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Coronavirus Aid for Regime Change: Washington’s 13 Point Plan for Venezuela

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The State Department released what it called its “democratic transition framework for Venezuela” this week; a 13-point plan for the removal of Nicolas Maduro and a radical overhaul of the country’s political system. The principal and most fundamental change Washington proposes is to “restore all powers to the National Assembly,” the one branch of government the right-wing pro-US opposition coalition currently holds. This would place the entire country under the control of political groups that have not won a general election in Venezuela since 1993.

In point number three, the US also demands that “all foreign security forces depart immediately.” Here, they are presumably not speaking about the US-linked far-right Colombian death squads that have been known to penetrate the countries’ long and porous border, but about Cuban security advisors and medical personnel. The United States is currently waging a silent war against the Caribbean island, pressuring countries to refuse its medical aid during the coronavirus pandemic. US-backed regimes in Brazil and Bolivia both expelled Cuban doctors from their countries upon coming to power, with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro claiming that they were “costumed doctors” who were there to “create guerilla cells and indoctrinate people.” Brazil’s Health Ministry is now asking them to return even as its president continues to deny COVID-19 is a serious problem.

According to the State Department’s transition plan, all political offices in Venezuela will be liquidated and their positions filled with people chosen by the National Assembly – i.e. the Venezuelan opposition. This includes the National Electoral Council, the Supreme Court, the Council of State and the presidency. The National Assembly has been in limbo ever since 2017 when the Supreme Court ruled it was in contempt of court. During the previous elections, a few new members of the National Assembly were tried for vote buying, but the institution refused to recognize the Supreme Court, instead demanding all power be given to it, hence the three-year-long constitutional crisis.
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Distraction? Trump Sends Warships To Venezuela

In a shocking press conference yesterday, President Trump and his advisors announced that the US military would begin conducting a "counter-narcotics operation" in the eastern Pacific and Caribbean. Perhaps not coincidentally, Trump's Justice Department indicted Venezuelan president Maduro on drug trafficking charges. Is the US about to "do a Noriega" on Maduro based on half-baked charged that the Venezuelan leader is some kind of drug kingpin? Have the president's war-braying neocons convinced him that the best thing to get our minds off of coronavirus is a "nice little war"? Today on the Liberty Report...
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Regime Change through the Drug War

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The Justice Department’s securing of a criminal indictment of Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro reminds us that when it comes to the US government’s regime-change operations, coups, invasions, sanctions, embargoes, and state-sponsored assassinations are not the only ways to achieve regime change. Another way is through a criminal indictment issued by a federal grand jury that deferentially accedes to the wishes of federal prosecutors.

The best example of this regime change method involved the president of Panama, Manuel Noriega.

Like many corrupt and brutal dictators around the world, Noriega was a partner and ally of the US government. In fact, he was actually trained at the Pentagon’s School of the Americas, which is referred to in Latin America as the School of Assassins. He later served as a paid asset of the CIA. He also served as a conduit for the US government’s illegal war in Nicaragua, where US officials were using the Contra rebels to effect a regime change in that country.

But like other loyal pro-US dictators, Noriega fell out of favor with US officials, who decided they wanted him out of office and replaced with someone more to their liking.

The big problem, of course, is the one that always afflicts US regime-change aspirations: Noriega refused to go voluntarily.
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Is It Time To End The Shutdown?

Yesterday the Mises Institute published a brilliant article titled "End the Shutdown," making the point that continuing the "house arrest" of Americans and the shutdown of the economy will have much worse consequences than the coronavirus itself. With the infection to fatality ratio at about the rate of the seasonal flu (as per a new Lancet study), is the continued destruction of American economic and social life worth it? Watch today's Liberty Report...
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Does the Church Belong to Caesar?

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I'm not sure which is more sad, that American pastors are being arrested for having public worship services or that most Christians seem to be perfectly fine with that travesty. While I always assumed the American “church” would fold at the first sign of persecution, it turns out that many have folded far easier than that. 

They didn't have to be beaten, shot, or tortured; they merely had to be commanded by the government to stop meeting; and most squeamishly complied. 

The First Amendment has been discarded as nothing more than a quaint footnote to a bygone era. To a time when “patriots” valued their freedom to assemble and worship as they pleased. To a time when they would rather die than give up this freedom. And to a time when a nation was formed with the idea of enshrining this freedom as the law of the land. Sadly, today we are told it is our “patriotic duty” to cancel church services for the sake of the greater good. 

Cable news anchors are exempt from such decrees because they're considered to provide an “essential service.” Yet pastors are deemed “non-essential” and most Christians seem fine with that. And while it is not surprising to see a secular government make such dictatorial decrees, it is astounding to see how quickly the churches have submitted. Things used to be different in Christian circles. They were certainly different in New Testament times.
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End the Shutdown

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The shutdown of the American economy by government decree should end. The lasting and far-reaching harms caused by this authoritarian precedent far outweigh those caused by the COVID-19 virus. The American people—individuals, families, businesses—must decide for themselves how and when to reopen society and return to their daily lives.
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While Trump Fights Coronavirus, Pompeo's On The Warpath

Keep your eye on Pompeo! President Trump is understandably distracted by the coronavirus outbreak in the US but in the "never let a good crisis go to waste" mode, the neocons in his Administration - led by Pompeo - are launching their war plots without the normal scrutiny. Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Russia - the long knives are coming out. Trump has been able to put the kibbosh on Pompeo's plans before, but a distracted Trump is in danger of losing control of his foreign policy. Launching a foolish war in the midst of the current crisis would surely spell disaster for the president. Watch today's Liberty Report...
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Preventing Liberty from Becoming a Coronavirus Fatality

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Public attitudes about the coronavirus outbreak increasingly exhibit features of a collective panic. That development creates the danger that government measures designed to deal with a very real public health problem may lead to enormous collateral damage both to the economy and the freedoms that Americans take for granted.

Governments at all levels have taken ever more extreme (even outrageous) actions in an effort to stem the outbreak. The governors of New YorkCalifornia, and other states have issued orders closing most private businesses and requiring residents not engaged in “essential” activities to remain in their homes. Nevada’s governor greatly restricted doctors from prescribing an anti-malaria drug that Trump administration experts suggested held promise for treating coronavirus, because in the governor’s opinion, such prescriptions might lead to hoarding. US Justice Department officials secretly asked Congress to give the executive branch the authority to seek orders from federal judges to detain indefinitely any individual during the current emergency or any future one.

Although appalling, such attempted eviscerations of constitutional liberties should not be surprising. Governments invariably exploit crises to expand their powers—often to a dangerous degree. That certainly has been the track record in the United States throughout our history. Worse, a significant residue of expanded powers always persists after the crisis recedes and life supposedly returns to normal.
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Corona-Madness: Authoritarianism Is Not The Answer!

Throughout the country, bureaucrats and politicians are clamping down on the Constitution in the name of fighting a virus that thus far has not shown itself more deadly than the seasonal flu. Those numbers can change and it can be a serious disease, but as after 9/11 we are being told we must sacrifice our liberties in the name of security. Government did not deliver then and it will not deliver now. Liberty stolen will not be returned. Is there a better way? Watch today's Liberty Report...
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