Will The Swiss Vote To Get Their Gold Back?

On Nov. 30, voters in Switzerland will head to the polls to vote in a referendum on gold. On the ballot is a measure to prohibit the Swiss National Bank (SNB) from further gold sales, to repatriate Swiss-owned gold to Switzerland, and to mandate that gold make up at least 20 percent of the SNB’s assets. Arising from popular sentiment similar to movements in the United States, Germany and the Netherlands, this referendum is an attempt to bring more oversight and accountability to the SNB, Switzerland’s central bank.

The Swiss referendum is driven by an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the conduct not only of Swiss monetary policy, but also of Swiss banking policy. Switzerland may be a small nation, but it is a nation proud of its independence and its history of standing up to tyranny. The famous legend of William Tell embodies the essence of the Swiss national character. But no tyrannical regime in history has bullied Switzerland as much as the United States government has in recent years.

The Swiss tradition of bank secrecy is legendary. The reality, however, is that Swiss bank secrecy is dead. Countries such as the United States have been unwilling to keep government spending in check, but they are running out of ways to fund that spending. Further taxation of their populations is politically difficult, massive issuance of government debt has saturated bond markets, and so the easy target is smaller countries such as Switzerland which have gained the reputation of being “tax havens.” Remember that “tax haven” is just a term for a country that allows people to keep more of their own money than the U.S. or the EU does, and doesn’t attempt to plunder either its citizens or its foreign account-holders. But the past several years have seen a concerted attempt by the U.S. and the EU to crack down on these smaller countries, using their enormous financial clout to compel them to hand over account details so that they can extract more tax revenue.

The U.S. has used its court system to extort money from Switzerland, fining the U.S. subsidiaries of Swiss banks for allegedly sheltering U.S. taxpayers and allowing them to keep their accounts and earnings hidden from U.S. tax authorities. EU countries such as Germany have even gone so far as to purchase account information stolen from Swiss banks by unscrupulous bank employees. And with the recent implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Swiss banks will now be forced to divulge to the IRS all the information they have about customers liable to pay U.S. taxes.

On the monetary policy front, the SNB sold about 60 percent of Switzerland’s gold reserves during the 2000s. The SNB has also in recent years established a currency peg, with 1.2 Swiss francs equal to one euro. The peg’s effects have already manifested themselves in the form of a growing real estate bubble, as housing prices have risen dangerously. Given the action by the European Central Bank (ECB) to engage in further quantitative easing, the SNB’s continuance of this dangerous and foolhardy policy means that it will continue tying its monetary policy to that of the EU and be forced to import more inflation into Switzerland.

Just like the U.S. and the EU, Switzerland at the federal level is ruled by a group of elites who are more concerned with their own status, well-being and international reputation than with the good of the country. The gold referendum, if it is successful, will be a slap in the face to those elites. The Swiss people appreciate the work their forefathers put into building up large gold reserves, a respected currency, and a strong, independent banking system. They do not want to see centuries of struggle squandered by a central bank. The results of the November referendum may be a bellwether, indicating just how strong popular movements can be in establishing central bank accountability and returning gold to a monetary role.

Ron Paul: Nixonian Abuse Of Power Is Now The Presidential Norm

Forty years ago many Americans celebrated the demise of the imperial presidency with the resignation of Richard Nixon. Today it is clear they celebrated too soon. Nixon’s view of presidential powers, summed up in his infamous statement that, “when the president does it that means it is not illegal,” is embraced by the majority of the political class. In fact, the last two presidents have abused their power in ways that would have made Nixon blush.

For example, Nixon’s abuse of the Internal Revenue Service to persecute his political opponents was the subject of one of the articles of impeachment passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. As bad as Nixon’s abuse of the IRS was, he was hardly the first president to use the IRS this way, and the present administration seems to be continuing this tradition. The targeting of Tea Party groups has received the most attention, but it is not the only instance of the IRS harassing President Barack Obama’s political opponents. For example, the IRS has demanded that one of my organizations, Campaign for Liberty, hand over information regarding its major donors.

Nixon’s abuse of federal power to spy on his “enemies” was abhorrent, but Nixon’s abuses of civil liberties pale in comparison to those of his successors. Today literally anyone in the world can be spied on, indefinitely detained, or placed on a presidential “kill list” based on nothing more than a presidential order. For all his faults, Nixon never tried to claim the power to unilaterally order anyone in the world detained or killed.

Many today act as apologists for the imperial presidency. One reason for this is that many politicians place partisan concerns above loyalty to the Constitution. Thus, they openly defend, and even celebrate, executive branch power grabs when made by a president of their own party.

Another reason is the bipartisan consensus in support of the warfare state. Many politicians and intellectuals in both parties support an imperial presidency because they recognize that the Founders’ vision of a limited executive branch is incompatible with an aggressive foreign policy. When Republicans are in power “neoconservatives” take the lead, while when Democrats are in power “humanitarian interventionists” take the lead. Regardless of party or ideological label, they share the same goal — to protect the executive branch from being constrained by the constitutional requirement that the president seek congressional approval before waging war.

The strength of the bipartisan consensus that the president should have limitless discretion in committing troops to war is illustrated by the failure of an attempt to add an article dealing with Nixon’s “secret bombing” of Cambodia to the articles of impeachment. Even at the low point of support for the imperial presidency, Congress still refused to rein in the president’s war-making powers.

The failure to include the Cambodia invasion in the articles of impeachment may well be the main reason Watergate had little to do with reining in the imperial presidency. Because the imperial presidency is rooted in the war power, attempts to rein in the imperial presidency that do not work to restore Congress’ constitutional authority to declare war are doomed to fail.

Repealing Nixon’s legacy requires building a new bipartisan coalition in favor of peace and civil liberties, rejecting what writer Gene Healy calls “the cult of the presidency,” and placing loyalty to the Constitution above partisanship. An important step must be restoring congressional supremacy in matters of war and peace.

Ron Paul: Obama Has No Middle East Strategy? Good!

Last week, President Obama admitted that his administration has not worked out a strategy on how to deal with the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as a dominant force in the Middle East. However, as ISIS continues its march through Syria and Iraq, many in the US administration believe it is, in the words of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a threat “beyond anything we have ever seen.”

Predictably, the neocons attacked the president’s speech. They believe the solution to any problem is more bombs and troops on the ground, so they cannot understand the president’s hesitation.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon made it clear that fighting ISIS is going to cost a lot more money and will bring U.S. forces back to Iraq for the third time. The post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan peace dividend disintegrates.

McKeon said last week: “ISIS is an urgent threat and a minimalist approach, that depends solely on FY15 funding or pinprick strikes that leave fragile forces in Iraq and Syria to do the hard fighting, is insufficient to protect our interests and guarantee our safety in time.”

What does this mean in practice? If the neocons have their way, the Federal Reserve will “print” more money to finance another massive U.S. intervention in the Middle East. In reality this means further devaluation of the U.S. dollar, which is a tax on all Americans that will hit the poorest hardest.

A new U.S. military incursion will not end ISIS; it will provide them with the recruiting tool they most crave, while draining the U.S. Treasury. Just what Osama bin Laden wanted!

McKeon and the other hawks act as if they had only recently become aware of the ISIS. Or if they noticed it, they pretend U.S. policy had nothing to do with its rise.

McKeon also said last week, “… the ISIS threat was allowed to build and fester over a period of time.”

In fact, U.S. regime change policy in Syria was directly responsible for the rise of ISIS over these past three years. As journalist Eric Margolis observed recently, the emergence of ISIS is the “mother of all blowback.” The neocons who want us to get tougher on ISIS, including a U.S. attack on Syria, are the same ones who not long ago demanded that we support groups like ISIS to overthrow the Assad government in Syria. U.S.-trained and funded “moderates” from the Free Syrian Army joined the Islamist militias, including ISIS, taking U.S. weapons and training with them.

Three years of supporting any force that might overthrow the secular government of President Bashar Assad has produced a new monster in the Middle East that neocons insist the U.S. must slay.

Why can’t they just admit they were wrong? Why can’t the interventionists just admit that their support for regime change in Syria was a terrible and tragic mistake?

If ISIS is as big a threat as they claim, why can’t they simply ask Assad to help out? Assad has never threatened the United States; ISIS has. Assad has been fighting ISIS and similar Islamist extremist groups for three years.

Why does the U.S. government insist on aligning with theocracies in the Middle East? If there is anything that contradicts the U.S. Constitution and American values, it is a theocratic government. I do not believe that a majority in the Middle East wants to live under such a system, so why do we keep pushing it on them? Is that what they call promoting democracy?

A lack of strategy is a glimmer of hope. Perhaps the president will finally stop listening to the neocons and interventionists whose recommendations have gotten us into this mess in the first place! Here’s a strategy: Just come home.

Ferguson: The War Comes Home

America’s attention recently turned away from the violence in Iraq and Gaza toward the violence in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting of Michael Brown. While all the facts surrounding the shooing have yet to come to light, the shock of seeing police using tear gas (a substance banned in warfare) and other military-style weapons against American citizens, including journalists exercising their First Amendment rights, has started a much-needed debate on police militarization.

The increasing use of military equipment by local police is a symptom of growing authoritarianism, not the cause. The cause is policies that encourage police to see Americans as enemies to subjugate, rather than as citizens to “protect and serve.” This attitude is on display not only in Ferguson, but in the police lockdown following the Boston Marathon bombing and in the Americans killed and injured in “no-knock” raids conducted by militarized SWAT teams.

One particularly tragic victim of police militarization and the war on drugs is Bounkham “Baby Boo Boo” Phonesavah. This toddler was severely burned and put in a coma by a flash-burn grenade thrown into his crib by a SWAT team member who burst into the infant’s room looking for methamphetamine.

As shocking as the case of Baby Boo Boo is, no one should be surprised that empowering police to stop consensual (though perhaps harmful and immoral) activities has led to a growth of authoritarian attitudes and behaviors among government officials and politicians. Those wondering why the local police increasingly look and act like an occupying military force should consider that the drug war was the justification for the Defense Department’s “1033 program,” which last year gave local police departments almost $450 million worth of “surplus” military equipment. This included armored vehicles and grenades like those that were used to maim Baby Boo Boo.

Today, the war on drugs has been eclipsed by the war on terror as an all-purpose excuse for expanding the police state. We are all familiar with how the federal government increased police power after 9/11 via the PATRIOT Act, TSA, and other Homeland Security programs. Not as widely known is how the war on terror has been used to justify the increased militarization of local police departments to the detriment of our liberty. Since 2002, the Department of Homeland Security has provided more than $35 billion in grants to local governments for the purchase of tactical gear, military-style armor and mine-resistant vehicles.

The threat of terrorism is used to justify these grants. However, the small towns that receive tanks and other military weapons do not just put them into storage until a real terrorist threat emerges. Instead, the military equipment is used for routine law enforcement.

Politicians love this program because it allows them to brag to their local media about how they are keeping their constituents safe. Of course, the military-industrial complex’s new kid brother, the law enforcement-industrial complex, wields tremendous influence on Capitol Hill. Even many so-called progressives support police militarization to curry favor with police unions.

Reversing the dangerous trend of the militarization of local police can start with ending all federal involvement in local law enforcement. Fortunately, all that requires is for Congress to begin following the Constitution, which forbids the federal government from controlling or funding local law enforcement. There is also no justification for federal drug laws or for using the threat of terrorism as an excuse to treat all people as potential criminals. However, Congress will not restore constitutional government on its own; the American people must demand that Congress stop facilitating the growth of an authoritarian police state that threatens their liberty.

Ron Paul Explains Three Decades Of Failed U.S. Policy In Iraq

We have been at war with Iraq for 24 years, starting with Operations Desert Shield and Storm in 1990. Shortly after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait that year, the propaganda machine began agitating for a U.S. attack on Iraq. We all remember the appearance before Congress of a young Kuwaiti woman claiming that the Iraqis were ripping Kuwaiti babies from incubators. The woman turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the U.S. and the story was false, but it was enough to turn U.S. opposition in favor of an attack.

This month, yet another U.S. president – the fifth in a row – began bombing Iraq. He is also placing in U.S. troops on the ground despite promising not to do so.

The second Iraq war in 2003 cost the U.S. some two trillion dollars. According to estimates, more than one million deaths have occurred as a result of that war. Millions of tons of U.S. bombs have fallen in Iraq almost steadily since 1991.

What have we accomplished? Where are we now, 24 years later? We are back where we started, at war in Iraq!

The U.S. overthrew Saddam Hussein in the second Iraq war and put into place a puppet, Nouri al-Maliki. But after eight years, last week the U.S. engineered a coup against Maliki to put in place yet another puppet. The U.S. accused Maliki of misrule and divisiveness, but what really irritated the U.S. government was his 2011 refusal to grant immunity to the thousands of U.S. troops that Obama wanted to keep in the country.

Early this year, a radical Islamist group, ISIS, began taking over territory in Iraq, starting with Fallujah. The organization had been operating in Syria, strengthened by U.S. support for the overthrow of the Syrian government. ISIS obtained a broad array of sophisticated U.S. weapons in Syria, very often capturing them from other U.S.-approved opposition groups. Some claim that lax screening criteria allowed some ISIS fighters to even participate in secret CIA training camps in Jordan and Turkey.

This month, ISIS became the target of a new U.S. bombing campaign in Iraq. The pretext for the latest U.S. attack was the plight of a religious minority in the Kurdish region currently under ISIS attack. The U.S. government and media warned that up to 100,000 from this group, including some 40,000 stranded on a mountain, could be slaughtered if the U.S. did not intervene at once. Americans unfortunately once again fell for this propaganda and U.S. bombs began to fall. Last week, however, it was determined that only about 2,000 were on the mountain and many of them had been living there for years! They didn’t want to be rescued!

This is not to say that the plight of many of these people is not tragic, but why is it that the U.S. government did not say a word when three out of four Christians were forced out of Iraq during the ten year U.S. occupation? Why has the U.S. said nothing about the Christians slaughtered by its allies in Syria? What about all the Palestinians killed in Gaza or the ethnic Russians killed in east Ukraine?

The humanitarian situation was cynically manipulated by the Obama administration — and echoed by the U.S. media — to provide a reason for the president to attack Iraq again. This time it was about yet another regime change, breaking Kurdistan away from Iraq and protection of the rich oil reserves there, and acceptance of a new U.S. military presence on the ground in the country.

President Obama has started another war in Iraq and Congress is completely silent. No declaration, no authorization, not even a debate. After 24 years we are back where we started. Isn’t it about time to re-think this failed interventionist policy? Isn’t it time to stop trusting the government and its war propaganda? Isn’t it time to leave Iraq alone?

Ron Paul Warns That U.S. Sanctions On Russia Could Sink The Dollar

The U.S. government’s decision to apply more sanctions on Russia is a grave mistake and will only escalate an already tense situation, ultimately harming the U.S. economy itself. While the effect of sanctions on the dollar may not be appreciated in the short term, in the long run these sanctions are just another step toward the dollar’s eventual demise as the world’s reserve currency.

Not only is the U.S. sanctioning Russian banks and companies, but it also is trying to strong-arm European banks into enacting harsh sanctions against Russia as well. Given the amount of business that European banks do with Russia, European sanctions could hurt Europe at least as much as Russia. At the same time the U.S. expects cooperation from European banks, it is also prosecuting those same banks and fining them billions of dollars for violating existing U.S. sanctions. It is not difficult to imagine that European banks will increasingly become fed up with having to act as the U.S. government’s unpaid policemen, while having to pay billions of dollars in fines every time they engage in business that Washington doesn’t like.

European banks are already cutting ties with American citizens and businesses due to the stringent compliance required by recently-passed laws such as FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act). In the IRS’s quest to suck in as much tax dollars as possible from around the world, the agency has made Americans into the pariahs of the international financial system. As the burdens the U.S. government places on European banks grow heavier, it should be expected that more and more European banks will reduce their exposure to the United States and to the dollar, eventually leaving the U.S. isolated. Attempting to isolate Russia, the U.S. actually isolates itself.

Another effect of sanctions is that Russia will grow closer to its BRICS (Brazil/Russia/India/China/South Africa) allies. These countries count over 40 percent of the world’s population, have a combined economic output almost equal to the U.S. and EU, and have significant natural resources at their disposal. Russia is one of the world’s largest oil producers and supplies Europe with a large percent of its natural gas. Brazil has the second-largest industrial sector in the Americas and is the world’s largest exporter of ethanol. China is rich in mineral resources and is the world’s largest food producer. Already Russia and China are signing agreements to conduct their bilateral trade with their own national currencies rather than with the dollar, a trend which, if it spreads, will continue to erode the dollar’s position in international trade. Perhaps more importantly, China, Russia, and South Africa together produce nearly 40 percent of the world’s gold, which could play a role if the BRICS countries decide to establish a gold-backed currency to challenge the dollar.

U.S. policymakers fail to realize that the United States is not the global hegemon it was after World War II. They fail to understand that their overbearing actions toward other countries, even those considered friends, have severely eroded any good will that might previously have existed. And they fail to appreciate that more than 70 years of devaluing the dollar has put the rest of the world on edge. There is a reason the euro was created, a reason that China is moving to internationalize its currency, and a reason that other countries around the world seek to negotiate monetary and trade compacts. The rest of the world is tired of subsidizing the United States government’s enormous debts, and tired of producing and exporting trillions of dollars of goods to the US, only to receive increasingly worthless dollars in return.

The U.S. government has always relied on the cooperation of other countries to maintain the dollar’s preeminent position. But international patience is wearing thin, especially as the carrot-and-stick approach of recent decades has become all stick and no carrot. If President Obama and his successors continue with their heavy-handed approach of levying sanctions against every country that does something US policymakers don’t like, it will only lead to more countries shunning the dollar and accelerating the dollar’s slide into irrelevance.

Straight Talk: Why Won’t Obama Just Leave Ukraine Alone?

President Obama announced last week that he was imposing yet another round of sanctions on Russia, this time targeting financial, arms, and energy sectors. The European Union, as it has done each time, quickly followed suit.

These sanctions will not produce the results Washington demands, but they will hurt the economies of the U.S. and EU, as well as Russia.

These sanctions are, according to the Obama Administration, punishment for what it claims is Russia’s role in the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, and for what the President claims is Russia’s continued arming of separatists in eastern Ukraine. Neither of these reasons makes much sense because neither case has been proven.

The Administration began blaming Russia for the downing of the plane just hours after the crash, before an investigation had even begun. The Administration claimed it had evidence of Russia’s involvement but refused to show it. Later, the Obama Administration arranged a briefing by “senior intelligence officials” who told the media that “we don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank and we’re not even 100 percent sure of a nationality,” of who brought down the aircraft.

So Obama then claimed Russian culpability because Russia’s “support” for the separatists in east Ukraine “created the conditions” for the shoot-down of the aircraft. That is a dangerous measure of culpability considering U.S. support for separatist groups in Syria and elsewhere.

Similarly, the U.S. government claimed that Russia is providing weapons, including heavy weapons, to the rebels in Ukraine and shooting across the border into Ukrainian territory. It may be true, but again the U.S. refuses to provide any evidence and the Russian government denies the charge. It’s like Iraq’s WMDs all over again.

Obama has argued that the Ukrainians should solve this problem themselves and therefore Russia should butt out.

I agree with the President on this. Outside countries should leave Ukraine to resolve the conflict itself. However, even as the U.S. demands that the Russians de-escalate, the United States is busy escalating!

In June, Washington sent a team of military advisors to help Ukraine fight the separatists in the eastern part of the country. Such teams of “advisors” often include special forces and are usually a slippery slope to direct U.S. military involvement.

On Friday, President Obama requested Congressional approval to send U.S. troops into Ukraine to train and equip its national guard. This even though in March, the president promised no U.S. boots on the ground in Ukraine. The deployment will be funded with $19 million from a fund designated to fight global terrorism, signaling that the U.S. considers the secessionists in Ukraine to be “terrorists.”

Are U.S. drone strikes against these “terrorists” and the “associated forces” who support them that far off?

The U.S. has already provided the Ukrainian military with $23 million for defense security, $5 million in body armor, $8 million to help secure Ukraine’s borders, several hundred thousand ready-to-eat meals as well as an array of communications equipment. Congress is urging the President to send lethal military aid and the Administration is reportedly considering sending real-time intelligence to help target rebel positions.

But let’s not forget that this whole crisis started with the U.S.-sponsored coup against Ukraine’s elected President back in February. The U.S. escalates while it demands that Russia de-escalate. How about all sides de-escalate?

Even when the goals are clear, sanctions have a lousy track record. Sanctions are acts of war. These sanctions will most definitely have a negative effect on the U.S. economy as well as the Russian economy. Why is “winning” Ukraine so important to Washington? Why are they risking a major war with Russia to deny people in Ukraine the right to self-determination? Let’s just leave Ukraine alone!

Ron Paul: End Torture, Shut Down the CIA!

Remember back in April, 2007, when then-CIA director George Tenet appeared on 60 Minutes, angrily telling the program host, “we don’t torture people”? Remember a few months later, in October, President George W. Bush saying, “this government does not torture people”? We knew then it was not true because we had already seen the photos of Iraqis tortured at Abu Ghraib prison four years earlier.

Still the U.S. Administration denied that torture was torture, preferring to call it “enhanced interrogation” and claiming that it had disrupted so many terrorist plots. Of course, we later found out that the CIA had not only lied about the torture of large numbers of people after 9/11, but it had vastly exaggerated any valuable information that came from such practices.

However secret rendition of prisoners to other places was ongoing.

The U.S. not only tortured people in its own custody, however. Last week the European Court of Human Rights found that the U.S. government transferred individuals to secret detention centers in Poland (and likely elsewhere) where they were tortured away from public scrutiny. The government of Poland was ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to two victims for doing nothing to stop their torture on Polish soil.

How tragic that Poland, where the Nazis constructed the Auschwitz concentration camp in which so many innocents were tortured and murdered, would acquiesce to hosting secret torture facilities. The idea that such brutality would be permitted on Polish soil just 70 years after the Nazi occupation should remind us of how dangerous and disingenuous governments continue to be.

This is the first time the European court has connected any EU country to U.S. torture practices. The Obama Administration refuses to admit that such facilities existed and instead claims that any such “enhanced interrogation” programs were shut down by 2009. We can only hope this is true, but we should be wary of government promises. After all, they promised us all along that they were not using torture, and we might have never known had photographs and other information not been leaked to the press.

There are more reasons to be wary of this Administration’s claims about rejecting torture and upholding human rights. The President has openly justified killing American citizens without charge or trial and he has done so on at least three occasions. There is not much of a gap between torture and extrajudicial murder when it comes to human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior current and former CIA officials are said to be frantically attempting to prepare a response to a planned release of an unclassified version of a 6,500 page Senate Intelligence Committee study on the torture practices of that agency. The CIA was already caught tapping into the computers of Senate investigators last year, looking to see what information might be contained in the report. Those who have seen the report have commented that it details far more brutal CIA practices that have been revealed to this point.

Revelations of U.S. secret torture sites overseas and a new Senate investigation revealing widespread horrific CIA torture practices should finally lead to the abolishment of this agency. Far from keeping us safer, CIA covert actions across the globe have led to destruction of countries and societies and unprecedented resentment toward the United States. For our own safety, end the CIA!

Ron Paul Explains What Media Won’t Report About Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17

Just days after the tragic crash of a Malaysian Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine, Western politicians and media joined together to gain the maximum propaganda value from the disaster. It had to be Russia; it had to be Putin, they said. President Obama held a press conference to claim – even before an investigation – that it was pro-Russian rebels in the region who were responsible. His ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, did the same at the UN Security Council – just one day after the crash!

While western media outlets rush to repeat government propaganda on the event, there are a few things they will not report.

They will not report that the crisis in Ukraine started late last year, when EU and U.S.-supported protesters plotted the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych. Without U.S.-sponsored “regime change,” it is unlikely that hundreds would have been killed in the unrest that followed. Nor would the Malaysian Airlines crash have happened.

The media has reported that the plane must have been shot down by Russian forces or Russian-backed separatists, because the missile that reportedly brought down the plane was Russian made. But they will not report that the Ukrainian government also uses the exact same Russian-made weapons.

They will not report that the post-coup government in Kiev has, according to OSCE monitors, killed 250 people in the breakaway Lugansk region since June, including 20 killed as government forces bombed the city center the day after the plane crash! Most of these are civilians and together they roughly equal the number killed in the plane crash. By contrast, Russia has killed no one in Ukraine, and the separatists have struck largely military, not civilian, targets.

They will not report that the U.S. has strongly backed the Ukrainian government in these attacks on civilians, which a State Department spokeswoman called “measured and moderate.”

They will not report that neither Russia nor the separatists in eastern Ukraine have anything to gain but everything to lose by shooting down a passenger liner full of civilians.

They will not report that the Ukrainian government has much to gain by pinning the attack on Russia, and that the Ukrainian prime minister has already expressed his pleasure that Russia is being blamed for the attack.

They will not report that the missile that apparently shot down the plane was from a sophisticated surface-to-air missile system that requires a good deal of training that the separatists do not have.

They will not report that the separatists in eastern Ukraine have inflicted considerable losses on the Ukrainian government in the week before the plane was downed.

They will not report how similar this is to last summer’s U.S. claim that the Assad government in Syria had used poison gas against civilians in Ghouta. Assad was also gaining the upper hand in his struggle with U.S.-backed rebels and the U.S. claimed that the attack came from Syrian government positions. Then, U.S. claims led us to the brink of another war in the Middle East. At the last minute public opposition forced Obama to back down – and we have learned since then that U.S. claims about the gas attack were false.

Of course it is entirely possible that the Obama Administration and the U.S. media has it right this time, and Russia or the separatists in eastern Ukraine either purposely or inadvertently shot down this aircraft. The real point is, it’s very difficult to get accurate information so everybody engages in propaganda. At this point it would be unwise to say the Russians did it, the Ukrainian government did it, or the rebels did it. Is it so hard to simply demand a real investigation?

Ron Paul Explains What’s Missing In The Current Immigration ‘Crisis’ Debate

Over the past several weeks we have seen a significant increase in illegal immigration, as thousands of unaccompanied minors pour across what seems an invisible southern border into the United States. The mass immigration has, as to be expected, put an enormous strain on local resources, and it has heated up the immigration debate in the U.S.

Most liberals and conservatives miss the point, however, making the same old arguments we have all heard before. Liberals argue that we need to provide more welfare and assistance to these young immigrants, while conservatives would bus them to the other side of the border, drop them off, and deploy drones to keep them out.

Neither side seems interested in considering why is this happening in the first place. The truth is, this latest crisis is a consequence of mistaken government policies on both sides of the border.

In fact much of the problem can be directly traced to the U.S. drug war, which creates unlivable conditions in countries that produce narcotics for export to the U.S. Many of those interviewed over the past several weeks have cited violent drug gangs back home as a main motivation for their departure. Because some Americans want to use drugs here in the U.S., governments to the south are bribed and bullied to crack down on local producers. The resulting violence has destroyed economies and lives from Mexico to Nicaragua and beyond. Addressing the failed war on drugs would go a long way to solving the immigration crisis.

I understand the argument of some libertarians that there should be no limits at all on who comes into the United States, but the reality is we do not live in a libertarian society. We live in a society where healthcare is provided — often by over-burdened emergency rooms that cannot legally turn away the sick — “free” education is provided, and other support via food stamp programs is also made available for “free” to illegal immigrants. Many even argue that they should be allowed to vote!

In a free society where the warfare-welfare state ceased to exist, immigration laws would be far less important. A free market would seek workers rather than immigrants to add to its welfare rolls. Voting itself would decline in significance. If 20 people lived on a privately-owned island, for example, one owner could decide to have a guest on his property without bothering the other 19. Were we to move in this direction in the U.S., the current immigration crisis would be a thing of the past.

Over many years while I was in Congress, I met with scores of employers in my district who faced terrible red tape just to be allowed to bring in temporary agricultural workers who would willingly return home once the work was finished. How ironic that Americans willing to provide jobs for immigrants seeking honest work were thwarted by the same government that has now opened the door to a flood of immigrants seeking welfare and other assistance.

One thing we can be sure about: as Republicans and Democrats tussle over “reform” bills, more money will be thrown at the symptoms produced by past bad policies instead of addressing the real causes of the current crisis. The president’s $4 billion supplemental request to address the issue is a costly mix of welfare and enforcement that will do very little to solve the problem because it treats the symptoms instead of the cause. Real reform means changing a failed approach, and until that happens we can count on more expensive mistakes.