Tuesday April 12th, 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
Federal officials urge pause in J&J COVID-19 vaccine over 'extremely rare' clots
States swiftly halt use, redirect people to other versions
             

Vaccinators scrambled to reschedule COVID-19 appointments Tuesday after federal health officials advised them to stop using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because six recipients out of nearly 7 million experienced serious blood clots.

The sudden halt is an unexpected blow to the U.S. rollout and raised immediate questions about whether the clots were frequent enough to merit a pause.

The one-shot J&J vaccine is highly efficient and was gathering steam after production stumbles. But officials said they needed to investigate clotting that’s caused one death and is difficult to treat.



Biden will not bend on $400,000 'line in the sand' on tax hikes, says economic adviser
                President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with lawmakers to discuss the American Jobs Plan in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, April 12, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A top economic adviser to President Biden said Tuesday that Mr. Biden is willing to work with Republicans on his $2.3 trillion infrastructure but that he will not compromise on sparing people earning less than $400,000 per year from any planned tax increases.

“He said, and I quoted this … compromise is inevitable. And that’s part of how Joe Biden works. I mean, he will always reach across the aisle, try to cooperate,” Jared Bernstein, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, told several reporters outside the White House.

“But a couple of points on this: One, if you have a different pay-for bring it to the table — but it can’t violate the $400,000 line in the sand, right?” Mr. Bernstein said. “He has consistently argued that any of the tax increases have to hold harmless people below 400K. So that’s going to be a rule he’s not going to bend on and that’s probably the right way to think about it.”

The White House has said the $400,000 threshold applies to both individuals and families.



Defense Sec. Austin Reverses Trump Troop Cut Plans in Germany

                    Defense Sec. Austin Reverses Trump Troop Cut Plans in Germany

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Tuesday that he is expanding the U.S. military presence in Germany by 500 troops and has stopped planning for large-scale troop cuts ordered by the Trump administration.

“This planned increase in U.S. personnel underscores our commitment to Germany and the entire NATO alliance,” Austin said in a notable counterpoint to the Trump administration’s repeated complaints that Germany is a weak partner on defense and security.

Austin made the announcement after talks with German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on his first tour of Europe since becoming Pentagon chief in January.



40 Arrested in Violent Minnesota Protests


Fresh protests broke out late Monday around Minneapolis despite a curfew implemented after a police officer fatally shot a young Black man, fueling tensions in a region already on edge over  of the George Floyd murder trial.

Dozens of protesters waved signs and chanted slogans in front of the police station in Brooklyn Center, the suburb where Sunday's killing occurred.

Demonstrators taunted police through newly erected wire fencing around the station, and carried signs saying "Jail all racist killer cops," "Am I next?" and "No justice, no peace."

Police fired tear gas at the protesters several times and ordered them to disperse. About 40 people were arrested, several officers suffered minor injuries and there was sporadic looting elsewhere in the area, law enforcement officials said.


Democrats reject compromise on Biden's infrastructure bill

Republicans question president's pledge of bipartisanship

Senate Republicans panned President Biden’s infrastructure package as a “dog’s breakfast” of wasteful spending and voiced skepticism about the White House’s efforts to win bipartisan support for the massive $2.3 trillion plan.

The president said Monday that he wants to move forward with members of both parties, but congressional Democrats already are making moves to again go it alone.

Mr. Biden said at the beginning of a nearly two-hour meeting with lawmakers that he’s not simply going through the motions on his Republican outreach and that he’s willing to compromise.



Japan approves plan to dump 1 million tons of wastewater from Fukushima nuclear disaster into the sea, arguing that it has been treated and isn't harmful


Wastewater used to cool the Fukushima nuclear reactor is due to be released into the ocean after treatment, Japanese officials announced on Tuesday.

It is part of the nation's plan to decommission the power station that was destroyed in a 2011 tsunami, causing one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.

Japan had previously warned that it was running out of space to contain the more than 1 million tons of treated contaminated water in storage tanks on-site.

Fukushima Wastewater Will Be Released Into the Ocean, Japan Says



Biden's govern-by-polls 'bipartisanship' bound to backfire, Republicans say


President Biden adopted a governing-by-polls strategy to circumvent the GOP but claims he is fulfilling his pledge to bring bipartisanship back to Washington.

The strategy, however, exposes Mr. Biden to a powerful reversal in the long-term, according to Republicans who say polling also shows a broad spectrum of support for ideas that make Democrats’ heads spin.

“If he wants to use voter support as an indication of bipartisanship, then he should be strongly and enthusiastically supporting voter ID laws, protecting our borders and not spending us into oblivion and a whole lot of other things that most American agree with,” said Charlie Gerow, a Pennsylvania-based Republican consultant and member of the American Conservative Union.



Egypt seizes the Ever Given, saying its owners owe nearly $1 billion for Suez Canal traffic jam


A few weeks ago, Egypt was frantically trying to get the massive container ship Ever Given out of the Suez Canal.

Now, authorities are saying the vessel is not allowed to leave.

In the latest complication to the ill-fated voyage, Egypt has seized the Ever Given over its owners’ “failure to pay an amount of $900 million,” the state-run news outlet Ahram Gate reported. That amount represents the total compensation that Egypt says it is owed for the six-day blockage of the Suez Canal, including lost revenue from ships that ordinarily would have traveled through the canal during that time, as well as costs for damage to the crucial waterway and the equipment and labor deployed in the 144-hour scramble to free the ship.



Biden spending spree costs two Iraq Wars in three months

In the 48 years since he arrived on the banks of the Potomac, federal debt has exploded

Meet Joe Biden, America’s drunken sailor.

When Mr. Biden first came to Washington during the previous mini-Ice Age, federal debt was about $450 billion — a quaint little figure when you think about it these days.

In the 48 years since Mr. Biden arrived on the banks of the Potomac, federal debt has exploded. Today, it stands at $28 trillion — a figure that is literally beyond comprehension.



'Jim Crow' political analogies need to stop

Constant use of hysterical racialized language has consequences

We need a new rule. Just as no modern political leader is “Hitler,” no current U.S. government policy is “Jim Crow.”

By this point, every Internet kid is familiar with Godwin’s Law: That, as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of one or more participants being compared to Hitler/the Nazis approaches 100%.

But, here’s the thing: The second “clause” of the law — per U.S. lawyer Bill Godwin himself — is that the first person to make the Hitler comparison always loses the argument. Why? Because no current policy positions are in fact comparable to those held by Adolf Hitler, who was responsible for the Holocaust and the world’s only nuclear war while Supreme Leader of 3rd Reich Germany.



Truth or Dare
     by Geoff Metcalf

“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”
           ― Flannery O'Connor

When NBC’s Lester Holt shrouded in self-righteous sophism proclaimed journalists don’t do ‘truth’, I said bad words. Joe Klaas was apparently correct when he noted, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
When accepting the Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism, NBC anchor Lester Holt said, “fairness is overrated”.

"I think it’s become clear that fairness is overrated. ... The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in," Holt said.

Holt, either by plan or oversight said, “That the sun sets in the west is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention," Holt continued. "Decisions to not give unsupported arguments equal time are not a dereliction of journalistic responsibility or some kind of agenda. In fact, it’s just the opposite." Sophistry!

Holt also railed against "providing an open platform for misinformation,” saying that allowing “anyone to come say whatever they want, especially when issues of public health and safety are at stake, can be quite dangerous.” And that is a good thing Lester.

The key problem with the pretension of Holt et al saying news organizations should vet and triage controversial news is, who decides? What editor gets to decide the conventional wisdom when a group of experts claims we are about to enter a new Ice Age, or the only defense against a pandemic is isolation?

April 28, 1975, Newsweek published a provocative article, “The Cooling World,” in which writer and science editor Peter Gwynne described a significant chilling of the world’s climate, with evidence accumulating “so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it.” He when on to postulate shorter growing seasons and poor crop yields, famine, and shipping lanes blocked by ice, perhaps to begin as soon as the mid-1980s. Meteorologists, he wrote, were “almost unanimous” in the opinion that our planet was getting colder. Over the years that followed, Gwynne’s article became one of the most-cited stories in Newsweek’s history. However, he was wrong…way wrong.

The obvious corollary is today’s politically correct contention that Global Warming will kill the planet. Notwithstanding THOUSANDS of for real scientists who naysay the Al Gore gang, Holt and his ilk would deny you, me, or anyone from hearing contradictory and/or mitigating science which does not comply with the elitists cause du jour.

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” said Oscar Wilde in The Importance of Being Earnest.

Empirical facts cannot be disputed: who, what, where, when is going to be reported the same from the left and the right. However, the why and how is where the reader gets sucked into the editorializing muck. One man’s “freedom fighter” is another man’s “terrorist”…one man’s “objective scientist” is another man’s “bought and paid for sycophant”.

According to a January Axios polls, just 46% of people trust traditional news media, and trust in social media has plummeted to 27%.

Additionally, 56% of the poll respondents said they agreed that "Journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations."

“The truth." Dumbledore sighed. "It is a beautiful and terrible thing and should therefore be treated with great caution.”

Aldous Huxley clearly noted, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

An editorial Star Chamber (which is kinda/sorta what Holt seems to want) can attempt to sequester politically incorrect facts or nuance from the unwashed masses, but they only serve to validate George Orwell.  “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

We are in that "time of deceit" and the mainstream media should be providing light not creating safe haven shadow lands for evil to fester and grow.

" 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 London Telegraph reported in December of 1997 that the Civil liberties Committee of the European Parliament had officially confirmed the existence and purpose of ECHELON. “A global electronic spy network that can eavesdrop on every telephone, e-mail and telex communication around the world will be officially acknowledged for the first time in a European Commission report. …”

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 relatively 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…