Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside U.S. Rebels in Syria’s South?

Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside U.S. Rebels in Syria’s South?

DARAA, Syria – At first glance, all appears calm in this southern Syrian city where protests first broke out seven years ago. Residents mill around shops in preparation for the evening Iftar meal when they break their daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
But the tension is nonetheless palpable in this now government-controlled city. A few weeks ago, Russian-brokered reconciliation talks in southern Syria fell apart when Western-backed militants rejected a negotiated peace.
Whether there will now be a full-on battle for the south or not, visits last week to Syria’s three southern governorates, Daraa, Quneitra, and Suweida, reveal a startling possibility: al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise—the Nusra Front—appears to be deeply entrenched alongside these U.S.-backed militants in key, strategic towns and villages scattered throughout the south.
U.S. media and think tanks obfuscate this fact by referring to all opposition fighters as “rebels” or “moderates.” Take a look at their maps and you only see three colors: red for the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies, green for opposition forces, black for ISIS.
Read the rest at theamericanconservative.com.

Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside U.S. Rebels in Syria’s South?

PC Media Projects Their Racial Bigotry Onto Ron Paul

This week, the mainstream media and its social media followers found another target of wrath: former presidential candidate and Texas congressman Ron Paul. One of his staffers posted a link criticizing political correctness with a cartoon image attached that depicted ugly racial stereotypes. It was clearly insensitive and was quickly deleted with a notice of correction issued by Ron Paul.
CNN marched to the rescue with a Chris Cuomo segment headlined “What we ignore, we empower.” Cuomo mimicked the media narrative of Paul being guilty of “bigoted BS.” Cuomo declared,“We need to expose it because the ugliness is contagious…The BS from Paul resonates. It encourages more us vs. them ugliness.”
Obviously, it was a dumb mistake for a staffer to post an ugly cartoon. But no one of an informed, sound mind thinks Ron Paul approves of racial hatred. Since the 1970’s, Paul spent an entire political career denouncing the prison industrial complex, war hysteria, and majority rule oppressing minorities. In every appearance, he lectures about the importance of respecting individual personhood over collective group identities: an ethic that rejects racial tribalism completely.
When Ron Paul ran for president, he promised to pardon all nonviolent offenders from prison. He challenged the Bush, Clinton, Obama-status quo of bombing Middle Eastern countries and spying on Muslims, and protested the assasination of Anwar al-Awlaki’s 16 year old son Abdulrahman, an innocent US citizen. All things an honest press should do but refuse to this day.
Cuomo is right. What we ignore, we empower. CNN and most of the major media has continued to ignore and empower all the worst state atrocities Ron Paul has battled. Journalists like Cuomo rage against a Facebook cartoon gaffe with righteous fury. But their silence was defeanening on Abdulrahman’s execution by Obama.
CNN and the politically correct press carried water for the Obama administration as they illegally ravaged Libya, killing thousands of Africans for Machiavellian financial interests. Before the coup, Libya was the most economically independent north African nation with large gold holdings, women’s education, and plans to provide a clean water system to other African nations. Obama, like a good NPR, New York Times-approved corporatist puppet, unleashed terrorists from Libya’s prisons and permitted the mob torture and lynching of Gaddafi.
Hillary Clinton, upon hearing of her former arms client Gaddafi’s murder, laughed, clapped, and shouted, “We came, we saw, he died!” A fawning CBS PR hack interviewer joined in the chuckle.
CNN did not slam this horror with the righteous zeal they throw at Ron Paul over a stupid cartoon. They did not show the blood-soaked faces of Libyans crying out to God over how such evil wannabe gods can get away with destroying their homes and loved ones’ bodies.
Where was Cuomo’s call for Secretary Clinton to be fired for creating mass chaos in Libya? Hello Cuomo?
The media sat in silence. In 2016, state PR agents like Cuomo did their best to cover for Hillary Clinton to ensure her promises of Syrian no-fly zones, more sanctions sacrificing innocent Russian civilians’ lives, and more arms for jihadi rebels would continue unabated.
CNN and other major media sit in silence as millions of people of color have been raped, terrorized, and tortured by Obama and Clinton’s chaos campaign in Syria. When they do cover it, they pressure Trump for more intervention.
CNN sits in silence as millions of black, brown, Asian, Jewish, Native American, and white individuals—each endowed with sacred personhood from their Creator—waste years of life in prison warehouses for nonviolent crimes. Sure, you will see a token story on marijuana legalization. But you will never see the sold out mouths of CBS, NBC, ABC, Buzzfeed, Washington Post, et al, question the system of violence at the very heart of the state power they serve.
They will never speak the plain truth: that it is never just to harm a single hair or steal a single penny from a person of any race for a nonviolent act.
The principle of non-aggression and non-vengeance that Ron Paul has dedicated his life advancing—rooted as it is in the Golden Rule—is lost on a self-blinded media in the darkness of moral nihilism.
Politically correct media is a minority oppressing cartoon—shilling for inflation-financed wars and a nanny state backed by imprisonment and fines. These media-enabled policies harm minorities and the poor the most.
If Ron Paul had his way, millions of black, brown, Asian, Jewish, Native American and white human beings, innocent of violence, would be free from the assault and PTSD of prison cages.
Poverty creating laws like occupational licensing and wars on drug users and sex workers would be finished. Urban communities would be free from the daily shadow of death that prohibition-created black markets manifest. They would be free from warrantless search and surveillance. Nearly half of their annual labor would not be owned by income, payroll, and inflation taxes that subsidize the media’s Wall Street friends and crony corporations.
If Ron Paul had his way, millions of innocent Muslims, Yazidis, and Christians would still be alive in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya, undisturbed by intervention and sanctions. Thousands of US soldiers would be safely home with their families—no missing limbs and no PTSD.
In a racially tense 1972, James Williams, a black man, brought his white wife in dire medical need to a Texas hospital. She was deep in labor and yet the hospital staff ignored them. Eventually, the front desk called police to confront Williams for his insistence. Williams reported that then-doctor Ron Paul intervened personally. He delivered the child—grievously, still born. Williams reported that Dr. Paul took care of the bill. During the 2012 media hit pieces on Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, Williams said of his candidacy, “When you have honesty, people will try to do anything to blot you out.”
The media desperately wants to blot out Ron Paul’s message of truth and nonviolence from the history books. That is why they parrot the same lies to rewrite his legacy with their own myths that serve state power. But they will fail.
For now, we suffer the statist quo Cuomo and the P.C. media empower. They are white washed tombs—shiny on the outside for shaming rivals’ politically incorrect speech; but inside—hiding the bodies sacrificed by the state they adore.
Come out of your mental tomb, media myth-makers. See our neighbors—flesh and blood victims of war and prison. Who will hide their faces from your viewers? History stands with Ron Paul. The voices of the victims of state violence will be heard.

Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside U.S. Rebels in Syria’s South?

EpiPen Pricing Controversy Reveals Ignorance about Market Competition

A recent episode of CNN’s Boss Files podcast featured Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan and the first woman to run a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company. The podcast focused primarily on her journey to success. However, roughly 40 minutes in, Bresch was questioned about her pricing strategy for EpiPen, the epinephrine auto-injector for treating emergency allergic reactions.
Mylan acquired the right to sell EpiPen in 2007 and, under Bresch’s leadership, EpiPen prices were raised nearly 400 percent in late 2015. In mid-2016, Mylan released a generic EpiPen, which sold for about $300 for a 2-pack (50 percent less expensive than the name-brand version). When questioned about Mylan’s pricing and promotion strategy, Bresch explained that patients “needed a solution and wanted a solution” and that her generic device provided both.
Not everyone is sympathetic to her answer. A recent business column in the Los Angeles Times called her comments “bogus on many levels” and said her actions demonstrate “unfettered corporate greed.” Others compare her to disgraced drug-industry executive Martin Shkreli of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Shkreli, who is now serving time for securities fraud, received sharp criticism when he raised the price of the drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 a pill in 2015.
Read the rest at independent.org.

Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside U.S. Rebels in Syria’s South?

The Problem with Government Licensing Schemes

According to conventional wisdom, one of the prerequisites for a civilized society is a system of government enforced licensing of numerous occupations.
Licensing laws establish the standards (e.g. educational) to be met before people are legally permitted to sell specified services. The government says the safety and wellbeing of consumers impels it to enact these laws, which ensure the superior quality of various products and services purchased by consumers, as compared to what would be available in the absence of such laws.
Unfortunately, legal licensing also creates unemployment and underemployment which disproportionately affects the poor, while producing higher incomes for those employed in the protected occupations, higher prices for consumers , with fewer options available to consumers, thus moving us further away from the government’s stated goal.

Medical Licensing

If there could be only one occupation subject to legal licensing, a majority of the public would likely say it should be doctors. However, before the government’s licensure intervention, our ancestors had a different view. In Canadian Medicine, A Study In Restricted Entry (p 125), Ronald Hamowy wrote:

Despite the actions of the College to suppress unregistered physicians, the public continued to firmly oppose prosecution of these practitioners throughout the nineteenth century. Nor did they believe the College and the medical journals when they insisted that their campaign against “quacks” was designed to separate out educated from unqualified physicians.

. . . many, especially poorer, Canadians persisted in consulting unlicensed physicians, whose fees were lower and who appeared no less competent in prescribing medications than did their registered brethren. The profession’s attempt to suppress these doctors was not motivated out of a selfless interest in improving the quality of medical care offered the public, but out of a desire to lessen competition, which would in turn increase their incomes.

For more than two hundred years, economists, including Milton Friedman, have recognized the ulterior motives underlying the imposition of licensure laws. As economist Murray Rothbard wrote (p 1,097):

How much these requirements are designed to “protect” the health of the public, and how much to restrict competition, may be gauged from the fact that giving medical advice free without a license is rarely a legal offense. Only the sale of medical advice requires a license. Since someone may be injured as much, if not more, by free medical advice than by purchased advice, the major purpose of the regulation is clearly to restrict competition rather than to safeguard the public.

Without coercive licensing laws, consumers would consult market-based sources to determine the qualifications of physicians. Hamowy (pp 328, 77) wrote about “certification”:

By certification I mean the endorsement, either through examination or by some other method, of medical practitioners by some semi-public or private body that is not legally empowered to restrict entry into the profession nor to prevent the practice of uncertified physicians.

… there is no hard evidence that licensing, as opposed to certification, improves the quality of physician care available to the public; indeed, there is a good deal of evidence that suggests the contrary is true. And doubtless these effects account for why medical licensing laws have originally been enacted at the urging of the profession itself, and have seldom been promoted by the consumers of medical care, their supposed beneficiaries.

As it is in the medical field, so it is with virtually every occupation subject to licensing. Various occupational associations, not consumers, lobby the government to enact new licensing laws or add new restrictions to the current laws.
Recognizing that licensure in the medical field is counterproductive, it should be obvious that all licensure should be abolished. From eyebrow threading, to dog-sitting , to florists, to strippers, to hair braiding, to mowing lawns, there are numerous occupations where licensing serves no other purpose than to provide revenue for the government and benefits for entrenched interests, all at the expense of consumers and job-seekers.
Studies have shown that licensure reduces the quantity of people employed in the licensed occupations, which, because competition has been coercively suppressed, often results in a reduced quality of services offered to the public, which is the exact opposite of what the government promises us.

The Government Doesn’t Practice what it Preaches

The government’s true concern about risks to the public are often exposed by the fact the government frequently ignores its own licensing laws. Nor does the way the laws are enforced convince one that the laws exist to protect consumers. Here are just two examples.
First, in Ontario, all long-term care homes must be licensed or approved, and are subject to regular government inspections. However, the government has scaled back its inspections , including reduced inspections of dining practices “when at least three homes have been sued for alleged mistakes that caused residents to choke to death.” In what appears to be a typical bureaucratic response to one of the choking deaths, the government conducted an investigation and produced a six-page report announcing that “The licensee has failed to [follow proper procedures].” Was the license revoked? No.
Second, an investigation into the deplorable living conditions of a tenant in London, Ontario revealed that City Hall disobeyed its own by-law governing the licensing of residential rental units, as well as the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act .
The government’s hypocrisy – or incompetence – is clearly evident. The word ‘license’ is not synonymous with ‘competence.’
Nor is the word ‘politician.’

Following a 23-year career in the Canadian financial industry, Lee Friday has spent many years studying economics, politics, and social issues. He operates a news site at www.LondonNews1.com

Reprinted from mises.org.

Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside U.S. Rebels in Syria’s South?

Trump Meets Kim, Averting Threat of Nuclear War—and US Pundits Are Furious

It was an electrifying sight that captured the imagination of millions of people living on the crisis-weary Korean Peninsula but sent many Americans spinning into paroxysms of anger and cynicism, depending on their politics and knowledge of the rocky history of US relations with North and South Korea.

On Tuesday, President Trump and Kim Jong-un met and shook hands on Singapore’s resort island of Sentosa, curbing decades of deep and bitter hostility between the two countries and possibly opening a new chapter for the United States in East Asia. Afterward, Trump even boasted that he had created a “special bond” with the North Korean dictator.
The unprecedented meeting was the climax of months of intensive negotiations that began in earnest in March, when Kim, through the mediation of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, unexpectedly invited Trump to meet and settle their vast differences. As their initial encounter began, Trump declared that times had changed—irrevocably.
Read the rest at thenation.com.

Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside U.S. Rebels in Syria’s South?

Commentary: Whatever happens next, the Trump-Kim summit is a win

In the end, diplomacy can work – as a process, not an event. There is no Big Bang theory of nuclear diplomacy. If no further progress is made toward peace on the Korean peninsula, all this – the back-and-forth, the Moon-Kim meetings, the Singapore summit itself – is at worst another good start that faded. It is more likely, however, a turning point.
It is easy to announce a morning-after defeat for Trump: to criticize the agreement as vague and lacking in specific commitments regarding denuclearization. But those critics ignore Kim’s moratorium on nuclear and ballistic missile testing, the return of American prisoners, the closing of a ballistic missile test site, and the shutting down of a major nuclear test facility without opening a new one. It is easy to forget that a few months ago North Korea was still testing nuclear devices to spark fears of a dark war. Calling the Singapore summit a failure in light of more detailed agreements and different efforts from the past ignores the reality that all of those past agreements failed.
Only a few months ago State Department North Korean expert Joseph Yun’s retirement triggered a round of dire claims of a “void at [the] head of Trump’s Korea diplomacy.” Similar predictions were made over the lack of an American ambassador in Seoul. The State Department was decimated. (“The Trump administration has lost the capacity to negotiate with other countries,” wrote one journalist.) The Council on Foreign Relations assessed the chances of war on the peninsula at 50 percent.
Read the rest at reuters.com.

Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside U.S. Rebels in Syria’s South?

Libya "Before And After" Photos Go Viral

A Libyan man who took photos of himself posing at various spots across Beghazi in 2000 has revisited the same locations 18 years later to photograph life under the new “NATO liberated” Libya.
The “before and after” pics showing the utter devastation of post-Gaddafi Libya have gone viral, garnering 50,000 retweets after they were posted to an account that features historical images of Libya under Gaddafi’s rule between 1969 and 2011.
It appears people do still care about Libya even if the political elites in Paris, London, and Washington who destroyed the country have moved on. Though we should recall that British foreign secretary Boris Johnson was caught on tape in a private meeting last year saying Libya was ripe for UK investment, but only after Libyans “clear the dead bodies away.”
Read the rest at zerohedge.com.

Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside U.S. Rebels in Syria’s South?

The Mueller Indictments Still Don’t Add Up to Collusion

In just over one year, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign and Russia has generated five guilty pleas, 20 indictments, and more than 100 charges. None of these have anything to do with Mueller’s chief focus: the Russian government’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s suspected involvement. While it’s certainly possible that Mueller will make new indictments that go to the core of his case, what’s been revealed so far does not make a compelling brief for collusion.
The most high-level Trump campaign official to be indicted is Paul Manafort, as well as his former business partner and Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates. The charges, as a Virginia judge observed last month, “manifestly don’t have anything to do with the campaign or with Russian collusion.” Instead, Manafort and Gates are accused of financial crimes beginning in 2008, when they worked as political operatives for a Russia-leaning party in Ukraine (and for which Manafort was previously investigated, but not indicted).
There is widespread supposition that Manafort’s dealings in Ukraine make him a prime candidate for collusion with Moscow. But that stems from the mistaken belief that Manafort promoted Kremlin interests during his time in Kiev. The opposite appears to be the case. The New York Times recounts that Manafort “pressed [then–Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor] Yanukovych to sign an agreement with the European Union that would link the country closer to the West—and lobbied for the Americans to support Ukraine’s membership.” If that picture is accurate, then Manafort’s activities in Ukraine during the period for which he has been indicted were diametrically opposed to the Kremlin’s agenda.
Read the rest at thenation.com.

Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside U.S. Rebels in Syria’s South?

A World Imagined: Nostalgia and Liberal Order

Recent political tumult and the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency have driven anxious commentators to lament the collapse of a post-1945 “liberal world order.” Nostalgic for the institution building and multilateral moment of the early postwar era, they counsel Washington to restore a battered tradition, uphold economic and security commitments, and promote liberal values. On closer inspection, while it is true that the postwar world was more prosperous and peaceful than what came before, the claim that a unitary “liberal order” prevailed and defined international relations is both ahistorical and harmful. It is ahistorical because it is blind to the process of “ordering” the world and erases the memory of violence, coercion, and compromise that also marked postwar diplomatic history. It loses sight of the realities and limits of the exercise of power abroad, the multiplicity of orders that arose, and the conflicted and contradictory nature of liberalism itself. While liberalism and liberal projects existed, such “order” as existed rested on the imperial prerogatives of a superpower that attempted to impose order by stepping outside rules and accommodating illiberal forces. “Liberal order” also conflates intentions and outcomes: some of the most doctrinaire liberal projects produced illiberal results. This nostalgia is harmful because framing the world before Trump in absolute moral terms as a “liberal order” makes it harder to consider measures that are needed to adapt to change: the retrenchment of security commitments, the redistribution of burdens among allies, prudent war-avoidance, and the limitation of foreign policy ambitions. It also impedes the United States from performing an increasingly important task: to reappraise its grand strategy in order to bring its power and commitments into balance.
Read the rest at cato.org.

Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside U.S. Rebels in Syria’s South?

Syracuse National Security Program Director Registers as a Saudi Foreign Agent

The director of a national security program at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs has registered with the U.S. Department of Justice as an agent of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 28Pages.org is first to report.
In his registration statement, retired U.S. Army Colonel Bill Smullen, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, indicated he has agreed to provide “public relations support” to the Saudi embassy for compensation initially projected at $8,000.
Smullen’s National Security Studies program at Syracuse is billed as “a premier professional development program that offers executive education courses for senior civilian and military leaders who are responsible for the national security interests of their respective organizations.”
Within a few days of Smullen’s registration, another veteran of the Powell State Department signed on to serve the kingdom: Chris Keppler, who held media and communications leadership roles at State between 2001 and 2005, projected $45,000 in compensation from his engagement.
Read the rest at 28pages.org.

Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside U.S. Rebels in Syria’s South?

Seymour Hersh’s New Memoir Is a Fascinating, Flabbergasting Masterpiece

At the beginning of Seymour Hersh’s new memoir, “Reporter,” he tells a story from his first job in journalism, at the City News Bureau of Chicago.
City News stationed a reporter at Chicago’s police headquarters 24 hours a day to cover whatever incidents were radioed in. Hersh, then in his early 20s, was responsible for the late shift. One night, he writes, this happened:

Two cops called in to report that a robbery suspect had been shot trying to avoid arrest. The cops who had done the shooting were driving in to make a report. … I raced down to the basement parking lot in the hope of getting some firsthand quotes before calling in the story. The driver – white, beefy, and very Irish, like far too many Chicago cops then – obviously did not see me as he parked the car. As he climbed out, a fellow cop, who clearly had heard the same radio report I had, shouted something like, “So the guy tried to run on you?” The driver said, “Naw, I told the nigger to beat it and then I plugged him.”

What happened then? Did Hersh, who would go on to uncover the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and become one of the greatest investigative journalists in U.S. history, sprint to his publication and demand that it run this explosive scoop?
Read the rest at theintercept.com.

Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside U.S. Rebels in Syria’s South?

These are the unanswered questions that still remain after Yulia Skripal’s shock reappearance

Eighty days after being found with her father, collapsed on a bench near a Salisbury shopping centre, Yulia Skripal has made a near-miraculous reappearance. She was filmed at an anonymous park-like location, reading a handwritten statement about her plight. In substance, what she said added almost nothing to the two statements issued by the Metropolitan Police in her name before. But the whole short recording was crucial in the messages it was designed to send – to the British, Russian and international public.
It was designed, first, to reiterate the official British version of what happened, at a time when that version has started to fray rather badly. So, she said, she and her father had been the victims of a nerve agent attack; she had been in a coma for 20 days; the medical treatment had been extremely unpleasant in many respects – her tracheotomy scar was visible evidence. She was now much better, but still recovering. She did not wish to “avail herself” of the assistance offered by the Russia embassy.
But there were also conspicuous differences from the official British version. There was no blaming of Russia. There was no naming of the nerve agent. And Yulia Skripal gave no indication that she envisaged her long-term future anywhere other than Russia (contrary to an earlier British official “leak” that she and her father were to be given new identities and resettled in a third country).
Read the rest at independent.co.uk.

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