DEA Agent Joins Marijuana Industry

“DEA Agent Joins Marijuana Industry,” produced by Paul
Detrick. Approximately 10 minutes.

Originally released on February 26, 2014.
Original text is posted below:

While Washington State is still adjusting to many
changes since legalizing recreational marijuana—from growing space
size to the number of licenses to give out—one of the biggest
changes may be Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) employees going to
work in the private sector. Reason TV sat down with Patrick Moen, a
former supervisory special agent with the DEA, who now works as
compliance director and senior counsel at Privateer Holdings, a private
equity firm that invests in cannabis

“The more law enforcement officers acknowledge that
prohibition [of marijuana] is wrong, the better off society is
going to be,” said Moen. At the DEA he specialized in wiretaps and
worked on cases varying from busting heroin and methamphetamine
rings to rooting out pot and painkiller dealers. “Taking that first
step is often the most difficult one, it just so happened that I
was the one to take it.”

Moen says that he got a lot of support from friends and former
colleagues, the latter of which privately asked him for jobs. He
says people may be surprised to know that an overwhelming majority
of agents he interacted with didn’t feel marijuana should be a
priority for the DEA.

“Well, my own personal point of view is that drugs like
methamphetamine and heroin have legitimate, observable, harmful
effects to the user and people around the user and you definitely
cannot say the same thing about cannabis,” says Moen.

Reason TV presented Moen with numbers from the Department
of Justice’s 2013 National Drug Threat
 indicating an increase in the availability of
methamphetamine and heroin in the U.S.

“There are some cases of mine in particular that I am very proud of
that I can look back at and say that I had a measurable effect on
this community for some period of time before it bounced back,”
says Moen. “I don’t think anyone was under the illusion that we
were going to stop it, that we were going to win the war on drugs.”

Moen is aware of the criticism of the DEA and the war on drugs in
“I think there is a certain subset of the population that views DEA
agents as jackbooted thugs, that have an agenda to oppress them….
But it’s just another job, and there are guys there that are
competent, and there are guys there that are less so, but they are
all trying to do the job the best that they can.”

Privateer Holdings is looking to invest in businesses that surround
the legal marijuana industry like the cannabis review site,, which also helps users find different strains and
locations of cannabis around them. Leafly claims to have a website
and app that generate more than more than 2.3
million visits a month

The private cannabis industry isn’t without worries
though. CEO at Privateer Holdings, Brenden Kennedy, told
Bloomberg TV on January 28, that banking
in the marijuana industry was nearly impossible because banks were
concerned with the taboo nature of the product.
 ”We have
been kicked out of two banks, two large banks, very
unceremoniously,” said Kennedy, who also said at least one employee
at Privateer Holdings had experienced trouble with his personal
bank account.

“The biggest risk we see is from the federal government.
Bureaucrats and politicians are always the last ones to accept
change,” said Kennedy.
Approximately 10:07.

Produced and edited by Paul Detrick. Shot by Alex Manning. Music is
“A Freak” by Moby.

from Hit & Run

The Greatest Propaganda Coup Of Our Time?

From Mike Whitney of Counterpunch

The Greatest Propaganda Coup of Our Time?

There’s good propaganda and bad propaganda. Bad propaganda is generally crude, amateurish Judy Miller “mobile weapons lab-type” nonsense that figures that people are so stupid they’ll believe anything that appears in “the paper of record.” Good propaganda, on the other hand, uses factual, sometimes documented material in a coordinated campaign with the other major media to cobble-together a narrative that is credible, but false.

The so called Fed’s transcripts, which were released last week, fall into the latter category. The transcripts (1,865 pages) reveal the details of 14 emergency meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) in 2008, when the financial crisis was at its peak and the Fed braintrust was deliberating on how best to prevent a full-blown meltdown. But while the conversations between the members are accurately recorded, they don’t tell the gist of the story or provide the context that’s needed to grasp the bigger picture. Instead, they’re used to portray the members of the Fed as affable, well-meaning bunglers who did the best they could in ‘very trying circumstances’. While this is effective propaganda, it’s basically a lie, mainly because it diverts attention from the Fed’s role in crashing the financial system, preventing the remedies that were needed from being implemented (nationalizing the giant Wall Street banks), and coercing Congress into approving gigantic, economy-killing bailouts which shifted trillions of dollars to insolvent financial institutions that should have been euthanized.

What I’m saying is that the Fed’s transcripts are, perhaps, the greatest propaganda coup of our time. They take advantage of the fact that people simply forget a lot of what happened during the crisis and, as a result, absolve the Fed of any accountability for what is likely the crime of the century. It’s an accomplishment that PR-pioneer Edward Bernays would have applauded. After all, it was Bernays who argued that the sheeple need to be constantly bamboozled to keep them in line. Here’s a clip from his magnum opus “Propaganda”:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

Sound familiar? My guess is that Bernays’ maxim probably features prominently in editors offices across the country where “manufacturing consent” is Job 1 and where no story so trivial that it can’t be spun in a way that serves the financial interests of the MSM’s constituents. (Should I say “clients”?) The Fed’s transcripts are just a particularly egregious example. Just look at the coverage in the New York Times and judge for yourself. Here’s an excerpt from an article titled “Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”:

“The hundreds of pages of transcripts, based on recordings made at the time, reveal the ignorance of Fed officials about economic conditions during the climactic months of the financial crisis. Officials repeatedly fretted about overstimulating the economy, only to realize time and again that they needed to redouble efforts to contain the crisis.” (“Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”, New York Times)

This quote is so misleading on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin.

First of all, the New York Times is the ideological wellspring of elite propaganda in the US. They set the tone and the others follow. That’s the way the system works. So it always pays to go to the source and try to figure out what really lies behind the words, that is, the motive behind the smokescreen of half-truths, distortions, and lies. How is the Times trying to bend perceptions and steer the public in their corporate-friendly direction, that’s the question. In this case, the Times wants its readers to believe that the Fed members “misread the crisis”; that they were ‘behind the curve’ and stressed-out, but–dad-gum-it–they were trying their level-best to make things work out for everybody.

How believable is that? Not very believable at all.

Keep in mind, the crisis had been going on for a full year before the discussions in these transcripts took place, so it’s not like the members were plopped in a room the day before Lehman blew up and had to decide what to do. No. They had plenty of time to figure out the lay of the land, get their bearings and do what was in the best interests of the country. Here’s more from the Times:

”My initial takeaway from these voluminous transcripts is that they paint a disturbing picture of a central bank that was in the dark about each looming disaster throughout 2008. That meant that the nation’s top bank regulators were unprepared to deal with the consequences of each new event.”

Have you ever read such nonsense in your life? Of course, the Fed knew what was going on. How could they NOT know? Their buddies on Wall Street were taking it in the stern sheets every time their dingy asset pile was downgraded which was every damn day. It was costing them a bundle which means they were probably on the phone 24-7 to (Treasury Secretary) Henry Paulson whining for help. “You gotta give us a hand here, Hank. The whole Street is going toes-up. Please.”

Here’s more from the NYT:

“Some Fed officials have argued that the Fed was blind in 2008 because it relied, like everyone else, on a standard set of economic indicators. As late as August 2008, “there were no clear signs that many financial firms were about to fail catastrophically,” Mr. Bullard said in a November presentation in Arkansas that the St. Louis Fed recirculated on Friday. “There was a reasonable case that the U.S. could continue to ‘muddle through.’ (“Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”, New York Times)

There’s that same refrain again, “Blind”, “In the dark”, “Behind the curve”, “Misread the crisis”.

Notice how the Times only invokes terminology that implies the Fed is blameless. But it’s all baloney. Everyone knew what was going on. Check out this excerpt from a post by Nouriel Roubini that was written nearly a full year before Lehman failed:

“The United States has now effectively entered into a serious and painful recession. The debate is not anymore on whether the economy will experience a soft landing or a hard landing; it is rather on how hard the hard landing recession will be. The factors that make the recession inevitable include the nation’s worst-ever housing recession, which is still getting worse; a severe liquidity and credit crunch in financial markets that is getting worse than when it started last summer; high oil and gasoline prices; falling capital spending by the corporate sector; a slackening labor market where few jobs are being created and the unemployment rate is sharply up; and shopped-out, savings-less and debt-burdened American consumers who — thanks to falling home prices — can no longer use their homes as ATM machines to allow them to spend more than their income. As private consumption in the US is over 70% of GDP the US consumer now retrenching and cutting spending ensures that a recession is now underway.


On top of this recession there are now serious risks of a systemic financial crisis in the US as the financial losses are spreading from subprime to near prime and prime mortgages, consumer debt (credit cards, auto loans, student loans), commercial real estate loans, leveraged loans and postponed/restructured/canceled LBO and, soon enough, sharply rising default rates on corporate bonds that will lead to a second round of large losses in credit default swaps. The total of all of these financial losses could be above $1 trillion thus triggering a massive credit crunch and a systemic financial sector crisis.” ( Nouriel Roubini Global EconoMonitor)

Roubini didn’t have some secret source for data that wasn’t available to the Fed. The financial system was collapsing and it had been collapsing for a full year. Everyone who followed the markets knew it. Hell, the Fed had already opened its Discount Window and the Term Auction Facility (TAF) in 2007 to prop up the ailing banks–something they’d never done before– so they certainly knew the system was cratering. So, why’s the Times prattling this silly fairytale that “the Fed was in the dark” in 2008?

I’ll tell you why: It’s because this whole transcript business is a big, freaking whitewash to absolve the shysters at the Fed of any legal accountability, that’s why. That’s why they’re stitching together this comical fable that the Fed was simply an innocent victim of circumstances beyond its control. And that’s why they want to focus attention on the members of the FOMC quibbling over meaningless technicalities –like non-existent inflation or interest rates–so people think they’re just kind-hearted buffoons who bumbled-along as best as they could. It’s all designed to deflect blame.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying these conversations didn’t happen. They did, at least I think they did. I just think that the revisionist media is being employed to spin the facts in a way that minimizes the culpability of the central bank in its dodgy, collaborationist engineering of the bailouts. (You don’t hear the Times talking about Hank Paulson’s 50 or 60 phone calls to G-Sax headquarters in the week before Lehman kicked the bucket, do you? But, that’s where a real reporter would look for the truth.)

The purpose of the NYT article is to create plausible deniability for the perpetrators of the biggest ripoff in world history, a ripoff which continues to this very day since the same policies are in place, the same thieving fraudsters are being protected from prosecution, and the same boundless chasm of private debt is being concealed through accounting flim-flam to prevent losses to the insatiable bondholders who have the country by the balls and who set policy on everything from capital requirements on complex derivatives to toppling democratically-elected governments in Ukraine. These are the big money guys behind the vacillating-hologram poseurs like Obama and Bernanke, who are nothing more than kowtowing sock puppets who jump whenever they’re told. Here’s more bunkum from the Gray Lady:

”By early March, the Fed was moving to replace investors as a source of funding for Wall Street.


Financial firms, particularly in the mortgage business, were beginning to fail because they could not borrow money. Investors had lost confidence in their ability to predict which loans would be repaid. Countrywide Financial, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, sold itself for a relative pittance to Bank of America. Bear Stearns, one of the largest packagers and sellers of mortgage-backed securities, was teetering toward collapse.


On March 7, the Fed offered companies up to $200 billion in funding. Three days later, Mr. Bernanke secured the Fed policy-making committee’s approval to double that amount to $400 billion, telling his colleagues, “We live in a very special time.”


Finally, on March 16, the Fed effectively removed any limit on Wall Street funding even as it arranged the Bear Stearns rescue.” (“Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”, New York Times)

This part deserves a little more explanation. The author says “the Fed was moving to replace investors as a source of funding for Wall Street.” Uh, yeah; because the whole flimsy house of cards came crashing down when investors figured out Wall Street was peddling toxic assets. So the money dried up. No one buys crap assets after they find out they’re crap; it’s a simple fact of life. The Times makes this sound like this was some kind of unavoidable natural disaster, like an earthquake or a tornado. It wasn’t. It was a crime, a crime for which no one has been indicted or sent to prison. That might have been worth mentioning, don’t you think?

More from the NYT: “…on March 16, the Fed effectively removed any limit on Wall Street funding even as it arranged the Bear Stearns rescue.”

Yipee! Free money for all the crooks who blew up the financial system and plunged the economy into recession. The Fed assumed blatantly-illegal powers it was never provided under its charter and used them to reward the people who were responsible for the crash, namely, the Fed’s moneybags constituents on Wall Street. It was a straightforward transfer of wealth to the Bank Mafia. Don’t you think the author should have mentioned something about that, just for the sake of context, maybe?

Again, the Times wants us to believe that the men who made these extraordinary decisions were just ordinary guys like you and me trying to muddle through a rough patch doing the best they could.

Right. I mean, c’mon, this is some pretty impressive propaganda, don’t you think? It takes a real talent to come up with this stuff, which is why most of these NYT guys probably got their sheepskin at Harvard or Yale, the establishment’s petri-dish for serial liars.

By September 2008, Bernanke and Paulson knew the game was over. The crisis had been raging for more than a year and the nation’s biggest banks were broke. (Bernanke even admitted as much in testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in 2011 when he said “only one ….out of maybe the 13 of the most important financial institutions in the United States…was not at serious risk of failure within a period of a week or two.” He knew the banks were busted, and so did Paulson.) Their only chance to save their buddies was a Hail Mary pass in the form of Lehman Brothers. In other words, they had to create a “Financial 9-11?, a big enough crisis to blackmail congress into $700 no-strings-attached bailout called the TARP. And it worked too. They pushed Lehman to its death, scared the bejesus out of congress, and walked away with 700 billion smackers for their shifty gangster friends on Wall Street. Chalk up one for Hank and Bennie.

The only good thing to emerge from the Fed’s transcripts is that it proves that the people who’ve been saying all along that Lehman was deliberately snuffed-out in order to swindle money out of congress were right. Here’s how economist Dean Baker summed it up the other day on his blog:

“Gretchen Morgensen (NYT financial reporter) picks up an important point in the Fed transcripts from 2008. The discussion around the decision to allow Lehman to go bankrupt makes it very clear that it was a decision. In other words the Fed did not rescue Lehman because it chose not to.


This is important because the key regulators involved in this decision, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, and Timothy Geithner, have been allowed to rewrite history and claim that they didn’t rescue Lehman because they lacked the legal authority to rescue it. This is transparent tripe, which should be evident to any knowledgeable observer.” (“The Decision to Let Lehman Fail”, Dean Baker, CEPR)

Here’s the quote from Morgenson’s piece to which Baker is alluding:

“In public statements since that time, the Fed has maintained that the government didn’t have the tools to save Lehman. These documents appear to tell a different story. Some comments made at the Sept. 16 meeting, directly after Lehman filed for bankruptcy, indicate that letting Lehman fail was more of a policy decision than a passive one.” (“A New Light on Regulators in the Dark”, Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times)

Ah ha! So it was a planned demolition after all. At least that’s settled.

Here’s something else you’ll want to know: It was always within Bernanke’s power to stop the bank run and end to the panic, but if he relieved the pressure in the markets too soon (he figured), then Congress wouldn’t cave in to his demands and approve the TARP. Because, at the time, a solid majority of Republicans and Democrats in congress were adamantly opposed to the TARP and even voted it down on the first ballot. Here’s a clip from a speech by, Rep Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in September 2008 which sums up the grassroots opposition to the bailouts:

“The $700 bailout bill is being driven by fear not fact. This is too much money, in too short of time, going to too few people, while too many questions remain unanswered. Why aren’t we having hearings…Why aren’t we considering any other alternatives other than giving $700 billion to Wall Street? Why aren’t we passing new laws to stop the speculation which triggered this? Why aren’t we putting up new regulatory structures to protect the investors? Why aren’t we directly helping homeowners with their debt burdens? Why aren’t we helping American families faced with bankruptcy? Isn’t time for fundamental change to our debt-based monetary system so we can free ourselves from the manipulation of the Federal Reserve and the banks? Is this the US Congress or the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs?”

But despite overwhelming public resistance, the TARP was pushed through and Wall Street prevailed. mainly by sabotaging the democratic process the way they always do when it doesn’t suit their objectives.)

Of course, as we said earlier, Bernanke never really needed the money from TARP to stop the panic anyway. (Not one penny of the $700 bil was used to shore up the money markets or commercial paper markets where the bank run took place.) All Bernanke needed to do was to provide backstops for those two markets and, Voila, the problem was solved. Here’s Dean Baker with the details:

“Bernanke deliberately misled Congress to help pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). He told them that the commercial paper market was shutting down, raising the prospect that most of corporate America would be unable to get the short-term credit needed to meet its payroll and pay other bills. Bernanke neglected to mention that he could singlehandedly keep the commercial paper market operating by setting up a special Fed lending facility for this purpose. He announced the establishment of a lending facility to buy commercial paper the weekend after Congress approved TARP.” (“Ben Bernanke; Wall Street’s Servant”, Dean Baker, Guardian)

So, there you have it. The American people were fleeced in broad daylight by the same dissembling cutthroats the NYT is now trying to characterize as well-meaning bunglers who were just trying to save the country from another Great Depression.

I could be wrong, but I think we’ve reached Peak Propaganda on this one.

(Note: By “good” propaganda, I mean “effective” propaganda. From an ethical point of view, propaganda can never be good because its objective is to intentionally mislead people…..which is bad.)


via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Obama And Putin Held Phone Conversation

Just out from the Kremlin:

On the initiative of the US, a phone call took place between Vladimir Putin and the President of the US, Barack Obama.


Under discussion were the various aspects of the extraordinary situation in Ukraine.


In response to the concern expressed by Barack Obama regarding the possible use of Russian armed forces in the Ukraine, Vladimir Putin drew attention attention to the provocative, criminal acts of the ultranationalist elements, in effect encouraged by the present authorities in Kiev.


The Russian president stressed the existence of real threats to the lives and well-being of Russian citizens and numerous compatriots located in the Ukraine. Vladimir Putin underscored that should the violence spread further to the eastern regions of the Ukraine and the Crimea, Russia reserves the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population living there.

The Putin told Hollande largely the same thing.

And in other news, the US president may or may not be present when needed.


via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

The Invasion So Far: Visual Summary Of Russian Forces And Movements

Moments ago Interfax reported that two Russian anti-submarine warships have appeared off the coast of Ukraine’s Crimea region, violating an agreement on Moscow’s lease of a naval base, according to a Ukrainian military source as saying. Then again what else would a Ukrainian military source say. The source added that the two vessels, part of Russia’s Baltic Fleet, had been sighted in a bay at Sevastopol, where Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet has a base.

So imagine two extra anti-sub ships off Sevastopol in the map below which until this latest update from Contemporary Issues and Geography, was keeping an accurate running update of all the most recent developments in the staggered Russian invasion of the Ukraine.


via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Ukraine’s Acting President Puts All Armed Forces On Full Combat Alert

In a stunning 24 hours, it now appears that Russia and the Ukraine are one formal announcement away from a state of war. From moments ago, as reported by Bloomberg:


And this, as reported by the NYT, virtually assures the escalation to a hot war, as some provocation, somewhere will certainly take place: “a Ukrainian military official in Crimea said Ukrainian soldiers had been told to “open fire” if they came under attack by Russia troops or others.

Finally, this:

  • Ukraine protects all Ukrainians, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov says in Kiev briefing.
  • Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk: “diverting funds for military”
  • Turchynov: untrue that Russians are under threat
  • Turchynov: no reason for Putin request
  • Turchynov calls for national unity
  • Yatsenyuk says to take all measures to ensure peace
  • Yatsenyuk: no reason for Russia to intervene in Ukraine

Too late.


via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Russia Sending Troops to Ukraine, May Recall Ambassador From US

“Putin has declared war on Ukraine,” reports
newspaper Ukrainska Pravda. Despite stern warnings from
the U.S. about meddling in the nation, the Russian government is
taking rapid steps toward invasion and other destabilization

After Russian forces already began mobilizing within
Ukraine’s Crimean region, Russia’s parliament today unanimously
approved a request from President Vladimir Putin to send in

as many as
28,000 troops. He
that Ukraine’s revolution poses a “threat to the lives
of citizens of the Russian Federation, our compatriots, and the
personnel of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation who are
deployed on the territory of Ukraine.”

Crimea has a large Russian population and houses Russia’s Black
Sea Fleet. Earlier this week some citizens installed pro-Russian
leader who
a Russian military intervention, though others have

pushed back against
the idea.

The Kyiv Post
that “despite the strong Kremlin overheated rhetoric,
there is no evidence that ethnic Russians are in any danger in
Ukraine more than anybody else.”

Russia’s former chief economic advisor, Adrei Illarionov,
argues that
Putin’s goal is to render Ukraine totally unstable as an
independent country so that Russia may justify extending its own
sphere of influence.

The parliament is also moving forward with legislation to
“establishes a simplified procedure for a foreign territory to
accede to the Russian Federation. The explanatory note for the bill
states that it pertains to the situation in Ukraine,”
to Russian news site As part of its war,
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is
to employ members of Ukraine’s notorious and
now-defunct riot police, Berkut, with the promise of granting them
Russian passports. Many members of the force are antagonistic
toward Ukraine’s new, opposition-controlled government, because it
dissolved Berkut for killing civilians during protests last month.
Russia is also using social networks to
ex-military personnel to join the fight for Crimea.

At the same time, the Russian government is openly snubbing the
US. The parliament “recommended that the Kremlin recall the Russian
ambassador to the United States to underscore objections to remarks
made by President Obama on
Friday,” explains the Los Angeles Times. So far, Putin has
declined the
recommendation but it remains an option.

Yesterday, President Obama
that “it would represent a profound interference in
matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people. It would
be a clear violation of Russia’s commitment to respect the
independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine, and of
international laws.” 

Read more Reason coverage of Ukraine here.

from Hit & Run

Oklahoma House Passes Legislation to Regulate Abortion Providers

The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed legislation
Thursday aimed at regulating abortion providers. The bill requires
that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a hospital
within 30 miles of the clinic. 

Lawmakers who voted for the bill say this will help ensure the
safety of the woman should any complications occur. However,
pro-choice groups are arguing that the new provision places undue
burden on the clinic, considering Oklahoma’s sparse

In December, Reason TV covered a similar bill regulating
abortion clinics in Virginia.

Originally released Dec. 16, 2013. 

The original writeup is below:

Last April, the Virginia Board of
Health approved strict
new regulations for abortion providers. Unlike most similar laws,
the regulations cover not just new facilities but existing ones
too. Clinics have until October 2014 to comply, but a high-stakes
legal challenge in the Old Dominion may change that early next

Bill 924
 reclassifies any health clinic that provides five
or more first trimester abortions a month as an outpatient surgical
center rather than a physician’s office, which is the current
classification. The law sets standards for the number of
parking spaces, width of hallways, size of janitor closets, and
more, all which could cost millions of dollars in renovations per
facility. Abortion clinics throughout the state have said
compliance costs will force many of them to close and two
out of 20
 abortion clinics have already shut down, citing
financial burdens related to the new regs.

In a reversal of conventional positions, SB 924 has political
conservatives arguing for increasing regulations on small
businesses and liberals arguing against them. The bill initially
passed the Democratic-controlled state senate in 2011 by a vote of
20-20 (Lieutenant Gov. Bill Bolling, a pro-life Republican cast the
tie-breaking vote). Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell eventually signed
it into law after numerous rounds of political

Supporters of abortion rights believe that pro-life legislators in
Virginia and elsewhere
around the country
 are using retroactive regulations to
get around constitutional guarantees to abortion on demand during
the first trimester of pregnancy. Defenders of the new regulations
say that they are simply protecting the safety of

“This is really necessary to ensure that woman are treated with
care consistent with their human dignity,” says Mallory Quigley of
the Susan B. Anthony
 (SBL), a pro-life organization. A woman who chooses
to have an abortion, says Quigley, should be able to do so without
fearing for her health and safety. Quigley and other supporters
point to the deplorable conditions in abortion clinics
such as
the one run by Kermit Gosnell
 in Philadelphia. Gosnell,
who ran an operation described as a “horror house,” was convicted
of murder and other crimes after several patients died at his

“Physicians that are practicing in Virginia have been outspoken about
the lack of medical evidence that is deciding [this legislation],”
says Sara Wallace-Keeshen of Falls Church Health Care Center
(FCHC). Located in northern Virginia, FCHC has filed
an administrative
 against the new regulations, claiming that
renovations would cost the center $2 million and potentially force
them out of business. 

FCHC center has had no deaths since opening in 2002, an outcome
that is similar to the generally low rate of complications related
to abortions performed in clinics. Indeed, since 1974 state data
show only three deaths during legal abortions. For first-trimester
abortions, the complication rate is 0.3
, throwing doubt on the safety argument.

A court date is set for April 2014.

Aprrox. 4 minutes. Produced by Amanda Winkler. Camera
by Winkler and Joshua Swain. 

from Hit & Run

Near-Bankrupt Rome Bailed Out As Italy Unemployment Rises To All Time High, Grows By Most On Record In 2013

A few days ago, we reported that, seemingly out of the blue, the city of Rome was on the verge of a “Detroit-style bankruptcy.” In the article, Guido Guidesi, a parliamentarian from the Northern League, was quoted as saying “It’s time to stop the accounting tricks and declare Rome’s default.” Of course, that would be unthinkable: we said that if “if one stops the accounting tricks, not only Rome, but all of Europe, as well as the US and China would all be swept under a global bankruptcy tsunami. So it is safe to assume that the tricks will continue. Especially when one considers that as Mirko Coratti, head of Rome’s city council said on Wednesday, “A default of Italy’s capital city would trigger a chain reaction that could sweep across the national economy.” Well we can’t have that, especially not with everyone in Europe living with their head stuck in the sand of universal denial, assisted by the soothing lies of Mario Draghi and all the other European spin masters.” And just as expected, yesterday Rome was bailed out.

As Reuters reported, Matteo Renzi’s new Italian government on Friday approved an emergency decree to bail out Rome city council whose mayor had warned the capital would have to halt essential services unless it got financial help.

The decree transfers 570 million euros ($787 million) to the city to pay the salaries of municipal workers and ensure services such as public transport and garbage collection. Renzi, under pressure from critics who say Rome is getting favorable treatment, attached conditions to the bailout.


Rome must spell out how it will rein in its debt, justify its current levels of staff, seek more efficient ways of running its public services and sell off some of its real estate, the government decree said. Rome’s finances have been in a parlous state for years and it has debts of almost 14 billion euros which it plans to pay off gradually by 2048.


The city has around 25,000 employees of its own with another 30,000 or so working for some 20 municipal companies providing services running from electricity to garbage collection. ATAC, which runs the city’s loss-making buses and metros, employs more than 12,000 staff, almost as many as national airline Alitalia. Rome’s administrators say it needs help with extra costs associated with housing the central government, such as ensuring public order for political demonstrations, and to provide services for millions of tourists.

Here is the punchline, about Rome’s viability, not to mention Italy’s and Europe’s solvency:

The city of some 2.6 million people has been bailed out by the central government each year since 2008.

What is certain is that this year will not be the last one Rome is bailed out either. In fact, it will continue getting rescued for years to come because contrary to the propaganda, the Italian economy continues to get worse with every passing month, yields on Italian bonds notwithstanding.

Ansa reports that in January the Italian unemployment rate rose to a record 12.9%, and that “reducing Italy’s “shocking” rate of unemployment must be the government’s highest priority, Premier Matteo Renzi said Friday.” How, by pretending everything is ok, kicking the Roman can and hoping things improve by bailing out anyone that is insolvent?

Youth unemployment is particularly vicious, with an average rate of 42.4% in January for people aged 15-24, the highest since 1977, Istat reported on Friday. Reflecting the hard times, Istat also reported that the number of people in Italy who have given up the search for work is still growing. The so-called “discouraged”, who have surrendered to the idea that there is no hope of finding employment, reached an average of 1.79 million people in 2013, growing by 11.6% over the previous year.

Putting 2013 in perspective, this is the year when according to national statistical agency Istat, some 478,000 jobs were lost in Italy in 2013, the worst year since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, with an average annual jobless rate of 12.2% last year. The new year got off to an even more dismal start, with the January jobless rate up 0.2 percentage points over December, Istat said.

Between 2008 and 2013, a total of 984,000 jobs in Italy were lost to the economic crisis – something that is “shocking,” Renzi posted on his Twitter account during a meeting of his cabinet.


“Unemployment is at 12.9%. Shocking numbers, the highest for 35 years,” tweeted Renzi, who has previously described Italy’s unemployment rates as “merciless and devastating”.

And then comes the hope and prayer of change:

“That’s why the first measure will be the Jobs Act,” which Renzi, who formed his executive only one week ago, proposed last month before the leader of the Democratic Party (PD) became premier. Earlier this week, Renzi said he would have his labour reforms and job-boosting measures, based on the Jobs Act, ready before a bilateral summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel next month.


Fast action is needed promote business investment, improve labour market efficiency while cutting relevant taxes, Labour Minister Giuliano Poletti said after Friday’s cabinet meeting.


One of the main aims of Renzi’s Jobs Act would be to simplify Italy’s labour system, eliminating many parts of the current myriad of work contracts and lay-off benefits. A key proposal of the package Renzi announced last month, before unseating his PD colleague Enrico Letta as premier and taking the helm of government, is to have a single employment contract with job protection measures growing with seniority.


At present, older workers with regular contracts tend to enjoy extremely high levels of job protection, while young people are often forced to accept temporary contracts or other forms of freelance employment that guarantee them few rights and little job security. The current system has been blamed for making firms reluctant to hire, as it is so hard to dismiss workers once they are on the books, and contributing to the high levels of joblessness, especially among the young. Making the task for Renzi’s government more difficult are grim economic forecasts.


Earlier this week, the European Commission forecast growth in the Italian economy will be weaker this year than previously forecast and the country’s debt as a percentage of gross domestic product will rise in 2014. The EC revised down Italy’s 2014 growth forecast to 0.60% but said 2015 looks brighter, as stronger consumer confidence and external demand boost the economy. It also warned that the jobless rate this year will likely be worse than expected, lowering its forecast to an average 12.6% unemployment for 2014 due to weak labour market conditions and still sluggish demand.

Finally, if all of that fails, there is always war to grow insolvent economies in a Keynesian world. Such as the now annual attempt to stir conflit in the middla east, and, as of this week, Ukraine. Fingers crossed for Italy, and the rest of the “developed world” the Keynesian priests get what they have so long been hoping for.


via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Damon Root: Campaign Finance and Affirmative Action Rulings Coming Soon from SCOTUS

In October 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral
arguments in a pair of cases dealing with two of the most
contentious issues in modern American politics: campaign finance
and affirmative action. In anticipation of the Supreme Court’s
forthcoming decisions in these hot-button cases, Senior Editor
Damon Root offers a quick primer on the legal issues at stake in
McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission and Schuette
v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action

View this article.

from Hit & Run