What Are Patriot Missiles, and Why Does Ukraine Want Them? | Big Indy News
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What Are Patriot Missiles, and Why Does Ukraine Want Them?



WASHINGTON — After months of debate, the Biden administration said on Wednesday that it was sending its most advanced ground-based air defense system, the Patriot, to Ukraine, responding to Kyiv’s urgent request to help defend against an onslaught of Russian missile and drone attacks.

The Patriot system is part of a $1.8 billion aid package for Ukraine that was announced as the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, arrived in Washington to meet with President Biden and other officials.

Americans of a certain age may draw their introduction to Patriot missiles back to the Persian Gulf war in 1991, when a series of them brought down one Iraqi Scud missile after another, in defense of Israel.

The Patriot is now one of the most sought-after air defense systems on the American weapons market, used by Saudi and Emirati forces in Yemen and throughout the NATO alliance in Europe. Israel still uses it. Now, add Ukraine to the list.

Here’s a look at the air defense system.

The Patriot is a mobile surface-to-air missile and antiballistic missile system that can shoot down incoming missiles before they hit their intended targets. Patriot batteries can also shoot down aircraft. Mounted on trucks, to be moved around at will, each system is capable of holding four missile interceptors. In military circles, they are viewed as a security blanket, protecting a population, troops or even buildings from incoming fire.

The U.S. military has deployed Patriot batteries in numerous conflicts over the past 30 years. Most recently, U.S. troops at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates fired Patriot interceptors at missiles headed toward the base in January, U.S. Central Command said.

Kyiv hopes to use that security blanket to help block incoming missiles. Since President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February, Moscow has unleashed a torrent of missile and airstrikes on both civilian and military targets in Ukraine.

But in recent weeks, after a humiliating withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson — the southern city that Mr. Putin had only a month before claimed as part of his country’s territory — Moscow has been relentless. Russia has pounded Ukrainian power plants, heating systems and other energy infrastructure, leaving millions of people to fend off freezing winter temperatures without electricity or heat.

This month, Russian drone strikes on the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa plunged more than 1.5 million people into darkness. The government in Kyiv sees the Patriot system as a way to help shore up Ukraine’s air defenses.

Beyond the practical, Kyiv sees symbolic advantages in the Patriot system: proof that the United States, rather than tiring of support for Ukraine, is intensifying efforts to help it resist the Russian onslaught.

Patriot batteries can project defenses out some 600 miles. While they are far from foolproof, they can target and shoot down long-range ballistic missiles and aircraft from hundreds of miles away. They also have powerful radar systems — better than comparable air defense systems — that make it easier for Patriots to differentiate who is friend and who is foe.

A lot. One single interceptor missile costs about $4 million, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Each launcher costs around $10 million. That may limit their use to situations in which incoming airstrikes are going to cause a lot of damage or cost lives.

Not by a long shot. Patriot missiles have plenty of critics — a headline in Foreign Policy in 2018 claimed that “Patriot Missiles Are Made in America and Fail Everywhere,” which U.S. military officials said was hyperbole. But the public has been misled about Patriot performance before. During the gulf war, military officials said the system intercepted all but two Iraqi Scud missiles. Later, the Pentagon had to revise that to a 50 percent shoot-down rate.

Today, the efficacy rate is believed to be higher, but it is hard to find accurate figures. Military experts say it is important to know how — and in what circumstances — to use one.

A Patriot battery needs close to 100 people to use it, officials say. Ukrainian troops would have to be trained to operate the system. But the learning curve should not be that steep, as Ukrainian service members have shown themselves to be quick studies on military systems.

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The F.D.A. Now Says It Plainly: Morning-After Pills Are Not Abortion Pills



The F.D.A. said it made the change now because it had completed a review of a 2018 application to alter the label that was submitted by Foundation Consumer Healthcare, a company that in 2017 bought the Plan B brand from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Agency officials said the pandemic delayed the review process and that the timing was not motivated by political considerations.

A spokeswoman for the company, Dani Hirsch, said in an interview that for its 2018 application, the company had not conducted any new studies but had submitted “what was already out there.”

In a statement, the company’s marketing director, Tara Evans, said “the misconception that Plan B works by interfering with implantation can present barriers to broader emergency contraception access. The Plan B labeling correction will help protect continued over-the-counter emergency contraception access and reduce confusion about how Plan B works and further clarify that Plan B does not affect implantation.”

Plan B One-Step and its generic versions — including brands like Take Action, My Way and Option 2 — contain levonorgestrel, one of a class of hormones called progestins that are also found at lower doses in birth control pills and intrauterine devices. The pills are most effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, although they can sometimes work if taken within five days.

Another type of morning-after pill, marketed as Ella and containing a compound called ulipristal acetate, is only available by prescription and is not affected by the F.D.A.’s label change. There has been less research on this type of pill, but studies suggest that it is highly unlikely to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. In 2009, after months of scrutiny, Ella was approved for sale in overwhelmingly Catholic Italy, where laws would have barred it if it had been considered to induce abortions.

According to data published in 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-quarter of women of reproductive age who have sex with men answered yes to the question: “Have you ever used emergency contraception, also known as ‘Plan B,’ ‘Preven,’ ‘Ella,’ ‘Next Choice,’ or ‘Morning after’ pills?” The agency did not break down the data by the type of pills taken.

As far back as the 1999 approval process, the maker of Plan B — Barr Pharmaceuticals, later acquired by Teva — asked the F.D.A. not to list an implantation effect on the label, The Times reported in 2012.

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Who are Caroline Ellison’s parents? Fraudster’s mom and dad are MIT economists



This apple fell far from the tree.

Caroline Ellison — who pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to her role in the FTX cryptocurrency scandal, which led to the extradition of Sam Bankman-Fried this week — is the daughter of high-profile economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to his curriculum vitae, Ellison’s father, Glenn Ellison, was educated at Harvard, Cambridge and MIT before becoming the Gregory K. Palm (1970) Professor of Economics at the latter. 

In addition to coaching youth softball and his daughters’ middle school math teams, he writes “Hard Math,” a series of textbooks and workbooks about teaching arithmetic to younger students.

Glenn Ellison is also an Elected Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory and American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Caroline Ellison’s parents, Glenn and Sara Ellison, outside their Newton, Mass., home in early December.
Robert Miller

Ellison’s mother, Sara Ellison, is also an accomplished academic. Armed with an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a mathematical statistics diploma from Cambridge University, her profile shows she completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993. 

Sara Ellison is currently a senior lecturer in the department alongside her husband.

“We were definitely exposed to a lot of economics [growing up],” Ellison, 28, once told Forbes.

Ellison, 28, plead guilty to fraud this week.
Ellison, 28, pleaded guilty to fraud this week.
Twitter / @AlamedaResearch
Caroline Ellison's sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
Caroline Ellison’s sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.

Glenn and Sara Ellison were photographed by The Post outside their home in Newton, an affluent Boston suburb, earlier this month. Armed with several bags, they told reporters they were too “busy” to comment on the FTX scandal.

The eldest of three sisters — including Anna, 25, who now lives in Manhattan’s West Village — Ellison distinguished herself as a precocious math whiz at a young age. 

When she was just 8 years old, she reportedly presented her father with a paper analyzing stuffed animal prices at Toys ‘R’ Us.

Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday.
Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan federal court on Thursday.
Matthew McDermott
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Robert Miller

She went on to compete in the Math Prize for Girls while at Newton North High School before studying mathematics at Stanford University, where former professor Ruth Stackman described her to Forbes as “bright, focused, [and] very mathy.”

Ellison and Bankman-Fried, 30, crossed paths at the Wall Street trading firm Jane Street. Bankman-Fried’s parents are also both university lecturers, at Stanford in California. They became good friends and she joined Alameda Research, the hedge fund arm of the FTX crypto exchange, in 2018. She then became CEO in 2021. However, the company remained owned 90% by Bankman-Fried and 10% by another member of his circle.

In addition to documenting her supposed foray into polyamory on Tumblr, Ellison once boasted about drug use on social media.

Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Robert Miller

“Nothing like regular amphetamine use to make you appreciate how dumb a lot of normal, non-medicated human experience is,” she tweeted in 2021.

Ellison reportedly admitted to Alameda employees that FTX had used client funds to bail out the fledgeling hedge fund during a video call in November. She was eventually terminated as CEO by insolvency professional and current FTX CEO John J. Ray III after FTX and Alameda filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

She pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges on Monday, and has subsequently been released on $250,000 bail.

Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Twitter / @AutismCapital

Although she could be sent to jail for up to 110 years for her part in the FTX-Alameda scandal — which has been said by federal prosecutors to have lost between $1 billion and $2 billion of customers’ cash — she is thought to have struck a deal with the feds for a much lighter sentence in return for her cooperation.

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Iran condemns Zelensky’s remarks to Congress as ‘baseless.’



Iran has condemned President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks to the U.S. Congress, warning the Ukrainian leader against further accusing Tehran of supplying weapons to Russia for use in the war.

Mr. Zelensky told Congress on Wednesday that Iranian-made drones “sent to Russia in hundreds” had been threatening Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, a view shared by American and European officials. In Iran, he said, Russia had found an “ally in its genocidal policy.”

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, called Mr. Zelensky’s comments “rude” and “baseless.”

“Mr. Zelensky had better know that Iran’s strategic patience over such unfounded accusations is not endless,” Mr. Kanaani said in a statement on Thursday.

Although Iran has officially denied supplying Russia with the weapons since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials have said that the first shipment was delivered in August.

Mr. Zelensky has said that drones used in Monday’s wave of predawn attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities were from a batch recently delivered to Russia by Iran. The strikes came after Biden administration officials said that Russia and Iran were strengthening their military ties into a “full-fledged defense partnership.”

The European Union last week condemned Iran’s military partnership with Russia as a gross violation of international law and announced new sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities over their roles in supplying the drones that Moscow has used to attack Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. That followed a round of sanctions on Iranians over the drone deliveries in October.

Mr. Kanaani “once again emphasizes” that Iran has not supplied military equipment for use in Ukraine, the statement issued on Thursday added, and urged Mr. Zelensky to learn “the fate of some other political leaders” who were happy with U.S. support. It was not clear which other leaders the statement was referring to.

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