When season one of Ozark concluded last summer, the Byrdes, a drug money laundering family from the Chicago area, decided to put roots down at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman), is the number-crunching erstwhile financial planner struggling to keep all of the balls he is juggling up in the air. He’s aided, for the most part, by his wife Wendy (Laura Linney), a former Democratic political operator.
Click here to read my review of the first season of Ozark.
In season two, which takes place in November, off-season in the Ozarks, the Byrdes are again plotting their escape from Missouri, but first they must open a casino on the lake built on land owned by Jacob (Peter Mullan) and Darlene Snell (Lisa Emery), who manufactures heroin for the same Mexican drug cartel Marty is indebted to. Getting a casino up-and-running of course means obtaining a license, so the Byrdes scheme with conservative powerhouse Charles Wilkes (Darren Goldstein) to smooth over the numerous blemishes and scars the power laundering couple have.
The sins of the parents taint the Byrdes’ children, high-schoolers Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner), who initiate their own criminal enterprise.
The Byrdes are reminiscent of Tom and Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, while not “careless,” as F. Scott Fitzgerald described them, the Byrdes, to paraphrase his words, smash up things and creatures. And I’ll use Fitzgerald’s exact prose here, the Byrdes “let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
Those messes include arson, child abduction, suicide, waterboarding, and murder.
The sins of the Byrdes visit the Langmores, a small-time criminal family, who in the first season served as stereotypical redneck foil. Yes, they live in trailers. The de facto leader of the family is Ruth (Julia Garner), who is about 20 years old. She has transformed, maybe, from being a thief preying upon the Byrdes to being the utility infielder and perhaps more for the Byrde operations.
Roy Petty (Jason Butler Harner), plays a tormented FBI agent, who, like just about every other Ozark character, has no moral compass. He’s a law unto himself.
Hmm…an FBI agent who is unaccountable. That doesn’t happen in real life, does it?
There are many lessons in Ozark. Not only do drugs destroy lives, so does drug money. Ten years before the Byrdes fled Illinois Marty and his business partners made a deal with the devil when they started laundering money for that cartel. And that’s a job that no one can quit. And dismissal by the cartel does not entail being escorted by human resources out the door with a severance check in your hand.
As the second season of Ozark was released only a week and a half ago there is no word about a third. I expect there will be one with many more messes created by the Byrdes. When the Byrde family is asked by a photographer to smile at the conclusion of the final episode–they can only come up with grim grins.
This is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg when he testified in front of Congress about user data privacy some weeks back.
And this is former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Schneiderman recently resigned from his office because:
[Four women with whom he has had romantic relationships or encounters] accuse Schneiderman of having subjected them to nonconsensual physical violence. All have been reluctant to speak out, fearing reprisal. But two of the women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, have talked to The New Yorker on the record, because they feel that doing so could protect other women. They allege that he repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent. Manning Barish and Selvaratnam categorize the abuse he inflicted on them as “assault.” They did not report their allegations to the police at the time, but both say that they eventually sought medical attention after having been slapped hard across the ear and face, and also choked.
Look at their eyes.
Now, I’m not up on the latest in high-end drugs, so, maybe someone who is can help me figure out what these guys are on, if anything.
Or maybe those trillion-yard stares are evidence a different kind of pharmakeia(definition 3).
There are lots of conspiracy theorists out there who believe that the financial, political and entertainment “elite” subscribe to a spirituality other than that of the Holy Spirit in exchange for money, power and/or fame, and that could be so. After all, God gives His children gifts and the Devil lives ever to parody God. (I’m one of those far-out conspiracy theorists who suspects that 99.9% of politicians above your local dog-catcher is bought by some entity. And maybe only half the dog-catchers are clean.)
I don’t know. But I do know that I would not want to see eyes like that looking back at me – especially not from my pillow or my mirror.
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here. She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.
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This week that well-known right wing outfit Politico told us the tale of Project Cassandra an operation concerning Hezbollah drug running
Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.
They followed cocaine shipments, some from Latin America to West Africa and on to Europe and the Middle East, and others through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States. They tracked the river of dirty cash as it was laundered by, among other tactics, buying American used cars and shipping them to Africa. And with the help of some key cooperating witnesses, the agents traced the conspiracy, they believed, to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.
This was nipped in the bud by the Obama Administration, no Hezbollah’s cocaine shipments or the money laundering but the DEA’s attempt to stop it
“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” said David Asher, who helped establish and oversee Project Cassandra as a Defense Department illicit finance analyst. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”
Of course MSM’s disinclination to report on this story despite it coming from one of their normally favorite sources is generating some outrage:
For years we have been hearing about the plight of Black America in the inner cities (almost exclusively controlled by Democrats for decades). While the left tries to blame the NRA or gun manufacturers the actual problem comes down to the drug trade.
You have dealers targeting youths for addiction, you get crime generated to pay for these drug habits, then gangs recruiting youth for membership in the drug trade as a quick way out, finally you get ongoing wars over the control of that trade costing the lives of not only young black men involved in the trade but innocents who get caught in the crossfire terrorizing entire neighborhoods.
Put simply if you enable the Drug Trade you enable Terrorism against the inner City Black Community.
And this is what outrages me.
The Black Community stood behind Barack Obama and his administration tooth and nail. They ignored the bad economy, the failed policies, the rise of ISIS terror and furthermore in 2012 they turned out and saved him from defeat against a much more competent adversary.
Barack Obama didn’t just betray America by enabling international terrorists in order to allow himself to fund one of the World’s primary backers of said terror, but he did so knowing that the Hezbollah drug trade terrorized black neighborhoods, black families and particularly young black men, betraying those who had been his most loyal supporters.
Those black lives destroyed by the drug trade didn’t matter to Barack Obama or his administration as much as funding Iran did. That’s an uncomfortable truth that many who voted Obama will silently endure rather than admit how badly they have been played.
That’s the real outrage of the Hezbollah Iran Obama Drug story.
The Trump administration is pushing back aggressively against what the intelligence community often refers to as the “Iran Threat Network” or ITN, and as part of that campaign it is especially keen to focus on the activities of Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian Lebanese militia, in Latin America.
To my shock this story is again from Politico.
Update 2: Instalanche, thanks Steven, Hi folks take a peek around.
If you live in the New England Area, are free on January 20th and like good speakers and all you can eat Chinese food then Join me and the Worcester Tea Party us at Tang Dynasty Restaurant Rte 12 Leominster Mass for our event President Trump A Year in Review and Looking Ahead featuring a panel including: Mike LaChance Contributer to Legal Insurrection blog and editor of AmericanLookout.com Chip Faulkner: Of Citizens for Limited Taxation & Host of the Friday Morning Group, Christopher Maider: Longtime Host of the Meat and Potatoes Radio show , Dianna Ploss: President of the Boston Chapter of Act for America
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A real environmental crisis: it’s Raining Needles. Alternate title: Why I Stopped Wearing Flip-flops in Public.
They hide in weeds along hiking trails and in playground grass. They wash into rivers and float downstream to land on beaches. They pepper baseball dugouts, sidewalks and streets. Syringes left by drug users amid the heroin crisis are turning up everywhere.
In Portland, Maine, officials have collected more than 700 needles so far this year, putting them on track to handily exceed the nearly 900 gathered in all of 2016. In March alone, San Francisco collected more than 13,000 syringes, compared with only about 2,900 in the same month in 2016.
People, often children, risk getting stuck by discarded needles, raising the prospect they could contract blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis or HIV or be exposed to remnants of heroin or other drugs.
Needles turn up in places like parks, baseball diamonds, trails and beaches — isolated spots where drug users can gather and attract little attention, and often the same spots used by the public for recreation. The needles are tossed out of carelessness or the fear of being prosecuted for possessing them.
One child was poked by a needle left on the grounds of a Utah elementary school. Another youngster stepped on one while playing on a beach in New Hampshire.
Even if adults or children don’t get sick, they still must endure an unsettling battery of tests to make sure they didn’t catch anything. The girl who put a syringe in her mouth was not poked but had to be tested for hepatitis B and C, her mother said.
Some community advocates are trying to sweep up the pollution.
Rocky Morrison leads a cleanup effort along the Merrimack River, which winds through the old milling city of Lowell, and has recovered hundreds of needles in abandoned homeless camps that dot the banks, as well as in piles of debris that collect in floating booms he recently started setting.
In truth, this is merely a physical manifestation of the inner crises of all too many. These people want to escape from reality, become trapped by their escape route, then become heedless of all things — except for the next time they get a ride along the escape route. There are many means of being set free from this trap. One of them is death. In the meantime, more escape, more death and more discarded needles.
The most sinister spiritual component to heroin and many other drugs does not inhabit the users, however, but the providers. Even if all drugs were to become legal tomorrow, that would not change.
The question is this: what can be done for those who are caught up in this web? I think most solutions of the earthly variety are already available. These people need the Great Healer. Their inner environment needs to be made clean.
Last week via Twitter President Donald Trump issued a warning: “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!”
If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible “carnage” going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!
Local media was puzzled and irked as to what Trump meant by “the feds.” Does that mean the US Army? Short of widespread rioting breaking out in Chicago, that’s not likely to happen. Perhaps Trump means to dispatch FBI and DEA agents, or officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms. But the federal government already has staff from those crime fighting agencies assisting the Chicago Police in fighting its murder epidemic.
Unless there is an ongoing investigation, I don’t believe the feds are looking for the evil pony at the bottom of the manure pile–Chicago politicians and their connections to street gangs.
Elected officials in Chicago constantly decry gun violence. But while firearms are the symptom, the disease is gang warfare. By all accounts the great majority of murders in Chicago are gang-related. Members of the Progressive Caucus on Chicago’s City Council regularly condemn “gun violence,” as do the other aldermen on the council. As for the former, like all leftists, they conspire like a chess player to advance their causes, in this instance, this means a ban on all handguns in Chicago, if not all firearms. As for the rest of the aldermen, perhaps they are cautious in condemning gang violence because some of them have ties to these criminal enterprises that are hollowing out Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods.
Six years ago Chicago Magazine, in a story about those street gang-pol connections, interviewed Hal Baskin, a former gang member who was defeated in his effort to join the City Council, about a meeting between aldermanic candidates and gang-bangers, or perhaps, according to the magazine, ex-gang bangers.
The gang representatives were interested in electing aldermen sympathetic to their interests and those of their impoverished wards. As for the politicians, says Baskin, their interests essentially boiled down to getting elected or reelected. “All of [the political hopefuls] were aware of who they were meeting with,” he says. “They didn’t care. All they wanted to do was get the support.”
Baskin declined to name names, but Chicago has learned, through other sources at the meetings, the identities of some of the participants. They include: Aldermen Howard Brookins Jr. (21st Ward), Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), Willie Cochran (20th), and Freddrenna Lyle (6th). Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd) attended a meeting; upon realizing that the participants had close gang ties, she objected but stayed. Also attending were candidates who would go on to win their races, including Michael Chandler (24th) and Roderick Sawyer (6th). Darcel Beavers, the former 7th Ward alderman who would wind up losing her race, and Patricia Horton, a commissioner with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District who lost her bid for city clerk, also met with the group.
Late last year one of those underhanded aldermen, Willie Cochran, was indicted for a series of alleged financial crimes, including stealing from his ward’s charity. Part of Cochran’s ward covers the notorious Englewood neighborhood on the South Side, one of the most violent parts of “Chiraq.” And by violence of course I mean street gang violence.
Okay, I’m not an attorney, but Chicago Magazine provided us a list of names that at the very least makes them, in my opinion, persons of interest.
As for Jesse Jackson, in 1984, during his first campaign for the presidency, he publicly lauded the El Rukns for their efforts in voter registration. The year prior the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization paid the gang over $10,000 to work as poll watchers for the failed campaign of incumbent Chicago mayor Jane Bryne. At that time the party was led by Edward “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak, then the 10th Ward alderman, who–this will sound familiar–was indicted late last year. Now a Republican, Vrdolyak is already an ex-con.
What can the Chicago Police do about gangs and their politician pals?
According to that Chicago Magazine article, not a heck of a lot.
Two police sources—a former gang investigator and a veteran detective—bluntly acknowledge that even if the police know of dubious dealings between an alderman and a gang leader or drug dealer, there is little, if anything, they can do, thanks to what they say is the department’s unofficial rule: Stay away from public officials. “We can’t arrest aldermen,” says the gang investigator, “unless they’re doing something obvious to endanger someone. We’re told to stand down.” The detective concurs: “It’s the unwritten rule. There’s a two-tier justice system here.”
That paragraph alone explains why Trump’s “feds,” or perhaps different feds, are needed in America’s third-largest city.
And the criminality apparently goes past shootings, as Chicago Magazine again tells us.
Beyond providing protection from police—the gangs’ number one request—public officials can help in other ways. Gang leaders, particularly the most powerful, are usually looking to build on the riches they already have. Knowing an alderman or a state legislator—or even a congressman—can help. Traditionally, aldermen have almost total say over what gets built and what sorts of businesses open in their wards. They also have considerable sway over city contracts, which can mean tens of thousands to millions of dollars for gang-owned businesses.
It’s part of the administration’s criminal justice reform movement to reduce jail time as a way of ending racial discrimination and enforce the overreaching federal regulations of a bloated government. Back in 2010 President Obama signed a measure that for the first time in decades relaxed drug-crime sentenceshe claimed discriminated against poor and minority offenders. This severely weakened a decades-old law enacted during the infamous crack cocaine epidemic that ravaged urban communities nationwide in the 1980s.
As part of the movement the U.S. Sentencing Commission lowered maximum sentences for drug offenders and made it retroactive. Last week the administration started releasing the first wave of 6,000 drug convicts who will get out of jail early. In all, about 50,000 prisoners are eligible for early release and federal authorities claim they’re all “non-violent” offenders whose sentences were too long in the first place.
What do the prosecutors have to say?
Federal prosecutors have warned that drug trafficking is inherently violent and therefore the phrase “non-violent drug offenders” is a misnomer. The nation’s prosecutors also caution that reducing prison sentences for drug offenders will weaken their ability to bring dangerous drug traffickers to justice.
On the other hand,
Last week the New York fisherman got sentenced to seven months in prison, a $603,000 fine and three years of supervised release following incarceration, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) announcement.
Anthony Joseph, a commercial fisherman from Levittown, New York, was sentenced to seven months in prison for federal violations by systematically underreporting fluke (summer flounder) he was harvesting with his dragger.
Commercial fishing licenses in NY state start at $259 and go up from there, depending on vessel size. The regulations are quite specific, and the fine was proportionate to the offense,
with the knowledge of Joseph, the vessel exceeded its relevant federal and New York State quotas for fluke for at least 158 trips. These illegal overages totaled 302,000 pounds of fluke worth approximately $626,000.
It seems to me that the prosecutors in the Joseph case are making sure fishermen understand that violations will not go unchallenged; they are sending a message.
At the same time, I realize that there is a clear need to review and amend mandatory-sentence laws, and that many young, first-offender men and women have been jailed unjustly. They should not be in jail.
However, ignoring prosecutors’ objections while issuing a mass release of as many as 50,000 convicts under the guise of standing against “overreaching federal regulations of a bloated government” from an administration that uses the IRS to target conservative, Republican and pro-Israel non-profits, sends a whole different message.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.
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Yesterday at the upper common of Fitchburg Ma a group of over 70 people turned out for an event highlighting Opiate Awareness and the people and families who are affected by them.
I arrived near the time things were about to start and talked to Lauren who seemed to be in charge.
There were several speakers, one of them was our state rep Steve DiNatale who is running for Mayor
And the Police Chief
The stress of the event was addiction as a disease and coping with it. Nobody talked better on the struggle between being firm and being kind than Tami Arguelles founder of the local group: Help for our Community.
The need to find the balance between loving and caring for a person, while not enabling or approving is for the families and friends of the addicted the hardest thing.
They had some ceremonial events the lighting of candles
The Releasing of Balloons
and a moment of silence
Some spoke about their loss like Ed.
Other were there simply to stand for their lost loved ones. I spoke to the police chief after the event:
and I spoke to two former addicts one before things started:
and the second after, this was Reverend Hollaway who had spoken before
What really truck me about both of them was their words about the Just Say No campaign from the 80’s. This type of thing was routinely laughed at by our friends of the left but both of these ex addicts noted that a direct statement, a solid “NO” makes a difference.
But the real story to me was that every police car in Fitchburg is equipped with Narcan which can be the difference between life and death for a person.
The other half of the coin of course is the prevention, the chief talked about getting old prescription drugs out of the house but the other part of the game is something quite simple and direct. If you see someone dealing drugs on your street corner in your neighborhood don’t just ignore it and figure it’s not your business: Say Something. Call the police, tweet the police, help them protect you.
If you don’t want the cost of the Drugs and Gangs, stand up and fight, even if it’s just a phone call. The harder you make it for the dealer, the more likely he’s going to at worst move on, or at best find themselves caught.
The event made the front page of the Sentinel, you can read it here.
If you go to the 5th street diner these days you’ll find a purple flag flying from the sandwich sign:
that flag symbolizes Opiate awareness. On Aug 31st 2015 you’ll be seeing a lot more of them on the Upper common of Fitchburg and around the state.
I spoke to Ed Zannino about the event:
This is something that mean a lot to Ed and Tina as they’ve lost a son under these circumstances and given Fitchburg’s transformation in my lifetime from a manufacturing city to an illegal drug hub we’re going to see a lot more of this and the people of the city had better be prepared.
When I first heard the news, I was absolutely enraged. As a public figure, I feel very ashamed; as his dad, I’m very sad and disappointed. But the person who feels heartbroken the most is his mom. I hope our younger generation will learn from Jaycee’s mistake and stay far away from drug abuse.” He added, “I would like to take this opportunity and say to Jaycee: you’ve done something wrong and you have to be responsible for the consequences. I’m your dad and I’ll always be with you. We will face the road ahead of us together. I should also take some of this responsibility because as his dad, I didn’t teach him well. Therefore, on behalf of Jaycee and myself, I extend our deepest apologies to everyone for the negative impact this has caused on society. Thank you.”
TMZ referred to this letter as “bizarre” to them I’m sure it was, after all the idea of
1. Expressing anger and shame at your child doing something wrong
2. Taking responsibility as a father and insisting his son do the same.
3. Apologizing to society and warning youth not to follow a bad example
…is completely contrary to the modern celebrity society where right and wrong are simply constructs and no person is responsible for their acts.
Sure Chan noted that he’d always be with his son and they’d “face the road ahead of us together” but even so the very idea that a father might publicly scold a son for drug use is shocking to TMZ sensibilities.
If only more parents had sensibilities this contrary to the celebrity culture.
Previous president Alvaro Uribe brought the FARC to its knees. Current president Juan Manuel Santos began peace negotiations with the FARC in Havana, Cuba, in November 2013. Throughout the negotiation period, the FARC have continued their criminal activities, attacking the Colombian army, killing military and civilians, kidnapping an American, and sheltering international terrorists, as
the FARC continues to control swathes of territory and mount attacks on army patrol and oil pipelines.
Voters would pass a referendum containing unpopular measures such as the transformation of the FARC into a political party and special treatment in the justice system for crimes committed by guerrillas, as part of a package that ends half a century of bloodshed, Santos said.
In addition to Santos’s sweet deal deal, FARC leader Timoleón Jiménez, a.k.a. Timochenko, in a rambling video celebrating the FARC’s 50th anniversary (video in Spanish), asked for the abolishment of the Colombian military. Essentially, this would place the the closest Western ally in South America in the hands of the terrorist group, their ‘dream of effective peace.’
The president launched the talks in 2011. He says he is committed to a settlement with the narcoterrorists that will end the conflict while delivering justice to their victims. But the rebels publicly insist they won’t spend even one day in jail. Many Colombians don’t trust a deal between thugs and a president who seems too eager to get a deal. They prefer Mr. Zuluaga’s emphasis on security. He believes the only way to end the violence is to defeat the enemy militarily.
Experts agree that Zuluaga would jack up miltary and police operations against rebel groups across Colombia, as he would likley not be involved in negotiations with the guerrillas. This would lead to greater confrontations with armed groups, but possibly would increase security for people who work in the countryside, who are most subject to kidnappings and extortion at the hand of the guerrillas.
Since neither Santos nor Zuluaga were able to get more than 50 percent for victory, there will be a runoff election on June 15.
The results will have consequences affecting the security of the entire hemisphere.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin America politics and culture at Fausta’s blog.