Monday May 14th, 2018

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

World & National

Ceremony to inaugurate US embassy in Jerusalem begins

The ceremony to inaugurate the United States' controversial embassy in Jerusalem began on Monday after deadly clashes along the Gaza Strip's border with Israel earlier in the day.

The ceremony moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem began with the US national anthem.

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman then spoke and President Donald Trump was given a standing ovation when he mentioned him.

Friedman referred to the embassy's location as "Jerusalem, Israel" drawing wild applause.
Netanyahu praises Trump for 'real leadership'...
Many See Nightmare Taking Shape...
Arab league to meet over 'illegal' move...
Iran urges global resistance...
Yemen Fires Missile at Saudi Oil Facility...
Al-Qaeda leader calls for jihad...

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Paris Attack
The Islamic State on Saturday claimed responsibility for the knife attack in Paris that left one victim dead and at least four injured, according to several news reports. 

Amaq news agency, the group's propaganda arm, released a statement describing the attacker as a "soldier of the Islamic State" and claimed the atrocity was in response to its calls to target countries bombing its territories in Syria and Iraq.

French prosecutor Francois Molins said witnesses reported that the suspect shouted “Allah Akbar” during the attack.

How Obama loyalists conspired to undermine the Trump transition

                  President Obama had a cadre of appointees who relied on
        Democratic opposition research to push Trump collusion claims
        into the public domain. They also leaked sensitive material to
        news media, some of it grossly misleading, according to a
        congressional investigative report. (Associated Press/File)

Republican-driven investigative reports on Russia have provided an unanticipated view into secret anti-Trump maneuvers by Obama loyalists during the span of the presidential transition.

Congress set out in early 2017 to investigate Moscow election interference and any coordination with the Donald Trump campaign.

As the collusion avenues led to dead ends, Republican investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Judiciary Committee traveled on a new lane. They discovered a number of behind-the-scenes moves that they said transformed a traditionally acrimony-free transition into a partisan transfer of presidential power.

Among the findings: Obama appointees relied on Democratic opposition research to push Trump collusion claims into the public domain. They also leaked sensitive material to news media, some of it grossly misleading.

U.S. promises economic boom in exchange for North Korea’s denuclearization


Top White House officials on Sunday delivered an ambitious promise to North Korea: Give up your nuclear weapons program and the U.S. will open the door to economic prosperity rivaling that of any other nation in the region, laying out in clear terms the benefits the reclusive nation stands to reap as dictator Kim Jong-un prepares for a historic, high-stakes summit with President Trump next month.

The Trump administration made the promise to funnel American money and expertise into North Korea it seeks to cast its nuclear negotiations in a far different light than the deal President Barack Obama cut with Iran.

Specifically, White House officials said, they will insist on much more intrusive inspections inside North Korea and that the president could submit any deal struck with North Korea to the Senate for approval — a major difference from the pact with Tehran.

Former Trump adviser: ‘You have to understand that not everybody on this planet loves John McCain’

A former top adviser to President Trump said Sunday that Sen. John McCain isn’t immune to criticism and has consistently been a thorn in the White House’s side since Mr. Trump came to power.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union program, Michael Caputo, who served as a communications adviser to Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, pushed back against the notion the White House is out of line for criticizing Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican and a frequent critic of the administration.

Mr. McCain’s ongoing tension with the White House reached new heights last week when Kelly Sadler, an administration communications aide, said that Mr. McCain’s political positions don’t matter because he’s “dying anyway.” The comment drew harsh rebukes from both sides of the aisle, but Mr. Caputo countered that the Arizona senator, now battling brain cancer, is a fair target.

As Mueller probe enters second year, Trump and allies go on war footing

The grand jury witnesses arrive one by one at the windowless room in the federal courthouse on Constitution Avenue in downtown Washington. They are struck first by how commonplace the setting feels – more classroom than courtroom, two witnesses said.

One of special counsel Robert Mueller III’s prosecutors stands at a lectern. The jurors, diverse by age and ethnicity, are attentive and take notes. The questioning is polite yet aggressive, surprising witnesses with its precision and often accompanied by evidence – including text messages and emails – displayed on a large old-fashioned overhead projector.

The investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, which hits its one-year mark Thursday, has formed the cloudy backdrop of Donald Trump’s presidency – a rolling fog of controversy, much of it self-inflicted, that is a near-constant distraction for the commander in chief.

Huge fissure opens on Hawaiian volcano; some defy evacuation order


A massive new fissure opened on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, hurling bursts of rock and magma with an ear-piercing screech on Sunday as it threatened nearby homes within a zone where authorities had just ordered an evacuation.

The fissure, a vivid gouge of magma with steam and smoke pouring out both ends, was the 17th to open on the volcano since it began erupting on May 3. Dozens of homes have been destroyed and hundreds of people forced to evacuate in the past 10 days.

Federal Tax Cuts Leave States in a Bind

Governors and state legislators are contending with how to adjust their own tax codes to shield their residents from paying more

The federal tax overhaul cut taxes for millions of American families and businesses. But the law also had an unintended effect: raising the state-tax bite in nearly every state that has an income tax.

Now, governors and state legislators are contending with how to adjust their own tax codes to shield their residents from paying more or, in some cases, whether to apply any of the unexpected revenue windfall to other priorities instead.

Trump reshaping GOP by breaking away from traditional conservative policies

Traditional conservative groups that have long dominated Republican Party politics have found themselves locked out of the White House on crucial issues on which President Trump goes his own way, most glaringly on get-tough trade policy and his use of tariffs to squeeze trade rivals.

But in the era of Trump, most of these powerful conservative advocates do not entirely buck the president and have swallowed their pride to support pro-Trump candidates who also break with free-trade orthodoxy.

“The landscape is changing,” said former Rep. David McIntosh, president of Club for Growth, an organization that scores conservative voting records in Congress and prides itself on taking on any lawmaker who does not adhere to free market, limited-government principles.

'Verify but don't trust'

President Reagan often said that our approach to relations with the Soviet Union should be “trust, but verify.” He understood that because they would cheat on any arms control agreement we made with them, every such agreement had to require periodic proofs of Soviet compliance.

As President Trump’s summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un approaches, he knows that North Korea has reneged on or flatly renounced every agreement it has made. Its track record is even worse than the Soviets’. That fact will require Mr. Trump to modify Mr. Reagan’s approach to say “verify, but don’t trust.”

Last week, when he revoked the Obama-Iran nuclear weapons deal, Mr. Trump strengthened his hand on North Korea significantly by making it clear to the world — and especially Mr. Kim — that he won’t agree to another bad deal.

The deadly push for assisted suicide

Last November, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took commendable action to confront an uncomfortable topic and a horrific reality: Suicide, he said, had become a statewide public health crisis. Calling the state’s sudden spike in suicides “unacceptable” (New York now ranks 5th in the nation), he said that awareness and prevention is a top priority for the state.

So imagine my confusion when I heard that the New York Assembly was taking up a bill that would increase the number of suicides in the state (by more than 6 percent, according to Southern Medical Journal) and leave the elderly — whom the governor recognized as a high-risk group — in particular danger.

The bill legalizes assisted suicide — that is, it protects doctors who write prescriptions for lethal poisons — under the guise of supposed compassion. The reality is, it is anything but. And calling it “Medical Aid-in-Dying” does not change that.

"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. 


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 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…