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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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Israeli Nuclear Panel Supports Iran Deal

Israel's Atomic Energy Commission has endorsed the Iran nuclear agreement, concluding that it would prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. The Commission joins dozens of former high-ranking security and intelligence personnel in Israel who agree that the deal is a net positive for Israel. Back in the US the neocons have dominated the debate, joining their ally Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in predicting doom and gloom if the world backs off its war footing against Iran. Of course Netanyahu has been predicting an Iranian atomic weapon is imminent since at least 1992, so like the neocons his credibility is low. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is beating down Iran's door for trade opportunities now that the sanctions regime is effectively over. Everywhere but the US, that is. More on the other side of the Iran debate in today's Liberty Report...
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America’s Civilian Killings are No Accident

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America and its allies make modern war in a way that assures “mistakes” destroy hospitals, and civilian lives are taken by drones. These horrors are all too often strategic decisions, or the result of the profligate use of needlessly destructive weapons. They are typically far from accidents.

The destruction of a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, including the deaths of physicians from Doctors Without Borders, has become the celebrity example of America’s conduct of war. It is the one that made the news, much like a single child dead on the beach stood in for five years of unabated refugee flows out of the Middle East. But Kunduz is more important than just a dramatic news story, in that it stands as a clear example of a sordid policy.
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Benghazi Questions No One Dares Ask

Today's Benghazi Committee hearings will not focus on the central issue: US interventionist foreign policy which set the stage for the inevitable attack that followed. Hillary Clinton made the point in her opening statement that US embassies have been attacked many times in the past and she is right. But no one wants to question why they attack. Here's a hint: it's not because we are rich and free. Democrats and Republicans are out to score political points from the hearings. Both agree on the policies. Both agree on interventionism. Without major changes, neither will do a thing to change the root cause of such events: US interventionism. Today's Liberty Report explores questions you will not hear in today's hearing...
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Fox, Daily Beast Stories on Cubans in Syria Lack One Thing: Evidence of Cubans in Syria

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Fox News (10/14/15) reported last week that Cuba has sent Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frias and hundreds of troops to Syria to assist the Russian and Assad governments in “operating Russian tanks.” This explosive claim was soon echoed by James Bloodworth in the Daily Beast (10/16/15) and subsequently spread widely on social media.

A Cuban troop presence in Syria would be a blockbuster story indeed—undermining the easing of tensions between Cuba and the United States while serving as a huge embarrassment for the Obama administration, which has spent much political capital restoring relations with the socialist island nation. There’s only one problem: The story is looking increasingly bunk.

Of course, it’s impossible to ever prove a negative: One cannot prove there are no Cuban soldiers in Syria, any more than one can prove there are not any members of the San Antonio Police Department or Nepalese Army there. Thus far, though, we have about as much evidence of those two scenarios as we do that Cuban military are helping out the Assad government with tanks.

Two days after the initial Fox News report, putative socialist James Bloodworth, who’s made something of a career of browbeating enemies of American and British foreign policy under the guise of Real Socialism™, jumped at the chance to do what both he and the Daily Beast do best: hyping America and Britain’s war effort in Syria by bashing its opposition in tabloid tones.
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