Godfathers of Ganja

MV5BMjExOTk3NTQzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTU1NjM4NA@@._V1_SY317_CR8,0,214,317_Square Grouper, in rotation on Showtime, and available on demand from Netflix and other streaming sites, reveals how a completely non-violent and family friendly marijuana trade was shut down in the late 1970s. Strangely, it was quickly replaced by a super violent cocaine trade. The makers of this film actually did the cocaine story first, but were led to study what had preceded it.

The film tells three separate stories and reveals how the press is often used to soften up targets and enhance prosecutions.

The first concerns the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, wherein we learn about two Jewish kids from the East Coast who visit Jamaica and get drawn into one of the mansions of Rastafarianism, a sect known as the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, and begin smuggling ganja back to the States, eventually buying many multi-ton freighters and vast amounts of land in Jamaica, so much so that the Church becomes the biggest employer in Jamaica. Supposedly, they are paying $200 million a year in bribes and payoffs to remain untouchable, which amounts to around a quarter of their profits. They decide to open an “embassy” on chic Star Island in Miami, which becomes infamous for sunrise chanting sessions and thick clouds of ganja blowing downwind. They apply for and receive official government recognition as a church. The DEA knows what’s going on, sort of, but remains hands-off due to religious rights issues. The government has always been extremely reluctant to allow any crack in the dike they’ve constructed against cannabis religious rights.

A CBS reporter named Mark Potter gains access to the house on Star Island and captures footage of young children smoking ganja. This footage is used to spearhead a campaign against the Church. Eventually the home on Star Island and many other properties are raided and thousands of tons of cannabis are discovered stashed around Florida. Incredibly, the sentences are light, from 1 to 6 years, and the founder of the Church in Jamaica, the one with the millions of dollars, is never extradited, but instead, eventually assassinated.

5464879793_983f0af901_mThe second story traces the history of the Black Tuna Gang, who at the time of capture were painted as the biggest kingpins in the history of dope smuggling. Yet they did only a small fraction of that Coptic Church and all around the same time? Robert Platshorn of Philadelphia was the leader (left).

Black Tuna was really just a couple of buddies from Philadelphia, middle men in the cannabis trade, who decided to expand operations to meet growing demand. Platshorn flew to Bogota and instantly met all the right people just sitting in his hotel cafe. He had no money for that first load, so used himself as a hostage until the million or so in cash arrived by plane.

Unfortunately, Platshorn got caught up in Zee Big One. That’s what the alphabet soup agencies call an operation designed to coincide with a budget review or show-down in Congress. At the time, the DEA was fighting to stay alive. The agency was Nixon’s creation, his way of balancing the FBI and CIA, although it was heavily penetrated by both. The made members of Platshorn’s outfit wore gold medallions with a black tuna on their chests and when boats would meet offshore in the dark, “black tuna” was a signal shouted out. Those words quickly worked their way into the press, who blew them up into “the biggest pot gangsters in the world.” That myth got shattered when High Times dubbed them the “gang that couldn’t deal straight,” because half their loads got lost or stolen.

The DEA was worried, so they went to the FBI and said something like, “hey, I know we have a reputation for not getting along, but we’ve got Ze Big One down in Miami and could use some of your mojo, and can offer a chunk of the forfeiture rights.” However it happened, Black Tuna became the first joint FBI-DEA operation.

There’s a made “man of honor” in jail in Philadelphia, known as “Homerun” for being handy with a baseball bat, a real mobster who knows Platshorn. In order to spring himself, he says something like, “release me and I’ll hand you Black Tuna on a platter.” He jets down to Miami, where Platshorn is out on bail, and offers all sorts of advice, including a wonderful set of fake id’s all perfectly made. The gangster is saying how they just need to get the judge recused because the next one in line can be easily bribed. “Once we get rid of the judge, you’ll get a one or two year sentence,” says the gangster into his wire. “It’ll only cost a millon dollars.” Platshorn doesn’t have a million, but that doesn’t matter because now he’s on tape talking about it.

Meanwhile, one of the jurors has a relative float a $25,000 offer to Platshorn to insure his release. It’s like a shark frenzy and everyone smells cash, only he doesn’t have much because the prosecutor made it up. But the prosecutor leverages these two incidents to revoke Platshorn’s bail and greatly enhance his sentence.

He eventually received an incredible 63 years, served 28, and he came out in remarkable shape, immediately becoming an activist for seniors for cannabis, a campaign he calls the Silver Tour, but you can see the trauma etched in his face when he tells his tales of government manipulation.

The last story in the film is about Everglades City, a small fishing town on the southwestern tip of Florida where everyone is related and there are only five last names in the phone book. After the government declared the Everglades a protected area, they shut down most of the fishing, depriving the locals of a livelihood. So of course the entire town became involved in pot smuggling, the most profitable thing they could do.

Under the guise of writing a harmless story about the Everglades, reporter Mark Potter comes to town and hangs around for a few days and interviews a few people about fishing and such. But as he hangs out day after day, he suddenly seems more interested in discussing the local marijuana industry, and locals start sharing stories, naming no names of course.

nbc_potter_mark_smile_060418.grid-4x2I’m sure Mark filed some reports on the dangerous Black Tuna Gang as well, after all, dope was his beat and he was based in Miami most of his career. But here he is basically doing a con job that’s going to destroy a lot of families? The sad thing about this case is they managed to insert a couple informers and it was just enough to turn half the town into snitches. The half that snitched did one or two years, while the ones that didn’t did 4 to 6. Talk about destroying a community. Most of these people were low-level worker bees doing jobs they used to do, only getting a week’s pay a night, something a lot more of us could achieve if we could just find a way to cut out Illuminati profits and CEO salaries.

Potter works at NBC now. He’s been posted at all the networks’ biggest shows, and has all the biggest awards, including tons of Emmys. Funny how we both graduated from prominent Midwestern colleges with journalism degrees around the same time, and ended up rising to the top of our chosen fields, only mine was supporting legalization, and his was supporting prohibition.

Inside the New World Order

cop-steroids-policeI got my first speeding ticket during a recent trip to my hometown in central Illinois after pulling out onto a busy street with cars coming in both directions. I’d goosed the gas so as not to force oncoming traffic to brake. Unfortunately, this happened right in front of a speed trap.

I can remember a time when the police looked and talked pretty much like everyone else in town. Those days are gone. Today, they seem to be coming out of a different mold, like Navy Seals on steroids. Which I wouldn’t mind at all if they were friendly Seals.

The whole encounter gave me a creepy feeling. And it wasn’t just the $120 fine. After I got home, I had solicitations from a lawyer as well as a County Clerk offering a $50 safety course as a diversion to shield my insurance premiums and driving record. Every aspect of law enforcement is being mined for profit. And that’s really the way the whole country runs these days: whatever makes money is good.

But talking about the sorry state of American culture is not popular these days, and the kids have much more important things to focus on, like intensely violent video games. Meanwhile, most rights promised by our Constitution have virtually been disappeared while most wealth has quietly and quickly been drained into the hands of a small group of interlocking corporations operating on a global scale.

In the 1950s, everyone assumed global conspiracies were real and the biggest was supposed to be the Communist conspiracy. There were, in fact, secret Communist cells operating in major cities across the USA. But what they don’t tell you is that most of these were penetrated, if not controlled, by spooks.

Communism was funded by certain banks to the tune of millions of dollars, and the same banks that setup Communism, also setup the Nazi Party and fostered the Hitler war machine. A key banker involved in this hoodwink was Prescott Bush, whose family would soon rise to great power.

In the 1960s a vast social movement started with teenagers rebelling against their parent’s culture and forging a new path not based solely on the profit motive. Will another generation like that ever emerge again?

There’s an 8th Grade graduation test going around facebook that looks more like something you’d see in graduate school than Middle School and it really hit home just how dumbed-down teens have become. One wonders what possible role pills and processed foods have played in this ongoing de-evolution. Back in the 1960s, a whisleblower from one of the rightwing think tanks (Antony Sutton) showed how our education system had been hijacked by the Eastern Establishment and the one-hour classes and bell-ringing was introduced via German ideas on building compliant factory workers and soldiers. It was more about socializing kids to accept authority than empowering their abilities. And the reality that we’ve been headed down that road ever since shows in the dismal rankings of our schools as compared with other countries. If we would just empower the kids instead of breaking their spirits while filling their minds with violence and sex through the media.

But politics is so passe these days. Turn up the gangsta rap and pass me an Adderall.

And don’t think the FBI and CIA didn’t jump headfirst into the counterculture revolution, planting stooges in positions of power, same as they did with the Communist revolution. Which brings me to the origins of “conspiracism,” a word invented by John Foster “Chip” Berlet.

Berlet dropped out of the University of Denver in 1971 to join the counterculture revolution. He edited a series of books for the National Student Association. Years later we would learn the National Student Association was a CIA front and that at least 400 journalists were secretly working for the CIA, producing mountains of disinfo in an operation known as “Mockingbird.”

Berlet worked briefly for High Times as Washington correspondent, although the only significant journalism he contributed was an attack on Lyndon LaRouche. That’s an interesting story on its own, since LaRouche was one of those weird Marxists who appeared in the 1960s using military-grade mind control techniques to construct a cabal of followers. LaRouche has produced numerous articles exposing Berlet’s intelligence connections. What I see in their encounters today is a staged dialectic with a couple of veteran spooks role-playing against each other.

Today, Berlet’s research is funded by the Ford Foundation, long known to have a close relationship with the CIA. See, when researchers like Danny Casolaro started investigating the connections between the JFK assassination, Watergate, Iran-Contra, the Marcos gold, all the dots started to line up. So Berlet became the front man on messing up that blackboard. “Nothing to see here!” He invented the word “conspiracism” as a major ploy in that op.

We know where the pinnacles of power reside: The central banks, the oil companies, the military, the universities and the religions are all important elements. What we never investigate, however, is the connections between these centers of power. The Federal Reserve operates in secrecy because they don’t want you to know the names of any major stockholders of that privately-held corporation.

More recently, Berlet has handed the “conspiracism” crown to Michael Barkun who has become the media’s new go-to guy when discussing the crazy conspiracy theorists. Barkun’s close relationship to the FBI is no secret. Most of what these guys discuss in the way of conspiracy theory involves either Alex Jones or David Icke, both undoubtedly controlled lighting rods who manufacture paranoia rather than real research.

And that’s how this operation works. Icke and Jones lead people into paranoia, and then Berlet and Barkun brand all researchers as paranoid. Meanwhile, the British Journal of Psychology has already published a paper on the dire effects of viewing conspiracy websites.

“Participants were exposed to conspiracy theories concerning the issue of climate change. Results revealed exposure to information supporting the conspiracy theories reduced participants’ intentions to reduce their carbon footprint, relative to participants who were given refuting information, or those in a control condition. This effect was mediated by powerlessness with respect to climate change, uncertainty, and disillusionment. The findings suggest conspiracy theories may have potentially significant social consequences, and highlight the need for further research on the social psychology of conspiracism.”

The word is already in the psychology lexicon and it’s only a matter of years before they start locking up people like me for the insane belief that a hidden cabal might be orchestrating wars for profit. And all because I have this silly idea that war produces 17 times more profit than peace, at least if your industry is based in the military-industrial establishment.

If you really want to step out of this matrix, a great place to start would be my ebook Dirty Money, which you can read in less than an hour and costs less than a dollar. It traces the corruption running through the banking industry since it was invented. It just might open your eyes to some of the shit going on behind the curtain.

Why David Icke and Alex Jones are Disinfo Artists

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Maybe you’ve noticed the appearance of insane ninja shooters is increasing exponentially, a disturbing trend nowhere so prevalent as in the good old USA? My theory is this unfortunate situation is the result of a perfect storm of three trends: pills for all, violence media for all, and guns for all.

A sideshow to this problem is the way the two major conspiracy websites have jumped on current events as being created by sinister government forces for a hidden agenda. The world is filled with coincidences and you can connect dots all day long that don’t really connect, so that’s an easy game to play. The disinfo machine ignores real info and diverts people into rabbit holes leading nowhere while helping brand researchers as kooks who believe in nonsense. That’s the purpose of disinfo, which is really a well-practiced art the FBI and CIA learned from the Nazis and British intelligence.

To give a specific example: When Sandy Hook happened, it was immediately branded by David Icke and Alex Jones, the two biggest disinfo artists in the world, as an example of a government-inspired plot. According to them, more than one shooter was involved. Initially, they claimed the event was orchestrated to pass Obama’s assault weapon ban. But then, a few days later, it turned out there were no assault weapons at Sandy Hook, just four hand guns. So how does that help pass an assault weapon ban? Just another case of reality blowing a giant hole through a pet theory advanced by Icke and Jones.

And please don’t make the mistake of thinking either one of those two dudes actually knows what’s going on in the world and is on the inside of the real power structure. They only understand one thing: paranoia sells. And that’s really the only aspect of conspiracy theory banksters are willing to bankroll. Secret societies will always seek to control dialogue by inventing extremes. Somebody big in England is behind Icke, just like somebody big is behind Jones in the USA. It could even be the same person, although you can see major differences in their approaches. Icke is pushing the “Rothschilds rule the world,” essentially the same course charted by the John Birch Society in the 1960s. Today we know the JBS was set-up inside Freemasonry and was involved in the JFK assassination cover-up. The JBS was created as an extremist group to hype the Cold War and they promoted the idea the Rothschilds were secretly running Russia, as well as the State Department. In reality, the Rothschilds evolved as the court bankers of Europe.

Jones, on the other hand, talks about the elites but avoids discussion of both Zionism and Opus Dei, two of the primary forces orchestrating world events. You cannot understand what is happening in the world today without studying those two powerful movements.

Antony Sutton, one of the few deep political researchers I trust, claimed the Rothschilds hold about ten percent of the world’s wealth, and the majority is in the coffers of the old money families of Europe and North America. Researching the truth of this is beyond my ability, but I believe anything promoted by the corrupt John Birch Society is far more likely to be a rabbit hole than the actual truth. Yes, in many cases, the man running the bank is Jewish, just like most basketball players are black, but that doesn’t mean Jews own all the money in the bank, any more than black people own the NBA.

The most important financial secret in the world was the recovery of over a trillion dollars worth of gold stolen by the Japanese during WWII. Once recovered, this treasure was hidden inside the world banking system and that crime seems to have been conducted jointly by Opus Dei and Skull & Bones, neither one of which has anyone of Jewish heritage inside the upper levels of its power structure.

The Mysterious Saul Alinsky

In 1971, I suddenly found myself back in Urbana, Illinois, pretty much penniless, and the town had sure changed in the two years I’d been away. There wasn’t much work listed in the paper, although my former employer, The News-Gazette, had an ad for distributors. You had to have your own vehicle and several minor routes were up for grabs. I set-up an interview, but when I showed up, I found myself talking to Frank Sowers, the same guy who’d hit my buddy Doug Blair with a baseball bat, and been one of the toughest dudes in my class (although he was a greaser and I was a longhair). If Frank recognized me, he certainly didn’t say so, and I knew he was never going to offer me a job.

The only other option was working as a community organizer for a new group that was canvassing the area. They welcomed me with open arms and gave me a just-published book to read: Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky. It was their bible. I really enjoyed this book immensely and it was the first time I’d ever heard of the Dutch Provo movement that had been a wild success in the Netherlands. One of the first things I’d do after becoming editor of High Times was to commission the first history of the Provos written in English.

This community group was a bit strange, however. We were traveling around to targeted communities and squeezing small donations by going door-to-door. The main pitch involved lowering the electric bill, something the group had already managed to do in other areas. I remember hearing the names “Ralph Nader” and “Mark Green” a lot from our supervisor. Mark arrived one day and gave a scheduled pep talk, before retiring to a private corner to have a long, whispered conversation with our supervisor.

sc000232b3I instantly became the star fundraiser, which meant I was also making the most money since everything was based off commissions. The easiest touches were widows who lived alone and who were obviously starved for human companionship. For them, an hour of conversation was worth a $20 donation. The photo on the left was taken during this period and shows the outfit I wore, so you can see what I looked like while I was shaking loose change off these ladies.

There was a strange, predatory vibe to this operation and I soon began to feel like a Moonie. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I decided to bail after two or three weeks, despite the easy pay, which really upset the supervisor. He had some higher-ups to answer to, and without me on board, I guess he didn’t think he was going to make his monthly quota. He even tracked me down at my parent’s house and begged me to come back, which made his operation seem all that more creepy to me. I had a strong feeling the “green” movement was being hijacked by the FBI or CIA.

There was one thing about Alinsky that really bothered me: he preached the ends justified the means. In a way, he was the Ayn Rand of the socialist movement. When I saw Obama and Hillary both track back to Alinksy organizations, it really makes me wonder if he wasn’t operating on another level, dancing through raindrops, just another spook on a secret mission with a hidden agenda.

Alinksy was a poor Russian Jew in Chicago when he unexpectedly got offered a fellowship at the University of Chicago to study criminology, and since he had zero background in that field, one wonders how he landed such a cushy deal? I guess you know the University of Chicago was created by the Rockefeller Trust, and also birthed the warmongering neo-conservative movement that fomented wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that bankrupted the nation.

Right after getting that fellowship, Alinksy spent two years hanging out with the Al Capone gang, then being run by Frank Nitti, as Al had income tax problems to deal with. Alinksy was allowed complete access to the gang, including its financial secrets. “Once, when I was looking over their records,” he told Playboy. “I noticed an item listing a $7,500 payment for an out-of-town killer. I called Nitti over and I said, ‘Look, Mr. Nitti, I don’t understand this. You’ve got at least 20 killers on your payroll. Why waste that much money to bring somebody in from St. Louis?’ Frank was really shocked at my ignorance. ‘Look, kid,’ he said patiently, ‘sometimes our guys might know the guy they’re hitting, they may have been to his house for dinner, taken his kids to the ball game, been the best man at his wedding, gotten drunk together. But you call in a guy from out of town, all you’ve got to do is tell him, ‘Look, there’s this guy in a dark coat on State and Randolph; our boy in the car will point him out; just go up and give him three in the belly and fade into the crowd.'”

I don’t know about you, but I find it odd Alinsky, a criminology student at the University of Chicago, was given this sort of access to information, not to mention his lack of morality, even to the point of not understanding the morals of the Sicilian brotherhood of death he was studying.

I’d have to do a lot more research on Alinsky and his organization before I could come to any conclusions, but I do find him to be a somewhat mysterious character.

My Favorite Anti-War Protest

The Illini Union was my home away from home during the 1960s. The original building had recently been renovated and greatly expanded, although my favorite hangout remained The Tavern, located in the basement of the original building. The Tavern had a sort of bohemian coffeeshop feel to it and was a magnet for counterculture types like me. I spent most of my time in those days navigating between Turk’s Head, House of Chin, Union Tavern and Red Herring, all of which were within a block or two of each other.

I loved hanging out at the Union bookstore because they let students sit in chairs and read any book without buying it! I’d spend hours in there reading paperback novels. One of my favorite moments came when I walked out and just happened to bump into Carl Ellis and Timothy Leary, who had just crossed paths for the first time and instantly recognized themselves as long-lost comrades-in-arms. I think it began with Carl making some Oriental display of respect and offering his hand, but it ended with both of them embraced in a bear-hug. Leary was in town to give a speech later that day in one of the Union ballrooms.

After the Vietnam draft heated up, several anti-war organizations sprouted on campus and draft card burnings became a regular event on the south deck of the Union. Eventually, this deck became officially known as the “free speech area,” and impromptu rallies began happening there that alternated between folk songs and speeches against the war. At this time, however, most people in the community still supported the war and a local fraternity responded to these anti-war efforts by holding a blood drive for soldiers overseas.

My favorite anti-war event happened when a big muckity-muck of the draft came to one of the ballrooms to deliver a speech on how the new lottery system was going to work. But after he’d been speaking for only a few seconds, a cue was given and a couple dozen people, including me, put on black hoods with skull faces and stood up on our chairs. Meanwhile, the double doors flung open and a casket paraded into the room. As the casket wound around the room, the black skulls lined up behind it in a silent death march. We ended up marching out of the ballroom pretty quick and planned to exit the building in an orderly fashion and go to the Turk’s Head. But as we left the ballroom, we saw campus police rushing towards us, so we quickly veered into a nearby elevator and pushed the “up” button.

Knowing the cops could see which floor we were headed for, we exited the elevator asap and ran down a long hallway to a different set of elevators, got inside and pushed the “down” button, returning to our original floor. Meanwhile, cops were running all over the building, trying to locate the casket while we stayed one floor and one step ahead of them, laughing all the way. It was a scene right out of the Keystone Kops.

Finally, the cops did corner the casket, and a kid from Uni High who was a year younger than me jumped on top and began delivering a passionate anti-war speech. He was standing under a portrait of Red Grange, the galloping ghost himself, and I remember thinking, “I wonder what Red might think of us now?”

I never see any references to this protest online, although it was my favorite action of all the ones I participated in. Later, there’d be a brief riot in the Union after the school tried to do something about the fact that out of 30,000 students at the U of I in 1967, less than 300 of them were black. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., statistics like that were especially revealing of the institutionalized racism that afflicted the state. So the U of I hastily set up a program designed to bring 500 black students into the school for the fall semester in 1968. Unfortunately, many of them quickly decided they were being treated like second-class students and demanded to see Chancellor Jack Peltason immediately, not in his office, but in the Union Art Gallery, where hundreds of them had assembled for a sit-in. Peltason was told the situation was too unruly for such a meeting so he decided to close the building instead. That’s when a few of the students began slashing paintings. I wonder today who those slashers were and what the point of attacking that artwork might have been? Today, that sort of activity seems more like the work of an FBI dirty tricks informant.

We knew the FBI was sending dirty tricks specialists to infiltrate our anti-war scene, as they could often be quickly identified as the guy demanding some crazy violent action, like trampling the Morrow Plots, the country’s oldest continuous agricultural research center, as if the Morrow Plots had something to do with the War in Vietnam? Despite knowing the FBI was orchestrating the violence, we were helpless to stem the tide, as radical actions got increasingly violent, finally erupting in full-scale riots in 1970.

It was strange for me to see these people getting hostile with Jack Peltason. To me, Jack was just a nice guy, a good friend of my family and the father of my brother’s best friend. Many of us had grown up together in Stadium Terrace, a low-cost housing development built as barracks during the war on the west side of the football stadium and later transformed into cheap housing for married graduate students. In the early 1950s, polio swept through the community, and Bugsy’s dad was one of the unfortunates who contracted that terrible disease. Many of the families that went through Stadium Terrace remained close long after the barracks were torn down.

After I graduated with a degree in playwriting, I sent an application to Yale Drama Graduate school, including a copy of my play that had been performed at the National College Theater Festival. Jack Peltason wrote a letter of recommendation for me. I remember going to his office for the first time to ask him for the letter. He was really shocked to hear I was applying to Yale. “Isn’t that the very heart of the establishment?” he asked me with a wink, well aware of my radical activities. As could have been predicted, however, Yale didn’t want me, so I took a year off to travel in Europe and then applied to get a Masters in Science in Journalism from the U of I.

I recently noticed the department was hiring an associate professor and sent a letter indicating I might be willing to move to Urbana, even if it meant a pay cut. I never heard back though, and I have a funny feeling the U of I Journalism Department isn’t exactly trumpeting the fact one of their graduates became the most successful editor in High Times history and author of a number of conspiracy stories.

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