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TODAY
Wednesday April 14th, 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
ICE priority arrests down 75%; top-ranking cases involve national security, public safety
Fewer kidnappers, weapons offenders being caught
                 In this July 8, 2019, photo, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers escort a man in handcuffs during an operation in Escondido, Calif. The carefully orchestrated arrest last week in this San Diego suburb illustrates how President Donald Trump's pledge to start deporting millions of people in the country illegally is virtually impossible with ICE's budget and its method of picking people up. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) **FILE**

ICE made 75% fewer priority arrests over the first seven weeks of the Biden administration than during the same period last year, according to data obtained by The Washington Times that shows even the highest-ranking cases involving national security or public safety have seen significant drops.

The drops come as the new administration says it wants to marshal limited resources at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to focus on bad actors instead of rank-and-file illegal immigrants.

It’s fulfilled that latter promise, but appears to be struggling to find the bad actors.



Migrant surge is too big for full COVID-19 testing, agents tell Rep. Tom Tiffany
             
In this March 30, 2021, file photo, young unaccompanied migrants wait for their turn at the secondary processing station inside the U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley, in Donna, Texas. U.S. authorities say they picked up nearly 19,000 children traveling alone across the Mexican border in March. It's the largest monthly number ever recorded and a major test for President Joe Biden as he reverses many of his predecessor's hardline immigration tactics. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, Pool, File)

A congressman back from a trip to the border said Wednesday that agents told him they have no way of verifying migrants’ identities, meaning people are boarding airplanes without the kinds of documents that would be demanded of any other passenger.

Rep. Tom Tiffany, Wisconsin Republican, also said in a letter asking for answers from Homeland Security that agents told him the surge of people is so overwhelming that COVID-19 testing is not possible for all of them.

“While some news reports suggest that aliens are tested for COVID-19 before they are released, numerous Border Patrol and other Customs and Border Protection personnel I spoke with in the Rio Grande Valley last week directly contradicted this claim — saying that universal testing is simply not possible due to the sheer volume of migrants officers are being forced to process,” Mr. Tiffany wrote to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.



17 House Democrats threaten to tank Biden's tax plan over SALT deduction

                    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)

Seventeen House Democrats from New York state on Tuesday threatened to withhold their votes for President Biden’s tax proposals if the final plan doesn’t repeal a $10,000 cap on a prized state and local tax deduction.

The 2017 Republican tax law imposed the cap on the deduction, known as SALT in tax-speak. Democrats, and some blue-state Republicans, have been gunning to restore the benefit ever since.

“At the end of the day, we must fix this injustice. No SALT, no deal,” said Rep. Tom Suozzi, one of the New York Democrats leading the new charge.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats hold a razor-thin 218-211 majority in the chamber, giving the party almost no room for error on any bill that doesn’t win bipartisan support.



Major Corporations Join Together to Oppose New Voting Rights Laws


Major companies including Amazon, Google, and Netflix signed a statement released Wednesday opposing "any discriminatory legislation" that makes it harder for people to vote.

Warren Buffett, BlackRock, Starbucks, and hundreds of other corporations and executives signed the statement, which appeared in advertisements in The New York Times and The Washington Post.

The released statement came after the efforts in many states to enact new election laws were labeled discriminatory and racist by liberal activists.



Biden Rushes to Protect Power Grid As Hacking Threats Grow


A White House plan to rapidly shore up the security of the U.S. power grid will begin with a 100-day sprint, but take years more to transform utilities’ ability to fight off hackers, according to details of a draft version of the plan confirmed by two people.

The plan is the policy equivalent of a high-wire act: it provides incentives for electric companies to dramatically change the way they protect themselves against cyber-attacks while trying to avoid political tripwires that have stalled previous efforts, the details suggest.

Among its core tenets, the Biden administration’s so-called “action plan” will incentivize power utilities to install sophisticated new monitoring equipment to more quickly detect hackers, and to share that information widely with the U.S. government.



GOP asks 'Where's Kamala' as Harris avoids trip to view border crisis
                
Vice President Kamala Harris, speaks during a roundtable discussion highlighting the disparities that Black women face in maternal health at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Where’s Vice President Kamala Harris? She’s at a bakery in Chicago, at a yarn shop in Alexandria, Virginia, at a White House health care roundtable on Tuesday — anywhere but at the southern border.

In the three weeks since President Biden tapped Ms. Harris to take charge of the migrant crisis, the vice president has avoided traveling to the border region, let alone holding a press conference about the thorny issue.

“Where is Kamala? (hint: still not at the border),” tweeted former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Asked about Ms. Harris’ role this week, the White House seemed to go out of its way to credit others in the administration for an agreement with Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala to set up more security personnel at their borders to slow migration.



Biden seeks face-to-face meeting with Putin, urges Russia to 'de-escalate tensions'

NATO leaders and Russia trade sharp threats over a military standoff in Ukraine

NATO leaders and Russia traded sharp threats Tuesday over a military standoff in Ukraine, with President Biden pressing the Kremlin to de-escalate the situation and suggesting it was time for him and Russian President Vladimir Putin to have a face-to-face talk about Russian provocations.

Fears mounted over a sharp Russian buildup of troops and naval assets on Ukraine’s perimeter in recent days. Analysts said it could be a move to support more openly pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine who have been battling the Western-supported government in Kyiv. Russia’s defense minister said some 40,000 troops near Ukraine’s eastern border were on a training exercise and accused the U.S. and its allies of beefing up their own forces along Russian borders in recent months.

Mr. Biden emphasized what he said was Washington’s unwavering commitment to Ukraine and called on the Russian president to dial back his buildup of forces along the Ukrainian border. White House officials said Mr. Biden also proposed a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Putin in a third country over the “coming months” to talk through a range of other U.S.-Russian friction points.



Decision expected on charging cop who killed Daunte Wright


A White police officer who fatally shot a Black man during a traffic stop in Minnesota resigned Tuesday, along with the city's police chief, officials said. The Brooklyn Center officer, Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran who killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, and Police Chief Tim Gannon both turned in their badges.

But protesters and law enforcement later clashed in the Minneapolis suburb for the third night in a row, as light snow fell. Roughly 60 arrests were made.

Washington County Attorney Pete Orput, who's been asked to handle any prosecution in Wright's death to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, said he expects to make a charging decision Wednesday, CBS Minnesota reports. 




Afghans Wonder ‘What About Me?’ as U.S. Troops Prepare to Withdraw

Many Afghans fear that without the umbrella of American protection, the country will be unable to preserve its modest gains toward democracy and women’s rights.

A female high school student in Kabul, Afghanistan’s war-scarred capital, is worried that she won’t be allowed to graduate. A pomegranate farmer in Kandahar wonders if his orchards will ever be clear of Taliban land mines. A government soldier in Ghazni fears he will never stop fighting.

Three Afghans from disparate walks of life, now each asking the same question: What will become of me when the Americans leave?

President Biden on Tuesday vowed to withdraw all American troops by Sept. 11, nearly 20 years after the first Americans arrived to drive out Al Qaeda following the 2001 terrorist attacks. The American withdrawal ends the longest war in United States history, but it is also likely to be the start of another difficult chapter for Afghanistan’s people.



Use-of-force expert for defense says Derek Chauvin was justified in kneeling on George Floyd


A use-of-force expert testifying for Derek Chauvin's defense team on Tuesday said the former Minneapolis Police officer was justified in kneeling on George Floyd for over nine minutes and did not use deadly force.

"I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified and was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement in his interactions with Mr. Floyd," said Barry Brodd, a former police officer.

The crux of his argument was that he did not consider putting a handcuffed Floyd in the "prone control" position on the street to be a use of force. He even suggested that it was safer for the subject because if they get up and fall they might hurt their face.



Top Dems Distance Themselves From Squad's Call to Abolish Police


Top Democrats, including President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., kept members of the Squad at arm's length after calls came from them to abolish the police following the fatal police shooting of Black man Daunte Wright, 20.

Squad member Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., suggested Monday in a tweet that policing "can't be reformed" but White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded Tuesday that is "not the president's view."

Speaker Pelosi pointed back to the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which seeks to do exactly that: reform policing.



Watchdog lays bare Capitol Police's riot security failures


A blistering internal report by the U.S. Capitol Police describes a multitude of missteps that left the force unprepared for the Jan. 6 insurrection — riot shields that shattered upon impact, expired weapons that couldn’t be used, inadequate training and an intelligence division that had few set standards.

The watchdog report released internally last month, obtained by The Associated Press before a congressional hearing Thursday, adds to what is already known about broader security and intelligence failures that Congress has been investigating since hundreds of then-President Donald Trump‘s supporters laid siege to the Capitol.

In an extensive and detailed timeline of that day, the report describes conversations between officials as they disagreed on whether National Guard forces were necessary to back up the understaffed Capitol Police force. It quotes an Army official as telling then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund that “we don’t like the optics of the National Guard standing in a line at the Capitol” after the insurrectionists had already broken in.



Study finds people want more than watchdogs for journalists

A study of the public’s attitude toward the press reveals that distrust goes deeper than partisanship and down to how journalists define their very mission.

In short: Americans want more than a watchdog.

The study, released Wednesday by the Media Insight Project, a collaboration between the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, suggests ways that news organizations can reach people they may be turning off now.



Going grifting via Black Lives Matter

Co-opting a serious social issue, leftist groups exact virtue-signal payments -- but don't tell Twitter

“How to Become Rich Using Marxism, For Dummies” could have been the alternative title for Karl Marx’s famous screed, but calling it “The Communist Manifesto” gave away less of the actual grifting plot. 

It’s a story that has played out over the generations and around the world. A few people decrying the unfairness of capitalism and the gap between the rich and the poor turns out to be a racket making those same leaders filthy rich while abandoning the true believers on the side of the road, destroying lives and nations.

This tragedy is unfolding again, this time here in the United States courtesy of the Marxist “Black Lives Matter” group. And now we’ve also learned Big Tech doesn’t want anyone to talk about it. 



The 'America First' solution to the Biden border crisis

The immigration challenge touches nearly every aspect of American governance and civic life. The questions of who gets into the United States, and how and whether those who do become Americans, are basic questions about who we are — and what we mean.

Many Americans see immigration as something more than a matter of tactical points deployed mostly for partisan advantage. While the D.C. political class — joined by business elites — approach immigration from the standpoint of what America owes newcomers, there are two questions preceding that one. One is what newcomers owe America. The other is what America owes itself.

America owes itself, first and foremost, an equitable application of law and justice. In the immigration sphere, that means illegality must be treated as such — whether it’s in the realm of property theft, human life, or border crossing. That isn’t a harsh or punitive sentiment.



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…

 
  



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