Monday January 22nd 2018
"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
We are BACK with the daily 'Triage of the News'
Not completely moved into new Raleigh home, but close enough to resume work.
World & National
"The Press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of the government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people."
-- Justice Hugo L. Black
(1886-1971) US Supreme Court Justice
Senate votes to end shutdown
Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell announce a deal to re-open the government after a three-day standoff.
In a dramatic turnaround, Senate Democrats voted to re-open the government on Monday after receiving a commitment from Republicans to hold a vote on immigration legislation — paving the way to end the three-day shutdown.
The Senate voted 81-18 to move forward on a bill to fund the government through Feb. 8 after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) agreed to end the shutdown and continue to negotiate on immigration and spending matters. Without a broader deal, the Senate would take up legislation to protect hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who are losing legal protections, as long as the government remains open.
"The process will be neutral and fair to all sides," Schumer said. "We expect that a bipartisan bill on [the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program] will receive fair consideration and an up-or-down vote on the floor."
Dems give up shutdown fight
Senate Democrats relinquished on the government shutdown Monday, agreeing to vote to reopen the government but insisting they’ll keep fighting for illegal immigrant “Dreamers” over the next weeks, with another shutdown deadline looming Feb. 8.
“I’m glad we’ve gotten past that,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said just ahead of a vote.
The House was expected to pass the bill later Monday, which would end the shutdown after three days.
Supreme Court upholds 'Peaches' party bust
The Supreme Court ruled Monday police officers had the right to arrest more than a dozen people for partying in a vacant home in Washington, D.C., despite the party guests not knowing the house was unoccupied.
Sixteen party guests said they were invited to the home by a woman named “Peaches,” and said they didn’t have the intent to trespass. They sued the police for wrongful arrest.
But the justices, in a unanimous ruling, said the police who broke up the party and charged the attendees didn’t violate their rights.
Pence says U.S. Embassy to make Jerusalem move next year
The United States will open its embassy in Jerusalem next year, Vice President Pence said Monday, accelerating plans that have sparked fury from Palestinians and widespread condemnation in the region.
Speaking in Israel’s parliament, or Knesset, Pence looked notably more at ease than during earlier meetings in Egypt and Jordan, where he has been forced to defend the controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He voiced his wholehearted support for Israel.
“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital — and, as such, President Trump has directed the State Department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Pence said to applause. “In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — and that United States embassy will open before the end of next year.”
When President Trump announced the decision in December, U.S. officials indicated that it may take three or four years to move the embassy. That decision was made in the best interests of peace, Pence said.
Fighting rages amid Turkish push in Kurdish enclave in Syria
Intense fighting flared Monday as Turkish troops and their allies advanced on a Kurdish enclave in northwestern Syria, the third day of Ankara’s offensive to oust a U.S.-allied Kurdish militia from the area, according to the militia and a war monitoring group.
Skirmishes between Turkish troops and Kurdish fighters also broke out farther east in Syria, threatening to widen the scope of the new front in the Syrian war that pits Turkey against Washington’s main ally in the region.
The Turkish ground and air offensive on Afrin, codenamed “Operation Olive Branch,” began Saturday, raising tensions in the already-complicated Syrian conflict and threatening to further strain ties between Turkey and the U.S., both NATO allies. Turkey says it aims to create a 30-kilometer (20-mile) deep “secure zone” in Afrin, the Kurdish-controlled enclave on its border.
Read the draft White House infrastructure plan
Below is a leaked draft document with plans for the White House infrastructure plan, a key campaign priority of President Trump.
Comment from White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters: “We are not going to comment on the contents of a leaked document but look forward to presenting our plan in the near future.
Republican senator calls hardline Trump immigration adviser Stephen Miller 'an outlier'--and White House fires back
Tensions are flaring between the White House and a moderate Republican senator who claimed a young Trump aide was standing in the way of a bipartisan deal on immigration reform.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a longtime advocate of comprehensive immigration reform that leans in the direction of Democrats, blasted hardline Trump-whisperer Stephen Miller Sunday as a meddlesome 'outlier.'
The White House fired back, using the same word to describe Graham in a Washington version of 'I know you are, but what am I?"
Graham's complaint is that Miller, 32, has long been undercutting Trump's ability to cut a deal that might have made Friday's government shutdown unnecessary.
Trump versus California
One year into his presidency, tensions rise
After sodden hillsides thundered into Montecito, obliterating scores of homes and killing nearly two dozen people, seven days went by before President Trump first acknowledged the disaster.
Even then, word came not from Trump, but from his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who noted in a two-sentence statement that the president "has been briefed and will continue to monitor the mudslides."
The statement, issued a day after local authorities effectively announced that no more survivors would be found, offered sympathy for the families involved and "prayers for those who remain missing."
The week between the destructive slide and the brief mention partly reflected the general chaos of Trump's tenure. It also symbolized the disconnect between Trump and California that has veered from arm's distance to outright hostility over the last year.
Tom Brady Can't Be Stopped
Not By Hand Injury, Age, Or Jaguars’ Top-Ranked Defense
Tom Brady has done this before. Too many times, in fact, to the point where the individual games are getting more and more difficult to separate from each other as the quarterback navigates his 18th NFL season for the Patriots.
Read: Here’s How Ridiculous Patriots’ Run Of Success Is Under Belichick And Brady
And while the quarterback tends to keep just about everything close to the vest with regard to his emotions, the 40-year-old did appear to be slightly more reflective than usual when standing at the podium after completing the eighth postseason fourth-quarter comeback of his Hall of Fame career.
“You cherish these moments and opportunities, and I know we’ve had quite a few of them, which we’ve been very blessed to do,” Brady said after the Patriots’ 24-20 win over the Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game. “It’s just been an unbelievable run, and I think everyone should be really proud of what we accomplished. This is a different team than last year’s team. It didn’t look good at 2-2 and you just keep showing up to work every day, and we sit in these chairs and Coach Belichick gets up here and he demands a lot out of us and he tries to get the most out of us every day. It’s not always great. Sometimes it’s pretty average and then you’re just trying to get better and better and get to the point where you can make the fourth quarter of a game and try to play well enough to get yourself into the next one.
More texts turned over from FBI agent taken off Mueller team
The Justice Department has turned over to Congress additional text messages involving an FBI agent who was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigative team following the discovery of derogatory comments about President Donald Trump.
But the department also said in a letter to lawmakers that its record of messages sent to and from the agent, Peter Strzok, was incomplete because the FBI, for technical reasons, had been unable to preserve and retrieve about five months' worth of communications.
New text messages highlighted in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray by Sen. Ron Johnson, the Republican chairman of the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, are from the spring and summer of 2016 and involve discussion of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. They reference Attorney General Loretta Lynch's decision to accept the FBI's conclusion in that case and a draft statement that former FBI Director James Comey had prepared in anticipation of closing out the Clinton investigation without criminal charges.
Trump Upset With Zinke's Offshore Drilling Exemption
President Donald Trump is upset with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke over his announcement two weeks ago that the waters around Florida would be exempt from the offshore oil and gas leasing program, Axios reported on Sunday.
Zinke’s announcement to ban offshore drilling in waters near Florida through 2024 was made just a day after he proposed opening nearly all of the nation’s coasts to drilling, according to The Hill.
It also was made shortly after he met with Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott.
However, the interior secretary did not reportedly coordinate with anyone in the administration and did not give advance warning of his decision.
Trump's merit-based immigration system
For decades, the American people have been begging and pleading with our elected officials for an immigration system that is lawful and that serves our national interest.
That’s not just because immigration is an economic issue. It’s also because it’s a matter of public safety and national security. If we can’t control — or even know — who enters this country, it’s much harder to keep people safe.
This is not a hypothetical matter. A new report from the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security reveals that nearly three out of every four people convicted of international terrorism-related offenses in federal courts since 9/11 were born outside of this country. Terrorists and their sympathizers shouldn’t be allowed in this country, and yet this report shows that hundreds of them have endangered the lives of the citizens we work for.
Lasting and transformative tax relief
A staggering 13 billion dollars. More than the value of the entire “Star Wars” franchise. That’s the minimum amount taxpayers will save under the recently-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act now that lawmakers have made compliance with the U.S. tax code less of a chore. Taxpayers will now also save an estimated 210 million hours of time they used to squander on the clumsy 1040 “long form.” Lighter paperwork burdens like these will begin showing up in other portions of the tax code for businesses and individuals as the new law is implemented.
For these reasons, and many more, President Trump and Congress should be applauded for delivering on their promise to bring long-awaited tax relief to Americans. That relief will manifest itself in many ways. For example, tax changes for individuals mean that the typical family of four earning the median income of $73,000 would put an additional $2,000 in its pocket. The new tax code achieves this not only through lowering rates but also by significantly increasing the standard deduction and expanding the child tax credit.
And despite all the teeth-gnashing from the mainstream media about the loss of deductions, important write-offs such as state and local taxes, mortgage interest, and charitable giving were not repealed. Two outrageously complex levies — the death tax and the personal alternative minimum tax — will hit fewer family-owned businesses and millions fewer households thanks to the new law.
"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
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…
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.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…