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US Empire Is Running The Same Script With Iran That It Ran With Libya, Syria

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Two weeks ago a memo was leaked from inside the Trump administration showing how Secretary of State and DC neophyte Rex Tillerson was coached on how the US empire uses human rights as a pretense on which to attack and undermine noncompliant governments. Politico reports:
The May 17 memo reads like a crash course for a businessman-turned-diplomat, and its conclusion offers a starkly realist vision: that the US should use human rights as a club against its adversaries, like Iran, China and North Korea, while giving a pass to repressive allies like the Philippines, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

'Allies should be treated differently — and better — than adversaries. Otherwise, we end up with more adversaries, and fewer allies,' argued the memo, written by Tillerson’s influential policy aide, Brian Hook.
With what would be perfect comedic timing if it weren’t so frightening, Iran erupted in protests which have been ongoing for the last four days, and the western empire is suddenly expressing deep, bipartisan concern about the human rights of those protesters.

So we all know what this song and dance is code for. Any evil can be justified in the name of “human rights.”
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The Charge of the Invisible Army of Kremlin Trolls

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There is no holiday truce in the propaganda war. On this Christmas day, The Washington Post offered its readers a scare story entitled “Kremlin trolls burned across the Internet as Washington debated options.”

The article is long – nearly 4000 words. The only part that is sure to be read in these busy times of short attention spans is the headline, whose two themes are rich in subliminal messages.

First, a slash and burn operation by an army of Kremlin trolls is laying waste to the Internet. Second, official Washington in its benevolent innocence is having trouble facing up to this nefarious threat.

Let’s take these two themes one at a time.

Invasion of the Troll Army

The journalistic peg for this story is a phantom freelance journalist named Alice Donovan whose “first email arrived in the inbox of CounterPunch, a left-leaning American news and opinion website, at 3:26 a.m. – the middle of the day in Moscow.” 

Aha!

Drawing on its abundant intelligence community sources, the WaPo article continues: “The FBI was tracking Donovan as part of a months-long counterintelligence operation code-named ‘NorthernNight’. Internal bureau reports described her as a pseudonymous foot soldier in an army of Kremlin-led trolls seeking to undermine America’s democratic institutions.”
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Ten Years Ago The Real Tea Party Was Born...And It Continues Today!

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Recently an article on Lew Rockwell's blog reminded us of that fateful day, ten years ago this month, when the real Tea Party was launched. It signaled the Ron Paul rebellion in the Republican Party ranks but it also demonstrated the massive appeal of the peace candidate. The GOP stalwarts were not about to give up power to a movement driven by so many young and energetic new voices so by hook or by crook they put forth the warmongering neocon, Sen. John McCain, who ran on a platform of more wars.
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Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the US and Israeli Governments

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In September of last year, we noted that Facebook representatives were meeting with the Israeli government to determine which Facebook accounts of Palestinians should be deleted on the ground that they constituted “incitement.” The meetings — called for and presided over by one of the most extremist and authoritarian Israeli officials, pro-settlement Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked — came after Israel threatened Facebook that its failure to voluntarily comply with Israeli deletion orders would result in the enactment of laws requiring Facebook to do so, upon pain of being severely fined or even blocked in the country.

The predictable results of those meetings are now clear and well-documented. Ever since, Facebook has been on a censorship rampage against Palestinian activists who protest the decades-long, illegal Israeli occupation, all directed and determined by Israeli officials. Indeed, Israeli officials have been publicly boasting about how obedient Facebook is when it comes to Israeli censorship orders:
Shortly after news broke earlier this month of the agreement between the Israeli government and Facebook, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Tel Aviv had submitted 158 requests to the social media giant over the previous four months asking it to remove content it deemed 'incitement.' She said Facebook had granted 95 percent of the requests.
She’s right. The submission to Israeli dictates is hard to overstate: As the New York Times put it in December of last year, “Israeli security agencies monitor Facebook and send the company posts they consider incitement. Facebook has responded by removing most of them.”
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All Is Not Quiet on the Syrian Front: US to Launch Another War

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This is a classic example of flip-flop policy. In November, the US promised Turkey to stop arming Kurdish militias in Syria after the Islamic State was routed. Brett McGurk, the US Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat Islamic State, explained that after the urban fighting in Raqqa was over "adjustments in the level of military support" would be made. "We had to give some equipment – and it's limited, extremely limited – all of which was very transparent to our NATO ally, Turkey," he said during a special briefing on December 21. In June, the US told Turkey it would take back weapons supplied to the Kurdish the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in northern Syria after the defeat of Islamic State.

But sophisticated weapons will continue to be sent to Syria in 2018, including thousands of anti-tank rocket launchers, heat seeking missiles and rocket launchers. The list of weaponry and equipment was prepared by US Department of Defense as part of the 2018 defense budget and signed by Trump of Dec. 12. It includes more than 300 non-tactical vehicles, 60 nonstandard vehicles, and 30 earth-moving vehicles to assist with the construction of outposts or operations staging areas. The US defense spending bill for 2018 ("Justification for FY 2018 Overseas Contingency Operations / Counter-Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Train and Equip Fund") includes providing weapons worth $393 million to US partners in Syria. Overall, $500 million, roughly $70 million more than last year, are to be spent on Syria Train and Equip requirements. The partners are the Kurds-dominated Syria Democratic Forces (SDF). The YPG – the group that is a major concern of Turkey – is the backbone of this force.

The budget does not refer to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) but instead says “Vetted Syrian Opposition”. According to the budget list, there are 25,000 opposition forces supported as a part of the train and equip program in Syria. That number is planned to be increased to 30,000 in 2018. The arming of Kurdish militants with anti-tank rockets is a sensitive topic because of Turkey’s reliance on its armored Leopard tanks in northern Syria.
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New Trump Executive Order: Good Move Or Global Asset Forfeiture?

Last week President Trump signed an Executive Order providing for the seizure of assets of any person or corporation -- American or foreign -- determined to be abusing human rights or engaging in corruption. In theory, this means if a Chinese employee of Apple bribes a Chinese official, the US government claims the right to freeze all of Apple's US assets. How's that going to work out? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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Who Are the Leading State Sponsors of Terrorism?

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As 2017 draws to a close, it is difficult to be optimistic about what will be coming in the new year. The American President, whose margin of victory was certainly based on his pledge to avoid unnecessary wars, has doubled down on Afghanistan, refuses to leave Syria even though ISIS has been defeated, and is playing serious brinksmanship with a psychopathic and unpredictable regime in Pyongyang. The White House has also bought into the prevailing largely fabricated narrative about a Russia and has decided to arm Ukraine with offensive weapons, which has already resulted in a sharp response from Moscow and will make détente of any kind between the two leading powers all but impossible in the upcoming year.
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Reasons to Doubt the Veracity of the ‘Steele Dossier’ on Trump are Still Emerging

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There is a parallel but lesser-publicized narrative running alongside the dominant media-favored Trump-Russia collusion story.

It centers not on Trump and his alleged collusion with Moscow, but on Fusion GPS, the shady firm behind the infamous Steele dossier.

Stories about the 35-page ‘intelligence report’ written by former MI6 spy Christopher Steele very often do not make so much as a passing mention of Fusion GPS or its co-founder, former journalist Glenn Simpson, but both are crucial players in what could potentially be a scandal of massive proportions.

A recent investigation by online magazine Tablet using public sources to “trace the evolution” of the dossier has pieced together information which suggests central elements of the Russiagate story emerged “not from the British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s top-secret “sources” in the Russian government” but from a series of stories co-written by Simpson and his wife Mary Jacoby, which were published in the Wall Street Journal before Fusion GPS ever existed.

Simpson and Jacoby had written about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his dodgy dealings in Ukraine as far back as 2007. It stands to reason, Tablet writer Lee Smith explains, that when the Trump campaign hired Manafort in 2016, Simpson and Jacoby's ears perked up again. Could Manafort be the key to bringing down Trump? Manafort was a corrupt guy with some dubious connections, and Trump had just hired him, so the stage was set. 
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Heaven Forbid! China Sells Oil To North Korea!

US spy satellites have detected Chinese oil sales to North Korean ships in violation of UN Security Council sanctions. Will the US demand to board Chinese ships in international waters? Escalation? And why these sanctions in the first place? Does the US and UN really think that freezing the civilian population in North Korea will help them overthrow their leader? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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Whither the Antiwar Movement?

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“Imagine there’s no heaven…and no religion too.”

A more useful line when it comes to our current wars may be “Imagine there’s no duopoly.” It’s hard to fault John Lennon for his idealism, of course. In his day, many blamed religion on the wars of history. But a much bigger obstacle right now, at least in the U.S., is partisanship. The two major political parties, in power and out, have been so co-opted by the war machine that any modern anti-war movement has been completely subsumed and marginalized—even as American troops and killer drones continue to operate in or near combat zones all over the world.

Aside from the very early days of the Iraq war, the anti-war movement has been a small, ineffectual pinprick on the post-9/11 landscape. A less generous assessment is that it’s been a bust. After liberals helped elect the “anti-war” Barack Obama, the movement all but disappeared, even though the wars did not. By putting a Nobel Peace Prize-winning Democratic face on his inherited wars, Obama expanded into new conflicts (Libya, Syria, Yemen) with little resistance, ultimately bombing seven different countries during his tenure. By 2013, Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin lamented, “We’ve been protesting Obama’s foreign policy for years now, but we can’t get the same numbers because the people who would’ve been yelling and screaming about this stuff under Bush are quiet under Obama.”

It’s easy to blame the military-industrial complex, the corporate media, and the greed and malleability of politicians. But what about the anti-war movement itself? Why has it failed so miserably, and can it revive as President Donald Trump continues the wars of his predecessors and threatens new ones?
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