Sunday, May 15, 2016



Brook Hines Political Commentator
Michelle Allen - Florida Representative Food & Water Watch
Karen Dwyer - Stonecrab Alliance
Mike Trout - Candidate CD 21


1. A Member of Congress Issued a Warning to the World Bank: 'Stop Privatizing Water'
Rep. Gwen Moore's actions could mean the beginning of the end of the World Bank’s harmful water-for-profit pursuits.
Around the globe, people’s access to water is being threatened every day by one of the most powerful institutions on the globe—the World Bank. Under the guise of development, the World Bank and its investment arm, the International Finance Corporation, invest hundreds of millions in water privatization schemes that reduce access to water, increase costs and have a devastating impact on people. What’s worse is that the IFC often positions itself to profit from these projects, creating an irreconcilable conflict of interest.
But one congresswoman just took a stand against this threat that could mean the beginning of the end of the World Bank’s harmful water-for-profit pursuits. In a letter, Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI) demanded the World Bank cease all promotion and financing of these projects pending an external review and congressional hearings on conflicts of interest. Because Moore is the ranking member of a subcommittee with direct World Bank oversight, it has no choice but to listen.
The letter, addressed to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, describes the failure of a World Bank-backed water privatization project in Manila, Philippines—the “success story” the IFC uses in marketing around the world—as the foundation of her concern. In Manila, the IFC advised the government to contract with two private corporations to manage the city’s water system, which it did in 1997 in a concession deal that favored one corporation, Manila Water Company, with less debt and better infrastructure. The IFC subsequently took part ownership in MWC only.
Since taking over, MWC has raised rates nearly 850 percent, and has evenbrought the Manila regulator—and the Philippines Department of Finance—into arbitration in an attempt to hike the cost of water even higher.
As part owner of MWC, the IFC is now in direct opposition to the government’s efforts to keep water affordable for its people. And while the IFC has stood by MWC, it has made $43 million from its initial investment.
Regrettably, these shady dealings aren’t unique to Manila. Recently, as adviser to the government in Kigali, Rwanda, the IFC awarded a 27-year public-private partnership contract to a subsidiary of Metito—in which IFC also has an ownership stake. As if that weren’t enough, it also approved a $14 million loan to the corporation as part of the deal.
These deals create a perverse incentive for the World Bank to try to squeeze money out of the very people it’s supposed to be helping.
Thanks to organizing and powerful leaders like Moore, the World Bank’s course could be changing. In the face of campaigning and public scrutiny, the IFC divested its ownership stake in global water privatizer Veolia in 2014. And in Lagos, Nigeria, a popular movement against a proposed privatization project has brought the World Bank to its knees, forcing it to drop its goal of securing a private sector contract for the water system in that city.
Moore’s intervention wasn’t only inspired by the struggles for water outside of the United States. People in her home state of Wisconsin successfully blocked a bill that would have fast-tracked water privatization by removing a public-vote requirement. Just last month, Moore traveled to Flint to hear firsthand from families affected by the lead contamination caused by corrupt management of that city.
The situation in Flint, Moore says, "demands swift and effective action from federal, state, and local stakeholders.” But as Moore explains, “It also begs of us in positions of influence to take a broader look at the world around us to help identify similar problems.”
Globally, access to water is threatened when those in power treat water as a business, not a public right. The IFC openly markets such an approach to water delivery, using various buzzwords like privatization, “public-private partnerships” and “full-cost recovery.” But, regardless of how they spin it, the results are the same: people lose.
Rep. Gwen Moore’s bold stance this week will likely compel others to take action and demand answers. Ultimately, given that the lives and well-being of millions around the world are at stake, there is no other option. If we are to ensure that everyone has access to water, the World Bank must not only address this conflict of interest, it must abandon its blind pursuit of water privatization and other models that undermine democratic control.


2. Documents from the Panama Papers leak reveal that Saudi king Salman bin Abdulaziz financed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rise to power. 
Isaac Herzog, member of the Knesset and Chairman of the Israeli Labor party, revealed that the Saudi king has been overtly influential in the election campaign that saw Netanyahu get elected.
“In March 2015, King Salman has deposited eighty million dollars to support Netanyahu’s campaign via a Syrian-Spanish person named Mohamed Eyad Kayali.
The money was deposited to a company’s account in British Virgin Islands owned by Teddy Sagi, an Israeli billionaire and businessman, who has allocated the money to fund the campaign Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu”, Herzog cited from a leaked Panama Paper.
Related Panama Papers can be found in the following links:

3. Burnett Oil Company Nobles Grade 3-D Seismic Survey
Texas-based Burnett Oil Company submitted to the National Park Service for approval a Plan of Operations (POP), a formal request to conduct a seismic survey of 110 square miles (70,454 acres) in the Preserve. A seismic survey is a preliminary research technique used to determine the presence of potential oil-bearing structures by introducing an energy source to the subsurface and recording and analyzing the returning sound waves. Stratigraphic anomalies detected by this technique may become future targets for oil and gas exploration drilling. An Environmental Assessment (EA), analyzing the environmental effects of the proposed survey and alternatives, was also prepared. The EA resulted in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), documenting selection of the preferred alternative. This alternative will utilize Vibroseis buggies as the energy source, as detailed in the POP. The NPS conditionally approved the POP on May 10, 2016. 

You will find on this website a copy of the POP, EA, FONSI, POP approval letter, and other documents and links. 



HOUSTON (Reuters) - A 2,100-barrel oil spill in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico forced Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday to shut in all wells that flow to its Brutus platform, federal regulators said.
The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said a 2 mile by 13 mile (about 3 km by 21 km) sheen was visible in the sea about 97 miles off the Louisiana coast.
About 88,200 gallons was reportedly released from the pipeline, the Coast Guard said, adding the source of the discharge was reported as secured.
The sheen is near Shell’s Glider Field, a group of four subsea wells whose production flows through a subsea manifold to the Brutus platform, which sits in water with a depth of 2,900 feet (884 m).
In a statement, Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said a company helicopter observed the sheen on Thursday, and that the wells were under control after it isolated the leak and shut in production.
“There are no drilling activities at Brutus, and this is not a well control incident,” Shell said.
Brutus began operation in 2001 and was designed with top capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil and 150 million cubic feet (4.25 million cubic meters) of gas per day, according to industry trade publications.
Shell said the sheen likely came from a release of oil from subsea infrastructure, though it is still determining the exact cause of the release by inspecting subsea equipment and flowlines.
Authorities said the cause of the incident is under investigation.
BSEE has tightened regulations for offshore operators since the 2010 BP Plc Macondo well blowout that spilled more than 3 million barrels of oil, making it the worst disaster of its kind in U.S. history.
Shell said no injuries resulted from the incident and that the company has mobilized response vessels, including aircraft, to see if it could recover the spilled oil.


5.  The Petroleum Industrial Development Site: formerly known as the Big Cypress Preserve
It's time to escalate efforts against oil exploration in the Big Cypress!   Just as we must save the Arctic Refuge in the North, so too, we must save the Big Cypress National Preserve in the South from new oil drilling and fracking. 

 The National Park Service has failed to protect the Big Cypress from the permanent and cumulative impacts of large-scale seismic testing on wildlife, wetlands, and recreation as well as South Florida's fresh water supplies.
The magnitude, precedent-setting scope, controversial nature, and potential for cumulative and permanent damage to our vital watersheds and wetlands 
was more than enough to trigger a full Environmental Impact Statement.  By failing to require a full Environmental Impact Statement,  NPS has failed in their responsibility to base their decision on the latest, 
most accurate, up-to-date science. They are putting our water,  wildlife, and wetlands in grave danger, since seismic oil exploration, to echo U.S. Senator Bill Nelson in his objections to this project,  is the first step toward fracking, and a dangerous step in the wrong direction. 

 Solution? NPS needs to order a full Environmental Impact Statement so that they will have the documented evidence they need to deny this project; 
Collier Resources and Burnett Oil should mutually terminate this lease since the oil drilling that will proceed from the testing endangers public safety and health by depleting and contaminating our already dwindling water resources. 
 It's time to embrace a fair fuel program.  Thank you David Fleshler for the update.


6. Demand the Chairwoman be held accountable
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Dear Chairwoman Roberta Gustave Lange:
 The conduct you have displayed as the chair of the Nevada Democratic Party during the 2016 Nevada Democratic State Convention is unethical and is undemocratic.
I am notifying you that I am personally sending a notice to the Nevada Democratic Party and the United States Department of Justice to take action against your undemocratic behavior to Nevada Democrats.
 You unethically and unjustly ignored hundreds of Bernie Sanders delegates at approximately 10:48pm Nevada Time PDT on May 14, 2016, by approving a motion to rapidly approve the official votes without addressing the recount, and adjourning the convention. Thus, I believe that this action amongst others displays a clear bias for Hillary Clinton and it ignored the clear majority, or at least a good 40%-50%+ of the democrats at that moment and throughout the day.

Since the beginning of the convention at approximately 9am Nevada Time PDT on May 14, 2016, you have enacted your own rules with the assistance of allegedly some backdoor motion to run the convention and you have avoided to keep in place Robert’s Rules of Order even though a clear 50%+ of those available voices against the rules you presented that would nullify the motion for the new temporary convention rules that did not use Robert’s Rules of Order, when you, as the chair, brought it to a voice vote. Furthermore, you did this without a full quorum. Even if you hadn’t made a clear distinction, you should have made the call for another voice vote to occur to ensure accuracy and then make a final call giving it to the NO’s. Nothing justifies approving the temporary convention rules without even a quorum.

If anything, please read and think about this: How can we be a "democratic" party when we have dictatorship? How can we be united against Donald Trump, when you are ignoring a crucial base of the Democratic Party and many will most likely exit the party if actions like these occur?
 I hope you will evaluate the actions you took throughout the day and come to a decision to resign immediately. Sad to say this but we WILL NOT win in November, if these tricks continue.

Again, the vote for a recount clearly had a majority and this not only offends me, but the millions of supporters of Senator Sanders.

The actions you have made did not achieve the goal you may have wished for, but all it did was to further divide us in the Democratic Party.

Therefore, as the President of the Southern Broward High School Democrats, a candidate for the Director of Development for the Florida High School Democrats, and Florida Young Democrat, I am utterly ashamed of our party due to this conduct since the start of this convention and herein demand the following but not limited to:
·         that the National Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the Nevada Democratic Party to remove you, Ms. Roberta Gustava Lange, as the Chairwoman of the Nevada Democratic Party, if you do not resign immediately, for the negligence and disrespect you have displayed to the democrats not only in the State of Nevada, and in Nevada State Convention, but all over the nation;
·         and, to reverse all decisions approved by you where a clear voice vote was ignored and not brought to the floor;
·         and, it shall be the duty of Nevada Democrats who caucused for Bernie Sanders  to make the justifications for which voice votes were denied as mentioned in the previous point;
·         and, for you and the Nevada Democratic Party to release a public apology addressing Bernie Sanders, the democrats who supported Bernie at the convention, and all supporters nationally and worldwide for the unjust actions committed on May 14, 2016 at the Nevada Democratic Party State convention.

I, Michaelangelo Hamilton, here undersigned certify that this is written by me and is my personal opinion and not those of any democratic club, organization, or person.


7. Alabama Prison Strike
We go behind bars to get an update on the end of a 10-day strike by Alabama prisoners to protest severe overcrowding, poor living conditions and the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which bans slavery and servitude “except as a punishment for crime,” thus sanctioning the legality of forced, unpaid prison labor. "These strikes are our methods of challenging mass incarceration, as we understand the prison system is a continuation of the slave system, which is an economic system," says Kinetik Justice, who joins us by phone from solitary confinement in Holman Correctional Facility. 


8. Prison Sufferance
Prison Legal News (PLN), a magazine dedicated to prison reform and news developments related to federal and state prison systems, has filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC) after the DOC banned four issues of the magazine because of “sexually explicit material.” What’s the nature of this sexual material? It’s four articles about prison guards and other prison employees raping prisoners. The Arizona DOC actions are not meant to ensure the smooth running of the prison system, as it asserts, but instead to keep prisoners in the dark about official abuse, malfeasance, and criminal activity. The DOC has sought to settle the case out of court. Even they recognize that they’re holding a losing hand.
The DOC’s guidelines regarding prisoners receiving sexually explicit material are clear. They state, “Sexually explicit material is defined as publications that feature nudity and/or sexual behaviors/acts and/or the publication is promoted based on such depictions.” The description bears no resemblance whatsoever to Prison Legal News, which contains only news articles and the occasional advertisement.
This Arizona DOC’s actions are not new to Prison Legal News. Indeed, PLN has filed dozens of lawsuits against the Federal Bureau of Prisons, corrections departments, local jails, and states since 2000. Just this year, for example, the Northwest Regional Adult Detention Center in Winchester, Virginia, agreed to PLN demands that prisoners be allowed to receive the magazine, after initially banning it and all other printed material. Similarly, earlier this year the Nevada Department of Corrections agreed to pay PLN $475,000 and to allow prisoners to receive the magazine after PLN filed a federal suit there. PLN has had similar wins across the country over the past few years.
Other prisoners’ rights organizations get far more news coverage than PLN, a publication of the Florida-based Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC). The Innocence Project, for example, uses DNA evidence to work to exonerate those people wrongly convicted of murder and serving sentences of life, or even death. Every Innocence Project win is major national news.
But it’s the small and underfunded HRDC and PLN that work to defend prisoners’ rights on virtually every other issue. HRDC currently has numerous lawsuits pending against the federal government, states, municipalities, and private prisons, not only related to freedom of speech, but also to prevent prisons from forcing released prisoners to accept all of their remaining commissary money on high-fee debit cards; to prevent prisons from banning all prisoner mail except postcards; and fighting the decision made by several private prisons to ban in-person visits in favor of expensive video-only visits. PLN and HRDC are also leaders in the fight against substandard and incompetent medical care in prisons across the country.
The question is why PLN is the only organization taking on these issues. Frankly, in a real democracy, in a country that respects its own constitution and the rule of law, PLN and an organization like HRDC would not even be necessary. But that’s not the society we live in. We live in a system that seeks vengeance against those convicted of crimes, a society that doesn’t just want people to repay their debts to society, but wants them to continue to suffer, both during and after release.
That’s why there’s no public outcry against the human and civil rights violations that current and former prisoners face every day. That’s why there’s no public outcry when prisoners die unnecessarily in prison because of substandard medical care. That’s why there’s anger when governors reinstate the voting rights of former felons.
Society won’t change by itself. And certainly the lemmings in Congress won’t lead the way. That’s why organizations like HRDC and publications like PLN are so important. They are the only voice for prisoners and for the human and civil rights prisoners deserve.


9. Discrimination in CAR SALES
Listen to HuffPost’s analysis of the auto market discrimination bill in the podcast embedded above. 
Most dealerships are authorized to sell cars and make loans to finance the purchase. They send their customers’ financial information to a bank, which then sends the dealer an appropriate interest rate for a borrower with that particular credit profile. But banks also permit dealers to “mark up” the interest rate on the loan to a higher level, and allow the dealership to pocket some of the additional charge.
That, of course, creates incentives for the dealer to charge people higher interest rates. But lawsuits dating back to the 1990s have shown that people of color are more likely to have their interest rates marked up than white borrowers. Black, Latino and Asian-American borrowers also tend to see higher markups than white borrowers.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued regulatory guidance in 2013 instructing companies on how to cope with this phenomenon. Since the markup practice tends to result in overcharging borrowers of color, the CFPB recommended that banks and dealerships ditch the practice. If they didn’t, however, they needed to ensure that borrowers with similar credit profiles weren’t receiving different interest rates due to their race or national origin.
Since issuing the guidance, the CFPB has taken action against Honda and Ally Bank for overcharging borrowers of color, forcing them to return more than $100 million to their customers.
This was apparently too much for banks and auto dealers to handle. They lobbied for a bill that would nullify the CFPB’s regulatory move. The NAACP, the Urban League, the National Council of La Raza, Americans for Financial Reform and other groups opposed the legislation. The Congressional Progressive Caucus urged lawmakers to vote against it, as did Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the top-ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. President Barack Obama issued a statement saying he “strongly opposes” the bill, but stopped short of a formal veto threat.
None of the opposition was enough to counter two interest groups that wield tremendous power on Capitol Hill. No Republicans voted against the bill to curb the CFPB’s enforcement of anti-discrimination law this week, while 88 Democrats voted in favor. The legislation cleared by a vote of 332 to 96.
The lopsided vote makes it a prime target for inclusion in a year-end government spending bill. In December 2014, Republicans secured a measure to subsidize risky Wall Street derivatives trading by including it in a bill to fund the government. Democrats would have had to shut down the government in order to reject the deregulation measure. At the time, then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) pointed to the dozens of votes the subsidy had received from Democrats as evidence that the provision should be considered uncontroversial.
The 88 House Democrats who voted to enable racial discrimination in the automobile market:
Pete Aguilar (Calif.)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.)
Brad Ashford (Neb.)
Joyce Beatty (Ohio)
Amerish Babulal “Ami” Bera (Calif.)
Don Beyer (Va.)
Sanford Dixon Bishop Jr. (Ga.)
Brendan Boyle (Pa.)
Robert Brady (Pa.)
Julia Brownley (Calif.)
Cheryl “Cheri” Bustos (Ill.)
Matt Cartwright (Pa.)
James “Jim” Clyburn (S.C.)
Gerald “Gerry” Connolly (Va.)
Jim Cooper (Tenn.)
James “Jim” Costa (Calif.)
Joseph “Joe” Courtney (Conn.)
Joseph Crowley (N.Y.)
Henry Cuellar (Texas)
John K. Delaney (Md.)
Suzan DelBene (Wash.)
Debbie Dingell (Mich.)
Mike Doyle (Pa.)
Tammy Duckworth (Ill.)
Elizabeth Esty (Conn.)
Bill Foster (Ill.)
Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii)
Ruben Gallego (Ariz.)
Gwen Graham (Fla.)
Alan Grayson (Fla.)
Eugene “Gene” Green (Texas)
Janice Hahn (Calif.)
Alcee L. Hastings (Fla.)
Dennis “Denny” Heck (Wash.)
Brian Higgins (N.Y.)
Rubén Hinojosa (Texas)
Jared Huffman (Calif.)
Steve Israel (N.Y.)
Marcy Kaptur (Ohio)
William “Bill” Keating (Mass.)
Dan Kildee (Mich.)
Derek Kilmer (Wash.)
Ron Kind (Wis.)
Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.)
Ann Kuster (N.H.)
Rick Larsen (Wash.)
Brenda Lawrence (Mich.)
Ted Lieu (Calif.)
Dan Lipinski (Ill.)
Dave Loebsack (Iowa)
Michelle Lujan Grisham (N.M.)
Ben Ray Lujan (N.M.)
Jim McDermott (Wash.)
Grace Meng (N.Y.)
Patrick Murphy (Fla.)
Rick Nolan (Minn.)
Donald Norcross (N.J.)
Beto O’Rourke (Texas)
Bill Pascrell (N.J.)
Ed Perlmutter (Colo.)
Scott Peters (Calif.)
Collin Peterson (Minn.)
Mike Quigley (Ill.)
Kathleen Rice (N.Y.)
Raul Ruiz (Calif.)
Tim Ryan (Ohio)
Loretta Sanchez (Calif.)
Adam Schiff (Calif.)
Kurt Schrader (Ore.)
David Scott (Ga.)
Terri Sewell (Ala.)
Brad Sherman (Calif.)
Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.)
Albio Sires (N.J.)
Louise Slaughter (N.Y.)
Adam Smith (Wash.)
Jackie Speier (Calif.)
Eric Swalwell (Calif.)
Mike Thompson (Calif.)
Dina Titus (Nev.)
Paul Tonko (N.Y.)
Norma Torres (Calif.)
Nikki Tsongas (Mass.)
Juan Vargas (Calif.)
Marc Veasey (Texas)
Filemon Vela (Texas)
Tim Walz (Minn.)
Peter Welch (Vt.)


10. Why Don't Entitlement 'Reformers' Ever Talk About Military Spending and Tax Shelters?
The Washington Post‘s Charles Lane (4/27/16) objects to politicians following voters’ desires on entitlements because of ” the preemption of actual political choice it represents.”
Now that Donald Trump seems to be a sure thing for the Republican nomination, a GOP-led “entitlement reform” movement is all but done—for now. The Republicans put “entitlement reform” front and center as a major issue in 2012, but given Clinton’s ostensible opposition and the meteoric rise of Trump, who says he opposes Social Security cuts, the legendary “Grand Bargain” is now on the political back burner. This, predictably, has left some of the “entitlement reform” holdouts very upset.
First, resident Washington Post fat-trimmer Charles Lane, in “Entitlement Reform, RIP” (4/27/16), lamented that a Trump/Clinton match-up means “entitlement reform” is all but dead. The Weekly Standard‘s Mark Hemingway  (4/28/16)  incredulously asked, “Whatever Happened to Entitlement Reform?” And the emerging “Never Trump” crowd, which is rushing to find a third party to help bring back the Romney-Ryan reform magic — including Sen. Ben Sasse, who published a call for an independent candidate, based largely on prioritizing “entitlement reform.”
There’s really no mystery why a public struggling to get by after watching Wall Street get trillions in interest-free loans isn’t eager to fork over their Social Security checks. And the fascinating part of all this concern with “stealing from future generations” is it almost never includes military spending or the trillions in offshore tax shelters. Even if one accepts the claim that Social Security and Medicare are urgent issues “bankrupting” our country, it’s curious why other things that also cost trillions don’t appear as part of that conversation.
By framing the problem, to the extent that there is one, as being the things the average citizen is “entitled” to—rather than the things military contractors and billionaires are afforded—we limit the scope almost entirely to the most vulnerable among us.
The Post’s Lane rarely writes about tax avoidance that cost the United States government at least $3 trillion a year — $500 billion of which is in tax havens and corporate avoidance schemes. His one attempt to gesture toward it was an argument in favor of a consumption tax—widely seen as regressive. He fails to harp on the problem of military spending overages. One of the few times Lane did complain about the Pentagon’s budget (9/3/14) he focused entirely on “reforming” the pensions of veterans. Indeed, his entire argument was that the Defense Department’s ability to take on “Putin’s aggression” and ISIS (e.g., blow things up) was being hampered by socialist-style healthcare for our vets:
As the United States’ defense budget shrinks relative to its economy, more and more of it is destined to purposes that have little, or nothing, to do with deterring or, if necessary, winning wars in the here and now.
Missing from his argument was anything on the corporate welfare side: No mention of an absurdly wasteful F-35 program whose lifetime costs are expected to exceed $1.5 trillion. No mention of the approximately $1 trillion cost of upgrading America’s nuclear weapons system. No mention of the over $4 trillion we set aside for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. To “entitlement” reformers, only that which is guaranteed to the most vulnerable — the elderly, the sick, veterans — is in urgent need of cost-cutting. Everything else is an existential necessity, the wisdom of which is simply taken for granted.
Hemingway’s arbitrary concern for costs is even more cynical. Not only has he never called for a reduction in spending (not even to slash the pensions of those greedy Iraq War veterans), he—and the Weekly Standard in general—routinely call for America to increase its military spending. Indeed, they ran a sort of defense of the costly F-35 program, and aggressively lobbied for the multi-trillion-dollar war in Iraq.
The reason these pundits don’t spend time on non-“entitlement” costs, the expense of running a global empire and handing out tax breaks to the super rich, is entirely ideological. By simply asserting a premise — that military spending is untouchable, and tax-avoidance is a cost of doing business — they stack the deck in the wealthy’s favor and shift the burden to those groups least likely to have their voices heard in corporate media.


Freedom in the United States today is a moving target, and when the government catches wind of an innovation that makes life easier and more affordable for ordinary people, it always steps in to take control. Take, for example, the growing effort to outlaw offgrid living in the U.S., as well as moves by local governments around the country to criminalize private rainwater collection.
Now, the federal government is making a major move against the tiny house movement, seeking to give the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) authority to require tiny houses to conform to the standards of recreational vehicles (RV’s), of which one of the rules is that the vehicles may not be used or marketed for permanent living. HUD is seeking to regulate tiny house living out of existence or to turn it into a regulated industry by requiring that tiny homes be manufactured in factories, conforming to codified standards.
The tiny house movement is one of the latest innovations in personal freedom from an overly consumeristic and a debt-driven society. Many people construct tiny houses themselves, often but not always on wheels, for a fraction of the cost of typical housing. In a tiny home, one has everything needed  to live a comfortable life, but in a tiny space often less than a couple of hundred square feet. They park them in hospitable places and enjoy life without a mortgage and everything else you need to fill and maintain a big American house.


12. Mothers in Resistance
Berta Cáceres – indigenous, environmental, and human rights defender and fierce feminist who was assassinated in Honduras on March 3rd, 2016 – was, among so many other things, a mother in resistance. She inherited this from her mother, who was an inspiration to her, and she passed this down to her own daughters and son.
Berta’s mother, Austra Bertha Flores Lopez, worked as a midwife and served as mayor of their town and then governor of their state. She taught her daughter about fighting for justice from the time she was a child. During the period of intense violence of the 1980s, Austra took in and cared for refugees from El Salvador, showing her children what real solidarity looks like.
As a young person Berta got involved in social justice work and co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). She was key in organizing Lenca communities to defend their land from being taken over by developers for industrial mega projects. One of these major struggles has been against the Honduran company Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) and their Agua Zarca Dam project. If built, the Agua Zarca dam would cut off the access of the Lenca people to the Gualcarque River, a river that they consider sacred.
In 2013 Berta led the local Lenca communities in organizing a blockade to stop construction vehicles from entering or exiting the Agua Zarca site. This blockade was made up of groups of families who would take shifts night and day to peacefully block the road. The blockade lasted for over a year and resulted in withdrawal of Sinohydro, the world’s largest dam developer (based out of China), from the project.
Berta’s assassination has resulted in international outcry for justice in solidarity with Berta’s family, COPINH, and international social movements. Berta received countless death threats for her work defending the Lenca people and Mother Earth, threats that came from DESA employees, private security forces and hired thugs.
The Honduran authorities have been anything but helpful in the investigation into her murder. They held her friend Gustavo Castro, sole witness to her assassination and also shot twice during the attack, refusing to allow him to return to Mexico for over a month. Also, despite calls from Berta’s family and international pressure, the Honduran government has not allowed the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to conduct an independent investigation into her death. Additionally, Honduran authorities have not communicated directly with Berta’s family, instead leaving them to receive updates about the investigation from the evening news with the rest of the public.
On May 2 – one month after Berta’s murder – four people were arrested as suspects who are associated with the Honduran military, DESA, and hired gangs. While these arrests are good steps forward, Berta’s family has said that there needs to be accountability at the highest levels of Honduran government, and that not only those who carried out the assassination but the authors as well must be held accountable.


13. Where’s the Peace Platform
This year’s Democratic primary debate has been dominated by criticism of Hillary Clinton for her 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq war, and her general support of regime change. It’s forgotten that Bernie Sanders was for regime change as well. This week Jeremy Scahill, author of Dirty Wars and his new The Assassination Complex, sets the record straight on Democracy Now on Bernie’s earlier involvement in promoting sanctions and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. 
Scahill told Amy Goodman on May 3rd that Sanders, “has been given a pass,” on these issues. He supports Obama’s kill list. He signed on to the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which mandated Bill Clinton, “To make regime change in Iraq the law of the land.” Sanders “signed on to neoconservative agenda,“ that led straight to, “the most brutal regime of economic sanctions in world history that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.” And so on. 
Scahill may err at times because of the purity of his stance, but he’s an investigative journalist, not a political organizer. He definitely speaks truth to power, as is his function.
His perspective only deepens the challenges, intellectual and political, as we enter the endgame of the primary campaign. Scahill criticizes the Democrats for our own defaults on foreign policy. Where to begin with the crucial task of generating an independent and non-sectarian anti-war movement with a presence on the ground in key Congressional districts and races this Fall? 
First, as Rep. Barbara Lee and President Obama have long insisted, we need a revised Authorization for the Utilization of Military Force (AUMF). There is little chance of that happening this year, even if Obama keeps demanding an authorization for war against ISIS. We are floating in constant wars, running up our deficits, casualty rates, and even military suicides.
Such an authorization needs to target the “enemy” in question, to avoid the current policy that targets Al Qaida and “associated forces”. Our politics are so paralyzed that war with ISIS is impossible to legalize. This failure leads to the slippery slope. 
Next, an authorization should limit or bar US ground troops. Despite the rhetoric, thousands of US troops are on the ground anyway, including Special Forces. 
Third, an authorization will either include a timeline with metrics and reports to Congress or be open-ended, a green light to the permanent doctrine of “the Long War”, which was projected to continue for eighty years just a decade ago.
History clearly shows that Congress begins to respond when there is an active anti-war movement, as in the 60s and the 80s. But the peace movement today is undermined by fatigue and factionalism, no doubt promoted by agents of domestic counter-insurgency and paid informants. Sectarianism and extremism are toxins, which infect too many activist groups. There are liberal-left institutionalized groups like the NAACP, the immigrant rights organizers, the labor movement, and more, but there is no AFL-CIO or Sierra Club for Peace. The task of rebuilding the peace movement lies ahead, in a time of permanent war.
Bernie, or his followers, could stimulate a new movement against regime change and nuclear weapons, but there is no sign yet that he intends to. Perhaps he will, if there’s platform agreement on an alternative to regime change.



t’s now evident, fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks, that Obama’s foreign policy has maintained many of the core elements of the global war on terror initiated by his predecessor—assassinations, drone attacks, heavy reliance on special forces, covert operations, and, in the case of Afghanistan, the continued use of American ground forces in combat. And, as in the years of Bush and Cheney, there has been no progress, let alone victory, in the fight against terrorism. The Islamic State has succeeded Al Qaeda as the United States’ most feared terrorist enemy, one that now reaches deep into Africa and sends shockwaves into Western Europe and America. Obama still views Russia, a nation with the same international terrorist enemies as Washington, as an evil empire that must be confronted rather than as an ally. Since 9/11 I have had access to some of the thinking inside the White House on the war on terror. I learned early in the Obama presidency that he was prepared to walk away from first principles. His first public act as president took place on January 22, 2009, two days after his inauguration, when he announced that he was returning the nation to the “moral high ground” by signing an executive order calling for the closing, “as soon as practical,” of Guantánamo. As of this writing, that has yet to happen, and more than ninety prisoners continue to fester there, with no due process and no accountability, to America’s shame.
Obama had described Afghanistan as “the right war” during his campaign and talked about the need for more troops on the ground there. Many of his supporters were not listening, or chose not to hear. I was told that within three weeks of taking office he informed his senior advisers at a secret National Security Council meeting of his plan to send an additional 17,000 American troops to join the more than 30,000 already stationed there. This outcome was not the product of an interagency staff decision, but a unilateral action taken by Obama and retired Marine Corps general James Jones, the national security adviser at the time. Obama and Jones were said to believe that the focus of American foreign policy needed to be on Pakistan, a nuclear power supporting and harboring the Taliban troops that had become the main opponent in Afghanistan after Al Qaeda’s retreat. There was much hubris and—as usual in new administrations—not much consideration of what had gone before. Furthermore, I was told by someone in a position to know that Jones had explained at one meeting, in essence, that “Afghanistan is not in our national security interest, but we don’t want to betray the good men who went there before. We will not abandon Afghanistan, but we will not let it get worse.”
Obama would spend much of his first year discussing what to do about Afghanistan. The debate was not about whether to expand the war there but how many troops to commit to what would become America’s longest and least successful war. The president, who would spend the rest of his time in office cracking down on press leaks and internal dissent, stood aside as a group of American generals staged what amounted to a public debate over the number of troops needed to “win” the Afghan war. At one point, a highly classified internal request from Army general Stanley McChrystal, an expert on special operations and commander of U.S. forces in the Afghan war, was leaked to the Washington Post within a week of its delivery to the White House, with no significant protest or sanction from Obama. McChrystal had asked permission to deploy as many as 80,000 more troops.
Obama eventually committed a first tranche of 30,000 additional American soldiers. It was a decision marketed as a compromise between a reluctant president and a gung-ho Pentagon. There was at least one senior member of Congress who had reason to suspect that Obama, despite his resentment of the military’s public posturing, had wanted these higher troop numbers all along.
By 2009, David Obey, a Democratic lawmaker from Wisconsin, was chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, one of two committees responsible for funding all government programs, including secret military and intelligence activities. Elected to Congress in 1969, at the height of the anti–Vietnam War protests, Obey was an outspoken liberal. He had dared to take on George Bush and Dick Cheney over aspects of their war on terror that—as Obey and others in Congress believed—were not being shared with, and perhaps were not even financed by, Congress, as stipulated by the Constitution. Obey got nowhere with his protests, but his efforts in early 2005—including a little-noted speech on the House floor and the solicitation of a rush of unfulfilled promises from the Bush White House to provide greater communication—were remarkable simply for having taken place. He told me at the time that “disquieting” actions had been taken in secret and “Congress [had] failed in its oversight abilities.”
Obey stunned his colleagues in 2010 by announcing his retirement. He and I had talked on and off during the Bush years—he would listen but say little. Six or so months after he left the Congress he was more forthcoming. He told me of a presidential meeting he and a few other congressional leaders had attended at the White House in March 2009. The issue was Afghanistan, and Obama wanted them to know he was going to make a significant troop commitment to the war there. “He said he was being told by a lot of people that he ought to expand the war and then asked all of us, one by one, what we thought. The only word of caution came from [Vice President] Joe Biden, who raised a question about the cost. When it came to me, I said, ‘Mr. President, you could have the best policy in the world but you need to have the tools to carry it out—and the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan are pretty lousy tools. If you did a surge in Afghanistan you will have to face the fact that it would crowd out large portions of your domestic program—except perhaps health care.’” (A later in-house estimate put the cost of the war, if forty thousand additional troops were committed, at $1 trillion over the next ten years, as much as the president’s health care proposal.)
At the end of the meeting, according to Obey, he had a private chat with the president and asked him whether he had ever spent time listening to the broadcasts of President Lyndon Johnson’s telephone conversations, in particular his discussions about expanding America’s commitment to the war in South Vietnam. Johnson had taped more than nine thousand of his telephone calls while in office. They created a sensation in Washington upon their public release in 2003—just as President Bush was expanding America’s war in Iraq. Obama said he had. “I then asked Obama if he recalled listening to the conversation with Richard Russell when they both talked about how upping the American effort in Vietnam wouldn’t help,” Obey said. “My point was that Johnson and Russell were making a decision to go ahead when they were telling themselves privately that it would not work.”
Senator Russell was a segregationist and archconservative from Georgia, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and a longtime Johnson confidant. The conversation in question took place in May 1964, fourteen months before Johnson would make a major commitment of American troops to the war. It remains one of the most riveting and instructive of the presidential recordings. Both men agreed that any American escalation would lead to a major war with China, with untold consequences. “I’ll tell you,” Russell told Johnson, “it’ll be the most expensive adventure this country ever went into.” Johnson answered, “It just makes the chills run up my back. . . . I haven’t the nerve to do it, but I don’t see any other way out of it.”
Obey then asked a third question: “Who’s your George Ball?” Ball, a high-ranking member of the State Department in the Kennedy years, was renowned as the only senior official in the government to argue again and again—at great personal cost—against Kennedy’s decision to escalate the American presence in South Vietnam. Obama did not answer. “Either the president chose not to answer, or he didn’t have one,” Obey told me. “But I didn’t hear anyone tell the president that he ought to put on the brakes in Afghanistan.”
In a review of my interviews about Obama’s early decision to raise the ante in Afghanistan, one fact stood out: Obama’s faith in the world of special operations and in Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan who worked closely with Dick Cheney from 2003 to 2008 as head of the Joint Special Operations Command. JSOC’s forces include elite Navy SEALs and the Army’s Delta Force, and they have won fame in countless books and movies since 9/11 for their nighttime operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan and the jihadists in Iraq. It was a JSOC SEAL team that killed bin Laden at his redoubt in Pakistan in early 2011. There is no ambivalence about the skills and determination of those special operators who took part in Obama’s renewed nighttime war against the Taliban in 2009 and thereafter. But, as I was told at the time, there is another side to the elite units. “You’ve got really good guys who are strongly motivated, and individual initiative is the game,” a former senior military official said. “But JSOC’s individualism also breeds a group of childish men who take advantage of their operational freedom to act immaturely. ‘We’re special and the rules don’t apply.’ This is why the regular army has always tried to limit the size of the special forces. McChrystal was not paid to be thoughtful. He was paid to let his troops do what they want with all the toys to play with they want.”
This former senior official, who has been involved in war planning since 9/11, was pessimistic at the time about Obama’s reliance on special operations. “The intersection between the high-mindedness of Obama and the ruthlessness of Dick Cheney is so great that there is a vacuum in the planning. And no one knows what will happen. My own belief is that over time we’re going to do the Afghanization of the war”—trying, as in Iraq, to finance and train an Afghan Army capable of standing up to the Taliban—“and the same thing will happen to them as happened to our South Vietnamese Army allies. In the end, the Taliban, disciplined and motivated, will take the country back.”
McChrystal was cashiered in June 2010, after he and his aides were quoted in Rolling Stone making a series of derogatory remarks about the president and others in the White House. According to one of McChrystal’s advisors, he thought an early face-to-face meeting with the president was inconsequential and trivial—little more than a “10-minute photo op.” By then, there was much concern about a major aspect of McChrystal’s approach to the war, which was to find and kill the Taliban. I was visited that June by a senior official of the International Committee of the Red Cross whose humanitarian mission is to monitor, in secret, the conditions of civilians and prisoners of war in an effort to insure compliance with the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The ICRC was even granted limited access to the prison at Guatánamo, among other facilities in the war on terror, with the understanding that its findings were not to be made public. The official who sought me out did not want to discuss the prison system in Afghanistan, about which there have been many public revelations. His issue was the Obama administration’s overall conduct of the war. He had come to Washington in the hope of seeing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior State Department officials, but had been shunted aside. His message was blunt: McChrystal’s men were killing the wrong people. “Our inspectors are the only visitors from a secular institution who are tolerated by the Taliban leadership, and you Americans are killing those who support our activity,” he said. “You are killing those Taliban who are not jihadists—who don’t want to die and don’t give a shit about bombing Times Square. They have no grudge against America.” The indiscriminate targeting of all who are Taliban, he said, “is reaching a point of no return, and the more radical and extreme elements are picking up momentum.”
At one point, he said, there had been a heated internal debate among the Taliban leadership about the use of chemical weapons in an attack on Kabul, the Afghan capital, and the moderates won. The ICRC wouldn’t say how it learned of that debate, but the official added, “The guys who prevented that use have been smoked out”—assassinated by JSOC operators—“by the Americans. The moderates are going down.”
A longtime consultant to the special operations community depicted the mindless killing in Afghanistan as a “symptom of the weakness in the U.S. policy for combatting terrorism: It’s all about tactics and nobody, Republican or Democrat, has advanced a strategic vision. The special-ops guys are simply carrying out orders, like a dog eager to get off the leash and run in the woods—and not think about where it is going. We’ve had an abject failure of military and political leadership.”
The American-led coalition unilaterally declared an end to the Afghan war at the close of 2014. And, as widely predicted, the Afghan National Army, supported at an annual cost of billions by the Obama administration, continues to be riddled with corruption and lacks leadership and motivation. Obama again decided last year to send over more troops, under the guise of advisers, and, inevitably, they have been drawn into combat. They kill and are killed in the name of democracy—a word that has dwindling appeal and little relevance for many Afghans.
Did any of the dozens of analyses put forward as the president reviewed the options in 2009 and in 2015 estimate the number of innocent lives that would be lost as a consequence of the American surge? Were those presidential advisers skeptical of the capability and motivation of an upgraded and modernized Afghan army able to find a place at the White House planning table? Is there an American soldier who wants to be the last to die in Afghanistan?

It is not too early to dwell on Obama’s legacy, a deepening concern for any president as the end of his tenure approaches. It would be easy to say it will be mixed—on the plus side there was the health-care bill and America’s recovery from the economic shambles left by the Bush administration. He faced an unbridgeable congressional impasse caused by an increasingly radical Republican opposition. But Obama, whatever his private thoughts, still speaks of American exceptionalism and still believes, or acts as if he does, that the war on terror, a war against an ideology, can be won with American bombers, drone attacks, and special forces. There is no evidence yet for that belief.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

PNN - Chernobyl 30 Years On

PNN - 5/1/16

Rick Spisak News Director PNN
Brook Hines Associate Producer / Political Correspondent

Arnie Gundersen Nuclear Engineer with Fairwinds
Dr. Alexy Yablokov Nuclear Engineer 
Dr. Ian Fairlee Health  Radiology Specialist

1. Snowden’s Revelations
New study: Snowden’s disclosures about NSA spying had a scary effect on free speech
In June 2013, reporters at The Washington Post and the Guardian ran a series of stories about the U.S. government’s surveillance programs. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency was harvesting huge swaths of online traffic — far beyond what had been disclosed — and was working directly with top Internet companies to spy on certain people.

Glenn Greenwald, one of the Guardian journalists who reported the disclosures and a surveillance skeptic, argued in a 2014 TED talk that privacy is a critical feature of open society. People act differently when they know they're being watched. “Essential to what it means to be a free and fulfilled human being is to have a place that we can go and be free of the judgmental eyes of other people,” he said.

Privacy advocates have argued that widespread government surveillance has had a “chilling effect” — it encourages meekness and conformity. If we think that authorities are watching our online actions, we might stop visiting certain websites or not say certain things just to avoid seeming suspicious.

The problem, though, is that it's difficult to judge the effect of government-spying programs. How do you collect all the utterances that people stopped themselves from saying? How do you count all the conversations that weren’t had?

A new study provides some insight into the repercussions of the Snowden revelations, arguing that they happened so swiftly and were so high-profile that they triggered a measurable shift in the way people used the Internet.

Jonathon Penney, a PhD candidate at Oxford, analyzed Wikipedia traffic in the months before and after the NSA’s spying became big news in 2013. Penney found a 20 percent decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism, including those that mentioned “al-Qaeda,” “car bomb” or “Taliban.”

"You want to have informed citizens," Penney said. "If people are spooked or deterred from learning about important policy matters like terrorism and national security, this is a real threat to proper democratic debate."

Even though the NSA was supposed to target only foreigners, the immense scale of its operations caused many to worry that innocent Americans were getting caught in the dragnet. A Pew survey in 2015 showed that about 40 percent of Americans were “very” or “somewhat” concerned that the government was spying on their online activities.
The same survey showed that about 87 percent of American adults were aware of the Snowden news stories. Of those people, about a third said they had changed their Internet or phone habits as a result. For instance, 13 percent said they “avoided using certain terms” online; and 14 percent said they were having more conversations face to face instead of over the phone. The sudden, new knowledge about the surveillance programs had increased their concerns about their privacy.

Penney’s research, which is forthcoming in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal, echoes the results of a similar study conducted last year on Google Search data. Alex Marthews, a privacy activist, and Catherine Tucker, a professor at MIT’s business school, found that Google activity for certain keywords fell after the Snowden stories were splashed on every front page. Both in the United States and in other countries, people became reluctant to search for terrorism-related words such as “dirty bomb” or “pandemic.”

Penney focused on Wikipedia pages related to sensitive topics specifically flagged by the Department of Homeland Security. In a document provided to its analysts in 2011, the DHS listed 48 terrorism terms that they should use when “monitoring social media sites.” Penney collected traffic data on the English Wikipedia pages most closely related to those terms.

This chart from the paper shows how the number of views dropped after the June 2013 news articles. The amount of traffic immediately dropped and stayed low for the subsequent 14 months.


The Transportation Security Administration on Wednesday was caught in a crossfire by three of its executives who said the agency’s managers punish employees when they point out security lapses at the nation’s airports.
“These leaders are some of the biggest bullies in government,” Jay Brainard, a TSA security director in Kansas, told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “While the new administrator of TSA has made security a much-needed priority once again, make no mistake about it, we remain an agency in crisis.”
As airports anticipate what may be a record crush of passengers this summer, the three men testified that morale was near rock bottom among TSA security workers.
“Many airports are complaining that TSA is getting worse, not better,” said Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). He said that 103 of the TSA’s 48,000 airport screeners quit each week.
“They really don’t like working there,” Chaffetz said. “That’s a management problem there.”

Chaffetz set the stage for Wednesday’s hearing in a series of letters sent in February and March to TSA Administrator Peter V. Neffenger. They demanded to know all disciplinary actions taken against TSA employees, bonus payments made to TSA staff and an explanation for a policy under which workers can be forced to relocate.
Since his Senate confirmation in June 2015, Neffenger has centralized training of TSA employees in Georgia, restricted executive bonuses, ended forced relocations and taken steps to increase airport security.

[Brussels airport bombings bring new security measures in U.S.]
Brainard told the committee that Neffenger had “done his best to get his arms around the situation, but he hasn’t resolved it.” He said a group of about 20 senior supervisors whom he blames for the TSA’s mismanagement were “waiting [Neffenger] out.”

“The refusal to address or to hold senior leaders accountable is paralyzing this agency,” Mark Livingston, a program manager in the TSA’s Office of the Chief Risk Officer, testified. “TSA employees are less likely to report operational security or threat- relevant issues out of fear of retaliation from supervisors who fear further retaliation from their chain of command. No one who reports issues is safe at TSA.”

When he raised concerns, Livingston said, his supervisors ignored them and punished him instead.

“They reduced me two pay grades,” he said. “This action was intended to publicly humiliate me. They sought to make an example of me.”

The men have caught attention of their supervisors. Livingston has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the agency. The complaints of Brainard and Andrew Rhoades, an assistant director in the Office of Security Operations, reportedly are under internal review by the TSA.

Rhoades said he was asked to run the names of Somali Americans with whom he met in Minneapolis through a terrorist database, a directive he considered to be racial profiling.
“The Transportation Security Administration takes seriously all allegations of inappropriate behavior by its employees at all levels and does not tolerate illegal, unethical or immoral conduct,” the TSA said in a statement after the hearing. “Due to ongoing litigation and open investigations, we are unable to comment on many of the specific allegations brought up during today’s hearing.”

The hearing came 10 months after an inspector general’s report that said his undercover operatives were able to slip through airport security with weapons and phony bombs more than 95 percent of the time. They were able to carry weapons or bomb-like material through air­port-security checkpoints in 67 of 70 attempts last year.

[Why the TSA catches your water bottle, but guns and bombs get through]
Then-acting TSA administrator Melvin Carraway was forced from the job in May 2015 after reports of the airport-security issues became public.

“I appreciate that the TSA has taken steps to address the inspector general’s concerns,” Chaffetz said.

Rhoades’s trouble with the TSA dates to autumn 2014, when a local TV news station began reporting on security lapses at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Rhoades already was on record with his supervisors for objecting to the way TSA screeners were handling confiscated weapons and a failure to put stickers on some checked bags that had been cleared by the agency. He said he played no role in the leaks.
In the aftermath of the news reports, one of Rhoades’s supervisors set out to determine whether TSA employees provided information to reporters, according to an investigation by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC). Early last year, the OSC said, the same supervisor issued Rhoades a forced transfer to Florida.

The OSC stepped in to investigate whether it was a retaliatory move against a whistleblower, and the TSA later rescinded the transfer.

Although TSA employees agree to accept involuntary reassignments, Chaffetz, in one letter to the TSA in March, raised “concerns about whether the practice was used for inappropriate reasons, including as a means of retaliation against certain employees.”

3. Rigged like a three mast’er

We heard Donald Trump saying the US voting system is rigged, we heard Bernie Sanders criticizing closed elections. Now a new poll shows that more than half of US voters believe the system to pick their president is “rigged.”
The poll, conducted by Reuters and Ipsos, found that some 51 percent of voters believe the primary system is rigged against certain candidates. Some 71 percent said they would prefer to pick their party's presidential nominee with a direct vote, cutting out the use of delegates as intermediaries.
The survey also found that 27 percent of likely voters do not understand how the primary process works, and 44 percent do not understand why delegates are involved at all.
Nearly half said they would prefer a single-day primary in which all states held their nominating contests together, as opposed to the current system which draws the process out for months.
The responses were about the same for both Republicans and Democrats.
The poll surveyed 1,582 Americans in an online survey from April 21 to 26. It has a credibility interval of 2.9 percentage points.

4. From EFF Rule 41 the New Anti-Bill of Rights
With Rule 41, Little-Known Committee Proposes to Grant New Hacking Powers to the Government

The government hacking into phones and seizing computers remotely? It’s not the plot of a dystopian blockbuster summer movie. It’s a proposal from an obscure committee that proposes changes to court procedures—and if we do nothing, it will go into effect in December.

The proposal comes from the advisory committee on criminal rules for the Judicial Conference of the United States. The amendment would update Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, creating a sweeping expansion of law enforcement’s ability to engage in hacking and surveillance. The Supreme Court just passed the proposal to Congress, which has until December 1 to disavow the change or it becomes the rule governing every federal court across the country.  This is part of a statutory process through which federal courts may create new procedural rules, after giving public notice and allowing time for comment, under a “rules enabling act.”1 

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure set the ground rules for federal criminal prosecutions. The rules cover everything from correcting clerical errors in a judgment to which holidays a court will be closed on—all the day-to-day procedural details that come with running a judicial system.

The key word here is “procedural.”  By law, the rules and proposals are supposed to be procedural and must not change substantive rights.

But the amendment to Rule 41 isn’t procedural at all. It creates new avenues for government hacking that were never approved by Congress.

The proposal would grant a judge the ability to issue a warrant to remotely access, search, seize, or copy data when “the district where the media or information is located has been concealed through technological means” or when the media are on protected computers that have been “damaged without authorization and are located in five or more districts.” It would grant this authority to any judge in any district where activities related to the crime may have occurred.

To understand all the implications of this rule change, let’s break this into two segments.

The first part of this change would grant authority to practically any judge to issue a search warrant to remotely access, seize, or copy data relevant to a crime when a computer was using privacy-protective tools to safeguard one's location. Many different commonly used tools might fall into this category. For example, people who use Tor, folks running a Tor node, or people using a VPN would certainly be implicated. It might also extend to people who deny access to location data for smartphone apps because they don’t feel like sharing their location with ad networks. It could even include individuals who change the country setting in an online service, like folks who change the country settings of their Twitter profile in order to read uncensored Tweets.

There are countless reasons people may want to use technology to shield their privacy. From journalists communicating with sources to victims of domestic violence seeking information on legal services, people worldwide depend on privacy tools for both safety and security. Millions of people who have nothing in particular to hide may also choose to use privacy tools just because they’re concerned about government surveillance of the Internet, or because they don’t like leaving a data trail around haphazardly.

If this rule change is not stopped, anyone who is using any technological means to safeguard their location privacy could find themselves suddenly in the jurisdiction of a prosecutor-friendly or technically-naïve judge, anywhere in the country.

The second part of the proposal is just as concerning. It would grant authorization to a judge to issue a search warrant for hacking, seizing, or otherwise infiltrating computers that may be part of a botnet. This means victims of malware could find themselves doubly infiltrated: their computers infected with malware and used to contribute to a botnet, and then government agents given free rein to remotely access their computers as part of the investigation. Even with the best of intentions, a government agent could well cause as much or even more harm to a computer through remote access than the malware that originally infected the computer. Malicious actors may even be able to hijack the malware the government uses to infiltrate botnets, because the government often doesn't design its malware securely. Government access to the computers of botnet victims also raises serious privacy concerns, as a wide range of sensitive, unrelated personal data could well be accessed during the investigation. This is a dangerous expansion of powers, and not something to be granted without any public debate on the topic.

Make no mistake: the Rule 41 proposal implicates people well beyond U.S. borders. This update expands the jurisdiction of judges to cover any computer user in the world who is using technology to protect their location privacy or is unwittingly part of a botnet. People both inside and outside of the United States should be equally concerned about this proposal.

The change to Rule 41 isn’t merely a procedural update.  It significantly expands the hacking capabilities of the United States government without any discussion or public debate by elected officials. If members of the intelligence community believe these tools are necessary to advancing their investigations, then this is not the path forward. Only elected members of Congress should be writing laws, and they should be doing so in a matter that considers the privacy, security, and civil liberties of people impacted.

Rule 41 seeks to sidestep the legislative process while making sweeping sacrifices in our security. Congress should reject the proposal completely.

Read EFF and Access Now’s joint testimony on Rule 41.

5. CLICK FREE little Khazahk (Another EFF Gem)
Judge Rules Kazakhstan Can't Force Facebook to Turn Over Respublika's IP Addresses in Another Win for Free Speech

The Kazakhstan government had a third major setback in its attempt to use the U.S. legal system to attack one of its fiercest critics, the independent newspaper Respublika. A federal judge in California rejected Kazakhstan's demand that Facebook turn over information about users associated with Respublika’s account on the social media site. The judge found that Kazakhstan lacked the appropriate judicial authorization to pursue such discovery, rejecting Kazakhstan’s claims that its ongoing Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) lawsuit essentially gave it free rein to obtain information about its critics.
As we previously reported, EFF is representing Respublika—a longtime target of Kazakhstan intimidation and persecution because of its investigative reporting on President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s regime—which has been dragged as a non-party into a CFAA lawsuit Kazakhstan filed in federal court in New York against unnamed and unknown hackers Kazakhstan believes broke into its email system.
In November 2015, Kazakhstan subpoenaed Facebook for the names, email addresses, IP addresses, and MAC addresses of the users associated with Respublika’s and another user’s Facebook accounts. Kazakhstan claimed that this discovery was authorized by the Judge overseeing its CFAA lawsuit in New York. Kazakhstan said it wanted to compare IP addresses produced in response to the Facebook subpoena with IP addresses it has already obtained and which it believes were used to access the allegedly hacked accounts during the relevant time periods—hoping a match would lead to the hackers’ identities.
Facebook resisted Kazakhstan’s request for information about its users, leading Kazakhstan to file a motion to compel in the Eastern District of California. Both Facebook and EFF opposed Kazakhstan’s motion, and Facebook moved to quash the subpoena.
Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman ruled in favor of Facebook and Respublika, quashing—i.e., flat out rejecting—Kazakhstan's subpoena. The court found that the Facebook subpoena had not been authorized by Judge Ramos in New York, as required under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Clearly not buying Kazakhstan’s argument that general statements by Judge Ramos about Kazakhstan's need for additional evidence somehow authorized the specific discovery Kazakhstan was seeking against Facebook, the judge stated: “the court finds it implausible that broad and essentially undefined expedited discovery with respect to Respublika and affiliated persons remains authorized, if indeed it was initially authorized."
The court also recognized the important First Amendment implications in the case:
[T]he proposed discovery from Facebook, which involves Respublika, a news organization, raises significant concerns regarding the reporter’s privilege and the First Amendment. Kazakhstan contends that it does not seek journalistic information or content, such as reporter’s notes, drafts, or communications. However, it does seek the names, email addresses, IP addresses, and MAC addresses of administrators and posters on the Respublika Facebook Page and the Ketebaev Facebook Page. Such persons may well be journalists, writers, and other staff or contributors to Respublika, whose identifying information and location may be entitled to protection, especially in light of the serious allegations of oppression and intimidation by Kazakhstan made by Respublika. See, e.g., Bursey v. United States, 466 F.2d 1059 (9th Cir. 1972).
The court also noted that the type of IP address comparison that Kazakhstan wanted to do—which as we argued in our brief would necessitate giving Kazakhstan far too much potentially irrelevant information about Facebook users—“appears to come dangerously close to a fishing expedition, particularly given that it involves non-parties, whose identities are clearly known to Kazakhstan, but against whom Kazakhstan has yet to state any claim."
Given Kazakhstan’s history of harassing, threatening, and arresting independent journalists, keeping this information out of the government’s hands is important for ensuring the safety of those affiliated with Respublika.
Kazakhstan’s CFAA lawsuit arose from the August 2014 appearance on the Internet of a huge volume of emails of Kazakhstan’s ruling regime, purportedly from both official governmental email and the private Gmail accounts of several officials. The emails were reportedly posted to Mega and then indexed on a website called “kazaword.” Whether the emails and documents were released by someone who “hacked” into Kazakhstan’s computers or simply leaked by someone within the government remains an open question. Respublika used several of the emails as source material for numerous articles starting in January 2015, publishing the articles both on its own website and through its Facebook page.
In March 2015, Kazakhstan filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, claiming that unidentified individuals broke into its email system and Gmail accounts in violation of the CFAA. The day after the lawsuit was filed, the judge issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the unnamed “Doe” defendants from “using, disclosing, disseminating, posting, displaying, sharing, distributing, hosting, copying, viewing, accessing, providing access to or making available to anyone, in any manner whatsoever,” the allegedly stolen materials. That order was later converted to a preliminary injunction—again without any opposition—and Kazakhstan then used that order to convince Respublika’s U.S.-based webhost to remove Respublika’s news articles about the materials from the Internet—despite very clear U.S. law that the First Amendment grants individuals a near absolute right to publish truthful information about matters of public interest that they lawfully acquire, even if they know their source obtained the information illegally.
Respublika won its first victory in November, when Judge Edgardo Ramos in New York ruled that the First Amendment “protects the publication of the kazaword documents by anyone other than those directly involved in their purported theft.” Judge Ramos clarified that his preliminary injunction did not apply to Respublika and effectively halted Kazakhstan’s use of the order to censor Respublika.
However, the judge told Kazakhstan that it could come back to court and seek a preliminary injunction against Respublika if it had evidence that Respublika was somehow involved in the alleged “hacking.”
Seizing on Judge Ramos’s suggestion that they needed additional evidence to justify applying the preliminary injunction against Respublika, and on an order by a New York magistrate judge permitting Kazakhstan to depose Respublika on certain limited areas of questioning, Kazakhstan issued a modified version of an earlier subpoena to Facebook.
In separate litigation arising out of the same incidents, Respublika also recently fought back a similar subpoena from Kazakhstan to its domain name registrar in Washington state court.
We are happy Judge Newman took to heart the First Amendment objections raised in our briefs, and we applaud Facebook and its attorneys at Perkins Coie for fighting Kazakhstan’s improper subpoena.

6. And the Elephants have left the Ring
Elephants will perform for the last time at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus on Sunday, as the show closes its own chapter on a controversial practice that has entertained audiences since circuses began in America two centuries ago.
Six Asian elephants will deliver their final performances in Providence, Rhode Island, and five will perform in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, during several shows on Sunday. The last Providence show will stream live on Facebook and at at 7:45 p.m.
Alana Feld, executive vice president of Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, said the animals will live at its 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida. Its herd of 40 Asian elephants, the largest in North America, will continue a breeding program and be used in a pediatric cancer research project.
Elephants have been used in the circus in America for more than 200 years. In the early 1800s, Hackaliah Bailey added the elephant “Old Bet” to his circus. P.T. Barnum added the African elephant he named “Jumbo” to “The Greatest Show on Earth” in 1882.
The Humane Society says more than a dozen circuses in the United States continue to use elephants. But none tour as widely or are as well- known as Ringling Bros.
It’s also getting more difficult for circuses to tour with elephants. Dozens of cities have banned the use of bullhooks – used to train elephants – and some states are considering such legislation.
Just as in the Disney movie “Dumbo,” elephants in the past have been dressed up as people and trained to do a range of tricks: play baseball, ride bicycles, play musical instruments, wear wedding dresses or dress in mourning clothes, said Ronald B. Tobias, author of the 2013 book “Behemoth: The History of the Elephant in America.”
The change at Ringling signifies a shift in Americans’ understanding of elephants, Tobias said. People no longer see elephants as circus performers, he said, “but sentient animals that are capable of a full range of human emotions.”
Attitudes are shifting about other animals as well. Last month, Sea World announced it would end live orca shows and breeding. Ringling will continue to use animals including horses, lions, tigers, dogs and kangaroos in its shows, Feld said.
The Humane Society has called for an end to the breeding program and for Ringling to retire the animals to one of two accredited sanctuaries, one in California and one in Tennessee, both of which have more than 2,000 acres of land.
Feld said they have the most successful breeding program in North America and have determined they can accommodate the elephants in the space they have. In 2014, Feld Entertainment won more than $25 million in settlements from animal-rights groups, including the Humane Society, over unproven allegations of mistreated elephants.
Tobias said as attitudes have changed, people are more interested in seeing elephants in a natural habitat such as a sanctuary, rather than in a circus or zoo.
“I think people will get a lot more satisfaction out of elephants living their real lives than to see them performing as clowns,” Tobias said. “It’s kind of a new age in our understanding and sympathy and empathy toward elephants.”

Read more here:

7. Bagdad Under Attack
f we just SEND another ten thousand or maybe just a couple more hundred thousand mercenaries with a cadre of smartly dressed Filipinos and sandal clad Bangladeshis to care for their catering and laundry needs. 

Then some heavy weapons with DRONES ON THE SIDE ... 

and if Moms and Dads across America can buy the latest in Kustom Kevlar Klothing  - we can QUICKLY be on our way to finally making a go of this thing.

And incase your wondering... This time we'll be greeted with taffy and Hershey bars... It will be some how deeply symbolical. 

8.The People's Civic Agenda that Senator Sanders has Championed is undefeatable : 
Healthcare for All, 
Money out of Politics, 
Fair Wages 
an End to outsourcing Of American Manufacturing, 
A Fair Voting Systems, 
an End to the "All War"  Economy, 
an End to the revolving door between regulators and their corporate counterparts, a Real Raise for Social Security Recipients, 
a Higher Minimum Wage "$15 - the new floor" - 
and an End to Citizen United. 


9. DAMN THE DAMN says Brazilian First Nations MUNDURUKU say Damn It
In a historic victory, one of Brazil’s largest indigenous groups has managed to suspend construction of a mega-dam that threatened to submerge their home. The Brazilian indigenous agency FUNAI finally demarcated the territory of the Munduruku people, providing the legal basis to suspend construction of the São Luiz de Tapajós dam. 
These 700 square miles of land – known as Sawre Muybu – are now legally recognized as the traditional territory of the Munduruku and protected under the Brazilian constitution, which grants indigenous people the right to free, prior, and informed consent before the government can use their land.
The Munduruku have been fighting for this right since 1975, standing up to a government more interested in questionably “green” energy and expansion than in protecting indigenous communities. In 2013, FUNAI actually conducted research confirming the status of Sawre Muybu as Munduruku territory, but failed to publish it due to government pressure. In response the Munduruku began the process of “auto-demarcating” their land, setting up signs and trenches to mark off their territory. They organized meetings, wrote letters, built alliances and staged occupations. Over the years they refined their strategy and took lessons from the fight against the Belo Monte mega-dam, which also wiped out species and displaced thousands of indigenous people.
Women played an important role in this struggle, as they often do in movements for land rights and against resource extraction. In 2015, Maria Leusa Kaba traveled to Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference to receive the UN Equator Prize for the Munduruku’s campaign to self-demarcate their land.
“We the Munduruku people are going in the reverse direction the Europeans went 500 years ago, to tell the world that we will resist until the last man the construction of hydroelectric dams on the Tapajós River,” Kaba said in the below short film about her experience.
This comes as Brazil is in political crisis and has begun the process of impeaching its president. The win to stop the damming of the Tapajós could be short-lived if the conservative, business-friendly politicians leading the impeachment process gain power and roll back land rights.
But the Munduruku have promised that they will never stop fighting for Sawre Muybu and today, I salute their hard-won victory.

10. Monitoring FACEBOOK is not just for Friends Anymore
“It’s time for civil unrest. Burn down the Governor [sic] mansion, elimionate [sic] the capitol where legislators RE-INSTATED the emergency dictator law after the PEOPLE voted it down, and tell the Mich [sic] State Police if they use military force, we will return with same,” the unnamed Copper City man’s Facebook post stated, according to MLive.
The Free Thought Project contacted the State police who declined to comment for this article and for the MLive report about ongoing investigations stemming from such social media surveillance, though police did say appropriate agencies would be notified should they be affected.
“In the interest of protecting our residents, the MSP monitors any incidents that have the potential to result in criminal activity and/or violence,” wrote Michigan State Police spokesperson Shanon Banner in an email to MLive. “Threats against individuals and organizations are shared with the individual/organization so they have situational awareness.”
In the case of the Copper City man, previous troubles with law enforcement — including an armed standoff with police in April last year — led to his being on probation at the time he wrote the alleged threat on social media.
As Snyder’s and the government’s emergency managers’ handling of the Flint water crisis has been rightly the subject of contention and criticism, the police monitoring of social media may perhaps add fuel to the conflagration.
Another man was arrested in February for a Facebook post about the Flint crisis, which called for Snyder’s arrest, as The Free Thought Project reported.
Last week, an announcement the Flint lead contamination crisis would be investigated and prosecuted as a crime led to the arrest of three officials — and the vow by prosecutors more charges would be forthcoming.
Though Snyder has become the subject of multiple lawsuits — for which he’s using over $500,000 in taxpayer money to defend himself — he has thus far managed to escape criminal charges for his role in the Flint debacle. In fact, he hasn’t even been questioned yet.
An official with the Flint water treatment facility mysteriously and inexplicably dropped dead at age 43. Then a woman, who had been key to an incredibly important lawsuit concerning the Flint crisis, was recently found murdered in her home.
As the government’s nefarious role in the Flint crisis becomes clear, it can be no wonder officials are conducting surveillance of social media — paranoia undoubtedly rules in the minds of those who had a part in poisoning thousands of innocent people.

11. CIA and the MIND Agenda
The story below offers a rare close-up view of a man who is so creepy it’s fascinating. He actually performed some of the dirty, unthinkable deeds you read about in the various exposés on the CIA.

According to the author, the man “looks like Danny DeVito playing the Penguin, and talks like Edward G. Robinson as gangster Johnny Rocco in Key Largo.”

The Penguin in question is Ira “Ike” Feldman.  And the deeds he performed were for MK-ULTRA, the CIA’s program on mind control. They experimented on unsuspecting people, slipping them LSD without their consent, sometimes with devastating results. The project’s architect, Sidney Gottlieb, described in a 1953 memo the ways in which the drug could be used:

“‘Disturbance of memory; discrediting by aberrant behaviour; alteration of sex patterns; eliciting of information; suggestibility; creation of dependence.”

From all that has been written about the CIA, we find it easy to believe just about everything Feldman says on the subject. But the real value of this story is not so much the information it imparts; it’s the character it reveals about a major player — even if we see him only from the outside. Here, you can witness the way he talks, the attitude he exhibits, the contradictions he ignores, and the self-justifications he declares.

This was originally published in Spin Magazine in 1994, and is just as relevant today.

The author of that vintage Spin article, Richard Stratton, has recently published his memoirs,  Smuggler’s Blues: A True Story of the Hippie Mafia (Arcade Publishing, April, 2016)

Altered States in America
In the early 1950s, the U.S. government purchased the world’s supply of LSD as just the first step in a debauched program code-named MK-ULTRA. In an exclusive interview, Ike Feldman, one of the operations kingpins, talks to Richard Stratton about deadly viruses, spy hookers, and bad trips.

The meeting was set for noon at a suitably anonymous bastion of corporate America, a sprawling Marriott Hotel and convention center on Long Island. Driving out of the city, I was tense and paranoid. For one thing, I was leaving Manhattan without permission from my parole officer. What was I going to tell him? “I want to travel to Long Island to interview a former narcotics agent who worked undercover for the CIA dosing people with LSD.” My parole officer would have ordered a urine test on the spot.

Then there was the fact that previous run-ins with drug cops had usually resulted in criminal prosecutions. I spent most of the ’80s in prison for smuggling marijuana. How would this ex-agent of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), forerunner of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), take to a retired outlaw writing a story about MK-ULTRA, the CIA’s highly secretive mind-control and drug-testing program?

Ira “Ike” Feldman is the only person still alive who worked directly under the legendary George Hunter White in MK-ULTRA. The program began in 1953 amid growing fear of the Soviet Union’s potential for developing alternative weaponry. The atomic bomb was a sinister threat, but more terrifying still were possible Soviet assaults on the mind and body from within — through drugs and disease. In an attempt to preempt foreign attacks and even wage its own assaults, the CIA funded a group of contract agents and scientists to develop a panoply of means to destroy or forever incapacitate a human being.

For years, Feldman had ducked reporters. He agreed to meet with me only after a private detective, a former New York cop who also did time for drugs, put in a good word. There was no guarantee Feldman would talk.

“The LSD,” Feldman began, “that was just the tip of the iceberg. Write this down. Espionage. Assassinations. Dirty tricks. Drug experiments. Sexual encounters and the study of prostitutes for clandestine use. That’s what I was doing when I worked for George White and the CIA.”

I recognized Feldman immediately when he waddled into the lobby of the Marriott. I had heard he was short, five three, and I’d read how George White used to dress him up in a pinstriped zoot suit, blue suede shoes, a Borsalino hat with a turned-up brim, and a phony diamond ring, then send him out on the streets of San Francisco to pose as an East Coast heroin dealer. Now in his 70s, Feldman looks like Danny DeVito playing the Penguin, and talks like Edward G. Robinson as gangster Johnny Rocco in Key Largo.

Feldman leveled a cold, lizard-like gaze on me when we sat down for lunch. He wielded a fat unlit cigar like a baton, pulled out a wad of bills that could have gagged a drug dealer, slipped a 20 to the waitress and told her to take good care of us.

“What’s this about?” Feldman demanded. “Who the f*ck are you?”

I explained I was a writer researching George White. White, a world-class drinker known to polish off a bottle of gin at a sitting and get up and walk away, died of liver disease in 1975, two years before MK-ULTRA was first made public.

“Why do you want to write about White? I suppose it’s this LSD sh*t.”

No, I said, not just the LSD. George White deserved to have his story told.

“White was a son of a bitch,” Feldman said. “But he was a great cop. He made that fruitcake Hoover look like Nancy Drew.”

Again he gazed stonily at me. “Lots of writers asked me to tell my story. Why should I talk to you?”

I decided to come clean. “I used to be part of your world,” I answered. “I did eight years for the Feds because I refused to rat when I got busted for pot.”

Feldman stared at me for a long time. “I know,” he said. “I checked you out. That’s why I’m here. Now get out your pencil.” He waved for the waitress and palmed her a 50 to cover the tab.

“The LSD,” Feldman began, “that was just the tip of the iceberg. Write this down. Espionage. Assassinations. Dirty tricks. Drug experiments. Sexual encounters and the study of prostitutes for clandestine use. That’s what I was doing when I worked for George White and the CIA.”

For my next interview with Feldman, I rented a day room at the Marriott and brought along a tape recorder. Feldman tottered in, pulled out a small football-shaped clear plastic ampoule out of his pocket and plunked it down on the table. It was filled with pure Sandoz LSD-25. He showed me a gun disguised as a fountain pen that could shoot a cartridge of nerve gas. “Some of the stuff George White and I tested,” he explained.

It all began because the CIA knew the Russians had this LSD sh*t and they were afraid the KGB was using it to brainwash agents,” Feldman told me. “They wanted us to find out if we could actually use it as a truth serum.”

Actually, it all began with a mistake. In 1951, Allen Dulles, later appointed Director of Central Intelligence, received a report from military sources that the Russians had bought 50 million doses of a new drug from Sandoz Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland…. lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD-25), available for sale on the open market.

Dulles was alarmed. From the beginning, LSD was lauded by military and intelligence scientists working on chemical warfare compounds and mind-control experiments as the most potent mind-altering substance known to man. “Infinitesimally small amounts of LSD can completely destroy the sanity of a human being for considerable periods of time (or possibly permanently), stated an October 1953 CIA memo. In the wrong hands, 100 million doses would be enough to sabotage a whole nation’s mental equilibrium.”

Dulles convened a high-level committee of intelligence and military officials who agreed the agency should buy the entire Sandoz LSD supply lest the KGB acquire it first. Two agents were dispatched to Switzerland with a black bag containing $240,000.

In fact, Sandoz had produced only about 40 grams of LSD in the ten years since its psychoactive features were first discovered by Albert Hoffman. According to a 1975 CIA document, the U.S. Military attaché in Switzerland had miscalculated by a factor of one million in his CIA reports because he did not know the difference between a milligram (1/1,000 of a gram) and a kilogram (1,000 grams).

Nevertheless, a deal was struck. The CIA would purchase all of Sandoz’s potential output of LSD. (Later, when the Eli Lilly Company of Indianapolis perfected a process to synthesize LSD, agency officials insisted on a similar agreement.) An internal CIA memo to Dulles declared the agency would have access to “tonnage quantities.” All that remained was for agency heads to figure out what to do with it.

“The objectives were behavior control, behavior anomaly-production, and counter-measures for opposition application of similar substances,” states a heavily redacted CIA document on MK-ULTRA released under a 1977 Freedom of Information Act request.

The chill winds of the Cold War were howling across the land. Dulles was convinced that, as he told Princeton University’s National Alumni Conference, Russian and Chinese Communists had secretly developed “brain perversion techniques so subtle and so abhorrent to our way of life that we have recoiled from facing up to them.”

Pentagon strategists began to envision a day when battles would be fought on psychic terrain in wars without conventional weaponry. The terrifying specter of a secret army of “Manchurian Candidates,” outwardly normal operatives programmed to carry out political assassinations, was paraded before a gullible and easily manipulated public.

Ike Feldman remembers that time well. A Brooklyn boy, he was drafted into the Army in 1941. Army tests showed he had an unusual facility for language, so he was enrolled in a special school in Germany where he learned fluent Russian. By the end of the war, Feldman was a lieutenant colonel with a background in Military Intelligence. The army sent him to another language school, this time in Monterey, California, where he added Mandarin Chinese to his repertoire.

While with Military Intelligence in Europe, Feldman first heard of George White. “White was with the OSS [Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the CIA]. I heard stories about him. White supposedly killed some Japanese spy with his bare hands while he was on assignment in Calcutta. He used to keep a picture of the bloody corpse on the wall in his office.”

In the early ’50s, after a stint in Korea working for the CIA under Army auspices, Feldman decided he’d had enough of military life. He settled in California. “I always wanted chickens,” Feldman recalled, “so I bought a chicken ranch. In the meantime, there wasn’t a hell of a lot to do with chickens.

“Before long, I got a call — this time from White,” Feldman continued. “‘We understand you’re back in the States,’ he says. ‘I want you to come in to the Bureau of Narcotics.’ This was ’54 to ’55. White was District Supervisor [of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics] in San Francisco. I went in. I go to room 144 of the Federal Building, and this is the first time I met George White. He was a big, powerful man with a completely bald head. Not tall, but big. Fat. He shaved his head and had the most beautiful blue eyes you’ve ever seen. ‘Ike,’ he says, ‘we want you as an agent. We know you’ve been a hell of an agent with Intelligence. The CIA knows it. You speak all these languages. We want you to work as an undercover agent in San Francisco.’”

What Feldman didn’t know at the time was that George White was still working for the CIA. White’s particular area of expertise was the testing of drugs on unwitting human guinea pigs. During the war, one of White’s projects for the OSS was the quest for a “truth drug,” a serum that could be administered to prisoners of war or captured spies during interrogation. After trying and rejecting several substances, the OSS scientists settled on a highly concentrated liquid extract of cannabis indica, a particularly potent strain of marijuana. Never one to shrink from the call of duty, White first tried the drug on himself. He downed a full vial of the clear, viscous liquid and soon passed out without revealing any secrets.

Meanwhile, at the CIA’s Technical Services Staff (TSS), the department specializing in unconventional weaponry such as poisons, biological warfare, psychoactive substances, and mind control, Dr. Sidney Gottlieb was searching for a candidate to head MK-ULTRA. Gottlieb, a club-footed scientist who overcame a pronounced stutter in his rise to head the TSS, had discovered White’s name while perusing old OSS files on the Truth Drug Experiments. White’s credentials were impeccable. A former crime reporter on the West Coast before he joined the narcotics bureau, White had soon become one of the top international undercover agents under FBN director Harry Anslinger, the grandfather of America’s war on drugs.

After meeting with Gottlieb, White noted his initiation into the world of psychedelics in his diary.

“Gottlieb proposes I become CIA consultant and I agree.”

Moonlighting for the CIA, with funds disbursed by Gottlieb, White rented two adjoining apartment safe houses at 81 Bedford Street in Greenwich Village. Using the alias Morgan Hall, he constructed an elaborate alter-identity as a seaman and artist in the Jack London mode. By night, CIA spy Morgan Hall metamorphosed into a drug-eating denizen of the bohemian coffeehouse scene. With a head full of acid and gin, White prowled downtown clubs and bars. He struck up conversations with strangers, then lured them back to the pad where he served drinks spiked with Sandoz’s finest.

“Gloria gets the horrors… Janet sky high,” White dutifully recorded in his diary. In another entry, he proudly noted, “Lashbrook at 81 Bedford Street — Owen Winkle and the LSD surprise — can wash.” In recognition of the often bizarre behavior brought on by the drug, White assigned LSD the code-name “Stormy.”

According to an agency memo, the CIA feared KGB agents might use psychedelics “to produce anxiety or terror in medically unsophisticated subjects unable to distinguish drug-induced psychosis from actual insanity.” In an effort to school “enlightened operatives” for that eventuality, Dulles and Gottlieb instructed high-ranking agency personnel, including Gottlieb’s entire staff at TSS, to take LSD themselves and administer it to their colleagues.

“There was an extensive amount of self-experimentation for the reason that we felt that a firsthand knowledge of the subjective effects of these drugs [was] important to those of us who were involved in the program,” Gottlieb explained at a Senate Subcommittee hearing years later. In truth, CIA spooks and scientists were tripping their brains out. “I didn’t want to leave it,” one CIA agent said of his first LSD trip. “I felt I would be going back to a place where I wouldn’t be able to hold on to this kind of beauty.”

But as covert LSD experiments proliferated, things down at CIA headquarters began to get out of hand.

“LSD favors the prepared mind,” wrote Dr. Oscar Janiger, a Los Angeles psychiatrist and early LSD devotee. Non-drug factors such as set and setting — a person’s mental state going into the experience and the surroundings in which the drug is taken — can make all the difference in reactions to a dose of LSD.


Frank Olson was a civilian biochemist working for the Army Chemical Corps’ Special Operations Division (SOD) at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. In another sub-project of MK-ULTRA code-named MK-NAOMI, the CIA had bankrolled SOD to produce and maintain vicious mutant germ strains capable of killing or incapacitating would-be victims. Olson’s specialty at Fort Detrick was delivering deadly diseases in sprays and aerosol emulsions.

Just before Thanksgiving in 1953, at a CIA retreat for a conference on biological warfare, Gottlieb slipped Olson and the other scientists a huge dose of LSD in an after-dinner liqueur. When Gottlieb revealed to the uproarious group that he’d laced the Cointreau, Olson suffered a psychotic snap. “You’re all a bunch of thespians!” Olson shouted at his fellow acid trippers, then spent a long night wandering around babbling to himself. Back at Fort Detrick, Olson lapsed in and out of depression, he began to have grave misgivings about his work, and believed the agency was out to get him. Ten days later, he crashed through a closed tenth-floor window of the Statler Hotel in New York and plummeted to his death on the sidewalk below.

“White had been testing the stuff in New York when that guy Olson went out the window and died,” Feldman said. “I don’t know if he jumped or he was pushed. They say he jumped. Anyway, that’s when they shut down the New York operation and moved it to San Francisco.” The Olson affair was successfully covered up by the CIA for over 20 years. White, who had been instrumental in the cover-up, was promoted to district supervisor.


Unfazed by the death of their colleague, the CIA’s acid enthusiasts were, in fact, more convinced of the value of their experiments. They would now focus on LSD as a potent new agent for offensive unconventional warfare. The drug-testing program resumed in the Bay Area under the cryptonym Operation Midnight Climax. It was then that White hired Feldman.

Posing as Joe Capone, junk dealer and pimp, Feldman infiltrated the seamy North Beach criminal demimonde. “I always wanted to be a gangster,” Feldman told me. “So I was good at it. Before long, I had half a dozen girls working for me. One day, White calls me into his office. ‘Ike,’ he says, ‘you’ve been doing one hell of a job as an undercover man. Now I’m gonna give you another assignment. We want you to test these mind-bending drugs.’ I said, ‘Why the hell do you want to test mind-bending drugs?’ He said, ‘Have you ever heard of The Manchurian Candidate?’ I know about The Manchurian Candidate. In fact, I read the book. ‘Well,’ White said, ‘that’s why we have to test these drugs, to find out if they can be used to brainwash people.’ He says, ‘If we can find out just how good this stuff works, you’ll be doing a great deal for your country.’”

These days, Feldman takes offense at how his work has been characterized by former cops who knew him. “I was no pimp,” Feldman insisted. Yet he freely admitted that his role in Midnight Climax was to supply whores. “These c*nts all thought I was a racketeer,” Feldman explained. He paid the girls $50 to $100 a night to lure johns to a safe house apartment that White had set up on Telegraph Hill with funds provided by the CIA. Unsuspecting clients were served cocktails laced with powerful doses of LSD and other concoctions the CIA sent out to be tested.

“As George White once told me, ‘Ike, your best information outside comes from the whores and the junkies. If you treat a whore nice, she’ll treat you nice. If you treat a junkie nice, he’ll treat you nice.’ But sometimes, when people had information, there was only one way you could get it. If it was a girl, you put her tits in a drawer and slammed the drawer. If it was a guy, you took his c*ck and you hit it with a hammer. And they would talk to you. Now, with these drugs, you could get information without having to abuse people.”

The “pad,” as White called the safe house, resembled a playboy’s lair, circa 1955. The walls were covered with Toulouse-Lautrec posters of French cancan dancers. In the cabinets were sex toys and photos of manacled women in black fishnet stockings and studded leather halters. White outfitted the place with elaborate bugging equipment, including microphones disguised as electrical outlets that were connected to tape recorders hidden behind a false wall. While Feldman’s hookers served mind-altering cocktails and frolicked with the johns, White sat on a portable toilet behind a two-way mirror, sipping martinis, watching the experiments, and scribbling notes for his reports to the CIA.

“We tested this stuff they called the Sextender,” Feldman went on. “There was this Russian ship in the harbor. I had a couple of my girls pick up these Russian sailors and bring ’em back to the pad. White wanted to know all kinds of crap, but they weren’t talking. So we had the girls slip ’em this sex drug. It gets your d*ck up like a rat. Stays up for two hours. These guys went crazy. They f*cked these poor girls until they couldn’t walk straight. The girls were complaining they couldn’t take any more screwing. But White found out what he wanted to know. Now this drug, what they call the Sextender, I understand it’s being sold as Viagra to guys who can’t get a hard-on.” Feldman claimed we have the CIA to thank for these and other medical breakthroughs

“White always wanted to try everything himself,” Feldman remembered. “Whatever drugs they sent out, it didn’t matter, he wanted to see how they worked on him before he tried them on anyone else. He always said he never felt a goddamn thing. He thought it was all bullsh*t. White drank so much, he couldn’t feel his own c*ck.

“This thing,” — Feldman held up the fountain pen gas gun — “the boys in Washington sent it out and told us to test the gas. White says to me, ‘C’mon, Ike. Let’s go outside. I’ll shoot you with it, then you shoot me.’ ‘F*ck that,’ I said. ‘You ain’t gonna shoot me with that crap.’ So we went outside and I shot George White with the gas. He coughed, his face turned red, his eyes started watering. He was choking. Turned out, that stuff was the prototype for Mace.”

I asked Feldman if he’d ever met Sidney Gottlieb, the elusive scientist who was the brains behind MK-ULTRA. “Several times Sidney Gottlieb came out,” Feldman assured me. “I met Gottlieb at the pad, and at White’s office. White used to send me to the airport to pick up Sidney and this other wacko, John Gittinger, the psychologist. Sidney was a nice guy. He was a f*ckin’ nut. They were all nuts. I says, ‘You’re a good Jewish boy from Brooklyn, like me. What are you doing with these crazy c*cksuckers?’ He had this black bag with him. He says, ‘This is my bag of dirty tricks.’ He had all kinds of crap in that bag. We took a drive out to Muir Woods out by Stinson Beach. Sidney says, ‘Stop the car.’ He pulls out a dart gun and shoots this big eucalyptus tree with a dart. Then he tells me, ‘Come back in two days and check this tree.’ So we go back in two days, the tree was completely dead. Not a leaf left on it. Now that was the forerunner of Agent Orange.

“I went back and I saw White, and he says to me, ‘What do you think of Sidney?’ I said, ‘I think he’s a f*ckin’ nut.’ White says, ‘Well, he may be a nut, but this is the program. This is what we do.’ White thought they were all assholes. He said, ‘These guys are running our intelligence?’ But they sent George $2,000 a month for the pad, and as long as they paid the bills, we went along with the program.

“Another time, I come back to the pad and the whole joint is littered with these pipe cleaners,” Feldman went on. “I said, ‘Who’s smokin’ a pipe?’ Gittinger, one of those CIA nuts, was there with two of my girls. He had ’em explaining all these different sex acts, the different positions they knew for humping. Now he has them making these little figurines out of the pipe cleaners — men and women screwing in all these different positions. He was taking pictures of the figurines and writing a history of each one. These pipe cleaner histories were sent back to Washington.”


A stated goal of Project MK-ULTRA was to determine “if an individual can be trained to perform an act of attempted assassination involuntarily” while under the influence of various mind-control techniques, and then have no memory of the event later. Feldman told me that in the early ’60s, after the MK-ULTRA program had been around for over a decade, he was summoned to George White’s office. White and CIA director Allen Dulles were there.

“They wanted George to arrange to hit Fidel Castro,” Feldman said. “They were gonna soak his cigars with LSD and drive him crazy. George called me in because I had this whore, one of my whores was this Cuban girl and we were gonna send her down to see Castro with a box of LSD-soaked cigars.”

Dick Russell, author of a book on the Kennedy assassination titled The Man Who Knew Too Much, uncovered evidence to support the theory that Lee Harvey Oswald was a product of MK-ULTRA. One of the CIA’s overseas locations for LSD and mind-control experiments was Atsugi Naval Air base in Japan where Oswald served as a marine radar technician. Russell says that after his book was published, a former CIA counter-intelligence expert called him and said Oswald had been “viewed by the CIA as fitting the psychological profile of someone they were looking for in their MK-ULTRA program,” and that he had been mind-conditioned to defect to the USSR.

Robert Kennedy’s assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, while working as a horse trainer at the Santa Anita racetrack near Los Angeles, was introduced to hypnosis and the occult by a fellow groom with shadowy connections. Sirhan has always maintained he has no memory of the night he shot Kennedy.

One of the CIA’s mob contacts long suspected of involvement in John Kennedy’s assassination was the Los Angeles-based Mafioso John Roselli. Roselli had risen to prominence in the Mob by taking over the Annenberg-Ragen wire service at Santa Anita where Oswald’s killer, Jack Ruby, sold a handicapper’s tip sheet. Ike Feldman told me that Roselli was one of White’s many informants.

“On more than one occasion, White sent me to the airport to pick up John Roselli and bring him to the office or to the pad,” said Feldman. Roselli and White were close. Roselli had lived for most of his life in Chicago, where White had served as District Supervisor of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1945 through 1947. Following a big opium bust in 1947, Jack Ruby was picked up and hauled in for interrogation, then later let off the hook by none other than George White. Federal Bureau of Narcotics files indicate that Ruby was yet another of White’s legion of stool pigeons.


The connection between MK-ULTRA mind-control experiments, the proliferation of the drug subculture, Mob/CIA assassination plots, and the emergence of new, lethal viruses go on and on. Fort Detrick in Maryland where Frank Olson worked experimenting with viral strains (such as the deadly microbes Sidney Gottlieb personally carried to Africa in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Patrice Lumumba) was the locale of a near disaster involving an outbreak of a newly emerged virus. The event was chronicled in a lengthy article in the New Yorker.

Though the New Yorker writer did not make the connection between Fort Detrick, the Army SOD, Frank Olson, and MK-NAOMI, he told of a number of monkeys who had all died of a highly infectious virus known as Ebola that first appeared in 55 African villages in 1976, killing nine out of ten of its victims. Some epidemiologists believe AIDS originated in Africa. Feldman claimed the CIA used Africa as a staging ground to test germ warfare because “nobody gave a goddamn about any of this crap over there.”


The MK-ULTRA program, then the largest domestic operation mounted by the CIA, continued well into the ’70s. According to Feldman and other CIA experts, it is still continuing today under an alphabet soup of different cryptonyms. Indeed, one ex-agent told me it would be foolish to think that a program as fruitful as MK-ULTRA would be discontinued. When the agency comes under scrutiny, it simply changes the name of the program and continues unabated.

The public first learned of MK-ULTRA in 1977, with the disclosure of thousands of classified documents and CIA testimony before a Senate Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research chaired by Senator Edward Kennedy.

Previously, CIA director Richard Helms had ordered Sidney Gottlieb to destroy all of the MK-ULTRA files. What was ultimately declassified and made public revealed only a portion of the record. Ike Feldman was subpoenaed and appeared on a panel of witnesses, but the senators failed to ask him a single question.

Sidney Gottlieb, complaining of a heart condition, testified at a special semi-public session. He delivered a prepared statement and admitted to having destroyed MK-ULTRA files. The full extent of the CIA’s activities under the rubric of MK-ULTRA, MK-NAOMI, and a host of other covert domestic and foreign operations may never be known.

George White retired from the Narcotics Bureau and from his role as a CIA contract agent in 1965. The last ten years of his life he lived in Stinson Beach, California, where, known as Colonel White, he became chief of the volunteer fire department and regaled fellow drinkers in his favorite watering holes with his tales of daring do.

Local residents remember him for turning in kids for smoking pot, for spraying a preacher and his congregation with water at a beach picnic, and for terrorizing his neighbors by driving his jeep across the lawns when he’d had too much to drink.

After White’s death, his widow donated his papers, including his diaries, to an electronic surveillance museum. As information on MK-ULTRA entered the public domain, people who had known White only in his official FBN capacity were stunned to learn of his undercover role as Morgan Hall, his long employment as a CIA contract agent, and his close association with Mafiosi and intelligence agents suspected of involvement in political assassinations.

According to George Belk, a former head of the Drug Enforcement Agency in New York, Ike Feldman quit the drug agency after a probe by the internal security division. “Feldman was the sort of guy who didn’t have too many scruples,” said Dan Casey, a retired FBN agent who worked with Feldman in San Francisco. “For him, the ends justified the means.” A DEA flack confirmed Feldman “resigned under a cloud” at a time when a number of agents came under suspicion of a variety of offenses, none having to do with secret drug testing programs. When I interviewed him, Feldman asserted he still worked for the CIA on a contract basis, mostly in the Far East and Korea.

On the day of our last interview, over lunch at a restaurant in Little Italy, Feldman told me the CIA had contacted him and asked him why he was talking to me.

“F*ck them.” Feldman said. “I do what I want. I never signed any goddamn secrecy agreement.”

I asked him why he decided to tell his story after so many years of silence. “There’s too much bullsh*t in the world.” Feldman said. “The world runs on bullsh*t.

“To make a long story short,” he said, using one of his favorite verbal segues, “I want the truth of this to be known so that people understand that what we did was for the good of the country.”

We ambled down the street to a Chinese grocer, where Feldman carried on a lengthy conversation with the owner in Chinese. A couple of young girls, tourists, wanted to have their picture taken with Feldman. “Are you a gangster?” they asked.

“No,” Feldman replied with a wave of his cigar, “I’m a goddamn CIA agent.”

As we walked on, I asked Feldman to explain how his and George White’s work for the CIA had been helpful to the country.

“I learned that most of this stuff was necessary for the United States,” he said, “and even though it may have hurt somebody in the beginning, in the long run it was important. As long as it did good for the country.”

I pressed him. “How so? How was it good for the country?”

“Well, look,” Feldman gestured with his cigar at the throng of citizens in the streets of New York City.

“We’re goddamn free, aren’t we?”

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