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Hill Budget Battle: Another D.C. Charade?

Today the House is expected to vote on the budget "compromise" bill -- outgoing Speaker John Boehner's swan song before retirement. The budget agreement tears up the "sequester" of 2011, which was supposed to limit spending but of course never operated as advertised, and opens the floodgates for billions more to the warfare state and the welfare state. The warfare state doesn't keep us safe and the welfare state doesn't help those in need. Both help Washington above all. Campaign for Liberty's Norman Singleton joins the Ron Paul Liberty Report for a behind-the-scenes look at today's Hill action...
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We Must Oppose Obama's Escalation in Syria and Iraq!

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Today Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to outline a new US military strategy for the Middle East. The Secretary admitted the failure of the US “train and equip” program for rebels in Syria, but instead of taking the appropriate lessons from that failure and get out of the “regime change” business, he announced the opposite. The US would not only escalate its “train and equip” program by removing the requirement that fighters be vetted for extremist ideology, but according to the Secretary the US military would for the first time become directly and overtly involved in combat in Syria and Iraq.

As Secretary Carter put it, the US would begin “supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL (ISIS), or conducting such missions directly, whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground.”
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Are We Looking For A Fight In The South China Sea?

The US guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen ventured into the 12 mile exclusion set up by the Chinese around two islands it is constructing in the South China Sea. The stated purpose of the US "violation" of Chinese territory was to establish a precedent so as to keep shipping lanes open in the area. Considering that 80 percent of Chinese exports pass through the area, however, it seems unlikely that China would take the economically suicidal move of restricting shipping. So is this just more US saber-rattling thousands of miles from home? Tune in to today's Ron Paul Liberty Report...
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About That Delta Force Guy Killed in Iraq…

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The United States does not formally acknowledge the existence of Delta Force, and rarely mentions the names of any of its members, even after they leave the service.

Unlike the SEALs, who seem to be prolific writers, Delta operators keep to themselves. Most of the unit’s actions abroad are never mentioned publicly, and when an operator is killed in combat, often the death goes unmentioned in the press, or attributed sometime later to a training accident.

So the very public attention given at the highest levels in Washington to the combat death of Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler was more than a little significant.

Wheeler was not only acknowledged as having fought with Delta, but his photo was widely published. That in itself is usually a no-no, for fear of linking him to others and outing active duty Delta. His place of death, on the ground, deep inside Iraq, on a strike mission, was explicit, with only a little b.s. thrown in about how Delta was present to provide security for the Kurdish raiding forces seeking to free some hostages. Well, well, nobody in their right mind believes America’s finest special forces are sent out to provide security for a bunch of gussied up militiamen.
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Fear of the Walking Dead: The American Police State Takes Aim

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The zombies are back. They are hungry. And they are lurking around every corner.

In Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback has declared October “Zombie Preparedness Month” in an effort to help the public prepare for a possible zombie outbreak.

In New York, researchers at Cornell University have concluded that the best place to hide from the walking dead is the northern Rocky Mountains region.

And in Washington, DC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have put together a zombie apocalypse preparation kit “that details everything you would need to have on hand in the event the living dead showed up at your front door.”

The undead are also wreaking havoc at gun shows, battling corsets in forthcoming movie blockbusters such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombiesrunning for their lives in 5K charity races, and even putting government agents through their paces in mock military drills arranged by the Dept. of Defense (DOD) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

The zombie narrative, popularized by the hit television series The Walking Dead, in which a small group of Americans attempt to survive in a zombie-ridden, post-apocalyptic world where they’re not only fighting off flesh-eating ghouls but cannibalistic humans, plays to our fears and paranoia.

Yet as journalist Syreeta McFadden points out, while dystopian stories used to reflect our anxieties, now they reflect our reality, mirroring how we as a nation view the world around us, how we as citizens view each other, and most of all how our government views us.
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Syrian War Ends West’s Dominance of Middle East

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Three weeks and five days into the Russian military operations in Syria, Moscow has achieved the objective of compelling the major external players involved to rethink their established stance on the crisis. Unsurprisingly, new fault lines have appeared in Middle East politics. Last week witnessed a surge diplomatic activity to cope with the new fault lines.

First, of course, much as the United States dislikes the Russian military role in Syria, Washington and Moscow concluded a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday regarding the ground rules guiding the aircraft of the two countries operating in the Syrian skies so that no untoward incidents occur. In political terms, Washington is coming to terms with a Russian presence in Syria for a foreseeable future. (By the way, an analysis by FT concludes that Russia can easily sustain the financial costs of the military operations in Syria.)

This, in turn, has intensified the US-Russian diplomatic exchanges on Syria. The US Secretary of State John Kerry met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Vienna on Friday at a meeting that also included the foreign ministers of Turkey and Saudi Arabia to discuss the various approaches to bringing together the Syrian parties to peace talks.

Kerry disclosed that the discussions may continue in a wider format (possibly including Iran, Egypt and Jordan as well) next Friday, which suggests that there was sufficient meat in the discussions in Vienna to be followed up without delay. Put differently, some sort of coordinated US-Russian moves on Syria in the coming days or weeks cannot be ruled out.
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Blair's Iraq 'Apology': Sincere Or Spin?

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair over the weekend offered an apology of sorts over the disaster produced by the 2003 US/UK invasion of Iraq. He's "sorry" that the intelligence was wrong, he said, but he's not at all sorry that Saddam Hussein was overthrown. This "apology" comes on the heels of the White House leaked document showing that while Blair was claiming to the British public that he was dedicated to diplomacy with Iraq, he was making deals with President George W. Bush to push the war option. Today's Liberty Report takes a look at  Tony "Phony" Blair...
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House Benghazi Hearings: Too Much Too Late

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Last week the US House of Representatives called former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to appear before a select committee looking into the attack on a US facility in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. The attack left four Americans dead, including US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.

As might be expected, however, the “Benghazi Committee” hearings have proven not much more than a means for each party to grandstand for political points.

In fact, I would call these Congressional hearings “too much, too late.”
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The Older, Better Canada is Back Again

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I used to call Canada "the land that time forgot." While the rest of the world lurched from crisis to crisis, Canada remained peaceful, humane, prosperous, progressive, and famously polite, a sort of North American Scandinavia.

Polls showed that Canada, for all its blandness and low profile, was one of the world’s most respected nations. The ethos of Canada was to make nice to everyone, aid less fortunate nations, shine at the UN, and make peace-keeping a national cause.

That was, of course, until the old political order broke down after a series of scandals in Quebec. The Conservatives, an insurgent party made up of farmers and other reactionaries from the western provinces (aka ‘Canadian Republicans), gained power as first a minority government, then majority.

For ten years, the rightwing Conservatives political leader from Alberta, Stephen Harper, held power in Ottawa. He rapidly turned once easy-going Canada into something resembling a dictatorship-light in which Parliament was reduced to a rubber stamp, the courts were often cowed, and parts of the media brought under Harper’s control. Nastiness replaced politeness.
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The Benghazi Hearing: What Neither Hillary nor the Republicans Want to Talk About

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As I write this, Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the House panel investigating the 2012 terrorist attacks that killed four Americans is still going on. I wasn’t able to listen to all of it live, and will plow through the transcript in due course. 

Two things already are notable: one concerning the impact of the hearing itself – plus another aspect marked only by the sound of crickets chirping.

First, as one would have expected, the hearing has generated more heat than light. As has been the case to date, Republican lawmakers seem mainly interested in granular details of the State Department’s bureaucratic handling of the Benghazi post’s requests for more security, what did then-Secretary Clinton know and when did she know it, whether help could have and should have been sent and who stopped any such attempt, whether prompt action might have changed the outcome, questionable claims regarding a movie riling up the Muslim rabble, Hillary’s reliance on the expertise (or lack thereof) of Sidney Blumenthal, and all the other back-and-forth that’s dominated the issue since the events in question.
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