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The Ugly American (and Friends) in Geneva

Kerryqatar

US Secretary of State John Kerry's delusions continued as he arrived in Montreux, Switzerland to open the "Geneva II" talks on the ongoing conflict in Syria. Having successfully bullied UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon into rescinding the invitation previously extended to Iran to attend, Kerry proceeded to bully and blunder his way through the pre-opening of the conference.

"We need to deal with reality here," Kerry said on the eve of the conference. "Bashar Assad will not be part of that transition government."

Kerry's pressure on Ban to uninvite Iran to the conference — though Iran is far more affected by the crisis than the majority of countries invited to participate — was based on Iran's refusal to endorse the pre-condition of support for "regime change" in Syria as the goal of the conference. At least "regime change" was the US interpretation of the Geneva I Communique issued after that conference in 2012.
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The US Wager on Moderate Islam in Syria an Utter Failure

Islamicfront

On the eve of the international Middle East peace conference scheduled to take place January 22 in Geneva, the situation in Syria has again abruptly taken a turn for the worse. Various groups of Islamists have entered into a fierce armed conflict. Casualties on both sides have already greatly exceeded 1000 people.

The troublemaker was the Islamic Front (IF), formed around two months ago from several groups and numbering approximately 50,000-60,000 fighters. On January 3 its troops attacked armed groups from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has proclaimed itself part of al-Qaeda and is estimated to number up to 22,500 fighters, in several places… 

It was immediately obvious that it was on the IF that the West had placed its bets in the Syrian civil war after the Free Syrian Army (FSA) lost its fighting effectiveness in conflicts with government troops. In early December 2013 the leaders of the IF met with U.S. and British representatives in Ankara, mediated by Qatar; here, in the opinion of experts, they were promised military assistance and participation in the division of power in exchange for forcing "open al-Qaedaites" out of the country.
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Warfare, Welfare, and Wonder Woman — How Congress Spends Your Money

Supporters of warfare, welfare, and Wonder Woman cheered last week as Congress passed a one trillion dollar “omnibus” appropriation bill. This legislation funds the operations of government for the remainder of the fiscal year. Wonder Woman fans can cheer that buried in the bill was a $10,000 grant for a theater program to explore the comic book heroine.

That is just one of the many outrageous projects buried in this 1,582 page bill. The legislation gives the Department of Education more money to continue nationalizing education via “common core.”
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Foreign Aid is a Real Joke

Bussman

Jane Bussman
is a British comedienne who moved to Los Angeles in the late 1990s. She wrote for a number of TV shows, including South Park, for a while.  She then drifted into celebrity journalism interviewing  the likes of Anna Nicole Smith, Britney Spears, and Aston Kutcher. 

She eventually chucked it all and sought to cleanse her soul by traveling to Africa to “find a country that had a really bad problem with genocide and just help out.” And this is where her story stops short of dreary cliche and gets really interesting. She found out that almost everything that she had heard about the war in Uganda was a lie fabricated by Western governments and their lapdog establishment media. She also discovered that Western aid was not helping Africa but was destabilizing it by prolonging wars and propping up corrupt governments.
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American Fascism

We know about the transformation of the American police, with their paramilitary equipment, their SWAT team raids, and incentive to terrorize people over drug offenses rather than pursue crimes against person and property. We know about the National Security Agency, which can access every American’s e-mails, phone calls, or text messages. And yet too many average Americans have greeted all this with indifference.

This indifference, I suggest, derives from the widespread public acceptance of the myth of the state that Americans are taught from the moment they step into a government classroom. The myth is this: the state is a public-service institution established to provide you with security, both personal and economic. And after years of indoctrination into this myth, it is little wonder that so many Americans are prepared to give the state the benefit of the doubt, and to look upon dissidents as incorrigible troublemakers. The police and the military, the most celebrated public faces of the state, are to be questioned least of all.
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Obama's NSA Speech: What Reform?

Obamaflag

Speaking from a set that could have been designed by Leni Riefenstahl, President Obama yesterday informed us that not only does our freedom depend on the work of spies, but the very birth of our republic was dependent on the same kind of surveillance network that so many are criticizing today. Critics, therefore, are not only unpatriotic but deeply anti-American. The message was clear: "surveillance equals freedom."

As Constitutional scholar Michael Ratner of The Real News Network points out, if Obama wanted his speech to reassure critics of an intelligence community that has seemingly turned its lens inward, he got it precisely backwards. He did not come out and acknowledge from the start that given recent revelations about NSA surveillance of US phone calls, computers, text messages, etc, our concerns are legitimate and he intends to do something about it. He did not affirm the importance of protecting the First and Fourth Amendments. He did not come out preaching real and concrete reform.

Instead, the president opened his speech placing himself clearly on the side of the surveillance state and opposed to citizens.


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Breaking: Obama Declares NSA 'Reforms' While Dismissing Influence Of Snowden Leaks

Turleynsa

I just listened to the NSA speech by President Obama and as expected there is precious little in terms of real change. For civil libertarians, it is a nothing burger served hot and with a sympathetic smile. It is much of the same. Another review board composed of government officials. Another promise for the Executive Branch to review itself. I am in Salt Lake City today on the Sister Wives case, but I am struck by the absence of civil libertarians on the coverage by the networks. I will have to run to court but I was underwhelmed. It seemed like another attempt to reinvent privacy in a new surveillance friendly image.

As I tweeted earlier, it was rather unpersuasive to hear Obama say that he was always intended to force reforms and that Snowden was merely a coincidence. If you step back, you will note that the programs will continue and the intelligence community will retain its authority with little outside independent limits. The speech had the feel of a car salesman coming back from “speaking with the manager” and saying that he is able to offer a deal that no one likes but he wants to offer because he likes the customer. Of course, this “deal” does not require our consent.
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