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Business As Usual - Is Trump's Foreign Policy Just More Bush And Obama?

The last two weeks have been quite a disappointment for those who expected President Trump to make a clear break with the interventionist, warmongering foreign policy of his two immediate predecessors. The Trump Administration threatened Iran several times -- including bizarrely putting the country "on notice" -- conducted more than 150 drone strikes, launched a disastrous commando raid in Yemen that killed scores of civilians, threatened continued sanctions on Russia over Crimea, and threatened China over the South China Sea. Warmongers seem to be in the driving seat, driving the President toward more, not less, American bombs overseas. Can the President return to his campaign promises?
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Cut, Don’t Reform, Taxes

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Many Americans who have wrestled with a 1040 form, or who have paid someone to prepare their taxes, no doubt cheered the news that Congress will soon resume working on tax reform. However taxpayers should temper their enthusiasm because, even in the unlikely event tax collection is simplified, tax reform will not reduce the American people’s tax burden.

Congressional leadership’s one nonnegotiable requirement of any tax reform is “revenue neutrality.” So any tax reform plan that has any chance of even being considered, much less passed, by Congress must ensure that the federal government does not lose a nickel in tax revenue. Congress’s obsession with protecting the government’s coffers causes reformers to mix tax cuts with tax increases. Congress’s insistence on “offsetting” tax cuts with tax increases creates a political food fight where politicians face off over who should have their taxes raised, who should have their taxes cut, and who should have their taxes stay the same.
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'The Media Coverage on Syria is the Biggest Media Lie of our Time' -- Interview with Flemish Priest in Syria

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Flemish Father Daniël Maes (78) lives in Syria in the sixth-century-old Mar Yakub monastery in the city of Qara, 90 kilometers north of the capital Damascus. Father Daniel has been a witness to the “civil war” and according to him, Western reports on the conflict in Syria are very misleading. In short: “the Americans and their allies want to completely ruin the country.”

Interviewer: You are very critical of the media coverage on Syria. What is bothering you?

Father Daniel: “The idea that a popular uprising took place against President Assad is completely false. I’ve been in Qara since 2010 and I have seen with my own eyes how agitators from outside Syria organized protests against the government and recruited young people. That was filmed and aired by Al Jazeera to give the impression that a rebellion was taking place. Murders were committed by foreign terrorists, against the Sunni and Christian communities, in an effort to sow religious and ethnic discord among the Syrian people. While in my experience, the Syrian people were actually very united.

Before the war, this was a harmonious country: a secular state in which different religious communities lived side by side peacefully. There was hardly any poverty, education was free, and health care was good. It was only not possible to freely express your political views. But most people did not care about that.”

Interviewer: Mother Agnès-Mariam, of your Mar Yakub (“Saint Jacob”) monastery, is accused of siding with the regime. She has friends at the highest level.

Father Daniel: “mother Agnès-Mariam helps the population: she has recently opened a soup kitchen in Aleppo, where 25,000 meals are prepared five times a week. Look, it is miraculous that we are still alive. We owe that to the army of Assad’s government and to Vladimir Putin, because he decided to intervene when the rebels threatened to take power.
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'America: Please Stop Intervening in Our Affairs'

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Most ordinary Americans do not have the slightest idea how much suffering, hardship, and/or (in more fortunate cases) just disappointment has been caused by the intrusive foreign policy of practically of all recent US administrations in many parts of the world, including in countries such as mine. There has been much absurd hysteria recently over allegations of Russia hacking and influencing the November presidential elections in America. These are ridiculous allegations whose sole purpose is to rekindle Washington's age-old visceral animosity towards Russia and prevent the US from normalizing its relations with Moscow. 
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A Billion Dollars of Federally Funded Paranoia

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When it comes to mindless excess in the war on terror, it is difficult to compete with the 70+ fusion centers bankrolled by the Department of Homeland Security. They began to be set up around the nation shortly after 9/11 as federal-state-local partnerships to better track terrorist threats. But the centers have been a world-class boondoggle from the start.

Fusion centers have sent the federally funded roundup of data on Americans’ private lives into overdrive. As the Brennan Center for Justice noted in 2012, “Until 9/11, police departments had limited authority to gather information on innocent activity, such as what people say in their houses of worship or at political meetings. Police could only examine this type of First Amendment-protected activity if there was a direct link to a suspected crime. But the attacks of 9/11 led law enforcement to turn this rule on its head.”

Fusion centers do a far better job of stoking paranoia than of catching terrorists. Various fusion centers have attached the “extremist” tag to gun-rights activists, anti-immigration zealots, and individuals and groups “rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority” — even though many of the Founding Fathers shared the same creed. A 2012 DHS report went even further, stating that being “reverent of individual liberty” is one of the traits of potential right-wing terrorists. Such absurd standards help explain why the federal terrorist watchlist now contains more than a million names.

Federal management is so slipshod that a 2012 Senate investigation found that the federal estimates of spending on fusion centers varied by more than 400 percent — ranging from $289 million to $1.4 billion. A DHS internal report found that 4 of 72 fusion centers did not actually exist, but that did not deter DHS officials from continuing to exaggerate the number of such centers.
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Trump Team Gone Wild: Now UN Ambassador Threatens Russia!

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What a week in US foreign policy! First President Trump approves a commando raid in Yemen that was a total fiasco, leaving one US soldier and scores of innocent women and children dead. Then Trump's Iran-obsessed National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, hijacks a White House Press conference to put Iran "on notice" over its legal testing of a missile and the false claim that it is involved in the Yemen war. 

But today marks an own-goal hat trick! Today, President Trump's Ambassador to the United Nations, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley used her first appearance before the UN Security Council to condemn Russia for the renewed violence in eastern Ukraine.

Haley told the Security Council:
I consider it unfortunate that the occasion of my first appearance is one in which I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia. It is unfortunate because it is a replay of too many instances over many years in which United States representatives have had to do that.
What were the "aggressive actions of Russia"? She did not say. Does she accuse Russia of another "invasion" of Ukraine, as Obama's mouthpieces endlessly claimed without proof? What exactly did she mean? 

But it got even stranger.
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What Will Rex Tillerson Inherit at the State Department?

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As Secretary of State, what will Rex Tillerson inherit at the State Department?

The media has been aflame recently trying to stretch the facts — personnel changes and some unhappy employees in the midst of a major governmental transition — to fit the narrative of a State Department on the verge of collapse. But while rumors of the State Department’s demise are largely exaggerated, the organization may yet find itself shunted aside into irrelevance.

There has been a lot of hot-blooded talk about Donald Trump and the federal workforce. The media once claimed Trump would not be able to fill his political appointee positions, and then suggested employees might resign en masse before he even was inaugerated. Another round of stories fanned panic that Trump had dumped his existing ambassadors, when in fact it was only the Obama-appointed ones who tendered resignations by tradition, as happens every four years.

Then only last week the Washington Post published a bombastic story claiming the State Department’s entire senior management team had resigned in protest. The real story, however, was that all/most of the six were de facto fired. Several were connected to the Clinton emails or Clinton’s handling of Benghazi. One of these people, Pat Kennedy, played a significant role in both. These were not protest resignations, they were housecleaning by the new boss in town.

As for plunging the State Department into chaos, the loss of six employees is not going to bring on Armageddon. Reports that these people represent “senior management” at State confuse terms. Because of the odd way State is organized, four of the six work in the Management Bureau, M in State talk. Kennedy was the head of the Bureau. The four play varying roles and collectively are not the senior management of the State Department. Two work in other parts of the Department directly tied to Obama-era policies likely to change under the new administration.
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Iran 'On Notice' - Will Trump Pull The Trigger?

Does President Trump's National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, realize that both his reasons for putting Iran "on notice" are completely bogus? Iran's test firing a ballistic missile is not a violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or the related UN resolution. And the Yemeni Houthi attack on a Saudi naval vessel had nothing to do with Iran. Does he realize his rationale is fabricated and presents it anyway? Or is he that ill-informed that he has no idea? With either case there is reason to be alarmed. Does Trump mean to start a war with Iran? How will Russia react? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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Ukraine - Coup Government Tries To Sabotage US-Russia Rapprochement

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Fighting in east Ukraine has restarted. This is an attempt by "deep state" forces to prevent any rapprochement between the US and Russia under the new Trump administration.

The west-Ukrainian forces under command of the coup government of President Poroshenko started a large attack against the Russian supported Ukrainian self-defense forces in Donetsk and Lugansk governate.

A ceasefire arranged after the Minsk II agreement provided for demilitarized zones along a line of separation. The Ukrainian government has so far avoided to fulfill the Minsk II agreement that would allow a reuniting of the country. An OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), which includes officers from NATO countries as well as Russia, is supervising the ceasefire and issues daily reports.
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