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Shutting Down Free Speech in America: Government and Lobbyists Work Together to Destroy the First Amendment

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During the past several years, there has been increased pressure coming from some in the federal government aided and abetted powerful advocacy groups in the private sector to police social and alternative media. It is a multi-pronged attack on the First Amendment which has already limited the types of information that Americans have access to, thereby narrowing policy options to suit those in power

The process has been ostensibly driven by concerns over alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, but it is really about who controls and limits the public’s right to know what is going on out of sight in Washington and New York City, where politics and money come together. If one is interested in the free flow of information and viewpoints that comes with the alternative media, it certainly does not look that way. Robert Parry described it as a deliberate process of “demonizing and silencing dissent that questions mainstream narratives.”

Last October top executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter were summoned to Capitol Hill for a discussion of their role in what is alleged to be Russia’s influence on the presidential campaign and went back home contrite and promising to improve. They have indeed improved by punishing members whose views have been found to be unacceptable, blocking them and suspending their access to the sites. Meanwhile, the federal government for its part has attempted to silence independent non-US based voices by declaring Russian media outlets RT America and Sputnik to be “foreign agents,” requiring them to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA). It is an unprecedented action against a news agency and invites quid-pro-quo for US media operating overseas, leaving the American public more ignorant of world affairs than it already is.
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China's 'Digital Dictatorship'...And Ours

China's "social credit" system is widely viewed as a kind of "digital dictatorship," where not only does illegal or anti-social behavior result in lower scores and therefore less privileges, but political dissent also earns one lower "social credit" scores. While the anti-China crowd is busy pointing a finger at Beijing for such an authoritarian approach, a similar system is being put in place in the United States. How? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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New Tax Plan Makes It Easier to 'Ed-exit'

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This week the House of Representatives will vote on a package of bills making the temporary tax cuts contained in last year’s tax reform bill permanent and making additional tax law changes. The bills will likely pass in the House, but will almost certainly be filibustered in the Senate if the Senate leadership tries to bring them to the floor.
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UK Begged Trump Not To Declassify Russia Docs; Cited 'Grave Concerns' Over Steele Involvement

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The British government "expressed grave concerns" to the US government over the declassification and release of material related to the Trump-Russia investigation, according to the New York Times. President Trump ordered a wide swath of materials "immediately" declassified "without redaction" on Monday, only to change his mind later in the week by allowing the DOJ Inspector General to review the materials first. 

The Times reports that the UK's concern was over material which "includes direct references to conversations between American law enforcement officials and Christopher Steele," the former MI6 agent who compiled the infamous "Steele Dossier." The UK's objection, according to former US and British officials, was over revealing Steele's identity in an official document, "regardless of whether he had been named in press reports." 

We would note, however, that Steele's name was contained within the Nunes Memo - the House Intelligence Committee's majority opinion in the Trump-Russia case. 

Steele also had extensive contacts with DOJ official Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie, who - along with Steele - was paid by opposition research firm Fusion GPS in the anti-Trump campaign. Trump called for the declassification of FBI notes of interviews with Ohr, which would ostensibly reveal more about his relationship with Steele. Ohr was demoted twice within the Department of Justice for lying about his contacts with Fusion GPS.
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Medea Benjamin Shows America What Real Resistance Looks Like

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Almost immediately after hitting publish on my last article about how the so-called “Resistance” to the Trump administration doesn’t actually resist Trump’s most pernicious agendas in any meaningful way, I saw an awesome video clip proving that there is at least one woman out there providing real opposition to Trump where it matters.

A think tank is an organization wherein highly-paid academics pour their collective brainpower into coming up with convincing arguments that it would be good and smart to do something evil and stupid. At one such think tank, the Hudson Institute, former John Bolton advisor and current Mike Pompeo lackey Brian Hook had his neocon cuddle party interrupted by CodePink activist Medea Benjamin Wednesday morning. Benjamin excoriated the Director of Policy Planning for Pompeo’s Iran Action Team, decrying the Trump administration’s crippling sanctions following its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

“That is the most ridiculous thing I have seen,” Benjamin exclaimed while security staff worked to muscle her off the stage. “The world community wants to keep the Iran nuclear deal. Our allies — the Germans, the French, the British — they want to keep in this deal. The world community wants to keep the deal. Let’s talk about normal countries. Let’s talk about Saudi Arabia. Is that who our allies are? They are the biggest threat to the world community. And let’s talk — you’re hurting me. You’re actually hurting me. I want to ask: Do you think these sanctions are hurting the regime, or are they hurting the Iranian people? They’re hurting the Iranian people. You are making a case for war with Iran. How did the war with Iraq turn out? You’re doing exactly the same thing we did in the case of Iraq. We don’t want another war in the Middle East. Let’s see, how did Iraq turn out? How did Libya turn out? We have the people of Syria suffering. And how dare you bring up the issue of Yemen? It’s the Saudi bombing that is killing most people in Yemen. So let’s get real. No more war! Peace with Iran!”
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The Gamification of Tyranny

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It looks like we’re headed for a brave new world where all citizens are rated on their loyalty to the state and are punished for wandering from its narrative. 

Call it the gamification of repression. 

In China, the supposedly communist state—in fact, it is an advanced form of crony capitalist authoritarianism that Marx would have disapproved—is busy setting up a rating system for all citizens. According to a paper written by an academic at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon, scores are based on professional conduct, corruption, type of products bought, peers’ own scores, and tax evasion.

The author left something out, however. This social credit system will also be used to marginalize and stigmatize those who criticize the state. 

China’s nominally communist government says the system and its massive database will allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.
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Let Koreans Solve Their Own Problems

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Springtime in Korea. Peace and love have erupted all over the mountainous peninsula as the leaders of the two rival nations seek to end the nearly seven decades of hostility between them. One can’t underestimate the passionate longing felt by most Koreans on both sides of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) for some form of reunification – or at least reattachment – of the two nations
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Trump’s 'Opposition' Supports All His Evil Agendas While Attacking Fake Nonsense

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new article from the Wall Street Journal reports that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lied to congress about the measures Saudi Arabia is taking to minimize the civilian casualties in its catastrophic war on Yemen, and that he did so in order to secure two billion dollars for war profiteers. This is about as depraved as anything you could possibly imagine.
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The US Government’s Secret Rules for Spying on Journalists Are 'Terrifying'

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Journalists and free press advocates are responding with alarm to newly released documents revealing the U.S. government’s secret rules for using Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders to spy on reporters, calling the revelations “important” and “terrifying.”

The documents—obtained and released by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University through an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed last November—confirm long held suspicions that federal officials can target journalists with FISA orders.

The two 2015 memos from former Attorney General Eric Holder to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) lay out procedures to ensure that the attorney general or deputy attorney general signs off on any FISA applications “targeting known media entities or known members of the media.”
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