The Wider World

Russia planning a “false flag”?

RUSSIANS in unmarked uniforms took part in the 2014 seizure of Crimea (Wikipedia).

Is Russia planning a fake provocation to justify invading Ukraine?

That’s what White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday, saying U.S. intelligence officials have detected what they believe could be a “false flag” operation that would enable Russian to claim it was attacked by Ukraine, according to the Associated Press.

“We are concerned that Russia is preparing for an invasion that may result in widespread human rights violations and war crimes should diplomacy fail to meet their objectives,” said Psaki.

The premise is that urban warfare experts from Russia would use explosives against Russian “proxy forces” involved in an insurgency in eastern Ukraine, providing an excuse to invade its former partner in the defunct Soviet Union.

Free at-home COVID-19 tests coming

Up to a half-billion free at-home COVID-19 test kits will be available to Americans next week from Uncle Sam.

According to United Press International, as of Wednesday, Jan. 19, you’ll be able to go to a new website – – and order up to four tests per household. It will take one to two weeks for the kits to arrive, reports UPI.

A total of one billion kits will eventually be available.

Sports: Kelly’s back for four more

UCLA football coach Chip Kelly has signed on for a four-year contract to coach the Bruins, who posted an 8-4 record this season, their best in six years. According to news reports, the new contract is worth, on average, $4.7 million a year.

In addition to getting eight wins, the Bruins were invited to play in the Holiday Bowl – cancelled due to COVID-19 – and defeated USC for the first time since 2018.

Kelly, who posted a 46-7 record at Oregon, left the Ducks to take the head coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles. After two winning seasons, the Eagles slumped to 6-9 and he was fired. He had a 2-14 record coaching the San Francisco 49ers and was terminated after one season.

Since coming to UCLA, Kelly has had an 18-25 record with one winning season.

Weather: Play it cool(er)

The summer-like weather of recent days is going to feel a bit more like autumn for a while. The forecast for the West Orange County area is for a daytime high of 68 (overnight low of 56) with cloudy skies. The thermometer will jump up to 75 on Sunday, and then drop to 69 through Wednesday.

Business/Finance: Two up and one down

A report of a sharp decline in retail spending and disappointing bank earnings had mixed effects on Wall Street Friday. The Dow dropped 201.81 points to close at 35,811.81, but the S&P 500 was up 3.82 points to 4,662.85 and the Nasdaq finished at 14,893.75, an increase of 86.94 points.

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