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NRA vs Medical Associations: Guess Who Wants You in the Government Database?

Old Computer Room
photo: Orange County Archives

A conflict may be emerging between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and several large national medical and mental health associations regarding the expansion of US and state government mental health databases. Medical Daily reported last week that four national medical and mental health associations have sent letters to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expressing concern about a proposed rule to increase the flow of mental health records into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The NICS database holds a vast amount of information about Americans—including people who have no intention of ever buying firearms—to be checked whenever anyone attempts to purchase a gun from a US licensed firearms dealer.

The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors are, in sending the letter, expressing direct opposition to the National Rifle Association's (NRA) multi-year effort to enhance government restrictions of gun ownership and possession by creating a US government mental health database and encouraging the flow of information into that database.
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The Kurdish Spring in Turkey’s Backyard

Ocalan
photo: ~ Magne

The blowback of Turkey’s covert operations aimed at destabilizing the Syrian regime has begun surging. The spectre of an independent Kurdish entity on its Syrian border has come to haunt Turkey.

The challenge posed by the “Kurdish Spring” in northern Syria is of an existential character, but, ironically, the powers from far and near who encouraged Turkey to destabilize Syria are nowhere to be seen – incapable or unwilling to get involved in what could turn out to be a regional maelstrom.

An even bigger irony is that Turkey’s best allies in the region in the struggle against Kurdish separatism have traditionally been – and still could be – Iran, Iraq and Syria – but Ankara is no longer on friendly terms with any of them and the prospects of reconciliation seem a remote possibility at the moment.

Meanwhile, the military coup in Egypt has found Turkey badly isolated in its region. The regional axis involving Turkey, Qatar and Egypt has overnight disintegrated and key Arab states view with disfavor the Turkish leadership’s affinities with the Muslim Brotherhood.
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The Road to Nowhere: Kerry's Mideast Journey

Kerry Peres Abbas
photo: World Economic Forum

Here we go again, another round of Mideast peace talk kabuki.

A process in which Washington, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization hold intense talks over holding talks, a ritual as stylized as the traditional Japanese dance. In the end, it’s the same empty, cynical ritual, year after year.

This past week, US Secretary of State John Kerry has been leading the dance in the latest attempt to restart peace talks between Israel and the Mahmoud Abbas’ PLO. As of this writing, the talks appear off. But they may be on again just as quickly. It depends on how much Washington offers its feuding clients, Israel and the PLO.

Watching this annual charade is both painful and exhausting. It makes cynics of the most idealistic hopers for Mideast peace.

Israel holds all the cards, and knows it. Jewish settlements, roads, and security walls are roaring ahead, relentlessly gobbling up the occupied West Bank, Golan and their water resources. West Bank Palestinians are being crammed into future native Bantustans patterned after South Africa’s apartheid-era reservations for blacks.
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The Homeland Security Monstrosity

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)
November 19, 2002

Congress spent just a few short hours last week voting to create the biggest new federal bureaucracy since World War II, not that the media or even most members of Congress paid much attention to the process. Yet our most basic freedoms as Americans – privacy in our homes, persons, and possessions; confidentiality in our financial and medical affairs; openness in our conversations, telephone, and internet use; unfettered travel; indeed the basic freedom not to be monitored as we go through our daily lives – have been dramatically changed.
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Adam Kokesh and the Drugs and Guns Prosecution Trap

Drugs And Guns
photo: Daveybot

Podcast host Adam Kokesh appears to have joined the long list of victims of the US government's drugs and guns prosecution trap. After a US Park Police raid on his Virginia residence last week, media reported Monday that Kokesh was charged with possession of a Schedule I or II drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act while in possession of a gun. After his arrest, a judge ruled that Kokesh is prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm through the end of his prosecution.

In the drugs and guns prosecution trap, when a defendant merely possesses a gun while allegedly in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, the government seeks to impose additional penalties for the gun possession. These penalties may be imposed even if the defendant did not use a gun in any violent activity or even in any activity related to drugs.
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William Hague: The Foolish Puppet

Hague Kerry
photo:Foreign and Commonwealth Office

British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced yesterday that his government would be spending nearly one million dollars providing the Syrian rebels with special hoods and other equipment to protect them from chemical weapons. He promised that the assistance would only go to "moderate" forces, but did not explain how he would measure who was moderate or who was extreme.

That will be no easy task. For example, as a commander of the Free Syrian Army, Abu Sakkar is considered a moderate. But his habit of eating the organs of dead Syrian army soldiers seems to most people pretty extreme. Likewise, FSA calls for all factions, including the jihadists, to unite may make it harder for Hague. Not to worry, though, British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt told the UK parliament that the Syrian rebels have promised to give back all the weapons after the fighting is over.

Hague's care package will also include some tablets to combat the symptoms of nerve gas and some special paper to detect the presence of certain chemical agents. These will all come in handy the next time the Syrian rebels decide to launch more chemical weapons, as they can be protected against any butterfingers jihadist while at the same time performing a quick wipe of the canister to send to the US to prove that it was the government forces who were using chemical weapons. It's a win-win.
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The Disease is War, Not Snowden

Feeding War
photo: Truthout.org

Why so many whistleblowers? Why the Tom Drakes? Why the Edward Snowdens and others? And why the persecution, unprecedented persecution by the administration?

The answer to those questions is a huge answer. And the answer is the national security state which we've become and the interminable war that we wage as that state.

So Snowden is not the disease. We don't have traitors or whistleblowers blooming all over because they are some sort of malady. The disease is war. We've been at war now and with no end in sight for over a dozen years, the longest in our history.

War breeds tyranny. War breeds people who want to prosecute and persecute those who reveal that tyranny. So what we have is the government becoming more draconian --clearly understandable. It always does in a period of war. And as it becomes more draconian, more and more whistleblowers coming. And we're going to see more. I would predict we're going to see a Snowden every six months. We're going to see whistleblowers every month. And we're going to see the government getting increasingly draconian in going after them.
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The Government’s ‘Passion’ to Protect Us

In a Washington Post profile today, we read that NSA Director Keith Alexander’s “passion” to protect us from terrorist threats led him to “collect it all,” meaning to intercept and store our every electronic interaction. According to the Post, Alexander used the “collect it all” approach in Iraq to help make it a safer place in the mid-2000s, and his success there led him to use it against the rest of us at home. Was Iraq really a success? Does Iraq seem like a safe place?
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