Category Archives: government

White supremacist is charged with TERRORISM after coming to New York to ‘stab a 66-year-old black man to death with a sword’

James Harris Jackson is accused of killing Timothy Caughman, 66, last week
The New York District attorney announced the charges against him on Monday
The 28-year-old former veteran is charged with: murder as an act of terrorism, murder as a hate crime, and three counts of criminal possession of a weapon
Jackson served from 2009 to 2012 and worked as an Army intelligence analyst

A sword-wielding racist who traveled to New York City and allegedly killed a homeless black man was charged Monday with state terrorism charges – a rarity – in a crime that prosecutors decried as an assault on personal and racial freedom.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office took the dramatic step of filing first- and second-degree murder as an act of terrorism charges against James Jackson, 28. Terrorism charges are typically filed at the federal level and are reserved for suspects who planned mass attacks, anti-abortion killings, or eco-terrorism. Among the most famous domestic terror cases are the Unabomber attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Charleston church shooting.

Jackson was originally charged with run-of-the-mill murder charges but prosecutors on Monday upgraded the ante to terrorism. He is depicted in an indictment as an assassin who traveled from his Baltimore home for one simple reason: the scouting and killing of a black person on the streets of New York.

“James Jackson prowled the streets of New York for three days in search of a black person to assassinate in order to launch a campaign of terrorism against our Manhattan community and the values we celebrate,” the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, wrote in announcing the charges, which also include a count of murder in the second degree as a hate crime. “With total presence of mind, he acted on his plan, randomly selecting a beloved New Yorker solely on the basis of his skin color.”

Fatally stabbed in the March 20 attack was Timothy Caughman, who was picking through trash when Jackson is alleged to have pulled a 26-inch sword from a long black overcoat he was wearing and stabbed him in the chest and back.

Jackson, who was staying in a midtown New York hotel, told police that he hated black men for at least a decade, police said.

“The reason he picked New York is because it’s the media capital of the world, and he wanted to make a statement,” Assistant Police Chief William Aubrey said at the time of Jackson’s arrest.

Police suggested that Jackson had been thinking of attacking others but instead chose to turn himself in.

The New York Daily News reported Sunday that Jackson said in a Rikers Island jailhouse interview with a reporter that he hoped the attack on Caughman would stop white women from entering relationships with black men.

Jackson said he grew up in an “almost all-white” area outside of Baltimore. “My family is as liberal as they come … typical liberal Democrats,” he told the Daily News. “The white race is being eroded. … No one cares about you. The Chinese don’t care about you, the blacks don’t care about you.”

Jackson told the newspaper he is a fan of the web site Daily Stormer — which was also frequented by South Carolina church gunman Dylann Roof, who was sentenced to death for killing nine black worshipers in 2015.

Vance, the Manhattan prosecutor, said that in addition to New York’s reputation as a media capital, Jackson sought out the Big Apple because of its reputation as a melting pot for different people and cultures. It was in such a place that Jackson wanted to deliver his message of hate, Vance said.

“We must never take for granted New York’s remarkable diversity. We must celebrate it, protect it and refuse to let violence and hate undermine the progress we have made,” Vance wrote.

By Mike James/USA TODAY

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

Internet privacy rules removed by Congress

Internet providers will not be required to ask permission to sell customers’ browsing habits, including medical information, shopping habits and even pornography preferences after Congress voted to roll back Obama-era regulations.

The House of Representatives voted 215 to 205 in favor of eliminating restrictions of internet service providers (ISP) and their ability to sell their customer’s information on Tuesday. The protections were planned to be enacted by the end of 2017 and would have forced ISPs to get permission from their customers before selling their internet browsing and app habits to advertisers.

The vote was largely bipartisan, with those in favor being exclusively Republican. However, several Republican lawmakers crossed over to vote against eliminating the privacy measures. Last Thursday, a Senate vote set the stage for the House of Representatives to send the bill to President Donald Trump’s desk after they voted exclusively on party lines against the measures.

The planned protections were proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and would have prevented ISPs and broadband providers from selling information, including where customers bank, shop, browse, their political views and even sexual orientation.

Those in favor of eliminating the protection measures have claimed that preventing ISPs from requiring consumer consent for customer information will eliminate competition among providers.

In a press release, Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) defended rolling back the protections, saying the FCC’s privacy policy “has the potential to limit consumer choice, stifle innovation, and jeopardize data security by destabilizing the internet ecosystem.

Supporters of the FCC regulations believe the repeal will only benefit broadband providers.

Instead of making the industry more competitive, what this bill wants to do is give these four or five ISPs even more power,” Representative Ro Khanna (D-California) told The Guardian.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting privacy on the internet, released a statement saying “should President Donald Trump sign S.J. Res. 34 into law, big Internet providers will be given new powers to harvest your personal information in extraordinarily creepy ways.

For internet users who want to protect their privacy from ISPs, the options are slim going forward. Some may choose to utilize a virtual private network (VPN), a frequently paid service that routes all internet traffic through one server not directly connected to the user. However, many sites like Netflix try to ban VPN users from utilizing their services.

Others may move over to using Tor, a more complex server that could leave users open to malicious servers.

Repealing the FCC’s regulations is not a done deal, yet. President Trump has yet to sign off on SJ Res 34, leaving opponents room for a Hail Mary. The EFF’s Jeremy Gillula told the Guardian, “I think we’d try to convince President Trump that signing a bill that helps big corporate interests by eliminating Americans’ privacy and weakening their cybersecurity isn’t exactly ‘draining the swamp.’

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

‘Culture change’: DNC orders all staff to submit resignations

The new leadership of the Democratic National Committee has asked its entire staff to resign as the party seeks to rebuild from the 2016 electoral losses.

Immediately following the hotly contested DNC chair race in February, the winner Tom Perez, a former labor secretary under President Barack Obama, asked the entire DNC staff to submit their letters of resignation by April 15, NBC News reported Tuesday.

DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said Perez has been looking to restructure the party since he took over.

From the beginning, Tom has been adamant that we structure the DNC for future campaigns. Current and future DNC staff will be integral to that effort,” Hinojosa told NBC News.

Together we’ll right the ship and get the Democratic Party in a position to take the fight to Donald Trump and the Republican Party and win,” Perez said in a March 15 announcement. He also revealed the creation of a 30-member Transition Advisory Committee, tasked with reviewing current staff members and interviewing new prospects for the restructuring process.

Leah Daughtry, a co-chair of the committee, then reportedly asked every staff member to submit letters of resignation to allow Perez to make a “culture change.

Perez told NBC News last Friday, “We’re repairing a plane at 20,000 feet. You can’t land the plane, shut it down, and close it until further notice.

During the 2016 election under former chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida), the DNC was accused of favoring former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her opponent in the primaries, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), based on allegedly hacked or leaked DNC communications as well as Wikileaks publishing thousands of email exchanges from Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta.

Although it is normal practice for a new party chairman to seek resignations from some staffers, some fear this move may lead to filling the party with those who aligned with Perez, leaving out progressives who backed his opponent, Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota).

Kait Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in a March 16 statement that “the initial names on the DNC Transition Advisory Committee include zero leaders of progressive grassroots groups that engage in electoral work and very few movement progressives,” according to the Huffington Post.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The Dance of Death

The ruling corporate elites no longer seek to build. They seek to destroy. They are agents of death. They crave the unimpeded power to cannibalize the country and pollute and degrade the ecosystem to feed an insatiable lust for wealth, power and hedonism. Wars and military “virtues” are celebrated. Intelligence, empathy and the common good are banished. Culture is degraded to patriotic kitsch. Education is designed only to instill technical proficiency to serve the poisonous engine of corporate capitalism. Historical amnesia shuts us off from the past, the present and the future. Those branded as unproductive or redundant are discarded and left to struggle in poverty or locked away in cages. State repression is indiscriminate and brutal. And, presiding over the tawdry Grand Guignol is a deranged ringmaster tweeting absurdities from the White House.

The graveyard of world empires—Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Mayan, Khmer, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian—followed the same trajectory of moral and physical collapse. Those who rule at the end of empire are psychopaths, imbeciles, narcissists and deviants, the equivalents of the depraved Roman emperors Caligula, Nero, Tiberius and Commodus. The ecosystem that sustains the empire is degraded and exhausted. Economic growth, concentrated in the hands of corrupt elites, is dependent on a crippling debt peonage imposed on the population. The bloated ruling class of oligarchs, priests, courtiers, mandarins, eunuchs, professional warriors, financial speculators and corporate managers sucks the marrow out of society.

The elites’ myopic response to the looming collapse of the natural world and the civilization is to make subservient populations work harder for less, squander capital in grandiose projects such as pyramids, palaces, border walls and fracking, and wage war. President Trump’s decision to increase military spending by $54 billion and take the needed funds out of the flesh of domestic programs typifies the behavior of terminally ill civilizations. When the Roman Empire fell, it was trying to sustain an army of half a million soldiers that had become a parasitic drain on state resources.

The complex bureaucratic mechanisms that are created by all civilizations ultimately doom them. The difference now, as Joseph Tainter points out in “The Collapse of Complex Societies,” is that “collapse, if and when it comes again, will this time be global. No longer can any individual nation collapse. World civilization will disintegrate as a whole.”

Civilizations in decline, despite the palpable signs of decay around them, remain fixated on restoring their “greatness.” Their illusions condemn them. They cannot see that the forces that gave rise to modern civilization, namely technology, industrial violence and fossil fuels, are the same forces that are extinguishing it. Their leaders are trained only to serve the system, slavishly worshipping the old gods long after these gods begin to demand millions of sacrificial victims.

“Hope drives us to invent new fixes for old messes, which in turn create even more dangerous messes,” Ronald Wright writes in “A Short History of Progress.” “Hope elects the politician with the biggest empty promise; and as any stockbroker or lottery seller knows, most of us will take a slim hope over prudent and predictable frugality. Hope, like greed, fuels the engine of capitalism.”

The Trump appointees—Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson, Steve Mnuchin, Betsy DeVos, Wilbur Ross, Rick Perry, Alex Acosta and others—do not advocate innovation or reform. They are Pavlovian dogs that salivate before piles of money. They are hard-wired to steal from the poor and loot federal budgets. Their single-minded obsession with personal enrichment drives them to dismantle any institution or abolish any law or regulation that gets in the way of their greed. Capitalism, Karl Marx wrote, is “a machine for demolishing limits.” There is no internal sense of proportion or scale. Once all external impediments are lifted, global capitalism ruthlessly commodifies human beings and the natural world to extract profit until exhaustion or collapse. And when the last moments of a civilization arrive, the degenerate edifices of power appear to crumble overnight.

Sigmund Freud wrote that societies, along with individuals, are driven by two primary instincts. One is the instinct for life, Eros, the quest to love, nurture, protect and preserve. The second is the death instinct. The death instinct, called Thanatos by post-Freudians, is driven by fear, hatred and violence. It seeks the dissolution of all living things, including our own beings. One of these two forces, Freud wrote, is always ascendant. Societies in decline enthusiastically embrace the death instinct, as Freud observed in “Civilization and Its Discontents,” written on the eve of the rise of European fascism and World War II.

“It is in sadism, where the death instinct twists the erotic aim in its own sense and yet at the same time fully satisfies the erotic urge, that we succeed in obtaining the clearest insight into its nature and its relation to Eros,” Freud wrote. “But even where it emerges without any sexual purpose, in the blindest fury of destructiveness, we cannot fail to recognize that the satisfaction of the instinct is accompanied by an extraordinary high degree of narcissistic enjoyment, owing to its presenting the ego with a fulfillment of the latter’s old wishes for omnipotence.”

The lust for death, as Freud understood, is not, at first, morbid. It is exciting and seductive. I saw this in the wars I covered. A god-like power and adrenaline-driven fury, even euphoria, sweep over armed units and ethnic or religious groups given the license to destroy anything and anyone around them. Ernst Juenger captured this “monstrous desire for annihilation” in his World War I memoir, “Storm of Steel.”

A population alienated and beset by despair and hopelessness finds empowerment and pleasure in an orgy of annihilation that soon morphs into self-annihilation. It has no interest in nurturing a world that has betrayed it and thwarted its dreams. It seeks to eradicate this world and replace it with a mythical landscape. It turns against institutions, as well as ethnic and religious groups, that are scapegoated for its misery. It plunders diminishing natural resources with abandon. It is seduced by the fantastic promises of demagogues and the magical solutions characteristic of the Christian right or what anthropologists call “crisis cults.”

Norman Cohn, in “The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Messianism in Medieval and Reformation Europe and Its Bearing on Modern Totalitarian Movements,” draws a link between that turbulent period and our own. Millennial movements are a peculiar, collective psychological response to profound societal despair. They recur throughout human history. We are not immune.

“These movements have varied in tone from the most violent aggressiveness to the mildest pacifism and in aim from the most ethereal spirituality to the most earth-bound materialism; there is no counting the possible ways of imagining the Millennium and the route to it,” Cohen wrote. “But similarities can present themselves as well as differences; and the more carefully one compares the outbreaks of militant social chiliasm during the later Middle Ages with modern totalitarian movements the more remarkable the similarities appear. The old symbols and the old slogans have indeed disappeared, to be replaced by new ones; but the structure of the basic phantasies seems to have changed scarcely at all.”

These movements, Cohen wrote, offered “a coherent social myth which was capable of taking entire possession of those who believed in it. It explained their suffering, it promised them recompense, it held their anxieties at bay, it gave them an illusion of security—even while it drove them, held together by a common enthusiasm, on a quest which was always vain and often suicidal.

“So it came about that multitudes of people acted out with fierce energy a shared phantasy which though delusional yet brought them such intense emotional relief that they could live only through it and were perfectly willing to die for it. It is a phenomenon which was to recur many times between the eleventh century and the sixteenth century, now in one area, now in another, and which, despite the obvious differences in cultural context and in scale, is not irrelevant to the growth of totalitarian movements, with their messianic leaders, their millennial mirages and their demon-scapegoats, in the present century.”

The severance of a society from reality, as ours has been severed from collective recognition of the severity of climate change and the fatal consequences of empire and deindustrialization, leaves it without the intellectual and institutional mechanisms to confront its impending mortality. It exists in a state of self-induced hypnosis and self-delusion. It seeks momentary euphoria and meaning in tawdry entertainment and acts of violence and destruction, including against people who are demonized and blamed for society’s demise. It hastens its self-immolation while holding up the supposed inevitability of a glorious national resurgence. Idiots and charlatans, the handmaidens of death, lure us into the abyss.

By Chris Hedges/Truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Police Use of Force against People with Mental Illness, Children in Schools

People with mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter than other civilians, according to a report covered by Democracy Now! in September 2016. The Treatment Advocacy Center published its report, titled “Overlooked in the Undercounted: The Role of Mental Illness in Fatal Law Enforcement Encounters,” in December 2015. The report’s authors wrote, “Given the prevalence of mental illness in police shootings, reducing encounters between on-duty law enforcement and individuals with the most severe psychiatric diseases may represent the single most immediate, practical strategy for reducing fatal police shootings in the United States.

Nermeen Shaikh and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviewed John Snook, one of the study’s co-authors and the director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, after the death of Alfred Olango in El Cajon, California, in September 2016. El Cajon Police responding to a call for emergency psychiatric aid shot Olango several times, and he died in hospital later the same day. The Democracy Now! report described Olango’s death as “just the most recent in a string of police shootings of primarily men of color with mental illness or disability,” linking it with an incident the week before, in Charlotte, North Carolina, in which police shot and killed Keith Scott, a 43-year-old father who reportedly had suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2015, and a July incident in North Miami in which a police officer contended that he mistakenly shot an African-American behavioral therapist, Charles Kinsey, when he was aiming for Arnaldo Rios Soto, a 26-year-old autistic man.

Snook described the Olango incident as “a nightmare scenario for families with a loved one who has a mental illness, and for law enforcement themselves” before asking, “When someone is having a medical emergency, why are we requiring law enforcement to step in?” Making the point that law enforcement officers are not trained as mental health professionals, Snook added that we need to “get away from this situation where we wait until someone is in a crisis before we provide care.”

Meanwhile, additional news stories—including Rebecca Klein’s reporting for the Huffington Post and the Hechinger Report in August 2016—document the frequency with which school-based law enforcement officers have used Tasers on children. Klein reports that, since 2011, there are at least 84 documented instances of “school-based police officers using Tasers against K-12 students.” All the students were 12-19 years old when the incidents occurred. They were hit by Taser or stun guns used by school-based police officers, who are sometimes called school resource officers. According to Klein, the figure is “a gross underestimation because not every incident is reported, and no state or federal organization track how often children are zapped at schools.”

The numbers of police officers in schools have gone up since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. New “tough on crime” and zero tolerance policies were also implemented after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, when the Obama administration funded a program to hire one thousand school resource officers and counselors. Klein reports that “in 1997 only 10 percent of public schools had police officers; in 2014, 30 percent did.”

As Regis Duvignau of RT News reports, just over a month into the 2016-17 school year, four students have already been tasered by school-based officers, including two girls from a Florida high school who were fighting. In that case, RT News reports, a sheriff later explained that the Taser was “the safest way” to break up the fight.

From Project Censored

Posted by The NON-Conformist

IF TRUMP TOWER WAS WIRETAPPED, TRUMP CAN DECLASSIFY THAT RIGHT NOW

IF IN FACT Trump Tower was wiretapped during the 2016 presidential campaign, as President Trump claimed in several tweets Saturday morning, he can do much more than say so on twitter: Presidents have the power to declassify anything at any time, so Trump could immediately make public any government records of such surveillance.

What Trump is saying seems to be a garbled version of previous reporting by the BBC, among other news outlets.

Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!

Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!

According to a report in the BBC, citing unnamed sources, a joint government task force was formed in spring of 2016 to look into an intelligence report from a foreign government that Russian money was somehow coming into the U.S. presidential race. In June the Department of Justice, part of the task force, asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court for a warrant to intercept electronic communications by two Russian banks.

However, the BBC’s report says, the FISA court turned the application down.. The Justice Department then asked again in July with a more narrowly drawn request, which was again turned down. Justice then made a third request for a warrant on October 15, which was granted.

None of this involves wiretapping Trump Tower. However, it is possible that Trump picked that up from a Breitbart article that in turn relied on a Heat Street piece that claimed the warrant was issued because of evidence of links between a “private server in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower” and a Russian bank. In fact, the server in question, set up by a marketing company hired by Trump, was physically located in Philadelphia.

Barack Obama’s spokesman responded to Trump’s tweets by saying that “neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.” Notably, this statement does not deny that someone in the Obama administration ordered surveillance of Trump Tower, simply that the White House did not – which isn’t meaningful, since in a properly functioning executive branch the Justice Department would make that decision on its own without White House interference.

So what does all this mean?

The most likely explanation is that there was never any wiretapping of Trump Tower – or as Trump put it in another tweet, “my phones” — but the FISA court did allow surveillance of the Philadelphia server and the Justice Department ultimately decided there was nothing to it.

Or perhaps the Justice Department decided there was something to it and is still investigating it.

Or perhaps there were FISA court warrants but for surveillance of people around Trump that had nothing to do with the Philadelphia server and the Russian bank.

Or perhaps Trump never read the Breitbart article but instead learned there was significant surveillance of Trump Tower in the way you’d expect a president would, from the massive intelligence apparatus he commands.

Or perhaps Trump has simply gotten all of this wrong.

Whatever the case, Trump has the power to clarify it and everything else about the Russia story right now by declassifying whatever surveillance records exist of contacts between people in his orbit and Russia. If he and his associates did nothing wrong, he has every incentive to do so as soon as possible.

The White House press office did not immediately respond to requests to comment on whether Trump will use his declassification power regarding his tweeted claims. It’s previously ignored repeated questions about whether he will use it regarding the general issue of contacts between Russia and his campaign.

INTERESTINGLY, THERE HAS in fact been significant government surveillance involving a presidential campaign in the past, although it’s unlikely Trump will want to remind America of it.

During the 1968 contest between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon, President Lyndon Johnson was attempting to negotiate a peace deal to end the Vietnam War.

Nixon was worried that if this happened just before the election it would help Humphrey, who was Johnson’s vice president. Recently discovered notes by one of Nixon’s top campaign aides show that Nixon asked him to “monkey wrench” the peace talks. Via Anna Chennault, a top Republican fundraiser, the Nixon campaign sent messages to the government of South Vietnam not to go along with Johnson’s plans.

Johnson knew that this was happening at the time, and believed that it constituted “treason.” He ordered the FBI to wiretap the embassy of South Vietnam in Washington, which picked up Ambassador Bui Diem communicating with Chennault. (Presidents could and did directly order wiretaps prior to the establishment of the FISA court in 1978 to prevent executive branch abuses of its surveillance power.) The FBI also began conducting general surveillance of Chennault.

Johnson and several top officials, including Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford and Secretary of State Dean Rusk, struggled with what to do in a fascinating phone call on November 4, 1968, the day before the election.

Johnson speaks of not wanting to be “a McCarthy” and worries about the certainty that “we’ll be charged with trying to interfere with the election.”

Rusk also equivocates, telling Johnson that “I do not believe that any president can make any use of interceptions or telephone taps in any way that would involve politics. The moment we cross over that divide we are in a different kind of society. … We get a lot of information through these special channels that we don’t make public. For example, some of the malfeasances of senators and congressmen and other people. … I think that we must continue to respect the classification of that kind of material.”

Clifford chimes in with another concern: that Americans just couldn’t endure learning how the world actually works. “I think,” Clifford frets, “that some elements of the story are so shocking in their nature that I’m wondering whether it would be good for the country to disclose the story, and then possibly to have a certain individual elected. It could cast his whole administration under such doubts that I would think it would be inimical to our country’s interests.”

In the end, Johnson decided not to reveal what he knew about Nixon’s shocking subterfuge.

The next day Nixon narrowly beat Humphrey. During Nixon’s time in office, 20,000 more U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese died before the war finally ended.

The fact that Nixon did ally with a foreign government for advantage in a presidential election certainly doesn’t mean that Trump did the same. However, it does mean that U.S. politicians are capable of doing that – and that past presidents have used wiretaps to track the actions of their political adversaries.

By Jon Schwarz/TheIntercept

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The US spends more on its military than the next 8 countries combined

According to 2015 estimates gathered by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States was responsible for 36% of the entire world’s military spending. Even so, President Trump is calling for a $54 billion increase in US military spending which he says is needed to “rebuild the military.” In order to pay for this, Trump is also calling for a $54 billion cut in other parts of the federal budget.

By Emmanuel Ocbazghi/BusinessInsider

Posted by The NON-Conformist