Friday August 11th, 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

Wrestling With North Korea, Trump Finds Perilous Options
                  

North Korea’s threat on Thursday to test-fire ballistic missiles soon near the American territory of Guam deepened the challenge confronting the Trump administration: how to defang Pyongyang’s missile programs without risking all-out war.

President Trump has made clear that his goal is to deny North Korea the capability to field a long-range nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the United States.

And though the Pentagon still hopes for a diplomatic solution, highly classified military options are at the ready, last seriously debated when the Clinton administration pondered pre-emptive action to try to thwart North Korea’s nuclear program.
TRUMP: MILITARY READY...
NKOREA WARNS COULD REDUCE USA TO ASHES -- AT ANY MOMENT...
GUAM TO RESIDENTS: 'Don't look at flash or fireball'...
Japanese troops begin joint exercise...
CHINA LECTURES AMERICA: DON'T GO FIRST...
RUSSIA: RISK OF WAR 'VERY HIGH'...
'Radiation Antidote' Flying Off Shelves At Supply Stores -- in Detroit?


US, NKorea Diplomats Talk in Private as Trump Threatens in Public            

             Image: US, NKorea Diplomats Talk in Private as Trump Threatens in Public

The Trump administration has been quietly engaged in back channel diplomacy with North Korea for several months, addressing Americans imprisoned in the communist country and deteriorating relations between the long-time foes, The Associated Press has learned.

It had been known the two sides had discussions to secure the June release of an American university student. But it wasn't known until now that the contacts have continued, or that they have broached matters other than U.S. detainees.



Mattis: Military solution in place to address North Korea threat
                         Secretary of Defense James Mattis walks into Michie Stadium to give the commencement address, Saturday, May 27, 2017, in West Point, N.Y. Nine Hundred and thirty six cadets received their diplomas, most of whom will be commissioned as second lieutenants in the army. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

U.S. military strategists at the Pentagon have a military solution in place to address the growing threat emanating from North Korea, but they are holding their fire in favor of ongoing diplomatic efforts by Washington and its allies, Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday.

The Pentagon chief remained largely mum on the details of that military solution, which theoretically would curb Pyongyang’s efforts to develop a nuclear-capable, ballistic missile arsenal, except to say any military option would be a multilateral one involving a number of regional powers in the Pacific.



Breitbart's war on McMaster bites Bannon

The chief White House strategist is increasingly isolated in the West Wing as new chief of staff John Kelly tries to clamp down on negative news stories.

The conservative news site Breitbart has waged a nonstop campaign against national security adviser H.R. McMaster, but so far it seems to have done the most damage to someone else: Steve Bannon.
A Wall Street Journal editorial earlier this week accused Bannon of using the right-wing media to go after his ideological foes, questioning his loyalty to the president and placing blame for White House dysfunction squarely on his shoulders.

The attacks on McMaster have put Bannon in an especially awkward position with his new boss, retired Marine general John Kelly, who has been increasingly defensive of McMaster, a longtime friend and fellow general, according to interviews with 10 administration officials and people close to the White House. McMaster, who pushed Bannon off the National Security Council principals’ committee, hasn’t spoken to Bannon in weeks, one senior administration official said.



DHS wasted millions in taxpayer dollars on unnecessary polygraphs


Homeland Security paid for polygraph exams for more than 2,300 potential hires at Customs and Border Protection even though they’d already admitted to drug use or criminal behavior that would have disqualified them anyway, the department’s inspector general said in a new report this week.

The polygraphs cost $2,200 a pop, meaning the department blew more than $5 million on tests that were irrelevant even before they began, investigators said.

CBP, which oversees Border Patrol agents and the officers who man the official ports of entry, has been struggling to hire agents, with its stringent requirements weeding most applicants out. President Trump’s call for an additional 5,000 agents to be added to the force has only complicated matters.



Rep. Kathleen Rice villifies NRA and its chief spokeswoman


A U.S. House member called the National Rifle Association and one of its chief spokeswomen a threat to national security.

Rep. Kathleen Rice, New York Democrat, appeared to be responding to NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch noting that Philando Castile was in possession of marijuana when police shot the motorist dead. According to her next tweet five minutes later, that makes the NRA a “domestic security threat.”

“I’m just going to say it. #NRA & @DLoesch are quickly becoming domestic security threats under President Trump. We can’t ignore that,” Ms. Rice said.

At the time of the tweet Ms. Loesch was appearing on Fox News Channel, and when host Mark Steyn told her of Ms. Rice accusation, a surprised Ms. Loesch called it disappointing that a House member would call defense of the Second Amendment a threat.



Vladimir's Venezuela-Leveraging loans to Caracas
Moscow snaps up oil assets


Venezuela’s unraveling socialist government is increasingly turning to ally Russia for the cash and credit it needs to survive – and offering prized state-owned oil assets in return, sources familiar with the negotiations told Reuters.

As Caracas struggles to contain an economic meltdown and violent street protests, Moscow is using its position as Venezuela’s lender of last resort to gain more control over the OPEC nation’s crude reserves, the largest in the world.



Governor declares state of emergency over New Orleans flooding concerns


Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency Thursday (Aug. 10) as a precautionary measure, in the event that the state has to help with flooding in New Orleans over the next few days. 

"If we get the heavier expected rainfall, time will be of the essence," Edwards said at a press conference with Mayor Mitch Landrieu Thursday morning. "We are working well together. Obviously this is a serious situation, but it is not something to be panicked about."

The emergency declaration is retroactive. It runs from Aug. 5 -- when the first round of flooding started this past weekend -- to Sept. 3. The governor can terminate the order early if he wants.



The Liberal Crackup

Liberals should reject the divisive, zero-sum politics of identity and find their way back to a unifying vision of the common good

Donald Trump’s surprise victory in last year’s presidential election has finally energized my fellow liberals, who are networking, marching and showing up at town-hall meetings across the country. There is excited talk about winning back the White House in 2020 and maybe even the House of Representatives in the interim.

But we are way ahead of ourselves—dangerously so. For a start, the presidency just isn’t what it used to be, certainly not for Democrats. In the last generation, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama won the office with comfortable margins, but they were repeatedly stymied by assertive Republicans in Congress, a right-leaning Supreme Court and—what should be the most worrisome development for Democrats—a steadily growing majority of state governments in Republican hands.

What’s more, nothing those presidents did while in office did much to reverse the rightward drift of American public opinion. Even when they vote for Democrats or support some of their policies, most Americans—including young people, women and minorities—reject the term “liberal.” And it isn’t hard to see why. They see us as aloof, elitist, out of touch.



Trump says he won't fire Mueller; wants probe to wrap up


President Trump said Thursday he won’t fire special counsel Robert Mueller and wants the former FBI director to “get on” with the investigation into possible collusion of Trump associates with Russia.

“No, I’m not dismissing anybody,” Mr. Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. “I mean, I want them to get on with the task. But I also want the Senate and the House to come out with their findings.”

The president, whose allies have criticized Mr. Mueller’s investigative team as partisan, reiterated that he has nothing to hide. “We have an investigation of something that never took place,” Mr. Trump said.



Donald Trump's plain speech to Kim Jong-un, delivered hot and loud


Who knew that Kim Jong-un and his distinguished generals grew their skin so thin? A lot of people, mostly affrighted diplomats and denizens of assorted newsrooms on the Atlantic seawall, are still beside themselves in fear and loathing of President Trump’s fiery warning of what North Korea can expect if it gets big ideas about playing nuclear games.

Who, indeed? Who expected Guam to be important enough to join Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington and New York on Kim’s target list? The London Daily Mail, usually merely guilty reading for those who can’t get enough about Caitlyn Jenner’s lingerie, Elvis and UFO sightings, or how Donald Trump was sent back in time to warn himself about trifling with the eccentric super-sized child in Pyongyang. The Daily Mail now adds Austin, Texas, to the target list.



Biggest threat to Trump's agenda comes from fellow Republicans


Reaching the 200-day mark of his presidency, Donald Trump is getting resistance not just from the Democrats and their enablers in the liberal media, but from members of his own party who refuse to give the president a major legislative victory.

The seven Senate Republicans who refused to vote for a straight Obamacare repeal bill during the health care debate broke a promise to the American people while joining the resistance to their own president. Their defections completely stalled the health care reform process in Congress, even as insurance companies continue to exit the individual insurance markets in counties and states around the country.

Now comes the news that a number of GOP senators have been traveling to battleground states and testing the waters to run for president in 2020 against Mr. Trump. The New York Times even made the outrageous suggestion that Vice President Mike Pence was himself was preparing for a possible 2020 run against the man who selected him.

"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…