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Democracy Is a Front for Central Bank Rule

The U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, is once again moving to prop up the “too-big-to-fail” banks by playing games with interest rates, and the financial media will not explain this, let alone cover it, so that average Americans can understand what is being done to the U.S. economy and them.

By Paul Craig Roberts

Several years ago when the Federal Reserve had its Fed funds rate at zero to 25 basis points (one-quarter of 1% to 0.25%), there was a great deal of talk, somehow presented as urgent, whether the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates.

Russian news agency RT recently asked me if the Fed was going to raise interest rates. I answered that the purpose of low interest rates was to restore the solvency of the balance sheets of the “banks too big to fail” by raising debt prices. The lower the interest rate, the higher the prices of debt instruments. The Fed drives bond prices up by purchasing bonds, and the Fed raises interest rates by selling bonds, or by purchasing fewer of them than previously.

I told RT that a real increase in interest rates would undercut the Fed’s policy of rescuing the balance sheets of the big banks whose balance sheets were loaded up with bad debt that desperately needed a rise in debt prices for the banks to remain solvent.

When shortly thereafter the Fed raised the overnight funds rate, it blew my credibility with RT. RT did not understand that real interest rates had not increased. Indeed, two days after the “rate increase” the nominal interest rate had not changed. It was still 18 basis points. The announced rate had gone from the old range of zero to 25 basis points to a new range of 25 basis points to 50 basis points. The former max was the current minimum.

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Moreover, over the long time period in which there was such well marketed concern over whether such an inconsequential interest rate rise would occur, inflation had risen, making the real interest rate negative well below the 18 basis points official interest rate. By the time the Fed raised the nominal rate, the real rate was already more negative. Thus, there was no rise in real interest rates.

The financial press did not explain this, either from incompetence or collusion. RT accepted the fake news as reality and wrote off my credibility. I am often interviewed by RT, but no longer on economic matters, about which I know the most.

A couple of days ago, after a long period of waiting for another interest rate rise, an announcement from the Fed, amidst further indication of U.S. economic decline, announced another 25 basis point increase in the target range for the Fed funds rate.

Inflation aside, in fact interest rates declined, as my sometime co-author Dave Kranzler reports: Despite this publicized “rise” of the Fed funds rate, the 10-year interest rate on treasuries “has declined 30 basis points this year. Thus for certain borrowers, the Fed has effectively lowered the cost of borrowing.”

Kranzler goes on to point out that “the spread between the 30-day treasury bill and the 10-year treasury has declined this year from 193 basis points to 125 basis points—a 68 basis point drop in the cost of funding for borrowers who have access to the highly engineered derivative products that enable these borrowers to take advantage of the shape of the yield curve in order to lower their cost of borrowing.”

Kranzler provides a chart that shows that the spread between the 30-day treasury bill and the 10-year treasury bond is narrowing. As the short-term rate rises, the long-term rate is falling, and the spread between the long and short rate has declined 68 basis points from almost two percentage points to one and one-quarter percentage point.

Clearly, this is not a rise in interest rates.

Clearly also, a rise in the Fed funds rate no longer signals a rise in all interest rates.

Why is the Fed raising short rates when the long rates are falling?

Why do “democratic Western democracies” have central banks that do nothing except protect big banks at the expense of the people?

How long will the insouciant peoples of the West continue to conspire in their own demise?

Paul Craig Roberts was assistant secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of The Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for BusinessWeek, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has held many university appointments. His Internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’s latest books are How AMERICA Was LOST: From 9/11 to the Police/Warfare State and The NEOCONSERVATIVE THREAT to WORLD ORDER: Washington’s Perilous War for Hegemony.




Execution by Firing Squad: The Militarized Police State Opens Fire

The Second Amendment was enshrined in the Bill of Rights to the Constitution as a means to ensure that a well-armed populace would be able to defend itself against all domestic and foreign enemies. The U.S. government, however, has been pushing back against that, effectively authorizing law enforcement to prosecute and murder Americans for merely exercising their constitutional right to bear arms.

By John W. Whitehead

“It is often the case that police shootings, incidents where law enforcement officers pull the trigger on civilians, are left out of the conversation on gun violence. But a police officer shooting a civilian counts as gun violence. Every time an officer uses a gun against an innocent or an unarmed person contributes to the culture of gun violence in this country.”—Journalist Celisa Calacal

Legally owning a gun in America could get you killed by a government agent. While it still technically remains legal to own a firearm in America, possessing one can now get you pulled over, searched, arrested, subjected to all manner of surveillance, treated as a suspect without ever having committed a crime, shot at, and killed. This same rule does not apply to government agents, however, who are armed to the hilt and rarely given more than a slap on the wrist for using their weapons to shoot and kill American citizens.

According to The Washington Post, “1 in 13 people killed by guns are killed by police.”

Just recently, for example, a Minnesota jury acquitted a police officer who shot and killed 32-year-old Philando Castile, a school cafeteria supervisor, during a routine traffic stop merely because Castile disclosed that he had a gun in his possession, for which he had a lawful conceal-and-carry permit. That’s all it took for police to shoot Castile four times as he was reaching for his license and registration. Castile’s girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter witnessed the entire exchange.

Police State Books John Whitehead

Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that Florida police will not be held accountable for banging on the wrong door at 1:30 a.m., failing to identify themselves as police, and then repeatedly shooting and killing the innocent homeowner who answered the door while holding a gun in self defense. Although 26-year-old Andrew Scott had committed no crime and never fired a single bullet or lifted his firearm against police, he was gunned down by police who were investigating a speeding incident by engaging in a middle-of-the-night “knock and talk” in Scott’s apartment complex.

As attorney David French writes for the National Review, “Shooting an innocent man in his own home because he grabs a gun when an unidentified person pounds on his door or barges through it isn’t just an ‘unreasonable search or seizure.’ It’s a direct violation of his clearly established right to keep and bear arms.”

Continuing its own disturbing trend of siding with police in cases of excessive use of force, a unanimous Supreme Court recently acquitted police who recklessly fired 15 times into a backyard shack in which a homeless couple—Angel and Jennifer Mendez—was sheltering. Angel Mendez suffered numerous gunshot wounds, one of which required the amputation of his right leg below the knee, and his wife Jennifer was shot in the back. Incredibly, the court ruled that the Los Angeles County police officers’ use of force against the homeless couple was justified as a defensive action, because Angel was allegedly seen holding a BB gun that he used for shooting rats.

In yet another case, a Texas homeowner was subjected to a no-knock, SWAT-team style forceful entry and raid based solely on the suspicion that there were legally owned firearms in his household. Making matters worse, police panicked and opened fire through a solid wood door on the homeowner, who had already gone to bed.

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In Maryland, a Florida man traveling through the state with his wife and kids was stopped by a police officer and interrogated about the whereabouts of his registered handgun. Despite the man’s insistence that the handgun had been left at home, the officer spent nearly two hours searching through the couple’s car, patting them down along with their children, and having them sit in the back of a patrol car. No weapon was found.

In Philadelphia, a 25-year-old man was confronted by police, verbally threatened, and arrested for carrying a gun in public, which is legal within the city. When Mark Fiorino attempted to explain his rights under the law to police, police ordered him to get on his knees or else “I am gonna shoot ya.” Fiorino was later released without charges.

What these cases add up to is a new paradigm in which legally owning a gun turns you into a target for government sharp-shooters.

Ironically, while America continues to debate who or what is responsible for gun violence—the guns, the gun owners, or our violent culture—little has been said about the fact that the greatest perpetrator of violence in American society and around the world is the U.S. government.

Government violence is the missing link in the gun control debate.

Violence has become the government’s calling card, starting at the top and trickling down, from the more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year on unsuspecting Americans by heavily armed, black-garbed commandos and the increasingly rapid militarization of local police forces across the country to the drone killings used to target insurgents. The government even exports violence worldwide, with one of this country’s most profitable exports being weapons.

Thus, any serious discussion about minimizing the violence in our society needs to address the manner in which the government and its cohorts (the police, the various government agencies that are now armed to the hilt, the military, the defense contractors etc.) use violence as a means to an end, whether domestically or in matters of foreign policy.

You want to reduce gun violence? Start with the government.

Except that the government has no intention of scaling back on its weapons. To the contrary, the government’s efforts to militarize and weaponize its own agencies and employees is reaching epic proportions, with federal agencies as varied as the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration placing orders for hundreds of millions of rounds of hollow point bullets.

Talk about a double standard.

The government’s arsenal of weapons makes the average American’s handgun look like a Tinker Toy.

Under the auspices of a military “recycling” program, which allows local police agencies to acquire military-grade weaponry and equipment, more than $4.2 billion worth of equipment has been transferred from the Defense Department to domestic police agencies since 1990. Included among these “gifts” are tank-like, 20-ton Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, tactical gear, and assault rifles.

Ironically, while gun critics continue to clamor for bans on military-style assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and armor-piercing bullets, expanded background checks, and tougher gun-trafficking laws, the U.S. military boasts all of these and more, including some weapons the rest of the world doesn’t have.

Included in the government’s arsenal are armed, surveillance Reaper drones capable of reading a license plate from over two miles away; an AA12 Atchisson Assault Shotgun that can shoot five 12-gauge shells per second and “can fire up to 9,000 rounds without being cleaned or jamming”; an ADAPTIV invisibility cloak that can make a tank disappear or seemingly reshape it to look like a car; a PHASR rifle capable of blinding and disorienting anyone caught in its sights; a Taser shockwave that can electrocute a crowd of people at the touch of a button; an XM2010 enhanced sniper rifle with built-in sound and flash suppressors that can hit a man-sized target nine out of ten times from over a third of a mile away; and an XM25 “Punisher” grenade launcher that can be programmed to accurately shoot grenades at a target up to 500 meters away.

In the hands of government agents, whether they are members of the military, law enforcement or some other government agency, these weapons have become accepted instruments of tyranny, routine parts of America’s day-to-day life, a byproduct of the rapid militarization of law enforcement over the past several decades.

This lopsided, top-heavy, authoritarian state of affairs is not the balance of power the founders intended for “we the people.”

The Second Amendment, in conjunction with the multitude of prohibitions on government overreach enshrined in the Bill of Rights, was supposed to serve as a clear shackle on the government’s powers. As 20th century libertarian Edmund A. Opitz observed in 1964, “No one can read our Constitution without concluding that the people who wrote it wanted their government severely limited; the words ‘no’ and ‘not’ employed in restraint of government power occur 24 times in the first seven articles of the Constitution and 22 more times in the Bill of Rights.”

To founders such as Thomas Jefferson, who viewed the government as a powerful entity that must be bound “down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution,” the right to bear arms was no different from any other right enshrined in the Constitution: It was intended to stand as a bulwark against a police state.

Without any one of those freedoms, we are that much more vulnerable to the vagaries of out-of-control policemen, benevolent dictators, genuflecting politicians, and overly ambitious bureaucrats.

Writing for CounterPunch, journalist Kevin Carson suggests that prohibiting Americans from owning weapons would be as dangerously ineffective as Prohibition and the War on the Drugs:

[W]hat strict gun laws will do is take the level of police statism, lawlessness, and general social pathology up a notch in the same way Prohibition and the Drug War have done. I’d expect a War on Guns to expand the volume of organized crime, and to empower criminal gangs fighting over control over the black market, in exactly the same way Prohibition did in the 1920s and strict drug laws have done since the 1980s. I’d expect it to lead to further erosion of Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure, further militarization of local police via SWAT teams, and further expansion of the squalid empire of civil forfeiture, perjured jailhouse snitch testimony, entrapment, planted evidence, and plea deal blackmail.

This is exactly what those who drafted the Constitution feared: that laws and law enforcers would be used as tools by a despotic government to wage war against the citizenry.

This phenomenon is what philosopher Abraham Kaplan referred to as the law of the instrument, which essentially says that to a hammer, everything looks like a nail. As I explain in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we the citizenry have become the nails to be hammered by the government’s battalion of laws and law enforcers (its police officers, technicians, bureaucrats, spies, snitches, inspectors, accountants etc.), and we’re supposed to take the beatings without complaint or reproach.

Now don’t get me wrong. I do not sanction violence, nor do I believe that violence should ever be the answer to our problems. As John Lennon warned: “When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you—pull your beard, flick your face—to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you.”

Still there’s something to be said for George Orwell’s view that “that rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer’s cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”

The Second Amendment serves as a check on the political power of the ruling authorities. It represents an implicit warning against governmental encroachments on one’s freedoms, the warning shot over the bow to discourage any unlawful violations of our persons or property.

Certainly, dictators in past regimes have understood this principle only too well.

As Adolf Hitler noted: “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.”

It should come as no surprise, then, that starting in December 1935, Jews in Germany were prevented from obtaining shooting licenses, because authorities believed that to allow them to do so would “endanger the German population.”

In late 1938, special orders were delivered barring Jews from owning firearms, with the punishment for arms possession being 20 years in a concentration camp.

The rest, as they say, is history. Yet it is a history that we should be wary of repeating.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book, Battlefield America: The War on the American People (SelectBooks, 2015) is available from the American Free Press bookstore. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.




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NSA Leaked Docs Alleging Russian Hacking Prove Nothing

Official National Security Agency documents supposedly leaked by federal contractor Reality Winner allege that Russian intelligence engaged in a months-long campaign to hack U.S. election systems. However, a close look at the NSA charges show there is a noticeable lack of any evidence to substantiate the claims.

By AFP Staff

“Trust us.” Apparently, that is the basis for the U.S. government claim that the Russian military and its intelligence service hacked U.S. elections systems in order to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and promote Republican Donald Trump.

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News broke of the leaked National Security Agency (NSA) documents on June 6, when “The Intercept,” an online news and commentary website, published them on its website along with a lengthy article summarizing their contents. The article can be found here.

This is how “The Intercept” leads its report:

The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure. The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.

However, a detailed analysis shows the NSA really provides no evidence of actual hacking on the part of any official Russian agency:

While the document provides a rare window into the NSA’s understanding of the mechanics of Russian hacking, it does not show the underlying “raw” intelligence on which the analysis is based.

In other words, the NSA provides a “how-to” primer on how hackers hack people, but there is nothing definitive linking any Russian agency to an attempted hack.

One thing that is damning in the NSA report touches on something American Free Press has been reporting for years: the vulnerability of electronic voting and the ease with which unsophisticated hackers can go after electronic voting machines.

Ultimately, what we learn from the NSA documents is that this is yet another case of U.S. officials asking Americans to trust them, something that even naive people should be wary of.

“Maybe the real evidence of hacking is with Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction,” a U.S. official, who wanted to remain anonymous, told American Free Press.




Russian Leader Addresses Charges of Vote Hacking in First Western Interview

In an interview with NBC news host Megyn Kelly, Russian President Vladimir Putin shot down allegations that Russia had interfered in U.S. elections in 2016, helping Republican billionaire populist Donald Trump get elected.

By AFP Staff

In his first interview with a U.S. journalist, Russian President Vladimir Putin disputed allegations made by NBC news host Megyn Kelly that the Russian military and intelligence service hacked U.S. elections systems to help get Republican Donald Trump Elected.

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In perhaps one of the best come-backs, Putin told Ms. Kelly: “You people are so creative over there. Good job. Your lives must be boring.”

When asked about Russia tampering in Western elections, Putin quipped: “I will tell you something you already know. . . . The U.S., everywhere, all over the world, actively interferes with the electoral campaigns of other countries. Put your finger anywhere on the map of the world, and everywhere you will hear complaints that American officials are interfering in internal electoral processes.”

You can watch video of the whole interview below.




Trump Should Appoint Special Prosecutor for Leaks

When President Donald Trump returns to Washington from his Mideast trip, he should immediately appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Obama holdovers who have been leaking secret information to the press for the purpose of embarrassing and hamstringing his administration.

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Who is the real threat to the national security? Is it President Trump, who shared with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov the intelligence that ISIS was developing laptop bombs to put aboard airliners? Or is it The Washington Post that ferreted out and published this code-word intelligence, and splashed the details on its front page, alerting the world, and ISIS, to what we knew.

Trump has the authority to declassify security secrets. And in sharing that intel with the Russians, who have had airliners taken down by bombs, he was trying to restore a relationship.

On fighting Islamist terror, we and the Russians agree.

Five years ago, Russia alerted us that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had become a violent radical Islamist. That was a year and a half before Tsarnaev carried out the Boston Marathon bombing.

But upon what authority did The Washington Post reveal code-word intelligence secrets? Where in the Constitution or U.S. law did the Post get the right to reveal state secrets every U.S. citizen is duty bound to protect?

The source of this top secret laptop-bomb leak that the Post published had to be someone in the intel community who was violating an oath that he had sworn to protect U.S. secrets, and committing a felony by leaking that secret.

Those who leaked this to hurt Trump, and those who published this in the belief it would hurt Trump, sees themselves as the “Resistance”—like the French Resistance to Vichy in World War II.

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And they seemingly see themselves as above the laws that bind the rest of us.

“Can Donald Trump Be Trusted With State Secrets?” asked the headline on the editorial in The New York Times.

One wonders: Are these people oblivious to their own past?

In 1971, The New York Times published a hoard of secret documents from the Kennedy-Johnson years on Vietnam. Editors spent months arranging them to convince the public it had been lied into a war that the Times itself had supported, but had turned against.

Purpose of publication: Damage and discredit the war effort, now that Richard Nixon was commander in chief. This was tantamount to treason in wartime.

When Nixon went to the Supreme Court to halt publication of “the Pentagon Papers” until we could review them to ensure that sources and methods were not being compromised, the White House was castigated for failing to understand the First Amendment.

And for colluding with the thieves that stole them, and for publishing the secret documents, the Times won a Pulitzer.

Forty years ago, the Post also won a Pulitzer—for Watergate.

The indispensable source of its stories was FBI Deputy Director Mark Felt, who repeatedly violated his oath and broke the law by leaking the contents of confidential FBI interviews and grand jury testimony.

Felt, “Deep Throat,” was a serial felon. He could have spent 10 years in a federal penitentiary had his identity been revealed. But to protect him from being prosecuted and sent to prison, and to protect themselves from the public knowing their scoops were handed to them by a corrupt FBI agent, the Post kept Felt’s identity secret for 30 years. Yet, their motto is “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

Which brings us to the point.

The adversary press asserts in its actions a right to collude with and shelter disloyal and dishonorable officials who violate our laws by leaking secrets that they are sworn to protect.

Why do these officials become criminals, and why do the mainstream media protect them?

Because this seedy bargain is the best way to advance their common interests.

The media get the stolen goods to damage Trump. Anti-Trump officials get their egos massaged, their agendas advanced, and their identities protected.

This is the corrupt bargain the Beltway press has on offer.

For the media, bringing down Trump is also good for business. TV ratings of anti-Trump media are soaring. The “failing New York Times” has seen a surge in circulation. The Pulitzers are beckoning.

And bringing down a president is exhilarating. As Ben Bradlee reportedly said during the Iran-Contra scandal that was wounding President Reagan, “We haven’t had this much fun since Watergate.”

When Nixon was brought down, North Vietnam launched a spring offensive that overran the South, and led to concentration camps and mass executions of our allies, South Vietnamese boat people perishing by the thousands in the South China Sea, and a holocaust in Cambodia.

When Trump gets home from his trip, he should direct Justice to establish an office inside the FBI to investigate all illegal leaks since his election and all security leaks that are de facto felonies, and name a special prosecutor to head up the investigation.

Then he should order that prosecutor to determine if any Trump associates, picked up by normal security surveillance, were unmasked, and had their names and conversations spread through the intel community, on the orders of Susan Rice and Barack Obama, to seed the bureaucracy to sabotage the Trump presidency before it began.

Pat Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate. He is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority and Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?

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Texas Governor Bans Sanctuary Cities, Corporate Owned Roads

Texas’s governor recently signed two outstanding bills passed by the Republican state Congress that officially ban so-called sanctuary cities and corporate ownership of roads.

By Mark Anderson

Texas is proving itself to be a national trailblazer in confronting wide-ranging controversial issues and often leading rather than following the federal government. Two of the most recent cases include Gov. Greg Abbott signing a bill that bans “sanctuary cities” in the Lone Star State, and Abbott and the Republican-led legislature coming out against building new privately run toll roads.

On May 7, Abbott signed legislation that allows local police to ask about a person’s immigration status and threatens local law enforcement with penalties, including jail time, if they declare themselves sanctuary cities by refusing to cooperate with federal authorities in carrying out one of the most fundamental tasks of government: securing the borders with neighboring nations.

“Let’s face it, the reason why so many people come to America is because we are a nation of laws, and Texas is doing its part to keep it that way,” Abbott remarked.

The first-term Republican governor signed the anti-sanctuary legislation over the usual intense opposition from so-called immigrant-rights groups and Democrats. Those factions allege that the new law echoes Arizona’s 2010 immigration crackdown, which sparked an inflated national controversy and frivolous lawsuits.

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The Arizona law required police to try to determine the immigration status of people during routine stops, but the Texas bill doesn’t actually instruct officers to ask. It does allow police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they detain, including those arrested for a crime or even those stopped for traffic violations. Local officials also must comply with federal requests to hold criminal suspects for possible deportation.

Texas doesn’t have any official self-declared “sanctuary” cities for illegal immigrants, but several municipal officials have considered taking such a stance. For example, Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, whose jurisdiction includes liberal-leaning Austin, at first refused to honor federal detainer requests if the suspects hadn’t been arrested for immigration offenses or serious crimes such as murder. Sheriff Hernandez backed down, however, after Abbott cut county funding.

The bill cleared a final hurdle in the Republican-controlled legislature over objections from Democrats and immigrant-rights supporters who’ve often packed the Capitol in Austin. According to state Republicans, this bill is needed to ensure that those running local jails honor requests from federal officials to keep dangerous illegal-immigrant offenders behind bars.

OTHER BOLD MOVE

In the past, AFP has reported on Spanish-based Cintra trying to buy up highway rights-of-way across the country. Texas, however, tends to lead the way in pushing back at corporate money grabs.

Texas taxpayers just got some relief due to a bipartisan effort to defeat the expansion of private toll roads in the state. On May 5, a bill for the expansion of private ownership of roads was defeated, 79-51, in the state House. A majority of Democrats as well as Republicans oppose new Texas toll roads.

“Governor Greg Abbott promised to fix Texas roads without new tolls or debt, and the Texas House delivered on that promise . . . by killing Rep. Larry Phillips’s H.B. 2861,” remarked Terri Hall, founder and director of Texans for Toll Free Highways.

Ms. Hall added, “A bipartisan coalition swept the [former governor] Rick Perry-era of toll roads aside, and . . . we officially started the Abbott era that firmly opposes new toll roads, especially privatized toll roads that give an exclusive right to a single company to extract the highest possible toll from the traveling public.”

Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor.




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Mistrial: Protesters Get Off But FBI Informant Found Guilty

Last week, the jury in the first of three trials of supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy ended in a hung jury for four of the six defendants. Perhaps most shocking in the case was one of the two found guilty of multiple charges had been a paid FBI informant.

By Mark Anderson

LAS VEGAS, Nevada—In the three-part, landmark case that arose from the 2014 standoff near Bunkerville, Nev. between multiple federal agencies and supporters of rancher Cliven Bundy, the jury deadlocked on April 24, forcing U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro to declare a mistrial. Federal prosecutors were unable to secure convictions for four of the six defendants in the first of three trials. Shockingly, one of the two men convicted had been an FBI informant for years. His cover was blown during trial testimony.

The four defendants who escaped conviction were Richard Lovelien, Eric Parker, O. Scott Drexler, and Steven Stewart. The 12-member jury fell far short of convicting these four, according to defense lawyers.

The jury found two defendants in the opening trial—Todd Engel and Gregory Burleson—guilty of some charges, with Burleson bearing the brunt. During testimony, FBI agents said Burleson was an informant.

Engel was charged with obstruction of justice and using interstate commerce to commit extortion. Engel could possibly be sentenced to two years in prison, though it’s likely he’ll get considerable credit for time already served.

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The jury found Burleson guilty of multiple charges, including using a firearm to assault federal officers, interfering with federal officers, and extortion. The New American reports that Burleson of Phoenix, Ariz. has been a paid informant for the FBI for years, so don’t expect the provocateur to see the inside of a jail cell.

It is standard operating procedure for the FBI to send in informants to escalate violence in an effort to trump up conspiracy charges. Since some of the defendants in the Nevada cases were cleared earlier this year in Portland federal court of any wrongdoing for their part in the Oregon occupation-protest that ended in early 2016, the federal government is determined to secure convictions in a future trial. A staffer in the dockets department of the U.S. to Judge Navarro both confirmed that Lovelien, Parker, Drexler, and Stewart will be retried starting June 26.

Liberty Stickers

That is the same date listed in the docket for the second trial, in which longtime rancher Cliven Bundy and two of his sons, Ryan and Ammon, along with Ryan Payne and Internet radio host Pete Santilli, are the defendants. It’s expected to be an especially high-profile affair in which the bedrock fundamentals of federal land jurisdiction and control ought to be rigorously debated.

The third and final trial, involving Bundy’s sons Mel and Dave, along with Joseph O’Shaughnessy, Brian Cavalier, Jason Woods, and Micah McGuire, is expected to begin sometime in the fall.

The defendants in all three trials are being tried for their part in supporting Bundy in the now-legendary April 2014 standoff between armed federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents and the elder Bundy, four of the Bundy sons, and a host of supporters.

When the BLM showed up to impound hundreds of Bundy’s cattle for alleged unpaid grazing fees on public lands, supporters traveled to southern Nevada, near Bunkerville, to stand with Bundy in protest of federal land policies. The standoff was dubbed “The Battle of Bunkerville,” though not a single shot was fired.

Still, the federal government, which has been laboring to make its case that those who gathered with the elder Bundy pointed their weapons at heavily armed federal officers in a “threatening” manner, seeks to send all the defendants to prison—for life, if possible.

The defense maintains that Bundy’s supporters showed up only to exercise their First and Second Amendment rights in protest of BLM policies.

Assessing the situation, Roger Roots, an author and legal expert who attended nearly every day of the first trial, told AMERICAN FREE PRESS: “Maybe you can’t call this [deadlocked jury] a victory for the Bundy side. But the government’s ‘stock’ went down in this thing. And the feds, including the judge, are under a lot of pressure to try and provide speedy trials.”

Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor.




Can We Get the Truth About a Possible North Korea Showdown?

There is so much fake news circulating about North Korea, it’s hard to know what’s really the truth. Is North Korea’s Kim Jung-Un really interested in nuking the U.S.? Will China and Russia rally behind the U.S. military if the U.S. attacks? You may be surprised when you read Dr. Johnson’s commentary below.

By Matthew Raphael Johnson

The U.S. Navy is making its way to Korean waters. Stealth bombers are now on alert in South Korea and Japan. If you believe the mainstream media, this is all because North Korea is threatening the world with nuclear annihilation. But what is the truth, and who is really to blame for ratcheting up tensions in Asia?

Regardless of one’s views on Pyongyang, the North Koreans have not sought to conquer anyone and seek nothing but to be left alone. The North Korean military has been dug in and waiting for a Southern or American attack for decades. Its population is used to drills and civil defense procedures to fight such an attack.

North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon in 2006. However, it seeks to be a nuclear power to deter attacks from the much larger American, Japanese, and Southern forces.

In October 2016, North Korea made this principle clear. To speak of Kim Jong-Un’s “threats” against the U.S. while the U.S. engages in almost monthly military exercises against North Korea is absurd and masks a larger agenda.

Contrary to media myths, North Korea has never stated it would use nuclear weapons first. They have said they would use nuclear weapons only in the case of foreign attack. The only chance of a nuclear war in Korea is because of American provocations. The Chinese have echoed this as well.

The U.S. has said it will attack the North if a weapons test were carried out, but many such tests have taken place in the North in the past. Regardless, this is not legal grounds for a preemptive military strike, let alone a nuclear one.

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The incessant American press mantra that China and North Korea are on the verge of becoming enemies is also false. The opposite—as usual—is the case.

Decades of nuclear tests have not harmed Pyongyang-Peking relations. China has never, in any form, said it will bomb Korea’s nuclear facilities. In fact, China’s ambassador to the UN, Liu Jieyi, blamed the U.S. for the escalation in the region.

Importantly, China has no incentive to see an American victory in Asia against a friendly power. It was only a few months ago that Washington was trying to start another war, this time against China, in the South China Sea. To suggest that China will break with a long-time ally in favor of U.S. imperialism is not just arrogant; it is grossly naive.

So what is the truth about North Korea?

There is no doubt the West is peddling fabrications about North Korea. That is because much of the information reaching the public comes from defectors, who have every reason to exaggerate. In 2014, The Guardian in the UK exposed many defector stories as false.

For example, Shin Dong-hyuk travels around the world, lecturing about the “death camps” in North Korea, yet he speaks with a pronounced Southern accent. His book and various videos have been exposed as frauds. Others, who supposedly were experimented on in North Korea before fleeing for their lives, have also been revealed to be telling tall tales.

It is this false information that is used to justify keeping American troops in South Korea as well as running exercises meant to train assassins to murder the North Korean head of state.

It is worth noting that Russian reports do not show North Korea as a starving, totalitarian country. According to Russian news outlets, the poverty that does exist there is largely due to North Korea’s need to divert over 50% of its budget to the military. Long-time sanctions on the country also depress its economy.

A revitalized Russia under Vladimir Putin has modernized portions of the North, while China supplies much of its energy needs. In 2014, Russia announced $25 billion in investment projects in the North.

There is now even a burgeoning middle class, and the automotive market has taken off.

North Korea is not to be underestimated. Russian and NATO analysis reported as late as December of last year that Pyongyang’s military technology is better than previously thought.

The South far exceeds the North in military technology, but South Korea remains a deeply divided society. In the event of war, South Korean forces would come under American, not Korean, command. South Koreans, as their history of anti-American rioting have shown, might not be willing to kill fellow Koreans for American interests.

The very large North Korean forces have a great superiority in tanks, artillery pieces, and infantry. The North has almost 100 submarines, while the South has just over 20.

As for aircraft, the North and South are equal in terms of numbers, but the quality certainly favors the South.

Outside of nuclear weapons, the North has pioneered the development of “midget submarines,” very hard to detect, that can be produced in large numbers and can swarm enemy ships. Further, two very dangerous artillery pieces in the North Korean arsenal are the 170mm Koksan howitzers and MRL-240 rocket launchers. The KN-2 Toksa is a fairly advanced ballistic missile system taken from the Russian SS-21 class.

Compare that to the U.S. military, which is overstretched and involved in several continents. The U.S. has been building up forces in the Baltics and Romania, and now is seeking to move into Syria.

In 2008, North Korea sought to end provocative military drills. Despite this, in March 2017, the U.S. and South Korea performed military exercises using simulated nuclear weapons against the North. The U.S. and South Korea also engaged in their largest military exercise yet, and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier team has now been diverted to the Sea of Japan.

In March, China offered a deal by which the North would end all nuclear tests in exchange for the complete cessation of drills by the Americans and the South. It was angrily rejected by Washington.

President Donald Trump’s secretary of defense, Gen. James Mattis, a fervent neocon, stated, “We are working diplomatically, including with those that we might be able to enlist in this effort to get North Korea under control.”

Immediately after this statement, he attacked Russia, saying, “[Russia’s] violations of international law are now a matter of record.” This was in reference to Crimea. He then trailed off, saying they shouldn’t be “mucking around inside other people’s elections and that sort of thing.”

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol said the Trump administration has been the most provocative of any in recent memory.

Han calls the nuclear weapons program a “self defense” system against a militarily superior West and South.  He reiterated that there is no desire for a preemptive strike against the U.S., but the American media is saying otherwise.

Matthew Raphael Johnson is an author and historian whose area of special expertise is Slavic studies. He is also an acknowledged authority on the history of nationalism and nationalist movements. He is the author of Russian Populist, a book detailing the political thought of Vladimir Putin.




Trump Signs ‘Buy American, Hire American’ Order

President Donald Trump just signed an executive order encouraging businesses in the U.S. to put American workers first and hire them before foreign applicants.

By Mark Anderson

Donald Trump, in one of his first acts as president, pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now he has taken another action that puts Americans and their economic destiny first. On April 18, the president traveled to Kenosha, Wisc., to visit the headquarters of American tool manufacturer Snap-on Inc. While there, he signed an executive order dubbed “Buy American, Hire American.”

The new executive order, among other things, directs the Labor, Justice, Homeland Security, and State departments “to propose new rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse,” according to a Business Insider article. Those departments are expected to be tasked with recommending necessary changes so that H-1B employment visas are awarded only to “the most skilled or highest-paid applicants,” not to less-skilled classes of workers representing the cheap labor that exerts downward pressure on wages, a common criticism of the existing program.

Trump’s order is also reportedly designed to help strengthen requirements that American-made products be used in certain grant-funded federal transportation and construction projects. That’s timely, considering Trump wants to spend $1 trillion on badly needed nationwide infrastructure projects.

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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is expected to review “how to close loopholes in enforcing the existing rules.” He will review rule waivers tucked away in free-trade agreements that are notoriously anti-labor. If it’s determined that the waivers do not benefit the U.S., administration officials are saying, the rules will be renegotiated or revoked.

Via a lottery approach, approximately 85,000 H-1B visas are distributed annually. Many go to technology companies, which often claim the U.S. has a shortage of skilled technology workers.

However, American technology employees have been laid off nationwide, replaced by H-1B visa holders. Rubbing salt in the wound, these laid-off workers are in some cases required to train their replacements or lose severance packages.

Trump’s executive order appears to be a move in the right direction, fulfilling his pledge to rework the economy toward “made in USA by American workers,” but there are lingering concerns. H-1B critic Ronil Hira, a Howard University public policy professor, said of Trump’s new order, “It’s not as aggressive as it needs to be.”

On Capitol Hill, a bill by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) would require companies seeking H-1B visas to first make a good-faith effort to hire Americans, something members of Congress have considered previously, with unimpressive results.

Readers are asked to call Congress at 202-224-3121 or 225-3121 and demand that employment-visa changes must have teeth and truly put Americans first.

Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor.




‘Friendly Skies’ Look Much Like America’s Police State

Sadly, what happened to an Asian doctor on a United commercial jetliner has fast become the norm in the United States, where local, state, and federal law enforcement regularly side with the government and corporations and routinely abuse citizens.

By Sophia Meyer

Dr. David Dao was seated on United Flight 3411 Sunday night, prepared to fly from Chicago to Louisville on the last leg of an exhausting 24-hour journey. He was going back to work, with patients to see the next morning at 8.

When notified he was had been computer-selected to give his seat to a United employee needing to get to work in Louisville, Dao refused. After United employees were unsuccessful in convincing him to disembark, three Chicago Aviation Department security officers boarded the plane to remove Dao—willingly or not.

Police State Books John Whitehead

In a passenger’s video recording of the incident, Dao can be heard telling the officers: “I’m not going. I’m a physician. I have to work tomorrow at 8.” An officer threatens, “We’ll have to drag you off,” to which Dao responds, “Well then you can drag me. . . . I’m not going. I’m staying right here,” and then says, “I’d rather go to jail.”

Then, in what The Atlantic calls, “the ‘re-accommodation’ heard ’round the world,” the screaming Dao “was ripped out of his seat by uniformed officers and dragged down the aisle on his back like carry-on luggage, as several horrified passengers captured video footage of his bloodied face on their phones.”

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Passengers can be heard expressing disbelief and disgust as he’s dragged away. “Hey, hey, hey, come on! Now you’ve busted his lip.” “Oh, my God! Look what you did to him! This is horrible!” And, sarcastically, “Good work. Way to go.”

The officers have been “placed on indefinite leave,” according to the Chicago Department of Aviation, which acknowledged the situation was not handled “in accordance with our standard operating procedure.”

It required three attempts for United CEO Oscar Munoz to apologize to Dao, his family, and the other passengers for the police-state tactics used aboard his plane. Finally—three days and three attempts later, and only after United stock had lost $255 million—Munoz told ABC News on Wednesday, “probably the word shame comes to mind,” in describing how he felt upon watching the video showing the handcuffed passenger being literally dragged off his plane. “It was a system failure,” he continued, blaming United’s policies, that do not enable employees to use “common sense.”

Munoz had initially outraged the public when he tweeted, “We apologize for the overbook situation,” and then in a statement blamed the victim: Dao, he said, had “raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions” and “became more and more disruptive and belligerent.”

Now, similar to what often follows such police-state violence, USA Today reports “Videos from United Airlines flight incident may violate rules. . . . [P] assengers were in violation of United’s policies and could face legal repercussions in civil court or be barred from future United flights.”

If this series of events sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because time and again, innocent victims of police-state violence in America—like the young man shot to death in his own apartment while playing video games at 1:30 a.m. when police came searching for someone else, as reported by AFP in Issue 15 & 16, 2017—have their reputations smeared by the agencies and media, are themselves blamed for agency misconduct, and onlookers who document the carnage are themselves threatened and even arrested.

China’s version of Twitter, Sina Weibo, has been abuzz with the news, since Dao is of Asian descent. Ironically, one commenter noted United’s treatment of him is “a perfect illustration” of human rights in the United States.

Indeed, whether on land or in the sky, and whether such violent tactics are carried out by representatives of local law enforcement, federal agencies like the DEA, ICE or IRS, or remote drone controllers targeting unarmed American citizens for murder, the onus is focused on those who document such police-state tactics rather than on the criminals carrying them out.

In addition to a growing “Boycott United” sentiment, Dao has filed a lawsuit and the company’s stock has plummeted $1.4 billion as of this writing. Surely, one would assume, the company immediately changed its policies.

Au contraire!

A mere two days after Dao’s mistreatment, United first-class passenger Geoff Fearns was threatened with handcuffs if he did not give up his $1,000 bought-and-paid-for full-fare seat so that a last-minute, “higher-priority” traveler could have it. When Fearns stood his ground and refused to leave the plane, United finally “compromised” and moved him to a seat in economy class.

Once home, Fearns wrote Munoz requesting a full refund and a $25,000 donation from United to the charity of his choice for his mistreatment.

A week later, United’s “corporate customer care specialist” instead offered Fearns a refund of the difference between his first-class ticket price and economy fare as well as a $500 credit toward future travel on United.

When asked if he’ll ever “fly the friendly skies” again, Fearns laughed, “Are you kidding?”

Originally from the Midwest, Sophia Meyer is a freelance writer and editor and avid gardener now living on Florida’s Treasure Coast.




Washington’s Deception Is Aimed at Russia, Vladimir Putin

Sane Americans are wondering what’s going on in Washington. Did President Donald Trump really cave to pressure from the deep state? Why would he order missile strikes against the Syrian military when he promised on the campaign trail that he would not get the U.S. involved in the civil war in Syria? Above, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson walks with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov ahead of their bilateral meeting at the Osobnyak Guest House in Moscow, Russia on April 12, 2017.

By Paul Craig Roberts

According to a report on RT, Secretary of State Tillerson has on CBS backed away from his previously reported aggressive rhetoric reported by the presstitutes against Russia and Syria.

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According to the RT report, Tillerson said that Washington’s plan is to defeat ISIS, not to bring regime change to Syria. It is up to the Syrian people, Tillerson reportedly said, to choose their own president. “We’ve seen what violent regime change looks like in Libya and the kind of chaos that can be unleashed and indeed the kind of misery that it enacts on its own people,” he said on CBS. “I think we have to learn the lessons of the past,” he emphasized on ABC, adding, “Any time you go on and have a violent change at the top, it is very difficult to create the conditions for stability longer term.”

If the report is correct, it could either be good news or another Washington deception in advance of Tillerson’s visit to Moscow, the purpose of which will be to bring the Russian government into Washington’s orbit and an agreement to replace Assad with an American vassal.

Gideon Elite book cover

Perhaps the Russian government will keep in mind Tillerson’s revealing statement that the message the US sent with its illegal, war crime, unprovoked attack on Syria “is that the violation of international norms . . . will no longer be tolerated.”

Of course, who is the violator of “international norms”? No one but Washington (and Israel). Washington is the greatest violator of “international norms” in modern history. Washington has invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, organized the destruction of Libya and Somalia, conducted attacks on Pakistan and Yemen, and organized a coup against the democratically elected government in Ukraine.

Only Washington has a list of crimes this long. And we can add to it Honduras, Brazil, Argentina, and in the works, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

If Russia falls into Washington’s trap of deception, Russia will be destroyed.

Paul Craig Roberts was assistant secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of The Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for BusinessWeek, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has held many university appointments. His Internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’s latest books are How AMERICA Was LOST: From 9/11 to the Police/Warfare State and The NEOCONSERVATIVE THREAT to WORLD ORDER: Washington’s Perilous War for Hegemony.




Donald Trump’s Tomahawk Attack on Syria Is An Absurdity

Launching 60 cruise missiles against the Syrian government before an independent investigation can prove who exactly was behind the gas attack in Syria was foolish and played into the hands of the global warmongers.

By Matthew Raphael Johnson

President Donald Trump threw away a great deal of support by ordering a cruise missile attack on Syria April 7. Obviously, Assad would have had no interest in using internationally banned chemical weapons in a war that he has already won, well aware of the inevitable American response.

The attack on Sharat air base in Homs province was launched from U.S. ships in the Mediterranean. Three Syrian soldiers were killed, and the base was destroyed.

Worst of all, ISIS and other radical groups now have a new lease on life thanks to Trump buying into the international warmongers’ desire to topple the stable government in Syria.

ISIS Is Us Book cover

One need not be a military strategist to realize that either the Syrian government is unhinged or the original chemical attack story was a lie.

The U.S. government warned the Russian military personnel at the air base prior to launching cruise missiles, in order to avoid a more serious incident, but Russia has still taken this as an act of war. Russian leader Vladimir Putin made the obvious statement that the attack was a form of unwarranted aggression.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that no evidence was ever offered that the Syrians would have made such an impulsive move in a war they had already won. The Foreign Ministry in Moscow stated:

The very presence of U.S. troops and other countries in Syria without the consent of the government or the UN Security Council is a blatant, explicit, and unwarranted violation of international law. If before it was due to the task of combating terrorism, now it is an attack on Syria proper. U.S. actions taken today will further destroy the Russian-American relationship.

In 2013, both Russia and the U.S. came to the conclusion, after substantial inspections were conducted, that Syria did not possess chemical weapons. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, attached to the UN, was in charge of the inspections.

The pro-U.S. Iraqi puppet government has confirmed that the terrorists alone possessed these weapons.

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To the extent any gas was released, it was because the Syrian Air Force bombed a weapons depot that contained chemical weapons. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated:

In recent years, the organization [for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] has inspected almost all the objects that were or could be related to the military-chemical program in Syria. As for Idlib, terrorists were engaged in the production of toxic substances that they stuffed into roadside bombs for use in Syria and Iraq. . . They turned a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons by terrorists in Iraq, as officially reported by [the pro-American government in] Baghdad. They dismiss the application documents of logged chemical weapons by terrorists in Aleppo. . . . There is no doubt that the U.S. military action is an attempt to divert attention from the situation in Mosul, where as a result of actions, including the U.S.-led coalition, killing hundreds of civilians and the growing humanitarian catastrophe (April 7, translation mine).

Questions about the alleged attacks abound. Feras Karam, an anti-Assad journalist, wrote on April 3 of his upcoming campaign to cover Syrian airstrikes on rebel-held villages and the use of chemical weapons, and said chlorine gas would be used. Further, Dr. Shajul Islam, a physician working in Khan Sheikhoun where the alleged gas attacks occurred, reportedly received shipments of gas masks several days earlier. Pictures have emerged showing volunteer rescue workers, the Syrian “White Helmets,” handling corpses allegedly from the attack without the protective gear required by normal protocol, because sarin easily penetrates the skin. It kills by breaking the contact between the brain and the lungs, rendering the victim unable to breathe.

This author claims no expertise in military aviation, but the consensus seems to be that Russian SU-22 jets’ custom bombs cannot be filled with any chemical weapons, as they are fully stuffed with their own explosives. The mechanism required to make the dormant gas functional is large and can only fit into a few types of warheads. However, the jets that allegedly gassed this area were SU-22s, flown by Syrian pilots.

ISIS is known to have used gas in the past, though far from the only ones to do so. The Daily Mail has obtained video showing experiments with gas being conducted on rebel bases throughout Syria. Even worse for the Americans, the CIA-controlled “Voice of America” has admitted that Jaysh al-Islam, the coalition of Islamist and Salafist units involved in the Syrian civil war, previously used chemical agents against Kurds in Aleppo. Therefore, as the Syrians handed over any old stores of chemical weapons to the UN in 2013, the rebels increased their stockpiles.

The most damning piece of evidence against the System’s view is that, just a week ago, the American government officially stated that “regime change” was no longer an option. Then, the gas attack occurs on a town that could have been cleared out easily by ground forces.

Assad has won this war, and is now focused on rebuilding internally and externally. To use gas at this juncture goes against all logic.

Dr. Matthew Raphael Johnson is a writer and lives in Pennsylvania.