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House Republicans' Hollow 'Local Control of Education' Rhetoric

By guiding HR 2083, the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act, to the Floor Tuesday for passage by a voice vote, the House Republican leadership demonstrated the hollowness of the praise it heaped on local control of education when HR 5, the Student Success Act, passed in the House three months earlier.

The nice sounding but ominous in consequences Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act presents serious federalism, constitutional, and individual liberty concerns. The legislation standardizes nationwide -- and expands -- school-related background check policies that states have implemented. In particular, HR 2083 mandates fingerprinting, as well as state and FBI criminal background checking, of millions of school and local or state educational agency employees. The requirements also apply to any people who, because they work for private entities or public agencies with a school contract or agreement, have "unsupervised access" to students.
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Remember 'Kony'?

Remember the bizarre "Kony 2012" video last year that was supposed to mobilize us all to fight the really bad guys in Uganda? (Or at least get behind the State Department and AFRICOM's efforts to fight the "really bad guys" in Uganda)? The video was supposedly viewed by millions and gazillions of people who then demanded that the State Department, CIA, and AFRICOM (who all had a hand in funding the "NGO" that made the film) do something about the horrible John Kony and his "Lord's Resistance Army."

Never mind that no one had heard of him before viewing the film and never mind that Kony himself had disappeared and was presumed dead years before the film was even made. After watching the film, Americans demanded that the US government do something about all those bad people in Africa, and AFRICOM and other US government agencies happily complied.
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Sen. Ron Wyden Warns of Fake Surveillance Reform and the Economic Harm of US Mass Spying

US Sen. Ron Wyden, in a Guardian article he wrote based on his speech at a Cato Institute event this week, reinforces RPI's warnings that efforts to reform the US government mass spying program "provide an excellent opportunity to make bad legislation worse" and that the spying "threatens American companies' business prospects in the international marketplace."
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Back From Middle East, US Reps Freak Out About Iran

As Ron Paul wrote this week in his weekly column (free subscription here), the recent slight thaw in US/Iranian relations is reason for optimism. But, he warned, it should be very cautious optimism. He wrote that the danger from the neocons may even be greater when some progress is made in US/Iran relations:
[T]hose pushing for war will not give up that easily...There will be much more war propaganda coming our way as the warmongers get more desperate.
Likewise, he wrote that some Members of Congress are even trying to pass war authorization legislation against Iran. That is how out of touch with reality they are.

How right he was.
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NSA Wolves in Reformers' Clothing

There is nothing so dangerous as when Washington starts "reforming" something. Usually it means that despite best obfuscation efforts the administration or Congress has been caught doing something -- or not doing something -- sufficiently outrageous to create a public stir.

Once caught, said government body does not simply cease and desist or make good on its mistake. Instead, a commission is formed made up of current and former government officials and other Washington insiders, an expensive study is funded revealing that the problem was simply not enough oversight (i.e. government workers on the payroll), and a grand but confusing multi-part scheme with everything thrown in but the kitchen sink is implemented to great fanfare and media praise. The impression is left that the problem has been solved. Until the next time.
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Did Sen. Reid Let Slip Secret Plan to Use Navy Yard Killings as Excuse for New Medical Privacy Violations?

There is reason for concern that the US Congress and the National Rifle Association may soon  work together to use the Washington, DC Navy Yard killings earlier this week as an excuse to expand a US government database of all Americans' private medical information.

The day after the Navy Yard killings, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was talking about bringing expanded gun transfer background checks to a vote in the Senate. Bloomberg reports:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said he’ll schedule another vote to expand firearms background checks “as quickly as we can” when enough members support the bill. Reid said at the moment, the Senate lacks enough votes to pass the legislation.

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Ron Paul on Larry King's Politicking Program

Ron Paul interviewed by Larry King yesterday -- don't miss it! Unfortunately at this point it is audio only, but please do not let that discourage you from listening to this excellent and informative video:
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Twisted Arms and Talking Points: Behind the Iran Sanctions Bill Debate

On Wednesday, the House debated and passed overwhelmingly HR 850, the Iran Nuclear Prevention Act of 2013. As we wrote on the eve of the vote, these new sanctions are timed to disrupt the inauguration of Iran’s new president, a moderate, and to severely restrict Iranian oil exports. Those who have gone along with increasingly restrictive limitations on oil exports to this point, for example Japan and China, may well find this a bridge too far.
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Congress to Tighten Screws on Iran Tomorrow

As we wrote several days ago, the House will vote on a new Iran sanctions bill this week, possibly as early as tomorrow. With nearly 400 co-sponsors of the bill, known as HR 850 -- the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, the debate is likely to be rather one-sided and in fact a recorded roll call vote is unlikely. It is considered too non-controversial to warrant a recorded vote.

The bill has undergone some further revisions in the past days, primarily to add more aggressive and condemnatory "sense of Congress" language.

According to the most current language, the US seeks to thwart Iran's "already aggressive foreign policy" by applying yet another layer of sanctions in effort to force Iran to cease work on the nuclear weapons that the CIA and Mossad do not believe they are building!
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