Tuesday May 15th, 2018

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



World & National

Trump denies going soft on Beijing amid ‘make China great again’ mockery
                               President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with automotive executives in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Friday, May 11, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump fended off criticism Monday that he is going soft on China’s unfair trade practice after he moved to cancel sanctions against a cheating Chinese company out of concern for its workers, action that prompted Democrats to mock the president for trying to “make China great again.”

The president made the startling reversal on ZTE Corp., China’s second-largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, as U.S. and Chinese negotiators prepared to meet Tuesday in Washington for a second round of trade talks.

After Mr. Trump said he wants to help ZTE “get back into business, fast,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he would explore quickly “alternative remedies” to a seven-year ban against the company for trade violations.



DOJ never should have opened counter-intelligence into a political party, Nunes says


Rep. Devin Nunes said Tuesday that he wants to find out how the Department of Justice decided a special counsel was necessary to investigate the Trump campaign.

The congressman said that testimony from Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson indicated there was a source within the Trump campaign leaking information for the unverified dossier.

He added that the whole situation looks bad for the Justice Department and could even suggest they were setting Mr. Trump up.

“They never should have opened a counter-intelligence investigation into a political party,” Mr. Nunes said.



Report: Mueller May Have Conflict of Interest in Russian Oligarch
                          Image: Report: Mueller May Have Conflict of Interest in Russian Oligarch


Special counsel Robert Mueller may have a potential conflict of interest in the Russia investigation he is leading at the Department of Justice, it's alleged in a new opinion piece.
John Solomon of The Hill wrote Monday evening that a Russian being investigated as part of the probe has ties to Mueller back when the latter served as director of the FBI.

The FBI asked Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska for help in trying to find and rescue retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, who was taken hostage in Iran in 2007 while he was doing work for the CIA. Deripaska ended up spending $25 million on the search, an operation that was nearly successful in 2010 before the State Department was unhappy with Iran's terms of Levinson's release. A deal that had been brokered was called off.





How Trump is making it easier for U.S. gun manufacturers to export firearms


The Trump administration took a major formal step Monday toward officially shifting authority from the State Department to the Commerce Department over the approval of U.S. small arms exports, including semiautomatic rifles and weapons ranging in size up to .50 caliber.

In a closed-door briefing for lawmakers, State and Commerce officials outlined specifics of the shift long sought by small arms manufacturers as a way to cut red tape and boost exports — but decried by pro-regulation Democrats who warn the policy change could dissolve barriers designed to keep U.S.-made firearms from criminals and terrorists overseas.

While Congress could still block the initiative — Monday’s briefing on Capitol Hill sets in motion a public comment period that lasts for 45 days — administration officials are touting the policy as breakthrough for U.S. manufacturing and stress that key restrictions on exports to unsavory international buyers will remain in place.



Senate demands transcript of Russian wiretaps, FBI interview that nabbed Michael Flynn

                     In this Dec. 1, 2017, file photo, former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn leaves federal court in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) ** FILE **

President Trump’s former attorney says there are “reports” that retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn referred to his own wiretap when he was interviewed by two FBI agents in January 2017.

If the information from attorney John Dowd is correct, it would add to the body of evidence that Mr. Flynn was not deceptive because he knew the FBI knew everything he had said.

He pleaded guilty last December to one charge of providing false information to the agents and is awaiting sentencing.

Since then, an air of mystery has surrounded his plea.

Fired FBI director James Comey has told two congressional committees that agents didn’t believe Mr. Flynn purposely misled them when he denied talking about two topics with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak––Obama-ordered sanctions and a pending United Nations vote. He had in fact discussed those two issues.



Uneasy Calm Falls Over Gaza After Israel Kills Scores in Protests


Gaza awoke on Tuesday to a grim agenda: Funerals for protesters killed along the fence bordering Israel, including one for an 8-month-old baby girl overcome by tear gas; and still-frenzied work treating the thousands of people wounded, in hospitals so overrun with patients that tents were set up in their courtyards.

There was also uncertainty about whether the demonstrations would grow, fade, or give way to an outright armed conflict. The death toll in the protests reached 60 overnight.

The demonstrations on Monday, the latest in a series of deadly protests intended to spotlight anger on the blockade that has inflicted economic misery for the residents of Gaza, coincided with the formal relocation of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, another source of grievance for Palestinians.



Primary elections: Pennsylvania crucial to Democratic hopes for winning House majority


Democrats are trying to take a major step toward winning control of the House, as voters pick nominees Tuesday in Pennsylvania, one of the ripest states for the party to make gains in November’s midterm elections.

A redrawn congressional map, a string of Republican retirements and opposition to President Trump have opened the door for Democrats to pick up as many as half a dozen seats in Pennsylvania. They need 23 to win the House majority.

But before they can focus on the fall campaign, they must first settle some divisive and crowded primaries. Polls open at 7 a.m.



Worried Hawaii homeowners want to know: Am I covered if a volcano burns down my house?


Patricia Deter moved from Oregon to Hawaii to be closer to her two daughters, but the Kilauea volcano burned down her home only a month after she bought it.

Now Deter and her family, along others who have recently lost homes to the lava-spewing mountain, are on an urgent quest for answers about insurance, desperate to learn whether their coverage will offer any help after molten rock wiped out most of what they owned.

The eruption has destroyed about two dozen homes in the Leilani Estates subdivision on the Big Island. On Monday, another fissure spewing lava and toxic gas opened up, and a crack in the earth that emerged a day earlier was sending molten rock crawling toward the ocean, officials said. Nearly 20 fissures have opened since the Kilauea volcano started erupting 12 days ago, and officials warn it may soon blow its top with a massive steam eruption that would shoot boulders and ash miles into the sky.



Cannes: Massive Cheers for Spike Lee Film Attack on Trump, Racism in Film Ties 70s to Charlottesville


Spike Lee’s “Blackkklansman” just premiered in Cannes. It’s his most controversial film yet, brilliant in its telling of a true story from the 70s and thing it to Trump and Charlottesville. Starring John David Washington and Adam Driver, “Blackkklansman” is Lee’s best movie also.

It will be most incendiary as well. What Lee has done here is make a movie of a book, a memoir fro the early 70s of a black cop in Colorado Springs, Colorado who infiltrated the KKK in a kind of Cyrano way– he used a white cop to meet with the hooded white supremacists but he, Ron Stallworth, spoke to them by phone and convinced them of his hatred for blacks and Jews.

10-Minute Standing Ovation...
'Wanted The Hate To Be Verbalized'...
Slams Trump as 'Motherf*cker'...
Mass Walkouts For Lars Von Trier...
'Gross. Pretentious Vomitive. Torturous. Pathetic'...



Throwing rocks at the wrong villain


The criticism of a young White House aide was harsh for remarking, in a private working session where everything was off the record, that since the senator was “dying, anyway,” he should not be in the calculus for reckoning how the vote might go in the confirmation of Gina Haspel.

The aide, one Kelly Sadler, has been roasted and toasted since by critics large and small, Republican and Democrat, male and female, young and old. Many of her critics want her hanged at least once, flogged, twice beheaded and after that, seriously punished.

Her remark was trite and tasteless, exactly the kind of harsh and tasteless irreverence that might be overheard in almost any newsroom, from doctors and nurses in almost any big-city emergency room on a busy Saturday night, or around the water bucket at any saw mill or mining camp.

The villain at the White House is the man or woman who couldn’t wait to leak it to someone who could send it “viral” to the world. The leak was not meant to wound John McCain, but to put a knife in the back of Donald Trump (and perhaps Ms. Sadler). The White House was right not to issue the apology demanded by the commentators big and small, unless the White House knew who the leaker might be. If so, the leaker should have been sacked, and in public.



Privatizing the VA


The Department of Veterans Affairs is once again in need of someone to lead it. The president’s last nominee, Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, withdrew his name from consideration last month [April 26] after a flurry of allegations regarding his professional conduct as White House physician.

Dr. Jackson’s demise came just weeks after the previous VA secretary, Dr. David Shulkin, was forced out, in part because of his own ethical lapses.

The VA desperately needs a leader who will fix its failing health care system. That will require expanding the ability of veterans to seek care outside the VA system, in the private sector.

Neither Dr. Jackson nor Dr. Shulkin was the right person to lead the federal government’s second-largest bureaucracy. That’s because neither is sufficiently supportive of the only thing that can save the VA’s failing health system: Privatization.


"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 (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’.
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/mar/15/hyperloop-a-new-transportation-technology-offers-s/
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…