Friday December 1st, 2017
"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metctalf

Updated hrs

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

Michael Flynn pleads guilty to making false statements to the FBI
Flynn pleads guilty to lying to FBI about conversations with Russia's ambassador

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to "willfully and knowingly" making "false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to the FBI about conversations with Russia's ambassador.

In court Friday morning, Flynn's only comments were to answer yes and no to questions from the judge.

He is the first official of President Donald Trump's campaign and the fourth connected to his campaign to be charged as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and members of Trump's team, as well as potential obstruction of justice and financial crimes.
REPORT: Flynn says president directed him to make contact with Russians...
Feels Trump has abandoned him...
Prepared To Testify Against Trump, Family, White House Staff...

Jury Finds Zarate NOT Guilty in Steinle Murder Trial?
             Image result for shock verdict san francisco

Jurors Thursday afternoon acquitted the illegal immigrant accused of killing Kate Steinle as she walked with her father on a crowded San Francisco pier of all charges except for felony possession of a firearm.

A spokesperson for the Superior Court of California made the announcement that the jury had reached a verdict shortly after 3 p.m. Shortly after 4:30 p.m., the shocking verdict was announced that Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found not guilty of all charges except for the gun possession charge.

Jurors have been deliberating on the case since Tuesday, November 21, after prosecutors and defense attorneys finished their arguments whether Garcia Zarate was a hapless homeless man who killed Steinle in a freak accident or a calculated murderer intent on playing a sick game.

Sen. John Cornyn says GOP has votes to pass tax plan

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn on Friday said the GOP has the 50 votes necessary to pass its $1.4 trillion-plus tax overhaul plan.

“We’re confident [in] the 50, and we’d like to build on that,” Mr. Cornyn, Texas Republican, told reporters.

Earlier, Senate Finance Committee Orrin G. Hatch said he thought they had the votes but that lawmakers were still toying with a fiscal “trigger” idea that would kick in if deficits jump too much.

Senators indicated Thursday that the “trigger” mechanism — pushed by deficit hawks like Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona — might not fly under Senate rules they’re using that allow them to pass the package with a simple majority.

Mulvaney scrutinizing 125 CFPB cases opened by liberal predecessor

New Consumer Financial Protection Bureau acting Director Mick Mulvaney said Thursday that he is scrutinizing more than 125 active investigations of lenders by the agency as he decides whether his liberal predecessor exceeded his authority with any of the probes.

Mr. Mulvaney told The Washington Times in an interview that, since taking over Monday for former director Richard Cordray, he is sorting through files on a case-by-case basis to “make sure that we are not going beyond the mandate, that we are not abusing our position, and that we are not getting in the way of the proper functioning of the financial services and capital markets.”

“I’ve got a notebook in front of me with 28 enforcement matters in litigation right now that I’m reviewing,” Mr. Mulvaney told The Times. “There are 14 open enforcement matters that are in settle-to-sue authority that Mr. Cordray gave, that I’m reviewing. Then there are 90 enforcement investigations which are ongoing. That’s what I’m combing through.”

Lois Lerner cites years-old threats to keep her IRS activities secret

The threats that former IRS senior executive Lois G. Lerner says are serious enough to keep her court depositions forever secret date back to 2014, and she hasn’t shown any new threats, according to new court documents filed late Thursday.

Ms. Lerner and her key deputy, Holly Paz, have demanded a judge forever seal their depositions and parts of any documents that mention those depositions, saying they fear for their safety.

But the harassment they point to as evidence is more than three years old and dates back to the most heated days of the debate over the IRS’s illegal targeting of tea party groups for intrusive scrutiny, according to new documents opposing the secrecy request.

Tea party groups say that three years, reams of legal arguments and plenty of attention to the case have occurred since 2014, yet the two women haven’t cited any new threats, undercutting their claims of fear.

Search For Missing Argentine Sub No Longer A Rescue Mission
Argentine navy spokesman Enrique Balbi announced Thursday that searchers no longer expect to find survivors of the missing ARA San Juan submarine.

Argentina's navy has announced that it is no longer looking for survivors on the submarine that disappeared more than two weeks ago, but will continue to searching for the missing ARA San Juan.

"More than double the number of days have passed where it would have been possible to rescue the crew," navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told a news conference Thursday, according to Reuters. "We will continue the search ... there will not be people saved."

Kim John Nam had antidote to VX nerve agent on him at time of murder

The half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un was carrying an antidote to the poison which killed him at the time of his death, Malaysian state media reported.

Malaysia's High Court heard this week Kim Jong Nam had 12 doses of atropine in his sling bag when he was allegedly swabbed with VX nerve agent in Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13, news agency Bernama said. Defense lawyer Hisyam Abdullah also confirmed the report to CNN.

Abdullah said K. Sharmilah, a government toxicologist, told the court Wednesday she examined the drug along with several other samples provided by police.

Why Saudi Prince bin Talal's 'friends' have abandoned him
Investing celebrity Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has now been detained and reportedly tortured for more than three weeks.

One of the world's richest men and most sought-after investors has been under arrest and even reportedly tortured for more than three weeks.

That man is billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. He owns major stakes in Twitter and Citigroup. He was a key shareholder in 21st Century FOX. His television interviews, including on CNBC, are promoted with "must-watch" status. He's routinely called the "Warren Buffett of Saudi Arabia."

But since November 5, bin Talal has been detained in a room at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh. The hotel has become a de facto prison for more than 200 of his fellow princes and Saudi officials as new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman conducts a sweeping and stunning purge of his real and potential political opponents.

When the prey becomes the predator

It’s only a matter of time until the female of the species becomes predator, and is caught in the web of what the country preacher called “he’in and she’in,” which has been the favorite game of men and women since Eve disdained perfection in the Garden of Eden.

Adam was a sap, but Eve must have been truly irresistible. Science insists that one day two big clods of cosmic clay banged into each other somewhere out there beyond Pluto, and the evolutionary result a zillion eons later was a heavenly creature with the body of Marlene Dietrich and the face of Hedy Lamarr. Or maybe it was Elizabeth Taylor or Ingrid Bergman. But to actually believe that requires more faith than most mere men can muster.

The man has always been the dumber of the sexes since the time when there were only two, and neither was a gender. Beguiled by feminine beauty, men have never tried very hard to resist the irresistible, and when Eve — it must have been Eve — invented the game of “He’in and She’in” Adam, being the jerk he was, couldn’t wait to break the rules. A man is often still a jerk, but every woman seems to want one.

Aligning with Saudi Arabia's designs

The United States faces a question that it seems to want to ignore: What kind of nation are we? The question looms up in the face of America’s complicity in an ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Middle East. We are helping Saudi Arabia starve the people of Yemen — men, women, and children — into submission to the Saudi will.

It is in part a geopolitical question: Why should America align itself with Saudi Arabia’s designs in the Middle East? The kingdom wants to thwart any greater power accumulation in the region on the part of Iran, which the Saudis say is meddling in the Yemeni civil war.

This is an exaggeration, as Iranian involvement in Yemen is limited, as Asher Orkady makes clear in the current issue of Foreign Affairs. He argues that the Yemen crisis is less an iteration of the sectarian war between Sunni and Shia stretching back to the first stirrings of Islam in the 7th century than it is a result of internal struggles for power and a better life.

"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.


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…