please watch and pass on. Knowledge is power
please watch and pass on. Knowledge is power
With the self-proclaimed socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) being the hands-down favorite for young Americans looking for a Democratic presidential candidate, the results from a recent survey confirms this Leftist bent, showing that more than half of American adults under 30 reject capitalism.
The study conducted by Harvard University was a shocker for many Americans, showing that capitalism is dying in the United States.
“The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism,” the Washington Post reports. “Just 42 percent said they support it.”
As the schools, media and entertainment industry continue to spread and promote socialism from decade to decade, targeting impressionable youth, the ideals of capitalism are slipping away in an aging America.
“As older generations die off, they will eventually become the leaders of this country,” explains Charisma News’ Michael Snyder. “And of course, our nation has not resembled anything close to a capitalist society for quite some time now.”
Along with an aging country being raised up under a new set of economic and political ideals, it is pointed out how Americans pay 97 different taxes every year, which ultimately ends up amounting to more than half of the average taxpayer’s annual income.
“So at best it could be said that we are running some sort of hybrid system that isn’t as far down the road toward full-blown socialism as most European nations are,” Snyder contends. “But without a doubt, we are moving in that direction, and our young people are going to be cheering every step of the way.”
Are we really socialist?
With just 33 percent of those participating in Harvard’s research outrightly indicating that they support socialism, some attest that those surveyed didn’t fully understand the questioning, but other studies have produced similar results — that America is quickly and consistently turning from capitalism to socialism.
And what is the younger generation’s rationale for turning to a system of government that has failed in societies around the world time and time again? Research shows that governments have sold the idea of equating socialism with goodwill and generosity, while dubbing capitalism as the system embraced by the greedy and materialists.
“The university’s results echo recent findings from Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who surveyed 1,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 26 and found that 58 percent of respondents believed socialism to be the ‘more compassionate’ political system when compared to capitalism,” Snyder shared. “And when participants were asked to sum up the root of America’s problem in one word, 29 percent said ‘greed.’”
He goes on to maintain that evidence of this trend can be found in youth’s gravitation to Sanders and its aloofness to his Democratic rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton.
“This trend among our young people is very real, and you can see it in their support of Bernie Sanders,” Snyder continued. “For millions upon millions of young adults in America today, Hillary Clinton is not nearly liberal enough for them. So they have flocked to Sanders, and if they had been the only ones voting in this election season, he would have won the Democratic nomination by a landslide.”
Don’t take our word for it
Charisma News’ economics guru argues that students and young graduates simply overlook socialism’s failure when it can be witnessed right under their noses if they care to take a look around the world — from Europe to South America.
“Sadly, most of our young people don’t seem to understand how socialism slowly but surely destroys a nation,” Snyder asserts. “If you want to see the end result of socialism, just look at the economic collapse that is going on in Venezuela right now.”
He points to a report on the dire situation in Venezuela — brought about by socialism.
“Venezuela’s epic shortages are nothing new at this point … [n]o diapers or car parts or aspirin — it’s all been well documented,” Bloomberg reports in an article titled “Venezuela Doesn’t Have Enough Money to Pay for Its Money.” But now the country is at risk of running out of money itself.”
Out-of-control inflation and decreased economic productivity were also mentioned as severe consequences of adopting the problematic system.
“In a tale that highlights the chaos of unbridled inflation, Venezuela is scrambling to print new bills fast enough to keep up with the torrid pace of price increases,” the report added. “Most of the cash, like nearly everything else in the oil-exporting country, is imported. And with hard currency reserves sinking to critically low levels, the central bank is doling out payments so slowly to foreign providers that they are foregoing further business.”
With the evolution of America’s economic principles shifting from capitalism to socialism in the youth generation, it is contended that the country is about to hit the point of no return.
“We are losing an entire generation of young people,” Snyder insists. “These days, there is quite a lot of talk about how we need to get America back to the principles that it was founded upon, but the cold, hard reality of the matter is that most of our young people are running in the opposite direction as fast as they can.”
It is also contended that the progressive agenda is pulling young Americans down in much more than just economics.
“Surveys have found that [Americans under 30] are more than twice as likely to support gay rights and less than half as likely to regularly attend church as the oldest Americans are,” Snyder informed.
And he gives his analysis as to why these degrading changes are taking place.
“[T]he truth is that our colleges and universities have become indoctrination centers for the progressive movement,” Snyder impressed. “I know because I spent eight years at public universities in this country. The quality of the education that our young people are receiving is abysmal, but the values that are being imparted to them will last a lifetime.”
Things don’t look too bright for the younger youth generations under the polling age either.
“And, of course, the same things could be said about our system of education all the way down to the kindergarten level,” he continued. “There are still some good people in the system, but overall, it is overwhelmingly dominated by the progressives.”
Besides the devolving state of education behind school and university gates, the dumbing-down and secularization of America is well under way — starting at the younger people’s nearest electronic device. When looking at the amount of time the average American spends tuning in to and operating their electronic devices, the sinking intellectual and moral climate in the country is better understood. Here’s a look:
“Watching live television: 4 hours, 32 minutes,” reads the first listing on Snyder’s article titled “Depressing Survey Results Show How Extremely Stupid America Has Become,” based on data from aNielson Report. “Watching time-shifted television: 30 minutes; Listening to the radio: 2 hours, 44 minutes; Using a smartphone: 1 hour, 33 minutes; Using Internet on a computer: 1 hour, 6 minutes … Overall, the average American spends about 10 hours a day consuming one form of entertainment or another.”
With the amount of time spent daily tuning into the influences emanating from these devices, Snyder maintains that such exposure cannot help but mold one’s mind.
“When you allow that much ‘programming’ into your mind, it is inevitable that it is going to shape your values, and our young people are more ‘plugged in’ than any of the rest of us,” Snyder concludes. “So yes, I believe that it is exceedingly clear why we should be deeply concerned about the future of America. The values that are being relentlessly pounded into the heads of our young people are directly opposed to the values that this nation was founded upon, and it is these young people that will determine the path that this country ultimately takes.”
vertical red line for CIT on INDU
← Is Stupidity The Main Driver Of Global Warming?The 17% ConsensusPosted on February 4, 2016 by stevengoddardScreenshot 2016-02-04 at 07.57.42 AM-down1990 ipcc_far_wg_I_chapter_07When Al Gore was elected vice-president in 1992, only 17% of climate scientists accepted his junk science, and everyone accepted the Medieval Warm period.Screenshot 2016-02-04 at 07.46.03 AM-down13 Dec 1992, Page 7 – at Newspapers.comThis did not make fraudster Al Gore happy, so he fixed it by cutting off funding for skeptics like Bill Gray. Gore’s creative use of funding made the Medieval Warm Period disappear, and created the 97% consensus.Screenshot 2016-02-04 at 08.09.14 AMIPCC Third Assessment Report – Climate Change 2001Last night Hillary said the only reason skeptics believe what they believe, is because the Koch Brothers are paying us and tell us what he have to say.
Source: The 17% Consensus
Let me just say it: America is toast. As is Western Civilization itself.
It’s committed suicide. Just as every single Republic and Democracy that has come before ours has done. What remains is a fragile shell that keeps up an appearance of strength and stability. It masks the rot that has hollowed out the foundations and guts of a nation and people. As a result: a perverse and wicked people denounce what was once foundational and celebrate what is anathema to our foundations; institutional corruption exists at all levels of society; an oppressive government is empowered under false promises to restore what once was.
We are witnessing the collapse of the civil society.
Our leaders have already abandoned the Constitution and replaced it with a defacto federal dictatorship. Faith in the institutions that maintained liberty are now abandoned as…
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The girl is really worth watching , and you will learn some stuff
Hatched in Prison: The Art of Gil Batle
Gil Batle. Age 53. Born and raised in San Francisco to Filipino parents, in and out of five different California prisons over 20 years for fraud and forgery, now living on a small island in the Philippines. Batle’s self-taught drawing ability evolved behind bars into sophisticated and clandestine tattooing skills that protected him from murderous gang violence in prisons such as San Quentin, Chuckawalla, and Jamestown—”Gladiator School,” as it’s known to the unfortunate cognoscenti. Where Bloods, Crips, and Aryan Brotherhood gang-bangers in racially segregated cell-blocks rule with intimidation and threat, Batle’s facility for drawing was considered magic by the murderers, drug dealers, and armed robbers whose stories he now recounts in minutely carved detail on fragile ostrich egg shells. With only the men’s names, as he says, “changed to protect the guilty.”
Almost one out of every hundred Americans is now in prison, the largest percentage of any developed country in the world. The other 99 percent of us have little inkling of the ferocity of life inside. Articles about prison abuse appear weekly in the press, but are mere snapshots of the hard truth chronicled in Gil Batle’s orb-like relief carvings; each with an architecture of pictorial panels supported and separated by a fine lattice of chain-link fencing, razor-wire, or carved hand-cuffs. The violent men he knew, the sad mistakes that sometimes led to the incarceration of regular guys, the terrifying events he witnessed, and the bonds formed under the worst conditions, all appear with precise detail on pristine eggshells, nature’s most perfect creation and manifestation of life and birth.
– Norman Brosterman
Hatched in Prison
IN TIME FOR 5 WAVE UP AND HAVE A CIT ON JAN 15.
There is something not quite right about this entire incident of Turkey shooting down the Russian fighter jet and then attacking the rescue helicopter. Sorry, but Turkey is way out of line when they KNEW that Russia had no intention of attacking Turkey. A argument that Turkey will defend its borders implies there is a threat to Turkey, not simply a drive-by. There was plainly no reason for Turkey to take such action. They assume they are a NATO member and thus Russia cannot fire back without starting World War III. This is a totally reckless incident and unimaginable conduct of Turkey under these conditions when they clearly knew they were NOT under attack from Russia no less a single fighter jet.
Even if it were true that the Russian jet strayed into Turkish airspace, at best there should have been a scramble of jets to “protect” its airspace without provoking war. This has been standard operational procedures between USA and Russia for years. It is not some coincidence that a Turkish film crew captured the incident. They were most likely tipped off to be at the right place at the right time.
This entire incident raises serious questions if the economic conditions in Turkey, being on the brink of a economic meltdown, did not deliberately try to provoke war to distract the world from its debt crisis. Turkey is being watched for many see it as the FIRST domino to fall in the Emerging Market Debt Crisis. This raises many, many serious questions about the motive behind this entire incident.
What is truly astonishing is that in a letter to the U.N. Security Council, Turkey openly stated that it had shot down the jet while in Turkish air space. It then even admits it also shot a second plane on a rescue mission – the helicopter as if that was some major threat. These actions make it appear that Turkey is praying for war because its government could collapse with its debt.
Putin rightfully said “We will never tolerate such crimes like the one committed today.” What Turkey did was unimaginable and the entire incident appears to create a diversion from its pending economic meltdown. There have been major demonstrations against government corruption in Turkey for the past few years.
NATO has called for Turkey and Russia to show restraint, the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, “we stand in solidarity with Turkey and support the territorial integrity of our NATO ally”. This is reminiscent of precisely how World War I began because of treaties. Then Obama also said similar confrontations could be avoided if Russia stopped attacking “moderate” Syrian rebels who are battling forces loyal to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Obama is way out of line here for the US is totally responsible for ISIS since they funded these people to try to overthrow Assad in Syria. All of this for a pipeline to compete with Russia to get gas from Saudi Arabia to Europe. World leaders are full of shit and pretend this is about a dictator when in fact the overthrow of Syria was precisely what ISIS wanted. This mess lies squarely in the hands of the Obama Administration and then to have the audacity to pretend Turkey had a right to defend its airspace when not being attacked is just too much. These people NEED war to distract everyone from the Sovereign Debt Crisis that is causing the collapse of governments for a system of borrowing year after year with ABSOLUTELY no intention of ever paying any debt off.
The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. That was a viable attack. One plane flying close to the border and claiming it was 1km in your airspace giving you the right to shoot down a Russian plane is pure insanity. The fact that a film crew was there makes this seem to have been a deliberate act to cover up the economic meltdown of Turkey.
I have been told that Armstrong knows
On how to forecast the next big lows
But when it comes to the next big top
You must look at the Ferris clock
For it is precise its timing right
It will guide one though the hype
To go short or just to cash in all
For it follows a very precise law
Now when it comes for the in-between
This is a time that u must wean
Your anger thoughts and your fears
And put your money management into gear
Use your fibs if you must
Or play the Bradley if you trust
For when it is all said and done
It is your bottom line that tells you if you have won
By David Amoruso
Posted in 2001
Copyright © www.gangstersinc.nl
The first time the Western world became familiar with the crime entangled Russian business scene was when American businessman Paul Tatum was murdered by unknown assailants, reputedly over a business dispute. The murder sent shockwaves through the business community and had American congressmen screaming for justice. But after a few months it seemed like all was forgotten, Tatum as well as the corrupt Russian business scene. Maybe forgotten but hardly out of mind.
Paul Tatum was born in 1955 in Edmond, Oklahoma. He graduated from Edmond Memorial High School. In High School Tatum already showed an enormous drive to succeed and it became clear to his fellow students and his teachers that Tatum would excel at whatever he pursued. After dropping out of college Tatum began hopping from one business deal to and he eventually ended up doing fundraisers for the Republican Party. Tatum first came to Russia in 1985 at the age of 29 when he was with an American trade delegation. Tatum immediately saw the potential of the Russian market and began planning his path to Russian success. In 1987 after two years of planning and preparation Tatum was ready to conquer Russian business, Tatum set up a business center for foreign firms in Moscow: a first for the communist city. Not long after he and several other American businessmen founded Americom International Corporation. Two important associates in Americom were H.R. “Bob” Haldeman and Bernie Rome, two former members of President Nixon’s chief of Staff, Tatum came into contact with them while he was working as a fundraiser for the Republican Party. They helped Tatum get an ‘in’ with all the important people in Russia and enabled him to set up and expand his business without too much difficulties.
By 1990 Tatum’s big break came. The break came when Tatum’s company RedAmer Partnership joined up with Radisson Hotel Corporation and signed a contract with Goskom Intourist and later the Moscow City Government that agreed to construct an American hotel combined with a business center that would go by the name Intourist Redamer Hotel and Business Center (later changed to Radisson Slavyanskaya Hotel). A year later in June of 1991 the Hotel opened it’s doors. At the numerous parties at the hotel and business center Tatum mingled with powerful figures from Russian business, politics and eventually ,and inevitably, the Russian underworld.
The Moscow Underworld is a maze filled with a different Organized Crime group or gang on every corner. In the mid 1990s the Russian interior ministry did research on the amount of gangs in Moscow and came up with around 200 organizations, about 20 of those had branched out to other parts of the world. The Moscow underworld is made up out of groups from several different ethnic backgrounds. The main groups are Slavic (Russian), Georgian, Armenian and Chechen. With so many groups in Moscow the city’s businesses are inevitably tangled up with Organized Crime and vice versa. Organized Crime is said to control around 75% of all private businesses in Russia. With Russian criminals threatening legit business and demanding pay offs and ineffective Russian law enforcement it is not surprising then that the demand for private security sky rocketed seeing to it that across Russia private security businesses stepped into the forground. In seven years 25.000 Russian security firms were established employing between half a million to a million workers. These workers are mainly ex Spetznaz commandos or war veterans who are desperately seeking money and would rather stay legit then go into crime. The funny and dangerous thing about these security firms is however that most of them are controlled by Organized Crime groups. With this concrete basis Organized Crime has a lock-down on the entire legit business world in Russia. It was this shady world that Paul Tatum had to start dealing with.
Tatum’s Hotel was doing good business and things went great, a little inconvienant for business was the August 1991 Russian Coup but after the frenzy died down Tatum had even more opportunities. It is rumored that he was the one responsible for a direct phone line between the White House and Gorbachov’s camp. After the coup things settled down again and Tatum went back to business. A business that was ever changing. In 1992 Goskom Intourist was liquidated and the Moscow City Government became a new partner in the deal. No big deal for Tatum at first, his company still owned 80% of the 50% (50% that belonged to the American partners in the deal, the other 50% belonged to the Russian companies and Moscow City Government) of the property. But with the Moscow City Government came a partner that held a lot of power, more than any of the other partners in the deal. The Moscow City Government had connections throughout the Russian government and it’s system, it could pressure anyone to give in to their demands and their demands would become clear very fast.
Paul Tatum and The Moscow City Government had a quiet working relationship for about two years. After that time it started to rumble. In January of 1995 problems arose with the General Director of the American Partnership. The American hadn’t received his Russian visa and wasn’t going to receive one either. The loss of the General Director was a big blow for Tatum because now that position would be taken over by someone from the Russian partnership. Umar Dzhabrailov was named General Director. Dzhabrailov was a Chechen who had heavy connections within the Moscow City Government and used those connections to get into the position of General Director. But those weren’t the only connections Umar Dzhabrailov had, several law enforcement agencies including the F.B.I. and Interpol list Dzhabrailov as a member of Chechen Organized Crime. A report in the Russian press went even further calling Dzhabrailov a “known contract killer and one of a handful of Chechen mafia bosses operating in Moscow.” Dzhabrailov doesn’t deny his ties to Organized Crime but says they are “only social”. With Dzhabrailov as General Director things made a turn for the worse for Paul Tatum.
Paul Tatum didn’t realize it that fast but the Russian partnership had made ousting him it`s priority….by any means possible. While Tatum went about his business the Russian side showed it’s teeth. On St Valentine’s Day 1995 one of Tatum’s bodyguards was found beaten and stabbed in the chest with a pen knife. The bodyguard also had a message from his attackers: “Tell Paul it’s high time he left for home.” Most businessmen would’ve gotten the message and would’ve left town immediately, but not Paul Tatum. Tatum had grown a fondness for the Moscow nightlife, the clubs, the women. Tatum had enough money and liked to spend it and some even say he started acting like a mobster throwing around cash and surrounding himself with gorgeous women. Meanwhile the cold war for control of the Hotel and business center continued. Tatum had upped his bodyguards and after the attack on his bodyguard took extra security measures he now always had his bodyguards guard empty rooms so no one could plant bombs in them. He also decided to fight Dzhabrailov in the media he called him a “genuine Mafioso” who “has threatened he can kill me at any time” The fight had turned ugly and was now spilling from the boardrooms onto the public scene.
After months of warring between the Tatum and Dzhabrailov in February 1996 it looked like there would be a solution to Tatum’s problems. The solution was to bribe Dzhabrailov and the Moscow City Government. If Tatum would pay the sum of $1 millions dollars to a certain person all his troubles would end. $500.000 dollars would go to the Moscow City Government and the other $500.000 dollars would go to Dzhabrailov so that he would resign or step down as General Director. But instead of paying Tatum decided to take the matter to court. Tatum sued the Russian partners for $35 million dollars additional payments and payment of damages. In the media Tatum remained defiant as ever saying “They will have to shoot me to get rid of me” Things were heating up and Tatum was bracing himself for the hit. He now had said goodbye to the fast nightlife of Moscow preferring to stay in his Hotel in suites 850 and 852. Tatum was now told repeatedly by U.S. embassy oficials to leave Russia, Tatum replied in U.S.A. Today with: “I feel like I’m fighting a one-man battle.” “They’d rather pay than stand up and fight.” On September 30, 1996 Tatum went even further when he published a full page ad in a Moscow paper directed to Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov:
“Yuri M. Luzhkov: I must tell you that not one person here in Russia or abroad is fooled. All know of the dangerous activities. I implore you to show the world your resolve and commitment to become the catalyst to solve these grave problems-peacefully, efficiently, with fairness and justice for the investor and for the legal agreements under which their original activities were created. The world now awaits this signal. This is your choice and your crossroads. Where do you stand, Yuri M. Luzhkov? In the shadows or the bright sunlight?”
It would be Tatum’s last defiant gesture.
On November 3rd, 1996 around 5.00 PM Paul Tatum left his Hotel and headed towards the Kievskaya metro station, where he had arranged to meet someone. When Tatum arrived there with his bodyguards the person he was supposed to meet wasn’t there, instead a man walked up towards Tatum and shot him eleven times from five meters distance with an AK-47. Tatum’s bodyguards did nothing to protect there boss, the killer dropped his weapon and fled the scene unharmed. Tatum’s bodyguards rushed their wounded boss to the hospital but to no avail Paul Tatum died shortly after his arrival. Shortly after the news of Tatum’s death Dzahrailov and the Moscow City Government took undisputed control of the Radisson Slavyanskaya Hotel and business center. He denied any role in the Tatum murder but did say: “What goes around, comes around”. Dzahrailov also saw to it that a planned memorial service at the hotel was nixed as well as Tatum’s wishes to be buried at the prestigious Novodevichy Cemetery. Tatum was eventually cremated and interred in the Moscow Novodevitsji cemetery. “Paul never learned it was their country,” said Tatum’s Americom associate Bernie Rome. “He was like a bull in a china shop. He didn’t understand you have to play by Russian rules. It’s all very sad.”
Tatum’s murder shows how corrupt Russian business had become. Russian business is controlled by Organized Crime groups and powerful businessmen who use strong arm tactics and criminal ways to get deals done. With Russian law enforcement and the Russian courts inefective Russian business has absorbed Mafia tactics to get it’s demands done. It will be interesting to see how and if Russian business will ever de-criminalize and return to normal business procedures such as suing each other over a business dispute instead of putting out a murder contract.
I have been wrong before can be again but think we have about 100 more point to drop than we should get some good buying coming in. But many stocks that I have looked at have broke their support area so be careful.
Yahoo is reporting that economists say Trump could not bring jobs back to America from China and other countries. Well, the economists are wrong. All it would take is a repeal of the income tax. Nearly half of the cost of labor is taxation. If you want to create jobs, cut the income taxes. That does not mean merely corporate. That would not reverse the trend alone. You need to eliminate payroll taxes and personal income taxes.
The repeal of income taxes should apply to states as well and any taxation should be restricted to what the Founding Fathers concluded – indirect taxation only. That means consumption taxes EXCLUSIVELY. Then it also does not matter who is here. Illegal aliens would pay the same as citizens. Income taxes only apply to citizens or those with Greencards.
This is Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia which is the oldest continuously inhabited residential street in America, dating from 1702. Notice there are two aspects driven by property taxes. First, row homes developed because there was a tax on windows. Secondly, the phrase taking a step up in life refers to the number of steps you had to enter your home. You were taxed per step.
We do not own our homes for you cannot ever retire even after paying off your mortgage since you still have to pay property taxes. If you do not pay your property taxes, they come take your house and throw you out on the street. Property taxes are the most UNDEMOCRATIC tax we have and are a remnant of a totalitarian state. Today, it is government workers who demand pensions and those are paid by exploiting the people.
Government should be privatized to eliminate pensions. We have to face the fact. Politicians could never efficiently manage anything. They are hopeless. Government departments should be privatized simply for real management and then we would not have this crisis of unfunded pensions that is bankrupting the states. No state is capable of simple fiscal management because they are not competitive, instead, they abuse their power of taxation to fill in gaps of mismanagement. Taxes clearly alter our lives and it is never for the better at the end of the day.
The Colossal Hoax Of Organic Agriculture
By Henry I. Miller and Drew L. Kershen
Consumers of organic foods are getting both more and less than they bargained for. On both counts, it’s not good.
Many people who pay the huge premium—often more than a hundred percent–for organic foods do so because they’re afraid of pesticides. If that’s their rationale, they misunderstand the nuances of organic agriculture. Although it’s true that synthetic chemical pesticides are generally prohibited, there is a lengthy list of exceptions listed in the Organic Foods Production Act, while most “natural” ones are permitted. However, “organic” pesticides can be toxic. As evolutionary biologist Christie Wilcox explained in a 2012 Scientific American article (“Are lower pesticide residues a good reason to buy organic? Probably not.”): “Organic pesticides pose the same health risks as non-organic ones.”
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JUNE 13: A label stating ‘Produce of USA’ is wrapped around a bunch of organic carrots at a farmers market on June 13, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Another poorly recognized aspect of this issue is that the vast majority of pesticidal substances that we consume are in our diets “naturally” and are present in organic foods as well as non-organic ones. In a classic study, UC Berkeley biochemist Bruce Ames and his colleagues found that “99.99 percent (by weight) of the pesticides in the American diet are chemicals that plants produce to defend themselves.” Moreover, “natural and synthetic chemicals are equally likely to be positive in animal cancer tests.” Thus, consumers who buy organic to avoid pesticide exposure are focusing their attention on just one-hundredth of one percent of the pesticides they consume.
Organic certification is process-based. That is, certifying agents attest to the ability of organic operations to follow a set of production standards and practices which meet the requirements of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and the [National Organic Program] regulations . . . If all aspects of the organic production or handling process were followed correctly, then the presence of detectable residue from a genetically modified organism alone does not constitute a violation of this regulation. [emphasis added]
Putting it another way, so long as an organic farmer abides by his organic system (production) plan–a plan that an organic certifying agent must approve before granting the farmer organic status–the unintentional presence of GMOs (or, for that matter, prohibited synthetic pesticides) in any amount does not affect the organic status of the farmer’s products or farm.
Under only two circumstances does USDA sanction the testing of organic products for prohibited residues (such as pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or antibiotics) or excluded substances (e.g., genetically engineered organisms). First, USDA’s National Organic Production Standards support the testing of products if an organic-certifying agent believes that the farmer is intentionally using prohibited substances or practices. And second, USDA requires that certifying agents test five percent of their certified operations each year. The certifying agents themselves determine which operations will be subjected to testing.
The organic community, including the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), supports the USDA’s lenient testing protocols and opposes more frequent mandatory testing of organic products for prohibited and excluded substances.
The organic community and USDA offer two explanations for such minimal testing. First, they emphasize that organic farming is process-based, not product-based, meaning that what counts for organic certification are the approved organic system (production) plan and the farmer’s intention to comply with that plan as reflected through record-keeping obligations.
Second, widespread testing would impose substantial costs on organic farmers, thereby increasing production costs beyond the already greater expenses that organic farmers incur. Organic farmers offset these higher productions costs by earning large premiums for organic products, but there is always a price point beyond which consumers will shift to cheaper non-organic.
Few organic consumers are aware that organic agriculture is a “trust-based” or “faith-based” system. With every purchase, they are at risk of the moral hazard that an organic farmer will represent cheaper-to-produce non-organic products as the premium-priced organic product. For the vast majority of products, no tests can distinguish organic from non-organic—for example, whether milk labeled “organic” came from a cow within the organic production system or from a cow across the fence from a conventional dairy farm. The higher the organic premium, the stronger the economic incentive to cheat.
Think such nefarious behavior is purely theoretical? Think again. USDA reported in 2012 that 43 percent of the 571 samples of “organic” produce tested violated the government’s organic regulations and that “the findings suggest that some of the samples in violation were mislabeled conventional products, while others were organic products that hadn’t been adequately protected from prohibited pesticides.”
How do organic farmers get away with such chicanery? A 2014 investigation by the Wall Street Journal of USDA inspection records from 2005 on found that 38 of the 81 certifying agents–entities accredited by USDA to inspect and certify organic farms and suppliers—“failed on at least one occasion to uphold basic Agriculture Department standards.” More specifically, “40% of these 81 certifiers have been flagged by the USDA for conducting incomplete inspections; 16% of certifiers failed to cite organic farms’ potential use of banned pesticides and antibiotics; and 5% failed to prevent potential commingling of organic and non-organic products.”
Speaking of trust and faith—or lack thereof–in organic foods, there was the example of holier-than-thou Whole Foods importing large amounts of its supposedly “organic” produce from China, of all places. Those imports even included Whole Foods’ house brand, “California Blend.” (Yes, you read that correctly.)
Organic agriculture is an unscientific, heavily subsidized marketing gimmick that misleads and rips off consumers, both because of the nature of the regulations and cheating. The old saying that you get what you pay for doesn’t apply when you buy overpriced organic products.
As can be seen from the popularity of rip-off artists like Whole Foods markets, organic foods are popular. The U.S. market for organic produce alone was $12.4 billion last year.
Some of the devotion from consumers attains almost cult-like status, which is why a recent article by Stanford University researchers that was dismissive of health or nutritional benefits of organic foods created such a furor.
The study, by researchers in the university’s Center for Health Policy and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was a meta-analysis in which results from the scientific literature were combined but no new, original laboratory work was conducted. Data from 237 studies were aggregated and analyzed to determine whether organic foods are safer or healthier than non-organic foods. They concluded that fruits and vegetables that met the criteria for “organic” were on average no more nutritious than their far cheaper conventional counterparts, nor were those foods less likely to be contaminated by pathogenic bacteria like E. coli or Salmonella.
The investigators themselves were surprised by the result. “When we began this project, we thought that there would likely be some findings that would support the superiority of organics over conventional food,” according to physician Dr. Dena Bravata.
Many devotees of organic foods purchase them in order to avoid exposure to harmful levels of pesticides. But that’s a poor rationale: Although non-organic fruits and vegetables do have more pesticide residue, more than 99 percent of the time the levels are below the permissible, very conservative safety limits set by regulators – limits that are established by the Environmental Protection Agency and enforced by the Food and Drug Administration.
Ironically, the designation “organic” is itself a synthetic construct of bureaucrats that makes little sense. It prohibits the use of synthetic chemical pesticides – although there is a lengthy list of exceptions listed in the Organic Foods Production Act – but permits most “natural” ones (and also allows the application of pathogen-laden animal excreta as fertilizer).
These permitted pesticides can be toxic. As evolutionary biologist Christie Wilcox explained in a September 2012 Scientific American article (“Are lower pesticide residues a good reason to buy organic? Probably not.”): “Organic pesticides pose the same health risks as non-organic ones. No matter what anyone tells you, organic pesticides don’t just disappear. Rotenone is notorious for its lack of degradation, and copper sticks around for a long, long time. Studies have shown that copper sulfate, pyrethrins, and rotenone all can be detected on plants after harvest—for copper sulfate and rotenone, those levels exceeded safe limits. One study found such significant rotenone residues in olives and olive oil to warrant ‘serious doubts…about the safety and healthiness of oils extracted from [fruits] treated with rotenone.’” (There is a well-known association between rotenone exposure and Parkinson’s Disease.)
There is another important but unobvious point about humans’ ingestion of pesticides: The vast majority of pesticidal substances that we consume occur in our diets “naturally,” and they are present in organic foods as well as conventional ones. In a landmark research article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, biochemist Bruce Ames (https://ketchemandfleezem.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/unsprayed-produce-creates-natural-carcinogens-to-protect-itself-or-why-do-people-ignore-the-scienice-on-how-dangrous-organic-vegetables-can-be/) and his colleagues found that “99.99 percent (by weight) of the pesticides in the American diet are chemicals that plants produce to defend themselves. Only 52 natural pesticides have been tested in high-dose animal cancer tests, and about half (27) are rodent carcinogens; these 27 are shown to be present in many common foods.”
The bottom line of Ames’ experiments: “Natural and synthetic chemicals are equally likely to be positive in animal cancer tests. We also conclude that at the low doses of most human exposures the comparative hazards of synthetic pesticide residues are insignificant.”
In other words, consumers who buy overpriced organic foods in order to avoid pesticide exposure are focusing their attention on 0.01% of the pesticides they consume.
There seems to be confusion about these issues even at the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), which in October released a report that appeared to endorse organic produce because of its lower levels of pesticide residues, while at the same time admitting, “in the long term, there is currently no direct evidence that consuming an organic diet leads to improved health or lower risk of disease.”
Perhaps the most illogical tenet of organic farming is the exclusion of “genetically engineered” plants – but only if they were modified with the newest, best, most precise and predictable techniques. Except for wild berries and wild mushrooms, virtually all the fruits, vegetables and grains in our diet have been genetically improved by one technique or another – often as a result of seeds being irradiated or genes being moved from one species or genus to another in ways that do not occur in nature. But because genetic engineering is more precise and predictable, the technology is at least as safe as – and often safer than – the modification of food products in cruder, “conventional” ways that can qualify as organic.
There are examples of new varieties of plants, including two varieties each of potatoes and squash and one of celery, that have sickened or killed consumers, but all of these were the result of conventional genetic modification – which would qualify for organic farming.
The organic community remains unswayed by either biology or history, however, and modern genetic engineering remains prohibited from organic agriculture. This bias against genetic engineering in organic agriculture makes recommendations such as those of the American Association of Pediatrics especially dubious because as genetically engineered “biofortified” foods with enhanced levels of vitamins, antioxidants and so on appear, none of them will be available to organophiles.
Another rationale for buying organic is that it’s supposedly better for the natural environment. But the low yields of organic agriculture – typically 20-50 percent lower than conventional agriculture – impose various stresses on farmland and especially on water consumption. A British meta-analysis published in September of this year in the Journal of Environmental Management identified some of the environmental stresses that were higher in organic, as opposed to conventional, agriculture: “ammonia emissions, nitrogen leaching and nitrous oxide emissions per product unit were higher from organic systems,” as was “land use, eutrophication potential and acidification potential per product unit.”
“Sustainable” has become a buzzword that is applicable not only to agriculture and energy production but to sectors as far afield as the building and textile industries. Some universities offer courses or even degrees in “sustainability.” Many large companies tout the concept and boast a sustainability department, and the United Nations has hundreds of projects concerned with sustainability throughout its many agencies and programs.
But as with many vague, feel-good concepts–“natural” and “locavorism” come to mind–it contains more than a little sophistry. For example, sustainability in agriculture is often linked to organic food production, whose advocates tout it as a “sustainable” way to feed the planet’s expanding population. According to the Worldwatch Institute, “Organic farming has the potential to contribute to sustainable food security by improving nutrition intake and sustaining livelihoods in rural areas, while simultaneously reducing vulnerability to climate change and enhancing biodiversity.” This is wishful thinking, if not outright delusion.
What does “sustainable” really mean, and how does it relate to organic methods of food production, compared to the more advanced methods of today’s modern farming practices? Definitions vary widely; a typically subjective and circular definition comes from Dr. John E. Ikerd, extension professor at the University of Missouri:
A sustainable agriculture must be economically viable, socially responsible and ecologically sound. The economic, social and ecological are interrelated, and all are essential to sustainability. An agriculture that uses up or degrades its natural resource base, or pollutes the natural environment, eventually will lose its ability to produce. . . a sustainable agriculture must be all three–ecologically sound, economically viable and socially responsible. And the three must be in harmony.
The organic movement touts the sustainability of their methods, but its claims do not withstand scrutiny. For example, a study published earlier this year in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences found that the potential for groundwater contamination can be dramatically reduced if fertilizers are distributed through the irrigation system according to plant demand during the growing season. But organic farming depends on compost, the release of which is not matched with plant demand.
The study found that “intensive organic agriculture relying on solid organic matter, such as composted manure that is implemented in the soil prior to planting as the sole fertilizer, resulted in significant down-leaching of nitrate” into groundwater. Especially with many of the world’s most fertile farming regions in the throes of drought and aquifer depletion–which was the subject of a 60 Minutes segment on November 16–increased nitrate in groundwater is hardly a mark of sustainability.
Moreover, although composting gets good PR as a “green” activity, at large scale it generates a significant amount of greenhouse gases (and is also often a source of pathogenic bacteria applied to crops).
Organic farming might work well for certain local environments on a small scale, but its farms produce far less food per unit of land and water than conventional ones. The low yields of organic agriculture–typically 20%-50% percent lower than conventional agriculture–impose various stresses on farmland and especially on water consumption. A British meta-analysis published in the Journal of Environmental Management (2012) addressed the question whether organic farming reduces environmental impacts. It identified some of the stresses that were higher in organic, as opposed to conventional, agriculture: “ammonia emissions, nitrogen leaching and nitrous oxide emissions per product unit were higher from organic systems,” as were “land use, eutrophication potential and acidification potential per product unit.”
Lower organic crop yields are largely inevitable, given the systematic, arbitrary rejection of various advanced methods and technologies in organic farming. Organic affords limited pesticide options, difficulties in meeting peak fertilizer demand, and the lack of access to genetically engineered varieties. If the scale of organic production were significantly increased, the lower yields would increase the pressure for the conversion of more land to farming and on water supplies, both of which are serious environmental issues.
Stanford University’s Sustainable Choices website defines sustainability this way: “the ability to provide for the needs of the world’s current population without damaging the ability of future generations to provide for themselves. When a process is sustainable, it can be carried out over and over without negative environmental effects or impossibly high costs to anyone involved.”
That definition is compatible with the notion that sustainability is favored by maximizing human ingenuity and the quest for progress—that is, for processes and products that are more efficient, less costly, and at the same time, less harmful to the environment. Organic food producers need not apply.
Henry I. Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, is the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution; he was the founding director of the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology. Richard Cornett is the communications director for the Western Plant Health Association, a nonprofit agricultural trade group based in Sacramento, Calif.
Obama’s visit to El Reno Federal prison (Correctional Institution) in Oklahoma is probably one of the few acts he has done that I agree with. Like most people, I assumed the justice system was fair – until I was confronted with the absurdity of American justice. Only then did I begin to appreciate how corrupt the system really is. The stereotype of inmates that even I had in mind was a ruthless, violent type of character. Only when I entered the system myself did I see the truth – only about 4% were violent, at best. For you see, the Feds have “conspiracy” which can be used to charge and sentence individuals to the same amount of time as if they had actually committed the crime, instead of merely thinking about it.
I met a priest who wired money to China as a favor to help someone whom he believed needed the money for an operation. That recipient turned out to be a drug dealer. Others agreed to bag some crack in return for money to pay for a funeral. One was a superintendent in an apartment complex and drug dealers merely said he would let them know if the police were around. Another was asked for the location of someone, he responded by saying something to the effect of “over there” and the people asking the question ending up killing that man. He later committed suicide to avoid serving life at 22 on a conspiracy of murder charge for merely answering the question, “Where is he?” Conspiracy is a standard crime for everyone charged by the government, since you never actually have to prove a crime was committed. The crime is merely an agreement.
Long sentences are destructive for you cannot lock up people for decades and then expect them to return to society. It is just inhumane. I had a black inmate crying in my cell because his sentence was up and he did not want to leave. He was about 55 and had spent nearly his entire adult life in prison since the age of 19. His family was dead; he had no one to return to and was unable to envision having a job. This is what you call institutionalized. All he can do is quickly commit some crime to get back inside the prison. This is extremely common. Inside, it is free room and board. There is no taxation, no telemarketing calls, and no one can visit you unless you put them on a list. It is more like a monastic lifestyle in Federal prison for very few people are actually violent.
Besides it costing more to house an inmate than most people pay to go to college, the social damage is huge. The people in prison for drugs are never the real kingpins. Typically they are street sellers, lock them up and another takes their place. There is no actual endgame. Besides that, crime rises with economic decline and falls when the economy expands.
The Clintons signed for mandatory minimums, which sent the prison population up to 25% of the world’s prison population, despite the fact that the U.S. has just 5% of the world’s population. Hillary counts on the minority black vote, yet her and her husband signed the law that has imprisoned more blacks than all the presidents before them. Then Bush Jr put in John Ashcroft at the head of the Justice Department. Besides this nut-job putting a tarp around the bronze statue of Justice because her bare breasts offended him, he changed the rules whereby a prosecutor would not get credit for a conviction unless the person was sentenced to prison. Between the Clintons and Bush Jr, they wiped out American liberty and justice for all. The crisis is conspiracy – eliminate that and we return to a justice system that punishes only people who actually commit crimes.
The proposal to eliminate the question asking if someone is a felon on employment applications is certainly reasonable. Why? They are typically discriminated against since the public remains ignorant of the abuse of the Justice System. Additionally, even J.P. Morgan Chase is a felon since the banks were criminally charged for their manipulations, yet the SEC waived their automatic ban from having a banking license that applies to felons. What is good for exempting the bankers, should apply to everyone else.
If I were President, I would pardon everyone charged with conspiracy who did not actually commit the crime. Conspiracy use to be a maximum sentence of 2 years. When Congress made the time for conspiracy the same as committing the crime, the prisons filled and prosecutors no longer had to prove anyone actually committed a crime – they just had to be remotely connected to someone.
Can you please explain how your Solution is different than what Central Banks around the world are currently doing and appear to be poised to expand on? And how it changes anything?
As I understand it your plan is to exchange all national/soverign government debt for private equity credits, which smells alot like a second currency, and abandon federal taxation to save pensions and the economy. Your plan is to simply print enough dollars to fund the federal government.
ANSWER: Central banks are monetizing debt, this much is true. However, that accomplishes nothing for they cannot return the system back to a pre-2007 state. They leave the debt intact and a rise in interest rates will blow up the budgets, to which governments will then target more aggressively in tax collection.
By doing a debt-to-private equity swap, that is substantially different from constructing more roads, buildings, or Dunkin Donuts. Investment in infrastructure is a short-term impact and does not create long-term jobs. You have to keep building to maintain employment and those things do not contribute to the creation of national wealth as they too consume it. True, building a plant will enable a business to create wealth. By itself, a building is a depreciating asset that ultimately needs to be replaced.
A debt-to-private equity swap would be the creation of small business, which employs 70% of the civil work force. The major companies have reached saturation levels and are buying their own shares back. So, we are not talking about swapping $17 trillion of debt for more Apple, Amazon, PayPal, or IBM shares. We are talking about creating an opportunity to fund small business, which the banks gave up on for if they do not have 120% collateral, they cannot borrow from banks. Venture capital creates wealth and this is substantially different.
Additionally, we can see that up to 70% of the national debt is accumulative interest expenditures. The central banks are not eliminating the debt; they are buying it and leaving interest still payable, which will maintain the tax collection. The debt will continue to rise and so will taxes, sucking in everything like a black hole, and diverting capital from creating employment consumed purely by bondholders. Detroit went bust when pensions consumed more than 50% of total revenue. Government could not raise taxes and the pensions kept sucking in everything to the point where public services collapse. You pay taxes for nothing.
If we eliminate taxes, we will restore our liberty and eliminate FATCA, restoring the world economy. The private equity swap would convert Social Security into a national wealth fund that really invested, creating jobs for the youth and the displaced government workers. Eliminate tax collection and it would shrink government by 33%, not to mention save the world economy and our liberty.
This is just the start. Central banks quantitative easing does none of this. On top of that, they will come after your assets to pay the bondholders who convinced them they fail unless they are paid. Additionally, the cost of labor would decline by 50% by eliminating taxes and people would then fund corporations. Corporate taxes are very destructive for the very same capital is taxes three times. You buy shares with after tax dollars. The corporation pays taxes. It pays a dividend tax, and then the shareholder pays income tax on the dividend. Eliminate that and people will secure their own future pensions with equities. This would create a huge domestic job market and it will cause companies to bring jobs home where it will be more efficient.
Printing money to fund government capped at say 5% of GDP will be a huge reduction in government. Eliminate taxation and we will reduce government. There were SEVEN agencies that all approved the CDOs the banks sold which blew up the world in 2007. Not a single one of them understood what they were approving. There should be ONE agency, not SEVEN, and it would be cheaper to pay for expertise in a single agency rather than lawyers who know nothing, yet think they do. The savings in reducing the size and servicing the debt will more than offset the cost. Plus, you are trapped in the old idea that increasing money supply automatically creates inflation. Sorry, even QE1-3 proved that theory is dead wrong. As long as people save or hoard, increasing the money will by no means cause prices to rise. The money supply MUST increase with the population or you get DEFLATION.
That is just skimming the surface. Those who are living in the 16th century and say, “oh just printing 5% to pay for government is horrible and inflationary”, I say you will pray on hands and knees for inflation by the time they are done confiscating everything you have to pay the bondholders. Wake up. This is the 21st century.
Newark, N.J. — While rambling along the New Jersey Transit system, I overheard two strangers fall into conversation — a young black woman and middle-aged white man. Their conversation turned toward traffic tickets, and the man related how he had gone to court to obtain some relief. The woman was surprised that he would risk any further encounter with the police or the courts.
“I tell my boys to have nothing to do with either — it can only go bad,” she said.
“I know — once you’re in front of that judge, he can ruin your life,” he conceded.
Two ordinary Americans, neither with any criminal history, were fearful of encountering America’s criminal justice system. They see the police and the courts not as friendly protectors, but a threat to be avoided. The facts show that they are right.
The United States has an election next week, but nowhere to be found is any discussion of the genuine national crisis in the criminal justice system. To put it dramatically, but not inaccurately, the right to a fair trial no longer exists in America, except by accident. The land of the free simply isn’t that for those who catch the eye of the police. Any nobody seems to care.
“The prosecutor kept the promise he made on that day, and the judge got mad and put me straight away” sang New Jersey’s Bruce Springsteen some thirty years ago in Working on the Highway. He was singing about an innocent run-in with the law that ended badly, being sentenced to a prison work gang. America’s justice system has gone mad, sentencing millions to various punishments without trials.
A combination of “tough-on-crime” measures implemented since the 1970s — the war on drugs; mandatory minimum sentencing; draconian punishments for even minor repeat offences; a bewildering array of new laws, many that are so obscure or complicated that it is near-impossible to know that they are even being broken; a massive increase in prison spending that has given rise to a veritable correctional-industrial complex — has created a phenomenon of mass incarceration heretofore unknown in any country in history. America has become, in the words of an Atlantic magazine feature story this summer, “the leader of the unfree world”.
How bad is America’s mass incarceration crisis? The country’s jails hold 718 inmates per 100,000 population. Canada’s hold 118. America’s per capita incarceration rate is more than twice that of the United Kingdom, Italy and France combined.
“Many states’ prison populations outrank even those of dictatorships and illiberal democracies around the world,” reported The Atlantic, based on figures from the Prison Population Initiative. “New York jails more people per capita than Rwanda, where tens of thousands await trial for their roles in the 1994 genocide. California, Illinois, and Ohio each have a higher incarceration rate than Cuba and Russia. Even Maine and Vermont imprison a greater share of people than Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, or Egypt.”
My fellow riders on the New Jersey commuter train knew of what they spoke. Nearly 2.5 million Americans are currently in prison, awaiting trial or serving a sentence outside of prison, all vacuumed up by a rapacious “justice” system. It is the foolish American who naively thinks that the police, prosecutors and courts are not a danger to his liberty.
So stacked is the system against the accused that even innocent people plead guilty, lest the prosecutor keep his promise to put them straight away
Mass incarceration is fueled by a system that has largely abandoned trials. More than 95% of convictions are the result of plea bargains. So stacked is the system against the accused that even innocent people plead guilty, lest the prosecutor keep his promise to put them straight away. The usual inducement for a plea to a lesser offence is to provide cooperating testimony against another accused, creating a massive incentive to offer embroidered testimony. The wheels of injustice are greased by suborned perjury. Unsurprisingly, all of this leads to false convictions on a not insignificant scale. (These pages profiled earlier this week the work of the California Innocence Project.)
Little political attention is paid because mass incarceration and the effective abandonment of trials has been a bipartisan consensus. Liberal states (California) and conservative states (Texas) alike have been on a decades-long prison-building binge, seeking to solve ever more social problems through incarceration. But even prison budgets are now strained, and both the American Supreme Court and the federal Sentencing Commission have in recent years arbitrarily granted parole to tens of thousands of inmates to reduce overcrowding. So many people are behind bars that even the richest country in the world cannot afford space for them all.
That’s good news for those released. But the question remains: How much longer can America afford to ignore the basic legal rights guaranteed by their constitution?
The feds have launched a new power grab, and it’s coming at the expense of property rights.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have proposed a new rule to define “waters of the United States.” This definition is supposed to clarify what “waters” are covered under the Clean Water Act and therefore what these two agencies can regulate.
Most people would consider a water body to be a river, a lake, maybe even a pond. But the feds are casting their nets much wider than that. Their proposal could cover almost any type of water. Almost all ditches, including man-made ditches, could be regulated. Depressions in land that only sometimes have water in them could be deemed a tributary and covered under the rule, even if the depression is bone-dry almost every day of the year. The sheer overreach of the proposed rule is breathtaking.
Under the Clean Water Act, property owners are often required to obtain costly and time-consuming permits if engaging in activities that affect jurisdictional waters. We’re not talking toxic waste disposal being required to trigger the need for a permit. The statute would even prohibit actions that cause absolutely no environmental harm. For example, someone might need a permit for kicking some sand into a jurisdictional water.
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The EPA is promoting the rule by cynically asking, “Do you choose clean water?” The real question posed by the proposed regulation is: Do you choose federal regulation of almost all water?
Common activities, from farming to home building, could require a permit. Individuals who want to use their property for ordinary, everyday uses could be forced to get a permit. Sackett v. EPA offers one egregious example of overzealous regulatory enforcement. In this 2012 Supreme Court case, the EPA sought the power to impose fines of $75,000 per day on a couple for placing gravel on virtually dry land to build a home in a built-out subdivision. This proposed rule will likely lead to even more Sackett-type abuses of regulatory power.
Put simply, this rule is an attack on property rights. As EPA and the Corps of Engineers claim jurisdiction over more and more waters, property owners will have to secure more and more permits—or simply forgo projects because of the additional cost and time required to secure a permit.
And there’s a growing risk of “gotcha” enforcement. It’s already tough for property owners to know that their property has a jurisdictional water. Because the proposed rule is so broad and vague, this problem is only going to get far worse. The existence of a jurisdictional water may be far from clear—even to the EPA and the Corps, at least until they subjectively decide that a water is jurisdictional after all. Through this water (and land) power grab, the EPA and Corps will have the power to limit severely how people can use their property.
Furthermore, the proposed rule ignores the important role states play in protecting water resources—a role stressed in the Clean Water Act itself. States have a better sense of their specific environmental needs than the federal government and can provide a tailored approach to regulation. Yet the EPA and Corps proceed as though they know best, no matter what the law says about state power.
The EPA is promoting the rule by cynically asking, “Do you choose clean water?” As if critics of the rule want dirty water. The real question posed by the proposed regulation is: Do you choose federal regulation of almost all water? The Clean Water Act rejects this federal power grab.
At the start of April, the agencies sent a final version of the rule to the Office of Management and Budget for its approval. Congress must act quickly to stop this rule from going forward.
Ultimately, Congress should develop legislation that clearly defines what waters are regulated under the Clean Water Act. But for now, lawmakers should pass legislation directing the agencies to withdraw their proposed rule immediately. Property owners shouldn’t have to walk on egg shells, afraid of overzealous agencies going after them for simply using their land for ordinary activities and making an honest living.
Even though DJIA is in the middle of a range , is it possible that tomorrow and possibly Tuesday it can go up 300 point to make a major top?
Wisconsin’s Shame: ‘I Thought It Was a Home Invasion’
by David French April 20, 2015 4:00 AM
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They came with a battering ram.” Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking.
She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram. She wasn’t dressed, but she started to run toward the door, her body in full view of the police. Some yelled at her to grab some clothes, others yelled for her to open the door. “I was so afraid,” she says. “I did not know what to do.” She grabbed some clothes, opened the door, and dressed right in front of the police.
The dogs were still frantic.
“I begged and begged, ‘Please don’t shoot my dogs, please don’t shoot my dogs, just don’t shoot my dogs.’ I couldn’t get them to stop barking, and I couldn’t get them outside quick enough. I saw a gun and barking dogs. I was scared and knew this was a bad mix.” She got the dogs safely out of the house, just as multiple armed agents rushed inside. Some even barged into the bathroom, where her partner was in the shower. The officer or agent in charge demanded that Cindy sit on the couch, but she wanted to get up and get a cup of coffee. “I told him this was my house and I could do what I wanted.” Wrong thing to say. “This made the agent in charge furious. He towered over me with his finger in my face and yelled like a drill sergeant that I either do it his way or he would handcuff me.”
They wouldn’t let her speak to a lawyer. She looked outside and saw a person who appeared to be a reporter. Someone had tipped him off. The neighbors started to come outside, curious at the commotion, and all the while the police searched her house, making a mess, and — according to Cindy — leaving her “dead mother’s belongings strewn across the basement floor in a most disrespectful way.”
Then they left, carrying with them only a cellphone and a laptop. “It’s a matter of life or death.” That was the first thought of “Anne” (not her real name). Someone was pounding at her front door. It was early in the morning — very early — and it was the kind of heavy pounding that meant someone was either fleeing from — or bringing — trouble. “It was so hard. I’d never heard anything like it.
I thought someone was dying outside.” She ran to the door, opened it, and then chaos. “People came pouring in. For a second I thought it was a home invasion. It was terrifying. They were yelling and running, into every room in the house. One of the men was in my face, yelling at me over and over and over.” It was indeed a home invasion, but the people who were pouring in were Wisconsin law-enforcement officers. Armed, uniformed police swarmed into the house. Plainclothes investigators cornered her and her newly awakened family. Soon, state officials were seizing the family’s personal property, including each person’s computer and smartphone, filled with the most intimate family information.
Why were the police at Anne’s home? She had no answers. The police were treating them the way they’d seen police treat drug dealers on television. In fact, TV or movies were their only points of reference, because they weren’t criminals. They were law-abiding. They didn’t buy or sell drugs. They weren’t violent. They weren’t a danger to anyone. Yet there were cops — surrounding their house on the outside, swarming the house on the inside. They even taunted the family as if they were mere “perps.” As if the home invasion, the appropriation of private property, and the verbal abuse weren’t enough, next came ominous warnings. Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t tell anyone about this raid. Not even your mother, your father, or your closest friends.
The entire neighborhood could see the police around their house, but they had to remain silent. This was not the “right to remain silent” as uttered by every cop on every legal drama on television — the right against self-incrimination. They couldn’t mount a public defense if they wanted — or even offer an explanation to family and friends. Yet no one in this family was a “perp.” Instead, like Cindy, they were American citizens guilty of nothing more than exercising their First Amendment rights to support Act 10 and other conservative causes in Wisconsin. Sitting there shocked and terrified, this citizen — who is still too intimidated to speak on the record — kept thinking, “Is this America?” “They followed me to my kids’ rooms.” For the family of “Rachel” (not her real name), the ordeal began before dawn — with the same loud, insistent knocking. Still in her pajamas, Rachel answered the door and saw uniformed police, poised to enter her home. When Rachel asked to wake her children herself, the officer insisted on walking into their rooms. The kids woke to an armed officer, standing near their beds.
The entire family was herded into one room, and there they watched as the police carried off their personal possessions, including items that had nothing to do with the subject of the search warrant — even her daughter’s computer. And, yes, there were the warnings. Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t talk to anyone about this. Don’t tell your friends. The kids watched — alarmed — as the school bus drove by, with the students inside watching the spectacle of uniformed police surrounding the house, carrying out the family’s belongings. Yet they were told they couldn’t tell anyone at school. They, too, had to remain silent. The mom watched as her entire life was laid open before the police. Her professional files, her personal files, everything. She knew this was all politics. She knew a rogue prosecutor was targeting her for her political beliefs. And she realized, “Every aspect of my life is in their hands. And they hate me.”
Fortunately for her family, the police didn’t taunt her or her children. Some of them seemed embarrassed by what they were doing. At the end of the ordeal, one officer looked at the family, still confined to one room, and said, “Some days, I hate my job.” For dozens of conservatives, the years since Scott Walker’s first election as governor of Wisconsin transformed the state — known for pro-football championships, good cheese, and a population with a reputation for being unfailingly polite —
into a place where conservatives have faced early-morning raids, multi-year secretive criminal investigations, slanderous and selective leaks to sympathetic media, and intrusive electronic snooping. Yes, Wisconsin, the cradle of the progressive movement and home of the “Wisconsin idea” — the marriage of state governments and state universities to govern through technocratic reform — was giving birth to a new progressive idea, the use of law enforcement as a political instrument, as a weapon to attempt to undo election results, shame opponents, and ruin lives. Most Americans have never heard of these raids, or of the lengthy criminal investigations of Wisconsin conservatives.
For good reason. Bound by comprehensive secrecy orders, conservatives were left to suffer in silence as leaks ruined their reputations, as neighbors, looking through windows and dismayed at the massive police presence, the lights shining down on targets’ homes, wondered, no doubt, What on earth did that family do?
This was the on-the-ground reality of the so-called John Doe investigations, expansive and secret criminal proceedings that directly targeted Wisconsin residents because of their relationship to Scott Walker, their support for Act 10, and their advocacy of conservative reform. Largely hidden from the public eye, this traumatic process, however, is now heading toward a legal climax, with two key rulings expected in the late spring or early summer. The first ruling, from the Wisconsin supreme court, could halt the investigations for good, in part by declaring that the “misconduct” being investigated isn’t misconduct at all but the simple exercise of First Amendment rights.
The second ruling, from the United States Supreme Court, could grant review on a federal lawsuit brought by Wisconsin political activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth, the first conservatives to challenge the investigations head-on. If the Court grants review, it could not only halt the investigations but also begin the process of holding accountable those public officials who have so abused their powers. But no matter the outcome of these court hearings, the damage has been done. In the words of Mr. O’Keefe, “The process is the punishment.”
It all began innocently enough. In 2009, officials from the office of the Milwaukee County executive contacted the office of the Milwaukee district attorney, headed by John Chisholm, to investigate the disappearance of $11,242.24 from the Milwaukee chapter of the Order of the Purple Heart. The matter was routine, with witnesses willing and able to testify against the principal suspect, a man named Kevin Kavanaugh.
What followed, however, was anything but routine. Chisholm failed to act promptly on the report, and when he did act, he refused to conduct a conventional criminal investigation but instead petitioned, in May 2010, to open a “John Doe” investigation, a proceeding under Wisconsin law that permits Wisconsin officials to conduct extensive investigations while keeping the target’s identity secret (hence the designation “John Doe”). John Doe investigations alter typical criminal procedure in two important ways: First, they remove grand juries from the investigative process, replacing the ordinary citizens of a grand jury with a supervising judge. Second, they can include strict secrecy requirements not just on the prosecution but also on the targets of the investigation.
In practice, this means that, while the prosecution cannot make public comments about the investigation, it can take public actions indicating criminal suspicion (such as raiding businesses and homes in full view of the community) while preventing the targets of the raids from defending against or even discussing the prosecution’s claims. Why would Chisholm seek such broad powers to investigate a year-old embezzlement claim with a known suspect? Because the Milwaukee County executive, Scott Walker, had by that time become the leading Republican candidate for governor. District Attorney Chisholm was a Democrat, a very partisan Democrat.
Almost immediately after opening the John Doe investigation, Chisholm used his expansive powers to embarrass Walker, raiding his county-executive offices within a week.
As Mr. O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth explained in court filings, the investigation then dramatically expanded: Over the next few months, [Chisholm’s] investigation of all-things-Walker expanded to include everything from alleged campaign-finance violations to sexual misconduct to alleged public contracting bid-rigging to alleged misuse of county time and property. Between May 5, 2010, and May 3, 2012, the Milwaukee Defendants filed at least eighteen petitions to formally “[e]nlarge” the scope of the John Doe investigation, and each was granted. . . . That amounts to a new formal inquiry every five and a half weeks, on average, for two years.
This expansion coincided with one of the more remarkable state-level political controversies in modern American history – the protest (and passage) of Act 10, followed by the attempted recall of a number of Wisconsin legislators and, ultimately, Governor Walker. Political observers will no doubt remember the events in Madison — the state capitol overrun by chanting protesters, Democratic lawmakers fleeing the state to prevent votes on the legislation, and tens of millions of dollars of outside money flowing into the state as Wisconsin became, fundamentally, a proxy fight pitting the union-led Left against the Tea Party–led economic Right.
At the same time that the public protests were raging, so were private — but important — protests in the Chisholm home and workplace. As a former prosecutor told journalist Stuart Taylor, Chisholm’s wife was a teachers’-union shop steward who was distraught over Act 10’s union reforms. He said Chisholm “felt it was his personal duty” to stop them. Meanwhile, according to this whistleblower, the district attorney’s offices were festooned with the “blue fist” poster of the labor-union movement, indicating that Chisholm’s employees were very much invested in the political fight. In the end, the John Doe proceeding failed in its ultimate aims.
It secured convictions for embezzlement (related to the original 2009 complaint), a conviction for sexual misconduct, and a few convictions for minor campaign violations, but Governor Walker was untouched, his reforms were implemented, and he survived his recall election.
But with another election looming — this time Walker’s campaign for reelection — Chisholm wasn’t finished. He launched yet another John Doe investigation, “supervised” by Judge Barbara Kluka. Kluka proved to be capable of superhuman efficiency — approving “every petition, subpoena, and search warrant in the case” in a total of one day’s work. If the first series of John Doe investigations was “everything Walker,” the second series was “everything conservative,” as Chisholm had launched an investigation of not only Walker (again) but the Wisconsin Club for Growth and dozens of other conservative organizations, this time fishing for evidence of allegedly illegal “coordination” between conservative groups and the Walker campaign. In the second John Doe, Chisholm had no real evidence of wrongdoing.
Yes, conservative groups were active in issue advocacy, but issue advocacy was protected by the First Amendment and did not violate relevant campaign laws. Nonetheless, Chisholm persuaded prosecutors in four other counties to launch their own John Does, with Judge Kluka overseeing all of them.
Empowered by a rubber-stamp judge, partisan investigators ran amok. They subpoenaed and obtained (without the conservative targets’ knowledge) massive amounts of electronic data, including virtually all the targets’ personal e-mails and other electronic messages from outside e-mail vendors and communications companies.
The investigations exploded into the open with a coordinated series of raids on October 3, 2013. These were home invasions, including those described above. Chisholm’s office refused to comment on the raid tactics (or any other aspect of the John Doe investigations), but witness accounts regarding the two John Doe investigations are remarkably similar: early-morning intrusions, police rushing through the house, and stern commands to remain silent and tell no one about what had occurred.
At the same time, the Wisconsin Club for Growth and other conservative organizations received broad subpoenas requiring them to turn over virtually all business records, including “donor information, correspondence with their associates, and all financial information.” The subpoenas also contained dire warnings about disclosure of their existence, threatening contempt of court if the targets spoke publicly. For select conservative families across five counties, this was the terrifying moment — the moment they felt at the mercy of a truly malevolent state.
Speaking both on and off the record, targets reflected on how many layers of Wisconsin government failed their fundamental constitutional duties — the prosecutors who launched the rogue investigations, the judge who gave the abuse judicial sanction, investigators who chose to taunt and intimidate during the raids, and those police who ultimately approved and executed aggressive search tactics on law-abiding, peaceful citizens.
For some of the families, the trauma of the raids, combined with the stress and anxiety of lengthy criminal investigations, has led to serious emotional repercussions.
“Devastating” is how Anne describes the impact on her family. “Life-changing,” she says. “All in terrible ways.” O’Keefe, who has been in contact with multiple targeted families, says, “Every family I know of that endured a home raid has been shaken to its core, and the fate of marriages and families still hangs in the balance in some cases.” Anne also describes a new fear of the police: “I used to support the police, to believe they were here to protect us. Now, when I see an officer, I’ll cross the street. I’m afraid of them. I know what they’re capable of.” Cindy says, “I lock my doors and I close my shades. I don’t answer the door unless I am expecting someone. My heart races when I see a police car sitting in front of my house or following me in the car. The raid was so public. I’ve been harassed. My house has been vandalized. [She did not identify suspects.]
I no longer feel safe, and I don’t think I ever will.” Rachel talks about the effect on her children. “I tried to create a home where the kids always feel safe. Now they know they’re not. They know men with guns can come in their house, and there’s nothing we can do.” Every knock on the door brings anxiety.
Every call to the house is screened. In the back of her mind is a single, unsettling thought: These people will never stop. Victims of trauma — and every person I spoke with described the armed raids as traumatic — often need to talk, to share their experiences and seek solace in the company of a loving family and supportive friends. The investigators denied them that privilege, and it compounded their pain and fear. The investigation not only damaged families, it also shut down their free speech. In many cases, the investigations halted conservative groups in their tracks.
O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth described the effect in court filings: O’Keefe’s associates began cancelling meetings with him and declining to take his calls, reasonably fearful that merely associating with him could make them targets of the investigation. O’Keefe was forced to abandon fundraising for the Club because he could no longer guarantee to donors that their identities would remain confidential, could not (due to the Secrecy Order) explain to potential donors the nature of the investigation, could not assuage donors’ fears that they might become targets themselves, and could not assure donors that their money would go to fund advocacy rather than legal expenses.
The Club was also paralyzed. Its officials could not associate with its key supporters, and its funds were depleted. It could not engage in issue advocacy for fear of criminal sanction. These raids and subpoenas were often based not on traditional notions of probable cause but on mere suspicion, untethered to the law or evidence, and potentially violating the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”
The very existence of First Amendment–protected expression was deemed to be evidence of illegality. The prosecution simply assumed that the conservatives were incapable of operating within the bounds of the law. Even worse, many of the investigators’ legal theories, even if proven by the evidence, would not have supported criminal prosecutions. In other words, they were investigating “crimes” that weren’t crimes at all. If the prosecutors had applied the same legal standards to the Democrats in their own offices, they would have been forced to turn the raids on themselves.
If the prosecutors and investigators had been raided, how many of their computers and smartphones would have contained incriminating information indicating use of government resources for partisan purposes? With the investigations now bursting out into the open, some conservatives began to fight back. O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth moved to quash the John Doe subpoenas aimed at them.
In a surprise move, Judge Kluka, who had presided over the Doe investigations for more than a year, recused herself from the case. (A political journal, the Wisconsin Reporter, attempted to speak to Judge Kluka about her recusal, but she refused to offer comment.)
The new judge in the case, Gregory Peterson, promptly sided with O’Keefe and blocked multiple subpoenas, holding (in a sealed opinion obtained by the Wall Street Journal, which has done invaluable work covering the John Doe investigations) that they “do not show probable cause that the moving parties committed any violations of the campaign finance laws.” The judge noted that “the State is not claiming that any of the independent organizations expressly advocated” Walker’s election.
O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth followed up Judge Peterson’s ruling by filing a federal lawsuit against Chisholm and a number of additional defendants, alleging multiple constitutional violations, including a claim that the investigation constituted unlawful retaliation against the plaintiffs for the exercise of their First Amendment rights.
United States District Court judge Rudolph Randa promptly granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, declaring that “the Defendants must cease all activities related to the investigation, return all property seized in the investigation from any individual or organization, and permanently destroy all copies of information and other materials obtained through the investigation.”
From that point forward, the case proceeded on parallel state and federal tracks. At the federal level, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Randa’s order. Declining to consider the case on the merits, the appeals court found the lawsuit barred by the federal Anti-Injunction Act, which prohibits federal courts from issuing injunctions against some state-court proceedings.
O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth have petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari and expect a ruling in a matter of weeks. At the same time, the John Doe prosecutors took their case to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals to attempt to restart the Doe proceedings. The case was ultimately consolidated before the state supreme court, with a ruling also expected in a matter of weeks.
And so, almost five years after their secret beginning, the John Doe proceedings are nearly dead — on “life support,” according to one Wisconsin pundit — but incalculable damage has been done, to families, to activist organizations, to the First Amendment, and to the rule of law itself. In international law, the Western world has become familiar with a concept called “lawfare,” a process whereby rogue regimes or organizations abuse legal doctrines and processes to accomplish through sheer harassment and attrition what can’t be accomplished through legitimate diplomatic means. The Palestinian Authority and its defenders have become adept at lawfare, putting Israel under increasing pressure before the U.N. and other international bodies.
The John Doe investigations are a form of domestic lawfare, and our constitutional system is ill equipped to handle it. Federal courts rarely intervene in state judicial proceedings, state officials rarely lose their array of official immunities for the consequences of their misconduct, and violations of First Amendment freedoms rarely result in meaningful monetary damages for the victims. As Scott Walker runs for president, the national media will finally join the Wall Street Journal in covering John Doe.
Given the mainstream media’s typical bias and bad faith, they are likely to bring a fresh round of pain to the targets of the investigation; the cloud of suspicion will descend once again; even potential favorable court rulings by either the state supreme court or the U.S. Supreme Court will be blamed on “conservative justices” taking care of their own.
Conservatives have looked at Wisconsin as a success story, where Walker took everything the Left threw at him and emerged victorious in three general elections. He broke the power of the teachers’ unions and absorbed millions upon millions of dollars of negative ads. The Left kept chanting, “This is what democracy looks like,” and in Wisconsin, democracy looked like Scott Walker winning again and again. Yet in a deeper way, Wisconsin is anything but a success.
There were casualties left on the battlefield — innocent citizens victimized by a lawless government mob, public officials who brought the full power of their office down onto the innocent. Governors come and go. Statutes are passed and repealed. Laws and elections are important, to be sure, but the rule of law is more important still. And in Wisconsin, the rule of law hangs in the balance — along with the liberty of citizens.
As I finished an interview with one victim still living in fear, still shattered by the experience of nearly losing everything simply because she supported the wrong candidate at the wrong time, I asked whether she had any final thoughts. “Just one,” she replied. “I’m hoping for accountability, that someone will be held responsible so that they’ll never do this again.” She paused for a moment and then, with voice trembling, said: “No one should ever endure what my family endured.