Wednesday June 29, 2016
The memorandum by 51 State Department officials calling for US military intervention in Syria last week has been treated in news media coverage as a case of dissent from existing Syria policy by individual officials involved in Syria policy.
But the memo has all the earmarks of an initiative that had the blessing of the most senior officials in the department – including Secretary of State John Kerry himself - rather than having been put together by individual officials entirely on their own. And it may mark the beginning of an effort to take advantage of the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton.
The memo called for a “more militarily assertive US role” in the Syrian conflict in the form of “a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed US-led diplomatic process". That is precisely the policy option that Secretary of State John Kerry has been widely reported to have championed privately for years. As the story in the New York Times, which published the supposedly confidential memo, noted, “[H]igher-level State Department officials are known to share their concerns.”
Tuesday June 28, 2016
Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer hired by an Anglo-American investment fund operating in Moscow to investigate the apparent diversion of as much as $230 million in taxes due to the government. He became a whistleblower after discovering that the money had been stolen by the police, organized crime figures and other government officials. After he went to the authorities to complain he was unjustly imprisoned for eleven months. When he refused to recant he was both beaten and denied medical treatment to coerce him into cooperating, resulting in his death in jail at age 37 in November 2009. He has become something of a hero for those who have decried official corruption in Russia.
The Magnitsky case is of particular importance because both the European Union and the United States have initiated sanctions against the Russian officials who were allegedly involved. In the Magnitsky Act, sponsored by Russia-phobic Senator Ben Cardin and signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, the US asserted its willingness to punish foreign governments for violations of human rights. Russia reacted angrily, noting that the actions taken by its government internally, notably the operation of its judiciary, were being subjected to outside interference. It reciprocated with sanctions against US officials as well as by increasing pressure on foreign non-governmental pro-democracy groups operating in Russia.
Tension between Moscow and Washington increased considerably as a result and Congress will likely soon approve a so-called Global Magnitsky Act as part of the current defense appropriation bill. It expands the use of sanctions and other punitive measures against regimes guilty of egregious human rights abuses though it is unlikely to be applied to US friends like Saudi Arabia and Israel. It is also sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin and is clearly intended to intimidate Russia.
Tuesday June 28, 2016
In a carceral state—a.k.a. a prison state or a police state—there is no Fourth Amendment to protect you from the overreaches, abuses, searches and probing eyes of government overlords.
In a carceral state, there is no difference between the treatment meted out to a law-abiding citizen and a convicted felon: both are equally suspect and treated as criminals, without any of the special rights and privileges reserved for the governing elite.
In a carceral state, there are only two kinds of people: the prisoners and the prison guards.
With every new law enacted by federal and state legislatures, every new ruling handed down by government courts, and every new military weapon, invasive tactic and egregious protocol employed by government agents, “we the people”—the prisoners of the American police state—are being pushed that much further into a corner, our backs against the prison wall.
This concept of a carceral state in which we possess no rights except for that which the government grants on an as-needed basis is the only way I can begin to comprehend, let alone articulate, the irrational, surreal, topsy-turvy, through-the-looking-glass state of affairs that is being imposed upon us in America today.
Tuesday June 28, 2016
If the UK actually succeeds in exiting the EU, what will be the fate of the remaining members? According to a report yesterday, the French and Germans are looking to create what would essentially be a single European "superstate" that would put an end to national sovereignty. Will this idea fly with the 27 remaining members? We take a look at the post-Brexit landscape in today's Liberty Report...
Monday June 27, 2016
The web’s biggest content providers have started using automation to remove “extremist propaganda” videos from their sites.
YouTube (owned by Google) and Facebook are among the sites deploying systems to block or rapidly take down Islamic State videos and other similar material, sources said, though no company would confirm the action.
The technology employed was originally developed to remove copyright-protected content on video sites. It looks for “hashes,” unique digital fingerprints that Internet companies automatically assign to specific videos, allowing all content with matching fingerprints to be removed rapidly. Someone finds an offensive video, tags it, and then searches find other copies across the Internet.
Monday June 27, 2016
European and US markets are shaky in the wake of the historic UK vote to leave the EU. The neocons are warning that the vote will weaken Europe and thus embolden Russia. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the UK vote result makes strengthening NATO more critical than ever. The US media has tried to portray the vote as a victory for Russian president Vladimir Putin. One hack even said of the vote to leave, “[t]hey are drinking copious amounts of vodka in the Kremlin today.” In today's Liberty Report we try to look past the hype at what the real ramifications of the vote might be in the shorter term and longer term...
Monday June 27, 2016
Last week’s UK vote to leave the EU may have come as a shock to many, but the sentiment that led British voters to reject rule from Brussels is nothing unique. In fact it is growing sentiment worldwide. Frustration with politics as usual, with political parties that really do not differ in philosophy, with an economy that serves the one percent at the expense of the rest of society is a growing phenomenon throughout Europe and in the United States as well. The Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump phenomena are but one example of a frustrated public sensing something is very wrong with society and looking for a way out.
Saturday June 25, 2016
War with Russia appears increasingly likely as the US and its NATO satraps continue their military provocations of Moscow.
As dangers mount, our foolish politicians should all be forced to read, and then re-read, Prof. Christopher Clark’s magisterial book, ‘The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914.’ What is past increasingly appears prologue.
Prof. Clark carefully details how small cabals of anti-German senior officials in France, Britain and Russia engineered World War I, a dire conflict that was unnecessary, idiotic, and illogical. Germany and Austria-Hungary of course share some the blame, but to a much lesser degree than the bellicose French, Serbs, Russians and British.
We are seeing the same process at work today. The war party in Washington, backed by the military-industrial complex, the tame media, and the neocons, are agitating hard for war.
Friday June 24, 2016
What does it mean?
Hopefully, a breakup of the EU and NATO and, thereby, the avoidance of World War III.
The EU and NATO are evil institutions. These two institutions are mechanisms created by Washington in order to destroy the sovereignty of European peoples. These two institutions give Washington control over the Western world and serve both as cover and enabler of Washington’s aggression. Without the EU and NATO, Washington could not force Europe and the UK into conflict with Russia, and Washington could not have destroyed seven Muslim countries in 15 years without being isolated as a hated war criminal government, no member of whom could have travelled abroad without being arrested and put on trial.
Clearly, the presstitute media lied about the polls in order to discourage the leave vote. But it did not work. The British people have always been the font of liberty. It was the the historic achievements of the British that transformed law into a shield of the people from a weapon in the hands of the state and gave accountable government to the world. The British, or a majority of them, understood that the EU is a dictatorial governing mechanism in which power is in the hands of unaccountable people and in which law can easily be used as a weapon in the hands of unaccountable government.
Thursday June 23, 2016
That 51 US diplomats reproached President Obama’s Syria policy by calling for greater American military force deployed against the Damascus government was itself a remarkable sign of official dissent within Washington. But the president’s authority was further brazenly undermined when a few days later the Saudi rulers endorsed the dissenting US diplomats – while being received at the White House.
Several things can be discerned here. For one, the US policy on Syria is reeling from failure. The objective of regime change – which has impelled the whole war in that country for the past five years – seems to be fading as an obtainable goal. Russia’s military intervention beginning last October to stabilize the Syrian state put paid to that. Reports that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the top commander of the so-called Islamic State (IS or Daesh), has been killed in a Syrian/Russian air strike in the group’s eastern stronghold of Raqqa suggests that the foreign-backed terrorist insurgency is indeed facing final defeat.
The US covert tactic of using a dual-track political process of supposed peace negotiations to allow for mercenary proxies to regroup has also come unstuck. Syria and its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies have not relented in targeting terrorist militia, even those whom Washington disingenuously refers to as “moderates” and “on ceasefire.” The cessation in hostilities called for by Russia and the US back in February is sundered because it never was a bona fide ceasefire in the first place, as far as Washington was really concerned. It was only a side-way maneuver to facilitate regime change by political means.