Tuesday January 11th, 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

North Korea launches second missile test of new year amid stalled talks with the U.S.
South Korea concerned; claims of hypersonic status questioned

                      
This photo provided by the North Korean government, shows what it says a test launch of a hypersonic missile in North Korea on Jan. 5, 2022. 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 has conducted a second major missile test of the new year, firing into the sea what South Korean officials say could be an upgrade of its claimed “hypersonic” missile technology.

Pyongyang’s renewed military tests, which were quickly condemned by both the United States and Japan, provide worrying evidence of what could be growing impatience by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with the stalled nuclear talks with the Biden administration, even as the North faces severe economic stresses at home.

The North’s nuclear and ballistic capabilities remain as opaque as ever: The Pentagon said it is still assessing the regime’s claims that it test-fired a hypersonic missile last week. If true, it would amount to a significant escalation of tensions between Pyongyang and Seoul — along with the United States.




Inflation dominates Powell’s confirmation hearing for a second term steering the Fed

Told Senate Banking Committee central bank is strongly committed to keeping prices stable
                             FILE - Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks to lawmakers during a House Committee on Financial Services hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 1, 2021. With inflation surging, unemployment falling and wages rising, some economists are warning that the Federal Reserve may have waited too long to reverse its ultra-low-rate policies — a delay that could put the economy at heightened risk. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told lawmakers Tuesday that the central bank is “strongly committed” to keeping prices stable, as he seeks confirmation for a second four-year term.

In testimony to the Senate Banking Committee, Mr. Powell acknowledged the impact that record-high inflation has had on average Americans.

“We know that high inflation exacts a toll, particularly for those less able to meet the higher costs of essentials like food, housing, and transportation,” Mr. Powell said. “We are strongly committed to achieving our statutory goals of maximum employment and price stability.”

He also said that the economy’s rapid recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to “persistent supply and demand imbalances and bottlenecks, and thus to elevated inflation.”



McCarthy vows to kick three Democrats from committees if elected speaker

                                 Capitol Riot Congress Investigation

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pledged to remove three House Democrats from their committees if Republicans gain control of the House and elect him speaker in 2023.

McCarthy told Breitbart News in an interview published Monday that Democrats have set a "new standard" of removing lawmakers from the opposing party from their assigned committee with their decisions to kick Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, both Republicans, off their panels last year due to violent content posted to social media.

The California Republican said that if the GOP wins a majority of House seats in the November midterm elections and tap him to serve as speaker, Democrats Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff, both off California, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota would be removed from their committees.

Schiff leads the House Intelligence Committee, of which Swalwell is also a member, and Omar serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.



'We have gone backwards': Covid confusion snarls Biden White House

A half dozen former health policy makers, including members of Biden’s transition team, said the Biden administration needs an urgent strategy reset.

President Joe Biden is urging schools to stay open, but there’s a widespread Covid testing shortage.

He calls it the “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” but that has only confused boosted Americans home sick with the omicron variant.

And the administration hasn’t changed its guidance to urge high-filtration masks despite calls from the medical community, while recent isolation guidance has only added to the uncertainty.

The White House’s stay-the-course strategy on Covid is increasingly colliding with the realities of a roaring pandemic that is forcing schools and businesses to close.

Which mask? What test? Latest surge spreads epidemic of uncertainty...
CDC weighs recommending better face coverings...
UNITED cuts flights as 3,000 workers call out sick...
Infected nurses asked to work...
NY cases peak?
PFIZER predicts annual shots...
New Trend in Healthcare: Do-It-Yourself...
UK to launch 'Living with Covid' plan...
Europe considers treating like flu...
WHO: Half Continent Infected in Weeks...
Djokovic could face jail for 'lying on travel form'...



Kremlin: Not much optimism after Russia-US talks on Ukraine

                                       US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, left, and Russian deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, right, attend security talks at the United States Mission at the United States Mission in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. (Denis Balibouse/Pool via AP)

The Kremlin said Tuesday the security talks with the U.S. amid tensions over Ukraine have given little reason for optimism, adding that Russia would wait for the outcome of other meetings this week before deciding whether it's worth to continue negotiations.

The leader of the U.S. delegation at Monday's talks briefed allies in Brussels about the session and stressed the security crisis was “caused by Russia” and its troop buildup near Ukraine.

At the Geneva talks, Moscow insisted on guarantees to halt NATO’s eastward expansion and even roll back the military alliance’s deployments in Eastern Europe, while Washington firmly rejected the demands as a nonstarter.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that while the talks were "open, comprehensive and direct,” he emphasized that it's the result that matters.



Biden to back filibuster changes to push voting rights bill


President Joe Biden will use a speech in Georgia to endorse changing Senate filibuster rules that have stalled voting rights legislation, saying it’s time to choose “democracy over autocracy.” But some civil rights groups won’t be there, in protest of what they say is administration inaction.

Biden on Tuesday will pay tribute to civil rights battles past — visiting Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once held forth from the pulpit, and placing a wreath at the crypt of King and his wife, Coretta Scott King — before turning to today’s challenge.

With Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., setting up Martin Luther King Jr. Day as the deadline to either pass voting legislation or consider revising the rules, Biden is expected to evoke the memories of the U.S. Capitol riot a year ago in more forcefully aligning himself with the effort.

Biden plans to tell his audience, “The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation.”



Mystery Surrounds FAA Order To Halt All West Coast Air Traffic After North Korean Missile Launch (Updated)

Aircraft across the western U.S. were simultaneously ordered by the FAA to land or stop on the ground without explanation.

On the afternoon of Monday, January 10, 2022, at around 2:30 PM PST, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop order to all planes, at least in the western United States. The temporary pause on all movements to and from airports included aviators being ordered to land and lasted roughly between seven and 20 minutes before it was lifted and services returned to normal. There has so far been no explanation given for this action. In this vacuum of information, some are connecting the highly peculiar event to another ballistic missile test launch out of North Korea, the second in less than a week, that traveled 435 miles from its launch point, impacting relatively far out into the sea of Japan.

One pilot flying into Yuma told The War Zone they were alerted to what controllers called a "national ground stop" and ordered to land before it was lifted. On a Reddit/ATC thread, controllers were discussing the puzzling ground stop, which appears to have been contained to just the western United States. Some commented that they had not seen anything like it since 9/11. There was also an image that supposedly shows the flight slips with the ground stop orders on them that our friend @OSINTTechnical has reposted, as you can see below. We cannot confirm their authenticity at this time.

There are a large number of clips going around of radio calls to aircraft giving them orders related to the ground stop, some citing a national security event:



Report: States, Cities Earmark $5.6M for Lawyers for Immigrants


State and local governments have set aside at least $5.6 million to pay lawyers for illegal immigrants who are fighting deportation this year, says a report by an immigration reform group.

The report by the Immigration Reform Law Institute was detailed by The Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday. The institute looked at 22 state and local governments partnered with the SAFE Initiative program. According to the Beacon, the program is operated by the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice, which provides legal help to those noncitizens facing deportation.

Lora Ries, a senior research fellow for Homeland Security at the Heritage Foundation, told the Beacon that the public funding conflicts with the Immigration and Nationality Act, which "states that an alien in removal proceedings has the privilege of being represented by counsel, but at no expense to the government."



Wyoming GOP slams Liz Cheney after she said state party chair was radical


The Wyoming Republican Party lashed out at Rep. Liz Cheney after she called the top official in the state GOP “quite radical.”

The state party hit her for sounding more like Hillary Clinton than a Republican and for embarking on a crusade against fellow Republicans.

“If Ms. Cheney wants to continue to pick a fight with the majority of Wyoming Republicans and accuse the vast majority of being deplorables and radicals, then of course she can continue that foolish ploy,” the Wyoming GOP statement read. “She can also continue to engage in the politics of personal destruction with other Republicans – which is her specialty and only real qualification to sit on the farcical January 6 Commission – but that is unlikely to improve her position in the polls.”

Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler told The Washington Times that the congresswoman stands by her comments and has always been a conservative Republican.



U.S. to provide $308 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan as Taliban gov’t falters

The White House said Tuesday it will provide $308 million in new humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, as the country teeters toward a full-scale humanitarian crisis and economic collapse under the Taliban.

In addition, the U.S. will send 1 million additional COVID-19 tests to the country, which has been in a tailspin since the Taliban government took over following the U.S. military withdrawal in August.

The new assistance will come from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and flow through independent humanitarian organizations, White House spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement. It will be used to provide shelter, health care services, winterization assistance, emergency food, aid, water, sanitation and hygiene services.


More Top News

Biden to champion Senate Democrats' plan to nuke the filibuster, force through election overhauls

OSHA vaccine mandate takes hold as Supreme Court justices deliberate legality

China, Russia both seize opening to score points in Kazakh crisis

Pence calls on Washington to confront Chinese aggression on world stage



The Supreme Court and Biden’s vast display of ignorance

Economically illiterate president leads the way

How often have you heard someone say, “We are governed by idiots,” or something to that effect? The level of ignorance demonstrated day in and out by our political leaders and those in the media should make all Americans fear for the future of the republic. It has not always been so. Several American founders noted that the experiment in self-governing they had designed could only work if the electorate were reasonably well educated.

Among the three branches of government, the courts tend to be held in the highest regard for the good reason that they have, for the most part, been non-corrupt and filled with competent judges. Last Friday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments about whether or not the president’s employer mandate for vaccinations was legal. During the debate, a couple of the justices made statements revealing a very surprising level of ignorance about the spread and severity of the omicron variant of COVID-19. If people have incorrect or incomplete information, they make bad decisions. In a couple of their remarks, those justices were off by a factor of roughly 10. Bad decisions in these new cases could cost millions of people their jobs, weaken the economy and destroy basic civil liberties — so ignorance of relevant facts is not a trivial matter.

President Biden persists — with increasing success — in trying to convince us that he is the most economically illiterate president America has ever had. He keeps repeating that his multi-trillion dollar “Build Back Better” proposal is “paid for” and will not increase taxes for anyone making less than $400,000 per year. The serious economic analysts, including the Congressional Budget Office, who have looked at (the incomplete) proposal, have stated that the president’s assertions are without merit (i.e., nonsense).



Sotomayor boosts Biden’s ‘vax’ campaign

Oh, dear Lord, the Supreme Court

It ain’t easy being a “wise Latina.”

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wandered into the harsh world of facts last week during oral arguments over the constitutionality of President Biden using the power of the federal government to force citizens to take “vaccines,” which — factually speaking — do not, in fact, “vaccinate” people against catching a disease.

All caught up in her “lived experience” as a “wise Latina,” Justice Sotomayor used her perch on the high court to spread wild misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19.

" 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…