Monday June 11th, 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, Pompeo Positive Ahead of NKorean Summit
               Image: Trump, Pompeo Positive Ahead of NKorean Summit

U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore could "work out very nicely" as officials from both countries met to narrow differences on how to end a nuclear stand-off on the Korean peninsula.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the preparatory talks were moving quite rapidly and "and we anticipate that they will come to their logical conclusion even more quickly than we anticipated."

The summit provides "an unprecedented opportunity to change the trajectory of our relationship and bring peace and prosperity" to North Korea, Pompeo told a news conference on the eve of the summit.



Denuclearization, permanent peace: North Korea reveals summit agenda

North Korea announced it’s agenda Monday for the summit between Kim Jong-un and President Trump, including denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Mr. Kim was tacking these fundamental issues and more, according to a report by Korean state-run news media, because it was “required by the changed era.”

Korean Central News Agency said the summit would address “wide-ranging and profound views on the issue of establishing new DPRK-U.S. relations, the issue of building a permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism on the Korean Peninsula, the issue of realizing the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and other issues of mutual concern, as required by the changed era, will be exchanged at the DPRK-U.S. summit talks.”



Trump and Kim Jong Un to kick off U.S.-North Korea summit with 1-on-1 meeting


President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un will start their historic summit with a one-on-one session with only their translators. U.S. officials have said the leaders will meet for privately before holding an expanded bilateral meeting with their respective advisers. 

Officials remain uncertain what will come out of Tuesday's unprecedented summit, the first of its kind between a sitting U.S. president and the leader of North Korea.

Mr. Trump has said he wants to strike a deal to get the North to give up its nuclear weapons, but he has sought to lower expectations for the meeting, saying it may be the start of a long process.
Brace for World Economy's Most Important Week of Year...
NKorea Public Gets First Dose of Historic Meeting...
Dennis Rodman offers support...
Summits are tricky: Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan learned the hard way...


NYT: John Kelly Says WH a 'Miserable Place to Work,' Considers Exit
             
Image: NYT: John Kelly Says WH a 'Miserable Place to Work,' Considers Exit

White House chief of staff John Kelly is mulling an exit in what would continue a near-constant staff churn that shows no sign of slowing, The New York Times reported.

The retired U.S. Marine Corp general is beaten down, unnamed West Wing advisers tell the Times, with one source reporting that Kelly told visiting senators that the White House was “a miserable place to work.”

“It seems as though Chief of Staff Kelly is losing power by the day,” Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has studied White House turnover over the last six administrations, told the Times.



Giuliani: Comey May Be Prosecuted for Hillary Email Probe

 
Calling the investigation into potential Trump campaign collusion with Russia a "setup," attorney Rudy Giuliani warned about special counsel Robert Mueller's probe moving too long into the fall and affecting another election.

"Just how long [does Mueller] think he can have this job? It’s supposed to be a temporary one," Giuliani told "The Cats Roundtable" on 970 AM-N.Y. "He should get it done by Sept. 1. I say that because elections are coming up. He shouldn't do a [James] Comey and try to interfere with the elections.

"Comey really has a chance of being prosecuted as a result of it, but we’ll see," he said.




Peter Navarro: 'There's a special place in hell' for Justin Trudeau after Trump 'stunt'

White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro used unusually harsh language Sunday in blasting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for holding a “stunt” press conference to say his nation will not be pushed around by tariffs imposed by President Trump.

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” Mr. Navarro told Fox News Sunday.

“That’s what bad-faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference. That’s what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did — and that comes right from Air Force One,” he said.
Larry Kudlow rips Trudeau
France on G7: 'Fits of anger' cannot dictate international cooperation


Trump commits $256 million to revive long-neglected national parks, gets no thanks from left


He may never get credit from environmentalists, but President Trump is building a unique conservation legacy by focusing on the restoration and rehabilitation of America’s majestic yet long-neglected national parks.

The Interior Department announced last week $256 million in funding for infrastructure projects at 22 national parks, including the Great Smoky Mountains, Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone, marking another step toward the goal of wiping out a stubborn $11.6 billion maintenance backlog.

While Mr. Trump, a native New Yorker who built a real estate empire with luxury hotels and resorts, isn’t necessarily known for communing with nature, his decision to prioritize repairs to the national park system does jibe with his appreciation for grandeur and insistence on high-quality surroundings.



Brexit is even messier than critics expected. So what happens now?


With only months to go until Britain leaves the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May faces a showdown with critics that could further undermine her fragile grip on power ahead of crucial negotiations.

The House of Commons will vote on Tuesday on legislation underpinning Brexit — a crucial test of May's ability to end a deadlock that has exasperated voters and business leaders.

It has been almost two years since Britain voted unexpectedly, and by a narrow margin, to quit the 28-nation bloc.

Yet with 292 days to go as of Sunday until its membership ends, nothing has been agreed on in terms of what future relations between the U.K. and Europe will look like.



An Iraqi threat goes mainstream


Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s rise to power has not yet reached its zenith. The May 18 Iraqi parliamentary election, in which his Sairun political block won a plurality, has elevated him to the position of de facto leader of the Iraqi nation. Mr. al-Sadr won’t become prime minister because he didn’t run for a parliamentary seat, but he will control the formation of the next Iraqi government.

Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Mr. al-Sadr has been a sidebar to the main stories, making harsh anti-American statements and leading (from a safe distance) Shiite militia forces that fought repeatedly with U.S. troops. At times he appears (incorrectly) to be a mere tool of Iran, but at others his hazy commitment to Iraqi nationalism takes over from whatever loyalty his mind harbors to Iran.

Whatever else he is, Mr. al-Sadr is a complex man whose violent and virulently anti-American track record is worth examination in order to project Iraq’s short-term future.



Preserving America's supremacy in space


Acquiescing to efforts to end government funding of the International Space Station (ISS) by 2025 would be a historic and costly mistake to the tune of billions, destroying an engineering, science and geopolitical marvel and elevating America’s enemies to supremacy in space.

Construction of the ISS was completed from 1998 through 2011, and it remains the largest structure that humans have placed into space. Since Nov. 2, 2000, the station has been continuously occupied by astronauts dedicated to scientific advancement.

Released in February, the Trump administration’s 2019 budget proposal for NASA seeks to cease government funding of the ISS, instead doling out millions for station privatization and the exploration of the moon.


"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…