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Juan González on How Puerto Rico’s Economic “Death Spiral” is Tied to Legacy of Colonialism

Source: Juan González on How Puerto Rico’s Economic “Death Spiral” is Tied to Legacy of Colonialism

STORY

NOVEMBER 26, 2015

Juan_Gonzalez

 

 

Could Puerto Rico become America’s Greece? That’s a question many are asking as the island faces a devastating financial crisis and a rapidly crumbling healthcare system. Puerto Rico owes $72 billion in debt. $355 million in debt payments are due December 1, but it increasingly looks like the U.S. territory may default on at least some of the debt. Congress has so far failed to act on an Obama administration proposal that includes extending bankruptcy protection to Puerto Rico and allocating more equitable Medicaid and Medicare funding for the island. Meanwhile, Puerto Rican leaders in the United States are planning a massive lobbying day in Washington in early December to spur congressional action. In a holiday special, we feature a major speech by Democracy Now! co-host Juan González on “Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis: Economic Collapse in America’s Biggest Colony and What Can Be Done About It.”

Correction: The 2008 Puerto Rico pension bonds referenced in this speech were actually issued under the administration of former Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila, not under that of former Gov. Sila Calderon.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Could Puerto Rico become America’s Greece? That’s a question many are asking as the island is facing a devastating financial crisis and a rapidly crumbling healthcare system. Puerto Rico owes $72 billion in debt. $355 million in debt payments are due on December 1st, but it increasingly looks like the U.S. territory could default on at least some of that debt. Congress has so far failed to act on an Obama administration proposal that includes extending bankruptcy protection to Puerto Rico and more equitable Medicaid and Medicare funding for the island. Meanwhile, Puerto Rican leaders in the United States are planning a massive lobbying day in Washington in early December to spur congressional action.

Well, we turn now to a major address by Democracy Now!‘s co-host Juan González. Juan is also a longtime columnist for the New York Daily News and the 2015 Andrés Bello chair in Latin American cultures and civilizations at New York University. He was just inducted this month into New York’s Journalism Hall of Fame along with, among others, PBS’s Charlie Rose, Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes and Max Frankel of The New York Times. Juan is the author of several books, including Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America. Juan González spoke at New York University, his address titled “Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis: Economic Collapse in America’s Biggest Colony and What Can Be Done About It.” He gave the speech the day before the Obama administration finally unveiled its first proposal to Congress to aid the island.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Tonight I will explore a subject that has been much in the news of late: the economic collapse and debt crisis that are currently convulsing the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. What do these twin catastrophes mean for the 3.5 million U.S. citizens who live on the island of Puerto Rico and for the general population right here in the United States? What should and can be done about it by political leaders in San Juan and Washington, given the toxic political divisions and gridlock in the government branches of both capitals? Needless to say, this is a complex topic, one that requires hard work to fully understand.

AMY GOODMAN: We’ll come back to Juan González’s speech on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we return to Democracy Now! co-host Juan González, his major address at New York University last month, his speech called “Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis: Economic Collapse in America’s Biggest Colony and What Can Be Done About It.” In this section, Juan begins by talking about healthcare funding in Puerto Rico.

I’ve been studying closely for more than 40 years the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States as a journalist, as a researcher and chronicler of Latino history, as a longtime activist in the Puerto Rican communities of the United States and as someone who was born on that incredibly beautiful Caribbean island, who still has family ties there and who cares deeply about what happens to my homeland. And while I’ve written several columns this year in the Daily News and co-hosted some segments on Democracy Now! on the situation, a few hundred words in a newspaper article or a few minutes of a broadcast interview is woefully insufficient to express the magnitude of what is happening.

Don’t be misled by the one-dimensional reporting in the commercial media or even the business press. The fact is, as pointed out by several radical commentators, like Linda Backiel in Monthly Review, Ed Morales in The Nation and [Rafael] Bernabe, the former gubernatorial candidate of the small left-wing Puerto Rico workers’ party, Puerto Rico is now beset by two distinct, but closely intertwined, crises. One is fundamental stagnation of its economy, that has persisted for decades and is a direct result of its being a colony of the United States. The other is an immediate budgetary debt crisis that has been gathering steam for the past 10 years.

These two calamities have now combined to create a humanitarian catastrophe, one that is unraveling far more rapidly than most of us realize. Governor Alejandro García Padilla warned recently that his government will run out of cash by the end of November. At that point, there will be no money left in the Puerto Rican treasury to meet $354 million in debt payments that are due on December 1. This fiscal year alone, the government of Puerto Rico is staring at a $3.2 billion deficit—about 16 percent of its entire expenditures. After paying all of its operating costs, the central government projects it will have just $900 million available for $4.1 billion in debt service that comes due this year. In other words, only weeks remain to stave off a default that could reverberate throughout all of the U.S. municipal bond market.

How did this happen? The average American only became aware of this crisis in June, though Wall Street financial experts have known for years that the day of reckoning was coming. Still, corporate America was stunned when Governor García Padilla announced in a New York Times interview on June 29th and in a televised address to the people of Puerto Rico that same evening that the annual debt service on more than $72 billion in bonds that Puerto Rico and its various authorities and cities had issued over the past few decades is, quote, “no longer payable.” He thus publicly acknowledged his government was on the verge of the biggest debt default and bankruptcy in the history of American municipal bonds, far bigger than what happened in Orange County decades ago or in Detroit more recently.

In the four months since Governor Padilla’s announcement, Puerto Rico has received more attention in the U.S. media and among Washington politicians than at any time in the island’s modern history. The almost daily coverage has surpassed even the last media juggernaut some 15 years ago, when massive civil disobedience protests forced the end of the U.S. Navy’s bombing practice on the island of Vieques. It should be noted, though, that Donald Trump’s verbal insults to Mexico and Mexican immigrants garnered far more attention from the press this summer than tiny Puerto Rico’s economic death spiral. So much for sound bites. It is tragic but almost routine these days, but it takes a crisis to get the American people to focus their gaze on the plight of 3.5 million of their fellow citizens, to stop viewing Puerto Rico simply through the same tired, stereotypical lens of either sun-drenched tourist destination or economic dependency and welfare basket case.

But even in the face of such a dire situation, our political leaders in Washington have done nothing about it. The Obama administration keeps talking about technical assistance to Puerto Rico, has rejected any talk of a financial bailout, and has basically done nothing to this point. Congress has even been even more cavalier, with the Republican leadership refusing to amend federal bankruptcy laws to allow Puerto Rico similar protections to restructure its debts as other states have.

We must not lose sight of a single fact, however. This crisis offers the best opportunity in decades to finally get Congress and the American people to address the question of what to do about Puerto Rico, not just in the next few months, but to resolve once and for all the issue of the island’s status. Puerto Rico is, after all, the largest overseas territory still under the sovereign control of the United States. It is the most important colonial possession in this nation’s history. I want to repeat that: Puerto Rico is the most important colony in the history of the United States.

Humane and just solutions to the current crisis will not come easily. Last week, for example, Puerto Rican leaders in the U.S. held an emergency summit in Florida to ramp up pressure on Congress and the president to provide some sort of help. Representatives Nydia Velázquez of New York and Luis Gutiérrez of Chicago spearheaded the unprecedented meeting which took place in Orlando just this past Wednesday. But the organizers of that event made an unnecessary mistake by failing to fully include supporters of Puerto Rican statehood in their event and by insisting that only the immediate problems of the island’s debt be addressed, not the long-term issue of Puerto Rico’s political status.

Well, you simply cannot devise satisfactory solutions to a major economic or social problem without having a firm understanding of how that problem came to be. Of course, concrete and immediate action is what Puerto Rico needs, and no one in his or her right mind believes that the status issue will be resolved anytime soon—certainly not in the next few months, nor in the next few years, possibly not for decades more. But to ignore how colonialism has shaped the current crisis is a gross distortion of reality and damages efforts to devise any fundamental solutions.

For those of us searching for ways to assist the vast majority of those affected by this crisis—the 99 percent of Puerto Ricans as opposed to the 1 percent of the island’s elite, who are tied to the interests of American banks and multinationals—it isn’t sufficient to simply cry colonialism or to insist that nothing can be done until the status issue is resolved. Both extremes need to be discarded. We need to dig deep, to analyze how U.S. domination of Puerto Rico has evolved over the past 20 to 30 years, how changes in the world capitalist economy have been manifested in our own homeland. It is time we acknowledge that globalization has rendered historic concepts of national independence almost meaningless. You no longer need foreign armies to control the population, when you can read everyone’s mail, tap everyone’s phone, empty a country’s coffers and paralyze its economy from afar, through satellites, instant wire transfers and simple cancellations of bank credit lines. What is needed is more creative and flexible approaches to defend small nations from foreign domination, to assert national sovereignty in an increasingly interdependent world.

So tonight I hope to provide some thoughts on how the current Puerto Rican crisis reached this point and what solutions will best serve the survival and progress of the Puerto Rican masses. To do so, I will touch briefly on the following themes: the unprecedented nature of the current debt crisis; could Puerto Rico become America’s Greece; how is the crisis directly affecting the Puerto Rican people; why 117 years of colonialism is central to understanding the crisis; why Puerto Rico is a corporate gold mine, not a welfare case; how did the island’s debt mushroom out of control; who were the creditors, and who are the debtors; how should any proposed solutions be evaluated; why sustainable energy is key to Puerto Rico’s future; and the role of Puerto Ricans in the United States.

Most attention so far has centered on the total debt the central government, its various public corporations and municipal governments owe to Wall Street and bondholders. That debt has nearly doubled in the past 10 years, from about $40 billion to $72 or $73 billion. In a letter that Standard & Poor’s issued to Puerto Rico on September 10th, the rating agency lowered the island’s credit rating to CC, one of the worst ratings possible, even lower than that of Greek bonds. Standard & Poor’s noted in its letter that the Puerto Rican government now owes bondholders $13,474 for every man, woman and child on the island—equivalent to nearly 50 percent of annual gross domestic product.

But that doesn’t begin to explain the dimensions of the problem. On top of the bond debt, Puerto Rico owes another $30 billion to its main government employees’ pension fund and unfunded liabilities. As Bloomberg News reported on September 25th, the commonwealth’s Employees Retirement System, which covers 119,000 employees as of June 2014, had just 0.7 percent of the assets needed to pay all the benefits that had been promised, a level unheard of among the U.S. states.

In 2008, the administration of Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila issued $2.9 billion in debt just to meet its current pension payments. (Note: The original speech erroneously said the debt was issued under the administration of Sila Calderón.) They were called pension bonds. The sale was underwritten by the Swiss bank UBS, produced big conflict-laden fees for UBS, whose representatives have since been found guilty of fraud and are immersed in scores of lawsuits from bondholders who were cheated. Calderón’s successor, Governor Luis Fortuño, ended up subsequently ending all defined benefit pensions for new employees of Puerto Rico. But the cash infusion the pension funds realized from that borrowing will run out in five years, at which point the government will have to come up with another $2 billion annually to pay for pensions and for the additional debt that it took out to tide it over for these current five years, and will likely have to slash benefits to retirees even more. The pension bonds—that $2.9 billion in pension bonds—are so worthless, they are now selling for about 30 cents on the dollar, for anybody who dares to buy them. Right?

Meanwhile, the Teachers Retirement System—that’s a separate retirement system—the public school teachers’ retirement system, is only about 15 percent funded. The court’s employee system is only about 14 percent funded. That represents about another $10 billion that the government owes in unfunded liabilities to those.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In June, the federal agency in charge of Medicare and Medicaid announced that on January 1, it will slash by 11 percent its payments to 250,000 enrollees in the island’s Medicare Advantage program. Despite plans by the federal government to increase Medicare reimbursements to the 50 states by 3 percent, it’s cutting its allotment to Puerto Rico by 11 percent. The cuts will mean a loss of $300 million a year to Puerto Rico’s local government and healthcare system, a system that is already suffering because it’s been capped for decades now at only 70 percent of whatever the federal government gives per capita to other states.

The combined impact of the enormous bondholder debt, the massive unfunded pension liabilities, declining federal reimbursements for healthcare represent a perfect storm that Puerto Rico, with its shrinking economy and depression-level unemployment, cannot possibly withstand without some kind of radical restructuring of its debts in the short term and of its economy in the long term. That is why some of us have described Puerto Rico as America’s Greece. Could the island’s economic collapse and debt crisis threaten the larger economy of which it is an integral part? Most financial experts you read about dismiss the notion. But then, most discounted the possibility that the subprime mortgage crisis would spark a worldwide recession. The skeptics this time includes some prominent liberals, such as Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, who raised the outlandish idea a few months ago that Puerto Rico was simply a victim of geography. Writing in The New York Times, Krugman said, quote, “Puerto Rico may to an important extent just suffer from being a slightly hard to reach island in a time when corporations place a high premium on easy, just-in-time shipments.”

In many ways, Puerto Rico is worse off than Greece, because it has even less ability to act independently than that depression-wracked nation. The normal refrain you hear in most media accounts is that Puerto Rico cannot resort to the normal protections of federal Chapter 9 bankruptcy because federal law only permits cities or public corporations within states to use Chapter 9, and since the island is not an independent country, it can’t go to the International Monetary Fund to seek some kind of a financial bailout the IMF is infamous for concocting. The island is in this atypical netherworld, they say. But very few go one step further and ask, “Why is that?” If it is neither a state nor an independent nation, what exactly is Puerto Rico? And why has such an important issue, like what happens when a government can’t pay its debts, fallen through the cracks when it comes to Puerto Rico? The answer is colonialism. The answer is Congress can make any laws it wants when it comes to Puerto Rico. And in the case of bankruptcy, it did just that.

First you have to understand, though, how this whole issue of municipal bankruptcy came about. During the Great Depression, cities in America started being unable to pay their debts. So in 1938, Congress passed legislation that created Chapter 9 bankruptcy. What that basically says, if you have a whole bunch that you owe money to and you can’t pay them, and they all come demanding, “Well, I have the collateral of this building or that revenue stream,” and they all want their money, you have to have an orderly restructuring. And you need a nonpartisan person, a judge, to decide how much each of the [creditors] will get and what will be the reorganization plan. And so, this was passed by Congress in 1938 to assist cities that were beset by the impact of the Great Depression.

But from 1938, when the law was passed, until 1978, Congress had included all the territories and possessions of the United States under that law, which means Puerto Rico had bankruptcy protection from 1938 to 1978. But then, between ’78 and the early ’80s, there were other changes to the bankruptcy law. In 1984, there was an amendment inserted into the bankruptcy law by Senator Strom Thurmond, the infamous Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, and Bob Dole, who were both in the Senate at the time. They put in—they stuck in a little-noticed provision that specifically said Chapter 9 did not apply to Puerto Rico. No reason was given. No federal policy or interest in the change was spelled out in the amendment process. By a few simple phrases in an amendment that few people noticed, Congress laid the basis for the unique situation Puerto Rico now faces: It is not only broke, there is no established legal recourse for it to get a court to decide how the many debtors will get paid or how much. So, absent any kind of such protection, there is going to be years of litigation by different bondholders, and the government is going to have to spend millions of dollars in legal fees trying to figure it all out. And there’s no—there’s no roadmap for how that will happen.

Much of this came to light when Puerto Rico tried in 2013 to create its own bankruptcy law, recognizing that it had this problem. A group of hedge funds and mutual fund managers, specifically BlueMountain Capital, Franklin Templeton and Oppenheimer, sued in U.S. district court, claiming that the federal law preempted Puerto Rico from doing that. The federal government overturned the Puerto—the federal court, the district court, overturned the Puerto Rico law earlier this year. And in July, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, which is the court of appeals for Puerto Rico, upheld the nullification of the Puerto Rico law.

But even one of the judges on the appeals panel, who said, “Yes, that’s the law, Puerto Rico is prohibited from doing this,” wrote a stinging opinion outlining how unfair and unjust the federal law is that prohibits Puerto Rico from using Chapter 9. That judge was Juan Torruella, who is one of the most knowledgeable jurists in the nation on the history of Puerto Rico’s status. More than 20 years ago, Torruella published one of the definitive works on the question. It’s titled The Supreme Court and Puerto Rico: The Doctrine of Separate and Unequal. I recommend it highly, if you haven’t read it.

Well, this is what Judge Torruella said in July about the case before him: “The majority’s disregard for the arbitrary and unreasonable nature of the legislation enacted in the 1984 Amendments showcases again this court’s approval of a relationship under which Puerto Rico lacks any national … representation in both Houses of Congress and is wanting of electoral rights for the offices of President and Vice-President. … This is clearly a colonial relationship, one which violates [the] Constitution.” So you have a federal appeals court judge, who’s the most knowledgeable person, saying, “Hey, this whole bankruptcy issue is another example of colonialism at work.”

Now, Senator Chuck Schumer, Representative Velázquez and other friends of Puerto Rico are trying to get Congress to allow Puerto Rico to do what it had been able to do from 1938 to 1978—have the same right as any state to use the bankruptcy laws for its municipalities. But Congress doesn’t give a damn about Puerto Rico. So Schumer is trying to do the same thing Strom Thurmond and Bob Dole did back in 1984: He’s trying to stick the provision inside some bigger bill that has to be passed, hoping that it will get through.

But the reason we’re going through this ridiculous exercise in the first place is that Congress has always decided the major decisions that affect Puerto Rico without the voice or the vote of the Puerto Rican people. And that is the essence of colonial domination. This time, though, it’s not just Washington that is facing scrutiny about its Puerto Rico policies. Wall Street is feeling the heat even more. And while the big financial experts keep assuring us that there’s no systemic threat of a messy Puerto Rico bankruptcy, we should not be so quick to believe it.

You have to understand why Puerto Rico bonds have been so popular on Wall Street. They are what is called “triple tax-exempt bonds.” “Triple tax-exempt” means that if you have the bonds, you don’t pay—your income, you don’t pay federal taxes. You also don’t pay state and local taxes. Now, most triple tax-exempt bonds are only available to the people of a particular state. So if you buy—if you live in New York and you buy New York bonds, you have triple tax exemption. If you live in California and you buy New York bonds, you don’t have triple tax exemption. You’re exempt from federal taxes, but not from state and local taxes. So, triple tax-exempt bonds produce far more return to those who buy them than other kinds of bonds. Puerto Rico’s bonds are triple tax-exempt to anyone in the United States. So anyone, whether you’re in California or Idaho, whatever, you can buy Puerto Rico bonds, and you have triple tax-exemption. It’s another example of Puerto Rico being in this netherworld of neither a state nor an independent nation.

So the very colonial relationship allows Wall Street to take advantage and reap even bigger profits, and then Puerto Rico bonds usually pay a higher interest rate, nominal interest rate. So, for instance, the last bonds that Puerto Rico floated in March of 2014 for about $2.9 billion paid an interest rate of 8 percent. That’s a nominal interest rate. Now, you get that 8 percent interest, and now you don’t have to pay any taxes to the federal government, to the state or to the city. That’s worth like 12 percent to you. Of course everybody wanted to give Puerto Rico money to borrow, because they were making a killing off of the triple tax-exempt interest. That’s why there was so much willingness on the part of Wall Street to issue these bonds.

But I would offer a warning to those who poopah any possibility of economic contagion. The weak link of the entire U.S. municipal bond market is a group of obscure companies known in the business as “monoline insurers.” They are companies that promise bondholders that if a municipality or public corporation defaults on a bond, they will pay the bondholder. Such bond insurance is what provides not only triple tax exemption, but what’s called AAA ratings. Right? Those are the safest bonds, because even if a government defaults—and they rarely do—this company has promised you you’ll get all your money anyway, because they’ve insured the bonds. There’s only a few companies, about five or six companies, that offer this insurance—MBIA, Ambac. There’s several of them—Assured Guaranty.

Well, a funny thing happened the week that Governor Alejandro García Padilla made his announcement. The stock of all of these monoline insurers plummeted. The drop actually started about a week before Alejandro García made his announcement. My surmise of that is that Wall Street had the inside information already that the announcement was about to be made, and so they immediately started selling stock in all of the monoline insurers to—because they knew these monoline insurers, if Puerto Rico suddenly defaults on all this money, they don’t have the money to pay the insurance that all the bondholders will demand on them. And at that point, then the entire municipal bond market of the United States will be threatened, because there’s only a few of these companies, and all triple tax—all AAA-rated bonds will suddenly be suspect. So that’s the Achilles’ heel of the municipal bond market that’s at stake, that they don’t want to talk about too much, but you should keep your eye on as the weeks and months move ahead.

Now, what does all of this mean for the people of Puerto Rico? The island has now been in economic decline for the past 10 years, with its gross national product declining by 13 percent. And as the economy has declined, government debt to pay for basic services has increased. Puerto Ricans now pay the highest electricity rates in the United States, the highest sales tax rate in the United States. It was raised from 7 percent to 11 percent just on July 1, the sales tax. They have the highest unemployment rate in the United States.

They’re saddled with a higher cost for many consumer goods as a result of the Jones Act shipping restrictions that require all ships that bring any produce—any goods into and out of Puerto Rico must be on U.S.-constructed ships, U.S.-flagged ships and U.S.-manned ships. That alone—because the rest of the world is using Liberian and Panamanian freighters and is using Greek and Cypriot crews and has much lower labor costs, that alone costs Puerto Rico $567 million a year in extra costs for all of its goods. Now, again, this is a decision of Congress, because only a few miles away, another U.S. territory, the Virgin Islands, was exempted, waived from the Jones Act. So Congress decided to waive the Jones Act for the Virgin Islands, but not waive it for Puerto Rico. These are arbitrary decisions made by a body that does not have any responsiveness to the people that it affects.

Workforce participation rates—we heard a lot about that—are hovering at around 45 percent, as if the Puerto Rican people don’t want to work. Well, if you’ve been subjected to depression-level unemployment rates for 20, 30 years, you don’t think that’s going to have an impact on the workforce participation rate? Crime rates in Puerto Rico are among the highest in the country.

All this has predictably created massive flight from the island and population decline. Population decline. Now, Puerto Ricans are still having babies, so obviously people are fleeing. The estimates now are 50,000 a year. That’s a thousand people a week are leaving Puerto Rico. And this is going to increase as the crisis continues. The flight has led to an unparalleled housing crisis—quite the opposite of New York. The Puerto Rico Planning Board estimates that there are 1.4 million housing units on the island, of which only 861,000 have occupants. That means that one-third of all the housing in Puerto Rico is empty—is empty—because there’s been an overbuilding of housing, and then the housing economy never recovered. And the average prices, of course, of housing are plummeting, which means that the asset values of Puerto Ricans who have these houses have also been declining.

Even before this latest crisis, Governor Luis Fortuño instituted a massive austerity program. In 2009, he laid off 30,000 government workers despite a massive general strike. In 2013, he privatized Luis Muñoz Marín Airport and the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge and the toll highways. He gutted the pension system and raised the retirement age to 67. And the benefits that people now get will depend on their contributions, not on investment returns. They took—they reduced Christmas bonuses from $600 to $200. You know, they increased employee contributions to 10 percent. These are all the austerity measures that have already been taken, before this current crisis.

Ask yourself, could all of this austerity be implemented—how could all this austerity be implemented in a territory that is already the poorest in the union? Why would Congress and the American people continue to ignore a situation in Puerto Rico where depression-level unemployment has been the norm for decades?

You can’t understand why unless you grasp how colonialism had developed in Puerto Rico. Ever since the U.S. occupied and grabbed the island in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, Washington and our corporations have dictated the rules of the game for the island’s inhabitants and used Puerto Rico as a source of wealth. This was made possible by a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions back in the 1900s that gave legal cover to the U.S. holding of a colonial empire. In one of—they’re called the “Insular” decisions. And that’s what Judge Torruella writes a lot about. One of those decisions, Downes v. Bidwell, for instance, Justice Edward White ruled that only those parts of the Constitution apply in U.S. territorial possessions that Congress chooses to apply. Puerto Rico, White concluded, belonged to but was not part of the United States. That was, in essence, the legal defense of a colonial empire, that you could have territories that belonged to you, but were not a part of your nation. Ever since the Insular Cases, all major decisions involving the island have been dependent on acts of Congress.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Harry Truman. I’m going to play a couple of minutes from the Harvest of Empire tape about this, the first early period—because I’ve divided the colonial development of Puerto Rico into three phases. This is my analysis; other people may do it a little differently. But there were three phases of U.S. colonial domination of the island. The first phase I will call the classic phase, where the United States sought only to extract resources, and largely sugar.

MARTÍN ESPADA: The strange case of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico was taken as a prize of war, Spanish-American War of 1898, along with Cuba and the Philippines. Cuba and the Philippines were gradually released by the United States. Puerto Rico was not. When the United States took over Puerto Rico, so did four North American sugar companies. That’s what it was all about: sugar.

PRESIDENT HARRY TRUMAN: Puerto Rico almost blew apart because of the selfish sugar landowners. They owned tremendous tracts of land in Puerto Rico, which they devoted entirely to sugar, then worked these poor people for a dollar a day or 50 cents, if they could get them for that. And they’d rather see those people starve. I don’t mean to imply that we were in any way cruel to the Puerto Ricans, but there is another kind of cruelty. That’s indifference—indifference and neglect.

JUAN GONZALEZ: That was President Truman, in his own words, talking about this first classic phase of colonialism.

But then, as a result of popular uprisings, the National Party, all the labor strikes as a result of the end of World War II and the anticolonial movements in the world, the United States came up with a new policy, helped by the popular party of Puerto Rico—the industrial phase of exploitation. That depended largely on cheap labor, offshore manufacturing centers through the New Deal’s Operation Bootstrap, and corporate tax havens, known as the Section 936 benefit; deliberate mass migration of unskilled workers to the United States; a limited form of self-government and cultural autonomy by creating the Estado Libre Asociado, returning the Spanish language to the public schools, allowing Puerto Ricans to elect their own governors, but still all under the control of Congress; and a social democratic labor policy—Pan, Tierra, y Libertad—that was meant to defuse the revolutionary movements in Latin America and establish the showcase of the Caribbean. It was also marked by the building of a string of military bases as a bulwark of the Cold War.

In its early years, the dual policies of industrialization and mass immigration did improve conditions in Puerto Rico. Combined with the carrot-and-stick approach of granting limited self-government, returning the use of Spanish and overtly pro-labor policies, the commonwealth’s first social democratic governor, Luis Muñoz Marín, did co-opt and deflect much of the nationalist, independence and radical labor movements that had spread in the 1930s. And combined with the infamous Ley de La Mordaza that criminalized any independence activities, this new form of disguised colonialism ushered in limited prosperity.

But the miracle evaporated quickly. Annual growth rates dropped from an average of 6 percent during the 1950s to 4 percent in the 1970s, and they were stagnant throughout the 1980s. By then, Puerto Rico had become the most profitable entity in the world for U.S. corporations. The cheap labor model, though, started finding greener pastures in China, in Bangladesh, in Mexico, in Vietnam, as they offered even cheaper labor. And so, then, in 2006, Congress began to phase out the last federal tax loophole for island manufacturers. It actually started in 1996—and this is a fascinating story.

In 1996, Bill Clinton was trying to run for re-election. He wanted to raise the federal minimum wage. He needed the support of the Republicans in Congress, who were then led by Newt Gingrich, and they controlled the House. So, he had to cut a deal with Newt Gingrich to be able to raise the minimum wage. The deal that they cut was that Gingrich would demand $7 billion in tax credits for small businesses to make up for the fact that they would now have to increase the minimum wage. Clinton agreed. Where did the $7 billion come from? It came from the tax credits that had previously been granted to corporations in Puerto Rico under the Section 936. But they didn’t do it all at once. They phased it out over 10 years. So they started in ’96, and by 2006 the credits were phased out. And as soon as they were all phased out, the companies split. Right? All of the big—the manufacturing jobs, the pharmaceutical jobs left the island. And that has been the beginning of this new phase of colonialism in Puerto Rico, which I call the “uber colonialism phase.”

The uber colonialism phase is one marked not by resource extraction, not by cheap-labored industrialization, but by finance capital. The financial system decided, “OK, you don’t have—you structurally don’t have the money, the way this thing is set up to keep running, so we’re just going to keep lending you money.” That’s why you had the explosion of debt, and that’s why you have now the peddling of massive bonds. But, of course, when the bills come due, then the bankers say, “Well, you’re just going to have to tighten your belts, you’re just going to have to reduce spending, because you still have to pay us first. So you have to keep reducing spending.” And so, that is the phase that Puerto Rico is now in, this new phase of finance domination of its economy.

And now, we keep hearing that Puerto Rico is in bad shape, that it’s requiring all this federal money. Well, the next slide is the most important one for you to remember. It’s what’s called the gap between GNP and GDP. Right? What does that mean? You know, OK, gross domestic product is the value of all the goods produced in your country, in a particular area. That’s the gross domestic product. GNP is the value of all the goods produced in your country that stay in your country—that stay in your country. So the gap between GDP and GNP is a perfect chart of all the money that is leaving Puerto Rico in the form of profits, largely, overwhelmingly, for American corporations.

AMY GOODMAN: Juan González on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. We’ll come back to the conclusion of his speech, as Juan talks about uber colonialism, in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, as we return to Democracy Now! co-host Juan González in this major address at New York University about “Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis,” what he calls “Economic Collapse in America’s Biggest Colony and What Can Be Done About It.”

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In 2010, $33 billion of wealth produced by the Puerto Rican people left the island in just one year—in just one year. The total debt of the island is $72 billion, but $33 billion is being siphoned every year from Puerto Rico in the profits of the multinational corporations that comes back to the United States. So that is—that is the key to understand.

Puerto Rico has always been a gold mine; this is not—this is not something new. Between 1960 and 1976, tiny Puerto Rico catapulted from sixth to first in Latin America for total U.S. direct investment, with island workers registering some of the highest productivity levels in the world. The results were levels unheard of—of profits unheard of at home. By 1976, Puerto Rico accounted for 40 percent of all U.S. profits in Latin America, more than the combined earnings of all the U.S. subsidiaries in Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela combined. That was in 1976. By then, several multinationals were reporting a quarter of all their worldwide profits were coming from tiny Puerto Rico. From its 4,000 workers in Puerto Rico alone, Johnson & Johnson saved $1 billion in federal taxes between 1980 and 1990; SmithKlein, $987 million; Merck & Company, $749 million; Bristol-Myers Squibb, $627 million. One federal study concluded that each pharmaceutical worker in Puerto Rico produced $1.5 million in value for his or her employer in 2002. Now, they were getting paid maybe $15,000, $20,000, $30,000 back in 2002. They were producing $1.5 million in value for their employers, and all that money was going to the United States. What has actually been happening in Puerto Rico for decades is that corporate America has been raping its most valuable product—human labor.

So how did the island’s debt mushroom out of control? As I said, Wall Street was eager, with the triple tax-exempt, AAA-rated, high-interest, big returns to press for—oh, one last slide I meant to—this is a comparison of GNP and—of the gap between GDP and GNP as a percentage of your economy. Notice Puerto Rico almost—oh, here, in this one, 52 percent of all the wealth created by Puerto Rico is leaving—right, is leaving—compared to all the other countries you see. Obviously, the United States is in negative. There’s more wealth—it’s producing more GNP. But look at all the others, and look at Puerto Rico, in terms of the gap between GNP and GDP.

So, what is this $72 billion in debt? How did it come about? Well, this is a summary of some of the biggest, because there are many kinds of bonds, it’s a complicated situation, all kinds of interests. But the commonwealth owes about $13 billion in general obligation bonds. They created all kinds of other corporations that have separate revenue that then pay separate bonds. So, the other big one is PREPA. That’s the gold—that’s the Crown Jewels of Puerto Rico, is the electric company, PREPA. And it has about $8.3 billion in bonds. Then, the Government Development Bank, the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority, which has obviously toll revenue, and its toll revenue is pledged to pay off those bonds. The Aqueducts and Sewer Authority has—that’s the water, so that water is pledged, the water revenue. Everything in Puerto Rico is already pledged on certain bonds to pay those back before anything else happens. And there are the pension obligation bonds that I mentioned to you before, the $2.9 billion in pension obligation bonds. These are only some. Then there’s a bunch of municipalities have their own bonds. And there’s other—the convention center has its bonds. Everything in Puerto Rico is bonded and is owed to someone—to someone outside the country.

What do the hedge funds have to do with it? Well, the bond—the mutual bond companies, like Oppenheimer and Franklin Templeton, they’re in your 401(k), they’re in government pensions, funds all across the country of huge companies. They’ve been buying a lot of Puerto Rico bonds for the returns. But they bought the bonds when they were at $100—in other words, at par, what they call par. So they were issued $100, and they bought them then. You saw how the pension bonds went from $100 to 32 cents on the—you know, 32 cents on the dollar. Well, as the financial situation in Puerto Rico declined, the value of the bonds dropped dramatically on Wall Street, and that’s when the hedge funds swoop in. The hedge funds swoop in, and they buy the bonds from Oppenheimer or Franklin Templeton or an individual bondholder who has them and says, “OK, these bonds are worthless. They’re selling now for 32 cents on the dollar. I’ll give you 60 cents on the dollar. You make—you know, you get some of your loss back. But then I’ll own the bonds.” And that’s what the hedge funds do. They swoop in in times of distress, grab the bonds at discounted rates, but then they want to get paid the full 100 percent. Right? So, because if they do that, or even now with PREPA, the bondholders have offered Puerto Rico a deal. They said, “OK, we won’t insist on 100 percent. We’ll take 85 percent. We’ll take 85 cents on the dollar.” So if one big hedge fund holds out and says, “No, that’s not enough money,” they can paralyze the entire situation. That’s why you need bankruptcy protection, to prevent the vulture funds from holding the entire process of settlements up.

And so, how do progressives and all people of goodwill who are concerned about Puerto Rico’s future maneuver during the next few weeks and months? How do we figure out what needs to be done? And more importantly, what could be done, given the political gridlock in Washington and the deep party divisions in Puerto Rico?

First, there is a need to disseminate a clear narrative on the roots of the crisis in colonialism, not in Puerto Ricans being inept, lazy or seeking a handout.

Second, we should unite with all those who say that if Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, they must be treated in equal fashion when it comes to federal grants, Medicaid, Medicare, bankruptcy laws. And that includes ending the discriminatory requirements of the Jones Act shipping laws. And if Congress refuses to change the bankruptcy laws, we should urge the Puerto Rican government to stop paying the debt. The refusal to pay debt service is the greatest leverage Puerto Rico has. And like President Obama with his military options, it should not be discarded.

Third, we should oppose debt restructuring that seeks greater austerity, lower wages or working conditions on the island, while preserving debt payments for bondholders.

And fourth, we should support economic efforts that promote and defend Puerto Rican sovereignty. While we should never stop insisting that only a final resolution to the status question can bring a healthy economy—can make a healthy economy possible, we also should not get stuck on that this has to be resolved now, because we all know it’s not going to be resolved now.

Last thing I want to address is why sustainable energy is so important to the solution of Puerto Rico’s problems. I mentioned to you PREPA, right, the Puerto Rico electric company. The reason that Puerto Rico has such high electric bills is that almost all of its electrical capacity is funded through oil. Its generating plants are all run by oil, and all of its oil is imported. So you have the additional costs of importing oil, and you have the enormous extra costs that Puerto Ricans have to pay for that electricity.

The hedge funds, who are now trying to negotiate their separate voluntary deal with the Puerto Rican government, have a plan. If they gain control, they want to switch Puerto Rico from oil to natural gas. They want to create liquefied natural gas ports. They’re already building one in the south of Puerto Rico. And they want to then import natural gas, which still requires the importation on an annual basis of the fuel that provides your electricity, and it’s also a fossil fuel. So it does nothing to help the situation with the environment.

The leading environmentalists in Puerto Rico say that this crisis should be used as an opportunity to totally restructure the way that Puerto Ricans get electricity, through sustainable energy. There are two—there are actually two sources of sustainable energy that Puerto Rico has immense quantities of: sun and wind. The trade winds are always blowing in Puerto Rico, and the sun is almost always shining. And once you build the structure to capture solar energy and wind energy, you no longer have to pay an annual fee to bring in the product to run your electrical plant. It’s a sustainable energy. In addition—in addition to that, there is energy efficiency, which has never been done in Puerto Rico, which also produces enormous energy audits of homes, educating the population, can dramatically lower the electrical bills. So, of all the potentials, that is so obvious, the biggest potential is not to let the hedge funds and the bondholders implement their natural gas plan, and get the Puerto Rican government and the people of Puerto Rico behind sustainable energy. And not only will it help the planet, it will reduce the costs of the economy of Puerto Rico dramatically.

So, what’s the role of Puerto Ricans in the United States? And I’m going to end with this. As I said earlier, more than 50,000 are fleeing the island’s collapsing economy every year and heading to the U.S. mainland, with the bulk of them settling in Florida. But unlike migrants from other countries, they’re already U.S. citizens and eligible to vote as soon as they arrive. “We’re planning to register 200,000 more Florida Puerto Ricans in the next six months,” one labor leader who attended Wednesday’s summit told me. “Then we’ll see if they ignore us.” This is why it’s so important to mobilize the Puerto Rican diaspora, because the majority of Puerto Ricans now live in the United States, and don’t live in Puerto Rico. You know? And that’s going to continue to be the case, so that the issue is one that—I believe it’s possible to unite all Puerto Ricans to demand fair and equal treatment, because after 117 years of colonialism and after 98 years of being official U.S. citizens, most Puerto Ricans are fed up with being ignored, dismissed and forgotten by the politicians in Washington. They don’t want handouts. They want respect. They want dignity. And they want to be appreciated for the enormous contributions they’ve made to American prosperity. And this time, if they don’t get it, the entire American economy could feel the effects. And I think that one of the key issues has to be that the Puerto Rican community in this country has to start dogging the political candidates wherever they go, of both parties, to insist that they take clear stands on what they’re going to do about a crisis that’s not going away. It’s only going to get worse. And the more that action is postponed, the worse the crisis is going to become. So that’s why the Puerto Ricans in the United States have an important role to play in achieving some kind of a measured, humane and farsighted response from the elected representatives in Congress.

SOURCE: https://www.democracynow.org/embed/story/2015/11/26/juan_gonzalez_on_how_puerto_ricos

AMY GOODMAN: Juan González, speaking in October at New York University about Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. Juan is Democracy Now! co-host, longtime columnist at the New York Daily News.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

https://www.democracynow.org/2015/11/26/juan_gonzalez_on_how_puerto_ricos

"John Brown, the Secret Six, Freemasonry, the Illuminati and the Conspiracy That Precipitated the Civil War" (Videos)

“John Brown, the Secret Six, Freemasonry, the Illuminati and the Conspiracy That Precipitated the Civil War”

Now, this video will be a bit of a departure from my usual research in that it started off with a dream that I decided to research for its historical context and ended up in a very deep and interesting rabbit hole.

To begin, I am a prolific dreamer. I dream stories. I would say that I time travel in my dreams, some may say I astral project and all of that, but I have had some dreams that have historical significance as you will see with this one.

Without any foreknowledge of the event that occurs in my dream, I am motivated to research the names and situations that are revealed to me. I am always amazed and humbled when I find out that my dream is telling me something about a real event.  However the amazing thing about this dream is that it revealed something that I knew nothing about as I was not taught it in school, even though I boast of my fine educational experience. But one thing I did learn from that experience is how to research.”

So let me begin with the dream.
There was a vigilante abolitionist group of folks who called themselves “Rough Riders” (in my dream but actually they were called Missouri Border Ruffians).

They were a secret group of people who gone around “killing” slave owners under the cover of darkness. They also killed their family members and loved ones who entered the family. They were greatly feared and mostly white folks. The twist was that there was secret war going on between the abolitionists and the slave owners, so there was retaliation for the dead on both sides. It was such a well kept secret but extremely dangerous in that if a slave owner or member of his family was killed, an abolitionist or one of his family members was killed as well. In other words, folks were dying, mysteriously on both sides. But the mystery was only a mystery to those who did not know about the secret war.

In one scene a young man fell in love with a young woman. His father was part of the abolitionist movement but he was not fully invested and the activities that were going on were mostly hidden from him, though there were other deaths in his family, he did not connect the dots. One day he brought home a beautiful young girl, innocent and lovely. He wanted to marry her. The tension in the family escalated but he could not understand why. He later found out.
One night, the family gathered around the dinner table. He addressed her but she did not respond. He called her name again and she still did not respond. He got up and went around the table to speak to her directly, and upon gently touching her shoulder, she leaned forward, a long knife had been driven through her. She was dead. The long knife was a sign of the retaliation. The dream continues but I won’t outline it here. These abolitionists called themselves “Rough Riders” way before Teddy Roosevelt had his own, heck they may have been the same folks..

BUT CHECK THIS OUT!!!!

Now, at first I thought it may have been the Nat Turner Rebellion but that happened prior to this event. In my dream, I believe I was transported to Kansas during a time when John Brown was running his campaign against the pro-slavery settlers in Kansas. His campaign was bloody and horrendous. There is so much information to share about this event so I will do my best to get it all together in one place so you can follow the story line.
So let’s start with John Brown….

John Brown Facts was born, May 9, 1800 in Torrington, Connecticut. After his failed attempt to capture Harper’s Ferry in VA, he was hung and died, Dec. 2, 1859 in Charles Town VA. He was considered an activist and a famous participant in the Abolitionist movement.

Interestingly enough, he was the son of a fervent abolitionist, Owen Brown who was also a known Freemason. It is reported that John Brown was a Grand Master Freemason  from the Hudson Lodge No. 68; Hudson, Ohio; 1824. However, he later quit after speculation that he was involved in the disappearance of William Morgan. There were rumors that Freemasons had kidnapped and murdered Morgan, a brickmason who visited Masonic lodges. The speculation, which Freemasons denied, fueled talk that the group engaged in satanic rituals.
Now finding stuff out about John Brown who was called a vigilante, violent killer, terrorist(in fact, this is one of the earlier times this term was even used), a conspirator, murderer, charismatic, hero, abolitionist with messianic leanings, I wondered who helped him in particular, who funded him because of course he couldn’t have done all that damage by himself. 
 When it comes to Brown’s war against slavery, the question of his mental balance must nevertheless be addressed. By the time of the Harpers Ferry raid, some of his contemporaries had already begun to question his sanity. As they insisted, was not the raid itself evidence of an “unhinged” mind? Wasn’t Brown “crazy” to suppose he could overthrow American slavery by commencing a movement on so grand a scale with just 21 active fighters?
Interestingly enough, I had this dream during the time when it was being exposed that the BLM was funded, indirectly by George Soros. So, upon searching about “vigilante abolitionist group” who were fomenting a secret war, my dream dropped me right down in the middle of an Era in American history that precipitated the American Civil War.
Before this time, my facts about the abolitionist movement were sketchy. You got the usual run down of how the abolitionist were anti-slavery they gave speeches, and traveled the country trying to convince others to support their cause. They were outspoken against the evils of slavery, yada, yada, yada, but we were never taught what their true leanings were and why they were so adamant about saving black folks from their southern masters.  Researching this topic, gives you another perspective on their motives. Additionally, it shows how the abolitionist who abhorred slavery had begun to become violent against the slave owners to the point of wanting to bring about Civil War.

The idea was based in their religious evangelistic perspective which some identified as Zionism, their connections with the Freemason/Illuminati, their wealth and therefore ability to fund the uprisings and their ability to propagandize through print media. Then we land on the group called “The Secret Six”. They came into prominence during the late 1840’s reached a peak with John Brown and is vigilantes and then later support Scofield in the rewriting of the “King James” Bible that has become preferred reading in most if not all Protestant Schools of divinity. Quiet as it’s kept, Scofield was a known con artist, and criminal but he became their puppet for their agenda to continue their divide and conquer tactics way into the mid 1900’s. Needless to say, the same cast of characters that supported John Brown changed faces in supporting but the agenda remained the same. In fact, through their previous experience they learned to send representatives, henchmen and patsies to do their bidding, while they hid in the background providing funds. Sound familiar?
 So let’s take a look at the “Secret Six”. Who were they and where did they come from and how did they connect with John Brown?

  • Gerrit Smith: Born into a wealthy family in upstate New York, Smith was a vigorous supporter of various reform causes, including the American abolition movement.
  • Thomas Wentworth Higginson: A minister and author, Higginson would go on to serve in the Civil War, commanding a regiment of black troops, and would write a classic memoir based on the experience.
  • Theodore Parker: A minister and prominent public speaker on reform topics, Parker had been educated at Harvard and was affiliated with the Transcendentalist movement.
  • Samuel Gridley Howe: A medical doctor and advocate for the blind, Howe was active in the abolition movement. His wife, Julia Ward Howe, would become famous for writing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
  • Franklin Benjamin Sanborn: A Harvard graduate, Sanborn was connected to the Transcendentalist movement and became involved in anti-slavery politics in the 1850s.
  • George Luther Stearns: A self-made businessman, Stearns was a manufacturer and was able to financially support various causes, including the abolitionist cause.
  • Of course with any group especially secret, they had to have something in common, and what they had in common had to be secreted in order for them to acquire their goal.  In the case of these men, their goal being influenced by their Unitarian and evangelical leanings was to take over the American Government, establish their ideology which bordered on socialistic communism and become even more rich and powerful than they already were. Initially by covert means through rebel rousing lectures, writings and treatises to actually supporting with money, land and arms, a violent upheaval that would shake America to its core.  And my questions was why?
    It turns out, they used the “Abolitionist Movement” as their front to cover their real intentions. Freeing the slaves and decrying the institution of slavery appeared noble on its face, as slavery was a diabolical institution. But as Rich Northerners the economic advantage of slavery did not appeal to them. In fact, northern whites, though some were pro slavery, were more given to the fear of the loss of jobs and income if the slaves were freed and able to travel north, so the idea was to actually split the country into two parts,  pro-slavery and anti-slavery.
    As tensions further developed between the north and south, to them a war would settle it all. The south could keep their slaves through cession from the union and the north could continue to prosper through their more industrial business ventures.

    Remember, these were rich men, though some try to say they were not. But in those days, influence was equated with being rich.  They were privileged radicals.
    Theodore Parker

    For example, “Theodore Parker, a minister, was pretty edgy.  He rejected all notions of miracles and expressed his certainty that the Bible was historically inaccurate.  Transcendentalism moved him further from the New and Old Testament. He chose to break with standard theology.  By the time the Civil War began he had a following of seven-thousand parishioners.  He suggested to his practitioners that they worship God direct, pray to Him direct; much as the Quakers had in the 17th Century.  Since the Quakers were either banished or hung by the Puritans, Parker’s position was bold.”

    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

    Another example of prominence was, Thomas Wentworth Higginson: A minister and author, Higginson would go on to serve in the Civil War, commanding a regiment of black troops, and would write a classic memoir based on the experience.

    Being an accomplished writer he lined up with the likes of Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson,  Lydia Maria Childs, the abolitionist author, John Quincy Adams, Amos A. Lawrence, Henry D. Thoreau, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and many others.
    I even saw Frederick Douglas in the line up.
    Traveling back to those days, imagine the impact that these minds and wealth had on the thinking of the masses. Things moved a lot slower, while the printing press was heavily utilized, the transport of information to cities and towns had to be arduous by today’s standards, not to mention having a following of 7000 parishioners! So, I am inclined to think that they were quite wealthy by those standards, doctors, writers, ministers,  Harvard graduate and accomplished business men would certainly have a heavy impact on the times.
    What struck me as most interesting was their support of “violence”.  Case in point was

    Theodore Parker (a minister) who during the “Bloody Kansas” period of 1854 he financed free Kansas militias, probably well aware that an undeclared civil war had already led to hundreds of deaths. 

    Now how do you put the ministry and violence in the pulpit at the same time??
    Gerrit Smith

    Gerrit Smith (the only New Yorker of the Secret Six) enters the story of Harper’s Ferry more than a decade before the raid, when he first made the acquaintance of John Brown. Their meeting led to a collaboration that included Smith’s financial support for Brown’s move to North Elba, NY, where he and his family established a farm with the intent of aiding black settlers who had moved to the Adirondack North Country after receiving grants of land from Smith. More than three thousand such gifts of land, averaging 40 acres a piece, had been made to poor black men. Smith sold Brown 244 acres of land ( for $1 per acre) on which he settled his family, the deed for which was transferred in November 1849.

    Mr. Smith was a little more squeamish about what happened at Harper’s Ferry so some claim he feigned insanity and was admitted to Utica Medical center where he remained for upwards of 6 months after the John Brown’s failed attempt to conquer Harper’s Ferry, however, others think he was really mentally ill had some mental illness in his family with a son who had been institutionalized previously, so that may be real, but with all the money he gave to John Brown, and his fugitive slaves, and the land he gave them as well, to lose that battle may have made him lose his mind as well. There’s still speculation flowing around that aspect of his life. He certainly escaped being indicted for treason by being proclaimed as insane.

    All to often, the “myth” of Philanthropy plays a big role as being the front for subversive, covert and sometimes violent agendas. And how true that is even today. We can see in our current world events, where many so-call charitable organizations are simply fronts for drug running, child trafficking, organ harvesting and regime change and subversion of democratically elected leaders.  When you pull back the curtain, you can correlate this as well to Soros, who on its face is talking about “Free and Open Society” while in the background is funding organizations that end up being vigilantes and/or disrupting the very society they are supposedly bringing justice and peace to.

    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

    Then we have Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who wrote several books that are still being referenced to to this day. 
    See list of writings Selected list of works[edit]

    • Outdoor Papers (1863)
    • Malbone: an Oldport Romance (1869)
    • Army Life in a Black Regiment (1870)[3]
    • Atlantic Essays (1871)
    • Oldport Days (1873)
    • A Book of American Explorers (1877)
    • Common Sense About Women (1881)
    • Life of Margaret Fuller Ossoli[3] (in American Men of Letters series, 1884)
    • A Larger History of the United States of America to the Close of President Jackson’s Administration (1885)
    • The Monarch of Dreams (1886)
    • Travelers and Outlaws (1889)
    • The Afternoon Landscape (1889), poems and translations
    • Life of Francis Higginson (in Makers of America, 1891)
    • Concerning All of Us (1892)
    • The Procession of the Flowers and Kindred Papers (1897)
    • Tales of the Enchanted Islands of the Atlantic (1898)
    • Cheerful Yesterdays (1898)[3]
    • Old Cambridge (1899)
    • Contemporaries (1899)
    • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow[3] (in American Men of Letters series, 1902)
    • John Greenleaf Whittier[3] (in “English Men of Letters” series, 1902)
    • A Readers History of American Literature (1903), the Lowell Institute lectures for 1903, edited by Henry W Boynton
    • Part of a Man’s Life (1905)
    • Life and Times of Stephen Higginson (1907)
    • Carlyle’s Laugh and Other Surprises (1909)
    Harmless you might say, a true Patriot, fighter for Women’s Rights and the freedom of the African. And yet, he too condone and supported John Brown’s violence and was an active member of the “Secret Six.”
    Additionally, he became a founding member of the Kansas Aid Committee in the summer of 1856. During the guerrilla war in the Kansas Territory between pro-slavery and antislavery settlers, the committee worked to recruit abolitionist settlers, raised funds for them to migrate to Kansas, and equipped them with rifles to use against the “Border Ruffians.” [5]
    Samuel Gridley Howe

    Moving on to the infamous Samuel Gridley Howe:

    Samuel Gridley Howe
    (November 10, 1801-January 9, 1876), founding director of the Perkins School for the Blind, was a leading figure in the early history of special education in the United States. He was also a military hero in the Greek War of Independence, a campaigner for the abolition of slavery, and an advocate for prison reform. He worked for the mentally disabled with Dorothea Dix and for universal public education with Horace Mann.

    His work with Laura Bridgman, the first deaf-blind person to acquire the skill of
    intelligent conversation, inspired Anne Sullivan, the teacher of Helen Keller.
    Back in Boston in July of 1832, Howe began his work with the blind by tutoring a few students in a room at his father’s house. He demonstrated enough progress that within a year the Massachusetts legislature approved $30,000 a year funding with the proviso that 20 students from poor families be given full scholarships.
    Then Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins, a prominent Boston merchant, whose fortune had been partly acquired through trading in slaves and opium, donated his mansion and grounds on Pearl Street for the school’s use. After that, the school was known as the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum (or, since 1877, School) for the Blind.
    What an interesting combination of characters here. Is it not?
    Next we have………
    Franklin Benjamin Sanborn

    Franklin Benjamin Sanborn

    He was buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord near the graves of his friends and mentors Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson AlcottEllery Channing, and Henry Thoreau. Concord’s flags were flown at half-mast for three days. At the end of the month, February, 1917, just prior to America’s entering World War I, the Massachusetts House of Representatives recognized Sanborn’s dedication to the unfortunate, the diseased, and the despised, citing Sanborn’s role as a confidential adviser to John Brown, “for whose sake he was arrested, mistreated, and nearly deported.”[13]
    People loved and hated him.  Walt Whitman described Sanborn as “a fighter, up in arms, a devotee, a revolutionary crusader, hot in the collar, quick on the trigger, noble, optimistic.” Henry David Thoreau feared the passionate Concord schoolteacher was “only too steadfast and earnest”, a type, as Thoreau put it, “that calmly, so calmly, ignites and then throws bomb after bomb.”
    With that energy of course he would certainly support someone like John Brown.

    George Luther Stearns played a major role financing John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry on October 17, 1859. He basically maintained the accounting and funded and wrote the checks to John Brown. The Sharps rifles[ v], pistols, and pikes used by Brown’s little army were owned directly by George Stearns. He tried indecisively to control the movement and use of the weapons.  Unfortunately, he let them into John Brown’s hands in Iowa, a safe haven to Kansas, and lost control of the weapons.

    Sharps Riffle

    George’s commercial life started successful enough. He borrowed money from a close neighbor to build a Boston oil-mill[vi] with his brother. They were so successful that the loan was paid back within two years. Unfortunately, in Boston’s Antebellum period, it is near impossible to avoid tragedies fostered by acts of nature.  The natural enemies were hurricanes, winter storms or careless numerous fires.  Their mill burned down in 1847.

    John Brown’s Pikes

    This was the pivotal moment that drew George away from industry and to the cause of slavery.  According to his son Frank Preston Stearns, the timing was perfect for his father.  Abolitionism had moved through several philosophical stages beyond compassion to action. The decades of 1840 to 1850’s required pragmatic men to take over leadership of the movement. [vii] Here is a quote from his son that might help you judge the violent end result of his compassion.

     George’s son, Franklin, had a first-hand view of the relationship between John Brown and his father.  Each exhibited the same contrasting, idealistic yet practical personality not the least daunted by failures in their lives. Franklin defined the first meeting between his father and Brown: “they met like the iron and the magnet. Each recognized him at first sight, and knew him for what he was worth.” Here is a practical example; Stearns grew a patriarchal beard upon doctor’s orders to warm his chest that had been susceptible to bronchitis. This was copied by John Brown. 
    John Brown

    There will be a ton of links that cover this information, so I won’t go over all of it here, but be prepared to get a shift in perspective on the motives and perspective of the so called “Secret Six” and how the agenda hasn’t changed as it relates to divide and conquer but only the face of the players.

    So, let’s take a look at the weapons that were bequeath to our very complex and illustrious warrior who is primarily responsible for fomenting the Civil War.

    As Missouri pro-slavery “Ruffians” flocked to Kansas, the New England abolitionists bankrolled “Free-Soilers” to move to the settlement of Lawrence, Kansas.

    The Abolitionist, Henry Ward raised money to purchase Sharp’s rifles for use by antislavery forces in Kansas. Rifles, said Beecher, are “a greater moral agency than the Bible” in the fight against slavery.
    The guns were packed in crates labeled “Bibles” so they would not arouse suspicion. Soon the Sharps rifles sent to Kansas were referred to as “Beecher’s
    Bibles.” In 1856, after abolitionists were attacked in Lawrence, John Brown led a raid on scattered cabins along the Pottawatomie Creek, killing five people. Kansas would not become a state until 1861, after the Confederate states seceded. John Brown had another plan to bring about an end to slavery, a slave uprising. Brown contracted with Charles Blair, a forge master in Collinsville, Connecticut, to make 950 pikes for a dollar a piece. Brown would issue the pike to the slaves as they revolted. On 16 October 1859, Brown led his group to Harpers Ferry where he took over the arsenal and waited for the slaves to revolt. The revolt never came. Two days later Robert E. Lee and his troops overran the raiders and captured John Brown. Brown was found guilty of murder, treason, and of inciting slave insurrection and on 2 December 1859, he was hanged.

    Now some say, that the weapons were primitive and basically useless however these weapons have been hailed as of high quality, auctioned off, those that were retrieved and are quite costly to own.

    John Brown came to Harpers Ferry in part to capture firearms from the national arsenal that he hoped to eventually place in the hands of slaves.
    Not many people realize though that he and his men arrived at Harpers Ferry quite well armed already. For his attack, Brown would choose several weapons to arm his men, some of which were the most advanced of the day.
    In 1857 Brown had been given 200 Sharps rifles by the Massachusetts Kansas Committee. These rifles were unlike the common muzzle loaders of this era and had become quite popular with the antislavery free-staters in the Kansas wars. Some of the Sharps were given the name “Beecher’s Bibles” because a number of them had been sent out to the plains under the auspices of being boxed Bibles, and had been praised by the abolitionist preacher Henry Ward Beecher for their effectiveness in combating the pro-slavery Missouri forces. The 52 caliber breech loading Sharps rifles were invented by Christian Sharps, were produced in Hartford, Connecticut, and were one of the most accurate and fastest firing weapons available.
    Brown’s most well recognized weapons were pikes (pictured top). These fierce spears had ten inch double-edged blades attached to six foot long ash handles, and were manufactured by Connecticut blacksmith Charles Blair. Brown had contracted with Blair while on the same fund raising tour to the East in 1857 that had earned him the Sharps rifles. Brown thought these lance-like weapons would make intimidating tools for the free state settlers in Kansas to keep Missouri border ruffians at bay. Brown signed a contract with Blair to pay him $1 per pike for 1000 pikes. Brown was unable to pay the required full amount before returning to Kansas so they remained in Connecticut until 1859.
    John Brown’s Pikes

     Few of the pikes were used in the Harpers Ferry raid, but the large shipment was discovered in the aftermath and were used for political capital by Southerners. Fiery Virginian Edmund Ruffin sent a pike to each of the governors of the Southern states with a note attached that said, “Sample of the favors designed for us by our Northern Brethren.”

    The other weapon Brown was supplied with was the 31 caliber Maynard pistol. These revolvers were produced by the Massachusetts Arms Company in Chicopee Falls and used a special tape-roll percussion cap that looked much like the cap rolls used by cap guns today. Unfortunately for Brown, the 200 Maynard pistols arrived at the Kennedy Farm without the proper percussion caps and were thus useless to him and his men.

    Weapons that have provenance to John Brown’s raid are some of the most sought after by serious collectors. Recently one of the John Brown pikes sold at auction for $13,000. Other pikes are in the museum collections at the Museum of the Confederacy, Harpers Ferry National Park, the Smithsonian, and the Kansas State Historical Society. The National Firearms Museum and the Smithsonian also have some of Brown’s Sharps rifles as well.

    So what we see happening here, is the arming of a band of terrorist who were willing to risk their lives to counter slavery during the mid 1900’s. Or that is what it would appear to be without further investigation. However, when we look closely we can see that there certainly was an underlying agenda pack way deep into this event.
    Of course, it goes without saying that the enslaved Africans wanted freedom. But an armed rebellion may not have been the caliber of exacting freedom that was most prominent in the minds of most Africans.
    On the other hand, the pro-slavery contingent were facing the total annihilation of their economy, the loss of land, resources and particularly “free labor” that had given them quite a nice slice of America’s apple pie. Surely their battle to preserve the institution of slavery was based in economics and not humanitarianism, in fact, neither was the Abolitionists who condoned and resorted to violence. Using slavery or the abolition thereof was just a smoke screen for a deeper and even more sinister plot. The Cabal of the Secret Six are so familiar to our modern day cabal it is cringe worthy.
    Imagine the idea of “arming the rebels” being something that occurred over 160 years ago. Imagine it being done by rich philanthropists, teachers, doctors, ministers and other folks with interesting connections to people who participated in the Slave and opium trade.
    Imagine the arrival of a haughty anxious and sometimes bellicose figure, who could rally the masses to commit suicide for a cause that even he himself had no idea of the real agenda behind it.
    Imagine the atrocities committed on both sides as human beings battle for disparate causes all believing their cause was correct and the other’s not but each of them standing on the foundation of fear and trepidation that if they failed, they would face annihilation.

    But take it a step further, that after the horrendous path of death and destruction paved by John Brown, the Secret six the Missouri Border Ruffians, we get monuments, honored grave cites, plaques, and honorary mention of these “terrorists” in the annals of history.

    Julia Ward Howe

    In fact, a song written to praise the death of John Brown and Samuel Gridley
    Howe’s wife, Julia Ward Howe, was commissioned to change the words of the song, which ultimately became the battle cry of the North and is still sung as one of the most Patriotic songs of the United States. And what song might that be you may ask? Drum roll, The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

    An we think that we live in ironic times!!!!
    Needless to say, John Brown’s attack on Harper’s Ferry failed. He had delusions of grandeur and might that would leave him in utter shame being charged with treason. He took the brunt of the whole conspiracy until it was further revealed that he had wealthy backers, each of whom fled after Brown’s defeat.

    Brown was hanged on 2 December 1859, Howe and Stearns had fled the country, Parker was dying of consumption in Italy, Sanborn couldn’t make up his mind whether or not he ought to flee, Smith was in an insane asylum, and Higginson was planning a half-cocked (and never pulled off) plan to rescue Brown’s still imprisoned companions in the crazy raid on Harpers Ferry.

    Three and a half years later, on the evening of October 16, 1859, John Brown and 18 “soldiers” seized the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Brown’s plans were fantastic—some would say insane. He would use the arms in the arsenal—as well as old-fashioned pikes he had had specially manufactured—to begin a guerrilla war against slavery. The core of his army would be the mostly white band of raiders who seized the arsenal. But soon, he hoped—he believed—he just knew—that hundreds or even thousands of slaves would join him in the fight against the “peculiar institution.” He predicted that once word of his raid got out, slaves from throughout the region would appear at his side, as bees “swarm to the hive.”
    During his raid, Brown and his men had captured a number of slave owners in the area, including Lewis Washington, the great-grand-nephew of President George Washington. Brown did not kill any of these captured men, and he went out of his way to protect them and make sure they were not harmed.

    While in Harpers Ferry, the raiders killed a railroad baggage handler, who ironically was a free black, when he refused their orders to halt. In a firefight they killed a few townsmen, including the mayor. At one point Brown stopped a passenger train, held it for a while, and then released it. The train continued on to Washington, D.C., where the crew dutifully reported to officials that Brown had seized Harpers Ferry. The next day, October 18, U.S. marines, under the command of Army Brevet Col. Robert E. Lee, captured Brown in the engine house on the armory grounds. By this time, most of the raiders were either dead or wounded.

    The story of these six avid enemies of slavery- writers, preachers, businessmen is not just an obscure tale about the would-be financiers of a revolution; it is also the story of pacifists turned radicals, of hope for slavery’s extinction being shattered by deep societal and economic currents, and of inspired citizens planning a stand against fundamental evil only to flee the country and deny their involvement after Brown’s failure.

    The Secret Six were not hardscrabble ruffians or ex-slaves but men of culture, education, and fortune, and, as such, an especial threat to the slave- holding plutocracy Five of the six were from Boston: Higginson a preacher and a writer; Sanborn a young writer, teacher, and protégé of Ralph Waldo Emerson; Howe a world- renowned physician who worked with the blind and deaf; Theodore Parker a well-known abolitionist and Unitarian preacher; and George L. Stearns a prosperous manufacturer. The sixth member, Gerrit Smith, was a rich upstate New York businessman and philanthropist.
    So there you have it folks. What a ride! And I do hope that you got another wrinkle in your brain.

    Government Vs. NFL: Organization May Be Forced To Return Paid Patriotism Funds Again

    Source: Government Vs. NFL: Organization May Be Forced To Return Paid Patriotism Funds Again

    By Aaron Kesel

    Amid the kneeling protest during the national anthem, the NFL may be forced to return taxpayers’ funds. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) on Tuesday called for an end to all federal government support of the NFL.

    “I believe we ought to terminate all federal government support of the NFL,” Brooks told Breitbart News.

    “That would include the termination of any and all advertising that is done on behalf of the federal government — military and nonmilitary — to the extent we do any.”

    “The same thing with any other professional sport that insults our country and our flag and our anthem as the NFL has done,” he added.

    The NFL reportedly receives billions of dollars in subsidies from local taxpayers and governments, CNN reported in 2015.

    Another 2015 report from NJ.com revealed that more than a dozen NFL teams received money from the Defense Department between 2011 and 2014 in exchange for promoting the military during games and other forms of advertisement.

    From 2011-2014, the Department of Defense spent $5.4 million in contracts with 14 NFL teams for flag ceremonies. Even the U.S. National Guard got in on the action and gave $6.7 million to the NFL from 2013 to 2015.

    The protest started last year as a way to highlight the racial inequality in America and fight back against police brutality.

    This isn’t the first time the organization would be forced to return funds for “paid patriotism.”

    In 2016 the professional football league was forced to agree to return $723,734 that it was paid by the Defense Department to honor the military.  In a letter to the two Arizona senators, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said an audit uncovered that over the course of four seasons $723,734 “may have been mistakenly applied to appreciation activities rather than recruitment efforts.”

    McCain and Flake, who released a letter demanding the NFL pay back taxpayers’ funds previously issued a report in November of that year criticizing the NFL and other pro sports organizations for taking taxpayers’ money to put on events at games honoring the troops, a practice they called “paid patriotism.” That report found that the Pentagon had “inappropriately” paid up to $6.8 million to both professional and college sports teams, CBS reported.

    The total paid out for patriotic displays at sporting events was a much more outrageous $53 million in spending on marketing and advertising contracts, SB Nation reported.

    Flake was pleased with the NFL’s response returning the money which he called “egregious federal spending.”

    “In all the years I’ve spent rooting out egregious federal spending, the NFL is the first organization to perform due diligence, take responsibility and return funds to the taxpayers,” Flake said. “The NFL’s response to this investigation sets a new standard and only strengthens its reputation as a supporter of military service members and veterans.”

    McCain equally praised the NFL for giving back taxpayers’ funds tweeting that he applauded the effort.

    I applaud @NFL for returning American tax dollars used to honor our troops – time for other leagues to do the same. http://www.mccain.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=89084F73-05C4-4AEE-8735-3CFA92F598AD 

    According to the report by McCain and Flake, this practice was supposed to be addressed with the NDAA in 2016.

    We successfully had the 2016 NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] amended to restrict the DoD’s spending on paid patriotism in its professional sports advertising contracts.

    So this raises a question about what other federal funding from taxpayers the NFL is receiving besides money from the Pentagon for patriotic displays? Which again, are supposed to be discontinued as mandated by law.

    Before 2009 NFL players didn’t even stand for the National Anthem; it was a marketing strategy to push military recruitment.

    But then the Department of Defense and the National Guard got involved. They began to pay the NFL millions of dollars to have flag ceremonies before games and have players on the field.

    ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith covered this issue on ESPN’s First Take in 2016, when players first began the recent on-field protest trend:

    As part of the new relationship between the DOD and the National Guard, the NFL changed its practices and began bringing players onfield during the playing of the national anthem for some “inspiring” displays of heartfelt patriotism. The outrage over yesterday’s widespread refusal to continue the practice is proof positive that the DOD’s marketing dollars hit their mark. “Patriots” who never noticed the change in 2009 have been suddenly driven into a frenzy over players’ refusal to continue being used as props in the NFL’s high-priced performance of “America.”

    Even paid Senate Armed Services committee war porn poster boy leader John McCain has admitted the practice is wrong.

    Given the immense sacrifices made by our service members, it seems more appropriate that any organization with a genuine interest in honoring them, and deriving public credit as a result, should do so at its own expense and not at that of the American taxpayer.  Americans deserve the ability to assume that tributes for our men and women in military uniform are genuine displays of national pride, which many are, rather than taxpayer-funded DOD marketing gimmicks.

    (Source)

    In 2015, Senator McCain and the Senate Oversight Committee issued a statement along with a corresponding report condemning the practice of “paid patriotism,” as charades, “conducted not out of a sense of patriotism,” but rather done “for profit in the form of millions in taxpayer dollars going from the Department of Defense to wealthy pro sports franchises.”

    The report continued to detail its findings:

    Unfortunately, contrary to the public statements made by DOD and the NFL, the majority of the contracts—72 of the 122 contracts we analyzed—clearly show that DOD paid for patriotic tributes at professional football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer games.v These paid tributes included on-field color guard, enlistment and reenlistment ceremonies, performances of the national anthem, full-field flag details, ceremonial first pitches and puck drops. The National Guard paid teams for the “opportunity” to sponsor military appreciation nights and to recognize its birthday. It paid the Buffalo Bills to sponsor its Salute to the Service game.vi DOD even paid teams for the “opportunity” to perform surprise welcome home promotions for troops returning from deployments and to recognize wounded warriors.

    NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy later confirmed that players did not appear on field for the anthem until 2009.

    This controversial topic was briefly discussed on MSNBC this week, when NFL player Marvin Washington mentioned the financial relationship between the DOD and the NFL. Civil rights activist Jesse Williams also expressed the paid patriotism in an MSNBC interview this week, calling the national anthem a “scam.”

    “This is not actually part of football. This was invented in 2009 from the government paying the NFL to market military recruitment to get more people to go off and fight wars to die,” Williams said. “This has nothing to do with [the] NFL, or American pastime, or tradition. … This is to get boys and girls to go fly overseas and go kill people. They’re marketing. They’re pumping millions and millions of dollars into the NFL to get us to put on a pageant in front of the NFL football games to get you to go off and fight.”

    Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post and is Director of Content for Coinivore. Follow Aaron atTwitter and Steemit.

    This article is Creative Commons and can be republished in full with attribution. Like Activist Post on Facebook, subscribe on YouTube, follow on Twitter and at Steemit.

    Image Credit: Vice

    If You Don’t Like It Here, Then Leave! (Videos)

    “If You Don’t Like It Here, Then Leave!”
    One of the strangest things that I hear from folks these days who seem to believe that I have a problem with living in the US, is this,
    “If you don’t like it here, then leave, go back to Africa or some other Socialist Country.”
    I say to them.
    My response, “can all those folks who told me to leave the US, pay for my airline ticket to Ghana?”

    So let’s first start with the definition of Socialism.
    Definition of socialism
    1: any of a various economic and political theories advocating collective or any of governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
    Too bad we have people living in the United States who are unaware of the way their country operates. There are so many governmental fingers in every aspect of the production and distribution of goods. Particularly as it relates to rules and regulations to the point where the government can confiscate your business, regulate your business, demand you get a business license, shut your business down, deny you access to trading with other businesses, foreign and domestic, prevent you from competing in certain markets, force you to comply to governmental regulations in the manner you handle your business, or prevent you from even establishing a business at all, due to the many laws, regulations, codes, and fines that a person may incur.  In the US the energy services are provided by big corporations who become monopolies over time, squeezing out the small guy. If this country was ever purely capitalist, that has certainly changed over the past hundred years.
    2a :a system of society or group living in which there is no private property
    Is there really any private property in this country? How can that be when there is the concept of Imminent Domain and Asset forfeiture? In other words, if the city, state or federal government decides to run a highway through your neighborhood, you can no longer claim a hold on your property as the government own the ground your property sits on, and the bank owns the mortgage.

    So let’s look at this concept of Eminent Domain.

    “Federal, state, and local governments may take private property through their power of eminent domain or may regulate it by exercising their Police Power. The Fifth Amendment  to the U.S. to the U. S. Constitution requires the government to provide just compensation to the owner of the private property to be taken. A variety of property rights are subject to eminent domain, such as air, water and landrights. the government takes Private property through condemnation proceedings. Throughout these proceedings, the property owner has the right of due process.”

    “Asset forfeiture or asset seizure is a form of confiscation of assets by the state. It typically applies to the alleged proceeds or instruments of crime. This applies, but is not limited, to terrorist activities, drug related crimes, and other criminal and even civil offenses. Some jurisdictions specifically use the term “confiscation” instead of forfeiture. The alleged purpose of asset forfeiture is to disrupt criminal activity by confiscating assets that potentially could have been beneficial to the individual or organization.”

    In other words, whenever the state which is government, decides to seize an individuals assets they have the right to do so based on their conclusions that they are within their right to do so.  So out the window goes the notion of “private property” and a nicely veiled socialistic policy conscripted within the laws of this nation.
    We can also take a look at the IRS which is a governmental agency that has the right to “seize” the product of a citizen of the US’s labor through taxation. In other words, your earnings, or assets, are not totally yours but are taken from you without your consent.
    b :a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
    This is a hot topic for many especially with Google, YouTube, Facebook who on their face appear to be “private” companies but have the right to determine, in collusion with the government, what is real news and safe to allow on their platforms. If these entities were truly free, they would not have to comply for fear of facing any penalties, loss of revenues or pressure from governmental agencies, lobbyists and the like.

    We also have the FCC which regulates what comes over the airwaves via radio and television broadcasting. They spend a great deal of time determining and re-determining what is fit to air and what is not according to governmental regulations. Thus we have government regulations effecting the means of production, making government in effect, in control of production.

    At the risk of making this part of the video too long, I simply ask citizens of the United States to take a good hard look at how their government runs their lives and then make a honest determination if this is or is not ALREADY a socialist country.

    Man, 50 years ago, black folks may have been insulted when they told our parents to go back to Africa, where you came from. Heck, I heard that when I was a little girl in Catholic School, but honestly, nowadays, all we need is an airline ticket. And Ghana ain’t too expensive to live there. One USD is = to approximately 5 of theirs mas o menos. They are very hospitable, will feed you before they feed themselves, they love Americans, and as long as you are humble and respectful, they will let you stay with them. They are wonderful people. But my first choice of all time is getting off this Godforsaken planet altogether, but Scottie ain’t been gettin my messages. These folks don’t know, they ain’t saying nothing slick, telling me to get out the country! They ain’t hurt none of my feelings.

    The other thing I don’t understand about this mentality, is why does leaving the US have to even be an option? 
    If folks are not happy here, how will leaving make things better? or make “you” happier, or maybe make “them” happier? I’m confused.
    I mean, I don’t like living here for a lot of reasons, but there are some folks who live here who don’t like it and want to change it.  Bless their little fatally optimistic hearts. 
    So leaving is simply not an option for them, they want to change it! 
    Telling someone to leave as an answer to someone’s discontent about how things are ran here, just tells me that this person doesn’t want things to change, at least not while things are going in their favor. 
    But one day, they too may become discontent.  Will leaving be an option for them? Funny thing is, where would they go? They’re so stubborn about being an American, where would they go?? 
    Bottom-line; we are all in the same boat, I don’t know how many of us are of pure blood. White folks have mixed blood to, from various different heritages, so which one would they choose, and there are some of them that, just like black folks, don’t even know where their ancestors came from passed their lineage going back to the settlers. 

    Colin Kaepernick’s Protest Shows Concern For “Legitimate Issues” and he wants to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem.  His supporters who share his concerns want to kneel too. Folks are angry, up in arms calling him and others “son of bitches” all in the same breath calling themselves Christian.  And I wonder how many of them stand in their viewing rooms at home? Not to mention the number of folks who are in the stands and don’t stand during the National Anthem. Besides, is it in his contract that he should stand for the pledge of allegiance?

    These people are so hyped about him not complying and standing but they claim that they don’t worship Idols, but isn’t pledging allegiance to a flag, Idol worship, particularly if folks are willing to die for the flag.  What does it symbolize to them if not something they have given honor, respect, admiration, recitation, saluting, folding in a certain way, reverence, etc….. They don’t give that much reverence to their churches.  These Christians also rally around statues, hoist their flags on Holidays, and then go to Church on Sundays where the preacher preaches against idolatry, magic, witchcraft and soothsaying.

    So, let’s look at the definition of “idol”

    “an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. 
    synonyms: icon, representation of a god, image, effigy, statue, figure, figurine, fetish, totem; a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered. synonyms: hero, heroine, star, superstar, icon, celebrity.”
    Your Christian God says set no thing beside me, that includes all of the above. Therefore, my question is, are you a Christian? then what’s with the idolatry? Flag, statues, etc. And dying for one?? yeah that sounds like idolatry to me.
    Then a Patriot says in defense of this, what I call “idol worship”,
    “And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marveled at him. -Mark 12:17 KJV”
    And my response to this is,

    “Excuse me? Caesar? the brutal-dictator? Didn’t he have something to do with getting Jesus Killed? I have no respect for that man. How can anyone who claims to be a Christian? What about morals? If government says give me all your guns, are you gonna render them too?”

    There must be some serious cognitive dissonance going on here, when these people speak so highly of a flag, die for it, honor it, and at the same time say it is not idol worship. The flag is a symbol, it’s an idol, it’s an effigy, it represents something that is behind it, it has power to illicit tears and battle cries, it has had songs written for and about it. It sails on all governmental buildings in the US. There are laws against the desecration of it. It must never hit the ground, and when a famous government official dies, it flies at half mast. I mean what else can it be but an idol??

    Then they say, we stand because of the men and women who fought for our freedoms in this country. And I’m like what freedoms?  The men and women defending this country have been duped, they are protecting opium and oil fields and the petro dollar. They are slaves who have been brainwashed.  The argument is mute, if you say freedoms are not granted by governments, they are given by God, then how can anyone take them away and why do you need to fight for them? I’m confused.

    “Who the frick and frack dies for a flag?”
    And those poor soldiers are not protecting my freedoms either.  The cause they are dying for is far from noble.
    No one can grant me freedoms!

    No one has that kind of power over my life. I need no Constitution to grant me anything. If the Constitution can grant something then it can take it away. That’s too much power for anyone to have over another, unless they are Almighty God. They’re not, just government.

    Besides, if freedom is so free why are there so many laws? You gotta have a license to do just about anything in this country, fish, hunt, swim, marry, divorce, teach, practice medicine, law, social work, cook, clean, deliver the mail, drive, be an electrician, plumber, carpenter..etc., how is that freedom?
    Don’t folks realize that what we have here are considered privileges and that they can be taken away at anytime? Besides, those soldiers, at a rate of 20 or so per day, are killing themselves, for a lie, or should I say many lies. 
    This and much more should make everyone take to their knees. 
    The idea that I want to stay here under this intolerable regime is laughable to me, as they think they are insulting me or threatening me by telling me to “Go Back to Your Homeland” and let me keep mine.
    I just don’t get it, how in the world did they come to that conclusion that this country is their homeland, or better yet, that it is more their homeland than mine. 
    So that’s why I say, give me an airline ticket and I will be out of your hair in a heart beat!! For sure.
    And while we are on the subject of Colin Kaepernick let’s take a look at this recent article in Atlanta Black Star entitled

    “Why Jesse Williams Calling National Anthem a ‘Scam’ Isn’t Too Far Fetched”
    Count Jesse Williams as one of the proponents of protesting the national anthem at sporting events. The political activist and actor spilled some truths about the long-time tradition that could blow the minds of self-proclaimed patriots. As it turns out, those boycotting the NFL over athletes kneeling during the anthem may want to read up on where that tradition came from to begin with.
    “It’s important to realize that this anthem thing is a scam,” Williams says on “MSNBC Live” Sunday, Sept. 24. “This is not actually part of football. This was invented in 2009 [by] the government paying the NFL to market military recruitment to get more people to go off and fight wars to die. This has nothing to do with [the] NFL, or American pastime, or tradition. This is to get boys and girls to go fly overseas and go kill people. They’re marketing. They’re pumping millions and millions of dollars into the NFL to get us to put on a pageant in front of the NFL football games to get you to go off and fight.”

    Williams is referring to a 2015 Senate report that detailed the Department of Defense spent $53 million “on marketing and advertising contracts with sports teams between 2012 and 2015.” A huge chunk of that money — $10 million — went toward the NFL. Contracts for “paid patriotism,” as the report referred to the findings, called for national anthem performances, field-sized American flags, on-field color guards and tributes to wounded war heroes. The DOD admitted that the contracts were meant for recruitment, but didn’t indicate how the activities impacted recruitment.

    “Given the immense sacrifices made by our service members, it seems more appropriate that any organization with a genuine interest in honoring them, and deriving public credit as a result, should do so at its own expense and not at that of the American taxpayer,” the report said. “Americans deserve the ability to assume that tributes for our men and women in military uniform are genuine displays of national pride, which many are, rather than taxpayer-funded DOD marketing gimmicks.”
    This divide and conquer strategy that is in full swing is so ridiculous and counter productive. 
    We are all crabs in this here barrel, and they don’t care about none of us. #Texas#Florida #Mexico #California #Beruda #VirginIslands #PuertoRico

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    How people are living a week after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico
    The U.S. military is the single greatest institutional contributor to the growing natural disasters intensified by global climate change.

    María’s Death Toll in Puerto Rico Is Being Underreported

    María’s Death Toll in Puerto Rico Is Being Underreported

    SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO  Leovigildo Cotté died in the midst of desperation over not getting the oxygen needed to keep him alive in the only shelter that exists in the town of Lajas, which has been without electricity since the passing of Hurricane María a week ago. Not even his connections with the government saved him.
    “The generator never arrived,” said the current mayor of Lajas, Marcos Turín Irizarry, who explained that he looked for oxygen for Cotté, father of the former mayor of that same town, “turning every stone,” but could not find it.
    Cotté is one of the unaccounted victims of the Category 5 hurricane that devastated all of Puerto Rico last week, with its sustained winds and gusts of up to 200 miles per hour. On Wednesday, the government of Puerto Rico still held that the official number of deaths as a result of the catastrophe was 16, but the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, for its initials in Spanish) has confirmed that there are dozens and could be hundreds in the final count.
    The fatalities related to circumstances created by the hurricane are still mounting with each passing day, and official numbers are not counting patients who are not receiving dialysis, oxygen and other essential services, such as Pedro Fontánez, 79, who is bedridden at the Pavía Hospital in Santurce and who the institution is attempting to release since Saturday, while he lacks electricity at home to support the oxygen and gastric tube-feeding he needs to continue living. His daughter, Nilka Fontánez, showed up desperate at the government’s Emergency Operations Center asking for help, but was told they were not accepting patients there.

    Nilka Fontánez (Omaya Sosa | Centro de Periodismo Investigativo)
    “There’s no information,” she said, frustrated.
    The dead are at the hospital morgues, which are at capacity and in remote places where the government has yet to go, and in many cases, their families are unaware of the deaths. The Demographic Registry certifies the deaths so bodies can be removed by funeral homes, many of which are also not operating for a lack of resources and fuel. They barely began certifying some of the dead on Monday, as Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez-Mercado confirmed in an interview.
    Public Safety Secretary Héctor Pesquera told the CPI that the names of the dead due to the hurricane will not be revealed, as the lack of communication has kept many people from knowing the whereabouts of their families. Since the hurricane, many people have gone daily to radio stations so that the on-air personalities can say the names of family members with whom they have been unable to communicate in a desperate attempt to find them.

    What Is the Real Death Toll?

    A week after María’s passage, the government of Puerto Rico is trying with great difficulty to supply basic services, such as fuel, roads and communications and tells the world every day of the progress of these efforts through their press conferences at the Emergency Operations Center (COE, for its initials in Spanish) established in San Juan. But the fact that is not discussed is that the number of deaths resulting from the disaster are much higher than the 16 or 19 that have been offered as the official tally.
    CPI sources in half a dozen hospitals said those bodies are piling up at the morgues of the 69 hospitals in Puerto Rico, of which 70% are not operating. The majority of the hospital morgues that provided information including the Medical Center in Bayamón and Santurce, Pavía Hospital in Santurce, the Manatí Medical Center, Dr. Pila in Ponce, the Río Piedras Medical Center, the Mayagüez Medical Center and the HIMA hospitals in Caguas and Bayamón, are at full capacity. Those hospitals are among the 18 that are partially operational.
    Furthermore, this media outlet learned that the Institute of Forensic Sciences is also full of bodies and that allegedly 25 of those are hurricane victims. On Tuesday, the IFS informed that it had increased its storage capacity for bodies with a trailer that was obtained through The Morgue federal program.
    It’s unclear what is happening with the deceased that are at the morgues of the 51 hospitals that have had to close their doors, with which it has been impossible to communicate.
    Secretary Rodríguez-Mercado acknowledged that hospital morgues are full, including the one at the Medical Center in Mayagüez. He said the accumulated bodies cannot be removed from the morgues by funeral homes until the deaths can be certified by the Demographic Registry, who barely began operating from regional emergency centers on Monday.
    Furthermore, the doctor acknowledged that the hurricane-related deaths are many more than those officially documented so far. As he said Monday, the three hospitals he visited that day in the island’s western region, during the first contact he was able to achieve with that region, he documented seven additional deaths “to the 19” that had been revealed so far. That same afternoon, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said the official figure of hurricane-related deaths was still 16.
    To date, Rodríguez did not know the status of the situation at the hospitals in Ponce, because the region remained completely cut off from communications, but planned to go to that town on Tuesday to explore the matter. On Wednesday, the CPI learned through Ponce Mayor María “Mayita” Meléndez that the hospitals operating in that town are San Cristóbal and San Lucas.
    “We’re finding dead people, people who have been buried. Related to the hurricane (we have) 19 dead, which the governor reported, but [people] have made common graves. We’ve been told people have buried their family members because they’re in places that have yet to be reached,” the Secretary told the CPI, while visibly shaken.
    The scenario is not optimistic. The hospitals that closed their doors during the week that the emergency has lasted have more than 4,000 beds, and when asked what happened to those patients, where they were transferred, the Secretary responded with a sincere “I don’t know.”

    Patients Arriving in Critical Condition

    CPI sources said that in just two of the hospitals that are operating, they were they able to document a dozen deaths among patients that were transferred out of the closed-down hospitals. Furthermore, they pointed out that the problem is that patients are arriving in critical condition, with ventilators, for example, and with poorly documented records regarding what had happened at the institution where they were hospitalized. For that reason, and the limitation of resources and fuel for power generators, the majority of hospitals that are “operational” are not accepting transfers or new patients, they said. The Río Piedras Medical Center, the government’s main hospital for this disaster and the only tertiary hospital in Puerto Rico, has been operating at half capacity.
    Rodríguez-Mercado said Wednesday that on that same day, they would meet with specialized authorities from the U.S. Department of Health to discuss the protocols used to handle cadavers to prevent a budding public health problem. He said the current protocol for disposing bodies and vegetative material in emergency situations is managed by the Environmental Quality Board. But soon after, the president of that agency, Tania Vázquez, said in an interview that her agency only oversees the protocol related to disposing of animals, not human beings, but added that burying a dead person without a certification of the death is a crime. As of press time, the RRosselló’s press secretary had not responded to a petition to clear up who is responsible for the protocol for these emergency burials.
    Meanwhile, the dead continue to accumulate as a result of the chaos in the health system due to a lack of diesel and the absence of a communications plan between the system’s components, and these must be added to those who are in areas that still lack communication and those in remote areas.
    “We’re fighting. I would love for the government to understand that it has to open dialysis centers. If they don’t receive the service, the patients’ health is compromised quickly and they die. And yes, they have died,” Armando Rodríguez, vice president of Grupo HIMA confessed when confirming that the morgues of his two hospitals in Bayamón and Caguas is above capacity.
    Meanwhile, thousands of doctors and nurses are literally at home unable to work, said Dr. Joaquín Vargas, president of the Puerto Rico Primary Physicians Groups Association, who was at the COE to see if the government would set up an operations center where they could at least answer calls from citizens.
    The CPI also learned that a large portion of specialized physicians is unable to work because hospitals don’t have supplies and the ability to conduct their procedures, nor basic resources such as fuel or electricity to run their medical practices.

    María’s Death Toll in Puerto Rico Is Being Underreported

    Source: María’s Death Toll in Puerto Rico Is Being Underreported

    SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO  Leovigildo Cotté died in the midst of desperation over not getting the oxygen needed to keep him alive in the only shelter that exists in the town of Lajas, which has been without electricity since the passing of Hurricane María a week ago. Not even his connections with the government saved him.

    “The generator never arrived,” said the current mayor of Lajas, Marcos Turín Irizarry, who explained that he looked for oxygen for Cotté, father of the former mayor of that same town, “turning every stone,” but could not find it.

    Cotté is one of the unaccounted victims of the Category 5 hurricane that devastated all of Puerto Rico last week, with its sustained winds and gusts of up to 200 miles per hour. On Wednesday, the government of Puerto Rico still held that the official number of deaths as a result of the catastrophe was 16, but the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, for its initials in Spanish) has confirmed that there are dozens and could be hundreds in the final count.

    The fatalities related to circumstances created by the hurricane are still mounting with each passing day, and official numbers are not counting patients who are not receiving dialysis, oxygen and other essential services, such as Pedro Fontánez, 79, who is bedridden at the Pavía Hospital in Santurce and who the institution is attempting to release since Saturday, while he lacks electricity at home to support the oxygen and gastric tube-feeding he needs to continue living. His daughter, Nilka Fontánez, showed up desperate at the government’s Emergency Operations Center asking for help, but was told they were not accepting patients there.

    Nilka Fontánez (Omaya Sosa | Centro de Periodismo Investigativo)

    “There’s no information,” she said, frustrated.

    The dead are at the hospital morgues, which are at capacity and in remote places where the government has yet to go, and in many cases, their families are unaware of the deaths. The Demographic Registry certifies the deaths so bodies can be removed by funeral homes, many of which are also not operating for a lack of resources and fuel. They barely began certifying some of the dead on Monday, as Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez-Mercado confirmed in an interview.

    Public Safety Secretary Héctor Pesquera told the CPI that the names of the dead due to the hurricane will not be revealed, as the lack of communication has kept many people from knowing the whereabouts of their families. Since the hurricane, many people have gone daily to radio stations so that the on-air personalities can say the names of family members with whom they have been unable to communicate in a desperate attempt to find them.

    What Is the Real Death Toll?

    A week after María’s passage, the government of Puerto Rico is trying with great difficulty to supply basic services, such as fuel, roads and communications and tells the world every day of the progress of these efforts through their press conferences at the Emergency Operations Center (COE, for its initials in Spanish) established in San Juan. But the fact that is not discussed is that the number of deaths resulting from the disaster are much higher than the 16 or 19 that have been offered as the official tally.

    CPI sources in half a dozen hospitals said those bodies are piling up at the morgues of the 69 hospitals in Puerto Rico, of which 70% are not operating. The majority of the hospital morgues that provided information including the Medical Center in Bayamón and Santurce, Pavía Hospital in Santurce, the Manatí Medical Center, Dr. Pila in Ponce, the Río Piedras Medical Center, the Mayagüez Medical Center and the HIMA hospitals in Caguas and Bayamón, are at full capacity. Those hospitals are among the 18 that are partially operational.

    Furthermore, this media outlet learned that the Institute of Forensic Sciences is also full of bodies and that allegedly 25 of those are hurricane victims. On Tuesday, the IFS informed that it had increased its storage capacity for bodies with a trailer that was obtained through The Morgue federal program.

    It’s unclear what is happening with the deceased that are at the morgues of the 51 hospitals that have had to close their doors, with which it has been impossible to communicate.

    Secretary Rodríguez-Mercado acknowledged that hospital morgues are full, including the one at the Medical Center in Mayagüez. He said the accumulated bodies cannot be removed from the morgues by funeral homes until the deaths can be certified by the Demographic Registry, who barely began operating from regional emergency centers on Monday.

    Furthermore, the doctor acknowledged that the hurricane-related deaths are many more than those officially documented so far. As he said Monday, the three hospitals he visited that day in the island’s western region, during the first contact he was able to achieve with that region, he documented seven additional deaths “to the 19” that had been revealed so far. That same afternoon, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said the official figure of hurricane-related deaths was still 16.

    To date, Rodríguez did not know the status of the situation at the hospitals in Ponce, because the region remained completely cut off from communications, but planned to go to that town on Tuesday to explore the matter. On Wednesday, the CPI learned through Ponce Mayor María “Mayita” Meléndez that the hospitals operating in that town are San Cristóbal and San Lucas.

    “We’re finding dead people, people who have been buried. Related to the hurricane (we have) 19 dead, which the governor reported, but [people] have made common graves. We’ve been told people have buried their family members because they’re in places that have yet to be reached,” the Secretary told the CPI, while visibly shaken.

    The scenario is not optimistic. The hospitals that closed their doors during the week that the emergency has lasted have more than 4,000 beds, and when asked what happened to those patients, where they were transferred, the Secretary responded with a sincere “I don’t know.”

    Patients Arriving in Critical Condition

    CPI sources said that in just two of the hospitals that are operating, they were they able to document a dozen deaths among patients that were transferred out of the closed-down hospitals. Furthermore, they pointed out that the problem is that patients are arriving in critical condition, with ventilators, for example, and with poorly documented records regarding what had happened at the institution where they were hospitalized. For that reason, and the limitation of resources and fuel for power generators, the majority of hospitals that are “operational” are not accepting transfers or new patients, they said. The Río Piedras Medical Center, the government’s main hospital for this disaster and the only tertiary hospital in Puerto Rico, has been operating at half capacity.

    Rodríguez-Mercado said Wednesday that on that same day, they would meet with specialized authorities from the U.S. Department of Health to discuss the protocols used to handle cadavers to prevent a budding public health problem. He said the current protocol for disposing bodies and vegetative material in emergency situations is managed by the Environmental Quality Board. But soon after, the president of that agency, Tania Vázquez, said in an interview that her agency only oversees the protocol related to disposing of animals, not human beings, but added that burying a dead person without a certification of the death is a crime. As of press time, the RRosselló’s press secretary had not responded to a petition to clear up who is responsible for the protocol for these emergency burials.

    Meanwhile, the dead continue to accumulate as a result of the chaos in the health system due to a lack of diesel and the absence of a communications plan between the system’s components, and these must be added to those who are in areas that still lack communication and those in remote areas.

    “We’re fighting. I would love for the government to understand that it has to open dialysis centers. If they don’t receive the service, the patients’ health is compromised quickly and they die. And yes, they have died,” Armando Rodríguez, vice president of Grupo HIMA confessed when confirming that the morgues of his two hospitals in Bayamón and Caguas is above capacity.

    Meanwhile, thousands of doctors and nurses are literally at home unable to work, said Dr. Joaquín Vargas, president of the Puerto Rico Primary Physicians Groups Association, who was at the COE to see if the government would set up an operations center where they could at least answer calls from citizens.

    The CPI also learned that a large portion of specialized physicians is unable to work because hospitals don’t have supplies and the ability to conduct their procedures, nor basic resources such as fuel or electricity to run their medical practices.

    How people are living a week after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico

    Source: How people are living a week after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico

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