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Int’l Community Reacts to ‘State Sponsored Piracy’ in Belarus

The US must never take for granted its freedom of the press.

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For Americans, it can often be hard to look at the world around us and remember that we are still the freest people on the planet.  We forget just how lucky we are at times to possess the rights to free speech and a free press, and we often, regrettably take these things for granted.

But every now and then, a story will emerge from a place far, far away from the US Constitution, and remind us just how lucky we truly are.

International condemnation was growing Monday after the authoritarian leader of Belarus diverted a Ryanair flight to Minsk in order to arrest a dissident journalist, in what the airline’s boss described as a “state-sponsored hijacking.”

Some European leaders variously called for airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace, their citizens to leave the country, and for the release of opposition activist Roman Protasevich.

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Protasevich was traveling on Ryanair flight 4978 from Athens, Greece to Vilnius, Lithuania on Sunday when shortly before touchdown the plane was diverted by Belarusian air traffic control to the capital Minsk over a supposed security alert.

Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary accused Belarus of “state-sponsored piracy,” telling Newstalk radio Monday that he believed Belarusian KGB agents were also on the flight that was carrying 26-year-old Protasevich, who is wanted in Belarus on a variety of charges.

The reaction was swift.

Lithuania ordered all flights to and from its airports to avoid Belarusian airspace from early Tuesday, an adviser to the transport minister told CNN, and the foreign ministry urged its citizens to leave Belarus, citing “risks to the security and a threat to the lives of civilians.”
The flag carrier of Latvia, airBaltic, said it had “decided to avoid entering Belarus airspace until the situation becomes clearer or a decision is issued by the authorities.”
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) also said in a statement on Monday that it would reroute its twice weekly flights between Oslo and Kiev, the capitals of Norway and Ukraine, in line with instructions from the Swedish transport agency.
In the United Kingdom, transport secretary Grant Shapp said he had instructed the country’s aviation authorities to “request airlines avoid Belarusian airspace in order to keep passengers safe.”
Tyrannical leaders around the world have been boldly attacking journalists in recent years, not only in Belarus, but in Russia and in Saudi Arabia as well.

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Brian Laundrie’s Notebook Contains Details of Gabby Petito’s Death

Perhaps some closure can finally be afforded to Gabby’s family.

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At long last, some form of closure could be coming to the family of Gabby Petito.

Petito was at the center of one of the most bizarre crime stories of 2021, after her fiancé Brian Laundrie returned home from a joint cross-country road trip without her and immediately refused to cooperate with authorities who were investigating her disappearance.  Then, shortly after arriving back in Florida, Laundrie himself went missing.

Weeks late, Laundrie’s partial remains were found in a nature preserve near this family home along with a notebook.  Laundrie was determined to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Now, after months of waiting and wondering, the contents of the aforementioned notebook have been revealed.

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Petito’s family was in Florida on Thursday morning, roughly four months after their daughter was found strangled to death in Wyoming. An attorney representing Laundrie’s family said they had reached an agreement about how the couple’s property – including a notebook found with his remains – will be distributed.

The notebook contained “written statements by Mr. Laundrie claiming responsibility for Ms. Petito’s death,” according to the FBI.

“Gabby’s family would like to thank the FBI, specifically the Wyoming, Denver, New York and Tampa offices, all of their task force members and their assisting agencies,” Petito/Schmidt family lawyer Rick Stafford said in a Friday statement. “Gabby’s family would like to thank the FBI’s Victim Services Department for all they have done for them. Victim Services has been there for support from the earliest stages of this investigation and helped their entire family navigate through the worst moments of their lives.”

The story had captured the attention of world, and while this is undoubtedly a heartbreaking end to the tale, perhaps the Petito family can now take the next steps in their recovery.

At long last, some form of closure could be coming to the family of Gabby Petito. Petito was at the center of one of the most bizarre crime stories of 2021, after her fiancé Brian Laundrie returned home from a joint cross-country road trip without her and immediately refused to cooperate with authorities who were investigating her disappearance.  Then, shortly after arriving back in Florida, Laundrie himself went missing. Weeks late, Laundrie’s partial remains were found in a nature preserve near this family home along with a notebook.  Laundrie was determined to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Now, after months of waiting and wondering, the contents of the aforementioned notebook have been revealed. Petito’s family was in Florida on Thursday morning, roughly four months after their daughter was found strangled to death in Wyoming. An attorney representing Laundrie’s family said they had reached an agreement about how the couple’s property – including a notebook found with his remains – will be distributed. The notebook contained “written statements by Mr. Laundrie claiming responsibility for Ms. Petito’s death,” according to the FBI. “Gabby’s family would like to thank the FBI, specifically the Wyoming, Denver, New York and Tampa offices, all of their task force members and their assisting agencies,” Petito/Schmidt family lawyer Rick Stafford said in a Friday statement. “Gabby’s family would like to thank the FBI’s Victim Services Department for all they have done for them. Victim Services has been there for support from the earliest stages of this investigation and helped their entire family navigate through the worst moments of their lives.” The story had captured the attention of world, and while this is undoubtedly a heartbreaking end to the tale, perhaps the Petito family can now take the next steps in their recovery.

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US Ponders Diplomatic Evacuation as Putin Moves on Ukraine

Sign #475 that things are going south in Ukraine…

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The way Vladimir Putin tells it, we’re all just overreacting to his placement of hundreds of thousands of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border.

Of course, this is classic Putin.  The Russian President has long understood the ins-and-outs of the antagonization game, and is likely just pushing buttons for the sake of pushing buttons…at least in his recent diatribes.

But there is little doubt that he’s up to something, and the US isn’t going to take any chances when it comes to innocent Americans who are now in the line of potential fire.

The U.S. is weighing whether to evacuate family members of diplomats stationed in Ukraine as Russia masses more than 100,000 troops on its borders, according to people familiar with the matter.

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Under the plan, family members would be ordered to return home while non-essential employees would be able to leave voluntarily. An announcement may come within days, according to the people, who asked not to be identified before a decision is reached.

The ruble erased gains on the news, falling 0.1% against the dollar. Yields on most Russian local currency sovereign bonds rose on Friday.

The operation would be no small task.

The U.S. employs about 180 American citizens and 560 Ukrainians at its embassy in Kyiv, according to the embassy website. That doesn’t include family members, so the number of U.S. citizens living in embassy housing is probably much higher.

While Putin has consistently suggested to the global media that this whole thing is getting blown out of proportion, these actions by the US State Department speak volumes.

The way Vladimir Putin tells it, we’re all just overreacting to his placement of hundreds of thousands of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border. Of course, this is classic Putin.  The Russian President has long understood the ins-and-outs of the antagonization game, and is likely just pushing buttons for the sake of pushing buttons…at least in his recent diatribes. But there is little doubt that he’s up to something, and the US isn’t going to take any chances when it comes to innocent Americans who are now in the line of potential fire. The U.S. is weighing whether to evacuate family members of diplomats stationed in Ukraine as Russia masses more than 100,000 troops on its borders, according to people familiar with the matter. Under the plan, family members would be ordered to return home while non-essential employees would be able to leave voluntarily. An announcement may come within days, according to the people, who asked not to be identified before a decision is reached. The ruble erased gains on the news, falling 0.1% against the dollar. Yields on most Russian local currency sovereign bonds rose on Friday. The operation would be no small task. The U.S. employs about 180 American citizens and 560 Ukrainians at its embassy in Kyiv, according to the embassy website. That doesn’t include family members, so the number of U.S. citizens living in embassy housing is probably much higher. While Putin has consistently suggested to the global media that this whole thing is getting blown out of proportion, these actions by the US State Department speak volumes.

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