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TODAY
Friday July 21st, 2017


"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metctalf

Updated hrs

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

Spicer resigns, Scaramucci to be White House communications director
       

White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigned on Friday following the appointment of wealthy financier Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director, according to a White House official. Scaramucci has previously had a tense relationship with both Spicer and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. This story will be updated.

The chaos engulfing President Trump and his orbit intensified Friday, as Trump moved to shake up his legal and White House communications teams in response to the widening special counsel probe into his campaign’s possible collusion with the Russian government and its impact on the administration’s stalled legislative agenda.



Mueller Expands Probe to Trump Business Transactions

  

The U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia in last year’s election is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe.

FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said.

The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Trump supporters fear Muellers peak into business dealings might be fatal
Trump team seeks to control or limit Mueller probe


Conway on Probing Mueller Conflicts: 'What's Fair Is Fair'

White House aide Kellyanne Conway says it's only fair to expose any potential conflicts of interest of investigators helping Robert Mueller examine Russia's interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign.

Conway told Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" Friday that members of Mueller's team have contributed to Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the past. She says: "It's relevant that people know what the motivations are. That is not an attack on the team. That is what's fair is fair."

This comes as Mueller's probe into Russia's election meddling appears likely to include some of the Trump family's business ties.


FBI relies on discredited dossier in Russia investigation

The FBI is routinely asking witnesses in its Russia investigation about the accusations in a dossier against Donald Trump, further expanding the reach of a discredited opposition research paper sourced from the Kremlin and financed and distributed by Democrats.

A source close to the investigation described the dossier as a checklist agents tick off as they go over numerous unverified charges denounced as fabrications by President Trump and his aides.

The source called it strange that a gossip-filled series of memos is guiding the way the bureau is conducting the investigation.
The memos were used not only to try to surreptitiously influence the November election, but congressional Democrats also used them to attack the president.



Steve Bannon's disappearing act

Once dubbed 'The Great Manipulator,' Trump’s senior adviser steps back in bid to save his job.
       Steve Bannon is pictured. | AFP Photo/Getty Images/Brendan Smialowski

Steve Bannon has largely disappeared from the White House’s most sensitive policy debates — a dramatic about-face for an operative once characterized as the most powerful man in Washington.

Bannon, chastened by internal rivalries and by President Donald Trump’s growing suspicion that he is looking out for his own interests, is in a self-imposed exile, having chosen to step back from Trump’s inner circle for the sake of self-preservation, according to several White House advisers who spoke to POLITICO on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering a colleague.



Trump axes 860 Obama regulations, 179 from 'secret' list


White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney accused the Obama administration Thursday of keeping a “secret list” of proposed regulations during Mr. Obama’s eight-year regulatory onslaught against businesses, and touted President Trump’s rollback of more than 800 Obama-era rules and proposals.

Of the 860 rules or proposed rules that the Trump administration has killed, 179 came from what he called Mr. Obama’s “secret” list. As Trump aides combed through the books, they found pending proposals that included rules on hardwood plywood research and new requirements for contamination control in cattle slaughter operations.

“They had a bunch of things that they wanted to regulate,” Mr. Mulvaney said of the Obama administration’s first term. “They just didn’t want to tell you about it. They thought it would be bad for their re-election prospects in 2012, so they created a secret list of regs that were not disclosed to you folks. We are disclosing it.”



Judge issues order for buffer zone outside abortion clinic


A federal judge issued an order Friday to keep protesters away from a “buffer zone” outside Kentucky’s only abortion clinic, which is targeted by a national anti-abortion group.

U.S. District Judge David J. Hale issued a temporary restraining order sought by federal prosecutors in a pre-emptive move ahead of vigils by Operation Save America. The order is aimed at preventing abortion foes from impeding access to EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville.

The judge’s order comes as supporters of Operation Save America, a Texas-based Christian fundamentalist group, descended on Louisville for weeklong vigils starting this weekend. They plan to protest outside the abortion clinic, which is facing challenges on multiple fronts in trying to stay open.



Broke: New FEC Report Shows DNC Finished June $3.3 Millin in Debt


Under the leadership of former Obama official Tom Perez, a new FEC report reveals the DNC finished the month of June $3.3 million in debt.  They’re broke. Just like their policies.

The month of May wasn’t any better for the DNC, which reported $1.9 million in debt.

The organization reported that May 2017 was its worst fundraising month since the Iraq War in 2003, and April 2017 was its worst fundraising month since 2009. In May, the DNC also reported that it has $1.9 million in debt. Despite the fact that former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez was recruited by Barack Obama to appease the party’s donors, lobbyists and PACs, even they have refused to prop up the failing brand.

In contrast, the RNC is on an amazing financial run, having raised a whopping $13.4 million in June.



Hawaii begins new preparations for a North Korean missile attack
Hawaii is beginning an education campaign for how to respond to a North Korean missile attack.

Hawaii is beginning an education campaign to prepare islanders for what to do in the event of a North Korean missile attack.

Tourism boosters say the threat is too improbable to justify a plan that could scare away travelers, but the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency believes preparations cannot wait any longer.

"We do not want to cause any undue stress for the public … but there is clear evidence that [North Korea] is trying to develop ballistic missiles that could conceivably one day reach our state," agency administrator Vern T. Miyagi said in a statement Thursday to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.



Doctors Consider Next Treatment for McCain's Brain Tumor

          

Sen. John McCain's tumor is one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer, and his doctors are determining next treatment options even as the senator, in a tweet, promised his colleagues in Congress he'd "be back soon."

McCain underwent surgery last week to have a blood clot removed from above his left eye, and that clot turned out to be a sign that a tumor called a glioblastoma had begun growing.

McCain's doctors at the Mayo Clinic said they managed to remove all of the tumor that was visible on brain scans, and patients tend to fare better when that happens.


Pro-ethanol bill dead in Senate

No action before August recess


In a major blow to the ethanol industry and its supporters in Congress, a bill to expand the availability of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol has stalled in the Senate and won’t come up for a committee vote before the August recess.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee announced Friday morning the E15 measure, which has bipartisan support from senators across ethanol-producing states in the Midwest, lacks the votes to clear the panel and will be shelved at least until Congress returns from its summer break

The measure, which would lift federal environmental guidelines and allow E15 to be sold during the summer, has become a major flash point on Capitol Hill between pro-ethanol voices and their opponents. The federal E15 rules were initially put in place to limit ozone, which causes smog during hot months.



The swamp strikes back

A lot of snakes and scorpions live with the alligators in the swamp, and there are even more dangerous monsters there. No swamp creature is deadlier than a Washington lawyer.

Robert Mueller was hired to investigate Donald Trump’s Russian connections, to get an indictment for something. “The Russian scandal” is recognized now to be a dry hole. So Mr. Mueller and his crack team of previously unemployed swamp lawyers are moving on to play the voyeur among the president’s business ventures. Maybe there’s something there. If not in the president’s ventures, maybe something nefarious in the business of his children or other associates.

The president, frustrated, angry and disdainful of the partisan perversion of politics in the swamp — undrained as it always will be — denounces the Mueller investigation as a witch hunt, and that’s about right. That’s what these special investigations are designed to be. “I am totally not surprised that Mr. Mueller is following [all] leads,” Steven Cash, a knowledgeable lawyer in the swamp, tells The Hill, the Capitol Hill political daily. “That’s the way all investigations are conducted, particularly into complex relations of business people.”



Beyond the good news of the wall

A secure border fence would be another brick in the wall protecting Americans

Based upon President Trump’s promise to secure the U.S. Border with Mexico, illegal immigration plummeted during the first half of 2017. In the first three months of his presidency, illegal border crossings fell by nearly 75 percent from that of the previous year and represented a historic low in the modern history of the Border Patrol. What President Trump accomplished is nothing short of a miracle, but he can’t continue to do it alone. Border security is not the sole responsibility of the White House; it’s also the responsibility of Congress.

The initial dramatic declines in illegal border crossings demonstrate that when our government sends a clear message that people who attempt to cross our borders illegally will be turned away, far fewer people make the attempt. Conversely, when the government signals that crossing the border illegally is likely to pay off, people break our laws in large numbers. Unfortunately, most of the time, our government incentivizes illegal immigration.

Since the American people cannot rely upon their government’s resolve to turn away illegal border crossers, we will continue to need physical barriers to discourage people from entering the country illegally. Even under the best of circumstances the Border Patrol cannot detect, much less prevent everyone from entering illegally along the nearly 2,000 miles of border we share with Mexico.

"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.



3/14/20017

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 (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…




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