Thursday April 15th, 2014
"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metcalf
 

Updated 0944 PST                                   
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World & National

Snowden Asks Putin Question on Russian Surveillance on Live TV
                     

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden joined a public question-and-answer session with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow via video.

Snowden asked Putin if Russia had similar surveillance programs as the United States--referring to the mass collection and storage of data from individuals around the world.

“Mr. Snowden, you are a former agent, a spy, I used to be working for an intelligence service, we are going to talk one professional language,” Putin began, via a translator.

Putin explained that any intelligence operations were strictly regulated by Russian law, and required court permission to spy on an individual.



Putin: Russia's great propagandist

                 

Putin’s use of Soviet-era symbolism has alarmed those already fearful for the country’s democratic institutions

Igor Dolutsky finds nothing unusual in disagreeing with everyone around him. In the 35 years he has been teaching history in Moscow schools, his habit of questioning official narratives and challenging political taboos has cost him his job more than once.

Moscow’s annexation of Crimea has set off rapid and drastic changes that threaten to submerge such outposts of dissent. In a speech marking the consummation of Russia’s union with the Black Sea peninsula on March 18, Mr Putin lashed out against a “fifth column” of “national traitors” enlisted by the west to subvert Russia. He vowed to respond forcefully.



Regulator Without Peer
By at least one measure, Obama surpasses all of his predecessors.

Anyone wondering why the U.S. economy can't seem to grow at its usual pace should examine one product category where production is booming: federal regulation.

Washington set a new record in 2013 by issuing final rules consuming 26,417 pages in the Federal Register. While plenty of government employees deserve credit for this milestone, leadership matters. And by this measure President Obama has never been surpassed in the Oval Office.



Obama administration's 'Culture of intimidastion' in Nevada
Critics say fight isn’t first instance of feds’ ‘overkill’

Sending scores of armed agents along with helicopters and dogs to confront an elderly Nevada rancher over grazing fees may seem like overkill, but critics say it’s not inconsistent with the federal government’s recent approach to environmental enforcement.

The simmering truce between the Bundys and the Bureau of Land Management comes after high-profile raids last year by armed federal agents on small-time gold miners in tiny Chicken, Alaska, and guitar makers at the Gibson Guitar facilities in Tennessee.



NY Gov. Cuomo Signs Law to Rig Electoral College

The campaign to effectively end the Electoral College's role in presidential elections has received an additional boost from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo signed the National Popular Vote Compact on Tuesday, under which the state would award its 29 electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote.

The state's electoral votes currently go to the winner of New York's popular vote, the New York Daily News reports.



Would Obama endorse Biden in 2016?

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are only a year into their second term, but even so, with eyes to 2016, the big question remains: Will Biden run, and, if so, will he be the person the president endorses?

With both the president and the vice president together for a rare joint interview - part of the president's recent interview with CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett - Garrett inquired about the future.

"The optics of this will be viewed by some through the prism of 2016," Garrett told Biden about his appearance with Mr. Obama in Pennsylvania Wednesday. "That's going to be true whatever you do the moment you declare whether you're a candidate or not. Does that change your ability to work on behalf of this president?"



Deportation Cases in Courts Steadily Drop Under Obama

The number of new deportation cases in immigration courts has been steadily dropping since 2009, with judges increasingly ruling against actions before them, Justice Department statistics showed Wednesday.

First reported by The New York Times, the stats show a 43 percent drop in the number of deportations through the courts in the last five years.



GOP fears executive order on biometric guns

Sen. John Cornyn  is warning the Obama administration to not issue an executive order requiring that all new guns be made with biometric technology, such as finger-print recognition or bracelets.

Cornyn raised the issue in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, who in testimony earlier this month highlighted biometric bracelets and fingerprint identification as a safety issue.



Obama administration planning fixes to immigration law in coming weeks

House Democrats, who are stepping up the pressure on Republicans to take up comprehensive immigration reform legislation, said Tuesday the Obama administration is getting ready to take executive action on the matter very soon.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson earlier this month told House Democrats he'll take action in the next few weeks on “fixes” to immigration law, most likely dealing with deportation.



Study: Even Casually Smoking Marijuana Can Change Your Brain

Casual use of marijuana can produce changes in parts of the brain associated with emotion and motivation, according to a new study.

The study suggests that moderate use of marijuana can have detrimental effects often associated with dependence, according to The Washington Post.

"People think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem, if someone is doing OK with work or school," study co-author Hans Breiter told Northwestern University’s Science Newsline, according to the Post. "Our data directly says this is not the case."



Krauthammer vs. the politically correct tyrants
The liberal left has numbers, but facts on pundit’s side on global warming

Last week, a national treasure spoke. That would be Charles Krauthammer, syndicated columnist, television commentator and all around public sage. He also is a chess player.

Mr. Krauthammer noted that two months ago a petition bearing the signatures of some 110,000 tyrants was sent to The Washington Post — from where did it come I would like to know — demanding that The Post discontinue publishing articles that deny global warming or — who knows — take even a skeptical view of global warming. Yet Mr. Krauthammer assures us that precisely a day later, his column containing the exact heresy ran in the newspaper. So, apparently The Washington Post, unlike The Los Angeles Times, will remain unintimidated by the global-warmist tyrants, at least for now.



The Middle East War on Christians
Muslim-majority nations are doing to followers of Jesus what they did to the Jews.

This week, as Jews celebrate the Passover holiday, they are commemorating the Bible's Exodus story describing a series of plagues inflicted on ancient Egypt that freed the Israelites, allowing them to make their way to the Holy Land. But over the past century, another exodus, driven by a plague of persecution, has swept across the Middle East and is emptying the region of its Christian population. The persecution is especially virulent today.

The Middle East may be the birthplace of three monotheistic religions, but some Arab nations appear bent on making it the burial ground for one of them. For 2,000 years, Christian communities dotted the region, enriching the Arab world with literature, culture and commerce. At the turn of the 20th century, Christians made up 26% of the Middle East's population. Today, that figure has dwindled to less than 10%. Intolerant and extremist governments are driving away the Christian communities that have lived in the Middle East since their faith was born.



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.