Sorry, McKinley: Obama orders name change of highest continental peak to “Denali”



For 98 years, the highest mountain in North America officially carried the name of William McKinley, the third US president to have been assassinated in office. First federally recognized in 1917, the name for the Alaskan peak went back in popular usage another 20 years prior to that. Yesterday, in advance of a trip to Alaska, Barack Obama officially renamed it Mount Denali, a demand that had come from the indigenous Athabascan people, with a concurrence from the National Parks Service:

For more than a century, the tallest mountain on the continent was named after the 25th U.S. president, William McKinley.

Now, in honor of Alaska’s indigenous Athabascan people, who had always called it “Denali,” President Barack Obama is changing it back, the White House said in a release Sunday.

“This designation recognizes the sacred status of Denali to generations of Alaska Natives,” the release said.

Actually, the National Parks Service told the US Senate recently that they didn’t object to a bill in Congress to change the name. Sen. Lisa Murkowsko (R-AK) had pushed the bill on behalf of her constituents:

Why not let Murkowski do this through legislation, rather than executive order? Senate Bill 319 was introduced in late January, but it has not yet been reported from the Energy and Natural Resources Committee for a vote in the full Senate. The hearing from which this clip was taken took place in June, but Congress has been kept busy since then on other matters. This isn’t exactly the most pressing of issues in Washington or Alaska, for that matter.

Obama apparently wanted a cheap win before heading out to Alaska. It’s a curious political choice to pander to Alaskans while irritating voters in Ohio, though, where William McKinley’s political career started. John Boehner, the nation’s highest-ranking Ohioan these days, ripped Obama for the executive action, as did Senator Rob Portman:

“There is a reason President McKinley’s name has served atop the highest peak in North America for more than 100 years, and that is because it is a testament to his great legacy,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement issued Sunday night.

“I’m deeply disappointed in this decision,” Boehner said after noting that McKinley served in the Army during the Civil War before representing Ohio in Congress and as governor.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said in a statement posted to social media that he was similarly “disappointed” in the decision to rename the mountain long named after “a proud Ohioan.”

“The naming of the mountain has been a topic of discussion in Congress for many years. This decision by the Administration is yet another example of the President going around Congress,” Portman said.

It’s doubtful that this will create enough anger in Ohio on its own to swing an election, but this comes in context over a long-lasting controversy over Obama’s executive actions. With the arrogance and capriciousness of Hillary Clinton becoming a central issue in her campaign — the secret e-mail server, and the nexus of corruption around the Clinton Foundation — this might stick to the consciousness of Ohio voters as a real-world example of its dangers. It certainly won’t help Hillary Clinton in Ohio or in Alaska, though.

There are two valid objections to this act. First, it’s an arbitrary and capricious use of executive power in pursuit of a petty end. The federal government controls vast swaths of Alaska land, and Congress should exercise joint authority over it with the executive branch. We seem to be getting farther and farther from that concept. This may be a comparatively minor and frivolous example of that problem, but in one way that makes this even worse. One might understand an executive overstep in an emergency or to secure the nation, but …. renaming a mountain?

Second, it’s somewhat objectionable for its dismissal of a martyred President. McKinley was in his second term when he was assassinated in 1901, after having led the nation to victory in the Spanish-American War. He had served the Union Army honorably during almost the entirety of the Civil War, from July 1861 to Appomattox. He enlisted as a private, and got a commission from Ohio Governor David Tod, and retired as a brevet major shortly after the end of the war. McKinley and James Garfield get overlooked in the company of Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy among the ranks of presidents who gave their lives in office for their nation, but McKinley was nearly as accomplished as Lincoln, and arguably more accomplished as President than either Garfield (who only served five months before his death) or Kennedy.

One has to wonder: when will we start stripping Kennedy’s name off of federally assigned locations? In 2061, perhaps?



THE MI6 spy found dead in a holdall had illegally hacked into secret data on Bill Clinton, The Sun on Sunday can reveal.

Gareth Williams, 31, dug out the guestlist for an event the former American president was going to as a favour for a pal.

The codebreaker — who had breached his security clearance — handed the list to the friend, who was also to be a guest.

MI6 bosses raged over the data breach amid growing tensions with US security services over Mr Williams’s transatlantic work.

Today, just over five years since his body was found inside a padlocked bag, his death remains one of Britain’s most mysterious unsolved cases.

The Sun on Sunday can reveal that voicemail messages Mr Williams left for family and pals were deleted in the days after his death. And a rival agent may also have broken into the flat to destroy or remove evidence.

The inquest was barred from discussing Mr Williams’s work in public. But sources say he was helping on the joint monitoring network Echelon, which uses sophisticated programs to eavesdrop on terrorists and criminal gangs, particularly those in Russia.

Echelon is used by Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

A source said: “The Clinton diary hack came at a time when Williams’s work with America was of the most sensitive nature.

“It was a diplomatic nightmare for Sir John Sawers, the new director of MI6 at the time.”

Former US President Bill Clinton
Former US President Bill Clinton AP

Insiders claim Mr Williams, who had been given a second passport with a fresh identity, was also getting fed up with living a secret life. He is said to have loathed his spy training after having his wrist broken during one hardcore session.

One insider said: “Williams’s state of mind in the months before his death was worrying those closest to him.

“He found the training so stressful and his mood blackened even talking about it.

“Typically he’d be asked to learn a new identity then report to a country hotel to meet an interrogation team. There he would be grilled about his new ID for 48 hours without sleep.

“His wrist was broken once after he was handcuffed to a metal bar inside a van that was driven around the country for several hours while he faced a barrage of questions.”

His sister Ceri Subbe also told the inquest he did not enjoy the “flash car competition and post-work drinking culture” of MI6.

He had applied to return to GCHQ, in Cheltenham, but bosses were slow in approving this.

Mr Williams, a keen cyclist originally from Anglesey, North Wales, died shortly after returning from a hacking conference in America.

He had been to see a drag queen show by himself two days before he was last seen alive, on August 15, 2010.

Eight days later his naked body was found folded into the 32in by 19in bag placed in the bath of his flat in Pimlico, central London.

His mobile phone and sim cards were laid out on a table. The last computer evidence of him being alive showed him looking at a cycling website.

Detectives are still baffled as to how the maths genius and expert cryptographer died.

A reconstruction of the MI6 man's tragic end
A reconstruction of the MI6 man’s tragic end Nicholas Razzell

An initial line of inquiry was that he was killed by a jealous lover. Yet there were no signs of forced entry to the flat.

In 2012, lawyers for his family said he could have been killed by someone who specialised in the “dark arts of the secret services”. The police did not rule out his intelligence work playing a part in his death.

They thought he may have been stuffed in the bag by killers who later broke back in to cover their tracks.

Investigators also suspect the flat had been “steam-cleaned”, which would explain why no DNA evidence was found.

The nature of Mr Williams’s work remains a secret, but sources claim he dealt with equipment that tracked the flow of cash from Russia to Europe. The technology let MI6 follow money trails from accounts in Russia to criminal gangs.

A Kremlin car was spotted near his home on the day he was last seen alive.

Police also issued e-fits of a “Mediterranean” couple said to have visited Mr Williams in either June or July.

Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox, who heard the 2012 inquest into his death, criticised MI6 for failing to report Mr Williams missing for a week. The delay meant a Home Office pathologist was unable to find a cause of death.

Dr Wilcox concluded that Mr Williams’s death was “unnatural and likely to have been criminally mediated”.

She ruled out his interest in bondage and drag queens as having any bearing, adding: “I wonder if this was an attempt by some third party to manipulate the evidence.”

She also dismissed speculation that Mr Williams died due to some kind of “auto-erotic activity” and denied he had any interest in claustrophilia, the love of enclosed spaces.

Experts said even escapologist Harry Houdini would have struggled to lock himself in the bag. Pathologists said Mr Williams would have suffocated within three minutes if he was still alive when put in there.

Yet a year later, Scotland Yard ended a review of the investigation, saying it was more likely Mr Williams had locked himself in the bag and no one else was involved. The announcement angered Mr Williams’s family, who said they stood by the coroner’s findings.

Last night a Met spokesman said: “The death of Gareth Williams was subject to a thorough investigation and coroner’s inquest. We are not prepared to speculate.”



Examining a possible violation of the Espionage Act


An FBI probe into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information on her private server has been described as “extremely serious” and has required the help of the agency’s best investigators.

The investigation, which Clinton has dismissed as a routine “security inquiry,” is examining a possible violation of the Espionage Act, according to a report by Fox News.

Investigators are looking to see whether Clinton should have been aware of the sensitive nature of emails circulating on her private network, regardless of whether the emails were marked classified.

Clinton has repeatedly defended her handling of the material by claiming none of the emails were marked classified at the time they were sent.

But intelligence experts say the absence of markings wouldn’t absolve an official of responsibility if he or she stumbled upon national defense information that should be classified.

Scrutiny of Clinton’s email activities has heated up since the FBI took custody of Clinton’s private server earlier this month.

The State Department is set to release thousands of Clinton’s emails Monday, with a handful expected to be designated classified before publication. Dozens of the former secretary’s emails have already been marked classified.



August 28 at 3:55 PM

MINNEAPOLIS — Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley effectively declared war on the Democratic Party leadership here Friday, blasting the party for what he called a “rigged” debate process in the presidential nominating contest and demanding it sanction additional debates.

O’Malley, who has struggled to gain traction in the polls this summer, used his appearance before the Democratic National Committee meeting to angrily denounce the party’s rules that he argued were a disadvantage to all the candidates and a disservice to Democrats.

“This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before,” O’Malley said. He added, “We are the Democratic Party, not the undemocratic party.”

[O’Malley adds his name to a petition seeking to make Jon Stewart a debate moderator]

Despite public objections from O’Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who have called for more debates, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has sanctioned six debates, only four before next February’s Iowa caucuses.

O’Malley, speaking from the DNC dais with Wasserman-Schultz sitting a few feet to his left, slammed what he called a “cynical move to delay or limit our own party debates.”

“Who’s decree is this exactly? Where did it come from? To what end or purpose?” O’Malley asked. He added, “We put our forward-thinking ideas on the back-burner as if we’re trying to hide them from the airwaves.”

O’Malley made no reference to the Democratic front-runner, former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, but it was clear in his remarks that he believes fewer debates make it more difficult for him and other challengers to defeat Clinton for the nomination.

[Hillary Clinton is the new standard-bearer for gun control. So let’s look at her record.]

O’Malley argued that with Donald Trump and other Republican candidates making headlines with inflammatory rhetoric, Democrats should hold more, not fewer, debates.

“Will we let the circus run unchallenged on every channel while we cower in shadows under a decree of silence in the ranks? Or will we demand equal time to showcase our ideas?” O’Malley asked. He added, “Silence and complacency in the face of hate is not an honorable option for the Democratic Party.”

DNC spokeswoman Holly Shulman, responding to O’Malley’s remarks, said in a statement: “We are thrilled the candidates are so eager to participate in our debates. We believe that six debates will give plenty of opportunity for the candidates to be seen side-by-side. I’m sure there will be lots of other forums for the candidates to make their case to voters, and that they will make the most out of every opportunity.”

Security Has to Get Involved When Black Transgender Lives Matter Activists Disrupt Clinton Event



Black Transgender Lives Matter activists disrupted a Hillary Clinton campaign stop in Ohio Thursday, demanding the Democratic frontrunner return donations from individuals affiliated with the prison system.

Video captured GetEQUAL activists holding “Divest From Private Prisons” signs interrupt Clinton’s speech in Cleveland, yelling at the former New York senator as she spoke about the “challenges facing our communities.”

“Senator Clinton! Five black trans women were found murdered in this country!” one woman shouted. “Senator Clinton! It is a state of emergency!”

Clinton responded.

“I will certainly be happy to meet with you later, but I’m going to keep talking,” she said from the stage.

In a statement posted to Facebook, GetEQUAL again called on Clinton to return donations.

“We can’t have a serious conversation with Hillary Clinton about policy until she returns donations and refuses to accept future donations from lobbyists and lawyers affiliated with the private prison industry,” it said.

Clinton is not the first candidate to be confronted by Black Lives Matter activists. Her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders was forced off stage when activists took the microphone from him earlier this year.

Clinton, however, has attempted to pacify the group, meeting with activists back stage earlier this month.