http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/rss.aspx?blogid=3 Wed, 20 Jun 2018 16:30:16 GMT Wed, 20 Jun 2018 16:30:16 GMT Border 'Crisis' - Is It All About The Children...Or Hatred Of Trump? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/20/border-crisis-is-it-all-about-the-childrenor-hatred-of-trump/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/20/border-crisis-is-it-all-about-the-childrenor-hatred-of-trump/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/20/border-crisis-is-it-all-about-the-childrenor-hatred-of-trump/ Wed, 20 Jun 2018 16:30:16 GMT
Julian Assange and the Mindszenty Case Ray McGovern http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/20/julian-assange-and-the-mindszenty-case/

During World War II Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty was a huge critic of fascism and wound up in prison. In Oct. 1945 he became head of the Church in Hungary and spoke out just as strongly against Communist oppression. He wound up back in prison for eight more years, including long periods of solitary confinement and endured other forms of torture. In 1949 he was sentenced to life in a show trial that generated worldwide condemnation.

Two weeks after the trial began in early 1949, Pope Pius XII (having failed to speak out forcefully against the Third Reich) did summon the courage to condemn what was happening to Mindszenty. Pius excommunicated everyone involved in the Mindszenty trial. Then, addressing a huge crowd on St. Peter’s Square, he asked, “Do you want a Church that remains silent when she should speak … a Church that does not condemn the suppression of conscience and does not stand up for the just liberty of the people … a Church that locks herself up within the four walls of her temple in unseemly sycophancy …?”

When the Hungarian revolution broke out in 1956, Mindszenty was freed, but only for four days.  When Soviet tanks rolled back into Budapest, he fled to the U.S. embassy and was given immediate asylum by President Eisenhower.

There the Cardinal stayed cooped up for the next 15 years.  Mindszenty’s mother was permitted to visit him four times a year, and the communist authorities stationed secret police outside the embassy ready to arrest him should he try to leave.  Sound familiar?

Where is the voice of conscience to condemn what is happening to Julian Assange, whose only “crime” is publishing documents exposing the criminal activities and corruption of governments and other Establishment elites? Decades ago, the U.S. and “civilized world” had nothing but high praise for the courageous Mindszenty. He became a candidate for sainthood.

And Assange?  He has been confined in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for six years —from June 19, 2012—the victim of a scurrilous slander campaign and British threats to arrest him, should he ever step outside. The U.S. government has been putting extraordinary pressure on Ecuador to end his asylum and top U.S. officials have made it clear that, as soon as they get their hands on him, they will manufacture a reason to put him on trial and put him in prison. All for spreading unwelcome truth around.

A Suppression of Conscience

One might ask, is “unseemly sycophancy” at work among the media? The silence of what used to be the noble profession of journalism is deafening. John Pilger — one of the few journalists to speak out on Julian Assange’s behalf, labels journalists who fail to stand in solidarity with Assange in exposing the behavior of the Establishment, “Vichy journalists — after the Vichy government that served ad enabled the German occupation of France.”

Pilger adds
No investigative journalism in my lifetime can equal the importance of what WikiLeaks has done in calling rapacious power to account. It is as if a one-way moral screen has been pushed back to expose the imperialism of liberal democracies: the commitment to endless warfare … When Harold Pinter accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, he referred to ‘a vast tapestry of lies up on which we feed.’ He asked why ‘the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought’ of the Soviet Union were well known in the West while America’s imperial crimes “never happened … even while [they] were happening, they never happened.'”


WikiLeaks and 9/11: What if?

In an op-ed published several years ago by The Los Angeles Times, two members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Coleen Rowley and Bogdan Dzakovic, pointed out that — If WikiLeaks had been up and running before 9/11 — frustrated FBI investigators might have chosen to leak information that their superiors bottled up, perhaps averting the terrorism attacks.

There were a lot of us in the run-up to Sept. 11 who had seen warning signs that something devastating might be in the planning stages. But we worked for ossified bureaucracies incapable of acting quickly and decisively. Lately, the two of us have been wondering how things might have been different if there had been a quick, confidential way to get information out.”

Fourth Estate on Life Support

In 2010, while he was still a free man, the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity gave its annual award to Assange. The citation read:
It seems altogether fitting and proper that this year’s award be presented in London, where Edmund Burke coined the expression “Fourth Estate.” Comparing the function of the press to that of the three Houses then in Parliament, Burke said: “…but in the Reporters Gallery yonder, there sits a Fourth Estate more important far then they all.”

The year was 1787—the year the U.S. Constitution was adopted. The First Amendment, approved four years later, aimed at ensuring that the press would be free of government interference. That was then.

With the Fourth Estate now on life support, there is a high premium on the fledgling Fifth Estate, which uses the ether and is not susceptible of government or corporation control. Small wonder that governments with lots to hide feel very threatened.

It has been said: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” WikiLeaks is helping make that possible by publishing documents that do not lie.

Last spring, when we chose WikiLeaks and Julian Assange for this award, Julian said he would accept only “on behalf or our sources, without which WikiLeaks’ contributions are of no significance.”

We do not know if Pvt. Bradley Manning gave WikiLeaks the gun-barrel video of July 12, 2007 called “Collateral Murder.” Whoever did provide that graphic footage, showing the brutality of the celebrated “surge” in Iraq, was certainly far more a patriot than the “mainstream” journalist embedded in that same Army unit. He suppressed what happened in Baghdad that day, dismissed it as simply “one bad day in a surge that was filled with such days,” and then had the temerity to lavish praise on the unit in a book he called “The Good Soldiers.”

Julian is right to emphasize that the world is deeply indebted to patriotic truth-tellers like the sources who provided the gun-barrel footage and the many documents on Afghanistan and Iraq to WikiLeaks. We hope to have a chance to honor them in person in the future.

Today we honor WikiLeaks, and one of its leaders, Julian Assange, for their ingenuity in creating a new highway by which important documentary evidence can make its way, quickly and confidentially, through the ether and into our in-boxes. Long live the Fifth Estate!”
Eventually a compromise was found in 1971 when Pope Paul VI lifted the excommunications and Mindszenty was able to leave the U.S. embassy.  Can such a diplomatic solution be found to free Assange? It is looking more and more unlikely with each passing year. 

Reprinted with author's permission from ConsortiumNews.com.

Come hear Ray McGovern speak this August at the RPI Summer Conference in Washington DC!

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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/20/julian-assange-and-the-mindszenty-case/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/20/julian-assange-and-the-mindszenty-case/ Wed, 20 Jun 2018 13:01:16 GMT
The Final Frontier? Trump's Pricey Plan For A New Space Force Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/19/the-final-frontier-trumps-pricey-plan-for-a-new-space-force/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/19/the-final-frontier-trumps-pricey-plan-for-a-new-space-force/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/19/the-final-frontier-trumps-pricey-plan-for-a-new-space-force/ Tue, 19 Jun 2018 16:33:23 GMT
The Texas Republican Party Now Supports Rolling Back Marijuana Prohibition. What’s Next? Adam Dick http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/19/the-texas-republican-party-now-supports-rolling-back-marijuana-prohibition-what-s-next/

Over the weekend, delegates at the Texas Republican Party’s statewide convention voted by wide margins in favor of several roll-backs of marijuana prohibition. With over 80 percent support, the delegates approved three state party platform planks calling, respectively, for decriminalizing possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, moving marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 of the United States government’s Controlled Substances Act, and urging the Texas legislature to “pass legislation allowing cultivation, manufacture, and sale of industrial hemp and hemp products.” A fourth plank, calling for some expansion of the state’s rather limited low-THC cannabis oil medical program, received over 90 percent support.

So what is up next for the state’s marijuana laws? Will the state government adopt the delegates’ proposals? Might legal marijuana even be coming soon to the Lone Star State?

This action by the Texas Republican Party state convention delegates is an indication of how far the movement toward ending the war on marijuana has come in America. Republican politicians, in contrast with the younger segments of Republican voters, tend to oppose rolling back marijuana prohibition. And Texas, where no Democrat has been elected to any of 29 statewide elective offices since 1994, has been reluctant to join the trend of states enacting recreational or medical marijuana legalization.

Polling suggests there is majority public support in Texas for legalization. Further, the state House of Representatives Criminal Jurisprudence Committee’s approval in 2015 of legislation that would treat marijuana the same as tomatoes for adults — a proposal much more radical than anything adopted in any state so far — indicates there is even potential for Texas to leap to the lead in rolling back the war on marijuana, though that legislation did not receive a floor vote by the entire House.

“Everything is bigger in Texas,” the saying goes. Maybe the Republican-majority Texas legislature, looking to the public support for legalization, will decide to bring the 2015 legislation to the state House and Senate floors for votes and live up to that saying.

Whether Texas next adopts radical legalization of marijuana or takes the more moderate steps recommended by the Republican Party state convention delegates, it seems inevitable that Texas will continue, as are other states, to take steps to roll back marijuana prohibition. Indeed, on the local level, roll-backs have been occurring in Texas in recent years, with local prosecutors increasingly deciding to significantly reduce the number of prosecutions they pursue for alleged marijuana law violations.

These and other local action may be the primary course by which much more marijuana prohibition roll-backs will occur in the state. After all, over 80 years after the end of the US government’s alcohol prohibition, a small portion of Texas local governments still have “dry” status due to their restrictions on alcohol sales, though more localities continue moving from “dry” to “wet.”

One thing holding back the liberalization of marijuana laws in Texas is the lack of the ability of voters, via petition, to put binding ballot measures on the Texas statewide ballot. Ballot measures are the means by which medical marijuana and recreational marijuana legalization have been adopted in most states. In two other “conservative” states — Oklahoma and Utah — that do have the means for voters to put such measures on their statewide ballots, we see medical marijuana ballot measures poised to win voters’ approval this year.

Politicians in Austin — the Texas capital — can likely hold out against the countrywide movement for major roll-backs in marijuana prohibition for only a short time longer, especially now that state convention delegates of the state’s dominant party have voted, by wide margins, for taking several significant steps to roll back the prohibition. Further, the days of countrywide marijuana prohibition are numbered, with likely five years or less remaining. Replacing marijuana prohibition, similar to what occurred with alcohol after its countrywide prohibition ended, will probably be a “patchwork quilt” of laws differing from state to state and even from county to county and city to city, with some laws more restrictive than others, but none totally prohibitive. The proper question seems not to be whether or not Texas will legalize marijuana. The question instead is whether Texas will legalize big, small, or local.]]>
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Will the Real Donald Trump Please Stand Up? Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/19/will-the-real-donald-trump-please-stand-up/

I had coffee with a foreign friend a week ago. The subject of Donald Trump inevitably came up and my friend said that he was torn between describing Trump as a genius or as an idiot, but was inclined to lean towards genius. He explained that Trump was willy-nilly establishing a new world order that will succeed the institutionally exhausted post-World War 2 financial and political arrangements that more-or-less established US hegemony over the “free world.” The Bretton Woods agreement and the founding of the United Nations institutionalized the spread of liberal democracy and free trade, creating a new, post war international order under the firm control of the United States with the American dollar as the benchmark currency. Trump is now rejecting what has become an increasingly dominant global world order in favor of returning to a nineteenth century style nationalism that has become popular as countries struggle to retain their cultural and political identifies. Trump’s vision would seem to include protection of core industries, existing demographics and cultural institutions combined with an end of “democratization,” which will result in an acceptance of foreign autocratic or non-conforming regimes as long as they do not pose military or economic threats.

Sounds good, I countered but there is a space between genius and idiocy and that would be called insanity, best illustrated by impulsive, irrational behavior coupled with acute hypersensitivity over perceived personal insults and a demonstrated inability to comprehend either generally accepted facts or basic norms of personal and group behavior.

Inevitably, I have other friends who follow foreign policy closely that have various interpretations of the Trump phenomenon. One sees the respectful meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea as a bit of brilliant statesmanship, potentially breaking a sixty-five year logjam and possibly opening the door to further discussions that might well avert a nuclear war. And the week also brought a Trump welcome suggestion that Russia should be asked to rejoin the G-7 group of major industrialized democracies, which also has to be seen as a positive step. There has also been talk of a Russia-US summit similar to that with North Korea to iron out differences, an initiative that was first suggested by Trump and then agreed to by Russian President Vladimir Putin. There will inevitably be powerful resistance to such an arrangement coming primarily from the US media and from Congress, but Donald Trump seems to fancy the prospect and it just might take place.

One good friend even puts a positive spin on Trump’s insulting behavior towards America’s traditional allies at the recent G-7 meeting in Canada. She observes that Trump’s basic objections were that Washington is subsidizing the defense of a wealthy Europe and thereby maintaining unnecessarily a relationship that perpetuates a state of no-war no-peace between Russia and the West. And the military costs exacerbate some genuine serious trade imbalances that damage the US economy. If Trumpism prevails, G-7 will become a forum for discussions of trade and economic relations and will become less a club of nations aligned military against Russia and, eventually, China. As she put it, changing its constituency would be a triumph of “mercantilism” over “imperialism.” The now pointless NATO alliance might well find itself without much support if the members actually have to fully fund it proportionate to their GDPs and could easily fade away, which would be a blessing for everyone.

My objection to nearly all the arguments being made in favor or opposed to what occurred in Singapore last week is that the summit is being seen out of context, as is the outreach to Russia at G-7. Those who are in some cases violently opposed to the outcome of the talks with North Korea are, to be sure, sufferers from Trump Derangement Syndrome, where they hate anything he does and spin their responses to cast him in the most negative terms possible. Some others who choose to see daylight in spite of the essential emptiness of the “agreement” are perhaps being overly optimistic while likewise ignoring what else is going on.

And the neoconservatives and globalists are striking back hard to make sure that détente stays in a bottle hidden somewhere on a shelf in the White House cloak room. Always adept at the creation of new front groups, the neocons have now launched something called the Renew Democracy Initiative (RDI), with the goal of “uni[ting] the center-left and the center-right.” Its founders include the redoubtable Max Boot, The Washington Post’s Anne Appelbaum, the inevitable Bill Kristol, and Richard Hurwitz of Council on Foreign Relations. RDI’s website predictably calls for “fresh thinking” and envisions “the best minds from different countries com[ing] together for both broad and discrete projects in the service of liberty and democracy in the West and beyond.” It argues that “Liberal democracy is in crisis around the world, besieged by authoritarianism, nationalism, and other illiberal forces. Far-right parties are gaining traction in Europe, Vladimir Putin tightens his grip on Russia and undermines democracy abroad, and America struggles with poisonous threats from the right and left.”

There are also the internal contradictions in what Trump appears to be doing, suggesting that a brighter future might not be on the horizon even if giving the Europeans a possibly deserved bloody nose over their refusal to spend money defending themselves provides some satisfaction. In the last week alone in Syria the White House has quietly renewed funding for the so-called White Helmets, a terrorist front group. It has also warned that it will take action against the Syrian government for any violation of a “de-escalation zone” in the country’s southwest that has been under the control of Washington. That means that the US, which is in Syria illegally, is warning that country’s legitimate government that it should not attempt to re-establish control over a region that was until recently ruled by terrorists.

And then there is also Donald Trump’s recent renunciation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), eliminating a successful program that was preventing nuclear proliferation on the part of Iran and replacing it with nothing whatsoever apart from war as a possible way of dealing with the potential problem. Indeed, Trump has been prepared to use military force on impulse, even when there is no clear casus belli. In Syria there have been two pointless cruise missile attacks and a trap set up to kill Russian mercenaries. Washington’s stated intention is to destabilize and replace President Bashar al-Assad while continuing the occupation of the Syrian oil fields. And in Afghanistan there are now more troops on the ground than there were on inauguration day together with no plan to bring them home. It is reported that the Pentagon has a twenty-year plan to finish the job but no one actually believes it will work.

The United States is constructing new drone bases in Africa and Asia. It also has a new military base in Israel which will serve as a tripwire for automatic American involvement if Israel goes to war and has given the green light to the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians. In Latin America, Washington has backed off from détente with Cuba and has been periodically threatening some kind of intervention in Venezuela. In Europe, it is engaged in aggressive war games on the Russian borders, most recently in Norway and Poland. The Administration has ordered increased involvement in Somalia and has special ops units operating – and dying – worldwide. Overall, it is hardly a return to the Garden of Eden.

And then there are the petty insults that do not behoove a great power. A friend recently attended the Russian National Day celebration at the embassy in Washington. He reported that the US government completely boycotted the event, together with its allies in Western Europe and the anglosphere, resulting in sparse attendance. It is the kind of slight that causes attitudes to shift when the time comes for serious negotiating. It is unnecessary and it is precisely the sort of thing that Russian President Vladimir Putin is referring to when he asks that his country be treated with “respect.” The White House could have sent a delegation to attend the national day. Trump could have arranged it with a phone call, but he didn’t.

Winston Churchill once reportedly said that to “Jaw, jaw, jaw is better than war, war, war.” As one of the twentieth century’s leading warmongers, he may not have actually meant it, but in principle he was right. So let us hope for the best coming out of Singapore and also for the G-7 or what replaces it in the future. But don’t be confused or diverted by presidential grandstanding. Watch what else is going on outside the limelight and, at least for the present, it is not pretty.

Reprinted with permission from Unz Review.]]>
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Did Washington Just Bomb Syrian Government Troops? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/18/did-washington-just-bomb-syrian-government-troops/
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Government Eyes Are Watching You: We Are All Prisoners of the Surveillance State John W. Whitehead http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/18/government-eyes-are-watching-you-we-are-all-prisoners-of-the-surveillance-state/

“We’re run by the Pentagon, we're run by Madison Avenue, we're run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don't revolt we'll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche.... As long as we go out and buy stuff, we're at their mercy… We all live in a little Village. Your Village may be different from other people's Villages, but we are all prisoners.”— Patrick McGoohan
First broadcast in America 50 years ago, The Prisoner—a dystopian television series described as “James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka”—confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of humankind to meekly accept their lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of their own making.

Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, The Prisoner (17 episodes in all) centers around a British secret agent who abruptly resigns only to find himself imprisoned and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly tranquil retirement community known only as the Village. The Village is an idyllic setting with parks and green fields, recreational activities and even a butler.

While luxurious and resort-like, the Village is a virtual prison disguised as a seaside paradise: its inhabitants have no true freedom, they cannot leave the Village, they are under constant surveillance, their movements are tracked by surveillance drones, and they are stripped of their individuality and identified only by numbers.

The series’ protagonist, played by Patrick McGoohan, is Number Six.

Number Two, the Village administrator, acts as an agent for the unseen and all-powerful Number One, whose identity is not revealed until the final episode.

“I am not a number. I am a free man,” was the mantra chanted on each episode of The Prisoner, which was largely written and directed by McGoohan.

In the opening episode (“The Arrival”), Number Six meets Number Two, who explains to him that he is in The Village because information stored “inside” his head has made him too valuable to be allowed to roam free “outside.”

Throughout the series, Number Six is subjected to interrogation tactics, torture, hallucinogenic drugs, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination and physical coercion in order to “persuade” him to comply, give up, give in and subjugate himself to the will of the powers-that-be.

Number Six refuses to comply.

In every episode, Number Six resists the Village’s indoctrination methods, struggles to maintain his own identity, and attempts to escape his captors. “I will not make any deals with you,” he pointedly remarks to Number Two. “I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.”

Yet no matter how far Number Six manages to get in his efforts to escape, it’s never far enough.

Watched by surveillance cameras and other devices, Number Six’s getaways are continuously thwarted by ominous white balloon-like spheres known as “rovers.” Still, he refuses to give up. “Unlike me,” he says to his fellow prisoners, “many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment, and will die here like rotten cabbages.”

Number Six’s escapes become a surreal exercise in futility, each episode an unsettling, reoccurring nightmare that builds to the same frustrating denouement: there is no escape.

As journalist Scott Thill concludes for Wired, “Rebellion always comes at a price. During the acclaimed run of The Prisoner, Number Six is tortured, battered and even body-snatched: In the episode ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling,’ his mind is transplanted to another man's body. Number Six repeatedly escapes The Village only to be returned to it in the end, trapped like an animal, overcome by a restless energy he cannot expend, and betrayed by nearly everyone around him.”

The series is a chilling lesson about how difficult it is to gain one’s freedom in a society in which prison walls are disguised within the trappings of technological and scientific progress, national security and so-called democracy.

As Thill noted when McGoohan died in 2009, “The Prisoner was an allegory of the individual, aiming to find peace and freedom in a dystopia masquerading as a utopia.”

The Prisoner’s Village is also an apt allegory for the American Police State: it gives the illusion of freedom while functioning all the while like a prison: controlled, watchful, inflexible, punitive, deadly and inescapable.

The American Police State, much like The Prisoner’s Village, is a metaphorical panopticon, a circular prison in which the inmates are monitored by a single watchman situated in a central tower. Because the inmates cannot see the watchman, they are unable to tell whether or not they are being watched at any given time and must proceed under the assumption that they are always being watched.

Eighteenth century social theorist Jeremy Bentham envisioned the panopticon prison to be a cheaper and more effective means of “obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.”

Bentham’s panopticon, in which the prisoners are used as a source of cheap, menial labor, has become a model for the modern surveillance state in which the populace is constantly being watched, controlled and managed by the powers-that-be and funding its existence.

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide: this is the new mantra of the architects of the police state and their corporate collaborators (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, YouTube, Instagram, etc.).

Government eyes are watching you.

They see your every move: what you read, how much you spend, where you go, with whom you interact, when you wake up in the morning, what you’re watching on television and reading on the internet.

Every move you make is being monitored, mined for data, crunched, and tabulated in order to form a picture of who you are, what makes you tick, and how best to control you when and if it becomes necessary to bring you in line.

When the government sees all and knows all and has an abundance of laws to render even the most seemingly upstanding citizen a criminal and lawbreaker, then the old adage that you’ve got nothing to worry about if you’ve got nothing to hide no longer applies.

Apart from the obvious dangers posed by a government that feels justified and empowered to spy on its people and use its ever-expanding arsenal of weapons and technology to monitor and control them, we’re approaching a time in which we will be forced to choose between obeying the dictates of the government—i.e., the law, or whatever a government official deems the law to be—and maintaining our individuality, integrity and independence.

When people talk about privacy, they mistakenly assume it protects only that which is hidden behind a wall or under one’s clothing. The courts have fostered this misunderstanding with their constantly shifting delineation of what constitutes an “expectation of privacy.” And technology has furthered muddied the waters.

However, privacy is so much more than what you do or say behind locked doors. It is a way of living one’s life firm in the belief that you are the master of your life, and barring any immediate danger to another person (which is far different from the carefully crafted threats to national security the government uses to justify its actions), it’s no one’s business what you read, what you say, where you go, whom you spend your time with, and how you spend your money.

Unfortunately, George Orwell’s 1984—where “you had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized”—has now become our reality.

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers.

Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior.

This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

Stingray devices mounted on police cars to warrantlessly track cell phones, Doppler radar devices that can detect human breathing and movement within in a home, license plate readers that can record up to 1800 license plates per minutesidewalk and “public space” cameras coupled with facial recognition and behavior-sensing technology that lay the groundwork for police “pre-crime” programspolice body cameras that turn police officers into roving surveillance cameras, the internet of things: all of these technologies add up to a society in which there’s little room for indiscretions, imperfections, or acts of independence—especially not when the government can listen in on your phone calls, monitor your driving habits, track your movements, scrutinize your purchases and peer through the walls of your home.

As French philosopher Michel Foucault concluded in his 1975 book Discipline and Punish, “Visibility is a trap.”

This is the electronic concentration camp—the panopticon prison—the Village—in which we are now caged.

It is a prison from which there will be no escape if the government gets it way.

As Glenn Greenwald notes:
“The way things are supposed to work is that we’re supposed to know virtually everything about what [government officials] do: that’s why they’re called public servants. They’re supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that’s why we’re called private individuals. This dynamic - the hallmark of a healthy and free society - has been radically reversed. Now, they know everything about what we do, and are constantly building systems to know more. Meanwhile, we know less and less about what they do, as they build walls of secrecy behind which they function. That’s the imbalance that needs to come to an end. No democracy can be healthy and functional if the most consequential acts of those who wield political power are completely unknown to those to whom they are supposed to be accountable.”
Unfortunately, we seem to be trapped in the Village with no hope of escape.

That we are prisoners—and, in fact, never stopped being prisoners—should come as no surprise to those who haven’t been taking the escapist blue pill, who haven’t fallen for the Deep State’s phony rhetoric, and who haven’t been lured in by the promise of a political savior.

So how do we break out?

For starters, wake up. Resist the urge to comply.

The struggle to remain “oneself in a society increasingly obsessed with conformity to mass consumerism,” writes Steven Paul Davies, means that superficiality and image trump truth and the individual. The result is the group mind and the tyranny of mob-think—especially in a day and age when most people are addicted to screen devices controlled and administered by the government and its corporate allies.

Think for yourself. Be an individual. As McGoohan commented in 1968, “At this moment individuals are being drained of their personalities and being brainwashed into slaves… As long as people feel something, that's the great thing. It's when they are walking around not thinking and not feeling, that's tough. When you get a mob like that, you can turn them into the sort of gang that Hitler had.”

In a media-dominated age in which the lines between entertainment, politics and news reporting are blurred, it is extremely difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. We are so bombarded with images, dictates, rules and punishments and stamped with numbers from the day we are born that it is a wonder we ever ponder a concept such as freedom. As McGoohan declared, “Freedom is a myth.”

In the end, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we are all prisoners of our own mind.

In fact, it is in the mind that prisons are created for us. And in the lockdown of political correctness, it becomes extremely difficult to speak or act individually without being ostracized. Thus, so often we are forced to retreat inwardly into our minds, a prison without bars from which we cannot escape, and into the world of video games and television and the Internet.

We have come full circle from Bentham’s Panopticon to McGoohan’s Village to Huxley’s Brave New World.

As cultural theorist Neil Postman observed:
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared we would become a captive audience. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared that we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate would ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
You want to be free? Break out of the circle.

Reprinted with permission from the Rutherford Institute.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/18/government-eyes-are-watching-you-we-are-all-prisoners-of-the-surveillance-state/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/18/government-eyes-are-watching-you-we-are-all-prisoners-of-the-surveillance-state/ Mon, 18 Jun 2018 14:08:18 GMT
Why Can't We Sue the TSA For Assault? Ron Paul http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/18/why-cant-we-sue-the-tsa-for-assault/

When I was in Congress and had to regularly fly between DC and Texas, I was routinely subjected to invasive “pat-downs” (physical assaults) by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). One time, exasperated with the constant insults to my privacy and dignity, I asked a TSA agent if he was proud to assault innocent Americans for a living.

I thought of this incident after learning that the TSA has been compiling a “troublesome passengers” list. The list includes those who have engaged in conduct judged to be “offensive and without legal justification” or disruptive of the “safe and effective completion of screening.” Libertarian journalist James Bovard recently pointed out that any woman who pushed a screener’s hands away from her breasts could be accused of disrupting the “safe and effective completion of screening.” Passengers like me who have expressed offense at TSA screeners are likely on the troublesome passengers list.

Perhaps airline passengers should start keeping a list of troublesome TSA agents. The list could include those who forced nursing mothers to drink their own breast milk, those who forced sick passengers to dispose of cough medicine, and those who forced women they found attractive to go through a body scanner multiple times. The list would certainly include the agents who confiscated a wheelchair-bound three-year-old’s beloved stuffed lamb at an airport and threatened to subject her to a pat-down. The girl, who was at the airport with her family to take a trip to Disney World, was filmed crying that she no longer wanted to go to Disney World.

The TSA is effective at violating our liberty, but it is ineffective at protecting our security. Last year, the TSA’s parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), conducted undercover tests of the TSA’s ability to detect security threats at airports across the country. The results showed the TSA staff and equipment failed to uncover threats 80 percent of the time. This is not the first time the TSA has been revealed to be incompetent. An earlier DHS study fund TSA screenings and even the invasive pat-downs were utterly ineffective at finding hidden weapons.

The TSA’s “security theater” of treating every passenger as a criminal suspect while doing nothing to stop real threats is a rational response to the incentives the TSA faces as a government agency. If the TSA puts up an appearance of diligently working to prevent another 9/11 by inconveniencing and even assaulting as many travelers as possible, Congress will assume the agency is doing its job and keep increasing the TSA’s budget. Because the TSA gets its revenue from Congress, not from airline passengers, the agency has no reason to concern itself with customer satisfaction and feels free to harass and assault people, as well as to make lists of people who stand up for their rights.

Congress should end the TSA’s monopoly on security by abolishing the agency and returning responsibility for security to the airlines. The airline companies can contract with private firms that provide real security without treating every passenger as a criminal suspect. A private security firm that assaults its customers while failing to detect real dangers would soon go out of business, whereas the TSA would likely have its budget and power increased if there was another attack on the US.

If shutting down the TSA is too “radical” a step, Congress should at least allow individuals to sue TSA agents for assault. Anyone who has suffered unfair treatment by the TSA as a result of being put on the “troublesome passengers” list should also be able to seek redress in court. Making TSA agents subject to the rule of law is an important step toward protecting our liberty and security.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/18/why-cant-we-sue-the-tsa-for-assault/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/18/why-cant-we-sue-the-tsa-for-assault/ Mon, 18 Jun 2018 13:05:40 GMT
Inspector General's Report on FBI and Clinton's Emails Shows Secrecy Threatens Democracy James Bovard http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/17/inspector-generals-report-on-fbi-and-clintons-emails-shows-secrecy-threatens-democracy/ undefined

The inspector general report on the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton contained plenty of bombshells, including a promise by lead FBI investigator Peter Strzok that “we’ll stop” Donald Trump from becoming president. The report reveals how unjustified secrecy and squirrelly decisions helped ravage the credibility of both Clinton’s presidential campaign and the FBI. But few commentators are recognizing the vast peril to democracy posed by the sweeping prerogatives of federal agencies.

The FBI’s investigation of Clinton was spurred by her decision to set up a private server to handle her email during her four years as secretary of State. The server in her mansion in Chappaqua, N.Y., was insecure and exposed emails with classified information to detection by foreign sources and others.

Clinton effectively exempted herself from the federal Freedom of Information Act. The State Department ignored 17 FOIA requests for her emails before 2014 and insisted it required 75 years to disclose emails of Clinton's top aides.

A federal judge and the State Department inspector general slammed the FOIA stonewalling.

Clinton’s private email server was not publicly disclosed until she received a congressional subpoena in 2015. A few months later, the FBI Counterintelligence Division opened a criminal investigation of the “potential unauthorized storage of classified information on an unauthorized system.”

The IG report gives the impression that the FBI treated Clinton and her coterie like royalty — or at least like personages worthy of endless deference. When Bleachbit software or hammers were used to destroy email evidence under congressional subpoena, the FBI treated it as a harmless error. The IG report “questioned whether the use of a subpoena or search warrant might have encouraged Clinton, her lawyers ... or others to search harder for the missing devices (containing email), or ensured that they were being honest that they could not find them.” Instead, FBI agents worked on “rapport-building” with Clinton aides.

Indictment justified

FBI investigators shrugged off brazen deceit. An unnamed FBI agent on the case responded to a fellow FBI agent who asked how an interview went with a witness who worked with the Clintons at their Chappaqua residence: “Awesome. Lied his a-- off. Went from never inside the scif (sensitive compartmented information facility) at res (residence), to looked in when it was being constructed, to removed the trash twice, to troubleshot the secure fax with HRC a couple times, to every time there was a secure fax i did it with HRC. Ridic.” When his colleague replied that “would be funny if he was the only guy charged n this deal,” he replied, “aint noone gonna do s--t” as far as filing charges.

Perhaps the most frequent phrase in the IG report is “According to the FD-302 ...”  This refers to the memo an FBI agent writes after interviewing targets or witnesses in an investigation. Relying on Form 302s (instead of recordings interviews) maximizes the discretion of FBI officials — allowing them to frame issues, create a narrative, or buttress charges of lying to a federal agent.

The FBI waited until the end of the investigation to interview Clinton and had decided to absolve her “absent a confession from Clinton,” the IG report noted.

There was no recording and no transcript. Instead, a 302 report allowed FBI Director James Comey to proceed with the preordained “not guilty” finding. Clinton had received numerous classified emails, some of which were marked with a (C) on her private email server. The IG report notes, “According to the FD-302 from Clinton’s interview, Clinton told the FBI that she did not know what the ‘(C)’ meant and ‘speculated it was a reference to paragraphs ranked in alphabetical order.’ ”

The IG noted, “Witnesses told us, and contemporaneous emails show, that the FBI and Department officials who attended Clinton’s interview found that her claim that she did not understand the significance of the ‘(C)’ marking strained credulity. (FBI) Agent 1 stated, ‘I filed that in the bucket of hard to impossible to believe.’”

Comey told IG investigators that “by her demeanor, she was credible and open and all that kind of stuff.” But a video recording of the showdown (especially the alphabet line) would have been invaluable to Americans who doubted Clinton and the FBI.

Anti-Trump texts spurred the IG to refer five FBI employees for possible disciplinary penalties. One FBI agent labeled Trump supporters as “retarded” and declared “I’m with her” (Clinton). Another FBI employee texted that “Trump’s supporters are all poor to middle class, uneducated, lazy POS.” One FBI lawyer texted that he was “devastated” by Trump’s election and declared “Viva la Resistance!” and “I never really liked the Republic anyway.” The same person became the “primary FBI attorney assigned to (Russian election interference) investigation beginning in early 2017,” the IG noted.

Lack of transparency

The IG report deals briefly with a kerfuffle over the FOIA release of Clinton Foundation documents a week before the 2016 election. Regrettably, the IG overlooked FBI’s horrendous record on FOIA compliance, spurring bitter complaints even from its former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

A federal judge slammed the agency for claiming it would require 17 years to fulfill a FOIA request on surveillance of anti-war activists in the 1960s.

The FBI also makes ludicrous redactions to FOIA releases — such as deleting the names of Clark Kent and Lois Lane from a theatrical adaptation of Superman because disclosing them would “constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

The IG report illustrates the vast sway that federal agencies sometimes seek over what Americans are permitted to know about candidates and their government. Unfortunately, this coroner’s inquest into 2016 chicaneries will do nothing to prevent covert federal meddling from tilting future elections. 

And as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wisely warned in 2012: “Lack of transparency eats away like a cancer at the trust people should have in their government.”

James Bovard is author of Attention Deficit Democracy.

Reprinted with author's permission from USA Today.

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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/17/inspector-generals-report-on-fbi-and-clintons-emails-shows-secrecy-threatens-democracy/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/17/inspector-generals-report-on-fbi-and-clintons-emails-shows-secrecy-threatens-democracy/ Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:46:12 GMT
US Officially Resumes Funding For The White Helmets In Syria Tyler Durden http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/14/us-officially-resumes-funding-for-the-white-helmets-in-syria/
Screenshots from a four-minute video documents that the US government has been lying about the White Helmets' role as mere "first responders". Above they are seen assisting al-Nusra Front (AQ in Syria) in an execution which the group later owned up to. 

In a somewhat surprising but not entirely unpredictable turn, President Trump has authorized new funding for the White Helmets which had previously been put on hold. 

A State Department press release puts the initial funding figure at $6.6 million to continue what it calls "the vital, life-saving operations of the Syrian Civil Defense, more commonly known as the White Helmets." Elsewhere on the State Department's website the group is referenced as "first responders" in Syria; however, it remains an indisputable fact that the group only operates in al-Qaeda and anti-Assad insurgent held territory.

The statement continues: "The United States Government strongly supports the White Helmets who have saved more than 100,000 lives since the conflict began including victims of Assad's chemical weapons attacks."

In early May the Trump State Department froze funding to the controversial aid group which had provided the sole evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reportedly used chemical weapons on his own people in an April 7 attack on the city of Douma.

The prior funding freeze dealt a huge blow to the group's reputation, already long under fire after multiple videos emerged proving the White Helmets operate closely alongside know al-Qaeda terrorist groups, and have even participated in al-Qaeda execution videos typically in a support role of disposing the bodies.

As CBS News reported at the time:
Having not received US funding in recent weeks, White Helmets are questioning what this means for the future. They have received no formal declaration from the US government that the monetary assistance has come to a full halt, but the group's people on the ground in Syria report that their funds have been cut off. 
Much speculation abounded at the time over whether the freeze was a bureaucratic error in paperwork, or whether it was the result of the White House adopting a different view of the scandal-laden group.

After all in 2016 the US State Department had blocked entrance into the United States by Raed Saleh, the head of the White Helmets,and refused to say why. Saleh had been invited to receive in NYC an award by USAID and NGOs that the US government finances, but he was barred at the airport, apparently because the FBI had placed him onto its no-fly list as a known terrorist.

For this reason many analysts who have been critical of the group's known terror ties and penchant for "enhancing" and possibly staging videos were hopeful that Trump had changed his tune concerning the group. In the summer of 2017 Trump announced he was shutting down the CIA covert program to aid rebels in Syria after he saw a shocking video of CIA-supported fighters decapitating a young boy in Aleppo.

In an irony which will surely be lost on all mainstream pundits, the very group featured in the appalling beheading video which reportedly caused Trump to nix the CIA program, Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki, has been filmed in multiple UK Channel 4 broadcasts working closely with the White Helmets

* * *
Concerning last April's alleged Assad chemical attack, the evidence provided by the White Helmets was used by the West to justify several airstrikes on Syrian scientific and military facilities throughout April - the first one conducted on Syria's T4 airbase by Israel 48 hours after the White Helmets' report. Many Douma residents, meanwhile - including Hospital personnel - say the chemical attack never happened.

The White Helmets are a 3,000 member NGO formally known as the Syrian Civil Defense. Established in "late 2012 - early 2013" after a group of 20 Syrians were trained and organized by former British army officer James Le Mesurier. The group then received funding from Le Mesurier's Netherlands-based non-profit group, Mayday Rescue - which is in turn funded by grants from the Dutch, British, Danish and German governments.

The US has in the past provided at least $32 million to the group - around 1/3 of their total funding - through a USAID scheme orchestrated by the Obama State Department and funneled to the White Helmets using a Washington D.C. contractor participating in USAID's Syria regional program, Chemonics. 
According to their website, the White Helmets have been directly funded by Mayday Rescue, and a company called Chemonics, since 2014.

Yet there’s evidence that both of those organizations started supporting the White Helmets back in early 2013, right around the time the White Helmets claim to have formed as self-organized groups.

Mayday Rescue, as we said, is funded by the Dutch, British, Danish and German governments. And Chemonics?

They are a Washington, D.C. based contractor that was awarded $128.5 million in January 2013 to support “a peaceful transition to a democratic and stable Syria” as part of USAID’s Syria regional program. At least $32 million has been given directly to the White Helmets as of February 2018. -TruthInMedia
So the US, Dutch, British, Danish and German governments have been funding the White Helmets, a non-governmental organization, through proxies for around five years.

* * *
Meanwhile Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov warned early this week that US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces are planning a "serious provocation" aimed at justifying a new round of Western coalition missile attacks against Syrian government bases and facilities.

Russia says it is aware of the existence of a video which will be used to "prove" an Assad chemical attack, similar to the videos which have emerged in past events. 

Konashenkov, in a statement carried by Russian state-run TASS and subsequently featured in a One America News report, said "According to the information confirmed through three independent channels in Syria, the command of the so-called ‘Free Syrian Army’ aided by the forces of the US special ops units are preparing a serious provocation involving chemical warfare agents in the Deir ez-Zor province."

Russia has in the past pointed the finger at the White Helmets from staging such "provocations". 

"After being published in western media a staged video is set to initiate a missile strike on Syria’s state facilities by the US-led coalition and justify an offensive operation by militants against Syrian governmental forces on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River," he said, adding that Russia’s Defense Ministry warns that the use of such provocations for destabilization of the environment on the Syrian territory is unacceptable.

Perhaps today's announcement of the resumption of US funding for the White Helmets is merely the beginning of another major "event" which will justify more Western military intervention in Syria?

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/14/us-officially-resumes-funding-for-the-white-helmets-in-syria/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/14/us-officially-resumes-funding-for-the-white-helmets-in-syria/ Thu, 14 Jun 2018 20:12:02 GMT
How to Get on a Jury Mark Bennett http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/14/how-to-get-on-a-jury/

If you want to serve on a criminal jury, the most important rule is this: Say as little as possible, with your words, your body language, and your appearance.

But why would you want to sit on a jury in the first place? Because in a criminal trial, if you can read and reason and resist being swayed by emotion, you will make a better juror than most of your fellow members of the community. A jury is the entity that acts as the voice of the community, and serving as a juror allows you to contribute to that voice.

You may also believe that the law under which the defendant is being prosecuted is an illegitimate use of state power. In that case, acting as a juror gives you the opportunity to exercise the power of jury nullification—finding the defendant "not guilty" regardless of whether the state has proven the accusation beyond a reasonable doubt.

This power to nullify an unjust law is as old as the institution of the jury; it's a practice rooted in the principle that a juror can and should reach whatever verdict her conscience leads her to, and that there is nothing the government, or anyone else, can do to stop her beforehand or punish her afterward. Of course, the state prefers to maintain tight control over trials. In most jurisdictions, defense lawyers are prohibited from telling juries about nullification, and judges and prosecutors will, if pressed, lie and tell jurors they may not vote to nullify. But that is all the state can do to try to stop it. Knowing the truth will keep you from being deceived.

In 23 years of criminal defense practice, I've tried more than 40 cases before juries that I've picked, plus assisted and watched many more lawyers' jury selections. I've made a study of the psychology and social dynamics of the process and taught the science and practice of it to countless lawyers across the country. I've learned that getting onto a jury to nullify illegitimate laws is easier when you understand the game that judges and attorneys are playing.

You are an intelligent, opinionated person who wants to share with your fellow citizens the fact that they have the power to follow their consciences in arriving at a verdict. This is admirable. But if you succumb to the temptation to do so during jury selection, your chances of being chosen drop to nil.

We call the process of turning a group of community members into a jury of six or 12 "jury selection," but it is, by necessity, actually jury deselection. Each party can eliminate from the jury pool any person who has a bias for or against the defendant or a bias against any of the laws that are applicable to the case (this is a "challenge for cause"). Then each side can eliminate from the jury pool a fixed number of people for any reason at all, as long as that reason is not some form of proscribed discrimination (this is a "peremptory challenge"). The jury is the first dozen people (or half-dozen, in a misdemeanor case) remaining after both sides have exercised their challenges.

Lawyers find bias, and other reasons to strike jurors, in the things candidates say, the way they act, and how they look. As a practical matter, the first six or 12 people left after the lawyers have used all of their strikes are those who have kept their mouths shut and who appear ordinary.

Bias against "the law applicable to the case" is grounds for a challenge for cause, and while you and I know that jury nullification falls within the bounds of the law, the system in practice does not recognize that principle. Judges will bar defense lawyers from even mentioning jury nullification, and judges and prosecutors will lie to jurors about that power (or right, if you prefer, since the people's rights are, of course, powers in relation to the state). A juror who expresses any understanding of her power to nullify bad laws will certainly be challenged by the prosecutor for cause and excused by the judge. Precedent is very clear that a willingness to nullify the law is a bias against that law, which is grounds for a juror to be stricken for cause.

The first challenge for someone who wants to be able to exercise his own sense of right and wrong in the jury room isto be bluntnot to let the state know that he plans to do so.

Potential jurors are questioned under oath. As a philosophical matter, a person may feel that where the court and the state are lying to jurors about their power to nullify, jurors are justified in lying back. Perhaps you feel the power to nullify a law contains the power to nullify the oath to tell the truth, if that is the only way to exercise your right. But for our current purposes, let's assume that you are unwilling to commit perjury for the sake of nullificationthat you believe lying under oath is a greater evil than being excluded from a jury because you know about your right to nullify bad laws. In that case, if the prosecutor or the judge asks you explicitly about your power to nullify"Ms. Jones, do you believe that a juror has a right to follow her conscience rather than the law?"you will answer truthfully, and your truthful answer will likely get you excused from the jury without further questioning.

Lawyers in jury selection have a lot on their minds, however. They are also often afraid of "poisoning the well" by eliciting ideas they don't want the other potential jurors to hear (including ideas about nullification). Now, this fear is irrational, since a juror who holds such a view but keeps it to himself will quietly carry the "poison" into the jury room. But even lawyers behave irrationally, and the chance you will be confronted with such a clear and direct question is slim.

Slightly more likely is a query such as, "By show of hands, who here believes in jury nullification?"

If you parse the question and the answer is inescapably "yes," then not raising your hand is concealing facts from the court while under oath to tell the truth. If you do raise your hand, there will be additional questions, which may lead the judge to conclude that you have a bias against the law and should be stricken from the jury. At the very least, your speaking up will give the prosecution a reason to exercise a peremptory challenge against you.

Better, from your perspective, that prosecutors should use a peremptory challenge than a challenge for cause, since they have an unlimited number of the latter but very few of the former. Still, the objective of this exercise is to get on the jury. Fortunately, unless the defense lawyer has telegraphed to the prosecutor an intention to rely on nullification (a bad idea if she actually plans to do so, though an excellent diversion if she does not), you probably won't get this question, either.

What is likelyespecially with a case involving a relatively unpopular law, such as a law criminalizing possession of marijuanais that the prosecutor or judge will ask a question along the lines of, "How many of you think that possession of marijuana should not be against the law?"

Fair Use Excerpt. Read whole article here.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/14/how-to-get-on-a-jury/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/14/how-to-get-on-a-jury/ Thu, 14 Jun 2018 09:18:48 GMT
A Politically Weaponized FBI is Nothing New, But Plenty Dangerous James Bovard http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/14/a-politically-weaponized-fbi-is-nothing-new-but-plenty-dangerous/

The Justice Department Inspector General is expected to release on Thursday its report on alleged FBI misconduct during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump supporters and opponents are already pre-spinning the report to vindicate or undercut the president. Unfortunately, the report will not consider fundamental question of whether the FBI’s vast power and secrecy is compatible with American democracy.

According to some Republicans, the FBI’s noble history was tainted by its apparent favoritism for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Democrats have gyrated over the past 18 months, first 
blaming the FBI for Clinton’s loss and then exalting the FBI (along with former FBI chief and Special Counsel Robert Mueller) as the best hope to save the nation.

In reality, the FBI has been politically weaponized for almost a century. The FBI was in the forefront of the notorious Red Scare 
raids of 1919 and 1920. Attorney General Mitchell Palmer reportedly hoped that arresting nearly 10,000 suspected radicals and immigrants would propel his presidential campaign. Federal Judge Anderson condemned Palmer’s crackdown for creating a “spy system” that “destroys trust and confidence and propagates hate.” He said, “A mob is a mob whether made up of government officials acting under instructions from the Department of Justice, or of criminals, loafers, and the vicious classes.”

Fair Use Excerpt. Read full article here.
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/14/a-politically-weaponized-fbi-is-nothing-new-but-plenty-dangerous/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/14/a-politically-weaponized-fbi-is-nothing-new-but-plenty-dangerous/ Thu, 14 Jun 2018 09:01:19 GMT
Saudi-led Coalition Strikes Newly Built Doctors Without Borders Facility in Yemen RT http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/13/saudi-led-coalition-strikes-newly-built-doctors-without-borders-facility-in-yemen/

A newly built cholera care center, run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the town of Abs, has been hit by Saudi-led coalition planes in yet another airstrike on the medical charity’s facilities in war-ravaged Yemen.

The attack has rendered the center “non-functional,” MSF said in a statement, with photos from the scene showing that the building’s roof and some of the walls were completely destroyed in the airstrike. Luckily, the bombing in the Hajjah governorate did not result in deaths or injuries, because the “facility had not yet received any cholera patients and was empty,” the statement read.

Doctors Without Borders stressed that the cholera treatment center (CTC) was hit despite “markings on the roof of the compound clearly identifying the CTC as a healthcare facility.” According to MSF, the coordinates of the facility had also been declared to the Saudi-led coalition by the organization.

“Whether intentional or a result of negligence, it is totally unacceptable,” Joao Martins, the head of the Doctors Without Borders mission in Yemen, said. “MSF has temporarily frozen its activities in Abs until the safety of its staff and patients is guaranteed.”

“CTC had been built to save lives,” Martins pointed out, as the country is bracing itself for another outbreak of cholera. The fight with the disease is “far from over,” the World Health Organization warned last week, adding that over a million people are currently at risk.

During the three years of violence since the Saudi-led military intervention in the country, Yemen has suffered the worst cholera epidemic in modern history, with over a million people affected, nearly half of them children, and more than 2,200 deaths, according to the UN.

In August last year, a Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit an MSF hospital, also located in Abs; that attack, in which 19 people were killed and 24 injured, became the deadliest among several such incidents during the conflict.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched their first airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen in March 2015, in an attempt to help reinstate ousted President Mansour Hadi to power. Since then more than 5,500 civilians have been killed and over 9,000 injured as of the end of 2017, according to the UN.

The majority of civilian casualties were the result of airstrikes, with the Saudi-led coalition being blamed by international human rights groups for indiscriminate bombings in Yemen. The US and UK have also faced harsh criticism for selling weapons to the coalition, which are then used against civilians.

Reprinted with permission from RT.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/13/saudi-led-coalition-strikes-newly-built-doctors-without-borders-facility-in-yemen/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/13/saudi-led-coalition-strikes-newly-built-doctors-without-borders-facility-in-yemen/ Wed, 13 Jun 2018 13:41:52 GMT
Mueller Scrambles To Limit Evidence After Indicted Russians Actually Show Up In Court Tyler Durden http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/13/mueller-scrambles-to-limit-evidence-after-indicted-russians-actually-show-up-in-court/

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is scrambling to limit pretrial evidence handed over to a Russian company he indicted in February over alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, according to Bloomberg.

Mueller asked a Washington federal Judge for a protective order that would prevent the delivery of copious evidence to lawyers for Concord Management and Consulting, LLC, one of three Russian firms and 13 Russian nationals. The indictment accuses the firm of producing propaganda, pretending to be U.S. activists online and posting political content on social media in order to sow discord among American voters. 

The special counsel's office argues that the risk of the evidence leaking or falling into the hands of foreign intelligence services, especially Russia, would assist the Kremlin's active "interference operations" against the United States. 

“The substance of the government’s evidence identifies uncharged individuals and entities that the government believes are continuing to engage in interference operations like those charged in the present indictment,” prosecutors wrote.
Improper disclosure would tip foreign intelligence services about how the U.S. operates, which would “allow foreign actors to learn of those techniques and adjust their conduct, thus undermining ongoing and future national security operations,” according to the filing.

The evidence includes thousands of documents involving U.S. residents not charged with crimes who prosecutors say were unwittingly recruited by Russian defendants and co-conspirators to engage in political activity in the U.S., prosecutors wrote. -Bloomberg
Mueller also accused Concord of "knowingly and intentionally" conspiring to interfere with the election by using social media to disparage Hillary Clinton and support Donald Trump.

And Concord Management decided to fight it... 

As Powerline notes, Mueller probably didn't see that coming - and the indictment itself was perhaps nothing more than a PR stunt to bolster the Russian interference narrative. 
I don’t think anyone (including Mueller) anticipated that any of the defendants would appear in court to defend against the charges. Rather, the Mueller prosecutors seem to have obtained the indictment to serve a public relations purpose, laying out the case for interference as understood by the government and lending a veneer of respectability to the Mueller Switch Project.

One of the Russian corporate defendants nevertheless hired counsel to contest the charges. In April two Washington-area attorneys — Eric Dubelier and Kate Seikaly of the Reed Smith firm — filed appearances in court on behalf of Concord Management and Consulting. Josh Gerstein covered that turn of events for Politico here. -Powerline Blog
Politico's Gerstein notes that by defending against the charges, Concord could force prosecutors to turn over discovery about how the case was assembled as well as evidence that might undermine the prosecution’s theories.”

In a mad scramble to put the brakes on the case, Mueller's team tried to delay the trial - saying that Concord never formally accepted the court summons related to the case, wrapping themselves in a "cloud of confusion" as Powerline puts it. “Until the Court has an opportunity to determine if Concord was properly served, it would be inadvisable to conduct an initial appearance and arraignment at which important rights will be communicated and a plea entertained.”

The Judge, Dabney Friedrich - a Trump appointee, didn't buy it - denying Mueller a delay in the high-profile trial.

The Russians hit back - filing a response to let the court know that “[Concord] voluntarily appeared through counsel as provided for in [the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure], and further intends to enter a plea of not guilty. [Concord] has not sought a limited appearance nor has it moved to quash the summons. As such, the briefing sought by the Special Counsel’s motion is pettifoggery.”

And the Judge agreed...
A federal judge has rejected special counsel Robert Mueller’s request to delay the first court hearing in a criminal case charging three Russian companies and 13 Russian citizens with using social media and other means to foment strife among Americans in advance of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In a brief order Saturday evening, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich offered no explanation for her decision to deny a request prosecutors made Friday to put off the scheduled Wednesday arraignment for Concord Management and Consulting, one of the three firms charged in the case. -Politico
In other words, Mueller was denied the opportunity to kick the can down the road, forcing him to produce the requested evidence or withdraw the indictment, potentially jeopardizing the PR aspect of the entire "Trump collusion" probe.

And now Mueller is pointing to Russian "interference operations" in a last-ditch effort. 

Of note, Facebook VP of advertising, Rob Goldman, tossed a major hand grenade in the "pro-Trump" Russian meddling narrative in February when he fired off a series of tweets the day of the Russian indictments. Most notably, Goldman pointed out that the majority of advertising purchased by Russians on Facebook occurred after the election, were hardly pro-Trump, and they was designed to "sow discord and divide Americans", something which Americans have been quite adept at doing on their own ever since the Fed decided to unleash a record class, wealth, income divide by keeping capital markets artificially afloat at any cost.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/13/mueller-scrambles-to-limit-evidence-after-indicted-russians-actually-show-up-in-court/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/13/mueller-scrambles-to-limit-evidence-after-indicted-russians-actually-show-up-in-court/ Wed, 13 Jun 2018 12:49:04 GMT
Trump 'War Games' Announcement Shocks South Korea, US Military Forces Tyler Durden http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/12/trump-war-games-announcement-shocks-south-korea-us-military-forces/

In what was perhaps the most surprising announcement to emerge from today's Trump-Kim summit, president Trump agreed to suspend military exercises with South Korea in return for a commitment to denuclearisation from North Korea.

As we reported earlier, Trump said the war games were expensive and “very provocative”, and yet stopping them has been called a "major concession", something the US has previously rejected as non-negotiable on the grounds that the exercises are a key element of its military alliance with Seoul, and maintaining a deterrent against North Korea. In return, Trump said Kim had agreed in a joint statement to reassert “his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

In other words, Trump made it appear that he is negotiating from a position of weakness to achieve a diplomatic goal which would have remained unachievable had Trump not taken the initiative. In doing so, however, he infuriated the neocons in his immediate circle. Immediately after the announcement, the WaPo's Josh Rogin noted that "Everything Trump is saying and doing goes directly against everything Bolton has ever said or believed about North Korea."

On the surface, anything that neocon warmonger Bolton hates can only be good.

But it wasn't just Trump's closest advisors that were shocked: both the South Korean government and US forces in the region appear to have been taken by surprise by Trump’s declared suspension of joint military exercises.

According to Reuters, US forces in Korea said they had not received updated guidance on military exercises.

“In coordination with our ROK [Republic of Korea] partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance,” a spokesperson told Reuters.

Trump’s announcement also came as a surprise to the South Korean government. “At this point, we need to know President Trump’s exact meaning or intentions,” according to a statement released by the office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in. “However we think that it is crucial to pursue various solutions for better dialogue.”

The South Korean military appeared similarly taken aback, with NBC News quoting a statement as saying: “Regarding President Trump’s comment regarding ending of the combined military drills … we need to find out the exact meaning or intention behind his comments at this point.”

Military officials from both countries, including the US defence secretary, James Mattis, had vigorously opposed curtailing joint military exercises, on the grounds that doing so would undermine the alliance and its deterrent against North Korea.

Kelly Magsamen, a senior Pentagon official dealing with Asian and Pacific security in the Obama administration, blasted the surprise suspension of military exercises and their disparagement as expensive and provocative “continues Trump’s disturbing pattern of undermining our democratic alliances while praising our adversaries”.

Then again, with North Korea having repeatedly said that any denuclearization could only take place if the US stops naval drills in the region, Trump's surprise decision just may be the missing link that gets North Korea to finally do what generations of western leaders have failed to achieve.

Trump said the summit on Tuesday would be followed next week by more negotiations between US and North Korean officials to work out the details of the agreement.

In an amusing twist, before his press conference, reporters were shown a video that Trump said he had played to Kim and his aides towards the end of their talks. It was made by Destiny Productions and was presented in Korean and English in the style of an action movie trailer.

It sought to illustrate alternative futures for North Korea: one a bright, colourful world of scientific progress and happiness, the other a monochrome world full of weaponry accompanied by ominous music. Only one person could choose between these two destinies, the film’s narrator said.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/12/trump-war-games-announcement-shocks-south-korea-us-military-forces/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/12/trump-war-games-announcement-shocks-south-korea-us-military-forces/ Tue, 12 Jun 2018 20:19:50 GMT
Outcome of Assange Case Could Undermine the Rights of Millions Whitney Webb http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/12/outcome-of-assange-case-could-undermine-the-rights-of-millions/

As the sixth anniversary of his extended stay in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London approaches, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange is faced with increasingly limited options. Barred from communicating with the outside world and from receiving most visitors, Assange’s only hope of avoiding extradition to the United States on trumped-up espionage charges comes down to the governments of the two countries of which he is a citizen: Australia and Ecuador.

In an unexpected move last week, the Australian government sent officials to meet with Assange and later confirmed that Australia would finally extend consular assistance to the Australian-born journalist after years of failing to do so and even threatening to revoke his Australian passport. The Australian government, in the past, has attempted to argue that it can do little to help Assange’s situation, asserting that it was “unable to intervene in the due process of another country’s court proceedings or legal matters.”

It has also failed to publicly comment on the UN’s finding that Assange has been subjected to arbitrary detention by the United Kingdom — asserting, 
as recently as last week, that the government’s position on the matter is “confidential,” and deflecting responsibility by claiming that the UN’s findings “are directed at the United Kingdom and Sweden, not at Australia.”

However, given the fact that Sweden has dropped all legal proceedings against him, and with his protected status at the Ecuadorian embassy in question, Australia is now coming under unprecedented pressure to act. And the political pressure the Australian government is facing involves the broader implications the Assange case holds for Australian citizens as a collective, not just for Assange as an individual.

As
 recently noted by Richard Hoffman at WSWS:
The issue at stake for the Australian government is its commitment to the protection of the human rights of its citizens, including internationally recognized legal and democratic norms such as free speech, the right of due process, freedom from cruel and degrading treatment, and the right not to be punished in the absence of a criminal act.
Indeed, Assange’s detention in the embassy has been carried out in the complete absence of criminal charges, as the only remaining legal justification for his arrest by the U.K. government is his breach of bail.

However, as
 Hoffman writes, a breach of bail would not lead to incarceration in the U.K., as the primary punishment for such infractions is the payment of a bail bond, which was forfeited in Assange’s case. Thus, the only reasonable conclusion regarding the U.K.’s intention to detain Assange if he leaves the embassy is that it is to extradite him to the United States — the very basis for his protected status.

What undercutting Assange would mean for all Aussies

Thus, if Australia reneges on its obligations to protect Assange and fight for his rights, the implications such actions would hold for every other citizen of the country are as vast as they are chilling. It would set the legal precedent for Australia to allow any of its citizens to be detained, imprisoned and/or silenced by another government without charges, greatly weakening the rights of any Australian national living or traveling abroad. Essentially, it would mean that many of the rights granted to an Australian by right of one’s citizenship would evaporate the second he or she set foot on foreign soil.

Were Assange anyone else, the Australian government would be forced to act – at the very least – to maintain the appearance that it is committed to the rights of citizens and its own national sovereignty. However, Assange is no “normal” individual in this sense – his arrest is a “
priority” to the US government, which is now seeking to maximize pressure to extradite Assange while his protected status is at its weakest.

Thus, the degree to which the Australian government is influenced by the United States will be the deciding factor in this case. That influence, particularly under the current government of Australia, is as strong as ever and has been undeniable for decades. Indeed, since World War II, Australia has been very much
 a part of US empire, hosting numerous US-related military facilities and consistently offering support for US wars in exchange for “preferential” access to US-manufactured weapons.

That relationship 
has only grown stronger in recent years, in part due to Australia’s major role in facilitating the US military’s “pivot to Asia” that was first announced under Barack Obama. With the current prime minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull,having been a former executive at the US-based “vampire squid” bank Goldman Sachs, the past influence of the US on Australia’s government remains a factor that continues to demand attention.

Will the long-standing influence of the US military-industrial complex be enough for Australia to choose to jeopardize the rights of its other 25 million citizens by setting a dangerous precedent in Assange’s case? The extent of the “consular assistance” that Australia has now extended to Assange will effectively answer that question.

Ecuador’s pivot towards US empire

While Australia susses out its position, the most pressing threat to Assange’s security seems to come from the country that first granted him asylum, Ecuador. Once defiant in the face of US pressure, Ecuador under President Lenín Moreno has 
sought to return to its neo-colonial status under the thumb of the United States, despite Moreno’s having campaigned as a loyalist to former President Rafael Correa, who had granted Assange asylum in the first place.

Moreno’s “betrayal” of Correa was foreshadowed by WikiLeaks’ releases in the past. In 2010, WikiLeaks’ released 
a 2007 document on Moreno written by the Bush-appointed US Ambassador to Ecuador Linda Jewell. In the report, Jewell stated her view that then-Vice President Moreno would be “useful” to Washington:
Moreno welcomed the visit and expressed his admiration for the United States … He said that Ecuador had to get past its cultural inclination to always play the ‘blame game’ with respect to its problems, which so often includes blaming the US for one thing or another … He will be a useful partner and advocate for many of our development assistance programs, and he will likely also be a useful and strategic conduit for political messages that may be difficult to deliver directly to Correa.”
This past Saturday, Correa’s Twitter account tweeted a screenshot of this same document, leading some to suggest that the document’s publication by Assange’s organization helped motivate Moreno’s recent decision to silence the journalist.

As the document foretold, Moreno indeed has sought to return his country to the sphere of US influence. He 
has barred Correa from running for re-election and removed Correa loyalists from his cabinet. He has also begun paving the way for the US military to regain its foothold in the country, which was abruptly ended in 2009 when Correa expelled the US military from its base. The only exception is Ecuador’s granting of citizenship to Assange. However, this was done behind Moreno’s back and orchestrated by Correa ally María Fernanda Espinosa of Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry.

As in Australia’s case, the actions of Moreno’s government in the Assange case will have similarly far-reaching implications for the rights of its citizens, especially if Moreno chooses to revoke Assange’s asylum. Yet, while Moreno is likely to avoid revoking Assange’s asylum directly, his decision to gag Assange suggests that he is opting to make Assange’s stay in the embassy so miserable that he will choose to leave of his own accord.

Correa has hinted that this is the case, as he has called Assange’s current treatment by Ecuador within the embassy a form of “
torture,” and also noted months prior that Moreno was set to ensure that Assange’s days in the embassy were numbered. If Ecuador is willing to “torture” one of its own citizens in an effort to force him to “voluntarily” rescind its protections, its commitment to protecting the right to free speech and even the very dignity of its other citizens is immediately called into question.

While the “vassal state” status of Australia and potentially Ecuador may do much to endanger the status of Assange, a negative decision by both governments on this single case would also set dangerous precedents for the rights of all citizens of both of those countries, a combined population of over 41 million people. As a result, the outcome of Assange’s case could well be much more damaging to Australia or Ecuador than the content of any past or future WikiLeaks release. If both countries fail to act on their obligation to protect one of their own, it will force them both to acknowledge that their citizens’ rights and their national sovereignty come second to the lures and demands of the American empire.

Reprinted with permission from MintPressNews.
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/12/outcome-of-assange-case-could-undermine-the-rights-of-millions/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/12/outcome-of-assange-case-could-undermine-the-rights-of-millions/ Tue, 12 Jun 2018 19:45:48 GMT
Trump/Kim Summit: Breakthrough or Publicity Stunt? Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/12/trumpkim-summit-breakthrough-or-publicity-stunt/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/12/trumpkim-summit-breakthrough-or-publicity-stunt/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/12/trumpkim-summit-breakthrough-or-publicity-stunt/ Tue, 12 Jun 2018 04:41:01 GMT
German Officials Admit 'Still No Evidence' From UK That Russia Poisoned Skripals Tyler Durden http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/11/german-officials-admit-still-no-evidence-from-uk-that-russia-poisoned-skripals/

It seems notably fortuitous that the world is now distracted with the ongoing actions surrounding President Trump - whether in Quebec tweet-slamming PM Trudeau, or in Singapore ahead of his historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

We say "fortuitous" since it offers UK PM Theresa May some breathing room as her dramatic, quickly determined, and globally propagandized claims that Russia was the culprit for the poisoning of the Russian ex-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter; remain entirely unsubstantiated by any proof.

However, just as May was hoping the world had forgot dozens of nations expelled hundreds of Russian diplomats on nothing more than her word and the constant Russophobic narrative pumped thru the eyeballs and earholes of the rest of the world; the Germans just threw a rather loud wrench in the slient-running PR campaign that has taken the Skripal-murdering Putin off the frontpage.

German media reports that the German government has zero evidence from the British authorities that could back London’s claims that Moscow was behind the poisoning of the Skripals

More than three months since the start of the probe into the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, RT reports that the UK is still conspicuously tight-lipped when it comes to any real evidence that could prove its accusations against Russia.

This week, the German government informed a parliamentary oversight committee during a closed hearing that it still has not received any evidence suggesting that Russia might well be behind the incident that took place in early March, German TV station RBB reports.
'It is [still] only known that the poison used in the attack was a nerve agent called Novichok, which was once produced in the Soviet Union,' Michael Goetschenberg, a correspondent of German ARD and an expert on security services, told RBB, commenting on the results of the hearing, which he is familiar with.
Apart from this information, which was released by the British authorities soon after the incident, no new data on Russia’s alleged implication in this case was provided to Germany so far, he added.

German intelligence has also found no Russian trace in this case so far, Goetschenberg said.
'The BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence… has also contacted its own sources and tried to verify the information [about Russia’s potential involvement] in some way,' he told RBB, adding that it eventually failed to find any evidence pointing to Moscow as well.
Russia has categorically denied any involvement, and has complained that the victims were not allowed visits by Russian lawyers and diplomats, and the results of the investigation were kept secret. The Russian envoy to the UK has on several occasions alleged that London was even trying to “destroy” evidence in the probe.

Just days ago, Scotland Yard said it was still following multiple leads in the investigation, adding that it still “cannot discuss the results at this stage.” The probe has already cost £7.5 million ($10 million) to British taxpayers, according to the region’s police and crime commissioner.

Meanwhile, both Sergei and Yulia Skripal have been released from the hospital, seemingly no worse for the attampted assassination using the world's most deadly nerve agent.

Are we still supposed to believe that Vladimir Putin - the man who western media and politicians blame for meddling with US elections to get Trump elected, manipulating French elections (unsuccessfully), murdering reporters (that actually came back to life), causing Brexit, killing millions in Syria (and anywhere else that US hegemony is bring back democracy), enabling an entire nation's athletes to take steroids, and probably causing LeBron and the Cavs to get swept - managed to mess up the delivery of a deadly military grade nerve agent to kill an old man and a young woman?

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/11/german-officials-admit-still-no-evidence-from-uk-that-russia-poisoned-skripals/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/11/german-officials-admit-still-no-evidence-from-uk-that-russia-poisoned-skripals/ Mon, 11 Jun 2018 13:10:56 GMT
Trump/Kim Meeting Shows Value of Policy Over Politics Ron Paul http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/11/trumpkim-meeting-shows-value-of-policy-over-politics/

When President Reagan met with Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland, on October 11, 1987, it helped put into motion events that would dramatically change the global system. A line of communication was fully opened with an enemy of decades and substantive issues were on the table. Though the summit was initially reported as a failure, with the two sides unable to sign a final agreement, history now shows us that it was actually a great success that paved the way to the eventual end of the Cold War and a reduction in the threat of a nuclear war.

A year later Gorbachev and Reagan met in Washington to continue the dialogue that had been started and the rest is history. Success began as a “failure.”

We are now facing a similar situation with President Trump’s historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore. As with the Reagan/Gorbachev meetings, detractors on all sides seem determined to undermine and belittle the opening of a door to diplomacy and peace.

The neocons demand that North Korea give up all its bargaining chips up front in return for vague promises of better relations with the US. Yet in the post-Libya era no serious person would jump at such an offer. Their biggest fear is that peace may break out and they are doing everything to prevent that from happening. Conflict is their livelihood.

I also find it disheartening that many Democrat opponents of President Trump who rightly cheered President Obama’s efforts to reach a deal with Iran are now condemning Trump for opening the door to diplomacy with North Korea. Did they genuinely support President Obama’s diplomatic efforts with Iran, or did they just prefer the person who happened to occupy the Oval Office at the time?

The issue is about policy versus politics and I am afraid too many Americans of all political stripes are confusing the two. Many Americans, it seems, would prefer that we continue down the path to a potentially nuclear conflict on the Korean peninsula because they do not like the current US president. Does that make any sense? Has politics come to over-rule our common sense to the point we would go against our own interests and even our own lives? Let’s hope not!

The truth is, talking is always better than threatening. Just like trading is always better than sanctioning. Detractors on both sides miss the point while they desperately try to make political points. The current thaw with North Korea began with that country’s participation in the Olympic games in South Korea. From that point, North and South Korea came to see each other as neighbors rather than enemies. That process will continue regardless of what comes from the Trump/Kim summit and it is a process we should cheer.

Hopefully this historic Trump/Kim meeting is the beginning of a dialogue that will continue to dial back the tensions. Hopefully we can soon remove the 30,000 US troops that have been stationed in South Korea for seven decades. One thing Washington must do, however: stay out of the way as much as possible so as to allow the two Koreas to continue their peace process.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/11/trumpkim-meeting-shows-value-of-policy-over-politics/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/11/trumpkim-meeting-shows-value-of-policy-over-politics/ Mon, 11 Jun 2018 11:59:07 GMT
Atlantic Council: Pro-NATO Pressure Group Uses Distortions to FIght ‘Disinformation’ Bryan MacDonald http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2018/june/09/atlantic-council-pro-nato-pressure-group-uses-distortions-to-fight-disinformation/
Fueling hysteria about "Russian disinformation," "Russian meddling," and "Russian propaganda" has quickly become a lucrative pastime. Now NATO’s Atlantic Council has gathered the leading proponents under one umbrella.

"Russian’s everywhere, everywhere Russians" – that’s long been the mantra of NATO’s propaganda wing, the Atlantic Council. And, since 1961, the American lobby group’s raison d’être has been to convince the world that Moscow presents an existential threat to the rest of Europe.

And as NATO has expanded, the "think tank’s" agitprop has evolved from the "reds in the bed" whispers of the Soviet-era to today’s new racket: "disinformation."

This week, Atlantic Council announced a new initiative known as the "DisinfoPortal."

Their latest wheeze is pitched as “an interactive online guide to track the Kremlin’s disinformation campaigns abroad.” Something you can take to mean pretty much everything which contradicts NATO-friendly messaging, whether accurate or not.

And they kicked off with a bit of classic deception of their own, right on the landing page, which announced: “in 2014, Putin invaded Ukraine, the first annexation of territory in Europe since World War II.” This came replete with animated tanks powering across the image.

Of course, here Atlantic Council seems to have forgotten about the events of 1974 when (NATO member!) Turkey staged a de-facto annexation of Northern Cyprus, a military occupation which continues to this day. As it happens, the "think tank" receives money from the Turkish government, via the state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation.

Apples & Oranges

And that’s aside from whether Russia’s reabsorption of the peninsula was strictly an annexation anyway, given Crimea, previously a semi-autonomous republic within Ukraine, voted to secede from Kiev after an unconstitutional armed-coup which had removed the democratically-elected central government. But we shall leave that debate to the legal experts.

According to Atlantic Council lobbyist and former Washington man in Poland Daniel Fried, “it’s time to stop ‘admiring the problem’ of Russian disinformation and start fighting back, using the tools of democratic societies to counter the autocrat’s playbook.”

What makes the portal noteworthy is how it brings a multitude of “info warriors” together, from various backgrounds. Some previously operated as part of organized groups and others have apparently been freelancers. But now they are all united under one roof.

And a well-resourced parapet it is, to boot. The Atlantic Council has considerable financial muscle: its backers include NATO itself, along with the US State Department, various branches of the American military and defense contractors (such as Raytheon and Lockheed Martin). All of whom, obviously, benefit from tensions with Russia. Other substantial contributors include the United Arab Emirates and the Ukrainian World Congress.

So, there’s no evident shortage of cash, which has allowed them to bring more than 80 “experts” to the project. Here are some of the more colorful:

Julia Davis – Atlantic Council describes this Ukrainian-born activist as “an investigative reporter and a Russian media analyst.” Which basically seems to amount to watching Russian television and tweeting about the topics it’s covering on any given day, something any telly-addict Russian speaker with too much time on their hands, could manage. Before she became interested in Russia-related “info wars,” Davis was better known for claiming to be a victim of US surveillance after she alleged the late actress Brittany Murphy “was caught up in a government plot against a national security whistleblower.”

Eliot Higgins – A former payments officer at a women’s underwear company, he first came to prominence during the early stages of the Syrian War by using open-source data to “geolocate” various events in the conflict. Higgins switched his focus to Ukraine in 2014, and was snapped up by the Atlantic Council, who made him a “fellow.” A notable feature of Higgins’ work is how he only seems to investigate actors who oppose British foreign policy objectives. For instance, his team has shown little interest in Yemen: a stance he put down to a “lack of resources” in a tweet he appears to have subsequently deleted. This excuse is pretty hard to believe, given how he began his Syria work when he was unemployed.

Alina Polyakova – An experienced lobbyist, the Ukrainian-born Polyakova previously steered a controversial 2016 Atlantic Council hit job which smeared dozens of respected public figures as being the Kremlin’s “trojan horses.”  This astounding neo-McCarthyist report declared that pretty much every anti-establishment political force in Europe was an agent of Russian influence: including figures as diverse as French right-winger Marine Le Pen and socialist British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Ben Nimmo – A former NATO press officer, Nimmo grabbed headlines in April when he wrongly “outted” a genuine Twitter user as a “Russian troll.” According to the self-styled ‘Digital Sherlock,’ @Ian56789 was a nefarious “bot.” However, it later turned up out that the account was managed by a British retiree named Ian Shilling.

Brian Whitmore – A journalist-turned-lobbyist who once hosted the rapidly Russophobic "Power Vertical" podcast on US state broadcaster RFE/RL, Whitmore recently joined up with CEPA (The Center for European Policy Analysis). The primary goal of this Washington and Warsaw-based foundation is to whip up anti-Russian hysteria, mainly in Central and Eastern Europe, which have become new markets for American arms manufacturers since their accession to NATO. How appropriate then that CEPA is funded by the likes of Lockheed Martin, FireEye, Raytheon, Sikorsky Aircraft, and Bell Helicopters: information which used to be displayed on its own website but now returns a dead link!

Edward Lucas – Another CEPA "employee," Lucas enjoyed a relatively distinguished career in journalism before turning his hand to lobbying, working as an editor at The Economist and writing regularly for The Daily Mail. He still pens a column for the Times of London, but is more likely to be found these days on the European and US conference circuit warning about “dangers” from Russia.

Andrew Weisburd – One of the creators of the German Marshall Fund of the United States’ (GMF) much-maligned "Hamilton 68" dashboard. Weisburd, whose Atlantic Council bio shows him posing in front of an American flag, has an “interesting”  background according to Alternet, such as a “well-documented history of online vigilantism, including his founding of a one-man, anti-Palestinian web monitoring initiative that specialized in doxxing left-wing activists, Muslims, and anyone he considered “anti-American.”

Michael Weiss – One of the few monolingual “experts” on the disinfo portal, Weiss arguably kicked off the current “disinformation” bandwagon with a 2014 report (co-authored by fellow lobbyist Peter Pomerantsev) on how the “Kremlin weaponises information, culture and money.” Previously, Weiss worked for "Just Journalism," a London-based pressure group dedicated to smearing media workers who opposed Israeli foreign policy. Later, he joined the neo-conservative "Henry Jackson Society" before he returned to the US to found "The Interpreter," a blog which smeared media figures who refused to support American objectives in Ukraine and Russia. He regularly appears on CNN these days, analyzing Russian affairs, which has raised eyebrows because he cannot speak Russian and has, by all accounts, never actually visited Russia.

Reprinted with permission from RT.]]>
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