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Why is Maria Butina in Prison?

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Russian gun rights activist and graduate exchange student Maria Butina was sentenced to 18 months in prison last week for “conspiracy to act as a foreign agent without registering.” Her “crime” was to work to make connections among American gun rights activists in hopes of building up her organization, the Right to Bear Arms, when she returned to Russia.
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With Assad Victorious, US Oil Sanctions Now Strangle Entire Syrian Population

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The deep irony of the tragic Syria war is that after seven years of massive bloodshed, as the government has emerged victorious, it is only now with relative stability and ensuing calm over most of the country that an "economic siege" has hit the population with full force. 

Damascus even during some of the worst years of war was always a bustling traffic-packed economic center for its six million inhabitants, but as we noted previously the country has been plunged into a fuel crisis that is the result of new US-led oil sanctions targeting Damascus and Tehran. As one recent WSJ report put it, Iranian oil deliveries to Syria have "fallen off a cliff" since January.

"Lifeless" and "decimated economy" are words used to describe the Syrian capital city and home to Assad in a new Bloomberg piece (which appeared just as busy as most any global cosmopolitan center only months ago), as further "traffic is light" and "morale is down," according to the report.

"Waiting 19 hours for gas in a lifeless city" — the headlines read. The ongoing weeks-long crisis has now been made especially worse after the Trump administration this week ended embargo exemptions for eight countries allowed to purchase Iranian crude.
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Int’l Monitors: US Coalition Killed Over 1,600 Civilians During Bombing of Raqqa, Syria

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According to a new report issued by an independent conflict monitoring group, the US-led bombing campaign waged in 2017 to ‘liberate’ the Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State (ISIS), ended up killing more than 1,600 civilians – a figure that is 10 times as high as the number of dead claimed by the US-led coalition.

These numbers are according to reports submitted by Amnesty International, and Airwars, a London-based conflict monitoring group formed in 2014 to study the impact of the US-led air campaigns against target nations. After 18 months of researching civilian deaths, including two months on the ground in Raqqa, the group have finally released their findings, and are urging that the US-led coalition “end almost two years of denial” about the true death tolls resulting from their bombing runs in Syria, and Iraq.

“Our conclusive finding after all this is that the US-led coalition’s military offensive [US, UK and French forces] directly caused more than 1,600 civilian deaths in Raqqa,” said researchers.

Previously, US officials downplayed, and were likely lying – about having taken “great care to avoid civilian casualties” and also made the erroneous claims that they investigate any accusations regarding their lack of precision when seeking out their alleged “ISIS targets.”
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Saudi Savagery: Kingdom Beheads 16-Year-Old For Sending Whatsapp Message

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The controversy over Saudi Crown Prince MbS's alleged orchestration of the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi has largely subsided since the government insider-turned-critic walked into the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in early October and never walked out. But a new controversy is brewing over one of the kingdom's most controversial practices: Its mass-beheadings of men convicted of 'terrorism' charges, typically members of the Shiite minority living in the eastern part of the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has long practiced execution by beheading. But this year, the mass extermination of 37 of mostly Shiite men this week provoked condemnation from the UN and other human rights organizations, as several teenage boys were executed for crimes as seemingly petty a sending Whatsapp messages about government demonstrations.

One particularly disturbing case was recounted in the UK's The Sun tabloid. Abdulkareem al-Hawaj was just just 16 when he was arrested. Just a schoolboy at the time, he was detained and accused of being a "terrorist" for sending texts online about an anti-government demonstration.

Before making his 'confession', Abdulkareem, a Shiite Muslim who was 21 at the time of his execution, was reportedly brutally tortured. With his hands chained above his head, he was beaten and electrocuted. Amnesty International denounced his trial as a farce, since he was denied access to proper defense counsel.
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Trump's Crusaders March To War

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The world is still reeling in horror from the deadly Sri Lanka bombings that may have been the work of Islamic State madmen. Poor Sri Lanka has suffered so much after three decades of civil war and communal strife. We weep for this beautiful and once gentle nation.
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'Miscarriage of Justice' - RPI's Daniel McAdams on The Sentencing of Maria Butina

Gun rights enthusiast and graduate student Maria Butina has spent the last 10 months in solitary confinement in a notorious Alexandria, VA, maximum security prison. Her "crime"? Befriending NRA leaders and other political movers and shakers with an eye on using their gun rights skills when she returns to her home country. One problem: her home country is Russia and with the Russia hysteria still engulfing the US she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now she has to do another nine months in prison for the "crime" of not registering as a foreign agent - when others convicted of the same "crime" are most often given a very modest fine. RPI's Daniel McAdams is on RT International to condemn this shameful miscarriage of justice - ironically eerily redolent of "justice" in the old Soviet Union...
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Trump Has Murdered Over 40,000 Venezuelans With Sanctions

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A new study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) has found that tens of thousands of Venezuelans have died as a direct result of Trump administration sanctions put into effect in August 2017, and that tens of thousands more are expected to die as a result of additional sanctions put into place in January of this year.

Some noteworthy points:

- The sanctions are “depriving Venezuelans of lifesaving medicines, medical equipment, food, and other essential imports.”

- The sanctions “reduced the public’s caloric intake, increased disease and mortality (for both adults and infants), and displaced millions of Venezuelans who fled the country as a result of the worsening economic depression and hyperinflation.”

- The sanctions “have inflicted, and continue to inflict, very serious harm to human life and health, including an estimated more than 40,000 deaths from 2017–2018.”

- That means 2019 deaths haven’t been added to this estimate. The year’s nearly half over, and more aggressive sanctions went into effect this past January.

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Trump’s Envoy to Ukraine is Paid by None Other Than Poroshenko Himself!

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US special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker is drawing a salary from John McCain's think tank, which is funded by George Soros and a DC lobbying firm working for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, among others.

Volker was appointed Special Representative for Ukraine negotiations in July 2017, by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and has been “mediating” the Ukrainian crisis on behalf of the US ever since in much the same way his colleague Elliott Abrams has been doing with Venezuela.

The twist is that Volker is doing this “on a voluntary basis without compensation” and “not taxing the taxpayers,” drawing a salary from his day job as executive director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership in Arizona. Named after the late and hawkish US senator John McCain, the think tank is dedicated to "advancing leadership… in the United States and around the world." The two positions are very much aligned, Volker has said, allowing him to get his "hands dirty and actually solve our problems."

In practice, that means things like taking part in the "Occupied Crimea: 5 years of resistance" conference in Odessa – the same city where US-backed nationalists burned alive their political opponents in May 2014 – and parroting Bellingcat talking points on the Kerch Strait incident, themselves cribbed from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).
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Trump Takes On Hillary's War...Battle For Libyan Oil!

A shock call from President Trump to head of the "Libyan National Army," Khalifa Hafter, praising him for keeping the oil safe in eastern Libya, has upended US policy. Now the US supports both the UN-appointed government in Tripoli and Hafter's forces fighting against it. What's it all about? Iran, sanctions, Saudi Arabia, oil, and Israel. Who wins in this international proxy war...? Tune in to the Liberty Report...
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