Tuesday October 16th, 2018

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

World & National

Jeff Sessions rips federal judges over anti-Trump bias
                       Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia in Washington, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, to announce on efforts to reduce transnational crime. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions unleashed a blistering assault on federal judges Monday, saying anti-Trump bias has led some to abandon their role as legal referees and become “political actors” erecting roadblocks to the president’s policies.
In unusually stark language, Mr. Sessions suggested judges could soon face “calls for their replacement” if they don’t cool it.

He blasted one judge who called the president’s policy toward illegal immigrants “heartless,” and said another judge put “the inner workings of a Cabinet secretary’s mind” on trial to pave a path to block the government from asking about citizenship on the 2020 census.



Turkish Official: Evidence Found in Consulate Indicates Writer Was Killed There

A high-level Turkish official says police have found "certain evidence" during their search of the Saudi Consulate showing that Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed there.

The official did not provide details on the evidence that was recovered during the hourslong search at the diplomatic mission that ended early Tuesday.

Turkish officials say Saudi agents killed and dismembered the writer at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Saudi Arabia previously called the allegation "baseless," but U.S. media reports suggest the Saudis may soon acknowledge Khashoggi was killed there, perhaps as part of a botched interrogation.



Mike Pompeo, Saudi King Talk About Missing Journalist Khashoggi
                    Mike Pompeo, Saudi King Talk About Missing Journalist Khashoggi

America's top diplomat met on Tuesday with Saudi Arabia's King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the disappearance and alleged slaying at the kingdom's hands of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at its consulate in Istanbul.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo smiled and shook hands with both men, who warmly greeted him just hours after a Turkish forensics team finished a search inside the Saudi Consulate, looking for evidence of the Washington Post columnist's alleged killing and dismemberment.

Police plan a second search at the Saudi consul's home in Istanbul, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said, where leaked surveillance footage show diplomatic cars traveled to shortly after Khashoggi's disappearance on Oct. 2.

Saudi officials previously have called Turkish allegations that the kingdom killed Khashoggi "baseless," but reports in U.S. media on Tuesday suggested the Saudis may acknowledge the writer was killed at the consulate.
BlackRock's Fink: Withdrew From Saudi Event After Client Calls
Trump: US May Skip Saudi Event
Khashoggi crisis threatens U.S. access to Saudi oil at critical time


Martha McSally accuses Kyrsten Sinema of backing 'treason' in Senate debate

Republican Rep. Martha McSally accused her Democratic opponent, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, of supporting “treason,” citing a 15-year-old radio interview — a charge that Sinema dismissed as part of a “ridiculous” negative campaign during Monday’s debate in the race for Arizona’s open Senate seat.

McSally, a former Air Force colonel and combat pilot, made the explosive charge in the final moments of the debate that had already included heated clashes over issues such as health care and immigration.

When she was asked the final question, about climate change, McSally complained there’d been no discussion of national security in the hourlong debate, the only one of the campaign. She attacked Sinema for protesting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and referenced a 2003 radio interview in which the host engaged in a lengthy, rambling hypothetical that ends with him asking Sinema if she’d be OK with him joining the Taliban.



Elizabeth Warren hit with Cherokee backlash over DNA test
Massachusetts Democrat accused of dishonoring tribal governments
In this June 1, 2018, file photo, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at the 2018 Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention in Worcester, Mass. Warren has released results of a DNA test showing Native American ancestry in an effort to diffuse the issue ahead of any presidential run. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren trumpeted Monday DNA test results showing she has a smidgen of Native American blood, although no more than the average U.S. white person, even as Cherokees accused her of dishonoring them with her dubious claims of tribal ancestry.

Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the Massachusetts Democrat was “undermining” Native Americans with her attempt to prove her tribal heritage using genetic testing, calling it “inappropriate and wrong.”

        Elizabeth Warren may be less Native American than Average U.S. White person



Judge dismisses Stormy Daniels' defamation lawsuit against Trump

A federal judge on Monday dismissed porn star Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against President Trump, saying the president was well within his First Amendment rights when he took to Twitter to mock her.

Judge S. James Otero said Mr. Trump was using understandable hyperbole when he accused the woman, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, of a “con job” after she released a sketch artist rendering of a man she said threatened her to stay silent about her alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump years ago.

Judge Otero not only tossed Ms. Clifford’s lawsuit but ordered her to pay Mr. Trump’s legal fees, should he file such a request.

Michael Avenatti, Ms. Clifford’s lawyer, who’s set himself up as a major political opponent of Mr. Trump‘s, vowed to appeal.



Mattis: Trump Says My Job Is '100 Percent' Safe
 
Amid speculation that he may soon be replaced, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said President Donald Trump told him he supports the retired Marine general "100 percent."

The assertion comes just days after Trump mused on national television about Mattis leaving his post.

Mattis said Trump gave him this assurance during a phone call while Mattis was flying from Washington to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on Tuesday. A few hours earlier, Mattis told reporters traveling with him that he and Trump had never discussed the possibility of Mattis leaving the Pentagon job.



Sears Faces Tough Foe: The Unforgiving Bankruptcy Code

When Sears Holdings Corp filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday, it said it would close another 142 unprofitable Sears and Kmart locations and seek to reorganize around financially healthier stores. It also triggered a "time bomb" that retailers have had a tough time surviving.

Over the last dozen or so years, bankrupt retailers have had less time to make major strategic decisions for their survival and landlords and lenders have had more leverage in the process.

The change stems from a 2005 legislative overhaul of the bankruptcy code that forced companies to find an agreement within seven months on its real-estate leases, or allow landlords to walk away from the agreement. Previously, companies would spend a year or two working out a viable survival plan.



Trump threatens to cut U.S. aid to Honduras over immigrants

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened to withdraw funding and aid from Honduras if it does not stop a caravan of people that is heading to the United States.

"The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!" Trump said on Twitter.

Up to 3,000 migrants crossed from Honduras into Guatemala on Monday on a trek northward, after a standoff with police in riot gear and warnings from Washington that migrants should not try to enter the United States illegally.



Trump tops $100 million in fundraising for his own reelection

President Donald Trump has topped $100 million in fundraising for his 2020 reelection bid - an enormous haul for a president barely two years into his first term, according to new figures reported by his 2020 campaign.

Trump pulled in more than $18 million last quarter through his campaign committee and two joint fundraising committees with the Republican National Committee, for a total of at least $106 million since January 2017, according to his campaign and federal filings.

His reelection committee entered October with a stockpile of more than $35 million, the campaign said.

No other president dating back to at least Ronald Reagan had raised as much money as Trump at this point in his first term, according to the Campaign Finance Institute, a nonpartisan research group.



Playing percentages of the noble blood

There’s no law saying how much Indian blood a body has to have to have to qualify as an Indian, but it’s surely more than Elizabeth Warren’s blood-o-meter registers. Donald Trump is clearly entitled to keep his checkbook in his pocket. He doesn’t want to be an Indian giver, but he doesn’t want to be a sucker for a pretty face, either.

Mrs. Warren repaired to eugenics and higher math the other day, all to prove that she’s enough Indian to be chief squaw on the reservation. She sent off to have her genes examined and they came back with barely a passing grade.

She claims both Cherokee and Delaware blood and Bill John Baker, the principal chief of the Cherokee, one of the five civilized tribes of Mrs. Warren’s native Oklahoma, claims to be only 1/32 of noble Cherokee blood, and Mrs. Warren’s blood test shows her to be either 1/464th Cherokee, or 1/1024th Cherokee, depending on who’s counting.

Kickapoo joy juice is no doubt powerful strong stuff and Mrs. Warren is entitled to her tribal pride, if indeed it turns out that she has something in her past to be proud of, in addition to the Confederate forbears who fought against the Union invaders at Pea Ridge. Her defense for that is that Barack Obama had Confederate forbears, too.



John Bolton goes to Azerbaijan

When U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeted that he will be visiting Azerbaijan on October 20 it could not have come sooner. This secular Muslim country of 9 million is one of America’s most reliable yet underappreciated allies on the world stage. Mr. Bolton should use his visit to this geopolitically significant country sandwiched between a dangerous Russia and adventurous Iran to reiterate Washington’s unwavering, strong and unabashed support for America’s ally of over 26 years.

In 1992, as I stood next to Robert Finn (America’s top diplomat in Azerbaijan) to witness the opening of our embassy in Baku (on the 2nd floor of the Old Intourist Hotel) I could never have imagined that 26 years later Azerbaijan would prove to be one of America’s strongest and reliable partners.

When Mr. Bolton sits down with President Ilham Aliyev later this month he will not only meet an American ally who has succeeded in realizing his vision to make Azerbaijan stable, independent, prosperous, religiously tolerant and modern but also one that shares many of America’s foreign policy goals and cultural values.
"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…