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Sami Al-Arian and the Defining Moral and Political Challenge of Our Time

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Earlier this week, the US government deported our friend and colleague, Dr. Sami Al-Arian, from the United States. Turkey has granted him sanctuary.

Since we first met Dr. Al-Arian a few years ago, he and his family have set standards for faithfulness, moral steadfastness, and commitment to truth to which we can only aspire. More broadly, the US government’s treatment of Dr. al Arian underscores an urgent reality: how the West treats Muslims—in the Middle East, where they are the overwhelming majority, and in diaspora communities in the West itself—is the defining moral and political challenge of our time. The US government’s actions against Sami Al-Arian and his family should remind all of us how badly the United States is failing that challenge.

Sami Al-Arian was targeted by the US government because, during the 1990s, he emerged as one of the most prominent and effective advocates for Palestinian rights that US officials had ever faced. To offer some insight into his case and what it means, we highlight here two pieces. One, by Glenn Greenwald and his colleague at The Intercept, Murtaza Hussain, see here, assesses the US government’s case against Dr. Al-Arian as a glaring example of post-9/11 “America’s eroding democratic values.” This article explains how, as “part of a broader post-9/11 campaign by the US government to criminalize aid and support to Palestinians,” Dr. Al-Arian was “indicated on multiple counts of providing ‘material support’ to [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] and fundraising on their behalf in the United States.”
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Kiev’s Bloody War Is Backfiring

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When Ukrainian army officers came to the Ukrainian village of Velikaya Znamenka to tell the men to prepare to be drafted, they weren’t prepared for what happened next. As the commanding officer was speaking, a woman seized the microphone and proceeded to tell him off: "We’re sick of this war! Our husbands and sons aren’t going anywhere!" She then launched into a passionate speech, denouncing the war, and the coup leaders in Kiev, to the cheers of the crowd.

What she did is now a crime in Ukraine: the only reason she wasn’t arrested on the spot is that the villagers wouldn’t have permitted it. But in Ukrainian Transcarpathia, well-known journalist for Ukrainian Channel 112 Ruslan Kotsaba has been arrested and charged with "treason" and "espionage" for making a video in which he declared: "I would rather sit in jail for three to five years than go to the east to kill my Ukrainian brothers. This fear-mongering must be stopped." Kotsaba may sit in jail for twenty-three years, the prescribed term for the charges filed against him.

Kotsaba’s arrest is part of a desperate effort by the Ukrainian government to intimidate the growing antiwar and anti-draft movement, which threatens to upend Kiev’s dreams of conquering the rebellious eastern provinces. Kotsaba’s particular crime, according to prosecutors, was in describing the conflict as a civil war rather than a Russian "invasion." This is a point the authorities cannot tolerate: the same meme being relentlessly broadcast by the Western media – that an indigenous rebellion with substantial support is really a Russian plot to "subvert" Ukraine and reestablish the Warsaw Pact – now has the force of law in Ukraine. Anyone who contradicts it is subject to arrest.
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Were the Saudis Behind 9/11?

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Claims that Saudi Arabia was behind the 9/11 attacks on America have been circulating since 2001. The Saudis have denied all such claims even though 15 of the 19 aircraft hijackers were Saudi citizens.

This week, allegations of Saudi involvement reignited as one of the men convicted in the 9/11 plot, Zacarias Moussaoui, reasserted the allegations. Moussaoui, who is in US maximum security prison, charges senior Saudi princes and officials bankrolled the 9/11 attacks and other al-Qaida operations. He may have been tortured and has mental problems.

Among the Saudis Moussaoui named are Prince Turki Faisal, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, two of the kingdom’s most powerful and influential men. Turki was head of Saudi intelligence; Bandar ambassador to Washington during the Bush administration.

These accusations come at a time when there is a furious struggle in Washington over releasing secret pages of the Congressional Intelligence Committee report on the 9/11 attacks that reportedly implicated Saudi Arabia. The White House claims the report would be embarrassing and damage US-Saudi relations.
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Vaccine Controversy Shows Why We Need Markets, Not Mandates

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If I were still a practicing ob-gyn and one of my patients said she was not going to vaccinate her child, I might try to persuade her to change her mind. But, if I were unsuccessful, I would respect her decision. I certainly would not lobby the government to pass a law mandating that children be vaccinated even if the children’s parents object. Sadly, the recent panic over the outbreak of measles has led many Americans, including some self-styled libertarians, to call for giving government new powers to force all children to be vaccinated.

Those who are willing to make an “exception” to the principle that parents should make health care decisions for their children should ask themselves when in history has a “limited” infringement on individual liberty stayed limited. By ceding the principle that individuals have the right to make their own health care decisions, supporters of mandatory vaccines are opening the door for future infringements on health freedom.
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Greece: The Problem with Playing Hardball

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Greece and the European Central Bank are currently at loggerheads. The new Greek government wants to lighten its debt burden but the ECB won’t give the Greeks everything they want. Only two weeks into Syriza’s governance of Greece, the ECB has decided to play hardball, deciding that Greek government debt may no longer be used as collateral for monetary policy operations. While the ECB thought it was playing a strong hand with that move, it may end up coming back to haunt them.

That one move reduces the market demand for Greek debt. Yields will begin to rise, and the spread between Greek debt and other Eurozone countries’ securities will increase. Remember the great benefit of the euro to the peripheral European countries: all sovereign debt was treated equally by markets because it was assumed that the ECB would ensure that creditors would not suffer losses in the event that there were any difficulties with a Eurozone country servicing its debt. That enabled Italy, Spain, and Greece, among others, to borrow money at rates close to what Germany could, rates far lower than the peripheral countries had historically been able to reach.

Naturally they took advantage of that, overspent, and found themselves in difficulty. But the ECB’s bailout of Greece assuaged investors’ fears, and the spreads between peripheral debt and core Eurozone debt began to narrow again. With this latest move by the ECB, the risk is that the spread will widen with respect to Greek debt. If Greece no longer has the advantage of being able to borrow at low rates, then what good is the euro to them? Why not go back to the drachma? At least then they are in control of their own monetary policy.
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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of TSA Whistleblower Robert MacLean

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Whistleblower laws exist because government officials do not always act in the nation’s best interests.

The Obama administration, in its war on whistleblowers, just lost a major battle. Major in its venue — the Supreme Court — and major in its implications for future whistleblower cases.

The Court’s decision in Department of Homeland Security v. Robert MacLean curtails the government’s manipulation of pseudo-classified information to punish whistleblowers, and strengthens the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA).

The Facts

In July 2003, TSA alerted all marshals of a possible hijacking plot. Soon after, TSA sent an unclassified, open-air text message to marshals’ cell phones canceling several months of missions to save on hotel costs. Fearing such cancellations in the midst of a hijacking alert created a danger to the flying public, veteran Air Marshal Robert MacLean tried to get TSA to change its decision.

After hitting a dead end, MacLean spoke anonymously to MSNBC, who published a critical story. Only 24 hours later, and after 11 members of Congress voiced concern, TSA reversed itself, putting marshals back on the flights. A year later, MacLean appeared on TV in disguise to criticize agency policies he felt made it easier for passengers to recognize undercover marshals. The TSA recognized MacLean’s voice and discovered he had also released the unclassified 2003 text message. He was fired in April 2006.
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No Doubt: US Taxpayers Will be Robbed to Arm Poroshenko

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President Petro Poroshenko, who the US, along with the Europeans and NATO, helped place in power after last year’s coup, has declared that he has “no doubt” America's taxpayers will provide the lethal weapons he desires to fight the separatists in eastern Ukraine. I never had any doubt, either. Of course it's all to stop "Russian aggression." NATO's expansionism is never considered an important issue in the very dangerous war.

Our policy in Ukraine is a far cry from "neutrality," staying out of the internal affairs of others, or avoiding entangling alliances. It is more like being the policeman of the world and claiming the title of the greatest arms manufacturer of all history. The military-industrial complex must be pleased with its repeated successes.
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America's James Bond Complex

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Today, American politicians of both major parties — conservatives, “moderates,” and so-called liberals alike — insist that the United States is an “exceptional,” even “indispensable” nation. In practice, this means that for the United States alone the rules are different. Particularly in international affairs, it — the government and its personnel — can do whatever deemed necessary to carry out its objectives, including things that would get any other government or person branded a criminal.

This is nothing new. “American exceptionalism” goes back to the founding. When American politicians set their sights on Spain’s North American possessions, they were driven by the same attitude. In their view the new “Empire of Liberty,” as Jefferson called it, was destined to replace the old, worn-out empires of Europe in its hemisphere. They had no doubt that the Old World’s colonial possessions would eventually fall under the jurisdiction of the  US government, either formally or informally.

Acquisition through negotiation was preferred over war by a good number of presidents, secretaries of state, and members of Congress, but if war was necessary, they intended to be prepared and to let Spain and her fellow colonial powers know it. Thus the push for a global navy under James Madison, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams before 1820. Manifest destiny! (Congress’s constitutional war power was a burr under the saddle for Adams and others, who thought war-making was properly an executive power.)
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History In the Balance: Why Greece Must Repudiate Its 'Banker Bailout' Debts And Exit The Euro

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Now and again history reaches an inflection point. Statesman and mere politicians, as the case may be, find themselves confronted with fraught circumstances and stark choices. February 2015 is one such moment.

For its part, Greece stands at a fork in the road. Syriza can move aggressively to recover Greece’s democratic sovereignty or it can desperately cling to the faltering currency and financial machinery of the Euro zone. But it can’t do both.

So by the time the current onerous bailout agreement expires at month end, Greece must have repudiated its “bailout debt” and be on the off-ramp from the euro. Otherwise, it will have no hope of economic recovery or restoration of self-governance, and Syriza will have betrayed its mandate.

Moreover, the stakes extend far beyond its own borders. If the Greeks do not take a stand for their own dignity and independence at what amounts to a financial Thermopylae, neither will the rest of Europe ever escape from the dysfunctional, autocratic, impoverishing superstate regime that has metastasized in Brussels and Frankfurt under cover of the “European Project”.
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