Category: US

An unashamed look into the real issues facing this nation, brought to you the way only The Fifth Column can.

Dakota Access Contractor With Blackwater Ties Heads Protester Surveillance, Violence Escalates

Millions around the world are again gawking over police brutality against water protectors. Following DAPL’s (Dakota Access Pipeline’s) corporation dishonoring Obama’s requests the to halt construction, a new wave of violence hit the protest camps. However, whereas these acts are obvious, those of contracted intelligence firms remain more insidious.

“Do not believe that your cellphones or your computers are clean and uncompromised”, said journalist Jeremy Scahill. “I guarantee you that they’re using the entire suite of surveillance devices.” Scahill was giving water protectors, and fellow journalists in Standing Rock advice on Democracy Now.

“I know that people have been complaining that their cellphones have been down”, he continued, “their internet has been down. That can be caused by surveillance weaponry targeting their devices.” Scahill describes how phones and computers belonging to water protectors can be used as “geo-tracking devices.”

IRS Missteps with Bitcoin Lead to Witch Hunt of Coinbase Clients

The Internal Revenue Service has dropped the ball on bitcoin and left users with little choice but noncompliance. Agency officials may have been in denial for the past few years, but the weight of criticism from both government and independent watchdogs appears to have jolted them into action.

Their knee-jerk response, however, is thin on introspection and does zero to facilitate legal use of the cryptocurrency. To make up for lost time and cast fear into the hearts of bitcoin users across the country, the IRS is demanding to know the transaction records and identities of every single client from 2013 to 2015 of the largest bitcoin trading platform in the United States.

Denver Launches Program To Give Jobs To Thousands Of Homeless, Supports Other Projects

The election of a Republican President hasn’t seemed to slowed the thump of progressive policies. In Denver, officials are initiating a program aimed at providing thousands of paying jobs to the homeless. A variety of work is included in the plan, launching as similar projects crop up elsewhere.

Initiated on November 1st, “Denver Day Works” hopes to put thousands of the city’s homeless to work. According to Denverite, many assignments include park maintenance, planting trees, clearing snow, etc. Denver Human Services Spokeswoman Julie Smith says they’re aiming for “low to no barriers. No background checks. Do you want work? We’re going to put you to work today.”

Now Might Be a Great Time to Work on Reining in the Executive

According to the polls, the overarching driving force behind Trump’s win was anger toward “elites.” Donald Trump’s election is a tremendous challenge for freedom. But like most challenges, it’s also an opportunity. We may have never had this much bipartisan, cross-ideological, popular support for wresting power away from government.

As Jeffrey Tucker put it, “Everyone underestimated the vulnerability of the status quo.” The existing power structures are weak. It’s time to hit them with everything we’ve got.

In case you need a refresher on how powerful our government has become, Donald Trump now commands:

US: Trump Should Govern With Respect for Rights

United States President-elect Donald Trump should abandon campaign rhetoric that seemed to reject many of the United States’ core human rights obligations and put rights at the heart of his administration’s domestic and foreign policy agendas, Human Rights Watch said today. Official results gave Trump the necessary electoral college votes to win.

“Now that he has secured victory, President-elect Trump should move from the headline-grabbing rhetoric of hatred and govern with respect for all who live in the United States,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch. “He found a path to the White House through a campaign marked by misogyny, racism, and xenophobia, but that’s not a route to successful governance. President-elect Trump should commit to leading the US in a manner that fully respects and promotes human rights for everyone.”

The US presidential campaign was dominated by a number of controversial statements and policy proposals by Trump. When announcing his intent to run for president in June of 2015, Trump stated, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best… They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” He also proposed banning Muslims from entering the US.

5 Groups and Individuals to Blame For Donald Trump’s Victory

Liberals all over America are crying in the ice cream like Bridget Jones. They are buying the materials needed to build a bomb shelter if they aren’t making arrangements to move to Canada. Their depression is palpable. They speak in doom and gloom; thinking the world is going to end. There is a reason to do this. Ignorance, fear mongering, and failing to logically and correctly addressing the issues, brought you Trump.

You put on your headphones, covered your eyes, and refused to even acknowledge the issues, or talk to political adversaries. You gambled with narcissism and arrogance, and you lost. This result is a history lesson you need to study and memorize. Donald Trump should have never been elected, and wouldn’t be president if these mistakes weren’t made.

Deputies From Wisconsin And Elsewhere Leave North Dakota, Refuse To Return As Millions Join Movement

Widespread outrage over both the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and violent police crackdowns rages on. That outrage is spreading even to police agencies now returning from deployment to the reservation. Two departments have already refused to return, citing personal and public objections. As if that wasn’t enough, an army of sympathizers is re-purposing social media to combat police efforts in Standing Rock.

Minnesota’s Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department is among that group. Lawmakers, according to MPR News, found police activities in Standing Rock “inappropriate”. It’s to the point where they’re considering rewriting legislation to avoid future deployments to incidents like the pipeline resistance.

Police officials, of course, declined to comment on their return from North Dakota or their feelings on what’s happening there. It’s also made the task of rebuilding trust with the community an even loftier uphill battle. “I do not support Sheriff Stanek’s decision to send his deputies to North Dakota”, says LT. Governor Tina Smith, “nor did we approve his decision to begin with. I do not have any control over the Sheriff’s actions, which I think were wrong, and I believe he should bring his deputies home if he hasn’t already.”

The FBI Can’t Actually Investigate a Candidate Such as Hillary Clinton

The power above the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the US Attorney General, and, above that person, the US President.

That’s whom the FBI actually serves — not the US public.

This is the reason why the FBI is having such internal tensions and dissensions over the investigation of Hillary Clinton: Not only is she the current President’s ardently preferred and designated successor — and overwhelmingly supported also by America’s aristocracy and endorsed by the aristocracy’s press — but the top leadership of the FBI have terms-in-office that (unlike, for example, the term of the US Attorney General) do not end with the installation of the next President; and these people will therefore be serving, quite possibly, the very same person whom they are now ‘investigating’. This is the reason why James Comey, the FBI’s Director, let Clinton totally off the hook on July 5th, when he declined to present the case to a grand jury: he and the rest of the FBI’s top management violated three basic principles of trying white-collar-crime cases when a prosecutor is serious about wanting to prosecute and obtain a conviction against a person — he (and they) wanted to keep their jobs, not be fighting their boss and their likely future boss.

Milwaukee Law Enforcement Must Consider Alternatives To Handle Under-Reported Opioid Crisis

The drug war’s casualties reach far beyond bloated penitentiary yards, fractured rehab facilities, and its own endless perpetuation. America’s opioid crisis, and its scale, is straining police, the policed, and the decades old rhetoric between them.

Heroin use and overdose in particular is climbing, indiscriminately rocking towns with barbaric fervor. Milwaukee Wisconsin is no stranger, nor its numerous nearby suburbs–like Wauwatosa. Perhaps now is the time for law enforcement to consider drug enforcement nuances cropping up elsewhere in the country.

“888 bodies and counting”, a morbid but fitting title to a recent report by Milwaukee’s alderman’s office. In 14 pages, the document presents detailed analysis of a overdose plague striking the city. “Milwaukee county alone has seen a 495% increase in heroin related deaths between 2005-2015”, it reads. As a point of perspective, Milwaukee’s opioid deaths, heroin and others, exceed deaths by car accidents and homicide.

Amid crackdowns on mass migration, Central Americans organize to curb violence

Nearly half a million migrants have been apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol in 2016, while hundreds of thousand of others have been detained and deported en route through Mexico. Within this number is a record-breaking number of Central Americans seeking asylum in what Amnesty International called “the world’s least visible refugee crises.” Many of these asylum seekers have escaped communities torn apart by violence, the drug trade and poverty, but human rights groups report that an alarming number of them are subject to serious danger en route to the border.

Bob Dylan’s embrace of Israel’s war crimes

Controversially, musical genius Bob Dylan received the Nobel Prize for literature last week.

Even some critics who acknowledged his musical brilliance have argued that awarding a musician was a step that too dramatically expanded the definition of literature. What few dispute is that his music inspired millions in the midst of the anti-war and civil rights movements.

But there is also a less pleasant, less known side to the artist, particularly his views on Israel, Meir Kahane and the Jewish Defense League.

In 1983, in The New York Times, Stephen Holden described Dylan’s album Infidels as “a disturbing artistic semirecovery by a rock legend who seemed in recent years to have lost his ability to engage the Zeitgeist.”

ObamaCare: Things Fall Apart

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka “ObamaCare,” was intended to dramatically increase the number of Americans with health coverage while “bending the cost curve” (that is, reducing the expected increases in price over time).

The plan managed the first goal, at least in the short term. Unsurprising, isn’t it, that more people get coverage when the law requires them to buy it, penalizes those who won’t, and subsidizes those who can’t afford to?

Solitary Confinement Saps Our Country’s Collective Conscience

Over 125 years ago, in a death penalty case called In re Medley, 134 U.S. 160, 170-71 (1890), the United States Supreme Court wrote that solitary confinement was a “further terror and peculiar mark of infamy.” The Court described it further as an “additional punishment of the most important and painful character.”

Alluding to this ancient recognition of solitary confinement’s mind-destroying, soul-sapping, and otherwise dehumanizing effects – a view shared today by every reputable mental health professional, scientist, and reasonable, justice-loving person – Justice Kennedy wrote (in his 2015 concurrence in Davis v. Ayala, 135 S. Ct. 2187, 2209-10): “The human toll wrought by extended terms of isolation long has been understood, and questioned, by writers and commentators.” Kennedy’s opinion highlights the unsurprising conclusion that, “research still confirms what this Court suggested over a century ago: Years on end of near total isolation exact a terrible price.”

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Communists? Red Scares, Then and Now

The left-wing campaigning organisation Momentum was established in late 2015, with the explicit purpose of ensuring the election – and subsequent re-election – of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Much of the mainstream media – in the form of the Sunday Times, Channel 4’s Dispatches and a legion of hangers-on – launched a carefully prepared and orchestrated ‘red scare’ campaign against the organisation and all who support it, painting Momentum as an incubator for ‘loony lefties’ and communists of all stripes. Some drew parallels with the infamous ‘Zinoviev Letter’, a fictional communist missive to discredit and undermine the first Labour government of 1924. What lessons can be drawn from this uncanny historical parallel?

EFF: American Illegally Wiretapped at Home by Ethiopian Government Deserves His Day in Court

Malware Attack Highlights Troubling Outbreak of State-Sponsored Digital Spying.

Ethiopia must be held accountable in the United States for an illegal malware and digital spying attack on an American citizen, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told a federal appeals court today in a case where a foreign government claims it is immune from liability for wiretapping a man’s Skype calls.

Malicious digital surveillance and malware attacks against perceived political opponents, dissidents, and journalists have become all-too-common tactics used by governments with poor human rights records, such as Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, and Vietnam. When foreign governments carry out these digital attacks on Americans in their homes, violating our wiretapping and privacy laws, their victims must be allowed to take them to court, EFF and its co-counsels said in a filing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.