Thursday January 13th, 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

Biden administration slaps sanctions on North Korea for ballistic missile test

                       People watch a TV showing a file image of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. North Korea on Tuesday fired what appeared to be a ballistic missile into its eastern sea, its second weapons launch in a week, the militaries of South Korea and Japan said. The Korean letters read "UN Security Council meeting." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

The Biden administration slapped sanctions on five North Korean officials in response to the totalitarian regime’s latest ballistic missile test.
 
The Treasury Department said late Wednesday the sanctions were imposed on the five officials because they helped obtain equipment and technology for Pyongyang’s missile program.
In addition, the State Department sanctioned another North Korean man and a Russian company for their support of the program.

However, none of the officials sanctioned actually reside in North Korea. One lives in Russia, and the other four operate in China.
All are alleged to have provided money, goods or services to North Korea’s Second Academy of Natural Sciences, which the Treasury Department says boosts the regime’s military defense program.
 
The sanctions freeze any assets the targets have stashed away in the U.S., prohibit Americans from doing business with them and could punish foreign companies for working with the individuals.
 


A new national holiday, redistricting reform and more: What's in Dems' latest voting bills


Democrats are making a renewed push to get federal voting legislation through the closely divided Senate, a move President Joe Biden continues to advocate.

Two voting bills are being weighed in the Senate.

The first is a wide-ranging measure called the Freedom to Vote Act, a compromise bill crafted by Senate Democrats after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he wouldn't support a more expansive House bill, the For the People Act. That bill, which was first introduced in 2019 — before the latest surge of restrictive bills passed by Republican legislatures — included a lengthy list of Democratic priorities.

The second bill, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, is an update to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, signed on as a co-sponsor. A version of the legislation has already passed the House.



McCarthy snubs House Jan. 6 committee, accuses Dems of using probe power to damage GOP

                          House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., responds to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 3, 2021, about the behavior of Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo. McCarthy appears to have settled on a strategy to deal with a handful of Republican lawmakers who have stirred outrage with violent, racist and sometimes Islamophobic comments. If you can't police them, promote them. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has declined a request by House Jan. 6 committee to turn over documents and participate in an interview, saying he wouldn’t lend legitimacy to the partisan probe.

Mr. McCarthy said the Democratic-run committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was engaged in a partisan “abuse of power.”

“The committee’s only objective is to attempt to damage its political opponents — acting like the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee one day and the DOJ the next.,” Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, said in a statement.

The panel sent a letter to Mr. McCarthy on Wednesday seeking further information about his correspondence with President Trump leading up to and after the Capitol riot.



Marine researcher: COVID virus made in Chinese lab as bat vaccine

                          In this file photo, security personnel gather near the entrance of the Wuhan Institute of Virology during a visit by the World Health Organization team in Wuhan in China's Hubei province on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. A Marine Corps officer working with DARPA disclosed in a memorandum in August 2021 that his study of the virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic concluded that it was produced as part of vaccine research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, according to documents made public by a conservative investigative group. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)  **FILE**

A Marine Corps officer working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency disclosed in a memorandum last August that his study of the virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic concluded that it was produced as part of vaccine research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, according to documents made public by a conservative investigative group.

Maj. Joseph P. Murphy notified the Pentagon inspector general that his analysis of the virus origin concluded the nongovernment organization EcoHealth Alliance, the National Institutes of Health, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology produced the virus known as SARS-CoV-2 through controversial gain-of-function research outlined in a Pentagon grant proposal.

“SARS-CoV-2 is an American-created recombinant bat vaccine, or its precursor virus,” Maj. Murphy stated in an August 13, 2021, memo made public this week by Project Veritas. “It was created by an EcoHealth Alliance program at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), as suggested by the reporting surrounding the lab leak hypothesis.”



Sick staff. Endless COVID patients. Doctors 'just scraping by' as Omicron sweeps hospitals

                          
On a single day this week, 616 staffers called out sick with COVID-19 at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. Without nearly a tenth of its workers — doctors, nurses, administrators and janitors — the hospital assigned the National Guard to help with an unrelenting swarm of patients, many of them critically ill.

Registered nurse Rafael Sanchez, left, evaluates COVID-19 patient Ramona Brewster in a triage area in the ER parking lot of the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, Calif., on Jan. 11, 2022. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times) Provided by LA Times Registered nurse Rafael Sanchez, left, evaluates COVID-19 patient Ramona Brewster in a triage area in the ER parking lot of the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, Calif., on Jan. 11, 2022. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Such scenes around the nation have been brutal as the highly transmissible — if less deadly — Omicron variant has set a record of nearly 2 million infection cases each week. That surge has battered healthcare systems, sapped the morale of doctors and nurses, delayed thousands of surgeries, postponed treatments for life-threatening diseases such as cancer and turned hospitals into around-the-clock triage centers where nerves bristle and anger echoes alongside despair.

1,000 military deploy to hospitals...
19 states running out of ICU beds...
California tells infected medical workers to stay on job!
LA trauma center shuts after blood shortage...
Omicron disrupts essential services...
Supermarkets Cut Hours...
WHO: Death rate 'unsustainably high'...
French teachers walk over confusion...
HOPE: UK Wave Receding!



US Sending 1,000 Military Health Workers to COVID Hot Spots


Another 1,000 military health workers are deploying to six U.S. states beginning next week to help hospitals overwhelmed by a surge in omicron-related COVID-19 cases, President Joe Biden said Thursday.

Teams of seven to 25 military doctors, nurses, and other personnel will begin arriving in Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island to support emergency rooms and free hospital staff for other care, a White House official said.

Biden, in a morning address with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, announced that the administration will deploy 1,000 service mebers, starting immediately with 120 military medical personnel, to six states to help hospitals deal with a surge in cases from the Omicron variant.


POLL: BIDEN APPROVAL SINKS TO 33%...

 In a sharply divided country, Americans agree on this: the bigger danger to the United States comes from within. Seventy-six percent say they think political instability within the country is a bigger danger to the United States compared to the 19 percent who think other countries that are adversaries of the United States are the bigger danger, according to a Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pea-ack) University national poll of adults released today.

Democrats say 83 - 13 percent, independents say 78 - 19 percent, and Republicans say 66 - 29 percent that political instability in the U.S. is the bigger danger.

A majority of Americans, 58 - 37 percent, think the nation's democracy is in danger of collapse.

Republicans say 62 - 36 percent, independents say 57 - 39 percent, and Democrats say 56 - 37 percent they think the nation's democracy is in danger of collapse.

Just over half of Americans (53 percent) expect political divisions in the country to worsen over their lifetime, 28 percent expect them to remain about the same, and 15 percent expect them to ease.



Democrats seek to ram through Biden judicial nominee despite criminal record

Senate Democrats are moving to push through President Biden’s choice for a plum circuit court judgeship, despite the nominee having a criminal record and GOP lawmakers being offered little input.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is moving forward on Mr. Biden’s nomination of Andre Mathis of Tennessee to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The confirmation process advances over the objection of Tennessee’s two Republican senators, who say they have been blindsided by both congressional Democrats and the White House.

The lawmakers, Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, argue that the White House ignored Congress’ longstanding rules and traditions governing the nominations process.



Fears of Ukraine invasion rise as Russia talks fail to reach breakthrough

U.S., NATO eye more talks after lengthy session in Brussels
                                    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, center, and Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, fourth right, arrive for the NATO-Russia Council at NATO headquarters, in Brussels, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. (Olivier Hoslet, Pool Photo via AP)

Fears rose Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is intent on invading Ukraine, as U.S. and NATO talks with Russian officials failed to produce a commitment from Moscow to draw down its major troop buildup along the border with the developing U.S.-aligned democracy.

The Biden administration and top NATO officials sought to put a positive spin on the high-stakes talks. Analysts warned that the Kremlin has exploited meetings this week in Brussels and Vienna to buy time to prepare for a move against Ukraine.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman, head of the American delegation, told reporters that U.S. and NATO officials stood firm in rejecting key Russian security demands for easing tensions over Ukraine, but left open the possibility of further talks with Moscow.



Russia Won't Rule Out Military Deployment to Cuba, Venezuela


Russia on Thursday sharply raised the stakes in its dispute with the West over Ukraine, with a top diplomat refusing to rule out a Russian military deployment to Cuba and Venezuela if tensions with the United States mount.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who led the Russian delegation in Monday’s talks with the U.S. in Geneva, said he could “neither confirm nor exclude” the possibility of Russia sending military assets to Cuba and Venezuela if the talks fail and U.S. pressure on Russia mounts.

The Russia-U.S. negotiations in Geneva and a subsequent NATO-Russia meeting failed to narrow the gap on Moscow’s security demands amid a buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine. While Moscow demanded a halt to NATO expansion, Washington and its allies firmly rejected that as a nonstarter.



More Top News

Inflation saps family budgets, defies Democrats' assurances

CDC report: U.S. abortion rate rose for second consecutive year

Energy industry blames Biden's oil-and-gas crackdown for higher prices

All the fact-checkers in the world can't save the public health community's clown show



Just say no to Biden and Fauci’s universal vaccination nation

America's quasi-vaccines significantly riskier than public health officials have disclosed

In this declaration of independence from a “Forced Universal Vaccination Policy,” we hold these truths to be evident:

SARS-CoV-2 appears to be a bioweapon genetically engineered at the Wuhan Institute of Virology using gain-of-function technologies transferred to China by Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institutes of Health bureaucracy and funded in part by both NIH and the threat mitigation branch of the Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

China’s virus has killed millions, undermined the economies of China’s rivals and destabilized Western-style democracies through panicky authoritarian measures such as vaccine passports, economic lockdowns and mask/vaccination mandates.

No vaccine exists capable of eradicating the virus comparable to vaccines for diseases like polio and smallpox, and COVID-19 has entered a variety of animal reservoirs. At this point, it cannot be eradicated by any human vaccine.



Mayor Eric Adams’ New York: No longer ‘Fun City’

He is already disappointing

“Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained but happy is one who keeps the Law.” (Proverbs 29:18)

That didn’t last long. The optimism surrounding New York City’s new mayor, Eric Adams, seems to be quickly eroding due to several self-inflicted political wounds.

Mr. Adams has endorsed a new policy that allows 800,000 noncitizens to vote in municipal elections. Republicans have filed a lawsuit contending the law violates the state constitution. It would also set a bad precedent. Trust in election outcomes is already being eroded, and this law will continue the trend if it is upheld.

" 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…