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Люди зібралися в центрі Києва, щоб згадати початок Революції Гідності (фото)

Попри холодну погоду, кияни несли квіти й запалювали лампадки на Алеї Героїв Небесної Сотні та біля Хреста Пам‘яті Небесної Сотні

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ЗСУ вдарили по клубу на Донеччині, де святкували військові РФ. Загинули військові і акторка з Москви

Російські державні агенції повідомляють лише про смерть акторки Поліни Меньших, вони не вказують, що під час удару загинули також понад 20 військових РФ, про це пише видання «Новая газета. Европа»

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Військові попередили про загрозу груп ударних БПЛА у небі над деякими регіонами України

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Austin: Ukraine Fight Has Implications Across Europe, Asia as China Watches Western Resolve

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is warning that if Russia is successful in Ukraine, China will be emboldened to use military force to expand its territory in the Indo-Pacific.

“We can’t live in that kind of world,” Austin told U.S. troops at a military installation in eastern Poland Tuesday after a surprise stop the day before in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

“If you’re another autocrat, say China, and you want to take over more ground [and] more territory, and you saw what happened in Ukraine and there were no consequences to be paid, you’d feel pretty good about it,” Austin said.

Austin also warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin will continue his push to overrun sovereign democracies in eastern Europe if he isn’t shut down in Ukraine.

“Putin won’t stop if he takes Ukraine,” Austin said. “The next thing is he’s rolling across the Baltics … and the next thing you know, you and your comrades will be on the frontlines fighting against a Putin that we should have stopped, or Ukraine could have stopped early on.”

Austin comments echo many concerns voiced by NATO allies in eastern Europe since the invasion began. Eastern European nations like Estonia, Romania and Poland have hosted increasing numbers of U.S. troops and weaponry, while also building up their own defenses to deter Russian aggression.

Austin spoke with Poland’s Minister of Defense Mariusz Blaszczak while visiting the Polish base, which officials asked to remain unnamed because of the major role it plays in pushing U.S. and Western military aid into Ukraine.

“This matters, because people are trying to survive on the other end,” Austin said. “There are people dying every day.”

Austin’s trip to Kyiv on Monday was a display of Western solidarity amid increasing concerns that support for Ukraine could be waning as U.S. attention is directed to the conflict in the Middle East.

U.S. Congress has yet to fund additional assistance to Ukraine, which in turn has caused the Pentagon to start sending smaller military aid packages to Kyiv in an effort to make the funding they have left last longer.

During the visit, Austin announced a new U.S. aid package of up to $100 million from the Pentagon’s weapons stockpiles, including an additional HIMARS artillery rocket system and more munitions. Prior to the announcement, he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and members of his cabinet about the immediate winter fight and planning for future security assistance.

Monday marked the defense secretary’s first visit to the Ukrainian capital since April 2022, shortly after the nearly two-year war began. Russia launched an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February of that year, calling the war a “special military operation.”

“We don’t want to live in a world where an autocrat can wake up and … take over his neighbor’s property,” Austin said Tuesday.

The U.S defense secretary will host another round of talks of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group virtually from the Pentagon on Wednesday. The Pentagon says more than 50 nations are expected to participate in the talks, which help Ukraine’s partners coordinate military aid sent to Kyiv.

Defense officials say the U.S. will provide a steady stream of security assistance throughout the winter, and Austin told reporters on Monday he expects the Ukrainians to be “aggressive” in the weeks ahead.

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EU Says No Palestinian Aid Going to Hamas, Programs to Continue

The European Union said on Tuesday a review of its development aid to Palestinians, ordered after the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, found no evidence of funds going to the militant group and that its assistance would continue.

The EU is the biggest provider of such aid to Palestinians. It has earmarked $1.3 billion for its programs for the period between 2021 and 2024.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, announced the review two days after Hamas militants attacked Israel from Gaza, killing 1,200 people and taking some 240 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Officials said the review was ordered as a precaution, not because they had any indications EU money was going to Hamas.

“The review found no indications of EU money having directly or indirectly benefited the terrorist organization Hamas,” said Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis.

Development aid is used for projects designed to have a long-term impact, such as paying the salaries of officials at the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, and the work of U.N. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.

It is separate from humanitarian aid, meant for urgent needs for essentials such as food, water and shelter.

“The review found that the control system in place has worked. As a result, payment to Palestinian beneficiaries and UNRWA will continue without any delays,” Dombrovskis told reporters.

The Commission said, however, that it would not proceed with plans to provide $82.5 million for Gaza infrastructure projects that were not “feasible in the current context.” That money will now go to other projects.

Israel launched heavy bombardment of Gaza after the October 7 attacks as part of a campaign to defeat Hamas.

The enclave’s Hamas-run government says at least 13,300 Palestinians have been confirmed killed — including at least 5,600 children — during Israel’s aerial blitz and invasion. 

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These US States Have the Most Remote Workers

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US Officials: American Forces Attacked at Iraq Air Base, Respond in Self-Defense

U.S. forces came under attack at the Ain al-Asad air base west of Baghdad early on Tuesday and U.S. forces responded in self-defense, two U.S. military officials said, in the first reported U.S. response in Iraq to dozens of recent attacks. 

The attack against Ain al-Asad caused minor injuries and damage to infrastructure, one official said, with another saying U.S. forces used an AC-130 gunship to respond.  

The U.S. had previously responded to attacks against its forces in Iraq and neighboring Syria, claimed by Iraqi militia groups, with three separate sets of strikes on targets in Syria.  

The armed drone and missile attacks began on October 17 and have been linked by Iraqi militia groups to U.S. support for Israel in its devastating war on Gaza, which began after Hamas militants went on the rampage in Israel on October 7.  

Earlier on Tuesday, social media accounts linked to Iran-aligned Iraqi militias published a statement in the name of the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” mourning a member who they said had been killed “in battle” against U.S. forces.  

His killing is the first reported casualty in Iraq linked to the Israel-Gaza war, which has drawn in other factions in Iran’s network of regional proxies, known as the Axis of Resistance, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah. 

U.S. and international forces that make up the global coalition to fight the remnants of Islamic State have been targeted more than 60 times in Iraq and Syria since October 17, U.S. officials say. 

Dozens of U.S. servicemen suffered minor injuries in the attacks but have all returned to duty, U.S. officials say. 

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Голова Європейської ради оцінив перспективи початку майбутніх переговорів щодо вступу України в ЄС

Голова Європейської Ради Шарль Мішель в перебігу візиту до Києва заявив, що очікує на «складну» зустріч щодо початку переговорів про вступ України в ЄС у грудні, передає агенція Reuters. Поза тим Мішель сказав, що абсолютно переконаний, що «з Україною в ЄС наше майбутнє буде безпечнішим».

Як зазначає агенція DPA, Мішель попередив Україну, що швидке рішення про початок переговорів про вступ країни в ЄС не повинно сприйматися як щось наперед зрозуміле. Деякі з країн-членів ЄС дали зрозуміти, що «хотіли б добре подумати», перш ніж ухвалити рішення про наступний крок у цьому процесі, заявив Мішель.

Він сказав, що держави-члени продовжують «дуже старанно працювати», щоб спробувати вибудувати єдину позицію в Європейській Раді перед самітом ЄС у грудні.

Однак наголосив Мішель: «політичні труднощі» не слід недооцінювати, не уточнивши, які саме країни ЄС можуть заблокувати початок переговорів щодо вступу України в ЄС. (Раніше прем’єр-міністр Угорщини Віктор Орбан заявив, що не підтримує початок переговорів з огляду на війну в Україні – ред.)

У свою чергу, як передає сайт Офісу президента України, Володимир Зеленський сказав: «Я радий усім результатам нашої великої роботи. Усіх нас – парламенту, уряду – щодо імплементації всіх рекомендацій (Європейської комісії – ред.). Ми справді розраховуємо на потужне рішення в грудні».

У червні 2022 року Європейська рада ухвалила рішення про надання Україні статусу кандидата на вступ до Європейського союзу. 

8 листопада Єврокомісія рекомендувала почати переговори з Україною про вступ до ЄС. Президентка комісії Урсула фон дер Ляєн заявила, що Україна виконала 90% рекомендацій, які дав ЄС.

Як повідомив в ефірі Радіо Свобода (програма «Свобода. LIVE») заступник керівника Офісу президента Ігор Жовква, всі критерії для початку переговорів українська сторона виконає до середини грудня, коли буде засідання Європейської Ради.

На саміті у грудні лідери 27 країн-членів ЄС мають політично затвердити рішення про початок переговорів, а вже в березні за умови, що Україна виконає всі рекомендації, можуть розпочатися переговори.


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Пропозиція хабаря керівництву Мінінфраструктури – прокурори повідомили про підозру 5 людям

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Умєров прокоментував можливу зміну військових командувачів

Міністр оборони України Рустем Умєров заявив, що в питанні можливої зміни українських військових командувачів рішення наразі не ухвалене. Про це він сказав на спільному брифінгу з міністром оборони Німеччини Борисом Пісторіусом у Києві, передає «Інтерфакс-Україна».

«Тема, яка стосується зміни командувачів, вона проходить за всіма параметрами, які ми у своєму внутрішньому периметрі військовому обговорюємо. У цьому плані маю сказати, що рішення поки що не ухвалено. Але ми робимо все можливе, щоб підвищити ефективність. І якщо це станеться, то ми дуже відкрито будемо завжди комунікувати це», – сказав Умєров.

Він додав, що «якщо такі речі відбуваються, то відбуваються в питаннях, які порушували раніше або для досягнення більшої ефективності».

13 листопада видання «Українська правда» з посиланням на свої джерела повідомило, що в Міністерстві оборони розглядають можливість звільнення трьох командувачів ЗСУ: командувача Медичних сил Тетяни Остащенко, командувача Оперативно-стратегічного угруповання військ «Таврія» Олександра Тарнавського та командувача Об’єднаних сил ЗСУ Сергія Наєва. Щодо двох останніх ніяких рішень чи публічних коментарів немає. Водночас 19 листопада стало відомо про звільнення командувачки Медичних сил ЗСУ Тетяни Остащенко і призначення замість неї Анатолія Казмірчука.


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Child Refugees ‘Wrongly Classified’ Amid Migrant Surge From Africa to Spain

A surge in the number of migrants making the treacherous journey from West Africa to the Spanish Canary Islands is straining local authorities, with human rights groups warning that many child migrants are being wrongly classed as adults by Spanish police, putting them at increased risk.  

So far this year, more than 32,000 migrants have arrived on the Canary Islands from West Africa – the highest number since 2006.

Unaccompanied children 

Fifteen-year-old Moussa Camara was orphaned following the 2021 coup in his home country of Guinea. He chose to escape, spending 11 days at sea in a wooden boat on the treacherous journey from Senegal to the Spanish island of Tenerife, along with 240 other migrants. For half that time, he had no food or water. Twenty people died on that crossing, he says, their bodies tossed over the side of the boat. 

Bearing sores from the sun, famished and dehydrated, Camara eventually arrived on Tenerife on October 27, 2021. But his ordeal was not over. Spanish authorities classified Camara and his friend as adults rather than children, meaning they were not allowed to stay at a center for minors or access the better opportunities available to those under 18. 

“At the center, we said we were fifteen years old. But they didn’t write that – they took us as if we were adults. But we are children, we are children – but they sent us here. They brought our papers. They betrayed us,” Camara told Reuters. 

Spanish police sent the two boys to Las Raices, an old military base in Tenerife’s mountains, where around 2,000 adult migrants await transfers to the mainland of Spain. 

Wrongly classified 

In a recent investigation, the human rights group Amnesty International interviewed 29 migrants on the Canary Islands. The group says 12 of them were under 18 years old but had been incorrectly classified as adults and were being held at adult detention centers, in breach of Spanish and international refugee laws. 

“This is very concerning because they were along with adults they weren’t related to and without the protection of the authorities. We were talking with one girl, she was 17, and she was detained for three days with men and women in a place without any oversight by the authorities. She was sleeping on the floor. And no one was asking about her needs,” said Amnesty’s Virginia Alvarez, who travelled to Tenerife and El Hierro between October 25 and 28. 

Legal rights 

The child migrants often had their belongings, including mobile phones, confiscated by the police. Most were not told of their legal rights, according to Alvarez. 

“If they are treated as adults, they can be expelled to their countries of origin. They are also leaving (state) protection. Sometimes they are transferred to the mainland and they are without protection, they are alone as minors in Spain or maybe they can travel to other European countries,” Alvarez said.  

A bone test is required to prove a migrant’s age but these can take months to arrange. Child migrants are given extra support to find residency and education until they reach 18 years old. However, if they are classified as adults, they receive little government help. 


Local authorities say Spain’s central government isn’t doing enough to help. 

“They have left us with 4,700 minors, with NGOs and resources saturated, with difficulties because the screening of who is a minor and who is not a minor is not being done – it is taking at least three, four months. And you have adults in center for minors and minors in centers for adults. So, we have this difficulty,” said Fernando Clavijo, the president of the Canary Islands regional government. 

He said the European Union should do more to tackle the root causes of emigration from Africa. 

“Do you know what a mother or father has to go through to put their six-year-old or seven-year-old son in a cayuco [small wooden boat] with 200 or more people they don’t know, and throw them into the open sea at night? These people don’t do it for fun,” Clavijo told Reuters. 

EU demands 

Amnesty International is calling on the Spanish government and the European Union to make sure that child migrants are properly screened and to provide safer routes for refugees. 

The Spanish Public Prosecutor’s office told Reuters on November 14 that it had looked into 48 cases of suspected minors at the Las Raices camp in Tenerife. Of those migrants, four were confirmed as children, 30 were sent to a children’s facility pending age tests, and the other 14 were still in assessment. 

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Child Refugees ‘Wrongly Classified’ Amid Migrant Surge From Africa to Spain

A surge in the number of migrants making the treacherous journey from West Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands is straining local authorities. Human rights groups say many child migrants are being wrongly classified as adults by Spanish police — putting them at increased risk. Henry Ridgwell reports.

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Official: All Safe After Navy Plane Overshoots Hawaii Runway

A U.S. Navy plane overshot a runway and splashed into a bay in Hawaii on Monday, but authorities said all nine people aboard made it safely to shore with no injuries.

Spokesperson Petty Officer Ryan Fisher said the Coast Guard responded but that rescue operations were quickly called off.

“It sounds like all parties involved were rescued,” he said.

The P-8A aircraft overshot the runway at a Marine base on Kaneohe Bay, said U.S. Marine Corps spokesperson Gunnery Sgt. Orlando Perez. He did not have further information.

A photo taken by a witness showed the plane floating just offshore, a scene reminiscent of the 2009 “ Miracle on the Hudson,” when a commercial aircraft piloted by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made an emergency landing on the New York river. All 155 people aboard survived.

The P-8A and the Airbus A320 that Sullenberger piloted are roughly the same size.

Diane Dircks, 61, and her family had just returned to the dock after rainy weather cut their pontoon boat trip short when her daughter noticed the plane in the water.

“We went running over to the end of the dock, and I took some pictures,” she said.

They then heard sirens coming from everywhere.

Dircks, who is visiting from Illinois, said her daughter keeps a pair of binoculars on her for birdwatching, so she was able to see the plane and the rescue boats arriving.

“It was unbelievable,” she said.

The Honolulu Fire Department received a 911 call for a downed aircraft shortly after 2 p.m., spokesperson Malcolm K. Medrano said in an email.

It was cloudy and rainy at the time. Visibility was about 1.6 kilometers, said Thomas Vaughan, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Honolulu.

The P-8A is often used to hunt for submarines and reconnaissance and intelligence gathering. It is manufactured by Boeing and shares many parts with the 737 commercial jet.

The plane belongs to the Skinny Dragons of Patrol Squadron 4 stationed at Whidbey Island in Washington state. Patrol squadrons were once based at Kaneohe Bay, but now they deploy to Hawaii on a rotational basis.

Marine Corps Base Hawaii is about 16 kilometers from Honolulu on Oahu. The base houses about 9,300 military personnel and 5,100 family members. It’s one of several key military installations on Oahu.

The base sits on Kaneohe Bay, which is also home to coral reefs, a breeding ground for hammerhead sharks and a University of Hawaii marine biology research institute.

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French Senate to Weigh Compensation for Victims of Anti-Gay Laws

France’s Senate is this week to debate a draft law that would allow people convicted under anti-gay laws before 1982 to receive financial compensation.


Thousands of people were sentenced under two French laws in force between 1942 and 1982, one determining the age of consent for same-sex relations and the other defining such relations as an aggravating factor in acts of “public outrage.”

The sponsor of the bill to be debated on Wednesday, Senator Hussein Bourgi of the Socialist party, said he wanted the French government to recognize the state’s role in discriminating against people engaging in same-sex relations.

“This draft law has symbolic value,” he told AFP. 

“It aims to rectify an error that society committed at the time.”

The punishments meted out by the courts had “consequences that were much more serious than you might think today,” Bourgi said.

“People were crushed. Some lost their jobs or had to leave town,” he said.

Beyond the government’s recognition of wrongdoing, Bourgi said he also wanted an independent commission to manage financial compensation of 10,000 euros ($11,000) for each victim.

Antoine Idier, a sociologist and historian, called the initiative “salutary” but added that focusing on two laws of the period made it too restrictive.

“Judges employed a much wider judicial arsenal to repress homosexuality,” he said, including laws that were not specifically aimed at same-sex relations but at “moral failings” or “inciting minors to commit depravity.”

  • ‘Hunting gays down’ –

Michel Chomarat, now 74, was arrested in 1977 during a police raid on a gay bar called “Le Manhattan.”

“Homophobia by the state consisted in hunting gays down everywhere,” he told AFP.

The bar was a private space with restricted access “but even so, police took us away in handcuffs and accused us of public moral outrage,” he said.

Chomarat said the draft law came “too late” because many people entitled to compensation had already died.

In an op-ed piece in LGBTQ magazine Tetu in June, activists, unionists and civil servants had already called for a recognition and rehabilitation of victims of anti-gay repression.

“One of the reasons why homophobia persists in today’s society is that state laws, rules and practices legitimized such discrimination in the past,” said Joel Deumier, co-president of SOS Homophobie, a non-profit organization defending lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights.

For Bourgi’s text to become law, first the Senate (the upper house of parliament) and then the National Assembly (the lower house) have to vote in favor.

During this process there are often negotiations about the final wording of a bill to make it acceptable to both houses. 

There is precedent for the French initiative elsewhere in Europe.

Germany decided in 2017 to rehabilitate and compensate around 50,000 men condemned on the basis of “paragraph 175”, a 19th-century law criminalizing homosexuality that was broadened by Nazi Germany and repealed only in 1994.

Austria is elaborating a similar approach, to become law next year.

‘Brought disgrace’

In Britain, where male anal sex became punishable by death under the Buggery Act of 1533, sexual relations between men were decriminalized in England and Wales in 1967, and later in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But this was only if the sexual relations occurred in private and the people involved were over 21.

Under a recent “disregard and pardons scheme,” people in Britain can get a historic conviction for gay sex offenses removed from police and court records.

This includes convictions for “buggery,” “gross indecency” and “procuring others to commit homosexual acts” — all since abolished — but not sexual activity in a public toilet, which is still an offense. 

Regis Schlagdenhauffen, a social science professor at the EHESS school in Paris, said his research suggested that at least 10,000 people had been condemned for homosexuality in France between 1942 and 1982, mostly men from working-class backgrounds.

A third of them was married and a quarter had children, he said.

“Those condemnations brought disgrace and were a terrible experience to live through,” said Schlagdenhauffen.

This was the reason why many victims of state repression might not come forward, he said, preferring not to revisit the traumatic experience.

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German Defense Minister Pledges Support for Ukraine

An official from another key Western ally paid a surprise visit to Ukraine Tuesday while Russian forces continued to pound civilian infrastructure with missiles and drones.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius arrived in Kyiv a day after a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. 

Both men said their nations would help Ukraine during what is expected to be a long, cold, uncertain winter.

Germany is the second-biggest supplier of military assistance to Kyiv, behind the United States.

Pistorius’ second visit to Ukraine came during a commemoration of the country’s November 2013 pro-democracy uprising. 

“I am here again, firstly to pledge further support, but also to express our solidarity and deep bond and also our admiration for the courageous, brave and costly fight that is being waged here,” Pistorius said, laying flowers at Maidan square in central Kyiv. 

In his address Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy linked the 2013 demonstrations, which continued for months, to the war with Russia today.

“Ten years ago, people united not only against something, but above all for themselves. Everyone for everyone. All those who after the arbitrariness of force felt that they are also being beaten, that they are also hurt, that these are blows to justice and truth, to freedom, to our common tomorrow. 

“What will it be like if we remain silent, swallow it, and fear instead of fighting?” he said. “And then, in fact, the first victory in today’s war took place. The victory of non-indifference. The victory of courage. The victory of the Revolution of Dignity.”

Meanwhile, heavy Russian drone and missile attacks continued, damaging a hospital, a building at a mine and other civilian infrastructure.

“The central city hospital in the town of Selydove in the Donetsk region, the building of the Kotlyarevska mine and other civilian infrastructure were destroyed and damaged,” the Ukrainian military said in a statement.

In his visit Monday, Austin said the Pentagon would be sending an additional $100 million in weapons to Ukraine, including artillery and munitions for air defense systems. 

He said Ukraine’s effort to defeat Russian forces “matters to the rest of the world” and that U.S. support would continue “for the long haul.”

Some information for this article came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse. 

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Зеленський вважає, що залучення генералів в політику ставить під загрозу єдність країни

Президент України Володимир Зеленський попередив генералів, що залучення в політику ставить під загрозу єдність країни. Про це він розповів в інтерв’ю The Sun.

У цьому контексті Зеленський нагадав про українських командирів, які пішли в політику після 2014 року, коли Росія анексувала Крим.

«Різні політичні сили штовхають військових у політику. Це було після 2014 року, коли кожна політична партія хотіла мати у своєму складі якихось військових, зірок війни, і я вважаю, що це була дуже велика помилка», – сказав він.

Читайте також: Розмови про «глухий кут» і вибори: як політична боротьба впливає на ситуацію в Україні та на її підтримку

За його словами, «якщо військовий вирішив займатися політикою, це його право, тоді він має йти в політику, і тоді йому не до війни».

«Якщо ти ведеш війну з думкою про те, що завтра будеш займатися політикою або виборами, то на словах і на фронті ти поводишся як політик, а не як військовий, і я вважаю, що це величезна помилка», – додав президент.

Зеленський виключив проведення виборів, які мали б відбутися наступного року, наполягаючи на тому, що це незаконно в умовах воєнного стану, неможливо через війну і розділило б країну, коли люди зосереджені на боротьбі з російською агресією. 


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Удар РФ по лікарні й шахті на Донеччині: число загиблих і постраждалих зросло

За словами Ігоря Мороза, внаслідок удару по шахті пошкоджені сім будівель, 14 легкових автомобілів і п’ять автобусів, у лікарні частково зруйновані поліклініка, інфекційне і приймальне відділення

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Мовний омбудсмен: від початку року було 86 звернень про порушення мовного законодавства у вишах

«Частина з них стосується університетів півдня, сходу, центру і заходу України, де студенти висловлюють своє небажання спілкуватися мовою недержавною»

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Record Crowds Expected in Air, on Roads for Thanksgiving

Despite inflation and memories of past holiday travel meltdowns, millions of people are expected to hit airports and highways in record numbers over the Thanksgiving break.

The busiest days to fly will be Tuesday and Wednesday as well as the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

The Transportation Security Administration expects to screen 2.6 million passengers on Tuesday and 2.7 million passengers on Wednesday. Sunday will draw the largest crowds with an estimated 2.9 million passengers, which would narrowly eclipse a record set on June 30.

Meanwhile, AAA forecasts that 55.4 million Americans will travel at least 80 kilometers from home between next Wednesday and the Sunday after Thanksgiving, with roads likely to be the most clogged on Wednesday.

The weather could snarl air and road traffic. A storm system was expected to move from the southern Plains to the Northeast on Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing severe thunderstorms, gusty wind and possible snow.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said during a news conference Monday that the government has tried to better prepare for holiday travel over the last year by hiring more air traffic controllers, opening new air routes along the East Coast and providing grants to airports for snowplows and deicing equipment. But he warned travelers to check road conditions and flight times before leaving home.

“Mother Nature, of course, is the X factor in all of this,” he said.

The good news for travelers by plane and car alike: Prices are coming down.

Air fares are averaging $268 per ticket, down 14% from a year ago, according to the travel site Hopper.

Gasoline prices are down about 45 cents a gallon from this time last year. The national average was $3.30 per gallon on Monday, according to AAA, down from $3.67 a year ago.

A survey of GasBuddy users found that despite cheaper pump prices, the number of people planning to take a long driving trip this Thanksgiving hasn’t changed much from last year. Patrick De Haan, an analyst for the price-tracking service, said inflation has cooled but some things like food are still becoming more expensive. Consumers are also charging more on credit cards and saving less.

“Sure, they love the falling gas prices, but a lot of Americans spent in other ways this summer and they may not be ready to open their wallets for Thanksgiving travel just yet,” De Haan said.

Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday travel season, and many still haven’t shaken last December’s nightmare before Christmas, when severe winter storms knocked out thousands of flights and left millions of passengers stranded.

Scott Keyes, founder of the travel site Going, is cautiously optimistic that holiday air travel won’t be the same mess. So far this year, he said, airlines have avoided massive disruptions.

“Everyone understands that airlines can’t control Mother Nature and it’s unsafe to take off or land in the middle of a thunderstorm or snowstorm,” Keyes said. “What really irks people are the controllable cancellations — those widespread disruptions because the airline couldn’t get their act together because their system melted down the way Southwest did over Christmas.”

Indeed, Southwest didn’t recover as quickly as other carriers from last year’s storm when its planes, pilots and flight attendants were trapped out of position and its crew-rescheduling system got bogged down. The airline canceled nearly 17,000 flights before fixing the operation. Federal regulators told Southwest recently that it could be fined for failing to help stranded travelers.

Southwest officials say they have since purchased additional deicing trucks and heating equipment and will add staff at cold-weather airports depending on the forecast. The company said it has also updated its crew-scheduling technology.

U.S. airlines as a whole have been better about stranding passengers. Through October, they canceled 38% fewer flights than during the same period in 2022. From June through August — when thunderstorms can snarl air traffic — the rate of cancellations fell 18% compared to 2022.

Even still, consumer complaints about airline service have soared, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. There have been so many complaints, the agency says, that it has only compiled figures through May.

The airlines, in turn, have heaped blame on the Federal Aviation Administration, which they say can’t keep up with the growing air traffic. In fact, the Transportation Department’s inspector general reported this summer that the FAA has made only “limited efforts” to fix a shortage of air traffic controllers, especially at key facilities in New York, Miami and Jacksonville, Florida.

Meanwhile, staffing levels in other parts of the airline industry have largely recovered since the pandemic. After shedding tens of thousands of workers early on, airlines have been on a hiring spree since late 2020. Passenger airlines have added more than 140,000 workers — an increase of nearly 40% — according to government figures updated last week. The number of people working in the business is the largest since 2001, when there were many more airlines.

Airlines are using their expanded work forces to operate more flights. Southwest is the most aggressive among the big carriers, planning to offer 13% more seats over Thanksgiving than it did during the comparable five-day stretch last year, according to travel data provider Cirium. United and Delta are growing 8% each. American will grow a more modest 5% but still have the largest number of seats.


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Solar Panels Over Canals in Gila River Indian Community Will Help Save Water

In a move that may soon be replicated elsewhere, the Gila River Indian Community recently signed an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to put solar panels over a stretch of irrigation canal on its land south of Phoenix.

It will be the first project of its kind in the United States to break ground, according to the tribe’s press release.

“This was a historic moment here for the community but also for the region and across Indian Country,” said Gila River Indian Community Governor Stephen Roe Lewis in a video published on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The first phase, set to be completed in 2025, will cover 1,000 feet of canal and generate one megawatt of electricity that the tribe will use to irrigate crops, including feed for livestock, cotton and grains.

The idea is simple: install solar panels over canals in sunny, water-scarce regions where they reduce evaporation and make renewable electricity.

“We’re proud to be leaders in water conservation, and this project is going to do just that,” Lewis said, noting the significance of a Native, sovereign, tribal nation leading on the technology.

A study by the University of California, Merced estimated that 63 billion gallons of water could be saved annually by covering California’s 4,000 miles of canals. More than 100 climate advocacy groups are advocating for just that.

Researchers believe that much of the installed solar canopies would additionally generate a significant amount of electricity.

UC Merced wants to hone its initial estimate and should soon have the chance. Not far away in California’s Central Valley, the Turlock Irrigation District and partner Solar AquaGrid plan to construct 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers) of solar canopies over its canals beginning this spring and researchers will study the benefits.

Neither the Gila River Indian Community nor the Turlock Irrigation District are the first to implement this technology globally. Indian engineering firm Sun Edison inaugurated the first solar-covered canal in 2012 on one of the largest irrigation projects in the world in Gujarat state. Despite ambitious plans to cover 11,800 miles (19,000 kilometers) of canals, only a handful of small projects ever went up, and the engineering firm filed for bankruptcy.

High capital costs, clunky design and maintenance challenges were obstacles for widespread adoption, experts say.

But severe, prolonged drought in the western U.S. has centered water as a key political issue, heightening interest in technologies like cloud seeding and solar-covered canals as water managers grasp at any solution that might buoy reserves, even ones that haven’t been widely tested, or tested at all.

Still, the project is an important indicator of the tribe’s commitment to water conservation, said Heather Tanana, a visiting law professor at the University of California, Irvine and citizen of the Navajo Nation. Tribes hold the most senior water rights on the Colorado River, though many are still settling those rights in court.

“There’s so much fear about the tribes asserting their rights and if they do so, it’ll pull from someone else’s rights,” she said. The tribe leaving water in Lake Mead and putting federal dollars toward projects like solar canopies is “a great example to show that fear is unwarranted.”

The federal government has made record funding available for water-saving projects, including a $233 million pact with the Gila River Indian Community to conserve about two feet of water in Lake Mead, the massive and severely depleted reservoir on the Colorado River. Phase one of the solar canal project will cost $6.7 million and the Bureau of Reclamation provided $517,000 for the design.