Thursday November 21st, 2019

"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
Queen sacks Prince Andrew:
Monarch summons distraught Duke of York to Buckingham Palace, orders him to step down from public duties and strips him of 249,000 'salary' amid fall-out from his friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein
The Queen 'sacked' Prince Andrew from royal duties after discussing the crisis with Prince Charles and summoning her distraught 'favourite son' to Buckingham Palace to learn his fate.

The Duke of York is today being urged to fly to America to speak to the FBI with lawyers for Jeffrey Epstein's victims warning him 'any delay' must lead to US agents heading to London to interview him before Christmas. 

Attorney Lisa Bloom, who represents five of Epstein's 'slaves', has said she is ready to subpoena Andrew and force him to give evidence in the US - but prosecutors would treat him as a witness to help prosecute Epstein's 'helpers' and co-conspirators rather than a criminal suspect.

Ms Bloom said: 'Andrew and his staff must cooperate with all investigations, show up for civil depositions and trials, and produce all documents. Nobody is above the law and everybody should have to answer questions'.

Democratic White House candidates unite on impeachment in most polite debate yet

Democratic White House contenders united in condemning Republican President Donald Trump and supporting the inquiry into his impeachment at a debate on Wednesday, but largely backed away from the attacks that marked their earlier encounters.

During the fifth debate in the Democratic race to pick a challenger to Trump in the November 2020 election, candidates expressed differences on details of healthcare and tax policy but kept their disagreements polite.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, the progressive who has pushed ambitious plans to tax wealth and create a government-run healthcare plan, and Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has been rising the polls, escaped what had been expected to be sustained attacks from their rivals.

David Holmes reveals details of Trump-Sondland call: Rudy 'f***s everything up'

              David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, right, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. Former White House national security aide Fiona Hill, is left. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

David Holmes, a State Department aide to Ambassador William Taylor, gave a strong defense of former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and shared the colorful details of a Sondland-Trump phone call he overheard in July in his opening statement.

Mr. Holmes, as other witnesses have done, laid out his background as a career official with no political ties in his position.

He was called in to testify after Mr. Taylor, one of the first witnesses to testify in open hearings, revealed there was new information about President Trump’s interests in the investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and 2016 election interference.

Mr. Holmes explained how he heard the president ask about the investigation and Mr. Sondland say President Zelensky was going to launch a probe because “he loves your ass.”

Trump overrules Navy on Edward Gallagher case

'The Navy will NOT be taking away' Gallagher's Trident pin, Trump says Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher celebrates after being acquitted of premeditated murder at Naval Base San Diego, Calif., on July 2, 2019. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
President Trump on Thursday morning publicly overruled the U.S. Navy and declared the military “will NOT” strip Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher of his Trident pin, which symbolizes his membership in the elite unit.

In a Twitter post, the president criticized the military’s handling of the case and seemed to offer the final word on whether Mr. Gallagher will face any additional repercussions.

“The Navy will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin,” the president said in his tweet. “This case was handled very badly from the beginning. Get back to business!”

The president’s comments put him at direct odds with the Navy, which had scheduled a December review hearing to determine whether Mr. Gallagher should be stripped of the pin, which would effectively kick him out of the unit.

Mr. Trump last week restored Mr. Gallagher’s rank in a move that ruffled feathers inside the Navy. Mr. Gallagher’s rank had been reduced last summer after he was convicted of posing with the corpse of an Islamic State militant in Iraq in 2017.

Trump promises to release 'statement' on his finances before election

President Trump, who is facing demands for his tax returns and other financial records, said Thursday that he’ll release his financial “statement” before the election next year.

“I’m clean, and when I release my financial statement (my decision) sometime prior to Election, it will only show one thing - that I am much richer than people even thought - And that is a good thing,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!”

The president said special counsel Robert Mueller scrutinized for two years “all of my financials, & my taxes, and found nothing.”

Pentagon: No plans to withdraw troops from South Korea

Defense officials deny report, demand South Korean newspaper retract story

The Pentagon on Thursday morning vehemently denied South Korean media reports that it is planning to withdraw as many as 4,000 U.S. troops from the Korean peninsula.

The report, which appeared in South Korea’s The Chosun Ilbo newspaper and cited a “diplomatic source in Washington,” said the Trump administration is strongly considering withdrawing an Army brigade unless Seoul accepts an American demand for a 500% increase in defense cost-sharing.

South Korea will pay about $900 million this year to help cover the costs of the roughly 28,500 American troops stationed in the country.

Hunter Biden fathered Arkansas woman's baby, DNA test reveals

Infant may be eligible for Secret Service protection due to relation to presidential candidate Joe Biden

Hunter Biden is the father of an Arkansas woman’s baby, according to a paternity test detailed in court papers filed Wednesday.

“DNA testing has established with scientific certainty defendant is the father of the plaintiff’s child,” said the lawsuit filed by Lunden Alexis Roberts, 28.

Ms. Roberts in May filed a petition for paternity support against Mr. Biden, son of 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

The younger Biden is “not expected to challenge the results of the DNA test or the testing process,” the filing said.

Kissinger Warns U.S. and China in ‘Foothills of a Cold War’

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger warned on Wednesday that the U.S. and China were in the “foothills of a Cold War” and could be headed toward a conflict worse than World War I.

Kissinger flew to Beijing in 1971 to begin trade talks with China when he served as Richard Nixon’s secretary of state. He presented his views on U.S.–China relations at Wednesday’s Bloomberg New Economy Forum, held in Beijing.

“If conflict is permitted to run unconstrained the outcome could be even worse than it was in Europe,” Kissinger said. “World War I broke out because a relatively minor crisis could not be mastered.”

Report on FBI's Russia Probe to be Released Next Month

The Justice Department’s inspector general will release its report on the early stages of the FBI's Russia investigation on Dec. 9.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in a letter Thursday the report will have minimal redactions.

The letter was sent to Sen. Lindsey Graham, the GOP chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Horowitz is expected to appear before the committee on Dec. 11 to discuss the findings of the report.

Fossil fuels create jobs so why do Democrats hate them?

Thanks to President Trump’s energy deregulation, America has become the world’s leading producer of oil and of natural gas. This has created a huge boom in jobs and higher wages for blue-collar working people, who used to be the backbone of the Democratic Party.

Mr. Trump’s economic expansion resulting from deregulation and tax-rate cuts has created nearly 6 million jobs since Mr. Trump took office. Unemployment has consequently plummeted to its lowest level in 50 years, and unemployment is now at its lowest level in American history for black Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans. For women and young Americans (teenagers), unemployment is at the lowest level since the 1960s. That means Mr. Trump is leading the most inclusive economic recovery in U.S. history.

Though it’s not widely reported, Mr. Trump’s economic policies have led middle-class wages to soar. As Steve Moore reported in The Wall Street Journal, real median household income reached more than $65,000 in July, which is also the highest in America’s history. That is a gain of $4,144, or 6.8 percent, under the Trump administration. More recent data show middle-class wages have increased by more than $6,000 (after taxes) since Mr. Trump took office.

Administration's position on legality of Israel's settlements is right and necessary

As long as religious motivation for wiping out Israel persists, there will be no peace or two-state solution

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced U.S policy toward Israel’s “settlements” is reverting to one held by the Reagan administration; that is the right of Israelis to settle in the ancient lands of Judea and Samaria “is not, per se, inconsistent with international law.”

This is good news, not only for Israel and its right to national security and sovereignty, but after seven decades of enemy attempts to eradicate the Jewish state it says to the world, “time’s up.”

Israel’s enemies have had the most generous offers to live in peace, including the relinquishing of land captured by Israel after many aggressive and unprovoked wars and terrorist attacks. With ongoing propaganda statements by Israel’s enemies, the firing of rockets into civilian areas from Gaza and elsewhere, and ongoing sermons attempting to justify the violent overthrow of Israel and the murder of Jews, a reality check is long overdue.

" 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 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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