Daily SITREP: FAA Report: Eroding Airline Safety Needs Immediate Action (Thu, 16 November 23) – Forward Observer

Daily SITREP: FAA Report: Eroding Airline Safety Needs Immediate Action (Thu, 16 November 23)


Good morning. Here’s your Daily SITREP for Thursday, 16 November 2023.


  • READ TIME: 6 Minutes, 21 Seconds
  • Inside the Beltway
    • (1) Retaliation Against Johnson Begins as House Leaves Early
    • (2) Manchin “Absolutely” Considering Presidential Run
    • (3) Pro-Palestine Protestors and Police Clash at DNC HQ
  • Domestic INTSUM
    • (4) Union Reps & Activists Could Accompany OSHA Inspectors
    • (5) Goldman Sachs: Dollar Strong, Recession Likely Averted
    • (6) FAA Report: Eroding Airline Safety Needs Immediate Action
    • (7) Nevada May Be Next Trump Trial Venue
  • Global SITREP
    • (8) U.S.-China Commission: Train Taiwan on Our Soil
    • (9) Biden-Xi APEC Meeting Outcome
    • (10) U.S. Navy Destroyer Repels a Drone Attack
    • (11) Kenya Approves Police Deployment to Haiti


  • (1) RETALIATION AGAINST JOHNSON BEGINS AS HOUSE LEAVES EARLY: House leadership canceled votes for the rest of the week and will leave early for Thanksgiving after Freedom Caucus Republicans voted to block a bill that included spending cuts to the DOJ and FBI.
    • Why It Matters: The Freedom Caucus began the same retaliation against Johnson they levied against McCarthy prior to his ouster. House leadership canceling votes for the week to leave early for Thanksgiving is likely meant to head off further escalation by the Freedom Caucus and give time for division in the Republican Conference to cool down. – R.C.
  • (2) MANCHIN “ABSOLUTELY” CONSIDERING PRESIDENTIAL RUN: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he is “absolutely” considering a third-party campaign for president in 2024 ahead of his cross-country tour to “mobilize the middle.”
    • Manchin added that he is “scared to death” that former President Trump could win in 2024 and that he would not be a spoiler candidate because he is running to win.
    • Why It Matters: Manchin announcing he would retire from the Senate earlier this week and his plan to travel the country are indicators he has effectively begun a third-party run for president. Manchin is more likely to draw voters from Biden than Trump due to Trump’s hard floor of support among Republican voters and Democrat base voter dissatisfaction with Biden. – R.C. 
  • (3) PRO-PALESTINE PROTESTORS AND POLICE CLASH AT DNC HQ: Capitol Police announced that all House buildings have returned to normal operations after 150 people “illegally and violently” protested near the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters during a pro-Palestine demonstration.
    • Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL) said protestors blocking all entrances to a building with members of Congress and capitol police “who lived through January 6th is putting you and other innocent people at risk.”
    • Why It Matters: In an Early Warning report a few weeks ago, I mentioned that online rhetoric from radical and revolutionary Far Left groups was beginning to resemble the early summer 2020 rhetoric surrounding the death of George Floyd. While the Far Left views Israel’s invasion of Gaza as egregious, it’s unlikely to elicit the level of violence seen during Floyd’s Rebellion. It instead will fuel the political insurgency inside the Democratic Party as the socialist wing looks to next year to primary the more moderate and pro-Israel members of the party. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s political action committee, for instance, is running 60 candidates in local, state, and federal elections in the 2024 cycle. If I recall correctly, that’s about three times as many as the 2020 cycle. – M.S.


  • (4) UNION REPS & ACTIVISTS COULD ACCOMPANY OSHA INSPECTORS: Congressman Roger Williams (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Small Business, challenged the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Wednesday about their new proposed rule on workplace inspections.
    • “The proposed rule would expand the definition of what types of ‘third parties’ may accompany the officers on the OSHA inspections. In practice, this would mean that third parties, such as union representatives and community activists, would gain access to non-organized private businesses on private property – access typically denied to unions,” Williams wrote in a letter to the Labor Department.
    • “Consequently, this would likely lead to increased pressure on businesses to allow union organizing and pressure on workers to join unions and pay dues they may not be able to afford while diminishing the privacy of business owners,” according to Williams.  
    • Why It Matters: Small businesses will be the most impacted if this pending OSHA rule stands. Mounting regulatory compliance costs and legal fees could lead to more small business bankruptcies and closures, especially with a slowing U.S. economy. – H.B.
  • (5) GOLDMAN SACHS: DOLLAR STRONG, RECESSION LIKELY AVERTED: Goldman Sachs’ Chief Economist Jan Hatzius and Senior Advisor Dominic Wilson said the dollar should remain strong in 2024, and the U.S. is likely to avoid a recession.
    • “I think the general view is that the dollar is quite likely to stay strong… part of the reason is just that our U.S. growth forecast is just much further above consensus than elsewhere,” Wilson said.
    • “There are very significant risks in the global economy. That said, we are providing an estimate of the probability of recession, at least in the U.S. We have that at 15% over the next 12 months,” Hatzius added.
    • Why It Matters: America’s economy may slow down next year, but it should remain the world’s leading advanced economy. This should keep the dollar strong against other currencies and boost Americans’ buying power for imported goods. – H.B.
  • (6) FAA REPORT: ERODING AIRLINE SAFETY NEEDS IMMEDIATE ACTION: According to an independent safety review team at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), inadequate staffing, funding shortages, and outdated technology are contributing to “an erosion of safety” in air travel that requires immediate action.
    • Former FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the problems found by the safety review team “developed over many years” and “there are no easy, short term fixes.”
    • Why It Matters: Near misses have increased over the last year, culminating in a collision between two planes at Houston Hobby Airport last month. The airline industry is also dealing with a counterfeit engine parts scandal. Huerta is correct that the fixes are not going to be short term. Just hiring enough air traffic controllers to make up for current shortages could take up to six years. Meanwhile, the full extent of the proliferation of counterfeit engine parts is unknown, and air traffic control issues resulting in near misses seem to be increasing. – R.C.
  • (7) NEVADA MAY BE NEXT TRUMP TRIAL VENUE: The Nevada Attorney General’s office is quietly investigating Republican operatives and activists they say falsely pledged Nevada’s electoral votes to former President Trump in 2020 despite President Biden winning in the state.
    • Attorney General Aaron Ford said, “I’ve never said that we’re not going to prosecute” in September, appearing to walk back previous statements suggesting his office would not bring charges against the “false electors.”
    •  Why It Matters: With the AG’s office investigation progressing it looks like Nevada could be the next state where Trump will face a trial over the 2020 election. The timing coincides with the release of polls showing Trump ten points ahead of Biden in Nevada, a key battleground state in 2024. – R.C.


  • (8) U.S.-CHINA COMMISSION: TRAIN TAIWAN ON OUR SOIL: In the U.S.-China Commission’s latest report, one of the key recommendations is to bring Taiwanese troops to the U.S. to train on yet-to-be-delivered weapons systems.
    • The U.S. has only trained Taiwanese troops on the Island of Taiwan to date.
    • Taiwan has numerous unfulfilled equipment contracts but is still awaiting several artillery systems.
    • Why It Matters: These recommendations are a long way off from being implemented but are being taken by China as highly provocative. China is likely to use this as justification to disregard any concessions they might give at the APEC meeting this week and continue to escalate in the Western Pacific. – J.V.
  • (9) BIDEN-XI APEC MEETING OUTCOME: The Biden-Xi meeting on the sidelines of the APEC meeting in San Francisco had three primary results.
    • Military-to-military emergency communication lines will be reopened.
    • The Sunnylands Statement, a joint statement that promises a partnership on climate change, includes a return to the Paris Agreement.
    • Xi demanded the U.S. stop arming Taiwan and stop encouraging Taiwan Independence.
    • Why It Matters: The Biden administration is taking a victory lap on cooling tensions with China. Meanwhile, the deep structural disagreements – such as the U.S. arming Taiwan and undermining each other’s economies – have not been solved. – M.S.
  • (10) U.S. NAVY DESTROYER REPELS A DRONE ATTACK: The USS Thomas Hudner shot down a Yemen-launched drone over international waters in the Red Sea.
    • “On November 15th and while transiting the international waters of the Red Sea, the crew of the USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116) engaged a drone that originated from Yemen and was heading in the direction of the ship,” according to the Pentagon.
    • Israel has two Sa’ar 5-class corvettes in the Eilat area north of the Thomas Hudner’s last reported location.
    • Why It Matters: The Pentagon is careful to say that the drone was merely headed toward the ship but not that the ship was targeted. The destroyer likely acted as an air defense screen for the corvettes and the critical port of Eilat. The verbiage could also be a means to avoid the U.S. stepping into a Middle Eastern war when it is ostensibly preparing for a Pacific war. – J.V.
  • (11) KENYA APPROVES POLICE DEPLOYMENT TO HAITI: Kenya’s Parliament approved a United Nations request to deploy 1,000 police officers to Haiti.
    • Why It Matters: Kenya faces a quagmire that it’s unlikely to solve. A thousand Kenyan police may be able to secure strategic sites like the Port-au-Prince airport and key hospitals and stop banditry along important stretches of the country’s national roads, but Haiti’s gang problem is larger than Kenyan police can solve. Expect Haitian migrants to continue making their way to Mexico and into the United States. – M.S. 


M.S. indicates analyst commentary from Mike Shelby

J.V.  indicates analyst commentary from Jared Vaughn

R.C. indicates analyst commentary from Robert Cook

H.B. indicates analyst commentary from Harrison Burge

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