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"All of life is a second chance." -- Michael Rivero
NOT LONG AFTER the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration launched what it called the Office of Strategic Influence, which would seek to “counter the enemy’s perception management” in the so-called war on terror. But it quickly became clear that the office, operating under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, would be managing those perceptions with its own disinformation.
As the New York Times reported at the time, its work was to “provide news items, possibly including false ones, to foreign journalists in an effort to influence overseas opinion.” In the nascent Internet age, observers worried the propaganda could boomerang back on Americans.
“The question is whether the Pentagon and military should undertake an official program that uses disinformation to shape perceptions abroad,” the Times reported in 2004. “But in a modern world wired by satellite television and the Internet, any misleading information and falsehoods could easily be repeated by American news outlets.”
The debt ceiling agreement reached between the White House and House Republicans that was announced Sunday caps military spending at $886 billion for 2024, matching President Biden’s requested budget.
Republicans negotiating the debt ceiling deal only sought non-military spending cuts. The $886 billion cap for military spending represents about a 3.3% increase from 2023.
The White House and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) still need to get the debt ceiling agreement passed through Congress. Many hawkish Republicans will likely oppose the deal as they previously blasted Biden’s massive $886 billion request as “inadequate.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) slammed the debt limit deal in an appearance on Fox News on Sunday. “The Biden defense budget was a joke before, and if we adopt it as Republicans, we will be doing a big disservice to the party of Ronald Reagan,” Graham said.
Several members of the Democrat Party in Congress are urging the White House to provide Kiev with significantly more military support. One representative wants the Joe Biden administration to place “non-combatant observers” on the ground in Ukraine.
Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) called for long-term investment in modernizing Ukraine’s military. He believes the upgraded weapons will turn the country into a “porcupine that can’t be swallowed.”
One suggestion Crow made was sending non-combatant observers to the battlefield to learn “through direct observation and communication with Ukrainian forces.” Crow did not specify if the personnel would come from the CIA, Pentagon or another agency. However, deploying any Americans on the battlefield risks them being killed by Russian soldiers.
Israel launched airstrikes in Syria on Sunday night, hitting targets near the capital Damascus that caused material damage, Syria’s SANA news agency reported.
A military source told SANA that the airstrikes were launched from the direction of the Golan Heights and that Syria’s air defenses intercepted some of the missiles. No casualties were reported in the strikes.
According to The Cradle, the incident marked the 17th time Israel has bombed Syria this year and the 12th time since a devastating earthquake hit Turkey and Syria in February, killing thousands of Syrians.
Several of those airstrikes targeted the airport in Aleppo, a city that was severely impacted by the earthquake. The Israeli attacks put the airport temporarily out of service three times, cutting off a channel for earthquake aid.
It should not come as a surprise that U.S. officials and members of the foreign policy establishment have falsely portrayed Ukraine as a noble democracy. Such deceptions in pursuit of assorted US foreign policy objectives around the globe are nothing new. Throughout the Cold War, Washington routinely contended that "friendly" dictatorships were members of the "free world." More recently, officials in George W. Bush’s administration conducted a concerted propaganda effort that Iraqi exile leader Ahmed Chalabi was the George Washington of Iraq. Obama administration officials and their allies in the news media even sought to make the case that the Islamic jihadists trying to unseat Syria’s Bashar al-Assad were really democratic freedom fighters.
A similar effort is taking place to portray Ukraine as a vibrant democracy and the country’s leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, as a courageous champion of freedom. Biden administration officials and most members of the news media have dutifully promoted those images. The fawning reception given to Zelensky as he addressed a joint session of Congress in December 2022 was an especially graphic example.
There is extensive evidence, however, that Ukraine is in fact run by a corrupt, repressive oligarchy. That situation was true even before Russia’s February 2022 invasion gave Zelensky and his associates a rationale for intensifying their authoritarian practices. Matters have grown steadily worse since then.
A “civil society” is a community of individuals who are linked together by common interests and activities. Common interests include being able to walk the streets safely (peace) and to exercise such rights as freedom of speech (individual freedom). These shared interests allow common activities to flourish, including commerce and the education of children.
Civil society is possible only because most people want to live securely, protect their loved ones, and prosper. This laissez-faire attitude used to be a defining characteristic of Americans, but an engineered and well-financed cultural war is destroying America’s renowned tolerance. If the common interests of society break down and peace and freedom are replaced by violence and privilege, then common activities like free-market commerce and education cannot function.
One movement captures the raw destruction of this culture war against civil society - a demand for “Trans rights!” blasts across America. But a sharp backlash against it has also developed, epitomized by the boycott of Bud Light beer over the company’s use of trans activist Dylan Mulvaney as a new “woman” ambassador for its brand.
The media characterizes this backlash as antitrans hatred by conservatives, Christians, and other troglodytes. But few people care about the sexual or gender orientation of their neighbors. Critics of the trans movement are rebelling against the forced redefinition of biology, the destruction of women’s sports by trans athletes, the hijacking of children’s education, the medical experiment of gender-transitioning children, and the intrusion of penises in women-only spaces like bathrooms, locker rooms, prisons, and shelters. Critics don’t want to oppress anyone; they want a return to civil society of peace and individual rights.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has another five years in power after defeating opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in Sunday’s runoff election.
Kilicdaroglu was in the impossible position of trying to make up ground by simultaneously keeping the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party voters on board and attracting the voters of nationalist candidates from the first round.
It didn’t work.
Unrest has been ongoing for days in Serbian minority regions of northern Kosovo after controversial municipal elections resulted in ethnic Albanian mayors being installed in Serb-dominant communities. But what started as clashes between ethnic Serbs and Kosovo police has spiraled into violence as NATO troops have struggled to crackdown on raging protests.
Reuters has confirmed that NATO peacekeeping troops have been wounded and injured in the town of Zvecan, following Serb protesters attempting to gain entry into a local government building. NATO soldiers are also reportedly trying to protect other municipal buildings.
If you wish to wade through 99 pages of details, here's the full text of the Allegedly Final Debt-Ceiling Deal.
The Wall Street Journal has a synopsis in Biden, McCarthy Agree to Final Details of Debt-Ceiling Deal
With some conservative Republicans in both chambers signaling initial opposition to the deal, Biden urged both chambers of Congress to approve the agreement and said McCarthy would have sufficient votes in the Republican-led House to secure passage.
He also sought to quell concerns among Democrats over some of the deal’s provisions, such as additional work requirements for certain government safety-net programs, and rejected criticism from some progressive lawmakers that the agreement would let vulnerable people go hungry. “That’s a ridiculous assertion,” Biden said.
The crime wave that has been actively taking place in Philadelphia (among many other U.S. cities) is now starting to spread to the suburbs.
Crime statistics were up "double-digit percentages" in Delaware, Montgomery, and Bucks counties - three major suburban counties that border Philadelphia county - from 2021 to 2022, according to the Delaware Valley Journal.
The Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System shows that increasing crimes include burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. Oddly, the report notes that Chester County, usually seen as a hotbed of crime near Philadelphia, saw its numbers decrease in almost ever statistical category.
In other words, the crime wave that started near the middle of 2020 appears to be moving out of the city and into the nearby suburbs. Larceny and auto thefts are seeing two of the biggest increases, the report wrote:
Abusive relationships follow a pattern. There’s a period of breaking the victim down, isolating them from their support systems, and making them dependent on the abuser. Then, the abused partner is maneuvered into the belief that she can’t get by on her own.
This master manipulation is how people become trapped in abusive relationships.
And, as I’m about to show, not all abusive relationships are one-on-one romantic relationships.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is in a tizzy over the debt ceiling deal Speaker Kevin McCarthy has reached with the Biden administration, not because Americans might be swallowed whole by inflation, but because McCarthy’s defense spending cuts might hurt Ukraine.
According to Graham, capping defense spending could “cripple” the U.S. military, and Ronald Reagan is rolling in his grave.
The health/science unit for fifth graders at Founders Memorial School in Essex Junction, Vermont will now refer to individuals as “person who produces sperm” or “person who produces eggs” instead of using the terms “male” or “female.”
This is the letter sent to parents:
Dear 5th Grade Families and Caregivers,
It is time for our science/health unit about the human body focused on puberty and the human reproductive systems. This unit will take place during the last few months of school. We will focus on the physical and emotional changes that occur during puberty and briefly introduce the basic structure and function of human reproductive systems. Students will be participating in whole group discussions and have private reflection time. There will also be three interview opportunities coming home throughout the unit.
A senior House Democrat told Axios that the majority of their caucus, “perhaps 100%,” are expected to vote in favor of the debt ceiling agreement negotiated by President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
“I expect the vast majority (and perhaps 100%) of Democrats to support it,” the Senior House Democrat told Axios reporter Andrew Solender. “Contingent on final text, most are surprised by how modest the concessions appear to be.”