Friday September 30th, 2022

"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metcalf
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World & Nation

'Herculean effort' underway to rescue Floridians, DeSantis says; Ian targets South Carolina: Live updates

                                Damage to Fort Myers Beach after Hurricane Ian on September 29 2022.

Ian was set to make landfall Friday afternoon on the coast of South Carolina after strengthening late Thursday into a Category 1 hurricane. It will then move inland across the state and into North Carolina by Saturday.

Officials in Florida, meanwhile, were assessing the damage and continuing search and rescue efforts after Ian slammed into the Fort Myers area on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm. There were 21 deaths, but Florida Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said Friday that only one was confirmed as a result of the storm. Officials were still evaluating the cause of the 20 other deaths.

"There's been really a Herculean effort," Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday morning of crews' work to restore power, assess damage and rescue residents.

Putin Signs Documents to Annex Ukrainian Regions

                           Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during celebrations marking the incorporation of regions of Ukraine to join Russia in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. The signing of the treaties making the four regions part of Russia follows the completion of the Kremlin-orchestrated "referendums." (Grigory Sysoyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties on Friday to annex four Ukrainian regions partly occupied by his forces, escalating his seven-month war and taking it into an unpredictable new phase.

"This is the will of millions of people," he said in a speech before hundreds of dignitaries in the St George's Hall of the Kremlin. "People living in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region are becoming our compatriots forever."

At a ceremony that Kyiv called a "Kremlin freak show" devoid of legal meaning, Putin delivered a 37-minute diatribe against the West, accusing it of "sheer Satanism," before signing the treaty documents with the Russian-backed heads of the four entities.

They then all clasped hands and chanted "Russia! Russia!" in unison with hundreds of dignitaries, who rose in a standing ovation.

Fed's preferred gauge shows inflation accelerated even more than expected in August

Inflation in August was stronger than expected despite the Federal Reserve's efforts to bring down prices, according to data Friday that the central bank follows closely.

The personal consumption expenditures price index excluding food and energy rose 0.6% for the month after being flat in July. That was faster than the 0.5% Dow Jones estimate and another indication that inflation is broadening.

On a year-over-year basis, core PCE increased 4.9%, more than the 4.7% estimate and up from 4.7% the previous month.

More officers walking off job, running for office to push back against defund-police movement

America’s cops are fed up.

They say they’ve been defunded, scapegoated as violent racists, vilified for the mistakes of a few rogue officers, and challenged by sharp increases in shootings and murders.

Now some are pushing back in a way they never expected: walking off the job to run for elected office.

There are more than 100 current or former police officers on the ballot this year for federal, state, and local offices, with more than 90 running for seats in their state legislature. Nearly all are running as Republicans.

Pentagon chief: Too soon to determine responsibility for Nord Stream pipeline rupture

NATO officials say damage was deliberate, vow a collective response to further attacks

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Thursday agreed with NATO officials that the damages to the Nord Stream pipelines running between Russia and Europe were the result of sabotage. But, during a press conference in Hawaii with his Philippine counterpart, Mr. Austin said it was too early to assign blame.

“There’s a lot of speculation but, quite frankly, until a complete investigation is done, no one will be able to really determine for certain what happened,” he said.

The North Atlantic Council, NATO’s principal political decision-making body, said the leaks are causing risks to shipping in the area and heavy environmental damage. They vowed that a deliberate attack against such critical infrastructure would be met with a “united and determined” collective response by NATO members.

In Reversal, Biden's Education Dept. Excludes Many From Student Debt Relief

                                  Biden's mental sharpness is increasingly doubtful, and it's a serious issue

The Biden administration on Thursday changed its guidance on who qualifies for federal student loan forgiveness, hours after six Republican-led states filed a challenge to its student debt cancellation program.

President Joe Biden said in August that the U.S. government will forgive $10,000 in student loans for millions of debt-saddled former college students, keeping a pledge he made in the 2020 campaign for the White House.

The decision from the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday affects Federal Family Education loan (FFEL) borrowers - whose loans were issued and managed by private banks but guaranteed by the federal government - and does not allow them to consolidate their loans and qualify for debt relief.

Earlier, the department's website advised these borrowers that they could consolidate these loans into federal direct loans and qualify for relief.

Pennsylvania Senate race tightens, Oz eats into Fetterman’s lead, poll shows

The race for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania is tightening, according to a new poll that finds Democrat John Fetterman’s lead over Republican Mehmet Oz has shrunk to a statistical tie.

The Emerson College Polling/The Hill survey of Pennsylvania voters shows the race within the 3-point margin of error, with 45% of respondents backing Mr. Fetterman and 43% backing Mr. Oz.

Another 8% of voters are still on the fence, and 2% plan to vote for someone else.

While Mr. Fetterman has maintained the lead in polls throughout the race, the Real Clear Politics average of polls shows Mr. Oz has whittled the Democrat’s lead down to 4 percentage points, from 9 points in mid-August.

Elon Musk’s Text Messages Show Twitter Deal Going Off the Rails

Text messages released by the Delaware court show the rise and fall of Elon Musk's ill-fated bid to buy Twitter, through conversations with Jack Dorsey, Joe Rogan, Gayle King and others.

On Thursday afternoon (September 29), the Delaware Chancery Court released hundreds of text messages between Elon Musk and other relevant parties in the Twitter deal.

Given that it’s Musk, the exchanges are revealing, irreverent, and extremely fun. They’re also a rare look into the inner workings of Silicon Valley dealmaking, giving us some insight into Musk’s process and how he lost interest in his prized acquisition.

This week, we dig into the most revealing exchanges, with some analysis along the way:

Two weeks before Musk announced he’d acquired 9.2% of Twitter, he received a text about his influence over tech policy conversations from Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale. From the outset, it’s clear: controlling Twitter means great political influence.

More Top News

Biden's mental sharpness is increasingly doubtful, and it's a serious issue

How do you know President Joe Biden is genuinely losing the mental faculties required to govern? One way is to look at his White House staff scrambling to cover up every clue that this is the case.

At a recent event, Biden called for Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) to come forward, but the congresswoman was killed last month in a car crash.

"I want to thank all of you here, including bipartisan elected officials like Rep. McGovern, Sen. Braun, Sen. Booker, Rep. — Jackie, are you here? Where's Jackie? I thought she was going to be here — to help make this a reality."

Walorski’s death in Elkhart, Indiana, in August had been traumatic for all of Washington and for the Michiana-area district she served. Walorski, who had written op-eds for the Washington Examiner, was killed along with two staffers while visiting and serving constituents. Her bipartisan work on hunger, the subject of the event in question, had earned her respect on both sides of the aisle.

Problematic Kamala Harris not fit to become president

No matter how the midterm elections fare, the looming 2024 presidential election forces thorny difficulties for the Democratic Party. The thought of running an unpopular and declining octogenarian against either Donald Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2024 takes elder abuse to an extreme — but like it or not, that campaign starts the day after the midterms (if not before).

President Biden‘s recent interview with “60 Minutes” made it painfully clear why his 2020 campaign emanated from the basement — and reminded everyone of his need to be handled with kid gloves by the media. One could hardly call it a fair fight between Mr. Biden and anyone, much less the GOP front-runners.

Yet Mr. Biden‘s option to tag out and allow a strong partner into the ring is hampered. His vice president, picked for gender and race rather than strength, brings abysmal poll numbers, a lengthy history of verbal linguine and a cackle that makes ears bleed — all of which cause extensive heartburn among insiders. Vice President Kamala Harris‘ turn as the border czar, along with the face palms she fosters at the microphone, provides little assurance that Ms. Harris brings strong acumen to the stage.

Furthermore, while Mr. Biden ran as a “basement candidate,” it remains unlikely that Mrs. Harris can repeat that strategy.

" 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. 


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.”

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