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Escalation! US Hits Syrian Jet, Russia Cuts Communications

A US Navy F-18 shot down a Syrian military aircraft over Syrian territory Sunday, marking the first time the US has engaged in air to air combat since the US attack on Yugoslavia in 1999. US claims that the Syrians were targeting US-backed rebels were undermined by reporting by the generally pro-rebel Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which stated that according to its sources on the ground the Syrian aircraft was not attacking US-backed anti-government forces. The Russians, who also had military aircraft near the shot down Syrian jet, claim the US did not provide warning via the hotline to prevent accidents between the US and Russia. As a result, the Russian defense ministry announced that it would track any flying object flying in its area of operations as potential targets. How high will this new tension rise? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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Hodgkinson’s Disease: Politics and Paranoia in the Age of Trump

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James T. Hodgkinson, the would-be assassin of Republican congressmen, wasn’t a radical. If you look at his published output – a series of letters to his local newspaper in Belleville, Illinois, as well as the majority of his Internet postings – it’s mostly about matters nearly every progressive cares about: taxes (the rich don’t pay enough), healthcare (the government must provide), income inequality (it’s all a Republican plot). All in all, a pretty unremarkable worldview that any partisan Democrat – either a Bernie Sanders supporter, as Hodginkinson was, or a Hillary fan – could sign on to.

So what drove him over the edge?

One of his more recent Facebook posts was a link to a petition that called for “the legal removal of the President and Vice-President, et. al., for Misprision of Treason.” Hodgkinson had signed it and he was asking his readers to follow suit: “Trump is a Traitor,” he wrote, “Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”  He was also a big fan of Rachel Maddow, who – incredibly — has spent the majority of her airtime ranting about “The Russian Connection,” as this Intercept piece documents. Hodgkinson was also a member of a Facebook group ominously dubbing itself “Terminate the Republican Party,” an appellation Hodgkinson apparently took quite literally. The group has over 13,000 members. The main page of the Terminators is adorned with a cartoon of Putin manipulating Trump like a puppet.

When Hodgkinson left his home and his job to travel to Alexandria, Virginia, he told his wife he was going to “work on tax issues.” But is that what motivated his murderous spree? Do “tax issues” really seem like something that would inspire someone to plan and carry out an assassination attempt that, but for the presence of Capitol police on the scene, would have certainly resulted in a massacre?

Hodgkinson clearly believed that the President of the United States was an agent of a foreign power. He had signed on to the idea that Trump not only benefited from a Russian campaign to discredit Hillary Clinton, but that he is engaged in a war against his own country.
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Trump Turns Back the Clock With Cold War Cuba U-Turn

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Nostalgia seems to be very popular in Washington. While the neocons and Democratic Party hard-liners have succeeded in bringing back the Cold War with Russia, it looks like President Trump is determined to take us back to a replay of the Bay of Pigs!

In Miami on Friday, the president announced that he was slamming the door on one of President Obama’s few foreign policy successes: easing 50 years of US sanctions on Cuba. The nostalgia was so strong at Trump’s Friday speech that he even announced participants in the CIA’s disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in the audience!
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The ICC Should be on Trial not Saif Gaddafi

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The International Criminal Court has demanded that Libya hand over former leader Muamar Gaddafi's son Saif after his release by an armed militia last week, but it is the Court, not Saif, which should be on trial.

One word tells you all you need to know about the ICC, and that’s ISIS: These terrorists have perpetuated the most appalling crimes in Libya, not least the ritual execution -- filmed and uploaded onto its website -- of Egyptian Coptic Christians on a beachfront two years ago. The result? No indictments from the ICC.

The ICC is a kangaroo court if ever there was one, and its pursuit of Saif smacks of politics. Consider that for years he pushed for reforms in Libya, and consider also that he commanded no military nor police units. Indeed he was not in a position to commit war crimes. And yet the Hague wants him for crimes against humanity.

As to the Saif prosecution, where is the evidence? Leaked emails show his role in trying to hold back the fighting in the 2011 revolution.
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It’s the Russia, Stupid

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It’s another week in Washington and another horror show. This time it was Attorney General Jeff Sessions being grilled by Senators on whether, when, and how he might have met with certain Russians, or any Russian, or someone who might actually know a Russian. In addition to fishing for any inconsistency that could be used to support an accusation of obstruction of justice or perjury – the usual sleazy methodology of politically motivated investigations here – the transparent aim was to further poison the well on any possible initiative to improve ties with Moscow.

The strategy appears to be working. The Russian Embassy in Washington confirms that for the first time since the Russian Federation’s founding the State Department did not send pro forma national day greetings. Perhaps the bureaucrats were afraid they would be tainted and themselves become targets of multiple investigations into "collusion" with the Kremlin. (Luckily, this intrepid Washington analyst has no qualms about such associations.)

Or more likely, they themselves are part of the Russophobic mob undermining the White House. It has been reported that soon after the inauguration Trump sought to open dialogue with the Kremlin and set an early summit with President Vladimir Putin. This produced a hysterical counteraction from the Deep State. As reported by conservative columnist and former presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan:
The State Department was tasked with working out the details.

Instead, says Daniel Fried, the coordinator for sanctions policy, he received ‘panicky’ calls of ‘Please, my God, can you stop this?’.

Operatives at State, disloyal to the president and hostile to the Russia policy on which he had been elected, collaborated with elements in Congress to sabotage any detente. They succeeded.

‘It would have been a win-win for Moscow,’ said Tom Malinowski of State, who boasted last week of his role in blocking a rapprochement with Russia. State employees sabotaged one of the principal policies for which Americans had voted, and they substituted their own.
So much for constitutional government and the rule of law...
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Derangement And Danger On The Potomac

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The horrific shooting spree on the practice field of the GOP's congressional baseball team happened early yesterday morning, but it was hardly the end of Wednesday's madness on the Potomac.  As it happened, the former was apparently another random eruption by of one of America's sicko lone wolves---a wretch in the same league as South Carolina church killer, Dylann Roof. Notwithstanding that the latter had littered the nether regions of the internet with racist rantings while the former was apparently a prolific Never Trumper left-winger, neither represented a real threat to the nation's equanimity---even if they did bring a savage rain of violence to bear on those unfortunate dozens caught in their immediate line of fire.
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Trump Administration Following in Obama Administration’s Footsteps on Marijuana

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Last month, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to oppose Congress again including in Department of Justice appropriations legislation a provision intended to stop, through a restriction on the use of appropriated money, the US government from arresting and prosecuting people for actions that comply with state medical marijuana laws, even if those actions violate US drug laws. Some people are reacting to Sessions’ letter, which was revealed this week, with condemnation of Sessions and the Trump administration for departing from Obama administration policy that showed increased leniency in regard to marijuana. But this claim appears to misrepresent the Obama administration’s marijuana history.

Tom Angell, who revealed the Sessions letter in a Monday article at MassRoots, suggests that Sessions’ request is consistent with the position under the Obama administration given that President Barack Obama, in his last two budget requests, suggested Congress remove the medical marijuana language. Indeed, Sessions pretty much makes this same observation that he is continuing the prior administration’s policy in the first sentence of his letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), House or Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Sessions starts the letter as follows: “I write to renew the Department of Justice’s opposition to the inclusion of language in any appropriations legislation that would prohibit the use of Department of Justice funds or in any way inhibit its authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).”

Further, Obama administration Justice Department lawyers, after the appropriations provision was in effect, defended in the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals case of United States v. McIntosh ignoring, in ten separate drug law cases that had been consolidated for review on appeal, whether defendants complied with state medical marijuana laws. In each case, the individuals were being prosecuted for actions that they argued complied with state medical marijuana laws.
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The War In Afghanistan Is A Racket

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The United States will again escalate the war in Afghanistan.

Sixteen years ago the U.S, invaded the country and decided to eliminate the ruling Taliban for something that was planed elsewhere by a different group. Since the invasion the U.S. tried to defeat the Taliban. It has lost that fight. As soon as it leaves Afghanistan the Taliban will be back in power. But no one is willing to pull the plug on the nonsensical military approach.

The Taliban are part of Afghanistan and a significant segment of the population supports them. When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan it put the brutal and utterly corrupt warlords back into power. These were exactly the people the Taliban were created to hold down and the reason why they could take power in the first place. While demanding a strict religious life the Taliban successfully took care of local security and eliminated the lawless and corrupt rule of the warlords.

It is no wonder then that a large part of the population wishes to have them back in power.

The U.S. supported government in Kabul is utterly corrupt. The Afghan military and police the U.S. pays is likewise only motivated by money. It is not willing to fight. It takes high casualties during Taliban attacks and therefore avoids contact with them whenever possible. Some 60 % of the country is now more or less back under Taliban control. The government's say is restricted to the bigger cities.
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New Russia Sanctions: The Deep State Unifies Congress

When it comes to bad foreign policy, the House and Senate are completely bipartisan. Yesterday's 97-2 Senate vote for more Russia sanctions was a perfect case in point. What justifies yet more sanctions on Russia? Violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine, meddling in the US election, and conducting war in Syria. But if this is the measure, shouldn't the Senate sanction the US government as well? After all, the US is violating Syria's territorial integrity with its illegal base, it has meddled in more than 100 elections since 1945, and it has been fighting a proxy (and real) war against the Syrian government since 2011. But the Deep State wants another Cold War, so the Senate abides.
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Tyranny Over There but Not Over Here

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One of the fascinating aspects of tyranny is that people can recognize it when it happens in other countries but are blind about it when it happens at home. The American people, especially the US mainstream press, are a perfect demonstration of this phenomenon.

Consider the following article from last Sunday’s New York Times: “Dilemma for Uber and Rival: Egypt’s Demand for Data on Their Riders.” It details a request by the military dictatorship that governs Egypt that Uber provide government officials with all of its data about customers and their Uber rides.

The purpose of the request?

To monitor the activities of the citizenry, of course. Or as the Times puts it, “The software would be a powerful tool in the hands of Egypt’s security services, which, under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, have ramped up spying on citizens as part of an effort to stifle dissent and entrench Mr. Sisi power.”

See how easy the Times recognizes tyranny … when it’s in Egypt?

That’s not all. The Times writes: “The security services can already track Egyptians through their cellphones. But ride-share spying speaks volumes about Mr. Sisi’s ambitions for electronic surveillance, at a time when his government has already imprisoned citizens for social media posts, has hacked activitists using fake emails and has blocked encrypted messaging applications….”
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