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Lavender Leninists and Heretic-Hunters: The Thoughtcrime Prosecution of Ruth Neely

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During her years as a Magistrate Judge in Pinedale, Wyoming, Ruth Neely performed dozens of civil marriage ceremonies. State law (Sect. 20-1-106[a]) specifies that magistrates, like “every licensed or ordained minister of the gospel, bishop, priest, or rabbi … may perform the ceremony of marriage in this state.”

Presiding at a civil wedding is a discretionary function of the magistrate’s office, not a mandatory duty. Neely had an unqualified right to decline a request to preside at a wedding, for any reason that suited her.

Prior to December 2014, she had never performed a same-sex wedding ceremony, because they were not recognized by the State of Wyoming.  Shortly before Christmas that year, Neely was interviewed by a newspaper reporter named Ned Donovan, who asked her if she was “excited” to begin officiating at same-sex wedding ceremonies.

A few weeks earlier, the US District Court in Wyoming had issued a ruling prohibiting state officials “from enforcing or applying” Wyoming’s existing marriage statute. Neely had made formal inquiries about how this would affect her responsibilities and had been counseled to refrain from public comment on the matter until official guidance was given.
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TSA Total Failure - No Surprise!

For the "privilege" of being groped and radiated before being allowed to travel, passengers are now facing the additional TSA abuse of being forced to miss their flights due to unimaginably long security check lines. Thousands are missing their flights, and much of the problem is that the agency has thrown a hissy-fit over a slight reduction in the number of screeners. Some 4,600 screeners were cut in hopes that more people would sign up for "TSA-PRE" (they didn't) and thus fewer screeners would be necessary. They now want not only all of those back -- they want an additional 6,000 screeners, which would far exceed the limit set by Congress! To top it off, a recent Homeland Security investigation of TSA performance at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport found that nine out of twelve times TSA screeners missed simulated explosive material passing through checkpoints. What to do about an inefficient government agency that abuses our civil liberties? We have some ideas in today's Liberty Report
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Anti-War is Pro-American

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Thomas Jefferson declared the American way of interacting with the world to be "peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none." However, over the course of at least the past seven decades, the US government has turned this admonition on its head.

Peace? The US government has waged wars of choice almost constantly since the end of World War II. It has distributed death and destruction around the world for nearly 70 years straight in overt wars, covert wars, coup d’états, assassinations, cold wars, drone wars, etc.

Commerce? Through sanctions and embargoes, the US government has carried out economic warfare against entire countries due to political disagreements with their leaders. This has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents who were denied the opportunity to buy goods and services from the US and the rest of the world. It has also prohibited the ability of Americans to travel and trade freely.
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Return Of The Gold Standard? Why Now?

What does a discussion on gold and monetary policy have to do with an Institute that focuses on foreign policy and civil liberties? The Federal Reserve and its fiat currency policy is literally the lifeblood of the warfare state. Without endless printing of paper money by the Fed -- in other words if the money supply was limited by some sort of commodity-backed currency -- the warfare state, the military-industrial complex, the wealthy Beltway think-tankers would see their power slip away like sand through fingers. Sound monetary policy and a peaceful foreign policy go hand in hand and must not be ignored.
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The Police State and License Plate Scanners

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One of the latest tools for violating our privacy and creating the American police state are license plate scanners.

Watching You

This technology allows the police to cruise through a city at normal speed and photographically gather images of vehicle license plates, along with geolocation data. This is all stored, and can easily be used to create a record of everywhere your car has been. Coupled with cellphone and WiFi data being collected along with its own geodata, and tied to things like tracked credit card activity, emails and the now-ubiquitous public surveillance cameras, it is very, very easy for law enforcement to know where you are, where you have been and have a pretty good idea of what you were doing.

Run that same process for lots and lots of people, and you can also tell who spent time with who.

Vigilant Solutions

Expand that process nationwide and you truly have a police state.

How to do that? Contact a private company called Vigilant Solutions. They collect license plate scanning information from multiple police departments as well as their own network of private plate scanners and facial recognition/facial cataloging technology and then sell it in database form to law enforcement.
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The Facebook Facedown

Conservatives were up in arms upon hearing from a Facebook whistleblower that the popular social media site as a matter of course would suppress news of interest to conservatives (and libertarians) from its "trending" section. Would Facebook really secretly plot to suppress the views of so many of its dedicated users? Could they really have decided to suppress, as was reported, news on Ron and Rand Paul? Even the US government became interested, with Senator John Thune writing a very nasty letter to Facebook demanding more information on how the business operates. What is the solution to the issue? Definitely not the involvement of the Federal Government, which will only make things worse! In fact, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is already trying to mend fences, scheduling a meeting tomorrow with a group of conservative leaders. Ultimately the market will decide. If people have lost faith in Facebook as a result of these allegations, the business will suffer as people vote with their feet. More today in the Liberty Report...
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Architects of Disastrous Iraq War Still at Large

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Bombs going off in Iraq? Well, it happens all the time — what's there to see? Let’s all move along shall we?

On Thursday, at least 13 people were killed in a ISIS attack on a café in Baghdad for the “crime” of watching a football match. The day before at least 88 people were killed in three explosions across Baghdad; scores were injured. 

Yes, these events got some coverage on Western news channels, but they weren’t the main stories.

The neocon war lobby, who, remember, couldn’t stop talking about Iraq in 2002/3, and telling what a terrible threat the country’s WMDs posed to us, would of course like us to forget the country all together now. They’ve told us lots of times we need to “move on” from talking about the 2003 invasion and instead focus on more important things — like how we can topple a secular Syrian president who’s fighting the very same terrorists who are bombing Baghdad.
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The Civil War Inside the US Military

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In early April, a battalion of senior military officials appeared before a Senate panel and testified that the US Army is “outranged and outgunned,” particularly in any future conflict with Russia. Arguing for a much bigger budget for the Army, they claimed that, absent a substantial increase in funding, the Russians would overtake us and, even scarier, “the army of the future will be too small to secure the nation.”

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! And before you know it, Brooklyn will be renamed Putingrad.

Of course it was pure coincidence that, shortly after these alarm bells were rung, a piece appeared in Politico magazine purportedly showing that the Russians were breathing down our necks: it revealed a “secret study” – revealed for the first time! – that supposedly detailed Russia’s deadly new capabilities as demonstrated in Ukraine. Included in this potpourri of propaganda was the assertion by none other than Gen. Wesley Clark, former presidential candidate and well-known Russophobe, that Moscow had developed a tank that is for all intents and purposes “invulnerable.”
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Kurd Fighter in Iraq Destroys U.S.-Made Turkish Helo With Russian-Model Missile

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There’s no past in Washington. There is no sense that actions taken today will exist past today, even though in reality they often echo for decades.

A video making the rounds online shows a fighter from a Kurdish group known as Kurdish Workers Party, or, more commonly, the PKK. Using what appears to be a Russian model shoulder fired portable air-to-air missile, the fighter is shooting down a Turkish military, American-made Cobra attack helicopter.

The missile is of Russian design but could have been made and could have come from nearly anywhere in Eastern Europe. However, such weapons were flooded into the Middle East after the United States deposed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. Many such weapons simply entered the black market when the Libyan army more or less dissolved, but many appear to have been sent into the Middle East by the CIA as part of a broader anti-ISIS strategy. Some say one of the functions of the CIA station overrun in Benghazi was to a facilitate that process.
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NDAA 2017: Military Industrial Complex Wins, People Lose

The Defense Authorization bill is supposed to be an opportunity for Congress to shape national defense priorities and share the responsibility with the president when it comes to foreign policy. Generally the president has significant authority to make his mark on foreign and defense policy and the authorization process for both the Defense and State Departments is the Constitution's way to make sure the co-equal Legislative Branch of government is properly part of the process. Sadly though this is what was intended, current reality no longer resembles what was meant to be. Instead, Congress abrogates its authority to set defense spending priorities to the Pentagon, the military-industrial complex, and to special interests in their districts. The result is a mess that has very little to do with defending this country and a whole lot to do with enriching those in position to feed from the trough. This week the House will vote on the Defense Authorization Act for 2017. Today's Liberty Report explains the process and previews the result...
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