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New Sanctions Kick In: Trump Declares (Trade) War On Iran...And EU!

Starting tonight, US sanctions on Iran and anyone who does business will kick in. Did Iran attack someone? Threaten someone? No. President Trump has unilaterally pulled the US out of the nuclear agreement and now demands that all US allies follow suit and, de facto, abrogate the treaty. The Europeans are making a lot of noise, claiming that they will back up any EU businesses that remain in Iran. That won't hold. Brussels will cave. But no one seems to be thinking about unintended consequences. Who stands to benefit the most from Washington's obsession with regime change in Iran? China, which is already rapidly expanding its economic presence in Iran. More on this colossal Trump blunder in today's Liberty Report...
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Silence on US Meddling Abroad

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Among the most fascinating aspects of the brouhaha over supposed Russian meddling in America’s electoral system is the total silence in the US mainstream press about US meddling in the political affairs of other countries.

Consider the mass outrage and indignation among the mainstream press that Russia would actually want to help a US presidential candidate who favors normalizing relations with Russia over a candidate that was determined to do the opposite.

Why not the same outrage against the US national-security establishment for helping its favorite people come to office in foreign countries?

By their silence regarding US meddling in foreign countries, one could easily draw the conclusion that the US mainstream press is saying the following: It’s wrong for Russia to meddle in the US electoral system but it’s okay for the US national-security establishment (i.e., the military, CIA, and NSA) to meddle in the electoral affairs of foreign countries.
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Neocons Demand 'Crushing' Sanctions on Russia

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You can always count on the neocons in Congress to ignore reality, ignore evidence, and ignore common sense in their endless drive to get us involved in another war. Last week, for example, Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-NC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and others joined up to introduce what Senator Graham called “the sanctions bill from hell,” aimed at applying “crushing” sanctions on Russia.
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Facebook Censoring Getting Out of Control

Facebook has been crowing about finding 32 "Russian-backed" accounts seeking to "sow division" among Americans. Only despite their over-confidence in sussing out these Kremlin-backed miscreants, they got it wrong. They shut down a page managed by real Americans who were organizing a counter-protest against a white nationalist group. Who does Facebook rely on to clean its pages of foreign government influence? An organization that itself is backed by foreign governments! RPI's Daniel McAdams is interviewed
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There Will Be No American-Russian Alliance Against China

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Since 1991 and the formal end of the first Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, the world has experienced an American “unipolar moment” as the bipartisan US policy establishment sought to consolidate and perpetuate its hegemonic control over the entire plant. Doomed to fail even before it received its fullest articulation in 1996 by neoconservative ideologists William Kristol and Robert Kagan (misleadingly billed as “Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy”), that misbegotten moment thankfully is coming to an end.
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Pakistan Needs a Strong New Leader

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The words "hope" and "Pakistan" do not often appear together. Pakistan, a sprawling nation of 205 million, is hard to govern, even harder to finance, and seething with tribal or religious violence and discord.

But Pakistan, which for me is one of the most interesting and important nations on earth, is by far the leading nation of the Muslim world and a redoubtable military power. Created in 1947 from former British India as a haven for oppressed Muslims, Pakistan has been ruled ever since by military juntas or by slippery and often corrupt civilian politicians.

 After decades of dynastic politics under the Bhutto and Sharif families, there is suddenly hope that newly elected cricket star Imran Khan and his Tehreek-e-Insaf Party (PTI) may – just may – tackle Pakistan’s four biggest problems: endemic corruption, military interference, political tribalism, and a half-dead economy.

Former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, appears to be headed for jail over a corruption scandal unless he is allowed to go into exile in London. The exiled former military dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, is hiding out in Dubai awaiting charges of treason.

I spent a good deal of time with Pakistan’s former leaders, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq and his bitter foe, Benazir Bhutto, both of whom were later murdered. Neither Musharraf nor Nawaz measured up to these colorful personalities in political skills, vision, or personality.
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The Bizarre Facebook Path to Corporate Fascism

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“The Facebook intervention is a qualitative escalation of the McCarthyite offensive.”

Facebook has assumed additional political police powers, disrupting a planned counter-demonstration against white supremacists, set for August 12th in Washington, on the grounds that it was initiated and inspired by “Russians” as part of a Kremlin campaign to “sow dissention” in the US. The Facebook intervention is a qualitative escalation of the McCarthyite offensive launched by the Democrat Party and elements of the national security state, and backed by most of the corporate media, initially to blame Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat on “collusion” between Wikileaks, “the Russians” and the Trump campaign to steal and publicize embarrassing Clinton campaign emails.

After failing to produce one shred of hard evidence to support their conspiracy theory, the anti-Russia hysteria mongers switched gears, focusing on the alleged purchase of about $100,000 in Facebook ads by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a St. Petersburg-based Russian company, over a multi-year period. The problem was, most of the ads had no direct connection to the presidential contest, or were posted after the election was over, and many had no political content, at all. The messages were all over the place, politically, with the alleged Russian operatives posing as Christian activists, pro- and anti-immigration activists, and supporters of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Special prosecutor Robert Mueller was forced to flip the script, indicting 13 Russians for promoting general “discord” and undermining “public confidence in democracy” in the United States – thus creating a political crime that has not previously been codified in the United States.

“Mueller was forced to flip the script.”

In doubling down on an unraveling conspiracy tale, the Mueller probe empowered itself to tar and feather all controversial speech that can be associated with utterances by “Russians,” even if the alleged “Russians” are, in fact, mimicking the normal speech of left- or right-wing Americans -- a descent, not into Orwell’s world, but that of Kafka (Beyond the Law) and Heller (Catch-22).
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The Ball is in Trump’s Court to Engage Iran

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As I had written last week, a conversation of sorts has been under way between Washington and Tehran. The megaphone is no longer in use, the conversation is in civi tone from public platforms or more meaningfully, through the Twitter. It’s become an almost daily occurrence Broadly speaking, the communication is between President Donald Trump from the American side, with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif actively interjecting on behalf of President Hassan Rouhani almost in real time. To be sure, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is listening in.

The duet has incrementally come to be this: Trump is willing to meet with Rouhani “anytime… without preconditions.” He has a gut feeling lately that it could happen “very soon.” (When Trump puts a timeline like that in broad strokes, it hints at some back channel.) But then, Tehran says it will not talk under duress and injured pride and honor; US must first show “respect” and stop unfriendly activities.

On the other hand, Trump claims he perceives change in Iran’s behaviour. (It can be construed as a signal or an acknowledgment.) Interestingly, Tehran neither disputes Trump’s claim nor confirms it. In fact, there is some discernible “change” in Iran’s behavior – Moscow has disclosed that Iranian forces and the “Shi’ite formations” have withdrawn their heavy weapons in Syria to a distance of 85 km from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and “there are no units of heavy equipment and weapons that could pose a threat to Israel at a distance of 85 km from the line of demarcation.”
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Assad Wins: Voting With Their Feet, Syrians Come Home

With the Syrian army's liberation of the southwest complete, there remains just a single province in control of ISIS and al-Qaeda in the country. The "bloodbath" that the "experts" warned about if Assad regained control not only did not come to pass, but tens and hundreds of thousands of Syrians are returning home. Once the neocons got it all wrong. So what's next? Join today's Liberty Report...
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Revolving Door: How Security Clearances Perpetuate Top-Level Corruption in the United States

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President Donald Trump is threatening to take away the security clearances of a number of former senior intelligence and security officers who have been extremely critical of him. Most Americans were unaware that any ex-officials continued to hold clearances after they retired and the controversy has inevitably raised the question why that should be so. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer.
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