Five Minutes Five Issues: Anthem Protests, Section 702, Yemen War, Russian Meddling, Surveillance Towers
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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity welcomes you to Five Minutes Five Issues.
Starting in five four three two one.
Hello, I am Adam Dick, a Ron Paul Institute senior fellow.
Many more National Football League (NFL) players this season than last are kneeling, or standing with their arms interlocked with teammates’ arms, when the national anthem plays before games. Plus, some team coaches and owners have joined in these alternative activities to standing with a hand over one’s heart.
Several teams have even stayed off the field and out of view during the singing of the national anthem. These opting-out teams seem to be on to something in avoiding the whole matter. Indeed, professional football would do just fine without the national anthem, as well as without the police and military displays that have become much more common and over-the-top at games in recent years.
Alex Emmons reported Friday at The Intercept that the Trump administration is going all out to convince members of the United States Congress to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that serves as a legal justification for the US government’s mass surveillance program. Emmons writes that, “according to an internal announcement … provided to The Intercept and confirmed by multiple sources on Capitol Hill,” the effort includes the Trump administration “holding classified, members-only briefings for the entire House and Senate next Wednesday” at which “Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, NSA Director Mike Rogers, and FBI Director Christopher Wray will give the briefings.”
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) introduced H.Con.Res. 81 in the US House of Representatives on Wednesday. The bill would exercise congressional power under the War Powers Resolution to direct the president to “remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities” in Yemen within 30 days after Congress approves the bill. US forces “engaged in operations directed at Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or associated forces” are exempted. Fellow Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, along with two Republicans who are both members of the Ron Paul Institute Advisory Board — Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Walter Jones of North Carolina — are the bill’s original cosponsors.
One of the latest suggested ways the Russian government won the US presidential election for Donald Trump relies on the announcement from Facebook that a Russian business spent over $100,000 on advertisements on Facebook with content related to a variety of current events topics. The ads ran between June of 2015 and May of 2017 — several months after the election.
Many people right away determined that the ads’ influence was most likely somewhere from trivial to nothing. Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg appears to have about the same assessment. He wrote this Wednesday on his Facebook page:
- This was the first US election where the internet was a primary way candidates communicated. Every candidate had a Facebook page to communicate directly with tens of millions of followers every day.Issue five.
- Campaigns spent hundreds of millions advertising online to get their messages out even further. That's 1000x more than any problematic ads we've found.
A story at WCBS-TV in New York City this week shows roughly 30-feet-tall metal towers that the Mass Transit Authority (MTA) is putting up near the city’s tunnels and bridges at a cost of $100 million dollars. Though the towers are in public view, their purpose is being kept secret.
WCBS-TV reporter Dave Carlin was told “no comment” by the Mass Transit Authority official in charge of bridges and tunnels when asked about the towers. MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said a little more. He said the bases of the towers “include whatever fiber optics are necessary” for “Homeland Security items.” But, when asked if the towers could one day be used for facial recognition, Lhota responded, “I’m not at liberty to discuss that.”
The effort to extend surveillance further and further is proceeding. These towers in New York City appear to be part of that effort.
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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