Season One of the Rackets Podcast is complete. Season Two is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2020.
This episode's guest is Michael Ames. He is an investigative reporter and book author based in Brooklyn, New York. After a decade working in media in southern Idaho, Ames moved east and shifted to national issues, writing mostly for the Daily Beast and Harper's and Newsweek magazines. His first book, American Cipher, which he co-authored with former US Army infantryman Matt Farwell, was published by Penguin Press in March.
In this interview, Michael set the record straight about this former soldier, along with the manner in which his capture was a pretext for many vested interests. Ames also demonstrated a variety of ways in which Bergdahl's exploited public image paralleled the endless war in Afghanistan.
This excellent and critically-acclaimed book, American Cipher: Bowe Bergdahl and the U.S. Tragedy in Afghanistan, is available on Amazon, in Barnes and Noble, and all independent book stores.
(The audio for this episode isn't great. This issue will be corrected in the following episodes.)
The highlights include:
Censorship in Arizona's state prisons
Backlash against the maker of OxyContin and the heirs to the company's fortune
Racketeering by Big Pharma
Lindsey Graham's buffoonery
Central American Narco-State
Wasteful Military Spending
Former CIA Director's Ironic Choice of Words on Terrorism
Baltimore being held ransom by hackers using former tool of the NSA
(Image - Flickr - Jim Greenhill)
Leon Lee is the Peabody Award winning director of the documentary film, Human Harvest. Lee explained that the Chinese government began persecuting a group known as Falun Gong in the 1990s. They can best be described as prisoners of conscious. Falun Gong practitioners have been tortured, harassed, falsely imprisoned, etc. And many of them have been executed with the sole purpose of selling their organs within the Chinese medical system. It's a subject that is so sinister that it's difficult to believe, but evidence provided by Lee and a few award-winning journalists demonstrate that this is a vile human catastrophe that needs much more international attention.
The latest episode covers a bribery scandal involving the UN's refugee agency, UNHCR, corporate drug pushers, Russian election interference in Madagascar, corrupt foreign and domestic officials, and much more.
This episode covers a range of topics. That includes the murder of the leader of the Gambino crime family, a break-in at the North Korean embassy in Spain, the international weapons racket, a hip-hop artist / credit card fraudster, cartel warfare and much more.
Nathan Smith is a former Army Captain and intelligence officer at the command headquarters in Kuwait. Notably, he filed a federal lawsuit in 2016 against the President of the U.S. challenging the legality of the war in Syria and Iraq. This was obviously a difficult decision to make, but it was ultimately a principled decision. Nathan's story illustrates the stunning lack of checks and balances in our government, along with systemic forces that keep our country in a perpetual state of war, and much more.
There were too many fascinating details from the trial of the world's most notorious criminal, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, to list. However, this episode breaks down many aspects of the Sinaloa cartel's structure, allies, foes, corrupt enablers, etc. There was so much to unravel, but here's a concise, yet jammed-packed wrap up of the most important drug trafficking conviction in American history.
Richard Bronson is the CEO of 70 Million Jobs, which is the first for-profit recruitment company for people with criminal records. He worked at the infamous brokerage, Stratton Oakmont, which was portrayed in Martin Scorsese's “Wolf of Wall Street.”
After serving 2 years in prison, Richard has dedicated his life and career to an underserved aspect of criminal justice reform, i.e. helping this massive segment of the population (70 million) gain employment.
Dame Catherine Healy is the founder of the New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective. This year, she was awarded the title of "Dame" by Queen Elizabeth II due to her advocacy efforts on behalf of sex workers and leading the way to the decriminalization of sex work in New Zealand in 2003.
Her organization has contracted by the New Zealand government to do variety of tasks, such as HIV prevention.
Dame Catherine Healy offered so much information demonstrating that decriminalization is a better policy for human rights, public health & safety, and much more.
Episode # 14
Dr. Frederic Whitehurst was a former Supervisory Agent at the FBI Crime Lab. He exposed several scandals and became the first successful FBI whistleblower. That led to him being pushed out of the FBI in 1998.
Dr. Whitehurst now practices law and currently serves as the Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center's Forensic Justice Project.
In this fascinating interview, Dr. Whitehurst goes in detail about his experiences with fraud, waste, abuse, perjury by government agents, faulty forensic science, and more.
Episode # 13
A number of recent news events involve both crime and geopolitics. The leader of a hacking group connected with the North Korean government is under indictment. A group believed to be connected with the Russian government attempted attacks against two US right-wing think tanks. Also, the US lost its extradition request to bring a Russian national who may have had information on this and other hackings.
Those stories along with election rigging, poisonings, corruption, a drone attack, and much is covered in this episode.
Episode # 12
Meaghan Ybos is this episode's guest. She's a contributing writer at The Appeal, which is part of Harvard Law School's Fair Punishment Project. She is also the Co-Founder and Executive Director of People For The Enforcement of Rape Laws.
We tend to assume that heinous crimes, such as rape, are highly prioritized and vigorously pursued by the law enforcement community. However, Meaghan's personal story, along with that of numerous other women, illustrates that our assumptions are wrong.
Meaghan tackled many important topics in this interview, including the bureaucratic factors that thwart proper enforcement of rape laws. Notably, she also explained why we should no longer refer to the thousands of untested rape kits throughout Americas as a "backlog."
Episode # 11
Amani Sawari is the official media spokesperson of Jailhouse Lawyers Speak.
Amani explained a great deal about the current national prison strike. She detailed the scale of this strike, what prompted it, the prisoners' demands, prison profiteering, which private companies use this exploitative labor, and much more.
Episode # 10
Matthew Dunlap is Maine's Secretary of State. He also served on the Trump administration's Presidential Advisory Commission on Electoral Integrity. It was formed in the aftermath of Trump's claim that 3-5 million illegal votes were cast for Hillary Clinton.
In this episode, Dunlap details that there was an obvious mandate to manufacture evidence of voter fraud. Independent-minded members, such as Dunlap, were stonewalled by the commission. You'll be alarmed by the details. He eventually sued the government to simply be allowed to participate in the commission.
In this interview, he went in-depth about the legal battles, debunked the myth of widespread voter fraud, and called out the political operatives who are creating this false narrative. That includes the Kansas Gubernitorial candidate, Kris Kobach. Also, Dunlap's legal challenge prevailed in the courts. As a result, we can all view the documents from the commission, which prove that it was driven by a clear political agenda, not a search for the truth.
Episode # 9
Philip Mattera is the Research Director and the Director of the Corporate Research Project. He's also the author of the "Dirt Diggers Digest" blog, which focuses on corporate crime.
He explained the extent and harm from corporate crime, along with how to properly research this subject via the free online tools of his non-profit organization. He also went into length about the subject of wage theft, which is much more prevalent than most people realize.
Toby Muse is a journalist, foreign corespondent, documentary filmmaker, and upcoming author. His work has been featured in The Guardian, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Daily Beast, CNN, Vice, and many more.
Toby has reported on a number of issues in Colombia for nearly two decades. In this episode, he covered a range of topics, such as "The Caravan of Death," right-wing death squads, communist rebels, record cocaine production, and much more.
Brian gives some background on Scott Pruitt's career before his time as the head of the EPA. He also examines several of the ethical scandals committed by Pruitt. They range from bizarre, selfish, extravagant, corrupt, and potentially criminal. Brian also provides insight on whether Pruitt's resignation will improve the integrity of the agency.
Raeford Davis served as a police officer for six years in North Charleston, SC. He's now one of the foremost leaders of the freedom movement. In this episode, he offers a number of critiques for police culture, the drug war, and much more.
Interview w Dave Moore. He's an independent-minded, non-corporate candidate for the 3rd Congressional District of South Carolina. He represents the American Party of South Carolina. Dave is seeking to unseat the most right-wing member of the House of Representatives, Jeff Duncan.
Dave tackled a number of subjects such as foreign policy, the military industrial complex, the drug war, corporate crime, and more.
Check out his website.
Episode # 2
Intro / Outro Music by:
Jorge Hernandez - "Flaming Mansions"