Peace and Prosperity Ron Paul Institute's flagship blog Copyright Ron Paul Institute Sat, 16 Dec 2017 22:52:32 GMT Sat, 16 Dec 2017 22:52:32 GMT Five Minutes Five Issues: Car Tracking, Chocolate Ban, Media Perverts, Teens’ Marijuana Use, Tax Bill Rush 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.

Sometimes taxes are about more than just taking your money. They can also be about invading your privacy. Think of all the information the United States government collects, for example, through the submission of 1040 and other income tax forms.

Now the California state government is considering taxing people for each mile they drive their cars. A report this week by Phil Matier at KPIX-TV suggests the tax may be supported by putting tracking devices in cars.

Issue two.

Steven Nelson reported Wednesday at the Washington Examiner that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned two companies to stop distributing Coco Loko, a snortable chocolate powder that the FDA calls a “street drug alternative.” Nelson explains that the snortable chocolate powder is like the cacao powder used in many foods, with the difference that it includes extra ingredients such as “B vitamins, ginkgo biloba, blood flow-improving amino acid L-Arginine and the energy drink stimulants guarana and taurine.”

Issue three.

The USA Today editorial board provided an example of the absurd lengths some media will go to attack President Donald Trump. The editorial board began a Tuesday editorial by stating that Trump, in a recent Twitter post, was “clearly implying that [US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)] would trade sexual favors for campaign cash.” However, in the tweet referenced, Trump just wrote that the senator “would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them).”

Responding to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof who was jumping to the same conclusion, Justin Raimondo of offered this quip: “If you're a sex-obsessed pervert with a dirty filthy rotten mind, then yes - that's how you'd read it.”

Issue four.

Tom Angell wrote Monday at Marijuana Moment regarding results of a periodic national survey conducted by the US government that indicate there may have been a slightly larger drop in marijuana use by people age 12 to 17 in states that legalized marijuana than in states that have not legalized.

These results do indicate that, in this area of concern, the sky did not fall.

But, the indicated difference in changes in marijuana use in legalization and prohibition states is rather small, and Alaska and Oregon, which have adopted legalization, had indicated increases in use, over, respectively, the year and month prior to the survey. The results thus suggest that legalization, even if it is a cause of decreased use, is likely not a very major one. Indeed, there is no reason to reject without further investigation the possibility that any greater decreased use is just a correlation with legalization instead of a result caused by legalization.

Also, concern about small changes in the percentage of Americans ages 12 to 17 who are using marijuana seems often overblown. Some of these individuals use marijuana for medical reasons, and probably more do so each year as medical benefits become more recognized. Further, through much of American history a typical teenager would be done with school and working for a living. They were widely seen as young adults who should make major decisions regarding their lives. I am not worried if some more teenagers drink beer. Why should I be worried if some more consume marijuana? I’ll leave the worrying to their parents.

Issue five.

There is a rush to pass a major tax bill in the US Congress before Christmas.

Why the rush? The long, complex bill could be dealt with over the winter in a deliberative and open fashion.

The rush ensures the American people, many of whom are now involved in Christmas trips and celebrations, do not understand what special interests have put into the bill. The rush also helps pressure Congress members to vote “yes” given their Christmas break is held hostage until a tax bill passes.


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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Bill of Rights Protections Are for Terrorists Too Adam Dick detonated a bomb in a pedestrian tunnel of the New York City subway system, people were saying the alleged bomber should not be afforded respect for his constitutional rights and should be shipped off to the United States military’s Guantanamo prison in Cuba. Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Andrew Napolitano, however, argues in a new video commentary that it is important that the US government respect alleged bomber Akayed Ullah’s rights guaranteed under the US Constitution — including rights to be represented by a lawyer and to have a jury trial.

“We have hired a government to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution,” says Napolitano. “If it begins cutting corners for people it hates and fears,” he asks, “what will stop it from cutting corners for the rest of us?”

Watch Napolitano’s video commentary here:

Napolitano, who is a member of the Ron Paul Institute Advisory Board, wrote in more detail about the matter in a Wednesday editorial.]]> Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:33:01 GMT
Tucker Carlson: Peter Strzok messages makes FBI agent look like a 'drunk guy on Facebook' Alex Christoforou

These are the very same agents in the FBI who assured all of America that Russia “meddled” in the US election.

Nine out of fifteen members of Robert Mueller’s team are Hillary Clinton donors. At least one worked for Hillary personally.

Why did Robert Mueller hide the reason for Peter Strzok’s demotion for so many months?

Why has Mueller consistently stonewalled, when asked to hand over information on Strzok’s text messages and his demotion?

Strzok’s text messages to his mistress, Lisa Page, are as Tucker Carlson notes, “devastating!”

The FBI’s top investigators look like a bunch of little children texting each other back and forth with “OMG” text messages.

New York Times once described Peter Strzok as “one of the most experienced and trusted FBI counter intelligence investigators.” More NYT fake news.

Tucker Carlson sums it up perfectly:
When you read his texts, Peter Strzok sounds a lot like like the sixth host of The View.
The entire Russia election meddling story is an FBI cover up.

The agency is trying to hide its partisan bias, and its plot to prevent a Trump election victory. The real election collusion is the FBI actively working to stop Trump.

This all started with an FBI refusal to look into the DNC’s “hacked” server, and simply rely on the word of private contractor CrowdStrike.

The entire surveillance and subsequent investigation into “Russia and Trump”, that has ruined the lives of Paul Manafort and General Flynn, is based on a debunked “dossier” compiled by a British spy, paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC.

The FBI has been actively working against Trump and against American democracy, fabricating false narratives to avoid scrutiny into its own partisan efforts to thwart a Trump presidency.

Reprinted with permission from The Duran.]]> Fri, 15 Dec 2017 05:20:54 GMT
Ron Paul Describes the Foreign Policy Mission of the Ron Paul Institute Adam Dick
“[A]t the institute,” says Paul, “we believe that our role should be to develop friendships and trade with countries.” Paul continues:
Most every country in the world is imperfect, including ours. But, our immediate goal should be to improve ourselves and not pretend that we can tell other people how to live and who should run their countries.
Watch here Paul’s complete interview, in which Paul also discusses the deployment of US military members around the world:

Please help keep the Ron Paul Institute alive by making your end-of-year, tax-deductible donation.

]]> Thu, 14 Dec 2017 18:34:39 GMT
Ron Paul is Optimistic Philosophic Changes Will Lead to Greater Respect for Liberty Adam Dick

Libertarian communicator and former presidential candidate Ron Paul says he is optimistic that philosophic changes taking place in America will lead to greater government respect for liberty. Paul made the assessment in a recent interview with host Marc Clair at the Lions of Liberty podcast regarding Paul’s new book The Revolution at Ten Years. “The philosophy comes first, and I think that’s where we excel,” says Paul.

Paul, in the interview, challenges “the propaganda” belittling the status of the libertarian revolution. While Paul notes that libertarians “don’t control the Congress, the presidency, or anything else” in Washington, DC, he argues that libertarians appear to be making good progress now to be in position to reshape government in the future.

Listen to Paul’s complete interview here.

Purchase Paul’s book, in which he discusses the libertarian revolution in more detail, here.]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:58:17 GMT
Five Minutes Five Issues: Yemen Blockade, Israelgate, Cop Sentenced, Military Spending, Execution Capital 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.

On Wednesday, United States President Donald Trump issued the following written statement:
I have directed officials in my Administration to call the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to request that they completely allow food, fuel, water, and medicine to reach the Yemeni people who desperately need it. This must be done for humanitarian reasons immediately.
Hopefully the action described in Trump’s statement will help improve conditions in Yemen.

But what Trump did not say is as important as what he did say. He did not say that he will take action to ensure the US government discontinues the significant role it plays in providing military assistance for the Saudi Arabia coalition’s war on Yemen — a war that has created the terrible conditions in Yemen.

Issue two.

Many people excited about so-called Russiagate are concerned that Donald Trump and his presidential campaign or transition team may have colluded with Russia. The rather nebulous collusion allegation seems often to suggest either working with the Russian government to ensure Trump was elected president or acting as an agent of the Russian government. While Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russiagate investigation has not revealed evidence of such conduct, the investigation did present an allegation in its indictment of Michael Flynn that seems to deal with the Trump transition team, upon the request of the Israel government, seeking to encourage several governments to oppose in the United Nations a resolution critical of Israel.

Considering this development, writer Justin Raimondo asked in an article this week, “Has Russia-gate morphed into Israel-gate?”

Issue three.

On Thursday, a US judge in South Carolina sentenced Michael Slager to 20 years in prison for, in 2015, killing Walter Scott. Slager shot Scott in the back as Scott was fleeing from Slager who had attempted to physically restrain Scott.

The punishment does not sound unusual until the fact is thrown in that Slager was a cop who had pulled over Scott’s vehicle for a broken tail light.

The shooting was caught on video as also was Slager afterward placing his stun gun by Scott in an apparent attempt to bolster Slager’s claim that Scott had tried to use it against Slager.

Issue four.

Interviewed Thursday by host Neil Cavuto at Fox Business, Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) pointed to the over 20 trillion-dollars national debt and the 666 billion-dollars deficit for the last fiscal year before saying he thinks the US government needs “some fiscal conservatism in every department, even in the defense department.” Duncan, who is a member of the Ron Paul Institute Advisory Board as well as a US House of Representatives member, explains that, while he believes that “national defense is probably the most legitimate function of our national government,” he also thinks the Department of Defense should operate frugally. Duncan indicates the US has gone “ridiculously overboard” with defense spending more than doubling since the year 2000.

One way Duncan often suggests cutting military spending is by ending wars. For example, Duncan in a June House floor speech called for ending what he termed the “permanent, forever, endless war in the Middle East.”

Issue five.

In the January 7 episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, I talked about there being less executions in America in 2016 than in any year since 1991.

Harris County, the Texas county in which the city of Houston is located, has been referred to as the “capital of capital punishment” due to the many people convicted in the county who have been executed over the last few decades. But, Keri Blakinger reported Monday at the Houston Chronicle that 2017 is the first year since 1985 in which nobody convicted of murder in Harris County has been executed.


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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44,000 US Troops on ‘Unknown’ Deployments Worldwide Jason Ditz

When the Pentagon wants to mislead the public about where US troops are, generally speaking, they just lie. Yet sometimes the number of troops is just too big to claim as a rounding error, and questions start happening.

This week, the focus is on over 44,000 US military personnel deployed to “unknown,” which immediately raises red flags, because that’s not a place. Pentagon officials, however, say there is “no good way” to describe where they are.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning, on the one hand, presented this as an “operational security” and “denying the enemy any advantage,” including, it seems providing any specifics on who “the enemy” at this point even is.

At the same time, Manning presented this as simply a limitation of the Pentagon’s current capabilities, and that there is literally “no personnel system” in the Pentagon that tracks where everyone is, and they just stick everyone else in “unknown” so the number of troops they officially have balances out with the number of troops deployed in actual, real places.

Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon went a step further, saying that the figures are flat out fiction, and were “not meant to represent an accurate accounting of troops currently deployed to any location. They should not be relied upon for a current picture of what is going on.”

Secretary of Defense James Mattis suggested that the situation was complicated, but also that he wasn’t entirely comfortable with the lack of accounting for troops abroad, saying at some point he was going to try to put everything together and figure out where everyone really is.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Sat, 09 Dec 2017 21:37:25 GMT
Vermont Government May Approve Marijuana Legalization as Soon as January Adam Dick

Vermont may next year become the first state to legalize marijuana through legislation passed by a state legislature and signed by the governor. It may happen as soon as January.

The eight states and District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana so far have all done so through voters-approved ballot measures.

Tom Angell has the full story at Marijuana Moment about the legalization legislation that has already been approved in the Vermont Senate, that incudes changes suggested by Governor Phil Scott when he vetoed another legalization bill this year, and that House Speaker Mitzi Johnson said on Friday she expects the House “likely will pass in early January.”]]> Fri, 08 Dec 2017 18:45:38 GMT
Ron Paul, Peace Envoy to North Korea? Adam Dick
The barrier, Paul says, to him being able to work effectively with Trump on North Korea relations is that Paul’s “ideas about North Korea contradict how we are treating North Korea now.” If Trump were serious in wanting Paul’s assistance, Paul says, “let me write him a one page memo telling him what I think needs to be done.” The memo, Paul indicates, would include the US “backing off” and North Korea sorting things out with governments of nearby countries, with Paul mentioning South Korea, Japan, Russia, and China. Without securing Trump’s agreement on such a memo, Paul indicates any peace effort Paul undertook would be undermined by the conflict between Paul’s “noninterventionist approach to foreign policy” and the policies the US has now.

Watch Paul’s interview here:

Paul discussed further his recommendations for US policy toward North Korea in his September 25 editorial “How to End the Korea Crisis.”]]> Wed, 06 Dec 2017 19:03:52 GMT
Ron Paul Discusses the Libertarian Revolution Adam Dick

Ron Paul returned to the Scott Horton Show on Friday to discuss Paul’s new book The Revolution at Ten Years. As Paul explains in the interview, the revolution mentioned in the book title is the “libertarian revolution” that “came to light” in Paul’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. While Paul acknowledges that “Washington hasn’t changed” since then, he also comments that the revolution continues with people “laying the groundwork for the necessary changes that will come” after the political system in America “falls apart.”

In addition to Paul’s book, Paul and host Scott Horton discuss topics including United States foreign policy and the Federal Reserve.

Listen to Paul’s interview here.

Purchase Paul’s book here.]]> Mon, 04 Dec 2017 18:42:52 GMT
Five Minutes Five Issues: Facial Recognition, WI Hemp, Lauer’s Button, Pennies Payment, Drug War Games Adam Dick 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.

The United States government is not content with its current facial recognition technology capabilities. It is amassing a huge database of photos of people’s faces and appears to desire to identify everyone, just about always and everywhere. For example, Lee Fang and Ali Winston reported Wednesday at The Intercept regarding the Department of Homeland Security seeking technology that will allow the identifying of three people in a car, two up front and one in back, driving through a light rain at 25 miles per hour with the windows up.

Issue two.

In the October 14 episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, I talked about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker expressing reservations about legislation being considered in the state legislature that would legalize hemp farming.

On Thursday, Walker signed the hemp farming legalization bill into law.

Even if Walker had vetoed the bill, the veto could have been easily overridden given the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate had approved the bill in unanimous recorded votes.

As in other states that have legalized hemp farming, the new law requires farmers to jump through bureaucratic hoops to legally grow the crop. Still, such laws do end a prohibition.

Issue three.

Some people are pointing to the fact that former NBC television host Matt Lauer had a button at his desk that he could push to lock his office door as somehow incriminating him for assault or harassment or even indicating his employer knew of, and sought to aid, Lauer’s assaulting or harassing of people.

What nonsense. Such a button is a smart security feature. What is disconcerting is that people view having such a security feature as suspicious.

Years back, I worked in a law firm where each lawyer had at his desk a button he could push to close his office door. There I figured the primary purposes included easily and quickly ensuring greater privacy or quiet. Maybe that system could lock and unlock the door from the desk too; I don’t remember.

A button like the ones Lauer and I had is a great feature for an office.

Issue four.

Anthony Sevy had had enough after being told at the Royal Oak, Michigan courthouse that he would have to pay a $1.75 fee if he used his credit card to pay a ten-dollar parking ticket. So he came back to pay the fine with rolls of pennies.

People across America have paid much larger government fines and taxes with change. But, the court refused to accept Sevy’s pennies.

That was not the end of the story. Taryn Asher reported at WJBK-TV this week that Sevy claims in a lawsuit that, as he attempted to leave the building, courthouse police choked Sevy and forced Sevy to the ground. Courthouse video appears to back up Sevy’s claim of rough treatment. As is often the case in instances of police misconduct, it is Sevy, the apparent victim, who was charged with law-breaking, in this case, disturbing the peace and obstructing a police officer.

Issue five.

The Drug Policy Alliance states its mission is “to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and to promote the sovereignty of individuals over their minds and bodies.” Yet, it seems DPA wants to protect our minds from some games sold on the internet.

On Thursday, Hannah Hetzer, who is the senior international policy manager at DPA, wrote at the DPA website that the previous day Apple had removed from its store a series of games she characterizes as glorifying murders in the Philippines government’s war on drugs. Hetzer writes that DPA has called on Google to take down the games, and her article is accompanied by a message encouraging people to sign a DPA petition urging the removal of the games.


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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Libya - Trump Jumps Back In Richard Galustian

For over a year, the United States has been disengaged from Libya’s turmoil, with President Donald Trump declaring America had “no interest” in its interminable civil war.

That all changed Friday December 1st, when the President abruptly announced a rethink in a meeting with the head of Libya’s UN-backed Government National Accord, Fayez Sarraj to declare his “commitment to helping the Libyan people realize a more stable, unified, and prosperous future.”

For some, the engagement of the world’s only hyper-power in Libya’s chaos is just the shot in the arm that the UN’s Libya envoy, Ghassan Salame, needs as he struggles to end the fighting. But the potential for "mission creep" remains high.

However noble Trumps intentions toward Libya might be, the UN-chosen Government of National Accord is a dog that don’t hunt.

Its creation was spearheaded by the Obama administration two years ago this month, throwing support behind the Muslim Brotherhood friendly UN-named Prime Minister Fayez Serraj and eight other Libyans -- nominated by a UN commission -- to run the country and end the civil war.

The GNA has done no such thing. Two of the nine presidency members have quit, and the GNA itself, having no national legitimacy or popular support, is a government in name only, occupying a Tripoli naval base because the city itself is held by all-powerful squabbling militias.

This is Serraj’s Army: paid mercenaries who are a loose coalition of militias.

Those militias, which seized power from the legitimate parliament back in 2014, are fighting amongst themselves, which is one reason why in the past twelve months they have endured a string of defeats against the eastern army of Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army is bigger, better armed and trained than the militias and has been rolling them up in a series of offensives that have captured the eastern oil crescent, home to most of Libya’s oil, along with Benghazi, the eastern capital.

Those successes have crushed Islamist militias, some aligned to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) which the Obama administration favoured as a key bulwark to Libyan stability -- even though most Libyans long since rejected them. Not forgetting many Arab countries designate the MB as a terrorist organisation, including American allies UAE, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

The UN and some European Union powers still cling to the myth that the GNA, unelected and unloved, can become a true unity government, forgetting that Haftar, and a rival government in the eastern city of Al Baida, now control most of the country along with its oil.

Neither is willing to cut a deal with the GNA, Serraj, or the Islamist and Misratan militias that control Tripoli and western Libya. Instead, they are demanding that the militias who have dominated the capital since the 2011 revolution disband and hand themselves over to regular police and army formations.

Trump’s statement backs joint actions against terrorist formations, with the United States continuing to launch episodic air strikes against Islamic State formations in Libya’s central desert. But it is naive to call for “bilateral engagement in several areas,” with the GNA which is a government in name only. 

Is military engagement in yet another country by US Forces what the American people want?

Other powers have come to realise that Haftar and the east now calls the shots in Libya. In January, Russia treated the Field Marshall to a full dress parade aboard one of its aircraft carriers. In July, France, which provided special forces intelligence operatives to help Haftar battle Islamists in Benghazi, invited him for peace talks with Serraj in Paris, on the understanding that those talks must work towards regular security forces and away from armed brigands.

Serraj has not missed his chance, inspired by his America visit to call for the UN to lift the international arms embargo on Libya but he stated they are for "his forces" not Haftar’s LNA, which means giving weapons to militias. Given that Serraj controls nothing outside a square mile of Tripoli naval base, all such weapons will quickly find their way to militias, and a portion will be sold on to terrorists, even ISIS or Al Qaeda.

Equal pie-in-the-sky has come from Salame who last Tuesday declared Libya will be ready for elections early next year. To which the only sensible response, giving that civil war is raging, is “dream on.”

In response, Haftar’s LNA spokesman Ahmed Al-Mismari reiterated on Thursday that in the end, if Tripoli militias don’t disarm, regular forces must take action. “They (regular army and police) will end the Libyan crisis by decisive military action by the end of this year”. That is a very emphatic statement.

With Benghazi free, courtesy of Haftar not Serraj, the city is rebuilding itself after three years of battle. Flights and shipping can only be to and from Benghazi by order of Haftar. Down the coast, the oil ports are operating again, and eastern Libya is sorting itself out, even as Tripoli and western Libya plunges ever deeper into chaos.

However, US renewed interest in Libya will only make matters worse if that interest means more weapons exported to the country - especially to the various militias representing unelected factions.

Now that Trump seems to want to engage America in Libya, he and Washington bureaucrats could do itself a favour by recognising that the time for militias, military intervention, and chaos is over, and Libyans yearn for stability.]]> Sat, 02 Dec 2017 16:48:59 GMT
McAdams: US Empire ‘Too Fragile’ for a Free Press RT
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McAdams: US envoy Nikki Haley is ‘Bull in a China Shop, Not a Diplomat’ on N Korea RT

Daniel McAdams, executive director at Ron Paul Institute, says that Haley is behaving more like a “bull in a china shop” than a diplomat.

RT:What do you make of Nikki Haley's remarks on North Korea, and how could it affect this standoff?

Daniel McAdams: As usual, Haley is not a diplomat, she is a bull in a china shop, so to speak. She is repeating all the neocon talking points at the UN. The idea of kicking North Korea out of the UN? The UN is a forum for diplomacy; it was designed to help avoid war. The idea of kicking them out of that forum just shows what her real agenda is. It is the same agenda that we heard from Lindsey Graham, as a matter of fact word for word: "if war happens, it’ll be North Korea’s fault." If war happens, it will be that the US has decided to attack North Korea. Frankly, I don’t think that is going to happen, but they are trying to ramp it up to the very closest point to war. That is the problem because it could lead to many mistakes.

RT:What do you think Kim Jong-un will be thinking, listening to this latest threat from the US?

DM: Of course the problem is always misinterpretation. Both leaders are speaking in code – they are calling each other names, they are not at the table talking. The real problem is misunderstanding. I think North Korea’s leader Kim is playing a very rational game. He is trying to establish the fact that he has a sufficient deterrent to keep South Korea, the US, and Japan from attacking him. That is a very rational thing. That is what countries do. It doesn’t mean you endorse these policies. But the idea that he is behaving like a madman is absolutely not true.

Reprinted with permission from RT.]]> Thu, 30 Nov 2017 22:45:32 GMT
Project Veritas Videos Are Far From a Threat to the Washington Post Adam Dick

This week, Project Veritas posted two videos containing hidden camera footage of some Washington Post employees talking about the Post and its coverage of and editorializing on various matters. While Project Veritas presents the videos in packaging suggesting the videos are a great threat to the so-called American newspaper of record, the innocuous videos seem better suited to helping protect the Post from significant criticism.

Expectations are pumped up in the packaging of the two videos. The first video released is provocatively titled “BREAKING: Undercover Video Exposes Washington Post’s Hidden Agenda.” In his introduction to the second video, James O’Keefe of Project Veritas says that Project Veritas is an “existential threat” to the Post and “the entire media establishment.”

But, when you watch the videos carefully, you realize that the packaging is very misleading. Indeed, you may feel like a child who, after opening a huge package on Christmas morning with thoughts of the wonderful toys that may be inside, finds, under many space-filling wads of paper, only an ugly sweater he is embarrassed to wear.

In the videos, which only include Project Veritas’ selected moments instead of the full conversations, you can hear Washington Post employees say the sorts of things you would expect them to say in a media interview or at a Washington, DC think tank presentation. The only difference may be some looser wording, including some cussing, given that the employees did not know their comments were being recorded. Here are some of the things they say:

* The news section of the Washington Post seeks to be fair in its coverage of President Donald Trump while the editorial section is quite critical of him.

* The Washington Post spends more time on some news matters than it should and less time on other news matters than it should.

* The Washington Post, more so than some other mentioned media entities, tries to rein in the influence of reporters’ personal views on their reporting.

* The Washington Post slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness” was decided upon by Post owner Jeff Bezos who was thinking of Trump when making the decision.

* If Trump “disappeared tomorrow,” there would be a big decrease in the Washington Post’s internet traffic.

* Washington Post reporting has not established that Trump is “guilty of being in cahoots with the Russians.”

* The Washington Post’s director of newsroom operations says her personal opinion, that she indicates she is not supposed to discuss, is that she hopes Trump will not be reelected in 2020.

When you look past the packaging, the Project Veritas videos make the Washington Post look quite good. If this is the sort of indications of improper conduct that can be uncovered in off-guard, private conversations with Post employees, that suggests the Post is alright and all the complaining about it should be disregarded. Maybe that is part of why much attention has been paid to the Project Veritas videos. Widely promoting these videos as the representation of Washington Post criticism can help divert people from looking into more significant critiques of the Post.]]> Wed, 29 Nov 2017 23:25:32 GMT
Turning The Corner In Afghanistan Moon of Alabama

The news about the wars the U.S. is waging all over the world is unreliable. The same statements of progress are repeated year after year. The official numbers, be they of civilian casualties or deployed troops, are mere lies. Every news presentation should be engraved with a warning: "Assertions and numbers are not what they appear." Consider, for example, the various "turned corner" statements officials have made about Afghanistan.

On October 5 2017 the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed to the BBC that Afghanistan has "turned the corner":
... when I ask whether he is saying Afghan forces have turned the corner in the fight against the Taliban, there is no hesitation: "Yes," he says.
On October 24 the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson agreed with President Ghani:
"With the mounting military, diplomatic, and social pressure that is building – that we all are collectively committed to sustaining over the coming years – the enemy will have no choice but to reconcile. I believe, as President Ghani says, 'we have turned the corner,’” he concluded.
But a month later General Nicholson seemed to disagreed with his earlier statement:
"We are still in a stalemate," Nicholson, a four-star Army general said in an exclusive interview.
Today, five days after his "stalemate" statement, the general's opinion has changed again. Kevin Baron, the editor of Defense Onereports:
‏JUST IN: Top US general in Afghanistan says war has "turned a corner... " The momentum is now with the Afghan security forces." ...
The General seems confused. But he is not the first to have such a change of mind.

On February 3 2010 then U.S. commander General Stanley McChrystal was cautious about the proverbial corner:
General Stanley McChrystal also expressed confidence that Afghan forces would grow quickly enough to allow a reduction in U.S. troop numbers to begin on schedule in 2011. ... “I‘m not prepared to say we have turned the corner,” he added.
Only twelve days later the turn had been made
Gen Stanley McChrystal had his own words. Helmand had “turned the corner” in its four year war, he told The Daily Telegraph.
In May 2011 a British General also noted the turn:
The civilians are looking to people such as General James Bucknall, a British Coldstream Guards officer who is second in command of the International Security and Assistance Force (Isaf).
[H]e sets out why he thinks a corner has now been turned, nodding to the surge in American troop numbers that has made it possible.
Six years earlier another British General had already seen that turn:
Handing over to 3 Commando Brigade, Brig Butler said: "When we prepared, we knew there would be rocky times ahead, and that things would get harder before they got easier. That has certainly been the case, but I judge we have turned the corner. We have achieved a huge amount."
In May 2011 the U.S. Secretary of Defense was more cautious than the generals but nonetheless optimistic:
I think we could be in a position by the end of this year where we have turned the corner in Afghanistan," [U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates] said.
According to his boss, progress came faster than Gates anticipated. On June 23 2011 CBS headlined Obama: U.S. has turned corner in Afghanistan:
President Barack Obama on Thursday told American troops who've fought in Afghanistan that the U.S. has turned a corner after nearly 10 years of war, and it's time for their comrades still in that country to start coming home.
Obama's victory jump may have been a bit premature, but a month later the local commander agreed that the turning process had at least begun:
I spoke to Gen Petraeus as he stopped off in London on his way home from Afghanistan. In the interview, he spelled out what makes him think the country has begun to turn a corner after nearly 10 years of war.
In September 2012 another U.S. Secretary of Defense asserted that the turn had finally been completed:
[US Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta, however, has rejected suggestions that the strategy is failing, and on Friday he said “we have turned the corner,” in Afghanistan ...
Four month later the Afghan President confirmed the turn:
[President] Karzai also said that Afghanistan has turned the corner in terms of battling the Taliban.
Karzai was very modest in acknowledging the turn. He knew that it had already happened much earlier:
On October 9th, 2004, Afghanistan turned the corner. After decades of invasion, civil war, and anarchy, Hamid Karzai became the first democratically-elected President of a united Afghanistan.
In May 2014 another man was elected President of Afghanistan. This finally turned the corner:
Tonight there is a sense that the country has turned a corner - a new president who will sign the BSA, a continuation of developmental aid and training programmes, and Afghanistan has more than a fighting chance.
A year later the Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani was encouraged by the corner turning progress the new government had made:
With the successful conclusion of the security and political transitions, Afghanistan turned the corner in our path to becoming a self-reliant nation.
Today, two and a half years later, General Nicholson is still in the corner turning business.

The corner turning in Afghanistan is similar to an earlier war the U.S. had fought in vain:
Of course, the Afghanistan War (ostensibly part of a Global War on Terrorism) differs from the Vietnam War (ostensibly part of the Cold War) in myriad ways. Yet it resembles Vietnam in three crucial respects. First, it drags on with no end in sight. Second, no evidence exists to suggest that mere persistence will produce a positive outcome. Third, those charged with managing the war have long since run out of ideas about how to turn things around.
Another similarity is the constant lying by the military spokespersons. The famous Five o'clock Follies of Vietnam have been replaced by video conferences and drone videos but the central issue is the same. The military is consistently and consciously lying to the public.

How many U.S. troops are there in Afghanistan? By law the Pentagon has to release the deployment numbers every three months. The latest release for September 2017 lists 15,298 soldiers and 1,202 DoD civilians in Afghanistan. But there are 29,092 soldiers listed in "unknown locations". The generals must have lost these somewhere. The report also lists nearly 2,000 soldiers in Syria and nearly 9,000 in Iraq. The publicly admitted numbers are way lower. They are as trustworthy as all the "turned corner" claims. Indeed:
The Defense Department’s publicly disclosed data, which tracks U.S. personnel levels in dozens of countries, are “not meant to represent an accurate accounting of troops deployed to any particular region,” said Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman.
The Pentagon clearly states that official data and assertions are "not meant to represent an accurate accounting". It is a warning. Whatever officials claim about this or that war, about "turned corners", or casualties, or troop deployments, must be considered to be a lie until it has been confirmed by observation or additional sources.

Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.]]> Wed, 29 Nov 2017 14:44:47 GMT
Depraved Treatment of Drug War Captives on US Coast Guard Ships Adam Dick

If you heard mention of people being shackled on the deck of a ship out in the ocean for weeks or months exposed to the elements and with only a bucket for a bathroom, you might assume the full story is about the cruel actions of pirates or slave traders from centuries past. However, as reporter Seth Freed Wessler recounts, the United States Coast Guard routinely subjects individuals alleged to be involved in the transport of cocaine between South America and Central America to such conditions.

Wessler provides more details in an interview transcript posted Tuesday at USA Today, including the preposterous claims of the Coast Guard that the extended depraved treatment is required due to “logistical challenges” and is acceptable because the shackled individuals “are not formally under arrest until they get to the United States.” And after the accused individuals arrive in America, their torment continues when they face years in US prison all due to actions they are accused of taking hundreds or thousands of miles from America.

Read the interview transcript here.

Wessler’s in-depth November 20 New York Times article regarding the topic may be read here.]]> Tue, 28 Nov 2017 22:44:33 GMT
Five Minutes Five Issues: Marijuana Legalization, Bye-Bye Google, Yemen Omission, Alcohol Tax, Redistrict for War 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.

Michigan and New Jersey may be among the next few states to legalize marijuana.

On Monday, legalization supporters submitted to the Michigan government over 350,000 petition signatures in support of a marijuana legalization initiative. David Eggert of the Associated Press writes that, if state officials determine about 252,000 of the signatures are valid, the state government will need to either adopt the initiative as law or place it on the November 2018 statewide election ballot.

In the November 10 episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, I mentioned that New Jersey voters had just elected for governor a candidate who had campaigned for marijuana legalization. New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy said in a television interview last week that legalizing marijuana will be one of his priorities in 2018.

Issue two.

Comments by Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt last week at the Halifax International Security Forum may be seen in the future as having foreshadowed the end of Google’s search engine dominance. Schmidt said that Alphabet subsidiary Google is working on deranking the Russian-government-related RT and Sputnik websites. Such deranking would restrict relevant web pages of these media companies from appearing in Google search results.

The more Google’s search engine prioritizes political favoritism at the expense of providing helpful, on-point results, the more people will look for alternative routes to find information and the more reward there will be for other companies to meet that demand.

Issue three.

In his editorial this week, Ron Paul discussed how media coverage of the catastrophic conditions in Yemen often leaves out mention of the United States government’s complicity in the Yemen War. Paul points to a recent Washington Post article as an example.

Another example is a Sunday television report on the CBS show 60 Minutes. The 13-minute story regarding the dire conditions in Yemen mentions the US only in context suggesting the US is seeking to help suffering Yemenis.

Alex Emmons filled in some missing information at The Intercept the next day. He wrote:
For two-and-a-half years, the U.S. government has backed Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen every step of the way. The United States has dispatched warships to reinforce the blockade. It has refueled Saudi planes, sent the Saudi military targeting intelligence, and resupplied them with tens of billions of dollars worth of bombs.
In conclusion, Emmons writes:
Per “60 Minutes’s” framing of the conflict, the crisis in Yemen is a random tragedy happening on the other side of the world – manmade, but outside U.S. control. The truth is nearer the opposite. Without U.S. support, the humanitarian crisis would not exist on such a catastrophic scale.
Issue four.

Here is a bright spot in tax legislation being considered in the US Congress: The Senate tax bill includes some reductions in excise taxes on alcoholic beverages.

Alcohol excise taxes are justified as a way of causing decreased consumption of alcohol. This justification intertwines taxation with controlling people’s behavior.

If the US government respected freedom, it would not seek, through taxes or otherwise, to stop us from taking nonviolent actions such as drinking beer, wine, or hard alcohol.

Issue five.

One consequence of opposing war in the US House of Representatives can be losing your House seat through redistricting.

Interviewed last month by Luke Rudowski of We Are Change, former House Member Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) said his opposition to war is the reason the Democratic Party threatened to challenge in court the state’s congressional redistricting, which was being formulated by Republicans, unless the redistricting cut up into four to five pieces the Cleveland-area district Kucinich had represented for 16 years. Kucinich, who is a Ron Paul Institute Advisory Board member, explains the result was that the final redistricting, which was implemented in the 2012 general election, essentially eliminated Kucinich’s district.


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.]]> Sun, 26 Nov 2017 23:06:11 GMT
Pentagon to Admit to 2,000 Troops in Syria, Number Likely Far Higher Jason Ditz

US officials said on Friday that the Pentagon is expected to concern confirm that there are “about 2,000” US ground troops in Syria, a major increase from the roughly 500 that they officially claim is the case.

The US has overtly lied about troop levels in Syria consistently throughout their deployment. Less than a month ago, Gen. James Jarrard told reporters the US had about 4,000 troops in the country, though the Pentagon at the time claimed he was wrong and the real number was only 503.

Adding to the confusion, the Defense Department had also offered figures to Congress on overseas deployments, and those figures said 1,723 troops were in Syria at the time. Despite this, the official troop figure has not changed.

President Trump has made a point of troop levels needing to be kept secret from “the enemy,” but consistent lies from the Pentagon about their deployments have made the figures less a closely guarded secret than a mockery of transparency. While 2,000 is almost certainly closer to the truth than 500, it’s not necessarily the actual figure.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Sat, 25 Nov 2017 14:29:46 GMT
Libya: A New False Dawn

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. That quote is worth bearing in mind when assessing the chances of the latest United Nations peace plan for Libya.

Every autumn, along with the falling leaves, comes a new UN plan for ending Libya’s civil war, now into its fourth year. 

Like the plans before it, the current version of the United Nations Support Mission for Libya has superficial attractions.

It proposes a new slimmed-down version of the government the UN itself installed in Tripoli two years ago, cutting the number of its presidency from nine members to three, one chosen from each of the country’s three regions. 

The elected parliament in Tobruk voted yes to it this week, and there were encouraging signs from its rival, unelected, parliament, the State Council in Tripoli. Cue optimistic words from the new UN envoy, Ghassan Salame, to the United Nations Security Council - his boss - earlier this month about how the peace process is advancing.

But the reality is, it ain’t going to work.

And it ain’t going to work for the same reason that all the previous UN peace plans didn’t work.

The most obvious reason why it will not work is right there in the UN plan: The three-strong presidency needs to be agreed by a grand council of all Libya’s factions, expected to be called by the UN in February, which will also decide a date for new elections. But if all Libya’s factions could agree a way forward, there would never have been a civil war in the first place.

That is reality behind the superficial optimism that greeted the yes-vote to the new presidency by Tobruk - Libya’s only governing group that was actually elected.

The UN’s powerlessness was exposed two weeks ago, when Tobruk refused to let a UN plane, bringing western Libyan MPs to the parliament, was refused permission to land. The UN greeted this with a meek protest, and nothing more. Outside powers have other things to think about, and there was no Big Power heft to push Tobruk to change its mind.

The reality is that the country remains in political turmoil. 

In the east, supporters of Tobruk’s army commander, Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, have begun a petition for him to be declared Libyan President. This likely will not work and the Field Marshall himself knows it is not necessary. After his successful operations against Islamists, clearing them from Benghazi, Libya’s second city, he has a fair chance of walking it to victory if Libya held a Presidential election.

With Benghazi free, the city is shrugging off three years of battle. Flights and shipping are being transferred from Tobruk, at Libya’s eastern extremity, back to Benghazi. Oil is flowing from the Sirte Basin, where the country’s oil wealth is concentrated.

Tripoli, meanwhile, is undergoing more and more deportations: The militias who control the streets fight each other, kidnappings are endemic, and citizens are humiliated by having to line up for hours to withdraw paltry sums of money from state banks just to survive. All of which is an indictment on the Tripoli government which, despite UN backing, has failed to impose itself.

In other words, eastern Libya is humming, and will not bend its knee to any UN plan not to its liking.​​​ Outside powers are also disunited. France and Italy both had strategies, Italy backing the Tripoli rulers, France Tobruk. Russia has also signaled support for Tobruk, enjoying warm relations with Haftar, though formally all three states endorse the “UN process.”

The wild card is the United States. The Trump administration has kept its distance from Libya, with Trump himself declaring the US has “no interest” in the country.

That may be changing. This month Libya’s oil chief Mustafa Sanallah and, reportedly, a member of Haftar’s entourage, were both in Houston to meet Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. The location of the meetings was important: Tillerson is an oil man, the former chief executive of Exxon, and Houston is also the HQ of American oil companies who have a presence in eastern Libya. The companies are keen to see production get going again, and Haftar’s advisors are keen to remind them that, since capturing the Sirte Basin from assorted militias a year back, the general has allowed the oil to flow unlike the militias who held it to ransom.​

In the end, Libya’s war is likely to be settled by old fashioned great-powers moves, not the illusionary plans of the disrespected UN.]]> Fri, 24 Nov 2017 21:55:11 GMT