Wednesday August 1st, 2018

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

World & National
China warns against blackmail as Trump considers higher tariffs
                      China's President Xi Jinping takes his seat for the first closed session of the BRICS summit, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Thursday, July 26, 2018. The five leaders of the BRICS emerging economies have gathered in South Africa for an annual summit where the United States is being criticized for escalating tariffs on foreign goods. (Mike Hutchings/Pool Photo via AP) ** FILE **

China warned the U.S. against “blackmailing” Beijing amid reports Wednesday that President Trump is considering higher tariffs to force the Chinese back into trade negotiations.

“If the U.S. takes measures to further escalate the situation, we will surely take countermeasures to uphold our legitimate rights and interests,” said Geng Shuang, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, at a regular press conference.

The administration is considering more than doubling planned tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports, people familiar with the deliberations told Bloomberg. The threatened tariffs of 10 percent could rise to 25 percent on thousands of products, including food, chemicals, steel and aluminum, furniture, tires, bicycles and beauty products.

Trump's New Shutdown Threat: 'I Don't Care About Ramifications'

                          Image: Trump's New Shutdown Threat: 'I Don't Care About Ramifications'

President Donald Trump vowed again Tuesday to shut down the federal government in September if the Democrats don't give him the $25 billion for his border wall, declaring "I don't care what the political ramifications are."

"Our immigration laws and border security have been a complete and total disaster for decades — and there is no way that the Democrats will allow it to be fixed without a government shutdown," the president said in a pair of tweets:
The president first threatened a shutdown on Sunday, saying that Democrats needed to back his immigration reform package, which included the wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.
Trump caught Republican leaders off-guard — and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Monday that they opposed a shutdown.
  • Trump: 'Fake News Media' Will Be Gone in 7 Years
  • Pence: Russia Attempted to 'Sow Discord, Division' in US
  • Report: WH Chief of Staff to Stay Through 2020
  • Trump Says It's Time to Vote out Sen. Nelson
  • Trump Questions 3D Gun Sales Allowed by His Administration
  • US, China Said to Seek to Restart Talks to Defuse Trade War
  • Jamie Dimon: Trump Advisers Predicted No Tariff Retaliation

  • Noncitizens across U.S. find it easy to register to vote, cast ballots

    Russian national surprised to be on rolls in San Francisco

    A Russian national or any other noncitizen can easily influence a U.S. election by simply registering to vote in California — just ask Elizaveta Shuvalova.

    Ms. Shuvalova said she didn’t even know her name was added to the San Francisco voter rolls in 2012, when she was a 21-year-old Russian citizen living legally in the U.S. but ineligible to vote.

    “I’ve never registered for anything in my entire life,” said Ms. Shuvalova, who became a U.S. citizen early last year. “This is news to me.”

    The Washington Times obtained a San Francisco County voter log that detailed Ms. Shuvalova’s registration history and presented the document to her.

    Judge issues temporary restraining order stopping release of 3D-printed gun

    Schedules a hearing in the case for Aug. 10.

    A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday blocking a Texas organization from posting new online blueprints for 3D-printed guns, delivering a last-minute win to gun control backers who were worried about the implications of untraceable firearms being manufactured at home.

    Defense Distributed had planned to make 3D blueprints widely available over the internet on Wednesday, but U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik ordered a halt and reimposed Obama-era restrictions that blocked the plans’ distribution. The Trump administration reversed the rules this year.

    “There is a possibility of irreparable harm because of the way these guns can be made,” said Judge Lasnik, setting a broader hearing for Aug. 10.

    Mexico extradites suspect in Border Patrol agent's slaying

    The U.S. Department of Justice says a man accused of participating in the killing of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry has been extradited to the U.S. to face murder charges.

    Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes was sent Tuesday to Tucson, Arizona, where he will be charged with first degree murder in the December 2010 killing.

    The killing of Terry revealed the “Fast and Furious” operation, in which U.S. federal agents allowed criminals to buy firearms with the intention of tracking them to criminal organizations. But the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lost track of most of the guns, including two that were found at scene of Terry’s death.

    CNN's Jim Acosta responds to hecklers: Hostility will 'result in somebody getting hurt'

    CNN reporter Jim Acosta called hecklers dangerous and warned someone could get hurt after many yelled at him during President Trump’s rally in Tampa Tuesday night.

    Mr. Acosta warned that hostility “whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media” could be dangerous.

    “We should not treat our fellow Americans this way. The press is not the enemy,” he wrote on Twitter.

    Democrat Senator says Kavanaugh misled senators under oath at confirmation hearing

    The second-ranking Democrat in the Senate said Tuesday that Judge Brett Kavanaugh misled senators during his 2006 confirmation hearing, and vowed to make the judge explain himself before winning a seat on the Supreme Court.

    Sen. Richard Durbin said Judge Kavanaugh in that earlier hearing denied involvement in crafting the Bush White House’s policy on detainees and enemy combatants caught during the war on terror.

    But Mr. Durbin said he now believes Judge Kavanaugh, who had been in the White House counsel’s office and later served as staff secretary to President George W. Bush, was involved in those decisions.

    ‘We don’t have control of Mother Nature.’ Late winds pushing fire toward Lakeport
    Weary residents of fire-ravaged Lake County held out hope Tuesday that they might get a break from their fifth day of evacuations, power outages and smoky air, but late afternoon winds sparked a massive wall of flames, bringing fire teams racing back into the hills above Lakeport.

    The huge plume of flames and smoke in the Scotts Valley area whipped up shortly before 5 p.m. after a calm afternoon during which it appeared fire crews might dodge a new flareup.

    Instead, strong winds blew in from the west, common to the area, and the flames erupted anew about 2 miles northwest of downtown Lakeport, raising fears that it would begin advancing toward the town.

    Facebook has detected a coordinated effort to influence US politics ahead of the 2018 midterm elections

    Facebook says it has detected a coordinated effort to use its social network to influence American politics ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

    On Tuesday, the social network announced it had banned 32 pages and accounts that were engaged in "coordinated inauthentic behavior" and organized dozens of real-world events — and it said there were similarities to previous Russian disinformation campaigns.

    "We're still in the very early stages of our investigation and don't have all the facts — including who may be behind this," Facebook said in a blog post. "But we are sharing what we know today given the connection between these bad actors and protests that are planned in Washington next week."

    John Kelly says Trump wants him to stay at White House

    White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has told colleagues that he plans to stay on the job through the 2020 election, ending speculation that he was on his way out.

    Mr. Kelly told colleagues at a staff meeting Monday that President Trump asked him to stay and that he planned to do so, according to multiple reports.
    The exchange was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

    The announcement coincided with the retired Marine Corps general’s one year anniversary at the White House.

    Liberals still hysterical over Hillary Clinton's loss get their own 'disease'

    A “feeling as though the world is going to end.” That could describe what millions of people could have experienced in the last 100 years. World War I, World War II, the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Sept. 11, the ISIS rampage throughout the world, all not only understandably evoked fear of the world ending, but all revolved around madness, war and genocide.

    But today that feeling is brought to liberals simply because their favorite lost an election. And strangely enough, it seems compounded with every good piece of news about the economy and the national security of the United States. Weird, no?

    Today’s “feeling as though the world is going to end” is now a hallmark of those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome, a term meant to identify and mock people back from the edge of a mass hysteria assigning everything horrible in the history of humanity to a guy who was simply better and smarter at campaigning, and liked the American people more than his opponent.

    Supporting a feckless establishment

    Each Trump accomplishment annoys the Washington Globalist Establishment (WGE) — Republicans and Democrats in Congress alike — because they believe they should still run the country.

    The Democratic position is clear: They want President Trump gone. Most Republicans, led by Paul Ryan in the House and Mitch McConnell in the Senate, want the same, but they are marginally more discreet in their contempt for their boss.

    When the Republican presidential nomination came down to Mr. Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, the Senate, which collectively hated Mr. Cruz, took action. When the Texas senator sang the praises of Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell urged Mr. Sessions to throw his support to Mr. Trump which stuck a dagger into Mr. Cruz’ hopes of winning.

    "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…