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TODAY
Thursday April 18th, 2019

"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metcalf
 
World & National
Barr: Mueller found no Russia conspiracy
              Attorney General William Barr speaks alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, and Deputy Attorney General Ed O'Callaghan, rear left, about the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report during a news conference, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at the Department of Justice in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence that any American — neither on the Trump campaign or otherwise — conspired with the Russian government or its operatives to interfere in the 2016 election, Attorney General William Barr announced Thursday.
Mr. Barr said Mr. Mueller’s 22-month probe found Russia did indeed try to meddle, but didn’t get help from Americans.

“We now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign, or the knowing assistance of any other American: for that matter,” Mr. Barr said at a press conference to describe the findings in a nearly 400-page report.

Mr. Mueller investigated not only direct efforts by Russian officials, but also the social media disinformation campaign, including the stealing and release of Democratic campaign emails, and cleared everyone in the Trump campaign orbit of wrongdoing.



'Event of very weighty significance': North Korea test-fires new tactical guided weapon

                    In this April 9, 2019, file photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un addresses the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

North Korea on Wednesday tested a powerful new “tactical guided weapon,” according to state-run media in Pyongyang, boasting that the missile will dramatically increase the country’s “combat power” and ability to defend itself from attack.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was on hand to watch the test, which appears to have involved a non-nuclear weapon. State-run media did not reveal detail on the weapon other than to say it marked “an event of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power of the People’s Army.”

  • Satellite Images May Show Reprocessing Activity at North Korea Nuclear Site
  • NKorea Wants Pompeo Out of Talks
  • Kremlin Says Kim Jong Un Will Visit Russia This Month



  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry Planning to Leave Administration


    Energy Secretary Rick Perry is planning to leave the Trump administration, but his departure is not imminent, a source familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.

    "There is no truth that Secretary Perry is departing the Administration any time soon. He is happy where he is serving President Trump and leading the Department of Energy," department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said in response to new first reported by Bloomberg News.

    Perry, a former governor of Texas who has taken a leading role in President Donald Trump's policy of boosting energy production, has been finalizing his departure, the source said.



    President Trump speaks at White House event amid Mueller report release

    Hatred of journalists turning to violence, watchdog warns

    Hatred of journalists whipped up by populist and authoritarian leaders is degenerating into violence across the world, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) warned Thursday.

    And the number of countries where journalists can work safely is plummeting, its annual World Press Freedom Index revealed.

    Political leaders' hostility towards the media "has incited increasingly frequent acts of violence that have fuelled an unprecedented level of fear and danger for journalists," the report added.



    U.S. Intelligence Institutionally Politicized Toward Democrats

    Former CIA analyst says agencies dominated by liberals

    The CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have become bastions of political liberals and the pro-Democratic Party views of intelligence personnel have increased under President Donald Trump, according to a journal article by a former CIA analyst.

    John Gentry, who spent 12 years as a CIA analyst, criticized former senior intelligence leaders, including CIA Director John Brenan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former deputy CIA director Michael Morell, along with former analyst Paul Pillar, for breaking decades-long prohibitions of publicly airing their liberal political views in attacking Trump.

    The institutional bias outlined in a lengthy article in the quarterly International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence risks undermining the role of intelligence in support of government leaders charged with making policy decisions.



    Increasing presence of homeless people seeking shelter at SFO airport


    San Francisco is struggling with a surge of homeless people seeking shelter inside San Francisco International Airport.

    San Francisco International Airport welcomes the world to the City by the Bay, but the airport said homeless people have discovered the airport as a temporary shelter; especially in the early morning hours after the last BART train has pulled into the airport. An airport official said they're working on a short term and long-term solution

    Officials said their contacts with homeless people has surged; the airport already working to get them move along.



    Time-lapse shots of Notre-Dame spire may offer clues on blaze


    A time lapse camera installed just hours before Monday's devastating blaze at Notre-Dame de Paris may contain vital clues as to what caused the inferno, a French scaffolding company working at the cathedral said on Thursday.

    Europe Echafaudage was one of five companies contracted to restore the landmark spire, which was timber-framed and towered 295 feet (90 metres), shaping the skyline along the Seine river. The burning spire collapsed in the blaze, crashing through the Cathedral's ceiling.

    The camera is now in the hands of investigators.



    Things that can't go on forever, don't


    Economist Herbert Stein’s old adage — “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop” — still holds.

    Take illegal immigration.

    There are currently somewhere from 11 million to 15 million immigrants living in the United States without legal authorization. Last month, nearly 100,000 people were apprehended or turned away while trying to illegally cross the southern border. Some experts suggest that at least that number made it across without arrest. At that rate, the United States would be gaining a fairly large city of undocumented arrivals each month.



    The next war in Iraq


    ISIS is defeated in Iraq, but the root causes that allowed many Sunni Iraqis to support that group of religious fanatics remain.

    If those festering problems are not addressed, there will be another insurgency that — if not controlled — could lead to regional conflict. The governing elites of the Shiite majority have doubled down on the repression of the less than 30 percent of the population that is Sunni. The Shiites may not realize it as yet, but those Sunni grievances are a ticking time bomb.

    ISIS will continue to attempt to wage a guerrilla war, but its chances of posing a serious threat to Iraq are minimal. An insurgency needs three things to be successful.

    "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 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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