Bulletin N° 881
It’s Wonder Life
A 1946 Frank Capra fantasy film based on a short story, "The Greatest Gift," written in 1939 by Philip Van Doren Stern. The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched, and how different life would be for his wife Mary and his community of Bedford Falls if he had never been born.
Subject : The Geriatrics of ‘Late Capitalism’: Looking for Forensic Evidence.
February 17, 2020
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
The geriatrics of ‘Late Capitalism’ recognizes the complexity of the pathogens that have mutated within the system and the inadequacy of 19th–century concepts like “structure” and “super-structure” to successfully diagnose the fatal illness. It is widely believed today that organs once classified as existing within the category of “super-structure” – such as laws, governments, religious beliefs, literary creations, etc. – are "moments" just as causal as are the economic relationships and modes of production assigned to “the base” of the social structure. In fact, there exists no linear cause-and-effect relationship; no single prime mover is to be found in this system. Propaganda, Psychological Operations (PSYOP), Marketing . . . all influence material production and the intensities of class relationships, as much as does the notorious labor exploitation and private profit motive. The obvious pathological state into which ‘Late Capitalism’ has fallen is inexplicable without the assistance of Social Psychology (an activity believed to reside, according to the “vulgar” Marxist analysis, in the Super-Structure). But contemporary Marxist scholars, like David Harvey, Bertell Ollman, and Richard Wolff, suggest otherwise; they invite us to re-read Marx and to examine our own lives over the past fifty years in light of our careful reading.
The body of ‘Late Capitalism’ lies on the table - dying, but not dead ; and the gravediggers are eagerly assembled, waiting to play their historic role. But the prognosis is not complete, and we stand around waiting, wondering, wanting to know what will follow the demise of this spasmodic old tyrant, ‘Late Capitalism’, who has grown so rigid in his old age and seems to be determined, more than ever, to take us all down with him: “Après moi, le déluge!”
It is in this vein that we at CEIMSA have recently looked at the history of the monetary system; to examine the role financial institutions have played in the vastly complicated, interconnected system of capital accumulation, of which we are all a part. [See past ceimsa bulletins, beginning with our June 16, 2017 Bulletin N° 757; then on to N° 834, cf. . . . .]
Early attempts at analysis of the role played by banks and financial institutions in capitalist production and in the reproduction of capitalist societies, are instructive - not in the religious sense of the word, like the eastern religious teachings from the Talmud, the Catechism, or the Quran, to be learned by heart and internalized once and for all - but rather as a heuristic encounter pursuing lines of thought, to see where they go and what additional questions they raise.
These early studies are sometimes flawed with gratuitous declarations of bigoted beliefs and old prejudices, which perhaps once served to produce a sense of belonging to one community or another, but since have mutated into pathological delusions, providing a false sense of security against some amorphous threat. The perpetuation of such prejudices serves no real purpose today, except the occasional opportunity to exploit the naiveté of unaware persons, to recruit them to perform some unrewarding task, which they would otherwise likely not choose to engage in. Such transcendent solidarity, promoted by propaganda and psychological warfare (to displace class consciousness), appears increasingly to be gratuitous. Identity politics, taken to its extreme, is one genre of this delusion. It exists, in many cases, as an atavism from past times – a dead-end reactive politics, instead of collective preparation for proactive change. Political propaganda and marketing techniques seem to have taken on lives of their own, neutralizing self-knowledge and any consciousness of collective self-interests, and producing instead a slippery slope pulling us down toward guaranteed self-destruction. A refreshing exception to these early studies of US corporate power and finance is found in Gabriel Kolko’s influential book, The Triumph of Conservatism, A Reinterpretation of American history, 1900-1916 (1963).
Our venture into reading more about financial institutions and economic history is not a religious quest, seeking a confirmation of some received idea for self-identity. We simply wish to learn how the political economy we live in functions, and what crippling affects it has on us and on society in general.
About 11 years after Eustace Mullins (1923-2010) - influenced by the American literary figure, Ezra Pound (1895-1972) - published his iconoclastic 200-page exposé, The Secrets of the Federal Reserve (1952 edition), in which he proceeded to analyze the privately controlled interest-based monetary system of the Anglophone world, which for the past hundred years has produced wars, famines and depressions unparalleled in human history, a new book appeared on the same subject – longer, and more accessible to the general public . G. Edward Griffin (b.1931), holding a B.A. in speech and communications at the University of Michigan, produced a riveting 595-page popular account of the role of central banking in the usury industry, since the creation of the Federal reserve in 1913. Griffin’s book, The Creature from Jekyll Island, A Second Look at the Federal Reserve (1998 edition) has gone through 42 printings and has been the beneficiary of expert promotion drives.
The two men, despite their many disputes, have taken an unpopular and intentionally obscured subject and popularized it, escorting it on to front center stage for public inspection, where it is now a common topic of conversation, openly discussed in classrooms, offices and at public gatherings around the world. He who controls the money supply controls the world.
In the summary of his first chapter, Griffin explains the need for secrecy at the time the Federal Reserve Banking System was created.
The basic plan for the Federal Reserve System was drafted at a secret meeting held in November of 1910 at the private resort of J.P/ Morgan on Jekyll Island of the coast of Georgia. Those who attended represented the great financial institutions of Wall Street and, indirectly, Europe as well. The reason for secrecy was simple. Had it been known that rival factions of the banking community had joined together, the public would have been alerted to the possibility that the bankers were plotting an agreement in restraint of trade – which, of course, is exactly what they were doing. What emerged was a cartel agreement with five objectives: 1) stop the growing competition from the nation’s newer banks; 2) obtain a franchise to create money out of nothing for the purpose of lending; 3) get control of the reserves of all banks so that the more reckless ones would not be exposed to currency drains and bank runs; 4) get the taxpayer to pick up the cartel’s inevitable losses; and 5) convince Congress that the purpose was to protect the public. It was realized that the bankers would have to become partners with the politicians and that the structure of the cartel would have to be a central bank.(p.23)
The Federal Reserve System was conceived as a private profit-making enterprise, and in terms of its true goals, stated above in the five objectives, “it has been an unqualified success.”(p.23)
At the start of his introduction, Griffin reproduces a 1957 satire published in the British magazine Punch which illustrates the private profit motive of ubiquitous interest-based money and private dept, the foundation of the private banking industry.
In the second chapter, Griffin pursues this theme of deception. He entitles Chapter 2 of his book, “The Name of the Game is Bailout,” and proceeds to use a sports analogy to explain the rules of the game and dispel confusion.: in order to be able to see how “the federal government [is] an agent for shifting the inevitable losses from the owners of banks to the taxpayers.”
To understand how banking losses are shifted to the taxpayers, it is first necessary to know a little bit about how the scheme was designed to work. There are certain procedures and formulas which must be understood or else the entire process seems like chaos. It is as though we had been isolated all our lives on a South Sea island with no knowledge of the outside world. Imagine what it would then be like the first time we travelled to the mainland and witnessed a game of professional football. We would stare with incredulity at men dressed like aliens from another planet; throwing their bodies against each other; tossing a funny shaped object back and forth; fighting over it as though it were of great value, yet, occasionally kicking it out of the area as though it were worthless and despised; chasing each other, knocking each other to the ground and then walking away to regroup for another surge; all this with tens of thousands of spectators riotously shouting in unison for no apparent reason at all. Without a basic understanding that this was a game and without knowledge of the rules of that game, the event would appear as total chaos and universal madness.
The operation of our monetary system through the Federal Reserve has much in common with professional football. First, there are certain plays that are repeated over and over again with only minor variations to suit the special circumstances. Second, there are definite rules which the players follow with great precision. Third, there is a clear objective to the game which is uppermost in the minds of the players. And forth, if the spectators are not familiar with that objective and if they do not understand the rules, they will never comprehend what is going on. Which, as far as monetary matters is concerned, is the common state of the vast majority of Americans today.
Let us, therefore, attempt to spell out in plain language what that objective is and how the players expect to achieve it. To demystify the process, we shall present an overview first. After the concepts are clarified, we then shall follow up with actual examples taken from the recent past.
The name of the game is Bailout. As stated previously, the objective of this game is to shift the inevitable losses from the owners of the larger banks to the taxpayers. The procedure by which this is accomplished is as follows . . . . (pp.25-26)
To avoid trivializing these life-and-death maneuvers by comparing them to a football game, Griffin quickly proceeds to everyday relationships in capitalist society, and the careful calculations in financial institutions that determine so much about the way we live, but which often appear counterintuitive to the uninitiated.
Griffin summarizes the central banking procedure this way:
Although national monetary events may appear mysterious and chaotic, they are governed by well-established rules which bankers and politicians rigidly follow. The central fact to understanding these events is that all the money in the banking system has been created out of nothing through the process of making loans. A defaulted loan, therefore, costs the bank little of tangible value, but it shows up on the ledger as a reduction in assets without a corresponding reduction in liabilities. If the bad loans exceed the size of the assets, the bank becomes technically insolvent and must close its doors. The first rule of survival, therefore, is to avoid writing off large, bad loans and, if possible, to at least continue receiving interest payments on them. To accomplish that, the endangered loans are rolled over and increased in size. This provides the borrower with money to continue paying interest plus fresh funds for new spending. The basic problem is not solved, but it is postponed for a little while and made worse.
The final solution on behalf of the banking cartel is to have the federal government guarantee payment of the loan should the borrower default in the future. This is accomplished by convincing Congress that not to do so would result in great damage to the economy and hardship for the people. From that point forward, the burden of the loan is removed from the bank’s ledger and transferred to the taxpayer. Should this effort fail and the bank be forced into insolvency, the last resort is to use the FDIC to pay off the depositors, The FDIC is not insurance, because the presence of ‘moral hazard’ makes the thing it supposedly protects against more likely to happen. A portion of the FDIC funds is derived from assessments against the banks. Ultimately, however, they are paid by the depositors themselves. When these funds run out, the balance is provided by the Federal Reserve System in the form of freshly created new money. This floods through the economy causing the appearance of rising prices but which, in reality, is the lowering of the value of the dollar. The final cost of the bailout, therefore, is passed to the public in the form of a hidden tax called inflation.
So much for the rules of the game. In the next chapter we shall look at the scorecard of the actual play itself. . . . . (p.39)
Meanwhile, a contemporary Marxist description of the capitalist system includes David Harvey’s “map of interrelated moments of cultural and economic transformations” which aims to clarify the “totality” of capital formations.
Totality and Capital
A suggested map of 10 interrelated moments which have historically interacted to reproduce capitalist relationships
Reproduced from David Harvey lecture, January 30, 2020
By separating the capitalist system into interrelated moments, he seeks to explain what phenomena interact to reproduce capitalist relationships and how these different moments link together to form a totally, keeping in mind that different moments reveal the totality, but do not determine it. This search is oriented towards systemic influences, and not towards identifying final causes.
While reading about the history of central banks over the past one hundred years, we focuse on specific moments in the history of institutions. After gathering information at this level, we broaden the optic of our microscope to include other moments on our map, moments that were linked to these institutions, until we grasp the “totality” of capitalist relationships and how they have changed over the past 100 years.
The 20+ items below are articles and essays produced on the battle field of class struggle, where propaganda and psychological warfare aim at disarming resistance and protecting the accumulation of capital in the hands of fewer and fewer people. The discussions and presentations below should serve to protect us from the worst aspects of such alienation, while we wrestle for control over our own lives against authoritarian state actors, the servants of capital. While the technology of social control is more precise than ever, it has been widely perceived that its accuracy is greatly flawed, and what passes as control is truly chaos, in the most morbid sense of the term. Our self-selected rulers and their allies have all but lost their credibility. As social structures weaken, they must revert increasingly to rapport de force.
Professeur honoraire de l'Université Grenoble-Alpes
Ancien Directeur de Researches
Université de Paris-Nanterre
Director of The Center for the Advanced Study
of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
When a black swan flies over a house of cards: The Coronavirus & global collapse
It looks like a very rare bird finally landed on our planet.
Moody’s Analytics called the coronavirus “a Black Swan like no other.” Ditto for Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who says, “It’s very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic.”
One respected Wall Street analyst said the disease will impact both global supply and demand and ultimately “paralyze China.”
But Wall Street shrugged off these prognostications and is in such a mania of late, it managed to convince itself—on almost no evidence at all— that the virus is curable. Not only has it discounted the pandemic, but its ditzy moods pushed markets to all time highs as if to show its scorn for any intrusion sanity which might otherwise interrupt the frenzy.
Stephen Roach, former Morgan Stanley chief economist, says Wall Street’s mania is ludicrous: “This is a market where if you declared it was World War III, they would rally on reconstruction!”
Tesla doubled in value in less than a month. Nothing seems to temper the delirium.
But Frances Collins, NIH Director, says this disease is serious and transmissibility is incredible. One person was infected after only 15 seconds of exposure —and that was at a distance.
The fact is this disease is only in its incipient stages, its transmissibility is horrific, and frankly we haven’t seen anything yet.
So let us dig down into some of the implications. Take a look for a moment at the house of cards—that is the world economy— over which this black swan is flying. It sits upon a foundation of an unimaginable $253 trillion in debt, something the IMF repeatedly has warned is excessive and egregious.
Powell testimony: Fed is 'closely monitoring' coronavirus for impact
by Ylan Mui & Jeff Cox
How to Yellow-Cake a Tragedy: The New York Times Spreads the Virus of Hatred, Again
by K.J. Noh
A Most Convenient Virus
by Dmitry Orlov
I prefer to write on things I know about, but once
in a while an opportunity presents itself for me to comment on some aspect of
widespread mistrust and confusion while resting on a solid foundation of my
professional curiosity. This is the case of the 2019-nCoV novel coronavirus. A lot of the elements of the coronavirus story just don’t add up, and that’s what I want
to explore. At the outset, I want to make it clear that I am no expert on these
matters. Is 2019-nCoV a genetically engineered biological weapon or is it a
naturally evolved strain of a virus that is endemic in China’s bat population?
This we don’t know, but it is interesting to look at the plausibility of each
of these scenarios and also to consider whether what we are observing could be
a combination of a little of each.
As a biological weapon of mass destruction, 2019-nCoV isn’t particularly good. On the plus side, it is highly contagious and can be spread by infected individuals who are not showing any of the symptoms, such as fever and shortness of breath. On the minus side, the mortality rate is a mere 2.1% and is likely to trend down because this rate does not account for a potentially huge number of young, healthy people who contracted the virus but never developed any symptoms, were never tested for it, and will never know that they had survived it. For a virus to be potent as a bioweapon, its kill ratio needs to be optimized for killing the largest possible number of its victims, but doing so slowly enough so that the victims don’t die before they have a chance to spread the infection.
Another minus: the average age of those who succumb to it is around 65, making it rather ineffective in impairing the productive capacities of a nation, be they industrial or military, since many of those who die are past their peak productive years or retired. In fact, taking a rather cynical view, this virus could be rather helpful in reducing the burden of economically unproductive sick an elderly people who, in an aging Chinese population, and given the respect Chinese society traditionally gives to its elders, consume a growing share of the country’s resources.
Xi Jinping appears in public as China returns to work after holiday
by Lily Kuo
Mexico Is Showing the World How to Defeat Neoliberalism
by Ellen Brown
While U.S. advocates and local politicians struggle to get their first public banks chartered, Mexico’s new president has begun construction on 2,700 branches of a government-owned bank to be completed in 2021, when it will be the largest bank in the country. At a press conference on Jan. 6, he said the neoliberal model had failed; private banks were not serving the poor and people outside the cities, so the government had to step in.
3 Reasons Why the Stock Market is Headed for a Devastating Crash
by Ayush Singh
The Chinese economy has come to a standstill due to coronavirus. With earnings and buybacks falling, a stock market crash seems inevitable.
Household debt jumps the most in 12 years, Federal Reserve report says
by Jesse Pound
Total household debt balances rose by $601 billion last year, topping $14 trillion for the first time, according to a new report by the Fed branch. The last time the growth was that large was 2007, when household debt rose by just over $1 trillion.
Fed economists said on the Liberty Street Economics blog that the growth was driven mainly by a large increase in mortgage debt balances, which rose $433 billion and was also the largest gain since 2007.
Housing debt now accounts for $9.95 billion of the total balance. Balances for auto loans and credit cards both increased by $57 billion for the year, according to the Fed.
The economists said in the blog post that credit cards have again surpassed student loans as the most common form of initial credit history among young borrowers, following several years after the crisis when student loans were higher.
Consumer insolvencies approach record in debt-weary Canada
by Chris Fournier
Weimar Germany Hyperinflation Explained
(The Truth About History's Most Infamous Hyperinflation Horror Story)
by Matthew Boesler
When Did the Stock Market Crash?
“Panic: The Untold Story of the 2008 Financial Crisis”
Documentary with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve Bank of New York President Timothy Geithner, and Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke
"Francisco's Money Speech"
by Ayn Rand
Wall Street duo make $150m each on back of Trump election victory
by Julia Kollewe
(July 24, 2017)
The ECB and Fed are hoping the public will give them a new direction
by Silvia Amaro
Central banks are experiencing a soul-searching moment as they look to strengthen their popularity after the global financial crisis — an exercise that could ultimately change how they operate.
The European Central Bank (ECB) is hosting its first “listening event” in Brussels next month. President Christine Lagarde is set to discuss with European citizens the role of the central bank across the 19-country region. However, the ECB is not the first major central bank to organize such events. The U.S. Federal Reserve announced in late 2018 that it would be reviewing its work, which included several “Fed Listens” events across the country. The results are set to be unveiled in the first half of 2020.
“The ECB is simply imitating the Fed, and both are doing the public consultations because they feel insecure as their instruments seem to have lost ‘bite,’” Daniel Gros, the director of the Brussels-based think tank CEPS, told CNBC via email.
Learn the Warning Signs of the Next Stock Market Crash
by Barbara Friedberg
"Prof. Wolff on Trump's Economic Shell Game"
with RJ Eskow & Richard Wolff
"Understanding Socialism: Redefining the Value of Labor"
with Richard Wolff
New Documentary "Coded Bias" Explores How Tech Can Be Racist And Sexist : Code Switch
by Jennifer 8. Lee
Lords of the Universe
agreed to counter Iran in Iraq while Israel fights it in Syria; Israeli
by Nati Yefet and Judah Ari Gross
Defense minister also expresses opposition to mainly relying on bombing Iranian arms shipments to Hezbollah, saying ‘for every convoy you hit, you miss five’
Jerusalem and Washington have divided up the fight against Iran, with Israel taking responsibility for countering the Islamic Republic in Syria and the United States in Iraq, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said Saturday.
Last Thursday, Bennett returned from a working visit to Washington, in which he met US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other senior American officials.
Speaking at a campaign event on Saturday, he said the two countries had agreed to work in tandem to block Tehran’s efforts to create a corridor through which it could move men and materiel from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, and out to Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea.
“I met with my colleague the American defense minister Mark Esper, and we sorted out the coordination exactly — they’re taking Iraq, and we’re taking Syria,” Bennett said at a synagogue in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givat Shmuel.
A Pentagon spokesperson said he could not comment on the matter, but said, “the United States Department of Defense remains committed to a strong military partnership with Israel, as well as the enduring defeat of [Islamic State] in Iraq.”
Israel Just Admitted Arming Syrian Rebels
by Daniel J. Levy
In his final days as the Israel Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot confirmed, on the record, that Israel had directly supported anti-Assad Syrian rebel factions in the Golan Heights by arming them.
This revelation marks a direct break from Israel’s previous media policy on such matters. Until now, Israel has insisted it has only provided humanitarian aid to civilians (through field hospitals on the Golan Heights and in permanent healthcare facilities in northern Israel), and has consistently denied or refused to comment on any other assistance.
In short, none other than Israel’s most (until recently) senior serving soldier has admitted that up until his statement, his country’s officially stated position on the Syrian civil war was built on the lie of non-intervention.
As uncomfortable as this may initially seem, though, it is unsurprising. Israel has a long history of conducting unconventional warfare. That form of combat is defined by the U.S. government’s National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 as "activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt or overthrow an occupying power or government by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary or guerrilla force in a denied area" in the pursuit of various security-related strategic objectives.
While the United States and Iran are both practitioners of unconventional warfare par excellence, they primarily tend to do so with obvious and longer-term strategic allies, i.e. the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance fighters in Afghanistan, and various Shia militias in post-2003 Iraq.
In contrast, Israel has always shown a remarkable willingness to form short-term tactical partnerships with forces and entities explicitly hostile to its very existence, as long as that alliance is able to offer some kind of security-related benefits.
The best example of this is Israel’s decision to arm Tehran during the Iran-Iraq War, despite the Islamic Republic of Iran’s strong anti-Zionist rhetoric and foreign policy. During the 1980s, Iraq remained Jerusalem’s primary conventional (and arguably existential) military threat. Aiding Tehran to continue fighting an attritional war against Baghdad reduced the risk the latter posed against Israel.
Similarly, throughout the civil war in Yemen in the 1960s, Israel covertly supported the royalist Houthi forces fighting Egyptian-backed republicans. Given Egypt’s very heavy military footprint in Yemen at the time (as many as a third of all Egyptian troops were deployed to the country during this period), Israelis reasoned that this military attrition would undermine their fighting capacity closer to home, which was arguably proven by Egypt’s lacklustre performance in the Six Day War.
Although technically not unconventional warfare, Israel long and openly backed the South Lebanon Army, giving it years of experience in arming, training, and mentoring a partner indigenous force.
More recently, though, Israel’s policy of supporting certain anti-Assad rebel groups remains consistent with past precedents of with whom and why it engages in unconventional warfare. Israel’s most pressing strategic concern and potential threat in Syria is an Iranian encroachment onto its northern border, either directly, or through an experienced and dangerous proxy such as Hezbollah, key to the Assad regime’s survival.
For a number of reasons, Israel committing troops to overt large-scale operations in Syria to prevent this is simply unfeasible. To this end, identifying and subsequently supporting a local partner capable of helping Israel achieve this strategic goal is far more sensible, and realistic.
Open source details of Israel’s project to support anti-Assad rebel groups are sparse, and have been since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war.
Reports of this first arose towards the end of 2014, and one described how United Nations officials had witnessed Syrian rebels transferring injured patients to Israel, as well as "IDF soldiers on the Israeli side handing over two boxes to armed Syrian opposition members on the Syrian side." The same report also stated that UN observers said they saw "two IDF soldiers on the eastern side of the border fence opening the gate and letting two people enter Israel."
Since then, a steady stream of similar reports continued to detail Israeli contacts with the Syrian rebels, with the best being written and researched by Elizabeth Tsurkov. In February, 2014 she wrote an outstanding feature for War On The Rocks, where she identified Liwaa’ Fursan al-Jolan and Firqat Ahrar Nawa as two groups benefiting from Israeli support, named Iyad Moro as "Israel’s contact person in Beit Jann," and stated that weaponry, munitions, and cash were Israel’s main form of military aid.
She also describes how Israel has supported its allied groups in fighting local affiliates of Islamic State with drone strikes and high-precision missile attacks, strongly suggesting, in my view, the presence of embedded Israeli liaison officers of some kind.
A 2017 report published by the United Nations describes how IDF personnel were observed passing supplies over the Syrian border to unidentified armed individuals approaching them with convoys of mules, and although Israel claims that these engagements were humanitarian in nature, this fails to explain the presence of weaponry amongst the unidentified individuals receiving supplies from them.
From: Ariel Gold, CODEPINK [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2020 4:57 PM
To: fancis feeley
Subject: More sinister than ISIS?
Did you hear about the Facebook ad by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) attacking Representatives Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Betty McCollum? Next to pictures of the three congresswomen, the ad read: “It’s critical that we protect our Israeli allies especially as they face threats from Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah ISIS and — maybe more sinister — right here in the U.S. Congress,” Really? Supporting freedom, equality, and human rights for Palestinians is worse than ISIS?
Betty McCollum responded to AIPAC’s ad by stating that, “AIPAC’s language is intended to demonize, not elevate, a policy debate. Vile attacks such as this may be commonplace in the Trump era, but they should never be normalized. Hate speech is intentionally destructive and dehumanizing, which is why it is used as a weapon by groups with a stake in profiting from oppression… AIPAC claims to be a bipartisan organization, but its use of hate speech actually makes it a hate group.”
AIPAC is attacking McCollum because of her legislation in Congress to end Israeli military detention and abuse of Palestinian children. It is attacking Omar and Tlaib because they have taken brave positions as the first two members of Congress to support the nonviolent boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS). AIPAC is desperate. While it used to force Congress to provide unquestioned support and cover for Israel, its stranglehold is rapidly evaporating. Last year, thanks to pressure from CODEPINK, If Not Now, Jewish Voice for Peace, Move On and others, almost all the 2020 candidates skipped the AIPAC conference.
Take a moment to email your Senators, Representative and the 2020 presidential candidates. Ask them to tell AIPAC that they have no tolerance for hate speech and support freedom, dignity, and human rights for all. Tell them to skip the 2020 AIPAC conference.
We’ve been protesting AIPAC for years and we are happy to see this right-wing lobby losing power. It is a good sign for American democracy, a good sign for Palestinian rights, and even in the long-term interests of Israel. Together, let’s make the 2020 AIPAC conference the lowest attendance yet.
To update your email subscription, contact email@example.com.
NATO’s eastward expansion and large-scale drills near Russian borders may lead to unpredictable consequences and it's time for Europe to change course, Russia's FM Sergey Lavrov told the Munich Security Conference.
Europe is where the "crisis of confidence" in international relations is felt the most, Foreign Minister Lavrov said as he took to the stage, explaining that "the structure of the Cold War rivalry is being recreated" on the continent.
"Escalating tensions, NATO's military infrastructure advancing to the East, exercises of unprecedented scope near the Russian borders, the pumping of defense budgets beyond measure – all this generates unpredictability," he added.
He then called on Europe to focus on security cooperation and helping to uphold international treaties, instead of following a policy of confrontation.
Give up on promoting the phantom of the 'Russian threat' or any other threat – before it's too late – and remember what unites us all.
Israel bombs Damascus as Syrian Arab Army advances in Idlib
(February 6, 2020)
by Vanessa Beeley
Israel has played a key role in US aggression towards Iran
with Gareth Porter
Israel's role in Trump assassination of Qasem Soleimani
by Nora Barrows-Friedman
Israel lashes out at UNHRC after LIST of companies doing business in occupied Palestine is finally released
A swimming pool in the West Bank settlement of Vered Yericho © Reuters / Ronen Zvulun
The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has released a long-delayed database of firms doing business in the occupied Palestinian territories. The anodyne, well-hidden document was denounced by Tel Aviv as ‘shameful capitulation.’
The document lists 112 companies operating in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Golan Heights. The vast majority are Israeli firms, and their number is significantly less than the 206 corporations hinted at when the idea of the database was initially floated back in 2017. Its publication Wednesday in a difficult-to-locate corner of the UNHRC website is nevertheless provoking strong reactions from Israel and its most strident ally, the US.
Israeli Blocking of Palestinian Exports to Jordan Shows Reality of Apartheid That the Kushner Plan Would Only Cement
by Juan Cole
Did Israel use civilian airliner as human shield?
Abby Martin Sues Georgia Over Israel Loyalty Oath Law
with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF)
AIPAC is a ‘hate group’ ‘weaponizing anti-Semitism’, says US Congresswoman
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum
Poll: Labour members say anti-Semitism crisis "invented"
by Asa Winstanley
Palestine in Pictures: January 2020
Israel kills four Palestinians in West Bank
by Maureen Clare Murphy
The IDF Spokesman Announces: Continue to Shoot Palestinian Children
by Gideon Levy
Israeli soldiers shoot children. Sometimes they wound them and sometimes they kill them. Sometimes the children wind up brain dead, sometimes disabled. Sometimes the children have thrown rocks at the soldiers, sometimes Molotov cocktails. Sometimes by chance they wind up in the middle of a confrontation. They almost never put the soldiers’ lives in danger.
Sometimes the soldiers intentionally shoot at the children, sometimes by mistake. Sometimes they aim at the children’s heads or the upper body, and sometimes they shoot in the air and miss, hitting the children in the head. That’s how it goes when a body is small.
Sometimes the soldiers shoot with the intent to kill, sometimes to punish. Sometimes they use regular bullets and sometimes rubber-coated bullets, sometimes from a distance, sometimes in an ambush, sometimes at close range. Sometimes they shoot out of fear, anger, frustration and a sense of having no other option, or a loss of control, sometimes in cold blood. The soldiers never see their victims afterward. If they saw what they caused, they might stop shooting.
Israeli soldiers are allowed to shoot children. Nobody punishes them for shooting children. When a Palestinian child is shot it’s not a story. There’s no difference between the blood of a small Palestinian child and the blood of a Palestinian adult. They’re both cheap.
When a Jewish child is hurt, all of Israel shakes, when a Palestinian child is hurt, Israel yawns. It will always, always find a justification for soldiers shooting Palestinian children. It will never, never find a justification for children throwing stones at soldiers who raid their village.
For six months a boy named Abd el-Rahman Shatawi has been convalescing at the rehabilitation hospital in Beit Jala. For 10 days a relative of his, Mohammed Shatawi, has been at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, in Jerusalem. Both are from the village of Qaddum in the West Bank. Israeli soldiers shot them both in the head. They shot regular bullets from a great distance at Abd el-Rahman as he stood at the entrance to a friend’s home, they shot a rubber-coated bullet at Mohammed from a nearby hilltop as he tried to hide from them down the same hill. The army said he had set a tire on fire.
Abd el-Rahman is 10 and looks small for his age. Mohammed is 14 and looks older than he is. These are the children of the Palestinian reality, both hanging between life and death. Theirs and their parents’ lives have been destroyed. Abd el-Rahman’s father drives him home from Beit Jala to Qaddum once a week for a weekend in the village, Mohammed’s father doesn’t stray from the doorway of the neuro-intensive care unit at Hadassah Ein Karem, where he’s alone facing his son and his fate. Neither of these children should have been shot. Neither should have been shot in the head.
After Abd el-Rahman was shot the army spokesman’s office said that “during the incident a Palestinian minor was wounded.” After Mohammed was shot the spokesman said: “A claim about a Palestinian who was wounded by a rubber bullet is known.” The office is familiar with the complaint. The army spokesman is the voice of the Israel Defense Forces. The IDF is a people’s army, therefore the IDF spokesman also speaks for Israel.
The spokespeople publish their bloodcurdling statements from a new office tower in Ramat Aviv near Tel Aviv, where the office recently moved. They refer to a 10-year-old boy as a “Palestinian minor” and remark that “the Palestinian claim is known” about a boy fighting for his life because soldiers shot him in the head. The dehumanization of Palestinians has reached the IDF spokespeople. Even children no longer rouse human sentiment such as sorrow or mercy, certainly not in the IDF.
Syrian military helicopter shot down amid tensions with Turkey
Turkey hits back at Russia claims over Syria's Idlib
But would anyone notice? CNN breaks ‘report’ of Syrian airstrikes… from 2018
CNN readers anxious to get updates on the Syrian war have been treated with a fresh report on the “regime’s atrocities” citing the usual suspects… or it would only seem so, as the network reran a two-year-old story instead.
Citing the UK-based and rebel-linked Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the story claims that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad killed at least 71 people and injured 325 others in a series of airstrikes on rebel-held Eastern Ghouta. Published this week, the report is featured on CNN website’s ‘World’ and ‘Middle East’ sections.
The only problem is that Ghouta has been under the control of Assad’s government for nearly two years. Homes in the region are being rebuilt, not leveled by bombs.
In fact, CNN ran the same story, word for word, back in February 2018. The same paragraphs detailing the horrendous bombing appeared, along with a handy get-out-clause: “CNN could not independently verify the claim.”
So why tell old news again? Did the network feel the need to remind its readers again which side they should take in Syria’s eight-year civil war? Did its editors slip in an old story under the radar to bulk up its weekend coverage?
Earth Sees Hottest January on Record: NOAA
Corporate Philanthropy Is a Downright Lie
by Jim Hightower
The Clinton Machine Will Do Anything to Stop Bernie Sanders
by Robert Scheer
US enters brutal ideological civil war as four-party system begins to take form
by Slavoj Zizek
Despite Trump’s impeachment victory, the US is entering into an ideological civil war, because the real conflict is not between the Democrats and the Republicans, but within each of those parties themselves.
Two weeks ago, while promoting his new film in Mexico City, Harrison Ford said that “America has lost its moral leadership and credibility.”
Really? When did the US exert moral leadership over the world? Under Reagan or Bush? They lost what they never had, ie, they lost the illusion (the “credibility” made in Harrison’s claim) that they’ve had it. With Trump, what was already true merely became visible.
Back in 1948, at the outset of the Cold War, this truth was formulated with brutal candor by US diplomat and historian George Kennan: “[The US has] 50 percent of the world’s wealth but only 6.3 percent of its population. In this situation, our real job in the coming period…is to maintain this position of disparity. To do so, we have to dispense with all sentimentality…we should cease thinking about human rights, the raising of living standards and democratisation.”
In this we find an explanation of what Trump means by “America first!” in much clearer and more honest terms. So we should not be shocked when we read that “the Trump administration, which came into office pledging to end ‘endless wars,’ has now embraced weapons prohibited by more than 160 countries, and is readying them for future use. Cluster bombs and anti-personnel landmines, deadly explosives known to maim and kill civilians long after fighting has ended, have become integral to the Pentagon’s future war plans.”
Those who act surprised by such news are simply hypocrites: in our upside-down world, Trump is innocent (not impeached) while Assange is guilty (for disclosing state crimes).
Three Extraordinary Australian Journalists: Burchett, Pilger & Assange
by Rick Sterling
Wikileaks Editor in Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson on Julian Assange
What Is Happening to Assange Will Happen to the Rest of Us
by Chris Hedges
After 10 months’ silence, UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warns against extradition of Julian Assange
by Oscar Grenfell and Chris Marsden
Julian Assange Wins 2020 Gary Webb Freedom of the Press Award
by Joe Lauria
"Coup of the century”: Countries bought rigged #CIA encryption device
How does our government get away with this?
by Andrew P. Napolitano
“The Framers … conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized men.”
— Justice Louis Brandeis (1856-1941)
While we were all consumed by impeachment, a pernicious piece of legislation was slowly and silently making its way through Congress. It is a renewal of Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act of 2001 has three sections that are scheduled to expire on March 15. One of those sections is the infamous 215, which authorizes the federal government to capture without a warrant all records of all people in America held by third parties.
Do we really want the federal government to spy without warrants? How can Congress, which has sworn to preserve, protect and defend the U.S. Constitution, legislate such a blatant violation of it? Here is the backstory.
State-Backed Alliance for Securing Democracy Smears The Grayzone
by Alex Rubinstein
The Spider's Web: Britain's Second Empire
(Documentary inspired by Nicholas Shaxson's book Treasure Islands)
Britain's poisoned legacy in Palestine
by Rod Such
'This is what panic looks like': Sanders team hits back after Wall Street criticism
Detroit Overtaxed Residents by $600M, Causing Foreclosure Crisis. Residents Are Now Fighting Back.
More Lies on Iran: The White House Just Can’t Help Itself as New Facts Emerge
by Philip Giraldi
Admittedly the news cycle in the United States seldom runs longer than twenty-four hours, but that should not serve as an excuse when a major story that contradicts what the Trump Administration has been claiming appears and suddenly dies. The public that actually follows the news might recall a little more than one month ago the United States assassinated a senior Iranian official named Qassem Soleimani. Openly killing someone in the government of a country with which one is not at war is, to say the least, unusual, particularly when the crime is carried out in yet another country with which both the perpetrator and the victim have friendly relations. The justification provided by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking for the administration, was that Soleimani was in Iraq planning an “imminent” mass killing of Americans, for which no additional evidence was provided at that time or since.
It soon emerged that the Iranian was in fact in Baghdad to discuss with the Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi a plan that might lead to the de-escalation of the ongoing conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a meeting that the White House apparently knew about may even have approved. If that is so, events as they unfolded suggest that the U.S. government might have encouraged Soleimani to make his trip so he could be set up and killed. Donald Trump later dismissed the lack of any corroboration of the tale of “imminent threat” being peddled by Pompeo, stating that it didn’t really matter as Soleimani was a terrorist who deserved to die.
The Belief That Everything Will Be Fine Once Trump’s Gone Is More Dangerous Than Trump
by Caitlin Johnstone
The New Hampshire primary election, much like the Iowa caucuses, saw Bernie Sanders doing worse than polls anticipated and establishment favorite Pete Buttigieg doing much better than polls anticipated.
Buttigieg closed at a tight second place behind Sanders and both were awarded the same number of delegates, which with the bizarre Iowa shenanigans means the former South Bend mayor is now leading the pack in total delegates despite receiving fewer votes than Sanders in both states.
So of course “Buttigieg leads” is the information that the mainstream media is placing special emphasis on today.
It is entirely possible that we’ll continue seeing strange electoral results combined with mass media manipulation result in Buttigieg riding a contested convention into a superdelegate-boosted nomination, even if Sanders has more votes overall. We have at this point in time seen no reason to believe that Sanders will be able to secure the number of delegates needed to prevent such an occurrence.
Then you’ve got racist Republican oligarch Mike Bloomberg jumping on the ballot come Super Tuesday, with his $300 million+ ad campaign throwing more chaos into the mix. Billionaire Bloomberg’s unprecedented campaign spending power has enabled him to push up just shy of second place in a recent Quinnipiac national poll despite having no redeeming characteristics and no real goal agenda apart from stopping Sanders, which is as clear an illustration as you’ll ever see of the power of money in US politics.
A Step Towards Nuclear Doomsday
by Scott Ritter
US Puts Low-Yield Nukes on Submarines in Response to Made-up Russian ‘Escalate to Deescalate’ Strategy
The US has deployed “low-yield” nuclear missiles on
submarines, saying it’s to discourage nuclear conflict with Russia. The move is
based on a “Russian strategy” made up in Washington and will only bring mass
In a statement released earlier this week, US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood announced that “the US Navy has fielded the W76-2 low-yield submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warhead.” This new operational capability, Rood declared, “demonstrates to potential adversaries that there is no advantage to limited nuclear employment because the United States can credibly and decisively respond to any threat scenario.”
The threat underpinning justification for this new US nuclear deterrent had its roots in testimony delivered to the House Armed Services Committee in June 2015 by US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, who declared that “Russian military doctrine includes what some have called an ‘escalate to deescalate strategy’ – a strategy that purportedly seeks to deescalate a conventional conflict through coercive threats, including limited nuclear use.”
However, any review of actual Russian nuclear doctrine would have shown this to be a false premise. Provision 27 of the 2014 edition of ‘Russian Military Doctrine’ states that Russia “shall reserve the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and/or its allies, as well as in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy. The decision to use nuclear weapons shall be taken by the President of the Russian Federation.”
The U.S. is formally accused of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza arrived in The Hague (Netherlands) on Thursday to file a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the United States and its sanctions.
During his meeting with the Court, Arreaza exposed the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the U.S. government in its failed attempt to overthrow Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro.
Currently, the economic, financial, and commercial sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump administration have prevented Venezuela from accessing international markets.
As a consequence, the Venezuelan people's rights to health, food, and development have been systematically violated.
"We have the right, the obligation, and the responsibility to protect our people," Arreaza said at a press conference held after handing over the documentation of the case to the Hague court.
"The consequences of U.S. coercive unilateral measures are crimes against humanity and violate both international laws and the United Nations Charter."
Does Capitalism Invariably Breed Fascism?
with Greg Wilpert & William I. Robinson
AIPAC Is Helping Fund Anti-Bernie Sanders Super PAC Ads in Nevada
by Ryan Grim, Akela Lacy
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is helping to fund a Super PAC launching attack ads against Sen. Bernie Sanders in Nevada on Saturday, according to two sources with knowledge of the arrangement. The ads are being run by a group called Democratic Majority for Israel, founded by longtime AIPAC strategist Mark Mellman.
The Nevada attack ads, which will air in media markets in Reno and Las Vegas, follow a similar spending blitz by DMFI ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Like the ads that aired in Iowa, the Nevada ads will attack Sanders on the idea that he’s not electable, Mediaite reported.
DMFI spent $800,000 on the Iowa ads, while the spending on the Nevada ads remains private. AIPAC is helping bankroll the anti-Sanders project by allowing donations to DMFI to count as contributions to AIPAC, the sources said. As is typical with most big-money giving programs, the more a donor gives to AIPAC, the higher tier they can claim — $100,000 level, $1 million level, and so on — and the more benefits accrue to them. A $100,000 donor gets more access to members of Congress at private functions, for instance, than someone who merely pays AIPAC’s conference fee. A $1 million donor gets still more, which means that it is important to donors to have their contributions tallied. There is also status within social networks attached to one’s tier of giving. The arrangement allows donors to give directly to DMFI, which is required to file disclosures naming its donors, without AIPAC’s fingerprints.
Oligarch Buys Political Party - Seeks to Become President
by Moon Of Alabama
Mike Bloomberg is the world's ninth richest person. An oligarch known for strong racism and insulting sexism who once was the Republican mayor of New York City. He since decided that he wants to become president.
As he saw no chance to run for a Republican party that is happy with Trump he filed to run as a Democratic candidate. Bloomberg has since bought the Democratic Party in every state as well as the DNC:
The DNC told Mike Gravel they wouldn't change the debate rules for any candidate. "That's our #1 rule - we can't change the rules for anybody."
A few months later, they changed the debate rules to let oligarch Bloomberg into the debates... after he gave the DNC $300K.
He’s dropping huge sums of money: on staff and resources, on TV advertisements, and on Facebook ads, where Trump has long dominated. And he’s attempting to overcome his stodgy public image with the help of a meme army and through well-catered campaign events seemingly designed to convince voters that life under a wealthy technocrat might not be so bad. “I think it’s classy,” one supporter told the Times at a Philadelphia campaign rally complete drink station and a selection of cheesesteaks, hoagies, and brie-and-fig appetizers. “I feel like it’s a nightclub in here. This is what he needs to get people going.”
To this date Bloomberg has spent more than $350 million for his campaign. He is willing and can afford to put several billions into it.
Why Bernie Is Democrats’ Best Hope to Beat Trump
by Finian Cunningham
Maybe the Democratic Party should sometimes listen to President Trump for a change instead of reflexively deriding him at every turn. The party is desperate to beat the Republican incumbent whom it hates with a vengeance. So as the Democrats prepare to nominate their presidential candidate from a crowded field, who gives them the best chance at winning the election in November?
According to the president himself, it is Bernie Sanders, whom he fears most.
Asked whether Trump would prefer to run against Sanders or billionaire tycoon Michael Bloomberg, the president said this week: “Frankly, I’d rather run against Bloomberg than Bernie Sanders,” speaking to reporters at the White House. “Because Sanders has real followers, whether you like him or not, whether you agree with him or not. I happen to think it’s terrible what he says.
But he has followers. Bloomberg’s just buying his way in.”
Bloomberg, a former mayor of New York City and media mogul, is spending tens of millions of dollars to promote himself as the Democratic presidential candidate. The party will nominate its candidate at a convention in Milwaukee in July.
But as the Democrat primaries get underway across the US, it is Bernie Sanders, the 78-year-old senator from Vermont, who has shown the early lead. The self-declared socialist won the popular vote in Iowa last week despite a debacle over delegate counts. This week, Sanders topped the ballot in the state of New Hampshire.
Later this month, the Democrat campaign moves on to Nevada and South Carolina before the Super Tuesday races take place in heavyweight states like California and Texas.
In his victory speech in New Hampshire, Sanders told ecstatic supporters: “We’re going to Nevada, we’re going to South Carolina, we’re going to win those next as well… Let me say that this victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump.”
Veterans of Foreign Wars, Demanded a Presidential Apology
by Helen Ubiñas
Trump insisted no troops were seriously injured in Iraq, but a Philly vet’s final words show the true cost of war.
It’s been six weeks since Rosalind Williams’ 30-year-old son, Army veteran Corey Michael Hadley, took his own life.
When grieving the death of a child, that’s a moment. A blink of an eye, a flip of a calendar. Barely enough time for Williams to pick herself up and return to her Northeast High School classroom where she teaches science.
And yet in that small window, 900 other military parents have been dealt the same blow — left behind to try to find the rhythm of a life that they’ve lost after losing their children to suicide. According to the most recent data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, about 20 veterans, active-duty service members and members of the National Guard and Reserve, die by their own hand every day.
In the quiet that followed the initial flurry of collective shock and grief after his death on Jan. 2, Williams sat with her anguish. She went through old photographs, collected new ones from his funeral and military interment. She read, and reread, the numerous news stories written about her son after the family spoke unsparingly about his death.
“His wounds were slow-acting and invisible, but nonetheless crippling and fatal,” the family said in a statement that spoke of his struggles with depression and PTSD after six years and three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Just as she did when she and the family struggled to find the right way and words to describe the loss of her son, Williams has continued to consider the cause of his death. His PTSD and the mental-health issues that medicines and other interventions failed to help — those were merely symptoms, torturous as they were, of what really ailed him. Instead, his mother believed: What finally cost him his life was the traumatic brain injury he suffered after the Army sharpshooter’s multiple deployments. Even in his final letter to his family, which she read aloud to me at her dining-room table, he spoke about it.
“I’m so sorry for doing this to you,” Hadley wrote. “I am so grateful to have been born into a loving, strong family.
"Sadly I’m not as strong as you may think I am. I have endured for as long as I could. My brain feels as though it’s swelling within my head. My ankles do not support my weight causing me to lose balance often and my heart ... my heart feels as though there is a black hole in the center of it sucking in all positive emotions allowing them to never leave and me never truly feeling happiness.”
Hadley’s family knew his mental health had deteriorated after the infantryman and sharpshooter returned home in 2013. But the wounds he and so many others experience remain invisible to many, including the president of the United States.
In January, Trump announced that “no Americans were harmed” when Iran fired over a dozen ballistic missiles at U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. Even after the Pentagon said 34 U.S. troops were diagnosed with concussions or traumatic brain injury following the attack, he downplayed the injuries and said compared with “people with no legs and no arms,” they were “not very serious injuries.” He only doubled down after it was recently announced that 109 U.S. troops were diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury from the attack.
“I won’t be changing my mind on that," he said during an interview with Fox Business.
Veterans advocates, led by the 1.6 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars, demanded a presidential apology.
County in rural Kansas is jailing people over unpaid medical debt
COFFEYVILLE, Kan. - Tres and Heather Biggs' son Lane was diagnosed with leukemia when he was five years old. At the same time, Heather suffered seizures from Lyme disease.
"We had so many — multiple health issues in our family at the same time, it put us in a bracket that made insurance unattainable," Heather Biggs said. "It would have made no sense. We would have had to have not eaten, not had a home."
Tres Biggs was working two jobs but they fell behind on their medical bills, then the unthinkable happened.
"You wouldn't think you'd go to jail over medical bills," Tres Biggs said.
Tres Biggs went to jail for failing to appear in court for unpaid medical bills. He described it as "scary."
"I was scared to death," Tres Biggs said. "I'm a country kid — I had to strip down, get hosed and put a jumpsuit on."
Bail was $500. He said they had "maybe $50 to $100" at the time.
In rural Coffeyville, Kansas, where the poverty rate is twice the national average, attorneys like Michael Hassenplug have built successful law practices representing medical providers to collect debt owed by their neighbors.
"I'm just doing my job," Hassenplug said. "They want the money collected, and I'm trying to do my job as best I can by following the law."
That law was put in place at Hassenplug's own recommendation to the local judge. The attorney uses that law by asking the court to direct people with unpaid medical bills to appear in court every three months and state they are too poor to pay in what is called a "debtors exam."
If two hearings are missed, the judge issues an arrest warrant for contempt of court. Bail is set at $500.
Hassenplug said he gets "paid on what's collected." If the bail money is applied to the judgment, then he gets a portion of that, he said.
"We're sending them to jail for contempt of court for failure to appear," Hassenplug said.
In most courts, bail money is returned when defendants appear in court. But in almost every case in Coffeyville, that money goes to pay attorneys like Hassenplug and the medical debt his clients are owed.
We’re All in This Together: A Case for Not Giving Up on the American Dream
by John W. Whitehead
“We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”—Benjamin Franklin
Listen: we don’t have to agree about everything.
We don’t even have to agree about most things.
We don’t have to love each other. We don’t even have to like each other. And we certainly don’t need to think alike or dress alike or worship alike or vote alike or love alike. But if this experiment in freedom is to succeed—and there are some days the outlook is decidedly grim—then we’ve got to find some way of relating to one another that is not toxic or partisan or hateful or so self-righteous that we’re doomed to failure before we even start.
America has been a warring nation—a military empire intent on occupation and conquest—for so long that perhaps we, the citizens of this warring nation, have forgotten what it means to live in peace, with the world and one another.