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71

      

By Mac Slavo


Food prices have skyrocketed in China amidst the ongoing coronavirus outbreak plaguing the country. Food prices are soaring more than 20% according to government statistics released Monday.


China’s consumer price index (CPI) spiked 5.4% compared to this time last year, the country’s state-run media organization Xinhua reported, citing the National Bureau of Statistics data released Monday. The CPI is the main barometer for inflation levels.


All of this could easily spiral out of control especially if this outbreak continues its rapid spread and begins to impact other countries. Imagine a country addicted to food with large enough people making a run on grocery stores (like the United States.)  It could get really ugly really quickly.



Food prices climbed more than 20% compared to this time last year — up more than 17% from December, according to Xinhua. Pork prices rose a staggering 116% compared to last year, and vegetable prices more than 17%.


Many attribute the soaring pork costs also in part to the outbreak of an African swine fever in China that disrupted the pork industry in 2019.


A Carrefour supermarket in Shanghai was fined last week by city regulators for price-gouging after its lettuce surged to nearly eight times its regular prices amid the outbreak, the Wall Street Journal reported. –ABC News



It probably wasn’t price-gouging either, but supply and demand that’s at play here.  Food supply is low due to decreased production during the outbreak, meaning scarcity makes it more valuable and therefore more expensive.


The rising food costs in China come as its National Health Commission said Monday that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases is more than 40,000, and the number of deaths from the disease in mainland China is more than 900. As productivity continues to diminish in the face of the raging outbreak, the price will continue to go up.



Article source: SHTFPlan.com


Image: Pixabay


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72

      

By Alan Macleod


After refusing to sign a pledge of allegiance to the state of Israel, the state of Georgia shut down a media literacy conference featuring journalist and filmmaker Abby Martin at Georgia Southern University. Martin had recently released a documentary critical of the Israeli government called Gaza Fights for Freedom. Now she is suing the state, claiming the decision is a violation of the First Amendment. Along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), today she filed a federal free speech lawsuit against the university system of Georgia.


Martin was dismayed by the university’s decision: “This censorship of my talk based on forced compliance to anti-BDS laws in Georgia is just one level of a nationwide campaign to protect Israel from grassroots pressure. We must stand firmly opposed to these efforts and not cower in fear to these blatant violations of free speech,” she said.


         



      

Twenty-eight states have already mandated loyalty pledges to Israel as a means to outlaw dissent. But in December, President Trump passed legislation effectively criminalizing the Boycott Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement that aims to put pressure on the Jewish state through economic action, along the lines of the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. The law mandates that any public institution would be subject to losing all funding if the government deems that they are not doing enough to stamp out anti-Semitism, which, it explicitly states, includes any criticism of the Israeli government. In December, MintPress reported that the British government under Boris Johnson is planning to introduce similar legislation.


“The hyperbolic notion that conservatives are the ones being persecuted on college campuses has made blatant censorship campaigns against people for criticism of Israel, or other progressive protests, go completely ignored,” Martin wrote.


CAIR’s Legal Defense Fund Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas said,


There is no place where free speech is more important than on campus. And this attempt to suppress Abby’s views ­– denying students, academics, and others from hearing her lecture – is as brazen as it is illegal. In adopting this anti-BDS law, Georgia has prioritized the policy preferences of a foreign country over the free speech rights of Americans, like Abby, who speak on this state’s college campuses.”






The PCJF likened the BDS movement to the boycotts of the civil rights movement in the mid-twentieth century, its Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard described the laws as “extraordinary, outrageous, illegal and unconstitutional.” In 1956 Martin Luther King and his movement were criminalized for carrying out boycotts, as Southern states passed legislation to penalize their behavior, only for it to be later struck down by the Supreme Court. This is what Martin and the alliance of non-governmental organizations is hoping will happen here too. Why should I have to “contractually pledge loyalty to a foreign country?” she asked at her press conference today.


In 2016, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a law requiring any person or organization entering into a contract with the state worth at least $1,000 sign an oath promising that they would not oppose the Israeli government in any fashion. CAIR has reason to believe they could overturn the law its Georgia Executive Director, Edward Ahmed Mitchell, called “blatantly and hilariously unconstitutional.”


In 2018, Bahia Amawi, a Houston-based children’s speech pathologist who worked with autistic, speech-impaired and other developmentally disabled children, lost her job after she refused to sign a similar document. Amawi had been at her job for nine years previously without a problem. CAIR took up Amawi’s case and managed to overturn every Texas boycott law on the grounds of their unconstitutionality and she is now free to return to work. They appear confident of a similar victory in Georgia.


Martin began as a citizen journalist covering the Occupy movement in her native California. From 2012 to 2015 she hosted the show Breaking the Set on RT. In the famous D.N.I. report into alleged Russian interference into the 2016 election, the U.S. government accused her of “promoting radical discontent” in America, something she appears to wear as a badge of honor. Her current documentary series, Empire Files, is broadcast on TeleSUR English. However, due to sanctions against the Venezuelan government, Gaza Fights for Freedom was crowdfunded. She is also the host of Media Roots Radio.





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Feature photo | Journalist Abby Martin announces a federal free speech lawsuit to overturn Georgia’s unconstitutional Israel boycott in partnership with CAIR and the Partnership for Justice Fund. Photo | Facebook Screenshot


Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, Common Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.


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73

      

By John Vibes


For years, Apple and other smartphone makers were rumored to slow down their older models, and the company finally admitted to the practice in 2017, but claimed that it was a necessary measure to “prolong the life” of the devices.


Many customers weren’t buying the excuse, and in France, the company was fined 25 million euros (£21m, $27m) for not notifying customers that their device would have a reduced function after a certain period of time.


Many customers and critics expected that Apple was slowing down their old phones at the same time as their new releases so people were more inclined to upgrade. Some have accused Apple of developing a “planned obsolescence,” production strategy, which ensures that products will break after a certain time so customers will be forced to come back and buy a replacement.


         



      

However, Apple insisted that newer apps and updates resulted in increased pressure on the lithium-ion batteries in the phones which could end up causing damage to both the battery and the phone. The company said that slowing down the devices was a way of mitigating this risk.


Still, the French competition and fraud watchdog DGCCRF said that customers should have been warned about this potentiality.


The group says that Apple “committed the crime of deceptive commercial practice by omission.” The company was forced to pay the fine of 25 million euros, and place a notice about the practice on the website for its French markets for one month.


Now that everything is out in the open, Apple still slows down their old phones, for the same reasons they described in their initial defense. However, they promise that this should get less noticeable as the technology advances.


“The effects of performance management on these newer models may be less noticeable due to their more advanced hardware and software design,” a statement from Apple said, according to the BBC.


Customers are still extremely suspicious of the practice. In September of 2011, iPhone 10 users were voicing concerns that their device began giving them trouble as soon as the iPhone 11 was announced.






74
Huffington Post General Discussion / How China Is Changing The World Now!
« Last post by administrator on February 10, 2020, 07:29:39 PM »

      

By Neenah Payne


Discussion of China now evokes only images of the coronavirus crisis. However, that will hopefully pass soon – like the SARS, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, and Ebola “pandemics”! Then the world will need to know how China is changing the world.


My previous article, “When China Rules The World!” shows the rapid rise of China in the last 50 years and the growing decline of the West after the 2008 crisis. However, most Americans are probably not aware of the many ways in which China is setting new world standards as the US spends billions of dollars on the War on Terror after almost 20 years and its ongoing destruction of the Middle East.


China is surging ahead now with its high-speed bullet trains, education, eradication of poverty, The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aka The New Silk Road, massive investment in infrastructure all across Africa that is making friends of the 55 African nations, and the growing Chinese student enrollment in the US.


         



      

Perhaps one of the most subtle ways China is establishing its lead now is through the quiet diplomacy of President Xi Jinping. Trump often takes a belligerent stance toward other countries and world leaders and has called Xi an “enemy”. However, Xi refers to Trump as a “friend” and he is quietly winning over one country after another – including Britain, one of the reasons for China’s “Century of Humiliation.” As Xi was welcomed royally in Britain, he invested billions of dollars and introduced a Chinese bond. It is a new day when the “developing world” is investing in the developed world!




President Xi is also quietly befriending Americans from students in Washington state to farmers in Iowa. When Xi visited Lincoln High School in Takoma, Washington, he spoke of his long-term connection to the city. When he announced that he was inviting 100 students to visit China, he got a standing ovation. Those students will become ambassadors for China with their families, neighbors, and friends. Their trip will be covered in the Tacoma press and the city will be the envy of surrounding cities and states.


When Xi visited Iowa, it was again a return visit and he spent time in the home of friends he had made on his first trip as a student years earlier. During his visit, Xi signed the largest soybean deal every made in a single visit. It is hard to focus on competing with an “enemy” who is such a good friend!


Britain’s State Welcome For Xi Jinping


Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “super” state visit to the UK explains that President Xi’s visit was the first by a Chinese president to the UK in a decade. Queen Elizabeth rolled out the red carpet for the state visit of President Xi in 2015. Queen Elizabeth II welcomed the Chinese president at Horse Guards Parade in London. Xi inspected the guard of honor with the Duke of Edinburgh. The president joined the royal family for a state carriage procession to Buckingham Palace for a state banquet.



The two countries agreed to build a global partnership for the 21st century. About 40 billion pounds in deals were struck including the landmark Hinkley Point nuclear power project in southwest England. That marked the first deal between China and a developed country in a major strategic industry. The two sides made headway in financial cooperation. China agreed to issue RMB sovereign bonds in London, the first of its kind outside China. China’s relationship with the UK could provide a template for China’s relationship with the European Union. President Xi called on Britain to join China in establishing a new golden era.


Given that Britain just returned Hong Kong to China in 1997, ending China’s “Century of Humiliation”, this resplendent welcome of President Xi helped heal those old wounds. Perhaps more importantly, it established China as a global leader now surpassing the British Empire. For China to have the resources to finance Great Britain’s nuclear power project establishes China as a dominant power. For China to issue bonds in London means that China is offering the British people the opportunity to make money by investing in China! How the tables have turned!


President Xi’s style of “Soft Power” and diplomacy is winning friends for China around the world.


President Xi’s Visit to Lincoln High School USA


President Xi may not find it as easy to establish warm relations with President Trump as he has with Queen Elizabeth. However, he has found another way to connect very warmly to America. The video “China’s President Xi Jinping visits Lincoln High School” shows Xi’s visit in Tacoma, Washington. Xi was accompanied by his famous wife Peng Liyuan, a Chinese folk singer. The high school choir sang a song for which Madame Peng is famous and she stood to take a bow when that was announced.



President Xi took the stage after the choir’s performance and announced the gift of many books about China that he had donated to the school. He said he had also given the school a ping pong table. When President Xi announced that he was inviting 100 students from the high school to visit China, the audience stood and roared its enthusiastic approval! Of course, that visit will have to be postponed now until the coronavirus crisis is fully resolved!



The 2012 book Together They Hold Up the Sky: The Story of China’s XI Jinping and Peng Liyuan says:



Very few Chinese names have become, as Shakespeare’s Henry V put it: “Familiar in his mouth as household words” to many westerners. Mao, Confucius, Yao Ming, Jackie Chan — there aren’t many. But that is about to change. China’s in the midst of its once-in-a-decade political power transition. The Chinese “princeling” Xi Jinping seems set to assume the Presidency of China in March 2013.


[…]


Peng Liyuan (pronounced ‘Pung Lee-yahn’) has been a household name in China for thirty years. Often known as “the Singing General”, Peng Liyuan is a glamorous and gifted folk singer and operatic soprano as well as being a Major General in the People’s Liberation Army. She is instantly recognizable throughout China and enjoys the adoration of the Chinese people. She is also “the Daughter of the Party” and extremely influential and well-connected regarding politics and the arts in China.


Together, Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan are the new “power couple” on the world stage.



The book adds:


A Chinese official without hint of scandal in today’s circumstances is very rare, so rare that Xi Jinping runs the risk of becoming a mysterious man as a result. So it is with his wife, Peng Liyuan, a top celebrity singer also without any scandal or rumor. Even with her huge name, she has never made a single commercial or endorsement, and nor is there even a slight stain on her long and very public career. Both of them should make us wonder, how did they do it? A famous, beautiful and glamorous singer and a son of one of the highest ranking officials become a power couple, live largely separate lives publicly, and end up leading China – nothing could arouse more interest than their stories! For all these reasons they deserve to be in the focus of the media for some time to come.






The Mayor of Tacoma, Washington welcomed President Xi and Madame Peng for their second visit to the city after 21 years. In 1994, Tacoma established a sister-city relationship with Fuzhou, China, the capital of the Fujian province. Tacoma has hosted more than 30 delegations for educational, cultural, and business exchanges. In his remarks, Xi explained that he came to Takoma more than 20 years ago as part of a delegation from Fujian. He was the Party Secretary of Fuzhou and witnessed the signing of the sister-cities agreement. He later became governor of Fujian province.


President Xi’s willingness to take time out from his busy schedule restoring China, building the New Silk Road, building infrastructure all across Africa and meeting with heads of state around the world to meet at a high school is part of what makes him an exceptionally warm global leader. The fact that Xi has such a long-term connection to Tacoma and Fujian made the visit even more special. Xi is showing a commitment to a collaborative relationship with America.



President Xi Visits Old Friends in Iowa


President Xi studied agriculture in Iowa. In April 1985, Xi arrived in Muscatine for two weeks with a Chinese delegation studying farming technology. The future Chinese leader got a first-hand look at how American agriculture. Doyle Tubandt, president of Muscatine Foods Corporation, recalled how Xi discussed globalization, its scope then unimaginable to many Americans. Tubandt marveled at today’s global economy. His own company now exports food and pet products to China. He escorted Xi on a tour of a corn processing plant. Tubandt had kept a tin of black tea that Xi gave him as a memento of the visit. After all these years, the tin is preserved half full.


In 2012, Tubandt was one of 14 people invited to a private dinner with Xi at the home of Sara Lande. They had all met Xi on his first trip. “You were the first group of Americans I came into contact with,” Xi told his Iowa friends. “To me, you are America.” Xi’s visit was a big deal for Muscatine, a small eastern Iowa town known for farming, the largest Heinz plant outside of Pittsburgh, and factories that used to spit out billions of mother-of-pearl buttons before the refinement of plastic.


As Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, now President-elect’s Donald Trump’s pick for China ambassador, put it:


This is the biggest thing to hit Muscatine since Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1979.



Chinese President Xi Jinping and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad raised their glasses in a toast at a State Dinner. Chris Steinbach, former editor of The Muscatine Journal, said:


It’s obviously a pretty big deal. You never know what will come as a result of this kitchen-table diplomacy. When you get the opportunity to meet somebody in their home or in a private setting, you get to know them differently than at a state dinner. Clearly that worked on Mr. Xi when he was here 27 years ago.


That kind of one-on-one relationship made an impression on Xi. China VP Xi Jinping’s nostalgic Iowa visit says that in 2012 when Xi was still Vice President, he looked forward to visiting the home of Cynthia and Dick McClean whom he had visited on his first visit to Muscatine, Iowa to study livestock in 1985. Xi asked to see the McCleans and about 17 other people whom he had met on his first trip.



Iowa is a direct beneficiary of China’s booming economy. Over the last decade, China’s purchases of Iowa’s products have skyrocketed! In 2000-2010, Iowa enjoyed a 1200% increase in exports to China. China buys soybeans, pork, farm machinery, and other products from Iowa. The numbers are staggering. China buys 25% of American soybeans. In 2011, the Chinese market surpassed Canada to become the top destination for US farm exports. During his visit, Xi signed the largest soybean deal every made in a single visit.


“Xi Comes to Iowa” shows Xi’s trips to Iowa in 1985 and 2012 and his visit to the home of old friends.



Chinese Enrollment Surges in American Universities




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Chinese students are reshaping the U.S. education system. “Chinese student enrollment surges at University of Iowa” says that cutbacks in state funding encouraged US colleges like the University of Iowa to recruit students from China to bring in out-of-state tuition. In 2007, there were about 100 Chinese undergraduate students. By 2015, there were close to 3,000. Because China’s economy has quadrupled in the last decade, more Chinese parents can afford to send their kids to an American university. The video says that in the prior year, there was a huge explosion of anti-Chinese feelings on Facebook and Twitter. The school is trying to help the Chinese students acclimate.




“Too Many International Students in the U.S.?” says that at some schools, about 20% of the class is now from overseas. Since foreign students usually pay full tuition, that helps schools on tight budgets. However, many Americans worry that the influx of international students is depriving qualified American youths of slots in top schools. Many California families say their kids can’t get in. The acceptance rate for in-state students has dropped in recent years and some locals feel misrepresented.



One Chinese Student’s Journey to the U.S. explains that Chinese students who attend American universities avoid taking the “gaokao”, China’s ultra-competitive college entrance exam. Increasingly, China’s expanding middle class is opting out of the competitive educational system. From 2008-2014, the number of students taking the exam dropped 10%. During that same period, the number of Chinese students in US schools more than tripled.


The importance of English in primary school education in China: perceptions of students points out:


English has become a compulsory subject from Primary Three in China since 2003 and is gradually being introduced even earlier into the curriculum in many schools. This highlights the official importance of English in both primary school education and society.


Since many Chinese are now also studying in the US, a growing number of Chinese are fluent in English and are familiar with American culture. Because China has such a large population, millions of Chinese can move around the world to live. Those people may become citizens of their adopted countries and the growing Chinese population will increasingly influence elections. In the US, some Chinese-Americans are assuming elective office or are being appointed to roles in government. Andrew Yang, a Taiwanese-American, is now campaigning for the US presidency!


In his talk “When China Rules The World,” Dr. Martin Jacques warned the West not to assume that English will always be the world’s lingua franca – and to learn Mandarin! However, few Americans speak Chinese or have lived in — or even visited — China.



Top image credit: ING


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75

      

By Matt Agorist


Plymouth, MN — Illustrating the careless and utterly ineffective nature of many police departments in the United States is the fact that rape kits go untested from coast to coast. However, one recent and particularly egregious case out of Minnesota shows just how brazen police can be in ignoring rape victims. Police in Plymouth, Minnesota aren’t just ignoring the rape kits, they are destroying them without investigation.


For those who may be unaware, after being raped, victims are subject to more humiliation by having to undergo DNA evidence testing in the form of a rape kit. Thinking that this will help catch their abuser, most victims undergo these tests.


When one woman — who wishes to remain anonymous — walked into the Plymouth police station after being brutally raped, she underwent this humiliating experience in an attempt to catch her rapist. After providing the rape kit, she assumed police would investigate it.


         



      

However, they did not. Not until nine years later did this woman find out police never sent the kit to the lab and instead destroyed it. As a result, the rapist went on to beat and rape many more victims. He would eventually get caught in Colorado and now sits in jail. But this predator could’ve been caught years earlier had it not been for these criminally negligent cops.



“They could have stopped him,” said the woman. “But I went through all of that for nothing. That is the worst feeling in the world.”




According to a report out of KARE 11, this woman is not alone and departments across the state have destroyed hundred of kits.



Even though Minnesota recently received a $2 million federal grant to DNA test the state’s backlog of thousands of untested rape kits, a KARE 11 investigation has found that more than 220 kits will never be tested because they’ve already been destroyed.





Overall, police agencies across the state destroyed more than 450 rape kits in unsolved and uncharged cases. Legal experts told KARE 11 it would be almost impossible to bring charges in a case involving a destroyed rape kit.



Regardless of whether it was tested, due to the wording in a state law passed 20 ago, KARE 11 discovered that destroying a rape kit likely starts the statute of limitations on when a case can be prosecuted. That can keep victims in the cases from ever seeing justice, even if new information surfaces.



“What you’re discovering is that these statutes of limitations are going to be a detriment to victims because somebody destroyed the kits,” said DFL Rep. Kelly Moller.



History shows that when these kits are investigated, rapists are caught. It’s that simple. So, the negligence and complacency in refusing to investigate these rape kits borders on criminal behavior, especially considering what happens when police actually investigate them. As TFTP reported last year, lawmakers across the country have set out to shift the “culture” of ignoring rape kits—and it is working.


New York City District Attorney Cyrus Vance has helped to allocate $38 million in funding to help 20 states process previously untested rape kits.


As a result of this movement, according to law enforcement officials, more than 1,000 arrests and hundreds of convictions have been made from testing the backlog of kits going back months, years and, in some cases, decades.


According to the AP, the Justice Department has also allocated $154 million to help in clearing the backlog of kits as well.


Until this policing for profit paradigm shifts, we can expect to see other massive backlogs continue to pile up and be destroyed. Sadly, law enforcement in America often chooses profit over people. Tens of thousands of raids on people for suspected illegal substances take place every year, while hundreds of thousands of rape kits collect dust in police departments across the country.


If you were murdered today, there’s only a 60% chance of police catching the person who did it. That number drops to 3% if you’re raped. 50 years ago, that number was much higher. What happened?




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The answer to that question can be found by looking at where police allocate much of their time and resources.


Civil asset forfeiture pays. Busting low-level drug dealers by the dozen and confiscating their drugs, guns, cars, houses, and money pays. Writing tickets for victimless crime pays. Pulling you over for window tint, seat belts, arbitrary traveling speeds, and expired license plates; these are the things that pay—not solving crimes.


In criminal justice, clearance rates are used as a measure of crimes solved by the police. The clearance rate is calculated by dividing the number of crimes that are “cleared” (a charge being laid) by the total number of crimes recorded.


In the United States, the murder clearance rate in 1965 was more than 90 percent. Since the inception of the war on drugs, the murder clearance rate has plummeted to an average of less than 65 percent per year.


This decline is in spite of there being far fewer murders. It is also in spite of new technological developments to help police solve crimes, like DNA testing, advanced forensic labs, and unethical surveillance state technology.


Despite the near complete erosion of the constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure, the clearance rate for murder continued its free fall. This highlights the fact that no matter how many rights are given up or freedoms diminished, police cannot guarantee your safety — or even solve a potential crime if it happened to you.


While police are failing to investigate murders, the rate at which they are ignoring rape is nothing short of criminal.


Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States. 


According to the Department of Justice, there are hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits collecting dust in police evidence rooms nationwide, and many other estimates suggest that this number could be as high as one million.




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As a result of this horrific negligence, roughly 3% of rape cases in America are actually solved. This is in spite of the fact that many rape kits have a high chance of leading to an arrest since most rapists are career criminals who have their DNA on file.


In some cases, the victims even know who their attackers were, but they can not prosecute these criminals because the evidence has yet to be processed by police.


Arresting rapists and murderers simply falls short in the two areas police are worried about—revenue collection and keeping their inflated drug war budgets flowing.


The hundreds of convictions mentioned above illustrate what happens when police go after actual criminals instead of people who choose to partake in substances deemed illegal by the state. Sadly, however, it has taken hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives for police to finally prosecute these actual criminals and the victims who attempt to hold them accountable are still being ignored.


“I’m shocked, and nothing around the lines of sexual assault cases should shock me anymore,” said DFL Rep. Kelly Moller, a prosecutor who has worked on sexual assault reform in the legislature. “It is very upsetting to know that these kits have been destroyed and really eliminating the chance for justice for these survivors.”



Article source: The Free Thought Project


Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Minds.


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76

      

By Clint Siegner


The U.S. Department of Justice investigation of criminal activity in the precious metals markets has taken an interesting new turn.


According to Bloomberg, prosecutors are targeting the bank itself and not just the individual traders involved in rigging prices. If convicted, the bank as an institution could be held accountable for years of structured and pervasive cheating.


The DOJ investigation of JPMorgan’s metals trading desk began more than two years ago. It came on the heels of a guilty plea by Deutsche Bank.


Deutsche Bank copped to spoofing prices and agreed to turn state’s evidence. DB then handed over hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, along with chat logs and voice recordings which featured traders gleefully conspiring with one another to cheat clients and other market participants.


         



      

Officials used that trove of information and other evidence to charge six JPMorgan traders with crimes. Some already pleaded guilty and made their own agreements to cooperate with the larger investigation.


But last week’s revelations from Bloomberg are the first confirmation that the mega bank is itself in the crosshairs.


Bank of America followed Deutsche Bank’s lead and moved to settle charges. The company paid fines and promised internal reforms. Many expect the extraordinarily well-connected JPMorgan Chase & Co will be granted similar leniency.


There is one interesting distinction in the DOJ’s handling of the bank, however. Officials have charged JPMorgan traders using RICO laws.


The implication is that the bank itself is to be treated as a criminal enterprise. Perhaps this time company executives will not be able to convince investigators the bank is an honest institution with the simple misfortune of having rogue criminal traders among its ranks.




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JPMorgan deserves to get more than a slap on the wrist.


For many involved in the metals markets, it has been obvious for years that JPMorgan is at the center of a program to rig gold and silver prices. These cries were long dismissed as conspiracy theory. Today few can dispute there has been pervasive, well-orchestrated cheating over nearly a decade, if not much longer.


We now know at least some officials inside the Department of Justice agree. They view the bank’s activities as organized crime, like the mafia.


It remains to be seen whether actual charges will be brought against the bank. So far, only individuals have been charged. Given the bank’s power and influence there is no certainty justice will prevail, even if the evidence is overwhelming.




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Finally, there is no certainty as to whether any penalties will be commensurate with the crime. Individual criminals on Wall Street may have been banned from trading and bankrupted by fines. However, it would be unprecedented for a bank the size of JPMorgan to receive a trading ban or fines large enough to meaningfully impact the bank’s operations.


The road to full accountability for JPMorgan remains long and full of obstacles. But it is certainly nice to see prosecutors treating the bank without the usual kid gloves.



Clint Siegner is a Director at Money Metals Exchange, a precious metals dealer recently named “Best in the USA” by an independent global ratings group. A graduate of Linfield College in Oregon, Siegner puts his experience in business management along with his passion for personal liberty, limited government, and honest money into the development of Money Metals’ brand and reach. This includes writing extensively on the bullion markets and their intersection with policy and world affairs.


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77

      

By Sam Jacobs


While there are some in the United States who believe we are headed toward another Civil War, there is perhaps another, more recent parallel worth exploring – the so-called “Italian Years of Lead.”


The short version is that in the late 1960s through the early 1980s, Italy was a hotbed of assassination, shoot-outs and bombings between various factions of the far-left, the far-right and the Italian government – with American, British and Soviet intelligence agencies often pulling the strings.


While the death toll was a lot lower than it could have been, it’s a fascinating and oft-overlooked area of history. When all was said and done, the Italian political landscape had been radically changed. Thousands of leftists were forced to flee the nation, but ultimately, shocked by the violence, Italian politics moderated.


Did we mention that a Masonic Lodge came very close to overthrowing the government? Strap yourself in. You’re about to take a bumpy ride down an obscure historic lane, where “truth being stranger than fiction” is most certainly true (and well documented).


         



      
Background of the Italian Years of Lead

The Italian Years of Lead: How the Strategy of Tension Could Foreshadow America's FutureBefore diving into the Italian Years of Lead, it’s important to understand the political climate of Italy after the Second World War. The Communist Party was always a strong force in post-war Italian politics. In the first election after the war’s end, in 1946, the Communist Party received 18.9 percent of the vote. Going into the second election at the end of the war, the Communist Party was poised for even greater success, buoyed by their alliance with the Socialist Party – an almost exact replay of what happened in Czechoslovakia. In both cases, the Communist Party had entered into an alliance with naive Socialists, whom they quickly outfoxed, dominating the electoral combination of nominal equals.


Meanwhile, in Czechoslovakia, a Communist coup d’etat was engineered by a section of the government dominated by Communist elected officials. The CIA stepped in, putting their thumb on the scale in an attempt to prevent the Communists from succeeding in Italy as well. This was one of the first battles in the burgeoning Cold War. All told, the CIA funneled somewhere between $10 and $20 million to defeat the Communists (between $106 and $212 million in 2019 dollars). In contrast, the Soviets spent between $8 and $10 million every month to ensure a Communist victory in the elections.


In an incredibly tense and vitriolic campaign, the Christian Democrats eventually bested the Communists, getting 48 percent of the vote to the Communist Party’s 31. The anti-Communist Socialist grouping netted the balance of the remainder, with small parties picking up the rest, as is common in Italy. The Christian Democrats formed a broad tent coalition, despite having an electoral mandate that did not require it, bringing in Liberals, Republicans and Social Democrats.


However, this did not end the involvement of the CIA in Italy, nor the strength of the Communist Party. The CIA spent an average of $5 million annually in Italy, both to prop up center-right governments and to weaken the influence of the trade unions, who traditionally supported the Communist Party. From 1948 until the first Italian election after the fall of Communism in 1992, the Communist Party polled between 22 and 33 percent in Italian elections, a fact that always filled the CIA with dread.


It is worth briefly mentioning that the successor to the National / Republican Fascist Party, the Italian Social Movement, never polled higher than 9 percent.


The CIA was also a key player in Italy through Gladio, the stay-behind organization it backed in Italy to fight a guerilla insurgency against a potential Communist takeover of the country. The extent of Gladio’s direct involvement in the Years of Lead is a hotly debated topic among historians.


The Hot Autumn of 1969 and 1970

Throughout the 1960s, Italy became increasingly industrialized and modernized, which led to discontent among both the left and the right. These forces were very briefly united in a series of protests in Italy in 1968. However, the similarities between the far-left and far-right were too tenuous, and the establishment parties were largely skeptical of the counter-cultural orientation of the young radicals.


These protests set the stage for what is known in Italy as the “Hot Autumn.” This was a series of wildcat strikes throughout Italy in its industrial sectors, largely in response to layoffs due to increased efficiencies in industrial production. It was the basis of a growing Communist Party, and one that was shifting even further to the left in response to networks of activists known as “autonomists.”


The Italian Years of Lead were in some part a reaction of the far-right to this ascendant Communist movement. However, as stated above, international intelligence agencies were deeply involved and the truth of how the whole thing started moving is incredibly complex.


The Years of Lead Claim Their First Victim: The Death of Antonio Annarumma

The Italian Years of Lead: How the Strategy of Tension Could Foreshadow America's FutureThe initial movement in the Years of Lead was simply a continuation of the Hot Autumn. A group of autonomist students and workers occupied a FIAT factory in Milan. During a related protest in November 1969, Milan police officer Antonio Annarumma was killed by an iron tube. The leftists protesters claimed that this was an accident, however, the courts found differently.


This was followed by the first, but certainly not the last, bombing in the Italian Years of Lead. On December 12, 1969, a bomb went off in the National Agrarian Bank’s headquarters in Piazza Fontana, some 200 meters from the Duomo. The bomb claimed the lives of 17 people, with another 88 wounded.


At first, the press and the police blamed the attack on anarchists. Police arrested prominent anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli, who died under suspicious circumstances when he fell from the fourth-story window of the police building while in custody. The three police in charge were later investigated, but cleared of any wrongdoing. Police commissioner Luigi Calabresi was later assassinated by autonomist paramilitary group Lotta Continua as revenge for the death of Pinelli.


Another anarchist, Pietro Valpreda, was arrested and held without charge for three years after a cab driver identified him as his “suspicious passenger.” He was later exonerated.


Approximately three years after the bombing, the police finally switched their focus from investigating anarchist operatives to looking into the far-right, neo-fascist grouping Ordine Nuovo (New Order). On March 3, 1972, Italian police arrested Franco Freda, Giovanni Ventura and Ordine Nuovo founder Pino Rauti, who consistently described himself as a non-fascist and a leftist throughout his lengthy political career on the far-right in Italy. The first two were eventually convicted for two separate bombings in 1987, and sentenced to 16 years.


The Masonic P2 Lodge – which we will go into in greater detail later – played a key role in running interference for the accused through their member General Gianandelio Maletti, the head of the Servizio Informazioni Difesa, the Italian state security services.


Curiously, the initial reaction of the police was not far off from what Ordine Nuovo had intended. The bombings were meant not just to create a sense of overall terror, but to implicate the Communist movement in Italy.


The Left Strikes Back: The Formation of the Red Brigades

In reaction to Ordine Nuovo and inspired by Latin American guerilla movements, as well as similar movements on the continent, the Brigate Rosse was formed in 1970. As was the case with many far-left groups in Italy and Germany at the time, they saw the post-war government as a mere continuation of the previous fascist regime, now backed by NATO.


They grew out of a series of strikes against the Sit-Siemens corporation. The bulk of their initial leadership were young and had been expelled from the Italian Communist Party’s youth movement for their extremism. Their first action was a simple one: They set ablaze the car of Sit-Siemens corporate leader, Giuseppe Leoni. No one was hurt.


The Red Brigades and Ordine Nuovo each committed a number of actions throughout the Italian Years of Lead, and will pop up a number of times throughout this article. A failed fascist coup would soon increase the tensions in Italy.


The Failed Fascist Coup d’etat: Golpe Borghese

The failed fascist coup of 1970 probably had very little chance of success. Still, it became a watchword on the Italian left. Hundreds of members of Neo-Nazi group National Vanguard plotted to overthrow the government with 187 allies from the Italian Forestry Service, of all places.


The plan was to seize the offices of RAI, the state Italian broadcaster. This is what the Forestry Service members were in charge of. Vanguard militants planned to assassinate the President of Italy, Giuseppe Saragat, as well as Italian police chief Angelo Vicari, while seizing the Quirinale, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defense. The Vanguard would then have a large cache of weapons at the ready. High-ranking military officials including Air Force General Giuseppe Casero were involved, as was the Sicilian mafia. The plotters believed they would be supported by NATO forces in the Mediterrenean, however, support for the coup was marginal within the CIA and other intelligence services, which saw the status quo as the best policy in the region.


A couple of people entered the Ministry of the Interior, but the coup otherwise went nowhere, as it was called off at the last minute. All 46 plotters were eventually acquitted, because the coup was such a massive failure.


The Years of Lead Ramp Up: After the Coup

The Italian Years of Lead: How the Strategy of Tension Could Foreshadow America's FutureWhile the coup was somewhat comical in its ineffectiveness, it was like throwing gas on the fire of the Years of Lead. Armored car driver Alessandro Floris was assassinated by the October 22 Group. The arrest of his assassin, Mario Rossi, led to the dismantling of the group by Italian police, who quickly stumbled onto the cache of weapons and propaganda the group was hoarding. This group was considered a precursor of the Red Brigades who, in April 1974, kidnapped a judge in an attempt to free October 22 Group prisoners.


Police officer Luigi Calabresi was the next victim, assassinated on May 17, 1972. Police first suspected Lotta Continua, then shifted their focus to neofascist militants. Three members of Lotta Continua were eventually convicted 16 years after his death.


Next was the May 31, 1972 bombing in Peteano, which claimed the lives of three carabinieri. This was initially blamed on Lotta Continua as well, however, it was later found out to be the work of neofascist terrorist Vincenzo Vinciguerra. Much like the earlier neofascist bombing, this was a false flag, with the intention of making the Italian state act in a more authoritarian manner. The Italian state security services helped Vinciguerra escape Italy to the safe harbor of Francisco Franco’s Spain. Further investigation found that Nuovo Ordo had worked closely with the Italian state security services to help execute the bombing.


On April 16, 1973, two members of Potere Operaio attacked the house of Italian Social Movement member Mario Mattei with a flammable device. He escaped unscathed, while his two sons, aged 8 and 22, burned to death. Their charred bodies were found embracing one another after the fire was over. It is worth noting that the Italian Social Movement, a small, but mainstream party in Italy, played no part in the Italian Years of Lead, whose right-wing actors were cut from a far more radical bent than the Social Movement’s parliamentarians.


One month later, the police headquarters in Milan was bombed by anarchist Gianfranco Bertoli. The attack killed four and wounded 75. In May of 1974, the Piazza della Loggia in Brescia was bombed by Ordine Nuovo. Eight people died and 102 were injured. One month later, two members of the Italian Social Movement were murdered in Padua, murder initially ascribed (like the burning of Mario Mattei’s home) to infighting within the Italian right. The Red Brigades later claimed the murders – their first. Previously, the organization had only participated in bank robberies, kidnappings and bombings. A second fascist coup was planned for July 1974, but never executed. On August 4, 1974, Nuovo Ordine bombed the Italicus Express train, killing 12 and injuring 48. While Nuovo Ordine claimed responsibility, no perpetrators were ever brought to justice.


For those having trouble keeping track, the right-wing terrorist groups mostly bombed things in an attempt to get the government to crack down, while the left-wing terrorist groups specialized in kidnappings and targeted assassinations.


Some Red Brigade leaders were arrested in 1974, but the organization continued – as did the violence. Indeed, the violence began to be somewhat accepted as part of life in Italy at the time. The far-left sympathizers generally claimed that the violence attributed to the far-left was in fact false flag operations on the part of the far-right.


The murders, bombings and kidnappings are too numerous to go into detail starting around 1975. This was the year that left-wing groups killed MSI militant Mikis Mantakas during a riot and MSI militant Sergio Ramelli was beaten to death by members of Avanguardia Operaia (a successor group to Lotta Continua) with wrenches. Left-wing student activist Alberto Brasili was stabbed to death by neo-fascists and carabinieri Giovanni D’Alfonso was murdered by the Red Brigades.




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Things only intensified in 1976. Left-wing group Prima Linea assassinated MSI lawyer Enrico Pedenovi. Neo-fascist Pierluigi Concutelli assassinated Judge Vittorio Occorsio. In 1976, there were several more murders, almost all of them perpetrated by left-wing terrorist groups, including the murder of Carlo Casalegno, deputy director of liberal newspaper La Stampa. In 1978, there were no fewer than 12 murders by left-wing groups, most of them by the Red Brigades, including a security chief for FIAT motors, three police officers, three judges, a university professor, and a notary.


Things had reached a fever pitch and it seemed that Italy would never return to a peaceful normal.


Italy Turns a Corner: Kidnapping of Aldo Moro

The Italian Years of Lead: How the Strategy of Tension Could Foreshadow America's FutureItaly finally turned a corner when the Red Brigades went a step too far: They kidnapped Italian former Prime Minister Aldo Moro, who at the time was the president of the mainstream center-right party in Italy, the Christian Democrats.


The former Prime Minister’s car was ambushed by members of the Red Brigades on March 16, 1978. The assailants fired 91 shots at his five bodyguards, all of whom were killed in the attack. Prima Linea militant Mario Ferrandi said that at the time, he knew that everything was going to change – the Red Brigades had finally bitten off more than they could chew.


The actual motive of the attack is not entirely clear, but it was probably to disrupt negotiations between Christian Democracy and the Communist Party of Italy. The latter was finally being brought into government, albeit in indirect roles, for the first time since the end of the Second World War. Moro wrote 86 letters during the 55 days he was held in captivity, including to figures such as Pope Paul VI, but also to his family. Some were sent and delivered, others were discovered later.


Conclusive evidence demonstrates that Moro was not tortured. He was, however, put on a “trial” by a “people’s court” of Red Brigades, with predictable results. The Red Brigades wanted to trade him for terrorists imprisoned, and eventually requested only one.


Moro’s body was found on the day of his murder, May 9, 1978. The P2 Lodge has been implicated in Moro’s kidnapping.


The response of the Italian government – and indeed, the Italian public – to the kidnapping and murder of a former Prime Minister was sweeping and had consequences far beyond a simple winding down of the Italian Years of Lead.


First and foremost, the Historic Compromise brokered between the Christian Democracy and the Italian Communist Party was over. It had been unpopular with Italy’s European allies. But the kidnapping of a man considered the natural next president of the republic killed it stone dead. The intention was for Italy’s two major parties to rule in a grand coalition. The Historic Compromise officially ended in November 1980.


The president, Giovanni Leone, resigned less than a month after the kidnapping. The government’s response was largely seen as a failure. The Communist Party declined in influence, while the Christian Democracy remained steady until the early 90s, when it began to be supplanted by the more popular Lega Nord, now known simply as the Lega.


It is worth noting that, much as the MSI was at odds with the far-right terrorist groups, so too were the far-left terrorist groups largely opposed by the Communist Party and outright despised by trade unionists.


Oddly, despite a massive government clampdown, 1979 was the bloodiest year of the Years of Lead, with 659 attacks, including 11 assassinations. Among the victims that year were four policemen, a Lieutenant Colonel of the carabinieri, a trade unionist, a bartender and investigative journalist, a judge, and a university student. All of these were committed by leftist terrorist groups. Additionally, the Red Brigades shot five teachers and five students in the legs that year.


1980 topped 1979 in terms of assassinations with a total of 17. The victims that year included five policemen, a carabinieri general, a petrochemical manager, a cook, four judges, a security guard, and a journalist. Prima Linea even turned on one of its own that year, killing William Vaccher on suspicion of treason to the group. All but one of these were committed by left-wing groups.


The Biggest Attack: The Bologna Massacre

The Italian Years of Lead: How the Strategy of Tension Could Foreshadow America's FutureWhile the Italian left had been pushing big numbers with assassination, a new group on the far-right, the Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari, formed by dissident members of the Italian Social Movement explicitly with the purpose of committing counter-attacks against the left, was planning something big – the Bologna Massacre. This bombing of the Bologna Centrale train station killed 85 and wounded more than 200. While the group denied involvement, several of its members were sentenced for the bombing.


Christian Democratic Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga’s statement on the attack cuts to the heart of the difference between the left- and right-wing actions during the Years of Lead:


“Unlike leftist terrorism, which strikes at the heart of the state through its representatives, right-wing terrorism prefers acts such as massacres because acts of extreme violence promote panic and impulsive reactions.”


In short, the strategy of the left was more akin to a Third World guerilla insurrection, while the right hoped to provoke the state into clamping down on the left through false flags and other large-scale acts of terrorism.


Two members of the NAR were convicted, Francesca Mambro and Giuseppe Valerio “Giusva” Fioravanti, the latter a former Italian child actor. The pair later married and had a daughter. Both admit to having committed terrorist acts, but maintain their innocence with regard to the Bologna Massacre.


The Years of Lead Wind Down


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Left-wing violence in Italy related to the Years of Lead continued as far as 1988. However, after the Bologna Massacre, things had died down considerably. 1981 saw three kidnappings resulting in two murders. The third, the kidnapping of American General James L. Dozier, then deputy-chief of NATO’s Southern European forces, was freed by an anti-terrorist squad.


In 1982, the Red Brigades attacked a military convoy, killing a corporal and two police officers. The assailants were never apprehended. Later that year, two guards were killed by Red Brigades during a bank robbery.


1983 was completely quiet, and thus might be a good place to mark the end of the Years of Lead proper. However, in 1984, American diplomat and Director General of international peacekeeping force, Multinational Force and Observers, Leamon Hunt, was killed by the Red Brigades. In 1985, the Red Brigades killed an economist and a policeman. In 1986, they assassinated the Mayor of Florence. Italian Air Force General Licio Giorgieri was assassinated by the Brigades in 1987. In 1988, the Red Brigades committed their final assassination, that of Senator Roberto Ruffilli.


On October 23rd of that year, the Red Brigades declared that their war against the state was over.


In 1985, French President Francois Mitterand declared that he would not extradite convicted terrorists back to Italy. Instead, he aimed to integrate them into French society. Brazil and Nicaragua have likewise provided safe haven for left-wing terrorists of the Italian Years of Lead, most notably Alessio Casimirri, one of Moro’s kidnappers who owns a restaurant in Nicaragua.


Epilogue: The P2 Affair and the Strategy of Tension

The Italian Years of Lead: How the Strategy of Tension Could Foreshadow America's FutureWhile the players were mostly firmly identifiable either as being on the left or on the right, one group played both sides: The shadowy Masonic Lodge in exile Propaganda Due, also known as the P2 Lodge.


While the very mention of Freemasonry generally has people reaching for their tin foil hats, the P2 Lodge’s involvement in the Years of Lead – and other clandestine machinations within the Italian State – are very well documented, primarily through obstruction and obfuscation of the resulting investigations.


The P2 Lodge and the extent of its influence was discovered in March 1981, when police found a list of 962 alleged members, including future Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and pretender to the Italian throne Victor Emmanuel. The ensuing scandal forced the resignation of the Italian government at the time.


In July 1982, the ultimate aims of the Lodge were discovered, two documents entitled “Memorandum sulla situazione italiana” and “Piano di rinascita democratica.” These documents identified the Italian Communist Party and the trade unions as the biggest threats, proposing a grand alliance between the Christian Democrats and the Communists as the way forward. It also outlined a means to control the media and political parties through extensive bribery.


A government report commissioned by the successors of the Communist Party, the Left Democrats, as well as Swiss historian Daniele Ganser have claimed that the Years of Lead were in large part the result of a “strategy of tension” by NATO, the CIA, Gladio and their allies (including the P2 Lodge). This is where actors, generally in the government, create or allow a state of hostility for the purpose of making political capital out of it.


It is entirely possible that the Years of Lead occurred due to a purposeful lack of action on the part of the Italian government, which saw the chaos as an opportunity for greater power.


The American Years of Lead?

America is a long way from its own Years of Lead. What’s more, one of the principal ingredients – material support from powerful foreign governments – seems to be lacking. However, as the American political landscape becomes both increasingly radicalized and polarized, with extremist groups on the left and right growing in numbers, militancy and desperation, it’s not too hard to imagine that they might start shooting at one another in the very near future.


That won’t kick off a civil war, but it will make life in America considerably more tense and unpleasant.



Article source: Ammo.com


Sam Jacobs is the lead writer and chief historian with Ammo.com, and is the driving intellectual force behind the content in the Resistance Library. He is proud to see his work name-checked in places like Bloomberg, USA Today and National Review, but he is far more proud to see his work republished on websites like ZeroHedge, Lew Rockwell and Sons of Liberty Media.


How many firearms does Sam own and what’s his everyday carry? That’s between him and the NSA.


Subscribe to Activist Post for truth, peace, and freedom news. Become an Activist Post Patron for as little as $1 per month at Patreon. Follow us on SoMee, Flote, Minds, Twitter, and Steemit.


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78

      

By Matt Agorist


Coffeyville, KS — A bombshell investigation from ProPublica revealed that law enforcement in Kansas is running a debtor’s prison and throwing people in jail over their medical debt. The story focused on the case of Tres and Heather Biggs who fell behind on their medical bills for their son’s leukemia and Heather’s Lyme disease. What happened next was nothing but sheer tyranny.



Welcome to Coffeyville, Kansas, where the judge has no law degree, debt collectors get a cut of the bail, and Americans are watching their lives — and liberty — disappear in the pursuit of medical debt collection.



This family’s nightmare began last year when they fell behind on their medical bills from Heather and her son’s conditions. Instead of simply being turned over to a collection agency, in Coffeyville, Kansas, the government joins in.


         



      

“We had so many — multiple health issues in our family at the same time, it put us in a bracket that made insurance unattainable,” Heather Biggs said. “It would have made no sense. We would have had to have not eaten, not had a home.”


Because they had unpaid medical debt, the apparently corrupt court system issued them a summons to appear in court. ProPublica reports that they were one of 90 people facing similar legal action in just a single month.



Judge David Casement entered the courtroom, a black robe swaying over his cowboy boots and silversmithed belt buckle. He is a cattle rancher who was appointed a magistrate judge, though he’d never taken a course in law. Judges don’t need a law degree in Kansas, or many other states, to preside over cases like these. Casement asked the defendants to take an oath and confirmed that the newcomers confessed to their debt. A key purpose of the hearing, though, was for patients to face debt collectors. “They want to talk to you about trying to set up a payment plan, and after you talk with them, you are free to go,” he told the debtors. Then, he left the room.


The first collector of the day was also the most notorious: Michael Hassenplug, a private attorney representing doctors and ambulance services. Every three months, Hassenplug called the same nonpaying defendants to court to list what they earned and what they owned — to testify, quite often, to their poverty. It gave him a sense of his options: to set up a payment plan, to garnish wages or bank accounts, to put a lien on a property. It was called a “debtor’s exam.”


If a debtor missed an exam, the judge typically issued a citation of contempt, a charge for disobeying an order of the court, which in this case was to appear. If the debtor missed a hearing on contempt, Hassenplug would ask the judge for a bench warrant. As long as the defendant had been properly served, the judge’s answer was always yes. In practice, this system has made Hassenplug and other collectors the real arbiters of who gets arrested and who is shown mercy. If debtors can post bail, the judge almost always applies the money to the debt. Hassenplug, like any collector working on commission, gets a cut of the cash he brings in.



“You wouldn’t think you’d go to jail over medical bills,” Tres Biggs said. But they do.


“I’m just doing my job,” Hassenplug said. “They want the money collected, and I’m trying to do my job as best I can by following the law.”


But that “job” is a twisted entanglement of state and private business. In fact, the “law” being used to go after these folks, the “debtor’s exam,” was adopted by the court because Hassenplug wrote it and recommended it to them.



“This raises serious constitutional concerns,” said Nusrat Choudhury, the deputy director of the ACLU. “What’s happening here is a jailhouse shake-down for cash that is the criminalization of private debt.”


Indeed it is.






In most instances, when people pay their bail, it is returned after they appear in court. But in this case, it is taken from them and given to Hassenplug and his clients. This mixture of state and private factions to collect private debt is little more than fascism and it’s dangerous.


Sadly, however, it is a reality that exists outside of Kansas too. People who find themselves unable to pay their bills often find themselves on the receiving end of the police state. Despite the fact that debtor’s prisons are illegal in the United States, TFTP has reported on numerous incidents like the Biggs’ case.


It’s not just medical bills either. Unpaid college loans have also landed people in cages as well as visits from SWAT teams.


As TFTP previously reported, in what could be a story straight out of The Onion, but sadly played out in reality, a Texas man was arrested by seven heavily armed U.S. Marshals for failing to pay an almost 30-year-old student loan debt.


The man, Paul Aker, 48, said he was caught off-guard by the heavily armed agents that showed up at his home to arrest him for failing to pay the nearly 3-decades-old debt.


“They grabbed me, they threw me down,” Aker told the Daily News. “Local PD is just standing there.”


Aker’s arrest for a 30-year-old, $1,500 dollar debt was disturbing enough; but taken in concert with the fact that simply being an owner of a firearm, a protected right under the U.S. Constitution, was reason enough for agents to arrive in combat gear and with fully automatic weapons raises the ominous specter of the police state rising.


After being arrested, Aker was held at the federal building in downtown Houston, before being brought to a courtroom, where a “prosecutor,” judge and county clerk were present, according to the NY Daily News. Aker said the alleged “prosecutor” was really a collection lawyer.





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“Then I get a lecture (from the judge) about the United States and stealing from the government,” Aker said.



It is extremely worrisome that armed agents of the state are being used to bully people into paying delinquent student loan debt and medical bills. There has to be a more intelligent manner in which to attempt to reconcile these debts than to send heavily armed men to arrest those either unwilling or more than likely unable to pay.


It speaks to the nature of the state itself that the default position is virtually always one of coercive force rather than to intellectually assess the means that will most likely provide the desired result – a reconciled debt.


If you deprive someone of their freedom, they will never be able to pay their debt, and in fact, it will cost the taxpayers far more. However, when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail—including single mothers of three, unable to pay medical bills.



Article source: The Free Thought Project


Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Minds.


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79

      

By Jack Burns


Columbia, SC — Taxpayers in South Carolina will not only be left with the optics of having an inmate give birth in her jail cell and whose baby died in the toilet, but they’re also on the hook for the $1.15 million dollar lawsuit the woman just won against the state. The State of South Carolina and two healthcare companies responsible for the former inmate’s healthcare while in prison will be paying up for what seems to be the grossest of negligence: allowing a baby to die in jail.


Sinetra Johnson will get $750,000 from the state Department of Corrections and $200,000 from both Medustrial and MedFirst, healthcare providers for South Carolina’s prisons. Johnson reportedly found out she was pregnant for the first time just two days before getting sentenced to two years in prison for a simple parole violation.


At six and a half months, she gave birth to twins while imprisoned in Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution located in South Carolina’s capital of Columbia.


         



      

Johnson says both she and the prison system knew she was pregnant with more than one child. However, when Johnson started having contractions she wasn’t quite due. In fact the babies were more than a month early.


After having alerted the guards to her belief she was in labor, she gave birth to her first baby in a prison toilet after being ignored. The second baby was born in the appropriate medical unit, but an autopsy confirmed the first baby could have been saved had Johnson been given adequate care and attention.


The State newspaper interviewed Johnson who says she did not get adequate medical care for herself or her twins. She said no ultrasound nor vaginal medical exam was ever conducted on her. So when the twins were being born Johnson says she knew something wasn’t right.


I knew something was wrong…It just wasn’t the normal feeling that I had during the 25 weeks prior.


Born at 11:15 pm, Karmin was delivered into a prison toilet. She was still inside her amniotic sack filled with fluid but was suffocating because she was not breathing oxygen. The baby should have been removed from the sack and allowed to breathe air but guards, when they eventually arrived, ordered the other inmates not to touch the baby and to leave it inside the toilet.






Karmin stayed inside the toilet until midnight and eventually passed away. Johnson’s son was successfully born inside the medical unit but nothing could be done for his female twin, Karmin, who died most likely because prison guards would not allow her any medical attention. Johnson recalled how hard it was for her following her release from prison.


In the beginning, it was really hard…I couldn’t go into clothing stores. I would avoid the little girl’s section all together. I would see people with twins and I would just … break down. I became angry inside. Angry at myself. Angry at the situation. At the way things happened.


Since her release from prison, the eloquent former prison inmate commented on the entire ordeal saying:


(This) shouldn’t have to happen. Inmate or not, we’re still people. The same medical treatment you would get on the outside, ultimately, that’s what taxpayers are paying for.


Johnson now lives with Kamryn who is nearly 8 years old. She must share the settlement with the deceased baby’s father.




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That’s right America, average pregnant citizens, not career criminals, end up in prison and are forced to give birth in the same facilities housing the nation’s criminal elements of society, who often display more compassion than the stoic prison guards who supposedly are paid to protect and serve them. No one was ever charged with criminal negligence in the death of Johnson’s baby girl.







Article source: The Free Thought Project


Jack Burns is an educator, journalist, investigative reporter, and advocate of natural medicine.


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80

      

By corbettreport


So I guess there was some kind of American football game recently that people watched? I don’t know, I’m only interested in CFL myself. But boy do people get excited about the commercials!


This year, like last, Broc West subjects me to Super Bowl commercial propaganda for your schadenfreude and edification. Enjoy?


SHOW NOTES:


I Watch The Super Bowl Commercials (2019)


COMMERCIAL #1 – Whassup Again | Budweiser Canada 2020 Super Bowl Commercial


COMMERCIAL #2 – Loretta | Google Super Bowl Commercial 2020


COMMERCIAL #3 – The Amazing Things 5G Won’t Do – Super Bowl 2020 Commercial | 5G Built Right | Verizon


         



      


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