Five Minutes Five Issues: Bundy Case, Surveillance Vote, Vermont Marijuana, Assange Citizenship, Nemtsov Street
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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.
On Monday, Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed with prejudice the prosecution of Cliven Bundy and three other defendants, including two of Bundy’s sons. The prosecution related to the defendants’ involvement in a 2014 standoff against United States government agents who had attempted to remove cattle from the Bundy ranch in Nevada. The dismissal bars a new trial on the charges in the dismissed case.
In announcing the dismissal, the judge, who on December 20 had declared a mistrial due to the US government withholding evidence from the defendants, condemned “flagrant misconduct” on the government’s side and declared that the “universal sense of justice has been violated.”
The US House of Representatives approved on Thursday legislation that extends for six years the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s Section 702 used to justify the US government’s mass surveillance program.
Bipartisan leadership support was evident for the surveillance in contravention of Bill of Rights protections. Near the end of the floor debate, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) spoke. After offering platitudes about her commitment to defending the US Constitution, privacy, and civil liberties, Pelosi thanked the people in the intelligence community for their patriotism, declared “we are so proud of what they do,” and expressed her support for the bill. Republican Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) also spoke, urging House members to vote for the bill and thanking Pelosi for her support.
The 35 percent of voting Democrats who supported the bill, together with the 81 percent Republican “yes” vote, produced a vote of 256 to 164 approving the bill.
In a Tuesday article at the Ron Paul Institute website, I discussed US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent memorandum rescinding some prior Department of Justice guidance to exercise some restraint regarding prosecution of some people whose actions comply with state marijuana laws. I wrote that, “[w]hile the issuing of the memorandum is an important development, there are several reasons to expect that the public support for, and the momentum in favor of, marijuana legalization will overpower any potential US government effort to counter states’ legalization.”
Talking about legalization momentum, Vermont appears about to become the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through a bill passed in the state legislature and signed by the governor rather than a ballot measure vote. On Wednesday, the state Senate passed a legalization bill previously approved by the state House of Representatives. The next day, Vermont Governor Phil Scott said he will sign the bill into law.
This week it was made public that Ecuador had granted citizenship to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks in December. Assange has lived in Ecuador’s London embassy for five and a half years, obtaining there protection from extradition to the United States.
Apparently as part of an effort to provide safe passage for Assange out of the embassy and to Ecuador or a third country, the Ecuador government has also sought a British grant of diplomatic status for Assange. On Thursday, Britain’s Foreign Office rejected Ecuador’s request.
The Washington, DC city council voted unanimously this week to rename a portion of the street in front of the Russian embassy in DC after Boris Nemtsov, who was killed in Moscow in 2015.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced in the US Senate last year a resolution to accomplish such a renaming. Rubio, in a press release announcing the Senate resolution’s introduction, implied Russia President Vladimir Putin was responsible for Nemtsov’s murder, The street name change, Rubio wrote, “would permanently remind Putin’s regime and the Russian people that these dissidents’ voices live on, and that defenders of liberty will not be silenced.”
Might the Russia or Moscow government rename a portion of the street in front of the US embassy in Moscow after President John F. Kennedy? Some people believe Kennedy’s assassination was orchestrated by people in the US government who saw Kennedy as a barrier to continuing a cold war with the Soviet Union and an uber-militaristic foreign policy.
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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