Daily Archives: October 13, 2019

Caravan is on the go again: Hundreds depart southern Mexico for US | RT (uploads) on YouTube

Hundreds of migrants left the Mexican city of Tapachula during the early hours of Saturday as they make their way to the border with the US. Footage shows the migrant caravan, made up from Latin American, African and other migrants walking on the highway, with some seen driving in vehicles and trucks.

Putin visits Saudi Arabia for first time since 2007 – but can Russia be friends with EVERYONE in the Middle East? | RT World News

Russia defends Iran, backs Bashar Assad in Syria and criticizes Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. Vladimir Putin’s upcoming visit to Riyadh would seem a risky balancing act – but is instead a pragmatic move rooted in mutual interest.

Putin arrives in Saudi Arabia on Monday, his second visit to the country after his 2007 trip. Just days earlier, Riyadh ignored his proposal (though apparently made in jest) to buy Russian air defense systems, and even more recently, approved the United States’ deployment of about 3,000 troops on its territory, including fighter squadrons, an air expeditionary wing and air-defense personnel.

Read more

Russia to build $1bn oil complex in Saudi Arabia & further boost investment in joint projects

The signs are clear that Riyadh remains firmly in the orbit of Washington’s influence, at least when it comes to security and defense. But Moscow doesn’t seem to hold it against Riyadh – in fact, relations with the Saudis have never been better. Putin has been seen chatting cordially with Saudi Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman at international meetings, and has spoken about his personal rapport with both MBS and with the Saudi king himself. The friendship has been well echoed in economics: trade turnover, while still comparatively low, is on a quickening rise (it grew by 15 percent in 2018 and by 38 percent so far in 2019), there’s talk of a $1-billion joint oil facility, and further investment deals are expected to be inked this week.

At the same time, Moscow is an ally of America’s public enemy number one: Iran. Saudi Arabia has blamed the regime in Tehran for strikes on two of its oil facilities last month, and hosts US troops on its soil to deter any supposed Iranian aggression. Riyadh is embroiled in a devastating military conflict against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, and is on the opposite side to Moscow in the Syrian civil war, where the Saudis arm anti-government rebel militias, while the Russians aid the government of Bashar al-Assad.

Time for a breakthrough?

Yet bizarrely, Russia enjoys better relations with Saudi Arabia now than it did two decades ago, when Putin inherited a country wracked by economic crises and too focused on its own problems to take a decisive role on the world stage. Even as both countries clashed by proxy in Syria, Saudi King Salman visited Moscow in 2017 to talk settlement of the ongoing conflict.

Russia’s footprint in the Middle East is evidently growing, and the Saudis are recognizing the opportunity to align with a new major player.

“What has changed during the past few years is the Russian influence in the Middle East. It has increased a lot, and lots of traditional US allies have been weaving relations with Russia over the past few years and accepting Russia as a player in that region,” says Ammar Waqqaf, Founder & Director of Gnosos, an organisation expressing stakeholder opinion in Syria & the Middle East. For Saudi Arabia in particular, there’s growing partnership within OPEC+ in keeping the oil market stable – something Putin himself has just reaffirmed his commitment to, in a pre-visit interview.

No one expected that the Russian influence in the Middle East would increase but, probably because of the Syrian crisis, it did.

Apart from oil and gas cooperation “lots of countries there are considering Russian weaponry sales,” Waqqaf said. It’s way too early to seriously talk about Saudi Arabia buying S-400s, though, says Middle East-based journalist and writer Ali Rizk.

Also on rt.com

Putin to Saudi Arabia: Our air defenses can protect you, like they do Turkey and Iran

“Riyadh’s relationship with America and with the Congress specifically is already very bad” after the resonant murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Turkey. “I don’t think the Saudis would risk making it even worse by going ahead and buying these weapons.”

Buying Russian air defense systems would require replacing the Saudis’ entire current, US-made air defense complex, with Russian equivalents, says Grigory Lukyanov, senior lecturer at the Moscow-based Higher School of Economics. “That’s not only very expensive, but also a very radical geopolitical decision, which I don’t think the Saudis can make today” – despite even the American systems’ inherent flaws.

The defense system the US has created is limited. It has natural limitations and vulnerabilities and one of them, a very important one, is that the system is not under the Saudis’ direct control – it’s first and foremost under the control of the US.

Everyone’s friend, but not a mediator

Experts agree that Russia, being a friend to just about everyone in the Middle East, is in a perfect position to mediate the daggers-drawn situation between Iran and Saudi Arabia. But Putin has just ruled out the “unrewarding” role of middleman – apparently preferring not to wade into regional politics where they don’t directly impact Russia and its opportunities.

“Since we maintain very friendly relations with all the countries in the region, including Iran and the Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, we could certainly help relay some messages between the parties, so they could hear each other’s position. But, since I personally know the leaders of these countries, I am perfectly sure that they have no need for any advice or mediation,” he said, in the interview released on Sunday.

The most he is willing to do is to “present some ideas from a friend’s perspective,” he said.

Read more

Saudis asked Russia to probe Aramco oilfield attack, Moscow will condemn Iran if it’s responsible – Putin

The amicable dealings between Moscow and Riyadh could be baffling for a casual observer, especially if compared to Washington’s habit of choking off dissenting positions with economic pressure. But, in an era where the US, particularly with regard to Iran, sees diplomacy as a zero-sum, ‘with us or against us’ game, Russia has courted multiple, often opposing, sides at the same time – and, as its Middle East ties show, has excelled at it.

Putin has boasted of deepening his country’s military ties with Turkey, shipping the S-400 to Ankara earlier this summer and stating last month that “negotiations are underway on promising new weapons.” At the same time, Russia backs the Assad government in Syria, which fights Turkish-armed rebel groups.

Moscow manages, without much apparent effort, to enjoy warm relations with both Israel and Iran, despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s continually labeling Iran a nuclear threat and the latter’s calls for the annihilation of the Jewish state.

What Putin therefore brings to the table is options for the Saudis – Russia now presents a viable and stable partner for Gulf nations.

Profit first, geopolitics set aside

Riyadh, in its dealings with powers outside the Middle East, has shown to be good at compartmentalizing and keeping things professional – and Putin appears equally well-versed in this approach. Moscow’s primary goal is to find friends for mutually-beneficial partnerships, not allies to gang up on rivals together.

Also on rt.com

FULL INTERVIEW: Russia will never be friends ‘with one country against another’ in the Middle East – Putin

And, while geopolitics doesn’t seem to pose any obstacles for the two nations’ ties, the situation is still an indication that the influence Washington has been exerting in the region could be starting to wane.

“The US is no longer the power it used to be in the Middle East,” Rizk noted. Given that, it “would be wise for Mohammed Bin Salman maybe not to put all his eggs in the American basket,” he concluded.

So, while talk of oil prices and investment deals may be a sure thing to expect this week, don’t rule out a move towards a deeper partnership – even though by Western diplomatic standards, Riyadh and Moscow’s different stances and allegiances make it seem impossible.

Source: Putin visits Saudi Arabia for first time since 2007 – but can Russia be friends with EVERYONE in the Middle East?

Syrian army moving to face ‘Turkish aggression’ in country’s north – state media | RT – Daily news

Tensions are mounting in northern Syria as Damascus started moving its forces to face the Turkish troops that are carrying out an operation against the Kurds in the area, state news agency Sana reports.

The Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have reached an agreement with Damascus, which will see the Syrian government troops arriving in the northern Kobani region, Mohammed Shaheen, deputy chairman of Euphrates Region, said earlier.

Read more

Turkish-backed forces ‘CUT OFF US troops’ after seizing key highway in Syria

The Syrians will deploy to Kobani within 48 hours, Lebanese broadcaster al-Mayadeen reported. RT’s sources in the region also confirmed the reports.

Earlier this week, the Turkish military entered northern Syria without consent from Damascus in order to fight the Kurdish militia in the Kobani region, whom Ankara regards as terrorists. Turkey says the aim of the operation is to create a “safe zone” near its border to prevent the Kurdish fighters from making incursions into the country.

Before the start the Turkish operation, the US called back several dozen of its servicemen, who were embedded with the Kurdish forces. On Saturday, Donald Trump authorized a withdrawal of the remaining 1,000 US troops from Kobani so that they don’t get caught up between the warring sides. The Kurds, who had been Washington’s main allies in fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) before, called the US move a betrayal.

Source: Syrian army moving to face ‘Turkish aggression’ in country’s north – state media

ANOTHER JUNK POLL: FOX News Polling Company Braun Research Misrepresented Trump Impeachment Poll — The Gateway Pundit

Rush Limbaugh warned about FOX News Channel’s turn against President Trump just a week ago.

FOX News posted a stunning poll on Thursday that shows that 51% of Americans want President Trump impeached on the media’s fraudulent Ukrainian accusations.

But FOX News used a poll that was weighted by 14 points in favor of Democrats.

It’s a sham.

And on Sunday the New York Post reported their findings on the poll — It was not accurate.

The poll released last week by Fox News that claimed most Americans favor the impeachment of President Trump underrepresented Republican and independent voters, The Post has found.

The poll said 51% of voters were in favor of Trump’s impeachment and removal from office, while 40% did not want him impeached.

Princeton, New Jersey, pollster Braun Research, which conducted the survey, noted 48% of its respondents were Democrats. But the actual breakdown of party-affiliation is 31% Democrat, 29% Republican and 38% independent, according to Gallup.

A poll weighted for party affiliation would have concluded that 44.9% favored impeachment and 44.4% opposed it, a Post analysis has concluded.

via ANOTHER JUNK POLL: FOX News Polling Company Braun Research Misrepresented Trump Impeachment Poll — The Gateway Pundit

Fox News’ impeachment poll WAS wrong, Dems oversampled. Analysis shows corrected version. | BizPac Review

The Fox News poll suggesting that the majority of Americans favor impeachment of President Donald Trump is wrong because it over-sampled Democrats, analysts say. (C-Span screenshot)

Fox News has apparently jumped on the Fake Polls bandwagon with its recent poll suggesting that the majority of Americans favor impeaching and removing President Donald Trump.

The problem is that the poll was heavily biased because it over-sampled Democrats, thereby leading to skewed results.

According to analysis by the New York Post, a poll weighted for party affiliation would’ve concluded that 44.9% of voters favor impeachment, while 44.4% oppose it.

In other words, a less-biased poll would’ve shown that the majority of voters (55.1%) oppose impeachment.

fox news impeachment poll bogus
This sham Fox News poll oversampled Democrats, leading to a skewed result. In reality, a majority of Americans oppose impeachment. (Fox News screenshot)

Braun Research conducted the Fox News poll by sampling a pool comprised of:

  • 48% Democrats.
  • 40% Republicans.
  • 12% Independents.

In reality, Americans are:

  • 31% Democrat.
  • 29% Republican.
  • 38% independent.

Any poll that oversamples Democrats will lead to a skewed result. This is exactly what Fox News host Greg Gutfeld said this week when he dismissed the Fox News poll as bogus.

“We got to point out that it’s weighted toward Democrats,” Gutfeld said. “It’s 48% Democrats, 40% Republicans, 12% other. Also, it’s being taken at the fever pitch of media coverage about a single topic, so what do you expect?”

Gutfeld underscored: “We have to remind ourselves how many Democrats and how many Republicans are in this poll, and that these polls have been known to be wrong.”

Greg Gutfeld throws cold water on fervor over Fox News impeachment poll!
Fox-poll saying public want for #impeachment is at an all time high is BOGUS! They polled 48% Dems as opposed to only 40% GOP!
Remember how wrong 2016 polls were?!https://t.co/SIluenIQBO via @BIZPACReview

— LAYLA {⭐} (@LaylaAlisha11) October 12, 2019

President Trump — who defied nearly every political poll with his 2016 election win — reacted by trashing the Fox News poll.

“Whoever the Pollster is, they suck,” Trump tweeted.

Countless Trump supporters say they have never been polled, so how could the anti-Trump “impeachment polls” being breathlessly touted by the mainstream media be accurate?

Two weeks ago, Fox Business host Charles Payne conducted an informal poll, asking his 395,000 Twitter followers if they had ever been polled about impeachment.

Payne’s poll received more than 27,000 votes. A whopping 94% of respondents said they have never been polled about impeachment.

#PaynePoll

Have you ever been polled on national issues like impeachment or President?

— Charles V Payne (@cvpayne) October 1, 2019

All this shows that the media is once again gaslighting the public by pushing a narrative that they presumably hope will prevent President Trump’s re-election.

It’s no secret that the mainstream media are overwhelmingly left-wing. This constant barrage of anti-Trump fake news isn’t surprising to journalist Lara Logan.

Logan — a former correspondent for CBS News — said the media in both the United States and around the world are leftist. Notably, Logan noted that the American media are “85% registered Democrats.”

Rather than objectively report facts, Logan says today’s media has devolved into leftist “propagandists and political activists” masquerading as journalists.

Meanwhile, Fox News host Jesse Watters torched the Democrats yesterday for their secretive, sham impeachment inquiry. Watters pointed out that the impeachment is merely political theater designed to influence the 2020 election.

Because Democrats refuse to take a vote on impeachment, the entire stunt is merely a charade.

(Source: Watters World)

“The Democrats set up Trump in secret. Now they’re trying to impeach him in secret,” Watters said on Oct. 12. “They don’t want the people to see what they’re doing because it’s fixed.”

Jesse Watters continued: “Witnesses are interviewed in secret, witnesses aren’t allowed lawyers. Republicans can’t subpoena anyone [because the House of Representatives has not voted for impeachment]; only Democrats can. And the President can’t cross-examine anybody or even have access to evidence. There’s no due process. There’s not even a vote. Think about that: There’s not even voting going on on impeachment.”

Source: Fox News’ impeachment poll WAS wrong, Dems oversampled. Analysis shows corrected version.

Chick-fil-A makes more per site than McDonald’s, Starbucks, Subway combined | WND

(ENTREPRENEUR) The top three fast food franchises for yearly U.S. sales, according to the 2018 QSR Magazine Report, which breaks down sales numbers from the previous year, were McDonald’s, Starbucks and Subway. Here’s how the numbers shook out:

McDonald’s — 14,036 units, $37,480,670,000 in sales, or $2,670,320 in sales per unit.

Starbucks — 13,930 units, $13,167,610,000 in sales, or $945,270 in sales per unit.

Subway — 25,908 units, $10,800,000,000 in sales, or $416,860 in sales per unit.

Now, if you were starting your own business, you’d be pretty happy with any of those numbers. The worst of them, Subway, is reeling in nearly $11 billion in sales each year.

Read the full story ›

Source: Chick-fil-A makes more per site than McDonald’s, Starbucks, Subway combined

Look What Adam Schiff Just Admitted in Regard to the ‘Whistleblower’ | LifeZette

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) admitted on Sunday that he should have been clearer about his contact with the whistleblower who filed a complaint about President Donald Trump’s July phone call with the Ukrainian president.

“I should have been much more clear,” Schiff said during an interview on CBS’ “Face The Nation.”

Fox News reported earlier this month that the intelligence community whistleblower did not disclose contact with Schiff’s staff to the intelligence committee inspector general (ICIG).

The sources said ICIG Michael Atkinson told lawmakers in a closed session that the whistleblower did not disclose the contact with the California Democrat’s committee — and that Atkinson didn’t investigate that contact as he had no knowledge of it.

Sources also told Fox News that Atkinson also revealed that the whistleblower volunteered he or she was a registered Democrat and that they had a prior working relationship with a prominent Democratic politician.

Schiff’s office acknowledged earlier this month that the whistleblower had reached out to them before filing a complaint in mid-August, giving Democrats advance warning of the accusations that would lead them to launch an impeachment inquiry days later.

The source said Atkinson told lawmakers he did not know how a Schiff tweet in August and other statements about Ukraine appeared to reflect the substance of the whistleblower complaint, which was not declassified and not shared with Congress until the end of September.

Schiff previously said that “we have not spoken directly to the whistleblower,” although his office later narrowed the claim.

The office said that Schiff himself “does not know the identity of the whistleblower, and has not met with or spoken with the whistleblower or their counsel” for any reason.

The revelation led Trump to accuse Schiff of helping to write the whistleblower complaint, which alleged misconduct by the president when he spoke to Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky in July.

“It shows that Schiff is a fraud … I think it’s a scandal that he knew before,” Trump said.

Related: Dems Play Chicken with Kiev While Dems Rewrite the Narrative

“I’d go a step further. I’d say he probably helped write it.”

“That’s a big story. He knew long before, and he helped write it, too. It’s a scam,” added the president.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this Fox News report, which is used by permission.

Source: Look What Adam Schiff Just Admitted in Regard to the ‘Whistleblower’

WATCH: Attorney General William Barr Says Decline of Religion and ‘Campaign to Destroy Traditional Moral Order’ in the U.S. is the Reason for Rise in Drug Abuse, Mental Illness, and Suicide — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

The country’s top lawmaker made the claim in an ominous address delivered Friday at the University of Notre Dame’s Law School in Indiana

Attorney General Bill Barr says increased rates of mental illness and drug abuse can be attributed to the declining influence of religion in the United States.

The country’s top lawmaker made the claim in an ominous address delivered Friday at the University of Notre Dame’s Law School in Indiana.

In his speech, the outspoken Republican, 69, also launched a withering attack on ‘so-called progressives’, accusing them of being actively involved in an ‘organized destruction’ of Judeo-Christian values.

Barr, who is a practicing Catholic, told the crowd of law students on Friday: ‘Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence and a deadly drug epidemic.’

He subsequently stated that 70,000 Americans die each year from drug overdoses – a figure higher than the total number of American military personnel killed during the Vietnam War (58,220).

Barr later told the assembled audience that ‘the campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has coincided with immense suffering and misery, and yet the forces of secularism, ignoring these tragic results, press on with even greater militancy.’

The New York-born lawyer argued that progressives use pop culture and academia to denigrate traditional religion and further a secular agenda.

He referenced a recent law requiring New Jersey public schools to teach LGBT history as one such example.

Barr proclaimed that ‘the secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor’.

Religious adherence in the US has been on a steady decline in recent decades.

According to a 2016 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, 24% Americans identify as having ‘No religion’ – up from 16% in 2011.

Meanwhile, the survey found that the number of White Christians now account for less than half the population – down from 81% back in 1976.

Barr’s appearance at Notre Dame caused controversy on Friday, with around 40 protesters gathering on campus to demonstrate.

The Attorney General is currently in the hot seat in Washington – widely framed as of President Trump’s closest allies and recently accused of covering for him in the midst of the impeachment inquiry.

‘I heard Notre Dame was hosting Bill Barr for a talk at the law school, and by inviting Bill Barr here, Notre Dame has become complicit within this impeachment conversation,’ one protester told 16 News Now.

Notre Dame is one of the country’s most famous Catholic universities, and has educated many prominent Republicans and Democrats alike.

SOURCE: Daily Mail, Andrew Court

via WATCH: Attorney General William Barr Says Decline of Religion and ‘Campaign to Destroy Traditional Moral Order’ in the U.S. is the Reason for Rise in Drug Abuse, Mental Illness, and Suicide — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

The Last Desperate Effort to Protect “The Chosen One” Will Likely Fail (Perhaps by Design)… — The Last Refuge

Jonathan Turley asks a question today about why the media will not allow any discussion of Joe Biden’s obviously corrupt Achilles heel to be discussed.

Within his article Turley cites examples of CNN, NBC, MSNBC and a host of other mainstream news outlets that will not allow any discussion of Joe Biden’s transparently visible weakness.  He ponders ‘why’?

[…] When Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) raised the issue on CNN, host Erin Burnett cut him off: “There is no evidence of Joe Biden doing anything wrong, and this is something that has been looked into, and I think — I want to make a point here — I think what we need to talk about right now is what did the president right now do or not do.” Other CNN hosts have repeated the line of “no evidence of wrongdoing” like a virtual incantation.

[…] For news shows on MSNBC, CNN and other cable networks, nothing is more disgusting than the mention of what Hunter Biden actually was doing in Ukraine.

[…] Joe Biden has insisted he never spoke with his son about his foreign dealings — an incredible but categorical statement. The then-vice president flew with his son on Air Force Two on an official trip to China but suggests they never discussed his son’s deal seeking $1.5 billion in investments with the state-backed Bank of China. During the trip, Hunter reportedly introduced his father to Chinese private equity executive Jonathan Li, who was part of that deal. Yet Biden insists he was never told of any business linkage or dealings.  (read more)

Perhaps here’s “why”…

Long time CTH readers will have references to hundreds of examples of the UniParty at work.  The basic elements about HOW money interacts with politics and who really controls the seats of power in DC has been discussed exhaustively.

The Big Club, is a myriad of financial interests who manipulate politics for personal power, wealth and influence.  Wall Street multinational corporations, meaning those who rely upon the constructs of corrupted ‘globalism’, make up about 75% of the overall manipulative influence over U.S. trade, financial and political policy.

National corporations, those who gain through the growth of Main Street USA, only hold about 25% of the financial influence in politics; they are vastly outgunned.  The power shift diminishing nationalism toward globalism happened over a period of 30 years +/-.

The purchased priorities of modern Democrats, that is the selling out of Main Street USA in favor of a “service driven economy”, have traditionally been aligned with the U.S. multinationals.  Wall Street’s global elite support democrats because it’s the money that matters.

To the extent that democrats have ultra-left-wing social policies the Wall Street crowd doesn’t really care.  That stuff doesn’t effect them; they can purchase ways around the nuttery and build walls around their houses etc.  It is always the money that matters to those at the head of the political table.  President Trump is the common enemy because he is weakening the multinational wealth model in favor of Main Street USA.

So, when it comes to democrat candidates, specifically the “chosen one” to represent the interests of the DNC Wall Street alignment, as we discussed back in 2017:

[…] The DNC party apparatus (donors and influence agents) will select the candidate. Then they will construct the road-map to the nomination using blockers, controlled opposition, dark horse candidates and splitters to carefully guide that chosen candidate to victory.

All-the-while the ‘others’ will be gathering the needed data to support the “chosen one”. The Democrat electorate will be oblivious to it.

The national party apparatus coordinates with the state party machines. Everything is always top down, timed, mapped out and planned by design. This doesn’t mean the downstream state party individuals need to know the specifics, because they don’t.

Back to Joe Biden.

Biden is currently “The Chosen One”.  That is to say Biden is the candidate chosen by the global power elite to protect their financial interests.  That is the answer to Johnathan Turley’s question.  That is why the U.S. corporate media, part of the system that protects the interests of the Big Club, will not allow discussion of Biden’s obvious Achilles heel.

The Big Club selected Joe Biden.  They go all-in on any of their selections, and they are going to help him regardless of how stupid they look doing it.  However, if Biden can’t deliver a win (and it looks increasingly like Biden will fail)…. well, the Club will cut him off and replace with another “chosen one”.  That’s why some people believe Hillary Clinton might re-emerge.

It is possible, but unlikely.

The Clintons are tenured club members; they might be able to lobby the members for another effort.  However, it would take an overwhelming amount of DNC Club hubris and confidence to support a Clinton -vs- Trump 2.0.

However, there is a more likely argument to be made that Biden’s failure was planned.  Coordinated by members who planned to push the Moonbattery of their useful idiots (their base) to the furthest reaches of left-wing policy; thereby creating a void that none of the current candidates could ever fill.

If that Machiavellian scheme is correct, and I wouldn’t put it past the DNC/Club to create such a design, into this DNC/Club created void another “chosen one” would be inserted at the opportune moment.  This basic premise is a modification of the Democrat’s favorite rule book: (1) manufacture a crisis; and then (2) don’t let the crisis go to waste.

Regardless of all else, if the Money Managers behind the DNC Club don’t think Joe Biden can deliver, he will be replaced.

via The Last Desperate Effort to Protect “The Chosen One” Will Likely Fail (Perhaps by Design)… — The Last Refuge

President Trump Delivers Remarks to Value Voters Summit – 6:30pm ET Livestream… — The Last Refuge

President Trump delivers remarks at the 2019 Values Voter Summit.  Anticipated start time approximately 6:30pm to 7:00pm EDT.

UPDATE – Video Added

WH Livestream LinkNBC Livestream LinkAlternate Livestream Link

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via President Trump Delivers Remarks to Value Voters Summit – 6:30pm ET Livestream… — The Last Refuge

Stephen Miller Discusses the “Fourth Unelected Branch of Government” and the Impeachment Agenda… — The Last Refuge

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller appears with Jesse Watters to discuss the ongoing impeachment efforts and the political agenda of those within the administrative state who are opposed to President Trump.

via Stephen Miller Discusses the “Fourth Unelected Branch of Government” and the Impeachment Agenda… — The Last Refuge

Trump threatens to sue Schiff and Pelosi | The Hill News

President Trump on Saturday night lambasted the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, saying his administration would look into possibly suing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam…

Source: Trump threatens to sue Schiff and Pelosi

WATCH: Trump Discusses Religious Freedom, Impeachment, Justice Kavanaugh in Hour-long Speech at Value Voters Summit — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

President Donald Trump addressed the annual Values Voter Summit where he spoke for over an hour, touching on many topics including attacks on religious liberty, the impeachment process, and allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The president gave a speech at the VVS Faith, Family, and Freedom Gala dinner held Saturday evening at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The gala involved bestowing the Cost of Discipleship Award to Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was imprisoned in Turkey under false allegations of aiding terrorism.

“We believe that every American has the right to live by the dictates of their conscience and the teachings of their faith. We believe in the right to free exercise of religion,” Trump declared in his speech on Saturday night.

Trump added that “our shared values are under assault like never before” by “extreme left-wing radicals both inside and outside of government.”

“Far left socialists are trying to tear down the traditions and customs that made America the greatest nation on earth,” he said.

“They reject the principles of our founding fathers. Principles enshrined into the Declaration of Independence, which proclaim that our rights come from our Creator,” he said, adding that the “ultra-left” is trying to “silence and punish the speech of Christians and religious believers of all faiths.”

The president also talked about allegations leveled against United States Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who he nominated to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Trump labeled it an example of “outrageous smearing,” explaining with incredulity that some Democrats wanted to impeach Kavanaugh even without corroboration to confirm the allegations of sexual misconduct.

“And the whole thing was phony, so phony,” Trump said. “He’s a good man. What he’s gone through. I don’t know if anyone has gone through anything like that.”

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski

via WATCH: Trump Discusses Religious Freedom, Impeachment, Justice Kavanaugh in Hour-long Speech at Value Voters Summit — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

‘We Don’t Worship Government, We Worship God’: Trump Speaks at Values Voter Summit — CBN News feeds

Image Credit: ABC News
Image Credit: ABC News

 

President Trump spoke at the Values Voter Summit in Washington DC Saturday night, despite concern by Christians over his decision to pull troops out of Syria – leaving US allies and Christians in the region without protection.

Pastor Andrew Brunson was also recognized at the event, where he was honored with the Cost of Discipleship Award. Brunson was imprisoned for two years in Turkey for his faith. He’d served there as a missionary for 24 years.

President Trump helped free Pastor Brunson from captivity in Turkey, where he was falsely imprisoned for two years.

Pastor Brunson began the ceremony by praying for President Trump:

Father God, I ask now for an impartation of your Holy Spirit, may the fullness of the spirit of Jesus rest upon President Trump that he be anointed with wisdom and understanding with your counsel and might with knowledge and fear of the Lord and accordingly may President Trump not judge by what he sees with his eyes or decide by what he hears with his ears or lean on his own understanding but may he recognize your prompting and move according to your guidance.

I ask that you give the president supernatural discernment to know who is trustworthy and who is not. Bring into the light all deception and intrigue, expose and reverse the plans of those who would harm President Trump and this nation. In the name of Jesus, I break off all voices and influences that do not come from you father God. May your truth and peace surround and reign in the White House.

God, you have raised President Trump to govern at a time when there is a resurgence of oppression. Only you Lord Jesus Christ can anoint him to have victories over strongholds and to establish justice for the needy. Give him strength and courage to persevere in the constant battle that surrounds him and refresh him.

Father God, I see that you have such a tender heart for President Trump. Draw him close to you. I ask now for an impartation of hunger for you so that he may love you with all his heart, soul, mind and strength and delight in knowing you. And if he came and whispered your name, may he go forward shouting your name. In Jesus name, the name of my king, I bless you. 

“I want to thank you for that beautiful prayer, it means a lot, Trump said. “Our rights come from God Almighty and they can never be taken away. Together we will protect those God given rights.”

Trump explained that his administration is committed to promoting and protecting religious freedom.

He said that it was not easy to bring Pastor Brunson home, but it was accomplished and he is back with his family.

Many at the summit fear that the US pulling support out of Syria will put religious minorities and Kurd allies in imminent danger.

“The Kurds are tending to leave and that’s good. Let them have their borders. I don’t think our soldiers should be there for the next 50 years. So lets see what happens. We’ve paid a lot of money to the Kurds. They are fighting for their land,” Trump said.

“This week I directed $50 million to support Christians and other religious minorities in Syria, I did it on Friday. Made it in honor of Pastor Brunson, people that have done a great job for us. It’s going to help Christians in Syria. Not an easy situation for them. In total my administration has provided more than a half a billion dollars for support for religious minorities and others suffering from atrocities in Syria and Iraq alone.”

Trump said that “Other presidents would not be doing that. We pledge our support to Christian communities everywhere suffering under the brutal heel of oppression and violence our hearts and souls are joined with these brave believers in their religious struggle. Pastor, it is great to have you back here.”

Evangelical leaders believe that Trump’s decision to leave religious minorities in the region, including many Christians, makes them an easy target for slaughter by the Turkish Government but he showed no sign of changing his mind.

“I’ve made clear to Turkey that if they do not meet their commitments, including the protection of religious minorities and watching over the ISIS prisoners that we captured we will impose very swift, strong and severe economic sanctions. Like I did to get Pastor Brunson out. Otherwise, Pastor you’d still be there. Any other President of the US, you’d still be there. You know what we had to do. You were very brave for what you put up with. It wasn’t an easy situation.”

Trump’s decision to withdraw from Northern Syria prompted criticism from top Pentagon and State Department officials, but he maintains that religious freedom is a high priority.

“We will never tire or waver in our defense of religious liberty. We are standing with our close friends and the state of Israel and as you know I recognize the internal capital of Israel and opened the American embassy in Jerusalem,” Trump said.

The president received a standing ovation after reminding the audience that America stands for freedom of religion, “In America, we don’t worship government, we worship God.”

“We will reach new heights, make new breakthroughs, and we will strengthen the bonds of love and loyalty that unite us all as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots, as Christians, as people of faith. As one people, one nation and one United States of America we will stand as a light of liberty, a land of courage and a home for proud people of faith. Forever and always, Americans will believe in the cause of freedom, the power of prayer and the eternal glory of God,” he concluded.

via ‘We Don’t Worship Government, We Worship God’: Trump Speaks at Values Voter Summit — CBN News feeds

Extensive Phone Interview – President Trump Interviewed by Judge Jeanine… — The Last Refuge

Earlier this evening President Trump called into to Fox News host Judge Jeanine for an extensive interview covering a lot of current events.

via Extensive Phone Interview – President Trump Interviewed by Judge Jeanine… — The Last Refuge

“These are Bad People, These are Evil People” – President Trump Speaks Out on Obama, Strzok, Page and Entire Spygate Scandal (AUDIO) — The Gateway Pundit

Rush Limbaugh played audio this week of former DNI James Clapper admitting on CNN that Barack Obama made them all spy on President Trump and his campaign.

This was a huge admission by James Clapper — Obama was behind it all! Obama was making the calls to have the FBI and CIA spy on Trump advisers all over Europe.

This is what we all suspected all along.

On Saturday President Donald Trump joined Judge Jeanine Pirro on Justice with Judge Jeanine.

During their conversation Barack Obama’s role in the whole spygate scandal was brought up.

President Trump: I think he’s hiding. I think he knows all about it. We’re talking about investigate the investigators. We’re talking about the beginning. And it was really before I took office. It was, if you look at it the insurance policy was with Strzok and Page just in case she (Hillary) should lose. We got an insurance policy. It’s what all of this stuff has been about. The insurance policy. These are bad people. These are evil people.

Via Justice with Judge Jeanine:

via “These are Bad People, These are Evil People” – President Trump Speaks Out on Obama, Strzok, Page and Entire Spygate Scandal (AUDIO) — The Gateway Pundit

Colossal WASTE in US healthcare spending surpasses military budget at nearly $1 trillion per year, study says | RT – Daily news

Waste and needless spending in America’s healthcare system could amount to almost $1 trillion each year, topping total US military expenditures in 2019 – the world’s largest defense budget – according to new research.

Encompassing administrative overhead, fraud and abuse, inflated pricing and other inefficiencies, a study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association found the cumulative waste in US healthcare ranged from $760 billion to $935 annually, or 25 percent of what Americans spend each year on health services. And they spend a lot – approximately 18 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), or more than $10 000 per individual a year on average. Medical bills also contribute to up to 50 percent of bankruptcies in the country.

The study looked at six “domains” of waste, finding the most significant problems in the realm of administrative tasks – such as billing, recordkeeping and other clerical activities – which account for some $266 billion of the total waste.

Also on rt.com

Big pharma war: India slams US for crusading against cheap generics

Dr. Donald Berwick, CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, said much of the waste is linked to number of “payers” in the system, resulting in extra complication and reams of paperwork.

“Right now you’re billed for the hospital room, by the ambulance company, by every doctor, rehab facility – everyone is keeping their own records and doing their own billing and dividing it up into tiny pieces, which makes it hard for the patient and hard for the caregivers,” Berwick told CBS News.

Coming in second place behind administrative costs is the pricing system itself, where fees have vastly outpaced the consumer price index (CPI) – a statistical tool used to determine the general rate of price inflation – making up between $231 and $241 billion of the yearly waste.

“The prices of health care don’t reflect what would happen in a competitive market,” Berwick said.

Also on rt.com

‘Astronomical’ US drug prices see people drive to Canada for life-saving insulin

Among the factors keeping healthcare prices inflated are an onerous licensing system, regulations, as well as lobbying from special interests in the medical field, which together help to restrict “the supply of physicians, hospitals, insurance and pharmaceuticals,” writes market analyst Mike Holly.

The other four domains – failures in care delivery and care coordination, overtreatment and fraud and abuse – accounted for another $400 billion of waste or excess spending.

“It’s a serious problem,” Berwick said of fraud and abuse, including the outright “overbilling” of customers. “I don’t know any other industry in which it’s this onerous, and where it’s taking money right out of the wallets of patients and families who are bearing greater and greater burdens of payment.”

Source: Colossal WASTE in US healthcare spending surpasses military budget at nearly $1 trillion per year, study says

NBC & Clinton tried to kill Weinstein scoop – ex-journalist | RT

In a new book, a former NBC News employee details the difficulties he faced, trying to get the network to run a sexual-abuse expose. Ronan Farrow accuses the channel of trying to kill his 2017 investigation into the now-disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

Locked Up: How The Modern Prison-Industrial Complex Puts So Many Americans In Jail | ZeroHedge News

Via Ammo.com,

“Where you find the laws most numerous, there you will find also the greatest injustice.”

– Arcesilaus, Greek philosopher and student of Plato on power and personal sovereignty

There’s no two ways about it: The United States of America and its 50 state governments love putting people in prison.

The U.S. has both the highest number of prisoners and the highest per capita incarceration rate in the modern world at 655 adults per 100,000. (It’s worth noting that China’s incarceration statistics are dubious, and they execute far more people than the United States. Indeed, the so-called People’s Republic executes more people annually than the rest of the world combined.)  Still, that’s more than 2.2 million Americans in state and federal prisons as well as county jails.

On top of those currently serving time, 4.7 million Americans were on parole in 2016, or about one in 56. These numbers do not include people on probation, which raises the number to one in 35. Nor does it include all of the Americans who have been arrested at one time or another, which is over 70 million – more than the population of France.

For firearm owners in particular, the growth in this “prison-industrial complex” is troubling because felons are forbidden from owning firearms and ammunition under the 1968 Gun Control Act. As the number of laws has grown and the cultural shift for police has gone from a focus on keeping the peace to enforcing the law, more and more Americans are being stripped of their 2nd Amendment rights (not to mention other civil rights like voting – as of 2017, 6.1 million Americans cannot vote because of their criminal records). All told, eight percent of all Americans cannot own firearms because of a felony conviction.

For American society as a whole, the prison-industrial complex has created a perverse incentive structure. Bad laws drive out respect for good laws because there are just so many laws (not to mention rules, regulations, and other prohibitions used by federal prosecutors to pin crimes on just about anyone). How did we get here?

History of Incarceration in the U.S.

United States law is, of course, based on English common law. Thus, no history of incarceration in the United States can start without first discussing the history of incarceration in the Kingdom of England and later the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

The prevailing notion of where crime came from in the old country and the colonies was idleness. Punishments often involved sending criminals to workhouses, which were quite distinct from the prisons we know today. Rehabilitation and reform weren’t strong currents in the English and later British penal system until the 1700s. Reformers sought to improve the criminal and to make him not want to offend.

Another historical fact worth noting is that incarceration is a relatively recent innovation in punishment. Historically, criminals were punished by shaming, corporal punishment, mutilation, exile and death. The purpose was generally not to make the criminal better, but to deter him from offending again while simultaneously providing the community with some awareness of his crimes for the purpose of allowing them to take measures to protect themselves (for example, branding a “B” on the forehead of a burglar). Where criminals were incarcerated, it was generally a temporary measure prior to trial or post-trial punishment, not a punishment in and of itself.

Remember, a significant portion of early American settlers were convict laborers. This convict labor was not incarcerated, but rather freely mingled with the general population. For the safety of the non-criminal elements, they had to be quickly and easily identified. However, the early American colonies were in no position to expend resources to house, feed and clothe criminals who were not providing productive labor – which is why incarceration made about as much sense as cutting off a criminal’s hand. Only four types of criminals were prohibited from being shipped across the ocean from England: murderers, rapists, burglars, and witches.

Prison became the primary means of punishment for felonies in the years leading up to the American Revolution. Two systems emerged: One where prisoners were incarcerated alone and another where they were incarcerated in groups. For what it’s worth, most prisons were in the North. Throughout the South, crime was largely viewed as a northern problem. Rather than prison, the Antebellum South relied heavily on extra-judicial violence and honor culture to keep their crime rates low.

Prison labor has been a feature of prisons going back to days of English and British colonial rule. However, the convict lease system changed this qualitatively in the late 1880s. This is when prisons began to be paid for the labor of their convicts. Many times, convicts were put to work on plantations. Building railroads and coal mining were other common uses of convict labor during this period. Death rates were high. In Alabama, a full 40 percent of convicts used for leased labor died in 1870.

The convict lease system gradually died out. However, it was replaced with systems not terribly distinct from convict labor. The chain gangs and prison farms closely identified with southern punishment throughout the 20th Century are examples of what began to replace the convict lease system. While there were rumblings about bringing back the chain gang system in the 1990s, it never amounted to much.

Overcriminalization = Less Civil Liberties

One of the fundamental principles underpinning our Constitutional republic is that the citizenry should not accept “trust me” as an answer from the federal government. Yet in one of our most Orwellian of federal departments – the Department of Homeland Security – a surveillance state is growing as our private information “trusted” to the government is used against us.

This surveillance state is made possible by Fusion Centers, police intelligence agencies that allow different police agencies to share intelligence with one another. It is, in effect, the intelligence-gathering method of the burgeoning police state. And the information gathered, received, analyzed and disseminated by local and state police agencies is then shared with the federal government.

Fusion Centers aren’t the only way police surveil citizens. Cell-site simulator devices – known as Stingrays – mimic wireless carrier cell towers to connect to nearby mobile phones and cell data devices. These controversial devices can extract data, intercept communications, conduct denial-of-serice attacks, find encryption keys, and more. It’s a serious threat to Americans’ privacy and civil liberties, first conceived during the War on Terror and now trickled down to local police departments and their militarized approach to enforcing the law.

Of course, while we’re assured that protections are being made for privacy and civil liberties, there is very little reason to trust the federal government – including the growing number of vague laws.

It’s easy to blame the War on Some Drugs as the reason for the explosion in the prison population, however this is simply not an adequate explanation. The real reason is a broad expansion in the total number of laws on the book and the vague manner in which they are written. What’s more, the concept of intent has largely disappeared from our national legal lexicon, meaning that simple mistakes are often enough to land a person in prison.

66-year-old George Norris provides a case study. He was greeted by three pickup trucks filled with six officers outfitted in flak jackets. He was held for four hours while the police searched his house, eventually seizing 37 boxes of his things with neither warrant nor explanation. He was indicted for orchid smuggling under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and for (what else) making false statements to an officer for a simple paperwork error. While being held for trial, he shared a cell with an accused murderer. He was facing five years for the original charge and five years for conspiracy. Because he couldn’t afford his legal bills, he plead guilty and was sentenced to 17 months in prison.

Another broad example is civil-contempt imprisonment. This is where people are put in jail or prison for failure to, for example, respond to a bench warrant for an unpaid parking ticket. This is what Anthony W. Florence was arrested for while riding as a passenger in his family’s car with proof that he had paid the tickets. He spent seven days in jail where he was strip searched twice. Guards also watched him shower and subjected him to a delousing. People have also been imprisoned for failing to pay debts in accordance with court-ordered settlements, which carries the specter of the return of debtors’ prisons with it.

The Principle of Minimum Necessary Force

Minimum necessary force is a concept dating back to Plato, but has recently found expression in Dr. Jordan Peterson’s book 12 Rules for LifeBasically, the idea is that when someone wrongs another person, the correct course of action is always the one requiring the least force. This is why, for example, we can say that the Islamic practice of removing a thief’s hand is somehow objectively unethical – it is a punishment grossly out of proportion to the crime committed.

The secondary aspect to the principle of minimum necessary force is the notion that the best way to go about laws is to have as few as are necessary. While not strictly speaking “libertarian,” it’s sort of “libertarian adjacent.” Laws are, ultimately, a type of force. The more of them we have, the more force we have in society.

The present state of criminal justice in the United States violates both principles. Not only do we have far more laws than we need (criminal asset forfeiture, for example), but the punishments are frequently far out of sync with the crime committed. Is prison time really an appropriate response to someone smuggling orchids into the United States?

The Rise of Private Prisons

You cannot have a discussion on the prison-industrial complex without discussing private prisons. As of 2018, private prisons housed 8.41 percent of incarcerated persons in the United States. While private prisons date back to the colonial days, the modern privatized prisons as we think of them only date back to the 1980s. This was initially due to the explosion of prison population and resulting prison overcrowding that some have tied to the War on Some Drugs.

This spike in incarceration, however, is far more closely tied with the rise of private prisons. Between the years 1925 and 1980, the prison population in the United States remained constant as a proportion of the overall population. In 1983, however, two things happened: First, the first private prisons came into operation. Second, the prison population as a proportion of the overall population began to explode.

The first modern private incarceration company was Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), founded in 1983, and is currently known as CoreCivic. Their first contract was for a facility in Shelby County, Tennessee. This was the first time in American history when a government-run jail was contracted out to a private third party. The company made quick headlines when it offered to take over the entire prison system for the state for the sum of $200 million. The state, for its part, was quite ready to make a deal, but the backlash among the public, the prison guards union, and the state legislature ultimately squashed the deal.

This was hardly the end of the for-profit prison system. Fully 19 percent of all federal inmates are housed in privately owned and operated prisons. A comparatively lower 6.8 percent of all state inmates are housed in private prisons.

Since its founding, CoreCivic has seen a 200-percent increase in its profits. So it’s no surprise that the marketplace for private prison companies has become a bit crowded. Companies like the GEO Group, Inc. (formerly known as Wackenhut Securities), Management and Training Corporation (MTC), and Community Education Centers compete in a marketplace that took in $500 billion in 2011 alone according to Matt Taibbi’s book The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap.

The book further points out that major Wall Street money has flowed into this industry. Wells Fargo alone has $100 million invested in GEO Group and another $6 million in CCA. Fidelity Investments, The Vanguard Group, General Electric and Bank of America are likewise heavily invested in private prisons.

Some other numbers give a bit of shape to the scale of private prisons: CoreCivic has 80,000 beds in 65 different facilities. The GEO Group has 49,000 beds spread out over 57 correctional facilities. Most private facilities are in the West and the Southwest, where state and federal prisons freely mingle with one another.

Private Prisons Are Not Safe

Private prisons are, by virtually every metric, a worse place to hang your hat than government prisons. United States Department of Justice report in 2016 found that private prisons were less secure, less safe, and more punitive than government-run prisons. The DOJ stated that it would cease the use of private prisons. However, soon thereafter, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would renew its contract with CCA operation of the South Texas Family Residential Center, an immigration detention facility. Stock prices for private incarceration firms spiked upon the election of Donald Trump. President Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the previous ban on private prisons.

The lax culture of safety and security in private prisons is not just a problem for the inmates. It’s also a problem for the people in the communities where the prisons are located. For example, three murderers escaped from a minimum/medium security prison – Kingman Arizona State Prison – in Mojave, Arizona. This resulted in a murder, robbery and carjacking before the men were captured. The state Attorney General, Terry Goddard, laid the blame at the feet of the private prison system, which he said was not adequate for the task of incarcerating these kinds of hardened criminals.

The state did an extensive report on this prison after the jailbreak, which found a number of problems with the privately-run prison:

  • The prison’s alarm system sent off so many false alarms that prison guards simply began ignoring them.
  • Eight of the floodlights used on the prison yard were burnt out.
  • Prison guards weren’t properly armed, nor were they properly trained with firearms.
  • 75 percent of all inmates in the facility did not have the appropriate identification.

While it’s certainly true that government-run prisons are far from perfect, and often have budgetary issues, it’s hard to ignore the potential corner-cutting that may have led to this escape and the subsequent deaths.

Then, of course, there was the “kids for cash” scandal. The short version of the story is that two judges in Pennsylvania were receiving kickbacks for sending children to private prison facilities. Millions of dollars were processed to the two judges for giving out prison time for such offenses as mocking an assistant principal on MySpace and trespassing in an abandoned building. The two judges were sentenced to a combined 45.5 years in prison. Every juvenile offender who appeared before the judges had their convictions overturned, and a class action lawsuit is currently pending.

Unsurprisingly, cost-benefit analysis of private prisons tend to have a “both sides” feel about them. Studies funded by the industry frequently tout the cost benefits of private operation. Studies funded by state-funded institutions, such as universities, tend to paint private prisons as bloated and inefficient.

Prison Guard Unions and Private Prisons Lobbying Elected Officials

Anywhere government money is being spent or the state is picking winners and losers, there you will find lobbying. Like the military-industrial complex, private prisons are no exception to this rule. The two largest private prison corporations have put more than $10 million into electing favorable candidates since 1989, and more than $25 million into lobbying.

Marco Rubio is an excellent example of the power of the private prison lobby. He has very close ties to the GEO Group, the second-largest for-profit prison company in the United States. GEO was the recipient of a state contract for a $110 million prison during Rubio’s tenure as the Speaker of the House in Florida. This right after Rubio hired an economic consultant with close ties to the company, which has donated nearly $40,000 to his various political campaigns as of 2015. This makes him the politician with the closest financial relationship to the private prisons industry.

The private incarceration industry has stepped up their lobbying game during the Trump Administration, with the GEO Group spending $1.3 million on lobbying between January and September 2017. That topped the total from the previous year, which was $1 million.

The timing of the increase in lobbying funds is worth considering. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was looking to build five new detention centers at the time. Unsurprisingly, companies started lobbying hard to be the ones to build and operate these new facilities. That’s over 54,000 beds. What’s more, ICE is the number-one customer for the GEO Group, which is based in Florida.

Rubio is hardly the only politician to receive funding from private prison companies – which claim to never attempt to influence policy in any way other than trying to get contracts for private prison operation. Chuck Schumer has received over $100,000 in donations from both the GEO Group and CCA.

While private prison operations companies claim they do not attempt to influence public policy beyond trying to get those lucrative contracts, the same cannot be said for prison guard unions. The California prison guards union spent $100,000 in 1994 trying to get the three strikes law passed. This was the first of its kind, but quickly became the gold standard across the nation. 28 states have such laws as of 2018. The same union spent over $1 million to defeat Prop 5, which, if passed, would have reduced sentences for nonviolent crimes and created more drug addiction treatment resources in the state. Another $1 million was spent to defeat Prop 66, a measure designed to reduce the number of crimes carrying mandatory life sentences.

Modern Prison Labor

Because compulsory, unpaid prison labor is not prohibited by the United States Constitution, some have argued that prison labor is a continuation of chattel slavery.

However, prisoners are not owned by the state. What’s more, they are generally paid – albeit between $0.12 and $0.40 per hour. Prisoners, when taken as a whole, represent the third largest labor pool in the world. And while they engage in all kinds of labor, it tends to be manually intensive, low-skilled, deeply unpleasant and highly profitable for the corporations who are able to take advantage of it.

The days of prisoners making license plates and breaking rocks are long gone. Employers now receive a substantial tax credit ($2,400) for work-release labor. There’s even a euphemism for private companies who take advantage of prison labor – “Prison insourcing” – and it’s becoming increasingly popular with large firms. The list of organizations with significant prison labor include popular brands like Whole Foods, Target, Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret, McDonald’s, IBM, Honda, Texas Instruments, Boeing, Nordstrom, Intel, Aramark, AT&T, BP, Microsoft, Nike, Macy’s, Wal-Mart and Sprint.

Prison labor is not without its benefits for the prisoners or for society at large. It can be a valuable outlet for prisoners, keeping them from getting into trouble and teaching them new skills. What’s more, many inmates have never had a legal job before. This means they have to learn the most basic aspects of holding down a job – like showing up on time, working with others as a team, and listening to instructions from a supervisor. Many studies show that prison employment leads to reduced recidivism rates.

While companies profit from prison labor, they’re also cleaning up in other ways. JPay, which began as a way to wire money to people on the inside, has seen rapid success with a monopoly on how prisoners’ friends and family can communicate with them inside some state prison systems. All told, JPay had contracts with 21 state correctional facility systems and a number of private facilities as of August 2018. With no paper mail allowed, JPay charges per electronic message – making the company millions, and making prisoners the ultimate captive audience.

The First Step Act: President Trump’s Prison Reform Bill

Few would have expected a Republican president to spearhead prison reform. Then again, President Trump isn’t just any Republican.

Overwhelmingly passed by the Senate – 87 to 12 – in December 2018, the First Step Act is the Trump Administration’s bipartisan victory to save money by reducing prison sentences. While some Republicans feared this vote would reflect as being soft on crime, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Charles E. Grassley stressed that Trump “wants to be tough on crime, but fair on crime.” Shortly after the vote, Trump tweeted that his “job is to fight for ALL citizens, even those who have made mistakes” and that this bill will “provide hope and a second chance, to those who earn it.”

The reform in this criminal justice bill is pretty significant. It reduces mandatory sentences, cutting a collective 53,000 years off existing sentences over the next 10 years. It creates sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine, and reduces recidivism rates. And it decreases the “three strikes” penalty for drug felonies from life to 25 years.

But not everyone thinks this reform bill is a “first step” in the right direction. Since it doesn’t apply to local jails or state prisons, those skeptical of this new legislation have pointed out that it only affects about 10 percent of the country’s incarcerated population – hardly a dent. Many also disagree with the fact that this bill will release high-risk inmates and offenders.

Libertarian magazine Reason is in favor of more reform. A 2016 article asked the question “Should Felons Get Their Gun Rights Back?” The argument is roughly the same as that of restoring voting rights to felons: Once people have served their time and been released, society assumes that the ledger has been balanced. If someone cannot be trusted to own firearms once they have been released from prison (presumably because they are dangerous), why are they out on the street and not in a cell?

For those interested in Second Amendment freedom, all of this is important. In a sense, the gun grabbers are getting through our prison-industrial complex what they cannot get through either the legislature or the courts – a disarmed populace.

Source: Locked Up: How The Modern Prison-Industrial Complex Puts So Many Americans In Jail

Trump, Ukraine, and Justice | American Thinker

The current push to impeach Trump over Ukraine is, even if one assumes the worst about a “quid pro quo” in his alleged coercion of Ukraine, entirely unjustified

Even if we assume the worst, Trump did nothing wrong in Ukraine, and nothing more than his duty. Applying pressure on Ukraine to investigate whether a past vice president of the United States engaged in a corrupt bargain that that would potentially have been an impeachable offense is the constitutional duty of anyone who has sworn to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States.

The United States Constitution works on the energy of “ambition made to counter ambition” as James Madison succinctly put it in the Federalist Papers.  This is how freedom works.  Just as party ambition has spurred Democrats in Congress to investigate the president so too the ambition to defend his presidency may have motivated Trump’s investigation of Biden in Ukraine.  So far, nothing wrong.

But beyond any charges of ambition, Trump has a solemn duty as articulated in the oath of office written into the Constitution to: “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  Clearly, such duty not violated by actions that could potentially protect the people from choosing a corrupt future president.  Indeed, one might argue that it requires such actions.

The potential crime Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate was one that deserved investigation.  That crime is one of only two specific crimes explicitly mentioned in the Constitution as a basis for impeachment: bribery. “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”  While Democrats and the mainstream media may be inclined to disparage any possibility of its accuracy because some of the articles discussing the evidence appeared in the conservative media, what Biden was potentially accused of in Ukraine was bribery.  Accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars for family members in order to protect a company from prosecution would be an abuse of the trust placed in his office.  Given the foreign context of the bribe, and the connections of the company to the Russian-allied former regime in Ukraine, treason was also a possibility.

If we assume the worst about Trump’s actions, then all Trump did was to leverage the power and influence of the United States to coerce the government in Ukraine to investigate whether there was a potentially impeachable offense by the former Vice President.  Such an investigation was even more justified because Biden was running for president.  And past conduct while vice president that could have constituted an impeachable offense would clearly be relevant to public deliberation about the fitness for office of this candidate.

Even if Trump imposed a quid pro quo to force a Biden investigation in Ukraine, this action by Trump, if it happened, was appropriate and just.  It passes muster.  Immanuel Kant suggested in the Categorical Imperative that one ought to “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”  Should it be a universal law that the officers of the United States government should be investigated when they have potentially committed treason and or bribery? Obviously.  Should those seeking an investigation leverage legal powers available to ensure that the investigation happens?  Why not?  Is imposing conditions on receipt of aid a legal power to be exercised by officers of the United States government when dealing with the leaders of other nations?  Undoubtedly.

In the relations between national governments, there is nothing so natural nor so unexceptional as a bargain in the form of a quid pro quo:  “a favour or advantage granted in return for something.”  This is negotiating 101.  State 1 gives something of value to state 2 and in return state 2 gives something of value to state 1.  To criminalize the quid pro quo in international bargaining between nations would be to criminalize most of the enterprise of international relations.  Imagine this fictitious scenario: “I’m sorry, Mr. President, I must blow the whistle.  We cannot threaten the Taliban with bombing if they don’t turn over Bin Laden, that would be a quid pro quo.”  Bargaining with foreign powers in order to accomplish things that make the President more electable is precisely the point of the constitutional set-up.  The reelection motive encourages presidents to pay attention to the wants and needs of the people.

Then there are the knock-on accusations and issues.  For instance, the claim that special treatment was accorded records of the Ukraine call.  While some reports indicate that these procedures were standard in the Trump White House because of the level of leaks it has experienced, even if they were not, the choice to protect the communications of the President when those communications were not in themselves inappropriate clearly falls within any reasonable understanding of executive privilege.  As Alexander Hamilton noted in the Federalist papers, sometimes the affairs of state require secrecy and dispatch.

Those who claim that a request from the head of one state to the head of the other constitutes a crime may perhaps be imagining that the positive response to such a request would in this context constitute a “campaign contribution” and hence it would be in violation of campaign finance law.  To see how little sense it makes to stretch campaign finance law this far, let’s reflect on it for a minute.  The claim is more or less that any request for action by anyone that helps one presidential campaign and hurts another constitutes a campaign finance violation.  Such an interpretation would prevent the President of the United States from conducting any foreign policy at all.  Let’s imagine some fictitious quotes that illustrate the absurdity.  Prime Minister Abe of Japan: “I’m sorry Mr. President. I would like to sign a trade deal with you that will lead to the purchase of millions of tons of U.S. agricultural goods, but I cannot because it would help your reelection campaign, and that would constitute a campaign contribution.”  A U.S. soldier on an anti-terrorism mission: “I’m sorry Mr. President, I cannot take on this mission because if it succeeds in stopping the sequel to 9/11 that will help your reelection campaign and it would therefore be an illegal campaign contribution.”  Indeed, it requires only a small further stretch to make the claim that perhaps the whistleblower should be charged with a campaign finance violation for taking actions that helped or hurt particular candidates in the Democratic primary.

The current push to impeach Trump over Ukraine is, even if one assumes the worst about a “quid pro quo” in his alleged coercion of Ukraine, entirely unjustified.  Trump did not accept bribes.  He did not commit treason.  His actions constituted neither high crimes nor misdemeanors.  Instead, his actions were appropriate and just in defense of the Constitution of the United States.  And they may even have (if one assumes the worst about Biden) saved the Democratic Party from selecting as its nominee a candidate unsuited for office by virtue of his past abuse of official trust to procure personal gain.

Jesse Richman is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Old Dominion University. He teaches classes on American politics, political thought, methodology, and international studies.  His research has appeared in many scholarly journals including the American Political Science Review.  He has served as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow and as a Fulbright Scholar. 

Source: Trump, Ukraine, and Justice