Thursday March 22nd, 2018

"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metctalf

World & National

Congress reaches a deal on $1.3-Trillion spending bill
Trump lends support
                         House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, are warning Republicans in high-tax blue states of an electoral backlash from middle-class suburbanites if they approve a tax reform bill without state and local tax deductions. (Associated Press/File)

Congressional leaders on Wednesday reached agreement on a $1.3 trillion plan to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, pouring new money into gun background checks and anti-opioid efforts but limiting President Trump’s calls for investment in stiffer immigration enforcement.

The measure includes new money to prevent cyberattacks and boost election security ahead of November’s midterm elections, fixes a flaw in last year’s tax-cut bill, and continues pouring money into research at the National Institutes of Health.

At 2,232 pages, the bill spends an average of nearly $600 million per page. The text was released just after 8 p.m. Wednesday, giving lawmakers less than 52 hours to pass it before a shutdown deadline Friday.
GOP leaders must try to quell a conservative rebellion over the size of the spending and the lack of major conservative policy wins.

Obama directive easing school discipline for minority students fueling classroom chaos
                        President Barack Obama speaks before signing the "Every Student Succeeds Act," a major education law setting U.S. public schools on a new course of accountability, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, in Washington. The law will change the way teachers are evaluated and how the poorest performing schools are pushed to improve. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The Trump administration is being accused of racism for targeting an Obama-era directive compelling schools to ease up on discipline for minority students — even though the policy has made life more difficult for kids, including minorities, stuck in increasingly unruly classrooms.

Ask Virginia Walden Ford, who runs a church-based after-school snack program in Little Rock. She was recently surprised when a young, fearful black girl turned up before the end of the school day and admitted she had skipped class.

Why? She had been involved in a fight the day before with another girl, but the school had refused to suspend her assailant, and she worried that the girl would try to pick a fight with her again.

Andrew McCabe reportedly oversaw criminal probe of Jeff Sessions

When he was FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe considered “lack of candor” so important that he reportedly oversaw a criminal probe of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on that very score.
Citing “sources familiar with the matter,” ABC News reported Wednesday that Mr. McCabe led the probe about a year ago, which focused on his boss’s confirmation testimony before a Senate panel about his contacts with Russian officials.

According to ABC News, Mr. Sessions did not know at the time of the firing that Mr. McCabe had overseen a criminal probe of him.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee believed Mr. Sessions had lied about or understated his actions.

“Several top Republican and Democratic lawmakers were informed of the probe during a closed-door briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and McCabe,” ABC News reported.

Trump slams 'Crazy Joe Biden'

President Trump slammed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden on Thursday, accusing him of threatening physical assault.

“Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy. Actually, he is weak, both mentally and physically, and yet he threatens me, for the second time, with physical assault. He doesn’t know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

Mr. Biden said Tuesday he would have “beat the hell out of” Mr. Trump in high school if he made crude remarks about women. He made the comments in a video posted on Facebook by the University of Miami College Democrats. He made similar comments during the 2016 election at a rally for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Russian cash complicates U.K. outrage over spy drama

 The row between the United Kingdom and Russia over a brazen nerve gas attack on a former Russian military intelligence officer and double agent living in England has laid bare an uncomfortable truth about the bilateral relationship — one that is all about money.

The government of Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May has reacted with outrage to the assault, which her government blames on the Kremlin. But skeptics say that outrage has been tempered and complicated by the vast sums of Russian money that have flooded into Britain’s financial and real estate markets in recent years.

For decades, hundreds, if not thousands, of wealthy Russians have been parking themselves and their assets — including what is widely believed to be huge coffers of dirty money — in the United Kingdom.

UK data watchdog still waiting for warrant to raid Cambridge Analytica

The UK’s data watchdog, the Information Commission’s Office (ICO),  has still not obtained a warrant to enter and search the servers of the London-based political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica — the company at the center of the data misuse scandal engulfing Facebook  — three days on from beginning the process.

The earliest a warrant could now be obtained by the regulator is Friday.

In a statement today the ICO said: “A High Court judge has adjourned the ICO’s application for a warrant relating to Cambridge Analytica until Friday. The ICO will be in court to continue to pursue the warrant to obtain access to data and information to take forward our investigation.”

The information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham,  made it public on Tuesday that she was seeking a warrant to search CA’s servers after the company missed a Monday deadline to hand over information her office had requested.

Palestinian Teen Agrees To 8-Months In Prison After Slapping Israeli Soldier

Ahed Tamimi, then 16, stands for a hearing in the military court at Ofer military prison on Jan. 1. She accepted a plea bargain and is to be released in July, her lawyer said.

A Palestinian teenager who gained international attention after a video showed her slapping and kicking an Israeli soldier has agreed to plead guilty to assault charges and will serve eight months in prison.

Ahed Tamimi, 17, became a symbol of Palestinian defiance to military occupation after she confronted Israeli soldiers outside her home in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Dec. 15. Video of the incident went viral after Tamimi's mother shared it on Facebook.

But many Israelis consider her a provocateur, similar to members of her family who have protested against Israeli policies for years.

Austin bomber had a list of targets and made a 'confession' video

Hours after a serial bomber blew himself up as authorities closed in, investigators discovered that the homegrown Texan who had killed two people and terrorized Austin for 19 days had left behind a list of future targets and a 25-minute "confession" on his phone, officials said Wednesday.

After hundreds of investigators swarmed Austin in recent days to stop the bomber, it was a combination of high-tech surveillance and old-fashioned shoe-leather investigating that led officials to Mark Anthony Conditt, 23, who had no criminal record.

However, Conditt's motive remains unknown, and officials suspect that "we are never going to be able to put a rationale behind these acts," said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley.

Hollywood stars, athletes driving away viewers with political activism         

Host Jimmy Kimmel speaks at the Oscars on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Actors and athletes increasingly using their forums for political activism are turning off viewers, according to a newly released poll.

A McLaughlin & Associates/Media Research Center survey released Wednesday found that 44 percent were less likely to watch sports and entertainment shows “because they have become too political.”

In addition, 75 percent said they watch sports and entertainment to escape from politics, and “do not want to be bombarded with partisan political messages.”

The poll of 1,000 likely voters comes with television ratings plummeting in the last year for high-profile sports and entertainment events.

Border Patrol agents want technology, not wall

Border Patrol leaders and line agents say publicly that more fencing will help — but a new Democratic report Thursday says what they’re really asking for behind closed doors is more manpower and technology.

Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security Committee reviewed assessments and resource requests filed by agents and supervisors who were asked what they needed to fill gaps in border security.

Rarely did they ask for a wall or additional fencing, the Democrats concluded, and only one of 14 “urgent and compelling” gaps involved a request for additional border barriers.

“More often, these Urgent and Compelling capability gaps were associated with technological or personnel needs, such as insufficient manpower, poor training, or inadequate surveillance equipment,” the report concluded.

Dems are the reason there are no DACA protections in the spending bill

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Thursday that Democrats are the reason the spending bill does not include DACA protections.

“We said let’s do multiyear funding for the wall for multiyear relief for the DACA kids, and they walked away from that. They wouldn’t take that,” Mr. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said on Fox News.

He said the House and Senate leaders, as well as President Trump, tried to negotiate with the Democrats on a three-year protection for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program that protects children brought to the U.S. illegally. Republicans put funding for the border wall in the bill, but left out DACA since Democrats wanted to include a path to citizenship.

America’s long history of misjudging North Korea

North Korea has befuddled the United States and its Asian allies ever since North Korean leader Kim Il-sung launched the invasion of South Korea in June 1950.

Prior to the attack, the United States had sent inadvertent signals that it likely would not protect South Korea in the event of an unexpected invasion from the north. Not surprisingly, a war soon followed.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur, after leading a brilliant landing at Inchon in September 1950, chased the communists back north of the 38 parallel. In hot pursuit, Gen. MacArthur gambled that the Chinese would not invade, as he sought to conquer all of North Korea and unite the peninsula.

Google's $300 million fight against fake--er, conservative--news

Google just kicked off a new initiative to fight what it regards as fake news — a new $300 million, three-year initiative that will help news publishers earn more money from subscriptions; help readers disseminate fact from fiction, particularly on breaking items of interest; and help journalists do their jobs.

Sounds great. That’s the company line, anyway. But those lofty goals are very likely code for the greater one: kicking off and keeping out the conservative voices.

“PragerU sues Google, YouTube for ‘censoring’ conservative videos,” one headline from The Hill blasted in October 2017.

And this, from Fortune, that same month: “Why Critics Say YouTube Is Censoring Conservative Videos.”

"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 (www.nytimes.com/2017/03/09/opinion/the-truth-about-the-wikileaks-cia-cache.html?_r=0) acknowledging material I was writing about in 1998 (http://www.wnd.com/1998/04/6108/ ).

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 (https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ukusa/ ) 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 all target information from the European 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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