Friday July 31st, 2020

"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
Trump officials: 'Personal responsibility' crucial to defeating coronavirus

Trump administration officials said Friday the country is not “defenseless” against the coronavirus, but it will take greater cooperation from the public to beat back the pandemic.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the nation has developed safeguards and new therapies to save lives, but the public needs to wear masks, maintain physical distancing and wash their hands to keep the virus at bay.

“I am appealing to all Americans to be part of the public health solution. Together, we can turn the tide of this pandemic,” Dr. Redfield told the Subcommittee on the Coronavirus.

Adm. Brett Giroir, the coronavirus-testing czar, said testing capacity is improving every day, but it does not replace personal responsibility, amid widespread fears that some people aren’t following public-health guidance.




Chad Wolf, acting DHS chief: We will be in Portland until we're sure courthouse is secure


Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Friday said DHS agents will be in Portland until they can be sure that things aren’t going to spiral out of control.

He said there was little or no criminal activity overnight and that he’s glad Oregon and Portland have “finally stepped up to the challenge.”

“We are going to remain there until we are assured that that courthouse is safe and secure,” Mr. Wolf said on “Fox & Friends.”

Earlier this week, DHS and Oregon struck a deal where state police would help protect federal buildings in Portland and homeland security officials would leave once peace is restored.

Chad Wolf: Portland Mayor Is 'Intentionally Confusing' People



Matthew Albence to retire as head of ICE


Matthew Albence, who’s led U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the last 15 months, overseeing an agency at the center of the national immigration debate — and increasingly under attack by Democrats — will retire at the end of August.

The career law enforcement man, who started as a special agent with the old Immigration and Naturalization Service then moved to ICE when it was created in 2003, told The Washington Times he’s been working in government for nearly 26 years and “I’d like to try working for myself.”

Mr. Albence said he was leaving on his own terms and wasn’t pushed out by internal or external forces.



Postal Service Cutbacks Could Delay Ballot Delivery in November


Cost-cutting measures at the U.S. Postal Service could delay the delivery of mail-in ballots as the agency faces difficulty adjusting to the changes, which already has caused a two-day delay in some parts of the country according to The Washington Post.

“I’m actually terrified to see election season under the new procedure,” Lori Cash, president of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 183 in Western New York, told the Post.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who fundraised for President Donald Trump and contributed millions to Republican groups in recent years, recently implemented changes aimed at lowering the agency’s debt. These changes include prohibiting overtime, requiring that mail sorting machines be shut off early, and telling letter carriers not to bring mail if it will cause them to be late or make extra trips.


Ghislaine Maxwell converted girl into Epstein sex-slave, unsealed courts documents allege
                Bill Clinton stayed in Jeffrey Epstein's villa on 'orgy island ...

Ghislaine Maxwell allegedly helped convert an underage girl into Jeffrey Epstein’s “sex-slave,” according to court documents unsealed late Thursday night.

One witness claimed in a deposition that she saw President Bill Clinton on Epstein’s private island, the newly unsealed materials revealed.

And another document includes an email exchange between Epstein and Ms. Maxwell from 2015, undercutting her claim that she had not been in contact with the disgraced billionaire in more than a decade.

Court docs detail Maxwell’s ‘constant’ orgies with young girls on Epstein’s island
Ghislaine Maxwell trained underage girls as sex slaves, documents allege



Sticking point delaying Senate's virus relief package: Business liability protection


More than 40 passengers sued Princess Cruise Lines this year seeking cash payments for the emotional distress they claim to have suffered over fear of contracting the coronavirus while on board, though they never had symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19.

After four months of mounting attorneys’ fees and resources used in federal court, the judge threw out the combined 14 lawsuits.

They were among a flood of coronavirus lawsuits — more than 3,800 have already been filed — that Senate Republicans hope to avoid by granting liability protection to businesses as part of the next round of coronavirus relief.



Clyburn, Scalise Clash in House Coronavirus Hearing


Congressional Republicans and Democrats clashed about whether the Trump administration had a national strategy to respond to the coronavirus pandemic at the start of a hearing featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States' top infectious disease expert.

Fauci's testimony comes at the end of a month when U.S. coronavirus deaths rose by almost 25,000 and cases doubled in at least 18 states during the month, according to a Reuters tally, dealing a crushing blow to hopes of quickly reopening the economy.

The United States has recorded nearly 1.8 million new cases in July out of its total 4.5 million infections, an increase of 66% with many states yet to report on Friday. Deaths in July rose at least 19% to a total of more than 152,000.

The proceedings got underway with a dispute between the top Democrat and Republican about whether Trump has implemented a national plan to combat the virus.



All NBA players kneel for national anthem as league resumes play

              Members of the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz kneel together during the national anthem before they played in the first game of the NBA restart Thursday at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

All players competing in the first game of the NBA restart took a knee and locked arms during a recording of the national anthem Thursday night at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

The New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz wore Black Lives Matter warm-up shirts and were joined by coaches and game officials, who also knelt for the anthem.

Some players raised fists in the air, while others closed their eyes and bowed their heads.

The league has vowed to make fighting racial injustice the focus of the NBA restart, painting "Black Lives Matter" on every court and giving players the option to have anti-racism phrases displayed on their jerseys.



Tucker Carlson calls Obama 'one of the sleaziest and most dishonest figures' in US political history

Tucker Carlson described former President Obama as "one of the sleaziest and most dishonest figures in the history of American politics" after his eulogy at the funeral of civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) on Thursday.

Carlson, who also described the former president as "a greasy politician" for calling on Congress to pass a new Voting Rights Act and to eliminate the filibuster, which Obama described as a relic of the Jim Crow era that disenfranchised Black Americans, in order to do so.

"Barack Obama, one of the sleaziest and most dishonest figures in the history of American politics, used George Floyd's death at a funeral to attack the police," Carlson said before showing a segment of Obama's remarks.



Look for John Lewis' protege to stack the House


Has the possibility that, come election night on Nov. 3, the results might not be immediate?

That the predictions made by The Associated Press CNN, Fox, MSNBC and your local stations are too close to call?

Consider those and other possibilities because, although the Donald Trump-Joe Biden foot race is the headliner, your take on down-ticket races will help guide America for at least the next four years as well from Washington.

Who is chosen to be Mr. Biden’s running mate is reportedly set to be unveiled next, and the clues to her identity are as seemingly guarded as the contestants’ on the weekly TV show “The Masked Singer.” And like the show, Mr. Biden’s clues are helpful but not dead giveaways.



Steele's failings go far beyond dodgy 'dossier'

FBI learned in 2017 that Russia used Steele as unwitting conduit for disinformation

Earlier this month, President Trump publicly called for the extradition of former British MI6 Intelligence Officer Christopher Steele, author of the infamous and now thoroughly debunked opposition research “dossier” on then-candidate Trump in 2016.

The president was reacting to a British court ruling that Mr. Steele had violated a data privacy law by failing to vet the information he included in his report for the Hillary Clinton campaign on the Trump campaign’s supposed Russia connections.

Mr. Steele, a former MI6 agent now running a private intelligence firm, was ordered to pay damages to Alfa Bank owners Mikhail Fridman and Peter Aven over “inaccurate or misleading” material in the dossier, including false claims the bank owners funneled “illicit cash” to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the early 1990s, when Mr. Putin was deputy mayor of St. Petersburg.

" 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 ll target information from the Eurv opean 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…