Friday October 13th, 2017


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

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World & National 
"The Press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of the government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people."
-- Justice Hugo L. Black
(1886-1971) US Supreme Court Justice

Trump declares Obamacare payments illegal
Without payments, insurers say they would jack up premiums, upending the underpinning of the ACA
                President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Nov. 10, 2016. (Associated Press) **FILE**

The Trump administration announced late Thursday that it has concluded it can no longer legally make critical Obamacare “cost-sharing” payments and will cut them off, dealing another blow to the struggling 2010 health law.

The payments had specifically been denied by Congress but President Obama had made them anyway, drawing a rebuke from a court who said he was overstepping his powers. The case has raged for months, and both the Obama and Trump administrations had continued making payments — until now.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in a statement, said the Justice Department has concluded the judge’s ruling is correct, and there is no valid legal ability to make the payments.


Sessions says some cities reconsidered 'sanctuary' status to comply with DOJ
                Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about "the crisis facing our asylum system" at the Executive Office for Immigration Review in Falls Church, Va., Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that some cities have reviewed their decision to be a sanctuary city after the Department of Justice threatened to withhold federal funding.

“We’d like for them to get every grant that comes out of the Department of Justice, because we’d like for them to be in cooperation with federal officers. But these cities have passed laws and regulations in their cities requiring their police officers not to spend one dime, or any of their time while on duty, to communicate with the federal officers to find out the immigration status of a person they arrested, let’s say for drug dealing,” Mr. Sessions said on Fox News.

He said that Miami, Milwaukee and Las Vegas have all worked with the Department of Justice and have been, or will be, approved for federal funding. The funds Mr. Sessions said the department will withhold are limited to just law enforcement grants and not Medicare or highway grants.



McCain could give the same thumbs-down to a tax overhaul as he did to health care

It’s a specter that should stalk the nightmares of Republican leaders: a Senate chamber, packed on Christmas Eve, as lawmakers gather to decide the fate of a tax package that will shape the GOP’s political fortunes. The bill remains one vote shy, and then Sen. John McCain walks in, pauses before the desk, and delivers his second thumbs-down dagger of the year.

For that reason, the Arizona Republican, who is fighting a public battle with brain cancer, will be among his party’s most closely watched as the year winds down and the tax debate gears up. Yet over his decades in public life, McCain has traced a zigzagging line on the subject, leaving little clear indication of how he’ll approach a potentially decisive vote. A look at the senator's record on taxes shows that three things seem most important to him: public debate, some help for the middle class, and not exploding the deficit. 
REPUBLICANS COURT MANCHIN...
CRUZ: MAYBE NEXT YEAR...


Consumer Sentiment in U.S. Unexpectedly Surges to 13-Year High

U.S. consumer sentiment unexpectedly surged to a 13-year high as Americans’ perceptions of the economy and their own finances rebounded following several major hurricanes, a University of Michigan survey showed Friday.

The jump in sentiment, which was greater than any analyst had projected, may reflect several trends: falling gasoline prices following a hurricane-related spike; repeated record highs for the stock market; a 16-year low in unemployment; and post-storm recover y efforts driving a rebound in economic growth.

The advance in the main gauge spanned age and income subgroups as well as partisan views, according to the report. Almost six out of every 10 consumers thought the economy had recently improved in early October, the university said.



North Korea warns its 'hand is on the trigger' and prepared to launch 'a salvo of missiles' at Guam

               Warning: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un warned that a joint exercise with Japan and South Korea had 'hardened our determination that the U.S. should be tamed with fire'

North Korea has made fresh threats to attack the U.S. territory of Guam with a 'salvo of missiles' after a recent aviation exercise over the peninsula.

Kim Jong-Un's government warned that a joint exercise with Japan and South Korea has 'hardened our determination that the U.S. should be tamed with fire'.

In a statement published in North Korean state media, Pyongyang said the military drills 'lets us take our hand closer to the 'trigger' for taking the toughest countermeasure'.



Trump to Disavow Iran Nuclear Deal, Not Abandon It
 
President Donald Trump is expected on Friday to refuse to certify that the multinational accord to curb Iran's nuclear program sufficiently serves U.S. interests, though he will stop short of abandoning it, according to two senior administration officials.

Trump will make the declaration in a speech where he will outline a broader Iran policy aimed at curtailing what the administration sees as the Islamic Republic's malign behavior in the Middle East — including its sponsorship of terrorism, the officials said.

After twice acquiescing to arguments from his advisers and U.S. allies, who say Iran is keeping its end of the deal by curtailing its nuclear program, Trump is expected to refuse to certify Iran's compliance again in advance of Oct. 15, the next deadline set by a law Congress passed to supervise the agreement.



NFL Anthem Protests: Players, Owenrs, League All to Meet


NFL anthem protests will be the topic when players, owners and the league all sit down next week in New York City, pushed along by a tweeting President Donald Trump.

The NFL issued a statement on Twitter clarifying that the players union will be part of the talks on how to move forward on from the national anthem controversy during the meetings, scheduled for Oct. 17-18, USA Today reported.

"The current dispute over the national anthem is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game, and is now dividing us, and our players, from many fans across the country," NFL head Roger Goodell wrote in a memo to team executives Tuesday, per USA Today.



Wine Country fires: Gov. Brown vetoed bipartisan 2016 bill aimed at power line, wildfire safety

A year ago, a bipartisan bill aimed at reducing the risk of wildfires from overhead electrical lines went to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

It was vetoed.

The author of the measure — passed unanimously by both houses of the Legislature — now says the governor missed out on a chance to tackle one of his state’s longstanding vulnerabilities: massive wildfires endangering residential communities. But the governor’s office and the California Public Utilities Commission say the bill duplicated efforts already underway among the CPUC, Cal Fire and utilities like PG&E.

Now, as a series of deadly fires rages in Wine Country, serious questions are once again being asked about the safety of overhead electrical wires in a state prone to drought and fierce winds.



A Weinstein verdict to suit the Red Queen


Sometimes the lynch mob gets the guilty party, but that’s not the way to run a railroad. We have laws, after all, even if some of them are subject to change. But due process is permanent.

Let the jury consider the evidence and decide, the king said. “No, no! cried the Red Queen. “Sentence first. Verdict afterward!”

Everyone knows Harvey Weinstein is guilty of something — assault upon an innocent person, lascivious consideration of the female of the species, terminal vulgarity, advanced vice, mopery and maybe even rape. All of the above, and more. There will be no contributions to the Harvey Weinstein Defense Fund here, not even in Confederate currency.



Why global leaders are putting their countries first
Trump has pointed out that prioritizing national interests is not selfish but necessary

To anyone who listened to President Trump’s speech before the U.N. General Assembly in September one thing should have been abundantly clear: The president wasn’t there for anyone else’s interests but America’s.

“Our government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens — to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values,” said Mr. Trump, eschewing the traditional coy remarks that foreign leaders often employ to drape their true intentions.

He threatened North Korea for developing nuclear weapons, denounced Iran’s hypocrisy in funding terrorism and destabilizing the Middle East, and criticized Venezuela’s socialist government. He even called out fellow U.N. members for not putting more pressure on “rogue regimes” represented in the body.




"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.



3/14/20017

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 (www.nytimes.com/2017/03/09/opinion/the-truth-about-the-wikileaks-cia-cache.html?_r=0) acknowledging material I was writing about in 1998 (http://www.wnd.com/1998/04/6108/ ).

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 (https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ukusa/ ) 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…