Good morning. Here’s your Situational Awareness for Wednesday, 01 September 2021. You can receive this briefing by email by signing up at https://forwardobserver.com/daily-sa
- Hurricane Ida damage delays food transportation
- Supreme Court upholds Texas law
- McCarthy threatens cellular providers
- Biden-Bennett united on Iran
- U.S. losing strategic deterrent
FOOD: Destruction and power outages are plaguing Louisiana’s shipping industry. Food giant Cargill reported extensive damage to grain export facilities, while many terminals remain closed. China is already shifting October grain purchases to Brazil. Additionally, a 75-mile stretch of the Mississippi River is closed to shipping traffic due to grounded barges and sunken vessels. Officials say some of these problems could persist for weeks. Meanwhile, global wheat crop estimates were slashed, helping to push global food prices higher. (Analyst Comment: High food prices always pose the risk of civil unrest. Grain prices were the prime accelerator leading up to the 2010-2012 Arab Spring, for instance. I continue to see predictions of U.S. food shortages this year, and have read many reports of large chain stores running low on some food products. While I don’t expect catastrophic shortages to occur outside a significant shock, limited selection and lower supplies will likely persist into next year. As always, our advice is to stock up sooner rather than later in case conditions worsen. – M.S.)
MCCARTHY: In response to Democrats pursuing a subpoena of additional digital and phone data related to the Capitol Protest, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) warned the move sets a dangerous precedent for every citizen. “If these companies comply with the Democrat order to turn over private information, they are in violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States,” McCarthy warned. The Republican leader’s statement said his party will not forget these actions when they regain the House and “will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law.” – D.M.
SCOTUS: The Supreme Court voted yesterday to uphold Texas’ abortion law. In a 5-4 decision, the state law allows anyone to bring a civil suit against anyone aiding or facilitating an abortion after a heartbeat is detected. Dissenting Justice Sotomayor called the decision “a breathtaking act of defiance.” The law relies on a procedural move the court couldn’t account for, potentially opening other states to enact similar rules. “When states like Texas fail the people, when the courts fail the people, Congress must lead,” Rep. Pressley (D-MA) said in reference to legislation pending in the House. (AC: This is already leading to protest organizing, and protests are likely to continue. The WHPA essentially federalizes abortion access, taking away the states’ ability to write their own laws. – D.M.)
ISRAEL: President Biden’s recent meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was preceded by “leaks” of discussions by high-ranking officials to Israeli and U.S. media outlets. The leaks are suspected of being part of a carefully crafted communications effort designed to let Iran know military action by the U.S. or Israel remains a possibility. According to a New York Times report, co-authored by Israeli journalists, U.S. intelligence networks inside Iran are all but non-existent and assessments rely on Israel’s placement and access. President Biden said the U.S. will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, which some reports say may take place in a matter of months. (AC: Significant military action against Iran will risk drawing the Chinese into the conflict as the nations entered several recent military and economic cooperation agreements. – D.M.)
STRATCOM: Adm. Charles Richard of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) warned that near-peer adversaries could theoretically start a war at any moment. “Both Russia and China have the ability to unilaterally at their own choosing, go to any level of violence, to go to any domain, to go worldwide, with all instruments of national power,” he warned. The admiral noted the U.S. risks losing strategic deterrence if operational plans are not updated. The military’s transition from counter-insurgency to multi-domain conflict is accelerating as Chinese and Russian relations deteriorate globally. (AC: USSTRATCOM is a more vocal military entity, previously warning via social media that malign actors no longer view nuclear weapons as a “last resort” in conflict. On Monday’s In Focus, we discussed China’s nuclear ambitions and their “escalating to win” strategy adapted from the Russians. – D.M.)
HURRICANE SEASON: The National Hurricane Center issued flood and flash flood watches across portions of southern New England as the post-tropical remnants of Hurricane Ida move across the northeast. Tornado watches remain in effect for portions of Rhode Island and southeast Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Hurricane Larry continues to strengthen across the Atlantic. The National Hurricane Center predicts the hurricane will strengthen to a “major hurricane” with winds in excess of 110 mph. – D.M.
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