Friday December 3nd, 2021

"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metcalf
 Providing an on line Triage of the news since 1997
World & Nation

Defense secretary voices concerns over Chinese hypersonic missiles
July test of space-based strike weapon highlights danger
                      Chinese military vehicles carrying DF-17 ballistic missiles roll during a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China in Beijing, on Oct. 1, 2019. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, that China’s pursuit of hypersonic weapons “increases tensions in the region” and vowed the U.S. would maintain its capability to deter potential threats posed by China. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the United States is concerned about China’s development of hypersonic missiles, including the orbiting weapons tested in August.

“We have concerns about the military capabilities that the PRC continues to pursue, and the pursuit of those capabilities increases tensions in the region,” Mr. Austin said in Seoul. “And we know that China conducted a test of a hypersonic weapon on the 27th of July. It just underscores why we consider the PRC to be our pacing challenge.”

The United States continues to maintain what Mr. Austin said were a range of weapons and capabilities to both defend and deter threats posed by China.

The hypersonic missile test in July involved a unique capability called a “fractional orbital bombardment system,” or FOBS, first developed by the Soviet Union. Air Force Lt. Gen. Chance Saltzman, deputy of Space Force operations, confirmed in remarks Monday that the hypersonic glide vehicle involved a space-based orbiting strike test.

Suspect’s parents charged in Michigan school shooting

                        Gov. Gretchen Whitmer embraces Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter as the two leave flowers and pay their respects Thursday morning, Dec. 2, 2021 at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich. A 15-year-old boy has been denied bail and moved to jail after being charged in the Michigan school shooting that killed four students and injured others.(Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP)

A prosecutor in Michigan filed involuntary manslaughter charges Friday against the parents of a boy who is accused of killing four students at Oxford High School, after saying earlier that their actions went “far beyond negligence,” her office said.

Jennifer and James Crumbley were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

“The parents were the only individuals in the position to know the access to weapons,” Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said Thursday. The gun “seems to have been just freely available to that individual.”

Ethan Crumbley, 15, has been charged as an adult with two dozen crimes, including murder, attempted murder and terrorism, for the shooting Tuesday at Oxford High School in Oakland County, roughly 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Detroit.

Kamala Harris' staffers leaving White House in part because they fear being labeled 'Harris person': report

A new report revealed that departing staffers for Vice President Harris are leaving their White House posts in part due to concerns of being forever labeled a "Harris person."

A growing list of Harris staffers are heading out the door amid internal chaos and disastrous poll numbers.

The concern of being labeled a "Harris person," as well as burnout and desire for greener pastures, are driving the exodus from the vice president’s office, sources familiar with the chaos in the VP's office told Axios.

One anonymous Democratic strategist said that Harris needs "someone loyal, who can think methodically to best position the vice president and to make sure everything she’s doing is being maximized and communicated to a broad population and get her numbers up."

Biden vows no more lockdowns or new mandates, pushes vaccines in winter COVID plan

                       President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 variant named omicron during a visit to the National Institutes of Health, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Biden said Thursday he will launch hundreds of “family” clinics to get children vaccinated and older Americans boosted against COVID-19 while requiring private insurers to reimburse Americans for at-home virus tests.

Mr. Biden is scrambling to combat the omicron variant that is popping up in more places and could derail his pandemic agenda for the second time in five months.

The president, speaking at the National Institutes of Health, said his winter plan avoids economic restrictions and the type of federal mandates that previously spurred legal battles. Instead, he said it is designed to promote unity around things such as vaccinations and diagnostics.

Vax Mandates Will Disrupt Supply Chains Further, Truckers Warn

The main trucking lobbies in Canada and the United States are warning that vaccine and testing requirements for workers will further disrupt supply chains because there is already a dire shortage of drivers.

Canada will require vaccines for truck drivers starting in January, while the Biden administration has issued rules requiring truck drivers at companies with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.

More than two-thirds of goods traded between Canada and the United States travels on roads and highways. For most of the pandemic, truckers crossed the border regularly as they were considered essential workers to keep supply chains flowing.

Ukraine says Russia amassed over 94,000 troops at border

Ukraine‘s defense minister estimated Friday that Russia has amassed more than 94,000 troops near their borders and said there is a probability of a “large-scale escalation” in late January.

Ukrainian and Western officials recently voiced alarm about a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine, saying they feared it could herald an invasion. Moscow has denied planning to invade and accused Ukraine and its Western backers of fabricating claims to cover up their own allegedly aggressive designs.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told lawmakers Friday that the number of Russian troops near Ukraine and in Russia-annexed Crimea is estimated to be 94,300.

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S PHLEGM Biden battling cold he caught from kissing grandson as he coughs his way through speech

JOE Biden said on Friday that he has a cold, which he caught from kissing his grandson.

Biden coughed his way through a speech at The White House, where he spoke about November's jobs numbers and the new coronavirus strain.

Attentive viewers noticed that the president had a hoarse voice, and speculated online about his health before Biden confirmed he was battling a cold.

Just weeks ago, Biden had a health scare following a colonoscopy.

Roe ‘settled’ law? Justices’ earlier assurances now in doubt

During his confirmation to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh convinced Sen. Susan Collins that he thought a woman’s right to an abortion was “settled law,” calling the court cases affirming it “precedent on precedent” that could not be casually overturned.

Amy Coney Barrett told senators during her Senate confirmation hearing that laws could not be undone simply by personal beliefs, including her own. “It’s not the law of Amy,” she quipped.

But during this week’s landmark Supreme Court hearing over a Mississippi law that could curtail if not outright end a woman’s right to abortion, the two newest justices struck a markedly different tone, drawing lines of questioning widely viewed as part of the court’s willingness to dismantle decades old decisions on access to abortion services.

Alec Baldwin’s Denial: Expert Calls Chances Actor Didn’t Pull the Trigger ‘On a Scale of 1 to 10? Zero’

Alec Baldwin’s contention in an in-depth interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he did not pull the trigger in the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the New Mexico set of the indie film “Rust” has been met with skepticism from experts.

When asked by TheWrap to assess the likelihood of Baldwin’s statement being true, Steve Wolf, a movie armorer with more than 30 years in the business, said bluntly: “One a scale of one to 10? Zero.”

Added Wolf, “You know, guns don’t go up by themselves, right? It’s an inanimate object. It has no batteries. It has no timer. It has no web connection. It’s not a smart piece of equipment. It’s it’s very reliable device that shoots when you press the trigger, and it doesn’t shoot when you don’t press the trigger.”

Census shows growing number of adults who live alone

More American adults are living alone than ever before, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau reported this week that 28% of all U.S. adults aged 18 and over lived alone in early 2021, more than double the 13% recorded in 1960. It is estimated that there are now 37 million one-person households in the United States, a 1% increase in the portion of the overall population from the 33 million adults who reported living alone a decade ago.

The 2021 Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement, which the bureau said has collected “labor force data as well as data on a variety of characteristics of households” annually for more than 60 years, also showed the continuation of a long-term trend in which Americans delay getting married and having children until later in life.

More Top News

SEC unleashes political activists on the American economy

The latest craze on Wall Street is the “environmental, social, and governance,” or ESG movement, whose supporters profess to do good while making money. Many believe they got an early Christmas gift when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) quietly announced a policy change to the shareholder proposal process that empowers political activists to disrupt corporate boardrooms across America. But that gift may be one they want to return.

For years, the SEC required shareholder proposals to have a nexus to the business of the company to be considered for a vote at a company’s annual meeting. The reason for this is simple. Without a relationship to the business, a proposal cannot improve the economic value of the company and the return to its shareholders. Thus, expending any resources on such proposals would be a waste of shareholder time and money.

However, over the past few years, a vocal minority of political activists and Washington politicians aligned with the ESG movement began demanding a change to that policy, and the SEC obliged. Now, unelected career bureaucrats can approve any shareholder proposal they believe has a “broad societal impact” even if that proposal has no nexus or relationship to the business of the company.

Roe on death watch

Among the visitors Thursday holding a vigil outside the United States Supreme Court on the day after oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was a camel — in the company of shepherds — looking for a tent to stick her nose under.

It has been 50 years of scalding debate since the High Court seized control of abortion away from voters and elected legislatures. Never in that half-century has Roe v. Wade been so threatened as it is right now in the wake of those arguments.

The state of Mississippi stood before the Court to defend a law that would regulate abortion in that state. The state law is in clear contradiction of Roe v. Wade, which is why it has been appealed all the way to the Supremes.

If each of the seated justices follows his or her judicial philosophies, Roe would be overturned in a resounding 6-3 decision. And even proponents of abortion rights — those who are remotely principled and legally literate — would see the wisdom and integrity in overturning the most flawed and indefensible court ruling since Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896.

" 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.”

An interesting sidebar appeared in the International Herald Tribune under the headline, “Big Corporate Brother: It Knows More About You Than You Think.” The story details Acxiom Corp, which was a humongous information service hidden in the Ozark foothills. Twenty-four hours a day, Acxiom electronically gathered and sorts all kinds of data about 196 million Americans. Credit card transactions and magazine subscriptions, telephone numbers, real estate records, automotive data, hunting, business and fishing licenses, consumer surveys and demographic detail that would make a marketing department’s research manager salivate. This relati  vely new (legal) enterprise was known as “data warehousing” or “data-mining”, and it underscores the cruel reality that the fiction of personal privacy has become obsolete. Technology’s ability to collect and analyze data has made privacy a quaint albeit interesting dinosaur.

The Tribune reported that “Axciom can often determine whether an American owns a dog or cat, enjoys camping or gourmet cooking, reads the Bible or lots of other books. It can often pinpoint an American’s occupation, car and favorite vacations. By analyzing the equivalent of billions of pages of data, it often projects for its customers who should be offered a credit card or who is likely to buy a computer.”

Most of this information is from y 1998 piece.  Echelon has developed, matured, and morphed into a much more powerful hybrid. ‘Carnivore’ was software to help triage the cacophony of data. Vault 7 and ‘Umbrage’ are logical (some would argue “insidious”) growth.

    More to follow…


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