Thursday December 7th, 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

Sen. Al Franken quits amid sexual misconduct allegations
            
Sen. Al Franken on Thursday announced he was quitting the austere upper chamber amid mounting accusations that he forcibly kissed or groped women, bowing to resignation calls from at least 32 of his fellow Senate Democrats.

However, he said he was stepping down despite knowing he was not guilty of the behavior charged by his accusers. He said it was the right thing to do for the people of Minnesota.

“I may be resigning my seat but I am not giving up my voice,” the Minnesota Democrat said in speech on the Senate floor, vowing to continue his work as a political activists.



Minnesota gov. hasn't chosen Franken replacement


Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says he hasn't decided on a replacement for Al Franken.

Franken says he'll step down in the coming weeks. He's facing allegations of sexual misconduct from several women.

The Democratic governor says he expects to make and announce his decision in the next couple of days. Whomever he names will serve until a special the election in November to complete the remainder of Franken's term through 2020.



Trump Cabinet brother: Obama put me under 'illegal' domestic surveillance

              Image result for erik prince

Erik Prince, the one-time Blackwater USA chief who had a remote role in the Donald Trump campaign, told the House Intelligence Committee that the Barrack Obama administration had him under surveillance and “that’s illegal.”

The committee on Wednesday released a transcript of Mr. Prince’s Nov. 30 testimony in which he talked about a business trip to the Indian Ocean country of Seychelles to hold a summit with United Arab Emirates business partners.

At the Jan. 11, 2017, meeting, he said he was introduced to a Russian fund manger, Kirill Dmitriev, with whom he had an unscheduled 30-minute discussion at a bar.



House committee presses FBI chief on political bias within agency


The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee told FBI Director Chris Wray he hopes the recently installed director will be able to repair damage done to the bureau’s reputation as a result of reports of political bias among key agents who have played a role in the Russia and Clinton email investigations.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, said at the outset of Thursday’s oversight hearing that he hoped the director would be able to provide an “action plan” to prevent bias from affecting investigations and asked whether the director plans to reevaluate prior decisions “in light of the prejudice shown by officials in integral roles on past and ongoing investigations.”

“We cannot afford for the FBI — which has traditionally been dubbed the ‘premier law enforcement agency in the world’ — to become tainted by politicization or the perception of a lack of even-handedness,” said Mr. Goodlatte in his opening statement. “You, Director Wray, have a unique opportunity to repair the damage to the reputation of the FBI, and we encourage you in the strongest terms to do so.”



North Korea says U.S. threats make war unavoidable as China urges calm
             Image result for north korea

Two American B-1B heavy bombers joined large-scale combat drills over South Korea on Thursday amid warnings from North Korea that the exercises and U.S. threats have made the outbreak of war “an established fact”.

The annual U.S.-South Korean “Vigilant Ace” exercises feature 230 aircraft, including some of the most advanced U.S. stealth warplanes. They come a week after North Korea tested its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to date, which it says can reach all of the United States.

A spokesman for North Korea’s foreign ministry blamed the drills and “confrontational warmongering” by U.S. officials for making war inevitable.



Juanita Broaddrick rips Time's 'silence breakers' snub
'I didn't fit in their liberal victim mold'

Juanita Broaddrick will not stay quiet regarding Time magazine’s “silence breakers” piece on the #MeToo movement.

Time featured a slew of famous faces for its annual “Person of the Year” issue — those who bring awareness to sexual assault collectively captured the distinction — but Ms. Broaddrick says her contributions were conspicuously left out.

The woman who has maintained for decades that former President Bill Clinton raped her in Arkansas when she was 35 years old says her message for Time’s editors veered from the “liberal victim mold.”

“Time magazine asked to interview me re: #metoo movement,” Ms. Broaddrick, 74, tweeted late Wednesday. “The comments I gave were deemed of no value. I’d like to know why. Could it be I didn’t fit in their liberal victim mold.



Hamas Calls for Palestinian Uprising in Response to Trump's Jerusalem Plan

 
The Islamist group Hamas urged Palestinians on Thursday to abandon peace efforts and launch a new uprising against Israel in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as its capital.

The Israeli military said it was reinforcing troops in the occupied West Bank, deploying several new army battalions and putting other forces on standby, describing the measures as part of its "readiness for possible developments".
Protests so far have been scattered and largely non-violent.

But dozens of Palestinians gathered at two points on the Gaza border fence with Israel and threw rocks at soldiers on the other side. Inside Gaza, thousands of Palestinians rallied, some chanting: "Death to America! Death to the fool Trump!" and burning tyres.



Lawmaker Says GOP Has the Votes to Avert Government Shutdown

One of the House's conservative leaders indicated Thursday that Republicans have the votes needed to approve legislation preventing a weekend partial government shutdown.

With Senate passage also considered likely, the remarks by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., seemed to erase any doubt that Congress would approve legislation keeping federal agencies afloat through Dec. 22. Their money runs out at midnight Friday without approval of fresh funding.

But hours before President Donald Trump was to bargain with congressional leaders at the White House over long-term budget decisions, Meadows, who heads the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, says the group would oppose any agreement they feel allows excessive federal spending.



Beverly Hills of Hell


The homes of celebrities including Chrissy Teigen, Paris Hilton and Chelsea Handler, as well as a vineyard belonging to Rupert Murdoch, have been evacuated as LA firefighters struggle to put out fires that are ripping through the Los Angeles area.

Four Southern California wildfires were joined by a fifth outside Los Angeles's exclusive Bel Air neighborhood - where at least six properties have been destroyed - on Wednesday, as high winds spurred on the flames.

One well-to-do resident was seen having a fireman load up her Bentley as she prepared to flee the neighborhood - where homes cost an average of $3.3million - while firefighters tackled the fearsome blaze.

HURRICANE-FORCE WINDS SPREAD FLAMES..
More inferno...
82 square miles!
Looks Like Volcano Erupted...
LAFD Chief Warns: Firefighter Fatigue...
FIGHT TO SAVE LIONS, TIGERS, HYENAS..



You're fired! The whys come later

Which side are you on, the presumption of innocence or a boss’ right to fire for sexual harassment, without furnishing proof?

This question is not as easy as you may think.

When employers of late went public with each sexual-harassment head-chopping, it may have looked to some as if all that’s required to cost a man his reputation and career is an accusation.

It appeared to some skeptics that all the employer needed to hear from an accuser was that the employee, by word or deed, had brought pain and embarrassment to her. Or to him, in the case of the once-revered ex-Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine who stands accused of homosexual abuse, and the actor and self-proclaimed homosexual Kevin Spacey who is also accused.



The general and the president


This is a tale of FBI power misused and presidential trust misplaced.

Last week, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President Trump’s confidant on matters pertaining to national security from June 2015 to February 2017 and his short-lived national security adviser in the White House, pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington, D.C., to a single count of lying to the FBI. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Mr. Flynn, who had faced nearly 60 years in federal prison had he been convicted of charges related to all the matters about which there is said to be credible evidence of his guilt, will now face six months.

What could have caused Robert Mueller, the no-nonsense special counsel investigating whether any Americans aided the Russian government in its now well-known interference in the 2016 American presidential election, to have given Mr. Flynn such an extraordinary deal?

Here is the back story.

"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…