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Thu, 21 Jan 2021
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Stormtrooper

Biden's secretary of state nominee mulls new sanctions against Turkey over Russia's S-400 deal: 'Not acting as an ally should'

Antony Blinken
© REUTERS / Alex Edelman
Antony Blinken
New US President Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has lashed out at Ankara over its purchase of the Russian S-400 defense system, saying Washington could consider additional sanctions against Turkey.

"The idea that a strategic - so-called strategic - partner of ours would actually be in line with one of our biggest strategic competitors in Russia is not acceptable," Blinken told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing.

The man chosen by Biden as America's next top diplomat said Washington would need to "take a look to see the impact that the existing sanctions have had" on Turkey to determine if any additional measures needed to be taken.

Comment: It's doubtful Biden's administration will be able to influence Turkey's defense decisions any more than Trump's could, as they have been threatened over the purchases for years. Geopolitically, Erdogan knows he's in the catbird seat.


Black Cat

Dear Leader gets to 'work': Biden signs orders on pandemic, climate, immigration

Biden
© Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images
Joe Biden
In his first official acts as president, Joe Biden is signing executives orders on a broad range of issues, from the coronavirus pandemic to climate change and immigration, to fulfill campaign promises.

Highlights of actions Biden is taking Wednesday:

The coronavirus pandemic

Mask requirement:

Biden is requiring the use of masks and social distancing in all federal buildings, on federal lands and by federal employees and contractors. Consistently masking up is a practice that science has shown to be effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, particularly when social distancing is difficult to maintain.

He is challenging all Americans to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his administration. That's a critical period, since communities will still be vulnerable to the virus even as the pace of vaccination increases in pursuit of Biden's goal of 100 million shots in 100 days.

Comment: As to student debt, and housing issues, there is what his woke base wants, and there is what his billionaire handlers want. Any bets on who will prevail?


Airplane

Biden to block Trump's plan to lift COVID-19 European travel restrictions

joe hunter biden air force 2 two china plane
© Ng Han Guan-Pool/Getty Images
President-elect Joe Biden plans to quickly extend travel restrictions barring travel by most people who have recently been in much of Europe and Brazil soon after President Donald Trump lifted those requirements effective Jan. 26, a spokeswoman for Biden said.

Trump signed an order Monday lifting the restrictions he imposed early last year in response to the pandemic - a decision first reported Monday by Reuters - after winning support from coronavirus task force members and public health officials.

Soon after Trump's order was made public, Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki tweeted "on the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26."

She added that "With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel."

Heart - Black

Biden or Bush? Democrats and neocons clamor to bring the 'war on terror' home, targeting Trump supporters as 'domestic terrorists'

TrumpRally teargassed
© Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
Tear gas released into the crowd contesting the certification of the 2020 US presidential election results by US Congress.
January 8, 2020
Just like that, the Democrats became the party of George W. Bush. You're either with them, or with Trump supporters who need to be treated just like Al-Qaeda, the media and political paladins of Our Democracy are now declaring.

"The pro-Trump fanatics stormed and trashed the citadel of American democracy, nearly executing what al-Qaeda had failed to do: destroy the US Capitol," Jeff Stein of the Daily Beast argued on Monday, gushing over a Democrat proposal to empower law enforcement to "prevent violent acts of domestic terrorism."

Wait, you might say. Al-Qaeda was accused of killing nearly 3,000 Americans at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. How can five deaths that happened during the Capitol unrest compare? Silence, bigot! What are you, a terrorist?

USA

Trump hints at returning to politics during final speech as President: 'We will be back in some form'

Trump
© Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images
Former US President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump hinted during his final speech as president on Wednesday morning that he might re-enter the political fray in some form in the future.

"We will be back in some form," Trump told supporters. "And again, I want to just in leaving, I want to thank our Vice President Mike Pence and Karen."

Trump made the remarks at Andrews Air Force Base as he prepared to board Air Force One on his way to Florida. The remarks come after The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Trump had floated the possibility of starting his own political party, though top Trump allies had warned against the idea.

Comment: Despite friction with GOP leadership, rank-and-file party members have largely held firm in their support for Trump, with recent polls showing that more than 80 percent of Republican voters opposed both charges and impeachment for the president over the unrest in D.C.


Stop

Can US spy agencies stop 'white terror' or do we need the domestic version?

US Capitol/noose
© Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
US Capitol and vigilante justice
What we had here was a failure to communicate. Again, on January 6 — years after numerous investigations and study commissions picked apart the intelligence failures leading up to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Last week, America's security agencies were again caught flat footed when another kind of militant wave, this time pro-Trump fanatics, stormed and trashed the citadel of American democracy, nearly executing what al-Qaeda had failed to do, destroy the U.S. Capitol.


Comment: There is plenty of evidence Trump supporters were purposefully infiltrated to trigger optics, cause havoc, fear monger and wreak damage. Destruction and loss of life at the Capitol cannot be compared to 9/11.


Democrats in Congress are teeing up another round of investigations and commissions to get to the bottom of the January 6 insurrection, which will almost certainly revisit the thorny question of whether the U.S. needs an independent counter-subversion agency to infiltrate and neutralize armed domestic extremists, who are now threatening more attacks on or around the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Already, a bill has been introduced to empower federal law enforcement to better monitor and stop domestic extremist violence. Its sponsor, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), said:
"It is not enough to just condemn hate, we need to equip law enforcement with the tools needed to identify threats and prevent violent acts of domestic terrorism. The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act improves coordination between our federal agencies and makes sure they are focused on the most serious domestic threats."

Comment: "Undergirding resistance to any new authority to combat white nationalist terrorist threats, of course, are widespread fears that Washington could end up creating an American Gestapo, a secret police at the beck and call of a future president." And do we not think that is already in the works? Give it a month.
See also:


Pocket Knife

Words are violence. Voting is terrorism. Free speech is a threat. Where the media establishment can't win, they redefine

book-laptop-phone chained
© Pixabay/stevepb
'do not communicate'
Determined to stamp out 'wrongthink' in all forms, the media establishment has declared a holy war against free speech. Once the bedrock of US society, it faces a redefinition into something more convenient - or oblivion.

If everyone is permitted to speak freely, their reasoning goes, people's lives will be put at risk. Those whose opinions diverge from the mainstream should not be permitted to voice those opinions, lest their words hurt people - not just people's feelings. Yet at the same time as this self-styled Ministry of Truth calls for free speech to be swept into the dustbin of history, it insists its victims' freedom of speech is not under attack at all.

In the past few weeks, establishment outlets from the New York Times to NBC to the Independent have issued calls for the very idea of "freedom of speech" to be rethought - or better yet, scrapped altogether - because it is no longer in harmony with modern society. This is a tacit admission that the media establishment's own opinions can't compete in the marketplace of ideas, and that, despite their best efforts, they can't censor their way out.

The establishment's cries for a bigger, better memory hole don't stop at praising social media censorship, though there's plenty of that - Twitter and Facebook's decision to suspend US President Donald Trump's accounts has been universally praised by the paper(s) of record. Amazon's decision to kick the entire social media app Parler off its servers is right up there with storming the beaches of Normandy in the fight against fascism, according to these outlets. They've even moved on to demanding cable TV providers push conservative networks such as OANN and Newsmax overboard, and alternative platforms from Telegram to Minds are now in their crosshairs.

Cards

Trump has discussed starting a new political party

Trump
© Firenews
Former US President Donald Trump
President Trump has talked in recent days with associates about forming a new political party, according to people familiar with the matter, an effort to exert continued influence after he leaves the White House.

Mr. Trump discussed the matter with several aides and other people close to him last week, the people said. The president said he would want to call the new party the "Patriot Party," the people said.

Mr. Trump has feuded in recent days with several Republican leaders including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who on Tuesday said Mr. Trump deserved blame for provoking the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Polls show Mr. Trump retains strong support among rank-and-file GOP voters.

It's unclear how serious Mr. Trump is about starting a new party, which would require a significant investment of time and resources. The president has a large base of supporters, some of whom were not deeply involved in Republican politics prior to Mr. Trump's 2016 campaign.

Third parties have typically failed to draw enough support to play a major role in national elections. Any effort to start a new party would likely face intense opposition from Republican party officials, who would chafe at the thought of Mr. Trump peeling off support from GOP candidates.

The White House declined to comment.

Comment: Perhaps this idea will give the Repubs a kick in the pants to get their act together. Disloyalties of the past few weeks have all but erased four years of struggle and effort. Many may 'not elect' to go there again - their essence reflecting the times rather than principles.


Document

First Trump declassified Russia document: Christopher Steele's 2017 confession to the FBI

Steele/declassified
© FBI/Washington Examiner/KJN
Dossier author Christopher Steele admitted to the FBI that he leaked the Russia collusion story during the height of the 2016 election to help Hillary Clinton overcome her lingering email scandal and because he believed Donald Trump's election would be bad for U.S. relations with his home country of Britain, according to documents declassified by the president in his final full day in office.

The FBI report of an interview agents conducted with Steele in September 2017, nearly a year after he had been terminated as an informant, provided explosive information about his motives in working simultaneously for the FBI and the opposition research firm for Clinton's campaign. The document was obtained by Just the News and at times reads like a confession from the now-infamous former MI6 agent and author of the anti-Trump dossier.


Comment: Keeping his promises to the American people...
Just hours before departing office, President Trump on Tuesday evening formally completed the declassification of a large trove of Russia probe documents, overruling objections posed by the FBI in a last bid effort to keep memos secret.

Trump revealed in a statement issued by the White House that the materials were not previously shared with Congress or the public and he received them on Dec. 30 in a binder, determining they ought to be made public. The binder is about a foot tall, according to officials who have seen it.

"I determined that the materials in that binder should be declassified to the maximum extent possible," the president said.

The effort to release the materials, however, hit a bump when the FBI objected on Sunday to a complete release of the information. The president nonetheless ordered them released but allowed for some modest redactions to be made.
"As part of the iterative process of the declassification review, under a cover letter dated January 17, 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation noted its continuing objection to any further declassification of the materials in the binder and also, on the basis of a review that included Intelligence Community equities, identified the passages that it believed it was most crucial to keep from public disclosure. I have determined to accept the redactions proposed for continued classification by the FBI in that January 17 submission."
Officials said they expected the first materials to surface in public by midday Wednesday.
Back in October, 2020, Devin Nunes offered his perspective on the document secrecy relating to relevant cases and the need for investigation disclosure:




Mr. Potato

Banana republic: Biden has maybe 2,000 attendees at 'inauguration' — and 25,000 military

biden inaugruation
© AP Photo/Alex Brandon
The National Mall, looking towards the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial, ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Citizens not required.
Joe Biden was sworn in today as the 46th President of the United States. They say he had 81 million votes.

No one turned out to see Biden. A few hundred or maybe a thousand listened to him blather and slur his words.

Biden had ten times as many military men and women protecting his inauguration today like they do in any lawless banana republic.

Comment: One more view:
Trump inauguration crowd

Trump inauguration January 20, 2017
biden inauguration military
© Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Peaceful transfer of power?