Louis Gossett Jr., the first Black man to win a supporting actor Oscar, dies at 87 

Louis Gossett Jr., the first Black man to win a supporting actor Oscar and an Emmy winner for his role in the seminal TV miniseries “Roots,” has died. He was 87. 

Gossett’s cousin, Neal L. Gossett, confirmed his death to CBS News. The actor died Thursday night in Santa Monica, California, The Associated Press reported. No cause of death was revealed. 

“It is with our heartfelt regret to confirm our beloved father passed away this morning. We would like to thank everyone for their condolences at this time. Please respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time,” his family said in a statement Friday. 

Gossett always thought of his early career as a reverse Cinderella story, with success finding him from an early age and propelling him forward, toward his Academy Award for “An Officer and a Gentleman.” 

He earned his first acting credit in his Brooklyn high school’s production of “You Can’t Take It with You” while he was sidelined from the basketball team with an injury. 

“I was hooked — and so was my audience,” he wrote in his 2010 memoir “An Actor and a Gentleman.” 

His English teacher urged him to go into Manhattan to try out for “Take a Giant Step.” He got the part and made his Broadway debut in 1953 at age 16. 


“Never mind the awards, never mind the glitz and glamor, the Rolls-Royces and the big houses in Malibu. It’s about the humanity of the people that he stood for,” his cousin said. 

Louis Gossett always thought of his early career as a reverse Cinderella story, with success finding him from an early age and propelling him forward, toward his Academy Award for “An Officer and a Gentleman.” 

Gossett broke through on the small screen as Fiddler in the groundbreaking 1977 miniseries “Roots,” which depicted the atrocities of slavery on TV. The sprawling cast included Ben Vereen, LeVar Burton and John Amos. 

Gossett became the third Black Oscar nominee in the supporting actor category in 1983. He won for his performance as the intimidating Marine drill instructor in “An Officer and a Gentleman” opposite Richard Gere and Debra Winger. He also won a Golden Globe for the same role. 

“More than anything, it was a huge affirmation of my position as a Black actor,” he wrote in his 2010 memoir, “An Actor and a Gentleman.” 

A lucky break 

He had earned his first acting credit in his Brooklyn high school’s production of “You Can’t Take It with You” while he was sidelined from the basketball team with an injury. 


“Lou was set to play the role of my grandfather in the proposed feature film of my life. I will miss my friend.” — Singer Dionne Warwick in a statement. 

“From ‘Roots’ to ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ to ‘The Color Purple’ and now beyond, Lou was always an amazing artist and giving human being to me.” — Actor Sheryl Lee Ralph on X. 

“I loved Lou. We did ‘The Choirboys’ in an ensemble, and then later starred together in ‘Diggstown.’ That experience cemented a lifelong friendship. I had always admired his fabulous talent, but grew to admire his modest demeanor more. A true gentleman.” — Actor James Woods on X. 

“Louis was a groundbreaker, a brilliant, kind man, and an incendiary presence on screen. Each of us was lucky to have him.” — Actor and director Lee Grant on X. 

“Your incredible talent and unforgettable performances will forever inspire generations to come. Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world. You will be deeply missed.” — NAACP on X. 

“In our eyes, you were a LEADING man despite your many inspiring roles as supporting characters. Thank you for your undeniable talent. Rest In Power!” — Trial lawyer Ben Crump on X. 

“As a city, we are grateful for the privilege of having had Louis Gossett Jr. among us, and we join together in honoring his life and contributions.” — Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens in a statement. 


Gossett was disappointed that bigger film parts did not follow his Oscar victory.“I was left with a lot of time on my hands” after the Academy Award, Gossett told The New York Times in 1989. “I thought I’d get a lot of offers — and they didn’t come.” 

“I let myself become bitter, resentful,” he added. “I was my own worst enemy. I said to myself, ‘What more can I do? Where’s the light at the end of the tunnel?’ I started to self-destruct.” 

He started to abuse alcohol, cocaine and marijuana. “I had an Oscar, an Emmy, and yet I had this big hole in my soul,” Gossett told the Times. 

Eventually, Gossett entered a residential drug-treatment program in Los Angeles and stopped using drugs, according to the profile in the Times. The path to sobriety was “very humbling and necessary, a very positive time,” he said. 

Gossett was a ubiquitous and dependable presence on the big and small screens for decades to come — quietly commanding, sometimes intimidating, sometimes soulful. 

He acted in genre-spanning films such as “Jaws 3-D” (1983), “Enemy Mine” (1985), “The Principal” (1987), “The Punisher” (1989), “Toy Soldiers” (1991), “Diggstown” (1992), “Blue Chips” (1994) and a string of under-the-radar indie movies from 2000-2010. 

He frequently cropped up on television, guest-starring on episodes of “Touched by an Angel,” “ER,” “Psych,” “Boardwalk Empire.” He recently played a small but pivotal role as a legendary attorney accused of sexual misconduct on the Paramount+ series “The Good Fight.” 

“Watchmen,” Damon Lindelof’s celebrated limited series based on the landmark DC Comics series of the same name, gave Gossett one of his most distinctive late-period roles. He was the enigmatic Will Reeves, grandfather of the show’s hero, Angela Abar, played by Regina King. 

Gossett’s final run of roles included Ol’ Mister Johnson in the 2023 film musical version of “The Color Purple” and a voice part in the John Krasinski-directed fantasy “IF,” scheduled for release in May. 


8 thoughts on “Louis Gossett Jr., the first Black man to win a supporting actor Oscar, dies at 87 ”
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What we know about the Baltimore bridge collapse 

A massive cargo ship plowed into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge early Tuesday, causing the 1.6-mile structure to crumble like a pile of toothpicks – plunging cars and people into the frigid water below. Six people are presumed dead, a Coast Guard official said at a news conference Tuesday evening. 

Here’s what we know about the catastrophe: 

“Just minutes before the bridge, there was a total blackout on the ship, meaning that the ship lost engine power and electrical power, it was a complete blackout,” Diamond said. 

The pilot then did “everything that he could have done” to both slow the ship down and keep it from drifting to the right, toward the bridge, he added. 


What is the history of the bridge’s name? 

The Francis Scott Key Bridge is named for Francis Scott Key, the author of the “Star Spangled Banner.” The site of the bridge is believed to be within 100 yards of where Key saw the bombing of Fort McHenry on Sept. 12, 1814 which inspired the words for what became the national anthem. 

The battle at Fort McHenry was a key victory over British forces during the War of 1812. The American flag raised on Sept. 14, 1814, celebrated the victory and inspired the words “broad stripes and bright stars” in Key’s song. 


Eight people – all part of a construction crew contracted to fix potholes and make repairs – were seen on the bridge at the time. 

Two of the workers are from Guatemala, according to the country’s consulate in Maryland. 

Two people were pulled from the water after the bridge collapsed, one in a serious condition and one apparently uninjured, officials said. 

But six others likely perished due to cold water temperatures and hours spent under the surface, the US Coast Guard said on Tuesday evening. The agency said it was suspending its major search and rescue operation that lasted all day. 

It will now focus on a recovery mission to locate bodies and bring closure to families of the victims


  • The Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapsed Tuesday morning after a ship crashed into it. 
  • Jen Woof told the Telegraph her son Jayden crossed the bridge three minutes earlier. 
  • He went across the bridge three times after an argument with his girlfriend. 

One Baltimorean was lucky to avoid Tuesday’s bridge collapse by mere minutes after crossing over it three times, The Telegraph reported. 

Jen Woof told the newspaper that her son, Jayden, was planning to stay overnight at his girlfriend’s home on the north side of the river. But after an argument, he crossed the bridge back home

Jayden then reportedly drove back over the bridge because he was feeling guilty about their argument, but his girlfriend sent him back

His third time crossing the Francis Scott Key Bridge happened just three minutes before it collapsed, per The Telegraph. 


Key points 

  • Baltimore Key Bridge collapses after ship collision 
  • Recovery mission for six presumed dead workers to resume Wednesday 
  • Two people removed from water after bridge collapse, with six still missing 
  • Mapped: What was the route of the Dali ship before crash? 

US divers recover data recorder from crashed ship in Baltimore -NTSB 

Investigators from the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have boarded the ship that crashed into the Francis Scott Key bridge and recovered its data recorder, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said on Wednesday. 

The recorder will be analyzed and the agency will also examine whether dirty fuel played a role in the ship’s power loss as part of its investigation into Tuesday’s collision, Homendy told CNN


6 thoughts on “What we know about the Baltimore bridge collapse ”
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Saints Shatter Records in Rider Romp 

Nothing was stopping the Siena Women’s Lacrosse team from a record-breaking day on Saturday afternoon at Hickey Field.  
Not the rain.  Not the sleet.  Not the snow.  And, certainly not Rider as the Saints put together a masterful performance in a 22-4 trouncing to set a program record for the largest margin of victory in the 28-year history of the team. 
The previous largest margin of victory had been 17 goals on two occasions.   


It also matched a program record for the most goals scored in a single game with 22 when it notched that total against Hartford on March 13, 2019.  

Siena (6-3, 1-0 MAAC) dominated in nearly every facet of the game, clutching an iron grip on draw controls by winning 26 of 30 as a team.  

Individually, senior Taryn Asselin set a new single-game program history for most draw controls in a game with 15.  

Asselin had tied the mark earlier this season in a win against Le Moyne on March 2 and flirted with the record when she also had 12 in a win against then #18 Army West Point back on Feb. 17.  

Although just in its first season playing women’s lacrosse, the Broncs (6-3, 0-1) had got off to a strong start to their season and featured the MAAC’s top player for draw controls and one of the best scorers in Katie Walsh.  

Walsh had entered averaging 3.13 goals per game and over seven draw controls, but was held to just two draw controls and one goal versus the Saints.  

Offensively, junior Grace Dobrzynski led the Saints with an eight-point afternoon (two goals, and a career-high six assists) while junior Kelly Logue went over the 100 points in her career with a six-point day (three goals and three assists). 


Siena led 7-1 at the end of the first quarter, receiving two goals apiece by freshman Olivia Nicholson and senior Rebecca Gilhooley. 
The Saints kept their foot on the gas pedal, outscoring the Broncs 6-2 in the second quarter to take 13-3 lead into halftime.  
Siena stayed unrelenting in the second half, outscoring the Broncs 9-1 the rest of the way.  
Twelve different Saints contributed to the points column including a trio who had hat tricks (Logue, Nicholson and Gilhooley). 
On defense, graduate student Jenna Colabufo had a team-high four caused turnovers and reached 50 for her Saints’ career. 
Rider, who entered averaging nearly 15 goals per contest and ranked second in the MAAC, was held to just nine shots including just six on goal. 
Siena won its fourth straight and for the fifth time in their last six outings while keeping its opponent in single digit scoring for all five of those victories.   


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Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, has cancer.

Kate Middleton, the wife of Prince William, the heir to the British throne, reappeared in public after a three-month absence, telling the world that she has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. 

Never a particularly glib or comfortable public speaker, in a video shared on Instagram she sat on a bench on the grounds of Windsor Castle and gave arguably the most compelling and powerful speech of her life in the public eye explaining that after “major abdominal surgery” in January her doctors thought the condition was noncancerous. “However, tests after the operation found cancer had been present. My medical team therefore advised that I should undergo a course of preventative chemotherapy and I am now in the early stages of that treatment.” 


According to Kate Middleton, the presence of cancer was detected following her abdominal surgery. Despite it initially being thought that her “condition was non-cancerous” and the “surgery was successful,” Kate explained that “tests after the operation had found that cancer had been present.” Upon the advice of her medical team, Kate is undergoing “a course of preventative chemotherapy,” of which process she is currently in the “early stages.” Although Kate does not specify the kind of cancer she has been diagnosed with in her announcement, we can infer that it is some type of stomach cancer. 


A rep for the Teenage Cancer Trust — an org that Kate has worked with in the past, before her cancer diagnosis — tells TMZ … “Our thoughts are with Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, and we wish her all the best for her treatment.” 

They add, “If you think you have cancer yourself, it’s important to get checked out as soon as you can.” 

 King Charles is extending his well-wishes to Kate Middleton during her cancer battle, with Buckingham Palace saying, “His Majesty is so proud of Catherine for her courage in speaking as she did.” 

They go on to say that after Kate’s hospitalization, Charles has “remained in the closest contact with his beloved daughter-in-law throughout the past weeks.” BP continues, noting Their Majesties “will continue to offer their love and support to the whole family through this difficult time.” 


“As you can imagine, this has taken time. It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment,” she says. “But, most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be OK.” 

The princess assures viewers in the video that she is “well and getting stronger every day.” She also asks for “time, space and privacy” as she undergoes treatment. 


King Charles III is “so proud of Catherine for her courage” in speaking about her treatment for cancer, Buckingham Palace has said. 

The King, who has been diagnosed with cancer himself, is in the “closest contact with his beloved daughter-in-law”, a short statement read. 

Support has poured in for the princess, who described her diagnosis as a “huge shock” in a video released on Friday. 

King Charles and Queen Camilla, who were informed of the news about the princess’s health before Friday’s announcement, said they would “continue to offer their love and support to the whole family through this difficult time”. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex sent a message saying: “We wish health and healing for Kate and the family, and hope they are able to do so privately and in peace.” 

Catherine’s brother James Middleton posted a message of support for his sister on Instagram, writing: “Over the years, we have climbed many mountains together. As a family, we will climb this one with you too”. 

Kensington Palace has not disclosed the type of cancer Catherine has been diagnosed with, but says it is confident she will make a full recovery. 

Members of the public have been sharing messages of sympathy with the princess. 

Eve Watts, who lives in Windsor, said the news was a “shock because she’s so young”. She added: “It just shows you it could happen to anyone.” 


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The Arrest of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal: A Critical Examination of Political Dynamics

In a shocking turn of events, the Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, has been arrested by the Probe Agency on charges yet to be disclosed to the public. This development has sent ripples across the political landscape, stirring debates, speculation, and raising questions about the state of governance and accountability in our democracy. 

Arvind Kejriwal, a prominent figure in Indian politics, rose to prominence as an anti-corruption crusader and the face of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). His journey from an activist to the Chief Minister of Delhi was marked by promises of transparency, accountability, and a commitment to fight against the entrenched corruption that plagued the Indian political system. 

However, Kejriwal’s tenure as Chief Minister has been mired in controversies and clashes with the central government, particularly with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government. The relationship between the Delhi government and the central government has been strained, with power struggles and jurisdictional disputes often taking center stage. 

The arrest of a sitting Chief Minister is an unprecedented event in Indian politics and raises serious concerns about the rule of law, democratic principles, and the independence of investigative agencies. While the Probe Agency has not disclosed the specific charges against Kejriwal, speculation runs rampant, fueled by political affiliations and biases. 

Supporters of Kejriwal and the AAP see his arrest as a politically motivated move by the central government to suppress dissent and destabilize opposition parties. They argue that Kejriwal’s efforts to expose corruption and hold powerful individuals accountable have made him a target of the establishment. 

On the other hand, critics of Kejriwal point to his confrontational style of politics and his party’s inability to deliver on key promises made during the election campaigns. They allege that his arrest is a result of his own misdeeds and that no one should be above the law, regardless of their position or political affiliation. 

Amidst the political drama and public outcry, it is imperative to uphold the principles of justice, fairness, and due process. The Probe Agency must transparently disclose the charges against Kejriwal and provide evidence to substantiate their claims. Any attempt to subvert the legal process for political gain would undermine the credibility of our institutions and erode public trust in the system. 

Furthermore, the arrest of a Chief Minister underscores the need for greater accountability and transparency in governance. It serves as a stark reminder that power, when unchecked, can be abused and lead to authoritarian tendencies. The Indian democracy must strive to uphold the principles of accountability, separation of powers, and the rule of law to prevent the erosion of democratic norms. 

Beyond the immediate ramifications, Kejriwal’s arrest raises broader questions about the state of Indian democracy and the role of opposition parties in holding the government accountable. In a vibrant democracy like India, opposition parties play a crucial role in ensuring checks and balances and representing the voices of dissent

However, the increasingly polarized political landscape and the weaponization of state institutions for political purposes have undermined the functioning of democracy. The arrest of opposition leaders sends a chilling message to dissenters and weakens the democratic fabric of the country. 

In conclusion, the arrest of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is a watershed moment in Indian politics that demands careful scrutiny and introspection. It highlights the fragility of democratic institutions and the need for greater vigilance to safeguard the principles of justice, accountability, and the rule of law. As citizens of a democracy, we must remain vigilant and hold our leaders accountable to ensure that justice prevails and democracy thrives. 

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Elon Musk says Tesla is coming to India

Elon Musk, the CEO, said on Tuesday night that the multinational EV company will probably make a significant investment in India soon. In the meantime, as worries about margins and demand persist, TSLA was downgraded.  

Following their meeting on Tuesday in New York City, Musk gave reporters hints that it’s “quite likely” that Tesla will soon be present in India. Musk met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.  


“We don’t want to jump the gun on an announcement but it’s quite likely that there will be a significant investment and relationship with India in the future,” Musk stated on Tuesday.  

Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated that the business is looking to invest in India “as soon as humanly possible.”  

Because he is pressuring us to make large investments in India, which we plan to do, [Modi] clearly cares about the country. Simply put, we’re attempting to determine the ideal moment, Musk said to reporters.  

Without giving a timeframe, he stated, “I am confident that Tesla will be in India and will do so as soon as humanly possible.” Musk stated that he intends to go to India in the upcoming year.  

Musk has long been planning his entry into the Indian market. The CEO stated in 2017 that Tesla (TSLA)  

Musk and Modi held their meeting as several countries jockey for new Tesla manufacturing plants. 

Reuters reported earlier this month that TSLA was in talks to make an “automotive investment,” possibly a vehicle plant, in Valencia, Spain. Other reports circulated in June said Tesla had agreed in-principle with a plan to set up a manufacturing plant in India. 

Neither Tesla nor Musk have committed to firm plans for a new manufacturing facility in Europe or India. 

India’s rising importance as a U.S. geopolitical partner is being highlighted by Modi’s diplomatic visit to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. In his first visit to the U.S. since 2019, Modi will address Congress and attend a state dinner at the White House. 

The Washington Post reports President Joe Biden and Modi will discuss China and will announce new partnerships on defense platforms and technology. 

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Donald Lu Presents Himself in Congress Hearing About Pakistan

A US Congressional committee discusses the recent elections in Pakistan, following concerns raised by more than two dozen US lawmakers regarding the fairness of the polls. The hearing, titled as “Pakistan After the Elections: Examining the Future of Democracy in Pakistan and the US-Pakistan Relationship”. Committee is hearing the allegations of vote rigging that marred the elections. Pakistan’s Former PM Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has claimed that the new government was formed by unlawfully taking its mandate.

Donald Lu, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, said President Joe Biden’s administration identified a series of “irregularities” in the conduct of the February 8 elections as he emphasised the importance of ties between Washington and Islamabad. 

A subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the US House of Representatives is holding a hearing on the “future of democracy in Pakistan and the US-Pakistan relationship” on Wednesday. The hearing was announced last week after more than 30 members of Congress wrote to Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, asking them not to recognise Pakistan’s new government under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The February 8 elections were marred by widespread allegations of electoral manipulation, unusually delayed results and rigging. 

The State Department had voiced concerns over the elections at the time, but Pakistan has consistently denied the allegations. After criticism from the West, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 10 said it was surprised by the reactions, which failed to “acknowledge the free and enthusiastic exercise of the right to vote by tens of millions of Pakistanis”. 


“They’ve always been false. You’ve heard me say that more than once, more than twice, more than ten times probably,” he said, adding that the State Department takes threats towards US officials seriously and condemn any effort to threaten the safety and security of the diplomats. 


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Lufthansa Technik’s Stunning Boeing 777X Private Jet Concept


  • Lufthansa Technik has unveiled the CelestialSTAR, a VIP cabin concept for the BBJ777-9 aircraft.
  • The cabin design combines traditional Middle Eastern influences with modern twists, emphasizing the vastness of the sky and the contemporary purity of design.
  • Lufthansa Technik will have a virtual tour of the cabin available at the upcoming Dubai Airshow, which begins on November 13, 2023.



Lufthansa Technik, in partnership with Boeing Business Jets (BBJ), has unveiled the CelestialSTAR: a VIP cabin concept for the BBJ 777-9 aircraft, which includes stunning renders. According to the German company, the concept was unveiled on the occasion of the Dubai Airshow, which will start on November 13, 2023.

Potential head-of-state aircraft

Lufthansa Technik pointed out that the spacious interior, which covers more than 340 square meters (3,659 square feet), was specifically designed for very very important people (VVIP) and head-of-states’ aircraft. The final designs of the cabin combine “traditional influences from the Middle East’s cultural heritage with a modern twist.”

“With CelestialSTAR, Lufthansa Technik’s design team aims to emphasize both the contemporary purity and the typical Middle Eastern geometric design patterns as well as the vastness and openness of the sky: a reminiscence not only of the widest cabin among all newly available VVIP aircraft types, but also of the diversity in the Middle Eastern philosophy.”

The company highlighted the cocoon-like Private Bed and Bathroom, which, combined with the adjacent Work&Balance area, formed a multifunctional Private Suite for passengers. As a result, the area can become a self-contained retreat that offers the utmost privacy, allowing travelers to “enjoy the largest rain and massage shower ever designed for a private jet or make themselves comfortable in the generous king-size bed.”

Lufthansa Technik pointed out that the CelestialSTAR “primarily targets customers from royal families in the Middle East, who usually fly around the world with large delegations.” Because of this, the second part of the cabin offers generous accommodation, which includes six suites, 32 business class-like seats, and rear cabin-located premium economy seating.

The design will be presented at the Dubai Airshow 2023 with a film and a virtual tour through the cabin at the event. The company noted that the concept was built based on data provided by Boeing, ensuring “the technical feasibility of the design from the outset, because only one hundred percent correct dimensions were used as a basis.”

Selling a BBJ777X

During the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in May 2023, Boeing announced that it received orders for up to four BBJ aircraft, including an option for a BBJ777-9. Joe Benson, the President of BBJ, remarked at the time that the VIP aircraft, which also includes the BBJ737 MAX and BBJ787, are “designed on the platforms of Boeing’s best-selling commercial airframes, customers recognize the value in operating the most reliable and capable jets in world.”

“With the right combination of comfort, performance and best-in-class operating economics, the BBJ family offers VIP customers all the features they are looking for in a business jet.”

But the United States (US) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) still needs to certify the 777X. According to Brian West, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Executive Vice President of Finance at Boeing, who spoke during the company’s Q3 2023 earnings call, the program’s “timeline is unchanged and we plan to resume production later this year.” Boeing expects to deliver the first 777-9 and 777-8F in 2025 and 2027, respectively.

A folding wingtip of the Boeing 777-9

Photo: BlueBarronPhoto | Shutterstock

Read more: What’s The Latest With Boeing’s Certification Efforts For The 777X And 737 MAX 7 & 10 Models?

Still, Boeing has already brought a 777X to the Dubai Airshow 2023. According to Flightradar24 data, a Boeing 777-9, registered as N779XW, departed Seattle’s King County International Airport or Boeing Field (BFI) on flight BOE1 for Dubai World Central International Airport (DWC), arriving at its destination at 2:11 pm local time on November 7, 2023.

Read more: Explored: Boeing Reveals Its Plans For The 2023 Dubai Airshow

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New Technique Could Improve GPS

AUSTIN, Texas — A new scientific technique could significantly improve the reference frames that millions of people rely upon each day when using GPS navigation services, according to a recently published article in Radio Science.

For the first time, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin’s Applied Research Laboratories and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have formed a radio interferometer between a GPS antenna and receiver and a large radio telescope. The new technique leverages a type of radio interferometer, a device that measures the difference in arrival time of radio waves emitted by distant astronomical sources, with antennas that detect and record the emission.

The team used an approach called Very Long Baseline Interferometry to use the sensitivity of the radio telescope to increase the GPS receiver’s sensitivity. This additional sensitivity enabled them to extend the reach of the receivers to observe powerful jets of radiation and particles generated by supermassive black holes up to 5 billion light-years away.

The discovery will improve a variety of critical scientific measurements, from tracking small movements of land in earthquake-prone areas to understanding sea level change.

“The ability to reference new sources directly to GPS antennas paves the way for improvements in geodetic reference frames, which underpin modern navigation in applications from smartphones to national security,” said Johnathan York, a research scientist at Applied Research Laboratories. “Improving reference frames to meet the millimeter-level consistencies demanded by a variety of important Earth science applications is critical for taking the next steps in robust precision positioning.”

Using data collected at the Very Long Baseline Array facility in Fort Davis, Texas, and the nearby McDonald Geodetic Observatory, the researchers were able to demonstrate multiple detections of these powerful extragalactic jets. The detections extend the distance of signals referenced to a GPS antenna from satellites found about 20,000 kilometers away to astronomical objects 5 billion light-years from Earth. This distance is equivalent to flying to a GPS satellite and back about 1 quintillion (a 1 followed by 18 zeros) times, or an increase of 18 orders of magnitude.

“Expanding the reach of a scientific instrument is common — scientists are always trying to push their instruments to the limit — but a leap at 18 orders of magnitude is certainly extraordinary,” said Leonid Petrov, lead scientist for the Space Geodesy Project at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Observations using this novel combination of antennas and receivers will improve the accuracy of geodetic reference frames, which use a large set of locations measured by positioning techniques such as GPS to establish a common coordinate framework.

Future research will explore the connections between GPS positioning and the positioning based on observations of distant astronomical sources carried out by radio telescopes. Unifying these techniques will further help researchers to improve the geodetic reference frames that define how positions are measured in reference to Earth.

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The Surprising Luxury of This Spartan Spa

A modern spa in Sparta turns to ancient philosophies of health that can simultaneously challenge and indulge.

Courtesy of Euphoria Retreat

Suspended in the center of a sphere, with light streaming through the air from an aperture in the dome above, and the songs of whales playing in the hemisphere below, I float on clear blue waters. Soon it will be time to pick up a snack specially designed to meet my body’s needs and relax in a chaise overlooking a verdant Greek valley. Stress is nowhere to be found.

While attending the “Spartan Spirit of Adventure,” a spa just outside the ancient Greek town of Sparta, it occurred to me that I had never heard anyone talk about visiting that ancient city. Athens, Crete, Santorini, sure, but never Sparta. As a historian, my first instinct was to seek an explanation in the work of Thucydides, whose account of the war between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians is one of the foundational historical texts. And sure enough, the answer was there–eerily anticipating my interest more than two millennia later. “Just suppose,” he writes “the city of Sparta was wiped out and all that was left were its shrines and the foundations of its buildings…future generations would find it hard to believe that its power matched up to its reputation.” This, Thucydides says, is because, unlike the urban Athenians, they “have no lavish shrines or public buildings, but instead live in village settlements in the traditional Greek manner.”

My destination, Euphoria Retreat, sits on the outskirts of the small town of Mystras, just a short jog from Sparta. There was, it turned out, quite a lot in the way of shrines and public buildings to see there—more on this later. But the Spartan Spirit of Adventure demands one’s full attention upon arrival. 

Courtesy of Euphoria Retreat

It begins with an analysis of one’s metabolism and fitness through a variety of tests. Central to the process is the “Euphoria 3GL Methodos,” The 3 GLs are glucose, glutathione, and glycogen–a pinprick blood test gives values for the 3GLs, and a face mask breathing apparatus measures “respiratory equilibrium” which is defined as “the ratio of the volume of carbon dioxide produced to the volume of oxygen used.” These results then inform specific diet recommendations. My measurements were all in a good zone, so I was encouraged. Then comes the fitness assessment with a personal trainer. 

I think there’s always a humbling aspect to this sort of thing, as your own abilities are assessed by a superfit specimen half your age. Like (I suspect) many home exercisers, I default to the exercises I like, rather than the ones I need most. I knew that I needed to work more on core strength and flexibility, and the assessment confirmed this emphatically. My Apple Watch has been flattering me. 

Euphoria Retreat says that its approach (the “Methodos”) is based on a “blending of Ancient Greek and Chinese” processes, based on the “four or five elements” found in both traditions. Early on, guests taking the Spartan Spirit course are given a loose-leaf notebook with a more detailed background on the spa’s technique, as well as the schedule of activities. You can delve further into the philosophy–how each of the five “elements” is said to govern different organs in the body, how each element is linked to a season (the fifth season, in this case, is harvest time)–or you can simply take part in the various activities and allow the Methodos to unfold. (The Spartan Spirit program is one of many the spa offers, including ones that focus on yoga, detox, emotional well-being, weight management, etc.) 

I tend to be pretty OK with modern, technologically intensive medicine, but the principles put forth in practice at Euphoria Retreat–exercise, recovery, balance, the Mediterranean diet, the value of meditation–are all pretty well established, and sensible. One more thing that is well established is the power of belief in helping any sort of therapy along–the placebo effect takes many forms. And so I entered wholeheartedly into the activities at Mystras, and was glad I did. The other guests I encountered were also pleased. They were a sophisticated and relaxed assortment of Western European executives, Athenian entrepreneurs, and a scattering of Americans, all attracted to the spa’s holistic wellness approach, its wide selection of programs, and its location. 

The fitness assessment took place in one of the exercise rooms in the spa, which was lined with immaculate machines designed to work different muscle groups (an adjacent room features Pilates equipment). But when it came time for my first session with the trainer, we went outside to a waiting van, and were driven to a nearby public park, which was filled with stately but slightly careworn olive trees of venerable age. The only equipment was a TRX Suspension Trainer System–a pretty simple set of straps and handles, which was secured at head height around the trunk of one of the olive trees. The TRX system uses one’s body weight for resistance. Then we quickly got to work on muscle groups I had been ignoring, gradually increasing resistance not by adding weight but just by changing the angle at which I was positioning my body. My trainer greeted my labored efforts with enthusiasm and encouragement, and after 75 minutes I was well and truly worn out. 

Sensibly, the next item on the schedule involved relaxation and recovery, AKA a 20-minute session in the “infrared sauna.” I somehow pictured this as a sort of infrared tanning bed, and was unsure what to expect–it turned out to be a regular sauna in which the rocks were heated by infrared heating elements. The dry heat helped unkink and relax my muscles (later that afternoon, a deep-tissue massage would help even more).

Part of the Euphoria philosophy is that one should eat five small meals, not three larger ones. Following the results of the 3GL assessment, they came up with two smaller meals to go with my program–a smoothie that was brought out at noon and placed in one of the relaxing rooms in the spa, and a container of snacks at 5:30 in the afternoon that featured dried fruit, cheese or yogurt, and thin rice crackers. Wine and other beverages are available at Gaia, but one is not automatically given a wine list, and I felt that abstinence was most in harmony with the Spartan Spirit.

Courtesy of Euphoria Retreat

My next training session was held the following day–again, not in the indoor gym but this time in an outdoor theater–it has the look of an ancient Greek theater but is of more modern date. This time the principal tools used were an elastic exercise band and a medicine ball. Again, about 75 minutes of workout left me totally spent and filled with resolve to be more diligent and systematic in my home exercise regimen. 

I spent part of the afternoon at a lecture on the five elements–each week the spa prints a schedule of optional daily activities, which include talks on various topics, hikes, yoga sessions, group workouts (total body, aqua gym, trampoline, circuit training), “sound healing meditation,” and more. 

Courtesy of Euphoria Retreat

The following day, I was due to join a group hike to Mystras Castle, and those who were interested were invited to an evening lecture by a local archaeologist to prepare us for what we would see. While there is disappointingly little to see of ancient Sparta, on the hillside above the Euphoria Retreat lies the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mystras,  an important city of the late Byzantine Empire. Founded in the middle of the 13th century by a Frankish prince, it soon fell to the Byzantines and remained a regional center under the Ottomans until it took part in a Greek revolt against Ottoman rule in 1770, when it was sacked and largely destroyed. Included in the remains are some well preserved religious edifices, including Byzantine frescoes in various states of preservation. Present-day Mystras sits below the ruins, at the foot of the hills.

Upon our return, my schedule had me headed to the “Euphoria Byzantine Hammam Ritual,” which I knew was to take place in a steam room. But that was about all I knew–that, and that one should wear a swimsuit. Long ago a friend introduced me to the joys of a good steambath–at the Russian & Turkish Baths in the East Village. So spending an hour in a steam room was fine by me. But the experience was so much more than that. After I lay down on the marble platform in the center of the room, the masseur first massaged me with oils, then exfoliated me with a salt rub and some mildly abrasive mittens. Then I was covered in a giant cloud of soap bubbles–the bubbles are made by dipping a sort of loosely woven pillowcase in soapy water, and then whirling it through the air by the open end. The air forces the soap through the fabric mesh, creating a cornucopia of bubbles. After luxuriating in this soapy halo for a bit one sits up and is rinsed with successively colder buckets of water. Leaving the steam room, I then elected to immerse myself a few times in a very cold water bath, dried off, and had a final rubdown. If you go to Euphoria Retreat, for whatever program, or no program at all, do experience this. I think I grinned nonstop for the next few hours. 

Courtesy of Euphoria Retreat

Free time is an opportunity to explore. Right above the property is a forest with paths to hike on one’s own. (Aware of the danger of wildfires–all too familiar this summer in Greece–there are prodigious water pumps to protect the forest and the property, which opened in 2019). The spa building itself is full of wonders–the centerpiece is a spiral staircase, surrounding a light well that shines down on a pool of cold water. There are four levels to the structure, and the hillside topography makes for a different footprint on each level, which creates a sense of constant unfolding as one explores. There are a variety of special areas–yoga rooms, private rooms for massage, hot and tepid rooms, a salt room, and the “sphere pool.” This central pool area is ringed by shallower water where one can walk to various stations where water jets can be used to relax various parts of one’s body. For a change of pace, one can swim over to a sliding glass door and out into a rectangular outdoor pool, swim some laps in the sun, and then return to the peaceful atmosphere of the sphere. Under such circumstances, it’s easy to feel at peace. 

Courtesy of Euphoria Retreat

By the end of my stay in this place of oxymoronic Spartan luxury, I was both relaxed and still a bit exhausted from my fitness regime, well-fed but feeling light and clear, and ready to come home with actionable plans for improving my own fitness. And if things don’t work out, I guess I’ll just have to go back. 

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Reasons why Los Angeles will beat Detroit

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There are two main quarterback archetypes in the modern NFL: game-breaking scramblers who force defenses to warp and bend to account for additional threats and pocket passers who excel with pinpoint accuracy but are prone to pressure.

Lions quarterback Jared Goff falls in the latter category, one of the league’s less mobile signal-callers whose longest-standing criticism is the way his game falters when the pass rush starts to get home. That trend has continued in 2023, as 5 of Goff’s 6 turnover worthy plays have come when pressured, per PFF. The Lions have only allowed pressure on 33.1% of Goff’s dropbacks, a product of a strong offensive line, but his TD:INT ratio falls from 10:1 to 2:4 when sped up.

The Chargers have hit their stride as a pass rush in recent weeks as Joey Bosa’s health has improved, giving them a legitimate three-headed monster on the edge with Bosa, Khalil Mack, and Tuli Tuipulotu. All three players had at least two sacks on Monday against the Jets, the first time Los Angeles stuffed the box score in that fashion since 2012. Detroit’s offensive line is stout with Penei Sewell at right tackle and center Frank Ragnow working back from injury, but LA’s ability to move their three impact players around has proven to generate pressure against anybody on their schedule.

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A disturbing thought as MiG-21 flies into the sunset

There must have been mixed feelings among those who watched the swansong sortie of the MiG-21 fighter jet on October 31 at the Uttarlai Air Force Station in Barmer in Rajasthan. It was joined in flight by a Su-30MKI fighter to mark the conversion of the Mig-21 Bison Squadron based at Uttarlai since 1966 into one of Su-30MKIs. Only two MiG-21 squadrons now remain in the Indian Air Force (IAF)’s fleet, and once they are phased out by 2025, a remarkable era in the history of the IAF will come to an end.

While the MiG-21 retreats, there are pressing questions about India’s air defence prowess. The IAF currently has less than 30 operational fighter squadrons of a sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons. With the MiG-21s gone, the fleet would be dangerously stretched at a time when there are major aerial threats on the eastern and western borders.

When the IAF acquired the supersonic MiG-21 from the former Soviet Union in 1963, nobody knew just how valuable it would prove to be over the next 60 years. The delivery of its second-generation interceptor variant had hardly started in 1964 when it found itself in the thick of battle in the India-Pakistan conflict of 1965. The MiG-21’s extraordinary dog-fighting ability made it the backbone of the IAF in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, and the Kargil War with Pakistan in 1999.

With the Soviets granting India the licence to manufacture the MiG-21 in the subcontinent, the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) set up new plants at Nashik, Koraput, and Hyderabad for making airframes, engines, and avionics respectively. Soon several versions of the MiG-21 rolled out of these facilities. In the following decades, HAL built most of the 875 MiG-21s inducted into the IAF. This helped it hold sway over more modern aircraft like the Dassault Mirage 2000s and MiG-29s that joined the IAF fleet in subsequent years. In fact, age has been just a number for this ageing aerial warhorse as its numerous variants continued to hold their own even against fourth-generation jet fighters.

That said, the most versatile of the series, the Mig-21Bis fleet perhaps dominated the IAF’s fighter fleet for a year too many and — like all fighting machines — should have been phased out of service by more modern avatars. Yet, several factors, borne more out of necessity than tactical reasons, forced the IAF to make do and mend, flying the MiG-21 in various roles like ground attack, bombing, reconnaissance and providing cover for bombers. Such ad hocism also had much to do with the adamant refusal of the MiG-21’s vaunted successor, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), to leave the drawing board, defying deadlines.

With the pressing need to arrest a dwindling fleet, the IAF faced the Hobson’s choice of upgrading and continuing with its MiG-21 Bis fleet indefinitely, switching the fighter from its primary role of a short-range interceptor to that of a ground attack aircraft. Sadly, airbrushing the performance parameters of an aircraft like the MiG-21, primarily designed for high-speed interceptions, was never going to work — this was reflected in the unacceptably large number of crashes involving the fighter.

Like all aircraft, the MiG-21 has its idiosyncrasies. For instance, its high take-off and landing speeds — more than a jet airliner’s — meant the pilot had to think ahead of it, leaving little or no reaction time in an emergency. Moreover, bailing out from a MiG-21 is perilous compared to other fighter jets with an unacceptably high risk of spinal injury which often made pilots unwilling to eject. The crashes, of course, also had much to do with the way rookie pilots, used to obsolete basic trainers, leapfrogged technology to fly this frontline fighter. In fact, it is doubtful if the absence of an advanced jet trainer was so starkly demonstrated by any other major air force in the world.

Small wonder the sobriquet ‘Flying Coffins’ was plastered on the MiG-21s through most of their service life. Talk about giving a dog a bad name and hanging him. For in the hands of a good pilot, the MiG-21’s extreme manoeuvrability made it a feared fighter, especially in WVR (Within Visual Range) combat. It is too soon to forget how, in 2019, a MiG-21 Bison flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of the Srinagar-based No 51 squadron shot down an F-16 of the Pakistan Air Force.

The MiG-21 is a classic that has outlived all its contemporaries and has had several avatars since it first sported the IAF roundels. Much like what happened to the legendary German Messerschmitt EE-109 of the 1940s, however, the fine handling qualities of the initial Mig-21 versions were curiously missing in the later models that had to be upgraded. Indian planners shouldn’t have licence-built this magnificent flying machine without any strategic planning.

The lack of planning and timely action can also be seen in the gaps in our squadron strength. Phasing out jets and replacing them or even inducting new ones is a decades-long process. The induction of the indigenously-built LCA Tejas, along with some off-the-shelf and licence-built foreign platforms like the Dassault Rafale, may address the issue in the short term. But this will not be enough for the IAF to have even 35 fighter squadrons by 2030 — surely a disturbing thought for defence planners as they watch the MiG-21 fly into the sunset.

Prakash Chandra is former editor of the Indian Defence Review. He writes on aerospace and strategic affairs.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the views of DH.

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US depends on China for its modern way of life, says Vivek Ramaswamy

The US cannot “get tough” with China because it depends on it for a modern way of life, Indian-American Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has said, asserting that Washington needs to declare economic independence from Beijing.

The 38-year-old multimillionaire biotech entrepreneur made the comment on Wednesday during the Republican Party’s third presidential debate in Miami, Florida.

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Indian-American presidential candidate Nikki Haley, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott participated in the debate. Former US president Donald Trump, who is leading the race, did not participate in the debate again.

Here’s why we can’t get tough with China. It’s because we depend on them for our modern way of life. And we have to declare economic independence from our enemy,” Ramaswamy said.

“That’s the Declaration of Independence that Thomas Jefferson, at the age of 33, would have signed. And today, if he were alive, that’s the Declaration of Independence that I will sign as the next president, Ramaswamy said in response to a question.

Underlining that the actual defence industrial base of the US depends on China for the supply chain, he said, For the F-35 jets, for the ships that we’re building. Think about this. Why are we stockpiling that if it isn’t to actually be strong against our enemy, China? We depend on them for that. Just like we depend on them for pharmaceuticals. Just like we depend on them for semiconductors.”

We need politicians who are independent of the forces that increase our dependence on China. My message to Xi Jinping is this, you are done buying land in this country. You will not donate to universities in this country. US businesses won’t expand into the Chinese market until you play by the same set of rules, Ramaswamy said.

He added that the US needs to increase its naval capacity by at least 20 per cent over the next several years.

I think we have to, at minimum, be able to meet our AUKUS agreement standards. Right now, we are at risk of not even being able to meet our AUKUS standards with Australia and the UK. So, what we need to do is have a plan that reverses the trajectory of the divest to invest programme by 20 per cent over the next three years, he said.

The AUKUS pact is a trilateral alliance between the UK, the US and Australia, seen as a counter to an aggressive China in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.

During the debate, Ramaswamy alleged that fellow Indian-American Republican presidential candidate Haley called China a great friend of America while serving as the US Ambassador to the UN,

When she was UN Ambassador, called them literally her words, not my, ‘Our great friend’. You can’t be fair-weather fans of the right policy. Get to the root cause. Even US companies in Silicon Valley are regularly doing it,” he said.

Haley denied the allegations.

When he talks about me praising China, he doesn’t know the fact that the reason China was praised was because I negotiated with China and Russia the largest set of sanctions against North Korea in a generation,” she said.

“That is literally the reason North Korea stopped testing ballistic missiles. So, I said China did good on their part. That was a negotiation you could never — had fought against China my entire career at the United Nations, she added.

You’ve brought them to South Carolina. Look at the actual hard facts. You brought them to this country, Ramaswamy alleged.

..By making sure no one could get any agency heads in the UN. I did it by making sure that we called them out on human rights. I did it by making sure that we held them accountable for everything that they did. That’s the reason we got out of the Human Rights Council. That’s the reason we called them out, Haley said in defence.

The two Indian Americans clashed on the debate stage multiple times. It started when Ramaswamy called Haley, former US vice president Dick Cheney in three-inch heels. The former South Carolina governor was the only woman on the debate stage.

You have the likes of Nikki Haley, who stepped down from her time at the UN, bankrupt or in debt is — was her family. Then, she becomes a military contractor. She joins the board of Boeing and otherwise. And is now a multi-millionaire. So I think that that’s wrong when Republicans do it or Democrats do it. That’s the choice we face, he alleged.

Do you want a leader from a different generation who’s going to put this country first, or do you want Dick Cheney in three-inch heels? Ramaswamy said.

Haley blasted Ramaswamy when her turn came soon thereafter.

Yes. I’d first like to say they’re five-inch heels, and I don’t wear them unless you can run in them. The second thing that I will say is: that I wear heels. They’re not for a fashion statement. They’re for ammunition, Haley said amidst cheers from the audience.

She also blasted Ramaswamy, asking him not to bring her daughters into the debate.

Ramaswamy mentioned her daughter during the portion of the debate that discussed the ban on TikTok.

I want to laugh at why Nikki Haley didn’t answer your question, which is about looking at families in the eye. In the last debate, she made fun of me for actually joining TikTok, while her own daughter was actually using the app for a long time. So, you might want to take care of your family first before preaching to anybody else, he said.

Leave my daughter out of your voice, a furious Haley responded.

Adult daughter, Ramaswamy said as he was booed. And that’s actually the point. You have her supporters propping her up. That’s fine. Here is the truth, he said.

Talking about the multiple bills signed in August by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis prohibiting Chinese citizens from purchasing land in the state, Ramaswamy said, Bring in the CCP to South Carolina. What he left out though, Ron, and to be honest about it, there was a lobbying-based exemption in that bill that allowed Chinese nationals to buy land within a 20-mile radius of a military base lobbied for by one of your donors. So, I think we have to call a spade a spade.”

Ramaswamy also asserted that his administration would ban any US company from transferring data to the Chinese.

Here is a story most people don’t know. Airbnb hands over US user data to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Now, that’s a US-owned company. So, this is the problem when you have Republicans that temporarily go the way the winds blow, and now it’s popular to talk tough on China, he said.

Speaking about Tiktok, he said, “Cut the virtue signalling. The fact of the matter is Democrats are on TikTok today. The only person, one of the few people who is putting up content the way the actual algorithms work, speaking for pro-Israel views or others, is me.

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Air Force: F-16 Ukrainian pilot training not started in Romania yet

On 9 November, Ukraine’s Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said that Ukrainian pilots have not yet started training on F-16 fighter jets in Romania. He said it on the national telethon, according to Liga.

Ihnat says there is no pilot training in Romania yet, but combat aircraft have been redeployed there to set up a training center.

“This does not mean that the pilots are already training there. The training takes place in the United States and [elsewhere] Europe. In Romania, a center is being set up where pilots will be able to undergo the training. The training combat aircraft are two-seaters, where the instructor will be able to train the pilot midair, which will be the final stage of training,” Ihnat said.

He noted that the Netherlands and other countries providing Ukraine with F-16s want to receive a more modern F-35 aircraft instead.

  • On 30 August 2023, the defense ministers of the Netherlands and Romania signed an agreement to establish a training center to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s.
  • On 30 October, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that the first F-16s would be sent to Romania “within two weeks.” On 7 November, five F-16 fighters of the Dutch Air Force were transferred to Romania.
  • On 20 August 2023, Denmark announced it would give Ukraine 19 aircraft, and the Netherlands an unknown number of the F-16s. In September, Norway promised to send its F-16s to Ukraine, and in October, Belgium pledged to supply “several” F-16s.
  • Ukraine should use the F-16s only on its territory, not in Russia, which is a condition of the transfer of these aircraft.

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MIAMI, Nov. 7, 2023 – Royal Caribbean International is pulling back the curtain and revealing the entertainment taking center stage on the highly anticipated Icon of the Seas. In January 2024, the first-of-its-kind vacation is set to debut a bold, new lineup of full-scale shows across the cruise line’s four signature “stages” – air, ice, water and theater – and more live music and comedy than ever before. From the first rendition ofThe Wizard of Oz” at sea and a live showband extravaganza to the debut cast of robots, skateboarders and more, the playbill of entertainment on Icon is made for every type of family and vacationer.

Developed in-house by Royal Caribbean, the largest producer of live entertainment in the world, the variety of productions and performances will come to life across Icon day and night. More than 75 world-class performers will be under the spotlight at the all-new AquaDome and its next-level AquaTheater, the Royal Theater and the Absolute Zero ice arena, which showcase state-of-the-art technology like 3D flying systems and robot arms that act as diving boards for high divers (and more). When it comes to entertainment beyond the stage, 50 live musicians and comedians will set the tone throughout Icon and in more venues, including the new Lou’s Jazz ‘n Blues and Dueling Pianos, and all-time favorites with a twist such as Schooner Bar and the Point & Feather English pub.

“At the heart of so many of the memories made on Royal Caribbean vacations is a combination of live entertainment that’s unmatched in the vacation industry, and we’re taking it to the next level on Icon of the Seas,” said Nick Weir, senior vice president, entertainment, Royal Caribbean International. “If you’re a fan of full-scale productions on Broadway and the West End or live music and comedy in hot spots like Las Vegas, Icon has it all for every mood and style in one vacation – alongside never-before-seen twists only found on Royal Caribbean.”

Highlights of the entertainment vacationers have in store on Icon include:

Deck-Defying Feats in the AquaDome

  • “Aqua Action!” – Combining technological and physical feats, a new kind of cast debuts in this high-octane production. Olympic-level high divers, skateboarders, aerialists, slackliners and synchronized swimmers come together with high-tech firsts, like a double 3D flying system and robots doubling as diving boards and set creators, to blur the lines between live-action movie and theatrical experience.
  • “Pirates vs. Mermaids” – A mythical world comes to life in this show with a combination of a lighthearted storyline, fairytale characters and humor for both the adults and kids. Pirates and mermaids go tail to toe to show off their greatest feats and see who really rules the ocean after all.

Encore-Worthy Acts in the Royal Theater

  • “The Wizard of Oz” – The first cruise line to debut the classic tale of Dorothy’s adventure to Oz – and with a modern twist. Royal Caribbean’s rendition of this favorite across generations features characters soaring above the audience, a revolutionary set design with never-before-seen stage effects, more than 600 costume elements and an original score performed by a new 16-piece orchestra.
  • “SHOWBAND! Live. Music. Now.” – This must-see, must-hear event for music lovers will spotlight 16 talented musicians. By combining their chart-topping skills with the venue’s cutting-edge sound and video technology, the show conductor and string, woodwind, brass and percussion instrumentalists will harness the power of live music to fully immerse the audience in an all-out sensory experience.

Cool-as-Ice Twists and Turns in Absolute Zero

  • “Starburst: Elemental Beauty” – The awe-inspiring, artistic interpretation of the periodic table of elements is at the heart of this thrilling story about the building blocks of life. The Olympic-level ice cast will wow with powerful, high-speed choreography that packs more tricks and higher jumps, made possible by the design of the new oval-shaped ice arena that takes the cruise line’s introduction of the first ice rink at sea in 1999 to new heights yet again. Along with jaw-dropping digitally mapped backdrops and vibrant lighting displays, the show will be a fully immersive experience.
  • “Once Upon a Time: The King’s Royal Ball” – This ultimate gathering of famous fairytale superstars is specially tailormade for young vacationers and their families. Timeless tales will take everyone on a nostalgic ride through their childhood with twists and surprising new details not part of the originals.

Beyond the Stage

  • Music lovers, fans of comedy and everyone in between can enjoy tunes, dance moves and laughs at every turn. From rhythm and rhyme to a rotating setlist of all-time chart-toppers across rock, pop, Caribbean beats, Latin music and more, nine hotspots on Icon are an ode to live music and the greatest genres. A night out all about the laughs is where the Manhattan-inspired Comedy Club comes in, with three comedians that make a date night or friends night out one to remember – for the adults only.
  • “SHIPS AHOY!” – Scalawags, swashbucklers and sailors of all types will take over the reimagined Royal Promenade with their fleets and flotillas that carry hundreds of shipmates from the past and present as they meet for a show of skills and battle of the wits

Vacationers can go behind the scenes on how all the entertainment is coming to life in the newest episode of Royal Caribbean’s monthly video series, Making an Icon: Creating Show-Stopping Entertainment.”

From setting the stage to setting records, the first-of-its-kind combination of the best of every vacation – from the resort getaway to the beach escape and the theme park adventure – is where everyone can make memories together and on their own terms. Highlights of the game-changing experiences in store include six record-breaking waterslidesseven pools – one for every day of the week – a stay-all-day neighborhood designed for young families, entertainment across air, ice, water and stage; 40-plus ways to dine and drink; and more across eight neighborhoods that are destinations in and of themselves.

In between the thrills and ways to chill on Icon‘s 7-night vacations, adventurers can explore the islands of the eastern and western Caribbean and The Bahamas, including Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis; Roatan, Honduras; Cozumel, Mexico; and Royal Caribbean’s award-winning private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay and its new adults-only Hideaway Beach (opening January 2024). More details about Icon are available at www.RoyalCaribbean.com/Icon.

About Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International, owned by Royal Caribbean Group (NYSE: RCL), has been delivering innovation at sea for more than 50 years. Each successive class of ships is an architectural marvel that features the latest technology and guest experiences for today’s adventurous traveler. The cruise line continues to revolutionize vacations with itineraries to 240 destinations in 61 countries on six continents, including Royal Caribbean’s private island destination in The Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay, the first in the Perfect Day Island Collection. Royal Caribbean has also been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for 20 consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards.

Media can stay up to date by following @RoyalCaribPR on X and visiting RoyalCaribbeanPressCenter.com. For additional information or to make reservations, vacationers can call their travel advisor; visit RoyalCaribbean.com; or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN.



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Larnaca port to have new terminal by 2027

The new terminal of Larnaca Port is expected to be completed by 2027, the Port Director Paris Dimitriou has announced.

He further stated that providing better services and innovative ideas are among the primary goals of Kition Ocean Port, the port management company for Larnaca.

He added that the city has much to offer in the cruise industry.

“The new terminal will be connected to the coastal road leading to Phinikoudes Beach for the convenience of passengers visiting Larnaca,” Mr. Dimitriou said.

According to a statement by Kition Ocean Port, he presented the current and future status of Larnaca Port and Marina at a recent conference organized by the Deputy Ministry of Tourism, titled ‘Navigate through the cruise industry.’

“The conference focused on the challenges emerging in the cruise industry and the uncertainty caused by the conflict in Israel, considering the new tourist season and the geopolitical tensions in the wider Mediterranean region,” it added.

Mr. Dimitriou “highlighted the advantages of Larnaca as the starting and ending point for large cruise ships and the experiences that tourists can enjoy during their stay. Among the offerings are excursions and other experiences that tourists can have in the city and the mountainous region of Larnaca, with the collaboration of all relevant authorities.”

At the same time, he “elaborated on the services provided by the port, the history, and culture of Larnaca, emphasizing the significance of offering better services and innovative ideas as our primary goals as the port manager of the city. While cruise tourism may begin and end at the ports, what truly matters is the visitor’s experience during this period,” he said.

He added, “This is precisely what we must explore, by joining forces to support the industry and proactively address the challenges.”

Regarding the new terminal, he mentioned that the modern design will incorporate “advanced technology and innovative infrastructure to accommodate state-of-the-art cruise ships, as well as optimize operations for the smooth disembarkation and embarkation of passengers.”

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The Sequel To The World’s Largest Cruise Ship Is On The Way

The cruise industry is abuzz with excitement as Royal Caribbean has just made a groundbreaking announcement. The company has recently announced the sequel to the world’s largest cruise ship – The Star of the Seas. Cruise enthusiasts worldwide are eagerly anticipating this remarkable addition to the seas. Building on the success of their record-breaking flagship vessel, Royal Caribbean is once again setting sail with a thrilling sequel.

The Icon Class Ships, a marvel of modern maritime engineering, are setting new standards in the cruise industry. With an amazing 20 decks and dimensions that include 250,800 gross tons and a staggering 1,198-foot length, these vessels are truly iconic. Currently, two remarkable members of this class, the “Icon of the Seas” and the “Star of the Seas,” are in the works at the esteemed Meyer Turku shipyard in Turku, Finland.

The “Icon of the Seas” has already made waves by successfully completing its sea trials. It’s now all set for a transatlantic voyage to Florida scheduled for December 23. This comes with the exciting prospect of its maiden voyage with customers starting on January 28, 2024. Notably, the demand for this spectacular cruise experience has been overwhelming. Royal Caribbean has found it necessary to add more sailings.

Speaking on the matter, Royal Caribbean’s President and CEO, Michael Bayley, said: “The idea of combining the best of every type of vacation into one ultimate adventure has created more excitement than ever anticipated, and Star of the Seas will be the next bold answer to the record-breaking consumer demand we’ve seen for nearly a year and counting with Icon of the Seas.”

Setting New Standards In Sustainability and Entertainment

What makes these ships even more impressive is their commitment to sustainability. Both cruise ships are powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), contributing to Royal Caribbean’s eco-friendly efforts. They also have shore power connections, aligning with the company’s mission to achieve a net-zero emissions cruise ship by 2035.

“Star of the Seas,” following in the footsteps of “Icon,” will feature a six-slide waterpark, seven pools, the Surfside neighborhood at the ship’s aft, and an enormous glass dome that forms the innovative AquaDome neighborhood atop the vessel. This expansion of the Icon Class Ships fleet stands to set a new standard for the ultimate cruise adventure.

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Riviera – Opinion – Panama Canal drought: ‘large oil tankers will not feature in this trade anymore’

The maximum capacity of the canal is 38-40 transits per day. PCA data for 2022 show 35.4 daily transits on average. Dry bulk carriers take up the largest share of transits with 22.5% of the total, followed closely by container ships (22%). Chemical tankers are third with an 18% market share. Oil tankers are relatively minor participants.

However, it is important to look at the large Neopanamax locks separately from the smaller (regular) Panamax locks. The Neopanamax locks are completely dominated by container ships and gas carriers. This is not surprising, given that very large container ships dominate the round-the-world services. Large LNG and LPG vessels are also using the Neopanamax locks to take advantage of the shortcut from the US Gulf to their main markets in Asia. The tankers that use the Neopanamax locks are Suezmax and Aframax tankers. Many of these large tankers are in ballast, with owners using the canal to reposition their vessels in the US Gulf after discharging on the US West Coast.

Currently, very few of the Suezmax tankers pass laden through the canal, which is at least partially caused by the fact that the canal is not able to operate at design draft due to low water levels. For example, we estimate that at a maximum draft of 13.4 m, as currently in effect, a modern Suezmax tanker can carry about 107,000 tonnes, only about 12,000 tonnes more than an Aframax. This is not a compelling economic proposition. And it will only get worse as the PCA tightens restrictions further.

Since 30 July, capacity has been reduced to 32 transits. According to the PCA, “The recorded precipitation for October has been the lowest on record since 1950 (41% below), and so far, 2023 ranks as the second-driest year for the same period.” Therefore, the number of booking slots has now been reduced to 25, with scheduled reductions to 24 (next week), 22 (December), 20 (January 2024) and finally 18 (starting Feb 2024).

At this point, Neopanamax slots will be down to eight per day, which will mostly be taken up by container vessels with the occasional gas carrier. Large oil tankers will not feature in this trade anymore. They will not be able to schedule in advance like container ships do and they can likely not compete for the auction slots (a recent auction was ’won’ by a VLGC for US$2.85M).

The stark reduction in slots will push many of the tramp vessels (including tankers and dry cargo ships) away from the canal. This will lead to more tonne-mile demand and possibly changes in segment utilisation as longer hauls may stimulate the use of larger vessels.

*Editor’s note: this article first appeared on Poten & Partners’ website. It has been lightly edited for clarity.

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Finding alternative solutions to reserve ships

Ferry operators must consider how to continue providing reliable services when regular vessels are non-operational

Not so many years ago, any decent-sized ferry company would have at its disposal what was termed as a ‘reserve ship’ – a spare vessel that could be pressed into service if one of the regulars was unable to operate as planned.  

It was possibly an older ship that had been replaced by younger tonnage but would become very useful if there was an engine breakdown, a need for an unscheduled dry docking or another issue that would otherwise leave passengers and freight frustrated on the quayside.  

Kept in a state of reasonable, if not immediate, readiness, the reserve ship would save the company’s blushes in an emergency and could also be used when its fleetmates were taken out of service for regular scheduled maintenance. As this vessel had likely paid for itself many years previously, operators regarded it as a modest and worthwhile cost to ensure they could maintain reliable services. 

It is not that resilience no longer matters, but that the ability to lay hands on a reserve vessel has become very rare. This is a result of modern attitudes to accountancy, along with the ability to translate a ship that is redundant to immediate need into instant cash that will register favourably in the quarterly results. And if a ferry has been maintained properly, it will attract attention in the sale and purchase market, which is fast-moving and thoroughly international. The finance director will assert that opportunities to boost the cashflow must be taken, even though the operating team would have welcomed the cushion of a reserve ship to help out when necessary. And while the operating team might plead the case of customers who may go elsewhere if sailings are cancelled, it is ultimately money in the bank that counts.  

If the spare ship is no longer available, sensible ferry operators have to think more constructively. It might be that in the event of a ship becoming unavailable, it is possible to charter in a replacement, something that is a more regular occurrence on the freight berth than is possible with ro-pax vessels, which tend to be fewer in number. It may be that a degree of resilience is provided by sister vessels on the same route, managing to squeeze in additional sailings to compensate. Alternatively, it might be that an operator with a reasonably interoperable fleet can temporarily switch a ship. But operators must make an effort to find a solution; cancelled sailings, frustrated customers and the sort of publicity such failings generate produce a negative legacy of perceived unreliability that takes both time and effort to erase.  

It might be argued that modern ferries are more reliable, because of their multi-engined arrangement, although any marine engineer will point out there are still plenty of issues that can go wrong. They will also note that the attitude of the ‘bean counters’ to spares – which is seen as a cost rather than a sensible precautionary investment – militates against speedy repairs. There are plenty of cases of ships being out of service for far too long, as spare parts, or experts to sort out the problems, are sourced from the other side of the world. And these days, there aren’t dry docks sitting empty waiting for a ferry to need them, should underwater repair become essential. There have to be alternative plans, if a reasonable degree of resilience is to be maintained.  

And it is not just the ships to which stuff might happen. Linkspans and terminal equipment might become damaged, with alternatives not being available at the same terminal. A few years ago in a UK port, three busy ferry routes were simultaneously compromised when the lock which gave access to their berths was seriously damaged. But a riverside berth was still available, so with an astonishing degree of organisation by the terminal operator, all three services were somehow accommodated. That was resilience, writ large. 

Michael Grey is a master mariner turned maritime journalist and has edited both Fairplay and Lloyd’s List in a career spanning more than 60 years. 

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2023 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Review for FREE to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox. 

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Cruise Breakout Forum: Navigating the future of the cruise industry

Taking place during the morning of Day One (Tuesday 21 November), and featuring a carefully curated and dynamic program of market analysis and actionable opportunities, the central focus of the Cruise Breakout Forum will revolve around crew recruitment, deployment, and onboard management.

The day will begin with an illuminating industry keynote, setting the stage for a captivating morning of in-depth examination. Shortly following this, audiences will have the chance to engage in two expert panel-led discussions:

The first will focus on creating a successful recruitment process, amidst the industry’s prevalent staff shortage issues. Esteemed panellists for this session include:

  • Joost van Ree, Ocean Technologies Group
  • Eric Visser, Holland America Line
  • Karen Avelino, Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Inc
  • Georgia Dowdall, MSC Cruises
  • Pam Kern, Kern and Co., LLC

The second panel discussion will delve into the crucial topic of crew retention; exploring the evolving onboard needs of modern crew members and how these correlate to long-term commitment. Esteemed panellists for this session include:

  • Joost van Ree, Ocean Technologies Group
  • Capt. Andre van Schoonhoven, Holland America Line & Seabourn
  • Veronika Cernakova, Mental Health Support Solutions
  • Tim Lodder, Blue Orange Wave

The Cruise Breakout Forum will conclude with the ATPI Lunchtime Session, which will facilitate an opportunity to enjoy light refreshments and complementary lunch, but also – quite critically – will offer attendees a chance to explore strategies and best practices for achieving significant cost savings while maintaining utmost safety and efficiency. This enlightening panel discussion will feature:

  • Calypso Diareme, ATPI Marine Travel
  • Eleftheria Letsiou, ATPI Marine Travel
  • David-George Tidmarsh, Seachefs Cruises
  • Nataraj Iyer, Qatar Airways
  • Joost van Ree, Ocean Technologies Group
  • Steffen Siebert, S5 Agency World
  • Grant Holmes, Inchcape Shipping Services

Chris Morley, Group Director of Seatrade Maritime, shared his enthusiasm for this session, stating: “We will wrap up the Breakout with a working lunch provided by ATPI Travel, during which a panel of experts will walk you through some of the proven ways which can lead to achieving significant cost savings in the crew rotations for Cruise Ships.”

Participants in the Cruise Breakout Forum also have the option to extend their stay in Manila for Seatrade Maritime CrewConnect Global, the world’s leading event for the crewing and manning industry. Here, delegates can immerse themselves in an expertly curated agenda, explore an intimate showcase of crewing service suppliers, and connect with like-minded professionals who share their industry interests and goals.

For further information about the Cruise Breakout Forum and Seatrade Maritime CrewConnect Global, please visit the official website at www.crew-connect-global.com.

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