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The Morning Rundown™

US defense secretary visits Iraq, airline merger antitrust suit: March 7 rundown

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The U.S. defense secretary has touched down in Iraq in an unannounced visit; officials now believe the four Americans kidnapped in Mexico was a case of mistaken identity; and two United planes make contact at the gate area of the Boston airport. These stories and more highlight your daily rundown for Tuesday morning, March 7, 2023. 

Defense secretary visits Iraq

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Iraq Tuesdayjust two weeks before the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein’s regime.

“It is great to be back in Baghdad today. This was just the latest high-level contact between our governments. and all of these engagements underscore the U.S. commitment to expanding our partnership with the people and the government of Iraq,” said Austin.

Austin is the highest ranking cabinet official to visit Iraq since the beginning of the Biden administration. The stop was kept secret until he landed for security reasons. The U.S. still has 2,500 troops stationed in Iraq, according to Reuters.

New details on kidnapped Americans

Over the weekend, four Americans were kidnapped after crossing into Mexico through the city Matamoros, known for organized crime and cartel activity. New details have come out on Tuesday. U.S. Officials told CNN the kidnapping was likely a case of mistaken identity.

Officials believe the Americans were targeted by a Mexican cartel by mistake. They say it is likely to have been Haitian drug smugglers.

Family members of the kidnapped family have said one of the women traveling to Mexico was going for a medical procedure. The family was traveling in a white minivan when it was struck by gunfire during the armed kidnapping. One innocent Mexican citizen was killed in the encounter.

Both the U.S. and Mexican governments are involved in the investigation. The FBI has a $50,000 reward for their return.

“We do also remind Americans about the existing travel guidance when it comes to this particular part of Mexico. The travel advisory for Tamaulipas state remains at level four. Do not travel. We encourage Americans to heed that advice,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

Two United planes touch near gate

Two flights scheduled to depart from Boston’s airport on Monday morning made contact with each other near the gate area.

According to the FAA, the aircraft heading to Newark was being pushed back from the gate by a tow tug when its right wing struck the tail of a flight going to Denver.

Nobody was injured and all passengers were escorted off the planes and flights were rescheduled for later that day. This incident follows a list of others concerning close calls.

Last week a JetBlue airplane had to take evasive action after a lear jet was crossing an intersecting runway.

Other safety incidents involving commercial flights happened at the JFK airport in New York in January. Last month there was one in Austin, Texas, and in December a close call off the coast of Hawaii.

The acting head of the FAA, Billy Nolen, is set to address Congress later this week where he will likely face tough questions surrounding these recent incidents.

JetBlue, Spirit merger at risk

The Biden administration is reportedly moving to block JetBlue’s acquisition of Spirit Airlines. The potential company merger is now being looked at by the Justice Department as potentially breaking anti-trust laws. According to Bloomberg and Politico, the DOJ and the Transportation Department are expected to begin proceedings to block JetBlue’s $3.8 billion deal with Spirit. They argue the deal would limit flight options and increase ticket prices.

JetBlue defended its purchase agreement and denied ticket prices would increase. They said JetBlue and Spirit would primarily compete against other airlines and the merge would push competitor fares down.

The purchase was approved by shareholders back in October.

Agents added to U.S.-Canada border

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is sending an additional two dozen agents to a busy crossing point at the U.S.-Canada border to assist in a rise in crossings through the North.

At least some of those agents are being reassigned from the southern border according to NBC News. The migrants crossing in the North are still largely coming from Mexico after legally catching flights to Canada.

While the southern border remains far busier, there has been a significant increase in migrant crossings through Canada. Some sectors reported as much as an 800% increase year-over-year.

Alligator returns after 20 years

A baby alligator was stolen from a Texas zoo twenty years ago. A woman allegedly stole it and kept it as her pet all of these years.

But after Texas Parks and Wildlife found out the woman owned a full grown gator, they went in and found the woman wasn’t meeting the legal requirements to possess such a pet. That’s when they found out that it once came from a zoo. Officials contacted the Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo and they gladly accepted the gator back home.

What was once a cold case has now been solved.

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KARAH RUCKER: TOP STORIES ON THIS TUESDAY – OFFICIALS NOW BELIEVE THE FOUR AMERICANS KIDNAPPED IN MEXICO WAS A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY.

TWO UNITED AIRLINES MAKE CONTACT AT THE GATE AREA OF THE BOSTON AIRPORT.

BUT FIRST — NEW THIS MORNING —

THE U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY HAS TOUCHED DOWN IN IRAQ IN AN UNANNOUNCED VISIT. THIS IS STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS. UNBIASED. STRAIGHT FACTS.

 

DEFENSE SECRETARY VISITS IRAQ

 

Lloyd Austin | Defense Secretary: “Good afternoon, everyone. It is great to be back in Baghdad today. This was just the latest high level contact between our governments. And all of these engagements underscore the US commitment to expanding our partnership with the people and the government of Iraq.”

 

U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY LLOYD AUSTIN ARRIVED IN IRAQ TODAY —

JUST TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE U-S INVASION THAT OUSTED SADDAM HUSSEIN’S REGIME.

AUSTIN IS THE HIGHEST RANKING CABINET OFFICIAL TO VISIT IRAQ SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION.

THE STOP WAS KEPT SECRET UNTIL HE LANDED FOR SECURITY REASONS.

THE US STILL HAS 25 HUNDRED TROOPS STATIONED IN IRAQ ACCORDING TO REUTERS.

 

NEW DETAILS ON KIDNAPPED AMERICANS


OVER THE WEEKEND — FOUR AMERICANS WERE KIDNAPPED AFTER CROSSING INTO MEXICO THROUGH THE CITY MATAMOROS — KNOWN FOR ORGANIZED CRIME AND CARTEL ACTIVITY.

WE’RE LEARNING MORE DETAILS TODAY —

U.S. OFFICIALS TOLD CNN THE KIDNAPPING WAS LIKELY A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY.

 

OFFICIALS BELIEVE THE AMERICANS WERE TARGETED BY A MEXICAN CARTEL **BY MISTAKE – LIKELY THOUGHT TO HAVE BEEN HAITIAN DRUG SMUGGLERS.

FAMILY MEMBERS OF THE KIDNAPPED FAMILY HAVE SAID ONE OF THE WOMEN TRAVELING TO MEXICO WAS GOING FOR A MEDICAL PROCEDURE.

THE FAMILY TRAVELED IN A WHITE MINIVAN — STRUCK BY GUNFIRE DURING THE ARMED KIDNAPPING.

 

ONE INNOCENT MEXICAN CITIZEN WAS KILLED IN THE ENCOUNTER.

BOTH THE U.S. AND MEXICAN GOVERNMENTS ARE INVOLVED IN THE INVESTIGATION.

THE FBI HAS A 50 THOUSAND DOLLAR REWARD FOR THEIR RETURN.

 

Ned Price | State Department Spokesperson: “We do also remind Americans about the existing travel guidance when it comes to this particular part of Mexico. The travel advisory for Tamaulipas state remains at level four. Do not travel. We encourage Americans to heed that, heed that advice.”

 

TWO UNITED PLANES TOUCH NEAR GATE

 

TWO FLIGHTS SCHEDULED TO DEPART FROM BOSTON’S AIRPORT ON MONDAY MORNING MADE CONTACT WITH EACH OTHER NEAR THE GATE AREA.

ACCORDING TO THE FAA- THE AIRCRAFT HEADING TO NEWARK WAS BEING PUSHED BACK FROM THE GATE BY A TOW TUG WHEN ITS RIGHT WING STRUCK THE TAIL OF A FLIGHT GOING TO DENVER.

 

NOBODY WAS INJURED AND ALL PASSENGERS WERE ESCORTED OFF THE PLANES AND FLIGHTS WERE RESCHEDULED FOR LATER THAT DAY.

THIS INCIDENT FOLLOWS A LIST OF OTHER CONCERNING CLOSE CALLS.

LAST WEEK A JETBLUE AIRPLANE HAD TO TAKE EVASIVE ACTION AFTER A LEARJET WAS CROSSING AN INTERSECTING RUNWAY.

 

OTHER SAFETY INCIDENTS INVOLVING COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS HAPPENED AT THE JFK AIRPORT IN NEW YORK IN JANUARY —  LAST MONTH THERE WAS ONE IN AUSTIN TEXAS — AND IN DECEMBER A CLOSE CALL OFF THE COAST OF HAWAII.

THE ACTING HEAD OF THE FAA BILLY NOLEN IS SET TO ADDRESS CONGRESS LATER THIS WEEK — WHERE HE WILL LIKELY FACE TOUGH QUESTIONS SURROUNDING THESE RECENT INCIDENTS.

 

JETBLUE, SPIRIT MERGER AT RISK

 

THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IS REPORTEDLY MOVING TO BLOCK JETBLUE’S ACQUISITION OF SPIRIT AIRLINES – THE POTENTIAL COMPANY MERGER IS NOW BEING LOOKED AT BY THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AS POTENTIALLY BREAKING ANTI-TRUST LAWS. ACCORDING TO BLOOMBERG AND POLITICO – THE DOJ AND THE TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT ARE EXPECTED TO BEGIN PROCEEDINGS TO BLOCK JETBLUE’S 3.8 BILLION DOLLAR DEAL WITH SPIRIT – SET TO ARGUE THE DEAL WOULD LIMIT FLIGHT OPTIONS AND INCREASE TICKET PRICES.

 

JETBLUE DEFENDED ITS PURCHASE AGREEMENT AND DENIED TICKET PRICES WOULD INCREASE…SAYING JETBLUE AND SPIRIT PRIMARILY COMPETE AGAINST OTHER AIRLINES AND THE MERGE WOULD PUSH COMPETITOR FARES DOWN.

THE PURCHASE WAS APPROVED BY SHAREHOLDERS BACK IN OCTOBER.

 

{EXTRA BP AGENTS TO CANADA VO}

[L3: AGENTS ADDED TO U.S.-CANADA BORDER]

U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION IS SENDING AN ADDITIONAL TWO DOZEN AGENTS TO A BUSY CROSSING POINT AT THE US-CANADA BORDER TO ASSIST IN A RISE IN CROSSINGS THROUGH THE NORTH.

AT LEAST SOME OF THOSE AGENTS ARE BEING REASSIGNED FROM THE SOUTHERN BORDER ACCORDING TO NBC NEWS.

THE MIGRANTS CROSSING IN THE NORTH ARE STILL LARGELY COMING FROM MEXICO AFTER LEGALLY CATCHING FLIGHTS TO CANADA.

WHILE THE SOUTHERN BORDER REMAINS FAR BUSIER —

THERE HAS BEEN A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN MIGRANT CROSSINGS THROUGH CANADA.

SOME SECTORS REPORTING AS MUCH AS AN 800 PERCENT INCREASE YEAR-OVER-YEAR.

 

ALLIGATOR RETURNS AFTER 20 YEAR

 

A BABY ALLIGATOR WAS STOLEN FROM A TEXAS ZOO TWENTY YEARS AGO.

A WOMAN — ALLEGEDLY STEALING IT AND KEEPING IT AS HER PET AFTER ALL THESE YEARS.

 

BUT AFTER TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE FOUND OUT THE WOMAN OWNED A FULL GROWN GATOR —

THEY WENT IN AND FOUND THE WOMAN WASN’T MEETING THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS TO POSSESS SUCH A PET.

FINDING OUT THAT IT ONCE CAME FROM A ZOO —

OFFICIALS CONTACTED THE “ANIMAL WORLD AND SNAKE FARM ZOO” AND THEY GLADLY ACCEPTED THE GATOR BACK HOME.

WHAT WAS ONCE A COLD CASE HAS NOW BEEN SOLVED.

THESE ARE YOUR TOP HEADLINES ON THIS TUESDAY MORNING.

THANKS FOR WATCHING THE DAILY RUNDOWN WITH STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS.

WE’RE ON A MISSION TO BRING BACK TRUSTWORTHY JOURNALISM BY ONLY SERVING YOU — NOT AN AGENDA. 

WE’LL SEE YOU BACK HERE TOMORROW MORNING.

UNTIL THEN, I’M KARAH RUCKER…HAVE A GREAT DAY!