Private Prison Continues to Send ICE Detainees to Solitary Confinement for Refusing Voluntary Labor
by Spencer Woodman
Posted February 13, 2018
Officials at a privately run Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in rural Georgia locked an immigrant detainee in solitary confinement last November as punishment for encouraging fellow detainees to stop working in a labor program that ICE says is strictly voluntary.
Shoaib Ahmed, a 24-year-old who immigrated to America to escape political persecution in Bangladesh, told The Intercept that the privately run detention center placed him in isolation for 10 days after an officer overheard him simply saying “no work tomorrow.” Ahmed said he was expressing frustration over the detention center — run by prison contractor CoreCivic — having delayed his weekly paycheck of $20 for work in the facility’s kitchen.
Those in ICE custody often work for as little as $1 per day and cannot legally be compelled to work. More…
If a prison is state run, its incentives are to have as few prisoners as possible. For profit prisons have all the wrong incentives. They maximize profit by having as many prisoners as possible. No surprise that these for profit prisons want to use their captives as a low cost labor force to squeeze even more profits out of this immoral system. “Show me the incentives, and I will show you the result.” In this case economics overcomes ethics and morality.
Congress Keeps Funding a War Machine That the Public Should Divest From
By Medea Benjamin and Elliot Swain
Posted February 12, 2018
In recent budget negotiations, Senate Democrats agreed to a boost in military spending that exceeded the cap for fiscal 2018 by $70 billion, bringing the total request to an enormous $716 billion. Inevitably, this means more Pentagon contracts will be awarded to private corporations that use endless war to line their pockets. Democrats capitulated to this massive increase without so much as a scuffle. But the move hardly comes as a surprise, given how much money flows from weapons makers to the coffers of congressional campaigns for both parties.
While the majority of the weapons money goes to Republicans, Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Bill Nelson appear in the top ten recipients of campaign contributions — in both chambers and parties — from military contractors in 2017 and 2018. Northrop Grumman gave $785,000 to Democratic candidates since 2017. Hillary Clinton took over $1 million from the industry in 2016. Even progressive darlings like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders take money from weapons manufacturers, and Sanders supported Boeing’s disastrous F-35 because his home state had a financial stake in the program. More…
California Is Pondering a New Kind of Bank
by Kevin Drum
Posted February 12, 2018
States can legalize marijuana all they want, but it’s still a federally prohibited Schedule I drug. This presents legal marijuana dealers with a problem: where do they keep their money? Banks are under federal supervision, and few of them want to take the chance of knowingly accepting drug money that might later get them in trouble with the feds. California, as always a bellwether for the nation, thinks it might have an answer:
California’s treasurer and attorney general will study whether the state should create its own publicly owned bank to serve the state’s now-legal cannabis industry….There are numerous obstacles to creating such an institution, especially if the plan is for the bank to openly work with cannabis companies.
John Chiang and other public officials have said the lack of banking access for cannabis companies, which has left the industry largely reliant on cash, poses public safety risks and makes it more difficult for the state and local agencies to monitor the industry and ensure businesses are paying their taxes. More…
Social Change Will Upend the Status Quo
by Charles Hugh Smith
Posted February 12, 2018
The core narrative of the Status Quo is that nothing fundamental needs to be changed: all the problems can be solved with more “free money” (borrowed from the future at low rates of interest) and a few policy tweaks.
This core narrative is false: everything needs to change, from the bottom up.And that of course terrifies those gorging at the trough of status quo wealth and power.
The power structure can manipulate financial metrics, but it can’t manipulate rising wealth/power inequality or social discord. Whatever you think of President Trump, his election is a symptom of profound social discord. The nation is fragmenting because the Status Quo is failing the majority of the citizenry. The protected few are reaping all the benefits of the Status Quo, at the expense of the unprotected many. More…
FBI Releases Docs Claiming RT Founder Beat Himself to Death in His Hotel Room
By Matt Agorist
Posted February 11, 2018
In November 2015, the Free Thought Project reported that Mikhail Lesin, the former head of media affairs for the Russian government, and the founder of Russia Today (RT), was found dead in the hotel room that he was staying at in Washington DC.
Originally, authorities announced that Lesin died from a heart attack. However, the results of his autopsy released months later indicated a far more sinister cause of death and the heavily redacted FBI documents that were just released add to that story.
The documents, detailing the FBI investigation into Lesin’s death were just released Saturday morning in spite of the investigation ending in October of 2016. More…
Does anyone else feel us slipping deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole?
Snowden Files Provide New Insight On The NSA And The Power It Wields
by Elizabeth Vos
Posted February 11, 2018
Another document revealed that the US does indeed intervene militarily in order to secure the flow of oil to the US and its allies. The admission was made in a file relating to a seminar on “African Petro-Politics.” The document reads in part: “By 2015, the United States will depend on West African oil for 25% of its oil imports… Oil production in Sudan has been a factor in the Sudanese civil war, with oil wealth sharing being a primary negotiating issue in the peace process.
Oil has played a role in the extent of corruption and in sustaining military might in several African countries… Finally, threats to – and security of – the oil producing areas in West Africa will be discussed (including U.S. engagement to improve security).”
This afterthought in the description of a Petro-Politics seminar is particularly relevant in light of the recent deaths of US Service members in African countries. More…
This Weed Killer Is Wreaking Havoc on America’s Crops
by Tom Philpott
Posted February 10, 2018
When farmer Darvin Bentlage surveyed his southwestern Missouri soybean fields in August, he knew something was amiss in one of them. “I’ve been looking at soybeans for about 60 years, and these didn’t look right,” he says. The plants’ leaves had shriveled upward, taking the shape of little cups: a telltale sign they’d been exposed to dicamba—a potent herbicide that Bentlage does not use. It had wafted onto his farm from his neighbors’ fields.
Bentlage is hardly alone. By mid-October, state departments of agriculture nationwide had received 2,708 complaints from soybean farmers who claimed their fields had been damaged by wayward dicamba. Some 3.6 million acres had been affected, an unprecedented case of herbicides gone rogue. The Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee agriculture departments all temporarily restricted or banned dicamba (several more states will do so in 2018), and farmers launched at least four class-action suits demanding restitution from dicamba-makers. The company at the center of the firestorm was Monsanto—which in October struck back with its own lawsuit, seeking to halt an Arkansas regulation that limits dicamba use. More…
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