CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY IF CNN)

 

CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61

Remembering the life of Anthony Bourdain

JUST WATCHED

Remembering the life of Anthony Bourdain

Remembering the life of Anthony Bourdain 02:18
Programming note: CNN will air “Remembering Anthony Bourdain,” a special report on the life and legacy of the chef, storyteller and writer, tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

New York (CNN)Anthony Bourdain, the gifted chef, storyteller and writer who took TV viewers around the world to explore culture, cuisine and the human condition for nearly two decades, has died. He was 61.

CNN confirmed Bourdain’s death on Friday and said the cause of death was suicide.
Bourdain was in France working on an upcoming episode of his award-winning CNN series, “Parts Unknown.” His close friend Eric Ripert, the French chef, found Bourdain unresponsive in his hotel room Friday morning.
Anthony Bourdain on January 4, 2017, in Port of Spain, Trinidad

Asking for help

The suicide rate in the United States has seen sharp increases in recent years. Studies have shown that the risk of suicide declines sharply when people call the national suicide hotline: 1-800-273-TALK.

There is also a crisis text line. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

The lines are staffed by a mix of paid professionals and unpaid volunteers trained in crisis and suicide intervention. The confidential environment, the 24-hour accessibility, a caller’s ability to hang up at any time and the person-centered care have helped its success, advocates say.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.

“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain,” the network said in a statement Friday morning. “His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller.
“His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time.”
Bourdain joined CNN five years ago. In an email to employees, the network’s president, Jeff Zucker, remembered him as an “exceptional talent.”
“Tony will be greatly missed not only for his work but also for the passion with which he did it,” Zucker wrote.
Viewers around the world felt connected to Bourdain through his fearless travels, his restless spirit and his magical way with words. Fans, fellow chefs, celebrities and friends reacted to his death with stunned sorrow.
“My heart breaks for Tony Bourdain,” CNN’s chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, wrote on Twitter. “May he rest in peace now.”
President Donald Trump extended his condolences to Bourdain’s family on Friday morning. “I enjoyed his show,” Trump said. “He was quite a character.”
Former President Barack Obama recalled a meal he shared with Bourdain in Vietnam while Obama was on a trip through Asia in 2016 — an encounter captured in a “Parts Unknown” episode that year.
“‘Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.’ This is how I’ll remember Tony,” Obama posted to Twitter on Friday. “He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him.”
For the past year, Bourdain had been dating Italian actress Asia Argento. She remembered Bourdain as someone who “gave all of himself in everything that he did.”
Last year he advocated for Argento as she went public with accusations against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. “He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated.”
Bourdain’s death came days after fashion designer Kate Spade died in an apparent suicide Tuesday at her Manhattan apartment.
Suicide is a growing problem in the United States. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a survey Thursday showing suicide rates increased by 25% across the United States over nearly two decades ending in 2016. Twenty-five states experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%, the government report finds.

‘The Elvis of bad boy chefs’

Bourdain was a master of his crafts — first in the kitchen and then in the media. Through his TV shows and books, he helped audiences think differently about food, travel and themselves. He advocated for marginalized populations and campaigned for safer working conditions for restaurant staffs.
Along the way, he received practically every award the industry has to offer.
In 2013, Peabody Award judges honored Bourdain and “Parts Unknown” for “expanding our palates and horizons in equal measure.”
“He’s irreverent, honest, curious, never condescending, never obsequious,” the judges said. “People open up to him and, in doing so, often reveal more about their hometowns or homelands than a traditional reporter could hope to document.”
The Smithsonian once called him “the original rock star” of the culinary world, “the Elvis of bad boy chefs.” His shows took him to more than 100 countries and three networks.
While accepting the Peabody award in 2013, Bourdain described how he approached his work.
“We ask very simple questions: What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook? And everywhere in the world we go and ask these very simple questions,” he said, “we tend to get some really astonishing answers.”
Friends and acquaintances on Friday remembered Bourdain’s curiosity for the world’s variety of cultures and cuisine rubbing off on them. They included author and humorist John Hodgman, who recalled eating with Bourdain some 14 years ago.
“He was big even then, but he took time to sit with me in Chinatown to talk ‘weird’ food for a magazine piece I was writing. He taught me that our ‘weird’ is the world’s delicious,” Hodgman wrote on Twitter. “We ate chicken feet. The afternoon vibrated with life. RIP.”
Chef Gordon Ramsay said Bourdain “brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food.”

From ‘happy dishwasher’ to addiction to fame

Bourdain grew up in Leonia, New Jersey, and started working in kitchens in his teens — including on Massachusetts’ Cape Cod during the summer.
“I was a happy dishwasher,” he said in a 2016 interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” “I jokingly say that I learned every important lesson, all the most important lessons of my life, as a dishwasher.”
It was during those early jobs, he said, that he began using drugs, eventually developing a heroin addiction and other problems that he later said should have killed him in his 20s. He often talked of his addiction later in life.
“Somebody who wakes up in the morning and their first order of business is (to) get heroin — I know what that’s like,” Bourdain said in a 2014 “Parts Unknown” episode highlighting an opioid crisis in Massachusetts.
After spending two years at New York’s Vassar College, he dropped out and enrolled in culinary school. He spent years as a line cook and sous chef at restaurants in the Northeast before becoming executive chef at Manhattan’s Brasseries Les Halles.
But it was his writing that put him on the map in his early 40s.
Bourdain drew widespread public attention with his 1999 New Yorker article, “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” about the secrets of kitchen life and shady characters he encountered along the way.
“In America, the professional kitchen is the last refuge of the misfit. It’s a place for people with bad pasts to find a new family,” he wrote.
Anthony Bourdain on pushing boundaries

Anthony Bourdain on pushing boundaries 00:36
The article morphed into a best-selling book in 2000, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,” which was translated into more than two dozen languages.
“When the book came out, it very quickly transformed my life — I mean, changed everything,” he told NPR.
Bourdain found himself on a path to international stardom. First, he hosted “A Cook’s Tour” on the Food Network, then moved to the Travel Channel with “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” a breakout hit that earned two Emmy Awards and more than a dozen nominations.
In 2013, both Bourdain and CNN took a risk by bringing him to a network still best known for breaking news and headlines. Bourdain quickly became one of its principal faces and a linchpin of its prime-time schedule.
Season 11 of “Parts Unknown” premiered last month on CNN, with destinations including Uruguay, Armenia and West Virginia.
The 'insanely good' food of Hong Kong

The ‘insanely good’ food of Hong Kong 01:09
In his final weeks, Bourdain said he was especially looking forward to an episode about Hong Kong, which aired Sunday.
He called it a “dream show” in which he linked up with longtime Hong Kong resident and cinematographer Christopher Doyle.
“The idea was just to interview him and maybe get him to hold a camera. He ended up being director of photography for the entire episode,” Bourdain told CNN in April. “For me it was like asking Joe DiMaggio to, you know, sign my baseball and instead he joined my Little League team for the whole season.”
The show’s website on Friday posted an homage to Bourdain featuring one of his many oft-repeated quotations — one that seemed to embody his philosophy: “If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food.”
How to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also can provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.

In The Holy Land: Land For Peace Has Always Been A Con Job

In The Holy Land: Land For Peace Has Always Been A Con Job

In 1948 the United Nations recreated the State of Israel that was just a small sliver of its former God-given borders. The Jewish people had to fight for every inch of that ground as the people living there did not wish to be removed from the land and I don’t believe that they can be blamed for that. If the United States government decided to  give the state of New Mexico back to the native population I am rather sure that the people currently living there would fight to keep from being removed, wouldn’t you? In the 7th century A.D. when the creation of Islam occurred the land of the Middle-East was dominated by the Jewish and Christian people and their religions. The military forces of Islamic believing people took these people’s land and their lives taking all of their possessions as spoils of war. The people of Islam held this land until 1948 then they were removed by force. The Jewish/Hebrew people had possessed this land for about 2,100 years before losing it to the Arab/Islamic people and these people and their faith have ruled the Middle-East for about 1,400 years now.  It is easy to see why all the people of ‘The Holy Land’ claim the land as their own.

 

The first paragraph was a 200 word attempt at encapsulating about 3,500 years of human history of ‘The Holy Lands’. There is no way to give the people and the land a totally fair shake in this one short article but I am going to do my best to be honest and fair in what I write. The reason I side with Israel on the land issue is because I am a Christian who happens to believe that the Bible is the Holy Spirit inspired word of God, all of it. When Moses led the Hebrew people up out of Egypt in about the year 1,500 B.C. He (God) specified to Moses and his successor Joshua exactly what Israels boundaries were to be.  The Israel of 1948 and indeed the Israel of 1967 and the Israel of 2018 are only a sliver of the God-given boundaries of what is supposed to be the nation of Israel.

 

In 1967 the Arab nations around Israel attacked the people of Israel from every direction in an attempt to remove Israel from the map but they failed completely. The 1967 war was called the 6 day war because Israel dominated their attackers and in the process Israel more than doubled their size via the land they captured from their neighbors during those 6 days. This is the land that the idiots at the U.N. and some in D.C. still refer to as “occupied land.” In 1972 Israel gave the whole Sinai back to Egypt when they signed a peace deal with their President Anwar Sadat from an agreement with President Carter of the U.S. which was called the Camp David Accord. This peace accord cost President Sadat his life at the hands of his own military. Twelve years ago Israel gave up land for peace when they gave up the Gaza Strip and The West Bank to the PLO and their leader President Arafat and his Fatah military wing. I stated at that time that the Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon had made a horrible mistake in giving away what God himself had given and I was proven totally correct on this issue. About 4 months after this land give away Mr. Sharon suffered a massive stroke that he never woke up from, laying in a coma for almost exactly 8 years before he died in January of 2014.

 

I know that I am not the only person who knew that once the people who were now called ‘the Palestinians’ would only use this land they were given to stage more attacks on the people of Israel from a now closer range. Here in America when we elected our first Islamic Shiite President in Mr. Obama on his first official visit to Israel he without consulting the government or the people declared that Israel was going to revert back to the pre 1967 borders, as though he was some kind of King of the world. Mr. Obama has been mad at the leaders of Israel ever since they said no to his ‘decree’. Think about this issue for a moment, in 1967 prior to the Arab nations attack these same Arab nations and people were trying to end Israel as a nation. They did not and do not want there to be such a thing as a nation of Israel. If this current government of Israel did as King Obama wanted there is no reason to believe that the people who believe that Allah is God would do anything other than continue to attack the Jewish nation in an attempt to do as they tried to do in 1967. When it comes to land for peace, and treaties with Islamic believers there is no such thing as creating peace with them by giving them more of your land. This illusion of peace has never been true since the days that Muhammad walked the Earth, it is not true today and it will never ever be true.

Why Is The American Government Committing Treason Against Every American

Why Is The American Government Committing Treason Against Every American

 

There are going to be some folks who will be mad at me for insinuating such a thing about our government, some will call me unpatriotic for saying such a thing. Well, honestly, I think that the vast majority of the American People aren’t quite as naive as we were 50 years ago, or even say, one year ago.  I know that I am not the wisest human being to ever walk this planet but I have spent most of my 60 plus years trying to pay attention to reality. We all know by now that there are good and bad people in every profession. There are some professions that we all believe or joke about as being dirty whether it be so or not, like door to door magazine salesmen, used car dealers, bankers, insurance salesmen, NSA personnel, politicians, and oil executives. I have tried to always be completely truthful in everything I write on this site, always to the best of my knowledge and ability, and that is what I am going to do in this article.

Treason, yes treason, that is what I said. The first duty of any government is to keep its people safe. If they forsake this most basic vow, they are guilty of treason against their own people and this is what has been going on now for a very long time. Nothing this bad can last forever without horrible consequences and at any moment all of our lives can be changed in a flash. Back in 1980 I worked at a major U.S. oil company headquarters in Houston Texas in the executive protection field, I learned there just how easily major politicians can be bought and paid for with absolutely no regard for the welfare of the country by either the politician or the company. These actions I witnessed and heard sickened me to my core so I quit and moved many states away from that job.  Some of the things I heard there would make you mad, sick, or just laugh at some of the pure stupidity and out of touch with reality they could be there in their ivory towers.

For many years I have traveled all over the United States many, many, times. I am going to tell you some of the things I have seen and that I know are absolute truth. When you travel through west Texas and you go through the Midland, Odessa area on interstate 20 you are going through the Permian Basin. This is where the best crude oil in the world is at, it is the oil that the rest of the world’s oil is judged by, this is the land that the Bush family worked, lived, and prospered in. If you look out in the fields on each side of the highway especially if you travel at night you will occasionally see vertical lights out in the fields, these are oil drilling rigs digging for the black gold. Does it make any sense to still be drilling? Most folks would say yes, I think. But now, if you travel west Texas, Oklahoma, California, Wyoming, or North or South Dakota you will see something that might surprise you, at least at a minimum, even in west Texas, half or more of all the pump jacks are turned off and the new holes that get dug are then capped.

Now, do you ask why? Good question, now I am going to start telling you why I think that you and I and everyone in our country are having our safety sold out, it’s all about money and greed folks. I have some friends in these High Plains areas who work in these fields and have been told the same thing goes on up there, wells get dug, then capped. You probably know of this oil pipeline that Canada and some U.S. companies want to lay pipe for from Canada down to the Gulf Coast but the government won’t approve it because environmental organizations don’t want it running through sensitive land areas in places like Nebraska. Here is a thought, I know for a fact that there are oil refineries in states like Wyoming and Montana, why does the oil pipeline have any need to go all the way to the Gulf Coast, is it so the oil companies can export it? We have been told for decades now that we don’t have the oil storage or refining capabilities that are needed. Why not? Create more jobs in these western states, build a lot more storage areas and the needed amount of oil refineries there to handle the new oil we are finding on our own land and if Canada want’s to run this joint pipeline adventure into the States there is plenty of unused government land to build these facilities on. These things should have been done many years ago for the reason of National Security, your security, my security, and the security of all of our families have been at stake for years, but we were then and now still being sold out.

Back as far as the early seventies our people learned that we are not and island unto our selves, that events outside of our borders can badly harm us. With the OPEC oil embargo OPEC countries cut way back on what they would sell us because we dared to back Israel. What has our government done to correct this national security issue? What is our current government doing now to correct this major safety issue? President Obama wouldn’t approve the Canadian pipeline, and he all but killed the cola industry and the nuclear industry is being phased out, plus there are many, many oil fields that the government wouldn’t give drilling permits for. But now, President Trump seems willing to give drilling permits just about anywhere except off the east coast of Florida where he has personal business interests. Yet still, where are the new refineries and storage units for all the oil we are producing and the gas we are producing on our own shores, where are they? I know that oil and gas and coal are not the only forms or energy we use in our country, but they are a huge part of it at this time. The U.S. Department of Energy say’s that in 2012 we imported 40% of the oil we consume at this time, 40% folks. In this country we have seen when we have a 2% down tick in the economy it throws us into a deep recession, at best. Folks, what would happen in this country if say even 30% of that 40% were shut off from us, that would be 12% loss. What would that do to our economy, to everyone’s lives, our jobs, our ability to get to them, also what would the cost of a gallon of gas be then?

If we the people are not the first concern for every one in our government why not? Now I am going to spout a few figures to you that come from the Independent Statistics and Analyst Department of the U.S. Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, from one of their web sites. We (oil companies) are exporting these following items, 1) Crude Oil 2) Crude Oil Products 3) Finished Motor Gasoline 4) Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel 5) Distillate Fuel Oil 6) Residual Fuel Oil 7) Propane/Polypropylene 8) here it just said “oil-oils”.  People, why is our government allowing the sale of any of this outside of our own borders? Their own stats say that we are importing 7.4 M.M.B.D. of crude oil while at the same time we are exporting 1.M.M.B.D., people, why is this being allowed. In the “Interest of National Security” these things could be stopped and corrected, why aren’t they? Money, greed?Treason?

There are many real things that could have been done already to cut down on our imports while they were building the refineries and storage facilities that are needed. Any secure nation is not secure unless it is 100% self-sufficient in its energy requirements with large energy stock piles in case of any type of attack on that country. Folks, we are nowhere near being in a safe zone. Another part of this issue is the fact that we are importing energy from countries that hate us and who are supporting militant groups so that they can attack and kill us all. How ignorant is it that you give the people who want nothing more than to kill you the weapons and the bullets to do it with? That’s what we are doing and have been doing for decades now, why is our government past and present trying to get us all killed? Is the answer the same as what I witnessed while working for that major oil company in Houston, is it all about power and greed and to hell with the people, it does seem that way to me.

One other quick issue I want to touch on before I close, again the government could have used the “for national security, or at least, for the good of the country” slogan to force these issues, and they do have the power to do exactly that in time of emergencies . Question is, why wait until you have the emergency before you make any plans or take the needed steps to survive the emergency? One of the things the government could have/should be enforcing is much more stringent MPG requirements for at least the past forty years yet President Trump just this past week canceled the higher MPG requirements. Think how much less fuel imports would be if all new cars sold in America were required to get 40 MPG in town and out, no exceptions, and all Pickups and SUV’s were required to get a minimum of 30 MPG in town and out. Why is it not a forced issue that every new vehicle made or sold in America has to be a Hybrid? These things can be done and should have been forced on the car makers decades ago. Would there have to be changes in the design and size of the units, of course. But think about it, if these laws were in effect now and our units were getting these MPG’s now how much of a savings would all of us have at the pump? Think of all the other places that money could be spent to improve our life styles and at the same time stimulate our economy. I will close now with this one very major issue. Our import export deficit is now over a trillion dollars a year and a huge portion is from imported energy. This policy is stupid and dangerous to every one of us. Our governments policies not only give our enemies the weapons they use to kills us with but in so doing, this export deficit is killing the value of our currency making the things we can buy much more expensive because the dollar is so down graded, and this hurts every one of us. So again, why the heck is our government putting every ones lively hood and lives at such risk? Is it as simple as money and greed, because they couldn’t possibly just be this stupid could they, well, maybe President Trump could, but no, in this case it is all about greed.

As I said earlier in this article, there are good and bad people in every occupation, even politics. When I lived in northern Illinois back about 40 years ago I had a real good Congressman in a man named John Anderson and I was blessed to have had an excellent Congressman when I lived in eastern Tennessee named M.D. Phil Roe. I have had contacts with Congressman Roe a few times and I beg you, if you have a good Congressman or Senator, state of federal, please try to communicate these concerns to them before we either end up with a totally crippled country, or before we’re all dead.

 

U.S. Presidents And Scumbags

U.S. Presidents And Scumbags

 

In this past week we have heard the term ‘scumbag’ bantered around in the national media quite a bit. First we heard that this term was used in the book that will be being released tomorrow April 17th from the former Director of the FBI, James Comey. In his book Mr. Comey reportedly used this term in describing President Trump. Fittingly Mr. Trump then has repeatedly used this term in targeting Mr. Comey. As if we weren’t already aware of it, Mr. Trump like in his recent post Syrian missile attack tweet where he copied George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” disaster after he illegally invaded Iraq has shown that he is incapable of thinking up his own terms/words, he has to use others words. So, being the word ‘scumbag’ seems to be the word of the moment I thought that I would try to make a list of the biggest scumbag Presidents, at least that I could personally think of. Now, such a list is arbitrary as each one of us may well have a differing opinion on this matter. This list is about people/Presidents, whom I believe were/are the 10 worse scumbags, not simply whom I think were the 10 ‘worse’ overall Presidents.

 

It should be no surprise that 7 of the 10 on my list are men who have been Presidents during my personal lifetime as these would be people that I have known better than the earlier Office Holders. After I give you my list of ‘scumbags’ from ten down to number one I am going to give you another list, one that is my opinion on the Presidents within my personal life time. This list will start from my birth year (1956). This list will simply be my opinion of the worse to the best overall Presidents during this last 62 yrs. Both of these lists are just for fun, it is not as if my opinion matters or means anything more than anyone else’s opinion. Maybe you can just for the fun of it compile your own list to see if maybe we agree on anything concerning our lists. Okay, enough banter, now for the lists.

 

(SCUMBAG PRESIDENTS 10 DOWN TO NUMBER 1)

10) Jerry Ford   1974-1977   38th President

9) Bill Clinton   1993-2001   42nd President

8) James Buchanan  1857-1861   15th President

7) Andrew Johnson  1865-1869   17th President

6) Lyndon Johnson  1963-1969   36th President

5) George W. Bush 2001-2009   43rd President

4) George H.W. Bush  1989-1993  41st President

3) Richard Nixon   1969-1974   37th President

2) Andrew Jackson   1829-1837   7th President

  1. Donald Trump   2017-2019   45th President      (I believe that after the 2018 mid-term election is over and the Democrats have taken over control of both Houses of Congress from the Republicans that then and only then will the Republicans get the guts to vote with the Democrats and impeach Mr. Trump. We shall see what we shall see!)

(Now, this is my list of the Presidents in my life time 1956-2018 of how I personally rank them as far as the best to the worse. Please take a moment to compare them with what you think.) During my lifetime there have now been 12 different Presidents so I am going to rank them from the best (1st) to the worst (12th).

1) Ronald Reagan

2) Dwight Eisenhower

3) John Kennedy

4) Barack Obama

5) Jimmy Carter

6) Bill Clinton

7) Jerry Ford

8) Lyndon Johnson

9) George W. Bush

10) Richard Nixon

11) George H. W. Bush

12) Donald Trump

 

So, there are my two lists for what little they are worth. If nothing else it can be banter for around the water cooler this week. I am a registered Independent voter who has voted for some Democrats and for some Republicans throughout the years. In my lifetime as I said earlier there have been 12 Presidents, 7 have been Republicans and 5 Democrats. What I have noticed from this list I made the 5 Democrats hold mostly all of the ‘middle of the road’ spots.  This means that the top 2 spots went to Republicans and that the bottom 4, the worst 4 are all also Republicans. Just fodder for the thoughts, I hope you all have a good week, stay safe, God bless, Shalom.

 

Leading From Behind Is A Deadly Policy

Leading From Behind Is A Deadly Policy

(THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED ON MAY 24TH OF 2014) (NOW THE U.S. HAS AN IDIOT AND A HABITUAL LIAR AS OUR PRESIDENT, SO WHICH ONE IS WORSE IS MY QUESTION TO YOU. IF NO WORLD LEADER CAN BELIEVE A SINGLE THING THAT YOUR PRESIDENT EVER SAYS, HOW CAN THEY TRUST HIM EITHER?)

Here in America these last few years we have grown rather accustomed to the term “Leading From Behind”, according to our President. My wife and I have discussed the logic, reasoning, and intelligence of such an approach several times throughout Mr Obama’s years in office. My wife and I both wish that the world was not filled with so many dangers, we also wish that America did not have to play the part of Global Cop, but unfortunately, we do. Even on that conclusion my wife and I disagree. My wife is not overly entrenched in politics at any level, this includes paying much attention to events and how they string together. My Bride wants the U.S. to invert, to pull away from all other countries with our military and our money and to put those efforts into helping the American people first. I wish that these things could be so, but it is way too late for just kindness and words to make such an action possible as to introvert away from the whole world and to just pretend the rest of the world isn’t really there.

 

 

Truth is, there are people in the Military, Security Divisions, and Politics throughout the world who wish that they could be bigger and badder than all their neighbors and that they themselves should lead. Simple what I am getting at, if a country’s leadership decides to do something like a radical expansion of their existing territories and they know in advance that there is no country that will or can stop him from expanding, there will be even more bloodshed. It is a reality that I do not like either but what we are all faced with from now throughout our very last breath and that is Spiritual Warfare. Warfare of the physical things that we see with our eyes possess physical harm that we can see, warfare for your Spiritual Soul has many snares that the eye does not comprehend.

 

 

When you have a country like Russia whose President decides to expand their territory over soil belonging to another country and He know’s in advance that no one will physically stop them, they expand. When a country becomes the expected defender of Freedom and fairness throughout the world they can not back out of the position if there is no one/country to take your place. There are bad people in our world who have ever-increasing positions of power, if no one stands up to protect the smaller and the weaker nations these independent nations will soon not exist. Before you realize it there is another big powerful nation who decides to annex a whole Sea or Gulf as their own disregarding international laws.

 

 

This current Administration in D.C. has constantly shown weakness throughout the world by failing to lead or engage on the World Stage. When our President showed our timidness in Libya, Egypt, and especially in Syria and with Iran  even to the point of infuriating our two biggest allies in the region, Israel and Saudi Arabia. For many years now some of our so-called upper crust have degraded Russia and China as they supposedly downgraded from Superpower status. What I have to say to this ignorance is simple, when a nation has thousands of Nukes with the required launching systems, they are a Superpower! We have (not I) humiliated two great Nations and their People by stepping on their national pride. Then when these  nations aggressive leadership see that we will not step into protect another nation or treaty, we have shown these aggressive leaders as well as our “friends” that we will only give words of encouragement and nothing else. This Administration has caused the Evil in this world to smile and our friends to tremble.

Officials struggle to convince Trump that Russia remains a threat

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(IS TRUMPS HIDING HIS TAX ISSUES BECAUSE HE HIMSELF HAS BEEN THE TRAITOR IN CHIEF WITH PUTIN?)(TRS)

Officials struggle to convince Trump that Russia remains a threat

Story highlights

  • Trump lashes out at Obama for failing to take a harder line against Russia
  • Trump administration has taken no public steps to punish Russia

Washington (CNN) As President Donald Trump lashes out at former President Barack Obama for failing to take a harder line against Russia for election meddling, Trump’s own advisers are struggling to convince him that Russia still poses a threat, according to multiple senior administration officials.

“I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did
nothing about it,” Trump told Fox News in an interview that aired Sunday. “To me — in other words — the question is, if he had the information, why didn’t he do something about it? He should have done something about it.”
But the Trump administration has taken no public steps to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 election. Multiple senior administration officials said there are few signs the President is devoting his time or attention to the ongoing election-related cyber threat from Russia.
“I’ve seen no evidence of it,” one senior administration official said when asked whether Trump was convening any meetings on Russian meddling in the election. The official said there is no paper trail — schedules, readouts or briefing documents — to indicate Trump has dedicated time to the issue.
Top intelligence officials have raised alarm about Russia’s cyberattacks, calling them a “major threat” to the US election system. In public hearings on Capitol Hill and classified briefings behind closed doors, intelligence officials have drawn the same conclusions: Russia launched an unprecedented attack on America’s electoral process during the 2016 presidential campaign and — barring a full-throated response from the US — the Russians are almost certain to do so again.
It’s a warning some fear the White House isn’t taking seriously.
In a recent closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers expressed frustration to lawmakers about his inability to convince the President to accept US intelligence that Russia meddled in the election, according to a congressional source familiar with the meeting.
Another congressional source said Rogers has shared concerns with lawmakers about the lack of White House focus on the continued threat from Russian cyber efforts, particularly relating to US voting systems. In addition, the US intelligence community sees such potential threats not only from Russia but also from China, North Korea and Iran.
One intelligence official said the intelligence community continues to brief Trump on Russia’s meddling in the election as new information comes to light. The source said the President appears no less engaged on issues surrounding Russian election meddling than on any other matters covered in the presidential daily brief. But the official acknowledged that Trump has vented his frustration with officials outside of the briefings about the amount of attention paid to the investigation into Russian election interference.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted Trump is taking Russian cyberattacks seriously and said the administration is taking action — albeit quietly.
“The United States continues to combat on a regular basis malicious cyber activity, and will continue to do so without bragging to the media or defending itself against unfair media criticism,” Spicer said in a statement.
Spicer noted that Trump has upheld the sanctions the Obama administration put in place against Russia, signed a cybersecurity executive order to consolidate responsibility for protecting the government from hackers and created an election commission. That commission has yet to convene in person but met via conference call on Wednesday.
But some in Trump’s own party believe he hasn’t done enough to repudiate Russia’s actions and are pushing him to back a sanctions package Congress is considering.
“We haven’t done anything,” Sen. John McCain said Tuesday. “We passed a bill through the Senate, and it’s hung up in the House. Tell me what we’ve done?”
Asked what he wants the President to do, the Arizona Republican said he should tell the House “to take up the bill we passed through the Senate. Sign it, get it out there.”
The CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment for this story. The NSA did not respond to requests for comment.
The President doesn’t differentiate between investigations into Russian election meddling and investigations into potential collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russia, according to sources that have spoken to Trump about the issues.
The collusion probe is only one element of a larger landscape. The FBI’s counterintelligence team has been trying to piece together exactly how Russia interfered in the election, in order to learn techniques and adapt for the future. This part is less about collusion and more about Russian cyberattacks against US political organizations and attempted hacks of voters’ personal information.
Former US Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns, testifying in front of the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday, faulted Obama for failing to take action against Russia more quickly when he was president. But he unleashed his fury at Trump for doing so little to curtail Russian aggression.
“It is his duty, President Trump’s, to be skeptical of Russia. It’s his duty to investigate and defend our country against a cyber offensive because Russia is our most dangerous adversary in the world today,” said Burns, a career foreign service officer who has served under presidents of both parties. “And if he continues to refuse to act it’s a dereliction of the basic duty to defend the country.”
At a Senate hearing last week, Bill Priestap, the assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division and a career civil servant, also highlighted the ongoing threat from Russia, saying, “I believe the Russians will absolutely continue to try to conduct influence operations in the US, which will include cyber intrusions.”
But the President’s muted interest in election interference stands in stark contrast to the collusion investigation, which has consumed his attention. Trump takes questions about Russia personally, sources said, because he sees them as an effort to undermine the legitimacy of his presidency.
“He thinks one equates with the other,” one Republican congressional source said. “He can’t admit anything that may taint his election. He is more hung up on how it affected the election outcome than what Russia did.”
In his statement for this story, Spicer also referenced the election outcome, saying, “The ballot boxes were not hacked and the tallies were unaffected. Numerous authorities have confirmed this.”
Another source close to the President says Trump sees everything regarding Russia as being “organized as a challenge to him.”
Trump aired those frustrations this week on Twitter, writing, “There is no collusion & no obstruction. I should be given apology!”
In Trump’s mind “he had nothing to do with Russia,” one source said. “He knows in his own mind there is not one single iota of anything that could implicate him.”
One administration official suggested there wasn’t necessarily a need for Trump to convene briefings on election interference — aside from his daily intelligence briefing — because little has changed since Trump was briefed on the matter in January, before his inauguration.
At that point, the 17 intelligence agencies released a declassified report concluding that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the 2016 election with the goal of disparaging Hillary Clinton while boosting Trump and undermining the public’s faith in the democratic process.
Since that briefing, there have been major developments on the cyber front. The final days of the French election featured a hack-and-leak attack targeting Emmanuel Macron, now the president of France. And US officials believe Russia hacked Qatari state-run media and planted a fake news story that which helped trigger a diplomatic crisis among critical US allies in the Gulf.

Trump’s skepticism

During the campaign and since taking office, Trump has repeatedly questioned whether Russia was responsible for the election-related cyberattacks. He has blamed the Democratic National Committee, China and “someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”
Trump has only once stated clearly and in public that Russia was behind the hacks — during a news conference as President-elect on January 11, just days after his briefing from top intelligence officials.
“As far as hacking, I think it was Russia. But I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people,” Trump said.
On Monday, Spicer said the President stands by his assessment from January. The intelligence community has found no evidence that other countries also meddled in the election, an intelligence official said.
A source familiar with the President’s thinking said he views Russia’s action as something that “everybody has been doing to each other for years. Everybody spies,” the source said. “He believes that intel operations hack each other.”
The result: Trump sees the Russian hacking story as “nothing new.” In fact, the source said, Trump views it as “the establishment intelligence community trying to frame a narrative that is startling to the average viewer, but he regards it as business as usual.”
Intelligence experts disagree. They describe Russia’s actions as far from the usual foreign espionage attempts.
John Hultquist, the director of intelligence analysis at FireEye, a cyber security and threat intelligence company, said Russia broke the rules in the “gentlemen’s game of espionage” by stealing information, leaking it and using it to try to influence voters and undermine the democratic process.
“In every previous incident, we believed they wouldn’t cross the next red line. They’ve shown us they’re willing to do so,” said Hultquist, who has a military background and is an expert in cyberespionage. “If we fail to respond with resolve they learn that they can get away with it.”
The administration’s inaction is raising alarm with experts like Clint Watts, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a counter-terrorism expert who recently testified in front of the Senate intelligence committee about Russia’s efforts in the 2016 election.
“It’s ridiculous that nothing’s been done,” Watts said. “There is no Russia policy. No one knows if they can work on Russia. No one knows what their assignment is with regards to Russia.”
While Trump may have little concern about Russia’s election aggression, other top officials in the administration have been vocal about the threat.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in May that Russian cyberattacks remain a “major threat” to the United States, especially after Russia showcased its aggressive posture by interfering in the 2016 election. But he acknowledged that the US still hasn’t devised a clear strategy to counter the Kremlin.
“Relative to a grand strategy, I am not aware right now of any — I think we’re still assessing the impact,” Coats told the Senate intelligence committee in early May.
Later that month he reiterated his concerns in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“I think we’re learning that we do need to take this seriously — which we do,” Coats said. “And shaping a policy and a plan to address this, I think, rises to a top priority.”
But across the government, administration officials appear to be publicly confirming the concerns NSA Director Rogers expressed privately –Russia’s attacks on American democracy aren’t a top priority for Trump.
Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by Trump, testified earlier this month that during his nine private conversations with Trump, the President never asked about Russia’s meddling in the election or what was being done to protect the country against future Russian interference.
“I don’t recall a conversation like that,” Comey told the Senate intelligence committee, shortly after his testimony describing a President who seemed much more interested in making sure that the public knew he wasn’t personally under investigation as part of the Russia probe.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified that he had never received a briefing on Russia’s election meddling efforts — even before he officially recused himself from the collusion investigation.

Working around the President

Obama retaliated against Russia’s interference in the election in January with a package of sanctions that included ejecting 35 Russian diplomats from the US, closing two Russian compounds and sanctioning two Russian intelligence services.
While the Trump administration has upheld those measures, it has not taken additional steps.
But lawmakers have tried. The Senate passed a bill to slap Russia with new sanctions for its election interference and the legislation has moved to the House, which would also need to pass it before it goes to Trump’s desk. But congressional sources said the Trump administration is hoping to water down the sanctions package, which the White House is eyeing warily.
“I think our main concern overall with sanctions is how they — how will the Congress craft them and any potential erosion of the executive branch’s authority to implement them,” Spicer said Friday.
There are also bipartisan efforts underway in Congress to develop a policy to prevent Russian meddling in future US elections.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, says he is working with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, on legislation to create a 9/11-style commission to explore what happened in 2016 on the cyber front.
Graham tells CNN their idea is to create a commission made up of all experts — no politicians. “We want to look at the vulnerabilities on cyber security and get policy recommendations from experts on how to harden our infrastructure,” said Graham.
Meanwhile, top US cybersecurity leaders are taking action on their own to prevent future meddling.
“This is one of our highest priorities,” Jeanette Manfra, one of the Department of Homeland Security’s top officials handling cyber issues and a career civil servant said at a Senate hearing last week. “And I would also note that we’re not just looking ahead to 2018, as election officials remind me, routinely, that elections are conducted on a regular basis. And so — highest priority, sir.”
Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said earlier this month that he would keep in place a decision to designate election systems as “critical infrastructure.”
The designation means that the federal government will put more resources toward protecting election systems and voting machines. They’ll get the same treatment as other “critical infrastructure” that is paramount to national security, like dams and the power grid.
Kelly’s predecessor in the Obama administration, Jeh Johnson, made the change in January shortly before leaving office. Johnson testified last week that he wished he made the decision sooner — before the 2016 election — but that he backed down after resistance from the states.

The U.S. And Their ‘Alliance’ (Except For The Kurd’s) Need To Leave Syria Right Now!

 

Any time that a person or more so a military, are in or flying above another Nation without the permission of that Nations government then you are an illegal intruder and you have declared war on that Nation. Syria’s President Assad has made it very clear that he considers the U.S. and their Alliance partners to be in his Country illegally and that he does not want them there. Even though I am an American citizen I cannot condone our actions in this Syrian Civil War nor with Syria’s inner-border conflict with the terrorist group called ISIS. We were never invited to step into this conflict within Syria’s borders and we should never have gone into that country, we have no right to be there. I will try to keep this article as short as I can yet I will do my best to explain my thoughts/beliefs as to why I believe as I do, for your consideration.

 

As I have written a few times before on this site that history shows within the Islamic world that it appears that about the only way to not have total chaos is if a rather brutal dictator rules their country. I personally do not like anything to do with brutality or with dictators, I am merely expressing an observation. I know that Syria’s President Assad is both of these elements yet I believe that the people of Syria as a whole were far better off six years ago than they are today. In Islamic countries there has been a civil war raging for about 1,400 years now between their two main sects and this hatred of each other still shows no sign of ending, ever.

 

Just like in Afghanistan the U.S. is in an Islamic country with our military and we have no exit strategy, as is the case in Syria. In Afghanistan the American tax payers have spent well over a trillion dollars to help bring peace to this tribal war-torn land and we have spilled the blood of many of our soldiers, and for what? In the long game our government has been trying to get the Taliban and to sit down with the very weak Government in Kabul to form a ‘sharing’ government, so why are we there? Unless a person is totally ignorant of reality they must know that once there is a ‘sharing’ government and the U.S. pulls out of the country that the Taliban will simply murder the civilian government people and everything will go back to the Taliban like it was 15 years ago. So, all of that gold and all of that blood spilled, for what? With all of this money the American government has spent in this country it is estimated that 90% of the civilians there only have one set of clothing, our occupation time there could have been spent in more productive ways.

 

Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, all far away countries that in the long run where our blood and gold have really accomplished very little to nothing. There is always one ‘positive’ to these military campaigns and that is the jobs provided by the ‘war-machine’ industry and of course the billions of dollars that go to the corporations leaders and to the people who are able to afford stock in these companies. To many government leaders in to many different countries seem to believe that their infrastructure must have a very strong weapons export economic base. People in these ‘second and third’ world nations (economically) need safe housing, schools, clothing and food. They need an infrastructure, roads, bridges, hospitals and jobs. I am sure that you noticed that these items I mentioned are the same exact things that the people of the economic powers also want and need, in most respects all people need and wish for the same things. The ‘Western Powers’ have a long history of setting up ‘war lords’ to rule small countries, then sell them a lot of weapons whom they use against their own citizens and then we wonder why their people hate us so much.

 

Now, back to the main line of thought, the situation in Syria. The Syrian President Mr. Assad has many economic and security issues within his borders and hundreds of thousands of people have died because of this Civil War that has been raging for the past six years. Back in the first term of U.S. President Obama when he had Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State the so-called Arab Spring started. Mrs. Clinton pushed Mr. Obama into trying to ‘help’ fire up the civil war in Libya to over through their dictator, look at the total mess that Libya still is. Egypt came next where we helped to over through their dictator then we got the Muslim Brotherhood who had to be over thrown by the Egyptian Army before Egypt became another Libya. Then Hillary set her eyes on removing President Assad from power in Syria, now look at what a disaster Syria has become.

 

The U.S. encouraged the Syrian citizens to revolt against President Assad and we have spent several billion dollars on training and supplying weapons to ‘moderate Islamist’ whom Assad calls terrorist, if the situation were reversed would we not call them terrorist? As we all know when we decided to pull out of neighboring Iraq we opened up a vacuum along their western border which made a very weak Iraqi government even weaker. We should have stayed longer just doing border control help while the government soldiers and police tried to keep the peace in the cities and the country’s interior. Our governments failures helped open up the eastern part of Syria and the western part of Iraq (both Shiite Islamic nations) for a new Sunni military army to step in and form their own government in these two countries. ISIS is a result of our governments ignorance of reality in this part of the world. We say we are in Syria to fight against this group of mass murderers and that we are not at war with Syria itself but that is an obvious lie. If we are training and supplying groups like the ‘Free Syrian Army’ who are fighting to bring Assad’s government down then we are in an ‘undeclared’ war with the Syrian government.

 

The Syrian government has many allies to help them fight the different intruders trying to over through them. Russia of course is their most powerful ally but they do have several more including other Shiite countries like Iraq, Iran and basically Lebanon through their proxy Hezbollah. The ethnic people know as Kurd’s are also fighting against ISIS but their case is a bit different because several hundred thousand Kurdish people have lived within these borders for thousands of years so in a sense they are fighting against ISIS and to a degree against the Syrian government in an attempt to keep and to achieve their own Nation. The recent episodes where we have shot down a Syrian jet fighter and a couple of Iranian drones has brought the U.S. closer to direct war with Syria, Russia and Iran. These events would not be a reality if we simply weren’t there. Some will say that we have to be there to fight ISIS but this is not true. The American people have spent our own money and blood in a Nation who has not attacked us or declared war on us and whom does not want us there. If the U.S. and our ‘Alliance’ partners were not there then Syria’s allies would have and could have taken our place with their bombers and their soldiers. But the real question is why are we doing what we are doing there? My question is, is it because of the trillions of dollars in war materials our economy produces and of course the jobs this creates for our economy? Could the reason partly be because of the friends our politicians have on the Boards of these companies, or is it because of the stocks that our Senators, Congressmen and women and also this President own in these companies?

 

 

 

 

Senior Obama Official On Handling Of Russia Hacks: ‘We Sort Of Choked’

 

WORLD

Senior Obama Official On Handling Of Russia Hacks: ‘We Sort Of Choked’

Photo of Saagar Enjeti

SAAGAR ENJETI
Reporter

Some senior Obama officials lament that they did not do enough to stop Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Former President Barack Obama’s handling of the response to Russia’s attempts have come under intense scrutiny from Republicans and Democrats. The only public warning of the Russian governments’ efforts came in an Oct. 7 memo from the Director of National Intelligence ascribing Democratic National Committee hacks to Russia.

Obama and many of his senior advisers have publicly defended their handling of the investigation.

“There has been this theory we didn’t do anything, which I take issue with,” former White House senior advisor Lisa Monaco told Politico Magazine in April.

Another senior administration official, however, admitted to WaPo that the response to Russian actions in the election “is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend.”

“I feel like we sort of choked,” he declared.

“Everyone agreed you had to push back at the Russians and push back hard. But it didn’t happen,” a senior Department of State official lamented to The New York Times in December. Without any response from the White house, Russia continued its hacking campaign. Obama may have even held off on a more aggressive response to try and save one of his many failed ceasefire deals for the Syrian Civil War.

The strongest apparent response from the Obama administration came in a reported face to face meeting between Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Obama reportedly told Putin the U.S. “knew what he was doing and [he] better stop or else.”

“We weren’t able to put all of those pieces together in real time,” former White House  deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told WaPo. “In many ways that complete picture is still being filled in.” Rhodes declined to discuss any sensitive information,” he lamented.

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North Korea: Otto Warmbier Has “Sever Neurological Damage”

(COMMENTARY: FOR THE SAKE OF THE PEOPLE OF NORTH KOREA IT IS TIME FOR THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD TO REMOVE THE ANIMAL KIM JONG UN FROM POWER “BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY”)(TRS)

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Recently released North Korea detainee Otto Warmbier has suffered severe neurological damage, and his family flatly rejects the regime’s explanation for his condition, reporters were told Thursday in his Ohio hometown.

Warmbier, a 22-year-old college student who returned Tuesday to the United States after 17 months in detention, is in stable condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center but has a “severe neurological injury,” hospital spokeswoman Kelly Martin said.
Martin declined to elaborate, saying doctors will share more information about Warmbier’s condition in a separate news conference Thursday afternoon.
But Warmbier’s father left no doubt he blames North Korea, blasting the secretive regime in a 23-minute news conference at his son’s alma mater, Wyoming High School, north of Cincinnati.

Student freed from North Korea lands in US

Student freed from North Korea lands in US
The family doesn’t believe North Korea’s explanation that Otto fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill shortly after he was sentenced in March 2016, Fred Warmbier said.
“Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing a coma — and we don’t — there is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition a secret and denied him top-notch medical care for so long,” Warmbier said.
The father, wearing the cream sport coat his son wore during his televised trial in North Korea, stopped short of saying how he believed his son was injured.
“We’re going to leave that to the doctors (to explain) today,” he said.

Why does North Korea detain some US citizens?

Why does North Korea detain some US citizens?
He called on North Korea to release other American detainees.
“There’s no excuse for the way the North Koreans treated our son. And no excuse for the way they’ve treated so many others,” he said. “No other family should have to endure what the Warmbiers have.”

Conviction and release

Otto Warmbier was a University of Virginia student when he was detained in January 2016 at the airport in Pyongyang while on his way home. He had been on a tour of the reclusive country, his parent said.
North Korean authorities claimed they had security footage of him trying to steal a banner containing a political slogan that was hanging from a wall of his Pyongyang hotel.
That was used as evidence in his hourlong trial. He was found guilty of committing a “hostile act” against the country and sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years of hard labor. It was the last time he was seen publicly before this week.
His parents learned of their son’s condition — what North Korea called a coma — only last week, they said in a statement.

Critical of Obama administration

Fred Warmbier appeared critical of the Obama administration’s handling of Otto’s detention, saying the family heeded the US government’s initial advice to take a low profile “without result.”
In contrast, he praised the Trump administration’s efforts: “They have our thanks for bringing Otto home.”
When asked whether then-President Barack Obama could have done more, Fred Warmbier replied, “I think the results speak for themselves.”

Three other US detainees

Warmbier’s release coincided with basketball star Dennis Rodman’s latest visit to North Korea, though Michael Anton, a US national security spokesman, told CNN there is no connection between the two.

CNN on the ground: Waiting for Dennis Rodman

CNN on the ground: Waiting for Dennis Rodman
Fred Warmbier said the same Thursday.
“Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with Otto,” he said.
Rodman was asked by reporters Tuesday if he would bring up the cases of Warmbier and three other Americans detained in North Korea. “That’s not my purpose right now,” he said. “My purpose is to go over there and try to see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea.”
The other Americans held by Pyongyang are Kim Sang Duk and Kim Hak-song, academics who worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, and businessman named Kim Dong Chul.

Hillary Clinton, Jeff Sessions and America’s Secret Slave System

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE ROOT’ NEWS)

Hillary Clinton, Jeff Sessions and America’s Secret Slave System

Gerald Herbert/APImages

Contrary to popular belief, slavery was never outlawed in the United States.

This statement is not a debatable, half-twisted analysis or a cynical opinion. It is a fact. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution does not outlaw slavery, it only prohibits slavery in certain situations. It is entirely constitutional to turn drug dealers, gangbangers and thugs into slaves. It is perfectly legal for corporations to use legions of slaves to increase their profit and pass them along to shareholders. Even though it seems like the opposite of freedom, America is totally cool it.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States Of America

When Hillary Clinton stood at Keene University and called black men “superpredators” in January 1996, it was only a few days after the New Year’s Day release of her book It Takes a Village. In the book, Clinton spoke about her days in the Arkansas governor’s mansion and the longstanding tradition of using convicted felons as free labor.

Clinton could relax and have her dark-skinned dishwashers clean the mayonnaise residue off her finger-sandwich plates because Arkansas is one of the few states that still uses prison labor without compensating the prisoners. She was cool with it, though—except when she was forced to send “back to prison any inmate who broke a rule.” Clinton lovingly referred to the felons as “emotional illiterates,” which is a little demeaning, but apparently not as much as the ones she hadn’t locked up yet, whose powers allowed them to grow into “super predators.”

America has the largest prison population in the world. According to the Washington Post, about half of the 1.6 million people in state or federal prisons are black, even though African-Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the population. “Black Americans were incarcerated in state prisons at an average rate of 5.1 times that of white Americans,” The Guardian reported last year, “and in some states that rate was 10 times or more.” Even when convicted of the same crime as whites, black convicts, according to a 2014 study (pdf), were even more likely to serve time in private prisons.

The untold, secret story of America’s criminal-justice system is that there are large corporations benefiting from free black labor, and under the Trump administration, business is booming.

The Profit in the Policy

In August 2016, former President Barack Obama announced a push by his administration to end the federal use of private prisons. This directive sent private-prison stocks into a downward spiral. One of the first decisions Jeff Sessions made as the current attorney general under President Donald Trump was to reverse this order. The second move by the Sessions-led Department of Justice was to end the Obama administration’s practice of not seeking mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses. When the DOJ released the memo rescinding this policy, private-prison stocks soared to an all-time high.

Perhaps Sessions’ decision was based on Republican ideals of “law and order.” Maybe it was because all conservatives believe private companies do a better job at running prisons than the government (data shows they don’t).

However, it might be because Jeff Sessions’ investment portfolio is filled with thousands of dollars in private-prison stock. It’s likely because GEO Group Inc. and CoreCivic, two of the nation’s largest private-prison operators, gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Trump’s fundraising efforts.

The New Slaves

There are prisons and companies all across the country who use free or barely-paid prison labor to make a profit. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, these prisoners make between 12 cents and $1.14 an hour. Some of the products and companies that benefit from this slave labor include:

This list doesn’t include the states, like Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas, which don’t pay prisoners at all for labor. Places like Angola State Prison are known for the cruel and inhumane treatment of their prisoners, forcing them to live in tents and work for free.

In February, immigration detention center detainees filed suit against GEO, the private-prison operator that made it rain on the Trump campaign. According to the lawsuit, the corporation used as many as 50,000 federal detainees to work for free, or for as little as $1 a day, even threatening some with solitary confinement for refusing to work as a slave.

As harsh as this sounds, there will be more. With the DOJ’s directive to use mandatory minimums and the renewal of the war on drugs, slavery will make a comeback under the Trump administration.

But this is all legal and constitutional. No one argues that these prisoners aren’t slaves—or even that blacks are more likely to endure this indentured servitude. The only argument for this system of slavery is that it is profitable. It remains a stain on the American flag because we live in an oligarchy. The only reason it exists is because without it, the multibillionaires at Honda, Microsoft and McDonald’s might have to live life as regular, run-of-the-mill billionaires. How else is Jeff Sessions supposed to line his pockets with the bloody dollar bills he’s earned off the backs of the oppressed?

Slavery is still legal in the U.S. because there is apparently one thing that has always trumped freedom, equality and justice: White people’s money.

… and to the Republic, for which it stands, with liberty and justice for all.

Michael Harriot is a staff writer at The Root, host of “The Black One” podcast and editor-in-chief of the daily digital magazine NegusWhoRead.

  • Oh, so we’re back to taking a dump on Hillary now? Hillary’s whitesplaining of felon labour in the nineties is not even close to the level of Jeff Sessions essentially deciding that a child with a bag of weed should get the maximum possible sentence. Not the same level. Not even close. Hillary was whitepeopling back in the nineties as a first lady of Arkansas and FLOTUS. But unfortunately most white Dems were back then. Hell, even Obama was slow to right the wrong of felon labour. (August 2016? Seriously? After 8 years? C’mon) As the culture changed, so did Hillary. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions remained in the past, however. Equating Sessions and Hillary is unfair.

  • I remain confused about one thing and I’m hoping someone can clarify. When the 13th Amendment is brought up, are we saying that there’s a problem with using prisoners for labor as a general concept, or is it because of the fact that people are imprisoned unjustly in the first place and it therefore becomes de facto slavery? Meaning that I don’t oppose the death penalty on a general moral principle, I oppose it because there’s no way in our society we can be sure we’re not executing an innocent person. Is it the same here or is there something I’m still missing?

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