Who is Austin
bombing terrorist suspect Mark Anthony Conditt?
*Fixed it for you, USA Today…
Who is Austin
bombing terrorist suspect Mark Anthony Conditt?
*Fixed it for you, USA Today…
Filmmaker and adamant progressive Michael Moore is blasting the “corporate media” for focusing on scandalous and sensational stories such as the Russia investigation and President Donald Trump’s legal battle with adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
The remarks came during a live town hall event about economic inequality that was organized by 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The event, which was live-streamed on Monday night, was viewed by more than 1.7 million viewers, according to the Huffington Post.
“You turn on the TV, and it’s ‘Russia, Russia, Russia!'” Moore said. Sanders chimed in, “And don’t forget Stormy Daniels!”
“These are all shiny keys to distract us,” Moore continued. “We should know about the West Virginia strike. What an inspiration that would be. But they don’t show this, Bernie, because, what would happen if they did?”
This sentiment from progressives has often been interpreted as a lack of care or concern for all things Russia-related. But they made it clear on Monday that wasn’t the case, and perhaps, offered a more sober perspective that looks further than just Trump.
“What I would say to our friends in the corporate media: Start paying attention to the reality of how many people in our country are struggling economically every single day, and talk about it,” Sanders advised. “In recent years, we have seen incredible growth in the number of billionaires, while 40 million Americans continue to live in poverty and we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on earth.”
Sanders continued: “We have to fight Trump every day. But we have to not lose our vision as to where we want to go as a country. We can talk about the disastrous role Russia has played in trying to undermine American democracy. That is enormously important. But we also have to talk about the fact that we have the highest rate of child poverty in any major economy of the world.”
The two also made it clear whom the culprit for such a vast wealth gap may be. The nation’s three wealthiest men, Jeff Bezos Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were “singled out as contributing to the widening wealth gap,” The Guardian noted. Also named was the influential lobbyist group the American Legislative Exchange Council, and longtime major GOP donors Charles and David Koch, known as the Koch brothers.
Moore also warned of merely focusing on issues related to Trump, and not on factors that contributed to his electoral victory that look further than just the 2016 election.
“With that in mind, I want to make this clear,” Moore explained. “If we just get rid of Trump, and return to what it was like the day before Trump, how were things then? With healthcare? With poverty? We have to move forward. And we have to provide the leadership and vision to make that happen.”
Moore expressed the need to reach out to non-voters, and those who have chosen apathy in the past. “The biggest party is the non-voters’ party,” he said. “They aren’t going to vote, unless you give them a reason to vote.”
He continued, “It’s so important that we hold the people who say they’re for the people ― hold their feet to the fire! And if they’re not going to do the job they say they’re going to do, let’s get somebody else.”
The event was made available online via media outlets such as NowThis, The Young Turks and Act.tv., The Guardian noted. The British daily newspaper also acted as “media partner” for the event. Moore and Sanders were joined by other prominent progressives Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as well as economist Darrick Hamilton.
The dark art of dynamic psychometric manipulation in politics was not pioneered by Cambridge Analytica for Donald Trump, but by organizations such as i360 Themis, founded by the Koch brothers, and Data Trust, Karl Rove’s data mining operation.
‘In the battle for public opinion, there seems to be a split decision when it comes to Russia, and more predominantly, Vladimir Putin.
Some feel he’s the last bastion of hope against the imperialist war machine of America, and others feel he’s the reincarnation of Joseph Stalin, hell bent of destroying us all. Personally, I think he looks quite good on the back of a horse.
But one thing both sides can agree on, is that Mr Putin is nobody’s fool. In fact, most consider him either a genius, or an evil genius. Either way, a genius of sorts.
I find the word genius is banded around far too often. We have footballers that are considered a genius because they kicked the ball in the goal. That’s kind of the idea of the game, isn’t it?
Some celebrity Chef is a genius, because they decided to whack a Yorkshire pudding on the same plate as a slice of Vienetta ice cream. You see where I’m going with this.
It’s hard to disagree with that estimation when it comes to Vlad, though.
Between them, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton spent 81 million dollars on election day Facebook adverts. Yet Putin managed to sway the entire election in Donald Trump’s favour, using only 46 thousand dollars. He managed to get Donald Trump…DONALD TRUMP elected off a few thousand dollars, against the might of Hillary’s millions? I’d say that’s pretty genius. I mean, there isn’t any evidence linking him, or the Russian government to those Facebook ads, but a journalist said he sanctioned it, and who are we to take away his triumph?
And don’t forget Brexit. The United Kingdom voted to leave the EU because of Vladimir Putin.
You didn’t realize that? Well, apparently despite all the major political parties aligning to support the remain campaign, and all the major media outlets siding with remain, us Brits were persuaded to vote leave, by the topless Russian.
The BBC were rightly vilified for their blatant disregard of balance. However, despite all that, ‘you know who’ managed to get the British people to vote leave. I don’t know how he did it, and neither it appears, do any of the journalists and MPs (all remain supporters) that say he did. Still, pretty genius in my book.
Then we come to ISIS. The United States and her partners in the UK and Europe (see what I did there?) had tried and tried and tried their very ‘bestest’ to destroy ISIS for years. Yet for some reason, ISIS kept getting stronger and stronger, kept getting US weaponry, and kept advancing towards overthrowing a regime, that the USA and Israel also happened to want over thrown. All of a sudden, along comes Vlad the jihad impaler, and ISIS is all but destroyed. Goodness knows what he did differently? Maybe he was actually trying?
Russia has been responsible for people’s negative opinions on fracking. Presumably to keep their own gas supply in demand? They’re responsible for the NRA’s unwavering support from the White House. Even in light of the recent school shootings, Russia is keeping the President firmly in the NRA’s pocket. Again, no one knows how, but then I suppose that’s what truly makes a genius. Their ability to keep their actions so clandestine, that no one can provide a single bit of credible evidence for any of it.
So there I was, sat in my Russian hockey shirt (with Tarasenko 91 on the back), sipping my Smirnoff and lime, when I saw the name Sergei Skripal was trending. Another genius has lost their mojo, I thought. That’s the trouble with genius you see. It comes and goes. It happened to Mark Bolan.
So after all the unbelievable (literally) achievements I have previously mentioned, he goes and throws it all away. Just two weeks before the Russian elections, Putin decided to send over some KGB agents to a sleepy town in the UK.
Their mission was to poison a former spy, who has been living freely for the last 8 years, having been released and pardoned by the Russian government, in broad daylight.
Why pardon him if you’re going to kill him? Why not kill him at his home where there are no witnesses? Why not kill him any time in the last 8 years? But thats the problem when you lose your mojo, you don’t think.
As the story continued to break, my vodka turning rather sickly, I thought that at least they had done it near Porton Down. It’s only 7 miles from where Skripal was poisoned and contains the UK’s infamous stockpiles of chemical weapons and nerve agents.
The Russians will have used UK manufactured nerve agents, and thus cleared themselves of any wrongdoing. That’s clever. Well done… hang on… They used Russian made poison? They BROUGHT IT WITH THEM?!
This is worse than I thought. At least Mark Bolan still managed to keep his tunes catchy, even if they weren’t a patch on his earlier stuff.
So here we are, on the verge of a full blown conflict between nuclear arsenals.
‘Surely you don’t mean the UK when you say nuclear arsenal?!’ I hear you cry.
No, but you’re forgetting that NATO has an “attack one, and you attack all” policy. So by attacking the UK, as Putin and his merry men have been accused, they have pushed Russia into conflict with NATO, and of course, the United States.
There is no evidence that Putin did this, of course. Apart from the fact that the nerve agent was Russian in origin. Not that we actually know that, because at the time of writing, the UK Government has refused to hand over any evidence to the Russian Government. And even if it were Russian in origin, it doesn’t mean it was used by Russians themselves, as Ex-MI5 agent Annie Machon rightly pointed out.
“(Chemical) agents can be developed and used by governments all over the world,” she said. “If this Novichok agent was developed in Russia, it doesn’t mean it’s stayed in Russia – [any more than] any of the other agents developed by Germany, the USA, or the UK have stayed in their own countries.”
“The fact that the… UK facility for identifying those agents (Porton Down. 7 miles away from the poisoning) was able to identify this very quickly would indicate that they know exactly what this nerve agent is, which means that they have the chemical formula for it too. So, who knows where it came from?”
You see, MPs use terms like “It was highly likely it was Russia”. It plants enough seed in the doubt of the public, which will make them less objectionable to their warmongering, but is just vague enough to clear them from blame should it all go pear shaped.
After all, they don’t want another WMD in Iraq fiasco. They’ve only just managed to sweep that under the carpet. Whats a few hundred thousand civilian deaths among friends?
I do hope old Vladimir gets his mojo back, and manages to turn this whole mess around. For while politicians beat the drums of war, it isn’t them that will be dying on that battle field. It’s us, and our loved ones. And what will it say on our headstones?
We died for what?
The latest podcast episode with host Jeremy Scahill features guests Immortal Technique and professor/historian Alfred McCoy…
Have Progressives lost their tiny minds? We protested in Seattle against a tariff-free world in which workers in every nation are pitted in a contest to see who will work for lowest wages. The majority of Democratic senators voted against NAFTA.
In 2016, the Democrats lost Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin by theft for sure, but it would not have been close enough to steal except that Obama was pushing the TPP and Hillary free trade.
The idea of free trade with a slave state like China is a terrible joke played on America’s working class.
Do we hate Trump so much that we are obliged to attack when he does the right thing for the American worker?
Obama slapped heavy tariffs on Chinese auto parts before the 2012 election, and didn’t start a trade war. But he did win Ohio.
Will tariffs raise the price of steel? Yes, it is the price of keeping Pennsylvania alive. Pollution controls also raise the price of steel — but it is the price of keeping our planet alive.
Sometimes, principles must trump politics. (Pun intended.)
President Donald Trump bemoaned a decision not to investigate Hillary Clinton after the 2016 presidential election, decrying a “rigged system” that still doesn’t have the “right people” in place to fix it, during a freewheeling speech to Republican donors in Florida on Saturday.
In the closed-door remarks, a recording of which was obtained by CNN, Trump also praised China’s President Xi Jinping for recently consolidating power and extending his potential tenure, musing he wouldn’t mind making such a maneuver himself.
“He’s now president for life. President for life. And he’s great,” Trump said. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot some day.”
The remarks, delivered inside the ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago estate during a lunch and fundraiser, were upbeat, lengthy, and peppered with jokes and laughter. But Trump’s words reflected his deeply felt resentment that his actions during the 2016 campaign remain under scrutiny while those of his former rival, Hillary Clinton, do not.
“I’m telling you, it’s a rigged system folks,” Trump said. “I’ve been saying that for a long time. It’s a rigged system. And we don’t have the right people in there yet. We have a lot of great people, but certain things, we don’t have the right people.”
Trump has repeatedly said that his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, should launch investigations into Clinton, and has continued to lambast Sessions on Twitter for not taking what he views as appropriate steps to probe Clinton’s actions involving her private email server.
The stewing anger with Sessions has soured Trump’s mood over the past week, including on Wednesday evening, when he fumed inside the White House over his attorney general’s decision to release a statement defending himself after Trump chastised his approach to an investigation into alleged surveillance abuses as “DISGRACEFUL” on Twitter.
The episode was just one irritant in a long series of upsetting moments for Trump this week. Morale at the White House has dropped to new lows, and Trump himself has seethed at the negative headlines.
On Saturday, among donors gathered in the grand ballroom named for himself at Mar-a-Lago, Trump pondered the happiness of his former rival, wondering aloud whether she was enjoying life after the campaign.
“Is Hillary a happy person? Do you think she’s happy?” he said. “When she goes home at night, does she say, ‘What a great life?’ I don’t think so. You never know. I hope she’s happy.”
Elsewhere in his remarks, Trump went after former President George W. Bush for his decision to invade Iraq after faulty intelligence indicated the country had weapons of mass destruction.
“Here we are, like the dummies of the world, because we had bad politicians running our country for a long time,” he said.
Trump called the Iraq invasion “the single worst decision ever made” and said it amounted to “throwing a big fat brick into a hornet’s nest.”
“That was Bush. Another real genius. That was Bush,” Trump said sarcastically. “That turned out to be wonderful intelligence. Great intelligence agency there.”
Trump has previously cited the WMD failure to go after US intelligence agencies, bringing up the error as a reason to doubt the same agencies conclusions’ that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
The true crisis actors…
Like clockwork, once again the “crisis actors” quickly appeared on the scene after yet another horrific mass casualty shooting in an American school. These professional actors always take to the media after mass casualties, including terrorist attacks, to spin for public consumption their diabolical plots of intrigue.
After the most recent shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, an attack that killed 17 students and wounded many others, the paid actors were on the scene. One of the first out of the starting gate was conspiracy monger and placebo nutritional supplement salesman Alex Jones of Austin, Texas. As he did after the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and the Las Vegas concert shooting, Jones postulated that the government staged the Parkland school attack in order to seize private weapons in the United States. While that tactic may have worked with the right-wing fringe while Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton were presidents, Jones is now suggesting that his fan in the White House, Donald Trump, is presiding over some deep dark plan to use mass shootings to abrogate the Second Amendment of the Constitution.
Alex Jones was described by his own attorney as a “performance artist.” Jones is also a professional actor, having appeared in the films “A Scanner Darkly,” starring Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson, and Robert Downey, Jr., and “Waking Life,” starring Ethan Hawke.
Enter crisis actor number two, Jeff Rense, Jones’s erstwhile conspiratorial colleague. In the 1990s, Rense hosted a UFO-focused radio show on KTMS in Santa Barbara. Called “Sightings on the Radio,” the program was the counterpart to the television series “Sightings,” which was produced by Henry Winkler, “The Fonz” on “Happy Days.” As is the case with Jones, crisis actor Rense never misses the opportunity to craft mass shootings as staged events.
A particularly loathsome post-tragedy crisis actor is Lucian Wintrich, a blogger who bills himself as the “D.C. Bureau Chief & White House Correspondent” for the Gateway Pundit. The openly gay Wintrich specializes in conducting “performance art shows.” After the recent Parkland shooting, Donald Trump, Jr. “liked” one of Wintrich’s tweets that called Parkland a staged operation. Wintrich’s fellow gay performance artist, former Breitbart News senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos, is best known for his campus road show, which he bills as “The Dangerous Faggot Tour.”
Another crisis actor is Mike Adams, also of Austin, Texas and like his friend Alex Jones, is a marketer of bogus nutritional supplements. Adams’s Natural News website pushes more than snake oil. As with other mass shootings, Adams suggests that they are all staged. Recently, a Natural News headline of “It’s all THEATER: Florida high school shooting survivor caught on video rehearsing scripted lines, coached by camera man,” was re-tweeted by former rocker Ted Nugent, himself no stranger to professional acting. Nugent appeared in such blockbusters as “Gremlins2: The New Batch,” starring Phoebe Cates; “Nowhere to Run,” starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Rosanna Arquette; and “Beer for My Horses,” starring Toby Keith.
Finally, a crisis actor who can always be counted on to play the role of a law enforcement expert is former Milwaukee County, Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke. Not to be outdone by his fellow crisis actors, Clarke, who was known for adorning his sheriff’s uniform with wardrobe kitsch available on-line and from any Army-Navy store, suggested that the teen survivors of the Parkland shooting were actors paid by hedge fund tycoon George Soros. Clarke often appears on Fox News offering up his best crisis histrionics.
Crisis actors hide behind the protection of the First Amendment. However, actual professional acting organizations, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, should publicly condemn the post-mass casualty crisis actors for their complete disregard for the truth and lack of respect for the families of the victims of mass slaughter.
America Is A Gun
England is a cup of tea.
France, a wheel of ripened brie.
Greece, a short, squat olive tree.
America is a gun.
Brazil is a football on the sand.
Argentina, Maradona’s hand.
Germany, an oompah band.
America is a gun.
Holland is a wooden shoe.
Hungary, a goulash stew.
Australia, a kangaroo.
America is a gun.
Japan is a thermal spring.
Scotland is a highland fling.
Oh, better to be anything
than America as a gun.
Honduran authorities are promising “an exhaustive investigation” into alleged ties between their new national police chief Jose David Aguilar Moran and a cartel kingpin who’s now serving a 20-year sentence in a U.S. federal prison.
Aguilar, a key ally in the U.S. war on drugs, helped a cartel leader pull off the delivery of nearly a ton of cocaine, according to a confidential security report obtained by the Associated Press.
He called off local cops who had just busted a truckload of cocaine escorted by police officers in 2013, the report says. Aguilar, who was working his way up department ranks at the time, ordered the lower-level officers to let the drugs and cops go, which they did. The U.S. street value of the cocaine involved could have topped $20 million.
Cartel boss Wilter Blanco, who was running the drugs, was later caught with another cocaine load, extradited to the U.S. and is now serving a 20-year sentence in U.S. prison.
But Chief Aguilar’s involvement, documented in an internal report, was never publicly reported. And last week, in a solemn ceremony, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez promoted him to the nation’s top cop, saying that the appointment would further his years-long effort to root out corruption and modernize the force.
“We are in a process of transforming the National Police,” the president said.
On Friday, Omar Rivera, a member of the special commission that says it has purged more than 4,000 members of the National Police for reasons ranging from corruption to restructuring and voluntary retirement, said it had no information about the incident involving Aguilar Moran.
“We do not have in hand today any information that says Commissioner Aguilar Moran is a drug trafficker or collaborator of the drug cartels,” Rivera told local reporters. “We are going to conduct an exhaustive investigation.”
The commission scheduled a meeting to discuss the subject Friday.
AP did not share the copy of the Honduran Security Ministry’s Inspector General report that mentions Aguilar, who was sworn in last week, out of security concerns, but described its contents to government officials and has published an excerpt. The Honduran government declared it a fake and said the incident didn’t happen. Aguilar did not respond to requests for comment.
But an ex-member of the National Police with knowledge of the investigation confirmed officials found that Aguilar and other top officers conspired to cover up the incident, and that a high-ranking officer protecting the cocaine was later put on leave before becoming a sitting judge. Three other current and former high-ranking Honduran security and police officials confirmed elements of the report. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of violent reprisals.
Also, former and current U.S. law enforcement officers and a U.S. prosecutor reviewed the document for AP and said it appeared genuine.
For years the U.S. military and law enforcement have partnered with the Honduran National Police and security forces, trying to stop narcotraffickers from moving an estimated 3 tons a month of U.S.-bound cocaine. At the same time, the U.S. is backing efforts to clean up a corrupt police department and has begun extraditing Honduran police into American courts where they are prosecuted.
“There is so much illegal drug money to be made and it is so easy to get away with it, especially if you are in the police force,” U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said when asked about Aguilar’s appointment. “Much more needs to be known about him given the history of the Honduran police and its connections to organized crime, before there can be confidence that he has the integrity to lead that institution.”
Here’s how the inspector general report describes the alleged crime:
On Oct. 15, 2013 around noon, a local head of a tourism police agency, acting on a tip, stopped a tanker truck loaded with cocaine. Protecting the load were 11 police officers in four vehicles. The tourism officer hauled everyone — and the tanker of cocaine — into the station, but soon an irate regional police chief showed up, threatening to get everyone fired for interfering with the illicit delivery. They argued, the tourism officer pulled his gun, and the regional chief ended up on the floor in handcuffs, demanding a call to Aguilar.
And that was the end of the bust.
Aguilar ordered the immediate release of the officers and the cocaine, and they complied.
Investigators wanted to understand why Aguilar intervened.
They were told that cartel boss Blanco routinely passed out thousands of dollars in bribes to police — including Aguilar — to make sure traffickers could safely land airplanes stuffed with South American cocaine in Honduras, unload their illicit cargo and transfer it to vehicles heading north.
The report concludes that Aguilar and other commanders failed to discipline the officers involved and that they sat on the case at Blanco’s request, keeping it from prosecutors and the American Embassy, “with the end goal of letting the case expire.”
Blanco was arrested in 2016 in Costa Rica and extradited to the U.S. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to move 4,000 pounds of U.S.-bound cocaine from Colombia to Honduras during a two-month period. It was widely reported in Honduras that Blanco’s arrest had sparked investigations of dozens of police and other political and criminal justice officials, but nothing about any corruption probes relating to Blanco has been publicly revealed. His attorney Victor Rocha told AP that in repeated discussions his client never mentioned police collaborating with his drug smuggling operations.
Opposition party politician Maria Luisa Borjas, who ran the National Police’s internal affairs division during her long career on the force, said she had seen the inspector general’s report and could confirm its authenticity. She said it shows that the police purge commission’s claim to have cleaned up the ranks by booting 4,000 members of the National Police is “a failure.”
That commission, whose work is ongoing, is “more of a source of official protection for people who have been tied to drug trafficking,” she said.
The leader of the Hawaii National Guard told state lawmakers on Friday that he informed the governor that a panic-inducing missile alert was a false alarm two minutes after it had been sent to cellphones statewide.
The leader, Maj. Gen. Arthur J. Logan, made the revelation about the Jan. 13 episode at a hearing during which legislators raised concerns about why that critical information was not conveyed to the public more quickly.
Amid the chaos and confusion, it took officials 38 minutes to send a second message saying the original message was an error. Officials have said a flaw in the alert system delayed the distribution of the correction…
General Logan, who also directs the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, learned the alert was a false alarm after speaking with the United States Pacific Command, an agency spokesman, Richard Rapoza, said on Saturday. General Logan called the governor at 8:09 a.m.
It took another 11 minutes for the emergency management agency to tweet that there was “NO missile threat to Hawaii.” (Hawaii Governor)Mr. Ige reiterated that message in his own tweet four minutes later. At 8:45 a.m., the message correcting the missile threat lit up cellphones.
Mr. Rapoza said that in the critical minutes after the missile alert went out, he and several other government employees simultaneously tried to confirm it was a false alarm. Once they did, some began calling and emailing the news media, he said…
Officials said the alert was the result of human error and not the work of hackers or a foreign government. Mr. Rapoza previously said the mistake occurred during a shift-change drill at the emergency command post when “someone clicked the wrong thing on the computer.”
Mr. Ige has called what happened “totally unacceptable” and has apologized for the panic it caused.
Dennis J. Bernstein: In Berkeley I’m Dennis Bernstein. You’re listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio. We’re delighted to welcome back Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, now a film, updated and released on Amazon. So congratulations Greg, welcome back to Flashpoints.
Greg Palast: Yes, in fact it’s free if you’ve got that Amazon Prime. It’s out this week. We updated it because unfortunately America has been updated with Trump. The film originally warned you that a guy named Kris Kobach of Kansas — if you can’t remember that name just think KKK — Trump’s Vote-Thief-in-Chief, I said he was going to be the mastermind behind Trump stealing the election, and he did it. So we updated the film to show you how he did it. And now he’s back in the news, and that’s why I’m happy to speak with you.
This week, or last week I should say, Trump disbanded his so-called Vote Fraud Commission, which was headed by Kris Kobach of Kansas, and officially known as the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity. It was disbanded because Kris Kobach of Kansas was being bombarded with lawsuits by the Brennan Center, by every civil rights organization you could think of with a lawyer, and even the single Democrat who was foolish enough to join his commission and found out he was being denied access to even such things as the meeting dates of the commission. So, they were operating in secret. Kris Kobach, forgetting that the Soviet Union no longer exists and has not moved to America, thought he could operate in secret. But now he has disbanded it because there’s so much public criticism. The President has issued an Executive Order, Trump just said the commission is disbanded…
Bernstein: But Trump said that, despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the President’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information. That’s why they had to give it to Homeland Security, to bring the investigators in.
Palast: Yes, well, two things… Number one: the Commission was formed and Trump was just tweeting and bleating that there is massive vote fraud. As you know… they’ve claimed that three million people voted twice. That’s Kris Kobach who created something called Interstate Crosscheck, a system to reveal these three million double voters, people voting illegally twice in the same election in two different states. He couldn’t produce any actual double voters, but he did have a list of three million, which I obtained, of these illegal voters. And it was just people with names like José Rodríguez and James Brown. Believe it or not, they found two people named James Brown voting in two different states. They had different middle names, but, hey, it doesn’t matter. As far as Republicans are concerned, that was a double voter. That’s the type of fraud and fraudulent voter that they were looking for.
And so yes, a lot of states refused — or appeared to refuse. By the way, most of those states were lying. Almost every Republican state turned over their voter rolls to Donald Trump and Kris Kobach. They lied and said that they didn’t, but enough states — including the state of California — simply refused to turn over their voter rolls for those guys to go tromping through to find more people named José Rodríguez that they could claim voted in another state. So you had resistance, you had lawsuits.
So what are they doing now? They’re putting it in Homeland Security. So they’ve closed it down. That you could look at as a victory. Because they recognized they can’t operate in public and get away with their shenanigans. So they put it in Homeland Security for two purposes. Number one is secrecy. They believe that by saying this is an anti-terrorism effort, that they somehow have the cloak of secrecy afforded them by working with Homeland Security. Well, you can’t just call a hunt for black Democrats a hunt for “terrorists” and make it secret. I’ve just been on the phone with Jesse Jackson and several lawyers who said you can call it whatever you want, but if it’s a racial purge of voters they still better make those records public. So, there’s still going to be a fight, that’s number one.
Number two — and it is dangerous — they’re going to try to use the power of Homeland Security. And I’m not guessing. Kris Kobach did say this on Fox, that they will use the police powers of Homeland Security to seize the voter rolls of California and New York and other States that are refusing to turn over their voter rolls so they can tromp through and find “double voters”. And Homeland Security is going to be saying that it’s looking for illegal alien voters — that’s the other big claim that they’ve made, that there are literally one to three million aliens, who swam the Rio Grande just so they could vote in our school board elections. It may be laughable, except it’s no joke when they start purging people whose crime is having a Hispanic last name.
Bernstein: You know Greg, we spent most of the show today talking about the Administration’s decision to abruptly end temporary protected status for some 200,000 Salvadorans [listen to the complete show here]. He did this for Haitians just a little bit ago. It seems it’s sort of part of a piece, in a way. It’s an attack on black and brown people, and it’s an attempt to cleanse black and brown people from the voter rolls — and some from the country.
Palast: Well, in fact, don’t discount this. Kris Kobach of Kansas — Mr. KKK as I mention in my film and my work for Rolling Stone — he not only is Secretary of the State of Kansas (and he’s running for governor of Kansas, by the way), he not only is heading Trump’s Commission, or I don’t know what his position now will be in Homeland Security, but he remains the lawyer for a group called FAIR. And FAIR’s founder says its entire purpose is to maintain a European America. And I have a suspicion he doesn’t mean a European-Haitian America, okay? This guy is a white supremacist… and I don’t throw that term around easily.
He is a declared white supremacist, Kris Kobach. And he is in charge of the politics behind these Trumpian racist deportation moves. And it’s of a piece with cleansing the voter rolls. Because, understand, when they talk about deporting people, if they find someone again named José Rodríguez, which there are hundreds of people named José Rodríguez on those voter rolls that they were attempting to purge — and did purge, by the way, in the last election. When they create these lists of illegal aliens and they start deporting aliens, they’re also going to be attacking the voting rights of anyone with a similar name.
So you can’t disconnect the attack on voter rolls from the attack on legitimate alien Americans who want to become citizens. They’re going after the ones who’ve become citizens already, or who’ve been citizens for generations. Let’s not forget that in New Mexico and California for a lot of Hispanics the border crossed them, it’s not that they crossed the border.
Bernstein: Talk a little bit about what you’re preparing for. We’re seeing this unfold now, we’re seeing this Commission being moved into Homeland Security. We’ve got the 2018 elections coming up. These are going to be highly contested. How are you making preparations? What are you going to do, Greg, to stop them from stealing these elections?
Palast: Well, number one, I’d better keep reporting the story because we’re not getting it on the mainstream media. They laugh at Kris Kobach and the claims of voter fraud. But what they’re not doing is investigating… It’s not a joke. They’re using this absurdity that millions of illegal alien voters, double voters, and others [as an excuse to purge legal voters.] And the double voters almost in all cases that they’ve identified are voters of color. So the first thing is exposure, which is very difficult to do in an America which believes that, as Hilary Clinton put it, we have the most wonderful electoral system in the world, which means she’s only been to Kazakhstan.
By the way, I just came back from Switzerland… where they do read my reports and my work is popular there. And they’re stunned. It’s so hard for them to get [their heads] around the idea that we don’t count all the votes or let everyone vote. This is in a nation, Switzerland, where everyone is required by law to vote. Like, they don’t even understand this idea that someone wouldn’t vote or wouldn’t get their vote counted. Or that you can get away with taking away someone’s vote by saying they don’t have the right ID or something like that. They’re absolutely stunned that this is still happening. And that’s true in other nations in Europe who are just stunned at the US system. So number one: it’s exposure.
Number two: political action. And we’ve seen Jesse Jackson and Rainbow PUSH are doing a national campaign which is starting with Interstate Crosscheck, Kris Kobach’s game saying that millions of people voted twice, just as a way to remove every guy named James Brown from the list; and every guy named Jesse Jackson, by the way, from the voter rolls as well.
And then there’s legal action. The great class action lawyer Jeanne Mirer in fact was just calling a moment to go to my office because she’s about to file open records requests on the states that are working with Kobach on his scheme to remove so-called double voters, demanding that they release their hit lists, release their racist purge lists. Because if they release the lists, and we go through them, our experts already know what are on those lists because we have about a third of the names. And, like I say, this is an attack on voters of color.
So there’s a political attack, a legal attack, a journalistic attack, meaning journalism’s job is exposure. Hard to do. It’s hard to get editors and producers in America to do any story about anything but America being a wonderful democracy. You’re the guy who is passing gas at the debutante ball of American democracy. It’s not done. So it’s a very difficult thing to accomplish.
So those are the three things; exposure, political action, and legal action. And obviously it would be nice to see legislative action as well, but that would require the Democrats.
Bernstein: Well the Democrats, yeah, I was going to say the Democrats. But they’ve been deadbeats on all this stuff, haven’t they? I mean, they have not been willing from Gore in 2000… They’re just cowards to take this on.
Palast: Well some of it is cowardice. In my investigations of what is politely called vote suppression, unfortunately, Democrats have taken part in this too. Not on the kind of industrial, computerized scale that Republicans have done. But you’d have a very different Democratic Party if every voter of color was allowed to vote and have their votes counted. A very different Democratic Party.
And I saw this particularly in New Mexico, where I saw brutal vote suppression where machines simply did not work in the pueblos. Machines simply did not work, and therefore recorded no votes — zero votes for President in certain precincts that were heavily Hispanic Democrat. And who is in charge or running the vote? Hispanic Democrats under the direction of Bill Richardson. You had kind of elite Hispanic Democrats fearful of the votes in primaries of poor Mexicanos.
Remember, vote theft is kind of class war by other means. So, therefore, you would expect it from Republicans, but you still have the problem of Democrats being involved and they don’t want to give up those tools either.
Bernstein: Well that’s a problem for all of us. You can learn a lot more if you have an opportunity to connect with some of the work of Greg Palast. You can go to gregpalast.com, find out all about his film, about the latest release. Find out all about a lot more in terms of how to defend your vote.
But this, it really isn’t taken seriously. And I’m not sure how to read the killing of the Kobach Commission. [It] may be a good thing, may be a bad thing, or it may be irrelevant because these folks are going to do this at the grassroots [level]. They’re going to steal the vote and it’s going to be continuing to target people of color because they don’t have the resources to fight back.
Palast: Well I think it does matter. Number one: it is a political victory. That is the Kobach Commission was roundly dismissed as a joke. It shouldn’t be a joke because these guys ain’t foolin’ around. You know, it’s not a circus act, these guys are serious. It is dangerous because there’s been so much crowing by the liberals and the MSDNC reporting, you would think that they’ve just saved the nation by driving Kris Kobach underground. But driving Kris Kobach into Homeland Security and his operation… into basically the Secret Service of the United States, now to use police powers and conducting operations in the dark, that’s extremely dangerous.
But, again, most of this activity happens at the state level. And, you know, most of the Flashpoints listeners are in California. There’s a lot of cleanup there and that’s in a one party, Democratic state. If you remember Alex Padilla oversaw a primary in June of 2016 in which nearly one million ballots were never counted, disqualified through cockamamie manipulation of the vote, forcing people to use provisional ballots or having their ballots disqualified because they used the wrong ballot.
It’s games that I saw in Alabama, games that I saw in Mississippi, and here we’re having this kind of José Crow operation in California. So it’s up to activists, it’s up to an informed public; Don’t depend on the parties to save your vote.
Bernstein: All right… I’m looking forward, Greg, as it comes a little bit closer to the elections that we strike up our Election Crimes Bulletin, because we know we’re going to need it. We’re going to need the great work that you’ve been doing for so many years, Greg. And we appreciate this ongoing collaboration. Again, people can check you out at gregpalast.com, the film is available, a great deal of information is available. And we thank you, Greg, for always making yourself available to our listeners and to the Flashpoints show.
Palast: Terrific. Thank you, Dennis.
The British guitar legend Eric Clapton has told of the self-disgust he felt at seeing old footage of himself chanting racist slogans at a 1976 concert in the British city of Birmingham.
Clapton was speaking at a Q&A in London following the screening of the highly anticipated biographical documentary Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars.
He said last night that watching the unedited footage, which is included in Lili Zanuck’s new film out next month, left him newly “disgusted” with himself for his “chauvinistic” and “fascistic” comments on stage.
According to the Daily Mail he added: “I sabotaged everything I got involved with.”
The legendary 18-time Grammy winner said he felt shame about the notorious incident, wherein he praised the racist Tory MP Enoch Powell, declared that Britain must stop itself from becoming a “black colony” and said “England is for white people, man.”
“I don’t want you here, in the room or in my country,” Clapton declared. “Listen to me, man! I think we should vote for Enoch Powell. Enoch’s our man. I think Enoch’s right, I think we should send them all back. Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the w-gs out. Get the c–ns out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I’m into racism. It’s much heavier, man. —-king w-gs, man. —-ing Saudis taking over London. B-stard w-gs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black w-gs and c–ns and Arabs and —-ing Jamaicans and —-ing…don’t belong here, we don’t want them here. This is England, this is a white country, we don’t want any black w-gs and c–ns living here. We need to make clear to them they are not welcome. England is for white people, man. We are a white country …”
Clapton’s bizarre outburst, which helped spur the Rock Against Racism movement, saw him labeled a racist for many years, and he has subsequently apologized many times, blaming his addiction to drink and drugs for the outburst.
The musician reveals in the film that he would drink a bottle of cognac by midday, before snorting cocaine from a knife at lunch.
He said: “I was so ashamed of who I was, a kind of semi-racist, which didn’t make sense. Half of my friends were black, I dated a black woman and I championed black music.”
The LVMPD could have stopped Stephen Paddock sooner if Mandalay Ball had called 911 instead of protecting high roller Stephen Paddock.
In 2017, hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets to protest the Trump Administration’s denial of science. This began with the “March for Science” in April and continued throughout the year with scientists and supporters trying to find their political voice. However, most people in this new science-promoting movement willfully deny basic laws of science when those laws relate to one particularly sensitive subject of national discourse.
For example, many Americans have denied the Law of Conservation of Momentum as it relates to the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. This point was made in a peer-reviewed scientific paper published in a journal of civil engineering (see point #5). Although conservation of momentum is taught and understood by students in secondary school, the alleged violation of this law is widely accepted by those who are faced with the obvious, evidence-based alternative that explosives were used to bring the buildings down.
Similarly, Americans who failed to question the official account have also denied the Law of the Conservation of Angular Momentum. In this case, the top section of the south tower rotated off its axis and should have continued rotating and falling intact along the aide of the building but it did not. Instead the top section was simply pulverized in mid air by unseen forces.
The Law of the Conservation of Energy was also violated on 9/11, if one believes the official government account. One way in which this can be seen is with regard to temperatures needed to achieve the government’s claim that steel softened throughout a wide swath of each building. The jet fuel and office furnishings in the Twin Towers did not provide the energy needed for the steel components to reach temperatures needed to soften steel. Moreover importantly, molten metal was observed at the site of the WTC destruction and this fact can only be explained by the presence of thermitic materials for which there is an enormous amount of evidence.
The U.S. government took great pains over a period of years to ignore the evidence for what actually happened at the WTC site while taking a politically driven, anti-scientific approach to it. Sadly, subsequent administrations and many professional scientists have ignored the evidence and the related, political abuse of science in order to avoid sensitive implications. Today’s science-promoting Americans have, in many cases, also ignored the evidence and have therefore practiced the opposite of what they preach. That is, abuse of science is bad when Trump does it but is perfectly acceptable when “conspiracy theories” are the only other choice.
Meanwhile, 9/11 victim’s families continue to fight for justice and scientists in other countries can be seen rejecting the spread of America’s anti-science approach. When Americans are truly willing to stand up for science no matter the political implications, the world might begin to heal from the violence and social destruction that began with those fateful crimes. Until then, the world will continue to suffer the consequences of the willful ignorance of science in America.
In this episode of Days of Revolt host Chris Hedges continues his conversation with Dr. Cornel West to discuss the way in which the black prophetic tradition has been supplanted by black elitism and individualism.
How should antiracists respond to resurgent white nationalism in the age of Trump? Non-violently, or with a mix of tactics that might include those of antifa, which regularly confronts neo-Nazis and other reactionaries in the streets? Although non-violence is almost always strategically wise and ethically recommended, the romanticization of non-violence by some liberals and progressives is unhelpful and entirely a-historical. In this commentary, I discuss the need to contextualize our strategies and above all else to never fall into the trap of thinking that defensive violence against fascism is the moral equivalent of fascism itself.
Consequence of America refusing to deal with it’s housing problem…
Homelessness is not a new issue to America’s West Coast. But it’s getting worse – much worse.
On any given night, more than 105,000 people are sleeping unsheltered in some of the country’s biggest and trendiest metropolises, driven there by soaring housing costs, rental vacancy rates that rival those in Manhattan and a booming tech economy that’s leaving thousands behind. Another 63,000 are sleeping in shelters or transitional housing with no safety net.
The rising numbers have pushed abject poverty into the open like never before.
San Diego now scrubs its sidewalks with bleach to counter a deadly hepatitis A outbreak that has spread to other cities and forced California to declare a state of emergency. In Anaheim, home to Disneyland, 400 people sleep along a bike path in the shadow of Angel Stadium. Organizers in Portland, Oregon, lit incense at a recent outdoor food festival to mask the stench of urine in a parking lot where vendors set up shop.
All along the coast, elected officials are scrambling for solutions.
“It’s a sea of humanity crashing against services, and services at this point are overwhelmed, literally overwhelmed,” said Jeremy Lemoine, who works for a Seattle nonprofit that provides various forms of assistance to the homeless. “It’s catastrophic.”
For more than five hours, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sat in a hearing room on Capitol Hill this month, fending off inquiries on Washington’s two favorite topics: President Trump and Russia.
But legislators spent little time asking Sessions about the dramatic and controversial changes in policy he has made since taking over the top law enforcement job in the United States nine months ago.
From his crackdown on illegal immigration to his reversal of Obama administration policies on criminal justice and policing, Sessions is methodically reshaping the Justice Department to reflect his nationalist ideology and hard-line views — moves drawing comparatively less public scrutiny than the ongoing investigations into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin.
Sessions has implemented a new charging and sentencing policy that calls for prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible, even if that might meanminority defendants face stiff, mandatory minimum penalties. He has defended the president’s travel ban and tried to strip funding from cities with policies he considers too friendly toward undocumented immigrants.
Sessions has even adjusted the department’s legal stances in cases involving voting rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in a way that advocates warn might disenfranchise poor minorities and give certain religious people a license to discriminate.
Supporters and critics say the attorney general has been among the most effective of the Cabinet secretaries — implementing Trump’s conservative policy agenda even as the president publicly and privately toys with firing him over his decision to recuse himself from the Russia case.
While critics lambaste what they consider misguided changes that take the department back in time, supporters say Sessions has restored a by-the-book interpretation of federal law and taken an aggressive stance toward enforcing it.
“The Attorney General is committed to rebuilding a Justice Department that respects the rule of law and separation of powers,” Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior said in a statement, adding, “It is often our most vulnerable communities that are most impacted and victimized by the scourge of drug trafficking and the accompanying violent crime.”
In meetings with top Justice Department officials about terrorist suspects, Sessions often has a particular question: Where is the person from? When officials tell him a suspect was born and lives in the United States, he typically has a follow-up: To what country does his family trace its lineage?
While there are reasons to want to know that information, some officials familiar with the inquiries said the questions struck them as revealing that Sessions harbors an innate suspicion about people from certain ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in a statement, “The Attorney General asks lots of relevant questions in these classified briefings.”
Sessions, unlike past attorneys general, has been especially aggressive on immigration. He served as the public face of the administration’s rolling back of a program that granted a reprieve from deportation to people who had come here without documentation as children, and he directed federal prosecutors to make illegal-immigration cases a higher priority. The attorney general has long held the view that the United States should even reduce the number of those immigrating here legally.
In an interview with Breitbart News in 2015, then-Sen. Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke favorably of a 1924 law that excluded all immigrants from Asia and set strict caps on others.
“When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the president and Congress changed the policy and it slowed down immigration significantly,” Sessions said. “We then assimilated through 1965 and created really the solid middle class of America, with assimilated immigrants, and it was good for America.”
Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division in the Obama administration who now works as chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said Sessions seems to harbor an “unwillingness to recognize the history of this country is rooted in immigration.”
“On issue after issue, it’s very easy to see what his worldview is of what this country is and who belongs in this country,” she said, adding that his view is “distinctly anti-immigrant.”
Those on the other side of the aisle, however, say they welcome the changes Sessions has made at the Justice Department.
Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for moderating levels of immigration, said she would give the attorney general an “A-plus” for his work in the area, especially for his crackdown on “sanctuary cities,” his push to hire more immigration judges and his focus on the MS-13 gang.
“He was able to hit the ground running because he has so much expertise already in immigration enforcement and related public safety issues and the constitutional issues, so he’s accomplished a lot in a very short time,” Vaughan said.
Prior, the Justice Department spokesman, said, “Clearly having an immigration system that focuses on national security and the national interest should be a matter of importance to the nation’s highest law enforcement official.”
Police oversight, sentencing
Questions about Sessions’s attitudes toward race and nationality have swirled around him since a Republican-led Senate committee in 1986 rejected his nomination by President Ronald Reagan for a federal judgeship, amid allegations of racism. In January, his confirmation hearing to become attorney general turned bitter when, for the first time, a sitting senator, Cory Booker (D-N.J.), testified against a colleague up for a Cabinet position. Booker said he did so because of Sessions’s record on civil rights.
Sessions ultimately won confirmation on a 52-to-47 vote, and he moved quickly to make the Justice Department his own. Two months into the job, he told the department’s lawyers to review police oversight agreements nationwide, currying favor with officers who often resent the imposition of such pacts but upsetting those who think they are necessary to force change.
Similarly, Sessions imposed a new charging and sentencing policy that critics on both sides of the aisle have said might disproportionately affect minority communities and hit low-level drug offenders with stiff sentences.
Allies of Sessions say the policy is driven not by racial animus but by a desire to respond to increasing crime. The latest FBI crime data, for 2016, showed violent crimes were up 4.1 percent over the previous year and murders were up 8.6 percent — although crime remains at historically low levels. The Bureau of Prisons projects that — because of increased enforcement and prosecution efforts — the inmate population will increase by about 2 percent in fiscal 2018, according to a Justice Department inspector general report.
Larry Thompson, who served as deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration and is a friend of Sessions, said that although he disagrees with the attorney general’s charging policy, he believes Sessions was “motivated by his belief that taking these violent offenders off the streets is the right way to address the public safety issues.”
Civil rights, hate crimes
Sessions’s moves to empower prosecutors have led to a concerted focus on hate-crimes prosecutions — a point his defenders say undercuts the notion that he is not interested in protecting the rights of minorities or other groups. Prosecutors have brought several such cases since he became attorney general and recently sent an attorney to Iowa to help the state prosecute a man who was charged with killing a gender-fluid 16-year-old high school student last year. The man was convicted of first-degree murder.
But while civil rights leaders praised his action in that case, Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said that it “stands in stark contrast to his overall efforts” to roll back protections for transgender people.
Shortly after he became attorney general, Sessions revoked federal guidelines put in place by the Obama administration that specified that transgender students have the right to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity. In September, the Justice Department sided in a major upcoming Supreme Court case with a Colorado baker, Jack Phillips, who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because he said it would violate his religious beliefs.
Sessions recently issued 20 principles of guidance to executive-branch agencies about how the government should respect religious freedom, including allowing religious employers to hire only those whose conduct is consistent with their beliefs. About the same time, he reversed a three-year-old Justice Department policy that protected transgender people from workplace discrimination by private employers and state and local governments.
The Justice Department has similarly rolled back Obama administration positions in court cases over voting rights.
In February, the department dropped its stance that Texas intended to discriminate when it passed its law on voter identification. And in August, it sided with Ohio in its effort to purge thousands of people from its rolls for not voting in recent elections — drawing complaints from civil liberties advocates.
At a recent congressional hearing, Sessions said the department would “absolutely, resolutely defend the right of all Americans to vote, including our African American brothers and sisters.”
Critics say, though, that his record shows otherwise. “We are seeing a federal government that is pulling back from protecting vulnerable communities in every respect,” Clarke said. “That appears to be the pattern that we are seeing with this administration — an unwillingness to use their enforcement powers in ways that can come to the defense of groups who are otherwise powerless and voiceless.”
Full article at The Intercept…
THE REVELATION THAT WikiLeaks secretly offered help to Donald Trump’s campaign, in a series of private Twitter messages sent to the candidate’s son Donald Trump Jr., gave ammunition to the group’s many detractors and also sparked anger from some longtime supporters of the organization and its founder, Julian Assange.
One of the most high-profile dissenters was journalist Barrett Brown, whose crowdsourced investigations of hacked corporate documents later posted on WikiLeaks led to a prison sentence.
Brown had a visceral reaction to the news, first reported by The Atlantic, that WikiLeaks had been advising the Trump campaign. In a series of tweets and Facebook videos, Brown accused Assange of having compromised “the movement” to expose corporate and government wrongdoing by acting as a covert political operative.
Brown explained that he had defended WikiLeaks for releasing emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee, “because it was an appropriate thing for a transparency org to do.” But, he added, “working with an authoritarian would-be leader to deceive the public is indefensible and disgusting.”
He was particularly outraged by an Oct. 26, 2016 message, in which Assange had appealed to Trump Jr. to let WikiLeaks publish one or more of his father’s tax returns in order to make his group’s attacks on Hillary Clinton seem less biased. “If we publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality,” the Assange-controlled @Wikileaks account suggested. “That means that the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing on Clinton will have much higher impact, because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source, which the Clinton campaign is constantly slandering us with.”
As Brown pointed out in another tweet, it was all-caps exasperating that Assange was in this case “complaining about ‘slander’ of being pro-Trump IN THE ACTUAL COURSE OF COLLABORATING WITH TRUMP.”
The journalist, an Intercept contributor, whose work had been championed by WikiLeaks, also shared a link to a Reddit AMA conducted two days after the election in which WikiLeaks staff, including Assange’s longtime collaborator Sarah Harrison, had denied point-blank that they had collaborated with the Trump campaign.
“The allegations that we have colluded with Trump, or any other candidate for that matter, or with Russia, are just groundless and false,” the staffers wrote then. “We were not publishing with a goal to get any specific candidate elected.”
It is not surprising that Brown felt personally betrayed by Assange, since, as he explained on Facebook Tuesday night, “I went to prison because of my support for WikiLeaks.” Specifically, Brown said, the charges against him were related to his role in “operations to identify and punish members of the government and members of private companies that had been exposed by Anonymous hackers of my acquaintance, via email hacks, as having conspired to go after Assange, to go after WikiLeaks.”
That sort of activism, dedicated to making public secret wrongdoing, Brown argued, is very different from “colluding with an authoritarian presidential campaign backed by actual Nazis while publicly denying it.”
“Plainly,” he observed with bitterness, “the prospect of a Clinton in the White House was such an unimaginable nightmare scenario that all normal standards of truth and morality became moot and it became necessary to get people like Sebastian Gorka into the White House to establish order.”
Before his private messages to Trump Jr. were leaked, Assange himself had categorically denied that he or WikiLeaks had been attacking Hillary Clinton to help elect Donald Trump. “This is not due to a personal desire to influence the outcome of the election,” he wrote in a statement released on November 8 as Americans went to the polls.
Even though Assange had by then transformed the WikiLeaks Twitter feed into a vehicle for smearing Clinton, he insisted that his work was journalistic in nature. “The right to receive and impart true information is the guiding principle of WikiLeaks — an organization that has a staff and organizational mission far beyond myself,” Assange wrote. “Millions of Americans have pored over the leaks and passed on their citations to each other and to us,” he added. “It is an open model of journalism that gatekeepers are uncomfortable with, but which is perfectly harmonious with the First Amendment.”
For Brown, and others who have been critical of Assange for using the platform of WikiLeaks to fight his own political and personal battles, his secret communication with the Trump campaign was damning because it revealed that he had been functioning more like a freelance political operative, doling out strategy and advice, than a journalist interested in obtaining and publishing information, concerned only with its accuracy.
James Ball, a former WikiLeaks volunteer who has described the difficulty of working for someone who lies so much, was also appalled by one post-election message to Trump Jr., in which WikiLeaks suggested that, as a form of payback, it would be “helpful for your dad to suggest that Australia appoint Assange ambassador to DC.”
That request for payback, on December 16, 2016, came three weeks after Trump’s father had called on the British government to make his friend Nigel Farage its ambassador. “This should be it, game over, end of it, for anyone who tries to suggest Assange looks out for anyone except himself,” Ball observed on Twitter. “That’s his cause, and plenty of good people have been played, badly.”
There was also criticism from journalists, like Chris Hayes of MSNBC, a network Assange accused of being, along with the New York Times, “the most biased source” in one note to Trump Jr. Pointing to a message from WikiLeaks sent on Election Day, advising Trump to refuse to concede and claim the election was rigged, Hayes asked how, exactly, offering that sort of political advice squared with the organization’s mission to promote transparency.
Article via Coast To Coast…
With the dust having settled after Thursday’s chaotic release of some JFK assassination files by the National Archives, a clearer picture has emerged as to what was actually made public last night.
Despite media reports trumpeting that the federal government has posted around 2,900 files which had been approved by President Trump, the true nature of those documents is somewhat deceiving.
Leading up to the long-awaited deadline day, much of the attention of conspiracy researchers and historians centered around the 3,100 never-before-seen files that were due to be declassified.
Alongside those coveted files, another 30,000 previously-redacted documents were also expected to be released with the ‘hidden’ information reinserted into the censored materials.
Here is where Thursday’s release gets a tad tricky as differentiating between those two types of documents is critical to understanding what was really made public.
According to researchers who have perused the files, of the 3,100 heretofore-unseen files, a mere 52 were declassified on Thursday, leaving a whopping 3,000 or so still secret.
Therefore, the roughly 2,800 other documents that were posted at the National Archive website were ‘cleaned up’ files from the batch of 30,000 that had already been released in redacted form years earlier.
Amazingly, that means that there are still thousands more redacted documents that also were held back for ‘national security concerns’ at yesterday’s deadline.
However, to those unaware of the distinction between the two types of documents and the vast number of files that had been due to be released, it would appear that the government released 2,900 of the 3,100 files, which, as you can see, is far from the case.
Another unfortunate aspect of Thursday’s release, assassination experts say, is that the information contained in those files had already made its way to the research community long ago.
This is important to keep in mind as the mainstream media has been feverishly repacking those old details while touting them as ‘JFK revelations’ gleaned from the freshly-released files.
As to the 52 new files made available, the general consensus among parapolitical pundits is that there is nothing particularly noteworthy to be found in them.
Insights surrounding Lee Harvey Oswald’s time in Mexico prior to the assassination, a key detail of the case believed to be contained in the secret files, were among the many documents held back on Thursday.
With President Trump having pushed the deadline to April 26th of 2018, historians and conspiracy theorists hope that they will finally be able to get their hands on the documents then.
But as the events of the past few days have indicated, nothing is for certain and, even if some files do get released, they may not necessarily be the ones we’ve all been waiting for.
FBI records reveal previous contact with law enforcement due to government hacking…
The FBI on Tuesday released some 1,500 pages from its investigation into the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school, painting a dark portrait of the young man who carried out one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history.
Adam Lanza killed his mother in their home in Newtown, Conn., then gunned down 20 children and six adult staff members at the elementary school on Dec. 14, 2012. Lanza, then 20 years old, killed himself that same day.
‘The weirdest person online’
The FBI interviewed a person who regularly communicated with the shooter online. Over the course of nine pages, the interview revealed Lanza’s obsession with mass murder and the 1999 Columbine High School shooting that left 12 students and one teacher dead.
Two years before the Sandy Hook attack, the witness connected with Lanza through postings on a website examining the Columbine incident. Lanza, the witness told investigators, was working on a “spreadsheet” and documenting the details of “hundreds of spree killings and mass murders.”
The witness described Lanza as “the weirdest person online,” who was singularly focused on all aspects of mass murder. “Lanza had a very negative world view,” the witness said.
Describing Lanza as deeply “depressed,” the witness said the shooter seemed to have “no effective coping mechanisms to deal with his depression.”
“He seemed to wallow in it and ride out the low periods by hiding in his room and sleeping for 12 hours or more at a time,” the witness told investigators. “Lanza seemed to have no friends or people he could turn to for support or assistance and did not appear to have any enjoyment of life.”
While they had communicated regularly for more than two years, the witness said the contact abruptly stopped just days before the shooting.
Recounting her reaction to the news that Lanza had been involved in the shooting, the witness told investigators: Lanza was “more f—– up than I thought.”
Neighbors say agents previously questioned Lanza for hacking
Years before the Sandy Hook shooting, law enforcement agents visited Lanza’s family home after he hacked into a government computer system in ninth grade, his neighbors told FBI agents investigating the Sandy Hook shooting.
Lanza’s mother, Nancy, told neighbors at a party that her son made it to the second level of security on a government site. A third layer of security was able to thwart his hack.
Nancy Lanza believed the authorities came from either the FBI or CIA – but neighbors told the FBI that she couldn’t remember which agency. When they came to Lanza’s house to investigate the potential cybercrime, Nancy Lanza told officials her son was extremely intelligent and he was trying to challenge himself, according to the documents.
Agents then apparently told Nancy Lanza that if her son was that smart, he could have a job with them someday. The FBI Tuesday found no immediate record of a contact with Lanza prior to the shooting.
Qualid Benomrane provided very important information to FBI investigators concerning Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar (2 of the 9/11 hijackers).
When we were at Francis Polytechnic High in Sun Valley, Steve Paddock and I were required to take electrical shop class. At Poly and our junior high, we were required to take metal shop so we could work the drill presses at the GM plant. We took drafting. Drafting like in “blueprint drawing.”
Paddock. Palast. We sat next to each other at those drafting tables with our triangular rulers and #2 pencils so we could get jobs at Lockheed as draftsman drawing blueprints of fighter jets. Or do tool-and-dye cutting to make refrigerator handles at GM where they assembled Frigidaire refrigerators and Chevys.
But we weren’t going to fly the fighter jets. Somewhere at Phillips Andover Academy, a dumbbell with an oil well for a daddy was going to go to Yale and then fly our fighter jets over Texas. We weren’t going to go to Yale. We were going to go to Vietnam. Then, when we came back, if we still had two hands, we went to GM or Lockheed.
(It’s no coincidence that much of the student population at our school was Hispanic.)
But if you went to “Bevvie” – Beverly Hills High – or Hollywood High, you didn’t take metal shop. You took Advanced Placement French. You took Advanced Placement Calculus. We didn’t have Advanced Placement French. We didn’t have French anything. We weren’t Placed, and we didn’t Advance.
Steve was a math wizard. He should have gone to UCLA, to Stanford. But our classes didn’t qualify him for anything other than LA Valley College and Cal State Northridge. Any dumbbell could get in. And it was nearly free. That’s where Steve was expected to go, and he went with his big math-whiz brain.
And then Steve went to Lockheed, like we were supposed to. Until Lockheed shut down plants in 1988. Steve left, took the buy-out.
And after NAFTA, GM closed too.
Land of Opportunity? Well, tell me: who gets those opportunities?
Some of you can and some of you can’t imagine a life where you just weren’t give a fair chance. Where the smarter you are, the more painful it gets, because you have your face pressed against the window, watching THEM. THEY got the connections to Stanford. THEY get the gold mine. WE get the shaft.
This is where Paddock and Palast were bred: Sun Valley, the anus of Los Angeles. Literally. It’s where the sewerage plant is. It’s in a trench below the Hollywood Hills, where the smog settles into a kind of puke yellow soup. Here’s where LA dumps its urine and the losers they only remember when they need cheap labor and cheap soldiers when the gusanos don’t supply enough from Mexico.
I’ll take you to Sun Valley. It’s in my film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. In the movie, a kind of dream scene, the actress Shailene Woodley takes me back to my family’s old busted home in the weeds and then down San Fernando Road, near Steve’s place. Take a look, America. Along the tracks that once led in to the GM plant, you see a bunch of campers that the union men bought for vacations. Now they live in them.
No, Steve’s brain was too big to end up on the tracks. He lived in empty apartments in crappy buildings he bought, then in a barren tract house outside Reno. I laugh when they say he was “rich.” He wanted to be THEM, to have their stuff. He got close.
It’s reported that Steve was a “professional gambler.” That’s another laugh. He was addicted to numbing his big brain by sitting 14 hours a day in the dark in front of video poker machines. He was a loser. Have you ever met a gambler who said they were a Professional Loser?
It’s fair to ask me: Why didn’t I end up in a hotel room with a bump-stock AR-15 and 5,000 rounds of high velocity bullets?
Because I have a job, a career, an OBSESSION: to hunt down THEM, the daddy-pampered pricks who did this to us, the grinning billionaire jackals that make a profit off the slow decomposition of the lives I grew up with.
But I’m telling you, that I know it’s a very fine line, and lots of crazy luck, that divided my path from Paddock’s.
Dear Reader: The publication that pulled this story at the last moment was plain scared–that they’d be accused of approving murder.
Paddock slaughtered good people, coldly, with intense cruelty, destroying lives and hundreds of families forever. If you think I’m making up some excuse for him, then I give up.
But also this: The editor of the Beverly Hills-based publication, a Stanford grad, could not understand that, just like veterans of the Vietnam war who suffer from PTSD even today, so too, losers of the class war can be driven mad by a PTSD that lingers, that gnaws away, their whole lives.
What happens to a dream deferred? Does it …fester like a sore? Does it stink like rotten meat? Sag…like a heavy load?
Or does it explode?
Steve, you created more horrors than your cornered life could ever justify.
But, I just have to tell you, Steve: I get it.
It is not America’s gun laws that are the issue when it comes to the mass shootings which occur with banal regularity in the land of the free, it is the gun culture that underpins those laws – a culture symptomatic of the moral sickness the country is suffering from, and for which in 2017 there appears no sign of a cure.
In the wake of the latest mass shooting to erupt in the US, this one at an open-air music festival in Las Vegas – during which 59 people were killed and hundreds more wounded by lone gunman Stephen Paddock, spraying automatic gunfire into the crowd from the window of a room overlooking the event at the Mandalay Bay Hotel – the same debate over America’s notorious gun laws has ensued, involving the usual parade of fulminating defenders of the country’s ‘sacred’ Second Amendment of the US Constitution, enshrining the right of citizens to bear arms.
Said supporters of this provision within the country’s constitution, adopted and ratified in 1791 at a time when automatic and semi-automatic weapons were still centuries away from being invented, have in time honoured fashion been extending themselves in arguing that freedom in America means the freedom to be able to walk into a gun store on any given day and procure enough firepower to wipe out a herd of elephants.
But as mentioned, the question is not over the rights or wrongs of the Second Amendment; the question is the culture of violence married to the near total lack of social cohesion that pervades in a country suffocating under the weight of its own nauseating hypocrisy. This culture and this lack of social cohesion are the underlying causes of the mass shootings and massacres that are so ubiquitous in America that they have become part of the cultural fabric, just like the Superbowl and Kim Kardashian’s tits.
The sentiments of right wing TV host Bill O’Reilly, who described this latest atrocity as the “price of freedom,” while clearly outlandish and utterly contemptible to anyone who’s managed to retain a semblance of sanity, are nonetheless evidence of the mass psychosis that passes for normality in large swathes of America.
In penetrating the foundational myths by which the US sustains itself – rugged individualism, self reliance, the apotheosis of private property and personal wealth, seasoned with Old Testament virtues of work, self discipline, and the exaltation of ‘righteous’ violence – we come face to face with an ugly and suppurating reality in the form of the widespread atomisation of society, white supremacy, along with a pervasive yet irrational fear of central government, fuelled by conspiracy theory. Add to this lethal cocktail the grotesque sense of exceptionalism which informs the country’s political culture, an entertainment industry and celebrity culture that distorts the true measure of human worth and meaning with its worship of obscene wealth and fame, and you are talking a society coming apart at the seams.
Is it any wonder that mental illness is so ubiquitous in a society in which rapacious competitiveness and a religious attachment to acquisition has reduced the lived experience of the majority of its citizens to one of unremitting pressure not only to succeed but for far too many just to survive? On the other side of this dismal equation sits a healthcare system which attests to the core inhumanity that no amount of boasts of America’s innate goodness and promise could possibly elide, providing the ingredients that go into producing mass killers such as Stephen Paddock.
The gun culture in America is also central to law enforcement. The inordinate number of people killed by cops across the country on a regular basis is less to do with trigger-happy police officers in fear of their lives committing catastrophic and fatal errors, and more to do with an ethos of vigilantism born of the dehumanization of the poor and/or of minorities, who make up the vast majority of victims of cop violence across the country. Indeed, in this respect, things have got to the point where within US law enforcement it seems that executing young black males, regardless of whether they happened to be armed or unarmed, has become more acceptable than ‘protecting and serving’.
Analyzing this perverse exaltation of violence in America, author and journalist Chris Hedges writes, “Vigilantes and lone avengers are the popular heroes in American culture. They are celebrated on television and in Hollywood movies. Audiences, especially as they feel economic and political power slipping from their hands, yearn for the violent authority embodied in rogue cops in films such as Dirty Harry or in unrepentant killers such as Bradley Cooper in American Sniper.”
America’s exaltation of violence is likewise reflected in a muscular and aggressive foreign policy that has been responsible for the deaths of more people around the world since the end of the Second World War. Thus, when black civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King, himself assassinated by a crazed lone gunman, described the US government as the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” he never spoke a truer word. They are words attested to by the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the destruction of North Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and not forgetting the countless proxy wars it has funded in Central and South America, the Middle East.
So, yes, we are dealing with a culture in which the capacity for unleashing lethal violence on a mass scale is lauded in movies and on television, in which the veneration of tough cops and the glorification of the military are consonant with the dehumanization of the poor and minorities, and in which the Second Amendment is treated as if the very suggestion it should be reformed is considered sacrilege.
It is why in 2017 the biggest threat to the average American citizen is not North Korea, Russia, or Iran – is not even terrorism – but instead is the organization which exists to protect the right to bear arms, an organization whose money and political influence has succeeded in blocking even the most incremental change to the nation’s gun laws.
That organization is the National Rifle Association, more commonly referred to as the NRA. It is an organization which in a very real sense is dripping in the blood of the 59 victims of this latest mass shooting in Las Vegas, along with that of the countless tens of thousands of victims of gun violence all across America.
Stephen Paddock is neither the moral nor cultural aberration defenders of the Second Amendment assert. In fact, the country’s history is littered with countless thousands of Stephen Paddock’s, unleashing wanton slaughter against native Americans, blacks, and the poor, evidence that the true history of America is a history of psychopathic violence buttressed by the salve of a bible in whose name the crimes that have and continue to be committed are legion.
We have met the enemy and he is us.
After the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas, which has already claimed the lives of 50 people and injured more than 400 more, Nelba Márquez-Greene, mother of Ana Márquez-Greene, a 6-year-old girl who was gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary school in 2012, is sounding off on Twitter in a series of remarkable and heartbreaking comments that puts the blame for yet another mass shooting directly on the shoulders of Congress.
She also wants to know why we don’t confront the true reality that the majority of mass shootings are committed by angry, white men.
Marquez-Greene noted roughly 91 people per day from from guns in the United States and we do nothing.
Can you imagine if ISIS were killing 91 people per day? Ebola? It would be a national emergency and we would commit every single resource we had to stopping the tragedy. Instead, we have a Republican Congress that not only rolled back an Obama administration law making it more difficult for mentally ill people to get guns, they are (or were) going to vote this week to make it easier to purchase gun silencers! You can purchase a gun silencer in the United States by completely a background check and Republicans want to get rid of the background check requirement. How is that helping people in this country?
In a series of 22 tweets, Nelba Márquez-Greene tells it like it is—Congress needs to stop ignoring the grieving mothers and families from every single zip code in this country. They should’ve taken action to protect the life and liberty of all citizens long before now. How many mass shootings will it take?
Frightening attacks on U.S. personnel in Havana struck the heart of America’s spy network in Cuba, with intelligence operatives among the first and most severely affected victims, The Associated Press has learned.
It wasn’t until U.S. spies, posted to the embassy under diplomatic cover, reported hearing bizarre sounds and experiencing even stranger physical effects that the United States realized something was wrong, individuals familiar with the situation said.
While the attacks started within days of President Donald Trump’s surprise election in November, the precise timeline remains unclear, including whether intelligence officers were the first victims hit or merely the first victims to report it. The U.S. has called the situation “ongoing.”
To date, the Trump administration largely has described the 21 victims as U.S. embassy personnel or “members of the diplomatic community.” That description suggested only bona fide diplomats and their family members were struck, with no logical motivation beyond disrupting U.S.-Cuban relations.
Behind the scenes, though, investigators immediately started searching for explanations in the darker, rougher world of spycraft and counterespionage, given that so many of the first reported cases involved intelligence workers posted to the U.S. embassy. That revelation, confirmed to the AP by a half-dozen officials, adds yet another element of mystery to a year-long saga that the Trump administration says may not be over.
The State Department and the CIA declined to comment for this story.
The first disturbing reports of piercing, high-pitched noises and inexplicable ailments pointed to someone deliberately targeting the U.S. government’s intelligence network on the communist-run island, in what seemed like a bone-chilling escalation of the tit-for-tat spy games that Washington and Havana have waged over the last half century.
But the U.S. soon discovered that actual diplomats at the embassy had also been hit by similar attacks, officials said, further confounding the search for a culprit and a motive.
Of the 21 confirmed cases, American spies suffered some of the most acute damage, including brain injury and hearing loss that has not healed, said several U.S. officials who weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the investigation and demanded anonymity. They heard an unsettling sound inside and in some cases outside their Havana homes, described as similar to loud crickets. Then they fell ill.
Over time, the attacks seemed to evolve.
In many of the more recent cases, victims didn’t hear noises and weren’t aware an attack was occurring, identifying the symptoms only later. That has raised concerns among investigators that the attacks may be getting more sophisticated and harder to detect, individuals briefed on the investigation said.
Though the State Department has called all the cases “medically confirmed,” several U.S. officials said it’s unclear whether all of the victims’ symptoms can be conclusively tied to attacks. Considering the deep sense of alarm among Americans working in the embassy, it’s possible some workers attributed unrelated illnesses to attacks.
Almost nothing about what has transpired in Havana is perfectly clear. But this is Cuba.
For decades, Washington and Havana pushed their rivalry to unprecedented levels of covert action. The former enemies tracked each other’s personnel, turned each other’s agents and, in the case of the CIA, even mounted a failed attempt to overthrow the Cuban government in the 1961 “Bay of Pigs” invasion.
There were hopes, though, that the two nations were starting to put that bitter history behind them after renewing diplomatic relations in 2015. When the attacks first occurred, the U.S. and Cuban governments were hard at work on clinching new commercial and immigration agreements. No new spat among intelligence services was publicly known.
Eleven months on, the U.S. cannot guarantee the threat is over. Last week, the State Department warned Americans to stay away from Cuba and ordered more than half the embassy staff to leave indefinitely. The U.S. had previously given all embassy staff the option to come home, but even most of those struck by the mysterious attacks had opted to stay, individuals familiar with the situation said.
For those staying and new arrivals, the U.S. has been giving instructions about what to watch and listen for to identify an attack in progress. They’re also learning steps to take if an attack occurs that could mitigate the risk, officials said.
But the U.S. has not identified whatever device is responsible for the harm. FBI sweeps have turned up nothing.
So to better identify patterns, investigators have created a map detailing specific areas of Cuba’s capital where attacks have occurred, several individuals familiar with the matter said. Three “zones,” or geographic clusters of attacks, cover the homes where U.S. diplomats live and several hotels where attacks occurred, including the historic Hotel Capri.
Since first disclosing the situation in August, the United States had generally avoided the word “attacks.” It called them “incidents” instead until last Friday. Now, the State Department deems them “specific attacks” targeting Americans posted in Havana, without saying what new information, if any, prompted the newfound confidence they were indeed deliberate.
The most obvious motive for attacking Americans in Havana would be to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Cuba. If that’s the case, the strategy appears to be succeeding.
Last week’s embassy drawdown added to the growing friction between the nations. And an accompanying new travel warning deemed Havana’s hotels unsafe for visitors, threatening to drive down tourism, a backbone of Cuba’s economy.
In Havana, American diplomats are frantically selling off possessions — from mattresses to canned goods to children’s toys — and hunting for jobs and places to live in the United States. Many have spent years overseas and don’t have homes waiting for them in the United States.
“Heartbroken? Me too, but this will make you feel better,” one seller posted in a chatroom for foreigners in Cuba, under a picture of a Costco artichoke hearts jar selling for $6.
For Cubans, it may be no better. The U.S. has been providing 20,000 visas a year to Cubans moving to the United States. It has issued thousands more to Cubans wishing to visit family in America. The reduction in U.S. staff in Havana means visa processing there has been suspended indefinitely.
Cuba has vehemently denied involvement or knowledge of the attacks. Some in the U.S. government believe the Cubans may be telling the truth, officials said.
When President Raul Castro denied any culpability in February, he did so on the sidelines a meeting in Havana with five visiting U.S. members of Congress, the AP found. The U.S. had raised complaints about the attacks to Cuba just days earlier through diplomatic channels.
But the visiting lawmakers knew nothing of the attacks taking place in the country they were visiting.
Nor did they know that Castro had used the occasion of their meeting to pull aside Jeff DeLaurentis, then the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba, to say privately that his government was equally alarmed and willing to help.
The lawmakers all declined to comment. Cuban officials say they’re disappointed in the U.S. retaliatory measures but will continue cooperating with the investigation.
NYC’s MTA chairman: “I’m not at liberty to discuss that”
It’s been two-and-a-half days since Hurricane Maria barreled through Puerto Rico, slamming the island of more than 3.5 million people with torrential rains, winds, and flooding the likes of which haven’t been seen in nearly a century. The latest reports indicate that at least six people have been killed in Puerto Rico (and 27 total throughout the Caribbean) as a result of the storm, but that figure is likely to rise as authorities make their way through areas still cut off from communications and rescue operations, according to the Associated Press. As of Friday, much of the island was still without power and working cell phone networks; El Nuevo Dia, one of Puerto Rico’s main news organizations, is reporting that dozens of municipalities are still “incommunicado.” Carlos Mercader, the Washington, D.C.-based representative of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, says that there are likely more municipalities still cut off, and that authorities still don’t know the full scope of the damage, noting that even he can’t get in touch with his parents who live in the western part of the island. “That whole west side is totally compromised in terms of communication,” he tells Mother Jones. Meanwhile, Guajataca Dam in the northwestern part of the island suffered a “failure,” according to the National Weather Service, causing the evacuation of at least 10,000 people in the area, Mercader says.
Here we look ahead at what’s next for the island.
What is the latest with the federal response?
President Trump signed a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico on Thursday, paving the way for federal support for things such as grants for temporary housing and home repairs, loans for uninsured property losses, and other federal programs. Making matters more complicated is Puerto Rico’s dire financial situation. Jennifer González-Colón, the island’s non-voting representative to Congress, sent a letter to the president that same day asking that he waive FEMA’s cost-sharing requirements, which typically requires a 25 percent match from local jurisdictions.
The federal government began flying supplies in to Puerto Rico on Thursday morning, including water, helicopters, trucks, and equipment to clear the roads, Mercader says. On Friday morning, after a request from Gov. Rosselló, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo assembled a relief flight that included large-scale generators, 34,000 bottles of water, 10,000 ready-to-eat meals, along with thousands of cots and blankets, according to CNBC. Rosselló told MSNBC Friday that all supplies were being coordinated through a logistics center and will then be distributed through 12 zones on the island, the New York Times reports.
The US Department of Energy reported as of 4 p.m. ET Friday that all of the island’s major ports were closed and that the US Postal Service had closed all of its facilities.
How long will it take to restore power?
The Department of Energy report noted that nearly all of the 1.57 million power customers on the island were without power, and “all generation assets are believed to be offline.” Local authorities have estimated that it could take four to six months to fully restore power across the island. Mercader says that FEMA, in coordination with local authorities, is working to get electricity and communications back up as quickly as possible, but the process could still take weeks.
“We just spoke to someone on the ground from one of the agencies that has war experience, and he says [it’s like] a war zone, [similar to] when he served in Afghanistan,” Mercader says. “We are saying that the devastation is total. It’s complete devastation.”
New York Power Authority CEO Gil Quiniones also traveled to Puerto Rico with a 10-person team, including drone operators, to help assess the damage to the island’s main electricity provider, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), which was already reeling under billions in debt and years of deferred maintenance due to the inability to fund it. PREPA Executive Director Ricardo Ramos said Thursday that the company would not begin normal operations until at least Monday “in an effort to avoid jeopardizing the safety of its employees.”
PREPA already suffered $400 million in damages from Hurricane Irma in early September.
How will this impact the ongoing fiscal crisis?
Puerto Rico, in the midst of a 10-year economic downturn and dealing with structural colonial economic issues, was already reeling financially. With more than $120 billion in outstanding debt and pension obligations, the island sought to restructure debts under a law signed by President Obama in 2016. The 2016 law allowed the island’s government to seek a form of bankruptcy earlier this year, created a financial review board that would manage the island’s spending and, theoretically, work out debt repayment arrangements with the island’s creditors. So far, as Slate wrote Friday, the board has cut public spending by 30 percent, closed many schools, and lowered the minimum wage for younger workers.
Former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño told Politico that any plans made between the governor and the fiscal control board were based on assumptions that were “out the window now,” and that there was “no way” the governor was going to be able to hit the budget set by the board. The board did allow Rosselló to reallocate $1 billion for emergency response efforts, Politico notes, and told the governor that it would “expeditiously approve” additional budget issues that come up as a result of Hurricane Maria.
Members of Congress are already discussing aid packages for Puerto Rico. But there are also fears that hedge funds will use the crisis as a means to further push privatization on the island, and that unless Congress steps up with a package that truly helps, the island’s residents and union workers will lose out.
“Now the island will need massive infusions of captial to rebuild,” David Dayen writes in the American Prospect. “The hedge funds have the wealth to provide it, and have reaped more than enough profit from the picked carcass of Puerto Rico that they can easily afford to give something back … The hard-hearted business decsison to capitalize on suffering isn’t likely to soften now.”