Monday July 17th, 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

Trump renews push for trade, tax reform
            U.S. President Donald Trump calls out to the crowd as he arrives to enter his presidential viewing stand, Sunday, July 16, 2017, during the U.S. Women's Open Golf tournament at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

With his economic agenda hanging in the balance, President Trump launched a series of events Monday to promote U.S. manufacturing, while a coalition of major employers pressured Congress to complete the president’s goal of cutting corporate taxes this year.

Mr. Trump is holding a “Made in America” event at the White House to showcase products manufactured at home, the start of a mid-summer push to on trade and competitiveness ahead of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

“Much will be accomplished this week on trade, the military and security!” the president said on Twitter.

At the same time, a group of large U.S. companies ranging from Boeing to Johnson & Johnson urged the Senate Finance Committee Monday to take up comprehensive tax reform this year. The American Made Coalition called for a cut in the corporate tax rate of 35 percent to make the U.S. more competitive with other countries, a “territorial tax system” that encourages businesses to re-invest foreign earnings in the U.S., and making reforms permanent.



 Leaders Brace for Delayed CBO Health Bill Estimate
                   Image: GOP Leaders Brace for Delayed CBO Health Bill Estimate

Senate Republicans anxiously awaiting a key analysis of their revised health bill have more time to wait, and debate on the controversial measure that had been expected this week will also be delayed following a medical scare involving one of its potential backers.

Two Republicans have come out against the plan, meaning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must get the rest of his colleagues on side. But Senator John McCain will be home in Arizona this week, recovering from unexpected surgery -- leaving McConnell at least one vote short of the 50 he would need to advance the measure.

“While John is recovering, the Senate will continue our work on legislative items and nominations, and will defer consideration of the Better Care Act,” McConnell said in a statement late Saturday.



67 Percent Disapprove of Trump's Twitter Use


Sixty-seven percent of Americans disapprove of how President Donald Trump conducts himself on Twitter, according to a new poll from ABC News/The Washington Post.

The results, according to the poll:

    57 percent said the more they heard about Trump the less they like him.
    29 percent said the more they heard the more they like him.
    70 percent said his behavior since taking office is "unpresidential."
    24 percent said it is "fitting and proper."

Almost half of Republicans find his conduct unpresidential, as do Protestants and the majority of non-college-educated white men.



DHS grants small number of guest-worker visas, tests Trump's 'America first' promise


Homeland Security will issue 15,000 additional seasonal guest-worker visas over the next few months, the department said Monday, delivering some relief to businesses who’d insisted they were starving for workers and desperate for foreigners to fill seasonal jobs such as landscaping and seafood processing.

The decision marks the first big test of President Trump’s campaign vow to put American workers first, and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly’s decision, while giving businesses a limited victory, is far less than the potentially 70,000 workers corporate interests had hoped for.

In addition to a small number, Mr. Kelly is also imposing a strict test for those businesses that want to use the visas, requiring them not only to attest under penalty of law that they have searched for Americans and can’t find them, but that they would suffer severe and permanent financial losses if they can’t hire foreigners.



Trump's travel ban to head back to Supreme Court


President Trump’s travel ban is already headed back to the Supreme Court after a Hawaii judge late last week put severe limits on the administration’s ability to enforce the ban, forcing the Mr. Trump to seek again the help of the high court.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called JudgeDerrick Watson’s ruling a severe blow to basic constitutional divisions of power, saying the judge — who’d already been overturned in a previous travel-limits ruling — was trying to substitute his own national-security judgments for those of the president.

Mr. Sessions said it will be up to the justices to revive the policy and deliver yet another blow to JudgeWatson, who just last month saw a previous anti-Trump ruling on limits on refugees and travel limits from six majority-Muslim nations overturned by the Supreme Court.



Reaching out

South Korea offers military talks with North Korea
               

South Korea on Monday invited North Korea to participate in military talks, the first formal overture by newly elected President Moon Jae-in who promised an increased diplomatic outreach to the reclusive and volatile nuclear-armed regime to the north.

North Korea did not immediately respond. Neither did President Trump, who has pursued a more hawkish policy toward North Korea and promised “very severe things” in response to recent long-range missile tests.

Mr. Moon proposed opening the talks with North Korea on July 21 in the border town of Tongilgak.



McCain's blood clot may be move significant than first thought


Sen. John McCain, 80, is recovering at his Arizona home following surgery on Friday to remove a blood clot above his left eye, according to his office. The clot was discovered during a routine physical last week, according to a statement.

Surgeons at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix "successfully removed the 5-cm blood clot during a minimally invasive craniotomy with an eyebrow incision," the statement said.

An eyebrow incision is not a big deal, explained CNN Chief Medical Correspondent and practicing neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta, but the bone was opened to gain access to the brain, Gupta explained on CNN's New Day Monday.



Russia rejects any US conditions for return of seized compounds

Russia wants compounds in US returned

Russia has described any possible conditions set by Washington to return two of the country's diplomatic compounds in the US that were closed down late last year as "unacceptable."

"We have repeatedly said that we think any conditions are unacceptable. We think that the diplomatic property must be returned without any conditions and talks," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN Monday.

"What is happening is -- de facto and de jure -- a violation of international law," he said. "Contacts are happening between the foreign policy departments. Kremlin, as it is, does not really participate but as you know this issue was raised by President [Vladimir] Putin during his G20 meeting with President Trump in a quite straightforward manner."



Iran's terrorism goliath
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps terrorizes its own people and casts a dark shadow over the world

ISIS has captivated Western attention for so long with its gruesome beheadings, stabbings, vehicular homicides, shootings and bombings in Europe and the United States, the horrific aftermaths deservedly the focus of television news, that virtually forgotten is the world’s biggest terror threat — Iran’s IRGC, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The IRGC, often misidentified in Western press as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps dwarfs ISIS by any measure.

ISIS never had more than about 30,000 fighters, equipped mostly with small arms, with very little access to high-tech weaponry.

In contrast, the IRGC has about 125,000 fighters. It is the only terror organization in the world with an army, navy, and special forces.



Charging treason and ruining a republic
Treason is defined very clearly in the Constitution, and Donald Trump Jr.’s actions don’t come close

The latest nothingburger ablaze on the media grill is that Donald Trump Jr. may have committed treason when he met with a woman he believed to be an agent of the Russian government who claimed to possess information that Hillary Clinton had colluded with that country.

Aside from the obvious implication that it might well be Mrs. Clinton who was acting adversely to the interests of the United States, and not Donald, Jr. (and just such a charge was levied by Peter Schweizer in his book “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” (2015)), those charging Donald, Jr. with treason betray an astonishing lack of understanding of the term.

“Treason” is defined in the United States Constitution as two things, and two things only. These are (1) levying war against the United States and (2) giving aid and comfort to the country’s enemies. No one suggests that Donald Jr. was making war against us, so presumably it is the “giving aid and comfort to the country’s enemies” that is involved here.

"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…