Tag Archives: Ben Swann

The Prison State of America: 5% of World’s Population but 25% of World’s Prison Population

Washington D.C.- Few Americans understand our prison system.

Even fewer realize that within the walls of prisons across American an entire workforce has been developed. One that works for third world wages and actually accrues massive amounts of debt forced upon it by the privatization of prisons. That debt can actually sent people back to prison after they have served their time.

Author and journalist Chris Hedges has recently completed an eye opening investigation into America’s prison system. Ben Swann interviews Hedges about his report and what people need to know about an increasingly cruel system that has become less about justice and more about the exploitation of people.

Truth in Media: The Root of Police Militarization

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In the latest episode of Truth in Media, Investigative Journalist Ben Swann looks at the root of America’s current problem with the militarization of police.

“The militarization of America’s police forces has captured the nation’s attention, largely because of Ferguson, Missouri,” said Swann. “But what media has not told you, is how police forces got militarized in the first place, and why militarization is about a lot more than just military equipment.”

Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson during a confrontation in August. His death triggered protests, some of which led to rioting and looting.

Swann points out that what really “stunned the nation” was the way police responded to the protests. Rather than responding like a police force that intended to serve and protect, Ferguson police responded like a military unit, complete with armored vehicles and flash grenades. Swann said that for millions of Americans, “this was a stunning site on American streets.”

Swann said that while Benswann.com has been working to raise awareness about the militarization of police for over a year, “the rest of the media acted like they had no idea.”

The program ignored by the mainstream media is the 1033 program. Also called the Department of Defense Excess Property Program, this platform is used by police departments to obtain military equipment. Swann explains:

“It is a federal program that provides surplus DoD military equipment to state and local civilian law enforcement agencies for use in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations, and to enhance officer safety.”

While the 1033 program does provide armored vehicles and flash grenades, it also provides police departments with other emergency supplies that go beyond weaponry.

Larry Kirk, the Police Chief in Old Monroe, Missouri, which is just a few miles from Ferguson, said that he is against banning the 1033 program altogether, due to the fact that it gives smaller departments certain supplies they would not have been able to afford.

However, while Kirk is in favor of keeping the program, he is also one of the few police chiefs in the country who is opposed to departments receiving military weapons. Kirk explained that he is skeptical about the level is militarized weapons that he has seen come through the program recently.
“Being realistic, there is no reason I would ever need an MRAP,” said Kirk. “Most departments would never need one.”

Swann further described the “MRAP,” which is one of two armored vehicles that police departments are given by grant, through the 1033 program. The vehicles, which were originally made to fight in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, were kept by the Department of Defense after the wars cooled down, and are now being granted to local police departments.

According to a report from the New York Times, “about 500 planes, helicopters, and mine-resistant armored vehicles have been obtained, alongside 94,000 machine guns.”

Swann said that following the protests in Ferguson, Americans began to realize the size and scale of the military equipment that was available to local police, and they “began calling for police departments to do away with military vehicles.”

Swann also pointed out that while the mainstream media has covered the protests, it hasn’t worked to provide Americans with the keys to the root of the problem.

“What media has not helped the public understand is that the real problem with militarization is not military equipment,” said Swann. “It’s the use by police of military tactics.”

Swann gave three examples of incidents in which police used military tactics to serve warrants on drugs:

The first example occurred in Detroit, Michigan, when 7-year-old girl Aiyana Jones was awakened in the middle of the night by a stun grenade developed for wartime raids, called a “flash bang,” which was thrown by a SWAT team, and immediately set fire to her blanket. Following the release of the grenade, the SWAT team stormed into the house, and mistakenly shot Jones through the neck, killing her.

A second incident occurred in Tucson, Arizona, when a SWAT team attempted to serve a search warrant as part of a multi-house drug crackdown. Jose Guerena, an Iraq war veteran who lived in the house, instructed his family to hide while he got his gun, after his wife became alarmed at the sight of a shadowy figure standing in their front yard, holding a gun. Guerena retrieved his gun – leaving the safety on – and stepped into the living room. The SWAT team then entered the house and shot him 60 times.

Swann noted that the police “have still never said whether they found drugs” in Guerena’s home.

A third example occurred in Atlanta, Georgia, when a SWAT team visited a family’s home in search of a small amount of drugs they believed were in the possession of the family’s nephew. The parents, three daughters, and a 19-month-old baby boy were asleep in a converted garage when police opened the door and threw a stun grenade in. The grenade landed in the 19-month-old baby’s crib. It blew a hole in his chest, and resulted in such severe burns that the baby was placed in a medically induced coma.

Swann said that, according to author Radley Balkow, “The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.”

These raids have become increasingly frequent, with as many as 40,000 occurring every year. Swann pointed out that the raids are “needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers.”

“Despite what the media spin-doctors will tell you, militarization has nothing to do with the war on terror, and it has everything to do with perpetuating the war on drugs,” Swann said.

Kirk said that he believed the United States has created so many different wars, from the war on crime to the war on drugs, that it has left police officers in the perpetual state of needing to be a “warrior.”

“If you continue to tell people they are in a war, you are going to create warriors,” said Kirk. “You are going to create soldiers that you are now putting on the street.”

Swann traveled to Washington DC to investigate the root of militarization. He noted that although DC has military gear and uses military tactics, “it does not participate in the 1033 program.”

Swann spoke with Seema Sadanandam, the ACLU Director of the Nation’s Capital. Sadanandam explained that while the picture of tanks in the streets was the “most visceral and extreme example” that came out of Ferguson, there is more to the concept of police militarization.

Sadanandam said that the fact that DC does not utilize the 1033 program would be surprising to members of the black communities who have been “subjected to law enforcement’s militarized war on drugs.”

While DC does not participate in the program, it does use military tactics on a daily basis. One of the tactics used, is referred to as the “jump out car.

Sadanandam explained that a “jump out car” is an unmarked car containing four to six officers, dressed in tactical vests, who jump out of the car to ambush their target. “They literally jump out of the car and surprise people,” said Sadanandam, who went on to say that the main objective is to convince people to submit to a so-called “consent search.”

According to Sadanandam, the tactic of using jump out cars is only acceptable in black, brown, and indigent communities, and is not seen in all-white communities.

“In Dupont circle, for example, which is a largely white community and where we know that there is regular cocaine use and cocaine possession, you would never see jump out cars jumping out on a group of white men in business suits, and police saying they fit the description of regular cocaine users,” said Sadanandam. “That would be considered completely unacceptable.”

Swann attended a meeting in southeastern DC, where black residents gathered to express their frustration with militarized police. He noted that people living in these neighborhoods say militarization for them is “not about the idea that so many of us have been confronted with” in the last few months. Instead, it is something they have been dealing with their entire lives.

Orlando Bego, the Pastor of Centerpoint Baptist Church, said that in the midst of the events in Ferguson, the nation was watching the wrong problem, and that getting rid of the 1033 program will not solve the real problem.

“Ferguson is not new,” said Bego. “It may be new for the mass of people who watch it on media outlets, but for people who live in inner city, urban neighborhoods, that is a common tactic that is used.”

Bego believes that even if the 1033 program were eliminated, the military mindset instilled in police officers would still be present. He said he dreads the day that his 10-year-old son, who currently wants to grow up to be a police officer because he views officers as heroes who serve and protect, is “pulled over for driving while black,” or “stopped and harassed for making eye contact.”

Ben Swann maintains that while Americans should be outraged at the idea of militarization, it should not be just because police show up in tanks to a protest. It should be because of the tactics that have been used by police for years, such as using battering rams to knock down people’s doors, and throwing stun grenades through windows, all for the sake of serving drug warrants.

“The militarized mindset isn’t about gear, it’s about tactics,” said Swann. “When we talk about things like ‘no hesitation targets,’ where police are taught to shoot a child holding a gun, or shoot a pregnant woman holding a gun, at what point do we as a public tell police, ‘Stop. We want you to hesitate.’”

Swann noted that while there are still many men and women who become police officers to serve and protect their communities, the problem occurs in the militarized way they are being trained. “They’re being taught to kill or be killed, that every suspect they encounter could be their last encounter, and that every person walking the streets of every community, is a threat, when in fact, it’s simply not true,” Swann said.

“Militarization takes good cops and teaches them to act like they’re in a warzone,” said Swann. “But the streets of the United States of America are not a warzone, and it’s up to us, the public, to keep it that way.”

Truth in Media Project Exposes The Root of Police Militarization

Cincinnati, OH- Wednesday, December 10, 2014 Ben Swann and the Truth in Media Project will release their latest crowdfunded investigation. This story will expose the root of police militarization and why even if the Department of Defense 1033 program comes to an end, militarization will not.

Sign up below to have the episode sent directly to your inbox on December 10th.

Ben Swann: The Problem of Policing for Profit in Out-of-Touch Municipalities

On Monday, Investigative Journalist Ben Swann joined Jerry Doyle on the Jerry Doyle Show to discuss the current events in Ferguson, Missouri, as the country prepared to hear the verdict of whether or not Officer Darren Wilson would be indicted for shooting and killing Michael Brown.

They began by discussing the Grand Jury, and the fact that this case was different than most. Swann explained that in this case, the prosecuting attorney was not only presenting the evidence that might have led to Wilson being indicted, but he was also presenting the defense.

He’s actually arguing both sides,” said Swann. “He’s arguing defense for the officer, and he’s questioning whether or not there is evidence. That would never happen with you or I, and I think that’s part of the problem with this particular situation.”

Swann said that in this case, the most appropriate thing to do would have been for “the St. Louis County prosecutor to recuse himself, and bring in a separate prosecutor,” which did not happen.

When visiting Ferguson two weeks ago, Swann found that the people were not able to identify with the police officers in their community, due to the fact that the majority of the officers do not live in Ferguson.

While most of the media is focused on the results of the Grand Jury’s verdict, Swann pointed out that they are not talking about the issues that have led up to this point.

There is a single incident, yes, but that single incident does not stand alone,” said Swann. “It’s woven into the fabric of all of the issues surrounding this.”

Swann explained that as people are watching coverage of the events in communities like Ferguson, Missouri, they will see the media highlight the events as those where it is “black vs. white,” when in reality, it is an issue of a “municipality that does not respect its people.”

Police officers are not trained to see people as their employers,” said Swann. “They are trained to see citizens as a way of deriving revenue.”

Swann said that one major issue plaguing Ferguson was not the way people were reacting, as much as it was the police’s response to the people’s reaction.

What blew Ferguson up the last time was not the protests, it was how police responded to the protests,” said Swann, who went on to explain that while there were “legitimate criminal acts” occurring that required a response from police, the police weren’t using tanks, tear gas, and rubber bullets to combat the rioters and looters, they were using them against the protestors.

Another issue Swann found evident, not only in this case, but also in communities across the country, was the issue of “policing for profit.”

“Ferguson is an especially egregious community when it comes to officers who write citations,” said Swann, who explained policing for profit as a “form of fining people with tickets for as many infractions as possible.”

As a result, the city of Ferguson profited $3.2 million from traffic fines in the year 2013.

Due to the growing epidemic of policing for profit, Swann said that the community of Ferguson does not feel like the police force is there “to serve or to protect,” as much are they are there “to derive revenue from people.”

It’s not a black vs. white issue. It’s a citizen vs. municipality issue.”


Ben Swann: Ferguson Clashes 30 Years in the Making

Racial issues have long simmered in Ferguson, Missouri and many residents are not surprised at the recent unrest.

Long before Mike Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson, there were decades of tensions. Many of the issues that existed thirty years ago continue today, and it was only a matter of time before people became fed up, they claim.

Ben Swann reports from Ferguson.

Kickstarter Effort Explores Mathematical Formula for Becoming a Champion

The owner and creator of Richter Studios, Jeremy Richter, is working to create a film on Kickstarter that looks at sports in a whole new way. Stadium of Mind goes past the realms of the average sports film, and uses the concept of mental imagery, which can help aspiring athletes who weren’t born with the title, “gifted athlete.”

Richter Studios is the production company behind Ben Swann’s Truth in Media videos. Richter gained experience in crowdfunding while working with Swann on a Kickstarter campaign in 2012.

It’s pretty neat to see the psychology that goes into these campaigns,” said Richter. “If there is anything that is a good representation of free market capitalism right now, it’s crowdfunding, because people are voting with their dollars.”

Richter’s current project, an independent film titled Stadium of Mind, tells the true story of athlete David McLaren, who won the 1994 NCAA National title in the track and field event, shot put.

Despite the fact that McLaren was not favored to win the event, he overcame the odds using the concept of mental imagery. Richter tells Benswann.com that he was drawn to McLaren’s story, because McLaren was a good friend of his. “I was kind of the fly on the wall that saw the whole thing happen 20 years ago in real time,” Richter said.

Richter explained that he was introduced to the concept of determining the odds, based on statistical formulas, by one of his teachers in 1992. The teacher explained that by using a “regression analysis,” to put different weights on different variables, he could determine the outcome of an event, within a 3% margin of error.

As a student, Richter wanted to know if there was a formula that showed how he could become a national champion. When his teacher said that there was, Richter began to look into the necessary variables. One of those variables was mental imagery.

Mental imagery is basically the way you train your mind,” said Richter, who went on to explain that it involves a meditation program of relaxation, positive affirmation, and recall experiences. These come together to create a rehearsal, in which athletes create the future sports performances in their heads.

“I wanted to make a film about the power of the human imagination, and how it is much more powerful than people realize.”

Richter first came up with the idea for the title “Stadium of Mind” in 2012, when he was making campaign videos for Ron Paul.

After making the short film Elektable, Richter was looking to do a follow-up, when he came up with the phrase “Stadium of Mind.”

At that time, I wanted to show how Ron Paul’s ideas were so appealing that he could build the biggest stadium on Earth, and fill it, because most people agree with what he has to say,” said Richter. “It was just that the media that wasn’t giving him a platform for people to hear it.” 

“If everybody is thinking the same, nobody is thinking,” said Richter, who explained that he admires people like Ron Paul, and Ben Swann, due to the fact that while they might not be right all the time, they are willing to think differently.

Although today’s version of Stadium of Mind has adopted a different script, Richter tells Benswann.com that it is still a “thinking man’s movie.”

This film is a thinking man’s film, in that it’s not just another sports film where the guy trains hard, and has to break through obstacles, and then throws the winning pass, or makes the winning shot,” said Richter. “That has been done a million times, and I wanted to make something that makes people realize that success doesn’t have to happen in a weight room, and it doesn’t have to come from a bottle.

Richter explained that while a lot of people are not necessarily born to be successful, they can learn how to use their minds to achieve the goals they set for themselves. “Those who learn how to use their mind creatively can find an answer for just about anything,” said Richter. “I think that applies to life, in general. It can apply to sports, and it certainly can apply to politics.”

Stadium of Mind is what I think is sorely needed for athletes,” said Richter, who went on to say that sports have become a lot like the two-party system, due to the fact that in America we have created a sports system that nearly every athlete is a victim of, which consists of three main pillars.

Richter tells Benswann.com that the first pillar is the question parents ask themselves when their son or daughter is born: “Was my child born a gifted athlete?

However, due to the fact that “only one child out of a thousand” is born a gifted athlete, the parents who are still committed to their children excelling in sports, send them to sports camps to work with specialists.

Richter explained that this second pillar of the sports system “requires the parents spend thousands of dollars every single year, if they want their child to get a little closer to being a gifted athlete,” and it is “out of reach for most people, unless they have a large discretionary income for their son or daughter to play a little better in sports.”

The third and final pillar occurs further down the road, when an aspiring athlete realizes that everything they have tried has not led to them becoming a gifted athlete, so they decide to start taking performance-enhancing drugs. “You see high schoolers doing it now, and you certainly see tons of college kids doing it,” said Richter. “From steroids to hormones to experimental stuff, it’s a sad road to go down.”

Richter tells Benswann.com that he believes there is a fourth pillar that no one talks about: Mental imagery.

You can train your mind to do things that will go way beyond what you have ever done before,” said Richter. “The greatest thing about mental imagery is that it’s free, and all you need is your mind, and your imagination.”

Stadium of Mind’s Kickstarter page is open now, and will be accepting backers until December 27, 2014. Watch the trailer for Stadium of Mind below:

Ben Swann Live in Ferguson Missouri on “eve” of Grand Jury Decision

Ferguson, MO- As the community of Ferguson, Missouri prepares for the reading of a grand jury decision on the police killing of African-American teenager Michael Brown, Ben Swann is on the ground taking a hard look at the issues behind the unrest that shook the nation.

Broadcasting live with RT America, Ben Swann goes beyond the headlines to examine the growing militarization of American police, the emerging “policing for profit” trend and why the issues in Ferguson are much bigger than just the case of Officer Darren Wilson and the Brown family.

Gary Johnson: Choosing Between GOP or Dems is Like Choice of Coke or Pepsi

Washington, DC- Third parties cannot be successful unless the Democratic and Republican parties begin allowing them to participate in televised debates, according to former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. Speaking to RT’s Erin Ade and Ben Swann, the Libertarian activist laid out what is wrong with the current two-party system, and compared choosing between Democrats and Republicans to choosing between Coke and Pepsi: any difference is merely cosmetic.

Ben Swann Interviews Independent Candidate Who Is Poised For Congressional Upset

Mark Wichern is running for public office in Florida’s 1st congressional district. According to his campaign website, Mark started his small business with only “$500 in his pocket,” and now it is a successful business with more than 20 employees.

Wichern is serious about ending the Federal Reserve system and replacing it with a sound monetary system. He also wants to end the IRS.

Wichern talked with Ben Swann about his campaign which has been endorsed by Oathkeepers, local Tea Parties and the local Libertarian Party.

Wichern, who is running against Republican incumbent Jeff Miller, says he has the momentum to shock the political establishment and win Florida’s 1st Congressional District seat.

Graham And McCain Can’t Make Up Their Minds About Boots-On-The-Ground Strategy

So, which is it?

Apparently, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham think that the American people have selective amnesia.

According to a piece in Forbes, McCain has criticized President Obama’s position on whether America will fight ISIS, or ISIL, using ground troops. The President has said that he doesn’t support the use of ground troops. And, this hasn’t satisfied present-day McCain.

Contributor Rick Ungar wrote: “Senator McCain rose to speak on the floor of the United States Senate where, in his now trademarked brand of righteous indignation, the Senator asked, ‘Why does the president insist on continuing to tell the enemy what he will not do? Why does the president keep telling the people that are slaughtering thousands, ‘Don’t worry, we will not commit ground troops’?”

This chest-thumping happened after McCain has previously said he too wouldn’t support ground troops:

In an June 13th appearance on the “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” McCain said, “I think you have to explain to the American people what kind of a threat that an ISIS takeover of Iraq would pose to the United States of America. Can you imagine a caliphate or a center of violent Muslim extremism dedicated to attacking the United States, the consequences of that? That has to be explained to the American people.”

He continued, “I do not envision a scenario where ground combat troops are on the ground…. I would not commit to putting Americans boots on the ground.”

Senator Graham seems to be flip-flopping too.

Graham said in a June 10 interview with Fox News, “I don’t think we need boots on the ground. I don’t think that is an option worth consideration.”

Ben Swann recently spoke with RT.com saying, “The U.S. is creating a perpetual state of war by attacking ISIS on one hand while simultaneously funding ISIS indirectly though the Free Syrian Army.”

Swann said, “Senator Rand Paul talked about this quite a bit here in the U.S., that the U.S. needs to step back and acknowledge the fact that we have funded these groups and given them technology capability, money and fighters in order to become the Islamic state.

Swann exposed the hypocrisy of this U.S. foreign policy strategy by asking, “How are we able to create sanctions against other countries when we are sending these fighters?”

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Exclusive Video Interview: Dr. Gary Miller Says Veterans With PTSD Need Access To Cannabis

After watching Ben Swann’s latest video titled Truth In Media: Feds Say Cannabis Is Not Medicine While Holding The Patent On Cannabis As Medicine, Dr. Gary Miller immediately contacted BenSwann.com to let us know that he is part of a landmark medical marijuana study for Veterans.

In an exclusive interview, Dr. Gary Miller told Ben Swann writer Evan Mulch that veterans with PTSD now have the opportunity to participate in the Veterans Post Traumatic Stress & Medical Cannabis Study and he hopes to see 10,000 Veterans enroll in the study in the coming months.

When asked why it is so important that Veterans have access to cannabis, Dr. Miller said:

“Right now it’s the opinion of the study group that when the Veterans Health Administration reestablishes effective medical programs, the United States will begin as a nation to honor its commitment to the Veteran community and further it is an opinion of the study group that currently the VA is failing the Veterans as evidenced by the hourly rate of Veterans’ suicides.”

Dr. Miller went on to state that the federal government did not give permission for the study to take place but since it has been approved by an Institutional Review Board, the study is exempt from needing federal government approval.

As a benefit to the study, Enigami Health Management donated $300K of in-kind technology in the form of a patient health record which is being used in the study in order to keep track of a person’s cannabinoid levels.

“But what’s very unique about it is that we are able to track the cannabinoid levels, up to 11 different cannabinoids, and we are able to link that to the Veteran’s symptom relief. We are able track that not only on the cannabis but also over-the-counter medication and prescribed medications — and that populates into a nice little graph in order for the Veterans or caregivers, their doctors and pharmacists at the dispensary to help the Veterans determine the best medicine for them.”

When Dr. Miller was asked what he expected to get out of the study, he said:

“It’s very simple, medical cannabis…does it help or not help Veterans suffering from PTSD?”.

Dr. Miller said that all Veterans who want to participate in the study to move to one of the 23 states approved or Washington D.C and he hopes that Veterans in every state can get the opportunity to join the study in the near future.

“Hopefully our study will help guide policy, not only with the VA but for our administration and Congress.”

Ben Swann reporter Derrick Broze recently spoke with Heather Linebaugh about her experiences with alternative treatments to PTSD, to read that article click HERE.

If you are a Veteran and you would like to sign-up for the study, go to www.vetptsdstudy.org. To learn more about the VHA Directive click HERE. To view the public announcement about the study that was released on July 4th, click HERE.


Ben Swann Talks with Ron Paul: Is Alternative Media Losing Momentum?

In a recent video for Voices of Liberty, former Texas Congressman Dr. Ron Paul interviewed investigative Journalist Ben Swann about bias in the media, the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and about the United States’ foreign policy.

Given the current situation with ISIS in the Middle East, Paul started by asking how it differed from the situation in the Middle East one year ago, when the U.S. Government was pushing to go to war with Syria.

A year ago, our efforts to tone down the war and to not expand the war were doing quite well,” said Paul. “But here, just recently, with some of the killings, and the advance, and the description of ISIS, all of a sudden there’s a tremendous shift.”

Swann pointed out that, “A year ago the American public overwhelmingly rejected that idea, and that was an enormous victory for the alternative media and for new media, because the old media continued to respond the same way they always have.”

Swann said that the images ISIS has released of their militants “cutting off journalists’ heads” and “slaughtering Christians in Iraq and Syria,” has created a sense of fear among Americans.

What’s different here, is that with ISIS, there is this fear, the propaganda of fear, that was much more and is much more successful than what we saw in Syria,” said Swann. “Because, at the end of the day, regardless of where Americans fell on the issue of Syria, virtually no one was afraid of Assad over here.

People have these archetypes, I think, built into their minds,” said Swann, who went on to describe the tendencies people have to fall back and to say, “Okay, we shouldn’t be involved everywhere in the world, but this time, and on this occasion, now we’ve got to go back and we’ve got to do something again.”

Swann pointed out that the mainstream media does not discourage Americans from these tendencies, due to the fact that they are operating under a left/right paradigm.

On the left, or on the right, it doesn’t matter where media pretends to fall, they’re all pushing for the same thing: Intervention.”

When Paul asked Ben Swann about what projects he was working on, and what reports he was trying to expose, Swann discussed the newest episode of Truth in Media.

Swann explained that the episode was about Cannabis and CBD Oil, and the focus was on “explaining to people, not just what it is, but here’s the real threat that it faces in our government’s system.”

I think people are going to be very surprised to see, while government is saying one thing, their actions on the other side of that issue are polar opposite.

Swann also mentioned that he is working to create another piece that will “demonstrate to people, the truth about where ISIS came from.”

It is not inaction that created ISIS,” said Swann, who instead blames “direct action,” by the U.S. government, due to the fact that they are funding “so-called rebels in Syria,” along with “groups along the Iraq-Syria border, in order to overthrow Assad that created this in the first place.”

Beyond just Journalism, I think this is one of the most important stories that we can share with folks,” Swann said.

History just continues to repeat itself, and unless we show people, ‘Step back from the emotion, and think sensibly about what’s happened here,’ we’re doomed to keep making these same mistakes.”

When asked about his relationship with Journalists who work in the mainstream media, Swann said that he is often told that his work is “a little too conspiratorial.”

What’s sad to me about that, is that if you go and look at the body of our work, there’s nothing conspiratorial about anything that we do,” said Swann.

As a Journalist, I think your highest calling is to be the most critical eye in the room,” said Swann. “Instead, we’ve actually adopted a belief that a reporter is just a repeater. Just repeat whatever you’re told, and if you don’t do that, then there’s something wrong with you.”

Ben Swann: Is Rand Paul The Face Of “Justice” In The GOP?

Ben Swann, filling in for Steve Malzberg on NewsMaxTV interviewed contributing editor of Rare.us and former aide to Sen. Rand Paul, Jack Hunter. Hunter joins Ben to discuss his Politico column, “What Rand Paul Can Teach the Republican Party about Race”. The discussion covers whether Sen. Paul and Congressmen such as Rep. Thomas Massie and Rep. Justin Amash will be able to bring a sense of justice to the GOP.

Lawsuit Responds To Argument That Voters Have No Rights in Primaries, But Must Pay For Them

On Thursday, New Jersey voters responded in court to a motion to dismiss a lawsuit, filed by New Jersey Secretary of State, Kim Guadagno.

Investigative Journalist, Ben Swann, first placed a spotlight on the lawsuit in March, when he discussed “End Partisanship” on an episode of Truth in Media. “New Jersey requires that a voter affiliate with a political party approved by the State as a precondition to participating in the primary process,” explained Swann.

This requirement has created major problems for the 47.6% of voters in New Jersey who don’t fall into the State’s approved category of either Democrat or Republican, yet are still required to fund the primary elections through tax dollars. Those who weren’t being properly represented in New Jersey chose to fight back with a lawsuit, using the organization End Partisanship.

End Partisanship is a coalition formed by leaders from different political organizations who seek to to break the two-party system’s hold on primary elections by making their candidates stronger, and by giving a voice to those who either have a third party affiliation, or none at all. A legal advisor from the Independent Voter Project, Chad Peace, described End Partisanship as having developed a “state by state legal strategy defending the rights of individual independent voters in the courtroom.”

The lawsuit End Partisanship filed in New Jersey was a first from the organization, and its leaders plan to use it as a blueprint they can eventually apply to all states. Ben Swann explained that the suit “seeks to protect the fundamental right to vote under the New Jersey and United States Constitutions, which have no requirement that a voter forfeit their First Amendment right not to associate with a political party.”

In May, General John J. Hoffman, an Attorney for the secretary of state’s office, filed a motion to dismiss the challenge on the constitutionality of New Jersey’s primary election system. New Jersey Secretary of State, Kim Guadagno, responded to the constituents by arguing that while American citizens in New Jersey do not have a right to vote in primary elections, political parties do have a right to use taxpayer dollars to fund them.

The supporters of End Partisanship took to court on July 3, to respond to the motion to dismiss the lawsuit. They stated that they had simply asked the State to ensure that the publicly funded primary election system not function as a private enterprise that deprives them of their ability to cast a meaningful vote. They pointed out that by keeping their votes from having equal representation, the state “confers on those private political parties a gratuitous advantage.”

The lawsuit acknowledged the fact that giving the State, “the veil of state sovereignty would de facto immunize private interests from constitutional scrutiny whenever the State, or an actor of the State, is so influenced by those private interests that they become one and the same.”

The lawsuit went on to say that while the State looks to extend its holding by arguing that voters have no fundamental right to participate in the primary stage of an electoral process, the Plaintiff contends that “the State’s primary election system, taken as a whole, confers a special benefit to the dominant private political parties and their members to the complete exclusion of nearly half of all registered voters.”

Plaintiffs assert the necessity of an electoral system that provides all voters an equally meaningful opportunity to participate at all integral stages of the election process, including the primary,” stated the lawsuit.

At a time when unaffiliated voters make up 47 percent of the State’s electorate, the need for judicial intervention is compelling.”

NYPD crackdown on sleeping subway passenger

A subway passenger in New York City was recently arrested by the NYPD for the crime of taking a nap on his way home from work.

A video recorded by an onlooker shows a black man on a nearly empty subway car being drug to the floor of the car while asking the officers why he was being arrested.  The officers tell him to relax while struggling to the ground, and the man says, “I didn’t do sh**. I’m sleeping.”

Further on in the video, the man tells the other passengers and officers he was on his way home from work and asks others to record his arrest.

According to the NYPD, the man was breaking the Mass Transit Authority’s rules of conduct by “occupying more than one seat,” at a time and cited this as the man’s reason for arrest.  The video is unclear though as to whether or not the man was occupying more than one seat.

This comes as part of the NYPD’s harsher standards for the city.

The NYPD, under Commissioner Bill Bratton, has adopted punishments and penalties for petty crimes which would normally result in fines or go unpunished.  These petty crimes include being homeless and staying in the subways and dancing or creating improvised music for subway goers.

These standards have been derived from the “Broken Windows” theory of criminology, made famous by social scientists and criminologists James Wilson and George Kelling.

The theory connects social disorder with crime, saying no accountability for one broken window in a building sends the message throughout the area that “no one cares,” allowing petty crimes to go unpunished.

NRA calls open carry protests ‘weird’

The NRA, in a statement following open carry protests at restaurants and other public places, has called such protests “weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while preparing to defend yourself.”

Open carry protests have gained media attention recently as the Mexican fast-food chain Chipotle asked customers in Dallas, Texas not to bring their assault-style weapons into their restaurants.  This is not the first time restaurants have asked customers not to bring their weapons into their stores.  Last year, Starbucks also asked gun-owners to leave their weapons at home when they want to enjoy their coffee.

Chipotle’s communications director Chris Arnold made a statement last month, according to CNN, saying, “We are respectfully asking that customers not bring guns into our restaurants, unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.”

The gun rights group Open Carry Texas was upset by the statements made by the NRA, and the group has threatened to withdraw support of the NRA if they do not redact their comments according to Al-Jazeera America.

OCT also made a post on their Facebook page showing a picture of a destroyed NRA membership card with statements calling for the NRA to stop dividing their members and for the group to support gun rights everywhere.

A poll by the Pew Research Center has claimed people now own guns for personal protection rather than hunting or any other reason.  With this poll in mind, the Week makes the claim individuals carrying guns openly into restaurants are making “people feel unsafe.”

In their statement, the NRA concludes by saying when “people act without thinking, or without consideration for others- especially when it comes to firearms- they set the stage for further restrictions on our rights.”

DEVELOPING: Russian Troops Storm Ukrainian Airbase in Crimea

Armed Russian forces backed by armored vehicles broke into a Ukrainian airbase Saturday in Crimea.  The three armored vehicles reportedly rammed through a gate of the Belbek airbase after Russian forces had given word to troops inside to either surrender or prepare to be stormed.

Reports from the scene indicate that the armored vehicles smashed through the gates of the compound while other Russian soldiers broke through the walls in other sections of the facility.

According to a correspondent with AFP, armed men wearing camouflage and sunglasses fired automatic weapons into the air and dismantled a camera providing a live feed of the front gate of the base.  Russian soldiers were also seen pointing guns at Ukrainian soldiers.
According to a Ukrainian defense ministry official, at least two soldiers were shot during the raid of the base, though there are no reports of any deaths.

Here, you can watch video from the video camera feed at the airbase:

There are in total only about three Ukrainian strongholds in the region of Crimea.  With the Belbek base now under Russian control, the number of remaining Ukrainian strongholds has now fallen by one.