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USA FREEDOM Act: Just Another Word for Lost Liberty

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Apologists for the National Security Agency (NSA) point to the arrest of David Coleman Headley as an example of how warrantless mass surveillance is necessary to catch terrorists. Headley played a major role in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack that killed 166 people. 

While few would argue that bringing someone like Headley to justice is not a good thing, Headley’s case in no way justifies mass surveillance. For one thing, there is no “terrorist” exception in the Fourth Amendment. Saying a good end (capturing terrorists) justifies a bad means (mass surveillance) gives the government a blank check to violate our liberties.
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The Real War on the Middle Class

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One of the great ironies of American politics is that most politicians who talk about helping the middle class support policies that, by expanding the welfare-warfare state, are harmful to middle-class Americans. Eliminating the welfare-warfare state would benefit middle-class Americans by freeing them from exorbitant federal taxes, including the Federal Reserve’s inflation tax.

Politicians serious about helping middle-class Americans should allow individuals to opt out of Social Security and Medicare by not having to pay payroll taxes if they agree to never accept federal retirement or health care benefits. Individuals are quite capable of meeting their own unique retirement and health care needs if the government stops forcing them into one-size-fits-all plans.
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Political Murders in Kiev, US Troops to Ukraine

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Last week two prominent Ukrainian opposition figures were gunned down in broad daylight. They join as many as ten others who have been killed or committed suicide under suspicious circumstances just this year. These individuals have one important thing in common: they were either part of or friendly with the Yanukovych government, which a US-backed coup overthrew last year. They include members of the Ukrainian parliament and former chief editors of major opposition newspapers. 

 
While some journalists here in the US have started to notice the strange series of opposition killings in Ukraine, the US government has yet to say a word.
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The New Militarism: Who Profits?

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Militarism and military spending are everywhere on the rise, as the new Cold War propaganda seems to be paying off. The new “threats” that are being hyped bring big profits to military contractors and the network of think tanks they pay to produce pro-war propaganda. 
 
Here are just a few examples:

The German government announced last week that it would purchase 100 more “Leopard” tanks – a 45 percent increase in the country’s inventory. Germany had greatly reduced its inventory of tanks as the end of the Cold War meant the end of any threat of a Soviet ground invasion of Europe. The German government now claims these 100 new tanks, which may cost nearly half a billion dollars, are necessary to respond to the new Russian assertiveness in the region. Never mind that Russia has neither invaded nor threatened any country in the region, much less a NATO member country.
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The IRS and Congress Both Hold Our Liberty in Contempt

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This week the Justice Department announced it would not charge former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner with contempt of Congress. Some members of Congress requested that Lerner be charged with contempt after she refused to testify at a congressional hearing investigating her role in denying or delaying the applications for tax-exempt status of “tea party” and pro-limited government organizations.

Cynics might suggest it is not surprising that a former government official would avoid prosecution for refusing to tell Congress about how federal employees abused their power to help the incumbent administration. These cynics have a point, but the problem goes beyond mere partisanship. Government officials are rarely prosecuted for even the most blatant violations of our liberties. In contrast, federal prosecutors routinely pursue criminal charges against whistleblowers. For example, the only American prosecuted and imprisoned in relation to the government's use of torture was whistleblower John Kiriakou!
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Repeal, Don’t Reform the IMF!

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A responsible financial institution would not extend a new loan of between 17 and 40 billion dollars to a borrower already struggling to pay back an existing multi-billion dollar loan. Yet that is just what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) did last month when it extended a new loan to the government of Ukraine. This new loan may not make much economic sense, but propping up the existing Ukrainian government serves the foreign policy agenda of the US government.

Since the IMF receives most of its funding from the United States, it is hardly surprising that it would tailor its actions to advance the US government’s foreign policy goals. The IMF also has a history of using the funds provided to it by the American taxpayer to prop up dictatorial regimes and support unsound economic policies.
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Yemen Exploding: Is The Stage Set for the Big War?

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Rapid changes are occurring in Yemen. Ever since United States had to leave its military base there, other powers have been lining up to benefit from the chaos. It has been revealed that Saudi Arabia has commenced bombing targets in Yemen. Egypt has announced its support for the Saudi effort. I am quite confident that this support is in compliance with our instructions to our puppet leader now in charge in Egypt. The current president of Yemen, Hadi, a leader who took over after the Arab Spring revolution, has been removed from power. He is said to have escaped to Saudi Arabia, and those who are now in charge in Yemen will most likely kill him if he returns.


Yemen has been instrumental in the US effort to fight al-Qaeda in the region. Unsuccessfully, I might add. The Houthis who have deposed Hadi are said to get their support from Iran and are now likely the strongest political force in the country. But they will not have an easy time of it. Too much is at stake for the United States and Saudi Arabia. We don’t read much about the Saudi Air Force being involved in military conflict, but the seriousness of the situation has prompted them to do exactly that. There are also reports that 150,000 or more troops are massed near the borders of Yemen for a probable invasion. It is assumed that other Arab nations will be involved, along with Egypt. One report said that it appears the country is “sliding toward a civil war.” I would suggest that it’s past sliding toward the civil war, and, rather, is involved deeply in a civil war that is now spreading outside its own borders.
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How Will The Yemeni Civil War End?

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The Civil War in Yemen is rapidly expanding. We have been forced to close our embassy and military base located there. It is now clear that Obama’s optimism for fighting terrorism in Yemen was misplaced. It hardly sets a standard for dealing with constant conflict and chaos throughout the Middle East. It now looks like the two major participants in t
his war are Iran and Saudi Arabia. In this region there has been competition between these two nations for hundreds if not thousands of years. The conflict ongoing in Yemen relates to the age-old conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims. It also reflects the contest over who will control the oil in this region. Not only is there a conflict between the Shia of Iran versus the Sunnis of Saudi Arabia, there has been long-term animosity between Arabs and Persians.

Now there are essentially three factions fighting for the control of Yemen. Our support for president Hadi has failed and he is essentially out of power although still involved in the conflict. Former president Saleh, who remains a powerful force in Yemen, is taking advantage of the chaos in his desire to return to power. So far the various factions that we have supported over the years have been poor choices, as usual. Today the, Houthis, supported by Iran, seem to be the ones who have gained the upper hand. However there’s no sign that this civil war will soon end or without major ramifications throughout the Middle East and maybe even beyond.

This turn of events will not make the neoconservatives happy, nor will this go unnoticed by the Saudis. It seems that al-Qaeda has gained the grassroots support from a large number of Yemeni citizens. Currently the chaos in the three-way battle for control of Yemen will guarantee that even though we have been literally run out of Yemen, our interests will remain. Being “allies” of sorts with the Iranians in Iraq will not carry over to the US sympathizing with the Iranian growing influence in in Yemen.

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After a Twelve Year Mistake in Iraq, We Must Just March Home

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Twelve years ago last week, the US launched its invasion of Iraq, an act the late General William Odom predicted would turn out to be “the greatest strategic disaster in US history.”

Before the attack I was accused of exaggerating the potential costs of the war when I warned that it could end up costing as much as $100 billion. One trillion dollars later, with not one but two “mission accomplished” moments, we are still not done intervening in Iraq.
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Why Do American Weapons End Up in Our Enemies' Hands?

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It happens so often you wonder whether it is due to total ineptness or a deliberate policy to undermine our efforts overseas. It’s most likely a result of corruption and unintended consequences, combined with a foreign policy that makes it impossible to determine who are our friends are and who are our enemies. One would think that so many failures in arming others to do our bidding in our effort to control an empire would awaken our leaders and the American people and prompt policy changes.

A recent headline in Mother Jones read: “US Weapons Have A Nasty Habit of Going AWOL.” The report was about $500 million worth of military equipment that is unaccounted for in Yemen. Just as in so many other places, our policy of provoking civil strife in Yemen has been a complete failure. At one time it was announced that there was a great victory in a war being won with drones assisting groups that claimed to be on our side in the Yemen Civil War. As usual, we could have expected that these weapons would end up in the hands of the militants not on the side of United States and would never be accounted for.

There are numerous examples of how our foreign intervention backfires and actually helps the enemy. Just recently a headline announced: “CIA cash sometimes refills al-Qaeda coffers.”  This was a story of our government helping pay ransom to al-Qaeda for the release an Afghan diplomat. However this was a measly $5 million so it was not considered a big deal. Another headline just recently announced that, “Iraqi army downs two UK planes carrying weapons for ISIL.” The Iraqi army is supposed to be on our side, and many people believe the UK is also on our side as well. One thing for sure the American taxpayer pays for all this nonsense.
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