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MSNBC: Mark Ames and Yasha Levine
Broke the Koch Brothers' Takeover of America
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Yasha Levine

Late last week, as I was reading a story by the Family Guy writer who had been brutally arrested and mistreated at the Occupy LA crackdown, I suddenly realized, “Holy shit, I remember that guy!”

I didn’t catch his name at the time (it’s Patrick Meighan), but I distinctly recall sitting next to a tall blond guy with a bruised forehead that was caked with blood, listening to him talk about his arrest to a couple of protesters and describe how a cop in riot gear kneed him in the back, threw him to the ground, and bulldozed the pavement with his forehead before zip-tying and frogmarching him out of Solidarity Square for processing—all that despite his full cooperation during his arrest. (more…)

Posted: December 13th, 2011

When I worked in Russia, there were two sets of laws–one for Kremlin favorites and oligarchs, who never worried about paying for their crimes; and laws for everyone else, who paid no matter what. Here, it’s starting to get even worse than in Russia: Not only has there not been a single banker arrested since they destroyed the entire economy and looted trillions (while at the same time a mother who fudges her address to get her child in a better school district gets jail time), but even worse than that, judges think it’s more important to punish peaceful protesters with obscene bail demands than to isolate a serial child-rapist, who was let out without having to post a single penny.

Last week, as I reported, the LAPD arrested and detained nearly 300 peaceful protesters during the paramilitary eviction raid on Occupy LA. Charged with minor, non-violent misdemeanor offenses (“failing to disperse”), the majority of those arrested were nonetheless forced to spend three full nights in jail. The reason they spent so much time (I was there for two nights) behind bars? They could not afford the bizarrely punitive $5,000 to $10,000 bail set by the City of Los Angeles, which had jacked up the bail amount in order to punish and keep Occupy LA protesters in jail–a potentially illegal practice, according to the National Lawyers Guild. (more…)

Posted: December 6th, 2011

Read Yasha Levine’s account of LAPD’s appalling treatment of detained Occupy LA protesters

On Friday, December 2, the Los Angeles Police Department finally decided to release most of 200+ Occupy LA protesters who had been held in detention for more than 48 hours. Many of them were expected to show up at the General Assembly scheduled for 7:30 p.m on the south steps of City Hall. So I cruised down to see what I could find out…

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Posted: December 4th, 2011

Yasha Levine was forced to surrender his freedom, as well as his shoe laces…for his own protection

I finally got home Thursday afternoon after spending two nights in jail, and have had a hard time getting my bearings. On top of severe dehydration and sleep deprivation, I’ve got one hell of pounding migraine. So I’ll have to keep this brief for now. But I wanted to write down a few things that I witnessed and heard while locked up by LA’s finest… (more…)

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Posted: December 2nd, 2011

I spent this past Sunday night reporting from Occupy LA, along with at least 2,000 others who came in solidarity to help the camp stand up to a threatened LAPD raid.  The defense of the camp, or the battle to defend it, started just after midnight and lasted until about 6 AM, when the cops finally succeeded in pushing people off of the street and back onto the sidewalk–just in time for morning traffic. That was the extent of the LAPD raid. In all, there were only four arrests and no baton beat-downs, pepper spray attacks, tear gas or rubber bullets. Most important of all, the cops never set foot inside the camp.

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Posted: November 29th, 2011

This just in: Bank of America announced today that it had hired star New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell to frontline in its cross-country banking propaganda tour.

According to the press release, BofA’s Bankapalooza rolled through Los Angeles, Dallas and D.C., and was held for the benefit of America’s small business owners, giving them an opportunity to have a bit of fun while learning about the important role that massively centralized financial institutions play in helping small businesses succeed. And central to that effort was Malcolm Gladwell himself: (more…)

Posted: November 16th, 2011

This summer I traveled to Quanah, the dusty North Texas railroad town that Harry Koch called home, to find out more about the life of the man who spawned the two most powerful oligarchs of our time…

A version of this article was first published in The Texas Observer

CHARLES AND DAVID KOCH are the most powerful right-wing billionaires of our time. They have spent hundreds of millions bankrolling a broad attack against Social Security, organized labor, financial regulations, environmental protection and public education. The brothers plan to funnel at least $200 million to elect right-wing, anti-government Republicans in 2012, according to Politico. They seem hell-bent on dragging America back to the dark days of unregulated capitalism. The history of their grandfather in Texas may help explain why. Because, apparently, it runs in the family.

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Posted: November 7th, 2011

Things heated up last Friday after Herman Cain finished his stand up routine at the Kochs’ Americans For Prosperity event in Washington D.C. and the crowd settled in for a late night Ronald Reagan tribute dinner. At least 500 protesters, including a group from Occupy DC, marched on the convention center where the rightwing summit was being held. They surrounded the building, jammed intersections, drummed, chanted and generally did all they could to make AFP’s guests and donors very, very uncomfortable.

It was a chaotic scene. Luckily, a rightwing blogger named Stephen Gutowski was there, ready to collect mpeg evidence of  leftwing criminal aka 1st amendment activity and hand it over to the police. Sadly, the cops didn’t seem to appreciate Stephen’s heroic volunteer-snitching: (more…)

Posted: November 7th, 2011

You may have heard positive things about Margin Call, a new bankster suspense drama loosely based on the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers. I just saw the film, and my advice: Don’t waste your time and cash, not unless you want to spend a Jackson and 107 valuable minutes of your life hate-watching poorly scripted/directed banker-propaganda that tries to make you believe that, despite their obvious flaws and all, deep down those Wall Street bankers are complex human beings, just like you and me. Margin Call gives the same bullshit “once in a lifetime event!/never coulda seen it coming!” snowjob that Wall Street’s been laying on us since 2008, swearing that the crash was one of those “Black Swan” events that no one could have possibly predicted. (more…)

Posted: November 3rd, 2011

Looks like it’s official: Come 2012, California governor Jerry Brown is gonna try to trick voters into approving one of the most brazen water heists in American history. Gov. Brown’s plan would give control over a huge chunk of Northern California’s water supply to a handful of billionaire Central Valley plantation owners and Southern California real estate developers, allowing them to use even more of the state’s over-tapped water supply, a shared public resource, as a private commodity that they can then turn around and sell on the open market for huge easy profits.

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Posted: October 25th, 2011

“I’ve never met either of the Koch brothers, I suspect that like most libertarians, they’d rather avoid the unseemly world of politics as often as possible, where winning generally means forcing other people to bend to your will. (David Koch did run for Vice President on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980, but on a platform of legalizing drugs and prostitution, and abolishing the FBI and CIA.) They seem more interested in contributing to voluntary, civil society, by promoting ideas … the arts, research, and by fighting particularly pernicious laws like the PATRIOT Act…”

—Radley Balko, “The Koch Brothers’ Right-Wing Conspiracy to Undermine the PATRIOT Act,” Feb. 25, 2011

If the Kochs are so anti-interventionist, then why does a 2005 State Department cable show Charles Koch’s premier libertarian think-tank meddling in the former Soviet Union and circle-jerking with one of the most notorious CIA/State Department front-groups for the American Empire?

The cable is brief, but revealing: Titled “Tajikistan: Freedom House In Strategic Retreat,” the communique was sent from the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on November 9, 2005, and notified the folks back home that Freedom House, an infamous CIA/State Department outfit that had been tasked with funding pro-Western opposition movements and seeding regime change across the former Soviet Union, was being booted out of Tajikistan and had no choice but to abandon the NGO front group it had set up in the country. But luckily all was not lost. As the cable explained, the Institute of Humane Studies, a libertarian recruitment and educational organization controlled by Charles Koch since the early 1960s, had come to the rescue, and was ready and willing take over running and funding the Tajik NGO directly.

It would seem the Kochs have been more involved in meddling in the internal affairs of other countries than they and their lackeys lead on… (more…)

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Posted: October 17th, 2011

The other day The eXiled received an offer to sign up for a free security service called CloudFlare that’s supposed to provide security and reliability. (more…)

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Posted: September 26th, 2011

Back in April I wrote a couple of articles about how rampant speculation by Koch Industries, Goldman Sachs and other big players in the energy markets has been driving up the price of oil. Immediately, a bunch of freemarket sockpuppets came out of the woodwork and infested our comments section, repeating the same invisible-hand-knows-best bullshit: Speculators are a force of good, not evil; they don’t drive up prices, but in fact help keep them low. Sounds plausible, right?

Well, a few weeks ago Senator Bernie Sanders leaked a small batch of secret energy trading data compiled by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission which showed that in the summer of 2008, when the price of oil was spiking to a record $148 per barrel, the oil commodities market was one giant speculatory cesspool dominated by the largest fraud-ridden banks, investment funds and oil companies in the world, including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, BP and Koch Industries. (more…)

Posted: September 18th, 2011

Malcolm Gladwell has described himself as a “conversation starter” who likes to “ask questions” and “follow-up” with more questions. Well, here’s a question for Malcolm Gladwell: When you wrote all those pro-tobacco articles and tobacco industry executives sang your praises, were they paying you to be their shill? Or did you just volunteer to write tobacco-friendly propaganda, out of a sincere belief in the righteousness of their cause?

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Posted: August 8th, 2011

The other day I came across a post-WWII government propaganda film called “Meats With Approval” that serves as a great indicator of just how much America’s regressed politically in the past 50 years. This film should be required viewing for all the brainwashed suckers who still believe the rightwing lie that America has always been just as corrupt and hostile to the basic needs and interests of its citizens as it is today. That’s the sort of bullshit only the history-deprived could believe. (more…)

Posted: June 22nd, 2011

This anti-TSA protester coming straight outta Waco!

On Saturday June 4, a dozen or so anti-TSA protesters marched on the Texas State Capitol, demanding that state legislators and Governor Rick Perry stand up to the federal government and pass a bill that would allow cops to arrest and imprison TSA screeners.

As readers of The eXiled know, Mark Ames and I have thoroughly exposed America’s anti-TSA “movement” as a rightwing union-busting PR campaign designed to prevent TSA workers from unionizing, pushed by an alliance of Koch-funded libertarians, warmongering neocons, notorious DC union-busting front-groups and rabid Christian homophobes. Well, the anti-TSA movement in Texas pretty much fits the bill… (more…)

Posted: June 8th, 2011

A version of this article was first published by AlterNet

In May 2009, I profiled a nutty 71-year-old border vigilante named Glenn Spencer, who had converted his ranch on the Arizona-Mexico border into a hi-tech militarized security zone packed with infrared cameras, aerial drones and motion detectors. Spencer was all that stood between European-American liberty, and a Mexican Anschluss with its former territories. His goal was to demonstrate to the feds how easy it was to stop illegal border crossers, and he blew through his life savings to prove it. But Spencer’s reputation as a white supremacist and nativist meant no one heard his message in Washington; CNN’s Lou Dobbs was about the only mainstream media figure who took him seriously. (more…)

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Posted: June 7th, 2011

I was going through some of my Victorville notes and came across an amazing, untold story that I never had the chance to write up.  It is about California’s Miller family, an aristocratic clan that’s been extracting rent from California taxpayers for the past 150 years, ever since their patriarch started looting land back in the 19th century.

It all began with Henry Miller, the “Cattle King of California,” who once had the honor of being the largest landowner in the United States. The man had so much land  that he liked to brag about being able to drive his cattle from Los Angeles to San Francisco without ever leaving his own property.

“Henry Miller left behind him the largest area of land under a single ownership ever assembled in America, probably the world, if private individual ownership and now the feudal domains of Kings is alone considered. … Eight hundred thousand acres in California—more than 1,250 square miles—nearly as much in Oregon and half as much in Nevada, constituting the entire holdings of Miller & Lux, Inc,” gushed the New York Times in a 1921 profile of Miller’s disintegrating empire, 5 years after his death. (more…)

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Posted: May 19th, 2011

Do you know where your turds go after you flush them down the toilet?

Well, if you are one of the 3.9 million people who live and relieve yourself in Los Angeles, you might be interested to learn that your turds are given special treatment: they’re loaded onto trucks, taken on a scenic 2.5-hour drive to a different county, and dumped on a poor hick town. (more…)

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Posted: May 12th, 2011

The price of oil hit $125 today, a 33-percent increase since the start of the year, and will most likely keep going up.

For those wondering “why,” there’s a new theory that explains everything. (more…)

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Posted: April 27th, 2011