There is a movie coming out about Straight Inc – an organization devised by Mel Sembler to keep kids off of drugs.
Here is a trailer for the movie about Straight Inc. that I also posted a couple of days ago.
From the page describing the purpose of the movie.
It is our hope that this film will not only promote healing among survivors, but will be used as a tool to educate both parents and professionals about the truth of this industry, as well as to encourage people to speak out and help put a stop to the needless abuse and torture children are experiencing every day in this country and around the world.
Let me start with current events and then go back in history. So what is Mel Sembler up to these days?
Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire Las Vegas casino tycoon who donates lavishly to Republican causes, wrote out a $2.5 million check to the Drug Free Florida Committee opposing Question 2, the medical marijuana constitutional amendment on November’s ballot. Without Mr. Adelson’s money, the anti-medical marijuana campaign backed by the Drug Free America Foundation had just $200,000 in funding, mostly from founder Mel Sembler, the longtime Republican fundraiser and founder of Straight Inc., a torturous teen drug rehab program that ran from 1976-1993.
Straight Inc. is described by its survivors as “a facility that used coercive thought reform (aka mind control, brainwashing), public humiliation, sleep & food deprivation, extremely harsh confrontational tactics, kidnapping, isolation and emotional, mental, psychological, verbal and physical abuse to forcibly break us down…” Indeed, Straight Inc. was convicted of false imprisonment in one lawsuit ordering $220,000 in damages to one man, and in another lawsuit ordered to pay $721,000 in damages to a Florida woman who claimed Straight Inc. staff assaulted her and denied her health care.
Here is a video that starts with a Congressional investigation into how Straight Inc got Medicaid money. You can read the comittee report here. An excerpt:
Mr. Kutz, on your case number five, on page 15, you write
about in the report the interaction between the parents and the placement facility. And you talk about, when the victim’s father, the victim of this abuse, refused to attend therapy meetings for the fear of losing his job, the program told him to quit. When he would not quit his job or miss work to attend the meetings, the victim said the program convinced his mother to leave her husband. After the parents separated, the program would not allow the victim to contact his father. The victim said the program never told the victim’s family that all of the drug tests they performed–and we referred to this earlier– were negative results, including the initial one.
I mean, I just don’t understand this pattern of therapy, where this much trauma can be activated within the family. I don’t quite get this. I have never heard of—-
Mr. Kutz. It is an incredible story, actually. It was almost like a cult-like organization. And they brainwashed a lot of the parents, it appeared from what we saw, and they became part of the process.
And actually kids were going home at night sometimes to other people’s parents’ houses and staying, and there was abuse going on, in some cases, at other parents’ houses.
So it was a very bizarre thing, Mr. Chairman. There is a movie about it. “Over the G.W.” it is called. I mean, it is just an incredible story.
And this was one of the ones that accepted Medicaid money. That is how they were primarily funded, millions and millions of dollars from Medicaid. But the parents became, kind of, sucked into the program. And there were apparently split marriages and things involved, because one parent might get sucked in, the other one didn’t, and that caused pretty significant issues.
I will get back to Sheldon Adelson in a bit. But let us look some more into Mel Sembler. Who is Mel Sembler? Besides being a big supporter of the Republican Party?
Sembler served as Finance Chairman for the Republican National Committee from 1997 to 2000, as Florida’s National Committeeman to the Republican National Committee from 1994–2000, as Honorary Chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, as Chairman of the Drug Free America Foundation, served on the boards of the Florida Governor’s Mansion Foundation, and the Florida Holocaust Museum. He is a resident member of the Florida Council of 100, a business advisory council to the Governor of Florida. Sembler presently serves on the boards of the International Council of Shopping Centers, American Enterprise Institute, American-Australian Education Leadership Foundation, George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, Republican Jewish Coalition, and the Moffitt Cancer Center.
Sembler is a supporter of the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney and is one of the more prominent Jewish donors to the Republican party. On October 11, 2011, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney announced that he had appointed Sembler to his Florida Finance Team.
Here is what Mel Sembler was doing a couple of years ago.
GOP Mogul Behind Drug Rehab ‘Torture’ Centers Is Bankrolling Opposition to Pot Legalization in Colorado
Marijuana legalization would harm kids, says Smart Colorado, a group advertising stock images of children along with messages asking for voters to reject Amendment 64, a ballot initiative this year to legalize and tax pot.
Smart Colorado, led former Republican senate candidate Ken Buck and a team of Republican lobbyists and campaign operatives, hopes to drive down the popularity of Amendment 64 before Election Day. The supposedly family-friendly group, however, relies heavily on funds from a pair of controversial Republican fundraisers who once led a drug rehab center shut down over wide-ranging child abuse scandals.
Save Our Society from Drugs, a Florida-based nonprofit founded by Mel and Betty Sembler, has given Smart Colorado contributions totaling $151,497 through September, according to The Nation’s review of state finance disclosures. That’s 95 percent of the money raised by the group so far.
The Semblers have been waging a war on marijuana for decades.
Before they led Save Our Society from Drugs, and its sister nonprofit, the Drug Free America Foundation, the Semblers were at the helm of STRAIGHT, Inc., which operated drug abuse treatment centers, mostly for teenagers, from 1976 through 1993.
Former clients of the rehab center recount episodes of brutal beatings, rape and systematic psychological abuse.
Here is one of the lawsuits against Straight Inc. This is is just one of the claims (emph added):
22. COMMONALITY: Questions of fact and law are common with respect to each class member. Common questions of fact and law include:
a. Whether Defendants knowingly, intentionally and systematically benefited from the use of enslaved laborers;
b. Whether Defendants wrongly converted to their own use and for their own benefit, the slave labor and services of the Plaintiffs and Plaintiffs’ families, as well as the products and profits from such slave labor;
c. Whether the Defendants knew or should have known that they were assisting and acting as accomplices in immoral and inhuman deprivation of life and liberty;
d. Whether Defendants have been unjustly enriched by their wrongful conduct; and
e. Whether, as a result of this horrific and wrongful conduct by the Defendants,
the Plaintiff class is entitled to restitution or other equitable relief, or to compensatory or punitive damages.
f. Whether the U.S.A. and its former U.S. Presidents (Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr.), who declared officially a War Against / On Drugs, citing as its combatants and High Contracting Parties United States and non-natural born citizens, and invading other countries, of ratified Conventions vouchsafed by the United Nations and Amnesty International and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and intending enslavement and torture of children at Straight.
Here is the outcome of several of the lawsuits.
In May of 1983, Straight, Inc was convicted of false imprisonment after being sued by then 20-year-old Fred Collins Jr who alleged he had been held captive by the program against his will. The program was ordered to pay $40,000.00 in compensatory and $180,000.00 in punitive damages.
In 1990, a jury awarded Karen Norton, a Florida resident, $721,000 in damages due to mistreatment by Straight. In 1982, while a patient in Straight’s Florida facility, Norton alleged that staff members assaulted her, denied her health care and refused to give her permission to visit her dying grandfather. At the time, the St. Petersburg Times described the verdict as the largest award ever against Straight.
Besides shutting down Straight Inc what was the result of the lawsuits?
Through a complex scheme for money laundering, the Straight Inc. board officers and staff were able to move assets out of the country, out of reach and sight of federal law enforcement investigators. This essentially denied the victims of human rights violations the reparations that had been ordered by U.S.A. courts. More than 200 victims were Canadian citizens, also denied access to satisfaction of monetary damages in their cases. FBI investigations failed to identify where Straight Inc.’s assets went. Political power and influence helped shut down FBI investigations into the shell companies and off-shore accounts of these non-profit organizations. Former US Ambassador to Italy, Melvin Sembler, was a real estate broker by trade as well as the director of the Straight Inc. Board. These positions afforded Sembler the means and opportunity to hide the tremendous profits obtained from this abusive teen rehabilitation network. [xiii]
Melvin Sembler enjoyed many political connections and influence. From 1993 to 1995 Melvin Sembler was Finance Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Melvin Sembler was also Finance Co-Chairman for the state of Florida for the George Bush for President Campaign. He was the Finance Chairman for the Republican National Committee from 1997 to 2000. He was a very successful Republican fundraiser and heavy contributor to George Bush’s campaign, even raising a record $21.3 million at a single dinner in April 2000. Melvin Sembler was Finance Co-Chairman of the American Bicentennial Presidential Inaugural. He also served as Florida’s National Committeeman to the Republican National Committee from 1994 until 2000. He served as Co-chairman of the Republican National Committee’s Team 100. He also raised funds during the 1988 George H. W. Bush Presidential Campaign.
When the lucrative Straight Inc. centers were finally closed due lawsuits related to human rights abuses, but Sembler still remained involved with many committees nationally that influenced federal drug policy.
Well OK. If you want to look into this further you have plenty to go on. Now how about Sheldon Adelson, another big money backer of the anti-Medical Marijuana Campaign in Florida? Sheldon Adelson has funded medical marijuana research in Israel.
A new study, led by Tel Aviv University‘s Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases and Sackler Faculty of Medicine, reveals some of the chemical compounds found in marijuana can help treat MS-like diseases in mice. The research team, which included scientists from Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science, said the compounds prevent inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. Their results were published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.
“Inflammation is part of the body’s natural immune response, but in cases like MS it gets out of hand,” says Dr. Ewa Kozela. “Our study looks at how compounds isolated from marijuana can be used to regulate inflammation to protect the nervous system and its functions.”
There is a strong tradition of marijuana research in Israel. For example, in 1964 Israeli scientists Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni discovered THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. This kick-started the global scientific study of the plant and its chemical components. So far, around 70 compounds – called cannabinoids – have been identified that are unique to cannabis and have interesting biological effects. Professor Vogel, in the 1990s, was among the first to describe THC-acting molecules, called endocannabinoids, in the human body.
Kinda makes you wonder what is going on with Mr. Adelson. He funds research on medical marijuana in Israel and funds an anti-medical marijuana campaign in the US. And he is buddies with Mel Sembler.
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