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Killing by Sanctions

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While Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who is currently advising presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, famously said that the estimated 500,000 children who died as a result of US sanctions on Iraq was “worth it.” It was, perhaps, a rare moment of candor from a politician, an admission that Washington is willing to support ostensibly non-lethal measures in such an all-encompassing fashion as to produce mass deaths of people who have no ability to influence the actions undertaken by their government. Sanctions are collective punishment, a blunt edged weapon used all too frequently by Washington to compel foreign governments to submit without having to go to war. There is nothing benign about them and Americans should regard them as potentially just as deadly as direct military intervention.

There are currently a number of countries that are subject to US enforced sanctions but only three fall under the category of “state sponsors of terrorism.” They are Iran, Syria and Sudan. That status entails a number of US Government sanctions including a ban on arms-related exports and sales; controls over exports of dual-use items; prohibitions on economic assistance; and imposition of miscellaneous financial and other restrictions. The financial measures require the United States to oppose loans by the World Bank or other international financial institutions and prohibit any US person from engaging in a financial transaction with a terrorism-list government without a Treasury Department license issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The license and other approvals are reported to be complicated and the process is extremely difficult to navigate, discouraging anyone from having business dealings with the targeted countries.

Other sanctions are not always directly related to terrorism. They sometimes target select individuals and organizations that are considered by the US government to be focal points of some aberrant behavior. A number of Russian officials have been sanctioned over Ukraine and even over the functioning of the country’s judiciary while the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has been sanctioned both for its involvement with radical groups and its support of Tehran’s missile program.
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Syria Ceasefire: More War Or Chance For Peace?

Washington's hawks are already trashing the Syria ceasefire deal that the US and Russia presented yesterday. The Russians will never honor their agreement, they argue. Nevertheless the agreement offers some slight hope that the five year war might be coming to a close -- but only if some of the dangerous ambiguities in the agreement are spelled out properly. What else will have to change if this deal has any chance? Tune in to the Liberty Report to find out...
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Will Syria Ceasefire Deal End War, or Lead to Nuclear Exchange?

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As co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group, the US and Russia announced yesterday an agreement on the "cessation of hostilities" in Syria that is scheduled to go into effect at midnight on February 27th. According to the agreement, the militaries of the US-led coalition, Russia, and Syria would at that point cease hostile acts against opposition groups not named in UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (ISIS and al-Qaeda's Nusra Front) who "indicate to the Russian Federation or the United States...their commitment to and acceptance of the terms for the cessation of hostilities."

In other words, opposition groups who agree to this deal and have not been named "terrorist" by the UN will not be targeted militarily and will in turn agree to stop trying to take territory by means of force. The US, Russia, Syria, and their allies have agreed to the same. 

The Syrian government was not a party to the negotiations, but presumably the Russians have impressed upon Damascus the need to accept the agreement. 

As to the changes on the ground one might logically foresee once the agreement is in place, it is difficult to see how much will change from the Russian perspective. Russia has claimed that it has concentrated its bombing campaign on ISIS and elements of al-Qaeda in Syria, and it has already reached out to cooperate with several moderate opposition groups. Russia contends that it will continue to bomb ISIS and Nusra unabated -- permitted by the agreement -- and both the ISIS "capital" Raqqa and the Nusra stronghold Aleppo are on the verge of liberation by the Syrian army with Russian backing.
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The Age of Authoritarianism: Government of the Politicians, by the Military, for the Corporations

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America is at a crossroads.

History may show that from this point forward, we will have left behind any semblance of constitutional government and entered into a militaristic state where all citizens are suspects and security trumps freedom.

Certainly, this is a time when government officials operate off their own inscrutable, self-serving playbook with little in the way of checks and balances, while American citizens are subjected to all manner of indignities and violations with little hope of defending themselves.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we have moved beyond the era of representative government and entered a new age—the age of authoritarianism. Even with its constantly shifting terrain, this topsy-turvy travesty of law and government has become America’s new normal.

Don’t believe me?

Let me take you on a brief guided tour, but prepare yourself. The landscape is particularly disheartening to anyone who remembers what America used to be.
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CIA Sends Torture Report Down Memory Hole

Why is the Justice Department trying to keep the Senate report on CIA torture under wraps? The same reason the CIA officer in charge of the torture program gave when he ordered the torture tapes destroyed: "the heat from destroying [the torture videos] is nothing compared to what it would be if the tapes ever got into the public domain." As it stands, not even government officials with the required security clearances are allowed to read the report. So much for oversight! More on this travesty on today's Liberty Report...
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Intervention Fail: Back to Libya

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The use of the US military overseas seems to have become so commonplace that the Obama Administration can bomb a country with no Congressional input and very little media interest at all. Such was the case on Friday, when the US military killed some 49 people in a bombing run near Tripoli, Libya.

We had to bomb Libya, we are told, because Libya has become a hotbed of ISIS activity. The group moving training facilities into the country, taking advantage of the chaos. Ironically, it was five years ago this week that the “Arab Spring” uprising began in Libya -- an uprising that was supported by US military force and led to the overthrow of the Libyan government and the murder of its leader, Gaddafi.
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Bush Haunts The GOP

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“The evil that men do lives after them,” wrote Shakespeare. A prime example, former US President George W. Bush who appeared last week campaigning in South Carolina for his amiable younger brother, Jeb.

George W. continues to haunt the Republican Party and damage its electoral chances. At home, Bush has been staying out of public gaze; abroad, he is widely hated and limits overseas travel due to fear of war crimes arrest for his 2003 invasions of Iraq.

Republican spin doctors and the rightwing US media has been trying to soft soap Bush and his mentor, Dick Cheney, for years and slowly expunge their disastrous Iraq and Afghanistan Wars that opened a Pandora’s Box of horrors across the Muslim world. Democrats who cheered the war have equally sought to dodge responsibility. However, Hillary Clinton can’t seem to escape her tawdry war record.

The US, claim the Bush/Cheney amen chorus, was “misled” into invading Iraq by “faulty intelligence,” misled by the hope to promote democracy among the benighted Muslims; on a noble quest to remove a frightful dictator Saddam; and, of course, the famous missing “weapons of mass destruction.”
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Reading Ron Paul in Beijing

What a thrill it was for Dr. Paul to receive an email the other day from a young scholar and translator in Shanghai, China, to inform him that the Chinese language version of his very important book, Pillars of Prosperity, was now available on Amazon China! Imagine the power of these ideas in the hands of millions of Chinese!

As Ron Paul has said so many times, the ideas of liberty are popular. But they are not only popular here in the US. As we noticed when we started the Ron Paul Institute, support for peace and prosperity comes from every corner of the globe. Ours is a worldwide phenomenon and many of you are reading this message from Germany, Australia, Chile, Japan, and elsewhere -- in addition to every state in the US.
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Aleppo Notebook: The City’s Terrorist Besiegers Will Now Be Besieged

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I had been trying to get to Aleppo for ages, but was unable to do so because rebel activity had cut off the city from the outside world. Syrian government military successes at the start of January meant there was at last a safe road. I hired a driver, was allocated a government minder (very handy at checkpoints), and booked into a hotel. Driving north from Damascus, we picked up a 22-year-old Syrian army lieutenant called Ali, returning to his unit after eight days’ leave with his family.
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FBI vs. Apple: Is Liberty At Stake?

The FBI wants Apple to create software that will allow the Feds to break into the latest iPhones. Ironically, Apple upgraded its iPhone encryption as a result of the Snowden revelations about government spying on innocent Americans. The pretext for the government's demand is that the San Bernardino attackers used iPhones and the FBI needs to see their data. The mainstream media, as usual, takes the side of government and along with officials like Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) is demonizing Apple for resisting what amounts to forced conscription of Apple engineers for the US government. What is really at stake? Another government grab at our Constitutional liberties under the guise of "keeping us safe." How many terrorist plots has the FBI foiled through the use of surveillance on the rest of us? Zero. More today on the Liberty Report...
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