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Ukraine Strikes Back: Multiple Explosions Rock Russian Border Towns

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A spate of apparent attacks against targets in a border region of Russia suggests a new and possibly sustained campaign by Ukraine.

With much attention focused on new air defense systems to strengthen Ukraine’s ability to defeat Russian missile and drone attacks, the Ukrainian military appears to have launched a missile barrage of its own targeting Belgorod in western Russia. According to claims by Russian state news agencies, the attacks left an undisclosed number of people in the region, which borders Ukraine, killed or injured, with a rail line and an ammunition dump being among the apparent targets.

Rail services in the Belgorod region were suspended today after at least one missile — apparently a Ukrainian Tochka series, or SS-21 Scarab tactical ballistic missile — came down on a line near the town of Novyi Oskol. Pictures said to have been taken at the site of the strike that has appeared on social media show obvious damage both to the track and the overhead power lines. The photos also look to show the tail end of a Tochka or Tochka-U missile.

Ukraine war: Russia launches 'massive strikes' to keep Kyiv's progress in  check | Euronews

It’s unclear whether the missile was intended to hit this rail infrastructure, and in the process degrade, even temporarily shut down an important logistics route for the Russian military in Ukraine, or whether it missed its intended target.

Wreckage of a Russian Tochka-U on display in Kyiv, for comparison with the wreckage of an apparent Ukrainian missile of this type seen in the Belgorod region:

The ammunition dump that was reportedly struck was in the village of Oktyabrsky, where Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti said there had been fatalities and injuries. It’s not clear what munitions may have been used in this instance. Russian authorities blamed the explosion on Ukrainian “shelling” from over the border. This may imply long-range artillery, including multiple rocket launchers, or it could also have involved the Tochka. Oktyabrsky is only around five miles from the border with Ukraine.

Ukraine launching attacks on Russian ammunition depots would certainly make sense, with the value of each such storage site increasing day by day, amid indications that Russia is running low on artillery shells and other heavy munitions needed to support their campaign in Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces strike back at Russia, as Biden sends more firepower - The  Economic Times

As for the Tochka, this has seen sporadic use by both sides in the conflict so far, but the Ukrainian Armed Forces are not thought to possess significant stocks of this weapon. According to IISS, Ukraine possessed 90 of the launchers prior to the outbreak of the latest conflict and an undisclosed number of missile rounds. The Cold War-era system is fired from a road-mobile transporter-erector-launcher and can carry a warhead of over 1,000 pounds to a range of 45 miles for the original Tochka or 75 miles for the improved Tochka-U.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the regional governor of the Belgorod region, said Russian air defenses managed to shoot down at least one missile, also near Novyi Oskol — again, the type was not disclosed. The town is less than 60 miles north of the border with Ukraine, which puts it within range of the Tochka missile and long-range ‘suicide drones.’

“Power lines are damaged. Trains are temporarily suspended,” Gladkov said, on the Telegram messaging service, adding that there were no casualties in Novyi Oskol.

Later the same day, videos posted to social media suggested that further attacks were underway as night fell on the Belgorod region. Unsubsubstantiated accounts suggest that these attacks have targeted a thermal powerplant, resulting in power outages across the region.

So far, there has been no independent confirmation of the official Russian statements, but the evidence is increasingly pointing to a sustained campaign.

Russia-Ukraine War: Ukraine Recaptures More Ground After Russia's Stunning  Military Setback

The latest apparent Ukrainian attacks seem to continue a trend of targeting the Belgorod region, which has seen a string of unexplained explosions and fires as well as outright attacks. Yesterday, October 13, Gladkov, blamed Ukrainian shells for hitting the top floor of a 16-story apartment block in the city of Belgorod, the region’s administrative hub, which is around 20 miles from the border. He said that no one was hurt.

Gladkov also said that an ammunition dump near Belgorod city and a border post in the frontier town of Shebekino had been destroyed and that further damage had been inflicted on a school in a village close to the border. There is so far no independent confirmation of these claims, although videos posted to social media, including the one below, purport to show the burning ammunition depot.

However, officials in Kyiv did respond to the apartment block incident, claiming that the damage was the result of a stray Russian missile. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter that Russia had attempted to launch a missile toward the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv but instead it hit the residential building.

That Kyiv has not yet made a statement related to the incidents in the Belgorod region, other than attributing blame to one of them to Russia, is not altogether surprising.

There has been a pattern of reported attacks on objectives within Russia’s border regions since the Kremlin launched its invasion on February 24. Among the targets that have apparently come under attack are Russian fuel and ammunition stores.

Based on available imagery, attacks on Russian infrastructure have involved suicide drones built from remote-controlled planes available on Alibaba and apparently, at least in one case also Mi-24 assault helicopters; it seems likely that some use has also been made of high-speed target drones repurposed as cruise missiles. There have also been cross-border special forces raids made by Ukrainian troops, which you can read about in-depth here.

Tochka missiles have also been implicated in previous allegations of Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory. In early July, Russian officials accused the Kyiv regime of attacking Belgorod with these weapons, carrying submunitions warheads, and claimed to have shot down three. These attacks were alleged to have killed at least five people and destroyed numerous buildings. For its part, Russia, too, has apparently deployed Tochka missiles with submunitions warheads.

Earlier in the conflict, Russian officials attributed a series of blasts outside Belgorod city in late March to a Ukrainian attack involving three Tochka-Us and said that these injured eight and destroyed several vehicles.

And, in one of the very first alleged incidents of Ukraine striking back on Russian territory, on the second day of the war, there were unconfirmed reports that an apparent attack on the Russian airbase at Millerovo was the result of a Tochka missile strike. The details of what happened at the airbase remain murky and it remains possible that the incident was an accidental fire rather than a Ukrainian strike.

In some cases, Ukrainian officials have offered oblique comments that suggest that these incidents are legitimate payback for Russian actions, or “karma,” but they have fallen short of claiming responsibility.

The Russians may be learning from the mistakes of the Ukraine war. But are  they adapting fast enough? - ABC News

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has in the recent past said that he would be willing to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia’s “territorial integrity.” This has led many to suggest that Ukrainian actions on Ukrainian territory claimed by Russia could risk a nuclear response by Moscow. But the Belgorod region sits firmly within Russian borders and with no Ukrainian threat to invade Russia or occupy its territory, it remains unclear exactly where Putin’s “red line” is, in this instance.

So far, however, ‘revenge’ for such actions in Russian-occupied Crimea — namely the attack on Russia’s Kerch Strait Bridge earlier this week — has been met by a conventional Russian response. After a number of non-specific threats from Kremlin officials, this ultimately took the form of a barrage of long-range ballistic and cruise missiles and drones directed against Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities and infrastructure.

Meanwhile, attacks on Russian territory proper continue, like those in the Belgorod region, albeit officially unclaimed by Ukrainian authorities. Whether these kinds of actions will ultimately prompt some kind of direct response remains unclear, suffice to say they are a thorn in the side of the Kremlin’s war effort. They are also an embarrassment for the regime, with each such successful attack demonstrating the inability of the Russian military to stop them, and being highly symbolic of the country’s faltering campaign in Ukraine.

Contact the author: thomas@thedrive.com

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Otu-Umuokpu Anambra USA in Houston Gets New Leadership  

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Houston – TX: The Otu-Umuokpu Anambra USA Association Inc., Headquartered in Houston, Texas, has inaugurated its new executive leadership. An election was held in November 2023 where a set of new executive leadership emerged and was officially sworn-in on February 4, 2024.

Adaeze Stella Icon Adeone Samuel ( Stainless) is now the group’s new President, whereas Adaeze Nkiruka Mbonu ( Mmili doluedo) is the  Vice President.  Former President, Adaeze Dr Maria Elioku (Nkpulunma) remains the President Emeritus. A complete list of the new executive board members will be available on the group’s website, it was gathered.

While welcoming the new leadership team, President Emeritus Dr. Elioku thanked the outgoing executives for their impeccable service during their tenure. “As we all know, our mission as Otu- Umuokpu Anambra, USA Association is to promote and uphold our welfare and culture as well as foster unity, love, and harmony among us; and I am glad that within the past years, we were able to curtail distracting challenges to uphold those values,” she said.

Otu- Umuokpu Anambra, USA Association is a community of all paternal daughters of Anambra State of Nigeria with the core mission to promote and uphold the welfare and culture of her members; and foster unity, love, and harmony among them. The group has since its inception shared the uniformity of their ancestry as a unifying tool for community development and bonding of sisterhood.

For more information about Otu-Umuokpu Anambra, USA Association, Inc., please call 832-640-6329 or click to visit their website >>>>

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Mexican Authorities say they saw a huge increase in migrants from Africa and Venezuela in 2023

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Mexican authorities say they saw a huge increase in the number of migrants from Africa and Venezuela entering the country in 2023.

Those migrants generally enter Mexico from Central America, and cross the country in a bid to reach the U.S. border.

Mexico’s Interior Department said year-end figures showed that nine times more migrants from Africa entered Mexico in 2023, with numbers rising from 6,672 in 2022, to 59,834 in 2023.

The report also showed the number of migrants from Venezuela more than doubled last year, rising from 96,197 in 2022 to 222,994 in 2023.

In part, that may reflect more rapid and more numerous movements of migrants through the jungle-clad Darien Gap that connects South America to Panama.

Smugglers are moving migrants more quickly through the dangerous route, which last year was traversed by over half a million migrants. Once in Panama, migrants make their way through Central America to Mexico.

Overall, the number of all irregular migrants found in Mexico in 2023 rose by 77%, going from 441,409 in 2022 to 782,176 last year.

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White House pushes back on GOP attacks on Muslim judicial nominee

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WASHINGTON — The White House is slamming three Republican senators for leveling what it deems to be “cruel and Islamophobic attacks” at a Biden judicial nominee as part of a larger “smear effort” to discredit the man, who would be the first Muslim American judge to serve on the federal appeals court if he is confirmed.

GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Tom Cotton of Arkansas are being called out specifically for a “malicious” line of questioning about circuit court nominee Adeel Mangi’s views on Hamas militants’ terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7 at his December confirmation hearing. That led to a broader attack from the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative judicial advocacy organization.

“While Mangi served on its board of advisors, the [Rutgers Law School Center for Security, Race, and Rights] taught students to hate Israel and America and to support global terrorism, blaming America for the 9/11 terrorist attacks — and most recently blaming Israel for the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7th,” the group wrote in a statement released Monday.

The White House said conservatives’ criticisms were driven by Islamophobia.

“Mr. Mangi has been subjected to uniquely hostile attacks, in a way other nominees have not — precisely because of his Muslim faith,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement first shared with NBC News. “Senators Cruz, Hawley, and Cotton owe Mr. Mangi an apology.”

“He represents the best of America, and when confirmed, Mr. Mangi will not only make history — he will make an outstanding judge,” Bates added.

The senators told NBC News they remain opposed to Mangi’s candidacy, with a Cotton spokesperson accusing him in a message of “ties to antiSemites,” a Cruz spokesperson saying the White House “can’t defend Adeel Mangi’s record” and a Hawley spokesperson saying of Mangi that “people who advise pro-terrorist campus groups have no place on the federal bench.”

All three cited Mangi’s involvement in the Rutgers Law School Center for Security, Race, and Rights and condemned its decision to host an event on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which featured as a speaker Sami Al-Arian, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiracy to provide services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The Biden administration is under pressure to improve its standing with Muslim and Arab American communities following its vocal support of Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

President Joe Biden nominated Mangi to serve as a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Philadelphia, last fall.

The Anti-Defamation League, which battles antisemitism, said Mangi was “subjected to aggressive questioning unrelated to his professional expertise or qualifications,” and it criticized the Republican senators for “berating” Mangi “with endless questions that appear to have been motivated by bias towards his religion.”

“This was an attempt to create controversy where one did not exist,” the ADL said last month.

Weeks later, the Judicial Crisis Network launched a digital ad campaign against Mangi, alleging he is antisemitic and “radical.”

Bates, the White House spokesman, wrote, “Mr. Mangi has forcefully and repeatedly condemned Antisemitism, terrorism, and the October 7th terrorist attacks.”

At the hearing, Cruz repeatedly asked Mangi whether he condemned the atrocities of the Hamas terrorists and whether there was “any justification for those atrocities.”

“I have no patience ― none ― for any attempts to justify or defend those events,” Mangi said in December in reference to the Oct. 7 attacks.

Nonprofit groups dedicated to combating Islamophobia in the U.S. have spoken out in Mangi’s defense, as well.

“The deplorable smear campaign against him is steeped in Islamophobic tropes that have no place in our country,” Arsalan Suleman, the CEO of America Indivisible, told NBC News in a statement. “The Senate should confirm Mr. Mangi as soon as possible and condemn these malicious and spurious attacks.”

So far, 177 of Biden’s nominees to be federal judges have been confirmed. More than 65% are women and 65% are people of color, according to the White House.

Biden has nominated and Congress has confirmed more Black women to life-tenured federal judgeships than during any previous administration, according to the White House, including Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.

While Mangi has cleared the Judiciary Committee process in the Democratic-led Senate, it’s unclear when his nomination will be brought up for a vote in the next procedural step before a confirmation vote.

If he is confirmed, Mangi would be only the third Muslim American federal judge ever.

Mangi has served on the board of directors of the Muslim Bar Association of New York, the Legal Aid Society of New York and Muslims for Progressive Values and as an ally board member for the National LGBT Bar Association, according to his biographical page at the law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, where he is a partner.

Culled from the NBC

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