Tuesday May 21st, 2024

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--Geoff Metcalf
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World & Nation

Iranian president’s sudden death sets stage for political power struggle in Tehran
People hold up posters of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during a mourning ceremony for him at Vali-e-Asr square in downtown Tehran, Iran, Monday, May 20, 2024. President Raisi and the country's foreign minister were found dead Monday hours after their helicopter crashed in fog, leaving the Islamic Republic without two key leaders as extraordinary tensions grip the wider Middle East. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran’s supreme leader moved Monday to temporarily shore up the country’s leadership after the sudden death of President Ebrahim Raisi a day earlier, while analysts said there is likely to be a behind-the-scenes struggle in Tehran to fill the unexpected power vacuum.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic republic’s 85-year-old religious leader and ultimate decision-maker, appointed First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber as interim president until elections are held on June 28.

Mr. Raisi and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian died Sunday when their Bell 212 helicopter crashed near the country’s border with Azerbaijan. Heavy fog and challenging terrain made it difficult for search teams to find the wreckage until hours after the crash.

Biden Rebuked for Giving Condolences on Raisi's Death

Republican lawmakers and other critics admonished President Joe Biden for offering "official condolences" to Iran following the death of "The Butcher of Tehran," President Ebrahim Raisi.

The U.S. State Department announced its condolences within hours of Raisi's sudden death in a weekend helicopter crash.

Raisi, 63, was one of the main architects of a 1988 massacre in Iran that killed around 5,000 regime opponents. In December, he blasted the U.S. for supporting "the Zionist regime's crimes against humanity in Gaza," The Washington Free Beacon reported.

Since taking office in August 2021, Raisi ordered a tightening of hijab and chastity laws restricting women's dress and behavior, oversaw a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests and pushed hard in nuclear talks.

In divided Iran, president's death met by muted mourning and furtive celebration
Raisi death reshapes Iran succession, puts focus on Khamenei son

Report: Israel Opts for Limited Rafah Action With Biden's Blessing

                                                                     Israel advances deeper into Rafah as US calls for protection of civilians

Israel will not engage in a full-scale military offensive in Gaza's southernmost city of Rafah. Instead, it will continue its limited operation in the last Hamas bastion, with the blessing of the Biden administration, according to Washington Post analyst David Ignatius.

In an opinion piece published on Monday citing sources familiar with the matter, the newspaper's senior commentator wrote that the framework for eventually ending the Gaza war became more clear after a just-wrapped trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel by U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Brett McGurk, the U.S. National Security Council's coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Israeli leaders have reached a consensus about a final assault on Hamas' four remaining battalions in Rafah. Instead of the heavy attack with two divisions that Israel contemplated several weeks ago, government and military leaders foresee a more limited assault that U.S. officials think will result in fewer civilian casualties and, for that reason, Biden won't oppose," said Ignatius.

"At least 800,000 of the roughly 1.5 million Palestinians who had gathered in Rafah have left, U.S. officials believe," he added.

House leaders see court as way to obtain Biden audio recordings, rethink vote on Garland

                                                                          Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies budget hearing on Capitol Hill, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf) **FILE**

House lawmakers may ditch plans to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress and instead go to court seeking special counsel Robert K. Hur’s audio recordings of his interviews with President Biden.

Republican leaders left a contempt vote off the schedule this week, even though two committees on Thursday advanced the resolution that holds Mr. Garland in contempt for refusing to turn over the tapes. The recordings memorialize Mr. Hur’s two-day interview with Mr. Biden about his mishandling of classified documents dating to his time as a U.S. senator.

Republicans said they need the recordings to determine whether the Justice Department is administering justice fairly. Mr. Biden was not charged in the case despite storing boxes of classified documents in his garage and Washington office.

Trump declines to testify as defense rests, jurors dismissed until after Memorial Day

                                                                                  Former President Donald Trump sits in Manhattan criminal court, Tuesday, May 21, 2024 in New York. (Justin Lane/Pool Photo via AP)

Former President Donald Trump declined to testify Tuesday as the defense rested in his hush money trial, setting the table for closing arguments and deliberations after Memorial Day.

Mr. Trump wasn’t expected to take the stand, but hadn’t ruled it out publicly. The former president is known for keeping people in suspense.

State Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan said closing arguments would take “at least a day” and jury instructions would take at least an hour. He told jurors that he didn’t want to break up the process, so he dismissed the jury until after the holiday weekend.

“At the end of the day, the best thing we can do is adjourn now until next Tuesday,” the judge said.

U.S. Senators Rally to Block ATF Rule, Claiming Second Amendment Overreach

In a move that could redefine the landscape of firearm sales in America, 45 Republican Senators, led by John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), have introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution aimed at overturning a controversial rule from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). The rule in question seeks to alter the definition of who is considered “engaged in the business” of selling firearms, potentially broadening the spectrum of individuals required to register as federal firearm licensees and perform background checks on buyers.

“This rule is proof that the Biden administration is a dishonest broker, and Congress must hold it accountable for its actions in favor of its gun-grabbing liberal base over the Constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans,” Sen. Cornyn said in a press release announcing the legislation. “We will fight this lawless rule tooth and nail to ensure the God-given right to keep and bear arms is preserved and this flagrant distortion of congressional intent of our landmark mental health and school safety law is struck down.”

The rule, titled “Definition of ‘Engaged in the Business’ as a Dealer in Firearms,” if left unchallenged, would compel not only established gun dealers but also small, part-time collectors to adhere to the regulations reserved for federal firearm licensees. This includes conducting background checks on purchasers, a step that proponents argue ensures safety while opponents view it as a burdensome overreach.

Supreme Court Denies Emergency Intervention in Nationwide Assault Weapons Ban Case

In a significant development, the Supreme Court has denied an emergency review of a case challenging a state’s ban on so-called assault weapons. This decision has major implications for Second Amendment rights and the future of similar cases. The ruling was anticipated given the Court’s recent track record, but it leaves several questions unanswered about the path forward for gun rights advocates.

The case in question, known as Bianchi v. Frosh (or Bianchi v. Brown), originated from Maryland. It challenges the state’s ban on certain rifles classified as assault weapons. The plaintiffs, backed by the Second Amendment Foundation, filed for a writ of certiorari before judgment, seeking the Supreme Court’s immediate intervention. This legal maneuver aimed to bypass lower court delays and bring the issue directly to the highest court.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has played a crucial role in this case. Previously, in a case called Kolbe v. Hogan, the Fourth Circuit upheld Maryland’s rifle ban, ruling that these firearms fall outside the Second Amendment’s protection because of their military utility. This controversial “military use” test has persisted, despite its contradictions with landmark Supreme Court decisions in Heller and Bruen.

DEI goes on defense as universities shutter diversity offices, ban ‘poisonous ideology’

Those diversity, equity and inclusion programs that were all the rage in academia are falling like dominoes, crumbling under the weight of state pressure, legal threats and the growing sense that dividing people by race is doing more harm than good on college campuses.

At least 158 colleges in 22 states have scaled back their DEI footprints since January 2023, cutbacks that include eliminating DEI offices, banning diversity statements, and laying off staff, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Assault on DEI” tracker.

“I think the reason for this is simple: DEI has been proven to be not just very divisive and malign, but it causes dissension,” said Mike Gonzalez, Heritage Foundation senior fellow and co-author of the newly released book “Next Gen Marxism” (Encounter). “It doesn’t really fix any problems. It doesn’t work.”

Former DHS disinfo chief says department can’t even agree on definition of disinformation

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ pick for his disinformation chief said the department couldn’t even settle on a good definition of “disinformation.”

Nina Jankowicz, who was director of the disinformation governance board for roughly three months before quitting in 2022 amid a firestorm of criticism, said in a newly released deposition to Congress that the department bungled the rollout of her job and then abandoned her when the going got tough.

She described dysfunction and confusion throughout. She said Mr. Mayorkas’ communications advisers vetoed her plans to brief Congress on her role, allowing her job to become a target of misinformation. She said she faced “tens of thousands of death threats” and had to hire a security consultant who told her she needed to leave her home, just weeks before she was due to give birth, to protect herself.

Jews Finally Realizing Dem's Don't Represent Their Interests

As a gentile who married into and deeply respects Jewish culture, I am openly critical of prevalent unfairly critical accusations of Republicans in general — and Donald Trump in particular — tending to be “antisemitic.”

Upon hearing just such a comment from a good friend, a retired medical doctor, referencing as evidence that Trump had hosted a Mar-a-Lago dinner with Kanye West who had brought along Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes as the popular rapper’s guest, I responded with contrary facts.

Recall that it was former President Trump who placed tough sanctions on Iran, moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as the capital city, and organized the Arab-Israel peacemaking Abraham Accords largely negotiated by his Jewish son-in-law and father of his beloved Kushner family grandchildren Arabella, Joseph, Frederick and Theodore.

It is Republicans, not Democrats, who now support Israel in their national life-or-death defense against Palestinian Hamas that staged unthinkably inhumane October 7 atrocities which brutally killed an estimated 1,200 of their citizens.

Death of Iran’s president offers hope and demands action

Iran is on course to break the fundamentalist chokehold - we need to help it along

The death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and the Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in a helicopter crash, has been met with wildly different reactions in that country. Dissidents are reportedly celebrating with fireworks while the ayatollahs are left to decide on successors who will reinforce the theocracy’s hold on power and support its violent actions abroad.

Those divergent points of view highlight the tightrope the current Iranian regime must walk now – appeasing the fundamentalist mullahs without further alienating an increasingly youthful, secular, and vocal population.

I hope that the Biden administration is working just as hard right now to tip the scales toward a more moderate leader who will steer the country away from funding and directing terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and others and instead work toward peaceful coexistence.

I fear that we have let our guard down over Iran during the last 20 years to the extent that we no longer have skilled operatives who can provide actionable intelligence, much less influence the selection process. Even so, there is much we can do immediately to take full advantage of the regime’s precarious position. If we are thoughtful, artful, and swift, we can change Iran’s dangerous, destructive trajectory.

Medal of Honor
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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 Archive....

                 By Geoff Metcalf
                 July 29, 2002

            Two mutually exclusive and under reported stories have been troubling me.

               *   The apparent penchant for political operatives to leak classified information that jeopardizes national security.
               *   The generational control of information dissemination by powerful controllers.

            So we have another ‘Catch-22’.

            The complicity of the mainstream media to spin, cover, and obfuscate government abuse of power under the color of authority was not unique to the Clinton administration.  It may have been more ubiquitous, and at times even clumsy, but it was not unique.

            It has been reported that in June 1991 David Rockefeller allegedly told a Bilderberg meeting in Baden Baden German, "We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years." He went on to explain: "It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supernational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practiced in past centuries."

            Some argue that quote is apocryphal urban legend.  However, although I have never been able to find three corroborating independent sources for it, it IS consistent in content and tone with other Bilderberg quotes I HAVE been able to confirm.

            “If we had been subjected to the light of publicity….” Indicates the one world, globalist, wannabe controllers were/are successful in managing the message.

            Operation ‘Mockingbird’ was a program supposedly conceived by a brilliant Machiavellian State Department official, Frank Wisner.  Wisner selected Philip Graham, then publisher of the Washington Post to manage the program.  According to Deborah Davis, author of ‘Katharine the Great’, "By the early 1950s, Wisner 'owned' respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles, plus stringers, four to six hundred in all, according to a former CIA analyst."

            Over twenty five major newspapers and wire services became willing house organs for the CIA media manipulation.

            Investigators digging into MOCKINGBIRD have been flabbergasted to discover FOIA documents in which agents boast (in CIA office memos) of  pride in having placed "important assets" inside every major news publication in the country.

            I know, this is the stuff of Ludlum novels conspiracy wackos, but not until 1982 did the ‘Company’ finally concede that reporters on the CIA payroll have been case officers to field agents.

            I have too often observed, “Some people don’t like to be confused with facts that contradict their preconceived opinions.”  I have also noted (and struggle to maintain) “It is not WHO is right or wrong…but WHAT is right or wrong.”

            Anyone with almost ‘any’ military experience has no doubt seen the once ubiquitous posters cautioning “Loose Lips Sink Ships”.  It is a left over phrase from WWII and among “lessons learned”.

            In the complex world of intelligence loose lips can and have cost lives.

            Once upon a time, not so long ago, Senator Patrick Leahy (currently the Senate Judiciary committee’s lead obstructionist) used to be the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in the mid 80s.  Leahy allegedly ‘inadvertently’ exposed a top-secret intercept of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak that led to the capture of the Achille Lauro terrorists.  That supposed slip of the tongue “cost the life of at least one Egyptian operative.” http://www.newsmax.com/showinside.shtml?a=2001/1/31/85757

            Loose Lip Leahy was forced to resign in disgrace 14 years ago in the wake of having to acknowledge he leaked secret intelligence to the press.   However today he lords his power over the Senate Judiciary committee.  Congress’ institutional memory must be as short as some of Jennifer Flowers former paramours.

            In our contemporary environment in which whistleblowers have become in many cases heroes it is important to make the distinctions between the appropriateness of corporate and political whistleblowers and the idiot or miscreant who leaks information with genuine national security implications.

            Currently the FBI is investigating national security leaks from specifically the House and Senate Select Intelligence committees.  This is serious stuff.

            Defenders of the indefensible will argue it is a political witch-hunt by politicians in a heavy C.Y.A. mode.  That is not true but a convenient political spin job.

            Sure it is true the white house is p.o.-ed over media reports that the National Security Agency had received but not acted on two early warning messages to 9/11.  Dick Cheney reportedly went ballistic and ripped congressional leaders.  Both House and Senate Select Intelligence committees asked the Attorney General to conduct an investigation (and no doubt quietly prayed it would be botched).

            Justice said in a statement, “…the appropriate department officials will expeditiously review this matter and take any appropriate action.”  Not if congress has anything to say about it.  Don’t expect anything fast.  Remember Leahy resigned in disgrace 14 years ago and today has the chutzpah to pontificate ad nauseum to the Judiciary committee and stall any and all Bush judicial appointments.

            More on Operation Mockingbird http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/