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Oregon Standoff: Isolated Event or Sign of Things to Come?

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The nation's attention turned to Oregon this week when a group calling itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom seized control of part of a federal wildlife refuge. The citizens were protesting the harsh sentences given to members of the Hammond ranching family. The Hammonds were accused of allowing fires set on their property to spread onto federal land.

The Hammonds were prosecuted under a federal terrorism statute. This may seem odd, but many prosecutors are stretching the definition of terrorism in order to, as was the case here, apply the mandatory minimum sentences or otherwise violate defendants’ constitutional rights. The first judge to hear the case refused to grant the government’s sentencing request, saying his conscience was shocked by the thought of applying the mandatory minimums to the Hammonds. Fortunately for the government, it was able to appeal the decision to judges whose consciences were not shocked by draconian sentences.
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Nearly 60 Percent of Republicans Support Candidates Who Oppose Ousting Assad

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The Russian air campaign in Syria is netting some impressive gains – for Russia, Syria, and – although many of us are loath to admit it – the West: Russian air power, working closely with the Syrian Arab Army, has stymied the efforts of ISIS and other violent extremists to overthrow the secular, religiously tolerant, multi-confessional government of Syria. Gains have been made on the ground in and around Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Latakia. And there is evidence the Russian campaign was instrumental in the victory of US ally Iraq in Ramadi. That’s good (but then I speak as a Christian who believes the moderate, secular government of Assad is better for Christians than the horrendous US-backed jihadis who would replace it).

Not least among the happy consequences of Russia’s intervention has been its impact on US politics: recent polls reveal that close to 60 percent of Republican voters support candidates (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee) who think Assad should stay. The latest Reuters’ rolling 5-day poll (January 4, 2016) gives Trump (41.7 percent), Cruz, (13.2 percent), Paul (2.6 percent), and Huckabee (2.4 percent) for a combined 59.3 percent.

This represents an increase over other recent Reuters polls. A CNN/ORC poll published December 23rd gave Trump and Cruz alone a combined 57 percent of the poll (39 percent and 18 percent, respectively). Both candidates forthrightly expressed their support for Assad in the most recent Republican presidential debate (December 15th).
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Gun Control? What About US Arms Sales?

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While President Obama was tearing up to support his call for gun control, the US military-industrial complex was celebrating its continued leadership in the sale of weaponry to foreign regimes. According to the New York Times, US foreign arms deals increased nearly $10 billion in 2014. Total sales went from $26.7 billion in 2013 to $36.2 billion in 2014, a 35 percent increase.

Meanwhile, American statists, including those in the mainstream press, continue to scream about gun-show loopholes here in the United States but remain mute about the US government’s #1 position in sales of guns and other weapons around the world. (Russia and China, which US national-security state officials perceive to be “rivals” of the US Empire, are #2 and #5.)

Not surprisingly, billions of dollars of armaments went to brutal pro-US dictatorships, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Qatar. While US officials justify such sales as “defense,” everyone knows that the armaments are used to fortify the dictatorships’ brutal hold on power in their countries. If citizens begin making waves against the US-supported tyranny under which they are suffering, they’re labeled terrorists. If they continue to make waves, that’s where US guns, tanks, and other armaments come into play.
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US (In)Justice Department Created Mess In Oregon

What is the role of federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws in the current Oregon standoff? At its core the dispute is about a federal government that runs roughshod over states, forcing otherwise peaceful ranchers like the Hammonds to be charged under federal terrorism laws for a controlled burn that accidentally scorched some federal government parkland. Setting aside the sideshow that is the armed occupation of a federal building in the remote nature preserve, the real issue is one of federal government over-reach and bullying. More today on the Liberty Report with special guest Jacob Sullum of Reason Magazine...
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New ‘Jihadi John?’ ISIS Video Features English-Speaker

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For those who still don’t get why the War of Terror continues to fail after 14+ years, here is another lesson.

We all remember “Jihadi John,” who of course was never called that except in the western media. John (real name: Mohammed Emwazi) was a British citizen who became radicalized, joined ISIS and went on to do horrible things, including beheadings. The media, in hand with the White House and Downing Street, fluffed this one loser guy up into an international super villain. 

So, when eventually the world’s most powerful nation finally killed him in November 2015 with million-dollars air sorties and drones, we were all supposed to go full-out-bin-Laden-celebration, on the road to victory over Islamic State, with a little old fashioned Wild West vengeance thrown in for the feel good.

And so now guess what?

There’s a new guy to replace Jihadi John. He doesn’t have a stupid nickname yet, so let’s be the first and call him Haji Hank. He executed five persons claimed to be British spies, creating the video you see above in the process.
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US Politicians On Saudi Beheadings: It's All Iran's Fault!

Is House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce purposely deceiving the American public, or is he just that badly informed? As the Saudis beheaded 47 prisoners, including a prominent Shiite cleric, Royce went on CNN to blame the whole thing on the Iranians! The problems started when the Iranian military invaded Yemen, he said. But that is demonstrably untrue. It was the Saudis who invaded Yemen. The presidential candidates are no better, promising to use the US military to defend our "ally" the Saudis. Why are they so seemingly bought off by the Saudis? It could have to do with the hundreds of millions of dollars the Saudis spend on PR in Washington each year. More on these neocon lies in today's Liberty Report...
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