Thursday June 7th, 2018

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

World & National

Trump's on-the-fly North Korea negotiations fuel White House worries over concessions
                           President Donald Trump boards Air Force One during his departure from Andrews Air Force One Base, Md., Saturday, April 28, 2018. Trump is traveling to Michigan to speak at a rally on the same night as the White House Correspondent's Dinner, the second straight year Trump has skipped the event with the White House Press Corps. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

In a bold break with diplomatic convention, President Trump is heading into a high-stakes summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday without a completed deal on the table.

While conversations at the White House about how to conduct the negotiations are developing day by day, according to sources, Mr. Trump has made it clear that he will lead the deal-making when he gets to the Singapore summit.

The potential for on-the-fly negotiations is fueling a White House debate about what — if any — concessions Mr. Trump should offer in exchange for North Korea’s concrete steps toward dismantling nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons facilities.

Illegal immigrant children on border quadrupled in May

                               Children detained at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility color and draw, part of the many activities as well as meals and clothing they are provided at taxpayer expense. (Associated Press)

The number of children surging across the border illegally quadrupled in May compared with a year ago at the same time, and the number of people traveling as families is up sixfold, according to Homeland Security statistics released Wednesday.

Border Patrol agents caught 6,405 children trying to jump the border last month and nabbed another 9,485 “family units.” A year ago in May, those numbers were 1,493 unaccompanied alien children (UAC) and 1,577 family units.

Officers at the ports of entry encountered an additional 830 UAC and 4,718 family members traveling together. That number included people who planned to seek asylum.

Judge rules federal anti-sanctuary city law unconstitutional
Trump, Sessions 'inaccurate' in claiming immigrants commit more crimes

A federal judge upheld Philadelphia’s sanctuary city policy in a ruling Wednesday that said the federal law that the Trump administration is using to try to combat sanctuaries is unconstitutional.

Judge Michael M. Baylson also delivered a spanking to President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying they were inaccurate in suggesting that immigrants commit more crimes than native-born Americans and that further undercut the government’s arguments against the city’s policy.

The ruling joins similar defeats for Mr. Trump in California and Chicago, where his efforts to control the spread of sanctuary cities were also rejected in courtrooms.

Robert Mueller asks witnesses to turn over personal phones

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has asked witnesses in the Russia probe to hand over their personal phones to inspect their encrypted messaging programs.

Mr. Mueller has also requested the phones to view conversations between associates connected to President Donald Trump, said CNBC, which first reported the story.

Since April, prosecutors have been checking witnesses’ phones to examine private conversations on encryption programs WhatsApp, Confide and Signal and Dust. The witnesses have complied with the request, according to the news report.

It is unclear if Mr. Mueller discovered anything through the phone request.
Manafort Tampering Evidence 'Almost Nonexistent'...
DOJ to show lawmakers docs on FBI source on Trump campaign...
Watchdog finds Comey defied authority as director...

A shocking 83% of junior U.S. Navy officers lacked proficient seamanship skills in spot test

'Concerns' with vast majority of 164 junior officers tested
                         In this Saturday, Junes 17, 2017, photo, the damaged USS Fitzgerald is seen off Yokosuka, near Tokyo, Japan, after the Navy destroyer collided with a merchant ship.  The U.S. Navy says the bodies of sailors who went missing in the collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship have been found aboard the stricken destroyer. (Hitoshi Takano/Kyodo News via AP, File)

The Navy has identified deep deficiencies in seamanship among its junior officers, with just 27 of 164 first-tour officers passing competency checks with “no concerns,” according to an internal review obtained Wednesday by The Washington Times.

The study was ordered after two naval collisions claimed the lives of 17 sailors last year and put the Navy in the spotlight.

Both maritime disasters, the Navy concluded, were avoidable and stemmed from failures of leadership aboard both vessels.

In the internal message, written by Vice Adm. Richard Brown, commander of Naval Surface Force Pacific, the Navy identified concerns with 137 of 164 junior officers who were randomly tested. The review found “some concerns” with 108 and “significant concerns” with the seamanship skills of 29.

A Strong Economy Presents Democrats with a Challenge in the Midterms

Both major parties will be relieved by the results of Tuesday’s primary elections, which took place in eight states. Most candidates endorsed by party leaders prevailed, and in California’s “jungle primary,” in which the top two candidates move on to the general election regardless of party affiliation, Democrats and Republicans narrowly escaped being shut out of key races. As attention switches to November, Donald Trump’s low approval ratings and the history of midterm elections suggest that Democrats are likely to gain ground, particularly in the House. But Republicans are taking comfort in a favorable political map in the Senate, a closing of the gap between the two parties in generic-ballot polling, and—most of all—a buoyant U.S. economy.

To gain a majority in the House, the Democrats need to pick up twenty-three seats. To gain control of the Senate, they need to pick up two seats. “I think right now that the numbers point to the Democrats gaining a bunch of seats in the House, but it might or might not be enough to take them to a majority. There is a lot of uncertainty,” Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political scientist who has been studying and modelling election results for decades, told me on Monday. “The outcome in the Senate is even less clear. There’s even more uncertainty there.”

Trump to Face Tough Crowd at G-7 Amid Tariff Fight

Before President Donald Trump sits down with a notorious dictator, he will face what may well turn out to be a tougher crowd — some of America's oldest allies.

With his new tariffs increasing U.S. isolation, Trump heads to Canada on Friday for a meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized nations. The White House is expecting a chilly reception from Canada and West European countries, already frustrated over Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear agreement.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel previewed the dynamics on Wednesday, telling the German parliament that "it is apparent that we have a serious problem with multilateral agreements here, and so there will be contentious discussions."

US Now World's Fastest-Growing Economy

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow predicts that the U.S. economy, the fastest growing among industrialized nations, is on the path to even greater prosperity under President Donald Trump.

“The United States now has the fastest growing economy in the world, according to the OECD, or at least the fasting growing economy among the industrialized nations,” Kudlow told reporters at a White House press conference.

To be sure, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED) reported in its biannual Economic Outlook that among the “major seven” economies, the U.S. recorded the highest annual growth (2.9%), while Japan recorded the slowest annual growth (1.0%).

THR: TBS No Longer Allowing Bee Full Creative License

TBS management will reportedly have more scrutiny over Samantha Bee's show, "Full Frontal," after the firestorm over her use of a vile word to describe first daughter Ivanka Trump.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the plan entails management working with the show to prevent another incident that could drive away advertisers and draw rebukes from both ends of the political spectrum.

The network had previously given Bee virtually full creative license, THR reported, quoting an unnamed source.

Europe's vanishing calm

The Rhone River Valley in southern France is a storybook marriage of high technology, traditional vineyards and ancestral villages. High-speed trains and well-designed toll roads crisscross majestic cathedrals, castles and chateaus.

Traveling in a Europe at peace these days evokes both historical and literary allusions. As with the infrastructure and engineering of the late Roman Empire right before its erosion, the Continent rests at its pinnacle of technological achievement.

There is a Roman Empire-like sameness throughout Europe in fashion, popular culture and government protocol — a welcome change from the deadly fault lines of 1914 and 1939.
Yet, as in the waning days of Rome, there is a growing uncertainly beneath the European calm.

Bill Clinton, a gift for the GOP that keeps on giving

Bill Clinton, hereafter to be known as the Tone Deaf President, has had a heck of a week trying to shove his lecherous affair with a young White House intern into a #MeToo box, as if the two could ever fit together as one.

But for Republicans, this is all good.

The more Clinton squirms, the more America’s reminded why Democrats don’t deserve votes. Why, even the media of the left are starting to flee from the guy.

What’d he do this time?

"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…