Thursday April 10th, 2014
"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metcalf
 

Updated 1120 PST                                   
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World & National

Eric Holder Snaps
                  

A fed-up Attorney General Eric Holder is accusing congressional critics of launching “unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive” attacks on him and the Obama administration.

During a speech to the National Action Network in New York on Wednesday lauding the organization’s effort to advance racial equality, a heated Holder went a little off-script.

“Forget about me [specifically]. Look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee,” Holder told the crowd. “What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”




Aussie official "optimistic" Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will be found, and soon


A ship searching for the missing Malaysian Airlines jet has detected two more underwater signals that may be emanating from the aircraft's black boxes, and the Australian official in charge of the search expressed hope Wednesday that the plane's wreckage will soon be found.

Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the search for the missing plane in the southern Indian Ocean, said that the Australian navy's Ocean Shield picked up the two signals in a sweep on Tuesday, and that analysis of two sounds detected in the same area last week showed they were consistent with a plane's so-called black boxes.



Russian military on Ukraine border in high state of readiness

Senior military officers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization described Russian military forces deployed in more than 100 makeshift bases just across the border with Ukraine as being in a state of high readiness—able to move swiftly within hours of a command from the highest level.

In a briefing to reporters at the alliance's military headquarters in southern Belgium that officials said was aimed at countering "misperceptions" promoted by Russia, NATO officers showed satellite images of fast aircraft, tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and temporary bases of troops it assessed to be airborne or special forces.



House Panel Votess to Hold Ex-IRS Officer in Contempt
                

A U.S. House committee voted to hold former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about her role in scrutinizing Tea Party groups seeking tax exemptions.

The vote today by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was 21-12, along party lines.

“We represent the people and they deserve an answer,” said Representative Tim Walberg, a Michigan Republican.



Hatch Act Violations at IRS


A customer service representative at the IRS who repeatedly greeted taxpayers calling a help-line with a chant urging President Barack Obama's re-election in 2012 could now be facing significant disciplinary action, according to the Office of Special Counsel.

OSC, which enforces the law prohibiting federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity in the workplace — the Hatch Act — has filed a complaint with the Merit Systems Protection Board seeking disciplinary action against the employee.

It's one of three cases of improper political activity at the agency recently uncovered by OSC, according to a April 9 press release.



Pelosi: Republicans Are Stallin on Immigration Reform Because of Racial Issues
"I’ve heard them say to the Irish, 'If it was just you, it would be easy,' " Pelosi told reporters.

Race is at the heart of House Republicans' reluctance to pass an immigration overhaul this year, Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday.

"I think race has something to do with them not bringing up the immigration bill. I've heard them say to the Irish, 'If it was just you, it would be easy,' " the House minority leader said, when asked about Republicans' views on race in general.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill later clarified that she heard about those Republican comments from Irish immigration activists who visited Capitol Hill earlier this year.



Progress in talks on resuming Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

Indyk's continued efforts to salvage peace talks based on a deal similar to the one that fell through last week.

U.S. efforts at extending Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations beyond the April 29 deadline have led to positive developments over the last 24 hours, according to high ranking officials in Jerusalem.

"There has been some progress in the talks, but no breakthrough," said an Israeli official. "There isn't an outline for a possible deal yet, and it's unclear if it's possible to reach a deal that would be acceptable on both sides.

U.S. envoy Martin Indyk met the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams on Thursday afternoon. High-ranking Israeli officials stated that the two sides were discussing an outline of the deal that fell through last week, though with various changes that take into account the Palestinians' requests to join 15 international treaties.



Democrats Urge Obama to Decide on Keystone XL by May 31st

A group of 11 Senate Democrats, including five seeking re-election this year, urged President Barack Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline by May 31.

“This process has been exhaustive in its time, breadth, and scope,” the Democrats wrote in a letter sent to Obama today. “It has already taken much longer than anyone can reasonably justify. This is an international project that will provide our great friend and ally, Canada, a direct route to our refineries.”

Senate Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Warner of Virginia -- all up for re-election -- signed the letter. All previously backed the Keystone project.



Poll: Democratic CAndidates Hurt by Obamacare

An overwhelming percentage of registered voters have admitted that a candidate’s position on the troubled health care law will play an important part in deciding their vote in the upcoming elections, according to a new poll.

Republican senatorial candidates have been constantly hammering at Democrats who have supported Obamacare as the GOP bids to capture the Senate in November – and it appears from a USA Today/Pew Research Center poll that the tactic will pay big dividends.

The poll shows that more than eight out of every 10 voters say that the stance of a candidate in the midterms will play a key role in their decision-making on who to vote for in November.



IRS at the Crossroads
New evidence that Lois Lerner targeted conservative groups.

Congress's investigation into IRS political targeting accelerated Wednesday, with a referral for the criminal prosecution of a former Treasury official and new evidence to back it up. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp recommends the Justice Department proceed on three probable criminal actions taken by former director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner.

The letter, which was endorsed in a party-line Ways and Means vote Wednesday morning, discloses new evidence suggesting that Ms. Lerner used her position to single out conservative groups for scrutiny not applied to left-leaning groups. Investigators also charge that she misled investigators in her original conversations with the Treasury Inspector General and potentially disclosed confidential taxpayer information by using her personal email address for IRS business.



ACLU's Slurs and Lies Target Foes of Illegal Immigration
American Civil Liberties Union uses subpoenas to intimidate foes of illegal aliens

The American Civil Liberties Union has a reputation for serving as a “guardian of liberty,” protecting our privacy and the First Amendment rights of speech, association and assembly.

Imagine our surprise when a subpoena from the ACLU trampling those rights landed on our doorstep. Imagine our greater surprise when we discovered the subpoena was filled with racial slurs such as “spic,” “wetback” and “beaner.”



From the Geoff Metcalf Archives
OCTOBER 18, 1999
Echelon revisited, again
1999 WorldNetDaily.com

I learned a long time ago to notice changes. Changes indicate "something" and are in many ways a natural early warning device. We may not know at the time what that "something" is, but awareness leads to preparedness. If you sit in a forest, a swamp, or a jungle and actively "listen," you can easily identify a change. Background noise of birds and critters will get less, or increase; you can hear the difference. Something caused that change. Likewise most people can even smell a change. It might be the smell of a salt marsh at low tide, or a campfire or diesel engine. I've known guys who could smell the oil on a gun amongst assorted mountain fragrances. There is also what I believe to be a very real instinctive warning device designed I guess to spark the "fight or flee" reaction. The Godan (fifth degree black belt) test in one martial art requires the testee to kneel with his back to the teacher. The teacher "projects" a killing intention and swings a sword at the kneeling student's head. If the target head isn't there when the sword arrives, the student passes and is promoted.

April 20th of last year (1998) I wrote a WorldNetDaily column entitled "Big Brother Watching" that referred to a program called, "Echelon". Since then I have seen Echelon stories in a variety of magazines and European newspapers.

The movie, "Enemy of the State," although fiction, shed light on the real world realities of Echelon, and the unbridled assault on both the concept and essence of personal privacy.

Lawmakers in both the United States Congress and British Parliament are now asking questions I raised last year. Even the San Diego Union has written about Echelon: "Is the government listening in on your phone calls? Reading your e-mail for words like 'plutonium,' 'Clinton' or 'terrorism'?"

An eclectic and strange collection of distaff allies have joined the "What's the deal with Echelon" crowd. Congressman Bob Barr, himself a former CIA analyst, The European Parliament, and a gaggle of computer mavens calling themselves "hacktivists" are all looking into the what, where, when, why, and how of Echelon. They are not having joint board meetings, but they are pursuing similar objectives along fairly parallel lines. This Thursday the "hacktivists" are planning what may be the first mass protest using electronic mail as a weapon. It cannot be confirmed or denied that FBI Director Louis Freeh has bought out the entire D.C. stock of Imodium.

The target may sound more like something out of "The X-Files" than a real computer network operated by five countries. But it is real. Echelon is not officially acknowledged by the U.S. government despite more than ample documentation of the treaty that sparked it, and the facilities from Menwith Hill in England to Alexandria, Va. "We don't confirm or deny the existence of Echelon," said a spokeswoman for the U.S. National Security Agency, although they are the agency believed tasked with operating the system.

The European Parliament started asking questions about Echelon last year. The European press has been reporting on it longer than I have. Yet again, either as a function of malfeasance or complicity, the United States mainstream has been silent.

Then Congressman Barr actually said the word ("Echelon") out loud on the floor of the House for God and everyone to hear.

As I noted last year, Echelon is a complex, interconnected worldwide network of satellites and computerized interception stations operated by the governments of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

According to Christopher Simpson, an American University professor who has written four books about national security technology, Echelon scans e-mail for hot-button words like "militia," "Davidian," "terrorism" and "AK-47." It can recognize individual voices in telephone calls and track who is calling whom.

I have often received e-mail with a long litany of "key words and phrases" (Death to the New World Order, Clinton, Butch Reno, Branch Davidians, TWA 800, Ruby Ridge, Oklahoma City, Abolish the Federal Reserve, None Dare Call it Treason, Cocaine, AK-47, Stinger, Vince Foster, etc.) above a routine note such as "Like your column. Keep it up." When I asked, "Why the laundry list?" I was told it was a small protest intended to overburden the snoopers.

The European Parliament published an official report last year and concluded Echelon has listening posts all over the world that can intercept any phone calls, e-mail or faxes transmitted by satellite. "Echelon is designed for primarily nonmilitary targets: governments, organizations and businesses in virtually every country," the report said.

In May a follow up report said there is evidence that the U.S. government has used Echelon to pick up the secrets of foreign corporations and pass them on to American companies. Some of you may recall talk that when the Cold War allegedly ended, intelligence assets would shift focus from military to industrial espionage.

Congressman Barr has called for congressional hearings on Echelon. "By all appearances, what we have is a massive government program that scoops up unbelievably huge numbers of private communications, indiscriminately, without any oversight or court involvement," Barr said. "There's a very important, but fine, line between legitimate foreign intelligence gathering and unconstitutional eavesdropping on American citizens, and it appears that line has been crossed."

Concerns that Echelon could and would illegally intercept Americans' private communications sparked the ACLU to write to congressional representatives back in April. They said, "The troubling aspect is that Echelon is this huge system that operates without any oversight or scrutiny from anybody." THAT was and is the whole idea.

I'm not going to re-write last year's column again, you can check out the link. However, Echelon is the bastard child of the UKUSA Treaty. The primary purpose of the treaty AND Echelon was to maintain perception, and obscure reality.

So, these cousin countries sit down and "in the interest of national security" with a wink and a nod agree to the following:

"Here's the deal, Nigel: Let's set up an inter-connected information gathering apparatus. I'll spy on your citizens to determine if they mean us any ill, and you spy on my citizens to see if anyone is planning nastiness to your country. THEN I'll show you my data, and you show me your data. You'll know what's going on with your blokes, and I'll know what's happening with Joe-six-pack, and it's all legal ... kinda."

If you sit in the shadows of the international intelligence jungle, you can hear a change in the background noise, and the background silence. You can smell "something" different. Right about now there are Echelon managers and operatives who can feel that uncomfortable tingle? The same premonition that martial artist feels just before the sword swings for his head ... the same tingle a rat feels the heartbeat before the lurking cat springs.
 


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.

Sgt Dakota Meyer
US Marine Corps



Corporal Meyer maintained security at a patrol rally point while other members of his team moved on foot with two platoons of Afghan National Army and Border Police into the village of Ganjgal for a pre-dawn meeting with village elders. Moving into the village, the patrol was ambushed by more than 50 enemy fighters firing rocket propelled grenades, mortars, and machine guns from houses and fortified positions on the slopes above. Hearing over the radio that four U.S. team members were cut off, Corporal Meyer seized the initiative. With a fellow Marine driving, Corporal Meyer took the exposed gunner's position in a gun-truck as they drove down the steeply terraced terrain in a daring attempt to disrupt the enemy attack and locate the trapped U.S. team. Disregarding intense enemy fire now concentrated on their lone vehicle, Corporal Meyer killed a number of enemy fighters with the mounted machine guns and his rifle, some at near point blank range, as he and his driver made three solo trips into the ambush area. During the first two trips, he and his driver evacuated two dozen Afghan soldiers, many of whom were wounded. When one machine gun became inoperable, he directed a return to the rally point to switch to another gun-truck for a third trip into the ambush area where his accurate fire directly supported the remaining U.S. personnel and Afghan soldiers fighting their way out of the ambush. Despite a shrapnel wound to his arm, Corporal Meyer made two more trips into the ambush area in a third gun-truck accompanied by four other Afghan vehicles to recover more wounded Afghan soldiers and search for the missing U.S. team members. Still under heavy enemy fire, he dismounted the vehicle on the fifth trip and moved on foot to locate and recover the bodies of his team members. Corporal Meyer's daring initiative and bold fighting spirit throughout the 6-hour battle significantly disrupted the enemy's attack and inspired the members of the combined force to fight on. His unwavering courage and steadfast devotion to his U.S. and Afghan comrades in the face of almost certain death reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.