Originally was posted on "Stumble Upon" this information is important!

If Everyone Knew

 

 

1.

The prison system in the United States is a profit-making industry.

Private corporations operate over 200 facilities nationwide and are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

READ MORE

 

2.

Six corporations control virtually all American media.

News Corp. owns over 27 television stations and over 150 newspapers. Time Warner has over 100 subsidiaries including CNN, Time Magazine, and The CW.

READ MORE

 

3.

The FBI admits to infiltrating & disrupting peaceful political groups in the United States.,

The Womens’ and Civil Rights movements were among those targeted, with their members being beaten, imprisoned, and assassinated.

READ MORE

 

4.

In 1977 it was revealed that random American citizens were abducted & tortured for research by the CIA.

Project MK Ultra was the code name for a series of covert activities in the early 1950’s.

READ MORE

 

5.

A plan to attack American cities to justify war with Cuba was approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962.

Rejected by President Kennedy, Operation Northwoods remained classified for 35 years.

READ MORE

 

References

“The irony of the situation is that he’s basically taking heroin to maintain his physical condition to continue to investigate major drug dealers,” the attorney said.

How one FBI agent who busted drug rings became an addict

 

 

Washington (AFP) – Matthew Lowry once had a promising career in the FBI. But his drug addiction got the better of him, and on Thursday, he was sentenced to three years in prison for stealing heroin he had collected as evidence.

Lowry, 33, was relieved of his duties after his tampering with evidence forced US prosecutors to abandon their cases against more than two dozen drug traffickers.

His fall from grace began with an addiction to prescription painkillers to treat his ulcerative colitis — a painful inflammation of the large intestine.

His dependency on medication to relieve his chronic pain morphed into a heroin addiction during his work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, defense attorney Robert Bonsib told AFP.

"The irony of the situation is that he’s basically taking heroin to maintain his physical condition to continue to investigate major drug dealers," the attorney said.

"He was using heroin not to get high, but to be able to work hard."

It was a precipitous downward spiral for a young agent from whom many had anticipated great things.

At his sentencing, in a statement interspersed with tears and long silences, Lowry apologized to his former FBI colleagues and the US government, stating that he accepted "full responsibility" for his actions while asking Federal Judge Thomas Hogan for "leniency."

Lowry, the father of an 18-month-old toddler, had dreamed all his life of following in his police officer father’s footsteps into a career in law enforcement.

He graduated with honors from the FBI training academy near Washington, and just three years later was assigned to an elite anti-drug trafficking unit.

But even as he was receiving accolades from his superiors, Lowry secretly found ways over many months to steal small amounts of the heroin seized as evidence in various drug busts, to which he had access.

"We have a federal agent who for a long period of time, 14 months, committed a crime repeatedly," prosecutor Kevin Brenner said at the hearing.

View gallery

Former FBI agent Matthew Lowry (R) arrives for sentencing …

Former FBI agent Matthew Lowry (R) arrives for sentencing at US District Court on July 9, 2015 in Wa …

Lowry’s wrongdoings were finally uncovered during a drug-induced high in late September, in a section of Washington infamous as a haven for trafficking.

The counternarcotics agent, according to court documents, was found to be "incoherent."

His car, which had run out of gas, had traces of heroin seized in the drug arrests in which he had participated — along with some emptied evidence bags.

Authorities also found weapons and cell phones confiscated during the same sting operations.

Lowry pleaded guilty in late March to 64 counts, including obstruction of justice, falsification of records and possession of heroin.

His father, William Lowry, pleaded for forgiveness for not having noticed his son’s decline, while choking back tears.

"He protected the whole community but he didn’t protect himself, he didn’t save himself," he said at the sentencing.

Rendering one of his "most difficult sentencings in more than 32 years" Hogan compared addiction to "a serious brain disease" and said he considered it a mitigating factor.

Clearly relieved at having received three years rather than the seven to nine recommended by the government, Lowry said as he left the court that he thought "the judge understood how powerfully addiction can affect one person’s behavior."

– Drug stings lost –

Lowry’s theft of drug evidence led to the unraveling of several cases, and forced authorities to free about 30 drug dealers because the evidence used in their arrests had been tampered with.

Charges were notably dropped for 15 dealers from a notorious trafficking ring that operated between California and Washington, and for a dozen New York drug traffickers who ran a flourishing crack and heroin smuggling operation.

Officials also prematurely shut down several other probes.

Another four convicted drug traffickers with sentences of up to five years in prison asked for their sentences to be vacated.

Lowry’s lawyer said his client went through rehab but was still attending "Narcotics Anonymous" programs.

"This is a young man who from the time he was a child wanted to be a police officer," the attorney said.

"When he was four, five, six, he was dressing as a police officer," Bonsib said.

"That aspiration has been crushed by his own conduct."

Nevertheless, some good may come from Lowry’s effort to make amends — by serving as a warning to others in law enforcement not to repeat his mistakes, the attorney added.

"He’s willing to tell his story," Bonsib said.

"He’s devastated by the consequences of his conduct… There’s a story to be told, which could be helpful for others."

Lowry will serve out his sentence at a prison in Maryland.

CONTINUE READING…

"The irony of the situation is that he's basically taking heroin to maintain his physical condition to continue to investigate major drug dealers," the attorney said.

How one FBI agent who busted drug rings became an addict

 

 

Washington (AFP) – Matthew Lowry once had a promising career in the FBI. But his drug addiction got the better of him, and on Thursday, he was sentenced to three years in prison for stealing heroin he had collected as evidence.

Lowry, 33, was relieved of his duties after his tampering with evidence forced US prosecutors to abandon their cases against more than two dozen drug traffickers.

His fall from grace began with an addiction to prescription painkillers to treat his ulcerative colitis — a painful inflammation of the large intestine.

His dependency on medication to relieve his chronic pain morphed into a heroin addiction during his work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, defense attorney Robert Bonsib told AFP.

"The irony of the situation is that he’s basically taking heroin to maintain his physical condition to continue to investigate major drug dealers," the attorney said.

"He was using heroin not to get high, but to be able to work hard."

It was a precipitous downward spiral for a young agent from whom many had anticipated great things.

At his sentencing, in a statement interspersed with tears and long silences, Lowry apologized to his former FBI colleagues and the US government, stating that he accepted "full responsibility" for his actions while asking Federal Judge Thomas Hogan for "leniency."

Lowry, the father of an 18-month-old toddler, had dreamed all his life of following in his police officer father’s footsteps into a career in law enforcement.

He graduated with honors from the FBI training academy near Washington, and just three years later was assigned to an elite anti-drug trafficking unit.

But even as he was receiving accolades from his superiors, Lowry secretly found ways over many months to steal small amounts of the heroin seized as evidence in various drug busts, to which he had access.

"We have a federal agent who for a long period of time, 14 months, committed a crime repeatedly," prosecutor Kevin Brenner said at the hearing.

View gallery

Former FBI agent Matthew Lowry (R) arrives for sentencing …

Former FBI agent Matthew Lowry (R) arrives for sentencing at US District Court on July 9, 2015 in Wa …

Lowry’s wrongdoings were finally uncovered during a drug-induced high in late September, in a section of Washington infamous as a haven for trafficking.

The counternarcotics agent, according to court documents, was found to be "incoherent."

His car, which had run out of gas, had traces of heroin seized in the drug arrests in which he had participated — along with some emptied evidence bags.

Authorities also found weapons and cell phones confiscated during the same sting operations.

Lowry pleaded guilty in late March to 64 counts, including obstruction of justice, falsification of records and possession of heroin.

His father, William Lowry, pleaded for forgiveness for not having noticed his son’s decline, while choking back tears.

"He protected the whole community but he didn’t protect himself, he didn’t save himself," he said at the sentencing.

Rendering one of his "most difficult sentencings in more than 32 years" Hogan compared addiction to "a serious brain disease" and said he considered it a mitigating factor.

Clearly relieved at having received three years rather than the seven to nine recommended by the government, Lowry said as he left the court that he thought "the judge understood how powerfully addiction can affect one person’s behavior."

– Drug stings lost –

Lowry’s theft of drug evidence led to the unraveling of several cases, and forced authorities to free about 30 drug dealers because the evidence used in their arrests had been tampered with.

Charges were notably dropped for 15 dealers from a notorious trafficking ring that operated between California and Washington, and for a dozen New York drug traffickers who ran a flourishing crack and heroin smuggling operation.

Officials also prematurely shut down several other probes.

Another four convicted drug traffickers with sentences of up to five years in prison asked for their sentences to be vacated.

Lowry’s lawyer said his client went through rehab but was still attending "Narcotics Anonymous" programs.

"This is a young man who from the time he was a child wanted to be a police officer," the attorney said.

"When he was four, five, six, he was dressing as a police officer," Bonsib said.

"That aspiration has been crushed by his own conduct."

Nevertheless, some good may come from Lowry’s effort to make amends — by serving as a warning to others in law enforcement not to repeat his mistakes, the attorney added.

"He’s willing to tell his story," Bonsib said.

"He’s devastated by the consequences of his conduct… There’s a story to be told, which could be helpful for others."

Lowry will serve out his sentence at a prison in Maryland.

CONTINUE READING…

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act, S.134, only has nine (9) cosponsors and “VOTE HEMP” needs signatures now!

VH Report header

 

 

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act, S.134, only has nine (9) cosponsors. The most recent cosponsors are Senator Bennett (D-CO), Senator Tester (D-MT) and Senator Baldwin (D-WI). We are grateful for their support but we need many more.

This important legislation would greatly benefit opportunities in terms of jobs and economic development in legal hemp states by removing industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.

Together we can pass this legislation, but we need your support today. Add your name to show the Senate the overwhelming grassroots support behind the Industrial Hemp Farming Act.

 

 

Sign the Petition Today!

As always, thank you for your continued support of this effort to restore industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity. Please share this with friends, family and any network that is willing to help with our cause.

About Vote Hemp

Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for industrial hemp, low-THC oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow the crop.

Web Site: http://www.VoteHemp.com

Support Vote Hemp

Vote Hemp depends entirely on donations to support our work. Please consider making a donation today.

Contribute Here: http://www.VoteHemp.com/contribute

Vote Hemp, Inc.

Colleen (Sauvé) Keahey

National Outreach Coordinator
email: [email protected]

Join Our Mailing List

 

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Vote Hemp, Inc. | P.O. Box 1571 | Brattleboro | VT | 05302

*This post for "Vote Hemp" is a free service from Sheree Krider.

A Bike Tour of Eastern Kentucky‘s Back Roads

 

Ale-8-One is a ginger-ale-like soda usually sold in glass bottles and popular in the hills of eastern Kentucky. During a bike trip through the region last month, for example, I washed down a burger with one on the back porch of a bed-and-breakfast owned by a man who once walked more than 3,000 miles across America on stilts. The next night, I blasted another out of the crook of a tree branch with a 9-millimeter Smith & Wesson.

I rarely drink soda and I’m not into guns. But what’s the point of travel if not to have new and sometimes discomforting experiences?

Eastern Kentucky, Appalachian coal country, was, in truth, a rather random destination, the result of browsing the routes plied by Megabus and realizing I could get to nearby Lexington from New York for only $63, round trip. (Warning: the bus trip is far from direct and took me a total of 17 hours on the road, with two connections.) As my method of transit within the state, I chose a bicycle. Bikes are the most social form of of transportation; people wave to you, and you can stop in anywhere to fill a water bottle or charge a phone. Though Kentucky has plenty of beautiful scenery, my hope was that this trip would be about people. Bring on the discomfort.

After some emails and phone calls with two avid Lexington cyclists — Randy Thomas, president of the Bluegrass Cycling Club, and Allen Kirkwood of the nonprofit Broke Spoke Community Bike Shop — I had a four-day, 160-mile back roads route through a bit of bluegrass country, best known for its horses and bourbon, and then east into the hills. I would pass by Red River Gorge in Daniel Boone National Forest, and tiny towns with nary a restaurant or motel before picking up about 20 miles of a new bike and horse path, the Dawkins Line Rail Trail. It ends near a small town called Paintsville, which happens to be home to a rare Enterprise Rent-a-Car office that could get me back to Lexington and my return bus.

But first, the bike. At Scheller’s Fitness and Cycling in Lexington, a Trek Domane 4.3 was $160 for up to a week. Once I had wended my way out of the city, things got scenic fast: car-free country lanes lined with deep-brown, four-rail fences enclosing lush pastures dotted with horses that barely moved in the heat. It felt like riding through a painting, until a horse’s tail whisked away a fly or a wind gust rustled a tree.

A couple of hours in, things began to change. Horses gave way to cows, fences got shabbier, the paint on homes more weathered. And I finally began to encounter people, as in the tiny, worn center of North Middletown, population 650 or so, where I stopped at a gas station and convenience store that was — typically, I would later learn — the lone source of action in town. I treated myself to a soft ice cream ($1.69) and asked a man sitting outside what was going on. “Nothing,” he said. “People are either on welfare or on drugs.”

Back on my bike, I headed through a route dotted with barns. Slender gaps in the boards of one older barn created a strobe effect as I rode past. Outside another, dozens of goats lounged in the shade, only to scatter as I approached, as had horses earlier in the trip.

Thirty-odd miles later, after an unfussy $9.99 catfish dinner at Kathy’s Country Kitchen in Clay City, I checked into the nondescript Abner Motel ($60 for the night), expecting to collapse on my bed. However, Mexican ranchera music was playing in the parking lot and I wandered out to inquire. A mostly Latino group of workers on a local gas pipeline was occupying a row of rooms, and had set up a barbecue.

A Texas-born Mexican-American gave me a Corona and pointed me toward the grill; Salvadoran immigrants from Tallahassee, Fla., talked about the time they had worked on a Nantucket golf course where Bill Clinton played; and a burly West Virginia ironworker named Jim urged me to try his co-worker’s freshly made salsa. Jim also tried to give me a tutorial on the use of white bread as a leak-stopper for cracked PVC pipe. Ah, people. So much more welcoming than horses or goats.

With a lack of lodging along upcoming stretches of my route, I was to stay the next night just six miles ahead (plus the loop through the national forest), at a bed-and-breakfast. At $110, it was way over my budget, but Randy and Allen, the two bike experts, insisted that I was not to miss the character who owned it: Joe Bowen, a retired construction worker, political activist, inveterate storyteller and Kentucky booster. His local bona fides were strong, to wit, his Bowen Farm Bed & Breakfast is at 315 Bowen Road, in Bowen, Ky., and his family has been in the region since the 1700s. A widower, he built the house using parts he had salvaged in the demolition of old country estates.

Joe had extraordinary energy. He made the beds, cooked breakfast, booked reservations and entertained his guests, which in this case meant me and the six-person Olnick family, who had been vacationing at Joe’s for years. Randy and Allen had told him about me, so my cover had been blown, and I thought I might be given special treatment. It was his regulars who got it.

In just the day I was there, he repeatedly pushed the youngest Olnick, Addison, on a swing and held a barbecue and joint birthday party for himself (he turned 72) and the Olnick’s oldest daughter, Kearstin (14). (This was where I tried the Ale-8-One.) They treated Joe like a grandfather, and he spoiled them as though he was one.

That day, after I had biked into some challenging hills in the Red River Gorge Geological Area, Joe met me in his truck (with two of the Olnick kids in tow) to show me some views of the forested gorge and its sandstone cliffs, popular among climbers. These included views of two of the 100-plus natural bridges the area is perhaps best known for. I questioned whether Joe would do this for all his guests, but the stories he told at Sky Bridge and Angel Windows were so smooth and practiced it was obvious I was far from the first to hear them.

In fact, his stories never stopped. How he had maneuvered to have the founder of a local children’s home carry the Olympic torch. How he had walked from Los Angeles to Bowen on stilts, and later traveled across the country by bike. How he got a statue built of his favorite Kentucky leader, Bert Combs, who was governor from 1959 to 1963. And then there was the time he made the newspaper, by accusing a prominent architect of stealing ideas for a building in downtown Lexington from the Sphinx.

I’d miss all this hospitality during the following two-day stretch of my trip, with 85 miles to Paintsville and nowhere to sleep in between.

I started again early Sunday morning, riding past barns decorated with colorful quilt patterns, flower-covered graves in tiny family cemeteries, Civil War plaques (Kentucky was a famously divided border state), and, occasionally, shops that could have passed for tourist attractions, like Bea’s Bee Hive in Hazel Green, a former
general store turned into something between a yard sale and an antiques shop, open only on weekends.

What were really missing were lunch options, which were limited mostly to Hunt Brothers Pizza at gas stations. That problem was solved at the tiny, whitewashed Country Side Community Church along a meandering stretch of Route 134. I was attracted by the “Everyone welcome” sign, handwritten on blistered white paint, and headed in, hoping to have a glimpse inside, a friendly conversation or, who knows, a lead on a place to sleep. Instead I found a meal — there was plenty of spaghetti and meat sauce in the kitchen left over from play rehearsal for an upcoming bible camp — heard from the family that had so kindly invited me in about how the church was founded by a missionary from New York, and admired their “tarpin,” which is how they pronounced terrapin.

 

 

By 5:30 or so, I had reached the Dawkins Line Rail Trail, but I found it was gravel and not bike-friendly. Wondering about a potential alternative route, I stopped at yet another gas station, the Parkway Convenient Mart, for some assistance.

This one was different. At the counter, homemade Kentucky cream candy (a melt-in-your-mouth local treat) was on sale in plastic baggies for $3, and people gathered by an out-of-place communal table near the soda machine. They were members of the Marsillett family, owners of the store. The road would take me to Paintsville, they said, but they doubted I could make it there before dark.

So they made me an offer: I could stay in one of the family’s hunting cabins, set deep in the woods amid their hundreds of acres. Minutes later I was hanging out with Kevin, 19, and his cousins, Cody, 14, and Jordan, 10, at their pool. The family was obviously well-off, at least in local terms: The house was huge, and in addition to owning the gas station, the family bred hunting dogs and owned a metal scrapyard. And raised goats, who stared down at us from a small bluff as we dropped down the water slide.

Kevin, Cody and Jordan seemed to be tickled by the presence of an urban guest; they showed me the house’s “man-cave” (a sign labeled it as such), where camouflage furniture prevailed and hunting trophies covered the walls. Cody told me they had once adopted a sick bobcat. “You’re the first family I’ve ever met to have a bobcat,” I told him.

He corrected me: “We’ve had two.”

The boys took me to two safes in the master bedroom, where the family’s huge gun collection was stored. The arsenal included collector’s items like an intriguing double-barrel shotgun with a separate trigger for each barrel and a pink gun, “for Mom.”

We jolted up an impossibly rutted, rock-filled hill in the family’s side-by-side ATV, with Cody at the wheel. Nobody but me buckled his seatbelt. The cabin, really a Lowe’s tool shed with pieces cut out and windows installed, was perched on a platform high off the ground, deep in the woods. Night was falling.

“This would be a good place to kill someone,” said Kevin, and then looked to see if he had scared me. Inside was a cot, a stove and a half-dozen buzzing wasp nests. Cody burned them with a stove lighter and killed any escapees with his baseball hat.

Later that night, after a pizza from the gas station, we headed back to the cabin for the evening’s activity: target practice. They placed an Ale-8-One bottle horizontally in the nook of a tree, and handed over the Smith & Wesson pistol. (I should note here that I have used guns before and know the basics, so this was not as insane as it sounds.) Bam! I knocked off the whole bottom of the bottle with the first shot, though the top stayed put and I proceeded to miss it entirely, six shots in a row.

The night was calm, except for a sting from a half-dead wasp that I missed on the cot. I thanked everyone the next morning and took the road into the hills, reaching Paintsville by about 11 a.m. It turned out I could have made it the night before, but I was glad I hadn’t tried. My motel in Paintsville was quiet and anonymous. The Marsillett family experience had been anything but.

A version of this article appears in print on July 12, 2015, on page TR8 of the New York edition with the headline: Open Doors Along Back Roads.

CONTINUE READING…

Bipartisan marijuana banking bill introduced in the Senate

By Burgess Everett

7/9/15 4:41 PM EDT

Updated 7/9/15 5:24 PM EDT

 

Reflecting growing public support for changing the nation’s drug laws, a bipartisan group of senators on Thursday introduced the chamber’s first bill that would legalize banking for recreational marijuana companies.

Introduced by the Senate delegations from Oregon and Colorado, two of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, the bill would prohibit the federal government from penalizing banks that work with marijuana businesses.

Though four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana, the drug is still illegal under federal law. That makes it difficult for businesses operating in those legalized states to access financial services through the banking industry. Instead, those companies have to run all-cash operations that the senators say invite crime.

The entire legal landscape that legal marijuana currently faces is “insane,” said GOP Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado in an interview.

“If you’re an employee or a store owner you can’t put money in the bank, but if you’re a municipality collecting tax you can collect the tax, you can put it in the bank and you can spend it. This is insane,” Gardner said. “It solves a public safety issue, it clarifies a regulatory nightmare and it clears up a pretty blatant hypocrisy.”

Indeed, Congress has been extraordinarily hesitant to address the nettlesome issue of marijuana law. Another landmark bill for the Senate from Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) that would legalize medical marijuana in states that have approved it has run into opposition from the Senate’s old guard.

But the upbeat Gardner noted that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) now supports a bipartisan bill that would exclude cannabidiol, which has more medicinal uses, from the definition of marijuana in federal law. He said Congress will come along, eventually.

“Now, does it have a chance? I think there’s a lot of work that has to be done to give it that chance, but I also think that in 10 years most every other state in the country is going to be facing this question,” Gardner said. “People are coming on board and people are starting to realize we have a policy that’s kind of out of step.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/bipartisan-senate-recreational-marijuana-banking-bill-119924.html#ixzz3fSmDCAX1

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said he wants lawmakers to address the issue of the Confederate flag in a bipartisan manner. (Speaker.gov)

By Paul Kane and Abby Phillip July 9 at 8:45 PM

 

 

http://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=http%3A%2F%2Fs3.amazonaws.com%2Fposttv-thumbnails-prod%2Fthumbnails%2F559edb0fe4b0b61f4eee68d6%2F20150709_boehner_flag.jpg&w=650&h=366

 

“The majority of people that actually died in the Civil War on the Confederate side didn’t own slaves…"

Three weeks after a racially motivated massacre in a black church in Charleston, S.C., the Confederate battle flag will no longer fly on the grounds of the South Carolina State House, following a bitter debate over its role as a symbol of racism and hate.

The shooting that left nine dead at Emanuel AME Church and subsequent images of the alleged gunman holding the battle flag set off a national debate about the flag’s meaning and history. On Thursday, Gov. Nikki Haley (R) signed legislation to remove the flag, which has flown over the capitol’s dome or on its grounds since 1961.

The furor over the flag rippled through the halls of Congress on Thursday when House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) called for a review of Confederate symbols and memorabilia, which is likely to include those on display in the Capitol.

 

Boehner was forced to halt consideration of a government funding measure after it became engulfed by the Confederate flag controversy and whether it was appropriate to display the flags at national cemeteries where Confederate soldiers are buried.

The dispute pitted Southern conservatives who asserted that the tradition was part of their heritage against members of the Congressional Black Caucus who view the flag as a symbol of slavery and oppression.

 

The heated tone on Capitol Hill stood in contrast to the jubilant, bipartisan scene nearly 500 miles to the south, in Columbia, S.C. There, flanked by Democratic and Republican leaders past and present, Haley declared it a “great day” for the state.

“This is a story about the history of South Carolina. And how the action of nine individuals laid out this long chain of events that forever showed the state of South Carolina what love and forgiveness looks like,” she said, referring to the victims’ relatives who spoke at suspect Dylann Roof’s bond hearing.

The flag was scheduled to be lowered at 10 a.m. Friday and moved to a state museum for display.

On Thursday, the NCAA lifted a ban enacted in 2000 that has prevented the state from being considered to host championship games, and the NAACP said it will stop calling for a tourism and travel boycott of the state.

 

Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives slogged through more than 13 hours of debate Wednesday night and Thursday morning, at times becoming deeply emotional and tense. Efforts by Republicans to amend the bill threatened to derail the legislative process.

Both sides agreed to a compromise that allowed the bill to move forward without any ­changes. Just after 1 a.m. Thursday, lawmakers voted 94 to 20 in favor of the flag’s removal. Earlier in the week, the Senate swiftly debated the same proposal and overwhelmingly approved it.

 

As those final hours transpired, congressional Republicans stumbled into the heated flag debate through a series of miscalculations. That began with their decision late Wednesday to allow a House vote on an amendment that would have reaffirmed the ability to place the Confederate flag in national cemeteries as part of a once-a-year tradition in the Deep South.

House Democrats accused Republicans of catering to the large and powerful Southern conservative bloc. Republicans accused Democrats of trying to exploit the tragedy of the killings in Charleston and the decision by South Carolina lawmakers to remove the flag from the capitol.

Boehner tried to tamp down the dispute by announcing that he would create an informal bipartisan group to review all matters related to the display of Confederate memorabilia. He pulled the overall legislation, which would provide annual funds for the Interior Department, rather than hold a vote on the Confederate flag amendment.

That vote was originally set for late Thursday afternoon, nearly the exact time Haley signed legislation removing the flag.

[South Carolina governor signs bill removing Confederate flag from State House grounds]

Republicans leaders have tried to move beyond the old fights over the Confederate flag in the aftermath of the slaying of nine African-Americans inside the historic Charleston church. Boehner was among national Republican leaders who embraced Haley’s role in removing the flag, and he pointedly said Thursday that he did not believe Confederate flags should be displayed in national cemeteries.

 

“Listen, we all witnessed the people of Charleston and the people of South Carolina come together in a respectful way to deal with, frankly, what was a very horrific crime and a difficult issue with the Confederate flag,” Boehner told reporters. “I actually think it’s time for some adults here in the Congress to actually sit down and have a conversation about how to address this issue. I do not want this to become some political football.”

[Democrats increasingly think the Confederate flag is racist. Republicans don’t.]

Democrats responded by reintroducing a resolutionthat would have mandated the removal of Mississippi’s state flag from display on U.S. Capitol grounds because its design incorporates the Confederate battle flag. That resolution, offered by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was tabled on a mostly partisan vote that referred it to a committee.

Other Democrats have called for the removal of statues of Jefferson Davis and other Confederate leaders that are prominently displayed in the Capitol. In floor speeches throughout the day, Democrats stood in front of an image of the Confederate flag on the House floor.

“The red in this flag is a painful reminder of the blood that was shed by African American slaves,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Southern Republicans said that their Democratic colleagues did not understand that they were trying to pay tribute to fallen Confederate soldiers who were not plantation owners.

“The majority of people that actually died in the Civil War on the Confederate side didn’t own slaves. These were people that were fighting for their states, and, you know, I don’t think they even had any thoughts about slavery,” said Rep. Lynn A. Westmoreland (R-Ga.).

He rejected the position of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a leader in the civil rights movement, who called the flag a symbol of oppression.

“Does he understand where I’m coming from?” Westmoreland said. “Well, if I believe it comes from h
eritage, does he understand where I’m coming from?”

 

CONTINUE READING…