Veteran hedge-fund manager says capitalists don’t divide the economic pie well, so the system isn’t working effectively for all
Ray Dalio certainly is no radical idealist, but in his frequent writings and media appearances the veteran investor consistently calls for Americans to rewrite their longstanding contract with capitalism so that it is fairer and more generous to more people.
Otherwise, he predicts, life in the U.S. could become more difficult: mountainous debt that stunts economic growth; fewer opportunities for ordinary citizens to get ahead financially; and a worldwide lack of trust in the U.S. dollar that diminishes Americans’ purchasing power and could lower their standard of living.
Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge-fund firm, which has made him a billionaire. So it’s not surprising that he champions capitalism as a proven way to expand economic growth and living standards.
“Capitalism and capitalists are good at increasing and producing productivity to increase the size of the economic pie,” he says.
Then Dalio stands this tenet on its head. Capitalists don’t divide the economic pie very well, he says, and so today the capitalist system, the foundation of the U.S. economy, is not working efficiently and effectively enough for all.
“Capitalism also produces large wealth gaps that produce opportunity gaps, which threaten the system,” Dalio says — a system that has been and still is key to the health and success of U.S. business, workers, government and investors alike.
Unless the U.S. takes steps to make systemic repairs designed to provide greater opportunity for more Americans to achieve personal growth and financial security, the consequences likely will be painful for the country, as Dalio explains in this recent telephone interview, which has been edited for length and clarity:
MarketWatch: You have written and spoken about three big domestic and international problems facing the U.S. over the next five to 10 years and how a failure to address these challenges could threaten America’s standing in the world. What are these three pressing problems?
Ray Dalio: I look at it mechanically, like a doctor looking at a disease. If asked what is the issue here, I would say that it is a certain type of disease that has certain patterns which are timeless and universal, and the United States is broadly following that progression.
There are three problems that are coming together, so it’s important to understand them individually and how they collectively make a bigger problem.
There is a money and credit cycle problem, a wealth and values gap problem, and an emerging great power challenging the existing dominant power problem. What’s going on is an economic downturn together with a large wealth gap and the rising power of China challenging the existing power of the United States.
It’s a fact that there has been a weakening of the competitive advantages of the United States over the last couple of decades. For example, the United States lost a lot of the education advantage relative to other countries, our share of world GDP is reduced, the wealth gap has increased which has contributed to our political and social polarization.
But we haven’t lost all of our competitive advantages. For example in innovation and technology, the United States is still the strongest, but China is coming on very strong and at existing rates will surpass the United States. Militarily, the U.S. is stronger but China also has come on very strong and is probably stronger in the waters close to China that include Taiwan and other disputed areas. Finances for both countries are challenging, but for the U.S. more so. The U.S. is in the late stages of a debt cycle and money cycle in which we’re producing a lot of debt and printing a lot of money. That’s a problem. As a reserve currency status, the U.S. dollar DXY, -0.08% is still dominant though its being threatened by its central bank printing of money and increasing the debt production problem.
‘The United States is a 75-year-old empire and it is exhibiting signs of decline.’
MarketWatch: Focusing on the money and credit problem, excessive debt can be a killer for businesses and families, but most people don’t seem to recognize that debt plays havoc with their country’s finances as well. Government runs the money printing press, which buys time, but eventually something’s got to give.
Dalio: If you look at the history — for example, the Dutch Empire, the British Empire — both experienced the creation of debt and the printing of money, less educational advantages, greater internal wealth conflict, greater challenges from rival countries. Every country has stress tests. If you look at British history, the development of rival countries led them to lose their competitive advantages. Their finances were bad because they had accumulated a lot of debt. So, after World War II those trends went against them. Then they had the Suez Canal incident and they were no longer a world power and the British pound is no longer a reserve currency. These diseases almost always play out the same way.
The United States’ relative position in the world, which was dominant in almost all these categories at the beginning of this world order in 1945, has declined and is exhibiting real signs that should raise worries. There’s a lot of baggage. The U.S. has a lot of debt, which is adding to the hurdles that typically drag an economy down, so in order to succeed, you have to do a pretty big debt restructuring. History shows what kind of a challenge that is.
I just want to present understanding and facts. There’s a life cycle. You’re born and you die. As you get older you can see certain things that are symptoms of being later on in life. To know the life cycle and to know that these symptoms are emerging is what I’m trying to convey. The United States is a 75-year-old empire and it is exhibiting signs of decline. If you want to extend your life, there are clear things you can do, but it means doing things that you don’t want to do.
‘Wealth cannot be created by creating debt and money.’
MarketWatch: Let’s put it bluntly: Is capitalism broken?
Dalio: I wouldn’t say broken as much as I’d say it has problems that have to be fixed. As I said, I’m not ideological, I’m mechanical. I look at everything operationally like a machine and what has been shown is that capitalism is a fabulous way of creating incentives and innovation and of allocating resources to create productivity. All successful countries have uses for it. For example, communist China has chosen capitalism, which has been essential to its growth.
But capitalism also produces large wealth gaps that produce opportunity gaps, which threaten the system in the ways we are seeing now. Wealth gaps give unfair advantages to the children of rich people because they get a better education, which undermines the equal opportunity notion. As the number of people who get equal opportunity diminishes, this reduces the possibility of finding talented people in that population, which isn’t fair and undermines productivity. Then the have-nots want to tear down the capitalist system at a time of bad economic conditions. That dynamic has always existed in history and it’s happening now.
The capitalist system is based on profit-seeking being the resource allocation system, which generally works well but doesn’t always. So, capitalism and capitalists are good at increasing and producing productivity to increase the size of the economic pie, but they’re not good at dividing the economic opportunity pie. Socialists are generally not good at increasing productivity and the size of the economic opportunity pie, but they are better at dividing the pie.
We now have too much emphasis on distributing wealth and getting it from producing debt and printing money, and not enough from increasing productivity. Wealth cannot be created by creating debt and money. We have to be productive together, so we have to look at the good investments that we can make together that make total sense, like in education, and create equal opportunity in order to be productive.
We have to be in this together. The system needs to be reengineered to do this. But if we don’t do this engineering well, we’re going to spend in an unlimited way and deal with that by creating debt that won’t ever be paid back, and we will risk losing the reserve currency status of the dollar. If we get into that position — and we’re very close — things will get much worse because we are living on borrowed money that’s financing our consumption.
‘Within the next five years you could see a situation in which foreigners who have been lending money to the United States won’t want to.’
MarketWatch: About the dollar being threatened as the world’s reserve currency — what does “close” mean, and what would the decline of this status mean for Americans?
Dalio: Within the next five years you could see a situation in which foreigners who have been lending money to the United States won’t want to, and the dollar would not be as readily accepted for making purchases in the world as it is now.
We have to realize that we’re spending more than we’re earning. Every individual, every company and every country has an income statement and a balance sheet. The income statement is how much is your earnings are relative to your expenses. If your earnings are greater than your expenses, great, you will increase your balance sheet. If your earnings are less than your expenses, then you have to draw on your balance sheet.
The United States doesn’t have a good income statement and balance sheet in dealing with the rest of the world. It is running a deficit to the rest of the world that is financed by borrowing money so that we are producing liabilities. Our living standards are based on our spending, not on our income statement or balance sheet. If the U.S. loses that ability and it doesn’t force itself to be more productive, one day it will lose that ability to borrow and then will have to cut spending, which is painful.
When that pain happens at a time when you have the population at each other’s throats over money, that’s a toxic combination. People can’t take a downturn and have less buying power. So, necessarily the poor will have to be getting money from the rich and the rich are going to want to prevent that, and then if it gets bad enough, that it messes up productivity.
‘When the causes people are fighting for are more important to them than the system that binds them together, the system is in jeopardy.’
MarketWatch: What steps do politicians and business leaders need to take now to create and implement reforms that will fortify the U.S. balance sheet and the dollar’s status?
Dalio: In brief, productivity and equal opportunity are most needed. If we could at least agree that we must have these things, that would be great. What we have now is a situation in which we’re fighting each other, we are not providing equal opportunity, and we are losing our productivity gains.
One of the greatest problems is that everybody’s fighting for their cause. When the causes people are fighting for are more important to them than the system that binds them together, the system is in jeopardy. This seems to now be happening. Everybody has their cause and they’re almost losing sight of the overall picture. Democracy depends on compromise. It’s the notion of compromise and working together and being able to have a negotiation to get what the most people want rather than have one side beat the other.
You really have to take the relative parties and make them agree on what’s going to be best. The group has got to be bipartisan and they have to be knowledgeable. Bring together parties of opposing ideologies who are also knowledgeable, not just smart but who are on the ground, to come up with a plan together that all can support so that we’re productive, increasing the size of the pie and dividing it well. It would be great if whoever the president is could draw upon people from both parties and different perspectives.
MarketWatch: As Americans prepare for a presidential election in November, the three major problems you mentioned earlier would seem to be important factors for voters to consider.
Dalio: Yes. The world is going to change in the next five years in shocking ways in relation to the three big issues we have been talking about.
First, there’s a debt-money cycle — what is the value of money? What will happen to the debt? Will the dollar retain its value? The finances of this — who is going to pay for it? How? What will work? That’s number one.
Second, the wealth, opportunity and values gaps will have to be dealt with. Are we going to be at each other’s throats in a way that is harmful or are we going to be working together even if things get worse?
Third is the rising of a great power in China to challenge the existing power of the United States. Will this be well handled?
We will be dealing with these issues in the next presidential term, which will have a huge effect on our outcomes. The last time those three things existed as they do now was the 1930 to 1945 period. That’s the last time you had zero interest rates and money printing. That’s the last time you had the wealth and political gaps as large as they are today, and it was the last time you had rising powers challenging the existing world order. This and many analogous times before it help to give us perspective.
‘Worry as much about the value of your money as you worry about the value of your investments.’
MarketWatch: These and other domestic and international challenges will clearly affect Americans financially. What would be a smart, proactive strategy for investors to both protect a portfolio and take advantage of market opportunities?
Dalio: First, worry as much about the value of your money as you worry about the value of your investments. The printing of money and the debt should make you aware of that. That’s why financial asset prices have gone up — stocks, gold — because of the debt and money creation. You don’t want to own the thing you think is safest — cash.
Second, know how to diversify well. That includes diversification of countries, currencies and assets, because wealth is not so much destroyed as it shifts. When something goes down, something else is going up so you have to look at all things on a relative basis. Diversify well and worry about the value of cash.
Americans look at the value of everything in U.S. dollars, but they don’t look at the value of the dollar. You’re in an environment where you have to be cautious about that, because the easiest way out for government is to do what the U.S. just did, which is to borrow and print a lot of money. They don’t have to get it from anyone, because when they raise taxes they have to get it from somebody and that somebody squawks. The population doesn’t pay much attention to the debt and the printing of money. They all appreciate the giving of money. So you hear the population say, “I need more money,” and get angry if they don’t get it. So you’ve got to give them more money, and it’s easier not to take it away from someone else.
Despite high yields and a record of maintaining and raising dividend payouts, the S&P 500 utilities sector is down this year.
Thursday, September 17, 2020 by: Mike Adams
(Natural News) Today we are calling for the arrest and prosecution of top government officials in Nashville, TN, who have now been caught red-handed covering up the very low numbers of infections at restaurants and bars in order to gaslight the public and justify draconian business closures and lockdowns.
A bombshell investigation by Fox 17, WZTV in Nashville, has uncovered once-secret emails that reveal a shocking conspiracy to deliberately deceive the public by withholding covid-19 infections statistics that would have shown that bars and restaurants are not spreading infections.
While nursing homes and construction sites were found to have produced over 1,000 cases of coronavirus infections (each), bars and restaurants reported only 22 cases, reports Fox 17. From there, the cover-up begins. As Fox 17 reports:
Leslie Waller from the health department asks, “This isn’t going to be publicly released, right? Just info for Mayor’s Office?”
“Correct, not for public consumption,” writes senior advisor Benjamin Eagles.
A month later, the health department was asked point blank about the rumor there are only 80 cases traced to bars and restaurants.
Tennessee Lookout reporter Nate Rau asks, “The figure you gave of ‘more than 80’ does lead to a natural question: If there have been over 20,000 positive cases of COVID-19 in Davidson and only 80 or so are traced to restaurants and bars, doesn’t that mean restaurants and bars aren’t a very big problem?”
Health department official Brian Todd asked five health department officials, “Please advise how you recommend I respond.”
The name at the top of the response is clipped off but you may find the answer unacceptable.
“My two cents. We have certainly refused to give counts per bar because those numbers are low per site.
We could still release the total though, and then a response to the over 80 could be because that number is increasing all the time and we don’t want to say a specific number.”
Neither the health department nor the mayor’s office would confirm the authenticity of the emails but councilmember Steve Glover had a Metro staff attorney inquire. Here’s the official answer:
“I was able to get verification from the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Health that these emails are real,” the staff attorney answered.
Glover says this is Metro Nashville orchestrating a cover up.
“They are fabricating information,” Glover said. “They’ve blown there entire credibility Dennis. Its gone, I don’t trust a thing they say going forward …nothing.”
They were “managing” the propaganda to deliberately mislead the public
What these emails show is that Nashville officials — almost all Democrats, of course — were carrying out acts of criminal fraud against the people of Tennessee. They were deliberately engineering or shaping the propaganda in order to mislead the public and try to justify lockdowns and closures that could not normally be justified if they had reported the real numbers.
Brian Todd, one of the officials involved, reportedly asked five other government officials how he should “respond” to questions about the data, implying that he couldn’t simply tell the truth and wanted to know how to shape the response to mislead the public.
It’s clear that the Nashville Mayor’s office would only share “bad” information with the public, while covering up “good” numbers that might justify reopening local businesses.
This is the weaponization of government against the people, isn’t it? Instead of local government working to help local citizens overcome the economic devastation of lockdowns and closures, these government officials were acting as enemies of the local people. As if they were waging a war against them!
As Donald Trump Jr. tweeted, “The Dem Mayor of Nashville KNOWINGLY LIED ABOUT COVID DATA to justify shutting down bars & restaurants, killing countless jobs & small businesses in the process. Everyone involved should face jail time. How many other Dem run cities is this happening in?
We are calling for the arrest and prosecution of every Nashville officials involved in this criminal fraud
This story shows that Nashville officials recognized the “numbers were low” for bars and restaurants and therefore decided to withhold those numbers from the public.
This is criminal.
In a time when small businesses are being devastated by lockdowns that lead to bankruptcies, with jobs and livelihoods on the line, these Nashville government officials — who all hold cozy jobs as government workers — took actions that deliberately destroyed private sector businesses, almost like an act of BLM terrorism.
Black Lives Matter burns your business down, but Nashville officials destroy your entire revenue model, making them worse than terrorists.
Anyone who has ever wondered whether government was your enemy, look no further than Nashville.
It’s time that We the People started arresting these government criminals and tyrants who are abusing their power, lying to America and destroying local economies just so they can use the coronavirus pandemic to roll out their authoritarian schemes.
Arrest the covid criminals in Nashville, starting with Mayor John Cooper.
September 16, 2020By Craig Murray
Assange hearing day 9: things became not merely dramatic
in the Assange courtroom today, but spiteful and nasty. There were two real issues, the evidence and the procedure. On the evidence, there were stark details of the dreadful regime Assange will face in US jails if extradited. On the procedure, we saw behaviour from the prosecution QC that went well beyond normal cross examination and was a real attempt to denigrate and even humiliate the witness. I hope to prove that to you by a straightforward exposition of what happened today in court, after which I shall add further comment.
Today’s witness was Eric Lewis. A practising US attorney for 35 years, Eric Lewis has a doctorate in law from Yale and a masters in criminology from Cambridge. He is former professor in law at Georgetown University, an elected member of both the American Law Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He is Chairman of Reprieve. He has represented high profile clients in national security and terrorism cases, including Seymour Hersh and Guantanamo Bay internees.
Lewis had submitted five statements to the court, between October 2019 and August 2020, addressing the ever-changing indictments and charges brought by the prosecution. He was initially led through the permitted brief half-hour summary of his statements by defence QC Edward Fitzgerald. (I am told I am not currently allowed to publish the defence statements or links to them. I shall try to clarify this tomorrow.)
Eric Lewis testified that no publisher had ever been successfully prosecuted for publishing national security information in the USA. Following the Wikileaks publications including the diplomatic cables and the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, Assange had not been prosecuted because the First Amendment was considered insuperable and because of the New York Times problem – there was no way just to prosecute Assange without prosecuting the New York Times for publishing the same material. The New York Times had successfully pleaded the First Amendment for its publication of the Pentagon Papers, which had been upheld in a landmark Supreme Court judgement.
Lewis here gave evidence that mirrored that already reported of Prof Feldstein, Trevor Timm and Prof Rogers, so I shall not repeat all of it. He said that credible sources had stated the Obama administration had decided not to prosecute Assange, notably Matthew Miller, a highly respected Justice Department figure who had been close to Attorney General Holder and would have been unlikely to brief the media without Holder’s knowledge and approval.
Eric Lewis then gave testimony on the change of policy towards prosecuting Assange from the Trump administration. Again this mostly mirrored the earlier witnesses. He added detail of Mike Pompeo stating the free speech argument for Wikileaks was “a perversion of what our great country stands for”, and claiming that the First Amendment did not apply to foreigners.
Attorney General Sessions had accordingly stated that it was “a priority for the Justice Department” to arrest Julian Assange. He had pressured prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia to bring a case. In December 2017 an arrest warrant had been issued, with the indictment to be filled in later. The first indictment of a single count had been launched in March 2018, its timing possibly dictated by a limitation deadline.
In May 2019 a new superseding indictment increased the counts from one to eighteen, seventeen of which related to espionage. This tougher stance followed the appointment of William Barr as Attorney General just four months previously. The plain intention of the first superseding indictment was to get round the New York Times problem by trying to differentiate Assange’s actions with Manning from those of other journalists. It showed that the Justice Department was very serious and very aggressive in acting on the statements of Trump administration officials. Barr was plainly acting at the behest of Trump. This represented a clear abuse of the criminal enforcement power of the state.
The prosecution of a publisher in this way was unprecedented. Yet the facts were the same in 2018 as they had been in 2012 and 13; there was no new evidence behind the decision to prosecute. Crucially, the affidavits of US Assistant Attorney Gordon Kromberg present no legal basis for the taking of a different decision to that of 2013. There is no explanation of why the dossier was lying around with no action for five or six years.
The Trump administration had in fact taken a different political decision through the Presidential spokesperson Sarah Sanders who had boasted that only this administration had acted against Assange and “taken this process seriously”.
Edward Fitzgerald QC then turned to the question of probable sentencing and led Lewis through his evidence on this point. Eric Lewis confirmed that if Julian Assange were convicted he could very probably spend the rest of his life in prison. The charges had not been pleaded as one count, which it had been open to the prosecution to do. The judge would have discretion to sentence the counts either concurrently or consecutively. Under current sentencing guidelines, Assange’s sentence if convicted could range from “best case” 20 years to a maximum of 175 years. It was disingenuous of Gordon Kromberg to suggest a minimal sentence, given that Chelsea Manning had been sentenced to 35 years and the prosecution had requested 60.
It had been a government choice to charge the alleged offences as espionage. The history of espionage convictions in the USA had generally resulted in whole life sentences. 20 to 30 years had been lighter sentences for espionage. The multiple charges approach of the indictment showed a government intention to obtain a very lengthy sentence. Of course the final decision would lay with the judge, but it would be decades.
Edward Fitzgerald then led on to the question of detention conditions. On the question of remand, Gordon Kromberg had agreed that Julian Assange would be placed in the Alexandria City Jail, and there was a “risk” that he would be held there under Special Administrative Measures. In fact this was a near certainty. Assange faced serious charges related to national security, and had seen millions of items of classified information which the authorities would be concerned he might pass on to other prisoners. He would be subject to Special Administrative Measures both pre- and post-conviction.
After conviction Julian Assange would be held in the supermax prison ADX Florence, Colorado. There were at least four national security prisoners currently there in the H block. Under SAMS Assange would be kept in a small cell for 22 or 23 hours a day and not allowed to meet any other prisoners. He would be allowed out once a day for brief exercise or recreation excluded from other prisoners, but shackled.
Fitzgerald then led Lewis to the 2017 decision by the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan, in which the evidence provided by the Wikileaks release of US war logs and diplomatic cables provided essential evidence. This had been denounced by Trump, John Bolton and Pompeo. The ICC prosecutor’s US visa had been cancelled to hinder his investigation. An Executive Order had been issued imposing financial sanctions and blocking the banking access of any non US national who assisted the ICC investigation into crimes alleged against any US citizen. This would affect Julian Assange.
At this point, the half-hour guillotine imposed by Judge Baraitser on defence evidence came down. Fitzgerald pointed out they had not even reached the second superseding indictment yet, but Baraitser said that if the prosecution addressed that in cross examination, then the defence could question on it in re-examination.
James Lewis QC then rose to cross examine Eric Lewis. Yet again, he adopted an extremely aggressive tone. This is perhaps best conveyed as a dialogue.
NB this is not a precise transcript. It would be illegal for me to publish a transcript (of a “public” court hearing; fascinating but true). This is condensed and slightly paraphrased. It is I believe a fair and balanced representation of what happened, but not a verbatim record.
Eric Lewis was appearing by videolink and it should be borne in mind that he was doing so at 5am his time.
James Lewis QC Are you retained as a lawyer by Mr Assange in any way?
Eric Lewis No.
James Lewis QC Are you being paid for your evidence?
Eric Lewis Yes, as an expert witness. At a legal aid rate.
James Lewis QC Are you being paid for your appearance in this court?
Eric Lewis We haven’t specifically discussed that. I assume so.
James Lewis QC How much are you being paid?
Eric Lewis £100 per hour, approximately.
James Lewis QC How much have you charged in total?
Eric Lewis I don’t know, haven’t worked it out yet.
James Lewis QC Are you aware of the rules governing expert witnesses?
Eric Lewis Yes, I am. I must state my qualifications and my duty is to the court; I have to give an objective and unbiased view.
James Lewis QC You are also supposed to set out alternative views. Where have you set out the arguments in Mr Kromberg’s five affidavits?
Eric Lewis The court has Mr Kromberg’s affidavits. I address his arguments directly in my statements. Are you saying that I should have repeated his affidavits and all the other evidence in my statements? My statements would have been thousands of pages long.
James Lewis QC You are supposed to be unbiased. But you had previously given views that Mr Assange should not be extradited.
Eric Lewis Yes, I published an article to that effect.
James Lewis QC You also gave an interview to an Australian radio station.
Eric Lewis Yes, but both of those were before I was retained as an expert witness in this case.
James Lewis QC Does this not create a conflict of interest?
Eric Lewis No, I can do an objective analysis setting aside any prejudice. Lawyers are used to such situations.
James Lewis QC Why had you not declared these media appearances as an interest?
Eric Lewis I did not think perfectly open actions and information needed to be declared.
James Lewis QC It would be much better if we were not forced to dig out this information. You give opinions on law. You also give opinions on penal conditions. Are you an expert witness?
Eric Lewis I am very familiar with prison conditions. I visit prisons. I studied criminology at Cambridge. I keep up to date with penology. I have taught aspects of it at university.
James Lewis QC Are you a qualified penologist?
Eric Lewis I think I have explained my qualification.
James Lewis QC Can you point us to peer reviewed articles which you have published on prison conditions?
Eric Lewis No.
James Lewis QC Have you visited ADX Colorado?
Eric Lewis No, but I have had a professional relationship with a client in there.
James Lewis QC Have you represented anyone in Alexandra Detention Centre?
Eric Lewis Yes, one person, Abu Qatada.
James Lewis QC So you have no expertise in prisons?
Eric Lewis I have visited extensively in prisons and observed prison conditions. I have read widely and in detail on the subject.
James Lewis QC Abu Qatada was acquitted of 14 of the 18 charges against him. Was that not acquittal by the same jury pool that would try Julian Assange?
Eric Lewis No. That was Colombia, not Eastern Virginia. Very different jury pools.
James Lewis QC The prosecutors withdrew capital charges. You said that was a courageous but correct decision?
Eric Lewis Yes.
James Lewis QC So what was Qatada’s sentence and what was the maximum?
Eric Lewis The government asked for life but to my mind that was not legal for the charges on which he was convicted. He got 22 years. That was much criticised as harsh for those charges.
James Lewis QC Was the Abu Qatada trial a denial of justice?
Eric Lewis No.
James Lewis QC Abu Qatada was held under Special Administrative Measures. Did that prevent you from spending many hours with him?
Eric Lewis No, but it made it extremely difficult. The many hours were spread out over a long period. That is why remand lasted for three years.
James Lewis QC Were your meetings with him monitored?
Eric Lewis Yes.
James Lewis QC But not by the prosecution.
Eric Lewis It was all recorded by the authorities. We were told that nothing would be passed to the prosecution. But from many other reports I am not convinced that is true.
James Lewis QC What jury pool was Zacarias Moussaoui convicted by?
Eric Lewis He was not convicted by a jury. He pled guilty.
James Lewis QC But the jury decided against the death penalty.
Eric Lewis Yes.
James Lewis QC What about Maria Butina? She was charged with being an agent of the Russian Federation but received a light sentence?
Eric Lewis That was a very weird case. She did no more than cultivate some figures in the National Rifle Association. She was sentenced to time served.
James Lewis QC But she only got 18 months when the maximum was 20 years?
Eric Lewis Yes. It was not a comparable case, and it was a plea deal.
James Lewis QC You have addressed prison conditions because the defence argue that Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights will be breached. You consider the case of Babar Ahmed. You state that it is “almost certain” that Julian Assange will be subject to administrative segregation. What is the procedure for administrative segregation?
Eric Lewis The bureau president will decide depending upon various factors including security risk, threat to national security, threat to other prisoners, seriousness of the charge. My experience is that national security charged prisoners go straight into administrative segregation.
James Lewis QC (very aggressive) What are you reading?
Eric Lewis Pardon?
James Lewis QC You are reading something there. What is it?
Eric Lewis It is my witness statement. (Holds it up.) Is that not OK?
James Lewis QC That is alright. I thought it was something else. How many categories of administrative detention are there?
Eric Lewis I just went through the main ones. National security, serious charge, threat to other prisoners.
James Lewis QC You do not know the categories. They are (reels off a long list including national security, serious charge, threat to others, threat to self, medical custody, protective custody and several more). Do you agree there is no solitary confinement in administrative segregation and Special Administrative Measures?
Eric Lewis No.
James Lewis QC US Assistant Attorney Kromberg states in his affidavit that there is no solitary confinement.
Eric Lewis It is solitary confinement other than in the vernacular of the US prison service.
James Lewis QC In that case it is also not solitary confinement in the vernacular of the English High Court, which has accepted there is no solitary confinement.
Eric Lewis It is solitary confinement. When you are kept in a tiny cell for 23 hours a day and allowed no contact with the rest of the prison population even during the one hour you are allowed out, that is solitary confinement. The attempt to deny it is semantic.
James Lewis QC Was Abu Qatada in solitary confinement? When he was permitted unlimited legal visits?
Eric Lewis They were not unlimited. In reality there were practical and logistical obstacles. There was a single room that could be used, for the entire prison population. You had to get a booking for that one room. You had to book translation services. The FBI oversaw the visits and listened in. Now with Covid there are no visits at all. Theoretically visits are “unlimited” but in practice you do not get nearly as much time with your client as you need.
James Lewis QC You said that he would be held in solitary confinement. But is it not true that even prisoners under SAMs get a break schedule?
Eric Lewis There is a break schedule but it requires no other prisoner to be in the communal areas to have contact with the prisoner under SAM. So in practice the “one hour break” would typically be scheduled between 3am and 4am. Not many prisoners wanted to get out of bed at 3am to walk around a cold and empty communal area.
At this point there was a break. James Lewis QC used it forcefully to complain to Baraitser about the four hour limit set on his cross-examination of Eric Lewis. He said that so far he had only got through one and a half pages of his questions, and that Eric Lewis refused to give yes or no answers but instead insisted on giving lengthy explanations. James Lewis QC was plainly extremely needled by Eric Lewis’ explanations of “unlimited visiting time” and “no solitary confinement”. He complained that Baraitser was “failing to control the witness”.
It was plain that James Lewis’s real aim was not to get more time, but to get Baraitser to curtail Eric Lewis’s inconvenient answers. It is of course amazing that he was complaining about four hours, when the defence had been limited to half an hour and had not even been permitted to get to the latest superseding indictment.
Baraitser, to her credit, replied that it was not for her to control the witness, who must be free to give his evidence so long as it was relevant, which it was. It was a question of fairness not of control. James Lewis was asking open or general questions.
James Lewis responded that the witness refused to give binary answers. Therefore his cross examination must be longer than four hours. He became very heated and told Baraitser that never in his entire career had he been subject to a guillotine on cross examination, and that this “would not happen in a real court”. He very definitely said that. “This would not happen in a real court.” I have of course been arguing all along that this is not a genuine process. I did not expect to hear that from James Lewis QC, though I think his intention was just to bully Baraitser, which was confirmed by Lewis going on to state he had never heard of such a guillotine in his capacity of “High Court Judge”. I find that Lewis is listed as “deputy high court judge”, which I think is like being 12th man at cricket, or Gareth Bale.
Baraitser only conceded very slight ground under this onslaught, saying she had never used the word guillotine, that the timings had been agreed between parties, and she expected them to stick to them. James Lewis said it was impossible in that way adequately to represent his client (the US government). He said he felt “stressed”, which for once seemed true, he had gone purple. Baraitser said he should try his best to stick to the four hours. He fumed away (though at a later stage apologised to Baraitser for his “intemperate language”).
James Lewis QC’s touting for business webpage describes him as “the Rolls Royce of advocates”. I suppose that is true, in the sense of foreign owned. Yet here he was before us, blowing a gasket, not getting anywhere, emitting fumes and resembling a particularly unloved Trabant.
Cross-examination of Eric Lewis resumed. James Lewis QC started by reiterating the criteria and categories for Administrative Segregation after conviction (as opposed to pre-trial). Then we got back into questioning.
James Lewis QC Gordon Kromberg states that there is no solitary confinement in ADX Colorado.
Eric Lewis Again this is semantic. There is solitary confinement.
James Lewis QC But there is an entitlement to participate in three programmes a week.
Eric Lewis Not in Special Administrative Measures.
James Lewis QC But which of the criteria for Special Administrative Measures might Julian Assange fall into?
Eric Lewis Criteria 2, 4 and 5, at least.
James Lewis QC Can we agree there is a formal procedure?
Eric Lewis Yes, but not worth the name.
James Lewis Your opinion is based on one single client in ADX Colorado.
Eric Lewis Yes, but the system is essentially the same as other supermaxes.
James Lewis At para 14 of your report you state that the system lacks procedural rights, and is tantamount to solitary confinement. Had you read the European Court of Human Rights judgement on Babar Ahmad when you wrote this?
Eric Lewis Yes.
James Lewis That judgement specifically rejects the same claims you make.
James Lewis QC refers to a number of paragraphs in the original UK District court decision in the case of Babar Ahmad. Eric Lewis asks for more time to find the document as “I only received these documents from the court this morning”.
James Lewis QC But Mr Lewis, you have testified on oath that you had read the Babar Ahmad judgement.
Eric Lewis I have read the final judgement of the European Court of Human Rights. I had not read all the judgements from lower courts. I received them from the court this morning.
James Lewis QC The senior district judge ruled that although Special Administrative Measures were a concern, they did not preclude extradition. There were various safeguards to SAMs. For example although attorney/client conversations were monitored, that was only for the purpose of preventing terrorism and the FBI did not pass on the recordings to the prosecution. The judge rejected the idea that SAMs amounted to solitary confinement. The High Court upheld the District judge’s ruling and the House of Lords rejected Babar Ahmad’s application to appeal. In its ruling on admissibility of the case, the European Court of Human Rights considered six affidavits from US attorneys very similar to that submitted by Eric Lewis in this case. This included the affirmations that it would be “virtually certain” that Babar Ahmad would be subject to SAMs, and that these would interfere directly with the right to a fair trial, and would constitute cruel and degrading treatment. The ECHR found in relation to pre-trial detention that these allegations were wrong in the Babar Ahmad case.
Eric Lewis But that was a terrorism case, not a national security case. SAMs apply differently in national security cases. This is about a million classified documents. Different cases had to be considered each on their merits.
James Lewis QC In the Babar Ahmad case, the defence submissions were that the regime was harsh, amounted to solitary confinement nearly 24 hours a day, with one phone call every two weeks and one family visit a month. Is that not almost identical to your evidence here?
Eric Lewis Each case must be considered on its merits. There are key differences. Assange is charged with espionage not terrorism, and possession of classified intelligence is a factor. Mental health issues are also different. Under SAMS there is no internet access and no access to any news source. Only approved reading material is allowed. These would be particularly hard for Assange.
James Lewis QC But the Babar Ahmad case does specifically deal with mental health issues, between Babar and co-defendants these include clinical depression, suicide risk and Asperger’s. The court agreed that SAM’s would be likely to be applied both before and after trial. But it ruled that the American government had good reasons for imposing SAMs, were entitled to do so, and that there was a clear and non-arbitrary procedure for implementing them.
Eric Lewis replied that he disagreed that would be true in this case. SAM’s could be applied without procedure, by the US Attorney-General, and William Barr would do that in this case, on the basis of statements by Trump and Gina Haspel. In practice, SAMs had never been overturned whatever the claimed procedure. Eric Lewis did not agree they were not arbitrary.
There now followed an episode where James Lewis QC successfully tripped up Eric Lewis by quoting a passage from an Ahmad case judgement and then confusing him as to whether it was from the final ECHR judgement, which Eric Lewis had read, or from an earlier English court judgement or the ECHR prior judgement on admissibility, which he had not.
James Lewis QC So the ECHR viewed the argument that the SAM regime in pre-trial detention breaches Article 3 as ill-founded and inadmissible. Do you agree with the European Court of Human Rights?
Eric Lewis They found that in the Babar Ahmad admissibility decision in 2008. New information and evidence and changes to the regime since then might change that view.
James Lewis QC What are the defence issues that Assange will raise that you say makes proper consultation under the SAM regime impossible?
Eric Lewis Well I don’t know the precise details of what his defence will be but…
James Lewis QC [interrupting] Well how can you possibly know what the issues will be if you do not know the case?
Eric Lewis Because I have read the indictment. The issues are very wide ranging indeed and involve national security documents.
James Lewis QC But you don’t know what defence at all will be put forward, so how can you opine?
Eric Lewis The charges themselves give a fair idea what might be covered.
James Lewis QC Turning to the Babar Ahmad final judgement on post-trial incarceration at ADX Colorado. Have you read this (sarcastic emphasis) judgement? Of 210,307 federal prisoners, only 41 of these had SAMs. 27 were in ADX Colorado.
Eric Lewis The Warden of ADX Colorado himself had stated that it was “not fit for humanity” and “a fate worse than death”.
James Lewis QC The ECHR said that SAMS was subject to oversight by independent authorities who looked after the interests of prisoners and could intervene.
Eric Lewis Since that ECHR judgement, a new US judgement had stated that prisoners have no Fifth Amendment right to appeal against the conditions of their incarceration.
James Lewis QC The ECHR found that the US prison authorities took cognisance of a prisoner’s mental state in relation to SAM measures.
Eric Lewis Things have also moved on there since 2012. He referenced details from his written evidence.
James Lewis QC The ECHR also found that “the isolation experienced by ADX inmates is partial and relative. The court notes that their psychiatric conditions have not prevented their high security detention in the United Kingdom.” Do you accept that in 2012 the ECHR made a thorough finding?
Eric Lewis Yes, on the basis of what they knew in 2012, but much more information is now available. And there are specific reasons to doubt Mr William Barr’s impartiality.
James Lewis QC You say that Mr Assange will not receive adequate healthcare in a US prison. Are you a medical expert?
Eric Lewis No.
James Lewis QC Do you hold any medical qualification?
Eric Lewis No.
James Lewis QC What published statement gives the policy of the Bureau of Prisons on Mental Health?
Eric Lewis I was relying on the published statement of the US Inspector of Prisons and the study by Yale Law School of mental health in US prisons. The US Bureau of Prisons states that 48% of prisoners have serious mental health problems but only 3% receive any treatment. The provision for mental healthcare in jails has been cut every year for a decade. Suicides in jail are increasing by 18% a year.
James Lewis QC Have you read “The Treatment and Care of Prisoners with Mental Illness” by the US Department of Health?
Eric Lewis Yes.
James Lewis QC You purport to be an expert. Without looking it up what year was it published? You don’t know, do you?
Eric Lewis Could you be courteous. I have been courteous to you. Can you refer me to a relevant question?
James Lewis QC The policy has had eight changes since 2014. Can you list them?
Eric Lewis I am trying to testify on my experience and my knowledge in dealing with these questions on behalf of the many clients I have represented. If you are asking me am I a prison psychiatrist, I am not.
James Lewis QC Do you know the specific changes made since 2014 or not?
Eric Lewis I know that there were new regulations stipulating 1 mental health professional for every 500 inmates and guidelines for an increase in accessibility, but I also know those have not in fact been implemented due to lack of resources.
James Lewis QC (smirking) How many levels of psychiatric assessment are there? What is level number three? What are you reading? You are reading! What are you reading! What are you reading! [Yes, this is not a mistake. He did pull this stunt again.]
Eric Lewis I am looking at my own witness statement (shows it to camera).
James Lewis QC You are not a genuine expert witness – you have no expertise in these matters. As you are being paid to give evidence and are not an expert, that is something the court will have to take account in deciding what weight, if any at all, to give to your evidence.
Before Eric Lewis could respond, the video link broke down, rather bizarrely broadcasting a news item about Donald Trump attacking Julian Assange. It could not be restored all day, so that was the end of proceedings, for which my note taking hand was not ungrateful. The link could be restored in the adjacent courtroom, which indicates the problem was very local. The judge considered changing courts but it was considered too difficult to move everyone and the great mounds of files and equipment. This hearing has frequently been interrupted by the strange incompetence of the Ministry of Justice in establishing simple videolinks.
James Lewis QC’s conduct was very strange. It really is not normal courtroom behaviour. Were there a jury, they would completely have written him off by now as rude and obnoxious, and even Baraitser finally seems to have found her limit of being pushed around by the prosecution. Eric Lewis is obviously a very distinguished man and a lawyer with immense experience of the US system. Trying to claim he has no expertise because he is not a psychiatrist or an academic in penology is no more than a shoddy trick, performed in a manner designed to humiliate.
The asking for the precise title of one particular Department of Health Pamphlet or for a specific point in it, as though that were a way of invalidating all that Eric Lewis knows, is so transparently invalid as a test of worth that I am astonished Baraitser let James Lewis pursue it, let alone the histrionic accusations about “reading”. This was really hard to sit through silently for me; goodness knows what it was like for Julian.
The mainstream media are turning a blind eye. There were three reporters in the press gallery, one of them an intern and one representing the NUJ. Public access continues to be restricted and major NGOs, including Amnesty, PEN and Reporters Without Borders, continue to be excluded both physically and from watching online. It has taken me literally all night to write this up – it is now 8.54am – and I have to finish off and get back into court. The six of us allowed in the public gallery, incidentally, have to climb 132 steps to get there, several times a day. As you know, I have a very dodgy ticker; I am with Julian’s dad John who is 78; and another of us has a pacemaker.
I do not in the least discount the gallant efforts of others when I explain that I feel obliged to write this up, and in this detail, because otherwise the vital basic facts of the most important trial this century, and how it is being conducted, would pass almost completely unknown to the public. If it were a genuine process, they would want people to see it, not completely minimise attendance both physically and online.FacebookTwitterEmailShareTags:
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September 11, 2020By Makia Freeman
AT A GLANCE…
- THE STORY:All the COVID lockdown restrictions result in long-term, low-grade stress and fear – which takes a toll on people’s mental health.
- THE IMPLICATIONS:The Agenda is to deliberately apply pressure to people to make them crack and elicit their acquiescence to the pending COVID vaccine. However, awareness of this scheme itself can thwart it.
COVID psychological stress
is being coldly and calculatedly applied to the entire world population as many nations enter their 6th or 7th month of coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions. Operation Coronavirus is, first and foremost, a psychological operation (psy op). It’s about fooling you with stories of a killer virus by exploiting the widely held but incomplete concept of germ theory. It’s about tricking you into thinking there are enemies out there – even tiny invisible enemies whose existence has never been proven – against which you need protection, kindly provided to you by Big Pharma and Big Government. It’s about conditioning you into accepting the horrific reality of current society – masks, social distancing, isolation, quarantines, lockdowns, deep fear, plus the violation of unalienable, sovereign, inherent human rights – as the New Normal. It’s about cracking you with COVID psychological stress until you break down, defeated, and acquiesce to the planned solution all along of surveillance and vaccines, in a desperate attempt to return to normal, healthy and free life of unconstrained social interaction.
COVID Psychological Stress
In recent months many free and powerful voices have pointed out that the draconian restrictions, resulting in what I am calling COVID psychological stress, are in fact akin to torture methods refined by organizations and agencies such as the CIA. All the lockdown policies – social distancing, quarantine, mandatory mask-wearing, isolation, fear of contagion, fear of everyone being a suspected asymptomatic carrier, being unable to visit elderly family members in person, and more – are forms of torture. By deeming things such as concerts, sports, pubs, bars, clubs and other forms of entertainment as “non-essential”, governments have been able to restrict, ban and/or permanently shut down businesses and organizations running such facilities and activities. The idea is to stop people from relaxing and blowing off steam, thus increasing the pressure and stress. Then, with everyone under this low grade stress, some people will inevitably crack, due to economic and psychological manipulation, and either commit crime, lash at those around them, commit suicide or come begging to the government to save them.
Munchausen Syndrome and Stockholm Syndrome
Along these lines, it is worth understanding the concept of Munchausen syndrome. This is a factitious disorder, a mental disorder in which a person repeatedly and deliberately acts as if he or she has a physical or mental illness when he or she is not really sick. This video introduces the idea that an aspect of Munchausen syndrome is the parent who gets so much attention from having a sick child that they deliberately make them sick. That is a fitting description of the COVID situation – government officials acting as though the entire population of citizens are contagious and dangerous, and pretending they are doctors and the rest of the citizenry are their patients. It’s a sick and twisted psychological game, and in fact, as Jon Rappoport points out in a recent article How Many People Have ‘Psychological COVID?’, may even lead to people ‘acquiring’ what they think is ‘COVID’ just through false belief, via convincing themselves that they have the virus when they don’t.
Munchausen syndrome is one thing, but Stockholm syndrome is something else. It describes the psychological phenomenon whereby captured, entrapped or enslaved people grow feelings of affection and appreciation for their captors. They develop an attachment to, loyalty for or even a perverse love for their oppressors. Why? One explanation is because they see no other option; on a subconscious level, the surreal world they inhabit makes no sense at all unless their rulers are omniscient and benevolent. So, they convince themselves that their leaders must be right. In many ways, we are suffering from societal Stockholm syndrome.
The Roots of COVID Psychological Stress are Steeped in Torture
The article Children Have 0.00% Chance of Dying from COVID but are Harmed for Life by Social Distancing, Which has its Roots in CIA Torture Techniques, written by Brian Shilhavy and based on a video Leigh Dundas, exposes the torturous background behind isolation, which is the basis for things such as solitary confinement:
Here are some lesser known facts about social distancing and isolation:
• It was developed 70 years ago by the CIA to break down enemies of state.
• It is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day AND being an alcoholic.
• It doubles the risk of death, and destroys the part of the brain responsible for learning.
“… social isolation is a human rights violation – which is on par with torture and other war crimes. Indeed, social isolation is the primary protocol deployed against enemies in times of war, regardless of time period or country in question. This is due in large part to the fact that it is so successful in psychologically destroying the individual, without need of more bloody and difficult physical interventions. The studies of social isolation against enemies of state began in the 1950’s and 1960’s by the CIA:
It has long been the custom of captors, police, and inquisitors, to isolate their prisoners. But which of these methods, Hinkle asked, is most effective? All the standard interrogation techniques have varying… impacts on the brain’s functioning…. [But] of all the possible techniques, isolation is the ideal way of “breaking down” a prisoner…”
Already, we are seeing the effect of just a few weeks of social isolation on students: teen suicides have risen, and last week, OC Sheriff’s reported a 25% increase in domestic violence calls, a 24% increase in family disputes, and a 30% increase in child custody calls. So deleterious are these effects that in recent years the United Nations promulgated what have come to be called the Mandela rules. These rules prohibit social isolation for longer than 15 days, noting that any longer period of social isolation “constitutes cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment, or torture.” Other organizations, like the American Psychiatric Association, have held similarly. Perhaps most ironic, what cold hard science shows is that social isolation employed continuously – as California is suggesting doing – will actually undermine the alleged health goals because such isolation depresses the immune system.”
In this video, Amazing Polly proposes that what we are being put through with draconian COVID restrictions is a near perfect parallel to the Amnesty International definition of torture and Biderman’s ‘Chart of Coercion.’ Additionally, this video clip highlights how sensory deprivation (a byproduct of COVID restrictions which promote isolation) can lead to increased susceptibility to persuasion. Think about that for a minute – increased susceptibility to persuasion. Isn’t that precisely what governments have always wanted, a docile, compliant and obedient population that can be molded in the way they wish?
Halloween Canceled, Christmas Canceled, No Work at the Office Until You’re Vaxxed
The plan is nothing if not blatant. All around the world, local, regional and national leaders keep reading their lines from the script. Recently Los Angeles in California announced they would be canceling Halloween, despite the fact it’s around 50 days away and they couldn’t possibly know the status of the virus then (and that’s assuming you even buy the mainstream narrative). It appears they are now backtracking that, but only because enough people stood up and refused to accept it. In a similar vein, UK PM Boris Johnson is psychologically preparing the British people that Christmas may be canceled this year. To cancel traditional social events like Halloween and Christmas is more coldly calculated manipulation aiming to increase COVID psychological stress. The endgame, just as Bill Gates keeps repeating ad nauseam, is no return to normalcy until 7+ billion people are vaccinated, which is being echoed by the Corporatocracy too (e.g. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings who stated that there will be no return to work in the offices until employees are vaccinated). Finally, the NWO (New World Order) controllers have a backup plan if their blackmail-manipulation via stress doesn’t persuade the masses to get the shot: bribery. Globalist think tank The Brookings Institute recently ran an article suggesting that the USG pay each American $1000 to take the COVID vaccine. Vaccines are inherently toxic and dangerous, and this goes all the more for the pending COVID vaccines, where in some cases clinical trials have been stopped after participants fell ill, and where we must be prepared for the possibility they are implanted with nanotechnology, e.g. hydrogel implants.
Perpetual Fear Lowers Our Intelligence and Immunity
As the article The Caustic Wages Of Perpetual Fear states, the kind of long-term, chronic, low-grade fear we are being subjected to can have a devastating effect on us:
“I’m going to quote from Sapolsky, who is one of the best neuroscientists of our time … “During sustained stress, we’re more fearful, our thinking is muddled, we assess risks poorly, and act impulsively out of habit, rather than incorporating new data.” … “Stress weakens connections that are essential for incorporating new information that should prompt shifting to a new strategy—while strengthening connections with habitual brain circuits.” In other words, fear locks you into your habits and your previous choices. It literally diminishes the brain pathways that allow you to change your mind …“Under sustained stress we process emotionally prominent information rapidly and automatically, but less accurately. Working memory, impulse control, decision-making, risk-assessment and task shifting are impaired.” Again, prolonged fear locks people into whatever path they’re already on. And again, this is biological. The brain circuits are directly affected.”
Make no mistake about it – this is a war of attrition and the NWO conspirators are in for the long haul. They are going to keep milking this manufactured crisis and keep pushing it as far as they can, to bring people to such exasperation and exhaustion that they willingly line up to get the vaccine: “I’ll do anything not to keep having to wear this stupid mask and not being able to breathe properly. Fine – just gimme the damn vaccine and leave me alone!”
2020 has been thus far the Year of Fear. We need to accept the cold hard truth: COVID psychological stress is deliberately being applied and extended in order to produce conditions ripe for vaccine acceptance. We are all being stewed in a pressure cooker, designed to mentally and emotionally break people down. The point of this article is to raise awareness of what is happening so that we can rise above it. It is not predetermined; it is not a fait accompli. We do not have to submit to further violations of our bodily integrity and our medical sovereignty. We can see the scheme for what it is. We can take every moment we can to socialize, bond, dance, touch, have fun and connect; in other words, to be fully human in the face of this sinister dehumanizing agenda. Some of already risen up, and I suspect once authorities attempt to roll out the vaccine in the next 2-3 months, they will wake a sleeping giant, and many more will rise to defend the spirit of truth and freedom throughout the world. Please spread this article far and wide to help make that happen.
Makia Freeman is the editor of alternative media / independent news site The Freedom Articles, author of the book Cancer: The Lies, the Truth and the Solutions and senior researcher at ToolsForFreedom.com. Makia is on Steemit and Parler.