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TODAY
Thursday June 14th, 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
Trump fires back at 'overrated' James Mattis: 'Glad he is gone!'
               

President Trump responded to criticism from former Defense Secretary James Mattis by calling him an “overrated” military leader whom he relished firing.

“Probably the only thing Barack Obama and I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about.”

Mr. Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general whom the president previously called a hero, criticized the president Wednesday for “militarizing” the federal response to nationwide protests over police brutality. He called Mr. Trump “the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try.”




All four ex-officers face charges as murder count upgraded in George Floyd's death

               This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, shows Derek Chauvin, from left, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by him and the other Minneapolis police officers on May 25. Kueng, Lane and Thao have been charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin. (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP)

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison upgraded Wednesday the murder charge against one former Minneapolis officer and issued arrest warrants for three others in the death of George Floyd, a case that has ignited mass racial justice protests and rioting nationwide.

The third-degree murder charge filed Friday against Derek Michael Chauvin was replaced with a count of second-degree murder.

The other former officers — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.



Antifa planned anti-government insurgency for months, law enforcement official says

Activists of the far-left Antifa movement began planning to foment a nationwide anti-government insurgency as early as November as the U.S. presidential campaign season kicked off in earnest, according to a law enforcement official with access to intelligence behind the shadowy group.

The radical movement has emerged as a key focus for investigators in the wake of violent protests and looting across the country after the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, according to U.S. law enforcement officials and private security experts.

The law enforcement official would not speak on the record about Antifa’s plans as the election season heats up, but longtime analysts of the group say such a move would be entirely in character.




Trump: Roger Stone 'can sleep well at night!'


President Trump said on Thursday that longtime confidant Roger Stone, who has been ordered to report to prison by the end of the month, can “sleep well at night” as he shared a post calling for Stone’s full pardon.

“No. Roger was a victim of a corrupt and illegal Witch Hunt, one which will go down as the greatest political crime in history. He can sleep well at night!” the president said on Twitter.

Mr. Trump made the post as he responded to a tweet from conservative activist Charlie Kirk in which Mr. Kirk said Stone “will serve more time in prison than 99% of these rioters destroying America” and urged people to “RT for a full pardon of Roger Stone!”



Court of Appeals Hears Arguments in Hillary Clinton Email Fight


Arguments heard before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday officially concerned Hillary Clinton's dispute over giving an in-person deposition that a judge ordered at the request of conservative group Judicial Watch. However, the Justice Department's push to drop its prosecution of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn lurked underneath, observers noted.

The lawyers and judges involved in Tuesday's hearing did not mention Flynn by name, reports Politico, but the Clinton dispute and the Flynn case involve the legal mechanism of mandamus, defined as an order for a public agency or government body to perform an act that is required by law when it has neglected or refused to do so.

Tuesday's arguments on Clinton's email case went on for more than an hour and a half, with two judges suggesting that Clinton may face a tough battle, because mandamus is rarely granted.



Virginia governor to announce removal of Lee statue

                        

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to announce plans Thursday to remove one of the country’s most iconic monuments to the Confederacy, a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee along Richmond’s prominent Monument Avenue, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.

The move would be an extraordinary victory for civil rights activists, whose calls for the removal of that monument and others in this former capital of the Confederacy have been resisted for years.

“That is a symbol for so many people, black and otherwise, of a time gone by of hate and oppression and being made to feel less than,” said Del. Jay Jones, a black lawmaker from Norfolk. He said he was “overcome” by emotion when he learned the statue was to come down.



Washington Post Calls Out Jeff Bezos’ Charitable Giving: Like the Average American Family Donating $85


All the money in the world apparently can’t buy you favorable press in your own paper.

On Thursday, the Washington Post took a shot at its owner, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, by calling attention to his charitable giving — or relative lack thereof. In a feature for the Post’s style section examining the charitable contributions of 50 of the richest Americans, writers Roxanne Roberts and Will Hobson reported that their publicly announced donations since the Covid-19 outbreak add up to less than .001 percent of their combined worth.

Using the figure of $97,300 as the median net worth of the average American household, the Post’s study found that Bezos has given the equivalent of less than a hundred bucks.



Polling shows Trump's window for reelection is closing

Opinion research is not always precise, but it always illuminates

As everyone tries to assess what the current spasm of violence might mean for the 2020 presidential election, it might be useful to remember that opinions about candidates are formed over time and are not changed lightly or quickly. In this instance, that is especially true, because the likely candidates for president have been known commodities for more than a generation.

Nevertheless, one of the familiar narratives about the 2016 election is how wrong the polling was. That’s fine, expected, and probably a worthwhile observation as far as it goes.

The problem is that it doesn’t go very far. What is usually left unsaid is the most important part: How was the survey data wrong? In what direction and to what extent was it inaccurate? These are important questions, in part because the answer to them shear away some of the assumptions and inaccuracies that people have embedded in their thinking about this year’s elections.



America is under attack from three deadly viruses: COVID-19, hubris and racism


“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country, but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”  — Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

Colonial America was filled with summer soldiers and sunshine patriots who wanted triumph over tyranny but were afraid to fight for it. Of course, enough did fight. They won the Revolutionary War and they enacted a Constitution intended to prevent both anarchy and tyranny.

Today, we have both.

America is under attack by three deadly viruses. COVID-19 has killed more than 107,000 Americans since March. Yet, it pales in comparison to the virus it provoked — hubris. And that, in turn, provoked the virus that has bedeviled America since the 17th century — racism.
" 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. 

Citation

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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