Monday, July 24, 2017

The History Channel America's War on Drugs Documentary

theintercept |  That core truth is: The war on drugs has always been a pointless sham. For decades the federal government has engaged in a shifting series of alliances of convenience with some of the world’s largest drug cartels. So while the U.S. incarceration rate has quintupled since President Richard Nixon first declared the war on drugs in 1971, top narcotics dealers have simultaneously enjoyed protection at the highest levels of power in America.

On the one hand, this shouldn’t be surprising. The voluminous documentation of this fact in dozens of books has long been available to anyone with curiosity and a library card.
Yet somehow, despite the fact the U.S. has no formal system of censorship, this monumental scandal has never before been presented in a comprehensive way in the medium where most Americans get their information: TV.

That’s why “America’s War on Drugs” is a genuine milestone. We’ve recently seen how ideas that once seemed absolutely preposterous and taboo — for instance, that the Catholic Church was consciously safeguarding priests who sexually abused children, or that Bill Cosby may not have been the best choice for America’s Dad — can after years of silence finally break through into popular consciousness and exact real consequences. The series could be a watershed in doing the same for the reality behind one of the most cynical and cruel policies in U.S. history.

The series, executive produced by Julian P. Hobbs, Elli Hakami, and Anthony Lappé, is a standard TV documentary; there’s the amalgam of interviews, file footage, and dramatic recreations. What’s not standard is the story told on camera by former Drug Enforcement Administration operatives as well as journalists and drug dealers themselves. (One of the reporters is Ryan Grim, The Intercept’s Washington bureau chief and author of “This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America.”)

There’s no mealy mouthed truckling about what happened. The first episode opens with the voice of Lindsay Moran, a one-time clandestine CIA officer, declaring, “The agency was elbow deep with drug traffickers.”

Then Richard Stratton, a marijuana smuggler turned writer and television producer, explains, “Most Americans would be utterly shocked if they knew the depth of involvement that the Central Intelligence Agency has had in the international drug trade.”

Next, New York University professor Christian Parenti tells viewers, “The CIA is from its very beginning collaborating with mafiosas who are involved in the drug trade because these mafiosas will serve the larger agenda of fighting communism.”

For the next eight hours, the series sprints through history that’s largely the greatest hits of the U.S. government’s partnership with heroin, hallucinogen, and cocaine dealers. That these greatest hits can fill up most of four two-hour episodes demonstrates how extraordinarily deep and ugly the story is.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Gestapo Surveillance Invented in America's Conquest of the Philippines

NPS |  Following the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish American War in December of 1898, the United States took control of the former Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.

Companies from the segregated Black infantry regiments reported to the Presidio of San Francisco on their way to the Philippines in early 1899. In February of that year Filipino nationalists (Insurectos) led by Emilio Aguinaldo resisted the idea of American domination and began attacking U.S. troops, including the 24th and 25th Infantry regiments.

The 9th and 10th Cavalry were sent to the Philippines as reinforcements, bringing all four Black regiments plus African American national guardsmen into the war against the Insurectos.

Within the Black community in the United States there was considerable opposition to intervention in the Philippines. Many Black newspaper articles and leaders supported the idea of Filipino independence and felt that it was wrong for the United States to subjugate non-whites in the development of what was perceived to be the beginnings of a colonial empire. Bishop Henry M. Turner characterized the venture in the Philippines as "an unholy war of conquest." (21)

But many African Americans felt a good military showing by Black troops in the Philippines would reflect favorably and enhance their cause in the United States.

Race, Surveillance, and Empire

isreview |  The following month, Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux published another story for The Intercept, which revealed that under the Obama administration the number of people on the National Counterterrorism Center’s no-fly list had increased tenfold to 47,000. Leaked classified documents showed that the NCC maintains a database of terrorism suspects worldwide—the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment—which contained a million names by 2013, double the number four years earlier, and increasingly includes biometric data. This database includes 20,800 persons within the United States who are disproportionately concentrated in Dearborn, Michigan, with its significant Arab American population.2

By any objective standard, these were major news stories that ought to have attracted as much attention as the earlier revelations. Yet the stories barely registered in the corporate media landscape. The “tech community,” which had earlier expressed outrage at the NSA’s mass digital surveillance, seemed to be indifferent when details emerged of the targeted surveillance of Muslims. The explanation for this reaction is not hard to find. While many object to the US government collecting private data on “ordinary” people, Muslims tend to be seen as reasonable targets of suspicion. A July 2014 poll for the Arab American Institute found that 42 percent of Americans think it is justifiable for law enforcement agencies to profile Arab Americans or American Muslims.3

In what follows, we argue that the debate on national security surveillance that has emerged in the United States since the summer of 2013 is woefully inadequate, due to its failure to place questions of race and empire at the center of its analysis. It is racist ideas that form the basis for the ways national security surveillance is organized and deployed, racist fears that are whipped up to legitimize this surveillance to the American public, and the disproportionately targeted racialized groups that have been most effective in making sense of it and organizing opposition. This is as true today as it has been historically: race and state surveillance are intertwined in the history of US capitalism. Likewise, we argue that the history of national security surveillance in the United States is inseparable from the history of US colonialism and empire. 

The argument is divided into two parts. The first identifies a number of moments in the history of national security surveillance in North America, tracing its imbrication with race, empire, and capital, from the settler-colonial period through to the neoliberal era. Our focus here is on how race as a sociopolitical category is produced and reproduced historically in the United States through systems of surveillance. We show how throughout the history of the United States the systematic collection of information has been interwoven with mechanisms of racial oppression. From Anglo settler-colonialism, the establishment of the plantation system, the post–Civil War reconstruction era, the US conquest of the Philippines, and the emergence of the national security state in the post-World War II era, to neoliberalism in the post-Civil Rights era, racialized surveillance has enabled the consolidation of capital and empire.  

It is, however, important to note that the production of the racial “other” at these various moments is conjunctural and heterogenous. That is, the racialization of Native Americans, for instance, during the settler-colonial period took different forms from the racialization of African Americans. Further, the dominant construction of Blackness under slavery is different from the construction of Blackness in the neoliberal era; these ideological shifts are the product of specific historic conditions. In short, empire and capital, at various moments, determine who will be targeted by state surveillance, in what ways, and for how long.

Racial Surveillance As American As Apple Pie

thehill |  The McDonald killing also reflects a larger injustice that afflicts our society. This injustice manifests itself in a system of behaviors, norms, laws and technologies ostensibly put in place to maintain public order but is most often directed against people Victorian-era authorities called the “dangerous classes” — minorities and the poor, who are treated as a persistent threat to the established social order.

In the U.S., this system of structural surveillance emerges from a history of racism and white supremacy that links the use of deadly force by police against young black men and women to our systems of criminal justice, social programs and public health. Its reach, as well as its near invisibility to those privileged enough to escape its gaze, makes it especially difficult to address in its entirety, and we are often left to deal with its effects in piecemeal, incident by sickening incident.

This complex system of overlapping surveillance regimes did not emerge overnight but through reactions to moments of crisis, eventually becoming permanent aspects of government and society over time. In 18th century New York, for example, the fear of armed insurrection by enslaved people led to a series of ordinances strictly regulating the movement of blacks and Indians within the city. One such class of statutes required all unattended slaves to carry lighted lanterns after dark so that they could be easily identified and monitored by white authorities. Any person of color found in violation of these lantern laws was sentenced to a public flogging of up to 40 lashes, the actual number left to the discretion of the slaveholder.

Fast-forward to the late 20th century, and we continue to see the instantiation of surveillance mechanisms in response to perceived public crises. These laws and practices were enacted seemingly to maintain public order generally, but disproportionately targeted minorities and the poor.

techcrunch |   Then I attended an event called The Color of Surveillance at Georgetown Law and the hair on my arms stood up straight.

I’d missed it completely.

I’d missed the entire reason privacy isn’t just a concern for those who logged into Ashley Madison or researched something more nefarious than the difference between starches. I missed that it should matter to me because there are people for whom it has to matter, by virtue of their socioeconomic or racial status. And while I have the luxury, by virtue of my own socioeconomic status and race, of ignoring reality and letting this not be my problem, that’s not how wrongs are righted.

I finally saw surveillance not as something mildly offensive to my own sense of civil liberties, but as a tool of institutional racism. It suddenly became clear to me — and I’m so embarrassed it didn’t prior — that the people most stripped of their privacy rights in this surveillance age are the people who are already vulnerable.

But the powerful surveilling the powerless, and I’m specifically talking about race here, is nothing new. It existed even in the earliest days of slavery. Surveillance and power have long been closely linked to institutional racism, from slave owners branding their slaves so they couldn’t move freely and privately, to plantation owners building homes tall enough to surveil the entire plantation. Slavery may have been abolished, but now we see racism and oppression in a new power structure in which the powerful hold the data on the less powerful.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Fuggedabout CoIntelpro - I Want To Know About That Ubiquitous Bee Dee or "Black Desk"

slate | The FBI has a lead. A prominent religious leader and community advocate is in contact with a suspected sleeper agent of foreign radicals. The attorney general is briefed and personally approves wiretaps of his home and offices. The man was born in the United States, the son of a popular cleric. Even though he’s an American citizen, he’s placed on a watchlist to be summarily detained in the event of a national emergency. Of all similar suspects, the head of FBI domestic intelligence thinks he’s “the most dangerous,” at least “from the standpoint of … national security.”

Is this a lone wolf in league with foreign sponsors of terrorism? No: This was the life of Martin Luther King Jr. That FBI assessment was dated Aug. 30, 1963—two days after King told our country that he had a dream.

We now find ourselves in a new surveillance debate—and the lessons of the King scandal should weigh heavy on our minds. A few months after the first Edward Snowden revelation, the National Security Agency disclosed that it had itself wiretapped King in the late 1960s. Yet what happened to King is almost entirely absent from our current conversation. In NSA reform debates in the House of Representatives, King was mentioned only a handful of times, usually in passing. And notwithstanding a few brave speeches by senators such as Patrick Leahy and Rand Paul outside of the Senate, the available Senate record suggests that in two years of actual hearings and floor debates, no one ever spoke his name.

There is a myth in this country that in a world where everyone is watched, everyone is watched equally. It’s as if an old and racist J. Edgar Hoover has been replaced by the race-blind magic of computers, mathematicians, and Big Data. The truth is more uncomfortable. Across our history and to this day, people of color have been the disproportionate victims of unjust surveillance; Hoover was no aberration. And while racism has played its ugly part, the justification for this monitoring was the same we hear today: national security.

'Negro Subversion' : The Investigation of Blacks by the United States Government, 1917-1920

ethos |  The United States entered World War I in April, 1917, amid a German spy scare. There were persistent allegations that Blacks were opposed to the war, in spite of their declarations to the contrary. "ProGermanism among the negroes" was investigated by the Justice Department's Bureau of Investigation and the Military Intelligence Branch (MIB) of the War Department's General Staff. 

Efforts were made to discover disloyal motives behind orgnnisatione such as the NAACP and the National Equal Rights League; in the contents of publications such as the Crisis, the Messenger and the Chicago Defender; and in the activities of Black spokesmen such as W E B Du Bois, and Monroe Trotter, Kelly Miller, A Philip Randolph, Chandler Owen, and Hubert Harrison. No firm evidence was found to support claims that Blacks were disloyal, but investigation of what MIB called "Negro Subversion" became a regular part of domestic intelligence gathering during the war. Reports filed about Blacks were often inaccurate and the resulting misinformation was self-perpetuating. Black draft evasion, which was common, but not always deliberate, and rumours about harsh conditions and high casualty rates endured by Black troops were the subject of numerous reports by the Bureau and MIB, enhancing the misleading impression that there was a well-co-ordinated enemy plan to foment racial discord. The behaviour of Black soldiers was monitored by MIB. Particular attention was given to camp race riots and to the political views of Black YMCA staff. 

Joel E Spingarn, the white chairman of the NAACP, served as a military intelligence officer for 21 months in 1918. He attempted to persuade the General Staff to sponsor federal anti-lynching legislation and began to set up a subsection within MIB to identify those instances of racial discrimination which most damaged Black morale. Spingarn was ousted from MIB after his proposal that Du Bois be brought into military intelligence aroused bitter Black criticism. Had he remained in Washington, the subsequent attitude of federal government toward intervention in the field of race relations might have been different. In the final months of the war, MIB was re-organised and re-named the Military Intelligence Division (MID). 

Efforts of Blacks to travel to Paris to raise the question of race during the peace conference were in most cases foiled by the State Department's refusal on spurious grounds to grant them passports. At the same time, the return from France of Black troops with greater political and racial awareness than before the war was anticipated with some concern by military intelligence officers. The menace of the German agent was swiftly replaced in the American mind by the spectre of Bolshevism. In 1919 radical Black protest and organisation began to be attributed to the influence of the new alien threat. Randolph, Owen and Marcus Garvey were among those leaders watched by the federal investigative agencies in attempts to discover evidence of Bolshevik influence among Blacks. Race riots in Washington, UDC, and Chicago in July served to convince many officials, notably J Edgar Hoover, head of the Bureau's Radical Division, that some link must exist between Black protest, racial violence and Bolshevism. MID work on "Negro Subversion" was being scaled down, but the Radical Division maintained its interest in this area in the light of further riots. The climax of the Red Scare was accompanied by statements from the Justice Department that Blacks were part of the radical tide which threatened to sweep America. Blacks did not, in fact, adopt radical politics in significant numbers. However, in the minds of those who ran the investigative agencies of federal government, Blacks were now firmly established as a potentially disloyal and revolutionary element in American society - ever susceptible to, and the likely target of, the advances of subversive propagandists.

fas |   Prior to our declaration of war with Germany this essential general staff agency which is charged with gathering, collating, and disseminating the military information necessary as a basis for correct military decisions existed only in a rudimentary form. In April, 1917, it consisted of a section of the War College Division comprising a total personnel consisting of two officers and two clerks and supplied with only $11,000 by congressional appropriation for the performance of duty vital to the interests of the Army and the Nation. Every other army of importance was provided with a far-reaching military intelligence service directed by a well-equipped general staff agency recognized as a par with agencies charged with military plans, operations, and supplies. As a result of our neglect of this service, the valuable information gathered by the officers whom we had attached to European armies during the first year and a half of the war was never properly used. We were also without accurate data as to the powerful and insidious espionage , propaganda, and sabotage methods with which Germany at once attempted to thwart our military effort.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Dictatorship of Celebrity: Glorification and Promotion of Criminal Behavior

pigeonsandplanes |  Throughout the 80's, 90's and 2000's, I wore many hats as a talent scout, freelance journalist, publisher, promoter and publicist trying to use my influence to promote rap music with substance. I was so committed to using Hip Hop as a form of empowerment that I even created one of the nation's first full time educational Hip Hop program for middle and high school students. Everyday for five years, I taught six periods of Hip Hop culture education to hundreds of students who never imagined that Hip Hop could be offered as a regular class. It was magic! Lives were changed, students were motivated to better themselves and I became an award winning teacher in the process. California's economic crisis put an end to the magic in 2011 when my program lost its funding.

I returned to the entertainment industry as a freelance publicist with the goal of promoting quality Hip Hop. How foolish I was! Between 2011 and 2012, I found myself turning down more potential clients then I was bringing in. The idea of working with aspiring artists who sounded just like Big Sean, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj or 2 Chainz disgusted me. And those few artists who did have something of substance to offer had little to no money or lacked the drive to take their music to the next level. Everyday my inbox would fill up with rappers requesting my services to help promote their songs about ass, weed, guns, cars, strippers, sex and money. As a freelancer striving to establish myself, I should have been thankful for generating so much business and could have watched my bank account grow, regardless of the musical quality. But as a husband, father and all around socially conscious person, I couldn't. As a man, I couldn't.

Behind every mainstream rapper glorifying money, sex and violence, there is a cast of managers, publicists, lawyers, program directors, DJ's, bloggers, journalists, producers and other industry executives working hard to make that artist a household name. Behind every Chief Keef, Tyga and Trinidad James, there are college educated men and women whose job it is to promote music that contributes to the dumbing down of our youth. Behind every music video full of half naked girls, there are casting agents and directors who would never allow their own daughters to portray themselves in such light. Behind every rapper who claims to be a thug, there are countless professionals who send their kids to private schools while promoting music which sends our kids to prison. Behind every mainstream rapper on BET, MTV, Hot 97, Power 106 and any other popular station in your city, there's a Clear Channel, Viacom, Emmis Communications and Radio One made up of powerful decision makers who would never in a million years listen to the kind of music they get rich promoting. And behind every rapper with a criminal record, there's a publicist spinning a story to make crime more marketable.

Dictatorship of Celebrity: Manager, Coach, Director, Psychiatrist, Cheerleader, Manipulator [and] Guide

salon |  More than three decades ago, as I was winding up a major investigation of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and its leader Huey Newton, I received a call from Abbie Hoffman, the antic anti-Vietnam War activist, then a fugitive from criminal charges for selling cocaine to a nark. Abbie and I had been friends and fellow street-fighting buddies on the Lower East Side in numerous demonstrations of the antiwar Yippies. His purpose, he said, was to talk me out of publishing that 1978 investigation in New Times. It would hurt the left and the struggle for black justice, he warned.
My story exposed Newton’s bizarre leadership (for a time he carried a swagger stick à la Idi Amin). Far worse was the extortion racket he presided over that shook down pimps, drug dealers, after-hours clubs and even a theater owner. Non-compliance left one club owner dead and undiscovered for days in the trunk of his car, which was parked at the San Francisco airport. The theater owner, Ed Bercovich, declined the tithe and refused to give jobs to Panther thugs. The theater burned down — it was arson. Murders of rivals were also carried out on orders from above for perceived disloyalty to the Panthers; vicious beatings of lower-rank Panther males were regular punishments, along with turning out Panther women as prostitutes in the Panther-owned bar and restaurant the Lamp Post. The Panthers always needed cash for themselves and their programs. Paranoia was rampant, with internal schisms fanned by the FBI and local red squads of the police but also anchored in the egos and fear of rivals.

Newton had a way of being tough on the streets, the mean streets of Oakland he grew up in, but he managed to conceal it from his respectable friends, black and white. He cultivated liberal politicians such as U.S. Rep. Ron Dellums and state Rep. Tom Bates; a host of celebrities, including Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda and Dennis Hopper; and opinion leaders such as Yale president Kingman Brewster, author Jessica Mitford and conductor Leonard Bernstein, all of whom became supporters of the Panthers.

At first, I was puzzled as to why Abbie would call me from the underground after a long silence — he was a fugitive, after all. Suddenly, in a flash, I knew: “Did Bert put you up to this?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he admitted sheepishly. Bert Schneider, I already knew, had underwritten Abbie’s fugitive existence, just as he had for Huey Newton. I turned Abbie — and Bert — down: The Panther investigation would run.

Was the Ghetto Deliberately Narcotized to Destroy the Black Panthers?

independent |  Melvin Van Peebles says he believes ''people of goodwill can go with him". He also deliberately veered away from focusing on Seale or Newton: "I wanted people to look at the forest, not the tree.

"You have to remember this is based on my novel. But I didn't just make it all up." Yet isn't he on thin ice? If it's a novel, why should his critics not assume that he had indeed made up vast swathes of the story? He replies: "By calling it fiction I hoped I could sidestep questions like 'Oh, and where in the FBI files did you establish this? Where's your corroboration?' ''

Clearly he miscalculated media reaction on this point. But the film's most remarkable claim is that in response to the militancy in America's cities, FBI boss J Edgar Hoover ordered black ghettoes to be flooded with cheap drugs to pacify their inhabitants. That decision, says the film, led to a tenfold increase in addiction.

"The Panthers had a lot of community support," says Van Peebles Snr. "It was their power base. Hoover, knowing he couldn't destroy the Panthers, decided to destroy the community itself. He had the people medicated."

This sounds an outlandishly paranoid alle-gation. Do you really believe this, I asked Melvin Van Peebles? Is there no question at all in your mind? Do you feel no need for corroborating evidence?

"No," he says simply. "It's like the 18 missing minutes in the Nixon tapes. I'm not saying Hoover personally went round and sowed weeds in the garden. I'm saying all you had to do was give the gardener a couple of days off and the weeds would grow. You follow?''

Evidence for the charge is scant. Certainly the FBI was mobilized to harass the Panthers, black FBI informants infiltrated their ranks and Hoover urged his men to neutralize the Panthers. A Hoover memo dated 4 March, 1968, outlines one specific goal: "Prevent the rise of a 'Messiah' who could unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement."

"Right," says Mario Van Peebles, as if this proved all the film's claims. "And who do we have 25 years after Martin Luther King and Malcolm X? A bunch of rappers."

Yet this is poor proof that the FBI systematically narcotised entire communities. The Van Peebles' case appears to rest on a 1974 conversation, reported to them, between Newton and Elaine Brown, who by this time was leader of the Panthers. She complained to Newton that drugs were rampant.

"There were white guys driving into Oakland in Rolls-Royces, and not dealing with the old gangster drug dealers, but going straight to the kids," said Mario. "What Elaine didn't know at the time was that this was happening nationally. It's not a new concept. You're British, right? Your people did the same thing in the Boxer rebellion. Gave the people opium."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Jay Richard Kennedy and The Dictatorship of Celebrity

politicswestchesterreview |  In her book, A Taste of Power (page 167 on) Brown admits she was TRAINED and PAID and sent into the Party by Jay Richard Kennedy, the informant in Dr. King’s inner circle for the CIA Security Research Section (birth name: Richard Solomonick).

Jay Richard Kennedy was a former Bureau of Narcotics, OSS man who was also the manager for Harry Belafonte, until Belafonte FIRED him in the 1950s. 

JRK was a partner in the Mafia-owned Sands Hotel in Vegas, which is where Elaine Brown met him while working as a hooker in ’63 (her own admission, see her book).

JRK was the owner of a factory in Quebec that produced proximity fuses for the US military during the VietNam war, and (like the UK’s Ian Fleming) the author of numerous spy books from ‘the inside’ of the agency, such as “Man Called X” and his bestselling his book / movie ‘The Chairman’.

JRK was the one who postulated to SRS that Dr. King was a tool of Mao and laid the groundwork for the premise that allowed his assassination.

His ‘confession’ can be found in the British documentary ‘The Men who killed Martin Luther King’.
More information can be found in David Garrow’s book ‘The FBI and Martin Luther King’.

WaPo |  While the FBI leadership’s animus toward MLK fixated on his reported sexual appetites, the CIA entertained and memorialized accounts that described the crucial secret conflict within the civil rights movement as one between Soviet-controlled agents and Communist China’s sympathizers. Top CIA officials relied upon an informant who explained in meeting after meeting how a battle for subversive control over King was being waged between New York lawyer Stanley Levison and activist/entertainer Harry Belafonte. In the CIA’s version of civil rights history, Levison, a onetime Communist Party financial functionary, was actively representing Moscow as he advised King, whereas Belafonte supposedly favored Beijing.

The CIA’s source on King turned out to be novelist and television host Jay Richard Kennedy, who had long-standing friendships with civil rights leaders A. Philip Randolph and James Farmer, and who moderated a nationwide August 1963 telecast featuring the leaders of the March on Washington. But Kennedy (born Samuel Richard Solomonick) and Levison, his longtime business partner, had fallen out years earlier. Indeed, by the 1950s, Levison’s first wife, psychotherapist Janet Alterman, was married to Kennedy, who by then was Belafonte’s business manager. Kennedy and Belafonte then had a falling out of their own, and Kennedy subsequently published a roman à clef about Belafonte, “Favor the Runner.”

The Kennedy-Levison-Belafonte story may sound better than fiction but, more importantly, it is a case study in the ways anonymous intelligence sources may have multiple agendas when they tattle on, and smear, people for whom they have preexisting antipathy. Kennedy was not an opposition research contractor like Steele, but when — as in the Steele case, and in the case of the FBI’s most important informant close to King, accountant James A. Harrison — a source is compensated for the information they provide, their incentive to spin a narrative that the payer wants to hear is that much greater.

Predations From Within The American Negroe Socio-Economic Class Structure

Counterpunch |  Eric Holder, the nation’s first black Attorney General made his mark as Washington’s first black chief prosecutor by advancing mass pretext policing (mass frisks, stops, and arrests on minor or made-up and discretionary police grounds) in Black neighborhoods. The nation’s first black president Barack Obama severely constricted his very tepid and belated steps toward criminal justice reform by ruling out any concern for those arrested and sentenced for technically violent offenses. That’s a big problem since more than half the nation’s 1 million Black prisoners are behind bars on technically violent charges.

Locking Up Our Own is a compelling and indispensable volume for those who want to get the whole story on the rise of the “the New Jim Crow” – a story that must include serious attention to class and other fractures within Black America. But it is not without problems. Oddly enough given Forman’s desire to provide a somewhat sympathetic explanation for the Black “leadership” class’s participation in the “new Jim Crow,” he fails to note how persistent harsh racial residential segregation – what sociologists Doug Massey and Nancy Denton have rightly called “American Apartheid” – has fed Black support for aggressive policing and harsh sentencing. The Black middle and professional class lives in much greater immediate proximity than its white counterpart to the deeply impoverished and crime-prone Black “underclass”

Forman might have reflected more ambitiously and radically on the question of what happened to the struggle for Black equality and social justice more broadly in the long capitalist neoliberal era, marked at home and abroad by the triumph of the right over the left hand of the state. Many on the Black Left will find Forman too mild and forgiving in his discussion of the role played by Black bourgeois elites in the rise of racially disparate mass incarceration. They will do so with good reason.

A good counter-text here is Elaine Brown’s 2002 volume The Condemnation of Little B. In this forgotten classic and Black radical text, Brown – a former chairman of the Black Panther Party – tried to understand how the entire city of Atlanta, including its prominent Black citizens, came to unjustly condemn a poor 13-year-old Black boy, Michael Lewis, for the 1997 murder of a white man visiting a well-known drug haven in that city’s Black ghetto. Brown showed how Lewis’s conviction was “effectively predestined, attributable to the comfortable ‘New Age racism’ of white liberals and middle-class blacks who have abandoned the cause of civil rights and equal opportunity.”

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III Coming to Take Your Isht!

theatlantic |  “President Trump has directed this Department of Justice to reduce crime in this country, and we will use every lawful tool that we have to do that,” he said at a gathering of law-enforcement officials on Wednesday. “We will continue to encourage civil-asset forfeiture whenever appropriate in order to hit organized crime in the wallet.”

The directive revives the Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing Program, a controversial process through which state and local police agencies can seize assets, then transfer those seizures to federal control. In doing so, local agencies can skirt some state-level regulations limiting forfeitures. Under the program, the federal government pools the funds derived from the assets and sends 80 percent of them back to the state or local department itself, sometimes evading state laws that say seized assets should go into a state’s general fund.

Civil forfeiture has existed in some form since the colonial era, although most of the current laws date to the War on Drugs’ heyday in the 1980s. Law-enforcement officials like Sessions defend modern civil forfeiture as a way to limit the resources of drug cartels and organized-crime groups. It’s also a lucrative tactic for law-enforcement agencies in an era of tight budgets: A Justice Department inspector general’s report in April found that federal forfeiture programs had taken in almost $28 billion over the past decade, and The Washington Post reported that civil-forfeiture seizures nationwide in 2015 surpassed the collective losses from all burglaries that same year.

In its report, the inspector general’s office also raised concerns about how federal agencies take funds, after it found almost half of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s seizures in a random sample weren’t tied to any broader law-enforcement purpose. “When seizure and administrative forfeitures do not ultimately advance an investigation or prosecution, law enforcement creates the appearance, and risks the reality, that it is more interested in seizing and forfeiting cash than advancing an investigation or prosecution,” the report concluded.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What Is To Be Done About Predators? Don't Heroes Kill Monsters?

wikipedia |  Slim attended Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama (it has been stated that he attended Tuskegee University at the same time as black author Ralph Ellison[4]), but having spent time in the "street culture", he soon began bootlegging and was expelled as a result. After his expulsion, his mother encouraged him to become a criminal lawyer so that he could make a legitimate living while continuing to work with the street people he was so fond of, but Maupin, seeing the pimps bringing women into his mother's beauty salon, was far more attracted to the model of money and control over women that pimping provided.[4]

According to his memoir, Pimp, Slim started pimping at 18 and continued that pursuit until age 42. The book claimed that during his career, he had over 400 women, both black and white, working for him. He said he was known for his frosty temperament, and at 6'2" and 180 lbs, he was indeed slim, and he had a reputation for staying calm in sticky situations, thus earning the street name Iceberg Slim. When verbal instruction and psychological manipulation failed to keep his women in line, he beat them with wire hangers; in his autobiography he fully concedes he was a ruthless, vicious man.[5]

Slim had been involved with several other popular pimps, one of them Albert "Baby" Bell,[6] a man born in 1899 who had been pimping for decades and had a Duesenberg and a bejeweled pet ocelot.[6] Another pimp, who had gotten Slim hooked on heroin, went by the name of "Satin"[6] and was a major drug figure in Eastern America.[5]

Slim was noted for being able to effectively conceal his emotions throughout his pimping career, something he said he learned from Baby Bell: "A pimp has gotta know his whores, but not let them know him; he's gotta be god all the way."[5]

wikipedia |  Robert Sylvester Kelly was born on January 8, 1967 at Chicago Lying-in Hospital in Hyde Park, Chicago.[18] Kelly is the third of four children.[8] Kelly's single mother, Joanne, was a singer. She raised her children Baptist. Kelly's father was absent throughout his son's life.[19] Kelly's family lived in the Ida B. Wells Homes public housing project in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood.[20] Kelly's high school music teacher Lena McLin described Kelly's childhood home: "It was bare. One table, two chairs. There was no father there, I knew that, and they had very little".[21] Kelly began singing in the church choir at age eight.[8]

Kelly grew up in a house full of women, whom he said would act differently when his mother and grandparents were not home. At a young age Kelly was often sexually abused by a woman who was at least ten years older than himself. "I was too afraid and too ashamed," Kelly wrote in his autobiography about why he never told anyone. At age 11, he was shot in the shoulder while riding his bike home; the bullet is reportedly still lodged in his shoulder.[22]

Kelly was eight years old when he had his first girlfriend. They would hold hands and eat make-believe meals inside their playhouse built from cardboard, where they "vowed to be boyfriend and girlfriend forever." Their last play date turned tragic when, after fighting with some older children over a play area by a creek, Lulu was pushed into the water. A fast-moving current swept her away while she screamed Kelly's name. Shortly after, she was found dead downstream. Kelly calls Lulu his very first musical inspiration.[22]

Desires of 99% Now Politically/Legally Equal to Statistical Random Noise

alternet |  Historically, indentured servants had their food, health care, housing, and clothing provided to them by their “employers.” Today’s new serfs can hardly afford these basics of life, and when you add in modern necessities like transportation, education and child-care, the American labor landscape is looking more and more like old-fashioned servitude.

Nonetheless, conservatives/corporatists in Congress and state-houses across the nation are working hard to hold down minimum wages. Missouri’s Republican legislature just made it illegal for St. Louis to raise their minimum wage to $10/hour, throwing workers back down to $7.70. More preemption laws like this are on the books or on their way.

At the same time, these conservatives/corporatists are working to roll back health care protections for Americans, roll back environmental protections that keep us and our children from being poisoned, and even roll back simple workplace, food and toy safety standards.

The only way these predators will be stopped is by massive political action leading to the rollback of Reaganism/neoliberalism.

And the conservatives/corporatists who largely own the Republican Party know it, which is why they’re purging voting lists, fighting to keep in place easily hacked voting machines, and throwing billions of dollars into think tanks, right-wing radio, TV, and online media.

If they succeed, America will revert to a very old form of economy and politics: the one described so well in Charles Dickens’ books when Britain had "maximum wage laws" and “Poor Laws” to prevent a strong and politically active middle class from emerging.

Conservatives/corporatists know well that this type of neo-feudalism is actually a very stable political and economic system, and one that’s hard to challenge. China has put it into place in large part, and other countries from Turkey to the Philippines to Brazil and Venezuela are falling under the thrall of the merger of corporate and state power.

So many of our individual rights have been stripped from us, so much of America’s middle-class progress in the last century has been torn from us, while conservatives wage a brutal and oppressive war on dissenters and people of color under the rubrics of “security,” “tough on crime,” and the "war on drugs.”

As a result, America has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, more than any other nation on earth, all while opiate epidemics are ravaging our nation. And what to do about it?

Justice Court Is Off-Limits to the 99%

CounterPunch |  The big thing I learned was that poor people have zero access to justice.

Nor do the middle class.

After the June 21st debacle, a semi-retired lawyer friend advised me to file a Motion for Reconsideration, a request to the judge to take another look and perhaps realize that he made some mistakes. The law gives you 10 days to file.

My Motion for Reconsideration was one of numerous motions I would have to draft and file myself while pro se. It was incredibly expensive, wildly burdensome and so daunting I bet 99% of people without a lawyer would throw up their hands and give up.

I’m the 1%.

I’m a writer. I went to an Ivy League school; I was a history major so I’m good at research. I used to work at a bank, where I worked on legal documents so I’m familiar with legalese. So I researched what works and doesn’t work in a Motion for Reconsideration. I crafted an argument. I deployed the proper tone using the right words and phrases.

Most people, not having the necessary skills or educational attainment, wouldn’t stand a prayer of writing a legal brief like this motion. Mine may fail — but the judge might read it and take it seriously because it’s written correctly.

I called the court clerk to ask how to file my motion. She was incredibly curt and mean. I’m a New Yorker so I persisted, but I could imagine other callers being put off and forgetting the whole thing.
Schedule a date for your hearing on the court’s website, the clerk told me. Good luck! The site had an outdated interface, was loaded with arcane bureaucratic jargon and a design that’s byzantine and hard to navigate. If English is your second language, forget it.

Eventually I found the place to reserve a hearing date — where I learned about the $540 filing fee.

Payable only by credit card.

No debit cards.

No Amex.

Protracted litigation against a well-funded adversary like the Times/Tronc could easily require dozens of $540 filing fees. The poor need not apply. Most Americans don’t have that kind of money. And what about people who scrape up the dough but don’t have plastic?

$10 would be too much. $540 is frigging obscene.

I paid the fee, printed out the receipt as required, stapled it to the back of my multiple required copies of the motion and went to the Stanley Mosk Courthouse to file it. As I waited in Room 102 to have my motions stamped by a clerk, I studied the many working-class people waiting in the same line.

Here too, there is no consideration for the people. The clerk’s office is open Monday to Friday 8:30 to 4:30. Most people work during those hours. Gotta file something? You have to take time off. 

Parking? Expensive and far away.

I have a dream.

I dream of a court system dedicated to equal justice before the law — where anyone can file a motion, where there are no filing fees, where the courthouse is open on weekends, where you can file motions by uploading them online and there’s free parking for citizens conducting business in the people’s house.

But Tronc wouldn’t like that system.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Feeling Torches and Pitchforks for Dr. Carmen Puliafito and R.Kelly About Now...,

LATimes |  In USC’s lecture halls, labs and executive offices, Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito was a towering figure. The dean of the Keck School of Medicine was a renowned eye surgeon whose skill in the operating room was matched by a gift for attracting money and talent to the university.
There was another side to the Harvard-educated physician.
During his tenure as dean, Puliafito kept company with a circle of criminals and drug users who said he used methamphetamine and other drugs with them, a Los Angeles Times investigation found.
Puliafito, 66, and these much younger acquaintances captured their exploits in photos and videos. The Times reviewed dozens of the images.
Shot in 2015 and 2016, they show Puliafito and the others partying in hotel rooms, cars, apartments and the dean’s office at USC.
In one video, a tuxedo-clad Puliafito displays an orange pill on his tongue and says into the camera, “Thought I’d take an ecstasy before the ball.” Then he swallows the pill.
In another, Puliafito uses a butane torch to heat a large glass pipe outfitted for methamphetamine use. He inhales and then unleashes a thick plume of white smoke. Seated next to him on a sofa, a young woman smokes heroin from a piece of heated foil.
As dean, Puliafito oversaw hundreds of medical students, thousands of professors and clinicians, and research grants totaling more than $200 million. He was a key fundraiser for USC, bringing in more than $1 billion in donations, by his estimation.

What Happened To The 80's Crack Babies?

theatlantic |  Epidemics are hard to cover. Navigating the gaps between the private, personal, and societal and managing to be relatable while also true to science is a tough part of health reporting, generally. Doing those things in the middle of public panic—and its attendant misinformation—requires deftness. And performing them while also minding the social issues that accompany every epidemic means reporters have to dig deep, both into multiple disciplines and into ethics. With multiple competing narratives, politics, and the sheer scale of disease, it’s often easy to forget the individuals who suffer.

That’s why I was struck by a recent article in the New York Times by Catherine Saint Louis that chronicles approaches for caring for newborns born to mothers who are addicted to opioids. The article is remarkable in its command and explanation of the medical and policy issues at play in the ongoing epidemic, but its success derives from something more than that. Saint Louis expertly captures the human stories at the intersection of the wonder of childbirth and the grip of drug dependency in a Kentucky hospital, all while keeping the epidemic in view.

One particular passage stands out:

Jay’la Cy’anne was born with a head of raven hair and a dependence on buprenorphine. Ms. Clay took the drug under the supervision of Dr. Barton to help reduce her oxycodone cravings and keep her off illicit drugs.
“Dr. Barton saved my life, and he saved my baby’s life,” Ms. Clay said. She also used cocaine on occasion in the first trimester, she said, but quit with his encouragement.
For months, Ms. Clay had stayed sober, expecting that she’d be allowed to take her baby home. Standing in the hospital corridor, her dark hair up in a loose ponytail, she said, “I’m torn up in my heart.”
Generally, treatment for drug-dependent babies is expensive and can go on for months. Nationally, hospitalization costs rose to $1.5 billion in 2012, from $732 million in 2009, according to researchers at Vanderbilt University.
In the space of a few paragraphs, the story introduces a mother and child and the drug dependency with which they both struggle, and also expands its scope outwards to note the nature of the epidemic in which they are snared. It doesn’t ignore the personal choices involved in drug abuse, but—as is typical for reporting on other health problems—it considers those choices among a constellation of etiologies. In a word, the article is humanizing, and as any public health official will attest, humanization and the empathy it allows are critical in combating any epidemic.

The article is an exemplar in a field of public-health-oriented writing about the opioid crisis—the most deadly and pervasive drug epidemic in American history—that has shaped popular and policy attitudes about the crisis. But the wisdom of that field has not been applied equally in recent history. The story of Jamie Clay and Jay’la Cy’anne stood out to me because it is so incongruous with the stories of “crack babies” and their mothers that I’d grown up reading and watching.

What Exactly Is The Plan Again For Dealing With This Opioid Epidemic?

nbcboston |  "We started seeing it last year here and there. But now, it's just raining needles everywhere we go," said Morrison, a burly, tattooed construction worker whose Clean River Project has six boats working parts of the 117-mile (188-kilometer) river.

Among the oldest tracking programs is in Santa Cruz, California, where the community group Take Back Santa Cruz has reported finding more than 14,500 needles in the county over the past 4 1/2 years. It says it has gotten reports of 12 people getting stuck, half of them children.

"It's become pretty commonplace to find them. We call it a rite of passage for a child to find their first needle," said Gabrielle Korte, a member of the group's needle team. "It's very depressing. It's infuriating. It's just gross."

Some experts say the problem will ease only when more users get treatment and more funding is directed to treatment programs.

Others are counting on needle exchange programs, now present in more than 30 states, or the creation of safe spaces to shoot up — already introduced in Canada and proposed by U.S. state and city officials from New York to Seattle.

Studies have found that needle exchange programs can reduce pollution, said Don Des Jarlais, a researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai hospital in New York.

But Morrison and Korte complain poor supervision at needle exchanges will simply put more syringes in the hands of people who may not dispose of them properly.

After complaints of discarded needles, Santa Cruz County took over its exchange from a nonprofit in 2013 and implemented changes. It did away with mobile exchanges and stopped allowing drug users to get needles without turning in an equal number of used ones, said Jason Hoppin, a spokesman for the Santa Cruz County.

Monday, July 17, 2017

RussiaGate Is Really HillaryGate

Forbes |  According to an insider account, the Clinton team, put together the Russia Gate narrative within 24 hours of her defeat. The Clinton account explained that Russian hacking and election meddling caused her unexpected loss. Her opponent, Donald Trump, was a puppet of Putin. Trump, they said, “encourages espionage against our people.” The scurrilous Trump dossier, prepared by a London opposition research firm, Orbis, and paid for by unidentified Democrat donors, formed a key part of the Clinton narrative: Trump’s sexual and business escapades in Russia had made him a hostage of the Kremlin, ready to do its bidding. That was Hillary's way to say that Trump is really not President of the United States—a siren call adopted by the Democratic party and media.

Hillary and the Orbis Dossier
The most under covered story of Russia Gate is the interconnection between the Clinton campaign, an unregistered foreign agent of Russia headquartered in DC (Fusion GPS), and the Christopher Steele Orbis dossier. This connection has raised the question of whether Kremlin prepared the dossier as part of a disinformation campaign to sow chaos in the US political system. If ordered and paid for by Hillary Clinton associates, Russia Gate is turned on its head as collusion between Clinton operatives (not Trump’s) and Russian intelligence. Russia Gate becomes Hillary Gate.

Neither the New York Times, Washington Post, nor CNN has covered this explosive story. Two op-eds have appeared in the Wall Street Journal  (Holman Jenkins and David Satter). The possible Russian-intelligence origins of the Steele dossier have been raised only in conservative publications, such as in The Federalist and National Review.

The Fusion story has been known since Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a heavily-footnoted letter to the Justice Department on March 31, 2017 demanding for his Judiciary Committee all relevant documents on Fusion GPS, the company that managed the Steele dossier against then-candidate Donald Trump. Grassley writes to justify his demand for documents that: “The issue is of particular concern to the Committee given that when Fusion GPS reportedly was acting as an unregistered agent of Russian interests, it appears to have been simultaneously overseeing the creation of the unsubstantiated dossier of allegations of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians.” (Emphasis added.)

Former FBI director, James Comey, refused to answer questions about Fusion and the Steele dossier in his May 3 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Comey responded to Lindsey Graham’s questions about Fusion GPS’s involvement “in preparing a dossier against Donald Trump that would be interfering in our election by the Russians?” with “I don’t want to say.” Perhaps he will be called on to answer in a forum where he cannot refuse to answer.

Clinton Foundation: Criminals, Thieves, Liars, A Disgrace

WND  |  Eberwein was due to appear next Tuesday before the Haitian Senate Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission where he was widely expected to testify that the Clinton Foundation misappropriated Haiti earthquake donations from international donors.

He had served as director general of the Haitian government’s economic development agency, Fonds d’assistance économique et social, for three years.

According to Eberwein, a paltry 0.6 percent of donations granted by international donors to the Clinton Foundation with the express purpose of directly assisting Haitians actually ended up in the hands of Haitian organizations. A further 9.6 percent ended up with the Haitian government. The remaining 89.8 percent – or $5.4 billion – was funneled to non-Haitian organizations.

“The Clinton Foundation, they are criminals, they are thieves, they are liars, they are a disgrace,” Eberwein said at a protest outside the Clinton Foundation headquarters in Manhattan last year.

According to the Haiti Libre newspaper, Eberwein was said to be in “good spirits,” with plans for the future. His close friends and business partners are shocked by the idea he may have committed suicide.

“It’s really shocking,” said friend Gilbert Bailly. “We grew up together; he was like family.”
The Haitian government issued an official notice thanking Eberwein for his service and mourning his untimely death.