A Sunday afternoon with the newspaper

I remember a time when “reading the newspaper” meant ensconced in your favorite chair or at the kitchen table with the newsprint at the ready. The silent exploration occasionally interrupted with: “Are you done with that section yet?” These days I assume the edition is digital. Now one can be ensconced with their favorite device without worry of any inquiries about the availability of a particular section.Today while reading the Tampa Bay Times I jumped directly to the sports section to read about the Lightning’s game 7 victory in Toronto. I always like Eduardo Encina’s coverage and articles. He’s a good writer and a good guy. I celebrated his wedding a decade ago. I felt bad for Toronto and their Stanley Cup playoff curse, but was happy the Bolts are moving onto the next round to meet the Florida Panthers….. then returning to the front page.

It is a complicated world in which we live. This week the House of Representatives, in a bipartisan 368-to-57 vote approved a $40 billion security-assistance package that if signed by President Biden massively increase the flow of missiles, rockets, artillery and drones to a war-torn Ukraine. But the unprecedented influx of arms has prompted fears that some equipment could fall into the hands of Western adversaries or reemerge in faraway conflicts. Ukraine’s illicit arms market has ballooned since Russia’s initial invasion in 2014, buttressed by a surplus of loose weapons and limited controls on their use.

What is unclear is Washington’s ability to keep track of the powerful weapons as they enter one of the largest trafficking hubs in Europe – the joint responsibility of the Departments of State and Defense. A State Department spokesman said the United States has conducted thorough vetting of the Ukrainian units it supplies while forcing Kyiv to sign agreements that “do not allow the retransfer of equipment to third parties without prior U.S. government authorization.”

But the means of enforcing such contracts are relatively weak — and made even weaker by Washington’s own mixed history of compliance. Last month we read about the United States sending a fleet of Russian Mi-17 helicopters to Ukraine. Like you, I wondered why we had Russian helicopters. Turns out we purchased them 10 years ago and signed a contract promising not to transfer the helicopters to any third country “without the approval of the Russian Federation,” according to a copy of the certificate posted on the website of Russia’s Federal Service on Military-Technical Cooperation.

It is a complicated world. Keep it in prayer.

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