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Trump Bull in the Mideast China Shop

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President Donald Trump is getting ready to plunge into the burning Mideast with all the zeal and arrogance of a medieval crusader. The new administration’s knowledge of the region is a thousand miles wide and two inches deep.

Reviving a truly terrible idea originated by know-nothing Congressional Republicans, Trump proposes US-run safe zones in Syria for refugees from that nation’s conflict. The president went out of his way to insist that such safe zones would spare the United States from having to shelter Syrian refugees.

He should better worry about Chicago where 762 citizens were murdered last year.

At the same time, Trump, declaiming from his new Mount Olympus of New York’s Trump Tower, vowed to impose a 30-day halt on immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen to "protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals."
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Those ‘Resignations’: What Really Happened at the State Department

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Yesterday at the State Department five officials resigned or retired. Another one today.

The media has gone near-insane, claiming State is crumbling in protest under the Trump administration. This is not true. What happened at State is very routine.

Leaving the Department are head of the Management Bureau Pat Kennedy, Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond, Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, arms control official Tom Countryman, and Victoria Nuland.

Here’s the story:

— No one at the State Dept resigned in protest.

— No one was formally fired.

— Six people were transferred from or retired from political appointee positions. Technically those who did not retire can be considered to have “resigned,” but that is a routine HR/personnel term used, not some political statement. The six are career Foreign Service career personnel (FSOs) They previously left their FSO job to be appointed into political jobs and now have resigned those (or retired out of the State Department) to return to career FSO jobs. A circle. They are required to submit a letter of resignation as a matter of routine when a new president takes office.
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The Syrian People Desperately Want Peace

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As much of Washington prepared for the inauguration of President Donald Trump, I spent last week on a fact-finding mission in Syria and Lebanon to see and hear directly from the Syrian people. Their lives have been consumed by a horrific war that has killed hundreds of thousands of Syrians and forced millions to flee their homeland in search of peace.

It is clear now more than ever: this regime change war does not serve America’s interest, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Syrian people.
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Trump Proposal For Syria 'Safe Zones' To Escalate US Military Involvement In The Region

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As part of his blitz of latest executive orders, which as reported yesterday would institute sweeping changes to US refugee and immigration policies including a ban on people from countries in the Middle East and North Africa deemed as a "terror risk", a separate order also lays the groundwork for an escalation of US military involvement in Syria by directing the Pentagon and the State Department to craft a plan to create safe zones for civilians fleeing the conflict there.

Trump said on Wednesday he "will absolutely do safe zones in Syria" for refugees fleeing violence. According to a document seen by Reuters, Trump is expected to order the Pentagon and the State Department in the coming days to come up with a plan for the zones.

Such safe zones could provide an alternative to admitting refugees to the US according to Trump, but would also force greater US military deployment to the region.

According to the WSJ, the safe-zone proposal represents a significant policy reversal from the administration of Barack Obama, who long resisted pressure for such an approach from Congress and US allies in the Middle East because he believed it would draw the US too deeply into another war.

Establishing safe zones in Syria would mark an escalation in America’s military involvement there. In addition to the initial military buildup that likely would be needed to create the zones, ground troops and additional air power will be needed to protect them, military officials have said. Such zones would also put US-allied forces in dangerous proximity to foreign troops, including forces from Russia and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
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Perpetual Drug War Deja Vu

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The Justice Department is ecstatic that it finally secured the extradition from Mexico of notorious drug lord Joaquin Guzman Loera, also known as El Chapo. Arraigned in New York City, El Chapo is being charged with running a multibillion dollar drug enterprise, which allegedly included the murder of countless people.

Not surprisingly, the mainstream press gave the arrest and arraignment major publicity. The story received a half-page article in the New York Times.

Also not surprisingly, law enforcement officials also made a huge deal out of the extradition and arrest. According to the Times, the U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn called it a “milestone in the pursuit of a trafficker who achieved mythic status in his homeland as a Robin Hood-like outlaw and a serial prison escapee.”

So, does this mean that the decades-long drug war has finally come to an end?

Well, not exactly. Actually, it means the the drug war will continue into perpetuity until the American people finally demand that this failed, destructive, deadly, expensive, and futile government program come to an end.

El Chapo’s arrest is nothing more than perpetual deja vu because this type of thing has been going on continuously since the 1960s. The cycle never stops. they arrest a big drug kingpin, they give it massive publicity, they convict the person and send him to jail for the rest of his life, and … the drug war continues and continues.

It’s just simple laws of supply and demand. As soon as they bust one guy, he is quickly replaced either by someone else within the organization or by competitors. So, they bust another one. Same thing happens. it never stops.
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How To Really Reform Military Spending : Is Cutting Waste Enough?

Washington is talking about military spending reform...again. Much of the noise emanating from the think tanks on this subject is intended to maintain the policy status quo at all costs while giving the impression that money is being spent more carefully. But the issue is not whether the practice of charging $800 for hammer can be eliminated, but rather whether the United States really needs to maintain 800 military bases overseas. Real reform versus phony reform in today's Liberty Report...
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Has the American Dream Become the American Nightmare?

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For too long now, the American people have allowed themselves to be persuaded that the government’s job is to take care of us: to feed us, clothe us, house us, educate us, raise our children, heal our infirmities, manage our finances, protect us from our enemies, guard us against all dangers (real and imaginary), and provide for our every need.

Where Americans go wrong is in failing to recognize that there’s always a catch to such devil’s bargains purportedly carried out for the good of all society.

You want free education for your children? The government can take care of it. In exchange for free public schools, however, your children will be molded and indoctrinated into compliant, obedient citizens who reflect the government’s values rather than your own.

You want free health care? The government can take care of that, too. In exchange, your medical decisions—how you live and die—will ultimately be determined by corporations to whom you are little more than a line item impacting their profit and loss margins.

You want to be insulated from all things that might cause offense? That’s not a problem for the government. Its thought police will use hate crime laws to criminalize speech, thought and actions that may be politically incorrect.
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The Neocon Lament: Nobody Wants Them in Trump's Washington

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There is no limit to the hubris driven hypocrisy of America’s stalwart neoconservatives. A recent Washington Post front page article entitled “‘Never Trump’ national-security Republicans fear they have been blacklisted” shares with the reader the heartbreak of those so-called GOP foreign policy experts who have apparently been ignored by the presidential transition team seeking to staff senior positions in the new administration. Author David Nakamura describes them as “some of the biggest names in the Republican national security firmament, veterans of past GOP administration who say, if called upon by President-elect Donald Trump, they stand ready to serve their country again.”

“But,” Nakamura adds, “their phones aren’t ringing.” And I wept openly as he went on to describe how they sit forlorn in a “state of indefinite limbo” in their law firms, think tanks and university faculty lounges just thinking about all the great things they can do for their country. Yes, “serve their country,” indeed. Nothing personal in it for them. Nothing personal when they denounced Trump and called him incompetent, unqualified, a threat to the nation and even joined Democrats in labeling him a racist, misogynist, homophobe, Islamophobe and bigot. And they really got off when they explained in some detail how The Donald was a Russian agent. Nothing personal. It’s was only business. So let’s let bygones be bygones and, by the way, where are the jobs? Top level Pentagon or National Security Council only, if you please!

And yes, they did make a mistake about some things in Iraq, but it was Obama who screwed it up by not staying the course. And then there was Libya, the war still going on in Afghanistan, getting rid of Bashar and that funny business in Ukraine. It all could have gone better but, hey, if they had been fully in charge for the past eight years to back up the greatly loved Vicki Nuland at the State Department everything would be hunky dory.
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Trump's 31 Airstrikes - A Taste Of Things To Come?

Over the weekend, President Trump indicated that he would continue in his predecessor's foreign policy. The US conducted some 31 airstrikes in Syria and Iraq and two drone strikes in Yemen. Will we achieve different results doing the same thing over and over?
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Is Medical Marijuana A Crime?

When authorities found out that Shona Banda treated her severe Crohn's Disease with cannabis after all other treatments (and multiple surgeries) had failed, they took away her child and are trying to send her to prison for 30 years. But she is fighting back! We speak with Ms. Banda about her struggle for health freedom in today's Liberty report...
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