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TODAY
Friday February 15th, 2019

"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metcalf
 
World & National
Trump to Sign Border Bill, Declare National Emergency to Build Wall                Image result for border wall
Congress lopsidedly approved a border security compromise Thursday that would avert a second painful government shutdown, but a new confrontation was ignited — this time over President Donald Trump's plan to bypass lawmakers and declare a national emergency to siphon billions from other federal coffers for his wall on the Mexican boundary.

Money in the bill for border barriers, about $1.4 billion, is far below the $5.7 billion Trump insisted he needed to build a wall along the Mexican boundary and would finance just a quarter of the 200-plus miles he wanted. The White House said he'd sign the legislation but act on his own to get the rest, a move that prompted immediate condemnation from Democrats and threats of lawsuits from states and others who might lose federal money or said Trump was abusing his authority.

Late Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Trump plans to unilaterally shift nearly $7 billion in additional federal funds to construct physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, a maneuver that risks provoking a lengthy legal battle over presidential powers.




Pelosi warns Democratic president could declare national emergency on guns

Trump move would set precedent

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that if President Trump can declare a national emergency to construct his border wall, a Democratic president can use the same powers to take all sorts of steps the GOP won’t like.

She specifically suggested guns as an area where a Democratic president might try an end-run around Congress.

“Because if the president can declare an emergency on something that he has created as an emergency, an illusion that he wants to convey, just think of what a president with different values can present to the American people,” she said.



Dershowitz: McCabe's Reported 25th Amendment Talks Would Be 'Coup D'état'

                       Dershowitz: McCabe's Reported 25th Amendment Talks Would Be 'Coup D'état'

If former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe is telling the truth with his claims that officials in the Department of Justice discussed using the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from office, that could be considered be an attempted "coup d'état," Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said Thursday.

McCabe confirmed for the first time in a CBS interview that there were high-level discussions at the Justice Department about recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office in the aftermath of former FBI Director James Comey's firing.

He added that if any Justice Department official mentioned the amendment in connection with Trump, that person has "committed a grievous offense against the Constitution."



Trump can find billions to use for emergency wall declaration


President Trump has a pool of roughly $21 billion in military construction funds he can use to build the border wall by emergency declaration, congressional aides said Thursday — though much of that is already destined for other projects that would have to be put on hold.

The White House said Thursday that the president will follow through on his threat to declare an emergency, using the Pentagon to build fencing and circumventing a Congress that just denied him most of the money he had sought.

Fox News reported Mr. Trump will end up with about $8 billion in wall money, with $600 million coming from a Treasury Department forfeiture fund, $2.5 billion from Pentagon drug interdiction money and $3.5 billion from the military construction budget. He will get $1.375 billion from the bill Congress approved.



Ocasio-Cortez Blamed for Amazon's NYC Exit

 
Amazon is blaming local politicians for its shock decision to abandon plans to open a new headquarters in New York City – and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s vehement opposition appears to have been the main catalyst.

In a statement released late Wednesday morning, Amazon said “a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.”

The self-described Democratic socialist’s sentiments are entirely opposite of those of fellow New York Democrats, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, both of whom approved of Amazon’s move and helped broker the deal.



Police Probe Whether Jussie Smollett Made up 'MAGA' Attack


Actor Jussie Smollett is suspected of having made up the entire story about being attacked by two men who yelled "this is MAGA country," according to multiple reports.

ABC Chicago reported that Chicago police are now investigating whether Smollett lied about the attack — and whether he had help from two people.



Networks: 2,202 Minutes on Russia Scandal, Zero for No Collusion Report


It’s been two days since NBC’s exclusive reporting that the Senate Intelligence Committee has found no material evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and as of yet none of the three major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) have given it even a single second of coverage in their evening newscasts. Considering these networks have given the Russia probe a massive 2,202 minutes of airtime, their silence on this major development is deafening.

MRC analysts examining all coverage on ABC’s World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News, and the NBC Nightly News found that those 2,202 minutes spent on the Russia investigation accounted for nearly 19 percent of all Trump-related reporting between January 21, 2017 and February 10, 2019. However none of those three shows have even mentioned the investigation since NBC’s report came out on February 12.



Ginsburg back at Supreme Court

              
 
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was back at the Supreme Court on Friday for the justices’ private conference.

The Supreme Court’s public information office told The Hill Ginsburg was attending the meeting in which the justices consider requests to review cases. Ginsburg has been absent from the court since undergoing surgery in late December to remove two cancerous nodules from her lower left lung.

The 85-year-old missed oral arguments last month while recovering at home from the procedure. Her absence marked the first time in more than 25 years on the bench she was forced to miss arguments due her health.



NASA heading back to Moon soon, and this time to stay


NASA is accelerating plans to return Americans to the Moon, and this time, the US space agency says it will be there to stay.

Jim Bridenstine, NASA's administrator, told reporters Thursday that the agency plans to speed up plans backed by President Donald Trump to return to the moon, using private companies.

"It's important that we get back to the moon as fast as possible," said Bridenstine in a meeting at NASA's Washington headquarters, adding he hoped to have astronauts back there by 2028.



No time for Trump to step on his necktie


Presidents have ways to get things done that speakers of the House don’t, a lesson that Nancy Pelosi is just now learning.

Donald Trump put her in her place Thursday with his announcement that he will sign the spending bill he doesn’t like to avoid another government shutdown, but at the price of declaring a national emergency to raid other sources of income for building his barrier on the border.

It’s no good getting mad, a famous Irish aphorism goes, when the better idea is getting even. Mr. Trump’s scheme to get $5.7 billion to build his wall with a declaration of national emergency, understandable after dealing with Mrs. Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, two official and certified pains in the arse, is nevertheless a bad idea. Worse, it’s an unnecessary bad idea, and it has all the markings not of a national emergency, but of a national fit. Sometimes a president has to throw a fit, but this is not one of those times.



A second U.S.-North Korea summit


There are reasons for concern about a second U.S.-North Korea summit. If there is no tangible movement on denuclearization, public support for dialogue with North Korea will erode quickly, with the potential for a return to a policy of “maximum pressure.” If this were to happen, it would be a major diplomatic failure with far reaching consequences.

In 2017, when North Korea had 18 ballistic missile launches, to include two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) launches capable of reaching the United States, and a test of a thermonuclear warhead, the prospect of military conflict with North Korea was real.

Fortunately, Kim Jong-un quickly pivoted, in his January 2018 New Year’s address, to an appeal for better relations with South Korea and the United States, stating that a nuclear North Korea could now focus exclusively on economic development. What followed was an unprecedented diplomatic outreach, by a heretofore reclusive leader, that included three summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, four meetings in China with President Xi Jinping and a summit with President Donald Trump, the first time a sitting U.S. president met with a leader of North 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. 

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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