Wednesday October 14th, 2020

"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metcalf
 Providing an on line Triage of the news since 1997
World & Nation
Joe Biden's denials about Hunter's business ties under scrutiny
                 In this file photo, family members gather for a road naming ceremony with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, center, his son Hunter Biden, left, and his sister Valerie Biden Owens, right, joined by other family members during a ceremony to name a national road after his late son Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III, in the village of Sojevo, Kosovo, on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu) ** FILE **

Hunter Biden arranged for a Burisma Holdings big shot to meet with his dad, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, in Washington in April 2015, a year after he joined the corrupt firm’s board of directors and garnered millions of dollars in payments from a Ukraine oligarch, an email shows.

The email, obtained and posted on Wednesday by the New York Post, cast doubt on Democratic presidential candidate Biden’s repeated assertions that he knew nothing of Hunter’s lucrative business ties in Moscow, Ukraine and China.

A second 2014 email from the same Burisma official, Vadym Pozharskyi, asked the newly empaneled Hunter Biden to “use your influence” to stop political and government attacks on the natural gas company.

NY Post: Biden's Son Introduced Him to Ukraine Energy Official



Amy Coney Barrett: 'No one is above the law'

               Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett speaks during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett declared no one is above the law when asked if a president has the authority to pardon himself.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat, quizzed President Trump’s nominee Wednesday during her confirmation hearing about if Mr. Trump could pardon himself if he were charged with a crime.

“As far as I know, that question has never been litigated. That question has never arisen. That question may or may not arise,” Judge Barrett told the Judiciary Committee members. “Because it would be opining on an open question when I haven’t gone through the judicial process to decide it, it is not one I can offer a view.”

But the senior Democratic senator got Judge Barrett to agree that no one is above the law — not even the president.

Democrats' scare tactics against Barrett on Obamacare is a 'charade,' Republicans say
Sen. Hirono grills Amy Coney Barrett for describing sexual orientation as a ‘preference’
Harris presses Barrett over Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare
‘Independent’ Amy Coney Barrett rejects Trump ‘pawn’ talk: ‘I’m just here to apply the law’


House Republican introduces resolution to remove Pelosi as speaker

                     House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a weekly news conference, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A House Republican has introduced a resolution calling for the removal of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and accusing her of mental decline.

Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia said he would introduce the resolution earlier this week, saying that “it’s clear that Nancy Pelosi does not have the mental fitness to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives.”

The resolution also accuses her of violating the Constitution, wasting the chamber’s time on a partisan impeachment, and incapacity.

“Nancy Pelosi’s unwillingness to abide by the Constitution, combined with her recent actions, call into question her own mental fitness. It’s critical that the House of Representatives demand her removal from the line of succession,” Mr. Collins wrote on Twitter.



Majority of voters say they're better off now, despite riots and virus, than four years ago: Gallup


A majority of registered voters in the U.S. said they’re better off now, despite the riots and coronavirus pandemic, compared to four years ago — the key litmus test in presidential elections — according to recent polling from Gallup.

Fifty-six percent of voters said they and their family are better off now than four years ago, compared to 32% who said they were worse off, according to polling taken from Sept. 14-28.

The 56% figure compares to 45% who said the same to similar questioning in December 2012, 47% who said so in October 2004, 38% in October 1992, and 44% in July 1984.



Trump Town Hall Will Compete Directly With Biden's Thursday


In lieu of a formal debate, President Donald Trump has agreed to answer voters’ questions during a town hall program sponsored by NBC News on Thursday night.

The event will be held outdoors at the Perez Art Museum in Miami.

NBC News says it has a statement from National Institutes of Health clinical director Dr. Clifford Lane indicating he and White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci have reviewed Trump’s medical data and concluded with a “high degree of confidence” the president is “not shedding infectious virus.”



Putin on defense against China, Turkey as conflicts in former Soviet republics grow


Russian President Vladimir Putin, famed for causing mischief far from home, is struggling to maintain control over his own backyard.

Political meltdowns, mass protests and wars are roiling five former Soviet republics, posing simultaneous strategic challenges for the Kremlin on its western, southern and Central Asian borders.

Chaos unfolding in Kyrgyzstan, a tiny but strategic nation nestled in the mountainous Caucasus region between Russia and China, has been the latest in a wave of unrest that has brought Belarus to its knees, triggered a widening military clash between Armenia and Azerbaijan and exacerbated the deadly political stalemate in Ukraine.



Supreme Court backs Trump in halting census count


The Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday that halts the 2020 census count in place, delivering a victory to the Trump administration, which is rushing to complete the enumeration and submit the final results to Congress this year.

Reacting late Tuesday, the Census Bureau said it would cut off data collection on Thursday, though up until then residents can respond by phone or internet, and can still mail in census forms.

Activists, meanwhile, announced a last-minute push to get holdouts to respond.



Obama to Hit Campaign Trail for Biden


Former President Barack Obama will hit the campaign trail soon for his vice president, according to a person familiar with his plans.

Obama has been active in Biden’s campaign, filming a conversation with him and how-to-vote guides, hosting a virtual fundraiser, giving a speech at the Democratic National Convention and releasing a phone number where Americans can text him.

But Obama, who remains popular with Democratic voters and showed chops at campaigning during his two runs for president, has not been on the stump for Biden as the election much until now.



Pompeo Urges Saudi Arabia to Normalize Relations with Israel


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday urged Saudi Arabia to consider normalizing relations with Israel as he met with the Gulf country's foreign minister, also saying that Washington supports a "robust program of arms sales" to it.

Pompeo said he raised the so-called Abraham Accords, a U.S.-brokered agreement to normalize diplomatic ties with Israel, with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud at a meeting at the U.S. State Department.

"We hope Saudi Arabia will consider normalizing its relationships as well, and we want to thank them for the assistance they've had in the success of the Abraham Accords so far," Pompeo said, adding that he hopes the nation will encourage Palestinian leaders or the Palestinian Authority to return to negotiations with Israel.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain last month signed agreements toward normalizing relations with Israel in a strategic realignment of Middle Eastern countries against Iran.



'Unmasking' investigation closes without report or charges: report

The previous head of the investigation resigned at the beginning of October.

The Justice Department reportedly concluded its investigation into unmasking requests made by Obama-era officials without charging anyone involved or releasing a public report on the issue.

Sources told The Washington Post that the investigation, previously led by former U.S. Attorney John Bash, concluded without finding any wrongdoing. While "unmasking" names on classified documents is a common practice, DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec, who revealed the investigation in May, said that month that the frequency of or motive behind Obama-era officials' requests might have been "problematic."

The roster featured top-ranking figures including then-Vice President Joe Biden, then-FBI Director James Comey, then-CIA Director John Brennan, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Obama’s then-chief of staff, Denis McDonough.



Europe Overtakes U.S. in New Cases of Covid-19 as Restrictions Tighten

Rising tide of infections on the continent has health authorities worried whether hospitals will hold

Europe’s fight to contain a second wave of the coronavirus has reached a tipping point.

Months after authorities flattened the curve of coronavirus infections across Europe by imposing some of the Western world’s toughest restrictions on millions of people, the virus has crept back onto the continent. Hospitals are filling up. Bars and cafes are closing down.

This week, Europe overtook the U.S. in a key metric that tracks the virus’s spread while accounting for differences in population size. The 27 countries of the European Union and the U.K. recorded 78,000 cases a day on average over a seven-day period ending on Oct. 12, or 152 cases for every million residents. The U.S. recorded 49,000 a day on average over the same period, about 150 for every million residents.



William Barr: Founders gambled on virtue prevailing over passions

Constitution relies on individuals' ability to restrain and govern themselves

In his renowned 1785 pamphlet “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” James Madison described religious liberty as not only “a right towards men” but also “a duty towards the Creator,” and a “duty … precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.”

In other words, our Founders and the extraordinary documents they created did not just guarantee freedom of religion for citizens of this new nation. They also assumed a certain, basic obligation on the part of those free citizens to the higher power from which their rights and freedoms derived.

The common phrase on our currency “In God We Trust” is not a call to worship. It is a constant, quiet nudge toward that power from which all our freedoms come. Hint: not government nor earthly king.



Democrats court the 'Moron Vote'

They are the most earnest constituency available to them

We are at that stage in the race for the presidency when the Democrats and their allies in the media are fervently courting the most earnest constituency available to them, the Moron Vote. Forget about the Black vote, the Latinos and the Bird Watchers.

Now, the Democrats, I am told, have become very nervous about the Morons. The Blacks are wavering. The Latinos are wavering. I do not know where the Bird Watchers stand, but I am told the Morons could be a real problem for the Democrats. Many are college-educated, and about them one can never be certain. Do you know what is being taught in the universities nowadays? What if Donald promises to give the Morons early retirement? If the Democrats lose the Moron Vote they are in deep trouble.

Recently, President Trump tweeted from Walter Reed hospital, where he was himself recovering from a brush with COVID-19, his perfectly sensible suggestion. “Don’t be afraid,” he tweeted, “of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” He said that, and all hell broke loose. The Democrats went ballistic. Their constituents went ballistic. The media went ballistic — I am told some were in tears. I like to think that the Bird Watchers remained placid, but what about the Morons? Donald’s suggestion is just the kind of advice that could create hysteria in the ranks of the college-educated Morons. They are excitable.

" 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
Bill Conveys Special Honor to Last WWII Medal of Honor Recipient ...
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 ll target information from the Eurv opean 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 th 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…