[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/17/20 5:39pm

NSA whistleblower Reality Winner submitted a petition for a commutation of her prison sentence.

“The continued imprisonment of Reality Leigh Winner serves no social or preventative purpose,” the petition declares . “Her continued incarceration is costly, unnecessary to protect the public, burdensome to her health and well-being, and not commensurate with the severity of her offense.”

Billie Winner-Davis, her mother, said, “ I am so very happy about the filing today. For me, this means we are finally able to officially ask for Reality’s immediate release from prison.”

She emphasized, “Keeping Reality in prison serves no purpose. She is not a threat or a danger and has already served so much time behind bars. She has accepted responsibility and has paid a very high price. It’s time to bring her home.” 

Winner pled guilty to one count of violating the Espionage Act when she disclosed an NSA report to The Intercept. She believed the analyst report contained evidence of Russian hackers targeting United States voter registration systems during the 2016 election.

On August 23, 2018, Winner was sentenced to five years and three months in federal prison. She has served more than half of her prison sentence—nearly 33 months—at Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.

A federal court denied her bail prior to her guilty plea, and she was in jail for one year and nearly three months before her sentencing.

Bobby Christine, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, boasted that Winner’s sentence was the “longest received by a defendant for an unauthorized disclosure of national defense information to the media. It appropriately satisfies the need for both punishment and deterrence in light of the nature and seriousness of the offense.”

In arguing for leniency in federal court, Winner’s defense highlighted the cases of Bryan Nishimura, a former Navy reservist who transported classified material from a base in Afghanistan to his home; David Petraeus, a former CIA director who improperly handled and disclosed classified information to his biographer with whom he was having an affair; Sandy Berger, a former Clinton national security adviser who removed classified information from the National Archives without authorization; and Shamai Leibowitz, a former FBI linguist who was prosecuted for showing classified information to a journalist on what he described as illegal and constitutional acts.

The document was marked “top secret,” but primarily, the report described a spear phishing attack, which is an extremely common tactic employed by scammers. Multiple accounts at VR Systems, a Florida-based elections technology software and systems vendor, received an email that was amateur in nature and could hardly be said to contain sensitive information.

“In contrast to others charged and convicted under the Espionage Act, however, she did not work with a foreign agent or entity to conspire against her country,” the petition contends. “Her disclosure did not jeopardize the security or safety of human lives or strategic information. She sought no compensation or attributes and only acted to inform the public.”

FBI agents raided Winner’s home in June 2017, and when they interrogated her (without Mirandizing her), she told agents, “ I felt really hopeless, and seeing that information that has been contested back and forth, back and forth in the public domain for so long, trying to figure out, like, with everything else that keeps getting released and keeps getting leaked—Why isn’t this getting, why isn’t this out there? Why can’t this be public?”

Winner has a “greater management variable” designation which prevents her from stepping down to a camp, according to the petition.

FBI whistleblower Terry Albury, who was also prosecuted by President Donald Trump’s Justice Department, is  serving a sentence in federal prison for two counts of violating the Espionage Act. He was given a “management variable” designation.

“The [Bureau of Prisons] typically applies this MGTV [management variable] to offenders with lengthy prior arrest records but few convictions, nonviolent offenders who have a history of poor adjustment under probation or community supervision, offenders with a history of organized crime, offenders with significant foreign ties and/or financial resources, and offenders who have had disciplinary problems during prior incarceration. Inmates who receive this MGTV are placed one security level higher than their score would otherwise require,” Albury wrote in a letter in 2019.

The clemency petition asserts the federal court failed to consider her record of volunteerism and service in the military when she was sentenced. She was a cryptologic language analyst in the 94th Intelligence Squadron in the U.S. Air Force.

Instead of viewing her service in the Air Force as meritorious, an appeals court interpreted it in the most negative way possible to justify keeping her in jail before she pled guilty.

“ Evidence in the record indicates that Ms. Winner—who is fluent in Farsi, Dari, and Pashto—has long wanted to live and work in the Middle East,” the appeals court stated. “She wanted the Air Force to deploy her to Afghanistan. She researched traveling, working, and living in places like Kurdistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. She researched flights to Kurdistan and Erbil. She researched buying a home in Jordan. And she researched how to obtain a work visa in Afghanistan.”

The mosaic the appeals court created made it seem like she was intent to go join the Taliban in Afghanistan, even though she had been involved in helping the military kill “high value targets” who were considered terrorists.

“Reality Winner is diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and bulimia,” the petition notes. “Her placement at FMC Carswell was recommended so that she could receive treatment, however, the only treatment available to Reality Winner at this placement is medication.”

“The Bureau of Prisons does not offer therapy to deal with the underlying causes of her mental illness or assist in providing coping mechanism that will help her overcome, adjust, and function. Reality is enduring substantial suffering and in need of therapy to treat her illness,” the petition adds.

Winner has no infractions on her record. She is a fitness trainer at FMC Carswell, and she has pursued education while incarcerated. 

On the day of Winner’s sentence, Trump tweeted that her sentence was “unfair” and criticized then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for issuing a disproportionate sentence. He referred to Hillary Clinton and how she was not prosecuted for mishandling classified information on her private email server.

After Trump made a statement related to her case, Winner commented , “Even our commander-in-chief, President Trump, has kind of come out and said, ‘Wait a minute, this is really unfair. There’s this double standard here.’”

 

Winner continued, “For that, I can’t thank him enough, because for 16 months, those words, ‘so unfair,’ were actually not allowed by either myself, or my team or my family to really say out in the public. So I just can’t thank him enough for finally saying what everybody has been thinking for 16 months.”


Alison Grinter, a criminal defense attorney in Texas, helped Winner and her family file the request for clemency, and Winner-Davis thanked Grinter for her assistance. She now hopes that President Donald Trump will consider their request.

The post NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner Asks Trump To Commute Her Prison Sentence appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Leak Prosecutions, Reality Winner News, war on whistleblowers]

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[l] at 2/14/20 10:58am

On this edition of the “Dissenter Weekly,” host and Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola highlights the trial against alleged CIA leaker Joshua Schulte, who the government claims provided “Vault 7” materials to WikiLeaks.

Schulte’s lawyer Sabrina Shroff, according to Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press, opened the trial by maintaining the CIA did not want these documents published and the CIA had no idea how they were leaked nor do they know when, why, or who leaked them. She suggested the CIA felt pressure to blame someone and Schulte was an easy target. “All they know is WikiLeaks published the information on March 7, 2017.” 

Later in the episode, Gosztola discusses the case of an Interior Department whistleblower, who was reinstated to his job and promoted as the result of a settlement. This whistleblower was fired five years ago for complaining about “insufficient environmental studies of Alaskan drilling sites.” (President Barack Obama was still in the White House.)

The episode concludes with an update on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition case, particularly what happened in recent days at a Spanish high court that is hearing complaints against David Morales, owner of a private security company that engaged in espionage against Assange on behalf of the CIA.

Gosztola will travel to London in February to cover a week-long extradition hearing for Assange. The case the United States has brought against him threatens global press freedom.

Help us fund his trip by making a donation or becoming a Shadowproof member.

“Dissenter Weekly” airs every Thursday at 4pm ET on YouTube and Facebook, and covers whistleblower and press freedom news from that week.

This week’s stories:

Alleged CIA Leaker Joshua Schulte Was Made Scapegoat For Being ‘Pain In The Ass,’ Defense Says

Veterans Affairs Secretary Looked For Dirt On A House Staffer Who Reported Sexual Assault In A VA Hospital, Complaint Says

DOJ Grant To ‘Hookers For Jesus’ Triggers Whistleblower Complaint

Interior Whistleblower Reinstated and Promoted as Part of Settlement

New leaks shatter OPCW’s attacks on Douma whistleblowers

Spaniard at center of Julian Assange’s spying accusations claims ambassador ordered espionage

***

Chelsea Manning has been in jail for 337 days. She owes $228,000 in fines.

Julian Assange has been in jail for 308 days, since he was expelled from the Ecuador embassy in London. 

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The post Dissenter Weekly: Alleged ‘Vault 7’ Materials Leaker On Trial, Interior Department Whistleblower Reinstated appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Julian Assange, Leak Prosecutions, The Dissenter Weekly Update | Shadowproof, Vault 7, Whistleblowers]

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[l] at 2/13/20 12:21pm

During the 2016 election, a false news story about supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders throwing chairs at the Nevada Democratic Party convention spread. Jon Ralston, who has covered politics in the state for decades, pushed the story.

Now, a few days before early voting in the Nevada caucuses, Ralston appears to be at it again. He founded The Nevada Independent in 2017, and the publication is fueling a cynical attack against Sanders and his campaign that involves the Culinary Workers Union.

The Culinary Workers Union, which has trustees who administer a for-profit Culinary Health Fund, put out a flyer on 2020 presidential candidates that said Sanders would “End Culinary Healthcare,” “require ‘Medicare For All,’” and “lower drug prices.”

Megan Messerly, a politics reporter for The Nevada Independent, wrote a post about the flyer that appeared online around the time Sanders won the New Hampshire primary. It was practically a press release for the flyer from the leadership of the Culinary Workers Union.

The post did not outline any details related to the Culinary Health Fund, who or what companies benefit from contracts, and what incentives the union leadership may have to oppose a transition to Medicare For All.

Predictably, the post provoked outrage and led several Sanders supporters to call, email, and tweet their anger at the Culinary Workers Union. The response from supporters led union leadership to condemn Sanders supporters.

“It’s disappointing that Senator Sanders’ supporters have viciously attacked the Culinary Union and working families in Nevada simply because our union provided facts on what certain healthcare proposals might do to take away the system of care we have built over eight decades,” stated Geoconda Argüello-Kline, the secretary-treasurer for the union.

Argüello-Kline did not highlight any specific calls or messages in the statement so it is unclear what was so “vicious.” Notably, Argüello-Kline did not claim anyone threatened to commit violence.

Jon Ralston’s History Of Pushing Cynical Stories

Ralston has a history of pushing cynical stories like this in order to undermine candidates or boost particular campaigns.

In 2014, Watchdog.org revealed Ralston “used his television show and blog to slam Republican attorney general candidate Adam Laxalt.” He boasted of the impact his reporting had on Laxalt’s campaign yet failed to disclose his ties to Laxalt’s Democratic opponent.

Two years later, MSNBC, CBS, the Associated Press, and the New York Times all spread a false claim from Ralston about Sanders supporters throwing chairs. “Convention ended w/security shutting it down, Bernie folks rushed stage, yelling obscenities, throwing chairs. Unity Now! On to Philly 2/2,” Ralston tweeted.

He also declared., “Hey, Berniebot chair-throwing truthers: It happened. People saw it, including one journalist who was there and reported it.”

Additionallly, Ralston spun a narrative around Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid that involved a phone call Reid reportedly made to the head of the Culinary Workers Union to ensure workers made it to the caucuses to vote for Hillary Clinton. Supposedly, Reid convinced bosses to let employees off work to participate in caucuses at six casino sites.

But Jeff Weaver, who was the campaign manager for Sanders in 2016, challenged whether this occurred in his 2018 book, “How Bernie Won: Inside the Revolution That’s Taking Back Our County—And Where To Go From Here.”

“The problem with Ralston’s claim is that increasing the number of participants alone in these locations would not have benefited Clinton, because the number of county convention delegates allocated to each site was set prior to the caucuses. The only way to ensure victory is to change the proportion of the people in the room who support each candidate,” Weaver contended.

He added, “In other words, you would have to pack the room with Clinton supporters. Did that happen? Online video did circulate that shows people streaming into at least one casino caucus location without checking in so it is certainly possible that there were shenanigans. But that [was] not Ralston’s claim. In the end, it is difficult to know how accurate Ralston’s narrative is.”

Around three weeks before the Nevada caucuses in 2016, Ralston “reported” that “operatives from Bernie Sanders’ campaign [had] donned Culinary union pins and secured access to employee areas inside [Las Vegas] Strip hotels to try to garner votes for the February 20 caucus,” according to “sources.”

A headline at his personal website read, “Sanders workers are masquerading as Culinary members to campaign inside hotels.”

Argüello-Kline “confirmed” the reports of Sanders’ staffers “attempting and gaining access to employee dining rooms.” She said the union was “disappointed and offended,” and added, “It’s completely inappropriate for any campaign to attempt to mislead Culinary Union members, especially at their place of work.”

Clinton aide and Center for American Progress (CAP) director Neera Tanden gleefully shared a link from CAP’s Think Progress website, where the story from Ralston was boosted. “See we are not always bad!” (Argüello-Kline is a member of CAP’s Advisory Board.)

Jennifer Palmieri, who was the Clinton campaign’s communications director, replied, “It’s great!”

CNN followed-up on the report. Weaver maintained that no staffers “ever misrepresented who they were.” In fact, Sanders staffers wore the Culinary Union’s button “in solidarity with people” in the union. They also wore “Bernie paraphernalia.”

Emilia Pablo, who was the Nevada communications director for Sanders, was stunned by the response of the Culinary Workers Union. “It is surprising because we have been building a positive relationship with them from the moment that we go to the ground. We have always thought we have had a positive relationship with them and for them to come out so strongly against us and to go to the press first, that surprises me.”

CWU’s ‘Inherent Conflict Of Interest’

As Dan Rolle, a democratic socialist who supports Sanders, highlighted, leaders of the Culinary Workers Union have an “inherent conflict of interest.” They oversee the Culinary Health Fund, a multi-employer Taft-Hartley Fund, which is funded by collective bargaining agreements.

Employer trustees for the Culinary Health Fund include executives from Boyd Gaming, Caesars Palace, Hilton Worldwide, Hostmark Hospitality Group, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, The Mirage, Sodexo, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Tishman Hotel Corporation, and Geneva HRM Advisors, which is involved in corporate labor relations.

These employers have an incentive to preserve the Culinary Health Fund because it means contract negotiations remain focused on health care and limit the leverage union workers may have to demand better pensions, higher wages, and improved workplace conditions that could undercut a corporation’s bottom line.

Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) was contracted to provide health care to the union’s “55,000 members and their 70,000 dependents in the Las Vegas area” in 2018. That same year, CEO Thomas Jackiewicz touted the for-profit company’s embrace of “bundled payments” for surgery patients.

Bundled payments are a fad in the industry, but there is little evidence that this reduces costs. A study by the Commonwealth Fund of Medicare’s bundled payment program found “hospitals participating in Medicare’s most recent bundled payment initiative did not have lower costs or other better outcomes compared with hospitals not participating.”

Taft-Hartley plans were jeopardized by the passage of the Affordable Care Act under President Barack Obama. D. Taylor, who was the leader of the Culinary Workers Union, and two other major union leaders signed on to a letter in 2013 that warned it would “destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

“Millions of Americans are covered by non-profit health insurance plans like the ones in which most of our members participate,” the union leaders wrote. “These non-profit plans are governed jointly by unions and companies under the Taft-Hartley Act.”

They continued, “Our health plans have been built over decades by working men and women. Under the ACA as interpreted by the Administration, our employees will be treated differently and not be eligible for subsidies afforded other citizens. As such, many employees will be relegated to second-class status and shut out of the help the law offers to for-profit insurance plans.”

Minutes from an Assembly Committee of Health and Human Services hearing in 2017 reflects one key problem the Culinary Health Fund has when it comes to negotiating with hospitals.

Kathy Silver, president of the Culinary Health Fund, testified [PDF], “Either we negotiate from the point of view that we are going to be at a deficit because patients are going to show up at an ER or trauma center whether we are contracted with that hospital or not. We have no control over that, and the patient has no control over that. Or, we negotiate assuming the patient could wind up in a hospital that is contracted but see a physician who is not contracted.”

“It requires a delicate balance—trying to find the right way to negotiate, keep hospitals in network, keep doctors in network, and not put our patients at risk for extreme medical losses,” Silver added.

Inspiring Divide-And-Conquer Attacks From Sanders Opponents

Former Vice President Joe Biden, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Senator Elizabeth Warren all piled on Sanders. In particular, Buttigieg seized the moment to promote his “Medicare For All Who Want It” plan, which according to the Washington Post hinges upon a “supercharged” version of the deeply unpopular mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

“There are 14 million union workers in America who have fought hard for strong, employer-provided health benefits,” Buttigieg responded. “Medicare For All Who Want It protects their plans and union members’ freedom to choose the coverage that’s best for them.”

Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, objected strongly to how Buttigieg used this as a wedge issue.

“This is offensive and dangerous. Stop perpetuating this gross myth,” Nelson demanded. “Not every union member has union healthcare plans that protect them. Those that do have it have to fight like hell to keep it. If you believe in labor, then you’d understand an injury to one is an injury to all.”

Nelson spoke with Common Dreams staff writer Eoin Higgins. “This is age-old divide and conquer tactics, and we have to call it out and reject the attempts to distract us. Anytime the word ‘they’ is used with workers, it’s a sign of union-busters at work.”

For what it’s worth, the Sanders campaign attempted to rise above the fray and avoid fueling the cynicism around this flyer.

On MSNBC’s “All In” with Chris Hayes, Sanders suggested union workers, including those in UNITE HERE, understand why Medicare For All is needed. “If you talk to union negotiators, they will tell you they spend half of their time arguing against the cutbacks for the health care that they have. They’re losing wage increases because the cost of health care is soaring.” (The Culinary Workers Union is part of UNITE HERE.)

The Culinary Workers Union is fighting for a fair contract from Universal Health Services, the parent company of Valley Hospital in Las Vegas. Sanders expressed solidarity.

“I stand with [the Culinary Workers] fighting for health care, a pension, and fair wages. Making $780 million in profit, UHS Inc. is one of the largest, most profitable hospital corporations in the country. They must put aside their greed, come to the table, and negotiate a fair contract,” he said.

Earlier in the week, senior Sanders adviser Chuck Rocha indicated the campaign has been directly calling members of the Culinary Workers Union at their homes, “talking to them at their work sites, and sending them mail.” They have sent “hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail to culinary workers, who are Latino in Nevada.”

The campaign claimed to have huge support among rank-and-file members. Not long after, the flyer signed off on by union leadership appeared and Ralston’s publication was responsible for the latest cynical story in a long line of cynical stories intended to make Sanders seem toxic to voters, especially minorities.

The post The Culinary Workers Union, Medicare For All, and the Latest Cynical Attack On Bernie Sanders appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, 2020 Democratic Primary, Bernie Sanders, Culinary Workers Union, Jon Ralston]

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[l] at 2/13/20 10:51am
This article was published in partnership with Solitary Watch

Those who experience even short stints in solitary confinement died at higher rates in the five years following their release from prison than those who did not, according to a new study.

The study, which was published in The Lancet: Public Health and focused on former prisoners in Denmark, found the causes of death were consistent with high mortality among former prisoners in the United States and Europe.

Professors Christopher Wildeman and Lars Andersen were careful to note more research is needed and that a possible causal effect could not be calculated. They also acknowledged it was “unclear how these results translated to other countries.”

However, the finding of a statistically significant increase in mortality suggests there might be a relationship between punitive isolation and death after release.

At the very least, these results should prompt similar inquiries in the United States, where the use of solitary confinement is rampant and for durations longer than prisoners experience in Denmark.

Kalief Browder’s case is one high profile example of this potential dynamic. He was in solitary confinement for two out of the three years he was incarcerated on Rikers Island in New York City and suffered from mental illness.

Within two years of his release from jail, he died by suicide.

Mortality From Brief Stints In Solitary Confinement

Researchers analyzed data from 13,776 formerly incarcerated people in Denmark, who served a prison sentence of at least 7 days between 2006 and 2011.

The amount of time each person spent in isolation varied, but the average was 8.7 days. Two-thirds of people spent less than a week in isolation. Most returned to the general population within a few days and returned to society within weeks or months because of Denmark’s short sentences.

Former Danish prisoners who experienced solitary confinement had a higher overall mortality five years after release from prison (4.5 percent) than those who did not (2.8 percent).

“The five-year mortality among formerly incarcerated individuals who were placed in solitary confinement was almost ten times that in the general population,” according to the authors.

Importantly, the study did not include data on protective custody in the cohort they defined as experiencing isolation. Instead, they focused on disciplinary and administrative segregation, including protective custody data points among the control group.

This is significant because, although prisoners go to protective custody for different reasons than punitive segregation, both take a toll on the body.

It is also crucial to note researchers focused only on a person’s first prison sentence.

“Research has shown, however, that solitary confinement might increase rates of reincarceration,” they contended, “which means that new prison sentences could affect our comparison groups differentially.”

Even brief exposure was “linked to elevated post-release mortality.”

This finding is especially significant for countries like the U.S., where “extremely long periods (eg years) in solitary confinement are common,” and where “solitary confinement would probably also be linked to elevated rates of mortality through natural causes as well (eg through lack of exercise or exposure to light),” the researchers surmised.

As the U.S. experiments with prison reform, the results beg the question of whether limiting the use of solitary confinement—instead of abolishing it—is enough to ensure health and safety, and preserve life.

“Our findings suggest that incarcerated individuals ever placed in solitary confinement are a vulnerable population in need of interventions,” Wildeman and Andersen wrote.

SHU Post-Release Syndrome

Dr. Terry Allen Kupers is a psychiatrist, scholar, and author of Prison Madness and Solitary: The Inside Story of Supermax Isolation and How We Can Abolish It. He’s a national expert on the health impacts of solitary confinement and has testified in dozens of class-action lawsuits about jail and prison conditions.

“The Lancet study is one further empirical validation of a troubling fact that is supported by a lot of other evidence: solitary confinement damages prisoners, compromises their mental stability, impairs their ability to benefit from rehabilitation programs in prison and then leads to major problems for them adjusting in the community after being released from prison,” Dr. Kupers told Shadowproof.

“I have described a ‘SHU Post-Release Syndrome,’ where prisoners and formerly incarcerated individuals who spent significant periods in solitary confinement tend to isolate themselves even after being released from solitary and have great difficulty in social situations.”

“Their parole is delayed because their time in solitary is a mark against them and they didn’t have the opportunity to accumulate the program successes the parole board looks for,” Dr. Kupers explained. “After their release, there is massive stigma against the formerly incarcerated, so their chances of finding meaningful work are terrible.”

“They live with the psychological scars and disabilities caused by isolation and idleness in prison, and it is no surprise that they suffer increased mortality rates from multiple causes in the years following their release.”

‘Isolation Brings A Despair’

“Reading this report only proves what we as directly impacted survivors have stated for years now: the impact of human isolation never leaves you,” Five Mualimm-ak told Shadowproof.

Five is a human rights and prison reform advocate. He’s the founder of Incarcerated Nation Corp., a collective of previously incarcerated people. He spent years in solitary confinement while imprisoned in New York.

“After returning home a survivor of solitary, I found out that my punishment had just begun,” he said. “Years after being released from solitary confinement, I am still battling the now permanent damage I and so many live with.”

Five is receiving disability benefits as a result of the trauma of his isolation. “The damage that I can never recover from is the extreme anxiety attacks I still live with seven years later.”

“Living in the shelter system of New York City only increased my everyday possibility of returning to prison. Survivors are left to be dropped off after months or even years in total isolation.”

“I found myself fighting for everything I needed to survive,” Five said, such as medication, housing, and food. “With no answers to any of these life-saving needs, it often is just easier to just give up, leave this painful world behind.”

“If it wasn’t for my sons and the hope I keep alive that we will someday end torture, I would have taken my life a long time ago. It’s a space very easy to find yourself in. Isolation brings a despair that is only soothed by death or a solution that takes you away from the pain of existing and living in a constant state of torture.“

More Research Needed On Solitary Confinement And Post-Release Mortality

There is a paucity of research on relationships between short stays in solitary confinement and post-release mortality.

One of the few such studies was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in October 2019. It looked at 229,274 people released from North Carolina state prisons between December 2000 to December 2015.

Researchers found that prisoners who spent any time in restrictive housing “were more likely to die in the first year after release of all causes, especially from suicide and homicide” than prisoners who were not isolated.

They also discovered that those individuals were “more likely to die of an opioid overdose in the first two weeks after release and to become reincarcerated.”

Additionally, individuals with two or more exposures to solitary confinement “had a greater risk of death or reincarceration.”

North Carolina prisoners who experienced less than 14 days in solitary confinement had elevated mortality similar to the Denmark study. For all causes of death, this group was 17 percent more likely to die within a year after release.

These prisoners were 35 percent more likely to die from an opioid overdose, 21 percent more likely to die from homicide, and 72 percent more likely to die by suicide within a year after their release.

Those who spent more than 14 consecutive days in isolation “had a greater risk of all-cause mortality, homicide, suicide, and reincarceration within 1 year after release but not of opioid overdose deaths” compared to prisoners who never went to the hole.

“Further, the association of restrictive housing with opioid overdose death and suicide after release was more pronounced among white individuals compared with nonwhite individuals.”

Meanwhile, “The association of restrictive housing with [death by] homicide and reincarceration was higher for nonwhite individuals compared with white individuals.”

Do The Mandela Rules On Solitary Confinement Go Far Enough?

Given the significant differences in imprisonment and reentry conditions between Denmark and the U.S., the results of these studies should provide a sense of urgency for more research and action on drastically reducing the use of solitary confinement.

Incarceration practices in Denmark and other Scandinavian countries have been lauded by reformers in the U.S. as a potential model. Yet, even in Denmark’s system, in which far fewer people spend much less time in conditions that are superior to U.S. prisons, researchers found elevated rates of mortality among those who spent a few days in isolation.

In 2015, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture revised international detention standards known as the Mandela Rules to declare that exposure to solitary confinement for 15 consecutive days or more is torture. This became a standard that several state prison systems would use to guide reforms.

But the results from the Denmark and North Carolina studies might indicate that reforms set to the Mandela Rules standard fall short of what is necessary to protect life during and after incarceration.

Additional research on the relationship between solitary confinement and post-release mortality is necessary and may provide additional evidence for abolishing the practice in the U.S. entirely.

“This existence post solitary is not existing,” Five said. “It’s as if I’m a ghost haunting a body I used to own and battling a raging mind I have no way of rewiring back to a time before the box.”

“Being tortured keeps people living in torturous conditions forever.”

The post Even Brief Exposure To Solitary Confinement May Increase Risk Of Death After Prison appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, Prison Protest, Mandela Rules, Prison Reform, solitary confinement]

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[l] at 2/12/20 7:38am
[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/11/20 2:27pm

New polling shows a majority of American voters support decriminalizing sex work.

A majority of Americans somewhat or strongly support the decriminalization of sex work. Nearly half of voters surveyed supported ending the policing of sex work, according to a January poll administered by Data For Progress and YouGov Blue.

Sixty-four percent of Democrats, 55 percent of independents, and 37 percent of Republicans indicated they support decriminalization.

In particular, Democrats and independents in suburban areas, as well as among young people across the ideological spectrum, showed solid support for such reform.

A comprehensive approach to decriminalization would involve amending laws that criminalize sex workers, their clients, and their support networks, including laws that permit police profiling. It also means providing labor protections and other necessary services to sex workers.

None of the Democrats currently running for the presidential nomination have claimed the mantle of decriminalization. This is unfortunate not only because it is the right thing to do but also because their base and target voters support it overwhelmingly.

Among the candidates vying to challenge President Donald Trump for the White House in 2020, all either supported the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) in April 2018—or the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA)—or they have not made their positions clear.

The controversial law claimed to want to help “victims of sex trafficking.” Instead, it pushed sex workers off the internet and back onto the street, increasing their vulnerability to poverty and violence.

As of this writing, an aggregate of national polls show former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Senator Elizabeth Warren as the top four contenders for the nomination.

Michael Bloomberg and Joe Biden are unlikely to support decriminalization. In fact, it would not be unreasonable to assume they might even ramp-up criminalization.

Bloomberg was the only candidate to receive an “F” grade from Decriminalize Sex Work. The organization cited his “degrading public remarks and punitive policies,” as well as that showed a spike in arrests for prostitution almost exclusively among Black sex workers during his tenure as mayor of New York City.

Biden told voters in Nevada last year that he would not support decriminalization, though he would not interfere in state regulation.

Meanwhile, Sanders and Warren have run on platforms emphasizing labor rights, yet both voted for the legislation. Warren, in particular, has co-sponsored “anti-trafficking” legislation with Senator Marco Rubio that advocates say could cause sex workers to lose access to their bank accounts.

While decriminalization’s absence is disappointing for campaigns that say they are focused on racial, gender, ability, and class oppression (all of which intersect with sex work), there is hope that both candidates may come around.

At the end of 2019, Sanders and Warren signed on to a bill introduced by Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17) that would study the efficacy of SESTA-FOSTA and its impact on sex work.

Warren and Sanders told reporters they were considering decriminalization after backing Tiffany Cabán’s campaign for Queens district attorney, but it remains to be seen whether they actually will declare support.

Sex Work For Survival

The polling is part of a new report called “Decriminalizing Survival.” Written by Data For Progress fellow Nina Luo in partnership with several groups that support sex worker rights, it provides a comprehensive analysis of sex work and why decriminalization is the best path for safety, stability, and justice for those engaged in it.

Sex work is a highly stigmatized and criminalized form of labor. Criminalization is not easy to disassemble because it is not a result of one law or policy; it is the product of a patchwork of legislation, institutions, and actors in government.

“With other forms of labor, people trade sex for reasons that exist on a spectrum of choice, circumstance, and coercion,” the report states.

Most people trade sex for survival because they have been excluded from the formal economy due to discrimination.

The precarity of sex work, enhanced by stigma and criminalization, means sex workers who experience traumatic sexual violence often have little-to-no recourse or support.

“I started [sex work] when I was 15 because I had a child and I needed to pay for all kinds of expenses to take care of my child—diapers, clothes, transportation, toys, doctors appointments,” said Tamika Spellman. She’s the Advocacy Director for HIPS, an organization working to end the policing and criminalization of trans people.

When Spellman was 20 years old during the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell era, she joined the military, where she was sexually assaulted. When she tried to report it, she was interrogated by her supervisor for being gay and discharged from the military. She said she’s been raped by police in multiple cities to avoid going to jail.

“There were times I tried to stop doing sex work and tried to just work a straight job, but bills would start piling up again,” Spellman added. She faced gender discrimination, like when she worked at McDonald’s but was refused certifications, raises, and promotions.

Sex work helped Spellman survive during periods of homelessness and unemployment.

“This is only the second time in my life where I’ve been paid enough at a job, where I don’t need to do sex work to survive,” Spellman said. “From 1988 to now, that’s more than 30 years apart between times when I’ve had a living wage job in my life.”

Sex work criminalization spans jurisdictions and is comprised of a multitude of charges, including: prostitution, soliciting, promoting prostitution, pandering, brothel-keeping, and even permitting or loitering for the purposes of prostitution.

According to the report, as a result, “Anyone who lives with, works with, or provides services to sex workers is vulnerable to criminalization.”

That criminalization also “entirely discredits them as ‘victims’ so that they are often not believed when reporting rape or violence to the police.”

Sex work policing is accurately described as “stop-and-frisk policing for women and trans and gender non-conforming communities.” Loitering statutes empower police to “profile, harass, and arrest women of color, especially trans women of color, for existing in public spaces even when they’re not engaging in sex work.”

The ensuing criminal records “prevent people from accessing housing and employment and further entrap people in cycles of poverty and isolation.”

Bianey Garcia, the TGNCIQ Justice Organizer for Make The Road, said they were arrested four times for prostitution. “Only once was I actually doing sex work. The other three arrests were just profiling because I’m a trans woman.”

“One time, I was walking and holding hands with my boyfriend and the police arrested me. Another time, my friends and I were waiting for some of our other friends outside a bar and two police officers jumped out of a van, pushed our faces against the wall, and searched our purses. They found condoms, which was apparently enough for them to charge us with loitering for the purposes of prostitution.”

“It’s ridiculous that people have to carry their marriage certificates with them to prove that the person walking next to them is not a client,” Garcia asserted. “It’s ridiculous that trans women can’t occupy public space without getting arrested and sent to jail.”

Debunking Popular Sex Work Reforms

The report debunks the strategies behind some of the more popular responses to sex work.

“Anti-trafficking” campaigns, for example, have become a common subterfuge for policing voluntary sex work in recent years.

Forced sexual exploitation makes up only 20 percent of trafficking cases and most people who sell sex are not trafficked. Yet law enforcement use it to justify sting operations, busts, and mass arrests of sex workers while targeting relatively few operations that can be accurately described as trafficking.

In reality, decriminalization is the best anti-sex trafficking policy because it allows sex workers to report abuse and exploitation. It breaks down the false dichotomy between sex worker and survivor, and doesn’t disrupt support networks and communities that provide safety.

By diminishing stigma and generating economic and social stability, it reduces the vulnerability upon which real sex traffickers prey.

Coercive diversion programs are another popular approach. Typically, a small number of arrestees are offered participation in diversion programs. Even fewer “graduate” and benefit from them. But that participation is often grueling and punitive, and constitutes a different shade of criminalization.

For example, in New York’s Human Trafficking Intervention Courts, “People experience arrest, jail, arraignment, vulnerability to ICE, and then several months to years of court appointments and mandatory counseling sessions.”

Layleen Polanco Xtravangza, a Black trans sex worker, died in solitary confinement on Rikers Island while held on a $500 bail for missing HTIC appointments.

Another popular approach known as the Nordic Model targets demand but also works to “make the sex industry so dangerous and violent that it ends.”

Decriminalization, on the other hand, would liberate cisgender and trans women and gender-nonconforming people from the jaws of the criminal legal system.

“Decriminalization does not call for arrest-based diversion programs or courts, increased investment in ‘community-based policing’ of sex work, rescue raids, or increases in prosecutor budgets, discretionary power, or staff size,” the report proclaims.

“[It] does not call for repealing one prostitution-related statute while maintaining or building a complex web of laws that criminalize sex workers, their clients, and anyone who lives or works with sex workers,” the report further contends “Decriminalization does not call for creating a legal system of sex work that is so restrictive that it excludes and still criminalize the vast majority of participants.”

A Lynchpin Of Oppressions

Sex worker criminalization is, in many ways, a lynchpin of oppression disproportionately harming marginalized communities. As it stands, so many impacted people turn to the informal economy for survival because of discrimination. And so many of those individuals suffer police contact and surveillance as a result.

Decriminalization is, therefore, an intersectional strategy that advances racial justice, LGBTQ+ justice, gender equity, immigrant rights, labor rights, and health care rights.

Criminalization “interferes with efforts to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS and other health conditions in several ways.” Stigma prevents sex workers from accessing and being transparent with health care providers. And it fuels the overdose crisis because many sex workers use opioids, disrupting access to treatment and harm reduction strategies.

Sex workers’ rights are workers’ rights. Without them, sex workers rely on whisper networks and other methods of community support instead. But those are also currently criminalized as enabling or promoting prostitution.

It stands to reason that if the Democratic Party sees itself as a party of justice for workers and marginalized people then supporting sex work decriminalization would go a long way toward advancing those struggles.

The post Decriminalizing Sex Work Is Popular Among Democrats And Independents appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, Prison Protest, Criminalization, Sex Work]

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[l] at 2/10/20 2:02pm

The Pentagon did not provide production support to the movie “Independence Day” because it portrayed the military as ineffective against the alien threat. There also was dialogue mentioning Area 51 and Will Smith’s Air Force character dated a stripper. But in 2016, the United States Army developed a months-long, multi-platform promotional campaign for the movie’s sequel.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show the campaign for “Independence Day: Resurgence” was pursued to blend fiction and reality, boost recruitment, and alter the public’s perception of the Army.

Through a technologically and psychologically sophisticated campaign, the U.S. Army’s project was part of the 2016 “Patriotic Season” campaign. Personnel attempted “to associate America’s Independence with the US Army and own it.”

The Army hoped to leverage 20th Century Fox’s $150 million advertising budget for the movie to spread their messaging. A “case study” boasts of cast members and actual soldiers, who made an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Using appropriately Hollywood rhetoric, the Army’s ad agency “laid out a strategic vision which [tied] the Army in relevant ways to the movie, demonstrating the Army’s ability to prevail against any obstacle and be the only force with the scale, scope, capabilities and critical thinking to protect our nation now and in an uncertain future.”

In particular, personnel had a “perceptual goal” to “overcome strongly held misperceptions of the Army as low-tech, ordinary,” and a “last resort option” for those looking to join the military.

The ad agency wanted to replace this impression with the idea that the Army is a “versatile, highly-trained, adaptable team.” The campaign asserted Independence Day was “brought to you by and defended by the U.S. Army.” They adopted a full-spectrum approach, using everything from TV spots, to paid digital ads, to hiring Wild Posting, a marketing agency, to set up an outdoor media campaign for buses, benches, and billboards.

Fox used the innovative technique of pretending that the events of the first film actually happened and that there was a real “War of ‘96” following the alien invasion.  This included mock-ups of news broadcasts, discussion panels, and even a fake Las Vegas Tourism Board video showing tourists gambling in the ruins of the city.

The stars of the film appeared in imitation PSAs to inform the public about how they could help the war effort and urged them to sign up for ESD—the Earth Space Defense, a global military force that features heavily in “Independence Day: Resurgence.”

The JoinESD.com website was nothing more than a “landing experience” including ESD-themed puzzle games, which became a click funnel that redirected to GoArmy.com, the Army’s primary recruitment website.

Fox agreed that their Warof96.com site would include a prominent link to JoinESD, further boosting visits to the Army’s own websites.

The Army created hashtag campaigns and hired a social media influencer known as Cat Valdes to produce a video explaining the site and encouraging viewers to visit it.

The U.S. military astroturfed an entire viral internet phenomenon. Through paid search marketing, users were directed to the Army’s content and websites, and they paid for social media ads to boost the unique content they created.

Puzzles on JoinESD.com were based around scientific and technical challenges to inspire the recruitment of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students.

No production assistance was provided by the Pentagon for the sequel, but still, the Army’s promotional efforts linked the film to the real-life American military by “drawing parallels between the fictitious themes (overcoming complex environments, rising up to defeat any opponent) and where the writers get that from—the real U.S. Army.”

Reflecting this logic, the film portrays the ESD as overwhelmingly American, a kind of global (even interplanetary) police force around which every other country’s population unites to fight off the outside threat.

“Independence Day: Resurgence” propagates the narrative that the world should get behind U.S. imperialism and accept—even be grateful for—the U.S.’s position as the leading military superpower.

In the campaign’s first phase leading up to the movie’s release in June 2016, the Army worked to “expose prospects to the U.S. Army as a versatile, advanced, highly-capable force in a way that’s hyper-relevant to IDR fans’ passion for the movie.” The appeal of this global force was fueled by online recruitment, social sharing, and producing videos “highlighting [the] Army as the leading force, which utilized alien technology to advance human technology and fight back.”

At times, the briefings make it seem like the Army thought that the events of the two “Independence Day” films had actually happened. Army-funded TV spots in the spring of 2016 featured an ESD-deployed father talking to his son via video chat.

As the documents describe, this was designed to raise “awareness of the ESD forces and reach out to new recruits. We’re going to focus on the people who care about them while they’re away.”

Emphasizing this intentional blending of fiction and reality, one of the aims of the second phase—which began shortly before the movie came out—was to “highlight that fictional movies and heroics are based on real-life Army soldiers and heroes who make a difference for the nation and the world every day.”

This phase involved positioning the Army as the institution “most responsible for American independence and inspire prospects to be a part of it by leveraging the central themes of the movie.”

According to one briefing, the Army recommended that their campaign, “utilize the core themes of the film, surrounding independence, to continue to align Army with Patriotism, Independence and the equity of the holiday to further build ownability.”

Screen shot from a “case study” video on the U.S. Army’s sophisticated $2 million campaign for “Independence Day: Resurgence”

The attempt by the military to co-opt the national holiday, and the ideas behind it, show how they tried to occupy not just political and cultural territory but philosophical and ideological territory as well.

Roger Stahl, an academic specializing in military influence on popular media, commented, “They try to colonize—’own’—the holiday and even the sacred notion of ‘independence.’  I mean, first the film franchise did it, and now the Army. As a true American, that really sticks in my craw.”

Trying to “own” the holiday was made even more absurd by the fact that the U.S. Army did not even exist in the 1770s.  Furthermore, U.S. independence was as much the result of legislators, politicians, and free thinkers as it was a consequence of military triumphs.

Phase two additionally included promotional screenings on military bases and “soldier reaction” videos put out via traditional social media and live updates posted to “emerging platforms,” like Periscope and Snapchat. These posts were liked, shared, tagged, and retweeted by Army employees, alongside content amplified “via paid social media ads.” They even arranged for “soldier actor interaction linking reality and fiction.”

In addition to the screenings and activities around them, the Army’s campaign cost over $2 million, and their measurements for the project’s effectiveness relied heavily on what they termed “perceptual drivers” and “perceptional research points,” i.e. the messaging and associations they injected into people’s minds.

Despite the sophistication of the Army’s campaign, it was a flop. The only tangible measure for success was an estimated increase in visits to goarmy.com, from around 1.5 million per month to 3 million. But according to the Army’s metrics, this likely produced only 5,000 “Pre-screened Quality/STEM/Tech Driven” leads for potential Army recruits.

The sequel bombed with audiences and critics. It made less than $400 million worldwide on a $315 million production and marketing budget, and it boasts a 29% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Was it worth it? Even for those who may believe in a need for military recruitment and the Army “owning” a national holiday, is it worth spending $2 million of taxpayer money on a fake viral internet phenomenon? Especially a campaign based around a terrible film that no one asked for and few people wanted?

These documents reveal how wasteful and ineffective the Army’s chillingly sophisticated approach was for advertising around the movie.

The Army went to extreme lengths to associate the fictional battle against a fictional threat with their role in the real world, and even with abstract and sacred notions, such as independence and freedom that they claimed for themselves. Yet, their campaign was immediately forgettable.

The post Documents: Inside The US Army’s Massive $2 Million Propaganda Campaign For ‘Independence Day’ Sequel appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Features, Latest News, The Dissenter, Army, film, FOIA, Hollywood, Independence Day, Pentagon, Propaganda]

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[l] at 2/6/20 5:33pm

On this edition of the “Dissenter Weekly,” host and Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola highlights whistleblowers within the Democratic Party, who have exposed malfeasance in the Iowa Caucuses and alleged “toxic workplace” culture in the 2020 Milwaukee DNC Host Committee.

Gosztola highlights women staffers who sent a letter to the board of directors for the host committee that led to the firing of two individuals. He also shares the example of Chris Schwartz, a Black Hawk County supervisor who provided a delegate count from his county yet received no explanation from Democrats as to why those were not reported. He also embarrassed state Democrats.

“The state party is now being forced to walk back their error of giving Bernie Sanders delegates to Deval Patrick, who received zero votes in Black Hawk County,” Schwartz wrote on Twitter.

Later in the program, Gosztola describes how the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to open around a million acres of land in southwest Colorado to oil and gas drilling.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a group known for its work representing environmental whistleblowers in government agencies, published records that how the regulatory agency is ignoring objections from Colorado Governor Jared Polis and the public. BLM is overruling field managers because it is line with the administration’s agenda to decrease regulations as a service to the fossil fuel industry.

The episode concludes with an update on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition case. Prominent Germans appealed for his release from the Belmarsh prison in the United Kingdom.

Gosztola will travel to London in February to cover a week-long extradition hearing for Assange. The case the United States has brought against him threatens global press freedom.

Help us fund his trip by making a donation or becoming a Shadowproof member.

“Dissenter Weekly” airs every Thursday at 4pm ET on YouTube and Facebook, and covers whistleblower and press freedom news from that week.

This week’s stories:

DNC Host Committee Remove Two Leaders For Creating ‘Toxic Workplace’ After Whistleblowers Complain

Bureau Of Land Management Overrules Staff And Orders More Colorado Drilling

U.S. Education Department Whistleblower Forced Out After Exposing Push Against Transgender Student Athletes

FAA Whistleblower Says He Was Prevented From Inspecting Helicopter Before Hawaii Crash

US Labor Department Orders Michigan School District To Pay, Reinstate Whistleblower Who Warned Of Asbestos Hazard

Prominent Germans appeal for Julian Assange’s release

***

Chelsea Manning has been in jail for 330 days. She owes $221,000 in fines.

Julian Assange has been in jail for 301 days, since he was expelled from the Ecuador embassy in London. 

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The post Dissenter Weekly: Democratic Party Whistleblowers In Milwaukee And Iowa—Plus, Trump To Expand Oil And Gas Drilling In Colorado appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, DNC 2020, fossil fuel industry, Iowa Caucus, Julian Assange, The Dissenter Weekly Update | Shadowproof]

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[l] at 2/5/20 4:15pm

In Phoenix, Arizona, Don Ameden lost his job as a driver for a tourist bus service in July 2018 after he spent a month in a hospital following an emergency surgery during a route in California. 

“I had to get a bus ride back to Phoenix with an open wound from surgery. When I got here, I found out the company let me go,” Ameden shared. 

Unable to work, jobless, and in need of post-surgical care, Ameden found himself evicted from the room he was renting at the time. Since then, he’s stayed in homeless shelters in the Phoenix area while working for an airline catering company.

Ameden currently purchases health insurance coverage through his employer, LSG Sky Chefs, but can’t afford the copays he’s charged to receive care for Type 2 diabetes and heart issues as often as he requires it. 

“I avoid going to the doctor because it costs so much,” he added.

Health care is one of the most important issues for voters across the United States because of growing issues with the American health care system.

Six-in-ten Iowans, who participated in the Iowa Caucuses, said they supported the elimination of private health insurance.

But much of the debate within the Democratic presidential primary has focused on criticizing and dismissing “Medicare For All,” which would create a national health insurance program where the government became the single-payer for health care.

Millions of Americans cannot afford the costs of health care in the United States, even with health insurance coverage. Over 80 million Americans have inadequate or no medical insurance coverage at all.

Every year, more than 500,000 Americans , who file bankruptcy, cite medical debt as a contributing factor. Each year, more than 250,000 Americans rely on GoFundMe campaigns to help cover medical expenses.

Polls repeatedly show millions of Americans avoid or delay medical care due to the costs, and most Americans report struggling at least once with financial hardship due to medical care. 

Despite the fact that the U.S. spends by far the most money on health care than any industrialized nation , the  country lags behind other industrialized nations in health outcomes and remains the only industrialized nation in the world without universal health care .

Health care spending is expected to increase substantially. Meanwhile, corporations in the U.S. health care industry continue to report record profits

“When you have a system where profit is the goal, the only way to make that profit is to deny care. That’s what we’ve seen over the years” said Jean Ross, a co-president of National Nurses United (NNU) who has been a nurse for 45 years.

NNU is the largest nurses union in the U.S., and it has led a grassroots Medicare For All campaign over the past several years.

Ross contended, “What we have right now is unsustainable. It’s imploding. We already have one of the most unequal societies on Earth and health care is a huge part of it. It’s beyond tweaking. You don’t tweak a bad system. You replace it.“

This would provide universal health care coverage and eliminate bureaucratic costs in the health insurance industry, including the copays, deductibles, and premiums currently paid by those with private health insurance.

The plan was a hallmark of Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, which helped galvanize national support for the proposal.

“Call me simplistic, but I think when you put forward a plan, you ought to put forward how to pay for it, too,” South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg told reporters about Sanders’ Medicare For All plan.

Former Vice President Joe Biden repeated similar criticisms while campaigning in Iowa: “Well, that’s not a likely way to pass something through the Senate, saying, ‘I don’t know how much it’s going to cost.’”

Indeed, Sanders noted the exact costs of Medicare For All are unknown, but critics omit the context of the response. His remark was a response to CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell during a January interview.

“You don’t know. Nobody knows. This is impossible to predict.” Sanders added in a follow-up question on whether he would provide the costs of the plan. “Do you know exactly what health care costs will be, one minute, in the next ten years if we do nothing? It will be a lot more expensive than a Medicare For All single-payer system.”

As former Harvard Medical School faculty member Dr. Donald Berwick stated in an op-ed for USA Today, “The cost would depend on many implementation decisions that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ bill, for example, leaves open for thoughtful exploration, careful choice, and adjustments over time: payment rates to hospitals and doctors, content of the benefit package, details of price negotiations with drug companies, design of simplified administration, and more.” 

Along with Biden and Buttigieg, Medicare For All has been consistently criticized as “too expensive” and “unrealistic” by billionaire Koch-funded researchers , former Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker , the Republican National Committee , and anti-Medicare For All group, Partnership for America’s Healthcare Future, an alliance of health insurance and pharmaceutical industry lobbyists . 

Industry-backed critiques steer discussion away from the rising costs of the current and inherently cruel system, where millions of Americans are denied or face financial burdens to afford life-saving medical treatment.

As Sanders previously stated , the answer to the persistent question of “how are you going to pay for it?” is “we already are.”

Deborah Burger, president of the California Nurses Association and co-president of NNU, declared, “We are already spending the money. It’s just the fact we’re giving a huge chunk of our health care dollars, anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of our health care dollars, to a middle man that doesn’t provide any real health care service other than trying to make sure patients don’t receive treatment their own doctors recommend.”

According to NNU, grassroots organizers focus on personal experiences with the U.S. health care system in mobilizing and rallying support for Medicare For All. The union’s campaign often relies on nurses from Canada, the United Kingdom, and other countries with universal health care to explain to Americans through town halls what a Medicare For All system could look like. 

“It makes those corporate interests defend the existing system by helping people see they’re not alone in the problems they’re having with health care,” argued Jo Beardsmore, an adviser from the U.K. to the NNU’s Medicare For All campaign. “We know from history the only way you achieve positive change is by concerted organized action from the grassroots.”

Filiberto Lares Cordova, another airline catering worker in Phoenix, Arizona, recently had to travel to Mexico with his daughter to have gallbladder surgery because he couldn’t afford to pay for it in the United States, even after paying $500 monthly premiums to cover his family. 

“Here in the US, for a hospital stay of one day, I paid $7,000 with health insurance. I’m still paying monthly payments to cover that,” Cordova said. “There I spent $5,000 for a complete surgery, medicine, and over a week in the hospital. It’s a lot cheaper.”

In Los Angeles, California, Margarita Hernandez went years without any health insurance coverage because she couldn’t afford it, but she recently was forced to purchase coverage through her employer after she developed severe liver problems. 

“I didn’t have health care because I couldn’t afford it. I wasn’t able to receive preventive screenings or exams. I don’t make enough money, but I have no other choice but to buy my employer’s health insurance because I’m facing all these health issues, ” Hernandez shared.

Hernandez pays a little over $50 every week in premiums, and she still pays 20 percent of her bill as copays. She is required to meet a $1000 copay to receive out-of-network treatment.

Under “Medicare For All,” private health insurance would be eliminated, and in doing so, excessive costs associated with maintaining the for-profit industry would disappear. 

“Those who claim that Medicare for All is too expensive are simply not being honest about what we are currently spending and what we will spend to maintain the most expensive health care system in the world that, sadly, does not produce the healthiest residents,” said Lindsey Sabadosa, a state representative in Massachusetts who is co-author of a state bill to create a single-payer, Medicare For All system for Massachusetts. 

State Representative Paul Mark, the other co-author of the Massachusetts single-payer bill, emphasized Medicare For All would have benefits for local economies. 

“When someone is paying out of their paycheck every week for a deductible or paying out of pocket for an office visit or to fill a prescription, that’s money that is effectively being removed from the local economy,” Mark said. “When we talk about the costs it is essential that the total costs are examined as they are now and how they would be under an improved system, and that means public money now being spent on health care but also private economic activity that would be unleashed by reducing the non-tax related health care burden families are facing today.”

A study from a Koch Brothers-funded think tank estimated costs of reform would total $32.6 trillion over 10 years, less than what the U.S. spends annually on health care (Note: Costs were $3.5 trillion in 2017 . So, over ten years, that would be $35 trillion, without taking into account significant and constant increases in health care costs under the current system). 

The same study showed “Medicare For All” would save $5.1 trillion over a ten-year period, a conservative savings estimate based solely on eliminating excessive administrative costs within the private health insurance industry. In fact, in 2017, health insurance providers spent $800 billion , or nearly $2,500 per person, on administrative costs.

“When critics talk about [how] we’re going to spend trillions of dollars in health care for ‘Medicare For All,’ we’re already paying for that. What will happen is when we transition to ‘Medicare For All’ [spending] will go to providing real access to health care, not health care insurance,” Burger concluded. 

The post In Spite Of Industry-Backed Disinformation Around Health Care, Largest Nurses Union Mobilizes Voters For ‘Medicare For All’ appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Features, Latest News, The Dissenter, 2020 Democratic Primary, Bernie Sanders, Health Care Reform, Medicare For All, National Nurses United, Single-payer]

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[l] at 2/5/20 12:47pm

The post was originally published at Ongoing History Of Protest Songs.

Canada is often portrayed as the more progressive and less racist neighbor of the United States. Overlooked in that perception is the country’s ongoing troubled history in dealing with its indigenous population.

Shedding a light on indigenous issues is Jason Camp and the Posers, a Haida Nation punkabilly band.

The band’s mission statement is described on the album’s Bandcamp page for their 2019 debut album, “First Contact,” “After 15,000 years of indigenous occupation and 150 years of colonization we are prepared to bring you the very finest in post-colonial rage rock.”

One of the highlights of the raucous album is “Silver Tongued White Man.” Both the song and accompanying video addresses the various proposed pipelines that do irreparable harm to the environment and violates sacred land.

The lyric, “Sure look pretty while you’re making a deal. Shake hands for the cameras on the land that you steal,” a scathing indictment of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who presents himself as a champion of native rights, but the actions of his administration belie those claims.

“You wanna reconcile but won’t say genocide” also carries a lot of power. Because true reconciliation comes from acknowledging the past. If history continues to be whitewashed, nothing changes.


The post Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Silver Tongued White Man’ By Jason Camp And The Posers appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, The Dissenter, The Protest Music Project, Jason Camp, Protest Song of the Week, Punk, Punkabilly]

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[l] at 2/4/20 3:59pm

Shadowproof Editor Kevin Gosztola is joined by Common Dreams Senior Editor Eoin Higgins to discuss the fall-out from the 2020 Iowa Caucus. They discuss what happened with the caucus app developed by Shadow Inc., a startup company with former staff from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Eoin and Kevin put the cronyism between the Iowa Democratic Party and Shadow Inc. into perspective. They highlight why the swirling suspicions around how the state party handled the caucuses is understandable.

Later in the conversation, Eoin and Kevin address the poor performance of Joe Biden’s campaign in Iowa and what the strong showing in Iowa may mean for Pete Buttigieg.

They conclude with talk about Republican billionaire Mike Bloomberg and how he is ramping up his efforts to challenge Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination, especially since Sanders increasingly seems like the campaign best suited to go the long haul.

The post Interview With Eoin Higgins: The Aftermath Of 2020 Iowa Caucus appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, 2020 Democratic Primary, 2020 Presidential Primary, DNC 2020, Iowa Caucus]

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[l] at 2/4/20 3:00pm
Editor’s Note Kevin Gosztola wrote this edition of Shadowproof’s members-only newsletter to share some of his notes from covering the previous week of developments involving the Democratic National Committee’s efforts to rig the primary so anybody but Bernie Sanders is the party’s presidential nominee. Become a member for $5/month or more to gain access to interviews with our reporters, arts and culture reviews, and “reporter’s notebook” entries like this one.

The Iowa Caucuses were a total fiasco. Despite cronyism linked to an app used by the state party, Senator Bernie Sanders has surged in numerous polls. Corporate Democrats, particularly those in leadership positions in the Democratic National Committee (DNC), are quite nervous that Sanders may become the party’s presidential nominee.

The DNC changed debate rules in order to help a Republican billionaire, former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, qualify for the next presidential debate. (Bloomberg contributed $800,000 to the DNC, and the DNC funneled $575,000 to 44 different state parties.)

A little more than a week ago, DNC Chair Tom Perez and party elites appointed a neoliberal cast of corporate lobbyists and foreign policy hacks to the 2020 Democratic National Convention committees. Only one well-known Sanders supporter was granted a spot on a committee.

Shadowproof played a role in exposing this DNC corruption so I’ll take a moment to memorialize our success.

Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez issued a list of individuals he nominated for the 2020 Democratic National Convention committees.

Let's examine some of the individuals. I'll initially focus on the nominees for the DNC Platform Committee.

Thread. pic.twitter.com/fVm41YClJQ

— Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola) January 25, 2020

On Friday, January 24, Perez’s list of nominees was posted. “Some DNC members,” according to The Hill, referred to the list as the “midnight convention committee picks.” They were rubber-stamped by the DNC’s executive committee less than 24 hours later.

The following Saturday morning I wondered: Who are these people?

I recognized a few names from their roles in Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign or their past work for President Barack Obama’s administration. But by and large, I was unaware of the vast majority of these people.

A Twitter thread I compiled started with the Platform Committee co-chairs. Denis McDonough, Obama’s former chief of staff, was granted a position. He pushed the Senate to speed up their confirmation of John Brennan to head the CIA, despite his past support for torture. He was one of Obama’s advisers, who helped the administration develop the process by which alleged terrorism suspects would be put on a kill list for assassination.

But I also stumbled on the Rework America Business Network that he launched in December 2018 with Heidi Capozzi, the senior vice president of human resources at Boeing. The network’s eleven founding members included Aon, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Boeing, Duke Energy, Kaiser Permanente, McKinsey & Company, Microsoft, and Walmart.

My Saturday afternoon was spent conducting research. By the evening, I was stunned at just how Republican these people seemed.

Danielle Gray, who was appointed to be a vice-chair of the platform committee, had a profile on Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s website. She is a senior vice president, chief legal officer, and corporate secretary for the health insurance corporation.

Note: Gray is not a politician who accepted contributions from a business that expects her to make policy on their behalf. It’s worse. She currently works for a corporation with an interest in preventing the expansion of Medicare to cover millions of Americans.

Meghan Stabler, who is on the board of Democratic Majority For Israel (DMFI), was appointed to the platform committee. The political arm of this dark money group launched one of the few ad campaigns against Sanders in Iowa and invoked his heart attack to make him seem “unelectable” to Iowans.

In researching the other committees, I found Representative Barney Frank, who was appointed to chair the rules committee, sits on the board of Signature Bank New York. Trump’s family has relied on the bank as a go-to lender.

I learned CNN contributor Maria Cardona, who was appointed to chair the rules committee with Frank, holds a position at the Dewey Square Group, a lobbying firm that represents corporate interests in their efforts to undermine progressive reforms. Two others from Dewey Square were appointed as well.

While the health reform debate unfolded during Obama’s administration, the firm placed letters to the editor in a newspaper “under names of elderly Massachusetts residents without their knowledge or consent.”

James Boland, who is the president of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) union, was appointed to the rules committee. I was stunned to find he is on the board of directors for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which President Ronald Reagan launched in the 1980s in response to the backlash against the CIA for its meddling in countries. By acting overtly, NED de-stigmatized and normalized many of the covert operations that once upset representatives and senators.

It was 11 pm on January 25, and I still had dozens of names of people to get through on the list of 93 appointees. Yet, already the outpouring of gratitude and shock at the Democratic Party establishment’s picks for committees was significant. “It’s a veritable who’s who of the Bernie-hating world,” Elizabeth Hamilton Argyropoulos, a popular Sanders supporter on Twitter, replied.

Grayzone editor-in-chief Max Blumenthal invited me to contribute an article. After figuring out who the corporate Democrats were on the credentials committee, I spent the rest of Sunday developing and writing a report.

“Thank you so much for this and the hard work put into it!” one person said. “Your research is invaluable. Hats off, friend!” I was grateful for all the appreciation shared with me. It inspired me to keep working even when I was tired.

From Monday to Wednesday, DNC appointments were the talk of online progressive media, and most shows relied upon my Twitter thread. The Real News interviewed me. “Around the Nation” with Jeff Waldorf, a show affiliated with The Young Turks, featured the thread. Hard Lens Media covered the thread. Papi Chulomin covered the thread.

Krystal Ball referred to the thread on her popular Internet news program, “Rising,” produced by The Hill. On his show, “Status Coup,” Jordan Chariton spent 15 minutes reading the thread.

Comedians Jimmy Dore, Stef Zamorano, and Ron Placone spent 20 minutes reading my thread on their hugely popular show. This incredible clip garnered over 100,000 views in a couple days.

The three did their best to get through most of the thread, but each name they read sucked more life out of their broadcast. Every unpleasant detail required them to dig deeper into the well to find humor in the moral rot within the DNC.

“Whew, have you had a bowl full of neoliberals yet? Wow, this is something,” Dore said. Referring to SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry, who endorsed Clinton early in 2015, Placone added, “So far, the one with the least horrible résumé is corrupt union leader…That’s like the one that is the least offensive.”

In terms of online print media, our friends over at Common Dreams showed Shadowproof a lot of love for exposing these DNC appointees. The New Republic relied on our reporting. My article for the Grayzone was republished at Consortium News.

Unfortunately, the progressive echo chamber did not push the establishment news media to focus more attention on the backgrounds of these individuals. Most reporting from establishment news media highlighted “Sanders supporters” or “Sanders allies,” who were angry. It was the “bros,” who were at it again, showing their dissatisfaction with Democratic leaders.

A follow-up report on the DNC appointments was published at Shadowproof and did rather well. It further demonstrated the hunger for reporting, which follows the money and documents clear conflicts of interest among Democrats who are aligned against Sanders and the progressive wing of the party.

Remarkably, by the end of the week, the thread reached figures in the DNC. James Zogby,  founder of the Arab-American Institute, who is a Sanders supporter that was purged from the DNC’s executive committee in 2017, shared the thread.

“At every step along the way, when given an opportunity to heal the wounds of the party, the chair has, instead, chosen to rub in salt. This is another example & it’s disappointing. We’ll need everyone on board to win in November. Best time to start is NOW!” Zogby tweeted.

Ray McKinnon tweeted, “Please read this thread and understand why, as a DNC Member representing [North Carolina], I signed on to the letter to Chairman Tom Perez, imploring that we ensure there is faith in our process. Specific candidates aside, [Democratic] voters must have faith in us as leaders. This ain’t helping.”

He even urged Diane Robertson, a DNC member appointed to the rules committee, to look at the thread so she could better understand what was happening internally. (Which suggests there is a lot of dysfunction among leadership at the moment.)

Shadowproof picked up several new YouTube subscribers and some more members became regular donors. We grew our base of followers on Twitter, and the thread was recognized as a useful resource to rebut pundits or politicians, who downplay evidence that party elites are conspiring against Sanders.

This was an example of the power of independent media to reach people at the grassroots level and bypass the filters of establishment media.

Efforts to rig the primary against anyone but Sanders will make the Democratic Party’s nominee increasingly unelectable in the general election against Trump. On the other hand, if Sanders becomes the nominee, a tide will wash over corporate Democrats and wash them away. They will lose their influence, and their politics will be even more irrelevant. And that is why there is so much panic among the establishment right now.

If we understand the Democratic Party to be a corporate political party, a fake opposition party that puts capitalism before the needs of working people, then it is likely we are witnessing the death of the Democratic Party.

Out of the smoldering ashes will rise something even more venal, or the party will finally reconstitute itself as an organization supportive of progressive politics.

The post Reporter Notes: Exposing Corruption Within The DNC appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, DNC 2020, Member Newsletter]

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[l] at 1/30/20 4:13pm

On this edition of the “Dissenter Weekly,” host and Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola highlights police whistleblowing in Houston, “Luanda Leaks,” and retaliation faced by Amazon workers defying threats from management for speaking out on how the corporation fuels climate change.

Gosztola walks viewers through the struggle to form a police whistleblower committee in Houston. Activists with We The People Organize want the Houston City Council to appoint a body that can support anonymous complaints from officers.

Later in the program, Gosztola highlights efforts by Amazon workers to protest the company’s climate policy despite threats made against their jobs. He also discusses a few stories on the ‘Luanda Leaks’ that detail corruption by Isabel dos Santos, the richest woman in Africa. He also highlights how dos Santos is suing reporters in an attempt to silence them.

After exploring Donald Trump administration’s efforts to retaliate against whistleblowers in the Department of Defense, Gosztola provides an update on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition case. Assange was moved from solitary confinement at the Belmarsh prison in London with the help of his legal team and fellow prisoners.

He also draws attention to a new website in support of Chelsea Manning, ReleaseChelsea.com

Gosztola will travel to London in February to cover a crucial extradition hearing for Assange. The case the United States has brought against him threatens global press freedom.

Help us fund his trip by making a donation or becoming a Shadowproof member.

“Dissenter Weekly” airs every Thursday at 4pm ET on YouTube and Facebook, and covers whistleblower and press freedom news from that week.

This week’s stories:

Advocacy Group Wants Whistleblower Committee For Houston Police

Hundreds of Amazon Workers Defy Rules To Protest Corporation’s Climate Policy

Luanda Leaks and the Global Wealth Defense Industry

Angola’s dos Santos to sue reporters’ consortium behind ‘Luanda Leaks’

Officials under Trump increasingly retaliate against whistleblowers with impunity

***

Chelsea Manning has been in jail for 323 days. She owes $214,000 in fines.

Julian Assange has been in jail for 294 days, since he was expelled from the Ecuador embassy in London. 

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The post Dissenter Weekly: ‘Luanda Leaks,’ Amazon Whistleblowers Defy Threats From Management—Plus, Assange Leaves Solitary appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Amazon, Julian Assange, The Dissenter Weekly Update | Shadowproof, Whistleblowers, WikiLeaks]

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[l] at 1/29/20 10:06am

Attorney General William Barr swore in 18 members of a White House commission on policing.

Comprised entirely of law enforcement officials, the commission claims it will study how to “make American law enforcement the most trusted and effective guardians of our communities.”

Amid historic low crime rates and a protracted national struggle against the violence of everyday policing, commission members will study subjects such as how to expand and strengthen police forces, how to modernize training and technology, and how to counter criticism and reformed aimed at law enforcement to rebuild the legitimacy of the institution.

The Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration Of Justice was established on October 28, 2019, through an executive order.

According to Barr, the scope and membership of the commission is narrow by design.

“While many topics and aspects of the criminal justice system merit study,” Barr wrote in a memo on January 21, 2020, “the commission will focus on the national issues that most impact the efficacy of american law enforcement to safeguard the public and maintain a positive relationship with their communities.”

“Law enforcement is frequently tasked with addressing the consequences of social ills—including drug addiction, mental illness, and homelessness—for which the criminal justice system is not always the best solution,” Barr wrote.

“While facing these challenges, many public voices express distrust and disrespect for the law enforcement community, resulting in a corresponding decline in officer morale and health, as well as the willingness of Americans to volunteer to become law enforcement officers.”

Barr argued that “a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives is important for gaining an effective understanding of these problems and formulating solutions.”

Of the 18 people appointed to the commission, 17 are active members of law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and judges. One is a city councilman from McKinney, Texas, who has a background in law enforcement and is the president of the local police union.

The commission “may host listening sessions” with people who do not work in law enforcement, soliciting input from “government service providers; businesses; nonprofit entities; public health experts; victims rights’ organizations; other advocacy and interest groups; reentry experts; academia; and other public and private entities and individuals with relevant experience or expertise.”

Recommendations to “prevent, reduce, and control crime, increase respect for the law, and assist victims” will most likely reflect the perspectives of law enforcement.

The commission must report its recommendations to the attorney general no later than October 28, 2020. They will be sent to President Donald Trump no later than 60 days later. The commission will terminate within 90 days of submitting its report.

Who Is On Trump’s Policing Commission?

Every single member of the commission works in or has ties to law enforcement. The majority are white men.

Phil Keith will chair the commission. He was the police chief in Knoxville, Tennessee from 1988 to 2004. During that time, repeated acts of violence by police against the city’s Black residents precipitated a movement that established a civilian review board and put surveillance cameras in police cruisers.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that Keith “called the reforms necessary, estimating the videos upheld officers’ actions ‘99 percent of the time.’”

Keith was also a driving force behind the creation of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) within the Department of Justice, and he is currently its director.

COPS came out of the notorious 1994 crime bill. The office is essentially a slush fund for police departments on the state and local level that has doled out $14 billion since it was founded.

The goal of COPS is to advance a “community policing” model that is a sibling to “broken windows” policing. Community policing efforts describe themselves as strategies to strengthen bonds between police and neighborhoods, but in reality they promote increased violence, harassment, surveillance, and violations of constitutional rights.

As the collective, World Without Police, explains, community policing is often used as a reform response to criticism of policing that results in increased funding and “extended police presence and surveillance into everyday life,” turning “social problems into police problems.”

In 2018, when Keith took over COPS, he told local news outlets, “My first priority will be carrying out the mission of the attorney general’s violent crime plan. We’ll primarily be going back to basics, listening to law enforcement in the field, which has not been occurring for a while.”

Law enforcement is eager to tout the crime reduction benefits of community policing. But despite flooding departments with cash and significantly increasing the number of police officers and the intensity of their patrolling, there is no significant evidence of its effectiveness in reducing crime.

Robert Gualtieri, Pinellas County Sheriff in Florida, is another member of the commission. He refused to follow in the steps of other departments around the country and reduce the use of electroshock weapons like tasers, which can be deadly.

When Reverend Al Sharpton held a rally in Florida following the deaths of black men shot by police, Gualtieri told Sharpton to “go back to New York and mind your own business.”

He led the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission following the 2018 mass shooting and came out in support of arming teachers on the National Rifle Association’s television network.

Gualtieri was the first to sign on to a policy that helped Florida sheriffs duck sanctuary city rules and work with ICE to detain and deport immigrants. He also faced criticism for requesting more information on real-time facial recognition software for his department, though he later claimed it was included in a document “inadvertently.”

Barr appointed Gina Hawkins, the police chief in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Activists have called for her resignation or firing and demanded investigations into the department since 2018, when members of the community alleged police planted evidence to arrest a couple on drug charges.

She was also a delegate in the 23rd Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE), an Islamophobic and unabashedly Zionist law enforcement training partnership with Israel, in which police travel to the country to study its infamously racist and militarized police force.

Craig Price, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, was appointed to the commission as well. Price supervised the South Dakota Highway Patrol, as it played a key role in brutally suppressing the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. His department was reimbursed over a half million dollars for its efforts to surveil and attack protesters.

Price is part of the executive board of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), a professional association that has publicly rebuked Trump for his celebration of violence by police and has apologized for the “historical mistreatment of minorities by police.” At the same time, IACP’s leadership oversees police departments routinely engaged in violence and misconduct.

For Filter Magazine, Rory Fleming dug into the record of commission member and Virginia prosecutor Nancy Parr. Fleming noted Parr leads the National District Attorney Association, “which [champions] fake forensic science in court and continues to argue that marijuana legalization will cause its underage use and use while driving to skyrocket.”

Parr’s presence on the commission should serve as a warning sign for any recommendations it may have pertaining to drug criminalization. Parr told members of a House subcommittee that there is a “big difference” between possessing and distributing drugs—a widely debunked claim that prosecutors are fond of making to justify incarceration of drug users.

Parr prosecuted a woman for drug possession after she overdosed. She also illegally registered homeless people as “habitual drunkards,” which as Fleming put it, enabled “their incessant harassment by police.”

Ashley Moody is another soldier in the “War on Drugs.” She advocated against a ballot initiative to legalize recreational cannabis and stood with the NRA against a gun law in Florida.

According to Fleming, Moody opposed voting rights for people with nonviolent felony convictions, and her office “runs an official website dedicated to ‘Black-on-Black’ crime.”

David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, also opposes cannabis legalization, and Barr appointed him to the commission.

He led the Nashville police union, which aggressively fought efforts to establish a police oversight board. Rausch worked with the State Department to train police in Jamaica on so-called “tactical responses to terrorism.” Such police trainings have a dark history as a means of foreign intervention that dates back to the United States’ forays into Latin America in the 1970s.

Suburban Texas City Councilman Frederick Frazier is the only person on the commission, who is not a current member of law enforcement. He is, however, the first vice president of the Dallas Police Association. The organization has pushed for increasing police headcounts and was the target of protests in 2019 after activists accused its president of aiding in an attempted cover-up after police killed of Botham Jean.

Frazier is also notable for having joined the effort to recall a colleague named LaShadion Shemwell—the only black member of the City Council—after Shemwell pushed to declare a “black state of emergency” following the deaths of two North Texas residents at the hands of police officers.

What Will Trump’s Police Commission Research?

Trump’s policing commission will approach what it calls “social ills,” not in terms of the needs of those who use drugs, endure mental illness, or face homelessness, but rather in terms of how to better police them. It will ponder how government resources like education, business, and social services may be incorporated into policing instead of how they may entirely replace policing.

The commission will explore how to “improve and increase” enlistment, training, and retention of police officers at the state and local level.

It will scrutinize refusals by state and local prosecutors to “enforce” laws or prosecute categories of crimes. The commission will also study policing in rural areas and indigenous people.

The commission will also issue recommendations to address the mental and physical health of officers, evaluate the efficacy of federal grants to state and local police departments, and investigate the challenges and opportunities new technologies bring to policing.

Public-private partnerships with businesses and community development organizations will be explored, as well as the roles they can play in fostering “prosperous and safe communities,” including through tax incentives created under Trump’s 2017 tax bill.

The commission will examine and evaluate trends in crime and current use of “targeted deterrence” approaches to reduce violent crime, which dovetail with community policing. Targeted deterrence, or focused deterrence as its sometimes called, is popular among law enforcement and also deeply unjust, involving racist and inaccurate gang profiling, collective punishment strategies, and a regime of inadequate but mandatory “services.”

The law enforcement officials on the commission will weigh in on “juvenile delinquency” and youth crime, victims services, and re-entry programs and initiatives to see “how prisoner programming and post-custodial rehabilitation initiatives can reduce recidivism and improve the quality of life for criminal offenders and their communities.”

They will also look into how data is being used and collected, and identify the gaps they see in needed data. And it will study how law enforcement should “address evolving threats to national security in the sphere of domestic and international terrorism.”

The issue of trust and respect in policing, however, is emphasized in both the executive order and a memo from Barr.

“This group shall focus on the trend of diminished respect for law enforcement and the laws they enforce,” Barr declares in his memo. “The group should specifically evaluate how under-enforcement of the criminal law in certain jurisdictions affects public safety; perception of law enforcement and the laws they enforce; police resources and morale; and rule of law.”

Trump Fans The Flames Of A Black Lives Matter Backlash

With the exception of the prison reform bill known as the FIRST STEP Act, Donald Trump’s presidency has spurred a backlash against criminal justice reforms. This commission can be best understood as part of his efforts to salvage law-and-order politics in the U.S.

Trump is one of only a few presidents in the last 60 years to form a commission on law enforcement. Barack Obama convened the “Task Force On 21st Century Policing” in 2014, roughly a year after the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Unlike Trump, Obama tapped people who did not work in law enforcement for his commission. He also permitted the Justice Department to review misconduct at some of the most notorious local police departments. But similar to Trump’s commission, Obama’s commission recommended community policing, restoring trust and legitimacy of policing, and more officers and training.

President Lyndon Johnson also established a policing commission in 1965 toward the end of the civil rights movement and as part of his “war on crime.” That commission shares its name with Trump’s new commission and was credited with helping kickstart the “tough-on-crime” mentality that dominated American politics for much of the 20th century.

Professor Alex Vitale, who covered the history of policing and analyzed reforms in his book “The End Of Policing,” told Shadowproof that, unlike Trump’s commission, “the Johnson commission was actually designed with a clear problem in mind and the belief that they could stage a meaningful intervention by coordinating with leading experts and government leaders.”

“While that commission made important mistakes that led to intensified policing in the U.S., it did have a major impact on American policing. In contrast, the Trump commission is an exercise in symbolic politics. He has selected a group of ideological supporters from mostly small and southern departments, who are in line with his political base.”

“He is basically signalling to that base that he supports the most conservative and authoritarian segments of the law enforcement community such as the Fraternal Order of Police and rural sheriffs,” Vitale argued.

The Trump administration has directly rebuked the rising tide of criminal justice reform, even celebrating the violence of policing.

Upon taking office in 2017, Trump issued three executive orders on law enforcement that strengthened police powers. He celebrated the violence of policing in speeches. And his campaign to aggressively harass, arrest, detain, and deport migrants should be understood as part of the same program.

Trump’s efforts have lended momentum and legitimacy to the backlash around the country.

In Philadelphia, for example, decarceral DA Larry Krasner has faced intense pushback on his efforts to develop a different culture of prosecution—so much so that lawmakers have moved to diminish his authority.

A ballot initiative called Keep California Safe could potentially undo significant portions of the sentence reduction provisions of Proposition 47.

Modest bail reforms in New York were barely in effect for a week before law enforcement and lawmakers clamored for provisions to be rolled back.

Will Trump’s Law Enforcement Commission Impact Criminal Justice Reform?

“This kind of commission has very little chance of having much actual impact on policing,” Vitale said. “Their recommendations lack legitimacy in the eyes of many law enforcement insiders, especially the big city police chiefs who are the most important actors in this world, but who have been totally excluded from the process.”

“The lack of any outside experts will further undermine the credibility of the commission and even its ability to come to any credible conclusions about the many issues it’s been tasked with undertaking.”

Vitale added that “the mandate for the committee is completely out of touch with the actual challenges facing law enforcement and will do little to advance meaningful conversation, much less policy about how to reduce the harms caused by policing.”

Additionally, there’s only so much influence the federal government can truly exert on state and local law enforcement practices. Scholars like Professor John Pfaff have pointed to the general weakness of federal funding as an incentive for change within law enforcement agencies.

But others, like Dr. Heather Schoenfeld, have argued that local, state, and federal jurisdictions follow trends, and with the help of media, they create feedback loops that amplify and spread harmful ideas and practices.

Given the makeup, background, and stated focus, it is likely the Trump administration will use the commission as a vehicle to promote police propaganda as a response to a well-deserved crisis of confidence in policing among the public.

The post Meet The Cops: Inside Donald Trump’s New Commission On Policing appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Latest News, Prison Protest, Donald Trump, Policing, White House Commission]

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[l] at 1/28/20 11:47pm

Faced with a backlash, the Democratic National Committee defended the secretive manner in which dozens of lobbyists, corporate consultants, party insiders, think tank board members, and pro-Israel Democrats were nominated by DNC Chair Tom Perez to committees for the 2020 national convention.

Seventy-five individuals were appointed to the platform, rules, and credentials committees on January 25 during a DNC executive committee meeting. Who currently is part of this executive committee is unclear.

Two chairs and four vice-chairs were appointed to oversee each of the committees. Thirty-one spots on each committee were filled.

Nearly all of the individuals appointed endorsed Hillary Clinton during her 2016 campaign. Many endorsed Clinton early in 2015, but the DNC said it does not consider “past endorsements” when filling committees.

The DNC claimed “high-profile” supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders were appointed to the committees, but that is false. Only one “high-profile” supporter was appointed to the Platform, Rules, and Credentials Committees.

Larry Cohen, the former union president of the Communications Workers of America, was appointed. He founded the pro-Sanders political action organization, Our Revolution.

According to The Hill, “DNC officials said they look for policy experts to help shape the platform or for experienced Democratic hands who know their way around party bylaws to assist in the rules and credentialing process.”

But positions were not merely filled with people capable of grasping Robert’s Rules of Order. These so-called “policy experts” have exhibited open hostility toward a leading presidential candidate, who may potentially be the Democratic Party’s nominee. They have also represented business interests, like Blue Cross Blue Shield, at the expense of policies and ideas that will presumably be championed in the Democratic platform in 2020.

“Some DNC members complained that they were only alerted to the appointments late on Friday ahead of the executive committee’s Saturday vote,” even derisively referring to the appointments as the “midnight convention committee picks,” according to The Hill.

Terry Tucker, a DNC member and Sanders supporter from Colorado told The Hill, “The subject of transparency and notice has been broached in the past with Chairman Perez in open meetings of the full DNC,” and, “Lack of transparency and input from the members continues to be a source of irritation.”

But the DNC maintained it was completely normal to give members less than a day to consider nominees before they were ratified. 

At least 26 of the people appointed are superdelegates, who will be able to vote for the presidential nominee if no candidate wins on the first ballot.

Seventy-five percent of the appointments were “at-large” appointments, meaning they are not elected officials. Their status in the Democratic Party is not dependent on voters in any particular state or in any state party.

“Most of the members will be allotted in proportion to the number of delegates the candidates win over the course of the primaries and caucuses,” The Hill noted. “There will be 187 people on each committee, and the winner’s supporters should make up a majority.”

If Sanders is the nominee, his supporters may make up the majority, but they would potentially have to deal with chairs and vice-chairs that are opposed to their agenda.

Back in 2017, Perez purged prominent progressives, who backed former Representative Keith Ellison in the race for DNC chair. Barbra Casbar Siperstein, the first transgender DNC member, lost her position as an at-large member. James Zogby, a prominent Sanders supporter, was removed from the executive committee.

A previous report from this author published at The Grayzone described some of the more repugnant people selected by Perez, including Barney Frank, Maria Cardona, Heidi Heitkamp, John Podesta, Bakari Sellers, Wendy Sherman, Daniel B. Shapiro, and Jake Sullivan.

One individual omitted was Elaine Kamarck. She is deeply emblematic of the corruption within the Democratic Party that the Sanders campaign is struggling to overcome.

Kamarck was part of the Hunt Commission that established the superdelegate system in the early 1980s. She joined the DNC in 1997. She was one of the founders of the New Democrats, the neoliberal movement that helped elect President Bill Clinton. She worked for the Clinton White House from 1993-1997, according to In These Times.

In May 2019, for the Brookings Institution, Kamarck wrote about five issue “minefields” that could “blow up” Democratic candidate’s campaign. One of them was allowing prisoners to vote, and citing Sanders, she suggested in a reactionary way that Democrats should not be “rope-a-doped into giving rights to terrorists.”

She also pushed her opposition to “Medicare for All,” “[Telling] suburban moms who voted in Democratic members of Congress in 2018 that they will lose their private health insurance is a high-risk strategy,” a health insurance industry talking point that Vice President Joe Biden has repeated .

Wildly, Kamarck argued against “embracing socialism” by invoking decades-old fears of a Soviet nuclear attack that existed during the Cold War.

“ There are still millions of baby boomers in the electorate who hid under their desks in elementary school out of fear that the Soviets would drop an atom bomb on them. Democrats would be wise to lay off the term and talk about what has always been a plus for the party: an expanded and sturdy social safety net,” Kamarck declared.

This is but one example of who will be influencing the political direction of the Democratic Party, whether it embraces a neoliberal status quo or accepts the transformative change that is happening at the grassroots level.

DNC national press secretary Brandon Gassaway celebrated the process. “These appointments reflect the rich diversity of our party.”

In fact, this is true. The appointees are one of the most diverse groups of corporate Democrats ever handpicked by a DNC chair for the convention committees.

One of them is Meghan Stabler. She is a Democratic strategist, who is a white upper class transgender woman. She was part of President Barack Obama’s National LGBT Policy Committee. But she’s also a vice president of global product marketing for “one of the world’s leading eCommerce companies.”

Stabler is a board member for the Democratic Majority For Israel (DMFI). This lobbying group was founded in 2019, and its reason for existing is to prevent Palestinian rights advocacy from gaining traction in the Democratic Party.

With Sanders surging in the polls in Iowa, the lobbying group spent $681,000 on a right-wing ad campaign intended to convince voters that the country will never elect an old democratic socialist over President Donald Trump.

“In one version of the ad, an Iowa resident brings up the 78-year-old’s heart attack as a concern about his candidacy, according to a person familiar with the ad,” POLITICO reported.

Remember when Democrats were in an uproar in 2016 after opponents weaponized Hillary Clinton’s health scare against her? That is what a group of lobbyists for Israel are doing to the Sanders campaign days before the Iowa caucuses.

The post DNC Defends Diverse Group Of Corporate Democrats Appointed To Convention Committees appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, The Dissenter, 2016 Election Archive - Shadowproof, Bernie Sanders, democrats, dnc, DNC 2020, Hillary Clinton, Tom Perez]

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[l] at 1/27/20 4:03pm

An array of lobbyists, corporate consultants, think tank board members, party operatives, and pro-Israel Democrats were nominated to the 2020 Democratic National Convention committees by Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez.

Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola shared a thread that explored many of these individuals. Quite a few have connections to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns. Very few have any connection to the Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.

Gosztola contributed a report on the nominations to The Grayzone. It was headlined, “To rig primary against Bernie, DNC’s Tom Perez nominates regime-change agents, Israel lobbyists, and Wall Street consultants.”

In the above video, Gosztola provides additional details on the DNC committee nominations, including the roles of each of the committees and the opaqueness around the appointments. He also examines several of the nominees and outlines what this means for the Sanders campaign.

The post Democratic Party Elites Rig 2020 Convention Committees Against Sanders appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Bernie Sanders, DNC 2020]

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[l] at 1/23/20 3:48pm

On this edition of the “Dissenter Weekly Update,” host and Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola highlights the sham criminal case against journalist and Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald in Brazil.

Greenwald was charged with a cyber crime by the right-wing government of Jair Bolsonaro. It was retaliation for the investigative journalism he spearheaded in 2019 that exposed rampant corruption among Bolsonaro officials, and the criminal complaint bears multiple similarities to the case brought against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as Mathew Ingram pointed out for the Columbia Journalism Review. 

Later in the program, Gosztola talks about a story involving the lack of whistleblower protections for FBI employees.

He provides an update on Assange’s extradition case. Apparently, according to an affidavit that WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson saw, United States prosecutors do not believe the First Amendment covers a foreign journalist like Assange. The planned extradition hearing was also split into two parts.

Gosztola will travel to London in February to cover an extradition hearing for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that has grave implications for global press freedom. Help us fund his trip by making a donation at https://shadowproof.com/donate.

The Dissenter Weekly Update airs every Thursday at 4pm ET on YouTube and covers whistleblower and press freedom news from that week.

This week’s stories:

Anti-LGBT Bolsonaro Government Targets Glenn Greenwald With Criminal Charge For Exposing Their Corruption

Brazil’s attack on Greenwald mirrors the US case against Assange

FBI whistleblowers still seek appeal rights after 2016 law falls short

Whistleblowers say Florida investment firm has inflated value, earnings of its main fund

OPCW investigator testifies at UN that no chemical attack took place in Douma, Syria

Extradition hearing for Assange split into two parts

***

As of this recording, Chelsea Manning has been in jail for 316 days and owes $207,000 dollars in fines.

Julian Assange has been in jail for 280 days since he was expelled from the Ecuador embassy in London.

Subscribe to Shadowproof on YouTube and send tips and feedback to editor@shadowproof.com

This show is brought to you by Shadowproof.com, a 100% reader-funded press organization. If you enjoy our work, you can support us with a donation or by subscribing for $5/month or more: https://shadowproof.com/donate

The post Dissenter Weekly: Sham Charge Against Glenn Greenwald—Plus, US Prosecutors Argue First Amendment Doesn’t Apply To Assange appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Dissenter Weekly, Glenn Greenwald, journalism, Julian Assange, Leak Prosecutions, Whistleblowers, WikiLeaks]

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[l] at 1/22/20 4:37pm

Consortium News accused a Canadian foreign intelligence agency, along with Global News, a Canadian television network, of defaming the media organization as “part of a cyber influence campaign directed by Russia.”

Libel notices were sent to the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and Global News. The notices demand a retraction of any mention of Consortium News as well as an apology.

“We’ve been targeted before, but never in this most overt way by a named powerful Five Eyes intelligence agency and a major television station,” Consortium News editor-in-chief Joe Lauria declared. He put this development in the context of Canada being a United States ally and a NATO country.

On December 10, 2019, Global News reported on “secret intelligence records” they obtained. They claimed the files showed Russia as a “hostile foreign state” that targeted Canada with “cyber influence” campaigns.

One file from the CSE said “ the first attack was a February 2017 report in the ‘online Consortium News’ followed ‘in quick succession’ by pro-Russian English language and Russian-language online media.”

In other words, the mere fact that certain Russian media organizations took an interest in a report by Consortium News was considered an indication that the independent outlet was “involved” in a campaign directed by a foreign power.

Lauria told Shadowproof the article in question was about Chrystia Freeland, who is now Canada’s deputy prime minister. The Consortium News report revealed that Freeland’s grandfather was an editor for a Nazi newspaper in occupied Poland during World War II. She hid this family history from the public.

“ When this article came out in February 2017, a few days later, Freeland was asked at a conference in Ottawa about it, and she gave a non-denial denial, just blaming people for what Russia had done in the United States in the 2016 election,” Lauria recalled.

A day later, the Globe and Mail ran the headline, “Freeland knew her grandfather was editor of Nazi newspaper.”

“ A CSE report says the Consortium News was part of an attack from Russia on Chrystia Freeland’s reputation,” according to one of the captions in Global News’ coverage.

“ We are not directed by anyone,” Lauria stated. “It’s absolute nonsense. We are funded only by our readers, not by any corporation, advertiser, or any government whatsoever, and we get no instructions from anybody.”

Yet, in a broader sense, Lauria contended this “takes agency from critical domestic dissent, as if it cannot exist on its own without it being linked to a foreign hostile power.”

Robert Parry, who founded Consortium News in 1995, was called a “Putin puppet” and a “Kremlin stooge” before he died in 2018. To a large extent, that occurred as a result of Parry’s coverage and analysis of the Ukrainian coup d’etat in 2014. This marked the “beginning of the new Cold War,” according to Lauria.

As the narrative of Russia “collusion” during the 2016 election dominated news media coverage, Parry, and several other writers, including Lauria, questioned reports from U.S. intelligence agencies and various sources. PropOrNot, a tool claiming to be able to detect Russian influence operations, singled out Consortium News, along with dozens of other websites.

But what CSE and Global News is much more alarming. They see the fact that they were highlighted in a security agency report as evidence of what happens when you challenge someone, who is a very powerful woman in the Canadian government.

“When you threaten the interests of these very powerful people, they will try to crush you in many different ways. One way is to smear you and to discredit in the eyes of the public as being ruled and directed from the Kremlin,” Lauria asserted. “This is as dirty as it gets, and it’s authoritarian. It has no place in a democratic society that pretends to have a free press.”

Lauria wrote a comprehensive article detailing many crucial details related to the libel notices. Former Senator Mike Gravel is a Quebec descendant and member of Consortium News’ Board of Directors.

“Gravel was close personal friends with former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Gravel vacationed with Trudeau at Christmas 1977 at a ski resort in Colorado,” the article notes.

As Lauria summarized, “We have the government of Justin Trudeau attacking a media organization on whose board sits a close friend of his late father.”

Consortium News is not the only target. Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard, a 2020 presidential candidate, sued Hillary Clinton for smearing her as a “Russian asset.” There is also WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who Lauria points out was “linked and smeared as somehow being a Russian agent, not a publisher and journalist who is in jail for publishing classified information.”

In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro’s right-wing government charged journalist Glenn Greenwald with a cyber-crime. The criminal complaint bears a great similarity to the leak prosecution the U.S. government intends to bring against Assange.

So many of the people who contribute to Consortium News were professionals in government, like Ray McGovern or John Kiriakou. They stepped out of the establishment to offer the public a viewpoint based on their own experiences.

“They’re providing something that corporate media, which is largely controlled by government, as we know, cannot provide,” Lauria concluded. “When that happens, when we give a point of view that’s not liked by leaders, they want to shut it down, marginalize us by smearing us as being directed by Russia.”

“It’s a complete outrage and that’s why we decided we had to stand up against this.”

The post Consortium News Accuses Canadian Spy Agency Of Defaming Them As Part Of Russian Cyber Influence Campaign appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Canada, Consortium News, journalism, Libel, Russiagate]

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[l] at 1/22/20 12:59pm

The post originally appeared at Ongoing History Of Protest Songs.

Art is often a product of the political climate. This truth is reflected in the music of the
veteran southern rock band Drive-By Truckers.

Their 2016 album “American Band” was by far their most political, heavily influenced by the 2016 presidential election. On

On January 31, the band releases their the follow-up, The Unraveling. “Armageddon, “Back in Town,” “Babies in Cages,” and “Grievance Merchants” are some of the tracks that show the band is not backing away from social commentary.

Initially, it wasn’t the band’s intent to make another political album, but President Donald Trump’s administration has left the band feeling another was necessary.

“It was hard to figure out what to write about,” frontman Patterson Hood stated in
a Billboard interview. “I figured we would follow [‘American Band’] up with something
pretty different. That’s generally how we operate. We didn’t want to repeat ourselves and
keep saying the same shit. But I don’t think it occurred to us that things would take the
turn they have taken nationally and politically, and shit kept happening that kept
inspiring us to write those kinds of songs—even just for our own sanity’s sake.”

“Thoughts and Prayers,” the second single from the forthcoming album, addresses the endless cycle of gun violence—senseless mass shootings, followed by thoughts and prayers, which is then followed by a failure to take any meaningful action.

“Stick it up your ass with your useless thoughts and prayers,” Hood sings, clearly
rebuking politicians, the NRA, and any others who present barriers to confronting gun violence.

Hood also expresses optimism that the current wave of youth activism will eventually be
the generation to end the cycle.

“The powers that be are in for shame and comeuppance when Generation Lockdown has their day.”

Listen to “Thoughts & Prayers”:

The post Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Thoughts And Prayers’ By Drive-By Truckers appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, The Protest Music Project, Gun violence, Protest Music Project, Protest Song of the Week]

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[l] at 1/21/20 4:53pm

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a co-founder of The Intercept, was charged with a cyber crime by the right-wing government of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. It was retaliation for the investigative journalism he spearheaded in 2019 that exposed rampant corruption among Bolsonaro officials.

The charge was also a product of the Bolsonaro government’s religious fanaticism, especially since Bolsonaro and other officials have mounted anti-LGBT attacks on Greenwald and his husband, David Miranda, a representative in Brazil’s Congress.

According to Greenwald, a source hacked into the telephones of Brazilian prosecutors and obtained details from years of conversation with the judge. The archive of material is bigger than the archive of documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“Less than two months ago, the federal police, examining all the same evidence cited by the Public Ministry, stated explicitly that not only have I never committed any crimes but the opposite: I exercised extreme caution and professionalism as a journalist never even [getting] close to any criminality,” Greenwald declared in a statement . “Even the federal police under Minister Moro’s command said what is clear to any rational person: I did nothing more than do my job as a journalist—ethically and within the law.”

The Intercept put out a separate statement, “The Bolsonaro government has repeatedly made it clear that it does not believe in basic press freedoms. Today’s announcement that a criminal complaint has been filed against Intercept co-founding editor Glenn Greenwald is the latest example of journalists facing serious threats in Brazil.”

“We at The Intercept see this as an attempt to criminalize not only our journalism but also that of the dozens of partners who collaborated with our staff in over 95 stories based on the archives,” The Intercept added.

“ Glenn Greenwald is our friend and longtime colleague, and he has bravely fought for journalistic freedom throughout his entire career,” said Trevor Timm, the executive director of the Freedom Of The Press Foundation. “These sham charges are a sickening escalation of the Bolsonaro administration’s authoritarian attacks on press freedom and the rule of law. They cannot be allowed to stand.”

“We call on the Brazilian government to immediately halt its persecution of Greenwald and respect press freedom — as the Brazilian Supreme Court has already ordered them to do,” Timm added.

The American Civil Liberties Union reacted, “ [The United States] government must immediately condemn this outrageous assault on the freedom of the press and recognize that its attacks on press freedoms at home have consequences for American journalists doing their jobs abroad, like Glenn Greenwald.”

In 2019, Greenwald and the Intercept Brasil called attention to abuses by Sergio Moro, the minister of justice and public security, which were committed when he was the presiding judge for “Operation Car Wash.”

Prior to being charged, Greenwald appeared on the Rolling Stone podcast, “Useful Idiots,” hosted by Katie Halper and Matt Taibbi.

“Essentially, the biggest political presence in Brazil since 2014 has been this anti-corruption probe called Car Wash that has resulted in the imprisonment of dozens of business leaders, billionaires, oligarchs, political leaders from multiple parties, and the biggest head on the pik was the former two-term, highly popular President Lula da Silva,” Greenwald recalled.

“The judge, who oversaw that process and who endorsed all kinds of highly controversial practices that had never been previously used in Brazil” was Moro. He found Da Silva guilty on “very dubious charges” and sentenced him to prison for a decade. That meant Da Silva could not run for president in 2018, even though polls showed he would significantly beat Bolsonaro.

Moro subsequently became the minister of justice and public security for Bolsonaro, a position Greenwald described as one “where all the powers of law enforcement, surveillance, and investigation were consolidated.”

The Intercept Brasil’s series played a key role in Da Silva’s release from prison, which energized opposition to Bolsonaro.

“One of the reasons why the reporting that I did was so dangerous is because my husband in January of 2019 took centerstage, when the only LGBT member of the Brazilian Congress in the history of the Congress” fled Brazil.

Miranda was an alternate in Congress. As Bolsonaro celebrated the fact that Jean Wyllys fled, automatically by law Miranda replaced Wyllys. It elevated Greenwald and Miranda “as a gay couple into this really bright spotlight.”

After publishing leaked conversations in June, Greenwald said so many of the attacks were “anti-gay in nature.” They also dragged their kids, who they adopted in 2017, into the spotlight as well.

“When Bolsonaro threatened to imprison me explicitly, he also in the same press conference claimed that David and I had married fraudulently and had adopted two Brazilian boys—and he emphasized boys—to avoid being deported.”

Miranda reported death threats against him and his family to federal police. He faced similar threats in March.

A prominent right-wing radio host named Augusto Nunes slapped Greenwald, when he appeared on the host’s show in November. The host had previously urged a judge to investigate whether Greenwald and Miranda were properly caring for their children. Greenwald used his appearance to confront the host over his grotesque suggestion that their children may need to be taken away to protect their “safety.”

Like Rafael Tsavkko Garcia highlighted for Sojourners, Bolsonaro “positioned evangelical fundamentalists in key positions within his government. He has supported a foreign policy that aims to construct a conservative Christian alliance of sorts – with the United States’ Donald Trump, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, Poland’s Law and Justice Party, and others.”

“[Bolsonaro’s] first official visit after being elected was to see Donald Trump in the United States, a visit in which he also had time for a dinner with Steve Bannon, a strategist of the global far right whose plan for an alliance between leaders and parties from this ideological spectrum fits the ambitions of the Brazilian president.” 

Garcia added, “At a recent event in Hungary, the Brazilian secretary of National Sovereignty and Citizenship Affairs, Ambassador Fabio Mendes Marzano, presented the Brazilian government’s official vision to the world: The [Christian] religion is now a determining factor in the process of public policy formulation.”

This development, along with the Bolsonaro government’s reverence for the days when Brazil was ruled by a military dictatorship, make what is essentially a leak prosecution against a journalist far more dangerous than well-known cases in the United States.

Ever since the first articles containing leaks were published in June, Greenwald has not left his house in Rio de Janeiro without armed guards and an armored vehicle. The security on his house was dramatically enhanced, and his children are well aware.”

“It radically changed our lives in every conceivable way, but that’s what it means to do actual resistance against a fascist government,” Greenwald declared on “Useful Idiots.”

Greenwald is not about to back down. “I am working right now on new reporting and will continue to publish stories from this archive in the public interest.”

“Many courageous Brazilians sacrificed their liberty and even their lives for Brazilian democracy and against repression, and I feel an obligation to continue their noble work,” he concluded.

The post Anti-LGBT Bolsonaro Government Targets Glenn Greenwald With Criminal Charge For Exposing Their Corruption appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, The Dissenter, Brazil, Glenn Greenwald, Jair Bolsonaro, Leak Prosecutions, Religious Right, The Intercept]

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[l] at 1/16/20 5:37pm

On this week’s “Dissenter Weekly Update,” host and Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola discusses how military contractors are speaking out after President Donald Trump assassinated—and attempted to assassinate—leaders of militias aligned with General Qassim Soleimani.

Current and former employees for a military contractor called Sallyport Global Services claim the Iranian-backed militia, Kataib Al Imam Ali, allegedly stole military hardware and issued death threats against their employees. The company, which had a billion-dollar contract with the Pentagon, bribed the militia with “free trucks” and a first, second, and third base for their operations. These fighters were aligned with the United States, probably fighting ISIS, wasting taxpayers dollars like most military ventures. It’s how the business of war works.

Later in the program, Gosztola highlights a story involving an ex-employee of a firm that was contracted by Honduras to help the country rebuild their water and sewer systems. The ex-employee filed a whistleblower lawsuit because the Honduras government refused to pay the firm $51 million, and the Justice Department is backing the Honduras government.

Gosztola provides an update on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition case. He will travel to London in February to cover an extradition hearing for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that has grave implications for global press freedom. Help us fund his trip by making a donation at https://shadowproof.com/donate.

The Dissenter Weekly Update airs every Thursday at 4pm ET on YouTube and covers whistleblower and press freedom news from that week.

This week’s stories:

Regulatory Board Accused Of Proposing Corporate-Friendly Rules To Deal With ‘Accidental’ Pollution

Ex-Employee Of Ruined Alabama Firm Battles Honduras, US Government In Whistleblower Case

Bloomberg Insists Female Former Employees Should Not Be Freed From NDAs

Before the U.S. Bombed Soleimani’s Militia Leaders, It Bribed Them

Julian Assange Still Denied Access To Lawyers In Fight Against U.S. Extradition

Former New York Times General Counsel: Will Alleged CIA Misbehavior Set Julian Assange Free?

***

As of this recording, Chelsea Manning has been in jail for 309 days and owes $200,000 dollars in fines.

Julian Assange has been in jail for 273 days since he was expelled from the Ecuador embassy in London.

Subscribe to Shadowproof on YouTube and send tips and feedback to editor@shadowproof.com

This show is brought to you by Shadowproof.com, a 100% reader-funded press organization. If you enjoy our work, you can support us with a donation or by subscribing for $5/month or more: https://shadowproof.com/donate

The post Dissenter Weekly: Blowing Whistle On Business Of War In Iraq—Plus, Honduras and DOJ Cheat Whistleblower appeared first on Shadowproof.

[Category: Dissenter Featured, Latest News, The Dissenter, Dissenter Weekly, Julian Assange, Whistleblowers, WikiLeaks]

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