US VERDAD Act: Senate Support for Regime Change in Venezuela – Global Research

us-verdad-act-senate-support-for-regime-change-in-venezuela-8211-global-research

04-04-19 11:25:00,

Seeking dominance over all other nations is imperialism’s defining feature – by brute force if other tactics fail.

With no end of it in prospect, they continue on the phony pretexts of humanitarian intervention, responsibility to protect, and democracy building – a notion US policymakers revile, tolerating it nowhere, especially not at home and in oil-rich Venezuela, Bolivarianism considered the threat of a good example.

On Wednesday, 15 bipartisan neocon Senators introduced the so-called Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance and Development (VERDAD) Act (sic) – supporting regime change in the hemisphere’s preeminent democracy they want eliminated.

The bipartisan gang of 15 includes John Barraso, Michael Bennett, Ben Cardin, Bill Cassidy, Chris Coons, John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Dick Durbin, Lindsey Graham, Josh Hawley, Tim Kaine, Marco Rubio, Jeanne Shaheen, and Todd Young.

The measure calls for providing another $200 million for regime change efforts, $200 million more to Colombia and Brazil, blood money for hardening their support for the scheme, on the phony pretext of providing support for Venezuelan “refugees” in their countries.

The measure has nothing to do with “restor(ing) democracy and prosperity” in Venezuela (sic), nothing to do with humanitarian aid (sic), everything to do with supporting the Trump regime’s diabolical coup plot.

Other provisions call for revoking visas for relatives of illegally sanctioned Venezuelans and removing sanctions from others willing to recognize designated puppet/usurper in waiting Guaido.

The legislation urges nations complicit with the coup plot to act against Maduro’s legitimate government the same way.

It requires support from international financial institutions to fully go along with the scheme. It calls for State, Treasury and Justice Departments to wage toughened financial war on Venezuela.

It doesn’t provide temporary protected status (TPS) for undocumented Venezuelans in the US – adhering to Trump’s hardline position against aliens of the wrong race, ethnicity, and/or religion in the country.

Passage of the measure in both houses overwhelmingly and signed into law by Trump is virtually certain. Menendez said the following about the legislation:

“(T)he United States Congress is coming together in a bipartisan manner to put teeth behind our support for the Venezuelan people (sic) as they seek to restore democracy (sic) and address a humanitarian catastrophe of unprecedented proportions in our hemisphere (sic).”

Rubio has been waging near-daily Twitter war on Venezuela,

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First Senate Bill of 2019 Would Give Israel Billions of Dollars, Combat BDS – Global Research

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29-01-19 03:25:00,

Senator Rubio

The first Senate bill of 2019 would finalize a $38 billion aid package to Israel, combat BDS, and rebut Trump’s attempt to withdraw troops from Syria….

***

According to Marco Rubio, the first bill the 2019 U.S. Senate will take up is one that is focused on Israel. His twitter announcement shows a number of people suggesting that he should instead focus on getting the U.S. government running.

The four-part bill, designated S.1, is composed of measures on behalf of Israel that Congress tried and failed to pass in 2018. Some were pioneered by AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The first component is the “Ileana Ros-Lehtinen United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2019” – the 2018 text can be seen here. This would give Israel $33 billion over the next ten years in addition to the $5.5 billion enacted in last year’s defense spending bill. This is reportedly the largest military aid package in U.S. history. The bill was held up by Senator Rand Paul, who threatened a filibuster against it. Most Americans feel the U.S. already gives Israel too much money.

Unlike the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that the Obama administration negotiated with Israel in 2016, this would make the $38 billion a floor rather than a ceiling and cements it into law (an MOU is non-binding). It also provides Israel additional perks, including calling for NASA to work with Israel’s space agency, despite Israel’s alleged acquisition of classified U.S. research.

Another component of the bill is the “Combatting BDS Act of 2019” (the text of the previous version is here). This allows state and local governments to prohibit contracting with any entity that participates in BDS, the boycott of Israel over Israel’s violations of human rights and international law. Many groups and individuals oppose the bill on the ground that it violates freedom of speech. AIPAC is a strong supporter of such legislation.

A third component is “The United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Extension Act,” which would provide money to Jordan.

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U.S. Senate’s First Bill, in Midst of Shutdown, is a Bipartisan Defense of the Israeli Government from Boycotts

us.-senates-first-bill-in-midst-of-shutdown-is-a-bipartisan-defense-of-the-israeli-government-from-boycotts

06-01-19 12:07:00,

When each new Congress is gaveled into session, the chambers attach symbolic importance to the first piece of legislation to be considered. For that reason, it bears the lofty designation of H.R.1 in the House, and S.1 in the Senate.

In the newly controlled Democratic House, H.R.1 – meant to signal the new majority’s priorities – is an anti-corruption bill that combines election and campaign finance reform, strengthening of voting rights, and matching public funds for small-dollar candidates. In the new 2017 Senate, the GOP-controlled S.1 was a bill, called the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” that, among other provisions, cut various forms of corporate taxes.

But in the 2019 GOP-controlled Senate, the first bill to be considered – S.1 – is not designed to protect American workers, bolster U.S. companies, or address the various debates over border security and immigration. It’s not a bill to open the government. Instead, according to multiple sources involved in the legislative process, S.1 will be a compendium containing a handful of foreign-policy related measures, a main one of which is a provision, with Florida’s GOP Sen. Marco Rubio as a lead sponsor, to defend the Israeli government. The bill is a top legislative priority for AIPAC.

In the previous Congress, that measure was known as S.170, and it gives state and local governments explicit legal authority to boycott any U.S. companies which themselves are participating in a boycott against Israel. As the Intercept reported last month, 26 states now have enacted some version of a law to punish or otherwise sanction entities which participate in or support the boycott of Israel, while similar laws are pending in at least 13 additional states. Rubio’s bill is designed to strengthen the legal basis to defend those Israel-protecting laws from constitutional challenge.

Punishment aimed at companies which choose to boycott Israel can also sweep up individual American citizens in its punitive net, because individual contractors often work for state or local governments under the auspices of a sole proprietorship or some other business entity. That was the case with Texas elementary school speech pathologist Bahia Amawi, who lost her job working with autistic and speech-impaired children in Austin because she refused to promise not to boycott goods produced in Israel and/or illegal Israeli settlements.

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“It’s Not Enough”: US Senate Proposes New Bill To Ban Arms Sales To Saudi Arabia

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16-11-18 01:51:00,

After previously on Thursday the Senate killed a proposal by Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) to block $300 million in US arms sales to Bahrain a key Saudi coalition ally in the Yemen war  Senators proposed another bill that would suspend all US weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and block the refueling of Saudi warplanes bombing Yemen.

Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee, led by Bob Menendez (R-New Jersey) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) introduced the “Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2018” — also with the sponsorship of three Democrats — to hold the Saudis accountable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump previously brokered a $110bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

Sen. Menendez had previously argued that Bahrain was a “critical ally” especially as the US Navy bases its Fifth Feel there, and that the missile systems the US provides the tiny GCC country had nothing to do with the military campaign in Yemen.

One of Sen. Paul’s supporters,  Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), argued that “It is long overdue that we end U.S. complicity in Saudi Arabia’s atrocities,” and said, “We must end all U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war in Yemen now.” Paul’s resolution failed 77-21 as it faced a veto threat from the White House and as its opposition argued Bahrain is the wrong target and needed US missile and anti-tank systems to curtail the threat from Iran. 

Menendez said the just announced sanctions against 17 Saudi nationals introduced by the White House were “not enough” in response to Khashoggi’s death to ensure Riyadh properly investigates and ends its criminal behavior. Menendez described his bill as “putting teeth behind these demands with regular oversight, sanctions and suspension of weapons sales and refueling support.”

On Senate floor, @RandPaul decries lack of press coverage on #Yemen: “Your tax dollars are supporting this war,” he said. Senate should debate whether it should aid Saudi Arabia, he says, arguing that “the prerogative to declare war is Congress’s.”

— lesley clark (@lesleyclark) November 15, 2018

And Graham said, “This legislation is an important way to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for various acts in Yemen as well as the death of Jamal Khashoggi.”

However,

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US Senate Calls On Julian Assange To Testify

US Senate Calls On Julian Assange To Testify

08-08-18 03:28:00,

Julian Assange has been asked to testify before the US Senate Intelligence Committee as part of their Russia investigation, according to a letter signed by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA) posted by the official WikiLeaks Twitter account.

The letter, delivered to Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, reads in part “As part of the inquiry, the Committee requests that you make yourself available for a closed interview with bipartisan Committee staff at a mutually agreeable time and location.” 

BREAKING: US Senate Intelligence Committee calls editor @JulianAssange to testify. Letter delivered via US embassy in London. WikiLeaks’ legal team say they are “considering the offer but testimony must conform to a high ethical standard”. Also: https://t.co/pPf0GTjTlp pic.twitter.com/TrDKkCKVBx

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 8, 2018

Wikileaks’ says their legal team is “considering the offer but testimony must conform to a high ethical standard,” after which the whistleblower organization added a tweet linking to a list of 10 Democratic Senators who demanded in late June that Assange’s asylum be revoked in violation of international law: 

Of note: https://t.co/pAFas2fgKn

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 8, 2018

WikiLeaks also tweeted a link to a Human Rights Watch article: “UK Should Reject Extraditing Julian Assange to US,” which reads in part: 

It has been six years since Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, fled to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to seek asylum from possible extradition to the United States to face indictment under the US Espionage Act. 

At the time, Assange, an Australian national, was wanted by Sweden for questioning over sexual offense allegations. Assange had also broken the terms of his UK bail. Since then, he has become even more controversial, having published US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails and internal emails from Democratic Party officials.

While some admire and others despise Assange, no one should be prosecuted under the antiquated Espionage Act for publishing leaked government documents. That 1917 statute was designed to punish people who leaked secrets to a foreign government, not to the media, and allows no defense or mitigation of punishment on the basis that public interest served by some leaks may outweigh any harm to national security.

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Senate Democrats Are Circulating Plans For Government Takeover Of The Internet

Senate Democrats Are Circulating Plans For Government Takeover Of The Internet

08-08-18 10:00:00,

Authored by Elizabeth Nolan Brown via Reason.com,

All your base are belong to us.

A leaked memo circulating among Senate Democrats contains a host of bonkers authoritarian proposals for regulating digital platforms, purportedly as a way to get tough on Russian bots and fake news.

To save American trust in “our institutions, democracy, free press, and markets,” it suggests, we need unprecedented and undemocratic government intervention into online press and markets, including “comprehensive (GDPR-like) data protection legislation” of the sort enacted in the E.U.

Titled “Potential Policy Proposals for Regulation of Social Media and Technology Firms,” the draft policy paper – penned by Sen. Mark Warner and leaked by an unknown source to Axios – the paper starts out by noting that Russians have long spread disinformation, including when “the Soviets tried to spread ‘fake news’ denigrating Martin Luther King” (here he fails to mention that the Americans in charge at the time did the same). But NOW IT’S DIFFERENT, because technology.

“Today’s tools seem almost built for Russian disinformation techniques,” Warner opines. And the ones to come, he assures us, will be even worse.

Here’s how Warner is suggesting we deal:

Mandatory location verification. The paper suggests forcing social media platforms to authenticate and disclose the geographic origin of all user accounts or posts.

Mandatory identity verification: The paper suggests forcing social media and tech platforms to authenticate user identities and only allow “authentic” accounts (“inauthentic accounts not only pose threats to our democratic process…but undermine the integrity of digital markets”), with “failure to appropriately address inauthentic account activity” punishable as “a violation of both SEC disclosure rules and/or Section 5 of the [Federal Trade Commission] Act.”

Bot labeling: Warner’s paper suggests forcing companies to somehow label bots or be penalized (no word from Warner on how this is remotely feasible)

Define popular tech as “essential facilities.” These would be subject to all sorts of heightened rules and controls, says the paper, offering Google Maps as an example of the kinds of apps or platforms that might count.

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The Senate Just Gave the Pentagon an $82 Billion Boost. That’s More Money Than Russia’s Entire Military Budget. | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization

The Senate Just Gave the Pentagon an $82 Billion Boost. That’s More Money Than Russia’s Entire Military Budget. | Global Research – Centre for Research on Globalization

24-06-18 05:52:00,

There are few bipartisan projects in Congress these days, but Republicans and Democrats have no trouble joining together to feed more money into the Pentagon’s gaping maw.

By a vote of 85-10 on Thursday morning, the Senate approved the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—technically known as the “John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act” because you wouldn’t vote against something named after an American hero, right? It serves as the budget for the U.S. military, which this year is receiving $716 billion, an increase of $82 billion from last year. That increase was agreed upon in March as part of an overall two-year budget deal that smashed Obama-era spending caps and boosts military spending by $165 over the next two years.

It’s not just that military spending crosses party lines, but that it smooths over nearly every political division in Washington today. Democrats have shown virtually no interest in Trump’s major policy priorities, but only seven Democrats plus Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Democrats, voted against Trump’s new nukes. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) were the only Republicans to vote against the NDAA. An attempt by Sander, Lee, and some other senators to include an amendment prohibiting the Pentagon from continuing to participate in an unauthorized war in Yemen was defeated.

The spending increase will allow the Pentagon to buy more fighter jets, to create “cyberwarfare units,” and to develop new, smaller nuclear weapons. There is, however, no Space Force. The extra $82 billion will “bring us back to a position of primacy,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said in February.

To put the Pentagon’s $82 billion funding increase in perspective, consider that Russia’s entire military budget totals only $61 billion. China, which boast the next most expensive military in the world after the United States, plans to spend about $175 billion this year.

Maybe the problem isn’t how much funding the military receives, but how the money it already gets is spent. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about that because the Pentagon has still not been subjected to a full scale audit, despite the fact that all federal agencies and departments were ordered to undergo mandatory audits in 1990.

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