Friday, April 01, 2016

Isn't that always the way?

"You have to decide what it is that you believe."

"My worldview inherently believes that individuals, when left and given the freedom to make their own decisions, tend to do so more effectively than government bureaucrats... Also, I believe that it is morally imperative to provide people with said freedoms and liberties. That's it."

The bits on the allowances for human nature, the USPS vs FEDEX and the differences between soccer & hockey referees were well made, I thought.

"According to the theory, those who are most oppressed have access to deeper, more authentic knowledge about life and society."

Which explains the race to the bottom of the victimhood ladder, as the most oppressed is surely the most wise.  It does lead to the question that if the victimized and oppressed have a "superior understanding of the world" - how exactly did they become oppressed in the first place?

"If you have wondered why there are so many millennials on campus telling people to check their privilege, demanding trigger warnings, calling people out for micro aggressions, and retreating to safe spaces, the Factual Feminist has the answer: Intersectional feminism... 

According to the theory, those who are most oppressed have access to deeper, more authentic knowledge about life and society. In short: members of privileged groups (especially white males) should not only check their privilege, but listen to those they have oppressed—because those groups possess a superior understanding of the world...

Now there are social scientists who use a sensible, non-politicized version of intersectionality to understand complex social identities—I have no quarrel with them. But what concerns me is how intersectional feminism is taught and practiced on the college campus. I have many objections—I will limit myself to three.   

Problem 1: It’s a Conspiracy theory
 If intersectionality theory were merely a reminder to be sensitive to different kinds of social advantages and disadvantages, that would be fine. But it is much more than that. It is an all-encompassing theory of human reality-- constructed to be immune to criticism. If you question it, that only proves you don’t understand it—or are just part of the problem it seeks to correct. That is why articles by skeptics almost never appear in textbooks like these. And certain groups—men, for example—are sinners who are marked with a capital P. If they dare to question the theory they will be told to check their privilege. Their job is to atone for their unearned advantages and learn from those they have oppressed...

Problem 2: Victim Creep...

Problem 3: Bullying..."

An interesting example of how this, as far as bullying and victim creep, plays out, via


That got dark quick.

Advice 101.

Your self help book is problematic: "This is how conservatives avoid taking good advice: “You can’t tell me what to do! Muh freedom!” This is how liberals avoid taking good advice: “How dare you degrade me by implying that I’m not perfect the way I am! Oppressor!” 

This isn’t a “left” or a “right” problem. Someone gives face-value good advice like “be considerate of people’s feelings,” and there is always some conservative on a hair trigger to yell about “policing language” and “political correctness”. 

On the flip side, if someone gives equally (face-value) good advice like “you should work hard if you want to succeed,” there are those on the left who instantly decide that you are “poor shaming” and most likely racist, sexist, and xenophobic."

"These were articulate, mature women who set out to destroy a man’s life, seemingly as payback for his rejection of them years before."

The Ghomeshi trial and the cult of #ibelievewomen | Crime and the law | Love and sex | spiked: "Ghomeshi was sacked by CBC in 2014 following an allegation that he had injured a woman. Perhaps unwisely, Ghomeshi posted a self-justificatory Facebook article after his sacking, insisting that, while he liked rough sex, his encounters had always been consensual. The floodgates opened. Various women used the media to accuse him of past sexual misconduct, and he became the subject of a social-media witch-hunt. Bill Blair, chief of the Toronto Police Service, then made a bizarre public appeal to women to report Ghomeshi, stating that the police’s hands were tied unless women complained to them. Predictably, some women then went to the police. The feminist commentariat united to denounce Ghomeshi, and the #ibelieve movement swung into action. Much handwringing ensued about the ordeal women alleging sexual violence face. Things looked bad for Ghomeshi, who by then had effectively been convicted in the court of public opinion...

A striking feature in the complainants’ accounts was the way their stories kept changing. LR met Ghomeshi at an event she was working at, and he invited her to a recording of one of his shows. After attending the show, she claimed that she sat with Ghomeshi in his bright yellow Volkswagen, which she called a ‘Love Bug’, and said that it made her feel safe. They were kissing and he suddenly and without warning pulled her hair. She left soon after, but agreed to meet Ghomeshi again in a bar for another recording, this time accompanied by a friend. Her friend left and he then took her to his house where they listened to music. She claimed that he suddenly and without warning pulled her hair, punched her in the head and forced her to the ground. Then he called her a cab and she left. 

LR gave three media interviews before she spoke to police. She did not initially tell police that they had been kissing, instead alleging that the assault came out of the blue. Later she emailed police to say that she distinctly remembered wearing hair extensions: a detail she withdrew in court. At trial she attempted to explain inconsistencies in her account by saying that she was simply ‘throwing thoughts’ at the police. For instance, she had asserted that Ghomeshi smashed her head against a car window – a detail she had not mentioned before. In fact, Ghomeshi did not purchase the yellow Volkswagen until seven months after the alleged assault. 

LR also claimed that she had purposely avoided any contact with Ghomeshi following these alleged incidents. However, in court the defence produced emails from her to Ghomeshi in friendly terms, one attaching a picture of her wearing a string bikini. Ghomeshi had not responded to these overtures. In court, LR claimed that she had forgotten sending these emails, but then suddenly remembered that she had sent them as part of a plan, whereby she would bait him in order to confront him. The judge said the factual inconsistencies in her evidence made him approach her case with great scepticism. He described her behaviour as ‘odd’.

DeCoutere’s behaviour was even more inexplicable. She met Ghomeshi at a film festival in 2003. She liked him and arranged to meet him one weekend. They had dinner and she went to his house. She says that he unexpectedly put his hand on her throat and pushed her against a wall, choking her and slapping her face. She said she was shocked, but stayed and listened to music and then left. Later she sent him flowers. In 2004, they sang together at a karaoke event. DeCoutere omitted to tell police that she had been kissing Ghomeshi on the way back to his house, and on the sofa both before and after the alleged assault. 

She also did not tell police or prosecutors about an email she sent him a few days later, which said ‘I want to fuck your brains out’, or about a six-page love letter she sent him, which concluded: ‘I love your hands.’ In court, when confronted by this, she said she was trying to ‘normalise’ things. Nor did she tell the authorities that she and Ghomeshi were photographed cuddling in a park some days later. She also failed to reveal a number of other friendly emails between them, clearly evincing an interest in an ongoing relationship. The judge was scathing about this, saying that she was clearly hoping she could get away with this non-disclosure. He disbelieved her explanation that she thought her first opportunity to open up about this was during the hearing itself, saying she had literally dozens of pre-trial opportunities to come clean. He found as a fact that she had attempted to mislead the court, commenting that her behaviour was manipulative and cast considerable doubt on her trustworthiness as a witness...

In summing up, the judge said that the standard of proof in criminal proceedings is very high: it is not enough to think that someone is probably guilty. The court has to be sure of guilt. ‘Similar fact’ evidence was inadmissible, therefore the accusers could not rely on the existence of other accusations to shore up their own accounts. All that each accuser could rely on was her own unsupported word. Given that each accuser’s evidence was tainted not just by inconsistencies and questionable behaviour, but ‘outright deception’, it was impossible for the court to treat their accounts as reliable or sincere...

From an orthodox legal standpoint, Ghomeshi’s acquittal was inevitable...

These were articulate, mature women who set out to destroy a man’s life, seemingly as payback for his rejection of them years before. Unluckily for them, Ghomeshi had retained evidence of their attempts to pursue a relationship with him. His case shows that women can be both manipulative and deceptive when jumping on the feminist bandwagon. If anything has set the feminist cause back, it is the behaviour of these complainants. It is high time that apologists for the cult of #ibelieve recognise that inconsistencies and withholding information are not a sign of veracity, but a potential red flag. Adult complainants must expect their accounts to be probed rigorously, if the justice system is not to be taken for a ride."

Christie Blatchford: Ghomeshi verdict was magnificent, compared to trial by press or social media | National Post: "Judge William Horkins Thursday acquitted former CBC golden boy Jian Ghomeshi of a raft of historic sexual assault charges. And Horkins, properly but nonetheless bravely in the current climate, placed the responsibility for the collapse of the case squarely where it belongs – with the three women who were Ghomeshi’s accusers.

While Horkins acknowledged that “courts must guard against applying false stereotypes concerning the expected conduct of complainants” in sex assault and abuse cases, and said he understood very well that complainants can behave unpredictably and oddly, that wasn’t what happened here. Instead, as he put it, in an unmistakeable slap to hashtag justice (the #ibelievewomen crowd) and the likes of those who stood with placards outside Old City Hall, “the twists and turns of the complainants’ evidence in this trial illustrate the need to be vigilant in avoiding the equally dangerous false assumption that sexual assault complainants are always truthful.” Having a pair of breasts, in other words, doesn’t entitle the owner to unquestioned belief...

As for DeCoutere, who failed to disclose that she had wooed Ghomeshi by email for at least a year after he allegedly slapped and choked her in July 2003 — even after she gave police a second statement on the eve of taking the witness stand – the judge said, “It became clear at trial that (she) very deliberately chose not to be completely honest with the police … (she) proceeded to consciously suppress relevant and material information… It indicates a failure to take the oath seriously and a wilful carelessness with the truth.”  As for DeCoutere’s explanation that she always intended to reveal the full story, the judge said she “had literally dozens of pre-trial opportunities to provide the full picture to the authorities. “I suspect the truth is she simply thought that she might get away with not mentioning it.” 

Horkins described an email DeCoutere sent Ghomeshi within 24 hours of the alleged choking incident — in which she wrote, “You kicked my ass last night and that makes me want to f–k your brains out. Tonight.” — this way: “There is not a trace of animosity, regret or offence taken, in that message.” DeCoutere and the third complainant, S.D., exchanged more than 5,000 messages, many discussing the progress of the charges through the courts. Their animus to Ghomeshi — “time to sink the pr–k”, “he’s a f–king piece of sh-t”, etc. — then and now, the judge said, was clear and is evidence of their “extreme dedication to bringing down” the man. The justice system, built as it is by humans, is surely imperfect. But compared to the alternatives — trial by press or social media in the absence of investigation and sometimes, as with the two Liberal MPs who were driven from Ottawa the same year as Ghomeshi was charged, even a forum for the accused to speak — it is brilliant, occasionally even magnificent, as it was this day."

"Why does he say most people don't need treatment? Because... the vast majority of drug users aren't addicts. "

'Drug Users Need Treatment,' Says President Obama. Not So Fast, Says Dr. Carl Hart - Hit & Run : "Why does he say most people don't need treatment? Because—contrary to widespread perceptions—the vast majority of drug users aren't addicts. 

"When I say drug abuse and drug addiction, I'm thinking of people whose psycho-social functioning is disrupted," he said later in the talk. But for more than three-quarters of drug users (and we're not just talking about marijuana here, either), that description doesn't apply. 

This overturns the conventional wisdom on drug addiction, but Hart thinks that's a good thing. We've all been fed a diet of panic-inducing misinformation about what drugs actually do to our brains, he says. Most of us were taught that drugs like cocaine are so addictive that a rat in a laboratory experiment will continue to press a lever to receive the substance—to the exclusion of all its other physical needs—until it actually dies.

Hart said at first even he believed that finding to be true. But it turns out, those studies weren't what they were cracked up to be. "When you have the rat in a cage alone, and there's nothing else for the rat to do, the rat will repeatedly choose to take cocaine," he said. "That's logical. If the only thing you had to do in your life was press a lever to receive cocaine, what are you doing? I hope you're pressing for the cocaine." But if additional stimuli are introduced to the environment, the finding completely falls apart. 

"When you enrich the rat's environment such that you provide something like a sweet drink, or a sexually receptive mate, or some other alternative, the rat doesn't repeatedly take cocaine," he explained. "In fact, it's difficult to get the rat to self-administer or press the lever to take cocaine if you provide the rat with food!"

When he tried to replicate the experiment with drug-addicted humans instead of rats, he found they too behaved logically, choosing, say, $20 in cash as opposed to a $10 hit of coke. "This 'hijacking' of the brain's reward system, that's a nice sexy metaphor," he said. "But what we said was that cocaine addicts could not inhibit certain types of responses. They could not delay gratification. They had cognitive impairment such that they couldn't engage in this long-term planning." Yet repeatedly in tests, they did. Once you realize that drugs don't actually rewire people's brains, making them unable to function, you can start to focus on things that matter more—like preventing overdoses. The way to do that, according to Hart, is through educational initiatives, not treatment programs."

"The CIA had investigated itself and cleared itself, and the press was happy to let things stay that way.”

Watched "Kill the Messenger" last weekend.  Good flick.  Had read "Dark Alliance" and a bunch on the San Jose Mercury News story years ago, during the time when it seemed like all I was reading was "conspiracy theory."  

[Oddly enough, my first "CIA runs drugs from South America" story I ever ran into was a late 80s Mike Grell run on Green Arrow, iirc.  Comics teach everything, really.]

Feeling under the weather earlier this week I spent a day or so catching up with the facts and players in the debacle, spiraling from Dark Alliance to Iran-Contra to the November Surprise, back around again to the Inslaw/PROMIS case and the other journalist "suicide" of Danny Casolaro.   Not to mention the Clinton's involvement in the Mena airport in Arkansas.  

Of note, "Mena" is a soon-to-be major motion picture released next year starring Tom Cruise as drug runner/pilot Barry Seal.  Didn't see that one coming.  What a dark, twisted, down the rabbit hole, through the looking glass world.  Conspiracy "theories."  Right.  

Corrupt cops, shady politicians, CIA cutouts, foreign policy by black budget, media douchebaggery...  Nobody cares, nothing changes.   

Three great articles worth reading in full on the topic, if inclined.  The quick hits:

How the CIA Watched Over the Destruction of Gary Webb: "Thanks in part to what author Nicholas Dujmovic, a CIA Directorate of Intelligence staffer at the time of publication, describes as “a ground base of already productive relations with journalists,” the CIA’s Public Affairs officers watched with relief as the largest newspapers in the country rescued the agency from disaster, and, in the process, destroyed the reputation of an aggressive, award-winning reporter."

Dujmovic also pointed out that much of what was reported in “Dark Alliance” was not new. Indeed, in 1985, more than a decade before the series was published, Associated Press journalists Robert Parry and Brian Barger found that Contra groups had “engaged in cocaine trafficking, in part to help finance their war against Nicaragua.” In a move that foreshadowed Webb’s experience, the Reagan White House launched “a concerted behind-the-scenes campaign to besmirch the professionalism of Parry and Barger and to discredit all reporting on the contras and drugs,” according to a 1997 article by Peter Kornbluh for the Columbia Journalism Review. “Whether the campaign was the cause or not, coverage was minimal.”

...newspapers like the Times and the Post seemed to spend far more time trying to poke holes in the series than in following up on the underreported scandal at its heart, the involvement of U.S.-backed proxy forces in international drug trafficking. The Los Angeles Times was especially aggressive. Scooped in its own backyard, the California paper assigned no fewer than 17 reporters to pick apart Webb’s reporting. While employees denied an outright effort to attack the Mercury News, one of the 17 referred to it as the “get Gary Webb team.” Another said at the time, “We’re going to take away that guy’s Pulitzer,” according to Kornbluh’s CJR piece. Within two months of the publication of “Dark Alliance,” the L.A. Times devoted more words to dismantling its competitor’s breakout hit than comprised the series itself...

The Washington Post proved particularly useful. “Because of the Post‘s national reputation, its articles especially were picked up by other papers, helping to create what the Associated Press called a ‘firestorm of reaction’ against the San Jose Mercury News.” Over the month that followed, critical media coverage of the series (“balanced reporting”) far outnumbered supportive stories, a trend the CIA credited to the Post, The New York Times, “and especially the Los Angeles Times.”

...In “Managing a Nightmare,” Dujmovic attributed the initial outcry over the “Dark Alliance” series to “societal shortcomings” that are not present in the spy agency. “As a personal post-script, I would submit that ultimately the CIA-drug story says a lot more about American society on the eve of the millennium that [sic] it does about either the CIA or the media,” he wrote. “We live in somewhat coarse and emotional times–when large numbers of Americans do not adhere to the same standards of logic, evidence, or even civil discourse as those practiced by members of the CIA community.”"

Webb obviously saw things differently. He reflected on his fall from grace in the 2002 book, Into the Buzzsaw. Prior to “Dark Alliance,” Webb said, “I was winning awards, getting raises, lecturing college classes, appearing on TV shows, and judging journalism contests.” “And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I’d enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn’t been, as I’d assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job,” Webb wrote. “The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn’t written anything important enough to suppress.”"

THE  MIGHTY  WURLITZER  PLAYS  ON by Gary Webb Chapter 14 from In the Buzzsaw edited by Kristina Borjesson: "Over the course of three days, Dark Alliance advanced five main arguments:  First, that the CIA-created Contras had been selling cocaine to finance their activities.  This was something the CIA and the major media had dismissed or denied since the mid-1980s, when a few reporters first began writing about Contra drug dealing.  Second, that the Contras had sold cocaine in the ghettos of Los Angeles and that their main customer was L.A.'s biggest crack dealer.  Third, that elements of the U.S. government knew about this drug ring's activities at the time and did little if anything to stop it.  Fourth, that because of the time period and the areas in which it operated, this drug ring played a critical role in fueling and supplying the first mass crack cocaine market in the United States.  And fifth, that the profits earned from this crack market allowed the Los Angeles-based Crips and bloods to expand into other cities and spread crack use to other black urban areas, turning a bad local problem into a bad national problem.  This led to panicky federal drug laws that were locking up thousands of small-time, black crack dealers for years but never denting the crack trade. It wasn't so much a conspiracy that I had outlined as it was a chain-reaction--bad ideas compounded by stupid political decisions and rotten historical timing...

When the newspapers of record spoke, they spoke in unison.  Between October and November, the  Washington Post,  the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times published lengthy stories about the CIA drug issue, but spent precious little time exploring the CIA's activities.  Instead, my reporting and I became the focus of their scrutiny.  After looking into the issue for several weeks, the official conclusion reached by all three papers: Much ado about nothing.  No story here.  Nothing worth pursuing.  The series was "flawed," they contended.  How? 

Well, there was no evidence the CIA knew anything about it, according to unnamed CIA officials the newspapers spoke to.  The drug traffickers we identified as Contras didn't have "official" positions with the organization and didn't really give them all that much drug money.  This was according to another CIA agent, Adolfo Calero, the former head of the Contras, an the man whose picture we had just published on the Internet, huddled in a kitchen with one of the Contra drug traffickers.  Calero's apparent involvement with the drug operation was never mentioned by any of the papers; his decades-long relationship with the CIA was never mentioned either. Additionally, it was argues, this quasi-Contra drug ring was small potatoes.  One of the Contra traffickers had only sold five tons of cocaine during his entire career, the Washington Post sniffed, badly misquoting a DEA report we'd posted on the Web site.  According to the Post's analysis, written by a former CIA informant, Walter Pincus, who was then covering the CIA for the Post, this drug ring couldn't have made a difference in the crack market because five tons wasn't nearly enough to go around.  Eventually, those assertions would be refuted by internal records released by both the CIA and the Justice Department, but at the time they were classified...

When the CIA and Justice Department finished their internal investigations two years later, the classified documents that were released showed just how badly I had fucked up.  The CIA's knowledge and involvement had been far greater than I'd ever imagined.  The drug ring was even bigger than I had portrayed.  The involvement between the CIA agents running the Contras and the drug traffickers was closer than I had written.  And agents and officials of the DEA had protected the traffickers from arrest, something I'd not been allowed to print.  The CIA also admitted having direct involvement with about four dozen other drug traffickers or their companies, and that this too had been known and effectively condoned by the CIA's top brass.       

In fact, at the start of the Contra war, the CIA and Justice Department had worked out an unusual agreement that permitted the CIA not to have to report allegations of drug trafficking by its agents to the Justice Department.  It was a curious loophole in the law, to say the least. Despite those rather stunning admissions, the internal investigations were portrayed in the press as having uncovered no evidence of  CIA involvement in drug trafficking and no evidence of a conspiracy to send crack to black neighborhoods, which was hardly surprising since I had never said there was.  What I had written -- that individual CIA agents working within the Contras were deeply involved with this drug ring -- was either ignored or excised from the CIA's final reports.  

For instance, the agency's decade-long employment of two Contra commanders --Colonel Enrique Bermudez and Adolfo Calero--was never mentioned in the declassified CIA reports, leaving the false impression that they had no CIA connection.  This was a critical omission, since Bermudez and Calero were identified in my series as the CIA agents who had directly involved with the Contra Drug pipeline.  Even though their relationship with the agency was a matter of public record, none of the press reports I saw celebrating the CIA's self-absolution bothered to address this gaping hole in the official story.  The CIA had investigated itself and cleared itself, and the press was happy to let things stay that way.  No independent investigation was done. The funny thing was, despite all the furor, the facts of the story never changed, except to become more damning.  But the perception of them did, and in this case, that is really all that mattered.  Once a story became "discredited," the rest of the media shied away from it.  Dark Alliance was consigned to the dustbin of history, viewed as an Internet conspiracy theory that had been thoroughly disproved by more responsible news organizations...

But what of the press?  Why did our free and independent media participate with the government's disinformation campaign? I discovered while researching the book I eventually wrote about this story, the national news organizations have had a long, disappointing history of playing footsie with the CIA, printing unsubstantiated agency leaks, giving agents journalistic cover, and downplaying or attacking stories and ideas damaging to the agency.  I can only speculate as to why this occurs, but I am not naive enough to believe it is mere coincidence. The scary thing about this collusion between the press and the powerful is that it works so well.  In this case, the government's denials and promises to pursue the truth didn't work.  The public didn't accept them, for obvious reasons, an the clamor for an independent investigation continued to grow.  But after the government's supposed watchdogs weighed in, public opinion  became divided and confused, the movement to force congressional hearings lost steam and, once enough people came to believe the stories were false or exaggerated, the issue could safely be put back at the bottom of the dead-story pile, hopefully never to rise again. 

Do we have a free press today?  Sure we do.  It's free to report all the sex scandals it wants, all the stock market news we can handle, every new health fad that comes down the pike, and every celebrity marriage or divorce that happens.  But when it comes to the real down and dirty stuff -- stories like Tailwind, the October Surprise, the El Mozote massacre, corporate corruption, or CIA involvement in drug trafficking -- that's where we begin to see the limits of our freedoms.  In today's media environment, sadly, such stories are not even open for discussion. Back in 1938, when fascism was sweeping Europe, legendary investigative reporter George Seldes observed (in his book, The Lords of the Press) that "it is possible to fool all the people all the time -- when government and press cooperate."  Unfortunately, we have reached that point."

The Pariah: "Mike Holm did his hard stints in the Middle East, the Miami station, and Los Angeles, all for the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, and he is determined that I face the reality he knows. So he starts again. He repeats, "When the Big Dog gets off the porch, watch out." And by the Big Dog, he means the full might of the United States government. At that moment, he continues, you play by Big Boy rules, and that means, he explains, that there are no rules but to complete the mission. We've gotten into all this schooling because I asked him about reports that he received when he was stationed in Miami that Southern Air Transport, a CIA-contracted airline, was landing planeloads of cocaine at Homestead Air Force Base nearby. Back in the eighties, Holm's informants kept telling him about these flights, and then he was told by his superiors to "stand down because of national security." And so he did. He is an honorable man who believes in his government, and he didn't ask why the flights were taking place; he simply obeyed. Because he has seen the Big Dog get off the porch, and he has tasted Big Boy rules. Besides, he tells me, these things are done right, and if you look into the matter, you'll find contract employees or guys associated with the CIA, but you won't find a CIA case officer on a loading dock tossing kilos of coke around. Any more than Mike Holm ever saw a plane loaded top to bottom with kilos of coke. He didn't have to. He believed his informants. And he believed in the skill and power of the CIA. And he believed in the sheer might and will of the Big Dog when he finally decides to get off the porch...

Gary Webb's "Dark Alliance" broke an old story. The history of the CIA's relationship with international drug dealers has been documented and published, yet it is almost completely unknown to most citizens and reporters. Webb himself had only a dim notion of this record. And so he reacted with horror when the implications of his research first began to become clear to him: that while much of the federal government fought narcotics as a plague, the CIA, in pursuing its foreign-policy goals, sometimes facilitated the work of drug traffickers. "Dark Alliance" is surrounded by a public record that bristles with similar instances of CIA connections with drug people: — Alan Fiers, who headed the CIA Central American Task Force, testified during the Iran-contra hearings in August 1987, "With respect to [drug trafficking by] the resistance is not a couple of people. It is a lot of people." — In 1983, fifty people, many of them Nicaraguans, were caught unloading a big coke shipment in San Francisco. A couple of them claimed involvement with the CIA, and after a meeting between CIA officials and the U.S. attorney handling the case, $36,000 found in a bedside table was returned because it "belonged to the contras." This spring, when the CIA published its censored report on involvement of the agency with drug traffickers in the contra war (a report that exists solely because a firestorm erupted in Congress after Webb's series), this incident was explained thusly: "Based upon the information available to them at the time, CIA personnel reached the erroneous conclusion that one of the two individuals...was a former CIA asset." Logically, an admission that CIA "assets" can sometimes be drug dealers...

Hector Berrellez wanted a criminal investigation of the Central Intelligence Agency. His $3 million snitch budget had brought in an unseemly harvest, report after report from informants that in the eighties CIA-leased aircraft were flying cocaine into places like the air-force base in Homestead, Florida, and the airfield north of Tucson long believed to be a CIA base. And that these planes were flying guns south. One of his witnesses in the Camarena case told him about flying in a U.S. military plane loaded with drugs from Guadalajara to Homestead. Other informants told him that major drug figures, including Rafael Caro Quintero, the man finally imprisoned for the Camarena murder, were getting guns delivered through CIA connections. Everywhere he turned, he ran into dope guys who had CIA connections, and to a narc this didn't look right. "I can't believe," he told his superiors, "that the CIA is handling all this shit and doesn't know what these pilots are doing." His superiors asked if he had hard evidence of actual CIA case officers moving dope, and he said no, just lots of people they employed. All intelligence services use the fabled "cutouts" to separate themselves from their grubby work...

In December 1995, Webb wrote out his project memo, and suddenly, "I realized what we were saying here. I'm sitting at home, and this e-mail comes from a friend at the Los Angeles Times. And I had told him vaguely about this interesting story I was working on. I told him that he had no idea what his fucking government is capable of. "And I was depressed because this was so horrible. It was like some guy told me that he had gone through the looking glass and was in this nether world that 99 percent of the American public would never believe existed. That's where I felt I was. When I sat down and wrote the project memo and said, Here's what we're going to say, and we're going to be accusing the government of bringing drugs into the country, essentially, and we've spent billions of dollars and locked up Americans for selling shit that the government helps to come into the country — is just...If you believe in democracy and you believe in justice, it's fucking awful.""

...Before he retired, Hector was summoned to Washington to brief Attorney General Janet Reno on Mexican corruption. He talked to her at length about how the very officials she was dealing with in Mexico had direct links to drug cartels. He remembers that she asked very few questions. Now he sits in the nice lounge of the nice hotel, and he believes the CIA is in the dope business; he believes the agency ran camps in Mexico for the contras, with big planes flying in and out full of dope. He now knows in his bones what the hell he really saw on October 27, 1986, when he hit the door of that house in the Los Angeles area and was greeted with politeness and fresh coffee. But he doesn't carry a smoking gun around. The photos, the ledgers, all the stuff the cops found that morning as they hit fourteen stash houses where all the occupants seemed to be expecting company, all that material went to Washington and seems to have vanished. All those reports he wrote for years while in Mexico and then later running the Camarena case, those detailed reports of how he kept stumbling into dope deals done by CIA assets, never produced any results or even a substantive response...

I can hear Hector Berrellez telling me that I will never find a smoking gun. I can hear the critics of Gary Webb explaining that all he has is circumstantial evidence. Like anyone who dips into the world of the CIA, I find myself questioning the plain facts I read and asking myself, Does this really mean what I think it means? — In 1982, the head of the CIA got a special exemption from the federal requirement to report dealings with drug traffickers. Why did the CIA need such an exemption? — Courthouse documents attest to the fact that the Blandón drug organization moved tons of dope for years with impunity, shipped millions to be laundered in Florida, and then bought arms for the contras. Why are Gary Webb's detractors not looking at these documents and others instead of bashing Webb over the head? — The internal CIA report of contra cocaine activity has never been released. The Justice Department investigation of Webb's charges has never been released. The CIA has released a censored report on only one volume of Webb's charges. The contra war is over, yet this material is kept secret. Why aren't the major newspapers filing Freedom of Information [Act] requests for these studies? — The fifty-year history of CIA involvement with heroin traffickers and other drug connections is restricted to academic studies and fringe publications...

Following the release of "Dark Alliance," Senator John Kerry told The Washington Post, "There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of, the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras." Why has the massive Kerry report been ignored to this day? — On March 16, 1998, the CIA inspector general, Frederick P. Hitz, testified before the House Intelligence Committee. "Let me be frank," he said. "There are instances where CIA did not, in an expeditious or consistent fashion, cut off relationships with individuals supporting the contra program who were alleged to have engaged in drug-trafficking activity, or take action to resolve the allegations." Representative Norman Dicks of Washington then asked, "Did any of these allegations involve trafficking in the United States?" "Yes," Hitz answered. The question is why a mountain of evidence about the CIA and drugs is ignored and why the legitimate field of inquiry opened by Webb remains unpursued and has become journalistic taboo."

I am not alone. "I don't have a cellphone. You probably don't need one, either."

Via Vox: "But recently people have started asking me a different question — not why, but how do I live without a phone? It's as if they've met a monk or a child, lost and wandering in the big city. How do I find my way? What about my job, my wife, our 3-year-old daughter, Hazel? 

Smartphones, it seems, have gone from accessories to necessities, from sunglasses to shoes. Only monks leave home without them. And, as with monks and children, people are romanticizing my phone-free life. I wish I could do that, says one of my students. Good for you, says the incredulous restaurant host. This is bizarre to me, since I experience my own life as perfectly normal — hassle-free, fully modern, and no more virtuous than anyone else's. There are moments that throw my choice into sharp relief, but not the emergencies or inconveniences that people imagine. Rather, the airplane pilot makes an announcement, the subway doors open, and poof! — all around me smartphones bloom in perfect unison, a fleeting garden in which I am oddly barren. 

 Then the moment passes, and my decidedly un-monkish day resumes as professor, journalist, husband, father. I check email regularly at home and at work, meet people in agreed-upon locations at scheduled times, pick up my daughter from school, ask my wife about her day during dinner, watch Game of Thrones on Amazon, play a video game, scroll through Twitter. I catch planes without a hitch, get picked up when I arrive no problem, conduct interviews on Skype or my office line. means that for an average person like me, a phone is far from indispensable, even in situations that appear to demand one. I'm rarely lost, for instance, and never for long. I look up directions at home and memorize them or write them down. Occasionally I ask strangers to guide me. On long road trips I use a dedicated Garmin, which I would need even if I had a cellphone, in areas that don't get a good signal. Then there's texting, which is not a way I communicate. I'll admit this inconveniences members of my morning running group who have to email me separately with updates. (The genius of smartphones is how they magnify such tiny inconveniences into massive setbacks.) But overall I'm not impressed with texting's efficiency. 

Instead of going back and forth countless times to work out a location and a time to meet, I prefer a short phone call, made ahead of time, live. There are those, I know, who prefer texting to talking. That's fine, as long as everyone remains aware that texting, like owning a phone, is a preference, not an objectively better way to communicate. The same is true for those who say that texting allows them to stay in touch. I prefer to hear my wife's thoughts and experiences in person, not piecemeal, in texts, during the day. (Bonus: People can't text me to say they're running late, and I can't text them either, which I find makes for timelier meetings.)

...Perhaps the most common reason people give for having a phone is safety. But here, too, I'm confused. If safety is really a concern, why do nearly half of all Americans text and drive? Personally I feel safer without a blinking, buzzing distraction. And others are safer too, since distracted driving kills more than 3,000 people per year and injures 400,000 more. (Texting is apparently the worst, but using phones to navigate is also a risk.) For the vast majority of us there is no empirical foundation to the idea of phones as essential to our security.  That myth depends on something psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky call the "availability heuristic."  Our minds focus on unusual, dramatic possibilities: the broken-down car on a dark and lonely highway; a health emergency where immediate contact is essential. But in reality those scenarios are extremely rare — rarer, no doubt, than accidents while texting or muggers preying on distracted phone users. Focusing on them leads to biased assessment of risk, which, in turn, contributes to a biased assessment of smartphones' utility. 

I'm convinced that the necessity and advantageousness of phones is an illusion And of course, let's not forget that despite the perks, phones have serious downsides. At least, that's what I gather from the explosion of concern about their use, more often than not from owners themselves. Popular phone addiction apps now allow you to check your phone to see whether you check your phone too much. There are nearly as many phone detoxes as juice cleanses. 

Experts have even coined a term for phone separation anxiety — nomophobia — and some propose including it in the DSM. That's hardly surprising: The 68 percent of Americans who own smartphones (up a staggering 33 percent over only five years) check them an average of 221 times daily. My friends confirm the existence of nomophobia. Some of it, they say, comes from the thought of facing big fears — criminals and car breakdowns — without a phone. But I've also been told about subtler anxieties, over "wasted" events that might go unphotographed, uncommunicated, unquantified, as if reality depended on digitization. There's even a pathological aversion to plain old boredom. What if a few minutes waiting for a friend becomes insufferably dull? As one person put it to me: "I mostly use my phone to avoid being alone with my thoughts.""

"Midlife crisis begins sometime in your 40s, when you look at your life and think, Is this all?"

Other than the fact my midlife crisis started about age 17 or so, it's good to know I'll pull out of the curve before I die.  

 The Impact of Age on Happiness, Especially In Times of Crisis : The Art of Non-Conformity: "New research reveals that situational happiness or sadness may relate partly to age. From Jonathan Rauch in The Atlantic — “Long ago, when I was 30 and he was 66, the late Donald Richie, the greatest writer I have known, told me: ‘Midlife crisis begins sometime in your 40s, when you look at your life and think, Is this all? And it ends about 10 years later, when you look at your life again and think, Actually, this is pretty good.’"

"This 'social justice' thing, this language policing, this political correctness... it will lose..."

"Because people want freedom.  They want to be able to do, say, think, and read anything.  And they have the faith in themselves and in other people that they are able to make the best judgments for themselves and what they believe in.  They don't need to be told how to speak.  They don't need to be told which books to read.  They don't need to be told which videogames are dangerous.  They don't need to be told any of these things.  They don't need to be instructed and lectured to by politicians.  They don't need to be badgered and hectored by feminists and they don't need to be lied to by journalists.  People are sick of it...  The heart of all of this is that fundamental rejection of the idea that somebody else knows better than I do how I should live my life."


3/30 - press, chins, dips, curls, compression floss
3/24 - power clean, deadlift, situps
3/22 - shadowbox
3/21 - bench, db row, pushups, curls
3/19 - stretch

Training [and logging & posting] took a hit this past week and a half as I fought off some kind of bug.  Time to get back on track.

LIFT-RUN-BANG: 5 Training/Diet "hacks" that work good AF: "Avoid temptation one time at the grocery store, instead of every night at your house - I wrote this on my Facebook page last week, but hey let's cover it one more time (and props to the guy who gave me the bolded title for this part). I can't tell you how many messages or e-mails I get a week from people who blow their diet, or have trouble staying disciplined to what they are supposed to eat, and it's not always the weekend binging (but I will get to that as well). It's not always the going out to eat on the weekends, or getting wasted at Bob's big kegger that weekend.  It's most often, shit they are eating out of their own pantry. 

And my first thought when I hear this "how is that shit in there in the first place?!?!?!" "I get it for my kids." Oh so you feed your kids junk all the time. "No, it's just for snacks!" They can't snack on fruit or some yogurt or something somewhat "healthy" rather than Oreo's or Twinkies? Hey look, you are the parent of your kids and if you want to feed them that shit, that's your call.  But here's the thing, if you're trying to drop weight or bodyfat, and you cannot refrain from eating your own kids junk food, then maybe it's best not to have it in the house all together? I know, it's an Earth shaking revelation but if shit food isn't in your house, it's really hard know...EAT IT! 

Here is a better option - Make a list of the shit on your diet, and JUST BUY THAT.  Nothing else.  Just what's on your diet.  Throw away all of the foods that call out to you like the devil asking you to participate in smoking meth and having orgies with two dollar hookers. If you have kids, it's my SUGGESTION (I'm not telling you what to do here, so gear down, big rig), to buy them healthy foods like nuts, fruit, greek yogurt, etc.  You can also turn them on to chocolate rice cakes, which I personally find delicious and will eat 500 of them when I refeed and they are very low calorie.  It's hard to really fuck yourself up diet wise, by binging on rice cakes.  And there's a lot of flavors.  I'm just throwing it out there as an option."

The Accidental Powerlifting World-Record Holder - The New Yorker: "July 2, 2015, a video was uploaded to YouTube that began with a teen-age girl in a gym wrapping a weightlifting belt around her waist...  When Oscar Henning, the man behind the camera, posted the video, the title read, “Deadlift lee winroth 16 years old bw 67 kg 190 kg.” Winroth is his daughter. She had lifted nearly three times her weight, shattering, unofficially, the current deadlift world record for women in Winroth’s age and weight class, set last year by American powerlifter Cipriano Castellano. Not surprisingly, the video, which has now been viewed more than half a million times, was greeted with skepticism. “No way this is 190kg,” one user wrote, suggesting that viewers look up results from the world championships in powerlifting, where women, not girls, competed, and lesser lifts were good enough to medal. Another put it more bluntly: “How is that even possible?” That was probably the most sensible question to ask. The second was: Who is Lee Winroth?"

Winroth grew up in Gävle, Sweden, a port city two hours north of Stockholm. She became an avid soccer player at an early age, but, when she was twelve, she was diagnosed with scoliosis. “My dad said, ‘We are going to fix this,’ ” Winroth told me recently. “He thought the gym could cure my back, so we started to work out.” Her father had been a dedicated weight trainer since he was a teen-ager, and is a local fixture in Gävle’s gyms. “I thought, logically, a stronger back must be better than a weak back if it’s not straight,” Henning told me. By the time she turned fourteen, he and Winroth both told me, Winroth was no longer experiencing any symptoms of the scoliosis. “The doctor said, ‘Oh my God, where is your scoliosis now?’ I didn’t wear a brace or anything,” Winroth said. By then, she was, like her father, a regular at their local gym..."

The Accidental Powerlifting World-Record Holder - The New Yorker: "On February 19th, in Katrineholm, southwest of Stockholm, she and her father arrived for the Nordic Powerlifting Championships. She was far enough under the weight limit for her class that she could safely eat a big breakfast: porridge and eggs. Then they headed to the gym. “She goes into herself a bit before she lifts,” Henning said. “I don’t have to pep talk too much.” The staff stacked four hundred and twenty pounds on the bar, and the judge called Winroth’s name. She didn’t clap or pace this time. She didn’t speak. She approached the bar, bent down, found her grip, and lifted. As she arched her back to finish the lift, the judge signalled it complete, and then she dropped the weight—a new, official world record. Henning cheered from the crowd. Winroth undid her belt, looked out to her father, and gave a modest shimmy as she walked off the mat. “It was so nice, you know?” she told me. “A lot of people thought it was fake. It was nice to prove them wrong.”"

ChAoS & PAIN: I Ain't Sweet Like That- Dieting and Training in Lockup, Part 1: "Think you might be in danger of overtraining?  It's far more likely that you're just a fucking pussy.  These guys hammer their bodies in every time they lift, then follow their gym sessions up with endless sets of bodyweight circuits and game after game of basketball...  Obviously, not every prison or jail allows their inmates to train 7 days a week.  In many institutions, it's limited to three days a week, so the remainder of their workouts have to be done with bodyweight work.  TONS of bodyweight work, Herschel Walker-style...

For those of you who are worried that your gainz will suffer and your efforts will be "wasted" (by the way, every lazy rat fuck on the Internet who whines about their endless worry that they might be "wasting their time" with the wrong workout while dithering about their program should eat a fucking lead salad, because they're annoying pussies without whom the world would be a better place), hear me: FUCK THAT SHIT.  Inmates train, by and large, on around 3000 calories at most, and in many situations on 1600 calories or less, most of which are carbs and fat, and they make gainz in spite of themselves just by going fucking hard. just go fucking nuts."

How I lost 160 Pounds and Reclaimed My Brain by Going Primal | Mark's Daily Apple: