Friday May 25th, 2022

"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metcalf
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World & Nation

Democrats caught in election-year gambit with bloated gas prices

Democrats are facing a paradox on prices at the pump heading into an election where pocketbook issues are top of mind for Americans facing 40-year high inflation.

The party must show voters it’s sympathetic to the economic pains from sky-high gas prices and that blunting energy costs is a top priority.

But in the process, Democrats are inadvertently drawing increased attention to the record increases on President Biden’s watch, illustrating the quagmire that the party faces as dismal polls show the party and the administration are underwater with voters on handling inflation.

It’s no secret that Republicans in Washington, who have blamed the administration’s policies, have the upper hand as they try to retake control of Washington, lawmakers and strategists say.

Documents Shed Light on Secret U.S. Plans for Apocalyptic Scenarios

                      The executive branch has drafted dozens of classified directives that presidents can issue swiftly in a catastrophe.

Newly disclosed documents have shed a crack of light on secret executive branch plans for apocalyptic scenarios — like the aftermath of a nuclear attack — when the president may activate wartime powers for national security emergencies.
The executive branch has drafted dozens of classified directives that presidents can issue swiftly in a catastrophe. Yuri Gripas for The New York Times The executive branch has drafted dozens of classified directives that presidents can issue swiftly in a catastrophe.

Until now, public knowledge of what the government put into those classified directives, which invoke emergency and wartime powers granted by Congress or otherwise claimed by presidents, has been limited to declassified descriptions of those developed in the early Cold War. In that era, they included steps like imposing martial law, rounding up people deemed dangerous and censoring news from abroad.

It has not been clear what is in the modern directives — known as presidential emergency action documents — because under administrations of both parties, none have been made public or shown to Congress. But the newly disclosed documents, which relate to the George W. Bush administration’s efforts to revise the draft orders after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, offer clues.

Texas school shooting spurs new questions about ‘good guys with guns’

                                  Weapons are displayed during a news conference in Los Angeles on Feb. 22, 2022, after state and regional law enforcement seized 114 guns from people legally prohibited from owning firearms during a five-day sweep across 51 cities in the Los Angeles area. Spurred by the Tuesday, May 24, 2022, deadly elementary school shooting in Texas, California senators approved giving citizens the power to sue those who traffic in illegal firearms, mimicking a Texas law that is intended to deter abortions. (Eric Licas/The Orange County Register via AP, File)

The country suffered through more than 60 active shooter incidents last year, and in 18 of those attacks, the shooter was killed by a good guy with a gun — four of them by average citizens, according to the FBI.

This week’s horrific mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, has raised new questions about the role of police and citizens in engaging with active gunmen. Residents said police took too long to storm the school and shoot the madman.

Javier Cazares, whose fourth-grade daughter was killed in the attack, said he raised the idea of parents charging the classroom where the shooter was barricaded when police hesitated to breach the building.

“Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to,” he told The Associated Press. “More could have been done.”

The issues Mr. Cazares raised are increasingly important as the U.S. grapples with what FBI statistics suggest is a growing number of active shooter incidents, going to the heart of the gun control debate: Is the answer fewer guns overall, or is it which hands are holding the guns?

Biden is reportedly planning to cancel $10,000 in student debt for borrowers making under $150,000

                       President Joe Biden. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The Washington Post reported on Friday that, according to three people familiar with the matter, Biden's latest loan forgiveness plan include $10,000 in relief for federal borrowers who make under $150,000 in the previous year, or less than $300,000 for married couples who filed jointly. This income threshold is slightly higher than previous reports that suggested Biden was considering capping the relief for those making under $125,000.

"No decisions have been made yet," White House spokesperson Vedant Patel told the Post.

While the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week Biden had hoped to make an announcement regarding student-loan forgiveness while delivering a commencement speech at the University of Delaware on Saturday, White House officials told the Post that timeline has been pushed back due to the shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

"Biden Let The Cat Out Of The Bag": Steve Forbes Calls Out POTUS' "Confession"

This last week in Asia, President Biden let the cat out of the bag. He said higher gasoline prices are an unfortunate necessity in making the transition from fossil fuels to alternatives like windmills and solar panels. Give our commander-in-chief credit for candor.

But, as this episode of What’s Ahead explains, the Biden approach is profoundly wrong. It would immensely damage the economy, blighting the lives of tens of millions of people. It would be an environmental disaster, leaving the earth a poorer, uglier planet.

More fundamentally, given current technology, his goal is utterly unattainable.

83% of Americans are DISSATISFIED with direction America is going as Biden faces another dire poll

                                  What research shows on the effectiveness of gun-control laws

Acolossal 83 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction, according to a new Gallup poll, as high gas prices, a baby formula shortage and collapsing stock markets threaten a Democratic wipe-out in November's midterm elections.

The poll found that only 16 percent of Americans were satisfied with the state of the U.S. - 20 points lower than the satisfaction rating four months after President Joe Biden took office and a six-point drop since April.

That marks its lowest level since Donald Trump's supporters ransacked the U.S. Capitol in January last year.

The president's own approval rating is flat lining at 41 percent. It has not been above 50 percent since last June.

Russian Proxies Claim Control of Key Town in East Ukraine

Russia's separatist proxies in eastern Ukraine claimed full control of the important battlefield town of Lyman on Friday, and Ukraine appeared to concede it, as Moscow presses its biggest advance for weeks.

Lyman, site of a key railway hub, has been a major front line as Russian forces press down from the north, one of three directions from which they have been attacking Ukraine's industrial Donbas region. The pro-Russian Donetsk People's Republic separatists said they were now in full control of it.

Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, appeared to confirm the fall of Lyman in an interview overnight, and said the battle there showed that Moscow was improving its tactics.

Former Speaker Paul Ryan says ‘entertainers’ are upending Capitol Hill

Former House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Thursday there are a lot of digital-age “entertainers” in Congress who are making it difficult to find common ground and forge legislative solutions for the country.

Mr. Ryan, speaking to CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” said that 10 years ago, lawmakers tried to climb a “meritocracy” in Congress.

“The measurement of success was policy and persuasion: Could you persuade your colleagues, your country, your constituents, ‘This is the right way to go, here’s a solution?’” Mr. Ryan said. “That’s not necessarily what motivates people anymore. There’s a lot of entertainers in Congress in both parties.”

Mr. Ryan said the result is lawmakers focus on their online reputation and forget about policymaking and compromise.

Blinken: Biden administration policy on China does not seek end of communist system

Diplomacy, economic competition are main elements of strategy against 'more aggressive' Beijing

The Biden administration’s policy toward China calls for diplomatic and economic competition but will not seek to replace an increasingly aggressive Chinese Communist Party system, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday.

“We are not looking for conflict or a new cold war,” Mr. Blinken said in a long-anticipated speech in Washington detailing the administration’s strategy for dealing with Beijing’s growing influence and increasingly aggressive posture on the world stage.

President Biden has kept in place some elements of the Trump administration’s China policy, which recognized for the first time in decades that Beijing is working to undermine the U.S.-led democratic and free market systems.

However, the approach Mr. Blinken outlined Thursday was notably less confrontational than that pursued by President Trump, and some critics said the secretary of state’s overall prescription for countering China’s efforts to achieve global supremacy was impractical.

More Top News

Biden, Obama exploit tragedy for personal, political gain

There are special dungeons in hell reserved for politicians who vote to send our boys to die in wars they don’t really believe in. President Biden, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton will find out in due time.

Mr. Kerry could not wait even one election cycle before he abandoned the troops he sent to die in Iraq. He ran for president in 2004 on a campaign against the very war he had supported just one year before.

Remember: “I voted for it before I voted against it,” he boasted during his presidential campaign.

But what would you expect from a guy who accused his fellow soldiers of atrocities after he was safely back from Vietnam? Then publicly threw away somebody else’s war medals to “protest” the war?

At least Mrs. Clinton waited 10 years before she changed her mind about the war she sent good men to die in. Her gravestone could read, “Less Despicable Than John Kerry.”

" It is discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit."
-- Noel Coward
     (1899-1973) British playwright

Medal of Honor
Bill Conveys Special Honor to Last WWII Medal of Honor Recipient ...
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.
GeneTrerally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.
The first award of the Medal of Honor was made March 25, 1863 to Private JACOB PARROTT.The last award of the Medal of Honor was made September 15, 2011 to Sergeant DAKOTA MEYER.

Since then there have been:  • 3458 recipients of the Medal of Honor.
    • Today there are 85 Living Recipients of the Medal of Honor. 


Captain Humbert R. Versace distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period of 29 October 1963 to 26 September 1965, while serving as S-2 Advisor, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Detachment 52, Ca Mau, Republic of Vietnam. While accompanying a Civilian Irregular Defense Group patrol engaged in combat operations in Thoi Binh District, An Xuyen Province, Captain Versace and the patrol came under sudden and intense mortar, automatic weapons, and small arms fire from elements of a heavily armed enemy battalion. As the battle raged, Captain Versace, although severely wounded in the knee and back by hostile fire, fought valiantly and continued to engage enemy targets. Weakened by his wounds and fatigued by the fierce firefight, Captain Versace stubbornly resisted capture by the over-powering Viet Cong force with the last full measure of his strength and ammunition. Taken prisoner by the Viet Cong, he exemplified the tenets of the Code of Conduct from the time he entered into Prisoner of War status. Captain Versace assumed command of his fellow American soldiers, scorned the enemy's exhaustive interrogation and indoctrination efforts, and made three unsuccessful attempts to escape, despite his weakened condition which was brought about by his wounds and the extreme privation and hardships he was forced to endure. During his captivity, Captain Versace was segregated in an isolated prisoner of war cage, manacled in irons for prolonged periods of time, and placed on extremely reduced ration. The enemy was unable to break his indomitable will, his faith in God, and his trust in the United States of America. Captain Versace, an American fighting man who epitomized the principles of his country and the Code of Conduct, was executed by the Viet Cong on 26 September 1965. Captain Versace's gallant actions in close contact with an enemy force and unyielding courage and bravery while a prisoner of war are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect the utmost credit upon himself and the United States Army.

From the Archives

We Have Met the Enemy…

Geoff Metcalf
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
--Benjamin Franklin
“The American people must be willing to give up a degree of personal privacy in exchange for safety and security.”
--Louis Freeh
In the wake of the clamor over the most recent WikiLeaks data dump, ‘Vault 7’, ‘UMBRAGE’, et al, it should be noted this is not really anything new. What we are seeing here is simply the evolution of something that goes back to the late 50s (to the incomplete best knowledge I have).

It is kinda cool to finally see even The New York Times acknowledging material I was writing about in 1998.

In April of 1998 I wrote “Privacy has become an anachronism.” I was commenting on “a massive system designed to intercept all your e-mail, fax traffic and more.” I was explaining ‘Echelon’, the illegitimate offspring of a UKUSA Treaty signed by the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Its purpose was, and is, to have a vast global intelligence monster, which allegedly shares common goals. The system was so “efficient” that reportedly National Security Agency folk from Fort Meade could work from Menwith Hill in England to intercept local communications without either nation having to burden themselves with the formality of seeking approval (a court order) or disclosing the operation. And this was all pre-9/11 and pre-the anti-constitutional  'Patriot Act'.

It is illegal (without a Judge’s signed permission) for the United States to spy on its citizens … kinda. The laws have long been circumvented by a mutual pact among five nations. Under the terms of UKUSA agreement, Britain spies on Americans and America spies on British citizens, and then the two conspirators trade data. A classic technical finesse. It is legal, but the intent to evade the spirit is inescapable.

I often fictionalized the genesis of ‘Echelon’ as an informal meeting of a group of post war American and British intelligence types drinking in some remote rustic bar. An imagined CIA type complains to his MI6 buddy about the hassles of US laws preventing US intelligence from surveillance of bad guys, and the Brit echoes the same complaint.

“Hey wait a moment mate,” says Nigel, the make-believe MI6 guy, “I can spy on your guys and you can spy on our bad players…why don’t we just come up with a mechanism whereby we spy on your villains, you spy on our villains, and we just ‘share’ the intel?”

This system was called ECHELON, and has been kicking around in some form longer than most of you. The result of the UKUSA treaty signed by the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand was, and is, to have a vast global intelligence monster which allegedly shares common goals.

The report noted: “Within Europe all e-mail, telephone and fax communications are routinely intercepted by the United States National Security Agency, transferring ll target information from the Eurv opean mainland via the strategic hub of London, then by satellite to Fort Meade in Maryland via the crucial hub at Menwith Hill, in the North York moors in th UK.

“The ECHELON system forms part of the UKUSA system but unlike many of the electronic spy systems developed during the Cold War, ECHELON was designed primarily for non-military targets: governments, organizations and businesses in virtually every country.”

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