Thursday January 17th, 2019

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

World & National
Who blinks first will matter in Trump, Democrats’ wall fight
               
Of all the issues at stake as President Donald Trump and Democrats wrangle over his prized border wall, the latest snag is whether bargaining over the proposal should come before or after shuttered government agencies reopen.

It sounds like one of those perplexing snits that frustrates Americans and prompts them to blame both parties for Washington’s dysfunction. But it’s actually a consequential dispute about who’ll have leverage, now and later, as the partial shutdown enters its 27th day Thursday, setting a dubious record for duration.
Newsmax.Headline.Standard- 17144-17152


Missile review study: Military is weighing 'space-based layer of sensors'
                ** FILE ** Capt. Philip Gunn participates in a flyover during the interment ceremony of retired Brig. Gen. Robinson Risner on Jan. 23, 2014, at Arlington National Cemetery. (Image: Air Force)

Amid heightened threats around the world and Russia’s claim of a new invulnerable weapon, President Trump and Pentagon leaders on Thursday will release the first sweeping review of U.S. missile defense systems in nearly a decade.

The study, first commissioned in 2017 as part of the Trump administration’s broader national security strategy, will serve as both a review of current U.S. missile defense systems and also a blueprint for how to confront new threats, including those posed by North Korea, Iran and Russia.

The review comes as Mr. Trump is pulling the U.S. out of a decades-old nuclear treaty with Moscow on shorter-range nuclear weapons, raising fears that the two Cold War foes are positioning themselves for a 21st-century arms race.



Trump's 2020 campaign manager calls George Conway a 'bad husband'

               
Brad Parscale, President Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, took aim at George Conway Wednesday night, saying he is a bad husband to Kellyanne Conway.

Mr. Conway, who often ridicules and criticizes the president on Twitter and in interviews, mocked Mr. Trump over a joke the Burger King account made at his expense.

After serving fast food at a gathering for the Clemson Tigers football team, Mr. Trump celebrated by tweeting the next day about how he paid for over 1,000 “hamberders.”



Michael Cohen hired IT firm to manipulate polls for Trump before Republican primary: Report


Michael Cohen hired an IT firm to rig polls to favor then-candidate Donald Trump before his presidential campaign and skipped out on paying most of the money he owed, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Cohen confirmed the revelations on Twitter Thursday morning and implicated the president.

John Gauger, owner of RedFinch Solutions LLC, told the Wall Street Journal that in 2015 he went to Trump Tower to collect the $50,000 that Cohen promised to pay him for trying to tip the polls in Mr. Trump’s favor. However, he received a blue Walmart bag with about $12,000 to $13,000 in cash and a boxing glove.



Rashida Tlaib blasts 'right wing media' after coverage of get-together with pro-Hezbollah activist

Tlaib: 'I am Muslim and Palestinian. Get over it.'

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Michigan Democrat, accused “right wing media” Tuesday of picking on her for being Muslim after she was slammed for hosting a pro-Hezbollah activist at her congressional swearing-in ceremony in Detroit.

“Right wing media targeting me again rather than focusing on the President’s reckless government shutdown,” tweeted Ms. Tlaib. “Yes, I am Muslim and Palestinian. Get over it.”



Theresa May survives vote, but Britain remains in Brexit deadlock

Prime minister invites party leaders to discuss alternative deal but sticks to red lines
                

Theresa May has survived as prime minister after weathering a dramatic no-confidence vote in her government, but was left scrambling to strike a Brexit compromise that could secure the backing of parliament.

In a statement in Downing Street on Wednesday night, the prime minister exhorted politicians from all parties to “put aside self-interest”, and promised to consult with MPs with “the widest possible range of views” in the coming days.

It followed her announcement that she would invite Jeremy Corbyn and other party leaders for immediate talks on how to secure a Brexit deal, something she had declined to do earlier in the day, although Labour later said Corbyn would decline the invitation unless no-deal was taken off the table.



Fake Washington Post Newspapers Distributed in D.C.


The lead front page story of the fake paper read: "Unpresidented. Trump hastily departs White House, ending crisis."

Fake print copies of The Washington Post were floating around the nation's capital Wednesday.

The newspaper said it was aware someone had produced forged newspapers with fake headlines and stories inside. A fake website was also created. Organizer L.A. Kauffman claimed credit for making the paper, telling NPR that she worked with author Onnesha Roychoudhuri and activists Yes Men. The website mimicked the paper and also changed the Post's motto from "Democracy Dies in Darkness" to "Democracy Awakens in Action."



CNN: Ginsburg Cancels Two Upcoming Appearances


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has canceled appearances at events in Los Angeles and New York in the upcoming weeks following surgery in December to remove cancerous nodules from her lung, CNN reports.

"Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg regrets that she is unable to attend the talk with David Rubenstein at 92Y on Feb. 6," the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan wrote in an email to CNN. "She is curtailing travel and focusing on her work while recuperating from recent surgery."  Ginsburg was also scheduled to appear at Los Angeles' Skirball Cultural Center on Jan. 29.

The 85-year-old jurist missed two weeks of oral arguments following surgery, her first time in over 25 years, but has still participated in court cases by reading briefs at home.



Sen. Kamala Harris to vote 'no' on AG nominee Barr


Sen. Kamala Harris, California Democrat, said Thursday she will not vote for William Barr, President Trump’s nominee for attorney general.

Ms. Harris, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is the first prominent Democrat to officially announce her intent to vote against Mr. Barr.



Border rancher: 'We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal'

Ranchers and farmers near the U.S.-Mexico border have been finding prayer rugs on their properties in recent months, according to one rancher who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation by cartels who move the individuals.

The mats are pieces of carpet that those of the Muslim faith kneel on as they worship.

"There’s a lot of people coming in not just from Mexico," the rancher said. "People, the general public, just don’t get the terrorist threats of that. That’s what’s really scary. You don’t know what’s coming across. We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal. It’s not just Mexican nationals that are coming across."



Newly elected and too big for her britches


A funny thing happened to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, on her way to political stardom. She ran into Tall Poppy Syndrome.

Tall Poppy Syndrome occurs when someone gets cut down to size after becoming too big for her britches, too important too fast, too superior to those around her. The tall poppy must be pruned back, lest she think she can easily dominate her peers. She must be taught a lesson.
As the Democratic establishment took note of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s haughty dismissal of those she considers too old or not progressive enough to lead the leftist revolution, it also began to remind her who’s boss.


What would Tony Soprano think of Donald Trump?
Tony Soprano is back, in the media if not in prime time. In the year of the Superhero, the anti-hero is old news, but the ghost of the mob boss of “The Sopranos,” the end of the ‘90s blockbuster, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the premiere. “The Sopranos” was a true cultural and political icon, and Tony has been summoned from the grave to talk about what he would think about Donald Trump as the president.
Tony was only a make-believe character, and he died (we think) in the series, but he would have had an opinion about Mr. Trump, since everybody else does. So why not hear it?

"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.


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…