Beltway Insider: Biden, Putin/China, COVID/Vaccine Totals, Strickland/Arbery, Steven Sondheim

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With 2022, and mid-term campaigns and elections right around the corner, questions on an expected 2024 Presidential election rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump has been circulating like the cold winds of November.

The President's job approval rating, according to the website fivethirtyeight.com, for the period ending November 28, 2021, decreased by 0.4% to 42.9% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness remained consistent at 51.8%, A slight 3% of the population polled have no opinion. Ratings are calculated weekly.


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Biden Announces Intent for 2024

With 2022, and mid-term campaigns and elections right around the corner, questions on an expected rematch between President Biden and former President Donald Trump has been circulating like the cold winds of November.

According to Jen Psaki, White house Press secretary, confirmed President Biden's intention to seek a second term when ask by a member of the White House Press corps on the circulating rumors that indicated the President had already told allies and staff that he would be seeking a second term Psaki confirmed the rumors, stating, "He is.  That's his intention."

Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday

Americans celebrated Thanksgiving Day 2021 breathing a small sigh of relief as the possibility of life returning to some sense of normalcy carried the day filled with traditions.

Thanksgiving 2021 came roaring back beginning with the traditional Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade that was viewed by more than 20million homes in its first showing. Black Friday also welcomed back shoppers

"Black Friday retail sales surged 29.8% through mid-afternoon, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks all types of payments, including cash and credit cards. That was above its 20% growth forecast for the day. Steve Sadove, senior adviser for Mastercard, says the numbers speak to the "strength of the consumer." Overall holiday sales are expected to grow this year. The National Retail Federation predicts a sales increase of 8.5% to 10.5% for all of November and December, after 8% growth in those months in 2020," NPR reported.

Malls throughout the United States reported near "normal" crowds, with the Mall of America, the nation's largest, located in Minnesota, reporting, "100,000 people" coming out to celebrate the traditional beginning of the holiday shopping season.

Heralding the start of the holiday shopping season, Mall of America reported the single day numbers were double that of 2020 and edging closer to the 2021 numbers which is a welcome sign for retailors around the nation.


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Russia, China uses COVID-19 to Destabilize Global, Regional Power

Russian President Vladimir Putin and China's President Xi-Jinping are using the preoccupation with the surging COVID-19 crisis to destabilize the balance of power globally and throughout their respective regions.

The buildup of troops along the Ukraine border, which has put the European continent on high alert, is not Putin's singular methodology for global destabilization. A recent visit to Moscow by the U.S. CIA director William J. Burns exposed the possibility of high grade and nearly undetectable positioning of many of U.S. Intelligence officials.

Burns delivered a "confidential warning to Russia's top intelligence services that they will face "consequences" if they are behind the string of mysterious health incidents known as "Havana Syndrome" afflicting U.S. diplomats and spies around the world, according to U.S. officials familiar with the exchange," reported The Washington Post.

Putin's Long Game

Putin, who in in 2014, exploited the global XXII Winter Olympics, using the event as a mask to amass a large contingent of military troops in the seaside community of Sochi, Russia, with the intent to invade the neighboring nation of the Ukraine, rolling across the Crimean Peninsula, a small landmass, at that time was only connected by ferry service between the two nations, violating the nation of Ukraine's territorial sovereignty.

The overshadowing unifying global alliance during this time was the war on terror and coordinating 60 nation coalition against the Islamic State of which Russia and consequently China chose not to participate.

Putin's long game remains to regain control of the Ukraine in its entirety, which provides the Russian Federation a foothold on the traditional European Continent. The swift build of a four-lane bridge, which can transport heavy freight, and rail service across the Crimean Peninsula, connecting the former Ukraine seaside inlet with the Russian coastal city of Sochi provides a quick access by military troops. The land location of Crimea holds military installations, a nuclear facility, and other means to amass troops and store needed weapons for an invasion.

Destabilizing Intelligence

The Havana Syndrome, which was first reported in 2016, in Havana, Cuba, is a debilitating illness that has caused severe brain damage in member of the U.S. Intelligence service and their families. The idea of causing intense and incapacitating illness and disease, especially in family members, causes a disruption is service.

"The Biden administration has sought to demonstrate that it is taking the cases seriously and has encouraged employees across the federal government to report any potential health issues they may be experiencing. In recent months, two senior U.S. officials were replaced after being accused of failing to take the incidents seriously enough: the CIA station chief in Vienna, where dozens of U.S. spies and diplomats have reported AHIs, and Ambassador Pamela Spratlen, the State Department's top official overseeing Havana Syndrome cases," reported The Washington Post.

The tactic of using global event to destabilize regional and global powers in not uncommon.

Not the First Time

Destabilizing U.S. Intelligence is a left-over Cold War tactic, which Russia under Putin’s leadership has resurrected.

The New York Times reported in 1986, the use of Spy Dust or “the chemical agent, nitrophenylpentadienal, or NPPD.” Spy Dust was known as powdery tracking substance that could be sprinkled on the floorboards of an automobile or on any surface and would act as an implanted or spyware device. Only it was undetectable.

"When the State Department disclosed Aug. 21 that a mysterious powdery substance had been used by the Soviet Union to track the movements of Americans in Moscow, American officials said there was concern that the ''spy dust'' was a mutagen, a substance that could cause genetic change, and therefore might have the potential to cause cancer. Mr. [Charles E.] Redman, who was the [State Department] spokesman last August [1986], said then that ''we have protested the practice in strongest terms and demanded that it be terminated immediately.'' The Soviet Union denied what it called '"the absurd allegations'" made in connection with the chemical,"  The New York Times reported.

China's Threat

China on the other hand, has long been under the scrutiny of the United States government for its infiltration into all levels of society for a four-tier purpose which includes global dominance militarily, technologically, in defense weapons, and through intellectual property.

Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe detailed an assessment of the ambition of China's President Xi-Jinping, regarding his determination to dominate globally in a December 3, 2020 Opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal.

"The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically. Many of China's major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party. I call its approach of economic espionage "rob, replicate and replace." China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology, and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace," reported The Wall Street Journal.

China Pressures Taiwan to Reunify

China is also on the move and pressing Taiwan to reunify, and as Taiwan is the world's largest producer of microchips, which are in short supply in the United States, the pressure by China is one of power and control and global dominance.

"The U.S. posture toward China's relationship with Taiwan is one of "strategic ambiguity," which is designed to leave open the question of how Washington would respond to either a Chinese attack on Taiwan or a siege. President Joe Biden said at a CNN town hall meeting in October that the U.S. would defend Taiwan against an attack, but the White House quickly clarified that there was no change in U.S. policy," NBCnews.com reported.

South African Variant Causes Global Concern, Preemptive Precaution

A new Coronavirus variant has been discovered in South Africa and deemed by the World Health Organization as highly transmittable and convened an emergency session to determine next steps and press nations to consider the escalating threat.

Just as nations were beginning to lift travel bans and relax restrictions, the newly discovered omicron variant has scientists and government leaders worried that the highly transmittable variant will become the next wave that causes immediate measure to combat.

"The World Health Organization warned on Friday that Omicron was a "variant of concern," the most serious category the agency uses for such tracking, and said that its numerous genetic mutations could help it spread more quickly, even among vaccinated people," reported The New York Times.

Nations from Australia to the United Kingdom have already announced confirmed cases of the vaccine resistant variant and health official in the United States are expecting cases in the United States to begin populating before the Christmas holiday.

New York State Governor Kathleen Hochul has already declared a state of emergency "Friday in response to a cold-weather surge of coronavirus infections and the threat of the newly detected omicron variant, making her state one of the first in the country to impose measures against the mutation that was recently sequenced in southern Africa," reported The Washington Post.

Vaccine Totals

Bloomberg.com has built a vaccine tracker which can be seen here. "In the U.S., 454 million doses have been given so far. An average 1.81 million doses per day were administered over the last week," Bloomberg.com reported.

Coronavirus Totals

While the infection rates of the coronavirus have continued to decline around the world. The importance of maintaining personal protective practices is imperative to controlling the spread.

For the one-week period ending November 28, 2021, coronavirus cases globally increased by 4,060,085 new confirmed cases, bringing the total of confirmed cases worldwide to 261,083,052 people with a total worldwide death toll of 5,196,330 deaths, and a 7-day death rate increase of 52,547. (Data from The New York Times).

COVID US Totals

Infections rates in the United States are also on the rise. For the two-week ending November 28, 2021, the total confirmed cases rose to 48,171,232 people with new confirmed cases increasing by 509,990 with a 7-day average of 72,855 cases per day. The coronavirus has claimed 777,310 total deaths, adding 7,667 more deaths over the 7-day period. (Data from The New York Times).

Pentagon's Diary Gets Personal

Protecting for gain of function knowledge only aides those who initiated the constitutional violations. It does nothing to combat the homegrown terrorism or the narcissist above the law belief.


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Kevin Strickland Released 43 years after Wrongful Conviction

Kevin Strickland, 62, who was convicted by an all-white jury in 1979, of a triple homicide, was released this week, after spending more than 40 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. His case was noted as the longest serving miscarriage of justice in the United States penal system.

Deconstructing the events that landed an innocent man in prison is challenging, and simple, the prosecutor was more convincing to an all-white jury, than the protestations on an innocent black man, even as no evidence linked him to the scene, family members provided alibis.

"The case was built on the testimony of Cynthia Douglas, the sole survivor and eyewitness, who later attempted multiple times to recant her testimony because she said she was pressured by police," The New York Times reported.

Strickland, whose conviction was vacated immediately on the decision of the judge was released. The public outcry of the gross miscarriage of justice has resulted in a GoFundMe account which has raised more than $1.5million dollars for him.

White Georgia Jury Convicts Killers of Ahmaud Arbery

Three white men accused of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, an African American who was shot and killed while out jogging, were found guilty this week when a nearly all-white jury found the evidence to be clear proof.

The case which drew national attention after a grainy video of the men wrestling him and then firing at point blank range was released and further fueled unrest over the refusal of former Glenn County district attorney Jackie Johnson, to prosecute the three men. She has since been arrested on charges of violation of oath and obstruction.

"On Nov. 24, a jury found the three defendants guilty of murder and other charges. The men, who face sentences of up to life in prison, have also been indicted on separate federal charges and are expected to stand trial for those in February," The New York Times reported.


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Steven Sondheim Dies

Steven Sondheim, a name synonymous to musical theater, passed away at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut. He was 91. No cause of death was given for the nonagenarian.

"His lawyer and friend, F. Richard Pappas, announced the death. He said he did not know the cause but added that Mr. Sondheim had not been known to be ill and that the death was sudden. The day before, Mr. Sondheim had celebrated Thanksgiving with a dinner with friends in Roxbury, Mr. Pappas said," reported The New York Times.

Sondheim, renowned for revitalizing the American Theater, was honored with the profession's highest honors, including eight Tony Awards, an Academy Award, eight Grammy awards, a Pulitzer Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a Laurence Olivier Award. He began his career in 1957 and his music and lyrics will continue to grace the American stage and films forever.

London's West End Theater district will dim its lights Monday, November 29, 2021 at 7:00pm in tribute to the man who changed musical theater forever.

 

For more information on President Joe Biden www.whitehouse.gov.

Sources: Various © Articles covered by Copyright protection.

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