Monday April 24th, 2017

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

Updated
              


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
Democrats cling to intel dossier riddled with fiction
            President Donald Trump talks on the phone in the Oval Office with Vice President Mike Pence and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus nearby. (Associated Press photo)

An anti-Donald Trump “dossier” created by a former British spy and financed by Democratic-linked money has significant detractors: the people accused of crimes in a supposed Trump-Russia conspiracy.

Three men — Mr. Trump’s attorney, a campaign volunteer and a tech company CEO — have publicly said that the parts about them in the dossier are fiction.

A fourth figure — a Russian diplomat whom Londoner Christopher Steele accused of lawbreaking — said via Russia’s Foreign Ministry that the dossier is fantasy. And there is evidence to back him up.



Trump heads into tough week with budget health care battles

          

President Donald Trump is heading into one of the most challenging weeks of his presidency, juggling a renewed health care push and a looming budget deadline. It's all complicated by a potential showdown with Democrats over paying for a border wall.

The symbolic 100-day mark for the administration is Saturday. That's the same day government could shut down without a budget deal. Trump has announced a rally in Pennsylvania that day.

Despite Trump's dismissal that the 100-day marker is "artificial," the White House is planning a packed week of activities leading up to Saturday. Trump will sign executive orders on energy and rural policies, meet with the president of Argentina and travel to Atlanta for a National Rifle Association event. Top aides will also fan out around the country to promote the administration.



Congress aims to avoid shutdown, while Trump presses for 100-day wins

Congress returns from a two-week break facing a deadline to keep the government operating while President Donald Trump presses harder for some legislative accomplishments as his first 100 days in office wind to a close.

The week is shaping up to be a collision of needs between the two, and time is quickly running out on both.

Passing funding to avoid a government shutdown appeared to be an easy task just weeks ago, but new stumbling blocks have arisen in recent days as Trump has added new demands on items like the border wall and increased military spending.



France Braces for Runoff Between Polar Opposites

               

In the coming two weeks of the French campaign, Marine Le Pen’s challenge is to break through a wall of voter antipathy that she inherited from her father. Emmanuel Macron’s task is to persuade the French he has the gravitas and experience to be president.

The far-right Le Pen and centrist Macron both took just under a quarter of the vote in a contest with 11 candidates. Now they must convince the rest of the population that they have what it takes to lead the country after the May 7 runoff.

The next round will see two radically different visions. Macron embraces globalization and European integration, Le Pen channels the forces of discontent that triggered Brexit and brought Donald Trump to power. The runoff will also be unique in that it will be the first contested by neither of the major parties, giving Macron, 39, and Le Pen, 48, space to try to forge alliances that might have seemed unlikely until recently.



Illegal immigrants coached on how to avoid deportation?

Anti-deportation infrastructure emerges to thwart Trump
        

Immigrant-rights groups released a new video Monday coaching illegal immigrants on their constitutional rights and how to avoid run-ins with federal deportation agents, as advocates gear up to try to thwart as many deportations as possible.

The video is part of a growing infrastructure designed to protect illegal immigrants from legal consequences under President Trump, and gives instructions on handling everything from encounters on the streets to when agents show up at a home with a deportation warrant.



Mattis in Afghanistan to discuss war needs

         U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis looks out over Kabul as he arrives via helicopter at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan Monday, April 24, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool Photo via AP)

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived unannounced in Afghanistan on Monday to assess America’s longest war as the Trump administration weighs sending more troops.

Kabul was the final stop on a six-nation, weeklong tour Mattis said was intended to bolster relations with allies and partners and to get an update on the stalemated conflict in Afghanistan. He is the first member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet to visit Afghanistan.

Gen. John Nicholson, the top American commander in Kabul, recently told Congress that he needs a few thousand more troops to keep Afghan security forces on track to eventually handling the Taliban insurgency on their own.



Pelosi: 'Of couse' Democrats can be pro-life...

Abortion an issue after Heath Mello, Omaha mayoral candidate, position revealed

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi downplayed the significance of the right to an abortion as a cause that unites Democrats, emphasizing instead the party’s stance on economic policy and commitment to the working class.

Asked Sunday whether there’s room in the party for pro-life politicians, the staunchly pro-choice California lawmaker responded, “Of course.”

“I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive — my family would say ‘aggressive’ — position on promoting a woman’s right to choose,” Ms. Pelosi said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The remark comes after Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont Independent, stumped on Thursday for Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello, a Democrat who supported pro-life legislation as a Nebraska senator.



U.S. carrier group heads for Korean waters, China calls for restraint
          

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all sides to exercise restraint on Monday in a telephone call about North Korea with U.S. President Donald Trump, as Japan conducted exercises with a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group headed for Korean waters.

Trump sent the carrier group for exercises in waters off the Korean peninsula as a warning, amid growing fears North Korea could conduct another nuclear test in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

Angered by the approach of the USS Carl Vinson carrier group, a defiant North Korea said on Monday the deployment was "an extremely dangerous act by those who plan a nuclear war to invade".



UK's Theresa May Prepared t Use Nukes as 'First Strike'


British Prime Minister Theresa May is prepared to use nuclear weapons in a first strike attack, her defense secretary Michael Fallon warned.

His comments came during an interview on Britain's "Today" program on BBC Radio 4.

Asked under what circumstance Britain would use nuclear weapons, Fallon replied: "In the most extreme circumstances, we've made it very clear that you can't rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike."

He declined to speculate on what type of situation would spark a first strike attack by Britain.



New tell-all about the Hillary campaign is a searing indictment of the candi9date herself


Hillary Clinton’s face projected at Javits Center in New York City, where she was supposed to shatter the glass ceiling. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

It does not take more than a few pages for journalists Jon Allen and Amie Parnes to arrive at what amounts to their thesis in Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed 2016 Campaign, a new tell-all book built off years of reporting on the trail.

“[Clinton’s] campaign was an unholy mess, fraught with tangled lines of authority, petty jealousies, distorted priorities, and no sense of greater purpose. No one was in charge, and no one had figured out how to make the campaign about something bigger than Hillary,” Allen and Parnes write in the book’s introduction. “[But] no explanation of defeat can begin with anything other than the core problem of Hillary’s campaign — Hillary herself.”

Writing in a lively and fast-paced narrative, Allen and Parnes use their unparalleled access (more than 100 on-background interviews with top Clinton surrogates) to richly document what it felt like to be aboard the Clinton Hindenburg, as well as to argue that Trump’s victory was not inevitable, or the result of interventions from the FBI or Russia, but the result of campaign incoherence that went all the way to the top.



A rare copy of the Declaration of Independence has been found--in England

A parchment manuscript of the Declaration of Independence believed to date from the 1780s was found in a records office in southern England. (West Sussex Record Office Add Mss 8981 via AP)

A rare second parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence has been found — in England.

The discovery was made by Harvard University researchers Emily Sneff and Danielle Allen, according to a university news release published Friday. The pair located the rare document in a records office in Chichester, a city near England’s southern coast.

The first clue that the document existed came in 2015, when Sneff spotted an unusual listing from a catalogue for the West Sussex Record Office: “Manuscript copy, on parchment, of the Declaration in Congress of the thirteen United States of America.”



What Turkey's referendum reveals

The outcome represents further evidence of a crumbling global status quo

The outcome of the Turkish vote on constitutional changes, notwithstanding lingering allegations of fraud, represents further evidence of a crumbling global status quo. When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared victory in the narrowly divided referendum, it wiped away 93 years of Turkish history and nearly 70 years of Turkey’s prevailing concept of its place in the world. Add that to today’s global flux, along with the rise of China, the Mideast conflagration, the fraying European Union, the threat to Europe from a rising tide of immigrants, intensifying U.S.-Russian tensions, and America’s lurch into rightwing populism, and it becomes clear that the Old Order is disintegrating.

Turkey’s latest 93-year status quo replaced an earlier status quo stretching back to the 14th century, when the Asia Minor principality of Osman, vying for dominance over other Turkish principalities, gained hegemony over that vast peninsula. Then it pushed to fill the void left by the decaying Byzantine Empire. That Osman force — or Ottoman, as it became known — emerged as one of the world’s great empires, lasting more than six centuries. At its zenith, around 1670, it encircled the Red and Black seas, stretched down to the Persian Gulf, encompassed much of the Middle East, including Egypt and large portions of Arabia, and controlled through vassal states the southern Mediterranean coastline. It gobbled up much of Europe, including Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Transylvania, and Hungary. Twice it laid siege to Vienna.



Protecting the right to vote
Illegal voting undermines representative government

A jury of 10 women and two men in Tarrant County, Texas, found Rosa Ortega guilty of voting illegally and sentenced her to eight years in jail. That simple truth — that ordinary women and men sentenced Ortega — is too often omitted in false narratives that minimize the importance of election integrity, like The Washington Post’s recent misleading editorial on this case. Of course, that publication passed on this piece which factually corrects its own.

The jurors who decided Ortega’s fate based their decision on the facts. The prosecutors proved that at the same time that Ortega falsely claimed to be a citizen for the purposes of voting, she correctly informed the authorities that she was a resident alien in order to obtain a drivers’ license. This devastating piece of evidence, which prosecutors introduced at trial, laid waste to the claim that Ortega made an innocent mistake.

The prosecutors also proved that Ortega illegally registered to vote in 2002, and voted illegally in 2004, 2005, and 2010. And they established that when Ortega moved in 2014, and correctly indicated she was not a U.S. citizen on her voting registration form, the county informed her in writing that she was ineligible to vote. Nevertheless, Ortega applied to vote again, insisting this time that she was, in fact, a U.S. Citizen.


"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…