Thursday December 1st, 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 199
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World & Nation

Dems ready to reshuffle nominating calendar for 2024, eye booting too-White Iowa from kickoff spot

                                  Iowa Democratic Party chairman Troy Price walks off stage after speaking about the delay in Iowa caucus results, Feb. 4, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. AP VoteCast is an extensive survey of more than 94,000 voters. It reveals U.S. voters' views on some of the most significant issues affecting the nation. And some of the least significant, too. In Iowa, the survey dug into voters' feelings about being the first in the nation to caucus for their party's next presidential nominee. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status in Democratic presidential nomination contests is hanging by a thread.

Nevada is seeking to usurp New Hampshire’s role as the first-in-the-nation primary.

South Carolina’s standing as the first marquee test of support from Black voters is in jeopardy with the more populous Michigan looking to jump the line.

Minnesota, meanwhile, is making the case that it should replace Iowa as the gateway to the Midwest — not Michigan, setting up a Big Ten showdown that could dramatically alter the path to the party’s presidential nod.



Sen. John Barrasso urges Energy Dept. to fire Sam Brinton amid stolen-luggage charges


The senior Republican on the Senate Energy Committee wants Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to fire Sam Brinton, the nuclear energy official who faces felony charges after being accused of stealing luggage at a Minneapolis airport.

Video surveillance on Sept. 16 showed Brinton, who’s known as the “first gender-fluid person in the federal government,” taking a woman’s hard-sided Vera Bradley roller suitcase from the airport’s baggage claim area.

Brinton claimed not to know about the bag but later claimed to have taken the bag by mistake only to realize later that it belonged to someone else.

“It is in the interest of both the Department’s mission and our national security that the Deputy Assistant Secretary’s clearance be immediately revoked,” Mr. Barrasso wrote to Ms. Granholm in reference to Brinton. “Additionally, the Department should undertake all necessary steps to terminate their employment immediately.”

An Energy Department spokesman previously said Brinton is on leave pending a Dec. 19 hearing in Hennepin County, Minnesota, on felony theft charges.



Trump's tax returns now in the hands of House Democrats after lengthy court battle

                                    Trump's tax returns now in the hands of House Democrats after lengthy court battle

A Democratic-led House committee now has access to six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns after a multiyear court fight.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that it had complied with last week's Supreme Court decision that paved the way for the returns to be handed over to the House Ways and Means Committee.

The panel didn’t immediately return a request for comment. CNN first reported that the committee had received the tax returns.

Even though the Treasury Department said it has complied with the court’s decision, it’s unclear whether anyone on the committee has actually seen the tax returns at this point, or what the process will be for accessing them.



A second appeals court deals a blow to Biden’s student debt relief plan

                                        President Joe Biden answers questions with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona as they leave an event about the student debt relief portal beta test in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) ** FILE **

Another federal appeals court has rejected President Biden’s attempt to move forward with his student debt relief plan while lawsuits over the program inch toward the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit refused late Wednesday to lift a ruling from a Texas court that struck down the policy as illegal.

The decision offers more evidence the Supreme Court will have to weigh in on Mr. Biden’s plan, which offers $10,000 in relief to many federal student loan holders and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients.

Previously, the Biden administration asked the justices to reverse an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit that blocked his plan.



McCarthy to Jan. 6 Panel: Save All Your Findings for GOP Investigators


The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 unrest at the Capitol has largely gone unchallenged in recent months, since the allegations levied against former President Donald Trump and other prominent conservatives weren't subject to cross-examination.

Beginning in January, though, the House Republicans could be going on offense.

On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told the House select committee to preserve its findings from the Capitol rally — including information that didn't make it into the panel's final report.



White House Put Congress in Bind With Rail Strike Vote


The House of Representatives was put into a "horrible position" by the White House by having to vote to block a rail strike, Rep. Beth Van Duyne, R-Texas, told Newsmax on Wednesday.

The House voted 290-137 on Wednesday to block the strike, which could have cost the U.S. about $2 billion a day, imposing a labor agreement between rail companies and their workers.

Four of the 12 unions that represent more than 100,000 employees at large freight rail carriers voted against a labor agreement brokered by the Biden administration. The unions had threatened to strike if an agreement wasn't reached by a Dec. 9 deadline.

"It was a horrible position the White House put us in by not being able to handle this back in September, when this was first on their radar," Van Duyne told "American Agenda." "You have [President Joe] Biden coming to us hat in hand, tail between his legs having to beg now Congress to act because his administration failed."



'I don't know about that': Biden casts doubt on 2024 run


President Joe Biden cast doubt on his potential 2024 reelection bid Wednesday while speaking at the White House Tribal Nations Summit.

Biden just finished delivering his speech when an unknown person in the crowd shouted "four more years" at the president. The president waved the comment off and thanked the person.

"I don't know about that," Biden said. "Thanks — thank you."

Biden's remark on the next presidential election comes a little less than a month after he and the Democratic Party experienced better-than-expected results from the 2022 midterm elections, with the party keeping control of the Senate and winning multiple gubernatorial elections across the United States. Ahead of the midterm elections, the Republican Party was expected to achieve massive gains in both chambers of Congress, though the "red wave" ultimately failed to materialize.



Zelensky says Ukraine preparing a ‘powerful countermeasure’ against Russia

                                         Zelensky says Ukraine preparing a ‘powerful countermeasure’ against Russia  

President Zelensky on Wednesday said Ukraine is preparing a “powerful countermeasure” against Russian forces and planning “new solutions” to deal with continued attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure. 

“We are analyzing the intentions of the occupiers and are preparing a countermeasure — an even more powerful countermeasure than now,” Zelensky said in his most recent nightly address to Ukrainians.

Though the president didn’t go into detail on what the countermeasure would look like, he said Kyiv is focused on issues in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, as well as Crimea and other front-line areas. 

Ukraine mounted a successful counteroffensive against Russia earlier this year, delivering some battlefield setbacks to Moscow’s forces and pushing occupiers back to the border in some places. Now, the country is weathering an onslaught of Russian missile attacks and dealing with a battered power system.


19,000 millionaires collected unemployment during the pandemic


Thousands of millionaires were collecting government unemployment checks while essential workers were paying into the system during the coronavirus pandemic, according to IRS data.

More than 19,000 tax filers who reported earning at least $1 million in 2020 also collected unemployment benefits that year. They walked away with more than a quarter of a billion dollars in payments, the IRS found.

Among them were 229 taxpayers who earned at least $10 million that year yet also applied for and took unemployment payments. Nearly 700 more taxpayers collected jobless benefits despite making $5 million to $10 million.



FBI denies purging conservative employees in letter to Jim Jordan
Jordan may escalate his FBI probe once taking control of the House Judiciary Committee

The FBI denied accusations from Republicans on Capitoll Hill that it has purged conservative employees from its ranks under President Biden's administration on Thursday.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has sent a slew of letters to the FBI alleging the organization has become a tool of the Biden administration and, among other things, had removed conservative employees from their posts over their political views. Jill Tyson, the FBI's assistant director of its Office of Congressional Affairs, responded with her own letter Thursday.

"The FBI has strong procedures in place to promote accountability when an FBI employee strays from their obligations—including employee actions that create the appearance of political, social, or other bias," she wrote in response to the purging allegation, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Punchbowl News.



DeSantis says Disney ‘brought this on themselves’ after CEO Iger seeks to turn down heat


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t necessarily ready to let bygones be bygones when it comes to Disney’s attack on his Parental Rights in Education law.

The Republican governor said it was the Walt Disney Co. that started the feud after returning CEO Robert Iger extended an olive branch, reportedly telling employees at a Monday town hall that he wanted to “quiet things down” and was “sorry to see us dragged into that battle.”

Mr. DeSantis took issue with Mr. Iger’s use of the passive voice.

“We didn’t drag them in, Tucker. They went in on their own, and not only opposed the bill, they threatened to get it repealed,” Mr. DeSantis told Fox News host Tucker Carlson in a Tuesday night interview.

The bill, derided by foes as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-3.



More

Protests in China of Xi’s harsh COVID lockdowns amid weak vaccines puts pressure on state to act

Senate confirms Pentagon inspector general as funding for Ukraine increases

Darkest hour: Cold, brutal winter awaits Ukraine as Russia relentlessly hits civilian targets

Chinese military’s future warfare will aspire to ‘information dominance,’ Pentagon warns



A Blood Libel on Netflix

Feeding false and anti-Jewish information to the masses

On Thursday, December 1, Netflix will start streaming a blood libel.

The Jordanian film Farha focuses on the experiences of a young girl during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The protagonist, Farha, spends much of the movie watching as fictionalized, heartless Israeli soldiers brutalize Palestinian families, viciously killing men, women and children in cold blood. There is of course no documentation (Israeli, British, or Arab,) of any of the events in the film because they never actually happened; at the very least the film admits that it is ‘dramatized’ and does not pretend to be factual. But that does not mean it will not have an outsized impact on anti-Jewish hate and violence. Many people will watch the movie; few will stop to wonder if perhaps the whole thing was made up. 

And it is not just the demonizing, dehumanizing, and deceitful depictions of the ‘Jewish soldiers’ that are problematic. The movie is meant to depict the events of the ‘nakba’- a fanciful retelling of the 1948 war in which the would-be genocidal Arab armies failed to destroy a newborn Jewish state (and kill all its inhabitants in the process), along with those who tried to help them do it are romantically recast as the helpless victims of a horrible catastrophe. The foundational myth of forced displacement is at the root of much of modern anti-Zionism, and it is demonstrably false. There are primary sources- from the Arab side- attesting to the fact that the vast majority of Arabs who left their homes did so voluntarily, or under orders from the invading, not the Israeli, armed forces. Facts do matter, even when the people you are lying about are Jewish, and the entire story at the heart of this film is a lie.



Democrats’ hatred for Harris keeps Biden alive in 2024

Will she even be his VP pick if he chooses to run again?

Just a few months ago, Democrats were looking to move on from President Biden. The daily news was full of reports that the now 80-year-old self-proclaimed “gaffe machine” faced historic losses in the House and Senate amid a dismal economy and soaring inflation.

Half of the Democratic voters surveyed in the latest poll believe Mr. Biden “should be the nominee and deserves reelection.” That’s up 6 points from August.

But there’s another major dynamic at play. Democrats just don’t like Vice President Kamala Harris.

A recent survey from Morning Consult found that just 28% of Democratic voters would vote for Ms. Harris in a Democratic presidential primary without Mr. Biden on the ballot, down from 33% in a poll last year. Those numbers do not get you into the White House.

Ms. Harris, it turns out, is even more unpopular than her predecessors.
" 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
                                                                                                                             See the source image
THOMAS JEROME HUDNER JR.

RANK: LIEUTENANT, J.G.
CONFLICT/ERA: KOREAN WAR

MILITARY SERVICE BRANCH: U.S. NAVY
MEDAL OF HONOR ACTION DATE: DECEMBER 4, 1950

MEDAL OF HONOR ACTION PLACE: CHOSIN RESERVOIR, KOREA
CITATION

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a pilot in Fighter Squadron 32, while attempting to rescue a squadron mate whose plane, struck by antiaircraft fire and trailing smoke, was forced down behind enemy lines. Quickly maneuvering to circle the downed pilot and protect him from enemy troops infesting the area, Lt. (j.g.) Hudner risked his life to save the injured flier who was trapped alive in the burning wreckage. Fully aware of the extreme danger in landing on the rough mountainous terrain, and the scant hope of escape or survival in subzero temperature, he put his plane down skillfully in a deliberate wheels-up landing in the presence of enemy troops. With his bare hands, he packed the fuselage with snow to keep the flames away from the pilot and struggled to pull him free. Unsuccessful in this he returned to his crashed aircraft and radioed other airborne planes, requesting that a helicopter be dispatched with an ax and fire extinguisher. He then remained on the spot despite the continuing danger from enemy action and, with the assistance of the rescue pilot, renewed a desperate but unavailing battle against time, cold, and flames. Lt. (j.g.) Hudner's exceptionally valiant action and selfless devotion to a shipmate sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.


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.”