Wednesday October 17th, 2018

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

World & National
Elizabeth Warren takes political hit with much-mocked DNA rollout
Test showing scant Native ancestry backfires
                    President Obama hugs Elizabeth Warren as he arrives to speak at a campaign event at Symphony Hall, June 25, 2012, in Boston. (Associated Press)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren became the punchline for more “Pocahontas” jokes Tuesday after her high-profile DNA rollout backfired, angering Native Americans and rekindling questions about her claims to Cherokee ancestry.

President Trump called on her to apologize for “perpetrating this fraud against the American Public” after her DNA test showed she has between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native blood, or 0.09 to 1.5 percent, about the same as the average U.S. white person.

Boston radio host Howie Carr said that far from proving her ancestry, the test actually showed that she isn’t Native American. The average European American has 0.18 percent Native ancestry, according to a 2014 study.



Report: Horrific Murder Took 7 Minutes as Details Emerge

                         saudi consul's in istanbul

Gory details of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder have emerged, as a Turkish source who has listened in full to an audio recording of Khashoggi’s last moments told Middle East Eye that it took him seven minutes to die.

The source said that Khashoggi was dragged from the consul-general’s office at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and into his study next door, where his body was cut up on a table while he was still alive as horrific screams could be heard in the building until Khashoggi was injected with an unknown substance.

Those who carried out the murder were part of a 15-man hit squad sent from Riyadh, according to Turkish media, and The New York Times reported that four members of that team were members of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s personal security detail.


Cruz-O'Rourke debate underscores stark choice Texas voters face in midterms


In their second debate of a surprisingly close race, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and challenger Beto O’Rourke showed flashes of rancor but largely stressed a message tailored to their bases.

The debate offered a contrast to complaints that American campaigns spend too little time on the issues, as both men refrained from personal attacks, while delving into considerable detail about what they hope to accomplish and their distaste for the other’s positions.

Although the debate was supposed to feature more questions on foreign affairs than their first debate last month, with the exception of one question about trade and tariffs, the evening dealt only with domestic matters. The candidates sparred on taxes, U.S. policy on climate change, immigration, judicial philosophy and health care.



Professor calls for harassing Republicans at restaurants, sticking 'fingers in their salads'


The University of Mississippi has condemned a tweet by a faculty member that called on activists to abandon civility and harass Republican senators in public.

“Don’t just interrupt a Senator’s meal, y’all,” James Thomas, an assistant professor of sociology, tweeted from his @Insurgent_Prof account on Oct. 6, the day Justice Brett Kavanaugh was sworn into the Supreme Court.

“Put your whole damn fingers in their salads,” he wrote. “Take their apps and distribute them to the other diners. Bring boxes and take their food home with you on the way out. They don’t deserve your civility.”

Without specifically naming Mr. Thomas, Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter issued a statement Sunday condemning a “recent social media post by a UM faculty member,” Campus Reform reported.



Chief Justice John Roberts promises to keep Supreme Court free from politics after Kavanaugh battle


Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. promised Tuesday to keep the Supreme Court independent from political drama and infighting after the heated partisan battle clouded the confirmation of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Speaking at the University of Minnesota, Justice Roberts wanted to address “the contentious events” that captured the nation’s attention.

Justice Roberts declined to criticize the other branches of government over the confirmation process and rather focused on the importance of an independent high court.



Trump sets record, appoints the most federal appeals judges in first two years


President Trump is smashing the record for appointing judges to the powerful federal appeals courts with 29 picks confirmed, helping him put his stamp on the judiciary well beyond the Supreme Court.

He has had less of an impact on the lower district courts, where he ranks near the middle with his predecessors of the past few decades. He also has had two Supreme Court nominations confirmed.

For conservatives, the pace of action is a major victory, particularly in the face of overwhelming opposition from liberal activists and Senate Democrats, who have used extreme delaying tactics to try to limit Mr. Trump’s influence on the shape of the courts.

President George H.W. Bush, the only other president to have broken the 20-judge mark at this point in his first term, had seven fewer than Mr. Trump in 1990.



12 Candidates to Replace Nikki Haley at the UN

            
Once considered a posting for politicians trying to revive their fading careers, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations job has become a high-profile springboard to even greater political heights.

It was Haley's fearless defense of Trump's foreign policy that provided the space he needed during the first two years of his presidency to alter the global perception of America as "the piggy bank that everybody's robbing," as Trump put it.

Now that former Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell has pulled her name out of consideration, the Beltway rumor mill is working overtime to guess who will serve as the president’s next lion tamer at the UN.



Pelosi Not Willing to Trade Over Border Wall, Calls It Trump ‘Manhood Issue’

‘It’s probably the worst way to protect the border,’ House minority leader says

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday there is nothing she would trade for President Donald Trump’s border wall, setting a hard negotiating stance in advance of an expected December showdown over the issue.

“It happens to be like a manhood issue for the president, building a wall, and I’m not interested in that,” the California Democrat said during a discussion at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics.

Pelosi emphasized Democrats do support border security but they would prefer to look at strengthening existing security measures as part of a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws.



U.S. Is World’s Most Competitive Economy for First Time in a Decade

Country regains top spot in World Economic Forum rankings thanks to strong economic growth; report says room for improvement on social issues

The U.S. is back on top as the most competitive country in the world, regaining the No. 1 spot for the first time since 2008 in an index produced by the World Economic Forum, which said the country could still do better on social issues.

America climbed one place in the rankings of 140 countries, with the top five rounded out by Singapore, Germany, Switzerland and Japan. All five countries’ scores rose from 2017, with the U.S. notching the second-biggest gain after Japan’s.

The top spot hasn’t gone to the U.S. since the financial crisis stalled output and triggered a global economic slowdown.

“Economic recovery is well underway, with the global economy projected to grow almost 4% in 2018 and 2019,” said the report, published Tuesday by the organization that produces the Davos conference on global politics and economics.



Elizabeth Warren and her little DNA story


President Trump has been on another winning streak, and the Democrats are desperate for attention. Their problem? All the attention they get is also a win for the president, as it reminds us why he won in 2016 and why winning again in the midterm is so important.

Let’s start with something the media takes little heed of: The record job openings for the summer. CNBC’s headline says it all: “Another great sign for the economy: Job openings hit an all-time high in August.” CNBC also noted, the “survey also found a near-record amount of quits for the month, indicating workers’ confidence in finding new positions.”

That’s right. Not only do Americans have a job, but Mr. Trump has created an environment where we have more control over what we’re doing, and know we can find something better for ourselves and our families. Americans are in charge of their lives again.



Saudi Arabia, an arrogant ally


In the wake of an apparent assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Trump is judiciously restrained but has already said that this was a possible “hit” by the Saudis. This incident also serves to raise the fundamental nature of the U.S.-Saudi relationship — and how it has been mishandled for decades by prior administrations.

Aside from the glitz the young Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) puts on it, Saudi Arabia is very much still a totally corrupt, 12th-century feudal monarchy fueled by billons of petrodollars — making no serious contribution to the planet other than more oil and money. They avoid questions about their disgraceful treatment of women and minorities, and no one dares to speak about democracy or human rights.

For decades any analysis of the viability of the Saudi regime has been a taboo subject in Washington. This is in no small part due to the efforts of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, for many years the Saudi’s ambassador to the United States, and close friend to five presidents and numerous CIA directors. Not surprisingly, there was an unwritten rule in government to never speak evil of the Saudi regime, despite its hatred for Israel and Jews, support for terrorists, abuse of women, or even speculate about the long-term threats to the regime’s viability.
"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…