“Don’t come in or I’ll shoot,” Vince Edwards shouted at Costilla County Undersheriff Ricky Rodriguez, who was standing near the front door of the half-buried RV where Edwards was holed up.
Taking Edwards at his word, Rodriguez scrambled back to his patrol car and called for reinforcements just before 7 p.m. on September 29, 2016. While it wasn’t unusual to encounter strong-willed individuals living off the grid in the wide-open spaces of the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, he wasn’t going to take any chances.
Edwards had fortified his RV with other jerry-rigged structures and sand embankments, creating his own Mad Max bunker among the sagebrush. Even though he was only wanted for a failure to appear in court, it looked as though he wasn’t going to go down easy. Especially not after Edwards called in his own backup.
According to a police report detailing what turned into an almost three-hour standoff, one of Edwards’s neighbors, Jeremy Costley, posted this on Facebook: “all Costilla County Colorado people in need of rapid response to country rd. 12 and 27. The police are trying to arrest someone unlawfully.”
Today, Edwards claims that he was unarmed during the incident and says he only threatened gunfire because he was frightened.
But as officers arrived on the scene with AR-15 rifles, they agreed that a firefight seemed imminent. At one point, two mysterious vehicles appeared on the top of a nearby hill, giving their occupants a strategic vantage point overlooking the huddled group of sheriff’s deputies and state patrol officers. In the gathering dark, one of the vehicles turned off its lights while the other kept its brights on. For the law enforcement agents, the effect was the same: They couldn’t see the people inside the vehicles. But they had to believe they were armed.
Then a third vehicle suddenly appeared on a county road and approached the encircled officers, head-on.
“Stop! Get on the ground!” Rodriguez shouted as the vehicle parked and four individuals got out.
They turned out to be some of Edwards’s neighbors, responding to the social-media call; they were unarmed. As officers moved forward to detain them, the two mysterious vehicles on the hill disappeared as abruptly as they’d arrived.
Finally, at 9:32 p.m., Edwards emerged from his RV, shirtless, with his hands in the air. He’d just ended an ongoing call with a 911 dispatcher and surrendered to a state patrolman on the condition that someone watch over his property and he not be held in Costilla County’s jail, because he didn’t trust the deputies there.
For Undersheriff Rodriguez, it was a satisfactory ending to a situation that could have turned bloody. But it was also a reminder of a constant challenge that his office, and Costilla County in general, has had to contend with in recent years: off-the-grid residents who hold “sovereign” beliefs.
Zanis McDonald, an individual with sovereign beliefs, was arrested in San Luis on May 2.
The sovereign movement is a catch-all label for people who believe they are subject only to common law, and therefore not subject to all the statutory laws of the U.S. government at its various levels — federal, state and local. Sometimes calling themselves “constitutionalists” or “freemen,” individuals who subscribe to a sovereign ideology often don’t believe they are required to follow any regulations drafted and passed by politicians — things like tax codes or driver’s license rules — because the U.S. government has been corrupted and sovereigns are not under contract to adhere to all of its laws.
The FBI considers “sovereign citizens” part of a terrorist movement, in part because sovereigns have participated in much larger and dangerous situations than the one involving Vince Edwards. Among the most notable are the Bundy standoff in Nevada in 2014, when cattleman Cliven Bundy refused to let federal agents onto his ranch, and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation in Oregon in 2016, during which armed militia, including Cliven Bundy’s son, Ammon, seized a visitors’ center for forty days in protest over control of federal public lands.
In Costilla County, sovereign ideology is most often manifested in off-gridders like Edwards, who refuse to follow land-use regulations — particularly the county’s requirement that all permanent residents build a septic system and have access to electricity and fresh water, no matter how remote their parcel of land. In the valley today, physical threats by sovereigns against Costilla County’s code enforcers are common, and enforcers never go out into the field without bulletproof vests.
But the clash isn’t limited to Costilla County. Individuals with sovereign beliefs have been at odds with elected officials across Colorado, and evidence suggests that the movement is growing throughout the United States.
On March 30, eight people were arrested along the Front Range for threatening and harassing elected officials with their own versions of subpoenas, arrest warrants and liens issued through a group called “The People’s Grand Jury of Colorado.” The tactic, which the FBI and Southern Poverty Law Center both call “paper terrorism,” has become a common technique used by sovereigns in all fifty states to harass public officials; the frivolous filings not only bog down court proceedings, but, in the case of liens, can negatively affect a victim’s credit score.
“We deal with this philosophy from time to time,” he says. “These guys call themselves ‘constitutionalists’ and essentially take the position that any state office is illegal or not authorized under their view of the world. A lot of these [communications] were a little odd and concerning — particularly the arrest warrant for myself and the claim that I owed close to a billion dollars. Much of it was actually delivered around the cul-de-sac that I live in in Boulder, so that was concerning to my family, that these guys knew where I live.”
The Colorado Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on the arrests because the cases have yet to go to trial. But Garnett says he helped the AG’s office compile evidence prior to the indictment that was handed down on March 30, which listed dozens of offenses and other targets: judges, county officials and district attorneys, including former Denver DA Mitch Morrissey. The eight individuals arrested are all being held on bonds ranging from $100,000 to $350,000.
One of the individuals arrested on March 30 has also played a role in the off-the-grid scuffles in Costilla County: Bruce Doucette.
Doucette, who owns and runs a computer-repair store in Littleton, considers himself a “judge” within his movement and advised Ammon Bundy on how to set up a common-law jury during the Malheur standoff. In an April 12 post on its website, the Southern Poverty Law Center called Doucette “the most notorious common law ‘Superior Court Judge of the Continental uNited States of America.’”
“Many members of these courts are sovereign citizens who believe their judgments supersede federal and district court decisions, and then bring their quasi-legal activity into legitimate courts and use tactics including intimidation and paper terrorism,” the SPLC article stated, specifically mentioning the March 30 indictment in Colorado.
Doucette took his activity to Costilla County in late 2015.
At the time, the county was trying to step up enforcement of its land-use codes and was proposing a number of changes to its ordinances, including clarification around camping restrictions. Off-gridders, not used to having code-enforcement officers coming by their properties to do inspections, demand permits and issue warnings, were not pleased with the heightened regulation. Hundreds of residents joined a Facebook group called “San Luis Valley Just Us” and organized opposition, including protests at county commission meetings where changes to the code were being considered. Many claimed they couldn’t afford requirements like septic systems, and argued that they should be able to camp on land they owned without any restrictions.
Chloe Everhart, one of the moderators of the SLV Just Us page, divides the off-gridders in the San Luis Valley into three broad groups: people interested in building sustainable and eco-based communities, retired or poor folks who want to be left alone, and individuals with sovereign beliefs. “The challenge was that there wasn’t a clear consensus about whether our goal was just to not have these code changes passed that were going to make things difficult for people who were poor, disabled or frugal,” explains Everhart. “There were other people who said, ‘This is our opportunity to really create this sovereign world.’ There were a few people who were incredibly vocal about that, and it was hard to get work done when they were around.”
Everhart did her best to bridge the divides, but the differences ran deep. At commissioner meetings on September 9 and 15, 2015, dozens of residents packed administrative offices in San Luis — the county seat of Costilla County and the oldest town in Colorado — and the gatherings quickly turned ugly. Some of the discord stemmed from the fact that Costilla County has no public land, dating back to an 1844 Mexican land grant that consisted of nearly a million acres along the present-day Colorado and New Mexico border. During the past century and a half, much of that land was bought up and subdivided by wealthy landowners, beginning with William Gilpin (Colorado’s first territorial governor) in 1864, and later by the likes of the Forbes family, which owned hundreds of thousands of acres in the northern portion of the county.
San Luis’s predominantly Hispanic population has had little control over the subdividing and development that have occurred over the years, and while a handful of landowners accumulated vast tracts of land, Costilla County became one of the poorest counties in the nation, with 28.2 percent of its population currently living in poverty, according to the 2016 U.S. Census. In the 1990s, the perception of outsiders taking over was reinforced when Zachary Taylor, a white rancher from North Carolina, inherited a 77,500-acre tract of land from his father that locals refer to as “La Sierra” and began logging operations on his property — which some residents claimed threatened water sources that irrigate the valley (“A Mountain of Trouble,” July 6, 1994). The Taylor family closed off access to locals, who believed they were being denied their ancestral rights to hunt, fish and graze on the land. After the State of Colorado made a failed bid to purchase the land for $12 million in 1997, the issue was only partially settled when a private LLC bought the land from Taylor in 1999 and the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that some Hispanic heirs would be allowed access to the property.
In the local publication La Sierra, writer Maria Martinez charged that there was a racial element to the 2015 county commissioner meetings: “After the September 15 meeting, opposing sides milled in front of the meeting room. The ‘desert dwellers’ proposed talking about…one of two code enforcement officers who appears menacing because she never takes her hand off her gun when she goes about her job. ‘Locals,’ who were derisively called ‘Mexicans’ by the ‘desert dwellers,’ defended [the officer’s] work and her actions. The desert dwellers (derisively called ‘guero’) insisted that they are a part of the local community. This claim was opposed by locals.”
Ben Doon, the county administrator for Costilla County, denies that race played a major role at the meetings. He does, however, acknowledge that sovereign ideology gained a small yet notable foothold in the county because of the events in late 2015.
County Administrator Ben Doon was subjected to paper terrorism at the hands of individuals with sovereign beliefs.
The most vocal opponents to the land-use code were a few individuals associated with the “patriot” armed-militia movement. Rodger Marsh, who described himself to neighbors as a door-kicker and a trigger-puller, got in touch with self-appointed judge Doucette, and invited him to the San Luis Valley to teach off-gridders how to fight the county. In October 2015, Doucette made the trip for an event billed on social media as “Meet the Judge.” The rendezvous point was a steel bridge over a remote part of the Rio Grande, where Doucette explained to the crowd why he believed that Costilla County was violating their sovereign rights.
Marsh was arrested on a weapons charge a short time later, the SLV Just Us group disbanded, and the county decided to drop some of its proposed land-use changes. But the sovereign movement continued to play a role in Costilla County politics.
In early 2016, Doon started receiving many of the same types of “subpoenas” and harassing letters that Garnett would also get in Boulder. Doon has kept all of the letters inside a manila envelope in a file cabinet, some of them still unopened. The missives began arriving shortly after he wrote a letter responding to a front-page article in Alamosa’s daily newspaper, the Valley Courier, with the headline “‘Grand Jury’ Indicts Costilla County Officials.” Doon found that headline extremely misleading, he said, because the “Grand Jury” in question was actually the “People’s Grand Jury” being co-organized by Doucette in Denver.
Doon’s strongly worded rebuttal, which the Valley Courier published a day after the original article, explained that the “indictment” was a fake, and quoted from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s description of the sovereign-citizen movement. (The complete description on the SPLC website: “The contemporary sovereign belief system is based on a decades-old conspiracy theory. At some point in history, sovereigns believe, the American government set up by the founding fathers — with a legal system the sovereigns refer to as ‘common law’ — was secretly replaced by a new government system based on admiralty law, the law of the sea and international commerce. Under common law, or so they believe, the sovereigns would be free men. Under admiralty law, they are slaves, and secret government forces have a vested interest in keeping them that way.”)
But Doon’s response only brought him more unwelcome attention. “From then on, [harassment] was coming from two fronts. We had the folks off the grid here, and then from Denver there was a bigger movement,” he recalls. “Even if their numbers are low compared to other people who just want to be left alone for one reason or another or don’t have the means to comply, these folks are much more aggressive and threatening. So one or two of them equals the headache of fifty other people.”
And Doucette soon added to that headache. Over Easter weekend in 2016, he and another “superior court judge” traveled to Costilla County to swear in at least one “constitutional marshal” as part of the movement, witnessing as he took the oath of office.
Jeremy Costley's Oath to become a "marshal."
A paper copy of that oath contains a curious array of spellings and symbolism, designed to differentiate this oath from forms issued by the “false” shadow government that most people recognize as the U.S. government. The particular document Doucette witnessed contains a number of red fingerprints, which sovereigns believe is one of the strongest forms of identification. Some law enforcement researchers claim that sovereigns use their own blood as ink, avoiding black or blue ink because they associate those colors with corporations.
The marshal who took the oath that day was Jeremy Costley.
He was the man who invited me to the San Luis Valley to learn more about his movement.
During the stop, which Costley’s wife, Jessica, videotaped, Costley made a call to Doucette, who advised him to remain calm even though cops had discovered that Costilla County had put out a warrant for Costley’s arrest on charges that he was impersonating a peace officer — Costley’s claim to be a constitutional marshal.
I arranged to meet Costley at a motions hearing he had scheduled at 10 a.m. May 2 at the courthouse in San Luis. Arriving a few minutes early, I immediately spotted him across the street from the courthouse. Tall, rail-thin and sporting a scraggly goatee, Costley was wearing a cowboy hat and a coat covered in white dog hair.
“Well, let’s do this,” he said, after we shook hands. We headed into the courthouse, one of the principal buildings in the small town. But no sooner had Costley gotten through security than he was placed in handcuffs by deputies who were waiting for him inside the courtroom.
“Are you getting this?!” he yelled at me.
Flustered, Undersheriff Rodriguez brushed past me with the cuffed Costley.
I went back outside to talk to a couple of Costley’s friends. One of them, Zanis McDonald, was sitting in the passenger seat of a black pickup on the main road of San Luis. “This isn’t just in Colorado, this is nationwide!” he growled through his chest-length beard. “They’re arresting people and judges all over!”
Like Costley, McDonald is a military veteran, and he went on to describe his sovereign beliefs, as well as the close call he’d had with law enforcement last July when he refused to follow land-use requirements on his rural parcel in the valley.
“The kids told me someone was coming down the road,” he recalled. “So I stood in my doorway with my rifle on my shoulder…and [code enforcement] went creeping by.... They finally pulled up at the end of my drive and asked if they could talk to me. I told them no. They asked, ‘Do you have any permits?’ And I said, ‘Ain’t none of your business. Besides, you’re planning and zoning, you should know what permits I do and don’t have.’
“Fifteen minutes later, my neighbors are calling me telling me that there’s a bunch of patrol cars coming,” McDonald continued. “I called a bunch of folks to come to help protect my family.... They were going to storm my house with sixteen motherfucking police. And at the time, I had plenty of weapons but not much ammunition. But my cabin has no windows, and the front door is four inches thick, so they ain’t coming through that bitch too damn easy. I was scared for my family, but there was going to be a fight. I may not have had ammunition at that time, but we’ve got machetes and axes and shit. You come at me, you’re going to have a fight. And the police down here and planning and zoning know that I will shoot at them if they come down my road. I don’t give a fuck no more. They’re armed, and I consider them a threat.”
As McDonald was finishing his story, we both noticed that sheriff’s deputies were surrounding the car, which appeared to belong to a man sitting in the driver’s seat who had not said a word in nearly twenty minutes.
For the second time that morning, I watched an arrest occur right in front of me, as the undersheriff took a loaded Hi-Point .45 off McDonald, who started yelling, “GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME, YOU FILTHY IRAQI BASTARDS!” (It was later suggested that he’d suffered a PTSD episode.)
Officer Cruz Soto checks the chamber of Zanis McDonald's sidearm to make sure it is unloaded.
After both Costley and McDonald were placed in custody, I obtained copies of their arrest warrants.
McDonald had been arrested for ignoring land-use violation notices and for threatening law-enforcement and public officials; the arrest-warrant affidavit noted that “McDonald is a convicted felon with Sovereign Citizen beliefs.”
Costley, on the other hand, was arrested on serious charges of sexually abusing one or multiple children who live in his home; his bond was set at $250,000.
When I called Costley’s wife shortly after his arrest, she insisted that the allegations were “bogus” and said she believed the charges were retribution from the county because her husband had considered running for sheriff after the previous undersheriff was booted from office for illegal poaching.
Jessica Costley did not show up at court the next day, May 3, for her husband’s hearing regarding the sexual-abuse charges. Instead, she elected to call in from an undisclosed “safehouse” that she later told me was a couple of counties over. During the hearing, when a Department of Social Services representative described a videotaped interview with one of the children who alleged years of sexual abuse, Costley demanded of the judge, “How do we know they didn’t threaten our children to get these allegations?”
Costley also claimed the court didn’t have jurisdiction over him because, as he put it, “I am not a United States citizen; I am a natural-born American.”
After the hearing, the offices of the Costilla County Sheriff’s Department and its Department of Planning and Zoning felt a little more relaxed. Issues with sovereigns had been “pretty calm for a long time,” Rodriguez said. “We didn’t have many issues except for the people we [just] arrested.”
After a hearing on sexual-abuse charges, Jeremy Costley is escorted from the Costilla County Courthouse by Undersheriff Rodriguez.
Rodriguez’s deputies participated in recent trainings regarding the sovereign movement hosted by the Colorado State Patrol in Alamosa. “During the training, they indicated that the number-one domestic terrorists in the United States are sovereign citizens,” he recalled.
While not revealing too much about the training because it was “confidential,” Rodriguez said one of the things he learned was not to debate sovereigns about constitutional rights. “Basically, they said not to get into it and let them rant and rave about it,” he explained.
Rodriguez’s department shares information with the FBI about sovereign activity in Costilla County, he said, declining to go into specifics. “Safety is our main issue. We don’t know what they’re capable of doing,” he continued. “Ninety percent of the time, they won’t talk to us. But we keep an eye out on social media.” He estimated that the number of sovereigns living in the San Luis Valley has fluctuated between ten people to upwards of a hundred during the past several years.
Besides Costley and McDonald, the people most affected by their arrests were the two code-enforcement officers, Cruz Soto and Colleen Romero, who are tasked with patrolling the valley each day to look for land-use violations.
On May 3, I was approved to go on a ride-along with Romero, Soto and their boss, Land Use Administrator T. Martinez. They had never taken a reporter along before, and had adapted a liability form from the sheriff’s department, which included this line: “I understand that code enforcement activities are inherently dangerous and that even though officers will do everything possible to keep me safe, it is not possible to make me immune from risk of all injuries up to and including death.”
Soto and Romero never go out on patrol without bulletproof vests. “Just wait ’til you see the bullet holes in our car,” Soto joked before we headed out in a car that turned out to have no bullet holes.
But out on the prairie, with its flat expanses bordered on the horizons by mountain ranges jutting to snow-bearing altitudes, I understood just how isolated and alone Soto and Romero are during their patrols. “What’s difficult going into these areas is that you’re a sitting duck,” explained Soto. “The scary part is that when you look into these sovereign individuals with their beliefs, a lot of them legitimately believe that if you step onto their property, they can shoot you...and if you think about it, they can see you coming from a mile away. So you’re definitely wary and looking over your shoulder when you’re in these areas, knowing that in the past, these individuals have rallied the troops to respond to us.”
“So what about your backup?” I asked.
“There are other deputies in the valley, but even if they’re going mach Jesus, it’s going to take them a good amount of time to get to us,” he responded. “We try to avoid confrontations.... The DA even told us, ‘Out of all the individuals out there, I worry about you the most because you are in the mix of all of these individuals and they stand by their beliefs.’”
Land Use Administrator T. Martinez (center) worries about code-enforcement officers Colleen Romero (left) and Cruz Soto when they’re on patrol.
As we drove farther into no-man’s-land, Martinez and his two code-enforcement officers pointed out the kind of things they look for during their patrols. “People show up every day that we’ve never met and never seen on properties that were vacant yesterday,” said Martinez, gesturing toward RVs and campers that dotted the landscape.
The issue, he explained, is that many people buy cheap property in Costilla County — some of it through websites like Landwatch.com — without realizing that owners need to adhere to basic requirements such as building a septic system, which costs around $7,000 when done to code. Digging a well, the permanent solution to meeting the county’s fresh-water requirement (as opposed to a standing water tank), costs an additional $10,000 between drilling, casing and plumbing.
“Fifty dollars down, fifty dollars a month can sometimes get you five acres of land, with agents [erroneously] telling you that you don’t need permits,” said Martinez. “On a daily basis, pretty much, someone will tell me, ‘Well, I bought this property, and the real estate person said we don’t need permits and can live in an RV and we can do whatever we want.’”
So rampant is the practice of subdividing and leasing that Costilla County is the most vacant county in Colorado, with only 3,600 people spread between 40,000 lots and nearly 1,900 miles of county roads.
Martinez estimated that around 300 individual dwellings currently fit the description “off the grid.” He had no issue with them, he said, as long as the owners work to comply with the county’s land-use code, which was put into effect in 1998 to combat illegal dumping of trash and wastewater but has only been seriously enforced since 2011.
While Costilla County has land-use regulations, it doesn’t have a building code — so many of the off-the-grid dwellings look like what you might find in a dystopian desert wasteland.
Edwards’s half-buried RV is one example. The code enforcers showed it to me, tucked away in an arid part of the plains that locals refer to as “Iraqi Flats” because of the desert-like vegetation.
We also toured property once occupied by a character that Soto, Martinez and Romero referred to as “Dr. Love.” The dwelling was strategically located on one side of a rise so that it was not visible from the county road, and Martinez said he’d only found it after seeing the structure on a satellite image.
“That’s like a doghouse, or some kind of volcanic-rock igloo — I don’t know what it is,” said Martinez, gesturing toward an eight-foot-tall pile of rocks that was hollow inside and had been laboriously constructed next to a wooden shack.
Martinez said he understands that many people have trouble meeting the financial demands of land-use requirements, and added that he feels sympathy for those duped by real estate agents who claim that no permits are necessary. “Unfortunately, we still have to give them a violation notice,” he explained. “If we find them living without septic, a lot of times we’ll say, ‘You shouldn’t be living out here. There’s a fourteen-day camping limit. We’ll give you a couple weeks to figure stuff out.’”
An abandoned dwelling "off the grid' in the San Luis Valley.
About halfway through the ride-along, we arrived at an area where Costley and McDonald own land and have built their residences. “If they weren’t in custody, we probably wouldn’t be out here,” Soto admitted.
“I even ran back to the vehicle last week because it looked like the back trailer window [at Costley’s] was open and the curtain moved,” Romero added, “so I thought that someone was going to shoot at us.”
The officers wondered whether any family members would still be at the residences following the arrests. Sure enough, as we drove past McDonald’s dwelling, two children emerged from a windowless shack and yelled at us to go away.
“You’ve got to go! Go!” yelled a boy.
“This is a public road!” responded Soto from the driver’s seat of the SUV. “It’s not private! This is a public road.” “Well, my parents say you can’t be here right now!”
“Well, I’m not on your private property!”
Then a different voice shouted from the shack, “Get inside!,” and the two children suddenly disappeared from view.
Soto then produced a cease-and-desist notice from inside the car, and asked, “Should I just post it on the RV, boss?”
“Sounds good,” responded Martinez. “You got the Gorilla tape?”
Brian Slater, Naval Postgraduate School Thesis & Dissertation Collection
While at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, Brian Slater spent fifteen months researching sovereigns in the United States, going back through the past decade. The movement stretches even further back than that, with roots in the Posse Comitatus movement that emerged during the American farm crisis of the ’70s and ’80s, and branches in the Montana Freemen of the mid-’90s.
Slater’s research, released as his postgraduate thesis in September 2016, studied court cases throughout the country related to sovereign individuals, as evidenced by the types of filings submitted by defendants or the crimes being prosecuted, including paper terrorism.
Slater — who notes that his research represents his own findings, not the views of the military — says he was surprised to find that cases related to sovereigns are growing exponentially on a J-shaped curve. “In my research, I found that this is happening in all fifty states,” he explains. “You would think it would be concentrated most where you had those earlier movements, like Montana. But that wasn’t the case; where I found it was most predominant was in Illinois, California and New Jersey.”
Brian Slater’s research shows sovereign-centered cases increasing on a J-shaped curve.
Brian Slater. Naval Postgraduate School Thesis & Dissertation Collection
“Colorado is, what I would say, medium to light as far as concentration goes,” Slater responds. “That being said, it’s on the rise.”
While Slater cautions that his data mostly covers the Obama years, adding that he isn’t sure what effect the current administration will have on the spread of sovereign ideology, he says he doesn’t think the person occupying the White House makes much of a difference to believers, since sovereigns appear to be focused on how the United States has become corrupted over the past 200 years, not just recently.
As for the number of sovereigns throughout the United States, Slater says that’s a squishy statistic because there are so many splinter groups and ideological variations, ranging from armed militias to relatively pacifist tax dodgers. He points out that the Southern Poverty Law Center’s estimate — that there are between 100,000 to 300,000 sovereign individuals in the United States — is very broad.
Whatever the true number, Slater cautions against writing off sovereigns as a bunch of crackpots, as has frequently occurred in media reports. “The sovereign ideology itself is not crazy,” he says. “Yes, the criminal acts are criminal. But their train of thought is not un-American. If you were to ask a non-sovereign citizen, ‘Do you think our government has gone off the rails?’ Or, ‘Are there illegitimate portions of the tax code?,’ there are plenty of non-sovereign individuals who would head-nod.... It’s not a foreign thought.”
While Bruce Doucette was being held at the Denver Downtown Detention Center, I made a request to the Denver Sheriff’s Department that I be allowed to visit. Doucette declined to see me, instead referring me to a spokesman named Rodger Dowdell who said he was located “with a team” in Florida.
Dowdell reiterated many of the things I’d heard when talking to folks like Jeremy Costley. “There is no such thing as a ‘sovereign citizen.’ When you look up the word ‘citizen,’ it means subject. And when you put a word meaning the highest ruler — sovereign — next to a word meaning subject, it’s an oxymoron; it doesn’t mean nothing,” Dowdell said.
“What’s happening is that people of all walks of life are waking up to the fact that our government has been hijacked,” he continued. “A group in Colorado discovered this and said, ‘How can we rectify it?’ The first thing they did was simple: They went to elected and appointed public servants and they demanded to see their oath of office and their bond. And if there was a defect, they gave them a twenty-day notice to get the defect fixed. If they didn’t get the defect fixed, they put their names on a notice of fraud and publicized it.... Now judges are trying to retaliate, and they’ve manufactured all sorts of bogus charges against these innocent people that are just trying to clean up their government corruption.”
As for armed standoffs like those carried out by members of the Bundy family in Nevada and Oregon, Dowdell said, “It’s the only method that the founders gave us, because think about it this way: If we the people are to be free men, then you can’t have anyone on top of us. So it’s our duty.”
Between Doucette’s arrest on March 30 and Costley’s on May 2, Costley had requested and received permission from others in the movement to give me access to their weekly conference call, known as the “national assembly call.”
During the April 20 call, I’d tuned in just in time to hear an exchange between Doucette and his wife. Despite everyone else listening, it struck me as a rather personal moment, though Doucette’s time was cut short when an automated voice from his jail’s phone system interrupted and announced in a cold, metallic voice, “You have one minute left.”
“Oh, so I have one minute left,” said Doucette, disappointed. “Well, please remember, this is a spiritual battle, and we need to win this one. We need to free everybody from this corrupt admiralty law and this corrupt government. So pray, everyone, please. Blessings to all and goodnight, and to my beautiful wife, I love you always. Bye, all.”
After Doucette left the call, the conversation became more businesslike and mundane, with motions made to pass resolutions about things like press releases and whether to reach out to a radio show in Utah.
Dowdell said he’d come to know Doucette through the type of call I’d listened to; increasingly, calls and social-media channels are acting as the connective tissues between states.
“It’s we the people in assembly, meeting. So it’s public,” said Dowdell. “It isn’t Republican or Democrat or Libertarian or anything else. This is the people getting together in assembly and making resolutions, which become the direct voice of the people to the county commissioners, who must comply.”
Colorado was the first delegation to start doing conference calls, which have been going on for a “few years now,” he said. “Colorado was definitely the leading state, and Florida was probably number two behind them. Other states involved are Oregon, Nebraska, North Carolina.... Illinois has their grand jury up and running, and Texas is moving forward.”
I asked Dowdell about Doucette’s chances of beating the charges. “I think it looks very good because [he] hasn’t taken on an attorney,” he said. “I’m very optimistic. He needs to be released, and it’s just a matter of time.”
On my final day in southern Colorado, I finally got a chance to visit Vince Edwards, who, against his wishes, had been transferred to Costilla County’s jail. He was being kept in a separate pod from Costley and McDonald because, as Edwards put it, “They don’t want us exchanging notes.” (Since his original arrest, McDonald, too, had been charged with child abuse.)
Edwards said he’d been in custody since the September 29 standoff, and even though his bond was set at $17,500, “it might as well be a million, because I’m poor.”
While Edwards had plenty of elaborate theories about why the original charge against him — that he’d threatened land-use administrator Martinez in an attempt to influence him to stop requiring permits — was unjust and immoral, he took solace in standing up to a system that he believes is corrupt to its core.
“When we say sovereign...there’s a lot of propaganda out there about it,” he said. “People don’t want us learning about our history in this country because we’re not going to bow down to the quote-unquote authorities. But the problem is, we’re the authorities. They’re the servants.”
And where does he fit?
“Really, I’m just a guy who exercises his rights and stands on his own two feet.”
I would like to know where this shipment originated from. China has a strict policy about drugs. Could it have come across land from Afhganistan? Looks like harvasting might have just ended, April, May?
Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson joined Steve Malzberg on Newsmax TV to discuss the liberal media, President Donald Trump’s first foreign trip and the Seth Rich murder investigation.
Attkisson told Steve she believes the Seth Rich family is being “managed” by outside interests and important questions still remain on the murder investigation.
Sharyl Attkisson: I think there are important questions and if you don’t know who murdered him you can’t really say, “Please don’t look here. That’s a conspiracy theory.” I feel for the family but I also think they are being managed. I would guess the article they wrote in the Washington Post, if I had to guess, I would say that letter was done with help… I think this case is being managed at various levels by people who don’t want this case investigated… That is sort of a dangerous new development in recent years, that there’s pressure to just stop covering a story entirely… There’s these narratives to try to stop a discussion and stop these investigations altogether rather than just provide a different viewpoint to it. That’s a scary development.
After coming to an easy agreement on a statement denouncing terrorism, the G7 leaders were unable to persuade U.S. President Donald Trump into ratifying the 2015 Paris climate agreement that would significantly reduce U.S. energy independence.
“The issue of the Paris climate accord remains suspended, as President Trump is engaged in internal reflection on the matter,” the G7 leaders stated in a press release.
On Saturday morning, President Trump tweeted in the first person that he will make his final decision on the matter sometime next week.
I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!
The U.S. President seemed intent on keeping the issue of Islamic terrorism front and center, refusing to allow the more peripheral and controversial matter of climate change to derail his priorities for the meeting.
By many accounts, President Trump made a strong showing in his first meeting with heads of state.
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who chaired the second and final day of the G7 summit, noted that differences of opinion with President Donald Trump “emerged quite clearly in our discussion.”
At the same time, after two days of deliberations, the G7 leaders released a surprisingly compact set of accords, fruit of “more authentic” discussions with the presence of the new U.S. President, Gentiloni said.
“Discussing is always useful. I think that all of the leaders present, starting with President Trump, appreciated the informality with which one in this format… can discuss things calmly and freely.”
The American people chose Trump, he added, “so we are coming to terms with this choice.”
The President faces both internal and external pressure to yield to the climate change crowd, beginning with his daughter Ivanka and economic advisor Gary Cohn.
According to Cohn, the President’s views on the issue are evolving, and he is “leaning to understanding the European position.”
The only appropriate thing to do then is to boycott them, and make sure everyone else knows they are the enemy of freedom of the press, on top of being trash for Clinton. If word got out, it could destroy them, SEE THIS
Here's a GOOD ONE
An advertising sign for a pizza shop crashed, and it dumped the background data for it's facial recognition software on the screen. It measured male/female, attention span, smile, if you wore glasses, etc. It was guaging people's reaction to the ad it was displaying. This is actually done a lot now, but it is unusual to actually get the readout of what the sign was really doing. Someone snagged a photo and put it on Twitter. SEE THIS
Federal prosecutor found dead
I saw this this morning but did not comment because I did not know what to make of it. I still don't, but figured that in light of Seth Rich, I ought to mention it.
This was an obvious murder. Fedreal prosecutor Beranton J. Whisenant was found on a Florida beach with a gunshot wound to the back of the head. He was fully dressed in his work suit, being pushed around by the surf.
He was investigating visa and passport fraud, and one source said he was also investigating ballot tampering for the 2016 election. But with regard to a reason to murder him, that is all I can find. Police are playing fools, suggesting it was an accident or a robbery or a suicide, all the while everything he had on him was still on him, despite his rolling around in the surf which rules out a robbery, and there is no rational way a random guy can accurately shoot the back of his own head (or body) just like Seth Rich. No robber is simply going to walk him up to the waves, shoot him, and walk off either. This is an obvious hit.
They are keeping a really tight lid on this, I looked at a dozen MSM reports this morning, and they all have the same canned story. Because of the dubious nature of the reporting, I'm suspicious he's another Seth Rich, but can't prove it.
The following on Seth Rich is going to stay top posted as well as possible, because it is important. I will try to keep new posts under this, and you may see it on this page several times due to the way combat mode works:
WHO IS SETH RICH?
A CALL TO ACTION: "THEY" HAVE COMPLETELY LOST CONTROL OF THE SETH RICH MURDER COVERUP. HERE IS HOW YOU BLOW IT COMPLETELY OPEN:
Write "Who killed Seth Rich" and / or "Who is Seth Rich" neatly on every piece of U.S. currency you get your hands on, neatly, in indelible ink, preferably with a fine point sharpie that does not draw thick. Spend the cash as usual. Anyone who ends up with that cash will be hit with that question, and is likely to become interested in finding out what happened (if they don't already know)
The MSM can claim it is a hoax all they want, and they will still lose. They can't win this, it is GAME OVER for them. With the internet getting censored, and the media full of lies, this is how we do it.
Obviously Google is going to kick in the manipulation, to drive people to an approved answer to that question. So you can additionally kill this by writing "google sethrichdoc.jpg". The photo I put on my site has been picked up everywhere and is the top hit on Google even though Google won't show you this site as the source. That will explain it ALL while the MSM lies, and google spews for officialdom.
HA HA HA, take a look at this!
They are not fooling ANYONE with ISIS anymore
A couple days ago I reported about how ISIS (tm) had invaded the Philippines. Well, RT just covered the story. Here's some text, AND LOOK AT THE COMMENTS!
Here is some article text:
"The Maute group confronting the Philippine army in Marawi City is no longer considered a local terrorist organization as it has been reinforced by jihadists of Malaysian, Indonesian and "other nationalities, " the country's authorities have announced.
"Before it was just a local terrorist group. But now they have subscribed to the ideology of ISIS. They want to make Mindanao as part of the caliphate, " Solicitor General Jose Calida told a news conference, according to Reuters.
"What's happening in Mindanao is no longer a rebellion of Filipino citizens" but "has transmogrified into an invasion by foreign terrorists who heeded the clarion call of the ISIS to go to the Philippines if they find difficulty in going to Iraq or Syria, " Calida added, as cited by InterAksyon news.
Now look at the comments!
"As Philippines aligned towards China and Russia, US has activated its powerful operatives "ISIS", to create disturbance in Philippines."
"He learned from his CIA class every terrorist need a adversary and every adversary needs a terrorist"
"USA is a terrorist Country. NATO is a terrorist organization"
" no comment you, re right mate absolutely 100%"
"Duterte starts to have better relations with China and Russia - ISIS suddenly appears...."
"Yeah. I'm surprised the regime change plan hasn't been enacted by now. It will start with protests in Manila followed by a violent, US-backed coup complete with US-paid mercenaries."
"Trained in Syria by the CIA and MOSSAD"
"Trained in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, not Syria."
"Trained in Turkey as well"
"Any of them wearing George Soros T-shirts?"
"Oi Vey; I wonder who could possibly be behind this...."
" The shekel masters?"
"Like clockwork - Phillipines move away from USA influence and then they get terrorists, who have been supported by USA in the middle east"
"We Jews are the destroyers. We will always be the destroyers. Nothing you do will ever meet our needs and demands." - Maurice Samuel
"and they question China building defenses right in the middle of the zone. China patrols the sea to try and prevent pirate terrorists doing business. The US patrols shouting its big mouth."
" China should patrol the South China Sea , quietly escorting any American Navy vessels . China should also be very careful with Pakistan , its military officers are Wahhabi . They used to do intel for Saudi Arabia. However the biggest threat to China is its recent "interest" in GMO foods. Only Japan has done studies for longer than 3 months . Banned across Europe and Russia , etc."
See the rest of the reports and how the comments evolved HERE
Do not think the fight is futile. The Alt Media is STILL WINNING even after being largely de-funded and slandered.
In case no one kept track of it, the "bailout" was triggered when approximately 50 billion in home loans were defaulted on, and in return, the Jews received trillions simply because the shadow government made it so. It was a scam of the highest order. And they turned around and used all that cash to buy everything up. Now we are seeing the results, via how much control they can leverage over what gets talked about, and what gets ignored.
WATCH: Homeland Security Chief Issues TERRIFYING Alert to Americans. Warn Your Loved Ones.
Why do we think this won't happen in America?
The mainstream media and the radical Left love to ignore the startling truth: We are under constant attack by radical Islam and Sharia law.
Department of Homeland Security Chief John Kelly issued a terrifying warning. He said, “If [you] knew what I knew about terrorism, [you’d] never leave the house in the morning.”
DHS Secretary Kelly: ‘You’d Never Leave the House’ If You Knew What I Know About Terrorism
Published on May 26, 2017
Friday on Fox New Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said if Americans knew what he knew about terrorism threats they would “never leave the house.” Kelly said, “It’s nonstop. The good news is, for us in America, we have amazing people protecting us every day, DHS, obviously, FBI, fighting the away game is DOD Department of Defense, CIA, NSA, working with these incredible allies we have in Europe and around the world. But it can happen almost here anytime. I was telling Steve on the way in here if he knew what I knew about terrorism, he’d never leave the house in the morning. But the good news is again we have the finest men and woman in uniform, out of uniform, police officers, local law enforcement New York City cops protecting us.”
Wow, if he is scared, then we should all be terrified. (via The Hill).
He went on to say, “It’s every where. It’s constant. It’s nonstop. The good news for us in America is we have amazing people protecting us every day. But it can happen here almost anytime.”
After eight years of Obama, this is the America that we have come to expect. We are so swamped in radical Islam that we need constant protection. Thank goodness we have such great police officers and such a strong military.
And, we also have the 2nd Amendment.
Unfortunately, liberals want to take away our guns. They don’t understand that a well-armed populace is the key to freedom. Look at Europe. They have so many gun restrictions, and look at all the terrorist attacks.
We need to deal with the radical Islam problem. We can do this by allowing Trump’s travel ban to go through, but activist judges and vicious lawyers won’t allow that to happen. They would rather put Americans at risk than deal with the problem.
We need to increase our vetting and protect our borders. We are too unprotected, but at least we have Trump to change that. Trump is tough on terror and radical Islam, unlike Obama.
Obama simply didn’t care about the flood of unvetted 'refugees.' He either didn’t care or didn’t see a problem with it. Either option is terrible for Americans. With the help of the mainstream media, Obama got away with his incompetence. (The PLAN was FOR the INFLUX of unvetted 'refugees' - to bring in the jihadi army to terrorize the nation.)
The media has been unrelenting against Trump. All Trump is doing is what any president should do: protect Americans from terrorists. The mainstream media doesn’t understand that, and the radical Left hates that Trump is such a strong president.
We elected Trump to protect our country, strengthen our borders, and improve our economy, but he has been halted at every step of the way by the Left, media, and the deep state operatives.
The deep state and the mainstream media have been working together to attack Trump. It has been a constant reminder that Obama really messed up our country. Because of Obama, the deep state has thrived, and Trump will have to do some serious firing.
Thankfully, if anyone can drain the swamp and protect us from radical Islam, it is Donald Trump. Our president isn’t going to allow these radical Islamic terrorists to harm American citizens.
Many thanks to all who have been sending love and prayers and donations for my Paralegal friend, Cookie. She was stricken with mysterious maladies that seemed to indicate heart failure and/or kidney failure and so, has had to undergo a lot of tests.
This evening she updated me. She had a severe misalignment in her spine between her shoulder blades (no doubt the result of years spent pouring over dusty books in dimly lit rooms, perched on tall stools) and that was causing a lot of problems because the nerves route through that area to the heart. So that is being adjusted by expert medical chiropractors and she is already experiencing significant relief.
She also has apparently developed a mid-life allergy to MSG which is being added to all processed food under the euphemism "natural preservatives". MSG makes food taste better, but it is also a poison capable of passing the brain-blood barrier, affecting short term memory, balance, and critical thinking skills. No more processed food is apparently the only cure.
All things taken together, the diagnosis could have been a lot worse and so could the treatment, though chiropractic care is not included in her major medical insurance and will continue to be an expense for some time to come.
The other news I wish to pass on tonight is that The Living Law Firm has prepared three major systemic claims in behalf of the American states and people.
I know this hasn't been easy to understand, but we were faced early on with a hard choice: we could take our slim resources--- a few dozen people working on their own shoestrings -- and try to put out 300 million brush fires, or we could concentrate on defining the problem(s) in a systemic way and bring action to correct the cause instead of the symptoms.
We took the latter course, at the cost of not being able to offer more direct and immediate help to individuals.
As the research has progressed it has become clear that the pattern of "expatriation" and "registration" and "bankruptcy" has been repeated several times and each time, private property has been removed under false presumptions into foreign jurisdictions and "pledged" by governmental services corporations as surety for their own debts.
The 1868 Expatriation Act was followed by the 14th Amendment presumption of Territorial United States Citizenship. The 1907 Expatriation Act resulted in Municipal United States Citizenship, which was followed by the Sheppard-Townsend Act registering babies. The 1934 Emergency Banking Act was followed by the creation of corporate Municipal Franchises--- another level of expatriation ---and the confiscation of gold.
At no time should any of this have affected American state nationals.
The financial crisis being addressed in each case was always due to the profligacy and mismanagement of the foreign Territorial United States and/or Municipal United States governments. In each case, only their actual citizens should have been impacted and in each case it was carefully stated that only "citizens" were subject.
But who is a "citizen" and with respect to which layer of government?
Prior to the so-called Civil War, people routinely served as State Citizens when they held office in their land jurisdiction state governments. They were also routinely referred to as "people of the United States". The semantic confusion and shuffle between "State Citizen" and "people of the United States" to "United States Citizen" was easy enough to foist off on the gullible and trusting public.
From that point on, the foreign Territorial United States (a British-backed democracy) and equally foreign Municipal United States (run by the Holy See as a Congressional oligarchy) worked as a Tag Team to secretively conscript and register American state nationals--- in effect, press-ganging them into the foreign international jurisdiction of the sea and promoting the assumption that they were operating as commercial "vessels" subject to both municipal and territorial law.
In fact, American state nationals operate as private, non-commercial "vessels" engaged in peaceful international trade. They are internationally "Protected Persons" and they are owed the specific protection of both the British Crown and the British Monarch.
By conscripting American state nationals under color of law and non-disclosure and coercing them to "accept" the status of "United States Citizen" the Territorial and Municipal United States could side-step the guarantees of the actual Constitution and seize upon the assets --- land and labor --- of the unsuspecting Americans who continued to think of the "federal government" as their own government.
We are presented with the spectacle of an entire people claiming to be "United States Citizens" as if they were born in Puerto Rico, unknowingly subjecting themselves to foreign Territorial and Municipal law, losing the protections of the actual Constitution, surrendering their claims to their land and their labor and accepting the debts of bankrupt foreign governments--- and for what supposed consideration? "Benefits" ---like "Social Security"---har! har! ---- that they paid for themselves.
Americans today give a far greater percentage of their assets and their labor to the "King" and the "Church" than any serf in the Dark Ages, and conditions are even worse throughout much of Europe, the former Commonwealth, India, Africa, South America, and Japan.
This outrageous crime against law, sense, and nature must come to an end---- and it must come systemically. The whole construct of the Great Fraud has to be flushed, and the spirit as well as the letter of the law established by our national trust indenture must be honored.
So--- in the next several weeks, three simple but profound legal actions will be engaged in behalf of the actual states and the living people. We will need your support in every way possible--- your prayers, your sharing of information, your determination to put an end to this fraud against America and against Americans, and yes, whatever money you can spare for our Living Law Firm.
Gregg Allman, whose hard-jamming, bluesy sextet the Allman Brothers Band was the pioneering unit in the Southern rock explosion of the ‘70s, died Saturday due to complications from liver cancer, his longtime manager, Michael Lehman, confirmed to Variety. He was 69.
As recently as April 24, reports surfaced claiming Allman was in hospice, although Lehman denied those reports, which Allman then substantiated in a Facebook post. However, he had suffered a number of ailments in recent years — including an irregular heartbeat, a respiratory infection, a hernia and a liver transplant — and cancelled many scheduled tour dates in recent months for health reasons. Lehman said that Allman’s liver cancer recurred around five years ago, but the singer chose to keep the news private.
Allman completed a solo album, “Southern Blood,” that is set for release late this year. Lehman said they received some final mixes for the album on Friday, and Allman listened to them the night before his death. He added that Allman passed away with his family nearby, and was “at peace.”
For his work with the Allman Brothers, the legendary band he cofounded with his late brother Duane, and as a solo artist, Allman is one of the leading lights of Southern Rock. While the group’s greatest work was done before and shortly after Duane’s death in 1971, they stayed together, off and on, over 45 years and remain a singular influence on Southern rock and jam-band musicians. They were a top-drawing touring outfit until October 2014, when the group finally closed the book on their career with a series of dates at their longtime favorite venue, New York’s Beacon Theatre.
Allman’s solo career always played second to that of the band, but he enjoyed solo success with 1973’s “Laid Back” and 1987’s “I’m No Angel,” both of which were certified gold. In 2011 he released an unexpectedly strong album entitled “Low Country Blues” that was produced by T Bone Burnett (Alison Krauss/Robert Plant, Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, “O Brother Where Art Thou?”), who, along with instrumentalists like pianist Dr. John and guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, brought Allman back to his gutsy roots with stellar results.
With his older sibling, guitarist Duane Allman, the singer-keyboardist-guitarist-songwriter led one of the most popular concert attractions of the rock ballroom era; the group’s 1971 set “At Fillmore East,” recorded at Bill Graham’s New York hall, was a commercial breakthrough that showed off the band’s prodigious songcraft and instrumental strengths.
After Duane Allman’s death in a motorcycle accident weeks after the live album’s release, his younger brother led the band through four more stormy decades of playing and recording. The Allman Brothers Band’s latter-day history proved tumultuous, with other fatalities, disbandings, regroupings and very public battles with drugs and alcohol on the part of its surviving namesake.
Though Gregg Allman’s highly publicized addictions, his tabloid-ready marriage to pop vocalist Cher, and his equally public disputes with co-founding guitarist Dickey Betts came under harsh and sometimes mocking scrutiny over the years, Allman prevailed as the linchpin of an act that maintained popularity over four decades and opened the commercial door for such other Southern acts as Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band.
As a member of the Allman Brothers Band, Allman was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
He was born Gregory LeNoir Allman on Dec. 8, 1947, in Nashville; brother Duane was born 13 months earlier in the same hospital. In 1949, his father was shot to death by a man he offered a ride to in a bar. As their mother was studying accounting to support the family, the brothers were sent to a Tennessee military school at an early age.
The Allmans became attracted to music after seeing a 1960 concert by R&B singer Jackie Wilson in Daytona Beach, FL, where the family had moved the year before. Using money from a paper route (augmented by his mother), Gregg bought a guitar, and taught Duane his first chords. Both played guitar in the bands they founded after returning to the military academy in their teens.
Their pro bands the Escorts and the Allman Joys, which favored R&B, blues and rock covers, found work on the Florida club circuit in the mid-‘60s; Gregg began playing keyboards in the latter unit. The Allman Joys were playing without success in St. Louis when Bill McEuen, manager of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, met them and offered to set them up in Los Angeles.
Renamed Hour Glass, the L.A.-based group cut two unsuccessful pop-oriented albums for Liberty Records in 1967-68. Duane chafed at the direction being forced on the combo and fled for Alabama, where he became a prominent session guitarist at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL. Gregg remained in L.A. to fulfill obligations to Liberty, but was summoned to Jacksonville, FL, in 1969 by his brother, who envisioned a new blues-based band with two guitarist and two drummers, featuring members of another local combo, the 31st of February.
Calling themselves the Allman Brothers Band, the new unit – the Allmans, guitarist Betts, bassist Berry Oakley and drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson – was signed by Otis Redding’s former manager Phil Walden for management and as an act on his Macon, GA-based label Capricorn Records. The group moved to Macon, which became its base for the duration.
Neither of the ABB’s first two albums was an enormous success: Its self-titled bow peaked at No. 188 in 1969, while sophomore set “Idlewild South” topped out at No. 38 in 1970. But they established Gregg Allman as a vocal, instrumental and songwriting power: His compositions included such future staples of the band’s live set as “Not My Cross to Bear,” “Dreams,” “Whipping Post” and “Midnight Rider.”
Though problems with hard drug abuse were already surfacing in the band, the Allmans became a huge concert attraction in the South; the enthusiastic sponsorship of promoter Graham led to high-profile gigs at New York’s Filllmore East (where the band attained a rabid following) and San Francisco’s Fillmore.
The Allmans made their commercial mark with “At Fillmore East”: The expansive, Tom Dowd-produced two-record set, recorded during two nights at the venue, shot to No.13 ultimately sold more than 1 million copies and became one of the defining concert recordings of its day. However, Duane Allman’s tragic death at 24 on a Macon street on Oct. 29, 1971, cast a shadow over its success.
The band completed a follow-up two-LP set, “Eat a Peach,” as a quintet, with live numbers featuring Duane filling out the contents. The 1972 package rose to No. 4 nationally and went platinum, but disaster again struck: In a mishap eerily similar to Duane Allman’s fatal crash, hard-drinking bassist Oakley died after driving his bike into the side of a truck that November.
Shaken by the deaths of his brother and Oakley and increasingly incapacitated by heroin, cocaine and alcohol, Gregg Allman ceded much of the band’s songwriting and front man duties to Betts; as he noted in “My Cross to Bear,” his 2012 memoir, “Up until then, we’d never really had a front man; Dickey took it upon himself to create that role.”
The ABB released its only No. 1 album, “Brothers and Sisters,” in 1973; the record was powered to the top by the Betts-penned No. 2 single “Ramblin’ Man,” the group’s only top-10 45.
Allman retreated from the group to cut his solo debut “Laid Back” in 1973; rising to No. 13, it would be his most popular work away from the band for nearly 40 years, and it spawned his only top-20 solo single, a down-tempo remake of “Midnight Rider.”
On the heels of the lugubrious but popular “Win, Lose or Draw” (No. 5, 1975), the group set out on its biggest, and costliest, tour to date. The ABB flew to its dates on a lavishly appointed private jet previously used by the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin; in his book, Allman recalls, “The first time we walked onto the plane, ‘Welcome Allman Brothers’ was spelled out in cocaine on the bar.”
The ABB returned from the 41-date tour with a mere $100,000 in hand, owing to over-the-top spending. This financial catastrophe was compounded by the indictment of the group’s security man (and Allman’s drug bag man) Scooter Herring on cocaine distribution charges; Allman testified against Herring before a grand jury and at his trial, which netted a 75-year prison sentence.
Addicted to heroin and embroiled in inter-band conflict with Betts, Allman began spending more time in Los Angeles with Cher, whom he had wed in June 1975. The incongruous couple was followed avidly by gossip columnists. In the wake of an unsuccessful 1977 solo album, “Playin’ Up a Storm” (No. 42), Allman and Cher released their only duo album, “Two the Hard Way”; embarrassingly credited to “Allman and Woman,” the set failed to chart, and its accompanying tour witnessed scuffles between hostile camps of fans in the audiences. Allman and Cher divorced in 1978.
Membership in the ABB rotated repeatedly for the remainder of the group’s career, which saw ever-diminishing contributions from writer Allman. He authored just one song for the group’s final Capricorn album, “Enlightened Rogues” (No. 27, 1979); the financially unstable imprint crashed within a year of its release. Allman was also a minor contributor to a pair of slick, poorly received albums for Arista Records in 1980-81.
During the band’s protracted hiatus of the ‘80s, Allman issued a pair of solo sets; the more popular of the two, 1987’s “I’m No Angel” (No. 30, 1987), spawned the titular radio hit.
Encouraged by airplay on the burgeoning “classic rock” radio format, the ABB reconvened for a 1989 tour. In 1990, the group recorded “Seven Turns” (No. 53) with “Fillmore East” producer Tom Dowd; the group also began multi-night residencies at New York’s Beacon Theatre, which became an annual tradition. They issued four commercially unrewarding albums – two studio sets and two concert releases – between 1991 and 1995.
Following a drunken appearance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York in January 1995, onetime junkie Allman, after 11 stints in rehab, finally stopped drinking on his own, under the 24-hour watch of two nurses.
Following the exit of longtime guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody and the recruitment of Butch Trucks’ young nephew Derek Trucks on guitar, the ABB cut the live “Peakin’ at the Beacon” in 2000. Tension within the band had reached the breaking point, and, following a severely worded fax to Betts from the other members and subsequent legal arbitration, the Allman Brothers Band’s other founding guitarist made his exit.
The front line of Allman, Haynes and Derek Trucks and the group’s founding drummers were heard on the Allman Brothers Band’s studio collection “Hittin’ the Note” (No. 37, 2003) and the live “One Way Out” (No. 190, 2004). After 45 years in business, the band was formally dissolved after an October 2014 show at the Beacon.
Allman’s old habits caught up with him in the ‘00s. Diagnosed with hepatitis C – a disease common to intravenous drug users – in 2007, he learned that he was suffering from liver cancer in 2008. He underwent successful liver transplant surgery at the Mayo Clinic in 2010.
Before his surgery, Allman entered the studio to record his first solo album in 13 years. “Low Country Blues,” a striking and powerful recital of old blues songs, augmented by one Allman-Haynes original and produced by T Bone Burnett (Alison Krauss/Robert Plant, Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, “O Brother Where Art Thou?”), garnered the best reviews of his career, collected a Grammy Award nomination and became his highest-charting solo release, reaching No. 5 in early 2011.
However, health problems and catastrophe continued to dog him. He cut short a 2011 European tour because of respiratory issues, which ultimately mandated lung surgery. He faced a drug relapse spurred by painkillers, and did a stint in rehab. In 2014, a film based on his 2012 memoir, “Midnight Rider,” ceased production after a camera assistant on director Randall Miller’s feature was killed by a freight train on the first day of shooting.
Allman’s last concert took place on October 29, 2016 in Atlanta, a headlining set at his own Laid Back Festival.
Married and divorced six times, Allman is survived by three sons and two daughters, all by different mothers. Four of the children are professional musicians.
Allman will be buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia, next to Duane and former Allmans bassist Berry Oakley (who died a year after Duane), Lehman said. Their mother’s ashes, currently in Gregg’s home, will be buried there as well.
A bombshell Circa News report claims that the NSA, under then President Obama, conducted years of illegal searches of American's private data.
The secret court that oversees government snooping took the Obama administration to task late last year, suggesting it created "a very serious Fourth Amendment issue" by violating rules the government itself had implemented regarding the surveillance of Americans, FoxNews.com reported.
According to top secret documents made public by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – often referred to as the FISA court – the government admitted that NSA analysts were violating surveillance rules on a regular basis.
On "Special Report" tonight, Judge Andrew Napolitano said it's "astounding" that there's not more outrage from Americans over this report, and it's astounding that it's not being more widely reported on by the mainstream media.
"NSA has been doing massive amounts of spying, surveilling, capturing every keystroke on every iPhone and every desktop and every phone call and all fiber optic cable in the United States that they can, without telling the FISA court about it," Judge Napolitano said.
He said this could have affected hundreds of millions of Americans, calling it a "profound violation of the Fourth Amendment."
Although the FISA court harshly rebuked the NSA, it's actually almost a "joke," Judge Napolitano said.
"There's no sting to the rebuke, there's no consequences to the government," he explained.
He added that these violations were "horrific" under the Obama administration, but they started under former President George W. Bush, and some of them continue to this day under President Trump.
There is a dangerous radiological threat to the West Coast of the United States that puts the health of millions of Americans at risk. It includes dangers to public health, dangers to the food supply, and dangers to future generations from long-lived radionuclides, including some of the most toxic material in the world.
It is not Fukushima, it is Hanford. While radiation from the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns is reaching the West Coast, carried across the ocean from Japan, the radiation from Hanford is already there, has been there for 70 years, and is in serious risk of catastrophe that could dwarf the effects of Fukushima even on Japan.
Hanford, on the Columbia River in Eastern Washington State, is the site where the United States produced the majority of its plutonium for nuclear weapons during the Cold War. These tens of thousands of American nuclear weapons were built as an end product of the high levels of plutonium production at Hanford. The first three nuclear reactors on Earth were built at Hanford, with a total of nine nuclear power plants being built there eventually. Nuclear power plants operated for ten years in this world before they were ever used to generate electricity. Electricity is a secondary purpose for nuclear power plants. They were designed and built as plutonium manufacturing plants.
Military plutonium production sites remain among the most contaminated sites on Earth. During the period of operation more than 67 metric tons of plutonium were manufactured at Hanford. Hanford is home to 60 percent (by volume) of all of the high level radioactive waste stored in the United States. Nearly 80 percent of the Department of Energy’s inventory of spent nuclear fuel rods are stored just 400 yards away from the Columbia River. (Statistics taken from Physicians for Social Responsibility webpage)
Here is a very brief review of some of the worst impacts and dangers at the Hanford Site.
The Green Run
In December 1949 the United States deliberately released an immense amount of radiation into populated areas at the Hanford Site during the notorious Green Run. It was the largest intentional release of radiation conducted by the U.S. government. While nuclear testing in Nevada exposed many people to significant amounts of radiation, this was a byproduct of the desire to test weapons. In the Green Run the intention was specifically to release the radiation into the Hanford area. The Green Run was conducted in reaction to the test of the first Soviet nuclear weapon in Kazakhstan several months earlier.
The first indications that the Soviets had successfully tested a nuclear weapon came when sensors at Hanford picked up the radiation several days later. It was decided to release radiation “similar” to that of the Soviet test to develop and hone detection equipment and better analysis of the Soviet program.
After the end of World War Two the U.S. method of processing the plutonium from the spent nuclear fuel rods involved “maturing” the rods, or letting them cool for approximately 100 days to allow short-lived nuclear isotopes (like iodine-131) to decay. Kate Brown has a detailed discussion of the decisions that eventually led to extending this maturing period at Hanford during this time in her pivotal book, Plutopia. The U.S. assumed that in their rush to produce nuclear weapons as quickly as possible the Soviets were “short-cooling” their plutonium being manufactured at the Mayak Complex, and thus processing the plutonium before these short-lived radionuclides had decayed.
The Green Run was a plan to mimic this and process plutonium that had not cooled for 100 days, but instead had cooled only a few weeks and was, hence, “green.” To increase the ability of the radiation detection equipment in the area, and on the airplanes that participated, the filters at the plutonium processing plants that specifically filtered out iodine-131 were turned off for the 12-hour duration of the Green Run.
As bad as this deliberate release of radiation into the downwind communities was, things did not go as planned. The intended amount of iodine-131 to be released was dwarfed by the actual release, which was double what was anticipated. While scientists imagined they would then be tracking a coherent cloud as it moved away from the site, the resulting radiation dispersed throughout a vast area stretching across much of Washington State and into Southern Oregon. Concentrations were found in valleys and lowlands as the radiation distributed irregularly. Internalizing iodine-131 is a direct cause of thyroid cancer.
EPA map of iodine-131 distribution following the Green Run showing both heavy dose area and total distribution
The Tank Farms
Few things pose as great a threat to public health at Hanford than the Tank Farms. The Tank Farms are 177 single and double shelled waste storage tanks sited at two different locations on the Hanford complex. In the early days at Hanford, when plutonium for nuclear weapons was separated from the spent nuclear fuel, the leftover uranium from the process was stored in these tanks. Over the years a wide range of the highest level radioactive and chemical wastes were dumped into these tanks.
According to the State of Washington the 177 tanks hold 53 million gallons of the highest level radioactive waste existing in the United States. 67 of the single shelled tanks have leaked over 1 million gallons of this highly radioactive waste which is migrating through the soil and groundwater into the Columbia River. In 2011 the Department of Energy emptied the contents of many of the leaking single shelled tanks into double shelled tanks, however the design of the double shelled tanks was found to be flawed, resulting in further leaks.
A section of the Tank Farms at Hanford. Photo: D0E.
Dealing with the 53 million gallons of highly radioactive waste is a multi-billion-dollar effort designed to manage the waste by 2050, or roughly 100 years after it was first manufactured. Currently almost nothing has yet been accomplished towards this goal besides the paying out of the contracts to design plans and begin the construction of the “Vitrification Plant” that is intended to encase the waste in glass. In recent years’ numerous whistleblowers have come forward from among Hanford employees to describe the flawed design and safety protocols of the Vit Plant.
Most of these whistleblowers have been fired by the contractors running the Hanford cleanup. One, Walter Tamosaitis, the research and technology manager of the Vit Plant, was vindicated and awarded $4.3M to settle his wrongful termination suit, however other whistleblowers have been dismissed from their positions since that award. While the liquid waste has been extracted from the tanks the remaining high level waste in the tanks remains largely untreated.
Hanford employees who work maintaining the Tank Farms have suffered serious and unexplained health problems in recent years. Each year numerous workers have been exposed to “vapors” and have become sick or lost consciousness and required hospitalization. Many have suffered ongoing health problems as a result of these exposures. In 2014 over 40 workers suffered from such exposures including a two-week period in late March that saw 26 workers hospitalized.
According to KGW news in Portland, a 1997 study conducted by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory warned that workers exposed to vapors from specific tanks would have significantly increase risk of cancers and other serious diseases, but the conclusions of this report “were never made public, shared with Hanford workers or members of the federally chartered Hanford Advisory Board.”
On 29 September 1957 a tank containing waste similar to the waste in the Hanford Tank Farms exploded at the Mayak plutonium production site in the former Soviet Union, known as the Kyshtym Disaster. The cooling system for one of the tanks at the Mayak site failed and the temperature inside the tank rose eventually causing a chemical explosion that sent a radioactive cloud for over 350 km downwind and heavily contaminated an area near the plant with catastrophic levels of cesium-137 and strontium-90.
This was one of the worst radiological disasters in human history at the time, and remained so, along with the fire three weeks later inside a nuclear reactor core at the Windscale facility (now called Sellafield) in Cumbria in the United Kingdom, until the Chernobyl meltdown and explosion in 1987. The Kyshtym Disaster, which a Soviet study concluded resulted directly in 8,000 deaths (not to mention illnesses) was the consequence of an explosion in one tank. At Hanford there are currently 177 such tanks, each containing similar disastrous potential, and located beside one another.
Contaminations and Dangers
The EPA has identified between 1,500-1,200 specific sites on the Hanford grounds where toxic or radioactive chemicals have been dumped. The ambiguity of that number speaks volumes about the lack of record keeping and functional data for addressing these problems. If plans for remediation of the waste in the Tank Farms at the Hanford Site are carried out as intended, there remains massive contamination of the soil and groundwater under the site, leeching into the Columbia River and surrounding countryside.
That is if things go well. Things could go badly. The Kyshtym Disaster shows the dangers of an explosion in one of the tanks storing waste such as that stored in the 177 tanks at the Hanford Tank Farms. An incident in which multiple tanks experience problems could be catastrophic beyond our imagination. What’s more, there is not effective containment or security at the Tank Farms to face the threats of current times.
While the countries around the world worry about the dangers of flying airplanes or drones into nuclear power plants, or of cyber attacks on the power supplies to such plants, those sites have at least some effective containment around the toxic materials they hold. The Tank Farms are open air and unshielded. The amount of deadly radiological materials contained in these tanks is far beyond that contained at any single nuclear site in the United States.
Hanford is Here, Fukushima is There
The triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi was a horrible disaster that has released massive amounts of radiation into the environment. The daily passage of tons of water through the watershed below the plants where the melted nuclear cores (corium) sit smoldering will continue to release radiation into the ocean for decades to come. The health toll that this will take, especially on the children of Northern Japan is horrifying. Already a much higher than expected incidence of thyroid cancers have been reported in area youth. This is the first of the cancers to present and is the tip of the iceberg of health impacts on those in the area.
The plumes from the explosions of March 2011 deposited the bulk of their fallout within a few hundred kilometers of the plants. Radiation from the regular releases of contaminated water into the ocean, and the passage of groundwater across the corium will continue to bring radioactive particles into the Pacific Ocean where they will work their way up the food chain much as the fallout deposited by atmospheric nuclear testing did in the Pacific during the 1940s and 1950s. Some of that radiation is reaching the West Coast of the U.S., and this will continue as long as the site hemorrhages contaminated water into the ocean, which will likely be for some decades.
There is currently a great deal of awareness about the arrival of Fukushima radiation on the West Coast. There are many people who say they will not eat fish from the Pacific Ocean, or eat food from Japan. At the same time, there is no discussion about eating Salmon from the Columbia River, drinking wines from the Columbia Valley, or fruit from the orchards that fill the downwind area around Hanford.
The amount of radiation in the Hanford area dwarfs the amount arriving on the West Coast of the United States on a scale that is mindboggling. What is arriving from Fukushima is the result of the meltdowns of three nuclear cores, and it is crossing an ocean. What is stored at Hanford and leeching into the Columbia is resultant from two-thirds of the high level nuclear waste of the United States, and is from production that began decades before Fukushima was built. This is contamination that has been saturating the groundwater and ecosystem of the Northwest for more than 70 years.
Furthermore, the impacts from Hanford are not only what may happen, but what has already happened. Hanford downwinders have suffered generations of cancers and other diseases across a wide area of Eastern Washington and beyond. There is a legacy of death and illness that spans generations downwind from Hanford, and the source of those diseases percolates away in the tanks and waste sites that sit along the Columbia River, spreading deeper into the surrounding ecosystem.
We should be vigilant and monitor the levels of Fukushima radiation that arrives on the West Coast of the United States. But we should turn our attention and concerns to the radioactive wound that seeps radiation into the ecosystem of the American and Canadian West every day and threatens it with a radiological disaster that would dwarf the worst that Fukushima has done even in Japan. Stand up for Hanford whistleblowers. Demand transparency on waste management practices and plans at Hanford. Stand up for the health of Hanford workers who are being exposed to dangerous vapors in their workplace. And demand support and compensation for the downwind families and workers whose health and wellbeing has been devastated by the most radioactive site in the United States.
A federal prosecutor involved in the investigation of voter fraud connected to the DNC was found dead on a Miami beach on Wednesday.
According to reports, Beranton J. Whisenant Jr was discovered in the water by a passer-by on Hollywood Beach on Wednesday at 4.30am. His death bares striking similarities to the death of murdered DNC whistleblower Seth Rich.
The prosecutor had been shot in the head, according to police. Residents who spotted the body claim he had all of his personal effects on him when he was discovered, which rules out the likelihood of a robbery.
Whisenant worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami in its major crimes unit. He was investigating a mail theft case involving voter fraud.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former DNC chair who rigged the 2016 primaries for Hillary Clinton, promised to abuse her power for personal revenge on a top cop. She said there will be “Consequences” if he doesn’t hand over evidence – a laptop she owns that they are investigating.
... As one of eight members of the Committee on Appropriations’ Legislative Branch subcommittee, Wasserman Schultz is in charge of the budget of the police force that is investigating her staffer and how he managed to extract so much money and information from members. In a highly unusual exchange, the Florida lawmaker uses a hearing on the Capitol Police’s annual budget to spend three minutes repeatedly trying to extract a promise from the chief that he will return a piece of evidence being used to build an active case.