Orbán Vows To Protect Hungarians As Turkey Opens “Refugee” Floodgate

Orbán Vows To Protect Hungarians As Turkey Opens “Refugee” Floodgate

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has vowed to protect his people as Turkey once again opened the floodgates of refugees heading to Europe.

Amid an escalation in Syria following an airstrike which killed 33 Turkish troops, Ankara announced that it would no longer hold back the wave of people attempting to reach Europe.

Almost immediately, videos showed migrants heading towards the borders of Greece and Bulgaria as well as Turkey’s Aegean coast.



Ankara is once again using migrants as a weapon in a bid to accomplish its geopolitical goals, illustrating how so-called “refugees” can only have a massively negative impact on the countries they enter.

Orbán responded by vowing to stand strong against the threat.

“Despite all the attention the coronavirus is attracting, migration remains a historical challenge,” he said. “The upward flow [of migrants] from the south is a historical trend, and we stand in the way.”

“Where will the flow from the south be stopped?” asked Orbán. ” I have always maintained that the invasion of migratory masses is wave-like.”

“We must expect another migratory wave and mass attack on the Hungarian border fence, [and] the Hungarian border must be protected,” he added.

With the migrants also representing another possible vector for the spread of coronavirus, Europe is facing a massive twin threat.

“Hungary’s border and the Hungarian people must be protected,” a spokesman for the Hungarian government told Breitbart.

Meanwhile, as Coronavirus continues to spread around Europe, Hungary is testing arrivals from Italy for symptoms of the illness.

That differs from the UK, where arrivals from Italy just walk straight into the country with no tests whatsoever.

So far, there have been zero cases of coronavirus in Hungary, unlike the rest of Europe where numerous countries recorded their first cases of the virus as a result of carriers entering from Italy.

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Tyler Durden

Sun, 03/01/2020 – 08:10

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2TswCUT Tyler Durden

Silver Linings Playbook: 119 People Quarantined In A Brothel In Spain

Silver Linings Playbook: 119 People Quarantined In A Brothel In Spain

Of all the places to be quarantined, a brothel in Valencia, Spain, might not be the worst. You’ve got booze, you’ve likely got a small buffet of fried foods and you’ve got entertainment.

But in all seriousness, that was exactly the case a day ago when authorities found that a woman working at the “La Selva Negra” brothel had tested positive for coronavirus. The findings forced authorities to quarantine the premises and the 86 customers that were inside.

The employee, who is now in the hospital, had “slept with several clients that same night,” according to a translated blog post on the story. 

In addition to the customers, the club’s owners, waitresses, security and cleaning crew were also quarantined. When added to the total of 86 customers, it makes 119 people under quarantine. They have been asked to “keep calm” and to just “live a normal life” inside the premises.

That may be easier for some of the patrons than they’d like to admit.

And for all those guys who told their wives they were going to a wine tasting with their buddies and instead went to the brothel, the news may be worse than coronavirus – you’re officially busted. 


Tyler Durden

Sun, 03/01/2020 – 07:35

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/39f5Ndk Tyler Durden

Assange Extradition: Can A French Touch Pierce A Neo-Orwellian Farce?

Assange Extradition: Can A French Touch Pierce A Neo-Orwellian Farce?

Authored by Pepe Escobar via ConsortiumNews.com,

It’s quite fitting that the – imperially pre-determined – judicial fate of Julian Assange is being played out in Britain, the home of George Orwell. 

As chronicled by the painful, searing reports of Ambassador Craig Murray, what’s taking place in Woolwich Crown Court is a sub-Orwellian farce with Conradian overtones: the horror…the horror…, remixed for the Raging Twenties. The heart of our moral darkness is not in the Congo: it’s in a dingy courtroom attached to a prison, presided by a lowly imperial lackey.

In one of Michel Onfray’s books published last year, “Theorie de la Dictature” (Robert Laffont) – the top dissident, politically incorrect French philosopher starts exactly from Orwell to examine the key features of a new-look dictatorship. He tracks seven paths of destruction: to destroy freedom, impoverish language, abolish truth, suppress history, deny nature, propagate hate, and aspire to empire.

Michel Onfray in 2009. (Alexandre López, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

To destroy freedom, Onfray stresses, power needs to assure perpetual surveillance; ruin personal life; suppress solitude; make opinion uniform and denounce thought crimes. That sounds like the road map for the United States government’s persecution of Assange. 

Other paths, as in impoverishing language, include practicing newspeak; using double language; destroying words; oralizing language; speaking a single language; and suppressing the classics. That sounds like the modus operandi of the ruling classes in the Hegemon. 

To abolish truth, power must teach ideology; instrumentalize the press; propagate fake news; and produce reality. To propagate hate, power, among other instruments, must create an enemy; foment wars; and psychiatrize critical thinking.        

There’s no question we are already mired deep inside this neo-Orwellian dystopia. 

John “Paradise Lost” Milton, in 1642, could not have been more prophetic, when he wrote “Those that hurt the eyes of the people blame them for being blind.” How not to identify a direct parallel with Le Petit Roi Emmanuel Macron’s army, month after month, willfully blinding protesting Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vests in the streets of France. 

Orwell was more straightforward than Milton, saying that to talk about freedom is meaningless unless it refers to the freedom to tell people what they don’t want to hear. And he put it in context by quoting a line from Milton: “By the known rules of ancient liberty.”

No “known rules of ancient liberty” are allowed to penetrate the heart of darkness of Woolwich Crown Court. 

A Spy at the Service of the People

Juan Branco is arguably the most brilliant young French intellectual – heir to a fine Sartre/Foucault/Deleuze tradition. The French establishment detests him, especially because of his best-seller “Crepuscule,” where he dissected Macronism – branded as a thuggish regime – from the inside, and the French president as a creature and instrument of a tiny oligarchy.

Julian Assange. (YouTube still)

He has just published Assange: L’Antisouverain” (Les Editions du Cerf), an absorbing, erudite study that he defines as “a philosophy book about the figure of the Anti-Sovereign.” The Sovereign is of course the state apparatus.

Here (in French) is an excellent interview with Branco about the book. There’s nothing even remotely comparable to it in the Anglosphere, which has treated Assange essentially as an unpleasant freak, oozing pedestrian slander and piling up sub-ideology tirades disguised as facts. 

The book is essentially structured as a seminary for the hyper-selective Ecole Normale Superieure, the august school in the Latin Quarter here that shapes French elites, a privileged nest of power institutions and reproduction of privileges. Branco takes the reader to the heart of this universe just to make him or her discover Assange from the point of view of one of those students.

Branco was privileged to profit from the interaction between the Ecole Normale Superieure and Yale. He met Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in January 2014, “in a state of radical confinement,” and then followed him as a juridical consultant, then lawyer, “day after day,” until meeting him again in September 2016, “getting ready to no less than change the course of the American presidential election and engineer the fall of the one who had sworn to crush him, one Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

Branco is fascinated by Assange’s “scientific journalism,” and his capacity to “intervene in the political space without occupying a determined place.” Assange is painted as a contemporary oracle, a maniac for free access to information, someone who “never looked for a reward, or insertion, or juridical protection,” which is a totally different modus operandi from any media.   

2016 portrait of Juan Branco. (Yale University, Wikimedia Commons)

Branco shows how WikiLeaks “allowed whistleblowers to act,” by growing an archive parallel to the “production of data related to the mechanism of contemporary power apparatuses.” Under this framework “every citizen is able to become a researcher.”

So, Assange’s work has been about redistributing power. It’s as if Assange had become a “spy at the service of the people.” And that leads Branco to draw the connection with the Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vests. WikiLeaks releasing the “Macron Leaks” in 2017 legitimized the Yellow Vest struggle for direct democracy.

Branco describes Assange as “a strange figure, a bridge between the pre-history of digital civilization and its definitive penetration as a primordial, structural element of political and social space.”

But arguably his best appraisal is of Assange as “a dissident of his own internal space, mostly interested by the sphere of cultural, economic and social domination in which he was born, that of the American imperium, of which his native Australia is one of the most dedicated allies, and that dominates this cyber-space where he constituted himself as a political actor.”

In what could be construed as the top reason for the United States government’s unbounded thirst for vengeance against Assange, he challenged the fact that “American acts have a natural regulatory function for the rest of the world, a result of their over-dominance of the contemporary geopolitical space.”

It’s All in the Algorithm

And that brings us to the heart of the matter: algorithms. As Branco synthesizes it, the “revelation of raw documents aims at reinvesting in the political space those that have been discarded because of their submission to a word of authority whose algorithms have been masked.”

A view from the Member’s Gallery inside the New York Stock Exchange, August 2008. (Ryan Lawler, Wikimedia Commons)

Onfray had already warned about “destroying words,” “impoverishing language” and clinging to newspeak  – but Branco takes it to a new level. Because “the word of power is a word assimilated to the algorithm, in the sense that it benefits from a presumption of truth, it does not reveal, to remain effective, any of its assets, settling to enounce a reality impossible to contest.”

Branco is careful to explain that, “Algorithm would not have become a social power without the support of an ethical presupposition (the consecration of Homo Economicus), a postulation towards scientificism (thus to universality) and a technological rupture (big data).”  

Branco breaks it down to the formula “Algorithmization is the foundation of sovereignty.” And that’s exactly what Assange challenged. And that’s why he’s such a divisive, eternally controversial figure, unlike Edward Snowden, who’s basically an average guy – with a sterling IQ – who simply wants to reform a system.

A Chance for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity?

When he worked on behalf of Assange, Branco essentially coordinated a team of lawyers responding to star judge Baltasar Garzon, who was present at Woolwich Crown Court earlier this week. Last week, Assange’s legal team said they would apply for asylum in France. Branco can’t possibly be part of the team because of “Crepuscule” – which eviscerates Macron.

President Emmanuel Macron celebrating France’s victory over Croatia in the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow. (Kremlin)

Le Petit Roi, for his part, may now be presented with the ultimate global reach P.R. opportunity. Ending a ghastly neo-Orwellian charade, offering asylum to Assange, and ridiculing Trump and Boris Johnson at the same time would enhance his status in myriad European latitudes and all across the Global South.

Yet there should be no illusions. On July 3, 2015, advised by his legal team, Assange wrote an op-ed for Le Monde asking about the possibility of asylum. Only one hour after publication the Elysee Palace – under Francois Hollande – issued a firm denial. There were no leaks on what kind of pressure was applied by the U.S. Deep State.

Assange lawyer Geoffrey Robertson is under no illusions: “He won’t be pardoned by President Trump, although [a future] President Sanders might do so. I think that’s the objective of the Pentagon — to put him in prison for the rest of his life.”

A measure of the cowardice of all those established newspapers who profited handsomely from the work of Assange and WikiLeaks is this despicable Le Monde editorial that half-heartedly pretends to defend him as a journalist and publisher.

It’s idle to expect from Anglo-American corporate media even a modicum of decency to admit that journalists must not be treated as spies and dangerous criminals. Criminalization of critical thinking – capable of provoking, unmasking and denouncing raw power — is a key plank of the new dictatorship examined by Onfray, and already in effect. Now it comes down to Onfray and Branco not to be lost in translation – and forcefully demonstrate to the Anglosphere that the heart of darkness must not be allowed to prevail.


Tyler Durden

Sun, 03/01/2020 – 07:00

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/3ckjzNZ Tyler Durden

The Truth Could Set Them Free

In late 2006, a public defender went before a Napa County judge to argue for his client’s freedom. Rex McCurdy, a 49-year-old man, had been detained for seven years at Atascadero State Hospital under a 1995 California law authorizing “civil commitment” of people who have been convicted of sex offenses, a practice that keeps them confined long after they have completed their sentences.

In 1983, McCurdy had pleaded guilty to a rape, for which he served two years in state prison. In 1990, he was convicted of a burglary and served another six years. In 1998, McCurdy says he was brought in on a parole violation for living too close to a school, contrary to his conditions of release. Prosecutors used that violation and the two prior convictions to get McCurdy classified as a “sexually violent predator” (SVP), he says. That designation let them civilly commit him to Atascadero, much the way people with mental health issues can be locked up when they are deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Seven years after McCurdy was committed, his lawyer, Jim McEntee, was trying to persuade a judge that his client was a low risk to reoffend. If he failed, McCurdy would be confined at the hospital indefinitely. Fortunately, the lawyer had heard of evidence that might tip the scales: a study done at Atascadero itself that could help his client.

McEntee called as a witness Jesus Padilla, one of Atascadero’s psychologists. Padilla was four years into a study of ex-offenders classified as SVPs who had been released on technical grounds. Padilla had tracked them to find out their recidivism rates, which he presumed would be high.

What he discovered would undermine the basic premise of civilly committing people with sex crime records. In his sworn testimony before the judge and an October 10, 2006, memo, Padilla explained that of the 93 ex-offenders he and a colleague had tracked, just six had been rearrested for an alleged sexual crime after about five years in the community. That amounts to an astonishingly low rearrest rate of 6.5 percent. By comparison, a 2018 study by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 49 percent of all state prisoners were arrested again for the same type of offense within five years of their release. 

The recidivism rate that Padilla found for SVPs did not square with the 1995 law that created the program, which had called the people it targeted a “small but extremely dangerous [group of] sexually violent predators.” In short, the study called into question the legitimacy of the entire $270-million-a-year civil commitment program.

Shortly after his testimony, Padilla’s study was abruptly terminated. His records were confiscated, his hard copies were shredded, and he was forbidden to talk about his work. At first he pushed back and even tried to continue on his own. But as he explained in 2009, “It’s too hard to fight the system, you know.” In 2013, Padilla died of stomach cancer, his research unfinished. The whole incident might have been forgotten, if not for the work of law professors Tamara Rice Lave and Franklin Zimring, who excavated Padilla’s work in a 2018 American Criminal Law Review article and brought to light the ways in which the state tried to ensure that knowledge of it would die with him.

California’s civil commitment program is the biggest in the country, holding 15 percent of those detained nationwide—so a great deal rides on understanding whether it is actually achieving its goals. Yet for decades it has operated under the cover of unexamined assumptions, and the authorities apparently prefer it that way.

What Is a ‘Sexually Violent Predator’?

The Constitution’s Fifth and 14th amendments bar punishing someone twice for the same crime. A 1997 Supreme Court decision gets around that prohibition by permitting states to confine certain sex offenders not for their old crimes but for those they might commit.

In Kansas v. Hendricks, the Court created special rules for people with sex offense records who suffer from a “mental abnormality” or “mental illness” that makes it “difficult, if not impossible,” for them to control their behavior. The decision framed civil commitment not as punishment but as treatment. The justices took at face value the core assumption in the preamble to Kansas’ civil commitment law: that this group’s likelihood of committing new offenses is exceptionally high.

Today, 21 states and the federal government have civil commitment laws for people who have been convicted of sex crimes. Among them, they hold about 6,000 “sexually violent predators” in indefinite detention. California alone holds about 900. To qualify as an SVP under California’s law, a person must have committed at least one crime of sexual violence, and the state has to prove the offender has a diagnosed mental disorder that makes it “likely” he will reoffend.

The classification process begins six months before an inmate is scheduled to be released from prison. The California Department of Corrections screens inmates’ records and refers those who might qualify as sexually violent predators to the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) for evaluation. If two evaluators concur that an inmate meets the SVP criteria, the DSH refers the case to a district attorney, the D.A. brings the case to court for a civil commitment trial, and a jury decides whether the person meets the law’s criteria.

While the process may sound clear-cut, it is actually a dragnet that catches all manner of ex-offenders. The definition of a mental disorder that makes a person likely to reoffend is designed to include the broadest possible range of conditions. A 1998 American Psychiatric Association report concluded that “sexual predator commitment laws represent a serious assault on the integrity of psychiatry, particularly with regard to defining mental illness and the clinical conditions for compulsory treatment.”

A rich vein of psychiatric literature has documented the ambiguities of diagnosing mental illness and predicting dangerousness when it comes to forcing people into institutions. A 1998 Massachusetts study, for example, found that mental hospitals involuntarily detained patients with insurance 40 percent to 100 percent longer than those without. “Over thirty years of commentary, judicial opinion, and scientific review argue that predictions of danger lack scientific rigor,” University of Georgia law professor Alexander Scherr noted in a 2003 Hastings Law Journal article. “Scientific studies indicate that some predictions do little better than chance or lay speculation, and even the best predictions leave substantial room for error about individual cases. The sharpest critique finds that mental health professionals perform no better than chance at predicting violence, and perhaps perform even worse.”

Civil commitment of sex offenders fares no better. Recent studies of people referred for civil commitment and released or never committed for technical reasons found reoffense rates ranging from about 3 to 11 percent. A 2013 review that Florida commissioned of its civil commitment program concluded that “for those deemed to be so dangerous that they may be committed indefinitely—and cared for at great expense to the state—[the] false positive rate appears high.” While defending his state’s SVP commitment program in 2015, Mark Dayton, then the governor of Minnesota, conceded that “it’s really impossible to predict whether or not [sex offenders] are at risk to reoffend.”

Ultimately, the determination about whether an individual is likely to reoffend is made by a jury, not a clinician. That lowers the bar dramatically: In one survey of jurors who had served in Texas civil commitment trials, nearly 54 percent defined a 1 percent chance of reoffending as “likely.” That rate is actually lower than the likelihood that an offender with no sex crime convictions will commit such a crime, which ranges from 1 percent to 3 percent in studies with follow-up periods ranging from three to four and a half years.

Cases like McCurdy’s, in which a decades-old offense is used to argue that someone is still dangerous, are not uncommon in California, according to San Bernardino County public defender Jeff Lowry, who has spent 19 years representing SVPs. A person with a sex offense from 10 or more years ago might be rearrested on a nonsexual charge, Lowry said in a 2013 presentation—it might even be something like a probation violation for drinking alcohol. The person then gets referred through the system as a possible SVP. When the decision comes before a jury, the phrase sexually violent predator—a legal term, not a clinical one—puts the defendant in a big hole out of the gate. When it’s first used, Lowry said in the presentation, “you can feel the atmosphere in the entire courtroom change.”

That’s why, Lowry tells me, he always introduces a motion to have the defendant referred to at trial as a “6600”—referring to the relevant portion of the law—instead of a “sexually violent predator.” The maneuver has worked only once, however. “Every judge says, ‘The legislature chose to use that term, so that’s the term that we’re going to use,'” Lowry says.

Defendants don’t stand much chance. There does not appear to be any research on how often the prosecution wins in civil commitment hearings with juries, but in state cases Lowry estimates the rate is about 90 percent. At the federal level, he says, it’s closer to 45 percent because judges rather than juries make the decision.

Padilla’s Odyssey

Under Kansas v. Hendricks, once people are locked up, the state has to offer them treatment. In theory, this offers a chance of release. In practice, some states almost never release SVPs. In 2002, Padilla had launched an effort to evaluate Atascadero’s treatment program and figure out whether it was actually reducing recidivism among those treated and then let out.

Padilla wasn’t looking to undermine the program. Quite the opposite, according to several people who knew him. In civil commitment hearings, he was “primarily if not exclusively an expert witness for prosecutors,” says Brian Abbott, a forensic psychologist in San Jose who often serves as a defense expert witness in sex offense cases. Marian Gaston, a former public defender who is now a California Superior Court judge, says by email that Padilla was “a big advocate of a particular diagnosis for rapists that I thought was specious, but he was very smart and believed in the work he was doing.” He was “a worthy adversary, I guess you could say.”

Some ex-offenders take a dimmer view. Mike St. Martin, civilly committed since 2002, says Padilla was strongly biased in favor of keeping people locked up. McCurdy claims that in his own commitment trial, several state evaluators concluded he was a low risk and should be released. He says Padilla, who was also on the evaluation team, was the only holdout.

According to Lave and Zimring’s masterful reconstruction, Padilla started working with an Atascadero social worker named Kabe Russell on what was planned as a 15-year study. At the time, California’s civil commitment program was the only one in the country to limit SVP commitments to two years; all other states with civil commitment allowed indefinite confinement. So every two years, the state had to prove to a judge that the person was still dangerous. California had consequently been forced by the courts to let out a trickle of detainees. (Voters have since enacted a ballot measure that allows indefinite confinement.)

By comparing the reoffense rate of Atascadero detainees who had been released after receiving treatment with the rate of those who were released without treatment, Padilla and Russell could test whether the hospital’s treatment program was working. “This is what any good program does,” Padilla would say at a 2011 hearing. “You say, ‘Well, we are treating sex offenders. How good is our program?'” Padilla and Russell planned to report their results every five years.

They expected—possibly hoped—to find high reoffense rates for the group released without treatment. “I’m hopeful that this data will confirm the importance of providing supervision and treatment for this high-risk group of patients,” Russell wrote to a program supervisor in 2004. Padilla later said he had expected the recidivism rates to be in the range of 37 percent to 38 percent over five years, consistent with predictions from a risk assessment done on the inmates.

That might be why Padilla and Russell went to extraordinary lengths to get solid data: They did not want to miss any new crimes committed by SVPs who were released. They could not get data from the state’s criminal history database without permission, so they went to Atascadero’s umbrella agency, the Department of Mental Health (DMH, a precursor to the DSH), which appointed someone to get them access. Melvin Hunter, the hospital’s executive director, approved the study design in 2004.

Padilla and Russell checked the state’s sex offender registry to see where the inmates who had been released were registered, then sent letters and made follow-up calls to the prosecutors in those counties, asking whether the ex-inmates had been rearrested. For anyone who had left the state, they checked FBI reports for rearrests.

The Investigators Get Investigated

Padilla and Russell were about two years into their data collection when McCurdy’s lawyer made his motion seeking their results. Padilla and the state resisted. “I said, ‘No, it’s privileged information,'” protected by the federal medical privacy law, Padilla remembered in 2009 testimony. But the judge ruled against him.

It turned out Padilla had good reason to fight the motion: After his resulting 2006 memo, the state turned on him. The director of the hospital’s SVP civil commitment program, George Bukowski, had OKed the study. Now he had been replaced by Jon de Morales, who accused Padilla and Russell of illegally accessing the state criminal history database, according to Padilla’s 2009 testimony.

Padilla showed de Morales he had authorization from the top to use the database. Nonetheless, in December 2006, Atascadero’s umbrella agency, the DMH, appointed an investigator to look into whether Padilla and Russell had illegally accessed the information. After a six-month ordeal, they were cleared. “My understanding was [Padilla] was pretty much taken aback by the negative reaction,” says Abbott, the forensic psychologist.

Worse was on the way. In June 2007, Hunter, the hospital’s chief executive, who had signed off on Padilla’s study, abruptly retired with no explanation. He was replaced by de Morales. Three days after taking over, de Morales sent Padilla a memo saying his study had been terminated and he was not authorized to use the data he had collected for publication, research, testimony, or any other purpose. Padilla was forced to turn over the electronic copy of his data and the boxes containing his backup information, all of which, he recounted in 2009, the department destroyed.

Padilla and Russell tried to keep going without the data they had collected. They reapplied to Atascadero for permission to continue. The hospital sent them to the DMH, which sent them to its own umbrella agency, the California Health and Human Services Agency, which sent them back to the DMH, which sent them back to Atascadero. Two years into the process, de Morales shut them down for good, telling the pair in a memo that they would not be given permission, because “neither [the hospital] nor DMH would permit ‘volunteers’ to conduct this research.”

Why did Padilla keep trying after the hospital shut him down? “I think what was driving him was that he wanted to know—he genuinely wanted to know—whether or not these people were dangerous,” Lave says. In his 2009 testimony, Padilla said he could have gone to then–Attorney General Jerry Brown and tried to convince him the state needed to look at the data. But he eventually gave up. “I got tired of pursuing it,” he said in his testimony, and now much of the information was “gone forever.”

De Morales retired in 2011. Contacted for comment, he responded by email. “Lave and Zimring did a good job with their analysis of predator commitment statutes,” he wrote. “However, the issue of access to [the state criminal database], Mel Hunter’s termination and whether or not the state/dept had a political or economic interest in quashing this ‘study’ is bogus.” He refused to comment further without approval from the state. When DSH was contacted to request that approval, spokesperson Ralph Montano said the agency was “unable to grant or deny a request for an interview with a former employee.”

Most other players in the story were unavailable for interviews. Hunter died in 2012 at 65. Russell, who owns a photography studio in the town of Atascadero, did not respond to requests for comment. Bukowski, the civil commitment director who approved the study, died in 2007 of leukemia. Two other people in Atascadero’s leadership who Padilla said knew of the study—Craig Nelson, who headed the treatment program, and Brenda Epperly, who headed the sex offender commitment program—did not respond to letters sent to their latest addresses.

By the time Atascadero shut down Padilla, it was too late to stop his data from being used in SVP cases. In a 2012 memo to defense lawyers, Abbott noted that under state standards the Padilla study was considered peer reviewed and therefore credible in court. At least two defense lawyers later called on Padilla to testify about his research while challenging their clients’ civil commitments. Gaston says Padilla’s testimony was part of the evidence that led a judge to find that one of her clients no longer met the SVP criteria.

Excavating Padilla’s Work

In 2011, when Lave and Zimring started what became a seven-year effort to discover what had happened to Padilla’s study, they found out what he had been up against. Lave is a University of Miami law professor, and one of her research interests is sex offense civil commitment law. Zimring, author of many books on criminal justice, directs the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law’s criminal justice studies program.

Lave and Zimring heard about Padilla and interviewed him by phone. Then they sent a freedom of information request to the DSH asking about Padilla’s data. They got back a letter from a staff lawyer saying the department was “unable to verify any study conducted by Jesus Padilla, PhD.” The DSH agreed to consider their request only after they sent the department a copy of Padilla’s original research proposal, which showed that the hospital’s top administrators had signed off on the study.

After months of wrangling, the agency turned over the data in mid-2012. But when Lave showed it to Padilla, he said the agency had tampered with the files, making the numbers unusable. Against de Morales’ orders, he said, he had kept his original data file. But he would not turn it over to Lave and Zimring, because the agency had ordered him not to, an instruction he abided by to the end.

Padilla did promise to use his original file to help Lave and Zimring restore the damaged data. But by then it was too late—he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. When Lave met him in Atascadero in summer 2013, he was too weak to work with her. He died later that year. Lave and Zimring went to Russell for help, but he told them he did not remember the files well enough and would not look at them. All that’s left today of the study is Padilla’s October 2006 memorandum describing the results.

Even today, the DSH seems reluctant to acknowledge that Padilla’s study took place. Asked to respond to Lave and Zimring’s contention that the agency quashed it, Montano, the spokesman, said that “the study was allegedly conducted between 2004 and 2006” but that “the DSH was unable to validate the accuracy of the data that was recovered.” Asked whether the agency was denying the study’s existence (and, if so, to explain the data it provided to Lave and Zimring), Montano responded that the “DSH does not have records that indicate the Padilla study was completed.”

That, of course, is the point.

The Threat to Civil Commitment

Why deny the data? California’s program spends about $200,000 per inmate annually, according to 2016 data from the state’s sex offender management board—up almost 8 percent, adjusting for inflation, since 2005–06. The budget of the Coalinga State Hospital, which took over responsibility for SVPs from Atascadero in 2005, is $303 million for fiscal year 2019–20, up from $254 million four years earlier. Almost three-quarters of Coalinga’s patients are SVPs.

Low reoffense rates that undermine the program’s justification also might threaten a good chunk of the local economy. The hospital’s website notes that in the 2013–14 fiscal year, Coalinga bought some $15 million in goods and services from about 200 companies in the area.

Subsequent assessments of SVP civil commitment in other states comport with what Padilla found. A 2014 Minnesota study of 161 offenders referred for civil commitment but not actually committed found that just 6.5 percent were convicted of a new sex crime within four years of their release. In New Jersey, a 2013 study of 102 ex-offenders referred for SVP evaluation but ultimately not committed found that 10.5 percent were convicted of a new sex offense during an average follow-up period of six and a half years. A 2009 Texas study of 1,928 offenders screened for possible civil commitment as SVPs found that 3.2 percent were arrested for a new sex crime—a looser standard than reconviction—during follow-up periods that averaged nearly five years. A 2013 review of Florida’s civil commitment program cited state research involving 710 offenders who were recommended for civil commitment but released for various reasons between 1999 and 2013; 10 percent were subsequently charged with “a sexually motivated offense involving a victim” during followup periods of up to 14 years, depending on when offenders were released.

These data call into question the assumption at the heart of Hendricks v. Kansas. If SVP recidivism is not highly likely, as the Supreme Court assumed, the whole civil commitment scheme for getting around the Constitution’s ban on double jeopardy falls.

When California’s proposed SVP law was debated in 1995, the California Psychological Association, the Forensic Mental Health Association, and the California Psychiatric Association all came out against it, partly because of due process concerns. That last group argued in its legislative testimony that “mental health treatment facilities cannot be used as a gulag.”

One expert who has observed the growth of the state’s civil commitment program from the inside regrets what it has become. Janice Marques, a former DMH researcher whose work on recidivism is widely cited, is a founding member and former president of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. Marques also was involved in the first legislative hearings on California’s 1995 SVP law. The civil commitment program “was never expected to be as large and as encompassing as it is,” she tells me. “The high recidivism rate just hasn’t panned out….It’s just so difficult once you set something like this up to get rid of it.”

California Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes, a Democrat, introduced legislation signed by the governor last fall that reforms the SVP program by limiting continuances in civil commitment trials. But that response falls far short of eliminating the program altogether.

For their part, Lave and Zimring are calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to resurrect the Padilla study, which by now would have a long follow-up period. They would like to find out how many detainees released from the state’s civil commitment program without treatment have committed new crimes.

Without such a follow-up, California’s program will never be held to account. Even the rare legislators like Cervantes who pay attention to the program don’t seem inclined to touch the heart of the issue. In the absence of new data, inertia will compel the state to continue spending money on a program for which there appears to be little need.

One prisoner-cum-patient who has not been arrested for a new sex crime is Rex McCurdy. Padilla’s memo may have helped him: Following more legal wrangling, McCurdy says, he was released from Coalinga in 2009 after a judge ruled that he was no longer a danger. He moved to Spokane and opened an art studio, then returned home to Napa in 2019. Now 64, he lives on family property he co-owns.

The California sex offender registry still lists McCurdy as a “sexually violent predator.” That label, which the state applied to him a decade and a half after his sex crime, nearly condemned him to a lifetime of imprisonment.

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The Truth Could Set Them Free

In late 2006, a public defender went before a Napa County judge to argue for his client’s freedom. Rex McCurdy, a 49-year-old man, had been detained for seven years at Atascadero State Hospital under a 1995 California law authorizing “civil commitment” of people who have been convicted of sex offenses, a practice that keeps them confined long after they have completed their sentences.

In 1983, McCurdy had pleaded guilty to a rape, for which he served two years in state prison. In 1990, he was convicted of a burglary and served another six years. In 1998, McCurdy says he was brought in on a parole violation for living too close to a school, contrary to his conditions of release. Prosecutors used that violation and the two prior convictions to get McCurdy classified as a “sexually violent predator” (SVP), he says. That designation let them civilly commit him to Atascadero, much the way people with mental health issues can be locked up when they are deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Seven years after McCurdy was committed, his lawyer, Jim McEntee, was trying to persuade a judge that his client was a low risk to reoffend. If he failed, McCurdy would be confined at the hospital indefinitely. Fortunately, the lawyer had heard of evidence that might tip the scales: a study done at Atascadero itself that could help his client.

McEntee called as a witness Jesus Padilla, one of Atascadero’s psychologists. Padilla was four years into a study of ex-offenders classified as SVPs who had been released on technical grounds. Padilla had tracked them to find out their recidivism rates, which he presumed would be high.

What he discovered would undermine the basic premise of civilly committing people with sex crime records. In his sworn testimony before the judge and an October 10, 2006, memo, Padilla explained that of the 93 ex-offenders he and a colleague had tracked, just six had been rearrested for an alleged sexual crime after about five years in the community. That amounts to an astonishingly low rearrest rate of 6.5 percent. By comparison, a 2018 study by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 49 percent of all state prisoners were arrested again for the same type of offense within five years of their release. 

The recidivism rate that Padilla found for SVPs did not square with the 1995 law that created the program, which had called the people it targeted a “small but extremely dangerous [group of] sexually violent predators.” In short, the study called into question the legitimacy of the entire $270-million-a-year civil commitment program.

Shortly after his testimony, Padilla’s study was abruptly terminated. His records were confiscated, his hard copies were shredded, and he was forbidden to talk about his work. At first he pushed back and even tried to continue on his own. But as he explained in 2009, “It’s too hard to fight the system, you know.” In 2013, Padilla died of stomach cancer, his research unfinished. The whole incident might have been forgotten, if not for the work of law professors Tamara Rice Lave and Franklin Zimring, who excavated Padilla’s work in a 2018 American Criminal Law Review article and brought to light the ways in which the state tried to ensure that knowledge of it would die with him.

California’s civil commitment program is the biggest in the country, holding 15 percent of those detained nationwide—so a great deal rides on understanding whether it is actually achieving its goals. Yet for decades it has operated under the cover of unexamined assumptions, and the authorities apparently prefer it that way.

What Is a ‘Sexually Violent Predator’?

The Constitution’s Fifth and 14th amendments bar punishing someone twice for the same crime. A 1997 Supreme Court decision gets around that prohibition by permitting states to confine certain sex offenders not for their old crimes but for those they might commit.

In Kansas v. Hendricks, the Court created special rules for people with sex offense records who suffer from a “mental abnormality” or “mental illness” that makes it “difficult, if not impossible,” for them to control their behavior. The decision framed civil commitment not as punishment but as treatment. The justices took at face value the core assumption in the preamble to Kansas’ civil commitment law: that this group’s likelihood of committing new offenses is exceptionally high.

Today, 21 states and the federal government have civil commitment laws for people who have been convicted of sex crimes. Among them, they hold about 6,000 “sexually violent predators” in indefinite detention. California alone holds about 900. To qualify as an SVP under California’s law, a person must have committed at least one crime of sexual violence, and the state has to prove the offender has a diagnosed mental disorder that makes it “likely” he will reoffend.

The classification process begins six months before an inmate is scheduled to be released from prison. The California Department of Corrections screens inmates’ records and refers those who might qualify as sexually violent predators to the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) for evaluation. If two evaluators concur that an inmate meets the SVP criteria, the DSH refers the case to a district attorney, the D.A. brings the case to court for a civil commitment trial, and a jury decides whether the person meets the law’s criteria.

While the process may sound clear-cut, it is actually a dragnet that catches all manner of ex-offenders. The definition of a mental disorder that makes a person likely to reoffend is designed to include the broadest possible range of conditions. A 1998 American Psychiatric Association report concluded that “sexual predator commitment laws represent a serious assault on the integrity of psychiatry, particularly with regard to defining mental illness and the clinical conditions for compulsory treatment.”

A rich vein of psychiatric literature has documented the ambiguities of diagnosing mental illness and predicting dangerousness when it comes to forcing people into institutions. A 1998 Massachusetts study, for example, found that mental hospitals involuntarily detained patients with insurance 40 percent to 100 percent longer than those without. “Over thirty years of commentary, judicial opinion, and scientific review argue that predictions of danger lack scientific rigor,” University of Georgia law professor Alexander Scherr noted in a 2003 Hastings Law Journal article. “Scientific studies indicate that some predictions do little better than chance or lay speculation, and even the best predictions leave substantial room for error about individual cases. The sharpest critique finds that mental health professionals perform no better than chance at predicting violence, and perhaps perform even worse.”

Civil commitment of sex offenders fares no better. Recent studies of people referred for civil commitment and released or never committed for technical reasons found reoffense rates ranging from about 3 to 11 percent. A 2013 review that Florida commissioned of its civil commitment program concluded that “for those deemed to be so dangerous that they may be committed indefinitely—and cared for at great expense to the state—[the] false positive rate appears high.” While defending his state’s SVP commitment program in 2015, Mark Dayton, then the governor of Minnesota, conceded that “it’s really impossible to predict whether or not [sex offenders] are at risk to reoffend.”

Ultimately, the determination about whether an individual is likely to reoffend is made by a jury, not a clinician. That lowers the bar dramatically: In one survey of jurors who had served in Texas civil commitment trials, nearly 54 percent defined a 1 percent chance of reoffending as “likely.” That rate is actually lower than the likelihood that an offender with no sex crime convictions will commit such a crime, which ranges from 1 percent to 3 percent in studies with follow-up periods ranging from three to four and a half years.

Cases like McCurdy’s, in which a decades-old offense is used to argue that someone is still dangerous, are not uncommon in California, according to San Bernardino County public defender Jeff Lowry, who has spent 19 years representing SVPs. A person with a sex offense from 10 or more years ago might be rearrested on a nonsexual charge, Lowry said in a 2013 presentation—it might even be something like a probation violation for drinking alcohol. The person then gets referred through the system as a possible SVP. When the decision comes before a jury, the phrase sexually violent predator—a legal term, not a clinical one—puts the defendant in a big hole out of the gate. When it’s first used, Lowry said in the presentation, “you can feel the atmosphere in the entire courtroom change.”

That’s why, Lowry tells me, he always introduces a motion to have the defendant referred to at trial as a “6600”—referring to the relevant portion of the law—instead of a “sexually violent predator.” The maneuver has worked only once, however. “Every judge says, ‘The legislature chose to use that term, so that’s the term that we’re going to use,'” Lowry says.

Defendants don’t stand much chance. There does not appear to be any research on how often the prosecution wins in civil commitment hearings with juries, but in state cases Lowry estimates the rate is about 90 percent. At the federal level, he says, it’s closer to 45 percent because judges rather than juries make the decision.

Padilla’s Odyssey

Under Kansas v. Hendricks, once people are locked up, the state has to offer them treatment. In theory, this offers a chance of release. In practice, some states almost never release SVPs. In 2002, Padilla had launched an effort to evaluate Atascadero’s treatment program and figure out whether it was actually reducing recidivism among those treated and then let out.

Padilla wasn’t looking to undermine the program. Quite the opposite, according to several people who knew him. In civil commitment hearings, he was “primarily if not exclusively an expert witness for prosecutors,” says Brian Abbott, a forensic psychologist in San Jose who often serves as a defense expert witness in sex offense cases. Marian Gaston, a former public defender who is now a California Superior Court judge, says by email that Padilla was “a big advocate of a particular diagnosis for rapists that I thought was specious, but he was very smart and believed in the work he was doing.” He was “a worthy adversary, I guess you could say.”

Some ex-offenders take a dimmer view. Mike St. Martin, civilly committed since 2002, says Padilla was strongly biased in favor of keeping people locked up. McCurdy claims that in his own commitment trial, several state evaluators concluded he was a low risk and should be released. He says Padilla, who was also on the evaluation team, was the only holdout.

According to Lave and Zimring’s masterful reconstruction, Padilla started working with an Atascadero social worker named Kabe Russell on what was planned as a 15-year study. At the time, California’s civil commitment program was the only one in the country to limit SVP commitments to two years; all other states with civil commitment allowed indefinite confinement. So every two years, the state had to prove to a judge that the person was still dangerous. California had consequently been forced by the courts to let out a trickle of detainees. (Voters have since enacted a ballot measure that allows indefinite confinement.)

By comparing the reoffense rate of Atascadero detainees who had been released after receiving treatment with the rate of those who were released without treatment, Padilla and Russell could test whether the hospital’s treatment program was working. “This is what any good program does,” Padilla would say at a 2011 hearing. “You say, ‘Well, we are treating sex offenders. How good is our program?'” Padilla and Russell planned to report their results every five years.

They expected—possibly hoped—to find high reoffense rates for the group released without treatment. “I’m hopeful that this data will confirm the importance of providing supervision and treatment for this high-risk group of patients,” Russell wrote to a program supervisor in 2004. Padilla later said he had expected the recidivism rates to be in the range of 37 percent to 38 percent over five years, consistent with predictions from a risk assessment done on the inmates.

That might be why Padilla and Russell went to extraordinary lengths to get solid data: They did not want to miss any new crimes committed by SVPs who were released. They could not get data from the state’s criminal history database without permission, so they went to Atascadero’s umbrella agency, the Department of Mental Health (DMH, a precursor to the DSH), which appointed someone to get them access. Melvin Hunter, the hospital’s executive director, approved the study design in 2004.

Padilla and Russell checked the state’s sex offender registry to see where the inmates who had been released were registered, then sent letters and made follow-up calls to the prosecutors in those counties, asking whether the ex-inmates had been rearrested. For anyone who had left the state, they checked FBI reports for rearrests.

The Investigators Get Investigated

Padilla and Russell were about two years into their data collection when McCurdy’s lawyer made his motion seeking their results. Padilla and the state resisted. “I said, ‘No, it’s privileged information,'” protected by the federal medical privacy law, Padilla remembered in 2009 testimony. But the judge ruled against him.

It turned out Padilla had good reason to fight the motion: After his resulting 2006 memo, the state turned on him. The director of the hospital’s SVP civil commitment program, George Bukowski, had OKed the study. Now he had been replaced by Jon de Morales, who accused Padilla and Russell of illegally accessing the state criminal history database, according to Padilla’s 2009 testimony.

Padilla showed de Morales he had authorization from the top to use the database. Nonetheless, in December 2006, Atascadero’s umbrella agency, the DMH, appointed an investigator to look into whether Padilla and Russell had illegally accessed the information. After a six-month ordeal, they were cleared. “My understanding was [Padilla] was pretty much taken aback by the negative reaction,” says Abbott, the forensic psychologist.

Worse was on the way. In June 2007, Hunter, the hospital’s chief executive, who had signed off on Padilla’s study, abruptly retired with no explanation. He was replaced by de Morales. Three days after taking over, de Morales sent Padilla a memo saying his study had been terminated and he was not authorized to use the data he had collected for publication, research, testimony, or any other purpose. Padilla was forced to turn over the electronic copy of his data and the boxes containing his backup information, all of which, he recounted in 2009, the department destroyed.

Padilla and Russell tried to keep going without the data they had collected. They reapplied to Atascadero for permission to continue. The hospital sent them to the DMH, which sent them to its own umbrella agency, the California Health and Human Services Agency, which sent them back to the DMH, which sent them back to Atascadero. Two years into the process, de Morales shut them down for good, telling the pair in a memo that they would not be given permission, because “neither [the hospital] nor DMH would permit ‘volunteers’ to conduct this research.”

Why did Padilla keep trying after the hospital shut him down? “I think what was driving him was that he wanted to know—he genuinely wanted to know—whether or not these people were dangerous,” Lave says. In his 2009 testimony, Padilla said he could have gone to then–Attorney General Jerry Brown and tried to convince him the state needed to look at the data. But he eventually gave up. “I got tired of pursuing it,” he said in his testimony, and now much of the information was “gone forever.”

De Morales retired in 2011. Contacted for comment, he responded by email. “Lave and Zimring did a good job with their analysis of predator commitment statutes,” he wrote. “However, the issue of access to [the state criminal database], Mel Hunter’s termination and whether or not the state/dept had a political or economic interest in quashing this ‘study’ is bogus.” He refused to comment further without approval from the state. When DSH was contacted to request that approval, spokesperson Ralph Montano said the agency was “unable to grant or deny a request for an interview with a former employee.”

Most other players in the story were unavailable for interviews. Hunter died in 2012 at 65. Russell, who owns a photography studio in the town of Atascadero, did not respond to requests for comment. Bukowski, the civil commitment director who approved the study, died in 2007 of leukemia. Two other people in Atascadero’s leadership who Padilla said knew of the study—Craig Nelson, who headed the treatment program, and Brenda Epperly, who headed the sex offender commitment program—did not respond to letters sent to their latest addresses.

By the time Atascadero shut down Padilla, it was too late to stop his data from being used in SVP cases. In a 2012 memo to defense lawyers, Abbott noted that under state standards the Padilla study was considered peer reviewed and therefore credible in court. At least two defense lawyers later called on Padilla to testify about his research while challenging their clients’ civil commitments. Gaston says Padilla’s testimony was part of the evidence that led a judge to find that one of her clients no longer met the SVP criteria.

Excavating Padilla’s Work

In 2011, when Lave and Zimring started what became a seven-year effort to discover what had happened to Padilla’s study, they found out what he had been up against. Lave is a University of Miami law professor, and one of her research interests is sex offense civil commitment law. Zimring, author of many books on criminal justice, directs the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law’s criminal justice studies program.

Lave and Zimring heard about Padilla and interviewed him by phone. Then they sent a freedom of information request to the DSH asking about Padilla’s data. They got back a letter from a staff lawyer saying the department was “unable to verify any study conducted by Jesus Padilla, PhD.” The DSH agreed to consider their request only after they sent the department a copy of Padilla’s original research proposal, which showed that the hospital’s top administrators had signed off on the study.

After months of wrangling, the agency turned over the data in mid-2012. But when Lave showed it to Padilla, he said the agency had tampered with the files, making the numbers unusable. Against de Morales’ orders, he said, he had kept his original data file. But he would not turn it over to Lave and Zimring, because the agency had ordered him not to, an instruction he abided by to the end.

Padilla did promise to use his original file to help Lave and Zimring restore the damaged data. But by then it was too late—he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. When Lave met him in Atascadero in summer 2013, he was too weak to work with her. He died later that year. Lave and Zimring went to Russell for help, but he told them he did not remember the files well enough and would not look at them. All that’s left today of the study is Padilla’s October 2006 memorandum describing the results.

Even today, the DSH seems reluctant to acknowledge that Padilla’s study took place. Asked to respond to Lave and Zimring’s contention that the agency quashed it, Montano, the spokesman, said that “the study was allegedly conducted between 2004 and 2006” but that “the DSH was unable to validate the accuracy of the data that was recovered.” Asked whether the agency was denying the study’s existence (and, if so, to explain the data it provided to Lave and Zimring), Montano responded that the “DSH does not have records that indicate the Padilla study was completed.”

That, of course, is the point.

The Threat to Civil Commitment

Why deny the data? California’s program spends about $200,000 per inmate annually, according to 2016 data from the state’s sex offender management board—up almost 8 percent, adjusting for inflation, since 2005–06. The budget of the Coalinga State Hospital, which took over responsibility for SVPs from Atascadero in 2005, is $303 million for fiscal year 2019–20, up from $254 million four years earlier. Almost three-quarters of Coalinga’s patients are SVPs.

Low reoffense rates that undermine the program’s justification also might threaten a good chunk of the local economy. The hospital’s website notes that in the 2013–14 fiscal year, Coalinga bought some $15 million in goods and services from about 200 companies in the area.

Subsequent assessments of SVP civil commitment in other states comport with what Padilla found. A 2014 Minnesota study of 161 offenders referred for civil commitment but not actually committed found that just 6.5 percent were convicted of a new sex crime within four years of their release. In New Jersey, a 2013 study of 102 ex-offenders referred for SVP evaluation but ultimately not committed found that 10.5 percent were convicted of a new sex offense during an average follow-up period of six and a half years. A 2009 Texas study of 1,928 offenders screened for possible civil commitment as SVPs found that 3.2 percent were arrested for a new sex crime—a looser standard than reconviction—during follow-up periods that averaged nearly five years. A 2013 review of Florida’s civil commitment program cited state research involving 710 offenders who were recommended for civil commitment but released for various reasons between 1999 and 2013; 10 percent were subsequently charged with “a sexually motivated offense involving a victim” during followup periods of up to 14 years, depending on when offenders were released.

These data call into question the assumption at the heart of Hendricks v. Kansas. If SVP recidivism is not highly likely, as the Supreme Court assumed, the whole civil commitment scheme for getting around the Constitution’s ban on double jeopardy falls.

When California’s proposed SVP law was debated in 1995, the California Psychological Association, the Forensic Mental Health Association, and the California Psychiatric Association all came out against it, partly because of due process concerns. That last group argued in its legislative testimony that “mental health treatment facilities cannot be used as a gulag.”

One expert who has observed the growth of the state’s civil commitment program from the inside regrets what it has become. Janice Marques, a former DMH researcher whose work on recidivism is widely cited, is a founding member and former president of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. Marques also was involved in the first legislative hearings on California’s 1995 SVP law. The civil commitment program “was never expected to be as large and as encompassing as it is,” she tells me. “The high recidivism rate just hasn’t panned out….It’s just so difficult once you set something like this up to get rid of it.”

California Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes, a Democrat, introduced legislation signed by the governor last fall that reforms the SVP program by limiting continuances in civil commitment trials. But that response falls far short of eliminating the program altogether.

For their part, Lave and Zimring are calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to resurrect the Padilla study, which by now would have a long follow-up period. They would like to find out how many detainees released from the state’s civil commitment program without treatment have committed new crimes.

Without such a follow-up, California’s program will never be held to account. Even the rare legislators like Cervantes who pay attention to the program don’t seem inclined to touch the heart of the issue. In the absence of new data, inertia will compel the state to continue spending money on a program for which there appears to be little need.

One prisoner-cum-patient who has not been arrested for a new sex crime is Rex McCurdy. Padilla’s memo may have helped him: Following more legal wrangling, McCurdy says, he was released from Coalinga in 2009 after a judge ruled that he was no longer a danger. He moved to Spokane and opened an art studio, then returned home to Napa in 2019. Now 64, he lives on family property he co-owns.

The California sex offender registry still lists McCurdy as a “sexually violent predator.” That label, which the state applied to him a decade and a half after his sex crime, nearly condemned him to a lifetime of imprisonment.

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The Trilateral Commission: Using Crisis As An Opportunity To Reform

The Trilateral Commission: Using Crisis As An Opportunity To Reform

Authored by Steven Guinness,

A couple of years ago I posted an article that gave a brief overview of the Trilateral Commission, quoting directly from numerous former members of the institution and how their overarching goal was for the integration of nation states at the expense of self determination.

It was in the article where I argued that the prevailing model for globalists dating back to at least the First World War has been to use crisis as an opportunity, first by instigating periods of chaos before presenting themselves as the order to the ensuing turmoil. Four of the world’s largest global institutions – The Bank for International Settlements, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the United Nations – were founded on this principle. Without a series of crises there would have been no rationale for them to exist.

A trend over the past few years has been how in the midst of geopolitical conflict global bodies and world leaders have called for the likes of the European Union and the World Trade Organisation to undergo substantial reforms in the wake of a rise in political nationalism and protectionism. The push for reform has been largely justified on the grounds that the international ‘rules based global order‘ – brought to be out of the ruins of World War II – is under threat, and all as a direct consequence of the growth in anti-globalisation movements that are often characterised as ‘populism‘.

So if global institutions want to broaden their level of power through deeper centralisation, where exactly does the Trilateral Commission fit into that? Earlier this month I happened by chance on a blog called ‘Dorset Eye‘, which launched in 2012 and describes itself as ‘an online citizen media magazine in which local, national and international members of the public have their voices heard‘.

One of Dorset Eye’s recent articles focused on the Trilateral Commission, and made reference to a report published by the institution in the summer of 2019 titled, ‘Democracies Under Stress: Recreating the Trilateral Commission to Revitalize Our Democracies to Uphold the Rules-Based International Order‘. Strangely, the brochure in question is not directly accessible from the Trilateral Commission’s website. A search on google for the document produces an authentic and downloadable PDF file, but no actual location for it on the group’s web page. For whatever reason, the Commission has not made this document easily accessible.

Before we look at some of detail contained within the brochure, it should be noted that its publication came two years after the deaths in 2017 of the Trilateral Commission’s two founding members – David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski. It also followed the death of Peter Sutherland, who was the European Chairman of the Commission from 2001 to 2010 and also the former chairman of Goldman Sachs. In particular, with Rockefeller and Brzezinski now deceased, the Trilateral Commission now sees a need to ‘recreate‘ itself and carry on the work of it’s founding father’s.

In the executive summary of the brochure, the Commission remarks how ‘the global order that seemed so invincible at the end of the Cold War is now in doubt‘:

Whether the world proves able to tackle the most urgent problems facing mankind today will in part depend on the ability of advanced democracies to overcome their current malaise and work together as they have in past decades.

A forty-five year old organization, the Trilateral Commission is recreating itself to be a leader and an indispensable resource in this effort.

They talk of ‘rediscovering their roots‘, ‘sharpening‘ their mission, and the need for ‘rejuvenating‘ their membership – all under the pretext of overcoming the challenges of the 21st century and to ‘uphold the rules-based international order.’

One of the main challenges, according to the Commission, is that whilst ‘the drive toward deeper integration and greater globalization seemed irreversible until just a few years ago‘, the ‘unintended consequences of these trends— from inequality to cultural alienation—have fueled new forms of discontent, spurring a rise in populism and nationalism in the most advanced economies and democracies in the world.’

The Commission opens themselves up as a solution by stating that ‘today’s institutions—both global and domestic—seem ill-equipped to face these trends down and ensure the maintenance of the rules-based international order.’

They mention how the rise in populism and nationalism has caused nations around the world to become ‘compromised by internal divisions and governed by institutions that are no longer well-suited to the realities of the day.’

As you would expect, the Commission has a plan for meeting these challenges. Firstly, it will require the democracies of North America, Europe and Asia to be ‘revitalized‘, and for the purging of ‘authoritarian regimes gaining confidence and establishing themselves more firmly on the global stage.’ Secondly, for this ‘democratic renewal‘ to be achievable, it will ‘require new voices and thinking from all segments of these societies.’

One potential avenue for ‘renewal‘ is the adoption at national levels of the UN devised Green New Deal, championed heavily in the United States by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Come the 2024 election, she will be eligible at thirty five years old to run for the presidency.

But seemingly, the Trilateral Commission’s drive to begin reforms is more immediate than four years into the future. Amidst supposed authoritarian regimes and the breakdown of the international order, they believe themselves to be ideally placed to deal with ‘global ills‘:

The Trilateral Commission is well-poised to play a vital role in this revitalization
effort, and seeks to once again become an analytical home for assessing the stresses
on the advanced democracies, offering solutions for dealing with them, and catalyzing cooperation among these countries on global economic, political, and security matters.

As noted in the brochure, one of the purposes of creating the Trilateral Commission back in 1973 was to ‘buttress a beleaguered trading order.’ When considering the rise in political protectionism, trade is at the forefront of the discussion. As well as the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU, and the ongoing trade conflict between the U.S. and China, there is now the added element of the Coronavirus which threatens to restrict global supply chains. Taken together, it is a melting pot of developing crises.

Not surprisingly, the Commission considers itself ‘uniquely well-suited to address the many challenges that are common to advanced democracies and to spur greater cooperation across them‘:

It is the only organization to bring all the affected countries together in this trilateral structure, positioning it well to connect experts, institutions, and other entities to diagnose what is straining these democracies and to prescribe steps to shore them up.

By coincidence or otherwise, in detailing how the international structure of the Commission is capable of meeting ‘pressing global problems‘, one of the examples given for this is in dealing with pandemics. Nuclear proliferation, climate change and protectionism are also recognised as problems.

As I have written about previously, the roots of the Commission stem from the field of banking. Founder David Rockefeller used to be the chairman of Chase Manhattan bank, and at one time eight members of the board at Chase were members of Rockefeller’s Commission. A look at the membership list for 2020 shows that the Commission remains largely populated by corporate interests within the banking, oil and media sectors. You will also find as part of the membership former Prime Ministers and members of national parliaments. In the UK one of the most notable examples is Keir Starmer, who is currently running to be the next leader of the Labour Party. Michael Bloomberg, who is running to be the Democrat candidate in the U.S. election, is also a member.

What began as an elitist organisation remains so today given that is remains dominated by the CEO’s, chairmen and representatives of the some of the biggest corporations and political jurisdictions on the planet.

At a special event in 1998 to mark 25 years of the Trilateral Commission, a list of financial supporters from 1973 to 1998 was published to show names such as Exxon Corporation, AT&T Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company, The First National Bank of Chicago, Morgan Stanley & Co and Goldman Sachs. A list for the present day is not readily available.

Putting that to one side, in devising a ‘new, more focused mission‘, the Trilateral Commission has identified a handful of themes in which it plans to return to regularly. One of these is populism. If the Commission are signalling that populism will be a leading theme of theirs going forward, it suggests that the resurgence in nationalism and protectionism still has some way to run. When you read between the lines they are anticipating that the ramifications of populism will see the fracturing of the international based order, and so will require the rejuvenation of global bodies e.g. greater centralisation of powers, to deal with.

Another interesting statement made by the Commission is that they are ‘also identifying issues that can be advanced by its mix of policy and business leaders and do not necessarily require the adoption by national governments to have an impact.’ Tied into the whole narrative of the breakdown of the ‘rules based global order‘ is how national administrations risk becoming impotent in meeting international challenges. This passage may be suggesting that in the future the traditional model of government legislation – often maligned for not being decisive or willing enough to combat issues such as climate change – could be bypassed in favour of global governance. A world where corporate interests in step with reformed global institutions become in effect an international legislature.

This theory is perhaps further reinforced when the Commission states that they will now ‘focus on tending to the strains that compromise the abilities of today’s advanced democracies to collectively tackle global dilemmas.’ It is my belief that without these ‘strains‘, the Commission does not have sufficient grounds to be able to justify advancing their sphere of influence.

The brochure leaves us in no doubt that the Commission is ‘remaking itself‘. One of the ways it wants to do this is through ‘injecting new, innovative prescriptions into the national
debate and governmental process‘ to achieve ‘better domestic and foreign policy
outcomes.’

With numerous global media outlets represented on the Commission, along with significant corporate interests, they appear well placed to begin fashioning these ‘prescriptions‘ and directing future public discourse through the mediums of the national press and social media. After all, within the membership are journalists from the UK, Europe and the U.S., a link that makes disseminating information from the Trilateral level down to the general population a much easier task.

This will not be the last example we learn about of global institutions seeking wide scale reforms amidst rising geopolitical instability. The greater level of chaos that is inflicted upon nation states will only strengthen the hand of the Trilateral Commission and others to supersede national sovereignty in favour of globally devised solutions.


Tyler Durden

Sat, 02/29/2020 – 23:10

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/39dEIHw Tyler Durden

The Countries Best And Worst Prepared For An Epidemic

The Countries Best And Worst Prepared For An Epidemic

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention has stated that another case of the coronavirus has been detected in the United States, pushing the total number of confirmed cases over 60 with 22 outside of the evacuees (and Washington State has announced the first US death from Covid-19) According to tracking by Johns Hopkins University, over 85,000 people have been infected, the vast majority of them in China. The coronavirus has also slowly spread to many other countries with cases reported across the globe.

Even though Chinese authorities have said that they have observed evidence of person-to-person transmission, health officials in Orange and LA counties in the United States have said that the precautions in place should stop any spread of the coronavirus.

As Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, that raises the question: which countries are the most and least prepared to contain large outbreaks of disease?

In October of last year, the Global Health Security Index was released and it assessed levels of global health security across 195 countries. It specifically analyzed levels of preparation by focusing on whether countries have the proper tools in place to deal with serious disease outbreaks. Countries were scored on a scale of 0 to 100 where 100 is the highest level of preparedness.

Infographic: The Countries Best And Worst Prepared For An Epidemic | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

The United States was named as the country with the strongest measures in place and it came first with 83.5 out of 100.

The United Kingdom came second with 77.9 followed by the Netherlands with 75.6.

China, which has initiated a series of lockdowns in response to the outbreak, comes 51st with a score of 48.2.

This map shows levels of preparation across the world and Africa’s vulnerability is immediately noticeable. It has struggled with serious diseases in the past and in 2014 a major Ebola outbreak devastated parts of West Africa, killing over 10,000 people.

So far, countries in Africa have only reported 3 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Nevertheless, the continent has some of the weakest countries when it comes to containing disease with Equatorial Guinea (16.2) and Somalia (16.6) the worst scoring countries in the Global Health Security Index.


Tyler Durden

Sat, 02/29/2020 – 22:45

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2TpdzuA Tyler Durden

Trump And The Politics Of Coronavirus

Trump And The Politics Of Coronavirus

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, ‘n Guns blog,

Normally I agree with Moon of Alabama’s analysis on foreign affairs and certainly geopolitics. But the latest post discussing the political fallout from spread and potential mismanagement of nCOVID-19 is nothing short of fantasy.

I don’t disagree that China, assuming that the numbers they’ve published are any more real than a lot of their economic numbers, has shown remarkable power to stop the spread of the disease.

And they have done so so as to disrupt supply chains all across the world. This week the equity markets finally came to terms with the real world effects of such a disruption, even if the disease itself is, in the end, controllable and the response to it to this point, overblown.

I’m not saying it is one way or the other. I’ve heard every conspiracy theory about this virus you can imagine. It speaks directly to the power of rumor and the ability for people absent good information to make up stories that fit their personal bias.

And in this post B. betrays his in a way that, frankly, highlights just how little he understands America, its culture and the electorate.

Under the U.S. medical system testing will be expensive for the patients. Insurances may not pay for it. Many people will be unable or unwilling to spend money on it. Care for serious cases will also be limited by high prices. This guarantees that the virus will spread further. China was smart enough to guarantee 100% state coverage for testing and all necessary care. The U.S. should follow that principle but is  unlikely to do so.

Trump announced that Vice-President Pence, a man who does not believe in science, will lead the response. The libertarian and neo-liberal approach to the problem will further the epidemic’s growth. Only after it becomes really severe will the necessary measures be taken. 

His assumptions are ridiculous. People in the U.S. get the annual flu shot, which is demonstrably ineffective, by the millions. The flu shot is subsidized through insurance and government redistribution of wealth via taxes.

If the threat becomes truly real to people in the U.S. they will get tested. The Trump administration will allocate billions to it and the people here, already inculcated over the generations in public health will respond accordingly.

If China was able to test 320,000 people that quickly, and the test is so effective, why is the CDC going it alone developing its own test and not just using China’s?

This is what we pay governments to do, coordinate disaster response, work with other governments, provide basic infrastructure for society.

The dysfunctional medical system in the U.S. isn’t a function of the “libertarian or neo-liberal approach,” which itself is a criticism that doesn’t understand the very real difference between those two schools of thought.

It’s a function of the ever-growing push to socialize medical care (and everything else) in the first place.

The great myth of central planning is that capital can be rationally allocated through the elimination of profit and incentive. And that will just magically produce the right outcomes for society.

Because in the end, the U.S. doesn’t have a libertarian medical system. It has a socialized system so arcane and expensive that is designed to make the argument for more control over public health not less.

But this isn’t B.’s biggest error. His biggest error is in thinking that Donald Trump is some kind of bastion of the free market and in favor of the rational allocation of scarce resources through it.

He’s not. He never has been and he won’t ever be. Trump likes markets he can control and doesn’t believe in open competition. If he did he wouldn’t erect trade barriers and engage in economic strangulation.

So to say that Trump is in trouble because of this virus to this point is nonsensical.

Trump’s reelection chances are sinking as Covid-19 cases rise. The incompetence of his administration will come under new light. The stock markets will continue to tumble and erase the economic gains Trump had claimed. Bernie Sanders’ chances of winning, if he survives the pandemic, will increase as his prime campaign promise -Medicare for all- will become even more acceptable when the problems with the current U.S. healthcare system come under new public scrutiny.

Trump’s re-election chances will rise with this coronavirus. Those who hate him will hate him more, like B. (who is German and doesn’t vote here). Those who love him will rally around him if he leads.

And on this point I agree with Pat Buchanan who also feels like this is an opportunity for Trump to rise above the petty politics of Congress and show leadership and strength, allocating resources at his disposal the same way he did for domestic natural disasters like the recent Hurricanes that pounded the Gulf Coast and Florida.

… the president occupies what Theodore Roosevelt called the “bully pulpit,” the White House. He can use that pulpit daily to command the airwaves and inform, lead, unite and direct the nation during what could be a months-long crisis. And Trump alone has the power to declare a national emergency, should that be needed.

If Trump acts as a leader, urging unity in the struggle to contain the virus and discover a vaccine, the hectoring from the Democratic left, already begun, can come to be seen as unpatriotic.

And this is something he can and will do. I wasn’t crazy about Trump’s presser the other day, blasting the CDC for creating a panic which Trump feels helped drop the stock markets this week.

That’s not leadership. That’s whining. And the biggest threat to Trump’s re-election at this point is Trump, not Bernie Sanders or whomever the Democrats nominate after stealing it from him.

The biggest fear the leftists in the U.S. and Europe have at this point is that Trump and his band of ‘know-nothings’ like Pence actually steer the U.S. through the upcoming crises well.

The CDC is facing a large budget cut so it’s no shock that they would try to blindside Trump to make him look reckless now. But Trump shouldn’t take that bait and move past it.

What if the U.S. healthcare system survives this? What if the doom porn purveyors are all wrong? What if COVID-19 really isn’t that much worse, in the end, than the annual flu?

Trump can and will make easy political work of his opponents trying to hector him for spending cuts by reminding them all that they have done nothing but block his ability to control the border to the country.

If anything this will strengthen Trump’s hand across a number of real issues.

During times of crisis and/or war how often is there a radical change in leadership? Not often. It will take a lot more than a few thousand points off the Dow and some fear-mongering to shift the electoral map of the U.S. far enough for Bernie Sanders to beat him.

Public health crises are not the time to grind political axes. The fact that even the best critics of the U.S. succumb to that tells you the depth to which the failures of Marxism scare them.

Because make no mistake, any failure to contain this virus will come from our having too much faith in the myth of central planning, not in not having enough of it.

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Tyler Durden

Sat, 02/29/2020 – 22:20

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2VxcV0H Tyler Durden