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Syria's Two East-Ghouta Campaigns: One For Liberation, The Other To Save Terrorists

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Daily mortar and missile attacks against the Syrian capital Damascus have been ongoing for years but intensified in recent months. The often quoted Syrian Observatory notes:
... raising to 116 persons at least including 18 children and 14 citizen women, who were killed as a result of the fall of these shells since the beginning of escalation on the capital Damascus and its suburbs on the 16th of November, and the SOHR documented the injury of more than 563 persons who were injured in these daily targeting during 3 consecutive months.
Other accounts report higher casualty numbers.

Some of the attacks on Damascus city hit well designated targets. The Russian embassy in Damascus has been mortared several times. Earlier this month more well targeted projectiles hit other Russian interests:
Maxim A. Suchkov‏ @MSuchkov_ALM - 4:03 AM - 7 Feb 2018
#Russia's trade mission in #Damascus got hit by 120-mm bomb & is badly damaged. Earlier Rus aid delivery point in the city came under fire killing two local Syrians, Rus non-gov delegation (Christian & Muslim leaders who brought collected aid) had to be evacuated.
All these mortars and missiles were fired from east-Ghouta, a Takfiri held area consisting partly of densely urban blocks and partly of agricultural villages. Some 400,000 people originally lived in the area but the number of people living there now is likely less than half of that.
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What Would an ‘America First!’ Security Policy Look Like?

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Republicans love to caricature Democrats as big spenders whose only approach to any problem is to throw money at it. As with most caricatures, it is made easy by the fact that it is mostly true. At least when it comes to domestic entitlement programs, nobody can top the party of FDR and JFK when it comes to doling out goodies to favored constituencies paid for by picking someone else’s pocket.

However, Republicans are hardly the zealous guardians of the public purse they would have us believe. While quick to trash their partisan opponents for making free with taxpayers’ money, they are no less happy to do the same – at least when it’s called “national defense.”

Over the next five years, the Trump administration will spend $3.6 trillion on the military. The GOP-controlled Congress’s approved, with Republicans voting overwhelmingly in the affirmative, the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018” (HR 1892) and the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018” (HR 2810). With respect to the former, the watchdog National Taxpayers Union urged a No vote:
‘An initial estimate of approximately $300 billion in new spending above the law’s caps barely scratches the surface in terms of total spending. The two-year deal also includes $155 billion in defense and non-defense Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending, $5 billion in emergency spending for defense, and more than $80 billion in disaster funding. $100 billion in proposed offsets are comprised of the same budget gimmicks taxpayers have seen used as pay-fors over and over and are unlikely to generate much of a down-payment on this new spending.’  
Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) poses the question that few in Washington – and certainly few Republicans – are willing to ask: “Is our military budget too small, or is our mission too large?”
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Why One War When We Can Have Two!

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"We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists, but great-power competition – not terrorism – is now the primary focus of US national security."  Henceforth Russia and China will be America’s main enemies, with Iran and North Korea thrown in for good measure.


So declared US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, last week in a statement of profound importance for the world. 
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Nobody Wants to Talk About What Many Mass Shooters Have in Common

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In the aftermath of yet another mass shooting in the United States, the internet and broadcast news alike are inundated with commentary about why this keeps happening in America. Some blame guns, others blame mental health, and still others confidently blame false flag events and crisis actors.

But one commonality among numerous mass killings in the United States remains absent from these conversations. It is always reported when details of the shooter are published, but the widespread connection is rarely acknowledged: A mounting number of mass shooters have ties to the military, including Nikolas Cruz, who was a member of his school’s military prep organization, JROTC (Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps).

The United States has indulged in a culture of ‘patriotic’ militarism for decades, glorifying this institutionalized violence as a sign of strength and morality. As Anti-Media observed last week shortly after the Florida shooting, “We memorialize those who commit violence for the government and hold them in the highest esteem — throwing tantrums when others express dissenting opinions or fail to bow to the people who serve these institutions.”

Indeed, this glorification of violence bleeds over into the United States’ unique problem of individuals committing acts of mass violence. Here is a brief sampling of perpetrators of some of the most high-profile mass shootings in recent years. Many were either members of the military at some point, were rejected by the military (but clearly wanted to join), or came from a military family...
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Something For Everyone: Mueller Indictment a Boon for Partisan Status Quo

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Last Friday, depending on which side of the partisan divide one was watching from, President Trump was either vindicated or his treachery was confirmed. The impetus for these seemingly disparate reactions was Robert Mueller’s indictment against 13 Russian nationals, the latest and largest indictment to result from his investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. However, over the nine months that Mueller’s investigation has been active, it has continuously grown from its original purpose of investigating Russian collusion, expanding to include the business dealings of Trump and his inner circle with countries ranging from Qatar to China, meaning that the probe is no longer expressly about Russian collusion.

The drift of focus from its original purpose — as well as its failure to produce any connection between the Trump campaign, the Russian government, and the leaks of DNC and John Podesta’s emails — has led critics who place themselves outside of the left-right paradigm to treat this latest indictment with skepticism. Not only that, but concerns have been raised that the real purpose of Mueller’s probe is much more subtle and nefarious than publicly admitted and that it may itself be a threat to American democracy.

One such critic is Daniel McAdams, political analyst and executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. McAdams, in an interview with MintPress News, stated that the Mueller indictment “has something for everybody,” explaining the strikingly different reactions from the establishment left and right. However, McAdams noted that the indictment was especially helpful to the “entire political class in Washington,” which may now “continue with its Cold War 2.0 project” without interference from anyone in favor of normalizing U.S.-Russian relations. In addition, McAdams warned that the recent indictment is likely to have a “chilling effect on the First Amendment,” also a boon to those elements of the political elite that seek to limit the acceptable range of debate on U.S. foreign policy.
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Will 'Extreme Security' Solve The School Shooting Problem?

Should we make schools even more like prisons to keep kids safe from mass shootings? Should we further restrict firearm ownership among private citizens? Is that the problem? Or is there a deeper problem in our society that is making some people violent? How about the Pentagon's involvement in the production of some 1,800 films and television programs that portray it in a favorable light? Is it the military-industrial complex that survives and thrives from Washington's aggressive foreign policy -- which relies on keeping people frightened to drum up support? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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America’s Elite Thinks it Has a Divine Right to Rule the World

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America’s ruling class has a curious attitude to democracy. It seems to be interpreted as something that’s good for the US and its allies but bad for critters who won't accept their role in the "America-led international order."

First off, let me be clear. I think all foreign electoral interference is wrong. In any country. And if it’s eventually proven that Russians meddled in America’s 2016 presidential election, I certainly won't condone it. But I’ve have always doubted that the Russian state organized some heinous plan to tilt the contest to Donald Trump, so I’ll be shocked if something of this nature is ever proven.

Instead, I’ve always imagined the greatest extent of Russian "interference" was probably some half-baked playing around by private individuals. Something akin to a “social media marketing campaign,” as the New Yorker’s Adrian Chan believes. And on a relatively minute scale, to boot. Because - given the billions of dollars swirling around American stumping - anything bar a full-scale FSB/GRU, all-hands-on-deck operation would probably amount to little more than a hill of beans.

By the same token, I was stunned back in 2011 when the Moscow Times (a pro-US title, overwhelmingly written by Westerners, despite its name) reported how ex-vice president Joe Biden had told fringe Russian opposition figures that “it would be better for Russia if Putin did not run” in the 2012 election. Indeed, when you see the opprobrium directed today towards US Green leader Jill Stein for once attending an RT banquet where Putin was present, its shows one hell of a double standard.
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UN's Syria Propaganda Stunt

What's going on in East Ghouta? The Syrian government forces are liberating the civilians held hostage by five main jihadist factions. But you wouldn't know it from the media coverage. It is portrayed as yet another example of Assad engaging in bloodsport. But they said the same thing about East Aleppo and after it was liberated several hundred thousand returned. Why is the UN joining in on the propaganda effort? Join us for today's Liberty Report...
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Carving Up Syria: Anything Left For The Syrians?

Turkey has launched an attack on Syrian government-affiliated forces as they approach Kurdish areas of northern Syria. The Turks are occupying increasing parts of Syrian territory. Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson bragged that the US controls 30 percent of Syria. Israel also has designs on occupying even more Syrian territory. With ISIS all but defeated, will outside plans to carve up Syria succeed? Will Russia stand by? More in today's Liberty Report...
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