State, whose rise has fueled conflict in Syria and across a swathe of the Middle East. U.S. officials say arms makers have added shifts and hired workers, but they are bumping up against capacity constraints and may need to expand plants or even open new ones to keep weapons flowing. That could create further log-jams at a time when U.S. allies are voicing growing concern that Washington's processing of arms sales orders is too slow. Islamic State's deadly attacks in Paris last month have added urgency to the U.S.-led bombing campaign against the group in Iraq and Syria. The campaign had resulted in 8,605 strikes at an estimated cost of around $5.2 billion as of Dec. 2. Meanwhile, a Saudi-led coalition including Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates and backed by Washington is carrying out a nine-month-old military campaign against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen. Gulf states are also supplying U.S.-made arms to rebels fighting Syria's government in that country's four-year-old war. "It's a huge growth area for us," said one executive with a U.S. weapons maker, who was not authorized to speak publicly. "Everyone in the region is talking about building up supplies for five to ten years. This is going to be a long fight" against Islamic State. The impact is palpable in Troy, Alabama, where Lockheed Martin Corp builds its 100-pound Hellfire air-to-ground missiles at a 3,863-acre highly secured facility surrounded by woods and horse pastures. Realtors are adding staff in anticipation of new hiring at the plant, and the large grocery chain Publix is opening a store soon. "What's good for Lockheed is good for Troy," said Kathleen Sauer, president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, adding that the expansion was helping a local economy where unemployment rates are already among the lowest in the state. "Look at our downtown," she said. "Almost all the stores are open and we have more coming in." Lockheed has added a third shift at its plant, which employed 325 workers as of February, and is now at "maximum capacity," said one executive familiar with the issue. The company announced in February that it will add 240 workers by 2020 and expand the facility, which also produces a 2,000-pound air-to-surface stealthy missile. Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's chief arms buyer, told Reuters this week there has been particularly strong demand for the Hellfire missiles. At $60,000 to $100,000 apiece they are inexpensive compared to many missiles and can be launched from everything from aircraft and helicopters and ships to destroy armored vehicles or punch into buildings. Kendall and other senior U.S. officials told Reuters they are working with Lockheed, Raytheon Co and Boeing Co. to ramp up production of precision munitions and potentially add new capacity. "We are watching that closely. We are looking at the need to increase capacity," Kendall said. SALES SURGING Defense shares have performed strongly in recent months on expectations of better results, and many soared after the attacks in Paris. Total U.S. foreign military sales approvals surged 36 percent to $46.6 billion in the year through September 2015 from around $34 billion a year earlier. Approved sales of missiles, smart bombs and other munitions to U.S. allies jumped to an estimated $6 billion in fiscal 2015 from $3.5 billion a year earlier. This year alone, the U.S. government has approved the sale of Hellfires to South Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, France, Italy and Britain. In June, the U.S. Army said it had asked Lockheed to boost production of the Hellfire from 500 per month to 650 by November. "There are essentially waiting lists for Hellfire. They can't make them fast enough," said one State Department official, who asked not to be identified. Lockheed declined to provide any details about how it is meeting increased demand for Hellfires and other munitions. In addition to approved foreign military sales, many munitions sales are overseen by the U.S. Commerce Department and negotiated directly between countries and companies. U.S. weapons makers do not routinely report such sales, and do not break down revenues by specific weapons. Also in high demand, Kendall said, are Boeing's Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kits, which turn unguided munitions into smart bombs and have been used consistently to strike Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. Last month, the State Department approved a $1.29 billion deal with Saudi Arabia for more than 22,000 JDAMS and other types of precision-guided bombs. Boeing said it boosted the daily production rate of JDAMs at its facility outside St. Louis by 80 percent in July to meet demand from the U.S. military and more than 25 other countries. Raytheon, one of the largest U.S. munitions makers, declined comment on its missile production work. The company has a large missile production facility in Tucson, Arizona, which could potentially boost production, Kendall said. REACHING CAPACITY Kendall said U.S. manufacturers had been "very responsive," but some facilities were already reaching maximum capacity and it would take years for firms to make necessary expansions. He said the U.S. government could potentially chip in to defray the cost of new facilities and tooling, but that would be addressed on a case-by-case basis. It takes time for foreign and U.S. orders to be processed by the U.S. bureaucracy and translate into contracts for companies, but that is now occurring, stretching many facilities to capacity limits, according to industry executives, who were not authorized to speak publicly. Vice Admiral Joe Rixey, director of the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, said industry was keeping up with demand thus far but that pressures were mounting. "We are reacting to get it done," Rixey told Reuters. "We're working on purchasing capacity and shifts." Defense shares have been buoyed by a two-year congressional budget agreement that ensures stable funding for fiscal 2016 and 2017, share buybacks and growing confidence that a revenue trough is nearly over. Raytheon told analysts in October that its missile sales - which account for about 28 percent of overall revenues - jumped 11 percent in the third quarter and looked set for further growth in the fourth quarter. Lockheed and Boeing do not provide details about their missile sales, but they account for a relatively small - albeit growing - portion of their defense businesses, according to analysts. The long-term increase in demand is also expected to boost revenues for key suppliers such as Orbital ATK and Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc, which make the propulsion systems for many of the missiles. U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh said the U.S. military had increased its orders in recent years to replenish and expand its stockpiles, but more work was needed. He said Washington was encouraging its allies to do the same. "We all have to be better at pre-planning for munitions, because they're expensive and we don’t have an industrial base that can spin up over night and produce them," he said last week after a speech hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank. For U.S. towns and cities that are reliant on the arms industry for growth, the growth is welcome economic news despite the rise in global conflicts. "It's a dangerous world," said Kevin Flowers, who works at Alabama Real Estate Connection in Troy, which he said was adding staff in anticipation of further expansion by Lockheed. "We have to be ready. Better safe than sorry." (Additional reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington and Rich McKay in Troy, Alabama; editing by Stuart Grudgings)
- USA TODAY Opinion
The Republican Party won't give up like the Whigs. It is now a political movement that embraces fraud and deceit as key to its survival and success.
- The Daily Beast
Drew Angerer/GettyIn the weeks since the feds raided Rudy Giuliani’s apartment and office in late April, close allies have tried to ferry a slew of emergency requests to former President Donald Trump and his advisers.But according to three people familiar with the matter, Trump, as well as several of his legal advisers and longtime confidants, have been hesitant about swooping in to help the embattled Giuliani, who for years worked as Trump’s personal lawyer, a political adviser, and attack dog. Giuliani also served as a major player in the Trump-Ukraine scandal and as a key driver in the former president’s efforts to nullify Joe Biden’s clear victory in the 2020 election.Team Trump’s reluctance to intervene comes at a time when federal investigators have ramped up their probe into whether Giuliani’s Ukraine-related work during the Trump era amounted to an unregistered and illegal lobbying operation on behalf of foreign figures. So far, no charges have been brought against the former New York City mayor as a result of this investigation, which began in 2019. Trump’s silence has led to simmering frustrations among members of Giuliani’s inner orbit, who privately allege that the ex-president’s team is working to convince him to hang Giuliani out to dry in his hour of need.“It’s a question now of whether or not [the former president and his team] want to leave Rudy to fend for himself or if they’re going to take a stand against this,” one person close to Giuliani said last week. “Right now, we don’t know.”Among Giuliani allies’ pleas, the three sources said, have been for Trump to issue a strong verbal or written statement saying Giuliani’s work during the Trump-Ukraine saga was done on behalf of then-President Trump—and therefore not part of an illegal foreign lobbying effort. In other words, Trump’s corroboration would be more than good public relations for Giuliani, it would back up a key pillar of Giuliani’s legal argument that he wasn’t lobbying and is innocent of the allegations.Other asks have included having the ex-president sign on to a legal motion to have federal investigators throw out any seized communications that Giuliani and his lawyers argue are covered by attorney-client privilege. Further, there have been repeated requests that Trump and his team financially aid Giuliani’s ballooning legal defense and help cover the mounting, sizable expenses.Two people close to Trump say they have urged the former president to lay low on the matter and to refrain from making too many statements or commitments on Giuliani and the federal probe. These people have told Trump that it’s unclear what the feds have and that any statement could backfire both on him and on Giuliani. Moreover, various people in Trump’s social and political orbits have been trying to convince the former president for years that Giuliani has been too great a liability for him, and they have suggested that he cut the lawyer loose.Even Parts of Trumpworld Are Like: Rudy, WTF Are You Doing?Many of them still blame Giuliani and his Ukraine shenanigans for getting Trump impeached the first time, and the attorney helped lead the Trumpworld and GOP charge in falsely claiming that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from the 45th U.S. president. In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, both Trump and Giuliani have been slammed with lawsuit after lawsuit over their roles in firing up the mob that committed the anti-democratic assault.In recent weeks, Trump himself has argued behind closed doors that he wouldn’t want to say Giuliani was doing all of the Ukraine work—which included a trans-Atlantic dirt-digging expedition on the Biden family that led to Trump’s first impeachment—on Trump’s behalf, according to one of the people close to the former president. Trump’s reasoning, this source relayed, is based in the ex-president’s insistence that he didn’t always know what Giuliani was doing during the Ukraine effort or concocting with his Ukrainian pals, several of whom Trump has privately dinged as “idiots.”It is also unclear when or if Trump will ultimately sign on to the desired legal motion, with allies to Giuliani expressing consternation over how the ex-president and his lawyers have not jumped at the opportunity.On Sunday, Robert Costello, Giuliani’s longtime attorney, said, “We do not know what, if anything, President Trump will do,” when asked by The Daily Beast whether Trump’s legal team would intervene in the effort to scuttle the search warrant. Costello said Giuliani’s attorneys have not formally asked Trump’s legal team to do so. “They can make up their own minds,” he said.He added that neither he nor his client has asked Trump to make a statement since federal agents seized Giuliani’s electronic devices.Alan Dershowitz, a celebrity lawyer who served on Trump’s legal team during the first impeachment trial, is now actively counseling Giuliani and his attorneys. “I’ve said to them that it would be very good to get people [including Trump] whose materials might have been seized to... become part of the [motion],” Dershowitz said in a brief interview.The two sources close to the former president each said Trump has repeatedly expressed sympathy for Giuliani’s ongoing woes but has not committed to overtly assisting his personal lawyer yet. Another person familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast that Giuliani has said he remains convinced that Trump won’t abandon him and will step up when the time is right.Over the decades and during his presidency, however, Trump has cemented a reputation for regularly turning his back on close allies and one-time loyalists, including when legal or political pressures became too hot for him. Chief among these former allies is one of Giuliani’s bitter rivals, Michael Cohen, another former personal lawyer and fixer of Trump’s. Cohen turned on his former boss after he felt abandoned by Trump following a 2018 federal raid and has since become an enthusiastic witness for federal investigators who’ve been looking into Trump and his business empire.‘Dead to Each Other’: Team Trump Prepares to ‘Bury’ Michael Cohen, ‘Weakling’ and ‘Traitor’When federal agents executed a search warrant on Cohen’s office in 2018, Trump intervened in the case and hired attorneys who argued that they should be allowed to review seized materials for privileged attorney-client materials before prosecutors could. Whether Trump will intervene similarly in a case involving the warrant against Giuliani remains to be seen.Trump did jump in to help some advisers after the authorities came knocking, including Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, and Paul Manafort, all of whom received presidential pardons within the final month of Trump’s term in the White House. In December, The New York Times reported that the then-president had discussed with people close to him the prospect of issuing a pre-emptive pardon to Giuliani and “talked with Mr. Giuliani about pardoning him as recently as [late November].” Ultimately, Giuliani did not receive a pre-emptive pardon, and he has denied that he had a conversation with Trump about the possibility.Giuliani has repeatedly argued that his efforts to oust Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch as U.S. envoy to Ukraine were carried out solely on behalf of his client, President Trump. A statement from Trump would help buttress Giuliani’s public case, but it wouldn’t necessarily help him in court.“Nothing Donald Trump may say publicly to help Giuliani is likely to get into evidence,” David H. Laufman, a partner at Wiggin and Dana and a former chief of the Justice Department’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, which oversees FARA prosecutions, told The Daily Beast. “Giuliani’s attorney will be able to cross-examine the government’s witnesses if he’s charged, and Giuliani always has the option of testifying in his own defense. But any press statements by Donald Trump to the effect of ‘Hey, he was just working for me’ almost certainly aren’t coming into evidence.”“In the highly improbable scenario that Trump testified for Giuliani, the notion of Giuliani trying to use the attorney-client privilege as a shield would go out the window. The privilege is held by Trump, not by Giuliani,” Laufman continued.Long before the search of Giuliani’s apartment, Trump appeared hesitant to say outright that his attorney’s work in Ukraine was conducted solely on the president’s behalf. During the peak of the impeachment inquiry in the fall of 2019, former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly asked Trump what Giuliani was up to in Ukraine.“I knew he was going to go to Ukraine and I think he canceled the trip. But you know, Rudy has other clients other than me. I’m one person that he represents,” Trump said.Asked if he’d told Giuliani to travel to Ukraine, Trump said: “No.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- The Week
"We have tackled many strange stories on 60 Minutes, but perhaps none like this," CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker said on Sunday night's show. "It's the story of the U.S. government's grudging acknowledgment of unidentified aerial phenomena, UAP, more commonly known as UFOs. After decades of public denial, the Pentagon now admits there's something out there, and the U.S. Senate wants to know what it is." A declassified report from the directorate of national intelligence and the Pentagon is due to be handed over to the Senate Intelligence Committee in June. Whitaker offered a preview, speaking with some familiar voices in the UAP sphere — Luis Elizondo, former head of the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP); retired Navy Cmdr. Dave Fravor, whose F/A-18F squadron encountered a UPA off California in 2004; Christopher Mellon, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence — and some new ones, like Lt. Cmdr. Alex Dietrich, who viewed the UAP with Fravor. 60 Minutes showed some declassified footage previously leaked to The New York Times by Mellon and Elizondo. "It's bizarre and unfortunate that someone like myself has to do something like that to get a national security issue like this on the agenda," Mellon said. Everyone Whitaker spoke with underscored that unidentified means just that, not yet identified, there's no evidence these phenomena are extraterrestrial, and they are a potential national security risk no matter who created them because the technology seems far beyond what the U.S. can currently produce. Mellon said the UFOs are not secret U.S. government technology, and "I can say that with a very high degree of confidence in part because of the positions I held in the department, and I know the process." Former Navy pilot Lt. Ryan Graves told Whitaker that fellow pilots began seeing UAPs hovering over restricted airspace off Virginia Beach in 2014, after upgrades to their radar, and continued seeing UAP's off the Atlantic Coast "every day for at least a couple years." 60 Minutes Overtime had more of the interview with Fravor and Dietrich, and you can watch that below. More stories from theweek.com7 scathingly funny cartoons about Liz Cheney's ousterPoll: Most GOP voters think 2020 election was illegitimate, but lawmakers should prioritize other issuesPoll: In Japan, a majority of people are opposed to Tokyo hosting Summer Olympics amid the pandemic
- Associated Press
Shannon Keeler was enjoying a weekend getaway with her boyfriend last year when she checked her Facebook messages for the first time in ages. The messages rocketed Keeler back to the life-shattering night in December 2013 when an upperclassman at Gettysburg College stalked her at a party, snuck into her dorm and barged into her room while she pleaded with him and texted friends for help. Eight years later, she still hopes to persuade authorities in Pennsylvania to make an arrest, armed now with perhaps her strongest piece of evidence: his alleged confession, sent via social media.
- Business Insider
Bill Gates crafted a public image as a likable, nerdy do-gooder. Office affairs, 'uncomfortable' workplace behavior, and Epstein ties reveal cracks in his facade.
Gates' image as an amiable, generous philanthropist does not gel with new information on his links to Epstein and dubious office romances.
- Business Insider
Bill Gates was dismissive toward Melinda Gates at work and pursued female employees at Microsoft and the Gates Foundation: NYT report
Six current and former employees of Gates and his endeavors told The New York Times he fostered an uncomfortable workplace.
- Business Insider
Anti-maskers and COVID deniers have been yelling about 'freedom' since the pandemic began. Now many of them are standing in the way of America's actual freedom.
COVID deniers and turning into anti-vaxxers and preventing the rest of us from getting through the pandemic and back to normal.
YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul is being investigated by Puerto Rican officials for violations of environmental laws after driving on a beach.
- The New York Times
RIO DE JANEIRO — Fretting over a fever in her toddler that wouldn’t break, the mother took the young girl, Letícia, to a hospital. Doctors had worrisome news: It was COVID-19. But they were reassuring, noting that children almost never develop serious symptoms, said the mother, Ariani Roque Marinheiro. Less than two weeks later, on Feb. 27, Letícia died in the critical care unit of the hospital in Maringá, in southern Brazil, after days of labored breathing. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times “It happened so quickly, and she was gone,” said Marinheiro, 33. “She was everything to me.” COVID-19 is ravaging Brazil, and, in a disturbing new wrinkle that experts are working to understand, it appears to be killing babies and small children at an unusually high rate. Since the start of the pandemic, 832 children 5 and under have died of the virus, according to Brazil’s health ministry. Comparable data is scarce because countries track the impact of the virus differently, but in the United States, which has a far larger population than Brazil, and a higher overall death toll from COVID-19, 139 children 4 and under have died. And Brazil’s official number of child deaths is likely a substantial undercount, as a lack of widespread testing means many cases go undiagnosed, said Dr. Fátima Marinho, an epidemiologist at the University of São Paulo. Marinho, who is leading a study tallying the death toll among children based on both suspected and confirmed cases, estimates that more than 2,200 children under 5 have died since the start of the pandemic, including more than 1,600 babies less than a year old. “We are seeing a huge impact on children,” said Marinho. “It’s a number that’s absurdly high. We haven’t seen this anywhere else in the world.” Experts in Brazil, Europe and the United States agree that the number of children’s deaths from COVID-19 in Brazil appeared to be particularly high. “Those numbers are surprising. That’s a lot higher than what we’re seeing in the United States,” said Dr. Sean O’Leary, vice chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on infectious diseases, and a pediatrics infectious disease specialist at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “By any of the measures that we’re following here in the United States, those numbers are quite a bit higher.” There is no evidence available on the impact of variants of the virus — which scientists say are leading to more severe cases of COVID in young, healthy adults and driving up death tolls in Brazil — on babies and children. But experts say the variant appears to be leading to higher death rates among pregnant women. Some women with COVID are giving birth to stillborn or premature babies already infected with the virus, said Dr. André Ricardo Ribas Freitas, an epidemiologist at São Leopoldo Mandic College in Campinas, who led a recent study on the impact of the variant. “We can already affirm that the P.1 variant is much more severe in pregnant women,” said Ribas Freitas. “And, oftentimes, if the pregnant woman has the virus, the baby might not survive or they might both die.” Lack of timely and adequate access to health care for children once they fall ill is likely a factor in the death toll, experts said. In the United States and Europe, experts said, early treatment has been key to the recovery of children infected with the virus. In Brazil, overstretched doctors have often been late to confirm infections in children, Marinho said. “Children are not being tested,” she said. “They get sent away, and it’s only when these children return in a really bad state that COVID-19 is suspected.” Dr. Lara Shekerdemian, chief of critical care at Texas Children’s Hospital, said that the mortality rate for children who get COVID-19 remains very low, but children living in countries where medical care is uneven were at greater risk. “A child that might just need a bit of oxygen today may end up on a ventilator next week if they don’t have access to the oxygen and the steroid that we give early in the disease process,” Shekerdemian said. “So what might end up as a simple hospitalization in my world can result in a child needing medical care they simply can’t get if there’s a delay in access to care.” A study published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal in January found that children in Brazil and four other countries in Latin America developed more severe forms of COVID-19 and more cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a rare and extreme immune response to the virus, compared with data from China, Europe and North America. Even before the pandemic began, millions of Brazilians living in poor areas had limited access to basic health care. In recent months, the system has been overwhelmed as a crush of patients have flooded into critical care units, resulting in a chronic shortage of beds. “There’s a barrier to access for many,” said Dr. Ana Luisa Pacheco, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at the Heitor Vieira Dourado Tropical Medicine Foundation in Manaus. “For some children, it takes three or four hours by boat to get to a hospital.” The cases in children have shot up amid Brazil’s broader explosion in infections, which experts attribute to President Jair Bolsonaro’s cavalier response to the pandemic and his government’s refusal to take vigorous measures to promote social distancing. A lagging economy has also left millions without income or enough food, forcing many to risk infection as they search for work. Some of the children who have died of the virus already had health issues that made them more vulnerable. Still, Marinho estimates that they represent just over one-quarter of deaths among children under 10. That suggests that healthy children, too, seem to be at heightened risk from the virus in Brazil. Letícia Marinheiro was one such child, her mother said. A healthy baby who had just started walking, she had never been sick before, Marinheiro said. Marinheiro, who got sick along with her husband Diego, 39, believes Letícia might have lived if her illness had been treated with more urgency. “I think they didn’t believe that she could be so sick, they didn’t believe it could happen to a child,” said Marinheiro. She recalled pleading to have more tests done. Four days into the child’s hospitalization, she said, doctors had still not fully examined Letícia’s lungs. Marinheiro is still unsure how her family got sick. She had kept Letícia — a first child the couple had badly wanted for years — at home and away from everyone. Her husband, a supplier of hair salon products, had been cautious to avoid contact with clients, even as he kept working to keep the family financially afloat. For Marinheiro, the sudden death of her daughter has left a gaping hole in her life. As the pandemic rages on, she says, she wishes other parents would quit underestimating the dangers of the virus that took Letícia away from her. In her city, she watches as families throw birthday parties for children and officials push to reopen schools. “This virus is so inexplicable,” she said. “It’s like playing the lottery. And we never believe it will happen to us. It’s only when it takes someone from your family.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
- Associated Press
The Republican who now leads the Arizona county elections department targeted by a GOP audit of the 2020 election results is slamming former President Donald Trump and others in his party for their continued falsehoods about how the election was run. Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer on Saturday called a Trump statement accusing the county of deleting an elections database “unhinged” and called on other Republicans to stop the unfounded accusations. The former president's statement came as Republican Senate President Karen Fann has demanded the Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors come to the Senate to answer questions raised by the private auditors she has hired.
- Business Insider
US Special Operations Command Europe planned simultaneous exercises to simulate a full-blown conflict with Russia from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
- The Daily Beast
GettyOn a cold, barren mountaintop in southern Chile, Julia Clarke knelt to peer at the ground through a pair of ski goggles she wore against the wind and the high-latitude sun. Clarke, a tall, raven-haired paleontologist, was looking for the fossilized remains of flying dinosaurs, a skill for which she’s nearly legendary, and she’d paused at a place where something caught her eye. To me it looked no different from any other part of the slope we’d been ascending all morning, a confused jumble of reddish-brown boulders and scree, but Julia was unusually still in a way I’d come to associate with the moment she found a fossil.“I think there’s a dinosaur here,” she said, carefully turning over a finger-sized fragment of ancient sandstone. “I think these bones are going into the cliff.” This seemed impossible to me, but Julia’s eye was rarely wrong; she’s known not only for finding new fossils but for finding hidden features in well-studied fossils that other paleontologists have overlooked. She’d spent years of her life on fascinating and uncomfortable expeditions to islands at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and the scorpion-filled wastes of the Gobi Desert, where she camped beneath a truck for months; among her discoveries is the oldest known syrinx, the unique organ that birds use to produce sound, which she spotted in the fossil of a duck-like bird that lived among its fellow dinosaurs in a warm Antarctica. She’d also helped reveal the colors of dinosaur feathers through microscopic fossil structures called melanophores, and was the first to realize that a mysterious lump of rock languishing in a Chilean museum was the egg of a mosasaur.I’d imagined that prospecting for dinosaurs would be a slow, painstaking process, but Julia liked to move fast until she spotted something promising, and following her long stride up the mountain made me glad the southern Andes are much shorter than the mightier ranges farther north. We’d already passed up the preserved impressions of geoduck-sized clams and purplish lumps of sauropod bone, the remains of animals as large as a city bus—which amazed me, but failed to move her. “That stuff’s way too big,” she said. “I’m not carrying that around unless it’s a skull.”Below us, two of Julia’s students, Sarah Davis and Hector Garza, were pacing deliberately up a Martian-looking slope, their eyes on the ground and their heads in the age of reptiles. To them, the exposed faces of the mountain were animal-rich slices of the deep past, its layered beds of sandstone a time capsule that preserved the versions of life that once thrived here. Sarah had found the curved tooth of a predator who probably looked something like a small T. rex, and Hector had turned up the more primitive-looking tooth of a mosasaur, a half-inch cone of shining black rock as straight as a railroad spike.The remains of these two animals—one terrestrial, one marine— revealed this desolate mountain for what it was: a piece of the ancient coastline, intermittently drowned by the sea, that once joined South America to the Antarctic Peninsula. If Antarctica was indeed a haven for animals while the rest of the world burned, this was the bridge its residents would have crossed to enter (or reenter) South America. After the end-Cretaceous meteor struck the Earth, thirty million years would elapse before an undersea tongue of the Pacific plate wedged itself between the two continents. This didn’t just isolate them from each other; it removed the last barrier to the ocean’s unimpeded flow around Antarctica, and the circumpolar vortex was born. Over the next thirty-five million years, the great southern continent would slowly become the icebound landmass we know today—the coldest, driest, most inhospitable place on earth.The fossils buried in the mountain where we stood were too old to shed light on the time after the asteroid’s impact, but they were a glimpse of the dinosaurs’ last years in a very special place: we were about as far south as you could be and still find Cretaceous fossils that aren’t buried under thousands of feet of ice.Julia took a few samples of fossil bone and sealed them in a plastic bag, and after a brief rest we headed back down toward our camp, a cluster of orange and yellow tents in the grassy valley below. We were visiting for only a few days, but the tents housed a team of young Chilean paleontologists who’d been here for weeks, led by a bearded, charismatic paleobotanist named Marcelo Leppe. The stumps of ancient palm trees and the massive femur of a sauropod were among this season’s discoveries, but their most exciting find was a tiny molar, smaller than a pea—the tooth of a mammal who’d lived among the dinosaurs. It was the oldest mammal bone ever found this far south. Julia, however, was hoping to find an ancient bird, and she paused at a bowl-shaped pit of fine gravel and sand blown out by the wind. Places like this, she said, can leave delicate fossils lying on the surface—and within ten minutes she’d found two tiny teeth, along with a few lentil-sized plates of bone that might have been part of a turtle’s shell, or the scales of a small, armored lizard. Sarah logged the coordinates in her notebook.“Let’s call this site ‘toothyplace,’” Julia said. “We’ll remember that.” I sat down at the edge of the pit, hoping to spot another tooth among its multicolored pebbles and slivers of petrified wood, but my eyes soon glazed over. I was about to give up when I noticed an odd impression in the pit’s surface, about the size of my hand. Its three slender lobes fanned out from a central point, and each lobe ended in a small, sharp divot, like the imprint of a claw. As I drew back, I saw that it was the deepest of a faint set of dinosaurian footprints, but they looked so fresh that I wondered if someone had etched them in the sand as a joke. I motioned to Sarah, who came over to look and fell silent. Even Julia was flummoxed for an instant, but then she smiled: they were the tracks of an Andean condor.“Theropod dinosaur,” she said, without irony. “Isn’t it nice to know they’re still around?” Courtesy Jonathan Meiburg Excerpted from A Most Remarkable Creature: The Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World’s Smartest Birds of Prey. Copyright © 2021 by Jonathan Meiburg. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Business Insider
Meet Michael Larson, the man who has managed Bill Gates's fortune for decades and was reportedly accused of sexual harassment in 2017
The New York Times reported the accusations against Larson were a point of contention between Bill and Melinda Gates.
- Associated Press
The first court test of whether local governments can ban police from enforcing certain gun laws is playing out in a rural Oregon county, one of a wave of U.S. counties declaring itself a Second Amendment sanctuary. The measure that voters in the logging area of Columbia County narrowly approved last year forbids local officials from enforcing most federal and state gun laws and could impose thousands of dollars in fines on those who try. Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions have been adopted by some 1,200 local governments in states around the U.S., including Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Illinois and Florida, according to Shawn Fields, an assistant professor of law at Campbell University who tracks them.
GAZA (Reuters) -Israel destroyed a 12-storey tower block in Gaza housing the offices of the U.S.-based Associated Press and other news media on Saturday, saying the building was also used by the Islamist militant group Hamas. The al-Jalaa building in Gaza City, which also houses the offices of Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera as well as other offices and apartments, had been evacuated after the owner received advanced warning of the strike. The Israeli military said its fighter jets struck a multi-storey building "which contained military assets belonging to the intelligence offices of the Hamas terror organization".
- The Independent
Republican congressman lashes out at GOP colleagues over ‘bogus’ attempts to rewrite history of Capitol riots
Michigan lawmaker was one of the 10 Republicans to vote with Democrats for Donald Trump’s impeachment
'Mare of Easttown' director saw the 'Saturday Night Live' skit spoofing his show, and he's 'so flattered'
"Mare of Easttown" director Craig Zobel called the "SNL" spoof "accurate": "Everyone on our show is related to everyone else on the show."
- Business Insider
GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger slams Lin Wood video, says McCarthy is allowing 'actual insanity' in Republican party
GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger is among a handful of Republican politicians who have been warning against the party's loyalty to Trump.
- LA Times
Long before Ethan Nordean led the Proud Boys in the Capitol riot, he washed dishes at his family's restaurant on Puget Sound.
- USA TODAY
'A little bit out of North Korea': Trump critical GOP lawmakers condemn Republican consolidation under former president
The differing views of the GOP from within the party itself pointed to the lasting fragmenting of the party after the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.