Category: Prison



The Devil’s Bargain: The Illusion of a Trouble-Free Existence in the American Police State
Florida police arrested a 90-year-old man twice for violating an ordinance that prohibits feeding the homeless in public

The Devil’s Bargain: The Illusion of a Trouble-Free Existence in the American Police State

by John W. Whitehead | Rutherford Institute | November 11, 2014

Whether the mask is labeled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers’ enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.
—Simone Weil, French philosopher and political activist

It’s no coincidence that during the same week in which the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Yates v. United States, a case in which a Florida fisherman is being threatened with 20 years’ jail time for throwing fish that were too small back into the water, Florida police arrested a 90-year-old man twice for violating an ordinance that prohibits feeding the homeless in public.

Both cases fall under the umbrella of over criminalization, that phenomenon in which everything is rendered illegal and everyone becomes a lawbreaker. As I make clear in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, this is what happens when bureaucrats run the show, and the rule of law becomes little more than a cattle prod for forcing the citizenry to march in lockstep with the government.

John Yates, a commercial fisherman, was written up in 2007 by a state fish and wildlife officer who noticed that among Yates’ haul of red grouper, 72 were apparently under the 20-inch minimum legal minimum. Yates, ordered to bring the fish to shore as evidence of his violation of the federal statute on undersized catches, returned to shore with only 69 grouper in the crate designated for evidence. A crew member later confessed that, on orders from Yates, the crew had thrown the undersized grouper overboard and replaced them with larger fish. Unfortunately, they were three fish short. Sensing a bait-and-switch, prosecutors refused to let Yates off the hook quite so easily. Unfortunately, in prosecuting him for the undersized fish under a law aimed at financial crimes, government officials opened up a can of worms.

Arnold Abbott, 90 years old and the founder of a nonprofit that feeds the homeless, is facing a fine of $1000 and up to four months in jail for violating a city ordinance that makes it a crime to feed the homeless in public. Under the city’s ordinance, clearly aimed at discouraging the feeding of the homeless in public, organizations seeking to do so must provide portable toilets, be 500 feet away from each other, 500 feet from residential properties, and are limited to having only one group carry out such a function per city block.  Abbott has been feeding the homeless on a public beach in Ft. Lauderdale every Wednesday evening for the past 23 years. On November 2, 2014, moments after handing out his third meal of the day, police reportedly approached the nonagenarian and ordered him to “‘drop that plate right now,’ as if I were carrying a weapon,” recalls Abbott. Abbott was arrested and fined. Three days later, Abbott was at it again, and arrested again.

That both of these incidents occurred in Florida is no coincidence. Remember, this is the state that arrested Nicole Gainey for letting her 7-year-old son walk to the park alone, even though it was just a few blocks from their house. If convicted, Gainey could have been made to serve up to five years in jail.

This is also the state that a few years back authorized police raids on barber shops in minority communities, resulting in barbers being handcuffed in front of customers, and their shops searched without warrants. All of this was purportedly done in an effort to make sure that the barbers’ licensing paperwork was up to snuff.

As if criminalizing fishing, charity, parenting decisions, and haircuts wasn’t bad enough, you could also find yourself passing time in a Florida slammer for such inane activities as singing in a public place while wearing a swimsuit, breaking more than three dishes per day, farting in a public place after 6 pm on a Thursday, and skateboarding without a license.

Despite its pristine beaches and balmy temperatures, Florida is no less immune to the problems plaguing the rest of the nation in terms of over criminalization, incarceration rates, bureaucracy, corruption, and police misconduct. In fact, the Sunshine State has become a poster child for how a seemingly idyllic place can be transformed into a police state with very little effort. As such, it is representative of what is happening in every state across the nation, where a steady diet of bread and circuses has given rise to an oblivious, inactive citizenry content to be ruled over by an inflexible and highly bureaucratic regime.

This transformation of the United States from being a beacon of freedom to a locked down nation illustrates perfectly what songwriter Joni Mitchell was referring to when she wrote:

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

Only in our case, sold on the idea that safety, security and material comforts are preferable to freedom, we’ve allowed the government to pave over the Constitution in order to erect a concentration camp. The problem with these devil’s bargains, however, is that there is always a catch, always a price to pay for whatever it is we valued so highly as to barter away our most precious possessions.

We’ve bartered away our right to self-governance, self-defense, privacy, autonomy and that most important right of all—the right to tell the government to “leave me the hell alone.” In exchange for the promise of safe streets, safe schools, blight-free neighborhoods, lower taxes, lower crime rates, and readily accessible technology, health care, water, food and power, we’ve opened the door to militarized police, government surveillance, asset forfeiture, school zero tolerance policies, license plate readers, red light cameras, SWAT team raids, health care mandates, over criminalization and government corruption.

In the end, such bargains always turn sour.

We asked our lawmakers to be tough on crime, and we’ve been saddled with an abundance of laws that criminalize almost every aspect of our lives. So far, we’re up to 4500 criminal laws and 300,000 criminal regulations that result in average Americans unknowingly engaging in criminal acts at least three times a day. For instance, the family of an 11-year-old girl was issued a $535 fine for violating the Federal Migratory Bird Act after the young girl rescued a baby woodpecker from predatory cats.

We wanted criminals taken off the streets, and we didn’t want to have to pay for their incarceration. What we’ve gotten is a nation that boasts the highest incarceration rate in the world, with more than 2.3 million people locked up, many of them doing time for relatively minor, nonviolent crimes, and a private prison industry fueling the drive for more inmates, who are forced to provide corporations with cheap labor. A special report by CNBC breaks down the national numbers:

One out of 100 American adults is behind bars — while a stunning one out of 32 is on probation, parole or in prison. This reliance on mass incarceration has created a thriving prison economy. The states and the federal government spend about $74 billion a year on corrections, and nearly 800,000 people work in the industry.

We wanted law enforcement agencies to have the necessary resources to fight the nation’s wars on terror, crime and drugs. What we got instead were militarized police decked out with M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers, battle tanks and hollow point bullets—gear designed for the battlefield, more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year (many for routine police tasks, resulting in losses of life and property), and profit-driven schemes that add to the government’s largesse such as asset forfeiture, where police seize property from “suspected criminals.”

Justice Department figures indicate that as much as $4.3 billion was seized in asset forfeiture cases in 2012, with the profits split between federal agencies and local police. According to the Washington Post, these funds have been used to buy guns, armored cars, electronic surveillance gear, “luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.” Police seminars advise officers to use their “department wish list when deciding which assets to seize” and, in particular, go after flat screen TVs, cash and nice cars. In Florida, where police are no strangers to asset forfeiture, Florida police have been carrying out “reverse” sting operations, where they pose as drug dealers to lure buyers with promises of cheap cocaine, then bust them, and seize their cash and cars. Over the course of a year, police in one small Florida town seized close to $6 million using these entrapment schemes.

We fell for the government’s promise of safer roads, only to find ourselves caught in a tangle of profit-driven red light cameras, which ticket unsuspecting drivers in the so-called name of road safety while ostensibly fattening the coffers of local and state governments. Despite widespread public opposition, corruption and systemic malfunctions, these cameras—used in 24 states and Washington, DC—are particularly popular with municipalities, which look to them as an easy means of extra cash. One small Florida town, population 8,000, generates a million dollars a year in fines from these cameras. Building on the profit-incentive schemes, the cameras’ manufacturers are also pushing speed cameras and school bus cameras, both of which result in heft fines for violators who speed or try to go around school buses.

This is just a small sampling of the many ways in which the American people continue to get duped, deceived, double-crossed, cheated, lied to, swindled and conned into believing that the government and its army of bureaucrats—the people we appointed to safeguard our freedoms—actually have our best interests at heart.

Yet when all is said and done, who is really to blame when the wool gets pulled over your eyes: you, for believing the con man, or the con man for being true to his nature?

It’s time for a bracing dose of reality, America. Wake up and take a good, hard look around you, and ask yourself if the gussied-up version of America being sold to you—crime free, worry free and devoid of responsibility—is really worth the ticket price: nothing less than your freedoms.

Washington’s Web of Lies and Deception


Washington’s Secret Agendas
The public continues to fall for the lies

Washington’s Secret Agendas

by Paul Craig Roberts | Infowars.com | September 29, 2014

One might think that by now even Americans would have caught on to the constant stream of false alarms that Washington sounds in order to deceive the Washington people into supporting its hidden agendas.

The public fell for the lie that the Taliban in Afghanistan are terrorists allied with al Qaeda. Americans fought a war for 13 years that enriched Dick Cheney’s firm, Halliburton, and other private interests only to end in another Washington failure.

The public fell for the lie that Saddam Hussein in Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” that were a threat to America and that if the US did not invade Iraq Americans risked a “mushroom cloud going up over an American city.” With the rise of ISIS, this long war apparently is far from over. Billions of dollars more in profits will pour into the coffers of the US military security complex as Washington fights those who are redrawing the false Middle East boundaries created by the British and French after WW I when the British and French seized territories of the former Ottoman Empire.

The American public fell for the lies told about Gaddafi in Libya. The formerly stable and prosperous country is now in chaos.

The American public fell for the lie that Iran has, or is building, nuclear weapons. Sanctioned and reviled by the West, Iran has shifted toward an Eastern orientation, thereby removing a principal oil producer from Western influence.

The public fell for the lie that Assad of Syria used “chemical weapons against his own people.” The jihadists that Washington sent to overthrow Assad have turned out to be, according to Washington’s propaganda, a threat to America.

The greatest threat to the world is Washington’s insistence on its hegemony. The ideology of a handful of neoconservatives is the basis for this insistence. We face the situation in which a handful of American neoconservative psychopaths claim to determine the fate of countries.

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Many still believe Washington’s lies, but increasingly the world sees Washington as the greatest threat to peace and life on earth. The claim that America is “exceptional and indispensable” is used to justify Washington’s right to dictate to other countries.

The casualties of Washington’s bombings are invariably civilians, and the deaths will produce more recruits for ISIS. Already there are calls for Washington to reintroduce “boots on the ground” in Iraq. Otherwise, Western civilization is doomed, and our heads will be cut off. The newly created propaganda of a “Russian threat” requires more NATO spending and more military bases on Russia’s borders. A “quick reaction force” is being created to respond to a nonexistent threat of a Russian invasion of the Baltics, Poland, and Europe.

Usually it takes the American public a year, or two, three, or four to realize that it has been deceived by lies and propaganda, but by that time the public has swallowed a new set of lies and propaganda and is all concerned about the latest “threat.” The American public seems incapable of understanding that just as the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth, threat was a hoax, so is the sixth threat, and so will be the seventh, eighth, and ninth.

Moreover, none of these American military attacks on other countries has resulted in a better situation, as Vladimir Putin honestly states. Yet, the public and its representatives in Congress support each new military adventure despite the record of deception and failure.

Perhaps if Americans were taught their true history in place of idealistic fairy tales, they would be less gullible and less susceptible to government propaganda. I have recommended Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s The Untold History of the US, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the US, and now I recommend Stephen Kinzer’s The Brothers, the story of the long rule of John Foster and Allen Dulles over the State Department and CIA and their demonization of reformist governments that they often succeeded in overthrowing. Kinzer’s history of the Dulles brothers’ plots to overthrow six governments provides insight into how Washington operates today.

In 1953 the Dulles brothers overthrew Iran’s elected leader, Mossadegh and imposed the Shah, thus poisoning American-Iranian relations through the present day. Americans might yet be led into a costly and pointless war with Iran, because of the Dulles brothers poisoning of relations in 1953.

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The Dulles brothers overthrew Guatemala’s popular president Arbenz, because his land reform threatened the interest of the Dulles brothers’ Sullivan & Cromwell law firm’s United Fruit Company client. The brothers launched an amazing disinformation campaign depicting Arbenz as a dangerous communist who was a threat to Western civilization. The brothers enlisted dictators such as Somoza in Nicaragua and Batista in Cuba against Arbenz. The CIA organized air strikes and an invasion force. But nothing could happen until Arbenz’s strong support among the people in Guatemala could be shattered. The brothers arranged this through Cardinal Spellman, who enlisted Archbishop Rossell y Arellano. “A pastoral letter was read on April 9, 1954 in all Guatemalan churches.”

A masterpiece of propaganda, the pastoral letter misrepresented Arbenz as a dangerous communist who was the enemy of all Guatemalans. False radio broadcasts produced a fake reality of freedom fighter victories and army defections. Arbenz asked the UN to send fact finders, but Washington prevented that from happening. American journalists, with the exception of James Reston, supported the lies. Washington threatened and bought off Guatemala’s senior military commanders, who forced Arbenz to resign. The CIA’s chosen and well paid “liberator,” Col. Castillo Armas, was installed as Arbenz’s successor.

We recently witnessed a similar operation in Ukraine.

President Eisenhower thanked the CIA for averting “a Communist beachhead in our hemisphere,” and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles gave a national TV and radio address in which he declared that the events in Guatemala “expose the evil purpose of the Kremlin.” This despite the uncontested fact that the only outside power operating in Guatemala was the Dulles brothers.

What had really happened is that a democratic and reformist government was overthrown because it compensated United Fruit Company for the nationalization of the company’s fallow land at a value listed by the company on its tax returns. America’s leading law firm or perhaps more accurately, America’s foreign policy-maker, Sullivan & Cromwell, had no intention of permitting a democratic government to prevail over the interests of the law firm’s client, especially when senior partners of the firm controlled both overt and covert US foreign policy. The two brothers, whose family members were invested in the United Fruit Company, simply applied the resources of the CIA, State Department, and US media to the protection of their private interests. The extraordinary gullibility of the American people, the corrupt American media, and the indoctrinated and impotent Congress allowed the Dulles brothers to succeed in overthrowing a democracy.

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Keep in mind that this use of the US government in behalf of private interests occurred 60 years ago long before the corrupt Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama regimes. And no doubt in earlier times as well.

The Dulles brothers next intended victim was Ho Chi Minh. Ho, a nationalist leader, asked for America’s help in freeing Vietnam from French colonial rule. But John Foster Dulles, a self-righteous anti-communist, miscast Ho as a Communist Threat who was springing the domino theory on the Western innocents. Nationalism and anti-colonialism, Foster declared, were merely a cloak for communist subversion.

Paul Kattenburg, the State Department desk officer for Vietnam suggested that instead of war, the US should give Ho $500 million in reconstruction aid to rebuild the country from war and French misrule, which would free Ho from dependence on Russian and Chinese support, and, thereby, influence. Ho appealed to Washington several times, but the demonic inflexibility of the Dulles brothers prevented any sensible response. Instead, the hysteria whipped-up over the “communist threat” by the Dulles brothers landed the United States in the long, costly, fiasco known as the Vietnam War. Kattenburg later wrote that it was suicidal for the US “to cut out its eyes and ears, to castrate its analytic capacity, to shut itself off from the truth because of blind prejudice.” Unfortunately for Americans and the world, castrated analytic capacity is Washington’s strongest suit.

The Dulles brothers’ next targets were President Sukarno of Indonesia, Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba of Congo, and Fidel Castro. The plot against Castro was such a disastrous failure that it cost Allen Dulles his job. President Kennedy lost confidence in the agency and told his brother Bobby that after his reelection he was going to break the CIA into a thousand pieces. When President Kennedy removed Allen Dulles, the CIA understood the threat and struck first.

Warren Nutter, my Ph.D. dissertation chairman, later Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, taught his students that for the US government to maintain the people’s trust, which democracy requires, the government’s policies must be affirmations of our principles and be openly communicated to the people. Hidden agendas, such as those of the Dulles brothers and the Clinton, Bush and Obama regimes, must rely on secrecy and manipulation and, thereby, arouse the distrust of the people. If Americans are too brainwashed to notice, many foreign nationals are not.

The US government’s secret agendas have cost Americans and many peoples in the world tremendously. Essentially, the Foster brothers created the Cold War with their secret agendas and anti-communist hysteria. Secret agendas committed Americans to long, costly, and unnecessary wars in Vietnam and the Middle East. Secret CIA and military agendas intending regime change in Cuba were blocked by President John F. Kennedy and resulted in the assassination of a president, who, for all his faults, was likely to have ended the Cold War twenty years before Ronald Reagan seized the opportunity.

Secret agendas have prevailed for so long that the American people themselves are now corrupted. As the saying goes, “a fish rots from the head.” The rot in Washington now permeates the country.

Paul Craig Roberts


 

60 Days In Prison And A $12,180 Fine For Hosting A Home Bible Study In Arizona

The war on home Bible studies and house churches is heating up again.  Down in Phoenix, Arizona a man has been sentenced to 60 days in prison and has been fined $12,180 for hosting a Bible study in his home.  Since 2005, Michael Salman and his wife have been hosting gatherings of about 15 or 20 people where they share food, fellowship and discuss the Bible.  Unfortunately, that kind of thing is against the law in Phoenix, Arizona apparently.  At one point, nearly a dozen armed police officers raided their home and “evidence” of their “crimes” was gathered.  Michael Salman was found guilty of 67 “code violations”, and now he is going to be ripped away from his family and put in prison for two months.  In addition, the assistant city prosecutor is asking the court to “revoke his probation and convert it into a 2 1/2 year jail sentence since he continues to hold worship gatherings on his property despite court orders.”  This kind of case has the potential to have a huge “chilling effect” on home gatherings of all kinds all over the United States.

You may be thinking that you are glad that this man is being put in prison because you aren’t a Christian and you don’t have any sympathy for Christians.

Well, what if you wanted to hold small gatherings in your home to discuss the U.S. Constitution?

Or what if you wanted to hold small gatherings in your home to play cards or watch football?

The U.S. Constitution guarantees “the right of the people peaceably to assemble”, and when the constitutional rights of one person are under attack, it is an attack on all of us.

In America today, we actually do not own our homes and our properties.  Instead, we are only allowed to use them in very, very narrowly-defined ways, and if we “rebel” against those rules the control freaks that run things will smack us hard.

A while back I wrote about how control freak bureaucrats all over the country are using “code violations” to force preppers back on to the grid.  In some cases, they are even using “code violations” to force preppers completely off of their properties.

They want to run our lives, and if we do not live within the very narrow constraints that they define for us then they will send armed men to raid our homes.

So how did Michael Salman’s problems start?

You can probably guess.

His “neighbors” complained about noise and “traffic congestion“.

So that is how city officials got involved.  We have become a nation of informers and tattlers, and this is another perfect example of that.

Michael Salman did have a big cross and a big sign outside his home, and in this situation that was rather foolish.  Perhaps if he had kept a lower profile things would have been different.  But it still does not excuse what authorities in Phoenix are doing to him.

People should be able to have small gatherings of friends and family in their own homes.  If we can’t do that, what do we have left?

And these days, just about everything is illegal in America, so if you want to sick the authorities on your neighbors it is quite easy to do.

What is this nation turning into?

The implications of this story are staggering.

Over the past couple of decades, the number of “house churches” in the United States has absolutely exploded as an increasing number of Americans reject the big, institutional churches for one reason or another.

Now we are seeing a backlash against the home church movement.

Are we going to start to see authorities systematically coming after home Bible studies and house churches all over America?

Sadly, we have already seen quite a few examples of this. The following is one example from California….

A Christian couple from Orange County, Calif., were fined earlier this month for holding Bible studies and for what city officials called “a regular gathering of more than three people” in their homes. They have now been told they face a $500 fine if they continue to hold their home Bible study gatherings.

Fortunately, authorities in that case have backed off at least for now after immense public pressure.

But this is just the beginning.  Bible-believing Christians are now considered to be “outside the mainstream” and are being attacked in unprecedented ways.

For example, the head of Personhood USA (Keith Mason) had his home brutally vandalized after he was featured in a recent Newsweek article.  When that article was posted on the website of The Daily Beast, someone left a comment that contained his home address.  Unfortunately, some very sick individuals decided to “pay a visit” to the home and hurled a boulder that destroyed the glass in his front door.  In addition, they took red spray paint and painted cuss words and red coat hangers on his house and on his sidewalk.

The following is how this attack was described in a recent Newsweek article….

Mason says he was awake at the time of the attack. “I was in the basement, catching a movie and having a beer, to just chill,” Mason says. “I heard a loud noise and thought one of our kids had fallen down the stairs.” Mason says he ran upstairs from the basement, then “ran through a bunch of glass” and “saw red.” He describes the scene as “surreal—I didn’t know if it was blood on the glass or what. It turned out to be spray paint. There was red paint all over the side of our house. They spray-painted coat-hangers all over my sidewalk and door. We called 911. The police were there within three minutes.”

The family has moved from the home and they say that they have no plans to return.

This is what America is turning into.

Hate and anger are rising to unprecedented levels and it seems like psychopaths are running around everywhere.

I truly fear for the future of this nation.

 

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