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TODAY
Tuesday June 12th, 2018

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

World & National

Trump, Kim Jong-un sign document, pledge to work together for peace
Sanctions to remain until nukes are no longer a factor
              North Korea leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump prepare to sign a document at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

After a historic summit that scored North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s signed pledge committing to “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” President Trump said Tuesday it was a great moment for the world.

“We are prepared to start a new history and we are prepared to write a new chapter between our nations,” he told reporters at the summit site at Capella Hotel.
He ticked off a laundry list of concessions the U.S. won from North Korea:

Mr. Trump said the MIAs and the missile engine site were not on the negotiating agenda. But he added those items and Mr. Kim quickly agreed.

He stressed that he trusted Mr. Kim to follow through on his commitments, saying he believe Mr. Kim wanted a better future for the North Korean people.
Trump sits down with Stephanopoulos...
Announces halt to US-SKorea 'war games'...
Denuclearization details scant...
Back-slapping summit legitimizes Kim, say critics...
The Handshake...
Body language reveals nerves...
'It's my honor, we will have terrific relationship'...
DENNIS RODMAN CRYING; WEARS MAGA HAT...
NKorea continues Nazi-style prison camps...


Murky U.S. drone-strike policy threatens to backfire as other nations acquire technology

                     In this Jan. 31, 2010, file photo, an unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

On the surface, it may sound inconceivable: a foreign nation dispatching an armed drone to assassinate a fugitive or a political dissident on American soil.

But such a scenario may not be as far-fetched as it seems, analysts and legal scholars say.

The rapid proliferation of military drone technology is reaching the point that other nations — and even non-state actors such as Mexican drug cartels — could engage in the kinds of deadly strikes that the U.S. pioneered more than a decade ago and has increased under presidents of both political parties.



U.S. launching office to identify citizenship cheaters

The U.S. government agency that oversees immigration applications is launching an office that will focus on identifying Americans who are suspected of cheating to get their citizenship and seek to strip them of it.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna told The Associated Press in an interview that his agency is hiring several dozen lawyers and immigration officers to review cases of immigrants who were ordered deported and are suspected of using fake identities to later get green cards and citizenship through naturalization.

Cissna said the cases would be referred to the Department of Justice, whose attorneys could then seek to remove the immigrants’ citizenship in civil court proceedings. In some cases, government attorneys could bring criminal charges related to fraud.



Ready for somebody? Dems lack heir apparent this time


There’s no Ready for Elizabeth super PAC. Nor is there a Prepping for Kamala, Begging for Booker or Salivating for Sanders.

Unlike the run-up to the 2016 campaign, when the Ready for Hillary super PAC served to stoke Hillary Clinton’s entry into the Democratic presidential race, there are no candidate-specific PACs forming this time around to either lay the groundwork for a campaign or to create a sense of anticipation.

Is this a problem? That depends on which Democrat you ask.



Theresa May's day of Brexit reckoning is coming, sooner or later


This week, British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a moment of truth over Brexit. After months of debating the detail of the legislation that will trigger UK withdrawal from the European Union, the House of Commons will stage crucial votes on Tuesday and Wednesday that will decide her fate.

Until just a few days ago, it looked like members of Parliament would overturn key parts of May's Brexit plans -- and in turn wield the power to bring down her government. Yet now, with just hours to go before the parliamentary showdown, the Prime Minister looks as though she has brought her administration back from the brink.

Exactly a year ago, it looked like May did not have long left in office. She had almost lost a general election she never needed to call, squandering her Conservative Party's overall majority and forcing her to rely on the support of the smaller Democratic Unionist Party. Within days of this electoral calamity, May was heavily criticized for her response to a genuine disaster -- the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower that claimed 71 lives.



Lawmakers in Uproar Over Data-Sharing Pacts Between Facebook, Chinese Firms

 
Facebook’s data-sharing pacts with Chinese device-makers has Capitol Hill skeptical that CEO Mark Zuckerberg was being fully transparent when he testified about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, The Hill reported.

The scrutiny was touched off when The New York Times reported Facebook shared more data with phone companies than it had previously disclosed — and intensified when Facebook revealed that Huawei was among the companies that had partnerships for access to user information.

Lawmakers and intelligence officials have been warning for years that Huawei and other Chinese tech firms are a national security threat due to their close ties to Beijing, The Hill noted.



Bipartisan Group Asks Defense for Clarity on Yemen Offensive


House lawmakers are circulating a letter calling for Defense Secretary James Mattis to prevent a "catastrophic" military operation on a key port in Yemen, The Hill reported Monday.

"We urge you to use all available means to avert a catastrophic military assault on Yemen's major port city of Hodeida by the Saudi-led coalition, and to present Congress with immediate clarification regarding the full scope of U.S. military involvement in that conflict," a draft letter from the bipartisan group said, reported The Hill, which obtained a copy.

The letter is being circulated for signatures by: Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Wis.; Justin Amash, R-Mich.; Ro Khanna, D-Calif.; Thomas Massie, R-Ky.; Barbara Lee, D-Calif.; Walter Jones, R-N.C.; and Ted Lieu, D-Calif.



Lagarde Sees Darker Clouds Over World Economy After G-7 Tiff


IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the risks to the global economy are rising as major industrial nations sharpen threats of a trade war.

“The clouds on the horizon that we have signaled about six months ago are getting darker by the day -- and, I was going to say, by the weekend,” Lagarde said at a news conference in Berlin on Monday.

Her remarks follow a chaotic two-day meeting of the Group of Seven in which President Donald Trump shocked fellow leaders with his disregard for U.S. allies. After leaving the summit early, Trump tweeted he was pulling U.S. support from a joint statement and he accused the host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, of being weak and dishonest.



Larry Kudlow expected to make 'full and speedy recovery' after heart attack, White House says


White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow, 70, suffered a heart attack Monday and was hospitalized.

Mr. Kudlow’s wife, Judy, told The Washington Post Monday night that he is “doing fine.”

The White House said late Monday night that Mr. Kudlow “experienced what his doctors say was a very mild heart attack.”



The rumble and the thrilla in Singapore


One hand giveth, the other taketh it away. President Trump, arriving in Singapore for his man-to-man with Kim Jong-un is, like nearly everyone else in town, giddy with anticipation.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried on his arrival to dampen the euphoria, and succeeded only a little. We haven’t seen a match like this one since the Rumble in the Jungle or the Thrilla in Manila. But even Muhammad Ali would have trouble rhyming something sensible with Singapore (To the floor in Singapore? No giving away the store in Singapore?) But with 5,000 reporters, correspondents, pundits and anchormen and Dennis Rodman in town to stir the pot, even to fake it if all else fails, the Singapore summit quickly took on the air of a carnival.



Behind Trump's G-7 Exasperation

 
At the G-7 summit in Canada, President Donald Trump described America as "the piggy bank that everybody is robbing."

After he left Quebec, his director of Trade and Industrial Policy, Peter Navarro, added a few parting words for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

"There's a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door. . . . And that's . . . what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did. And that comes right from Air Force One."



"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…

 

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