TBR News December 27, 2017

Dec 27 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. December 27, 2017:” Let me start this off with a howlingly funny story. It’s funny because it is so bloody stupid.  One of my alphabet agency contacts was telling me of a renewed scam to better enable the knuckle-draggers to spy on everyone. What they do is this: Put together an encryption or scrambling system that purports to be “unbreakable ” so as to allow the possessors to carry on “absolutely secret” telephone or computer conversations. The obedient press then runs a rigged, government-written story, (shades of the Lincoln Group!) to the effect that this brilliant system simply cannot be broken and that the company selling it is going to be seriously investigated by the government for building a system that they cannot break.

In fact, the “unbreakable system” has a built-in trapdoor that you could drive a Mack truck through and the various agencies have this, believe it. When they encounter a scrambled message or conversation using this compromised system, the “unbreakable system” alerts them and since they have the means at hand to look into it, the recorders start in working.

This is in the same category as “Internet II” which, my informant advised me, is almost entirely controlled by the domestic counter intelligence people and enables them instant access to all the user’s messages.

Suggestion? Anything that looks too good to be true…is. If it isn’t a criminal con job, it’s a bumbling government sting. The con jobs are usually much more clever and this one is as obvious as a turd on a bed sheet.”

 

 

Table of Contents

 

  • Homeland Security’s Multibillion-Dollar Comedy Show
  • Federal Highway Surveillance
  • Virginia officials postpone lottery drawing to decide tied statehouse election
  • The Neo-Confederate Movement
  • Spanish government begins withdrawal of thousands of police from Catalonia
  • The Body Trade: Cashing in on the donated dead  

 

Homeland Security’s Multibillion-Dollar Comedy Show

December 26, 2017

by James Bovard

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After the 9/11 attacks, Congress and the Bush administration pretended that unlimited federal spending was one of the best ways to thwart terrorist threats. In 2002, Congress created the Homeland Security Department (DHS), sweeping some of the most inept federal agencies, such as the Secret Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), into the new mega-department. Congress also created numerous programs — some run directly by FEMA — to shovel out more than $30 billion in anti-terrorism funding to local and state governments.

As Sen. Tom Coburn (R–Okla.) observed a few years ago, “FEMA’s lax guidelines and oversight made the agency a virtual rubberstamp for most anything that grant recipients creatively justified as related to homeland security — regardless of how loosely related.” Louisiana Homeland Security grant recipients spent $2,400 for a lapel microphone and $2,700 for a teleprompter. Fort Worth, Texas, spent $24,000 of a federal anti-terrorism grant on a latrine-on-wheels. Other Texas local governments spent Homeland Security grants on “a hog catcher for Liberty County, body bags, garbage bags, Ziploc bags and two 2011 Camaros at $31,000 apiece,” as a Senate report revealed.

DHS approved a Michigan police department’s spending $6,200 of its grant on 13 sno-cone machines. The Senate report noted that local officials “defended the sno-cone purchases saying the machines were needed to treat heat-related emergencies.” DHS also asserted that the machines were “dual purpose” because they “could be used to fill ice packs in an emergency.”

The Jacksonville Urban Area Security Initiative used a DHS grant to produce an 8-minute film entitled “Domestic Terrorism: The First Line of Defense.” The film urged viewers to report any suspicious activity and to be especially wary of people are “alone or nervous” or people “of average or above average intelligence” (unlike the people who made the film). People were also told to be on the lookout for residents who displayed “increased frequency of prayer or religious behavior.” As a Techdirt analysis pointed out, “Broadly defined ‘suspicious behavior’ is a great way to make every citizen a suspect … and justify every violation of personal privacy. If you need warrantless wiretaps or a reason to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens, all you have to do is start listing everyday activity as ‘suspicious.’”

Anti-terrorism funding has proven to be a boon for the travel industry. Many DHS grant recipients paid to send their employees to the HALO Counter-Terrorism Summit in 2012, which took place at the Paradise Point Resort & Spa on an island near San Diego. Invitees were told that “this luxury resort features over 460 guestrooms, five pools, three fantastic restaurants overlooking the bay, a world-class spa and state-of-the-art fitness center. Paradise awaits.” The highlight of the conference was a “zombie apocalypse” show featuring “40 actors dressed as zombies getting gunned down by a military tactical unit…. Conference attendees were invited to watch the shows as part of their education in emergency response training,” as a Senate investigation reported. This type of federally subsidized mass-shooting rehearsal did not spur any protests from anti-gun groups.

DHS handouts make state and local law-enforcement agencies more intrusive and punitive. DHS has given a number of grants to purchase license-plate readers for police patrol cars. One California urban area spent $6 million on the readers, which were used to detect vehicles with “excessive traffic violations.” Two years ago, DHS solicited proposals for private companies to create a national database on license-plate data that could disclose exactly when and where citizens drive. The subsequent firestorm caused DHS to temporarily back off from its proposal but it was rolled out again in 2015.

Maryland used federal Homeland Security grants to equip hundreds of police cars with license-plate scanners that create almost 100 million records per year detailing exactly where and when each vehicle travels. The grants also paid for stationary cameras that recorded license plates passing on nearby roads. The massive databank, which mortifies the ACLU, has been almost a total failure at nailing violent criminals or car thieves or terrorists. Instead, almost all the license-plate alerts involve scofflaws who failed to take their cars in for mandatory vehicle-emissions tests.

Increased surveillance

Local governments and agencies in the Chicago area spent $45 million in Homeland Security grants to set up a network of surveillance cameras known as “Project Shield.” The system was justified as an anti-terrorist measure but was shut down after it was recognized as a boondoggle. A Chicago Tribune editorial derided the program as “Project Sieve.” Some of its equipment failed to function in hot or cold weather. Almost 20 percent of the equipment was misplaced or stolen. Idiotic decisions were made in where to place the surveillance cameras — in police-station lobbies for example. Congressman Michael Quigley (D–Ill.) denounced Project Shield as “corruption which makes us less safe.”

After the heavy-handed police response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, Barack Obama publicly fretted about the militarization of police. But many of the worst abuses have long been funded by DHS. A Senate report noted, “‘Militarized’ vehicles and bomb detection robots top the list of ‘must have’ equipment being purchased by law enforcement teams around the country.”

Many police departments use DHS grants to purchase the same type of armored personnel carriers used by the U.S. military. The most popular model is the BearCat — an acronym for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck. The Keene, New Hampshire, police department justified using federal funds to purchase a BearCat because of rowdiness at a local pumpkin festival. An Arizona police department used a BearCat to carry out a raid on a cockfight organizer. A police department in Washington state used its BearCat to “pull over drunk drivers.” The Clovis, California, Police Department displayed its BearCat at a local Easter egg hunt. A Senate report noted, “Police departments rave about the vehicles’ ‘shock and awe’ effect saying the vehicles’ menacing presence can be enough of a deterrent for would-be criminals.” Unfortunately, there is no way to deter police departments from spending federal dollars to intimidate local taxpayers.

Police departments are also using DHS grants to buy drones to conduct surveillance over their entire domains. As the Senate report explained, “Given the proliferation of military drones used in war operations, local police now want similar equipment in their arsenal of crime-fighting tools.” Senator Coburn warned, “The deployment of these types of surveillance machines raises important questions about American citizens’ constitutional rights and the appropriate balance between improving security and freedom. Federal, state, and local policymakers must carefully consider whether new law-enforcement tools and strategies protect freedom or threaten civil liberties.” But few members of Congress have shown any interest in reining in federally funded abuses.

Federal grant money is enabling local police to buy other military-style devices. As a Senate report noted, “Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) machines were originally developed for use by the military as a nonlethal way to repel adversaries, including Iraqi insurgents or pirates, by making a loud and intense sound that is capable of damaging hearing.” Pittsburgh used $88,000 of DHS grant money to buy a “long-range acoustic device” and used it on protesters at a 2009 international summit in Pittsburgh, leading to at least one lawsuit from a victim claiming permanent loss of hearing.

Federal anti-terrorism grants are also spurring pointless intrusions around the nation. The Washington, D.C., subway system has been plagued by high-profile violent attacks by riders (as well as horrendous service which occasionally kills passengers). The feds’ solution? Special grants of $10 million or more per year to bankroll police to accost travelers before they enter the subway system and search their purse, briefcase, backpack, or whatever. Metro officials insisted that the searches were no big deal because they would be very brief — unless, of course, police found a reason to arrest someone or detain him for questioning. Police rely on hand-held explosive-detection devices which are well known to be ludicrously inaccurate (and can be triggered by hand sanitizer or soap). A Washington Post reporter noted that “many of those transit commuters still have the option of traveling by car, where their property is likely to be safe from police search as long as they don’t commit a crime, a distinction no longer available to Metro riders.” The police search teams are not deployed in response to any credible threat; instead, they are simply sent out to establish police presence. This is akin to the “security theater” that TSA has made famous. But news that police conduct warrantless searches of passengers entering subway stops quickly spreads on social media. If someone wants to avoid the hassle (or the discovery of the nuclear bomb in his suitcase), he merely needs to go to a different metro station a mile or two away.

Federal anti-terrorism grants have been a great political success regardless of pervasive waste, fraud, and abuse. As author James Risen (who was targeted for years by both the Bush and Obama Justice Department for national-security leaks he received) observed, the “homeland security–industrial complex” has been a windfall for Washington. Politicians have “learned that keeping the terrorist threat alive provides enormous political benefits…. A decade of fear-mongering has brought power and wealth to those who have been the most skillful at hyping the terrorism threat,” enhancing the “financial well-being of countless federal bureaucrats, contractors, subcontractors, consultant, analysis and pundits.”

The Trump administration has proposed curtailing some anti-terrorism grants to state and local governments but it remains to be seen whether Congress gets on board. What does the United States have to show for tens of billions of dollars of Homeland Security antiterrorism spending by local and state governments? Michael Sheehan, former New York City deputy commissioner for counterterrorism, observed, “I firmly believe that those huge budget increases have not significantly contributed to our post–9/11 security.” But the war on terrorism has been an unmitigated victory for Leviathan and politicians at every level of government.

 

Federal Highway Surveillance

December 27, m2017

by Christian Jürs

A joint Pentagon/Department of Transportation are conducting a permanent surveillance of all motor vehicles using the Federal Highway System. This is code named ARGUS.

It was initially a part of an overall public surveillance program instituted and organized by Admiral Poindexter, convicted of various criminal acts as the result of the Iran-Contra affair and then brought back to government service by the Bush Administration.

Following public disclosure of Poindexter’s manic attempts to pry into all aspects of American life and his subsequent public departure from government service (he is still so employed but as a “private consultant” and not subject to public scrutiny) many of his plans were officially scrapped. ARGUS, however, is still valid and now in place.

This Orwellian nonsense consists of having unmanned video cameras installed over all Federal highways and toll roads. These cameras work 24/7 to video all passing vehicles, trucks, private cars and busses.

The information is passed to a central data bank and entered therein. This data is supplied, on request, to any authorized law enforcement agency to include private investigative and credit agencies licensed to work with Federal law enforcement information, on any user of the road systems under surveillance.

Provision is made, according to the operating plans, to notify local law enforcement immediately if any driver attempts to obscure their license plate number and instructs them to at once to “apprehend and identify” the vehicle or vehicles involved.

It is at present, a Federal crime to attempt to damage or in any way interfere

with the surveillance program or any portion thereof

 

 

Virginia officials postpone lottery drawing to decide tied statehouse election

December 26, 2017

by Letitia Stein

Reuters

Reuters) – A lottery drawing to settle a tied Virginia legislative race that could shift the statehouse balance of power has been indefinitely postponed, state election officials said on Tuesday, after the Democratic candidate mounted a legal fight.

The decision to put off the high-stakes lotto, originally scheduled for Wednesday, marks the latest twist in a dramatic election recount that at one point showed Democrat Shelly Simonds beating Republican incumbent David Yancey by a single vote.

A victory by Simonds would shift Republicans’ slim control of the 100-member House of Delegates to an even 50-50 split with the Democrats, forcing the two parties into a rare power-sharing arrangement.

A day after Simonds emerged as the victor of a recount, a three-judge panel ruled that a disputed ballot should be counted for Yancey. That decision left the two candidates tied with 11,608 votes each in a district that encompasses the shipping hub of Newport News in southeastern Virginia, setting the stage for the equivalent of a coin toss to pick a final winner.

Simonds asked a state court to reconsider on Tuesday, arguing that the disputed ballot was wrongly included. An image filed in court showed that the ballot had bubbles filled in beside both names, with a slash mark by Simonds’ name. The voter selected Republicans for other offices.

Simonds told reporters that the case had implications not only for her contest but for the integrity of state elections as a whole, saying that without a court ruling in her favor, “recounts would become a never-ending spiral of courtroom challenges.”

The chairman of the Virginia Board of Elections, James Alcorn, said in a statement that while holding a lottery would be in keeping with state law, such a move should be considered “an action of last resort.” He added: “Any substantive concerns regarding the election or recount should be resolved before a random drawing is conducted.”

Yancey’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Virginia House Republican Caucus said in a statement that it was reviewing the new court filings. “We believe the court acted appropriately and that the integrity of the process is without question,” spokesman Parker Slaybaugh said.

Virginia Department of Elections spokeswoman Andrea Gaines said in an email that no new date for a drawing has been set.

Democrats notched historic gains in Virginia’s statehouse elections last month, part of the party’s first big wave of political victories since Republican Donald Trump won the White House last year.

Before the Nov. 7 general election, Virginia Republicans held 66 seats to the Democrats’ 34 in the House of Delegates, along with a majority in the state Senate.

Reporting by Letitia Stein in Detroit; Editing by Steve Gorman and Sandra Maler

 

The Neo-Confederate Movement

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

December 27, 2017

Robert Lewis Dabney, a 19th century theologian, is considered to be the most early advocate of a theological perspective of the Civil War.” Dabney served during the Civil War as the chaplain to General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.  After the war, Dabney argued in books and lectures, based on scripture, that slavery was justified by the Bible and that “slavery was a necessary good for what he called the ‘depraved’ classes.” Sebesta and Hague wrote, “Dabney believed that the Bible legitimated slavery, and thus opposition to slavery was tantamount to rejecting Christianity.

Dabney’s post-Civil War writings established the theological cornerstone from which future Christian Reconstructionists and neo-Confederate theologians and strategists would expand their theological ideology and programmatic endeavors.  Dabney’s writings contain such concepts as: “governments were legitimate only if they derived from the will of God;” “condemned human equality and women’s rights… [and] opposed public schooling…justifying all his positions by Biblical interpretation;” “that modern science and development of the theory of evolution were ‘anti-theological’ and that amongst future generations this would result in a ‘nascent contempt for their father’s Bibles and irreparably damage the South’s ‘Christian households.’”

Three key theologians and theoreticians trace their own intellectual lineage back to Dabney—the late Rousas J. Rushdoony, founder of Christian Reconstructionism at the Chalcedon Foundation; Steven Wilkins, co-founder (with history professor Michael Hill) of the racist, secessionist League of the South; and Douglas Wilson, who heads the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals, Credenda/Agenda, Canon Press, and New Saint Andrews College—all of them located in Moscow, Idaho.

Neo-Confederates believe that with the Civil War, Lincoln was able to expand the power of the federal government beyond constitutional limits, and that with the defeat of the Confederacy the ideals of states’ rights were defeated.  They believe that the 14th Amendment was illegally adopted.  To them this has resulted in the growth of federal government into a Leviathan, a very large monstrous beast in the bible….In this historical view big government, integration and Brown vs. Brown, gay rights, civil rights, feminism, minorities, taxes, FDR, and other issues can be viewed as the result of the American Republic jumping the tracks during the Civil War and being out of control.

The neo-Confederate doctrine that Congressman Ron Paul is associated with believes in the re-establishment of the Confederacy as a Bible-based republic opposed to all laws, rights, or behaviors that cannot be justified according to the Bible.  Its leading theologians have written justifications of slavery as Biblically-based and have described it as a benign social institution.  On theological grounds, neo-Confederates believe the Civil War was a struggle between orthodox Christianity and a heretical Union.  In the mid-twentieth century, many Christian nationalists became politically involved because they opposed the desegregation of white schools and attempts by the federal government to remove their tax exempt status from white private school created to escape the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision to desegregate white-only schools.  The subsequent development of the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and the moral pressure this movement exerted on federal, state and local governments, as well as the reign of terror unleashed by the Ku Klux Klan with the implicit support of Southern governors, legislatures, congressmen, law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, juries, white clergy, and public opinion all played a role in the development of the neo-Confederate movement.

In September 1957, President Eisenhower ordered federal troops into Little Rock, Arkansas to protect nine black children attempting to desegregate a white public school.  In September 1962, President Kennedy ordered federal marshals, Army, and National Guard troops to protect James Meredith as he attempted to enroll in the University of Mississippi.

Indicative of the Southern rage underlying the reign of terror, in May 1964, Sam Bowers, Imperial Wizard of the Mississippi White Knights, declared: “‘The events which will occur in Mississippi this summer may well determine the fate of Christian civilization for centuries to come.’”  This Ku Klux Klan statement is no different than statements from the League of the South that was founded in 1994. Opposition to the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s was not limited to Kirk and the neo-Confederate movement and the John Birch Society. William F. Buckley and the National Review defended the white supremacists

In 1980, right after the Republican Party’s national convention, Ronald Reagan spoke at the fairgrounds to an audience of over thirty thousand, in Philadelphia, Mississippi, “‘I believe in states’ rights.’” Reagan was following in the footsteps of Barry Goldwater in 1964 who carried only his home state of Arizona and five states in the Deep South. This became a strong indication of future white voting patterns.  One should also consider George Wallace’s 1968 presidential campaign as the American Independent Party candidate; former Klan leader David Duke’s multiple campaigns as a Democrat, Republican, and Populist; and, Patrick Buchanan’s presidential run in 1992 in the Republican primaries that expropriated Duke’s issues. Between 1954 and 2004 the Republican gains in the House of Representatives was a reversal of the dominance the Democrats had in 1954.  The Democrats had net gains outside the South, but more than all of the Democratic net loss to the Republicans came from the Southern switch. Basicially the racial issue became essential to the ability of conservatives to win elections in spite of economic policies that favored a minority over the majority. It is important to remember that the “New Right” movement that brought Reagan to victory had been deeply involved in opposition to civil rights.  Max Blumenthal reported that after the 1954 Supreme Court decision the late Jerry Falwell “posited segregation as a biblical mandate” and worked with the FBI to try and smear Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. as a “communist subversive,” the same charge raised by the John Birch Society. King’s subsequent assassination has never been satisfactorily solved and the accepted stories that James Earl Ray was, like Oswald, the lone assassin does not stand up to objective analysis.  In 1966, Falwell started the Lynchburg Christian Academy, “‘a private school for white students.’”  And, as Michelle Goldberg noted, “what spurred them [the Christian Right] into action was the IRS’s attempt to revoke the tax-exempt status of whites-only Christian schools, schools that had been created specifically to evade desegregation.”

Steven Wilkins, co-founder of the racist, secessionist League of the South, is “arguably the most prominent member of the neo-Confederate clergy,” and a “resident instructor at the R.L. Dabney Center for Theological Studies” and “writes for almost all the religious publications and groups that advance neo-Confederate and Christian nationalist ideas. Another follower of Dabney is theologian Douglas Wilson.  For more than 30 years Wilson has run a mini-Christian Reconstructionist empire in Idaho that includes the New Saint Andrews College; Logos School, a private Christian academy; the Association of Classical and Christian Schools that certifies such private academies; Canon Press; the journal Credenda/Agenda; and, the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals.  Both Wilkins and Wilson, writing separately or jointly, are major proponents of the theological war thesis and defend “slavery as Biblically justified.”

Writing in 2002, Sebesta and Hague reported that the “Sons of Confederate Veterans heritage organization, Christian Reconstructionist bodies such as the Chalcedon Foundation, and the League of the South now generally accept the theological war thesis….Collaboration between the Christian Reconstructionist movement and the League of the South has also increased, evidencing a growing overlap in the historical, political and theological perspectives of participants in both organizations.

The practical effect of this conflation of nationalisms is an opposition to the following, according to Michael Hill, co-founder of the League of the South: loss of American sovereignty to foreign institutions; “‘radical egalitarianism; feminism; sodomite rights; Third World immigration; gun control; hate crime legislation (almost meant to be used against whites); judicial tyranny; burdensome taxation; multiculturalism and diversity (code words for anti-white, anti-Christian bigotry); the universal rights of man; and other manifestations of a new brand of politically-correct totalitarianism.’”

The other major neo-Confederate organization of interest here is the radical libertarian Ludwig von Meises Institute headed by Lew Rockwell, a long-time friend and political-business partner of Ron Paul.  In 2003, the Institute and the associated LewRockwell.com spearheaded a protest against the erection of a President Abraham Lincoln statue in Richmond, Virginia, while holding a “Lincoln Reconsidered” conference.  LewRockwell.com also hosts a “King Lincoln” archive of articles by leading neo-Confederate writers. The Institute also serves as an adjunct home to neo-Confederate professors Thomas D. Lorenzo, Donald Livingston, and Clyde Wilson.  Lorenzo, a professor of economics, has written that the Civil War was fought to end the right of secession, not to end slavery.  He was the star of the “Lincoln Reconsidered” conference.  Livingston, a professor of philosophy who specializes on David Hume, he was the first director of the League of the South’s Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History.  Livingston’s writings have strongly defended the right of the pre-Civil War South to  secede and has written that Lincoln started the Civil War in order to establish a centralized state. He also was present at the “Lincoln Reconsidered” conference.  Lastly, Clyde Wilson is the “biggest intellectual heavyweight associated with the neo-Confederate scene.” Wilson specializes in the writings of John C. Calhoun, “the preeminent states’ rights theorists before the Civil War.” Wilson was also a founding member of the League of the South.

 Libertarianism—Born Racist

To sort through these conflicting claims on the centrality of race to the Tea Party movement it is necessary to cover the following salient issues raised by some of the writers.  It is clearly evident that the conservative movements in the United Sates have never accepted integration in any of its manifestations and it is also true that the Tea Party movement is forcing the conservative movement in the United States towards the ultra-right and its strong racial sentiments. To what degree has Ron Paul adopted the Southern Strategy of abandoning the N-word racism and adopting the abstract and race-neutral code words and public policies that still amount to a defense of states’ rights and a defense of white supremacy or white nationalism?  To what degree is libertarian economic philosophy inherently racist?  And, finally, is this inherent racism the reason why libertarian writers such as but not limited to David Weigel and Glenn Greenwald still blandly refer to Ron Paul as a “libertarian” and a champion of “individual liberty” but prefer not to discuss his support for a white Christian nationalist and inherently anti-black agenda?

It is clearly evident that twentieth century libertarianism was born racist and is inherently racist.

That conclusion rests on the authority of none other than the late Murray N. Rothbard, co-founder of the Ludwig von Mises Institute along with Lew Rockwell and Ron Paul.  The Institute is not only one of the main neo-Confederate think tanks—one of the key components of the Ron Paul network—but also the primary institution supporting Ron Paul and his Tea Party movement.  The Institute is also the home of the Christian Reconstruction economic libertarian Gary North, who is also the informal strategic adviser to Ron Paul.

According to Rothbard, this libertarian coalition was hard-core regressive: “A few libertarian extremists wanted to go all the way back to the Articles of Confederation, but the great bulk of the right was committed to the United States Constitution—but a Constitution construed so ‘strictly’ as to outlaw much twentieth-century legislation, certainly on the federal level” (emphasis in original).

Edward Sebesta, in an early article on “The Neo-Confederate Movement,” established that Russell Kirk, “perhaps the most prominent conservative of the 20th century,” “promoted the values of southern conservatism and ultimately the neo-Confederates.” Kirk was an early supporter of the Southern Partisan, a leading neo-Confederate journal that attracted conservative writers from across the country, not just the South.  Kirk’s considerable prestige, prodigious writings, and intellectual support ensured that “the values of southern conservatism and admiration for the Confederacy, became accepted and not peripheral, not sectional for conservatism.”

.  William Voegeli in article on “Civil Rights & the Conservative Movement” noted that Buckley in 1957 wrote an article “Why the South Must Prevail” in which Buckley asked “‘whether the White community in the South is entitled to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas where it does not predominate numerically?….The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.’”

Voegeli noted that Buckley “regularly” expressed “the asymmetry of his sympathies—genuine concern for Southern whites beset by integrationists, but more often than not, perfunctory concern for Southern blacks beset by bigots.” Buckley’s views resembled “that of the ‘Southern Manifesto’ signed in 1956 by nearly every senator and representative from the South” which accused the Brown v. Board decision of ‘destroying the amicable relations between white and Negro races that have been created through 90 years of patient effort by the good people of both races.  It has planted hatred and suspicion where there has been heretofore friendship and understanding.’”33

The Southern Manifesto was more than a manifesto.  Part of the white supremacist reaction was a reign of terror against civil rights workers and any African American who could be made an example of for disturbing the apartheid system.  The other reaction was the use of Tenth Amendment (states’ rights) to nullify the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling.  For example, the Florida and Georgia legislatures passed laws that with slightly different wording stated, “‘decisions and orders of the Supreme Court of the United States denying the individual sovereign States the power to enact laws relating to the separation of the races in public institutions of a state are null, void and of no force or effect.’”

Conservative opposition to all civil rights legislation continued with Goldwater’s argument derived from legal advice given by his legal advisers William Rehnquist and Robert Bork that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was “‘a grave threat’ to a constitutional republic in which fifty sovereign states have reserved to themselves and to the people those powers not specifically granted to the central or Federal government.’” With all due respect to Rehnquist and Bork, the Ninth Amendment gave all unenumerated rights to the people and none of these unenumerated rights to the states.

Conservative and Republican opposition to all civil rights legislation and the defense of states’ rights continued under the GOP’s Southern Strategy—a strategy the Republicans have never repudiated and continue to follow.  According to the late Lee Atwater, the essence of the strategy was to conceptually shift the focus away from overt and explicit expressions of racism (the N-word) to “say[ing] stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”  When candidate Reagan went to Philadelphia, Mississippi, and said “‘I believe in states’ rights’” that Reagan “was elbow deep in the same race-baiting Southern strategy of Goldwater and Nixon.”  As Bob Herbert noted, “When Democrats revolted against racism, the G.O.P. rallied to its banner.”

Like the Southern Manifesto which claimed that relations between the races during the Jim Crow era were “amicable” and based on “friendship and understanding,” the neo-Confederate movement sought to portrays racial relations under slavery as highly favorable to the slaves and a burden to the slave masters.  A book written in the 1950s claimed, “‘No, the Southern planter’s work was civilizing the poor, deluded Negro—the greatest missionary work known to history….The institution of slavery as it was in the South, so far from degrading the Negro was fast elevating him above his nature and his race.”

Steven Wilkins and Douglas Wilson co-authored a 1996 book, Southern Slavery: As It Was, which claimed that “‘Slavery as it existed in the South…was a relationship based upon mutual affection and harmony….There has never been a multiracial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world.’”

In addition to the Ludwig von Mises Institute, other leading neo-Confederate organizations include the Council of Conservative Citizens, Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Rockford Institute in Illinois.  There are many others.

It is the core belief of the League of the South, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Christian Reconstructionist Chalcedon Foundation that the Civil War “was a theological war over the future of American religiosity fought between devout Confederate and heretical Union states” and that the Confederate “battle flag and other Confederate icons are Christian symbols and the assertion that opposition to them equates to a rejection of Christianity

Central to the concept of “banal white nationalism” is the much larger concept of the neo-Confederacy which has as its basic principles, among others: states’ rights, local control of schooling, Christian traditions, Confederate symbols, Southerners are persecuted as racists, a natural social hierarchy, white men being dominant in a social hierarchy stratified by race and gender, a disdain for gays and lesbians, and an opposition to modern democracy.  Much of this is no longer unique to neo-Confederates, but extends to Christian nationalists, variants of libertarianism, and other white nationalists.  Moreover, there are institutional linkages across domains such as Christian nationalist and libertarian organizations and white nationalist organizations.

It should therefore come as no surprise that there are two main flags associated with the Tea Party movement—the Confederate flag symbolizing slavery and treason (the neo-Confederates would prefer secession) and the Gadsden flag symbolizing patriotic revolution

That no Republican or Tea Party movement leaderships vociferously opposed the presence of the Confederate flag, or Nazi symbols or references, is indicative of just how pervasive this neo-Confederate mindset, banal white nationalism, and anti-Semitism are in the larger conservative movement.

Also noted is the proliferation of Nazi symbolism and rhetoric associated with the Tea Party movement.

 

Spanish government begins withdrawal of thousands of police from Catalonia

Spain has announced it will begin to pull out police reinforcements sent to Catalonia ahead of the region’s contested October independence vote. As many as 10,000 additional officers are thought to have been deployed.

December 26, 2017

DW

The Spanish government on Tuesday announced that it had begun pulling out police reinforcements from Catalonia, almost three months after they were sent to halt an independence referendum that the Constitutional Court had declared illegal.

Spain’s Interior Ministry and the Spanish police union said the withdrawal should be completed by Saturday.

Madrid deployed thousands of additional officers from Spain’s National Police and Guardia Civil to Catalonia in September, just as the northeastern region was preparing to vote in a contested independence referendum.

The vote on October 1 was subsequently marred by scenes of  violence , as police used batons and rubber bullet to try and force voters away from the polling booths. At least 92 people were injured in the clashes, while Catalan authorities claimed at the time that as many as 900 people needed hospital and medical attention on the day of the vote.

Although Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government never placed an exact figure on the number of additional officers sent to Catalonia, most media estimated it to be between 4,000 and 6,000. However, Spain’s top-selling daily, El Pais, put the figure at around 10,000.

The crackdown prompted Catalan separatists to dub the Spanish police reinforcements as an “occupying force.”

Catalonia still rising separatist waveDespite the numbers of police and their often brutal interventions, the referendum still saw millions of Catalonians cast their ballot, giving the separatist vote a substantial majority.

The vote, however, led Rajoy to sack Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, dissolve the Barcelona-based government and impose direct rule from Madrid.

The prime minister also called for early elections, which took place last week. The separatist parties once again maintained their majority and are expected to form a new government.

 

The Body Trade: Cashing in on the donated dead  

A business where human bodies were butchered, packaged and sold

For a decade, Arizona-based Biological Resource Center persuaded dying Americans to donate their bodies to science. More than 5,000 did. Here’s what happened to thousands of them.

December 27, 2017,

by John Shiffman, Reade Levinson and Brian Grow

Reuters

PHOENIX – Sam Kazemi stood over the old man’s corpse. Nearby lay pliers, a scalpel and a motorized saw designed to cut drywall and pipe.

On a busy day, Kazemi might harvest body parts from five or six people who had donated their bodies to science. On this day in November 2013, the corpse before Kazemi typified the donors who gave their remains to his employer, Biological Resource Center.

The man was a retired factory worker with a ninth-grade education. He had lived with his wife in a mobile home in Mohave Valley, Arizona, and had died six days earlier, aged 75. His name was Conrad Patrick.

But after he died and his body was donated, Patrick became a commodity, known by the company’s initials and a number: BRC13112103.

Reuters reviewed thousands of internal BRC records and confidential law enforcement documents containing profiles of Patrick and 2,280 other donors. The documents include invoices and inventories for thousands of body parts harvested from those people. They show how their bodies were dissected, which body parts were sent where, and why buyers obtained them.

Kazemi helped cut up and package Patrick into seven pieces. BRC shipped Patrick’s left foot to a Chicago-area orthopedic lab. His left shoulder was sent to a Las Vegas company that holds surgical seminars. His head and his spine went to a project run by the U.S. Army. And Patrick’s “external reproductive organs” were sent to a local university. His right foot and left knee were placed in the company’s freezers, where they became part of BRC’s million-dollar inventory of flesh and bone.

For more than a year, Reuters has examined America’s body trade, a little-known and virtually unregulated industry. These businesses, which call themselves non-transplant tissue banks, are also known as body brokers.

The operations can resemble meat-packing plants. At BRC, body parts from heads to fingernails were harvested and sold. On Saturday mornings, Kazemi taught college students how to dismember cadavers in the company lab. He also starred in a grisly training video, demonstrating how to carve out a man’s spine using a motorized saw.

The documents obtained by Reuters – along with dozens of interviews with investigators, former BRC workers and families of donors – offer an unparalleled look at how one of America’s major body brokers operated. The records, never before made public, also reveal how little the government or the donors themselves understood what was happening at the company, and show in graphic detail how a cadaver becomes a commodity.

Sales invoices detail many of those transactions.

For $607, BRC sold the liver of a public school janitor to a medical-device company. The torso of a retired bank manager, bought by a Swiss research institute, fetched $3,191. A large Midwestern healthcare system paid $65 for two femoral arteries, one from a church minister. And the lower legs of a union activist were purchased by a Minnesota product-development company for $350 each.

For raw material, the industry relies in large part on people too poor to afford a funeral, offering to cremate a portion of each donated body for free.

A Reuters analysis of BRC donor files from May 3, 2011 through January 20, 2014 confirmed how important the disadvantaged were to business. The vast majority of BRC donors came from neighborhoods where the median household income fell below the state average. Four out of five donors didn’t graduate from college, about twice the ratio of the country as a whole.

Before brokers accept a body, they typically present the donor or next of kin with a consent form. These agreements are often written in technical language that many donors and relatives say they find hard to understand. The documents give brokers the right to dismember the dead, then sell or rent body parts to medical researchers and educators, often for hundreds or thousands of dollars. At BRC, a whole body sold for $5,893, records show.

Since 2004, when a federal health panel unsuccessfully called on the U.S. government to regulate the industry, Reuters found that more than 2,357 body parts obtained by brokers from at least 1,638 people have ended up misused, abused or desecrated.

Documents reviewed for this article indicate that those figures are vastly understated. The extent of BRC’s operation surprised even investigators who raided the Phoenix-based company in 2014.

There, agents discovered 10 tons of frozen human remains – 1,755 total body parts that included 281 heads, 241 shoulders, 337 legs and 97 spines.

Applying a state forfeiture law, authorities hauled away the contents of BRC’s freezers, filling 142 body bags. One bag held parts from at least 36 different people.

The seizure was so large that officials struggled to properly handle the body parts. When plans to cremate the remains stalled, officials brought three walk-in freezers to a military base and stacked the body bags inside, one atop another. Parts from 851 different people remained in those freezers for almost three years before they were cremated.

The raid on BRC was part of a broader federal probe into the suspected practices of one of its clients, Arthur Rathburn. A Detroit body broker, Rathburn has pleaded not guilty to charges of defrauding customers. During a 2013 search of Rathburn’s warehouse, federal agents found rotting body parts along with four preserved fetuses, confidential photographs reviewed by Reuters show. It is not clear how Rathburn acquired the fetuses or what he planned to do with them. He was indicted for allegedly selling diseased body parts without warning buyers. His trial is set for January.

After the BRC raid, the company went out of business. Its founder and former owner, Stephen Gore, later pleaded guilty to fraud – not for selling body parts but for misleading customers by shipping them contaminated specimens. His punishment: probation. He is expected to testify at the Rathburn trial.

Gore’s attorney, Clark Derrick, said Gore always tried to act in the best interests of his donors. “At some point the business grew exponentially, we became shorthanded, we cut some corners, and for that I apologize and make amends,” Derrick said on Gore’s behalf.

PROFITING OFF THE POOR

Gore housed his business in a 9,000-square-foot building once occupied by an insurance agency – a one-story facility near two interstate highways and the Phoenix airport. From 2005 until early 2014, court records show, BRC received about 5,000 human bodies and distributed more than 20,000 body parts.

As Reuters reported last year, BRC also sold body parts to U.S. Army contractors for military experiments. A Pentagon spokeswoman said BRC provided the body parts “under false pretenses,” misleading the Army that consent had been secured for donors  to be used in destructive tests.

Among the parts BRC sold for the Army experiments were the heads and spines of Conrad Patrick and Leon Small, a 71-year-old retiree who had once managed a furniture factory.

On the consent forms Patrick and Small signed, each man checked a box stating that he did not wish to be used in military or destructive tests, records show.

But just days after Patrick and Small died, a BRC employee called their widows and persuaded them to amend the forms so their husbands could be used by the military, according to recordings of the calls reviewed by Reuters. The widows said the calls came during a traumatic time.

“I didn’t understand what they were talking about,” Dona Patrick said. “But I said ‘OK.’”

Bodies or parts from at least 20 BRC donors were used without their consent in Army experiments, Reuters found. Parts from Small and Patrick, however, were not. The military halted testing when it learned of the raid at BRC.

The shoulders of both men were sent to a for-profit surgical training company in Nevada.

The widows, Karen Small and Dona Patrick, are among two dozen next of kin who said they were surprised to learn that BRC profited from a relative’s donated body.

“They prey on people that have no money, that are poor, that have no insurance – like us,” Patrick said.

Family members of some donors said BRC employees led them to believe body donation was regulated by federal and state authorities, and that selling body parts is illegal. Based on those pitches, the relatives said they believed the remains wouldn’t be sold. In truth, there are virtually no regulations on the body trade.

“It’s a horrible thing,” Small said. “Sick.”

In a statement to Reuters last year, Gore said his employees took “great care to ensure that donors and their families were well-informed about the processes.” Gore acknowledged at his sentencing that he relied on books and the Internet for instruction on how to handle the bodies he sold.

“HOMEMADE HORROR MOVIE”

In 2012, BRC hired lab technician Kazemi. He earned $21 an hour. Before joining the company, his resume shows, he spent the previous decade working as a real estate agent, a waiter at a Morton’s steakhouse and a manager for an Olive Garden restaurant.

When he arrived at BRC, he was 35 and had just graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in kinesiology, the study of body movement. At ASU, he was a teaching assistant in an anatomy lab.

In 2013, Kazemi starred in a BRC instructional video. It opens with a jarring title, punctuated for emphasis: “Stripped Cervical Spine

The video begins with a close-up of Kazemi wearing a mask, gloves, goggles and a surgical gown. Then it pulls back to reveal a body face down on a table. The man’s shoulders and arms have already been sheared off. The head lolls from side to side until Kazemi holds it still.

With a scalpel, he makes incisions along the neck and back, then peels away the man’s skin and scalp. About seven minutes into the video, Kazemi picks up a construction saw.

“On this one,” he says of the cadaver, “we are using a sturdy, thicker 9-inch blade. You want to make sure that the blade is long enough to reach from ear to ear across the back.”

In his interview with Reuters, Kazemi described the video as clinical and “not disrespectful to donors” in any way. It was meant for internal use only, he said. Kazemi also said he did not know how BRC acquired donors or where body parts were shipped.

In hindsight, Kazemi said using a motorized saw was wrong because it cannot be cleaned well enough to avoid spreading diseases.

“Would I do something like that now that I know better? No,” Kazemi said. “But at the time, that’s what was provided to me.”

Two retired investigators for the Arizona attorney general said even veteran prosecutors recoiled when they viewed the 24-minute video.

“It was like a homemade horror movie,” said Charles Loftus, the former assistant chief agent.

Matthew Parker, former investigator with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office

“I couldn’t sleep at night after seeing that,” said Matthew Parker, another former agent who says he retired with a disability – post-traumatic stress disorder – related to his work on the case. “It looked like a junkyard chop shop where they are just ripping things apart.”

INTERNING AT BRC

Kazemi also spent Saturdays in BRC’s lab teaching college students about dissection.

On one Saturday in late 2013, ASU junior Emily Glynn said she showed up for her first day at the lab. She was majoring in nutrition.

“I was really surprised when I got the internship because I didn’t have any experience,” said Glynn, then 20. “Just went in the first day and learned things on the job.”

That first day, under Kazemi’s direction, interns used pliers to remove fingernails from donors, Glynn recalled.

“I don’t want to say it was barbaric, but it was weird,” she said. “One day, I found myself holding the hand of a 70-year-old woman and felt like I needed to apologize to her, to say, ‘I’m sorry.’”

Neither Glynn nor Kazemi knew how the fingernails were used, they said, and Reuters could not locate invoices for that order. But the news agency did identify fingernails from 22 other donors that were sold by BRC. They went to a North Carolina bioengineering research company, SciKon Innovation.

SciKon CEO Randy McClelland said he was unaware that BRC was raided by the FBI. He said his business helps companies study how products enter the bloodstream through fingernails. “Like new cosmetics that go on your skin,” he said.

On another Saturday, Glynn said, Kazemi gathered the interns around the body of another elderly woman.

“He says, ‘Emily, you’ve never cut off a head before, and everyone else has, so do you want to try?’” Glynn recalled. “And I’m, like, ‘OK.’”

As she held the reciprocating saw, Glynn said, Kazemi steadied her grip.

“It wasn’t a full-on chainsaw like you would see in a horror movie, but it was a smaller version,” Glynn said. “And then I just went for it. I was expecting lots of blood but there wasn’t much to it. It came right off,” she said of the woman’s head.

Kazemi said he doesn’t remember helping an intern cut off a head or any other body parts. The Saturday sessions, he said, were more akin to lectures during which he showed interns various organs and other body parts.

In her senior thesis, Glynn described her time at BRC differently.

“Over the course of the internship, I stripped subcutaneous fat from the vertebrae of a cervical spine, practiced performing cricothyrotomies (incisions to the throat), sutured dismembered legs using an oversized needle and twine, and decapitated an elderly woman with what looked and sounded like a chainsaw from Home Depot,” Glynn wrote in her thesis. “Not once did I receive formal training or instruction.”

BODY PARTS TO MIDDLEMEN

BRC’s customers were not always directly acquiring body parts from the broker for their own medical education, research or training programs. According to invoices, some customers were middlemen – brokers who resold or leased body parts originally donated to BRC. The consent forms gave BRC the discretion to choose its customers, but the forms did not state that body parts could be resold by third parties.

In 2012 and 2013, BRC sold at least 961 body parts, including at least 224 human heads, to three such middlemen.

One was Innoved Institute LLC, a Chicago-area medical lab provider that also supplies human body parts. Innoved was among BRC’s best customers. It received at least 32 shipments with 277 body parts. Innoved executives did not respond to requests for comment.

Another was Rathburn, the Detroit-area broker facing trial next month. He received at least 26 heads from BRC. Rathburn’s lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.

A third middleman was Biological Resource Center of Illinois, another Chicago-area broker. Better known as BRC-IL, it received at least 658 body parts from BRC. BRC-IL operated independently from BRC. But it was also raided by FBI agents as part of the federal probe into suspected fraud against donors and customers. No one has been charged with a crime in the BRC-IL matter, and executives there did not respond to requests for comment.

One of the shoulders shipped to BRC-IL came from the body of Robert Louis DeRosier, a casino security employee. He died at age 64 after a long battle with diabetes.

His widow, Tama DeRosier, lives in a mobile home park in Mohave Valley, Arizona. She said her husband donated his body hoping it might contribute to diabetes research. She did not expect anyone to make money selling his remains.

“That’s morbid,” the widow said. “Greed is a terrible thing.”

Russell Parker Jr, who helped care for his dying brother Todd, said he was surprised to learn from a reporter that BRC sold Todd’s right knee and offered to sell Todd’s head. Friends had recommended BRC, he said. And when the company returned his brother’s ashes, everything seemed “all on the up and up, very professional.”

“Shame on BRC for showing such disrespect,” Parker said. “That’s so wrong. It’s like trafficking.”

CONFUSED CONSENT

The companion of one donor cited another area of confusion: BRC’s use of the term “tissue.”

In sales pitches and on consent forms, body brokers commonly talk about retrieving tissue from donors. To the medical community, “tissue” means any part of the body – from an organ to a torso.

But in interviews with Reuters, family members of some donors said they believed “tissue” meant only skin samples. Though BRC did sell skin, those sales represented just 2 percent of its business, invoices show.

Maureen Krueger said her partner of 42 years, Fidel Silva, told a female hospice worker in his final days that he wished to be cremated.

“And that’s when she brought it up: ‘Would you be interested in donating tissues?’” Krueger recalled.

The way she understood it, Krueger said, a few skin samples would be removed for research purposes. In return, BRC would cremate Silva for free. Silva, a 69-year-old construction worker with a high school degree, peppered the hospice worker with questions.

“He asked, ‘Well, are you sure? What are they going to do?’” Krueger said. “He wanted to know. And that’s when she assured him it was only body tissues, they only took samples, they didn’t remove any organs or parts or anything. It was just tissues. And that’s when Fidel agreed.”

The conversation took place at the Hospice of Havasu in Arizona. Its executive director, Dan Mathews, said he could not discuss the matter due to patient-privacy laws. But he said the hospice, which offers its clients options to donate their bodies to science, “removed that company BRC from our list of providers” upon hearing it was under investigation.

Internal BRC records show the body broker removed Silva’s head, and his right and left arms from shoulder to hand. Each was tagged with a tracking number and prepped for sale.

“Wow,” Krueger said. “I didn’t really realize they could do all that. I mean, I didn’t understand that’s what would happen with Fidel at all.”

BODY PARTS IN LIMBO

After the raid of BRC by federal and state agents, the body parts seized by authorities remained in limbo for almost three years. Their fate, detailed in confidential state logs, sworn statements and photographs, has never been made public.

Logistical problems began the day of the raid, said former agents Parker and Loftus. Authorities were stunned to find so much human flesh inside BRC, they said.

“We expected two freezers and a few hundred pounds of body parts,” said Loftus, who’s now running for state representative. “Instead, we found 40 freezers with 10 tons of bodies and parts.”

Agents entered in hazmat gear and took biopsies from each body part to preserve as evidence. Records show the agents then placed the 1,755 parts into 142 body bags.

The bags were sent to 10 local funeral homes so the remains could be cremated. But records and interviews show that BRC and others for whom it was storing body parts objected to their destruction. They argued that the parts had a value of more than $1 million.

The cremation plans were put on hold, but authorities soon faced a pressing problem, according to former agents Loftus and Parker. Funeral homes could refrigerate but not freeze the body parts, and the mortuaries began to complain that some of the parts were starting to thaw.

As a solution, authorities obtained three walk-in industrial freezers and installed them at a military base used by the Arizona National Guard. Then, body bag by body bag, the mortuaries delivered the parts, and Loftus and Parker helped carry them into the freezers.

In an interview, Parker recalled feeling body parts sloshing around inside the bags as he moved them. Some bags leaked blood that stained his pants and shoes. The experience led to his PTSD diagnosis, he said.

“It’s not how you treat human beings, human remains,” Parker testified in a deposition as part of his PTSD claim. “You don’t throw them in a bunch of body bags and then throw them into a freezer like a pile of garbage.”

The spokeswoman for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office said the body parts were kept for federal authorities “as evidence in ongoing criminal investigations and prosecutions across the country.” An FBI spokesman declined to comment. In February, after almost three years in the containers, the remains were cremated and returned to families that requested them, the state spokeswoman said.

In response to the Gore case, the Arizona governor signed into law a bill that requires body brokers like BRC to be licensed and regularly inspected. The new law calls for brokers to follow a set of standards and to hire a medical doctor to supervise company practices.

Although the law was adopted a year and a half ago, it has yet to be enforced: The state health department still must create specific rules for brokers. It isn’t clear when it will. Health department officials, said a spokeswoman, “do not have an anticipated date of completion at this time.”

 

 

 

 

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