Peace and Prosperity Ron Paul Institute's flagship blog Copyright Ron Paul Institute Thu, 15 Mar 2018 23:48:43 GMT Thu, 15 Mar 2018 23:48:43 GMT McMaster: US Troops Will Stay Until Syria Is Stabilized Jason Ditz

Despite conceding that the US and others had effectively liberated “100%” of ISIS-held territory in Syria, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster dismissed the idea that US forces might withdraw from the country any time soon.

“We have more work to do,” McMaster insisted, saying the US will stay “until ISIS is fully defeated, population centers are stabilized, and refugees can safely return home.” This vision of stability also appears to depend heavily on imposing a regime change in Syria.

Underscoring the focus on regime change, McMaster demanded that “all civilized nations” come together to punish both Russia and Iran for backing the Syrian government. He warned Assad would not have impunity, and neither would Russia or Iran.

While US officials have been talking up regime change virtually throughout the Syrian War, it has only at times been tied to US military operations in the country, since nominally the US is there to fight ISIS. Still, with ISIS defeated, there is a sense that the troops aren’t leaving, and mission creep is being sought to justified that continued presence.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Thu, 15 Mar 2018 23:48:43 GMT
Lawrence Wilkerson Is Not So Optimistic about a Meeting of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un Adam Dick The Real News interview in which he relates his less-than-optimistic take on an anticipated meeting between North Korea leader Kim Jong-un and United States President Donald Trump. The meeting’s purposes would apparently include reducing tensions between the two nations and preventing a major military conflict from arising in the Korean region.

Wilkerson, in making this comment, is referring to talks in North Korea capital Pyongyang in the latter months of the Bill Clinton administration between then-US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Kim Jong-Un’s predecessor and father Kim Jong-il. The expected follow-up visit by Clinton to Pyongyang never materialized. Further, the prior progress was lost in the succeeding George W Bush administration, in which Wilkerson explains that Bush had gathered around him “people like Dick Cheney and John Bolton and others who had made it a point of life to eliminate the agreed framework that Bill Clinton had negotiated with North Korea.” Wilkerson saw much of this firsthand as he notes he was “more or less the right-hand man” of Secretary of State Colin Powell “for actions vis-à-vis North Korea and South Korea” at the State Department, where Wilkerson was Powell’s chief of staff.

Again, Wilkerson expects peace will not be secured due to failures on the US side. In fact, Wilkerson says in the interview that he believes the meeting between the US and North Korea leaders will most likely not happen and that — if it does happen — he does not expect the discussions will result in a peace treaty to truly end the Korean War, which has merely been on a decades-long pause with a cease-fire and demilitarized zone, or in ending the US-South Korea alliance and the presence of US military forces in South Korea.

Among the impediments to reaching such a deal, explains Wilkerson, who is a member of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity’s Academic Board, is that there will be “a tremendous bureaucratic battle” to maintain the US military presence in South Korea. In this regard, Wilkerson offers as a historical comparison the opposition that met President Jimmy Carter when Carter unsuccessfully sought to reduce the US military presence in South Korea as a potential step toward a full exit. Meanwhile, Wilkerson argues, it “has been a policy of the Kim dynasty since 1954, 1955” to get a peace treaty “by having the United States sit down with it, preferably in Pyongyang, and talk.”

Watch Wilkerson’s complete interview here:

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Russia Will Respond If US Attacks Syrian Government Forces Jason Ditz

Recently,various US officials have been suggesting substantial attacks on the Syrian military are imminent. This talk of attacking Syria has provoked a warning from the Russian Foreign Ministry, and a second warning from top Russian generals. Russia’s military chief of staff warns Russia would retaliate “against the missiles and launchers used” by the US in such a strike.

That’s clearly a game-changer, as the US has previously believed that they could carry out the occasional attack against Syrian military targets with impunity. This was the case with the April tomahawk missile attacks against a Syrian air base done over a putative chemical weapon attack, which Russia criticized but didn’t act over.

US officials have been drumming up multiple pretexts for another strike, including more poorly documented chemical weapons incidents, Syrian offensives against rebel factions in Eastern Ghouta, and Syrian airstrikes that are either near or in a de-escalation zone in the Daraa Province.

With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warning of “grave consequences,” and the Russian military talking retaliation, it’s clear US strikes would not be consequence-free. Rather a US strike under any justification would risk a long feared direct war between the US and Russia.

That’s a concern long-standing among US officials, and as recently as December, a top US general was warning US troops to prepare for a “big-ass war” with Russia. Even during the 2016 campaign President Trump made clear he was very aware of the risk of a Syria War leading to a Russia war. Trump will have to manage constant pressure to do more against Syria to avoid steering into such a disastrous conflict.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Wed, 14 Mar 2018 13:12:31 GMT
What is Driving New Drive for AUMF? Harper

After years of sitting back and letting Congressional authority to declare war transfer to the Executive Branch, it appears that some leading Members of the House and Senate are finally waking up to the consequences of their failure.  On February 27, the House Progressive Caucus and the House Liberty Caucus joined forces to hold a hearing on the illegal wars raging in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, demanding that Congress take back the war powers authority.  The succession of regime change wars of the post 9/11 period have all been justified by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that was passed in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon.

The same day, 100 House Members wrote to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan demanding a new debate on an AUMF related to the ongoing US military operations in Syria.  Among the lead signers of the letter was Tom Cole, the fourth ranking Republican in the House.  The next day, Senators Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy and Mike Lee sponsored a resolution demanding an immediate debate and vote on an AUMF on the US engagement in Yemen, which the sponsors asserted was clearly a military action under the War Powers Resolution.

Whether these actions go anywhere is anyone's guess at this point.  The more immediate question is:  What caused the sudden wake up?  Could it be that the ongoing US engagement in Syria is bringing the United States closer by the day to a confrontation with Russia?  The situation on the ground in Syria has gotten more and more hazardous in the wake of the routing of ISIS in Raqqa.  It is hard to tell, day to day, whether a major incident is going to take place, involving rival parties Turkey, Iran, Israel, Hezbollah, the Shia militias, the remnants of ISIS and Al Qaeda, who still have well-armed forces on the ground.  Both Russia and the United States have maintained air and ground forces in Syria.  The recent incident involving Shia militias, with Russian mercenaries attacking a Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters with US Special Forces present, resulted in US bombings of the pro-Assad forces, with an unclear number of Russians killed.

How much closer do we have to get to an incident which escalates out of control before Congress finally decides to end the string of illegal wars?  It was one thing to illegally invade Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen--who possess second rate military forces at best.  It is another thing to be engaging in a conflict that could draw the United States and Russia into a direct confrontation.

I cannot say for certain that this is why more than the usual handful of Members of Congress are sounding the alarm.  But I hope so.

Reprinted with permission from Sic Semper Tyrannis.]]> Mon, 12 Mar 2018 14:04:17 GMT
Five Minutes Five Issues: MSNBC Warmongering, Bipartisan Peace, Pardon, Pulse Killings, Wrongful Convictions Adam Dick Stitcher, iTunesYouTube, 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.

In a Truthdig editorial last week titled “Is MSNBC Now the Most Dangerous Warmonger Network?” Norman Solomon wrote about a Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) report that found that in the second half of last year TV station MSNBC both “did not run a single segment devoted specifically to Yemen” and “ran nearly 5,000 percent more segments that mentioned Russia than segments that mentioned Yemen.”

MSNBC’s routine mainly negative Russia coverage is part of what Solomon calls “continually piling up the dry tinder of hostility toward Russia” that “boosts the odds of a cataclysmic blowup between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.” Meanwhile, keeping quiet about the Yemen War’s catastrophic consequences and major United States government involvement, helps prevent Americans from demanding the US involvement end.

Issue two.

The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) hosted on Tuesday foreign policy speeches by a Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC), a Republican, and Ro Khanna (D-CA), a Democrat, both members of the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

Bipartisanship on foreign policy often comes down to advancing foreign intervention and war. But, Jones and Khanna’s presentations showed bipartisanship can advance peace. Comments by Jones, who is a member of the Ron Paul Institute Advisory Board, centered on the Afghanistan War, while Khanna’s comments centered on the Yemen War. Both representatives eloquently promoted foreign nonintervention and the importance of Congress debating and voting on whether the US uses military force overseas.

Issue three.

In the September 1, 2016 episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, I talked about Kristian Saucier’s then-recent sentencing for taking pictures on a submarine he had worked on in the US Navy. The pictures, Steven Nelson had reported at US News and World Report, “were deemed ‘confidential,’ the lowest level for classification.” I contrasted Saucer’s sentence with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James B. Comey announcing there would be no prosecution of Hillary Clinton despite Comey declaring she had been “extremely careless” in handling information with the highest classification levels.

On Friday, President Donald Trump issued a pardon to Saucier whose case, Nelson notes in a new Washington Examiner article, Trump mentioned often during the presidential campaign, saying Saucier “was ‘ruined’ for doing ‘nothing’ compared to Hillary Clinton.” Saucier had finished his prison time when the pardon was announced but still wore an ankle monitor. With the pardon, the monitor should be removed from Saucier’s ankle and the conviction removed from his record.

Issue four.

There has been much suggestion since the 2016 mass murder at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida that Omar Mateen was motivated by animus toward homosexuals. However, Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain wrote Monday at The Intercept that there is no apparent evidence to support this conclusion, including among new revelations arising from the trial of Mateen’s wife related to the mass murder.

Mateen’s statements and internet posts, write Greenwald and Hussain, “exclusively emphasized one cause: the ongoing killing of Muslim civilians by the U.S.” Further, they note, “[n]one of his statements explaining his motives and cause for the attack make any reference to targeting the gay community or any judgments about homosexuality.” In fact, Greenwald and Hussain declare, “[t]here is no evidence he even knew that Pulse was a gay club” when he targeted it. Mateen, who lived over 100 miles from Orlando, they write, also looked into other “soft targets” in the city that all had no particular connection to gay people.

Issue five.

Consider being wrongfully imprisoned for 23 years for murder and then, upon your release due to your conviction being reversed, receiving no compensation. That, reported Dean Reynolds last week at CBS, is what happened to Lamonte McIntyre who was released from a Kansas prison in October. Kansas, notes Reynolds, is “one of 18 states that offer wrongly convicted prisoners no compensation at all upon their release.”


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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State Department's War on Political Dissent RPI Staff Corbett Report to discuss the neocon/Washington war on dissent in America:

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Ron Paul: It Looks Like the US will be in Iraq until the US is Bankrupt Adam Dick editorial earlier this week.

While Paul says in the interview that he wishes the American people would say “enough is enough” and demand an end to the US military intervention, he concludes regarding the US foreign intervention in Iraq and beyond that “I guess we’re gonna continue to do this until we go bankrupt, and then we’ll have to leave.”

The US military, Paul explains in the interview, should have never gone into Iraq in the first place, noting that the justification “was all based on lies.” Plus, says Paul, US intervention in Iraq has created the problem of terrorism in the country after the overthrow of the Iraq government and its leader Saddam Hussein who “was not friendly with al-Qaeda.” “Our policies,” says Paul, “stir up these hatreds and the organizations of the radicals.”

Watch Paul’s complete interview here:

In the Wednesday RT interview, Paul also comments that he thinks the US military involvement in Iraq will continue despite Paul believing President Donald Trump’s inclination is to support bringing the troops home. That inclination, Paul expects, will continue to be overcome by influences including of neoconservatives in the Trump administration and of neoconservative control in media.

In regard to US policy toward both Iraq and North Korea, Paul also comments that the desire for war profits contributes to the US government favoring intervention and militarism. Instead, Paul says at the interview’s conclusion that he thinks it is necessary for the US “to have a completely different foreign policy designed to have peace and trade with people and to talk with people when we have our disagreements.”]]> Thu, 08 Mar 2018 18:37:21 GMT
Hypersonic War RPI Staff
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The Federal Reserve Wins in the Texas Democratic Primary Adam Dick

When Texas Democratic Party primary voters filled out their ballots on Tuesday, they encountered two propositions, on which they were invited to vote “for” or “against,” that mentioned the Federal Reserve. One proposition said the party should promote a “national jobs program” for infrastructure projects financed through the Federal Reserve. The other proposition proclaimed that Texans should “have the right to refinance student loan debt with the Federal Reserve at a 0% interest rate.” The voters approved both propositions, as they did the other ten propositions on the ballot, with over 90 percent support.

These results may be disappointing for people who understand the detriments of the Federal Reserve, as described in detail in Ron Paul’s book End the Fed, and who think the Federal Reserve should be abolished. But, the results are also understandable. People want good things, whether more jobs or new, improved infrastructure or relief from interest payments on loans, and they are willing to use the Federal Reserve as a means to achieve such.

At the same time, I suspect that Texas Democratic primary voters would not have as overwhelmingly supported propositions stating that the Federal Reserve should be used to support a big increase in drug war incarceration or in the rounding up and deporting of people who are in America in violation of United States immigration laws. More than ten percent of the voters, and maybe even a majority, would, I expect, oppose such proposals given their disagreement with the goals. There also would have been less support for a proposition supporting the Federal Reserve’s long history of facilitating the US government’s militarism and wars.

Here is the text of the two propositions that mention the Federal Reserve:

Proposition #2 Student Loan Debt:

Should everyone in Texas have the right to refinance student loan debt with the Federal Reserve at a 0% interest rate, as relief for the crushing burden of debt and an investment in the next generation of Americans?

Proposition #5 National Jobs Program:

Should the Democratic Party promote a national jobs program, with high wage and labor standards, to replace crumbling infrastructure and rebuild hurricane damaged areas, paid for with local, state, and federal bonds financed through the Federal Reserve at low interest with long term maturities?]]> Wed, 07 Mar 2018 18:47:08 GMT
‘Operational pause’: Turkish offensive in Syria’s Afrin forces US to halt anti-ISIS battle RT

Some US-aligned militias have switched their priorities to battle the Turkish-led offensive in Afrin instead of fighting ISIS terrorists, the Pentagon said, announcing a “pause” in ground operations in eastern Syria.

On January 20, Turkey, with the help of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), launched Operation Olive Branch, a massive cross-border operation to clear Kurdish militias and remnants of jihadist fighters from Afrin, Syria. For over a month, the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the backbone of which is formed by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), have split their efforts between battling the Turkish incursion and supporting the US agenda in northern Syria.

On Monday, the Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning acknowledged that the Turkish offensive had affected the US-led fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists on the ground, effectively leading to an “operational pause.”

Ground operations against Islamic State in the Euphrates River Valley have been temporarily suspended, Manning told reporters, stressing, however, that US airstrikes in the area are continuing.

“It is an extraordinary situation because you have US proxy army in Syria, i.e. the Kurds, have departed the battlefield that the US has them on to go fight a US ally, a NATO ally Turkey,” Daniel McAdams, the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute, told RT.

“Some fighters operating within the SDF have decided to leave operations in the middle Euphrates river valley to fight elsewhere, possibly in Afrin,” Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, another Pentagon spokesman, admitted on Monday. “They’re not fighting ISIS anymore, and that basically meant that they’re not taking territory back from ISIS as quickly as they had been in the past.”

The Turkish operation in Afrin has strained relations between the US and its major NATO ally. Ankara considers the Kurdish militias to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been outlawed in Turkey as a terrorist organization. Turkey has long been anxious about the autonomy ambitions of the Kurds, who seized control of vast territories in northern Syria with the help of the Pentagon. Tensions have continued to rise since the US announced the plan to sponsor the creation of a 30,000-strong border security force, half of which would be recruited from Kurdish-led forces.

Despite Ankara’s objections, Washington remains committed to using the SDF to secure their objectives in Syria. “The nature of our mission in Syria has not changed,” Manning said on Monday, reaffirming that SDF remains a “major partner” on the ground in Syria.

The Syrian government has repeatedly condemned the Turkish operation as yet another violation of the country’s sovereignty, following years of “aggression” against the Syrian people by the US-led coalition. Further complicating the situation in the area, pro-Damascus militias were also been deployed to Afrin late last month after an appeal from the Kurds to reinforce locals in their resistance against the Turks.

“What is the US doing in Eastern Syria if it is not fighting ISIS?” McAdams asked, questioning Washington’s stated goals. “Does the US hope that the Syrian government gets further drawn into the fight with the Kurds against Turks? Then the US can swing back around and help its Turkish ally in fighting the Syrian government and Kurds as well?”

According to Ankara, at least 2,795 “terrorists” have been killed as a result of Operation Olive Branch. Turkey aims to create a 30 kilometer (19 mile) “safe zone” in northern Syria’s Afrin province. The operation continues as planned, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag noted on Monday, after Ankara rejected a February 24 United Nations Security Council resolution demanding a full month-long ceasefire across Syria. According to Turkey, the FSA has “liberated”147 locations including three town centers, 112 villages, 30 strategic mountains and hills and two YPG bases so far.

Reprinted with permission from RT.

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Five Minutes Five Issues: ‘Take the Guns First.’ AUMFs, Ukraine Weapons, No Guns List, Coffee Joint Adam Dick 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.

There has been much backlash against President Donald Trump’s statement at a Wednesday White House meeting that he thinks police should “take the guns first” from people they think may be dangerous before any court hearings are undertaken concerning the confiscations. Trump justified his position by pointing to the time consumed by court procedures.

Less discussed is what immediately preceded Trump’s comment. Trump had recognized Vice President Mike Pence to speak, and Pence had extolled the supposed benefits of California law allowing taking guns and other weapons from an individual after an expedited, low burden of proof hearing, at which the gun possessor is not even present, if police or any of a list of extended family members, former roommates, or others complain the individual may pose a danger to himself or others.

What Pence was describing, at Trump’s request, is one of the most expansive mechanisms in America for depriving people of the ability legally to possess arms. Yet, compared with Trump’s immediately following even more rights-abusive suggestion, the California program can be promoted as a “moderate alternative.”

Pence and Trump presented a false dichotomy, leaving out a freedom-respecting alternative. And much of the media coverage has played along.

Issue two.

In a Thursday Ron Paul Institute article, I wrote about a bipartisan effort of United States House of Representatives members to repeal the 2001 authorization for use of military force (AUMF) that three presidents have used to excuse their military interventions around the world without any particular legislative approval.

As part of this effort, the House Progressive Caucus and Liberty Caucus on Tuesday held a hearing.

The hearing included discussion about how any future AUMFs can be written better to ensure they do not excuse endless, expansive war. Rita Siemion from Human Rights First, for example, stressed that any future AUMFs should be debated and voted on before any force is used and that they should contain limitations, including clearly defining who the enemy is, providing geographic specificity for where force may be used, and imposing a rather near-term sunset date.

Issue three.

In December, the State Department announced the US government would be providing the Ukraine government with weapons including Javelin anti-tank missiles. The Ukraine government is expected to use these weapons in its ongoing conflict arising from a US-supported coup.

Josh Lederman reported at the Associated Press that President Donald Trump informed the US Congress on Thursday that weapons including “210 American-made Javelin missiles along with 37 command launch units” would be sent to Ukraine. Lederman also notes that the US government has been training Ukraine military members to use of the weapons that will likely arrive next month.

Issue four.

In the June 16, 2016 episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, I mentioned proposals to bar people on the No Fly List and other so-called terror watch lists from buying or possessing guns after a mass murder in Orlando, Florida. I noted a problem of such proposals is that people’s names are included through a secret process that allows including and retaining names indefinitely without any evidence that the people have any connection to terrorism.

Now, following a mass murder last month in Florida, US Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced on Tuesday the Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act (S 2458), which she says in a press release is intended to prevent people on either the US government’s No Fly List or Selectee List from purchasing firearms. The bill already has ten cosponsors — Republican, Democrat, and independent.

Issue five.

Jon Murray reported at the Denver Post that the Denver, Colorado coffee shop called the Coffee Joint received Monday the first city approval, pursuant to a 2016 citywide ballot measure, for legal marijuana consumption by customers at a business. While the Coffee Joint will not be allowed to sell marijuana, a marijuana store, partly owned by the Coffee Joint’s owners, is next door.


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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Afghanistan’s President Offers Taliban Talks ‘Without Preconditions’ Jason Ditz

Following the Taliban having made two very public offers of peace talks in the past two weeks, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has issued his own statement offering to enter into talks with the Taliban insurgency “without preconditions.”

Ghani offered to recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate part of the political process, and said he didn’t want to pre-judge anyone who was willing to come to the table to discuss reaching a settlement to end the Afghan War.

What those talks will look like, or if they even happen, is another matter, as the US has recently ruled out any talks with the Taliban, and seems to be positioning itself as opposed to diplomatic efforts.

The UN endorsed Ghani’s comments, however, and there is a suggestion that other Western countries are open to the idea of a peace process. This may isolate the US, and raise questions whether the US can prevent peace unilaterally.

Meanwhile, former President Hamid Karzai also chimed in, suggesting that Russia should be approached to play a role as a peacemaker in the country. He envisions Russia, a regional power with its own history of failed engagement in the country, as another potential partner for peace.

Reprinted with permission from
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US Special Envoy on North Korea Retires After Trump Rejects Talks Jason Ditz

US special envoy on North Korea Joseph Yun, an advocate of direct diplomacy with the reclusive nation since 2016 has informed the State Department of his intention to retire on Friday.

Though he didn’t offer a specific statement on this sudden decision, it came immediately after President Trump’s most recent comments spurning direct talks with North Korea without massive preconditions.

Though North Korea has expressed willingness to talk, the White House has made clear that they will only talk if they are guaranteed that total nuclear disarmament of North Korea results before the talks themselves begin.

Yun confirmed that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to convince him to say, but that he believes this was a “good time to get out.” State Department officials say no policy changes on North Korea will result from the retirement.

Reprinted with permission from
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Ron Paul Wins a Stosscar! Adam Dick small roles in the 2014 movies Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt? and Alongside Night. But, on Tuesday — a week before the awarding of this year’s Oscars — Paul did receive a Stosscar for “Lifetime Achievement.”

The Stosscars, a creation of libertarian commentator John Stossel, are awarded to politicians. As Stossel notes in explaining his awards, “politicians deceive people just like actors do.” Indeed, some of the awards presented by Stossel are for bad actions over the past year, such as the joint award for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for “Worst Act of Bipartisanship” in recognition of their advancing of debt-boosting spending legislation. But, other Stosscars, such as the one for Paul, as well as those for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, commend admirable political actions.

Watch here Stossel’s entertaining announcement of this year’s Stosscars:

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Five Minutes Five Issues: School Shootings, Korean War II, Sessions Nonsense, Syria Missions, Liberland Adam Dick Stitcher, iTunes, YouTube, 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.

As I mentioned in last week’s episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, there has been much exaggeration in media pronouncements of the numbers of mass murders and school shootings in America.

Still, parents and students are concerned about possible dangers at schools, including related to mass murders. However, they do not all want the same actions taken in response to the possible dangers.

Some want armed police or guards on patrol, security cameras all around, and searches of people and their property. Others want to allow, encourage, or require that some school employees are armed. Some want students, especially college students, to be allowed to carry weapons, including guns, to defend themselves and others. Some want schools to adopt policies designed to direct people away from taking violent actions. And others want to terminate security measures they see as already too oppressive, doing away with locked doors, ID checks, school guards and police, and more.

Talking about these different perspectives in an interview last week at KFAR radio in Fairbanks, Alaska, I concluded that they provide more reason why government should be removed from the schooling business.

The approach to security, just like the approach to students’ math or English education, should not be one-size-fits-all. And approaches relying on routinely surveilling and searching students should never be employed by government.

Issue two.

On Friday, United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced yet more North Korea sanctions.

The same day, President Donald Trump said the following:
If the sanctions don’t work, we’ll have to go phase two. Phase two may be a very rough thing, maybe very, very unfortunate for the world. But hopefully the sanctions will work.
That sounds like a threat of Korean War II.

Issue three.

Tom Angell wrote Wednesday at Marijuana Moment regarding Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX). Through his chairmanship of the United States House of Representatives Rules Committee that can prevent amendments from being considered on the House floor, Angell views Sessions as largely responsible for the House not having any marijuana amendment floor votes since 2016.

It should also be noted that other House and Senate leaders share responsibility for blocking Congress from ever debating and voting on actual bills that would roll back the war on marijuana.

So what does Sessions say about marijuana? Angell notes that Sessions claimed Tuesday that “marijuana, on average, is 300 times more powerful” than it was when Sessions graduated from high school in 1973. That comment is preposterous. Who back then would have bothered using such weak marijuana?

Issue four.

Answering a question at a joint Friday White House press conference with the Australia prime minister, President Donald Trump said this regarding the US presence in Syria:
We’re there for one reason. We’re there to get ISIS and get rid of ISIS and go home. We're not there for any other reason. And we’ve largely accomplished our goal.
Maybe Trump should have a talk with his secretary of state who last month declared in a Hoover Institution speech that the US military is in Syria not just to fight ISIS. It is also, he said, in Syria for additional reasons including to fight al-Qaeda, to create conditions that encourage the return of refugees, to reduce Iranian influence in Syria, and to ensure the replacement of the Syria government.

Issue five.

Last week, Ron Paul spoke in Mexico. While there, Paul was given a Liberland passport in “recognition of his lifetime achievements for liberty.” In case you have not heard, Liberland is described on its website as a nation proclaimed in April of 2015 and composed of about seven square kilometers of land between Croatia and Serbia that no nation had claimed. It is no surprise that people behind Liberland would like Paul; the Liberland motto is to live and let live.”


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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Ron Paul Rewind: No to Endorsing Mitt Romney, Yes to Endorsing Peace, Prosperity, Liberty, and the Constitution Adam Dick
Indeed, since leaving the United States House of Representatives in 2013, Paul has continued to dedicate much effort to promoting these principles through his chairmanship of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Despite Paul having won several states in the presidential nomination contest and, as Cavuto notes in the interview, Paul having been greeted at the convention “as a rock star,” Paul had no opportunity to present a convention floor speech.

Romney, who ended up losing to President Barack Obama in the 2012 general election, announced last week that he is running in Utah for US Senate.

On Thursday, once-again-candidate Romney will be attending an Iron County, Utah Republican Party dinner. And who will be the keynote speaker at the event? Ron Paul.

Expect Paul to discuss in his keynote speech topics including Paul’s views concerning peace, prosperity, liberty, and the US Constitution. Hopefully, Romney will listen carefully. It is never too late to learn.

Watch Paul’s complete interview from the 2012 Republican National Convention here:

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Adam Dick on Alaska Radio: ‘Russiagate’ Indictments, School Shootings, and More Adam Dick
Listen to the complete interview here (starting at time marker 6:09 after some technical difficulties):

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Five Minutes Five Issues: Marijuana President, Attacking Assange, War Costs, School Shootings, Empire of Lies Adam Dick 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.

In the October 28 episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, I mentioned several reasons why I would not be surprised to see the United States government legalize marijuana within five years.

Tom Angell provides, in a Thursday Forbes article, another reason to expect countrywide legalization could occur that soon. Angell writes that three potential major Democratic Party 2020 presidential candidates — Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) — support ending marijuana prohibition.

The likelihood of a pro-legalization candidate winning the nomination is further suggested by an October Gallup poll Angell mentions that indicates 72 percent of Democrats support legalization.

Also, Donald Trump or another Republican would probably enhance the chance of defeating a pro-legalization Democrat, and maybe even of winning the Republican primary, by supporting legalization. As I mentioned in that October episode, the Gallup poll also indicated 64 percent legalization support among Americans overall, as well as, for the first time, majority support among Republicans.

Issue two.

A Wednesday article at The Intercept by Micah Lee and Cora Currier declared that messages from Julian Assange of WikiLeaks in a private Twitter group “reveal a running theme of sexism and misogyny” and “contain hints of anti-Semitism.” But, in the long article only drivel is offered to supposedly support that conclusion. Maybe the intention was to present a harsh judgment of Assange and then trust people would assume the judgement was well supported without giving the article an attentive read.

Further, at the heart of the article’s flimsy case against Assange is the assertion that all Twitter posts from WikiLeaks are from Assange. However, Assange explained at Twitter in response to the article that that is not true. Writes Assange, “the @WikiLeaks account is run by a rotating staff as has been repeatedly stated over the years.”

Issue three.

Former US Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, in an interview this week with Aaron Maté at The Real News, reminds us that military spending goes far beyond Defense Department appropriations.

As an example, Wilkerson, who is a Ron Paul Institute Academic Board member, mentions that we should expect trillions of dollars in spending for veterans of US military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and “associated hostilities” in countries including Syria, Somalia, and Niger.

Issue four.

In a December of 2015 Ron Paul Institute article, I warned not to “fall for exaggerated claims related to guns and mass murder,” including the common media practice of vastly overstating the number of mass murders in America.

In a Thursday Washington Examiner article, Siraj Hashmi discussed the supposed 18 school shootings this year that has been often mentioned in relation to the Wednesday killings at a Florida high school. Most of these incidents, Hashmi explains, resulted in no fired bullets hitting anybody, were accidents or suicides, or otherwise were far from what people would normally think of as school shootings.

Also, applying the historical categorization of mass murder that concerns the indiscriminate-killing-motivated murder of four or more people in a public venue, which I discussed in my article, the Wednesday incident is the only one of the 18 that qualifies as a mass murder.

Issue five.

Why is the US government so intent on punishing whistleblowers and other individuals involved in revealing US government secrets? John Wight, in a Thursday CounterPunch article concerning Julian Assange, provides an answer. Wight explains:
… Julian Assange, as was Chelsea Manning, as will be Edward Snowden if he dares set foot outside Russia, is being punished for removing the veil of freedom, human rights, and civil liberties from the face of an empire of hypocrisy and lies. They lied about Iraq, they lied about Libya, they lied about Syria, and they lie every day about the murky relationships between governments, corporations, and the rich that negates their oft made claims to be governing in the interests of the people.

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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In Trump’s 2019 Budget, Lockheed Looms Almost as Large as State Dept Jason Ditz

In great measure, the Pentagon runs on Lockheed Martin. The US armsmaker racked up $35.2 billion in sales to the US government last year, a preposterously large figure that positions them both as heavily reliant on the government for its profits, and gives them a level of influence unmatched.

Lockheed Martin, after all, gets nearly as much money from the US government as the State Department. CEO Marilyn Hewson is, by the reckoning of some analysts, as powerful as most US cabinet secretaries.

Teal Group’s Richard Aboulafia has the gold medal quote on this – “diplomacy is out; airstrikes are in.” From the F-35 on, Lockheed is a key facilitator of airstrikes, and soaring demands for its products are leading to soaring revenue and rising profit margins.

Reports on the company brag about “juicy” shipbuilding deals, and the money pouring in from nuclear weapons upgrades. Lockheed Martin’s status as a main seller of US arms and the US obsession with growing its military seem to ensure that the company will remain rich, and wildly influential, for years to come.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Sat, 17 Feb 2018 14:36:36 GMT
Strike Two: US Again Launches 'Defense' Attack on Russian and Syrian Forces in Syria Daniel McAdams

For the second time in a week, US military forces occupying northeast Syria have attacked Syrian government forces, blowing up a Russian-made T-72 battle tank on Saturday. According to a statement made today by Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of US Air Forces Central Command, US forces saw a Russian tank in Syria that "took a shot at us" and the US side called in an airstrike in "self-defense." 

Harrigian said that the US troops were in a "defensive position" when they spotted the Russian tank and fired on it. He said he could not rule out the possibility that the tank was being driven by Russian soldiers when the US attacked it. 

Last week's US attack on forces loyal to the Syrian government were first reported to have killed a total of 100 fighters, with one or two Russians possibly in the mix. But just today new information suggests that the US attack may have killed up to 100 Russians fighting in special "ISIS killers" squads seeking to mop up the last of the extremist group in Syria.

Losing 100 Russians to a US attack in Syria not only shifts a US/Russia proxy war to a US/Russia hot war (on one side thus far), it also carries with it a great political downside for President Vladimir Putin as the Russian presidential election season begins. Liberal challenger to Putin, Grigory Yavlinsky, is already trying to score political points by criticizing the lack of transparency over what Russians are dying for inside Syria. Putin is stuck between a rock and hard place, as he surely understands the dangers of direct retaliation but also sees the political downside of doing nothing as US forces kill Russians in Syria.

Col. Thomas Veale, a spokesman for the Inherent Resolve coalition, said of last week's strike that it was in response to what are likely Syrian government moves to re-claim control of territory that had been vacated when ISIS was defeated in the area.

US actions in northeastern Syria make it clear that Washington intends to carve out a large chunk of Syrian territory to control, with its proxy Kurd forces acting as boots on the ground. The name of the game is increasingly clear: deny the Syrian government the ability to consolidate its control over large parts of the country now that ISIS is defeated. 

The purpose? Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made it clear that the ultimate US goal in Syria was, as it has been for more than ten years, regime change.

It distorts words beyond any stretch of meaning for a foreign military that illegally occupies the territory of another sovereign state to claim "self-defense" when the military of that sovereign state seeks to expel the invaders. 

How far is the United States willing to go to pursue the "regime change" policy of the past two US presidencies which remains a prime goal of Washington's friends in the region including primarily Israel and Saudi Arabia? 

Israel's recent military escalation in Syria was halted -- at least temporarily -- by a warning call from Putin to Israeli prime minister Netanyahu. Will the Russian president make a similar call to Washington warning against any further US strikes on Russians operating (legally, unlike the Americans) in Syria? Will Trump's generals heed the warning...or will they seek to call Putin's bluff?

And what happens if Putin is not bluffing?]]> Wed, 14 Feb 2018 01:17:31 GMT