Thursday April 19th, 2018

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

World & National

Trump says he’ll walk away from North Korea summit if Kim Jong-un plays games
                        This combination of two file photos shows U.S. President Donald Trump, left, speaking in the State Dining Room of the White House, in Washington on Feb. 26, 2018, and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attending in the party congress in Pyongyang, North Korea on May 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Wong Maye-E, File)

President Trump said Wednesday night he’s prepared to walk away from the bargaining table at an historic summit with Kim Jong-un if he feels the North Korean leader isn’t negotiating in good faith over giving up his nuclear weapons.

“If I think it’s a meeting that is not going to be fruitful, we’re not going to go,” Mr. Trump said at a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “If the meeting, when I’m there, is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting.”

The president plans to meet with Mr. Kim in late May or early June to discuss denuclearization of the communist nation, which has also been testing intercontinental ballistic missiles and raising its threats against the U.S. and its allies.

Mr. Trump revealed Wednesday that he dispatched CIA Director Mike Pompeo earlier this month to meet with Mr. Kim in Pyongyang to lay the groundwork for a summit between the two leaders. The president said that meeting went “very smoothly.”

Rep. Meadows: Growing Evidence Shows Comey Lied to Congress

                               Rep. Meadows: Growing Evidence That Comey Lied to Congress

There is a "growing body of evidence" that suggests former FBI Director James Comey lied to Congress when he said there was no coordination between the Department of Justice and the FBI while they investigated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said Thursday.

"We know because we have a number of documents, a growing body of evidence, that now would suggest that Director Comey, who under congressional testimony, a number of times has said there was no coordination between [former Attorney General] Loretta Lynch's Department of Justice and our FBI investigation," the North Carolina Republican, a member of the House Oversight Committee, told Fox News' "Fox and Friends."

Not only was that testimony false, but "we have emails that would suggest that that testimony was false, and at best misled the American public," said Meadows. "At worse was lying to Congress."

Trump allies warn that Michael Cohen could cave if charged: Report

President Trump’s allies are advising him to recognize that his personal lawyer Michael Cohen could flip against him if charged with wrongdoing.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Mr. Trump’s former lawyer Jay Goldberg sounded the alarm, telling the president he should be careful about trusting Mr. Cohen, whose office and hotel room were raided by the FBI last week.

“Michael will never stand up [for you]” Mr. Goldberg said he warned Mr. Trump in a phone call Friday, if Mr. Cohen is charged.
Cohen Would Turn Against President if Charged, Counselor Warns...
'They'll threaten with life imprisonment'...
Drops libel suits over publication of dirty dossier...
NY AG moves on Trump pardons...

Lawmakers, legal watchdog pursue discipline for Andrew McCabe

A legal watchdog filed a bar grievance against former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on Wednesday while conservative members of Congress, accusing him of lying under oath, referred him to the Justice Department for criminal charges.

The calls for discipline came just days after an inspector general’s report laid out the case against Mr. McCabe, saying he misled his former boss, then-FBI Director James B. Comey, as well as FBI and inspector general investigators over a media leak he orchestrated during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

Mr. McCabe was fired over the accusations last month, just days shy of his retirement.

But Wednesday’s moves suggest he could face more consequences.

9th Circuit appoints special prosecutor against Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Dissenting judge on panel worries ruling could foster ‘inappropriate… political attacks’ on presidency

A federal appeals court said this week it will appoint a lawyer to argue that former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s contempt of court conviction should remain on his record, despite President Trump’s pardon.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that since the federal Justice Department is supporting both the pardon and Mr. Arpaio’s request to have his conviction stricken, someone else needs to argue the other side.

Mr. Arpaio argues that the pardon came before he had a chance to appeal his conviction, and even before the federal district judge in the case had a chance to rule on his request that it be set aside. Opponents of the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, had said not only should the conviction stand, but the pardon should be deemed invalid because it subverted the justice system.

Trump delivered Japan a huge win on one part of the US's coming talks with North Korea

In the 1970s, more than a dozen people went missing from coastal areas of Japan, abducted by North Korea in a failed attempt to turn Japanese citizens into spies.

Pyongyang didn't admit to the kidnappings until 2002, when Kim Jong Il, in an attempt to receive aid, returned five abductees to Japan. At the time, North Korea said it abducted only 13 people and the remainder had died — a claim widely doubted in Japan. The abductions, believed to be of 17 people, have remained a hot political issue, particularly as family members of the taken youths grow older.

But at a news conference in Florida on Wednesday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Donald Trump said the US would bring the cause up with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un directly.

Miguel Díaz-Canel becomes Cuba's president, Raúl Castro steps down

Cuba has a new president, and for the first time in over 40 years, his last name is not Castro.

Miguel Díaz-Canel officially became president on Thursday morning after Raúl Castro stepped down and Díaz-Canel was confirmed by the National Assembly.

Castro, 86, will remain head of the Communist Party, the most powerful governing body on the island, but his departure from the presidency represents a symbolic shift in an aging leadership.

Queen drafted to charm ex-colonies into post-Brexit free trade

It's 21 years since the Commonwealth, the group of countries that used to make up the British Empire, met in Britain.

Then the U.K. had an ardently Europhile leader, Tony Blair, basking in the glory of a record-breaking win, and a queen whose popularity was in crisis over her response to the death of Princess Diana.
This time, it's the prime minister who's in trouble, and the monarch who could be coming to the rescue as the nation parts ways with the European Union.

Theresa May, stung by a disastrous election gamble, is trying to work out how to pull off Brexit without damaging the economy. To those in favor of the divorce, trade agreements with Commonwealth countries are part of the solution, and Queen Elizabeth II could be a helper in delivering those deals.

Former President George HW Bush Buoyed by Tributes to Wife

In his first public comments since his wife's death, former President George H.W. Bush said Wednesday that he used to tease his spouse of 73 years that he had a complex about how much people liked her.

That fact, he said, is buoyed by stories about Barbara Bush's warmth and wit following her death. Tributes have rolled in from around the world, from former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to a U.S. Navy commander, who recalled Mrs. Bush handing out cookies to sailors on a battleship.

Unsold Aluminum Piles Up in Russia as Sanctions Hit Exports

                       Image: Unsold Aluminum Piles Up in Russia as Sanctions Hit Exports

Russian aluminum giant Rusal is stockpiling large quantities of aluminum at one of its plants in Siberia because U.S. sanctions imposed this month have prevented it from selling the metal to customers, five sources close to the company said.

With the firm's own storage space filling up with unsold aluminum, Rusal executives in Sayanogorsk, in southern Siberia, have had to rent out additional space to accommodate the surplus stock, one of the sources told Reuters.

Smuggling cartels fuel surge in border jumpers from terror-prone Bangladesh

The number of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh jumping the border to sneak into the U.S. is on pace to double in the Laredo region of Texas, officials said Wednesday, in what is the latest worrying surge of migration from a country with terrorism dangers.

The illegal immigrants pay up to $27,000 to international smuggling organizations to ferry them from Asia into the western hemisphere, where they make their way up through Central America and Mexico to the U.S. border, where they’re led across the Rio Grande.

Another four Bangladeshis were nabbed in the Border Patrol’s Laredo Sector on Wednesday, bringing the total through a little more than six months of the fiscal year to 188. That’s already more than the 181 apprehended in all of fiscal year 2017. In 2016, the sector saw just one.

The crony capitalist in free market clothing

You might imagine that pro-capitalism, free-market folk like me would just love what Elon Musk has done in the past couple of decades but you’d be wrong. I enjoy his entrepreneurial spirit and success, founding company (zip2) after company (PayPal) after company (The Boring Co.) and turning them into properties worth billions and then moving along to the next new thing. Props and kudos to this son of South Africa and prototype for “Iron Man.” You got those parts right.

As a gadget-loving geek and someone who stayed home one whole summer vacation day to watch men walk on the moon, I can’t deny that the concept of SpaceX is genius. For as much as NASA got right in blazing a trail past Earth’s orbit, at the end of the day it’s still a government bureaucracy with all the baggage that goes with it. Then came Mr. Musk, who at first seemed like the Robert Heinlein (still my favorite fiction author) character Delos D. Harriman brought to life — bringing private enterprise and capitalism to the space program. Bravo!

Barbara Bush, one of a kind

A beautiful person, no other way to say it. Barbara Bush was one of a kind, pushing through challenges most lives never see, with a hallmark smile, clear eyes and unwavering faith.

Married to George Herbert Walker Bush in 1945, they tied the knot when George was home on leave. He was flying combat missions in World War II. He would get shot down, rescued, be flying a month later. He named his planes for her. She never stopped believing in him.

Together, they raised six children. Most Americans can name one or two of them. But their second was Robin, who died of leukemia, a disease they had never heard of. She died at 3.

"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…