How Liz Taylor and the Black Market Defied the Feds

Dallas ​​Buyers Club has been praised by many libertarians for its message of defiance, but what few knew when the movie came out is the story of Oscar-winning actor Elizabeth Taylor’s fight to help HIV patients, which should get a flick of its own.

According to model and entrepreneur Kathy Ireland, the late actress ran a Dallas Buyers Club-style operation from her own home. Her defiance and willingness to stand against the feds in the name of freedom of choice shouldn’t be ignored.

“Talk about fearless—at her home in Bel Air,” Taylor’s old friend told Entertainment Tonight:

“It was a safe house. A lot of the work that she did, it was illegal, but she was saving lives. She said her business associates pleaded with her, ‘Leave this thing alone.’ She received death threats. Friends hung up on her when she asked for help. But something that I love about Elizabeth is her courage.”

Liz Taylor was an outspoken advocate for HIV patients and their right to choose how to go about their own treatment.

When her close friend Rock Hudson died of AIDS in 1985, Taylor felt compelled to dedicate her time and own money to help HIV patients. By 1991, she had started the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which helped to raise awareness about HIV risks and how to prevent it. At the same time, Taylor also opened her home to help those who wanted to choose their own medication.

At the time, the Food and Drug Administration’s monopoly on the US drug market made it difficult for people to choose their own treatments. A problem that is still an issue for many terminal patients in America to this day.

Giving HIV patients the chance to try—at their own risk—was something that appealed to Taylor.

From the Guardian:

“Her network resembles the plot of Oscar-winning drama Dallas Buyers Club, based on the true story of Ron Woodroof, who smuggled drugs to help treat HIV into America during the 1980s. Similar stories have also been told in the Oscar-nominated documentary How to Survive a Plague and the HBO film The Normal Heart.”

​​​​​​tumblr_md0f1fb9XX1r9ijxto1_500Originally published here.

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Groping Horror: Morrissey Compares TSA to ISIS

Singer ​​Steven Patrick Morrissey, commonly known as Morrissey, is renowned for his passionate pro-animal rights advocacy.

Recently, however, The Smiths’ lead singer got the full attention of the Internet for making comments that had nothing to do with vegan activism.

He may be known for championing animal rights, but he doesn’t approve of the TSA treating people like cattle.

In a blog post penned by the singer’s fanzine staff, he was quoted as saying that his previous comments regarding an alleged sexual-assault incident during an encounter with the TSA were mainly ignored.

According to his fanzine, the singer said “We gather that TSA stands for Thorough Sexual Assault,” and that “If you are traveling through San Francisco International Airport you must be ready for a full sexual attack by people who claim to have your interests at heart. It is unlikely that ISIS would stoop so low.”

That’s right folks, he went there. Morrissey compared TSA to ISIS.

After Morrissey made his complaint against the TSA public, the agency issued a statement claiming that the “TSA takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and strives to treat every passenger with dignity and respect. Upon review of closed circuit TV footage, TSA determined that the supervised officer followed standard operating procedures in the screening of this individual.”

Morrissey responded by saying that the “TSA have ignored my official and legal and constitutional complaint.”

According to Judicial Watch, TSA agents are constantly criticized for their treatment of passengers, and many official complaints go unreported mainly because they are not publicly disclosed by the agency.​​​​​​

Originally published here.

Ex-DIA Dir.: ISIS Exists Because of US Intervention

Originally published here.

In an ​​interview for Spiegel Online, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn explained why the Bush administration’s emotional response to 9/11 put the country in the wrong direction, exposing Americans and others in the Middle East to unnecessary danger due to the rise of ISIS.

According to the nation’s former highest-ranking military intelligence officer, the US post-9/11 strategy may have allowed the Islamic State to grow.

In the interview, Flynn said that the international community failed to prevent the Paris and Lebanon attacks, as well as the Islamic State’s attack against a Russian airplane, because global leaders simply did not take the group’s warning seriously.

“There were all kinds of strategic and tactical warnings and lots of reporting. And even the guys in the Islamic State said that they were going to attack overseas. I just don’t think people took them seriously.”

To the former official who served as the commander of the US special forces in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2004 and 2007, killing the Islamic State’s leader and self-proclaimed Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi now would make no difference. Killing bin Laden was also a bad idea:

“He [al-Baghdadi] could be dead today, you haven’t seen him lately. I would have much preferred to have captured bin Laden and [Ayman al]Zarqawi because as soon as you kill them, you are actually doing them and their movement a favor by making them martyrs. Zarqawi was a vicious animal. I would have preferred to see him live in a cell for the rest of his life. Their logic is still hard to understand for us in the West.”

Flynn said that when analyzed closely, al-Baghdadi has been able to do what Zarqawi and bin Laden weren’t able to do, by “bringing in 1,500 [foreign] fighters a month, from more than 100 nations.”

“At the peak of Zarqawi’s days,” Flynn explained, “they may have been bringing in 150 a month from a dozen countries.”

“He’s using the modern weapons of the information age in fundamentally different ways to strengthen the attraction of their ideology. The other thing is how they target. Zarqawi was absolutely brutal—he randomly killed guys lining up for jobs in downtown Baghdad. Al-Baghdadi is much smarter and more precise in his target selection, but still very vicious.”

To fight ISIS and win, Flynn told Spiegel, boots on the ground are necessary, but fighting alone is not the way to go.

“We have to work constructively with Russia,” Flynn said.

“Whether we like it or not, Russia made a decision to be there (in Syria) and to act militarily. They are there, and this has dramatically changed the dynamic. So you can’t say Russia is bad, they have to go home. It’s not going to happen. Get real.”

To the veteran officer, “we need the Arabs as partners,” to make the mission work. “They must be the face of the mission—but, today, they are neither capable of conducting nor leading this type of operation, only the United States can do this.”

While Flynn advocated for sanctions against Arab nations that funnel money to ISIS, he also claimed that former US policies in the Middle East may have helped to create the current crisis.

In February 2004, al-Baghdadi was arrested and kept in a military camp but cleared by a US military commission after being seen as “harmless.” To Flynn, “we were too dumb” for not understanding who they had in their hands.

“When 9/11 occurred, all the emotions took over, and our response was, ‘Where did those bastards come from? Let’s go kill them. Let’s go get them.’ Instead of asking why they attacked us, we asked where they came from. Then we strategically marched in the wrong direction.”

While Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration was quick to invade Iraq. To Flynn, that was a deadly mistake:

“First we went to Afghanistan, where al-Qaida was based. Then we went into Iraq. Instead of asking ourselves why the phenomenon of terror occurred, we were looking for locations. This is a major lesson we must learn in order not to make the same mistakes again.”

When asked whether he regretted being part of the fall of Hussein since ISIS wouldn’t be a threat if Baghdad hadn’t fallen, Flynn said “yes, absolutely.”

“[The Iraq war] was huge error. As brutal as Saddam Hussein was, it was a mistake to just eliminate him. The same is true for Moammar Gadhafi and for Libya, which is now a failed state. The historic lesson is that it was a strategic failure to go into Iraq. History will not be and should not be kind with that decision.”

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Refugee Crisis Relief: Individuals vs. Government

The civil war in Syria began in the early spring of 2011, when the Arab Spring protests multiplied across the region.

In the heat of the protests, armed fronts were formed.

The first group to gain strength was the Free Syrian Army, or FSA. A group primarily formed by seven Syrian army soldiers who defected. With the goal of fighting against government security forces that attack civilians, the FSA grew. But its influence in the region fades as rebel groups coming from the north became more effective in fighting the Syrian army’s attacks.

In 2013, when one of the FSA commanders was killed by al Qaeda operatives, details on Al-Nusra Front, another group linked to both the FSA and al Qaeda, surfaced.

It wasn’t until later that the public was informed that Al-Nusra Front had been established by al Qaeda’s central command and Abu Bakr al-Bahdadi, the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). With the pressure mounting against the FSA, Al-Nusra gained traction.

According to The Daily Telegraph, many of the soldiers that were part of Al-Nusra were veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The link between veteran soldiers that fought the United States during the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the growth of the rebel groups inside Syria was confirmed (PDF) frequently by experts. Contrary to what Washington D.C. power players always said, neither the FSA nor Al-Nusra Front were trustworthy.

As soon as President Barack Obama decided to show his support to the Syrian rebels, Republicans like Senator John McCain decided to thicken the interventionist mass. Despite the anti-interventionist efforts promoted by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), the US government ended up sending foreign aid to “moderate” rebels. In a few months, footage of ISIS fighters driving Toyota trucks provided by the US government were flooding the Internet.

With the unintentional help from the US government and other local giants like Saudi Arabia, the Islamic State became stronger, at the expense of the FSA. In no time, millions of Syrians would have their homes, villages, and entire cities by the strongest militant group in the region.

The “Crisis”

According to the European University Institute, about 9 million Syrians left their roots back home to run away from the war being waged by rebels, ISIS, and the Syrian government.

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More than 3 million sought refuge in the neighborhood nations of Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. Israel is the only country neighboring Syria that hasn’t absorbed any refugees. Instead, Israel offers medical assistance to militants that take part in the fight against Bashar al-Assad.

pessoasfilasAbout 150,000 refugees sought asylum in the European Union while other countries in the region promised to bring in 33,000. About 85 percent of these refugees have moved to Germany.

In a video made by a Vine user in Hungary, a 13-year-old refugee told a local police officer that if the war ended, they would go back to Syria.

What forces millions of families and individuals to flee Syria is not the promise of a better life alone. They want to survive.

Brazilian Student: “I Had to be Strong So I Wouldn’t Cry”

In an interview for BBC Brazil, Stella Chiarelli explained that “families with very young children, pregnant women, and seniors arrive in inflatable vessels that are overcrowded” at the small island of Lesbos, in Greece.

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In an interview I carried out for the Brazilian news site Spotniks, Chiarelli told me that, in the period she spent in Brazil during her Istanbul University break, ISIS invaded the city of Kobane. As other towns near the Turkish borders were also invaded, about one million refugees crossed into Turkey.

“When I went back to Istanbul, I was shocked. The city was completely different, with a lot of people in the streets asking for money. They were entire families, with several children and several seniors too. I was overwhelmed.”

It was the contact with this reality that influenced the Brazilian archeology student. When friends asked her if she would like to join them and head to Lesbos to help the refugees as a volunteer, she did not hesitate. While in the island, Chiarelli talked to several refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries from Africa.

“These people are in this situation because they want and need something better,” Chiarelli told me. “They are people who are fleeing to survive. That’s what moves me the most.” According to the student, “all of these people” have at least one thing in common, “they all want to live.”

In one of her encounters with refugees from Afghanistan, Chiarelli said a family told her that “then the Taliban controlled their town,” life used to be better, but when ISIS arrived in the region, “it was impossible to survive.”

“When someone tells you that the Taliban is not that bad in comparison to ISIS, you can only imagine what that means,” Chiarelli said.

“The mother of this family told me that her parents were killed by ISIS, her husband was abused by them, they cut his stomach and he had to undergo several surgeries to survive. She told me that the worst part of it wall was to see the bodies and heads cut out in squares across the town.”

According to the student, this family sold everything they had to flee.

To do more for refugees in Lesbos, Chiarelli decided to use the Internet as a tool. With the help of the crowd funding website Kikcante.com.br, the Brazilian student is asking the public to support her cause financially so more refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and North Africa can receive her help.


 

This article was originally published here.

#BlackLivesMatter Say No to Democrats, Echo Malcolm X

In a statement issued last Sunday, the Black Lives Matter Network claimed to abide by no ties with the Democratic National Committee. According to the group, “The Democratic Party, like the Republican and all political parties, have historically attempted to control or contain Black people’s efforts to liberate ourselves.”

The statement followed DNC’s decision to pass a resolution asserting its support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. But according to Black Lives Matter’s statement, the movement does not want to be represented by the Democrats:

“True change requires real struggle, and that struggle will be in the streets and led by the people, not by a political party.”

To the group, DNC’s resolution is nothing but an action carried out by a “self-interested … political machine,” since they fail to “bring the changes we seek.”

“Resolutions without concrete change are just business as usual. Promises are not policies. We demand freedom for Black bodies, justice for Black lives, safety for Black communities, and rights for Black people. We demand action, not words, from those who purport to stand with us.”

It’s difficult to go over Black Lives Matter Network’s comments and not remember Malcolm X’s remarkable commitment to liberty.

He wasn’t just a gun rights champion, he was also well aware of what the enemy of freedom is.

From Nick Hankoff’s article on the American Muslim minister:

“In ‘getting to the nitty gritty,’ Malcolm X cautions his audience not to fall prey to Left vs. Right politics. He says, ‘Don’t blame a cracker in Georgia for your injustices. The government is responsible for the injustices.’”


 

This article was originally published here.


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Innocent Brazilian Man Tortured, Injured by Police Over Drugs

The drug war has been unmanageable for a long time, not only in the United States.

According to El Pais, a 62-year-old working man from D’Ávilla, a municipality that is located outside of Salvador, in the state of Bahia, Brazil was tortured by police officers who accused the man of being a drug trafficker.

During the torture session, officers allegedly introduced the end of a broom inside the man’s anus.

According to a report produced by the Internal Affairs department of the Bahia State Military Police, the victim was tortured inside his own home. Despite his protests and claims regarding his profession, officers tortured the elderly man for an hour and a half. Police reportedly arrived at his address after allegedly torturing a drug addict.

Instead of taking the 62-year-old to the police department after the torture session, officers took $200 in Brazilian money, which was all he had, and left.

The man had no records with the police and was never formally accused of committing any crime in the past. After the occurrence, the man contacted the State Military Police’s Internal Affairs unit to report the abuse.

The man’s injuries were inspected by doctors appointed by the military. The doctors’ report shows the Bahia resident had injuries to his wrists, shoulders, jaw, and knees. He also sustained severe laceration injuries in the anal region. Military Judge Paulo Roberto Santos called for the officers arrest after reviewing the documents produced by Internal Affairs. After identifying the perpetrators, the officers were taken into the Military Police custody.

Investigators checked the GPS history in the police officers’ car and found that the accused officers had traveled to the man’s home on the day of the incident.

Officers now under arrest include Lieutenant Isaias de Jesus Neves, and soldiers Marcos Silva Barbosa, Alexandro Andrade das Neves, and Carlos Eduardo de Sousa Torres.

According to Judge Santos, the call for the officers’ immediate arrest is a an “extreme and exceptional” measure that is “extremely necessary” for the criminal investigation at the time. He also expressed concerns related to the wrongly accused man’s freedom and safety.

The judge also said that the image of the police has been “seriously compromised” due to this incident. He denied the officers’ request for habeas corpus and said that the act allegedly committed by “law enforcers who are required by law to maintain public order and ensure social peace” is an infamous episode of police history.

The Department of Public Safety condemned the crime and called it a “case of aggression.” Along with the criminal process, the agency will open an administrative procedure to decide whether accused officers will keep their titles.

According to El Pais, this is not the first time Brazilian military police officers in Bahia abuse their powers. Earlier this year, nine police officers executed 12 people in the Cabula neighborhood in Salvador, Bahia.

Officers accused of committing the 12 murders were all exonerated.


 

This article was originally published here.

How Rand Paul Echoes Dr. Dre

Criminal justice reform is one of Sen. Rand Paul’s most significant battles. During a recent campaign rally, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) talked to supporters about the reason why. To illustrate his position, Paul brought up Kalief Browder, the young African American whose story of groundless imprisonment was featured in The New Yorker.

Worried that our nation has forgotten about the presumption of innocence, Paul urged the crowd to try to understand why young black men are rioting in the streets of Baltimore and Ferguson. And as he made his case, he appeared to echo the words of record producer, rapper, and entrepreneur Dr. Dre.

“The presumption of innocence. This is a big deal,” said Paul, continuing, “We now we have [a] government that is not presuming innocence anymore.”

“The war on drugs has locked up a lot of young people. But it’s really disproportionately locked up a lot of young black people and a lot of young brown people. Why? It’s not that the law is overtly racist, it’s because there’s more crime in the cities and there happens to be more African Americans in the city.”

In the song The Watcher, which is featured in Dr. Dre’s 2001 album, the rapper explains that “cops are anxious” to put blacks in jail. An observation that matches Paul’s comments regarding the war on drugs. But Dre goes further:

“They wanna hang us, see us dead, enslave us/ Keep us trapped in the same place we were raised in/ Then they wonder why we act so outrageous.”

To Paul, the treatment blacks and latinos receive from law enforcement is the very root of the problem:

“We’ve locked up a whole generation of young black men and put them in jail, sometimes for ten, fifteen years. … And you say, ‘well, that’s not me, I don’t understand why these people are always yelling, and why they are angry in our cities.’ Kalief Browder was 16-years-old when he was arrested. He was a black kid in the Bronx. He was accused of a crime and he was sent to Rikers Island. Without bail. And he spent three years there. Two years in solitary confinement. He was beaten by the guards and by gangs in the jail. They have videotape of him being beaten. He tried to commit suicide, was finally released. But never taken to trial.”

To Dre, it’s clear why young blacks are so angry when they finally leave prison after being locked up without a former trial or because of non-violent drug crimes.

“… every time you let the animal out [of] cages/ It’s dangerous to people who look like strangers.”

According to DrugWarFacts.org, more than half of federal prisoners serving sentences of more than a year were convicted of drug-related offenses between 2001 and 2013. In 2013, 51 percent of the federal prison population were in jail for possession, trafficking, or other drug crimes.

By 2012, drug offenders comprised 16 percent of the total state prison population across America.

In 2011, over 40 percent of inmates convicted of drug-related charges serving time in state prisons were black, over 29 percent were white, and over 21 percent were Hispanic.

To Rand Paul, it’s time to change all of this.

“I think they should get a second chance. Anybody in here made a mistake when they were a kid. … When you see people angry and you don’t understand why people are angry, [remember]: there’s no excuse for rioting, there’s no excuse for violence, but we need to understand what’s wrong. We need to see if there’s a way we can fix it.”

Bringing the Republican Party back to focusing on the entire Bill of Rights, says Paul, could make it happen:

“If we are the party that is part of that, part of trying to make it better, let’s say that we were the party of the entire bill of rights. We would be the party that believes in the Sixth Amendment as much as we do the Second Amendment, we’re gonna rock and roll, we’re gonna win every election.”


 

This article was originally published here.

The First Woman in Congress Braved Political Charges of Treason

The first woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress was Montana’s Jeannette Rankin. Her most noteworthy feat was her opposition to war. Then, very much like now, being against the war was seen as a treason.

In an essay she wrote in 1958, she explained her votes against World War I in 1917 and against World War II after the country had been attacked at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

While she did have some support the first time, she stood alone before congress the second time around.

According to her own account, she would not be able to face her remaining days in office if she had not voted against the war. In her remarks after a long investigation into data available then, Rankin claimed the war was nothing but an attempt to blame the Japanese for the aggression the United States had started by imposing economic sanctions against them.

To read the entire article, click here.

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Martin Luther King III and Rand Paul to Fight Poverty

In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. started a multi-racial effort to put an end to poverty known as the Poor People’s Campaign. At the time, King traveled across the country to raise awareness to housing and income issues, which were often neglected by the public.

Now, Martin Luther King III is on a similar mission. And according to the Washington Times, King may soon find a partner in Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

According to the interview, King believes Washington can fight poverty without having to resort to welfare programs. Instead, he wants to give an official voice to the unheard. To address the issue, King wants Washington to have what he calls a “poverty czar.”

“I believe a poverty czar would be a beginning step to once and for all address this vast issue that does more to divide our society than anything else. A poverty czar would mobilize our country and bring religious leaders, business leaders, community leaders and elected leaders to come up with a Marshall Plan to combat poverty.”

To Paul, poverty is also a major issue. And if he’s allowed air time, he’s willing to make sure everybody is listening.

To Paul, poverty should be a priority to the next president. That’s why he has introduced a plan that would address the issue in a realistic way. With his “Economic Freedom Zones,” Paul wants to open up certain problematic areas of the country to investors and job creators by cutting the red tape. By removing heavy government presence in certain areas, Paul believes, the poor will have greater chances to succeed.

But for Paul, opening up the job market is not enough to fight poverty. Supporting school choice, restoring civil rights for nonviolent offenders, and reforming the criminal justice are also part of his presidential plan.
“There’s no evidence the war on poverty is being won,” Paul said. “It’s time for a new way.”

To King, addressing what happened in Baltimore and Ferguson includes looking at the root of the problem.

“Many are shocked by the behavior in Baltimore and Ferguson, but, as my father said, ‘Violence is the language of the unheard.’ When people have no forum, they feel no one has any way to address the issues they care about. Neither my father or I would ever condone violence—the correct way to address violence is to understand what causes it.”


The article was originally published here.

Brazilian Officer Accused of Ordering Rape, Murder

In Brazil, a group rape sparked a fierce national debate about age of responsibility. But as the investigation into the crime advances, new revelations point to an even bigger problem.

The death of one of the main suspects in the rape case and his alleged relationship with a local police officer were recently brought to light by defense attorneys. Now the motives behind the crime are being questioned.

After the four underage suspects were arrested and placed under the care of the state at Piauí’s Male Educational Center, one of the suspected rapists and murderers was found dead in the cell he shared with the other three. The 17-year-old Gleison Vieira suffered life-threatening head trauma, which reportedly stemmed from a physical assault. No weapons were found at the scene, but an investigation tied the three other suspects to the death.

While at least one adult was known to be part of the group of men who kidnapped, raped, and attempted to murder the four victims, a second adult is being accused of being involved. As reporters dig up available information on the case, we now know that Antônio Elias Mota Júnior, a military police officer, is being investigated due to his alleged involvement.

According to the general deputy commander of the military police, Colonel Lindomar Castilho, the officer is being accused of persuading the now dead 17-year-old Vieira to commit the group rape crime in exchange for BR$2,000. The officer named in this investigation was allegedly named in previous criminal complaints.

To read the entire article, click here.