Thursday July 28th, 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

U.S. economy contracted 0.9% in second quarter, fueling concerns of recession
                          A man shops at a supermarket on Wednesday, July 27, 2022, in New York. The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its benchmark interest rate by a hefty three-quarters of a point for a second straight time in its most aggressive drive in three decades to tame high inflation.  The Fed is tightening credit even while the economy has begun to slow, thereby heightening the risk that its rate hikes will cause a recession later this year or next. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Second-quarter gross domestic product dropped 0.9%, the government reported Thursday, putting the U.S. in recession territory after the second straight quarter of economic contraction.

The worse-than-expected GDP report will intensify the criticism of President Biden’s handling of the economy in the midterm election year. First-quarter GDP contracted at an annual rate of 1.6%.

Some economists’ informal definition of a recession is two straight quarters of negative growth.

But the National Bureau of Economic Research, a nonprofit group of economists, declares official economic downturns using indicators beyond GDP growth or decline.

US Economy Shrinks 0.9 Percent in 2Q, Signaling Recession

GDP fell 0.9% in the second quarter, the second straight decline and a strong recession signal

The U.S. economy contracted for the second straight quarter from April to June, hitting a widely accepted rule of thumb for a recession, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday.

Gross domestic product fell 0.9% at an annualized pace for the period, according to the advance estimate. That follows a 1.6% decline in the first quarter and was worse than the Dow Jones estimate for a gain of 0.3%.

Officially, the National Bureau of Economic Research declares recessions and expansions, and likely won't make a judgment on the period in question for months if not longer.

But a second straight negative GDP reading meets a long-held basic view of recession, despite the unusual circumstances of the decline and regardless of what the NBER decides. GDP is the broadest measure of the economy and encompasses the total level of goods and services produced during the period.

How downturns haunted three presidents, and how two others recovered...
Yield curve flashing more warning signs of risks ahead...
'Zoomtowns' see home price cuts...
BEST BUY latest retailer to cut outlook...
100 Wealthiest Americans Lose $622 Billion Since November...

Biden unfazed by worse-than-expected GDP

President Biden said he is unsurprised by the worse-than-expected gross domestic product figures reported Thursday and offered assurances that the U.S. economy is on the right path.

Second-quarter GDP dropped 0.9%, putting the U.S. in recession territory after the second straight quarter of economic contraction.

“Coming off of last year’s historic economic growth – and regaining all the private sector jobs lost during the pandemic crisis – it’s no surprise that the economy is slowing down as the Federal Reserve acts to bring down inflation,” Mr. Biden said. “But even as we face historic global challenges, we are on the right path and we will come through this transition stronger and more secure.”

Mr. Biden cited a strong job market, and growing consumer spending as signs of optimism for the economy.

Pro-lifers find legal issues far from settled after end of Roe
Courts show jurisprudence 'unclear for years'
                       Abortion-rights activists demonstrate against the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade that established a constitutional right to abortion, on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 30, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Courts are delivering mixed rulings on pro-life laws after the Supreme Court upended Roe v. Wade last month, signaling that abortion jurisprudence will be unclear for the foreseeable future.

A Louisiana court and a Kentucky court have blocked near-total bans on abortion from taking effect while litigation continues.

The moves to allow abortions in those states contrast with a ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding Georgia’s ban on the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy.

Biden, Xi holding fifth talk of their presidencies Thursday

                       This combination image shows U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington, Nov. 6, 2021, and China's President Xi Jinping in Brasília, Brazil, Nov. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Eraldo Peres, File)

U.S. President Biden was speaking Thursday morning with China’s Xi Jinping, the fifth conversation of their presidencies, as the two leaders chart the future of their complicated relationship at a time of simmering economic and geopolitical tensions.

The call, which began at 8:33 a.m. EDT, comes as Biden aims to find new ways to work with the rising global power as well as strategies to contain China’s influence around the world. Differing perspectives on global health, economic policy and human rights have long tested the relationship - with China’s refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine adding further strain.

The latest pressure point has been House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan, the island that governs itself democratically and receives informal defensive support from the U.S., but which China considers part of its territory. Beijing has said it would view such a trip as a provocation, a threat U.S. officials are taking with heightened seriousness in light of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.

US military making plans in case Pelosi travels to Taiwan
Sen. Tom Cotton: The leak about Pelosi’s Taiwan trip came straight from the White House

In turnabout, Sen. Joe Manchin, Senate Leader Schumer reach deal on energy, drug prices, taxes

Key Senate Democrats have agreed on a deal they say would lower the cost of prescription drugs, bring down carbon emissions and chip away at the federal deficit.

In a major breakthrough, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced Wednesday they had reached agreement on a wide-ranging proposal that could salvage parts of President Joe Biden's stalled domestic agenda. It was an unexpected turnabout after negotiations hit a setback earlier this month. 

Manchin's support was key given his steady opposition to large government spending bills and any energy proposals that would dramatically cut back on the fossil fuel industry crucial to his state's economy.

Joe Biden met with at least 14 of Hunter’s business associates while vice president

President Biden met with at least 14 of Hunter Biden’s business associates while he was vice president in the Obama White House, casting further doubt on the president’s repeated claims that he had no knowledge of his son’s foreign business dealings.

"I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings," Biden said in 2019.

But the president met with at least 14 of Hunter’s business associates from the U.S., Mexico, Ukraine, China and Kazakhstan over the course of his vice presidency, a Fox News Digital review found.

Two of Hunter’s Mexican business associates, Miguel Aleman Velasco and Miguel Aleman Magnani visited the West Wing on Feb. 26, 2014, according to the Obama White House visitor logs, and Joe was later photographed with Hunter giving Velasco and Magnani a tour of the White House Brady Press Briefing room.

Late Night Hosts Turn on Joe Biden, Relentlessly Mock President

                    President Joe Biden delivers remarks on COVID-19 in the Rose Garden at the White House on July 27, 2022 in Washington, DC. Joe Biden has been mocked for his latest gaffe by late night comedians as well as his low approval rating.

President Joe Biden has been mocked by late night TV hosts for his latest gaffe and his poor approval rating.

Joe Biden delivered a speech from the White House Rose Garden after testing negative for COVID yesterday. However, his mispronunciation of the antiviral medicine to treat COVID, Paxlovid, has resulted in ridicule.

The mockery from late night hosts Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon, who have in the past ignored or made light of the blunders of the president, ultimately highlight a trend among comedians to joke more about Biden as he becomes less popular.

Kremlin: No agreement yet on a prisoner swap for Griner, Whelan
                              WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, July 25, 2022. American basketball star Brittney Griner returns Tuesday to a Russian courtroom for her drawn-out trial on drug charges that could bring her 10 years in prison if convicted. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo via AP)

The Kremlin on Thursday said no firm agreement has been reached on a prisoner swap that could secure the release of U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan from Russian detention.

Moscow was responding to a “substantial” proposal from Secretary of State Antony Blinken that would likely spring a high-level convict — possibly arms trafficker Viktor Bout — from a U.S. prison in exchange for the Americans.

“Look, since there are no agreements now that would be finalized, then, accordingly, I have nothing more to add to what has been said,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters from multiple outlets on his daily conference call.

The offer is viewed as a risk for the Biden administration, which doesn’t want to encourage hostage taking or the unreasonable detention of Americans abroad by acceding to a foreign state’s demands. On the other hand, the administration is under intense pressure to bring the Americans home.

Kremlin poker-faced on US swap offer to free Griner, Whelan

House Democrats privately say they don’t want Biden to run in 2024

House Democrats agree with most of their party voters who say President Biden should consider stepping aside and allow another nominee to run in 2024.

Congress is preparing to recess for six weeks starting in August, and the lawmakers have less than 100 days before the November midterm elections. A new CNN poll released Wednesday found that 75% of Democrats said they want someone else as the Democratic presidential nominee in 2024, while 25 percent chose Mr. Biden.

“I think there’s some inevitability to that,” a longtime Democratic lawmaker told The Washington Times.

The same question was asked at the end of last year by an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist pollster, and 41% of Democratic respondents believed that Biden was the best Democratic candidate for the next election, while 41% wanted “someone else.” Another 18% were unsure.

More Top News

Manchin reverses course, agrees to party-line spending deal on taxes, climate change

White House: Biden to address rising U.S.-China tensions in an upcoming call with Chinese president

Senate committee advances bill to change tech companies' interaction with kids

Top Republican says FBI is 'padding' numbers on domestic terrorism

Why Republicans are having trouble closing the deal with the 2022 midterms

The elections in November are still very much an open question

There were two recent votes in Congress, one in the Senate and one in the House, that give us some insight into why, despite the epic failings of Team Biden, the elections in November are still very much an open question.

On the first vote, 47 House Republicans — including the chairman of the Freedom Caucus — voted with all the Democrats for the Respect for Marriage Act. If the legislation becomes law, it would require the federal government to recognize pretty much any formulation of marriage that any single state could possibly arrange.

On the second vote, the Senate approved a $280 billion bill that would give semiconductor manufacturers $52 billion. That is a sketchy enough proposition, although given what communist China might be learning from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as the attendant concerns over our reliance on Taiwan for semiconductors, it is probably defensible.

Kamala Harris, czar of disinformation

Vice President Kamala Harris has quite the problem with being honest. Most recently, she advanced the false narrative that Republicans are diligently working to deny racial minorities the right to vote.

It's the same appalling strategy Democrats use to influence public opinion and rile up their base. They cry racism, blame white people, and emphasize that minorities are the helpless victims of whatever political topic they lament that day, week, or month. None of it is ever true, of course. Most normal, rational people no longer believe them. But Democrats like Harris don't know any other way. They crave stoking up the flames of racial tension to distract from their political failures. Consider her most recent comments in an interview with BET.

"It's so fundamental. In our country right now, I believe there are 380 laws that are being presented to suppress or make it difficult for people to vote," Harris said. "And we've been saying this for years, people lived and died for our right to vote. It is through the voting process, through the ballot box, that we get all the things that we need. And there are intentional attempts to deprive, in particular, black and brown and students and Native Americans and Asians, the access to voting."

Democrats tried this ploy earlier this year in the Georgia primary elections. They claimed new Georgia laws were targeting black people and making it harder for them to vote. Yet the truth showed that more people voted in that election than ever before. Unfortunately, no Democrats were ever held accountable for perpetuating this lie, so they continued to do so. Harris continued her malfeasance.

" 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.”