Friday January 14th, 2022

"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

N. Korea fires fresh missiles in response to US sanctions
                         FILE - This photo provided by the North Korean government shows what it says a test launch of a hypersonic missile on Jan. 11, 2022 in North Korea. North Korea on Friday, Jan. 14, berated the Biden administration for imposing fresh sanctions against the country over its latest missile tests and warned of stronger and more explicit action if Washington maintains its “confrontational stance.” Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

North Korea on Friday fired two short-range ballistic missiles in its third weapons launch this month, officials in South Korea said, in an apparent reprisal for fresh sanctions imposed by the Biden administration for its continuing test launches.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles came from an inland area in western North Pyongan province.

Japan’s Prime Minister’s Office and the Defense Ministry also detected the launch, while its coast guard urged vessels to pay attention to falling objects.

Hours earlier, North Korea issued a statement berating the Biden administration for imposing fresh sanctions over its missile tests and warned of stronger and more explicit action if Washington maintains its “confrontational stance.”



Biden just had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. And it's going to get worse.

                   President Joe Biden speaks about the 2021 jobs report in the State Dining Room of the White House, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Joe Biden took two huge losses Thursday that likely will be the final nails in the coffin of the big and hopeful agenda that Democrats were counting on as we speed into the 2022 election season from hell.

First, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a fellow Democrat, announced that although she supports the voting rights bill, she's not willing to do what it would take to make it happen. The filibuster. I'm talking about killing the filibuster.

This came only two days after the president made such an impassioned speech in support of knocking off the filibuster that Republicans essentially called it offensive. And even one Democratic senator said Biden, who pledged a year ago to unite Americans, went too far in the speech.

Former President Barack Obama even came out of political retirement to write his first opinion piece since leaving office about the importance of protecting voting rights. He said, in this USA TODAY Opinion piece, that it’s time for Democrats to do something, anything, to protect democracy.



Kyrsten Sinema preempts Biden, dashing Democrats’ illogical hopes she would move on the filibuster


The timing of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s Wednesday speech was what really distinguished it from her previous calls for bipartisan action rather than unilateral rule changes.

Sinema (D-Ariz.) has repeatedly taken stands in defense of the 60-vote supermajority for most legislation to pass the Senate. But she delivered this floor speech less than 45 minutes before President Biden arrived at the Democratic luncheon where he planned to ask all 50 members of the caucus to support changing Senate rules just for a carve-out to allow voting rights legislation to pass.

By speaking out before Biden arrived, Sinema ended what little suspense there was in the long-shot effort to get her and Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) to flip their support of filibuster rules. This rendered Biden’s hour-long meeting with Democrats a theoretical discussion about Senate history and his own vision of the chamber he served in for decades.



Ukraine Hit by Cyberattack as Russia Moves More Troops


Ukraine was hit by a suspected Russian cyberattack that splashed a warning across government websites to "be afraid and expect the worst," while Russia, which has massed 100,000 troops on its neighbor's frontier, on released pictures of more of its forces on the move.

The cyberattack unfolded hours after talks wrapped up with no breakthrough between Russia and Western allies, which fear Moscow could launch a new military assault on a country it invaded in 2014.

Kyiv said President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had proposed a three-way meeting with the leaders of Russia and the United States. Zelenskiy's chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said the "life and death" of his country hung in the balance.

US intelligence indicates Russia preparing operation to justify invasion of Ukraine
'Be afraid': Ukraine hit by cyberattack as Russia moves more troops
U.S. Considers Backing an Insurgency, After Battling One



Tulsi Gabbard: Biden’s speech worse than Hillary Clinton’s ‘deplorable’ comments

                        Former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, of Hawaii, hosts a town hall meeting at the Keene Public Library, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Keene, N.H. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP) ** FILE **

A former Democratic presidential-primary candidate said President Biden’s Atlanta speech accusing half of America of racism was even worse than Hillary Clinton’s notorious “deplorable” comments.

Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii said on Twitter that Mr. Biden was promoting divisiveness and had hit a new low when, among other things, he said his voting bill determines whether one is “on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace … John Lewis or Bull Connor … Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis.”

“Hillary’s calling tens of millions of Americans deplorables was divisive & disgusting. But Biden has gone further, calling those who disagree with his actions & policies domestic enemies, traitors, and racists,” Ms. Gabbard wrote.

“Biden promised to unite us, but he is doing all he can do [to] divide us,” she concluded.



GOP senator plans to introduce FAUCI Act after clash at hearing


Republican Sen. Roger Marshall (Kan.) plans to introduce a bill named after Anthony Fauci after he clashed with the nation's top infectious diseases expert at a Senate hearing this week.

Marshall will be introducing the Financial Accountability for Uniquely Compensated Individuals (FAUCI) Act after he said Fauci's records were not readily accessible to the public, a spokesperson for the senator told The Hill.

The FAUCI Act would require the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) website to provide the financial records of administration officials like Fauci and a list of those in the government whose financial records are not public.



Comeback kid? Hillary Clinton 2024 speculation rises as Biden’s stock falls

Two Democratic insiders float possibility of Clinton return in 2024
                       Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pa., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ** FILE **

Reports of Hillary Clinton’s political demise may have been greatly exaggerated.

President Biden’s tanking poll numbers have fueled speculation that Mrs. Clinton could mount a political comeback in 2024, riding to the rescue with the party’s legislative agenda in disarray and no clear successor on the horizon.

Two Democratic insiders — pollster Douglas E. Schoen and former Manhattan Borough President Andrew Stein — laid out the case in a Wednesday op-ed, arguing that Mrs. Clinton could spearhead a move to the middle and calling her the party’s “likely best option” in the 2024 presidential race.

Republicans guffawed at the Clinton conjecture, saying the Democrats are in deep trouble if she represents the party’s best hope for the future.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, characterized the chatter as “an embarrassment for the Democrats, but it also shows the predicament that they’re in.”



Schumer punts on election law, but vows vote on blowing up filibuster
                   
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, speaks to the media after Senate Democrats met privately with President Joe Biden, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.  ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer is punting the debate on rewriting the nation’s voting laws to next week, but promising to force a vote on blowing up the filibuster if for no other reason than to put every lawmaker “on record.”

The New York Democrat announced the schedule change late Thursday after two members of his caucus announced their opposition to gutting the 60-vote filibuster threshold. Officially, Mr. Schumer said the delay was due to the weather and one Senate Democrat self-quarantining after testing positive for the coronavirus.

“Due to the circumstances regarding COVID and another potentially hazardous winter storm approaching the D.C. area this weekend, the Senate will adjourn tonight,” Mr. Schumer said. “We will return on Tuesday to take up the House-passed message containing voting rights legislation.” 

The Senate was supposed to vote on two partisan voting measures this weekend. If the chamber failed because of a GOP filibuster, Mr. Schumer pledged to hold a vote on blowing up the 60-vote threshold.



US Retail Sales Plunge 1.9 Percent in December


U.S. retail sales tumbled in December as Americans struggled with shortages of goods and an explosion of COVID-19 infections, but that will likely not change expectations that economic growth accelerated in the fourth quarter.

Retail sales dropped 1.9% last month after rising 0.2% in November, the Commerce Department said on Friday.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales unchanged. Estimates ranged from as low as a drop of 2.0% to as high as a 0.8% increase.



Businesses React to Ruling Against Biden Vaccine Mandate


For companies that were waiting to hear from the U.S. Supreme Court before deciding whether to require vaccinations or regular coronavirus testing for workers, the next move is up to them.

Many large corporations were silent on Thursday's ruling by the high court to block a requirement that workers at businesses with at least 100 employees be fully vaccinated or else test regularly for COVID-19 and wear a mask on the job.

Target's response was typical: The big retailer said it wanted to review the decision and “how it will impact our team and business.”

The Biden administration argues that nothing in federal law prevents private businesses from imposing their own vaccine requirements.


More Top News

RNC threatens to pull out of presidential debates over biased moderators, diminished credibility

Oath Keepers founder, 10 others charged with 'seditious conspiracy' linked to Jan. 6

In conservative Orange County, a Republican DA faces a left-wing challenge



Liar in state: Harry Reid, master of corruption, finally dead


Nobody in American history is more deserving to lie in state inside the Rotunda of the United States Capitol than former Sen. Harry Reid.

He spent every day of his 35-year political career in Washington lying. Why shouldn’t he continue to do so now that he is dead?

Big things. Little things. Irrelevant political things. Profound matters of life and death. Reid lied about everything.



Biden chooses hate and division over patriotism and optimism

Those who oppose any part of Democratic agenda will be targets

What you hear these days from the Democrats isn’t madness. They haven’t lost their minds, but they are in a desperate panic for a good reason. Historically throughout the world, no one has wanted what the left ultimately vomits up onto a society. For a while, leftists can fake being genuinely concerned about policy and the quality of people’s lives, but that’s a lie, and eventually, they’re exposed as the grifters and abusers that they are.

We are at that stage right now here in our beloved United States.

The Democrats are now taking a page from all the world’s banana republics and totalitarian regimes by declaring their critics and political opponents’ criminals. Or, even better, terrorists!

This slide into demonizing our fellow Americans is as appalling as it is predictable.  

" 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. 

Citation

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…