The “war on drugs” is the third worst domestic policy the United States has pursued in the entire history of the nation, after slavery and the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people. Drug prohibition is the modern version of crusades against witchcraft. https://www.amazon.com/Ceremonial-Chemistry…/dp/0815607687
By Bob Egelko
San Francisco Gate
San Francisco’s chief judge says he and his colleagues discarded 66,000 arrest warrants issued over five years for quality-of-life crimes, like sleeping on the sidewalk, because it made no sense to lock people up for fines they couldn’t afford.
The crimes, which also include urinating on sidewalks and being drunk in public, are infractions punishable only by fines. But when those who were cited failed to show up in court, judges in the past have issued bench warrants ordering them to appear, with a sentence of five days in jail for failing to show up.
But San Francisco Superior Court judges stopped issuing the warrants a year ago and recently disposed of about 66,000 bench warrants issued since January 2011. The city’s police union and some members of the public have protested, but Presiding Judge John Stewart defended the court’s action Tuesday in a meeting with The Chronicle’s editorial board.
“You’re putting somebody in jail because they’re poor and can’t pay a fine,” he said. “We got a lot of criticism, but we thought it was the right thing to do.”
By Jacob Sullum
Seychelles, a group of 115 islands off the east coast of Africa with 92,000 residents, does not figure prominently on many lists, but it leads the world in locking people up. It is the only country with a higher incarceration rate than the United States.
If the reforms recommended in a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice were fully implemented, the U.S. would fall from second to fourth place on that list—behind Seychelles, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Turkmenistan, but still far ahead of every other liberal democracy, not to mention Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe. The report is nevertheless an admirable effort to grapple with the morally and fiscally pressing question of who belongs behind bars and who doesn’t.
Between 1974 and 2007, the U.S. imprisonment rate (excluding people in local jails) soared from 102 to 506 per 100,000, thanks to changes in sentencing (including mandatory minimums and “three strikes” laws), parole (including “truth in sentencing” laws), and prosecutorial practices (including an increased tendency to bring charges). Since 2007 the imprisonment rate has declined a bit, but it is still more than four times as high as in the mid-1970s.
This imprisonment binge was largely a response to crime rates, which rose dramatically from the 1960s until the early ’90s, when they began a long slide. Today the violent and property crime rates are half what they were in 1991.
By Alex Emmons
The ACLU has identified 23 legal opinions that contain new or significant interpretations of surveillance law — affecting the government’s use of malware, its attempts to compel technology companies to circumvent encryption, and the CIA’s bulk collection of financial records under the Patriot Act — all of which remain secret to this day, despite an ostensible push for greater transparency following Edward Snowden’s disclosures.
The opinions were written by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. On Wednesday, the ACLU and the Yale Law School Media Freedom Clinic filed a motion with the court requesting that those opinions be released.
“The people of this country can’t hold the government accountable for its surveillance activities unless they know what our laws allow,” said Patrick Toomey, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project. “These secret court opinions define the limits of the government’s spying powers. Their disclosure is essential for meaningful public oversight in our democracy.”
Some of the opinions identified by the ACLU offer interpretations of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a controversial provision that allows the government to conduct mass surveillance on American’s transnational communications. The authority is set to expire in December 2017.
Disclosure of the opinions would shed light on how the government understands the boundaries of its spying power. Earlier this month, for example, after Reuters reported that Yahoo is secretly scanning every customer’s incoming email, anonymous officials told the New York Times that that action was based on an individualized order from the secret court. Disclosure of the order would offer insight into why the government thinks that is legal. Yahoo, for its part, on Wednesday urged the Director of National Intelligence to release and explain the court order in question.
The ACLU identified the 23 still-secret opinions by combing through press clippings and publicly released opinions. A report released Tuesday by the Brennan Center for Justice, which was based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, similarly found that the government has kept classified 25 to 30 significant court opinions and orders dating from 2003 to 2013.
Congress established the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) in 1978 to approve warrants against foreign agents and spies. But after the attacks of September 11, 2001, it took on a dramatically expanded role, secretly interpreting surveillance laws for law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
The court meets in secret, and until the recent inclusion of specially designated “friends of the court,” only the government was represented before it. Critics of the FISC argue that its opinions amount to “secret law” that is not approved by Congress, and cannot be appealed.
In 2013, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the FISC had authorized the bulk collection of American’s phone records, despite the fact that the law only allowed the collection of records “relevant to an authorized investigation.”
So says former Black Panther leader Elaine Brown. Here’s the money quote:
“When it first formed, armed BPP members patrolled Oakland neighbourhoods – in their iconic blue-shirt, leather jacket, black beret combo – to keep an eye on the police. They were caricatured as violent militants, but they were standing up for rights as old as the Constitution itself. Newton, a law student, made himself an expert on gun law. Whenever the cops piped up, he’d blast them with the Second Amendment, Supreme Court judgements, chapter and verse: ‘I will observe you carrying out your duties whether you like it or not!’
By Tom Slater
“I don’t know what Black Lives Matter does, so I can’t tell you how it compares to what the Black Panther Party was. I know what the BPP was. I know the lives we lost, the struggle we put into place, the efforts we made, the assaults on us by the police and government – I know all that. I don’t know what Black Lives Matter does. So if you can tell me, I’ll give you my thoughts.’
So says Elaine Brown, activist, singer and former chairwoman of the Black Panther Party, talking to me from her home in Oakland, California. She doesn’t like my question. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary, socialist, black-power organisation formed in Oakland by then college students Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. And, as journalists scrabble to pen pieces about ‘what’s changed’, cack-handed comparisons abound.
I ask Brown about Black Lives Matter, the movement that erupted in the wake of the shooting of Mike Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. This nebulous hashtag-come-protest movement has been compared – both by its supporters and detractors – with the BPP; it’s either hailed as a continuation of the struggle or slammed as a resurgence in ‘divisive’, ‘militant’ black nationalism. Talking to Brown it becomes clear that both sides give BLM too much credit.
‘There is no comparison’, she says. ‘The next wave of young people running out here, who are complaining and protesting about the murders of young black men and women by the police all over the country, they will protest but they will not rise up in an organised fashion, with an agenda, to create revolutionary change… We advocated community self-defence organisations to be formed, so that we would not be assaulted by the police, so that we would bear arms and assume our human rights.’
In the face of a particularly pitiful election selection, Ann Sterzinger makes the case for giving oneself the first and final vote.
Personally, were I American, I’d either just stay home or turn up only to draw a cock on the ballot paper, in line with my anti-democratic precedent (#Brexit exempted). Still, I suppose voting for oneself, or “no confidence”, works as another way to inoculate oneself from the pozz of the team-sport/herd-animal mentality undergirding electoral politics.
Also: Hurhur…she said “minge”….
On September 9th, 24,000 inmates across the United States launched what they say is the largest prison strike in the nation’s history. VICE News spoke to Bennu Hannibal, a lead organizer in the protest against poor living conditions and forced labor. Hannibal is currently in solitary confinement and although his prison has not gone on strike, he’s used a smuggled phone to inspire prisoners across the country to take action.
(Written early in the 21st century for a Roger Scruton publication)
The libertarian position on drugs is simply stated. People should have the right to do with themselves as they please. This necessarily includes the right to take any drugs they please – for recreation or for medication. No one else automatically has the right to interfere with such choices, unless they can be shown to involve force or fraud or some attack on the whole community that threatens its dissolution.
Taking drugs in consenting company is not an act of the first kind – it causes no one else the sort of harm against which they can legitimately demand protection. Nor is it an act of the second kind. We are told endlessly that drugs are a danger to social stability – that they lead to crime and degradation and so forth. There is no evidence for this claim.
The British past provides a compelling example. Until 1920, drug use was uncontrolled. Between 1827 and 1859, British opium consumption rose from 17,000lb to 61,000lb. Workmen mixed it in their beer. Gladstone took it in his coffee before speaking. Scott wrote The Bride of Lammermoor under its influence. Dickens and Wilkie Collins were both heavy users. Cannabis and heroin were openly on sale. There was no social collapse. There were few deaths from taking drugs. Most deaths involving opium were individual accidents, and even these were negligible – excluding suicides, 104 in 1868 and thereafter to 1901 an annual average of 95. Hardly anyone even recognised that a problem might exist.
In honor of the September 9, 1971 Attica prisoner uprising, a nationally coordinated prisoner work stoppage has begun today. Reports say that a full work stoppage has occurred at Holman prison in Alabama. Chelsea Manning has also begun a hunger strike. Other strikes and actions have been reported in prisons in South Carolina, North Carolina, Kansas, New York, California, Virginia, Florida and Guantanamo. The Nation has reported that this may turn into the largest prison strike in US history.
Organizers have called this strike to end the slave conditions in US prisons, saying:
They may have replaced the whip with pepper spray, but many of the other torments remain: isolation, restraint positions, stripping off our clothes and investigating our bodies as though we are animals.
The full call to action is republished below.
Prisoners from across the United States have just released this call to action for a nationally coordinated prisoner workstoppage against prison slavery to take place on September 9th, 2016.
This is a Call to Action Against Slavery in America
By John W. Whitehead
There is nothing more dangerous than a government of the many. The U.S. government remains the greatest threat to our freedoms.
The systemic violence being perpetrated by agents of the government has done more collective harm to the American people and our liberties than any single act of terror.
More than terrorism, more than domestic extremism, more than gun violence and organized crime, the U.S. government has become a greater menace to the life, liberty and property of its citizens than any of the so-called dangers from which the government claims to protect us.
This is how tyranny rises and freedom falls.
As I explain in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, when the government views itself as superior to the citizenry, when it no longer operates for the benefit of the people, when the people are no longer able to peacefully reform their government, when government officials cease to act like public servants, when elected officials no longer represent the will of the people, when the government routinely violates the rights of the people and perpetrates more violence against the citizenry than the criminal class, when government spending is unaccountable and unaccounted for, when the judiciary act as courts of order rather than justice, and when the government is no longer bound by the laws of the Constitution, then you no longer have a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
What we have is a government of wolves.
Worse than that, we are now being ruled by a government of scoundrels, spies, thugs, thieves, gangsters, ruffians, rapists, extortionists, bounty hunters, battle-ready warriors and cold-blooded killers who communicate using a language of force and oppression.
By John W. Whitehead
August 1, 2016
“The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”—Joseph Stalin, dictator of the Soviet Union
No, America, you don’t have to vote.
In fact, vote or don’t vote, the police state will continue to trample us underfoot.
Devil or deliverer, the candidate who wins the White House has already made a Faustian bargain to keep the police state in power. It’s no longer a question of which party will usher in totalitarianism but when the final hammer will fall.
Sure we’re being given choices, but the differences between the candidates are purely cosmetic ones, lacking any real nutritional value for the nation. We’re being served a poisoned feast whose aftereffects will leave us in turmoil for years to come.
We’ve been here before.
Remember Barack Obama, the young candidate who campaigned on a message of hope, change and transparency, and promised an end to war and surveillance?
Look how well that turned out.
Under Obama, government whistleblowers are routinely prosecuted, U.S. arms sales have skyrocketed, police militarization has accelerated, and surveillance has become widespread. The U.S. government is literally arming the world, while bombing the heck out of the planet. And while they’re at it, the government is bringing the wars abroad home, transforming American communities into shell-shocked battlefields where the Constitution provides little in the way of protection.
Yes, we’re worse off now than we were eight years ago.
We’re being subjected to more government surveillance, more police abuse, more SWAT team raids, more roadside strip searches, more censorship, more prison time, more egregious laws, more endless wars, more invasive technology, more militarization, more injustice, more corruption, more cronyism, more graft, more lies, and more of everything that has turned the American dream into the American nightmare.
What we’re not getting more of: elected officials who actually represent us.
The American people are being guilted, bullied, pressured, cajoled, intimidated, terrorized and browbeaten into voting. We’re constantly told to vote because it’s your so-called civic duty, because you have no right to complain about the government unless you vote, because every vote counts, because we must present a unified front, because the future of the nation depends on it, because God compels us to do so, because by not voting you are in fact voting, because the “other” candidate must be defeated at all costs, or because the future of the Supreme Court rests in the balance.
The right-wing will likely criticize Obama for wanting to nationalize law enforcement, and then vote for Trump so he can actually make it happen.
By Claude Brodessor-Akner
Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump may soon call for the federal government to provide the nation’s 800,000 police officers with training in anti-terrorism intelligence gathering, according to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an adviser to the candidate.
“I am suggesting that the federal government take on as a mission the training all of our 800,000 sworn police officers so they can notice the precursors of terrorism,” Giuliani told NJ Advance Media on Tuesday.
Giuliani, a former associate U.S. Attorney General, has been advising Trump on terrorism since May. Giuliani’s working group’s recommendations prompted Trump to shift his position from calling for a ban of all Muslims from entering the U.S. to simply vetting those from “terror countries,” as Trump put it.
Giuliani said all recent domestic terror attacks, from the Boston marathon bombing in April 2013 to the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. earlier this month, were later found to have a trail of unaddressed warning signs leading to them.
“Every one of these acts, there were things that could have been done to prevent it,” said Giuliani. “But because of political correctness, or lack of resources, we didn’t follow up.”
Giuliani added that Trump had reacted “very positively” to his memo, and took the recommendations on-board, just as he had with the reversal of the Muslim immigration ban.
If embraced by a President Trump, it’s not clear whether the recommendations would blur the traditional distinction between intelligence gathering and law enforcement.
This is a very good overview of how the present state of affairs came into being.
How did we get here? The numbers are chilling: 2.2 million people behind bars, another 4.7 million on parole or probation. Even small-town cops are armed like soldiers, with a thoroughly militarized southern border.
The common leftist explanation for this is “the prison-industrial complex,” suggesting that the buildup is largely privatized and has been driven by parasitic corporate lobbying. But the facts don’t support an economistic explanation. Private prisons only control 8 percent of prison beds. Nor do for-profit corporations use much prison labor. Nor even are guards’ unions, though strong in a few important states, driving the buildup.
The vast majority of the American police state remains firmly within the public sector. But this does not mean the criminal justice buildup has nothing to do with capitalism. At its heart, the new American repression is very much about the restoration and maintenance of ruling class power.
Few people understand the price of overregulation like Harvey Silverglate. Over his long career as an attorney and journalist, Silverglate has seen the rising bureaucratic class enact hundreds of thousands of federal regulations and vaguely-worded statutes. The result has been the criminalization of everyday life. From university campuses to corporate boardrooms, ever more citizens are facing severe punishments for behavior that was once considered harmless.
Silverglate himself has been repeatedly pursued by the FBI, only to see the investigations come to nothing.
On Monday the US Supreme Court ruled to uphold evidence gathered during an illegal investigatory stop in Utah. The case, Utah vs. Strieff, has wide implications for the 4th Amendment, which protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.
The Supreme Court decided that even if the stop of Edward Strieff by narcotics detective Douglas Fackrell was illegal, the evidence gathered during that stop is admissible in court for Strieff’s prosecution. Strieff was stopped by detective Fackrell after he was observed leaving a suspected drug house. Fackrell found drug contraband on Strieff only minutes after the stop, and then discovered an outstanding warrant for Strieff’s arrest. The Supreme Court ruled that the discovery of a valid, pre-existing warrant unconnected to the investigation was enough to make the search and evidence legal and that “Officer Fackrell’s purpose was not to conduct a suspicionless fishing expedition but was to gather information about activity inside a house whose occupants were legitimately suspected of dealing drugs.”
This is getting weird.
Omar Mateen, the suspected gunman behind the Orlando Pulse Nightclub massacre, appears to have an entry in the Internet Movie Database. The entry gives him credit for appearances in two movies. In 2012 he appeared as himself in The Big Fix, a documentary that examines the April 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Footage of Mateen can be seen on Streamable. Mateen was apparently a security guard at an oil spill clean up site where he told film makers “no one gives a shit here. Everybody is just out to get paid. They’re hoping for more oil to come out and more people to complain so they’ll have jobs. Because once people get laid off it’s going to suck for them. They want more disaster to happen, because that’s where their money making is… it’s all about the money.”
As more and more evidence emerges regarding the mass shooting in an Orlando gay club that resulted in the death of at least 52 people and many more injured, signs are increasingly pointing toward the possibility of a false flag operation.
Already, a number of points lend credence to those who might suggest that intelligence agencies more so than desert-dwelling terrorist organizations are responsible for organizing and directing the attacks. A number of questionable aspects regarding this shooting include:
- The FBI knew about the shooter and investigated him prior to the attack.
- The shooter had a connection to a known ISIS recruiter.
- The shooter’s father was a former “Afghan presidential candidate” who supported the Taliban.
- The FBI’s history in creating terrorism.
June 12, 2016
Early Sunday, around 2AM Eastern Time, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was attacked by an armed individual. Approximately 20 persons were killed and over double that wounded when the attacker, whom police have identified as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old from Fort Pierce, FL, pushed his way into the club and opened fire on patrons. Weapons carried by Mateen are reported as an “assault-type” rifle, a handgun, and a suspected explosive device. UPDATE: Reports are that the death toll is around 50, with over 50 more wounded.
“It appears he was organized and well-prepared,” said Orlando Police Chief John Mina at a news conference on Sunday. Additionally, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said “This is an incident … that we certainly classify as a domestic terror incident.” Authorities say the FBI is involved. Preliminary information reveals that Omar Mateen’s family is from Afghanistan, though Omar may have been born in the United States. His family is reported to be distraught at the actions and loss of their son.
The necessity of overthrowing the police state and related institutions is the most serious domestic issue in the United States at present. What’s interesting is that virtually the entire range of informed opinion recognizes this to some degree though the analytical framework and specific criticisms may vary considerably.
Mapping the New Jim Crow-a liberal perspective from Ta-Neshi Coates
Black and Liberal Complicity in Mass Incarceration by R.L. Stephens II
“New Jim Crow” Theory Doesn’t Go Far Enough-an anarcho-communist perspective
The Role of the Clinton Democrats in Mass Incarceration by Michelle Alexander
The Truth About Mass Incarceration– a social conservative recognizes certain excesses
Too Many Laws, Too Many Criminals-on federal overcriminalization
The Role of the War on Drugs in Mass Incarceration by Bill Frezza
The Racial Aspect of the History of Drug Prohibition in the U.S. Business Insider
A Comparison of U.S. Drug Prohibition and Nuremberg Racial Laws by Peter Webster
The Collapse of American Criminal Justice by William Stuntz
IN A sense, this is a golden age for free speech. Your smartphone can call up newspapers from the other side of world in seconds. More than a billion tweets, Facebook posts and blog updates are published every single day. Anyone with access to the internet can be a publisher, and anyone who can reach Wikipedia enters a digital haven where America’s First Amendment reigns.
However, watchdogs report that speaking out is becoming more dangerous—and they are right. As our report shows, curbs on free speech have grown tighter. Without the contest of ideas, the world is timid and ignorant.
Free speech is under attack in three ways. First, repression by governments has increased. Several countries have reimposed cold-war controls or introduced new ones. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia enjoyed a free-for-all of vigorous debate. Under Vladimir Putin, the muzzle has tightened again. All the main television-news outlets are now controlled by the state or by Mr Putin’s cronies. Journalists who ask awkward questions are no longer likely to be sent to labour camps, but several have been murdered.
By Elizabeth Nolan Brown
“Sex Trafficking of Americans: The Girls Next Door.”
“Sex-trafficking sweep nets arrests near Phoenix truck stops.”
“Man becomes 1st jailed under new human trafficking law.”
Conduct a Google news search for the word trafficking in 2015 and you’ll find pages of stories about the commercial sex trade, in which hundreds of thousands of U.S. women and children are supposedly trapped by coercion or force.