Al’s Afternoon Tea: Assange Is Free, NASA Astronauts Are Stuck, and Woke Star Wars Series Creator Is Defensive

By Al Perrotta Published on June 25, 2024

Welcome back in for Al’s Afternoon Tea.

Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Reaches Plea Deal With U.S., Will Be a Free Man

He’s freed. After five years in a British prison fighting extradition, and the seven years before that holed up in Britain’s Ecuadorian embassy, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a free man, having reached a plea deal with the U.S. Department of Justice. On Monday, he pled guilty to conspiring to obtain and disclose national defense information.

He is expected to return to Australia, where he has citizenship.

In 2009, Assange rattled and enraged Washington when he published a trove of classified military and State Department information handed over by Chelsea Manning, an intelligence analyst turned transgender person. The information included highly sensitive reports from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as State Department communications.

In 2016, Assange further infuriated the Obama administration by publishing emails leaked from the DNC demonstrating how the Democrats rigged the 2016 primary for Hillary Clinton and concocted the story that the Russians, at the behest of Donald Trump, hacked the DNC for the emails. Assange denied Russians had anything to do with it, and strongly suggested the emails were leaked by Seth Rich, a young DNC staffer who had just been murdered in Washington. Rich’s highly suspicious death remains unsolved.

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. welcomed the news of Assange’s release, but warned his plea means “the US security state succeeded in criminalizing journalism and extending their jurisdiction globally to noncitizens.”

NASA Astronauts Stuck on International Space Station

Boeing plus the Biden administration. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, two NASA astronauts are stuck on the International Space Station (ISS) for now because their lift may be a lemon. So there’s that.

NASA astronauts Butch Witmore and Suni Williams will remain on ISS until at least July 2 as scientists try to fix helium leaks and thruster issues on their Boeing Starliner. This first astronaut mission of the Starliner, which arrived at ISS on June 6, was originally scheduled to return after about a week, but the return has been delayed several times.

According to CBS News, NASA knew about a helium leak before the launch, but deemed the issue too insignificant to hold up the mission. Further leaks and other issues developed afterward.

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Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, assures the public there’s no cause for alarm. NASA retains confidence in Starliner, and there are plenty of supplies aboard the space station. Besides, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is in the middle of a long-duration crewed mission at the station, and NASA officials say the station’s schedule is relatively open through mid-August. So, if Witmore and Williams do end up needing a lift, Musk’s “Crew Dragon” spacecraft can provide it.

Can Boeing be having a worse year?

Where’d All the Infrastructure Money Go? Thankfully, Minnesota Dam in “Imminent Failure Condition” Looks to Be Holding

Looks like there’s some good news in Minnesota.

Yesterday, authorities said the state’s Rapidan Dam was in “imminent failure condition” after raging floodwaters of the Blue Earth River cut a path around it. Debris continued pile up behind the structure and heavy storms hit the area again Monday afternoon.  Fortunately, Tuesday morning, Eric Weller, the emergency management director of Blue Earth County said, “We believe it is intact and will hold.” Engineers will take a closer look today.

Ironically, the water that cut into the riverbank and did an end run around the dam relieved pressure on the structure. Yesterday afternoon, water was flowing at a rate of 30,000 cubic feet per minute.

The dam, completed in 1910, has been weakened by a series of floods over the years. A 2021 report recommended repairing or removing it altogether.

You’d think an administration that pushed a $3 trillion dollar infrastructure bill would spend some of it on, well, infrastructure. Like repairing aging dams and bridges. And perhaps not spend $7.5 billion for 7 EV chargers instead.

Biden Campaign Tries Out New Line: “Donald Trump Is Only in It for Himself.”

I’m beginning to wonder if Biden’s campaign lines were written by an AI program that got shorted out by silly sauce. A new one they are trying? “Donald Trump is only out for himself.”

This from the guy who’s used his government positions to pump literally millions of dollars into his family coffers for half a century, talking about a guy who walked away from a multibillion-dollar real estate empire and hit TV show to downsize to the White House, where he didn’t take a dime in salary. 

Lying about someone is one thing, but being lame?

Note to Joe: If you are going to attack someone, it has to have some basis in reality. The initial reaction cannot be “Huh? Are you kidding me?” Imagine: “Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is only in it to make a name for the Kennedys in politics” or “Joe Biden is only in it to bounce on the bed in the Lincoln Bedroom.”

Some Turnaround: Gay Creator of New Star Wars Series Happily Accepted It Being “Gayest” Star Wars Ever … Now Complains That It’s Not So “Queer” After It Flops

What Dylan Mulvaney did to Bud Light, director Leslye Headland— with the help of Disney — is doing to Star Wars. Before the new series The Acolyte premiered, the openly gay Headland was happy to hear about how “queer” the show is.

She and nonbinary star Amandla Stenberg reacted positively when a journalist from The Wrap called it “arguably the gayest Star Wars by a considerable margin.” Headland responded it wasn’t what she was aiming for, but “I’m frankly into it.”

Now that the show is out and is being pummeled for being woke garbage, Headland is backtracking. She told The Hollywood Reporter,  “I don’t believe that I’ve created queer, with a capital Q, content.”

Then in the next breath, “I’m proud of being a gay woman who’s accomplished this feat, and certainly, if my content is called queer, I don’t want to disown whatever queerness is in the show. I would be proud to create something that inspired queer people.”

She then ripped fans who are turned off by the woke turn of Star Wars. Sorry, lady. The audience has the last say. Even if professional critics love The Acolyte, audiences hate it. It’s Rotten Tomatoes score is only 13%.

Congratulations, Headland and Disney. On your watch, a beloved American icon is now the Death Star.

Head-Scratching Headline: “Popular Restaurant Chain Known for Its Wings Closing Dozens of Locations.”

That was the headline on this morning. “Known for its wings”?! They’re talking about Hooters, the restaurant chain famous — or notorious — for its voluptuous waitresses in revealing T-shirts. Sure, Hooters wings are highly rated among restaurant chains. Number three, according to Tasting Table. But is that what they’re instantly identifiable for? Does that headline tell you who they’re talking about, or is someone trying to be politically correct? 

Of course, headline wording is not the real reason for our interest. The point is Hooters is yet another national chain being burned by this economy. Word broke Sunday night it was abruptly closing nearly 40 of underperforming locations. This follows restaurant closings by Red Lobster, Rubio’s, and TGIF, among others.

However, Hooters insists its future is bright as it expands internationally, continues to open in new markets in the U.S. and grows its frozen-food line.

Not to spoil your dinner, but who has the best chicken wings?  


On The Stream Menu

Our Nancy Flory has Dirty Jobs Creator Mike Rowe Releases Historical Docudrama Just In Time for Independence Day.”

Dr. Michael Brown’s new one is up, “Great is the Power of Repentance.”  

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