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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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Turkey’s Erdogan Gives Europe the Middle Finger

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The impact of Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s move Wednesday to replace Prime Minister Ahmet Dautoglu is already being felt in the western chancelleries with the signs that the scenario now is one of an acrimonious divorce between Ankara and the European Union. The EU-Turkey deal on stopping the flow of refugees to Europe in lieu of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens to the Shenghen area has hit the skids. (Financial Times)

Of course, the refugee problem is an existential issue for the EU — and for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in particular, whose political prestige is at stake, since she was the architect of the deal with Turkey which she got a reluctant EU to accept. The Chancellery in Berlin warned Erdogan yesterday: “The Chancellor has worked very well until now with Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu… and we assume that this good and constructive cooperation will continue with the new Turkish prime minister”. (Bloomberg)

But Erdogan is defiant, even plainly contemptuous. He retorted, “We will go our way; you go yours” – hinting that he is slamming the door shut on the democratic reforms that EU is demanding from Turkey. He added, “The EU is telling us to change our law on combatting terrorism. [They] are allowing terrorists to raise tents and then [they] come with requirements.”
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Secret Service Handcuffs The First Amendment

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Thomas Jefferson said that an informed citizenry is critical to a democracy, and with that as a cornerstone the Founders wrote freedom of the press into the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The most basic of ideas at play is that the government should in no way be allowed to control what information the press can report to the people, and cannot place restrictions on journalists. One of the principal characteristics of any fascist state is the control of information, and thus the press is always seen as a check on government power that needs to be stomped on. Ask any surviving journalist in North Korea, or Saudi Arabia.

 And so it is with terror we learn the United States Secret Service, in the name of security, is for the first time in our Republic’s history running background checks on thousands of journalists who plan to report from this summer’s Republican and Democratic Party nominating conventions.
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Trump's Wall vs Kerry's Open Border - Is There A Libertarian Option?

In a university commencement speech over the weekend, US Secretary of State John Kerry ridiculed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's plan to build a wall on the Mexican border. He told the students to get ready for a borderless society. He also said that in this age it is unrealistic to believe that a wall will keep out those who would seek to harm Americans inside our borders. He has a point in that, however why not think this through completely and consider whether those who would attack us are motivated by US foreign policy? If it is not true that they just attack us because we are rich and free, and if walls cannot keep them out, isn't it time to take a hard look at our interventionist foreign policy and ask whether it is actually making us less safe and more vulnerable to attack?
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What Happened to the Revolution?

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In a recent interview I was asked why Bernie Sanders, a self-described “democratic socialist” had seemingly attracted so much support among young people. In fact polls suggest Sanders is the most popular candidate among people aged 18-29, and 51 percent of that same age group appears fed up with “capitalism in its current form,” according to a recent Harvard study.


It was just four years ago that so many young people turned out to hear and support my message of personal liberty, non-aggression, and non-intervention at home and abroad. I was thrilled that so many young people were attracted to a candidate whose main message was “I don’t want to run your life.”
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Mr. Trump, Explain Why America First Must Mean Ending Foreign Aid and Foreign Military Assistance

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Now that Mr. Trump has vowed that the concept of “America First” will be at the core of his administration’s foreign and domestic policies, he should begin to tell Americans what he intends to do make that pledge a reality and why it needs to be done. He should do this before his enemies — and America’s — can turn the phrase against him. On MSNBC this week, for example, Mr. Chris Matthews asked if Trump “was trying to make us mad” by using the term “America First”. Mr. Matthews said that the term refers to Americans who wanted no war with Germany in 1939-1941; he did not mention Japan, probably because it would blur the damning parallel he intended to draw between Mr. Trump, the America First movement of 1939-1941 and the Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews.

Mr. Matthews, like all on the left, is a historical ignoramus. He demonstrates that status, in this case, by not knowing that the great majority of all Americans in 1939-1941 opposed getting into a European or Asian war that did not concern our vital national interests, and would not until Imperial Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war on us later in December, 1941. After those events, most America First members fully supported both wars and participated in the war efforts to defend America.

Even Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh – whose reputation and historical importance were ruined, then, by Roosevelt and his coterie, the British, and the Jewish-American elite, and, now, by Israel First and those it intimidates and bribes – risked his life in the war as a test pilot for new US military aircraft, and as a volunteer guinea pig for testing new means of protecting pilots and aircrew from the debilitating impact of high-altitude flight.
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US Ambassador to Hungary: Overthrow Assad, Let in Refugees, and Fight Russia...or Else!

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If anyone wants a short course on what's wrong with US diplomacy look no further than US Ambassador to Hungary Coleen Bell's speech Friday to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Hungarian Parliament. In typical diplo-speak there was plenty of flowery language about shared values, fish swimming together in the same water (?), sappy poetics like "together, out of that winter, we would force the spring," and talk of together being "part of the world’s greatest military and political alliance."

But make no mistake: Inside Ambassador Bell's velvet glove is an iron fist, poised to strike should Washington's annoyingly independent-minded Fidesz-led government step out of line on the big issues. And by "big" issues it should be understood that the US means the issues it considers in the interests of its own foreign policy, not necessarily those in Hungary's interest.
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