Wednesday January 15th, 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
Pelosi announces House Democratic impeachment managers
Seven Democrats to prosecute President Trump in Senate impeachment trial
                   House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., joined by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference to announce impeachment managers on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named seven of her Democratic members as impeachment managers Wednesday to prosecute their case against President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial.

“It is their responsibility to present the very strong case for the President’s impeachment and removal. The Impeachment Managers represent the patriotism, pluralism and vibrancy of America,” she said.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of California and Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York — who spearheaded the House’s impeachment hearings last year — were two picks, as expected.

Warren makes debate case: Democratic woman can beat Trump

                Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., second from left, speaks as fellow candidates businessman Tom Steyer, left, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, listen, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Elizabeth Warren made a forceful case for a female president and stood behind her accusation suggesting sexism by progressive rival Bernie Sanders in a Democratic debate that raised gender as a key issue in the sprint to Iowa’s presidential caucuses.

Sanders vehemently denied Warren’s accusation, which threatened to split the Democratic Party’s left flank -- as well as the senators’ longtime liberal alliance -- at a critical moment less than three weeks before voting begins.

“Look at the men on this stage. Collectively they have lost 10 elections,” Warren exclaimed on Tuesday night. “The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they’ve been in are the women.”

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U.S., China to sign phase 1 trade agreement

The U.S. and China are set to sign a phase 1 trade agreement Wednesday at the White House, giving President Trump another election-year boost on the economy even as he prepares for his impeachment trial in the Senate.

Mr. Trump is scheduled to host a team of Chinese negotiators in a ceremony marking an official suspension of the tariff war that had been escalating between the two countries since 2018. China has agreed to increase its purchases of U.S. agricultural goods by roughly $16 billion per year, reaching a level of about $40 billion annually.

Beijing also is agreeing to increase overall imports from the U.S. by about $200 billion over two years, officials have said. That includes $75 billion more in U.S. manufactured goods, $50 billion more worth of U.S. energy and about $40 billion in services, Reuters reported.

Trump's trade deal with China puts squeeze on Canada

Putin sets stage to stay in power in Russia long after his presidency ends

Russian President Vladimir Putin set the stage Wednesday for sweeping constitutional changes that could allow him to continue wielding more power than anyone else in Moscow long after his current presidential term ends in four years.

In a sign that a pre-orchestrated restructuring may be in the works, several top Russian official — including Mr. Putin’s number two, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev — submitted their resignations Wednesday after Mr. Putin proposed the changes in his annual state of the nation address.

In the televised speech, Mr. Putin called for shifting authority to Russia’s parliament in a manner that would give it the authority to create a future leadership position for him. Mr. Putin, who is 67 and has held power in Moscow since 1999, is barred under the current constitution from staying in the presidency beyond 2024.

'Great progress': Seoul's mayor optimistic on Trump's outreach to Kim Jong-un, Korean reunification

Park Won-soon said to be eyeing future South Korea presidential bid

North Korea talks have gone nowhere for months, but the mayor of Seoul — a capital city just 35 miles from Kim Jong-un’s expanding ballistic missile threat — insists that peace will ultimately prevail, Pyongyang will give up its nuclear weapons, and the Korean Peninsula will be reunified.

Mayor Park Won-soon, a popular human rights activist and potential candidate for South Korea’s presidency in 2022, said in an interview on a Washington visit that President Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in deserve credit for making “great progress” in the pursuit of denuclearization and calmer relations with the Kim regime over the past three years, despite the apparent stalemate in talks.

“In the journey to peace and to reunification, I always emphasize that we are not climbing just one mountain, we are climbing a range of mountains and, of course in this process, we will face a lot of difficulties,” Mr. Park, a member of Mr. Moon’s ruling Democratic Party, told The Washington Times. “However, peace will be settled and the two Koreas will achieve reunification. I am certain on this point.”

Michael Avenatti arrested by federal agents

Michael Avenatti was arrested Tuesday evening by federal agents while attending a State Bar Court hearing in Los Angeles.

The former lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels and a frequent antagonist of President Trump was taken into custody by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Mr. Avenatti was arrested around 6 p.m. Pacific and his lawyer in the State Bar case, Thomas Warren, told the court that his client could not continue with that case because he was being held in a criminal matter.

Michael Flynn withdraws guilty plea

President Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn late Tuesday asked a court to let him withdraw his guilty plea for lying to the FBI in the Russia probe.

Flynn’s legal team filed a motion with the U.S. District Court in Washington less than two weeks before he was scheduled to be sentenced. They say the guilty plea should be vacated “because of the government’s bad faith, vindictiveness, and breach of the plea agreement.”

“Mr. Flynn will not plead guilty. Furthermore, he will not accede to the government’s demand that he ‘disavow’ any statements made in his filings since he obtained new, unconflicted counsel,” defense attorney Sidney Powell wrote.

'It's a mess': Legislating failure and chaos with bail reform in New York

Democrats eliminate bail requirements for thousands of hardened criminals

While the nation has been distracted by the actions of Democrats in Washington as they continue to try to remove a duly-elected president from his office, that same political party continues to put its stamp of chaos on the city and state of New York.

Let this sink in: Thousands of hardened criminals and dangerous suspects are walking free or will be soon in the Empire State thanks to what was dubbed a new “bail reform” law. This new law allows the immediate release, without bail, of what the people of New York were told were accused “nonviolent felonies” and certain misdemeanors.

The new law does more than eliminate bail requirements of thousands of suspects; it ties the hands of judges eliminating their ability to use their own discretion. Instead, judges are forced to release suspects with the simple hope that they will show up in court for their next hearing.

Robert De Niro doesn't know how the Constitution works

There's something called the 22nd Amendment, which says a person can only serve two elected terms as president

Actor Robert De Niro, in case you didn’t know, is also a constitutional scholar.

The “Goodfellas” star thinks President Trump will flout the Constitution because he will “likely start a war” in order to stay in the White House for 12 years.

There’s something called the 22nd Amendment, which says a person can only serve two elected terms as president.

“No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once,” says the amendment, which was passed after Roosevelt had won third and fourth terms, a move that broke custom but no constitutional limit at the time.

End of story.

Will someone please let Mr. De Niro know?

" 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 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 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…