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French Macarons

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These Classic French Macarons so elegant, making them the perfect treat for fancy parties and gatherings. By following these tips and recipe you’ll be a pro macaron baker in no time!

French Macarons

French Macarons

There are a couple ways to make macarons but the French method is a little easier for the average baker. Macarons are known for their signature smooth shiny crisp top, chewy inside texture, those ruffly edges called “feet”, and the scrumptious filling mushed in between two cookies. Creating these cookies is a science and unfortunately, we’re not all baking in the same kitchen with the same exact ingredients, temperature, humidity, oven temperature… Even making these cookies in the same kitchen but at different times of the year or day can alter results which is why some consider these cookies to be quite the headache to make. Here are some tips to help you be successful:

Easy French Macarons

Helpful Tips for making French Macarons:

  • Weigh your ingredients! Using measuring cups is not very accurate since there is room for variations in how much one can pack into a measuring cup.
  • Use room temerature eggs. Room temperature eggs are easier to whip to create the meringue. You can set them out a few hours before making the cookies or place them in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes.
  • Beat the egg whites and sugar just until they read stiff peaks. If you overbeat it will start to separate. If adding color or extract you need to add it at the soft peak stage so that it can mix all the way in before you reach stiff peak stage.

How to Make Macarons

  • Use gel food coloring. Using liquid food coloring affects the dry to liquid ratio so gel is best.
  • Sift! You must sift the flour and sugar a total of 2 times each. This ensures you don’t have any clumps so that everything will mix evenly.
  • Fold, don’t stir. After you sift the ingredients on top of the meringue, use a rubber scraper to fold the meringue up from the bottom and sides of the bowl to on top of the dry ingredients. Keep repeating, turning the bowl as needed. The mixture will be thick at first but as you keep folding it will begin to thin.
  • Occasionally test the batter while folding to see if it drops from the spatula slowly like lava. You should be able to slowly drop it back into the bowl, forming a figure eight that disappears back into the rest of the batter in 10 seconds. Stop folding and then place in a piping bag with a round piping tip.

How to Make Macarons

  • Line your baking sheet with parchment paper and place TEMPLETS(click here for pdf) underneath. This will help you get create uniformly sized macarons for sandwiching together.
  • When piping, hold the bag vertical and gently apply pressures until the blob of batter reaches the inside like of the circle. Stop applying pressure and pull the bag up while moving it in a swift circular motion so as to not create a big point with the batter. The batter is somewhat fluid so you’ll need to quickly move to the next circle and repeat until you’re out of batter.

How to French Macarons

  • Tap the pan. Pretty forcefully, tap the pan on the counter to get any air bubbles to come to the top and pop. This will prevent your macarons from cracking when baking.
  • Be patient and let them dry. I live in a humid place (80-100% humidity) and I always let my macarons dry for 45-60 minutes. They are ready to put in the oven when you can touch the top of the batter and it is no longer wet or sticky.
  • Bake the macarons for 20 minutes and then let them cool on the pan 5 minutes before sliding the parchment onto a cooling rack. If you don’t bake your macarons long enough they will collapse and look wrinkly and be a little difficult to get off the parchment paper.
  • Let the cookie shells cool completely before applying filling.
  • Pipe on a little filling (1-2 teaspoons) and then twist another shell on top to help it stick together better.

French Macarons

How to Store Macarons?

Macarons can be kept at room temperature in an air-tight container for a couple days if the filling isn’t perishable. If you refrigerate them they’re good for 3 days or you can freeze them up to 3 months. Let the cookies thaw for 5-10 minutes on the counter after removing from the freezer.

Macarons

These cookies will definitely wow your family, friends, and guests. Serve them at your next special occasion or celebration!

For the Shells:

  • 80 grams extra fine almond flour
  • 85 grams powdered sugar
  • 2 large egg whites ((about 60-64 grams), room temperature)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • pinch salt
  • 50 grams granulated sugar ((about 1/4 cup))
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • food coloring

For the Filling:

  • 1/4 cup butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon milk

For the Shells:

  1. Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar together and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium until foamy. Add in the cream of tartar and salt. Continue beating and add in about 1 tablespoon sugar at a time. Increase speed to med-high and mix until soft peaks. At this point you can add the vanilla and food coloring. Continue mixing until stiff peaks. Remove the bowl from the machine.

  3. Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar again but into the bowl of the meringue. Using a rubber scraper, gently fold the ingredients together by scraping the sides and bottom, folding the meringue up onto the dry ingredients and pressing down. The batter will thin up as you mix. You are done one you are able to have the batter slowly drop back in the bowl making a figure 8. The batter will drop like molten lava and will dissolve back into the batter within ten seconds.

  4. Spoon batter into a piping bag fitted with a A2 round piping tip. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper with templates underneath. Holding the bag vertical, gently squeeze the batter out until batter reaches the inside line of the circle on the template. Release pressure and lift the bag up with a quick circular motion and then move to the next circle and repeat.
  5. Once all the batter is piped, slam the pan down on the counter a few times so that all the air bubbles are released. If you see some air bubbles at the top you and pop them with a toothpick. Let the batter dry for 45-60 minutes. For humid climates or rainy days, aim for 60 minutes.
  6. About 10 minutes before drying time is up, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes on the middle rack and then remove from oven and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes. Then slide the parchment paper onto a cooling rack. Fill once completely cooled.

For the Filling:

  1. Cream the butter, powdered, sugar, milk and vanilla together for 2-3 minutes until creamy. Remove beaters and stir with a rubber spatula for a couple minutes to get out air bubbles. Place in a piping bag and apply 1-2 teaspoons filling to the bottom of a shell. Place the bottom of a second shell on top and squish together with a little twist.

Melanie, from Garnish & Glaze, is a Midwest girl currently living on Long Island with her husband and two little girls. She fell in love with baking and cooking as soon as she discovered how yummy banana bread batter is. She loves spending time in the kitchen creating healthy dinners and indulgent desserts.

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angelchrys
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Overland Park, KS
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Sunday Sweets: Rainbow Connection

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Why are there
so many
songs...

By Wild Orchid Baking Co

 

...about rainbows?

By The Greedy Baker

 

And what's on the other side?

By Molly's Creative Cakes

 

Rainbows are visions,
but only illusions,

By Art2eatCakes

and rainbows have nothing
to hide.

 

So we've been told and some choose to believe it.

By Torta-Couture Cakes

 

I know they're wrong, wait and see.

Submitted by Dagbjört, made by Reddit user MaGNeTIX's father. Details here.

 

Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.

By it's a piece of cake

 

The lovers,

By Yummy Mummy Cake Creations

 

the dreamers,

By Kakes by Karen

 

and me.

By Iced Delights Cakes

 

Happy Sunday, everybody!

Note from john- This post reminded me of one of my favorite posts ever: The Rainbow Connection (wrecky version).

*****

Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

And from my other blog, Epbot:

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angelchrys
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Lyft driver kicks gay couple out of his car for kissing because he ‘can’t have that in my car’

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"It was a big reaction for such a small display of affection between two guys."
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angelchrys
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The United States of Guns

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Like many of you, I read the news of a single person killing at least 10 people in Santa Fe, Texas today. While this is an outrageous and horrifying event, it isn’t surprising or shocking in any way in a country where more than 33,000 people die from gun violence each year.

America is a stuck in a Groundhog Day loop of gun violence. We’ll keep waking up, stuck in the same reality of oppression, carnage, and ruined lives until we can figure out how to effect meaningful change. I’ve collected some articles here about America’s dysfunctional relationship with guns, most of which I’ve shared before. Change is possible — there are good reasons to control the ownership of guns and control has a high likelihood of success — but how will our country find the political will to make it happen?

An armed society is not a free society:

Arendt offers two points that are salient to our thinking about guns: for one, they insert a hierarchy of some kind, but fundamental nonetheless, and thereby undermine equality. But furthermore, guns pose a monumental challenge to freedom, and particular, the liberty that is the hallmark of any democracy worthy of the name — that is, freedom of speech. Guns do communicate, after all, but in a way that is contrary to free speech aspirations: for, guns chasten speech.

This becomes clear if only you pry a little more deeply into the N.R.A.’s logic behind an armed society. An armed society is polite, by their thinking, precisely because guns would compel everyone to tamp down eccentric behavior, and refrain from actions that might seem threatening. The suggestion is that guns liberally interspersed throughout society would cause us all to walk gingerly — not make any sudden, unexpected moves — and watch what we say, how we act, whom we might offend.

We’re sacrificing America’s children to “our great god Gun”:

Read again those lines, with recent images seared into our brains — “besmeared with blood” and “parents’ tears.” They give the real meaning of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday morning. That horror cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily — sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

Roger Ebert on the media’s coverage of mass shootings:

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

Jill Lepore on the United States of Guns:

There are nearly three hundred million privately owned firearms in the United States: a hundred and six million handguns, a hundred and five million rifles, and eighty-three million shotguns. That works out to about one gun for every American. The gun that T. J. Lane brought to Chardon High School belonged to his uncle, who had bought it in 2010, at a gun shop. Both of Lane’s parents had been arrested on charges of domestic violence over the years. Lane found the gun in his grandfather’s barn.

The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.) No civilian population is more powerfully armed. Most Americans do not, however, own guns, because three-quarters of people with guns own two or more. According to the General Social Survey, conducted by the National Policy Opinion Center at the University of Chicago, the prevalence of gun ownership has declined steadily in the past few decades. In 1973, there were guns in roughly one in two households in the United States; in 2010, one in three. In 1980, nearly one in three Americans owned a gun; in 2010, that figure had dropped to one in five.

A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths:

The only guns that Japanese citizens can legally buy and use are shotguns and air rifles, and it’s not easy to do. The process is detailed in David Kopel’s landmark study on Japanese gun control, published in the 1993 Asia Pacific Law Review, still cited as current. (Kopel, no left-wing loony, is a member of the National Rifle Association and once wrote in National Review that looser gun control laws could have stopped Adolf Hitler.)

To get a gun in Japan, first, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once per month. You also must take and pass a shooting range class. Then, head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test (Japan is unusual in that potential gun owners must affirmatively prove their mental fitness), which you’ll file with the police. Finally, pass a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups, and you will be the proud new owner of your shotgun or air rifle. Just don’t forget to provide police with documentation on the specific location of the gun in your home, as well as the ammo, both of which must be locked and stored separately. And remember to have the police inspect the gun once per year and to re-take the class and exam every three years.

Australia’s gun laws stopped mass shootings and reduced homicides, study finds:

From 1979 to 1996, the average annual rate of total non-firearm suicide and homicide deaths was rising at 2.1% per year. Since then, the average annual rate of total non-firearm suicide and homicide deaths has been declining by 1.4%, with the researchers concluding there was no evidence of murderers moving to other methods, and that the same was true for suicide.

The average decline in total firearm deaths accelerated significantly, from a 3% decline annually before the reforms to a 5% decline afterwards, the study found.

In the 18 years to 1996, Australia experienced 13 fatal mass shootings in which 104 victims were killed and at least another 52 were wounded. There have been no fatal mass shootings since that time, with the study defining a mass shooting as having at least five victims.

From The Onion, ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens:

At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

But America is not Australia or Japan. Dan Hodges said on Twitter a few years ago:

In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.

This can’t be the last word on guns in America. We have to do better than this for our children and everyone else whose lives are torn apart by guns. But right now, we are failing them miserably, and Hodges’ words ring with the awful truth that all those lives and our diminished freedom & equality are somehow worth it to the United States as a society.

Tags: USA   guns
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angelchrys
2 days ago
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cjheinz
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#gunsense

To Do List - Waiter Rant

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The sound of the phone ringing punctured my sleep and my eyes snapped open. Staring at the ceiling my first conscious thought was, “Was that crack always there?”

Groaning, I picked up my phone. It was my town’s emergency response department. I was in their phone chain so I figured I had better take it.

“Dublanica,” I answered.

“Steve,” the emergency director, said. “We had a commercial fire at 123 Anywhere Lane. There was an apartment upstairs and the occupants have been displaced.”

“Be there in 20 minutes.”

Rolling out of bed, I headed to the bathroom. “Fire, honey,” I called to my wife. “You’ll have to take Natalie to school today.”

“Great….” my wife mumbled sleepily.

After a brief shower, I got dressed. Knowing I was going to a fire scene, I put on clothes I wouldn’t miss – which is almost anything in my wardrobe. Pulling up to the scene, the first thing I did was get a cup of coffee from across the street.  When you’re dealing with people in distress, achieving sentience is always a good idea.

“Don’t say, ‘How are you?’ I said to myself as I weaved between the fire trucks, hoses, oil filled puddles and broken glass. “Don’t say, ‘How are you?’”

“What happened?” I asked the first fireman I met.

“Looks electrical,” he said. “Burned out the first floor and lots of smoke damage to the second-floor apartment.”

“Everyone get out okay?”

“The fire woke the occupants up, but they’re okay. No injuries.”

Looking at the fire ravaged shop in front of me I said, “Thank God for that.”

“Over here Steve,” the emergency director called out.

“Morning,” I said.

“Thanks for coming out.”

I smiled. “That’s the job.”

“Yeah,” he said grinning. “It is, isn’t it?”

“Where are the occupants?”

“Right over here,” he said. “I’ll take you to them.”

The director introduced me to two young women. They were wearing sweat tops, shorts and flip flops. They looked like they had just rolled out of bed, which they had – running for their lives.

“How are you?” I said, automatically. Doh!

“We’re okay,” the first girl, said.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I always say, ‘How are you?’ Dumb of me. Are you hurt?”

“No.”

“Did you take anything with you on the way out?”

“Just our cellphones and purses.”

“So, you have IDs, credit cards, all that?”

“Yep.” The second girl said.

I went through my checklist of questions and ascertained their needs. “I’ll put you up in a hotel for a couple of days,” I said. “Until you figure out what you want to do.”

“Thanks.”

“Have you ladies had breakfast?” The answer was negative.

“Come with me.”

I walked the girls to a luncheonette where I eat all the time. “Please take care of these young ladies,” I told the waitress. “Breakfast is on the town. I’ll settle up with you later.”

“No problem,” the waitress said.

“When can we go back and get our stuff?” the first girl asked.

“As soon as they give the all clear.”

I took down the ladies’ phone numbers, handed them my business card and a supermarket gift card for fifty bucks. “In case you need to get a few things,” I said.

When I got to my office I hit the phones and set up the hotel room, talked to finance about getting petty cash to cover the breakfast and asked the emergency director when the ladies could retrieve their stuff. Half an hour. Then I called the displaced duo.

“You can get your stuff in half an hour,” I said. “Also, you’re booked at the Acme Hotel. Two nights. If you need more, let me know.”

“Thanks for all your help.”

“No problem.”

Cradling the phone, I looked at the clock. I was getting an early start on the day –  which was good because the items on my “To Do” list were threatening to multiply exponentially. Seniors who needed Meals on Wheels, getting Habitat for Humanity to fix up a house, volunteer schedules, a fundraiser, several phone messages and emails to swat down, people wanting to donate things, clients needing help with electric and gas bills, getting posters made up for the aforementioned fundraiser, thank-you letters (I have written hundreds at this point) greeting clients, processing purchase orders for all sorts of charitable requests and –  as always –  getting food for the pantry.

I clicked down my list and before I knew it, the day was done. Stomach grumbling, I went to the finance office, picked up the petty cash, and went to the luncheonette.

“How are you?” the waitress I talked to earlier, said.

“Good,”  I said, paying for the ladies’ breakfast plus a nice tip. “But I had a root canal the other day.”

“Egg salad for you then.”

“On white bread,” I said. “Thanks.”

“So how are those young women?”

“They took it pretty well,” I said. “But when the shock wears off it’ll hit them.”

My sandwich arrived and, as I ate, I looked at the news on my phone. I immediately lost my appetite.

“Another school shooting,” I said aloud. “Goddammit”

They never seem to stop,” the young man sitting next to me, said.

“Horrible,” I said. “And there was that school bus accident yesterday. Couple of kids killed.”

“They say the bus driver was trying to cross over the median to make a U-turn,” the young man said. “Went across three lanes of traffic and hit a dump truck.”

“I don’t think I’d want to live after a mistake like that.”

‘I hear ya.”

“You have kids?”

“No,” the young guy said.

Is it just me, or is everyone getting younger? I once read that when you’re fifty, you’re older than more than half the people you meet.  “I didn’t have my daughter until I was forty-five,” I said. “And after I did, news like this hits me harder. I’d just go flat out insane if I was one of those parents.”

“I can’t even imagine.”

“It’s goddamn open season on children,” I fumed. “Goddammit to hell.”

I ate my egg salad because, although I didn’t want to eat, my body told me otherwise. On the morning of 9/11, despite my horror and tears, I stopped into a diner to grab a bite too.  No matter how bad things are, you must take care of yourself. As I slowly munched on my bacon and eggs  I watched on T.V. as the second tower came down; prompting a waitress to start screaming, “My niece is in there!”

Crazed gunman, innocent children dying, suicide bombers, zealots weaponizing cars, riots, wars and threats of war, poverty, people dying because they can’t afford a doctor, famine, toxic online outrage, nationalism, the erosion of truth, cynicism, class divisions and the ever-present predation of the weak by the powerful– it’s enough to drive you crazy. Sometimes I think the world’s going to end. And what will become of my little girl? Probably the same questions my parents asked during the tumultuous summer of 1968. When I was just a babe in the crib.

Then a line from the Bible floated into my brain. “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”

Sipping my soda, the rational part of my brain told me that we’re living in the safest time in human history. Less people are lost to violence, poverty, hunger and disease than ever before. More people are educated. People live longer. Crime is down everywhere. Despite pushing eight billion souls in the world, we get along fairly well – at least compared to centuries past. But that’s cold comfort to parents whose child was shot dead in school or lost in a needless bus accident. For them the world will never be the same.

Outside, the afternoon sun was stubbornly trying to pierce the dark rain clouds boiling above and failing.  Sitting on my stool I felt very depressed. How do we  stand in the face of evil? How shall we witness for the goodness of humankind? How do we maintain hope in the shadow of darkness? What can I do? Anything? Today, sitting at my favorite lunch counter,  it all seemed rather hopeless.

“Oh God,” I mumbled. “Thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.”

“What’s that, dear?” the waitress asked.

“Nothing Charlotte,” I said. “Just the bill, please.”

Walking to my car, I passed the burned-out storefront. Then I realized, and not for the first time, that I needed to keep my head down and keep moving. Work on that to-do list and then, when it’s finished, swat down the next one. Even when all seems lost, keep moving. There will always be something for me to do.

The end is not yet.  

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angelchrys
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Plane with more than 100 passengers on board crashes in Havana, Cuba – ThinkProgress

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According to Cuban media sources, a Boeing 737 carrying 104 passengers and 9 crew members crashed Friday afternoon in Havana, Cuba, as the flight was departing Jose Marti airport, bound for the Cuban city of Holguin. The plane was operated by Cubana de Aviacion, Cuba’s national carrier, headquartered in the capital.

While no detailed reports on survivors are available at this time, there are reports of passengers being transported from the site of the crash to nearby hospitals. CNN is reporting that at least three passengers on board are confirmed to have survived.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canal visited the scene of the crash shortly after the incident.

While Cubana de Aviacion is Cuba’s largest domestic carrier, it’s known primarily for its aging fleet and notoriously unreliable service. Earlier this month, Aviator reported that government regulators ordered the airline to ground its fleet of AN-158 aircraft, which “suffered from a series of mechanical failures and flight problems, as well as issues related to structural flaws” and a “lack of spare parts.”

As CBS News reported in the wake of today’s crash, these types of problems are pervasive enough throughout the fleet to have drawn the recent attention of the Cuban government:

Cuba’s First Vice-President, Salvador Valdes Mesa, met Thursday with Cubana officials to discuss improvements in its heavily criticized service. The airline is notorious among Cubans for its frequent delays and cancellations […].

CBS also reported that Cubana’s director general, Capt. Hermes Hernandez Dumas, attributed the airline’s difficulties to the long-standing trade embargo, lifted by President Barack Obama toward the end of his second term, but reversed by his successor, President Donald Trump.

“Among the difficulties created by the U.S. trade embargo is our inability to acquire latest-generation aircraft with technology capable of guaranteeing the stability of aerial operations,” Hernandez said. “Another factor is obtaining part for Cubana’s aircraft.”

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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