Monday December 4th, 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 lawyer claims the "President cannot obstruct justice"
             

John Dowd, President Trump's outside lawyer, outlined to me a new and highly controversial defense/theory in the Russia probe: A president cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice.

The "President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution's Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case," Dowd claims.

Dowd says he drafted this weekend's Trump tweet that many thought strengthened the case for obstruction: The tweet suggested Trump knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he was fired, raising new questions about the later firing of FBI Director James Comey.
'PATTERN OF BIAS' ON MUELLER TEAM...
Flynn wears wire?
Guilty Plea Sparks Clashing Interpretations...
Inside secretive nerve center of investigation...
Papadopoulos' late night with FBI...
YORK: Obama Team Used 'Logan Act' To Entangle Trump On Day 1...
Republicans Feel Triumph, Fear Tragedy...
Trump slams Hillary Feels Badly for Flynn



Puerto Rico gives out $100 million in bonuses after pleading for $94 Billion in hurricane relief?


Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello Nevares last month asked federal taxpayers to shell out $94 billion to pay for the territory’s recovery from Hurricane Maria — then turned around and paid out about $100 million in Christmas bonuses to island government employees.

The governor’s aides say the bonuses are a longstanding tradition and part of the law, and were planned for in the budget approved last summer.

But that budget came well before Hurricanes Irma and Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, leaving much of the territory in ruin and leaving the government begging for federal assistance.

The island’s financial oversight board, created by Congress as part of a deal to bail the government out of a potential debt default last year, called the payments “imprudent” and said the hurricanes should have forced the governor to rethink his decisions.



U.S., South Korea begin massive military drill in wake of North Korea missile launch

               Image: Stealth Jets, Other Aircraft Fly in US, South Korean Drills

Over 200 American and South Korean warplanes took to the skies above the Korean peninsula on Monday in one of the largest military drills between the two allies in recent history and a massive show of force against the North Korean regime.

The annual exercise, dubbed Vigilant Ace, comes less than a week after Pyongyang carried out a successful test launch of its newest intercontinental ballistic missile. The test launch of the new Hwasong-15 weapon traveled longer and farther than any North Korean intercontinental missile to date.

The launch, carried out from a North Korean weapons facility in Sain Ni, forced Japanese officials to put the country’s northern provinces located along the missile’s trajectory on high alert.



Meet the 'real Indian' who plans to hound Elizabeth Warren to the end of her Senate race

Even if President Trump stops calling her “Pocahontas,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren may be unable to silence the chatter over her dubious claims of Cherokee ancestry for at least the next year, thanks in part to someone whose Indian heritage isn’t in doubt.

Shiva Ayyadurai, a Bombay-born, MIT-educated entrepreneur running as an independent to unseat the Massachusetts Democrat, already is the early favorite for the November election’s catchiest campaign slogan: “Only a real Indian can defeat a fake Indian.”

In June, he sent Ms. Warren a DNA testing kit for her birthday. She sent it back, but the exchange exploded on social media.



House intel committee threatens DOJ, FBI with contempt in Russia election meddling probe

House Republicans could draft a resolution to hold Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress as soon as Monday for failure to turn over documents sought as part of an intelligence committee investigation.

The move comes after what House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes describes as months of stonewalling on the part of the Justice Department and the FBI as his panel sought access to records related to federal investigators’ use of the salacious Trump dossier compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele.

Mr. Nunes said the agencies suddenly became more forthcoming with some information when it was reported over the weekend that special counsel Robert Mueller had removed one of the FBI’s top Russian counterintelligence investigators from his team after an internal probe found the agent had sent messages that showed possible bias for Hillary Clinton and against President Trump.



Mexican man convicted of kidnapping and sexual abuse sentenced to 35 years
He sexually assaulted a women in her home and attacked another in a parking lot

A Mexican man who was deported from the US 20 times has been convicted of 10 counts including sexual assault in Oregon.

On Friday, Sergio Jose Martinez, 31, was sentenced to 35 years in prison in a Portland courtroom after pleading guilty to kidnapping, sexual assault, sodomy and several other counts, KOIN reported.

Martinez had been freed from jail in Portland a week before the attacks; despite a request from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office to hold him so the agency could take him into custody.

Oregon became America's first sanctuary state when it adopted a law in 1987 preventing law enforcement from detaining people who are in the United States illegally but have not broken other laws.



Ex-Fla. Rep. Corrine Brown sentenced to 5 years in prison


Former Florida Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown was sentenced on Monday to five years in prison for mail, wire and tax fraud involving a sham charity.

A jury convicted Brown of stealing money from a bogus charity, One Door For Education, which purported to give scholarships to poor children but instead filled the coffers of Brown and her associates.

Federal prosecutors said she and a top aide commited fraud by using donations for lavish parties and trips.

The aide and another official later accepted a plea deal and testified against Brown, who served in Congress for nearly 25 years.



Britain and EU fail to reach Brexit deal
            

Britain and the European Union failed to reach a highly anticipated Brexit deal on Monday despite "significant progress" on key outstanding issues, both sides announced in Brussels.

Negotiators had earlier appeared close to reaching an agreement on the Irish border, the complex and historically sensitive issue that had emerged as a final stumbling block.

But after talks over lunch, British Prime Minister Theresa May and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said some issues remained unresolved. Both said they were confident of a deal soon that would allow talks to progress to a future trading relationship.



A Saudi Arabia awakening

President Trump’s unprecedented visit to Riyadh last May did, in effect, provide the underpinnings for the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) dramatic plans to bring Saudi Arabia into the 21st century. It is outlined in his Vision 2030 plan to wean the kingdom off oil by greatly diversifying the economy.

Fundamental to accomplishing his Vision 2030 plan is the elimination of as much corruption as possible in the kingdom. In the past weeks, MBS has not only purged and arrested members of the royal family, government officials, and businessmen, but he has also taken on the ultra-conservative clerics and curtailed their religious police force.

His opponents claim that this is nothing but a power grab. Not so. What actually is taking place is a consolidation of power to not only sideline his opponents and the ultra-conservative clerics, but also to create a real, functioning government, which is critical to enticing foreign investment for the success of his Vision 2030 plan.



On the threshold of a new prosperity

No one gets everything they want — not in university life, business or politics. Folks who won’t compromise usually end up with nothing, but for Republicans blocking a Senate tax bill the consequences for the country could be much worse.

President Trump has put the U.S. economy on the threshold of a new prosperity. GDP growth is rocking at 3 percent for three quarters running — something not seen since 2004 — stocks are zooming, unemployment is near 4 percent and inflation is so low the Fed is reluctant to raise interest rates quickly.

The strong conviction in corporate executive offices is the Capitol is no longer occupied by forces hostile to free enterprise. Mr. Trump has managed to ease regulations and CEOs are optimistic U.S. business taxes, now much higher than in other industrialized countries, will be coming down.


"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…