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Five Minutes Five Issues: Sanctions Suffering, Marijuana Record, Facial Recognition, Venezuela, Declassified Memo

A new episode of Five Minutes Five Issues is out. You can listen to it, and read a transcript, below. You can also find previous episodes of the show at StitcheriTunesYouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to the new episode here:

Read a transcript of the new episode, including links to further information regarding the topics discussed, here:

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.

Let’s start.

Issue one.

During his Tuesday state of the union speech, United States President Donald Trump talked about suffering years back by Ji Seong-ho and members of Seong-ho’s family in North Korea. Then Seong-ho stood up in the audience. Trump suggested the North Korea government was to blame for the suffering.

Two weeks back, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in an on-stage conversation with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a Hoover Institution event, claimed credit on behalf of the US government for North Korean fishermen, in boats with insufficient fuel, enduring great danger and dying in desperate efforts to collect fish due to a food shortage. This suffering is good, Tillerson claims, because it shows US sanctions against North Korea are working.

Issue two.

In the December 10, 2016 episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, I mentioned that one benefit of California voters approving marijuana legalization the month before is that some people will be able to clear their records of marijuana convictions.

In San Francisco at least, that process should take no effort for many people given a Wednesday announcement by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. “Rather than leaving it up to individuals to petition the courts — which is time-consuming and can cost hundreds of dollars in attorney fees,” writes Evan Sernoffsky at the San Francisco Chronicle, “Gascón said San Francisco prosecutors will review and wipe out convictions en masse.”

Issue three.

The US government is moving forward on using facial recognition technology to identify people in American airports. Jefferson Graham reported Thursday at USA Today that Dan Tanciar, the deputy executive director of US Customs and Border Protection, says the plan is to implement within four years a program using the technology to match a databased photo — such as from a passport — with a photo generated at the airport, largely first for international flights and then for domestic flights as well. Graham notes that some airlines are already testing such facial recognition use at some airports and that the San Jose, California airport “hopes to go 100% biometric for international travels this year.”

Issue four.

In a Thursday speech at the University of Texas, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke about Venezuela, criticizing what he called “the corrupt and hostile regime of Nicolás Maduro” in the South American country. Tillerson continues that, in his words, this regime “clings to a false dream and antiquated vision for the region that has already failed its citizens.”

So what does Tillerson propose the US do to fix that? 

In the Q & A after the speech, Tillerson insisted that “[w]e have not advocated for regime change or removal of President Maduro.” That would be good if true. Think of how much worse things became in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine when the US pursued so-called regime change efforts.

Despite his outright denial, pushing regime change seems to be just what Tillerson has in mind when he says in the speech “[w]e will continue to pressure the regime to return to the democratic process that made Venezuela a great country in the past” and praises Venezuela sanctions imposed by the US and other governments. Also, in the same answer in which Tillerson denies regime change support, he suggests a military coup in Venezuela may be a fine way to resolve things.

Issue five.

While some people are downplaying the information contained in the US House Intelligence Committee Republican staff memorandum that was declassified on Friday, writer Peter Van Buren posted at Twitter a concise explanation of one reason the information is important. Van Buren writes:
Bottom line: [the Department of Justice] used unsubstantiated opposition research from one presidential campaign in whole or in part to get permission to spy on people connected to another. You want a Constitutional crisis? Look into that, sparky.

That’s a wrap.

Transcripts of Five Minutes Five Issues episodes, including links to related information, are at the Ron Paul Institute blog.

Five four three two one.
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