Scheduling of Kratom by DEA Protects Big Pharma

The DEA has announced the scheduling of Kratom, a southeast Asian plant used extensively in traditional medicine, to Schedule 1 beginning 30 September. According to the DEA website, “Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”


Curiously, the cannabis plant and its active component, THC, are also Schedule 1 substances despite mounting evidence of it’s medical benefits and little evidence of long-term harm caused by use. Cannabis has recently undergone a renaissance in legal stature, however, being made legal both medicinally and recreationally in several by several State governments.


The problem faced by advocates of cannabis use is the same, however, is the same Kratom advocates are faced with due to DEA scheduling. Under Schedule 1 status, it becomes incredibly hard to conduct the sort of peer-reviewed studies that organizations like the FDA require to issue permits for clinical trials and eventual availability to the public.

Continue reading “Scheduling of Kratom by DEA Protects Big Pharma”

What Is Left of the Left: Lessons from the Streets of the Philadelphia DNC

-Eric Scott Pickard

This is a piece I wrote regarding my trip to the DNC in Philadelphia, originally published in The Fifth Column News.

Philadelphia, PA (TFC) –  I arrived in Philadelphia for the 2016 Democratic National Convention not knowing quite what to expect – expectations are hard to rely on, in this particular election cycle. I did, however, know one thing: I wasn’t getting in the convention center, and I didn’t really care to. I assumed that the real pulse of the convention would be where the pulse of Philadelphia, where the pulse of any city is: on the streets, with the people. I wasn’t disappointed.


The two major political parties in the United States are “Big Tent” organizations, one for the entirety of the political Right and one for the entirety of the political Left. The Democratic Party, then, is the Leftist organization, and indeed there were Leftists by the tens of thousands in the streets. Curiously, they didn’t seem to have much love to spare for the appointed nominee that was ostensibly there to represent their interests. Among the most vocal – and numerous – were supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, who just recently conceded defeat and openly endorsed Hillary Clinton. Opinions on this move ranged from stunned disbelief, to a belief that the endorsement was some sort of ploy or ingenious political maneuver, to a deep resentment and feeling of betrayal – sometimes all in the same individual.


What is certain is that few among them had any desire to swallow the Clinton pill. Sanders delegates even walked off the Convention floor itself, and booed and heckled a number of the speakers, from Cory Booker being jeered to say something – anything – about the Black Lives Matter movement to Elizabeth Warren, who many Sanders supporters assumed would be chosen as the other half of their ticket, receiving calls of “we trusted you!” The mood of the city, and indeed, the mood of the entire country, seems to have turned entirely against the Establishment, “Big Tent” style of governance that has reigned over American politics for the past half century.


This fundamental distrust has been a long time coming. It is perhaps traceable back to the Global Justice Movement of the 1990’s, or to the twin political insurgencies of the Tea Party Movement and Occupy Wall Street in more recent years. Many I spoke to in Philadelphia had participated in – or wanted to participate in – The Occupy Movement, which surely laid the groundwork for the success of the affable but previously obscure Senator from Vermont to do so well against a candidate with vast name recognition and who had all but been declared the presumptive nominee after the 2008 election. Nearly all of the disenfranchised Sanders supporters I met, including delegates, claimed they were shifting allegiances to Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party. Many see this as a new rise of socialism, especially among young Millennials, and especially among those who, until now, were not especially invested in politics.


This rise in socialist tendencies in the young electorate may not be precisely that, however. A Pew Research poll from 2011 did, indeed, show that among those under 30 had a 49% favorable opinion of the word “socialism” compared with a 47% favorability with the word “capitalism.” Certainly these numbers must be at their highest since before the Red Scare, but compare those numbers to a Reason-Rupe poll that show that only 16% of that same group could give an accurate description of Socialism. What does this mean?


It’s not about ideology.


Time and time again on the streets of Philadelphia, this point was hammered home to me. There is a deep discontent, a deep alienation, that pervades this election season. It’s not about socialism, it’s not about neo-liberalism, it’s not about the clear (and terrifying) rise of American fascism. I isn’t even about Bernie.Take the words of Sanders delegate from Los Angeles, Miguel Angel Zuringa:


We didn’t belong to him. We were Bernie’s warriors. Now, he was our leader, and he will always be, and we continue to fight the revolution. When the leader gets taken down in a revolution, what do you do, do you give up? That’s not how revolutions are won. You find the next leaders, and we might have multiple leaders at this point… I’m not holding Bernie’s hand anymore.


Sanders intended on starting a political revolution, and he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams – they are continuing on without him. Behind this unrest, not just on the Left, but the Right as well, is a sense that the political machine is rigged in the favor of the capitalist class – the rich. This is something that seems to be almost an intuition, something that was felt by everyone I spoke with. The rise of the Internet and independent media, as well as the obvious crumbling of the system as a whole, has pulled back the curtain and the machinery has been revealed. In a time when the young are facing crippling debt with few job opportunities, when technology has allowed everyone to see the discrimination and brutality that people of color face in their communities in real time, when the prisons are owned and operated by private entities seeking to incarcerate for profit, when the entire world seems to be at war with itself, and when the planet is spiraling rapidly into an unfixable cycle of climate change, the only answer many seem to have is to embrace any potential, any real change. Not ideology; desperation – a sense, right or wrong, that this could be the last chance, and they seem motivated to seize it.


Protesting on the Ritz - Eric Scott Pickard

What was striking about this is the course that it has taken. I was there filming during the Black Lives Matter march – the “DNC Resistance March Against Police Terrorism and State Repression” – and the solidarity of the crowd was palpable. The group was diverse – from old grandparents to young people, immigrants, people of color and people with white skin, anarchists and communists, liberal organizers and OWS veterans. One of the main chants is the most telling: “Don’t vote for Hillary, she is killing black people.” This isn’t a contest of political ideologies, but a deep desire for justice and fundamental change, an organic uprising in response to a world that many intuitively feel is headed towards disaster. I can only liken it to the New Left of the sixties, a shift in political and cultural values that seems set to shake the Establishment’s windows and rattle their halls.


In the end, my experience in Philadelphia – the place where the set of laws that govern this nation were born – was one that leaves me tentatively optimistic. It is possible that those groups that choose to rally behind third parties will have wild success against the two most disliked Presidential candidates in history, yes, and breaking that two party bio-poly would be positive for American democracy. But I am also encouraged by the potential that exists in the solidarity and unity that I saw; not the “Party Unity” shell game that was so touted in the Convention Hall itself, but the unity of groups of people who come together to express their discontent with one voice. I continually heard rumors around FDR Park, where many protesters were encamping, about a new rise of the Occupy Movement, the networks of which still exist in great strength. Black Lives Matter has become the most vibrant and effective protest group in years. Alternative and New Media organizations, citizen journalists, and impromptu social media groups and organizations are spreading information and educating. Nearly everyone I spoke with – especially young people – told me they planned on returning to their communities and organizing, both politically and socially.


Bringing these groups together can only be a good thing. As Dr. Cornell West put it, the United States faces a choice between a “neo-fascist disaster and a neo-liberal catastrophe.” If the American people are to defend themselves from this dismal vision of the future, they will need to connect and organize. If what I saw in Philly holds true, they are doing just that.

-Eric Scott Pickard is a poet, activist, and thinker. He is a journalist with The Fifth Column News and a co-founder of Free Radical Media, and a host of the Free Radical Media podcast.



IWW Convergence at the DNC (Video)

At the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Free Radical Media’s Eric Scott Pickard took some time to speak with fellow Industrial Workers of the World members in Center City near Independence Hall.

Co-Hosting the round table conversation is  John Carico, another Fifth Column News staff writer and former guest on the Free Radical Media podcast.

The IWW, a radical labor union formed in 1905, is an organization dedicated to syndicalism – the formation of all workers into “One Big Union” that would change society. Watch the conversation among Wobblies below:



This impromptu convergence of IWW members occurred during an anti-war rally, at which Pickard and many others later spoke. While the rhetoric and showmanship was going on in the Convention Center, the real conversations, the good conversations, were going on in the streets. Free Radical Media is dedicated to bringing you those conversations and viewpoints, as they are sadly left out of the mainstream narrative.

Solidarity Forever!

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Of Mercury & Sulphur

two-mercuries copy

Patrick Ryan

Of Mercury & Sulphur

         Our world is one of seemingly disparate forces. Contrasting frequencies give birth to our experience; allowing us to indulge in BOTH pleasure & pain, ignorance & knowledge, light and shadow. We have been conditioned — both culturally and biologically, to go towards certain experiences while simultaneously pulling away from others. This is literally how life is lived for the majority. Our hearts become saturated with lightness while in love and as heavy as lead when broken. A young child smiles brightly at the world in their earliest days, a sick elder cringes at their looming demise — the tao spirals and whorls forth its creative vicissitudes by the very friction of its seemingly opposing forces. The miracle is this; without the inevitable pain that is guaranteed, the pleasure would be incomprehensible. Without the decay of the dead, new life couldn’t spring forth. Without the nauseating pangs of loneliness, communion would lose it’s sultry sweetness. The spectrum through which this reality is experienced, expresses itself due to the leverage of opposites. An aspiring awakened being journeys towards wholeness; as psychiatrist Carl Jung noted “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” Indeed.

The pulsating rhythm of existence gives rise to phenomena that allow for our conscious embodiment. As any physicist should know, our world is merely a set of vibrational frequencies expressing themselves in what we perceive. The fundamental oscillation that is constantly at play permeates both the minutia and macrocosmic displays and most importantly reveals itself in our everyday personal narratives. Consider this — our most heartbreaking and challenging personal encounters have, in one form or another, allowed us the possibility to more thoroughly contemplate its opposite. Parental abuse? Motherly and/or fatherly love becomes something that shall continue to be a core focal point of our lives. Poverty? The security of even a small amount of money is relentlessly churned in our minds. Hunger? A nice warm meal seems to be of celestial origins. The utterly incomprehensible genius of this moment is designed to allow by its very being to counterpoise, to commune with itself — ESPECIALLY that which is most far and distinct. Things are literally hurled forth into time by this fundamental impulse. The dance of contrast gives way to opportunity.

On the inhale, life pours herself in. Oxygen fills our blood and being with its wholesome invigoration. Exhale, carbon dioxide is released tension expels, the release is cherished. These cycles are consistent and dependable and yet for many go by unnoticed and unexamined. Rhythm and flow is what IT is all about. The rhythm can be counted and explored in endless numerical manifestations. The flow can also be deeply felt — moving our hearts, minds and bodies through endless meandering experience. Why not just let it all go and dance with it? These patterns have a platonic cascading effect throughout literally everything else. Horrified and tense, breath becomes rapid and shallow. At ease and in good company, breath is deep and full. Why do we have the silly notion that one aspect of this dance is favorable to the others? As if the universe honestly gives a fuck. Creation has no remorse for the timid and fearful. Play and indulge in her! The secrets she bestows are only acknowledged and understood once fully apprehended — taking it all in. Allow the contrasting display to show the whole poetic glory of her magnificent show! To hell with the rigid conceptualizations our culture has given us. Fuck static definitions and ideas. Experiment, break the rules and by all means have fun! Trying to fit some sort of ideological mold in whatever endeavor one partakes is about the most anti-creative, stifling act one can ever commit. Want to do a certain activity fast and quick? Try instead to do it as slowly as possible. Want to be productive? Experiment being so lazy you feel pangs of nausea. To follow the rhythm one must gain a broader understanding of the space between the noise.

True indulgence is only acquired by tasting both sides of a spectrum, as any good chef should know. The art and alchemy lies in knowing when and where to place and utilize such contrasting forces. On the brink of extinction humanity finds itself lost in it’s frantic search for comfort and security where recoil and resistance breeds contempt and dismay. Communion and harmony will be our saving graces and unfortunately only achieved through utter and complete renunciation of final conclusions about ANYTHING. Penetration into the heart of paradox is the greatest act one can engage; drowning oneself into the depths of distinct poles of experience and conceptual understanding sheds the binding straight jacket of ideology and allows one to concede to the immaculate truth of oneness.

The churning spokes of the Kali yuga invite the blinding light of a golden age. How else could such a play dramatically unfold? It is only through acknowledging our blinding ignorance that we reach true illumination. As the great sage Socrates said “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” this world’s greatest gift is to strip us of our most absolute convictions. To shine the light of truth on our most resolute and burdensome beliefs and rituals, only to reveal the utterly free and open truth of now. As Christ did in the corrupt temple, shall we smash our deepest resolutions to mere shards and fragments; revealing the underlying falsities permeating undisputed doctrines. It’s only through descent into Hell that we gain the fortitude to climb into heaven — realizing that the crescendo of the human drama, is the very apex that we have been yearning for.

John Carico: 5 Things You Can Do That Have More Impact then Voting

– Eric Scott Pickard

I recently came across this social media post from our friend and former guest John Carico, which I thought I would share. (Contact and further links below the content.)

A great many people feel left out of the political process, or feel that voting is simply irrelevant – that it does not serve their or anyone else’s interests – except for those of the powerful and elite. Carico lays out five simple suggestions to influence your community and your world without voting, or in addition to voting, that may well be of much more use: Inform, Organize, Sustain, Dismantle, and Resist. Here’s the text:

“Here are 5 things you can do that mean more and have more impact than voting:
1. INFORM: Write an article exposing an injustice, or spread one to 50 friends, or just introduce a bunch of people to an alternative media source. This is small, but the more people realize there is a problem, the closer we are to solving it.


2. ORGANIZE: start an independent union at your workplace, join a union, participate in a horizontally structured workplace like a co op, or even a commune, the more we use democratic and horizontal methods in our workplace the more we will be used to seeing how they work and will feel more comfortable discussing them as we make them the norm.


3. SUSTAIN: start car shares, guerrilla garden,if people have a need that can be provided for people do it, if you live in a state where you have to break the law to feed people, break the law, don’t block it off to followers of a certain religion or put any requirements for food. food should be free, and the politics of eating is one of the issues that if fixed would essentially topple many other problems we face. remember America, predominantly through restaurant industry, wastes more food annually than the rest of the world could eat! The second part of sustaining is making sure we have land bases by the time future generations come along, meaning we must Stop ecocide so in order to sustain we must also…

4. DISMANTLE: there are institutions and machineries all over the world, destroying as we speak large parts of our ecosystem with very little concern for the after effect, let alone the current effect. indigenous peoples are still being driven off this land, and slavery is more prevalent now than ever.we must take down systems that starve we must do economic damage, not simply opt out. the Boston Tea Party was an act of economic sabotage, and it brought attention to the issue, more than voting could. We must put ourselves on the gears, and if the state won’t stop it but instead offers subsidies and protection to these corporations, then it is up to us to..

5. RESIST: These institutions have brought and will always bring about violence if we do not pay to them to live, meanwhile we have 7 homes for every homeless person. golf courses use as much water as municipal humans. this is theft.These systems which create inequality and are unsustainable are doing long term and short term violence upon us everyday. And any attempt to truly change this will be met with more violence. We have to be ready to minimize damage done to the oppressed classes, and that means resistance to violent behaviors.”

You can check out more from John via his Facebook page and his author page at The Fifth Column News. You can also listen to his Free Radical Media podcast episode streaming here on the website or via YouTube.


Why No Twenty Dollar Bills Matter, Even The Harriet Tubman

-Eric Scott Pickard


Apparently, in a decade and a half Harriet Tubman is going to be on the twenty dollar bill.

Harriet Tubman was great. Not only did she liberate herself from slavery, she helped other people liberate themselves from slavery, and she also fought for her pay as a Union operative in the American Civil War. This makes her an icon not only for women’s rights and for black rights, but for worker’s rights as well. She was utterly fantastic. She deserves to have her face plastered everywhere, including any kind of paper currency. Excuse me, though, if I don’t get all teary eyed over this “achievement” just yet.

Firstly, let’s talk about the legitimacy of money. The only reason there are images on currency is to add the legitimacy of the State to them. Our money is covered with various symbols tying it to the history of the nation – the buildings of US government, for example, the American Eagle, the various Masonic symbols that were held dear by the early Founders of the United States. Conspiracy theories aside, those symbols were added intentionally to add legitimacy to the currency – as symbols have been added to money since money was first minted. On Roman coins you can see the image of the Emperor, for Caesar was the source of all wealth – so it is now; Government, or the Republic, is the source of all wealth. This is the message that is supposed to be inferred from the various symbols on our money.

Continue reading “Why No Twenty Dollar Bills Matter, Even The Harriet Tubman”

Let’s Talk About the Issues… The Highlight of the Democratic Debate

The MSNBC Democratic debate got frisky last night, as Secretary Hillary Clinton sought to frame Senator Bernie Sander’s challenge of her acceptance of campaign contributions and speaking fees from big corporate donors as unfair, saying “if you have something to say, say it.” The crowd found her comments worthy of being booed, and Senator Sanders certainly said he wanted to say, and got to the meat of the issue. Check out the video clip here:

As you see here, Senator Sanders took the challenge of the Secretary and used it to discuss the issue of money in politics, begging the question, how can elections be truly open without campaign finance reform? The influence of money in politics can be clearly seen, particularly in the first issue the Senator raised, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 (under the administration of Secretary Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton) which removed safeguards blocking backs from using deposits for investment on Wall Street, which made the Great Recession of 2008-09 possible.

This was one of the most contentious exchanges in a very contentious debate, which is sure to receive a great deal of coverage leading into the New Hampshire primaries on 9 February.

-Eric Scott Pickard is a poet, activist, and artist. He is a journalist with The Fifth Column News and a co-founder of Free Radical Media, and a host of the Free Radical Media podcast.

Hillary Clinton Panders to Big Pharma on Cannabis

-Eric Scott Pickard

Hillary Clinton is getting backed into a corner.

In her attempt to appeal to youth voters, she has referred to herself as “Chillary” and has asked young folks to describe their student loan debts in terms of emoji s – an openly pandering and insulting gesture on the part of a politician. But her pandering does not extend to deeds, as is evident in numerous issues, not least of these is the legalization or decriminalization of cannabis. Take a look at this article and see what Secretary “Chillary” Clinton really cares about. Hint: it’s her corporate donors. From Marijuana Politics:

“As her lead in the polls continues to dwindle, Hillary Clinton is trying her best to appeal to young voters,who favor her main opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.Clinton goes to ridiculous lengths in her attempts to woo young people into supporting her campaign: she’s whipped and nae-nae’d on Ellen, dubbed herself Chillary Clinton, and even asked college students to describe how they felt about their student debt “in three emojis or less.”

Although it seems that she’ll do anything to get their votes, there’s one thing Hillary Clinton won’t do: champion the issues that young voters care about.

While 77% of young Democrats believe marijuana should be legal, Hillary Clinton is unwilling to support meaningful marijuana reforms. She’s opposed decriminalizing marijuana during her previous presidential run and has given little indication that she changed her position on the issue since. Today, Clinton will only go so far as to support the rescheduling of marijuana to Schedule II, giving it the same legal status as cocaine and methamphetamine.

It’s unlikely that Clinton’s reluctance to embrace marijuana law reform will help her gain popularity among young voters. But her positions on this issue are certainly in line with the interests of a key ally of hers: Big Pharma.

Despite naming the pharmaceutical industry as one of her greatest “enemies,” Hillary Clinton has received more money from drug companies than any other candidate this cycle. Pharmaceutical manufacturers donated more than $340,000 for her 2008 presidential bid – and in just the first six months of her 2016 campaign, Clinton has received over $160,000 from drug companies. To top it off, Big Pharma giants Pfizer and Proctor & Gamble each have donatedbetween $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. And that’s likely just the tip of the iceberg, as Clinton enjoys the support of numerous Super PACs whose finances are notoriously obscure.

Big Pharma has a lot to lose from marijuana reform. The medical properties of marijuana make it a direct competitor with some of their best-selling drugs, namely opioid painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycontin. Recent research suggests that marijuana allows patients to treat their pain with lower doses of opioids and that providing access to marijuana reduces the prevalence of opioid use. Additionally, marijuana cannot be patented, making it difficult for drug companies to profit off its sale.

In other words, pharmaceutical companies cannot get rich off of marijuana – but marijuana could severely impact Big Pharma’s profits.

With Hillary Clinton in their pocket, pharmaceutical companies expect their candidate to protect their bottom line – and that’s exactly what she’s is doing. There’s no doubt that Clinton wants to earn the support of young voters, but she’s unwilling to do that at the expense of her long-standing alliance with the pharmaceutical industry. Hillary Clinton can dab all she wants, but on marijuana, she’s sided with Big Pharma, not with the young voters she wants to seduce.”
Secretary “Chillary” Clinton is an establishment politician with nothing to offer to a new generation of people who desire fundamental change and an end to the status quo, which only benefits the powerful. Let’s let her “chill” in her retirement and look towards the progressive future.

-Eric Scott Pickard is a poet, activist, and artist. He is a journalist with The Fifth Column News and a co-founder of Free Radical Media, and a host of the Free Radical Media podcast.

Pope Warns Powerful to Care for the Poor or Face Hell in Lent Address

– Eric Scott Pickard

In his annual address marking the beginning of the Catholic holy season of Lent, His Holiness Pope Francis, leader of the Roman Catholic Church, came out strongly against greed and incited the powerful to care for the poor.

Pope Francis has made strong statements in the past regarding the responsibility of the political and economic elite to address the problem of global poverty, saying in an address to the United States congress last year, “If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance.”

In the new Lenten address to members of the Catholic faith released 26 January, the pontiff expands on these themes. Chastising the powerful, Pope Francis writes that

the real poor are revealed as those who refuse to see themselves as such. They consider themselves rich, but they are actually the poorest of the poor. This is because they are slaves to sin, which leads them to use wealth and power not for the service of God and others, but to stifle within their hearts the profound sense that they too are only poor beggars. The greater their power and wealth, the more this blindness and deception can grow… This illusion can also be seen in the sinful structures linked to a model of false development based on the idolatry of money, which leads to lack of concern for the fate of the poor on the part of wealthier individuals and societies; they close their doors, refusing even to see the poor.


He uses even stronger language elsewhere, warning that those among the powerful who refuse to help the poor “will end up condemning themselves and plunging into the eternal abyss of solitude which is hell.”

Such strong statements are rarely known in previous Papal Lenten addresses. However, the focus on power spiritual and temporal works and concern for the poor is in line with Catholic dogma, namely that “salvation” cannot be attained through faith alone, but also through good works.

The Roman Catholic Church, an organization serving roughly 1.2 billion Catholics throughout the world, has been widely criticized over its handling of a scandal involving pedophilia and child sexual assault among its priests. The Church has also long been accused of corruption, from it’s massive political influence in European politics for centuries and the selling of “indulgences” that led to the Protestant Revolution, to the allegations that it helped aid fascism and the Third Reich during the Second World War. s The current pontiff, formerly known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, seems to be attempting to steer the Church back in the direction of public service, moral authority, and aid for the poor. This comes at a time when wealth inequality is reaching critical levels throughout the world, and the current Bishop of Rome seems to be making this his banner issue.

The full Lenten address can be read here.

-Eric Scott Pickard is a poet, activist, and artist. He is a journalist with The Fifth Column News and a co-founder of Free Radical Media, and a host of the Free Radical Media podcast.

New Hosting Via

Hello everyone,

We are very happy to announce that the Free Radical Media podcast is now going to be hosted on a new website!

Many of you know that a co-founder of this collective writes for The Fifth Column News, an organization publishes news from around the world, especially “radical” news, and is a great example of New Media.

Well, on this network, the TFC (The Fifth Coulmn) News network, there is a site called Sleeper Cells. On this site our podcast will be available, just as it is here, on YouTube, on Disinformation, and on Itunes. More options, more listeners, more engagement. More Free Radical Media.

The podcast is, as always, free; we are just trying to make it more available and listenable. Your preferred method of listening does not change. We hope you enjoy and support our new hosts, linked below!

The First Episode of FRM on Sleeper Cells, “Class Disparity… w/ Dr. Bones”