Tuesday February 25th, 2020

"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
Desperate to stop virus’ spread, countries limit travel
Police manned checkpoints in quarantined towns, governments issued travel warnings and more flights were suspended Tuesday as officials desperately sought to stop the seemingly inevitable spread of a new virus.

Clusters of the illness continued to balloon outside mainland China, fueling apprehension across the globe that was reflected in sagging financial markets.

The crisis pushed into areas seen as among the worst-equipped to deal with an outbreak as well as some of the world’s richest nations, including South Korea and Italy. As it proliferates, the virus is bringing a sense of urgency for local officials determined to contain it but often unsure how.

Trump says purge of disloyal staffers is for the 'good of the country'
              U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in New Delhi, India. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Trump said Tuesday that his new White House director of personnel is ferreting out disloyal administration staffers because “we want to have people that are good for the country.”

Speaking at a press conference in India, Mr. Trump acknowledged that Director of Presidential Personnel Johnny McEntee is looking at various agencies for people who oppose the president.

“I don’t think it’s very many people,” Mr. Trump said. “We want to have people that are good for the country, that are loyal to our country. Because that was a disgraceful situation.”

Harvey Weinstein verdict brings relief for his victims

                New York Post cover for Tuesday, February 25, 2020, showing an illustration of Harvey Weinstein behind bars.

Harvey Weinstein’s victims, and those who believe them, finally got their Hollywood ending: The dethroned Hollywood mogul led out of a courtroom in handcuffs.

On Monday, after nearly a week of deliberations, the jury returned their verdict: Guilty on two counts, rape and a criminal sex act. Weinstein, who spent his evenings and weekends throughout the trial partying, his days bantering with press and ignoring admonitions by his trial judge, was immediately remanded to jail.

He will likely never get out.

Trump: Sotomayor, Ginsburg Should 'Recuse Themselves'

               supreme court justices ruth bader ginsburg and sonia sotomayor

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg should recuse themelves from any cases related to his administration because of comments they have made.

Speaking during a press conference in New Delhi with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trump said, "I just don't know how they cannot recuse themselves for anything Trump or Trump related."

Trump claimed Ginsburg "went wild" during the 2016 campaign with criticism of him. Ginsburg told CNN at the time that Trump had "no consistency about him." She said Trump "says whatever comes to his head at the moment" and called him a "faker." She later apologized for the political comments.

'To their own peril': 2020 Democrats sidestep fight for Supreme Court

The unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on the day of the 2016 Republican debate in South Carolina made the high court a top issue in the race and ultimately rallied conservative voters to help put Donald Trump in the White House.

This time, as 2020 Democratic hopefuls prepare to take the debate stage in Charleston, South Carolina, the tilt of the Supreme Court is barely a blip on the radar.

Some primary candidates have suggested the idea of court-packing, but the issue of potential Supreme Court vacancies hasn’t been raised much — if at all — in the nine debates the Democratic Party has held.

Kate Brown fumes as Oregon Republicans walk out after climate bill advances

Republican senators slipped out of the Oregon State Capitol on Monday, preventing the state Senate from convening in an attempt to doom a bill aimed at stemming global warming. The walkout was a repeat of action the GOP took last year to kill similar climate change legislation, a maneuver that prompted threats of having state police forcibly return lawmakers to the Statehouse.

The walkout threatens to derail the main legislation that Democrats had hoped to pass during a 35-day session: A bill to limit greenhouse gas emissions that threaten the planet.

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown accused the Republican lawmakers of “being against the Democratic process.” The minority Republicans staged two walkouts last year, leading Senate President Peter Courtney to request Brown to order the state police to bring the missing lawmakers back. This time, though, Courtney said he won’t involve the state police.

'Clear the field': Dems scramble as Sanders' surge fuels fears of electoral nightmare

The black mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, is offering Democrats a dire warning: If Sen. Bernard Sanders wins the party’s presidential nomination, they can kiss beating President Trump and controlling either chamber of Congress goodbye.

Despite Michael Bloomberg’s poor debate performance last week, Columbia Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin said the best way to prevent Mr. Sanders from claiming the nomination is for the party to rally behind the former New York City mayor, which will become the clear path forward if South Carolina delivers a death blow to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s stumbling bid.

“If the vice president doesn’t overperform the way that he has promised, then I think it is time to clear the field and let Mike Bloomberg take Bernie Sanders head on, on Super Tuesday,” Mr. Benjamin said in an interview with The Washington Times.

Key California reservoir to be drained due to earthquake risk

In a dramatic decision that could significantly impact Silicon Valley’s water supply, federal dam regulators have ordered Anderson Reservoir, the largest reservoir in Santa Clara County, to be completely drained starting Oct. 1.

The 240-foot earthen dam, built in 1950 and located east of Highway 101 between Morgan Hill and San Jose, poses too great of a risk of collapse during a major earthquake, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates dams, has concluded.

“It is unacceptable to maintain the reservoir at an elevation higher than necessary when it can be reduced, thereby decreasing the risk to public safety and the large population downstream of Anderson Dam,” wrote David Capka, director of FERC’s Division of Dam Safety and Inspections, in a letter to the Santa Clara Valley Water District on Thursday.

Bernie Sanders: The 'sick man' of the Democrat Party

As the circus turns for South Carolina, every last adult in the Democrat Party has apparently left the parade.

You have Pete Buttigieg exploiting a 9-year-old child’s “sexual” identity in front of thousands of spectators — for his own political benefit.

The ex-mayor of South Bend, Indiana, actually turned the whole spectacle into a campaign commercial. Where were that child’s parents? Where was his pediatrician?

What effect will coronavirus have on the campaign?

Baseball games played to empty stands — and not just at Marlins Park. Airlines largely grounded. Restaurants empty — though Grubhub deliveries are booming as hungry people fear leaving their homes.

This is the summer that possibly awaits the U.S. should the coronavirus continue its seemingly inexorable march across the globe.

The novel coronavirus, known for pneumonialike symptoms, has quickly spread far beyond the wet market in the Chinese city of Wuhan whence it sprung just a couple of months ago. Outbreaks have occurred everywhere from Italy to Iran to South Korea.

" 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
Army Medal of Honor

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 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 the 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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