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Defense Bill Coming This Week: A Boost for War and Tyranny

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For many of us concerned with liberty, the letters “NDAA” have come to symbolize Washington’s ongoing effort to undermine the US Constitution in the pursuit of constant war overseas. It was the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2012 that introduced into law the idea that American citizens could be indefinitely detained without warrant or charge if a government bureaucrat decides they had assisted al-Qaeda or “associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States.” No charges, no trial, just disappeared Americans.

The National Defense Authorization bill should be a Congressional mechanism to bind the president to spend national defense money in the way Congress wishes. It is the nuts and bolts of the defense budget and as such is an important oversight tool preventing the imperial executive from treating the military as his own private army. Unfortunately that is no longer the case these days.
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Ellen Brown Scripps Would Have Been Proud

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An interesting controversy has broken out at Scripps College in Claremont, California. Several students and professors are protesting the selection of former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, as the commencement speaker.

The controversy at the small liberal arts college in California has sent the Los Angeles Times into emotional hyper-drive, causing the paper to weigh in on the controversy with an editorial and an op-ed criticizing the students and faculty who are doing the protesting. (Also publishing an article on the controversy.)

The title of the Times editorial was “Students Need to Stop Being So Sensitive and Let Madeleine Albright Speak,” which was a bit misleading since the students are not threatening to prevent Albright from speaking or threatening to interrupt her talk with protests.

The students are simply expressing their objections to the selection of Albright as their commencement speaker and, at most, simply expressing a preference for someone else.
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Washington Coup in Brazil? Was Incoming President US Embassy Informant?

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Adding to suspicions of a US role in the ouster of independent-minded Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is a revelation making the rounds today that Michel Temer, the opposition leader who will step in as interim president, had met with US embassy officials in Sau Paulo to provide his assessment and spin on the domestic political situation in Brazil. Thanks to Wikileaks, we have the US embassy cable that resulted from the incoming president's visit to US political officers.

Acting president Temer will hold office for up to six months while impeached president Rousseff stands trial in the Brazilian senate. If her impeachment is finalized by a two-thirds vote, Temer will remain in office until elections in 2018.
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Showdown: Poland Refuses To Accept Any Refugees, Will Not Comply With European ‘Blackmail’

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Seemingly unfazed by the recent European Commission proposal to punish countries which refuse to comply with "fair" refugee allocation quotas with fines as high as €250,000 per asylum seeker, the head of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party and former PM Jaroslaw Kaczynski said that no refugees will be accepted in Poland "as they pose a threat to security" adding that Poland will oppose any law forcing EU members to pay €250,000 per refused refugee.

"After recent events connected with acts of terror [Poland] will not accept refugees because there is no mechanism that would ensure security," Law and Justice (PiS) chair Kaczynski said on Saturday, as quoted by Radio Poland. Needless to say, Poland is also vocally opposed to the abovementioned proposal, announced last week, which would force EU member states to pay €250,000 per refused refugee. The common complaint voiced not only by Poland, but all Eastern European nations who would suffer the most from Europe's aggressive refugee reallocation proposal is that the goal of the EC is to redistribute the weight of the refugee crisis from countries such as Greece by introducing automatic asylum quotas for each EU member state. 

"Such a decision would abolish the sovereignty of EU member states – of course, the weaker ones. We don’t agree to that, we have to oppose that, because we are and we will be in charge in our own country,” Kaczynski said adding that "this is the position of the prime minister and the whole of PiS… From the beginning we felt that this issue should be resolved, assisting refugees outside the EU."
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US Asia 'Rebalance' Threatened With Meltdown

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Elections in the Philippines can be very funny. The candidates often try to connect with their electorate by taking recourse to singing and dancing. Cutting bawdy jokes and making funny faces or dressing outrageously comes very readily to politicians in their eagerness to get through to voters. There are no sacred cows on the campaign trail in the Philippines.

Yet, the front-runner who got elected Monday as the next president, Rodrigo Duterte, also known as the "Donald Trump of the Philippines," may have crossed all limits when he branded the Pope a “son of a whore,” told the American and Australian ambassadors to “shut their mouths,” recounted how he had personally killed inmates during a prison riot in Davao in 1989 where he used to be Mayor, or boasted about his mistresses and sexual prowess.

The nadir was reached when he said in the aftermath of the prison riot, that he came to know that an Australian missionary had been raped and murdered. Duterte joked, “I was mad she was raped. But she was so beautiful. I thought, ‘The Mayor should have been the first.’ ” That was when the US and Australian envoys took serious exception, whereupon Duterte raised the prospect of cutting diplomatic relations with the countries they represented.
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America's War For The Greater Middle East

"Why has the world’s mightiest military achieved so little even while absorbing very considerable losses and inflicting even greater damage on the subjects of America’s supposed beneficence?" This is the question asked by Professor Andrew Bacevich, a retired US Army colonel, in a must-read recent article. It is an excellent question that no one in the mainstream dares ask. But this is critical when considering our interventionist foreign policy: why are the constant wars not working? Why has 30 years of constant US warfare in the greater Middle East produced less peace, less harmony, less democracy, and less economic development than before we started? If war is so critical to peace and prosperity in the world, why has constant war produced less of it? The neocons would say that we simply have not waged enough of it. But that's like going to a doctor after a bad reaction to medicine and having him tell you to double up. In today's Ron Paul Liberty Report we are delighted to have Professor Bacevich, author of the excellent new book, America's War For The Greater Middle East, join us to trace the history of our failed foreign policy and plot a new course.
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Another Needless US/China Clash In South China Sea

For the third time in seven months, the US has sent a warship to challenge China in territorial waters it claims in the South China Sea. The US claims its purpose is to keep shipping lanes open, while China arguably benefits as much as anyone from trade going in and out of the region. Similar to US military operations off the Baltic coast, this latest clash in the South China Sea resulted in military jets being dispatched to send a message. With its interventionist policies toward both Russia and China, is the US opening itself up to the unintended consequences of pushing Russia and China closer together in opposition to the US empire? Can the countries in the region not better solve these disputes without US involvement?
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Against the Feel-Good Study of History and Literature

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The educational establishment seems to be expending a great deal of effort these days to excise “offensive” material from the curricula of history and literature. For example, Mark Twain’s great anti-racist novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been removed from the study materials in many schools because of its use of the word “nigger” in the dialogue—as if any accurate representation of the time and place Twain portrays in this book could have been written without this key word. 

Recently this censorial campaign has reached such heights of stupidity that new editions of Twain’s books The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are being published with the word “nigger” replaced by the word “slave.” With friends like this misguided editor, anti-racists need no enemies. One is not likely to produce an intelligent end by the use of foolish means.

More generally, the wrongheaded effort to produce feel-good instruction in history and literature undermines the entire purpose of studying these subjects as part of a liberal education; it aims to make the students feel comfortable and unchallenged rather than to help them acquire knowledge and understanding of the human past and human nature with all its potential for both good and evil.
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Syria, ISIS, and the US-UK Propaganda War

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With the war in Syria raging in its fifth year, and the Islamic State wreaking havoc throughout the Middle East and North Africa, it’s clear that the entire region has been made into one large theater of conflict. But the battlefield must not be understood solely as a physical place located on a map; it is equally a social and cultural space where the forces of the US-UK-NATO Empire employ a variety of tactics to influence the course of events and create an outcome amenable to their agenda. And none to greater effect than propaganda.

Indeed, if the ongoing war in Syria, and the conflicts of the post-Arab Spring period generally, have taught us anything, it is the power of propaganda and public relations to shape narratives which in turn impact political events. Given the awesome power of information in the postmodern political landscape, it should come as no surprise that both the US and UK have become world leaders in government-sponsored propaganda masquerading as legitimate, grassroots political and social expression.

The Guardian recently revealed how the UK Government’s Research, Information, and Communications Unit (RICU) is involved in surveillance, information dissemination, and promotion of individuals and groups as part of what it describes as an attempt at “attitudinal and behavioral change” among its Muslim youth population. This sort of counter-messaging is nothing new, and has been much discussed for years. However, the Guardian piece actually exposed the much deeper connections between RICU and various grassroots organizations, online campaigns, and social media penetration.
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US Escalation in Afghanistan: A 'Recipe For Disaster'

The recently-released Pentagon report on the US bombing of a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan last October was heavily redacted, but it still revealed a great deal about the ongoing disaster of the longest war in US history. US troops complain that they have no idea what they are supposed to be doing in Afghanistan under the current rules of engagement. The Afghan army upon which the US has spent billions is not only unenthusiastic about confronting the Taliban, they don't even have proper military boots because of procurement corruption. President Obama is determined to continue the military occupation of Afghanistan even as the Taliban say the reason they keep fighting is because of the military occupation of their country. The big beneficiaries, as ever, are those getting rich inside the Beltway military-industrial complex. How many more billions will be wasted on this no-win war? None of the candidates seem to see any reason to change what we have been doing all along....
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