The Daily Valet. - 1/30/24, Tuesday
Tuesday, January 30th Edition
By Cory Ohlendorf, Valet. Editor
I hope you don't have any trips to The Bahamas planned soon.
Today’s Big Story
Was Amelia Earhart’s Plane Just Found?
An exploration team thinks blurry sonar images from the Pacific seabed show the aircraft which vanished in 1937
Could a near-century old mystery finally be solved? Amelia Earhart's disappearance over the central Pacific Ocean in 1937 remains one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. Countless theories about her fate have emerged in the decades since, but now a deep-sea exploration team searching for the wreckage of her small plane has provided another potential clue.
Deep Sea Vision, a Charleston, South Carolina-based team, said this week that it had captured a sonar image in the Pacific Ocean that "appears to be Earhart's Lockheed 10-E Electra" aircraft. The 16-person team used an unmanned, underwater drone to scan more than 5,200 square miles of ocean floor between September and December of 2023. The company’s founder, Tony Romeo, believes it’s Earhart’s plane because of its unique shape, reports TIME.
The sonar image in question was taken about 100 miles from Howland Island—halfway between Australia and Hawaii. Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, had been expected to land there to refuel during her bid to be the first female pilot to circumnavigate the globe. Of course, they never arrived and were declared dead two years later after the U.S. government concluded she had crashed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, and her remains were never found.
Romeo, a pilot and former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, sold his real estate company's assets in 2022 to start an ocean exploration business and, in large part, join the long line of oceanic detectives hoping to find answers to Earhart's disappearance. His team had captured the sonar images a month into their expedition, but did not realize what they had discovered until the last day of their trip. "It was really a surreal moment," Romeo said.
There’s no way to confirm that the plane is Earhart’s right now, and additional expeditions will be mounted in the future to recover the craft and confirm its true history. According to Jalopnik, Romeo has an interest in confirming the plane’s origin, and will mount another expedition later this year to do some more scanning and photographing. He hopes to one day see the plane interred at the Smithsonian.
Earhart was also something of an entrepreneur, who designed a line of "functional" women's clothing and lightweight luggage for air travel.
War Pressure Grows
Lawmakers press Biden to get Congress’ approval for Middle East airstrikes
President Biden and other top U.S. officials have discussed a "significant military response" against pro-Iranian militias over the drone attack near the Jordan-Syria border that killed three American soldiers and wounded dozens of others, Axios reports. The White House and Pentagon are hoping to calibrate their retaliation to contain the growing risk of regional war. Pressure for more significant action is brewing on Capitol Hill, with hawks pushing for strikes actually inside Iran.
But Biden also faces fresh demands that he ask Congress to vote on a new authorization for military action before he proceeds further. Those calls, NBC News says, are falling on deaf ears, with the White House insisting that the commander in chief already has approval to carry out the strikes from two authorizations for use of military force, or AUMF, votes more than 20 years ago—in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
There have been about 160 attacks on U.S. bases in the region since the Gaza war broke out, according to the Pentagon. "There will be a response," John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, told NPR on Monday. "We do not want to see a wider conflict," he reiterated. "In fact, everything the president has done since the seventh of October has really been designed to try to de-escalate, to try to prevent a wider conflict ... We are not looking for a war with Iran."
The Washington Post reports that American air defenses failed to prevent the attack because the enemy drone actually approached its target at the same time a U.S. drone was also returning to base.
Trump’s Tax Return Leaker Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison
The former IRS contractor committed ‘attack on our constitutional democracy,’ judge says
The former Internal Revenue Service contractor who leaked the tax records of former President Donald Trump to the New York Times as well as the tax records of billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk to ProPublica was sentenced Monday to five years in prison.
According to the Associated Press, Charles Littlejohn pleaded guilty in October, and prosecutors sought the statutory maximum of five years in federal prison, saying that he "abused his position by unlawfully disclosing thousands of Americans’ federal tax returns and other private financial information to multiple news organizations." Littlejohn was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ana C. Reyes at a hearing at the federal courthouse in Washington. He will also have to pay a $5,000 fine.
The district court judge agreed with the Justice Department that the 38-year-old Littlejohn deserved the maximum statutory sentence for what she called “egregious” crimes, calling it “an attack on our constitutional democracy.” The Times, which received Trump’s returns, called the judge’s decision “deeply troubling,” telling Politico that their reporting on on the returns “played an important role in helping the public understand the financial ties and tax strategies of a sitting president .”
Altogether, at least 152 people had their private information published in the media from Littlejohn's breach.
Avoid These Popular Travel Destinations
Two Caribbean nations have received official State Department warnings due to crime
Looking to take a tropical vacation this year? The United States government is asking you to consider anywhere other than Jamaica and The Bahamas. The State Department has issued new security warnings and travel advisories for both Caribbean nations, saying that it’s dangerous for tourists due to the high level of crime.
“Gang-on-gang violence in The Bahamas has resulted in a high homicide rate primarily affecting the local population,” the newly-released advisory reads, calling out the most-affected islands of New Providence, including Nassau and Grand Bahama, where Freeport is located. “Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults, occur in both tourist and non-tourist areas. Be vigilant when staying at short-term vacation rental properties where private security companies do not have a presence.” CNN reports that the country is now listed at Level 2, Exercise Increased Caution, out of 4 advisory levels.
The news comes on the heels of a security alert from the American Embassy in Nassau on January 24, calling attention to 18 murders that have taken place in Nassau since the beginning of 2024. The State Department has also issued a warning against Jamaica. It’s now at Level 3 (Reconsider Travel), which is just one short of the highest warning, Level 4 (Do Not Travel advisory). The Points Guy suggests enrolling in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to stay up to date on rapidly changing security situations in foreign countries via the nearest U.S. consulate.
Why do we sleep better at hotels? Afar examines the phenomenon.
Garnish Your Cocktails
A finishing touch that should never be overlooked
There are two words that sometimes appear at the end of a cocktail recipe that our resident cocktail expert Christopher Doell is either relieved or somewhat disappointed to see: No garnish. “Sometimes when I mix a drink, I just want to get to it and I don't feel like putting in too much effort, but other times I enjoy investing the time and attention into crafting the perfect cocktail.”
But what's the point of a garnish, anyway? Can't you just skip over that part? Fair question. I mean, sure, I guess you could. But that doesn't mean you should. After all, isn't mixing up a cocktail about more than just getting a buzz? It's about the ritual—the alchemy of combining these disparate ingredients to create a drink (hell, an experience) that's greater than the sum of its parts. The best cocktail garnishes will serve many purposes.
Go for it.