Five Minutes Five Issues: Punishing Russia, Israel Brouhaha, Marijuana Delay, Troops Suicides, Torture Report
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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity welcomes you to Five Minutes Five Issues.
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Hello, I am Adam Dick, a Ron Paul Institute senior fellow.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama announced his actions, including the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, in response to purported Russian government actions including interfering with the 2016 United States presidential election.
US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan immediately cheered Obama’s actions, calling them “overdue” and saying Russia “has consistently sought to undermine [America’s interests], sowing dangerous instability around the world.”
However, many Americans, including some House members, have been asking, “Where is the proof?” As I mentioned in last week’s Five Minutes Five Issues episode, some House members have expressed concern to Obama about the president taking unilateral action against Russia and have requested Obama provide a classified briefing to all Congress members to present the evidence of Russian interference in the election.
But, with the House speaker providing gung-ho support for the new anti-Russia actions, Obama can proceed unhindered.
In the September 17 episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, I talked about the United States government having just announced $38 billion in military aid to the Israel government over ten years — a record amount to any government.
This week, I see media reporting on tension between Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Obama administration. The tension is related to the US government abstaining on a United Nations Security Council vote concerning Israel and US Secretary of State John Kerry making some comments critical of Israeli government policies.
I might believe the international brouhaha is more than a distracting performance if there appeared to be any chance US aid to Israel would be cut off or even reduced.
Massachusetts voters approved on November 8 legalizing marijuana in their state. The approved ballot measure calls for allowing marijuana stores to open in January of 2018. “Not so fast,” said several state legislators who on Wednesday quickly passed, with no vote by either the full state Senate or House, legislation delaying the opening of the stores by six months, that is, until July of 2018.
Joshua Miller and Jim O’Sullivan reported at the Boston Globe how a few lawmakers quickly approved the change without any public hearings or pubic notice. In the state Senate, the Senate president and Republican minority leader appear to have passed the marijuana law change in less than a minute, with no other senators present. Then, Miller and O’Sullivan relate, “[l]ess than an hour later in the House, with about five members on hand and Democratic Representative Paul Donato presiding, passage was even faster, taking seconds to add their approval to the measure.” All this was done during an informal session when the legislative bodies had completed their normal sessions. In the informal session, Miller and O’Sullivan report that no roll-call votes are permitted and legislation passes unless a member objects.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed the legislation into law on Friday.
Tom Vanden Brook wrote at USA Today on Thursday regarding some newly released US military statistics. Brook relates that the statistics show that more US troops deployed to the Middle East in the ISIS War have died from suicide than have been killed in combat.
Josh Gerstein writes at Politico that another potential avenue has opened for the complete torture report of the US Senate Intelligence Committee to be made public. On Wednesday, Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the US District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the preservation of torture-related items including the report, the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) response to the report, and all documents referenced or otherwise relied upon in the Senate committee report or the CIA response. Lamberth also ordered that a copy of the report be delivered to the court.
That’s a wrap.
Transcripts of Five Minutes Five Issues episodes, including links to related information, are at the Ron Paul Institute blog.
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