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Boeing Helps Kill Proposed Law to Regulate Drones

Published on Sunday, March 31, 2013 by Common Dreams
Boeing Helps Kill Proposed Law to Regulate Drones

by Pratap Chatterjee

Boeing, the aircraft manufacturing giant from Seattle, helped defeat a Republican proposal in Washington state that would have forced government agencies to get approval to buy unmanned aerial vehicles, popularly known as drones, and to obtain a warrant before using them to conduct surveillance on individuals.

Local authorities in Seattle and in King county experimented with conducting surveillance from Draganfly Innovations drones last year, only to cancel both programs in the fact of public protest. "I'm not really surprised that people are upset," said Jennifer Shaw from the American Civil Liberties Union, a human rights group that campaigned against the drones. “It's a frightening thing to think that there's government surveillance cameras overhead.”

On February 7, 2013, David Taylor, a Republican member of the state legislature, introduced a bill to regulate drone use. The proposed law quickly won support from several Democratic party politicians on the state Public Safety Committee.

Alarmed by the growing bipartisan coalition, Boeing jumped into the fray. “We believe that as the technology matures, best practices and new understanding will emerge, and that it would be counterproductive to rush into regulating a burgeoning industry,” Boeing spokeswoman Sue Bradley wrote in a statement. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/03/31-0

Hail !!!

Kitty has had Easter dinner.

Bill Moyers: The Death Penalty’s Fatal Flaws

Martin Clancy and Tim O’Brien on the Death Penalty’s Fatal Flaws
March 29, 2013

Right now, there are more than 3,100 inmates on death row, and more than 60% are members of racial or ethnic minorities. Over time, Supreme Court Justices have fine-tuned the circumstances under which the death penalty may still apply, but no set of laws or jurisprudence can undo wrongful executions — or, it seems, completely prevent them. According to journalists Martin Clancy and Tim O’Brien, authors of Murder at the Supreme Court, in recent years at least 18 inmates were released from death row because DNA evidence proved their innocence. These cases are among more than 140 death penalty exonerations over the last three decades.

Clancy and O’Brien join Bill to explore these fatal flaws in our criminal justice system, and to share the human stories behind the evolution of capital punishment in America.

“If you can afford a decent defense, you probably will not die in an execution chamber,” Clancy tells Bill. “As you look back you discover that the smartest men in America, the most decent people in this country for 200 years in our legislatures, in the Congress, in our courts both lower courts and the Supreme Court, have tried to figure out a fair and equitable way to administer capital punishment. And as far as I’m concerned they’ve failed.”

O’Brien points out, “if the victim is white and the perpetrator is black, you’re ten or 11 times more likely to get a death sentence.” ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://billmoyers.com/segment/martin-clancy-and-tim-o%E2%80%99brien-on-the-death-penaltys-fatal-flaws/

Public Inquiry and Democracy: Should the National Science Foundation Fund Political Science Research

from Dissent magazine:

Public Inquiry and Democracy: Should the National Science Foundation Fund Political Science Research?

[font size="1"]National Science Foundation building in Arlington, Virginia[/font]

By Jeffrey C. Isaac - March 28, 2013

None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to carry out the functions of the Political Science Program in the Division of Social and Economic Sciences of the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences of the National Science Foundation, except for research projects that the Director of the National Science Foundation certifies as promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.

With these words, furnished courtesy of U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), the U.S. Senate acted by voice vote this week to politically circumscribe and de-authorize the funding of almost all NSF-support political science research in the United States. The rationale presented by Coburn for this move was simple: the federal budget contains lots of waste, and NSF funding of political science is a waste of money. Coburn has been crusading against the NSF Political Science Program for years, and with a zeal that seems wildly out of proportion to the amount of money in question—approximately $11 million out of an annual NSF budget of $7.8 billion, or less than 0.2 percent. His opposition is no doubt ideological, in the sense that he is an avid proponent of fiscal austerity when it comes to U.S. government support for social, cultural, and educational programs, and in the sense that he clearly has a particular animus toward political science.

But beneath these ideological dispositions is a particular understanding of political science—that it is not, in his words, “a real science,” and that it produces nothing of value to society sufficient to warrant government support. It is for this reason that Coburn continually cites the technological advances that have been generated by NSF-funded research in the natural sciences and contrasts these palpable advances with the scholastic sounding titles of NSF-funded political science research. And it is clearly for this reason that the Coburn amendment contains a caveat: NSF funding of political science research is acceptable whenever this research can be certified “as promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.”

It seems very clear that the move to defund political science is linked to a broader conservative political agenda targeting many aspects of science and the humanities, and rooted in a hostility toward intellectuals; that it hypocritically singles out the relatively small amounts of the NSF budget spent on political science; and that it rests on a range of specious assumptions and claims. One is the notion that most important NSF-funded natural science is technologically driven applied science. This is obviously false, and the distinction between theoretical and applied science is well established within the natural sciences—and scientists well understand that the practical advances that science makes possible are only enabled by theoretical advances. Another is the notion that the only way to be a “real” science is to be a science like physics or chemistry. And the third, and most serious, specious assumption is that the principal scientific and social value of American political science is its ability to promote the “national security” and “economic interests” of the United States. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/public-inquiry-and-democracy-should-the-national-science-foundation-fund-political-science-research

Donald Trump Picks the Wrong Scottish Farmers to Brawl With

from YES! Magazine:

Donald Trump Picks the Wrong Scottish Farmers to Brawl With
When Donald Trump tried to develop a stretch of pristine Scottish seaside into a golf course, the feisty local community pushed back. A new documentary film tells the story.

by Chris Francis
posted Mar 29, 2013

When British indie film director Anthony Baxter heard that real-estate baron Donald Trump was planning to build a luxury golf resort near the Scottish farming town of Balmedie, he thought the news coverage was suspicious. The glowingly positive buzz around the course couldn’t be telling the whole story.

“The media coverage around the golf course didn’t have the skeptical angle you’d expect, which seemed very odd,” Baxter said. So he decided to provide that angle himself. He set off for Aberdeenshire, the county where Trump was building the course, and the documentary You’ve Been Trumped began to take form.

Spanning the year-long construction of Trump’s first Aberdeenshire golf course—Trump plans to eventually build three courses and a 450-room luxury hotel—the film provides the critical inspection missing from mainstream media accounts. It exposes irreparable environmental damage to an area of pristine seaside dunes designated as a “Site of Special Scientific Interest”, suspiciously complicit government action, and shameless bullying by the Trump Organization.

The documentary has no narrator. Instead, the Aberdeenshire farmers living at the edge of Trump’s course, and other locals, tell the story themselves. Baxter’s film juxtaposes footage of the simple reality of the farmers’ lives shot on handheld cameras with the glossy, pre-cooked media promotion of Trump and his project. “David and Goliath” meets “The Little Engine That Could” as families carry on a drawn-out struggle of increasing difficulty against a monolithic corporate force willing to manipulate and harass in pursuit of its goals—disputing property lines, cutting off water, and Trump himself publicly insulting locals who resisted the project. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/donald-trump-picks-wrong-scottish-farmers-to-mess-wish

Contractor Responds to Reported Defects In Silver Spring Transit Center

(Washington, D.C. — WAMU) The general contractor leading the construction of the Silver Spring Transit Center is publicly defending itself against alarming charges of building defects in the delayed transit hub, pointing to evidence that it followed Montgomery County’s design plans.

Rockville-based Foulger Pratt released copies of daily inspection reports under the letterhead of the firm Montgomery County hired to perform field inspections on the Silver Spring Transit Center, Owings Mill-based Robert B. Balter Company. The signed reports state: “Prior to concrete placement reinforcing steel was inspected and found to be installed as per specifications.”

The charges center on insufficient amounts of concrete, reinforcing steel and post-tensioning cables — high-strength steel strands or bars used to strengthen concrete — according to Montgomery County’s findings of design and construction flaws released last week to intense news coverage. Foulger Pratt managing principal Bryant Foulger says he would like his side of the story to receive as much attention.

“It feels like from the county executive’s comment, that we’ve been indicted and tried and convicted without realizing there is another very compelling side to this story,” Foulger said. “If there is an issue with safety here, it is related to design. That’s the county’s issue, not ours.” ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://transportationnation.org/2013/03/29/contractor-responds-to-reported-defects-in-silver-spring-transit-center/

George W. Bush’s Lie-bury

from Consortium News:

George W. Bush’s Lie-bury
March 28, 2013

As minor African despots are dragged before the International Criminal Court, ex-President George W. Bush remains free, despite having committed major war crimes like torture and aggressive war. With the blood of hundreds of thousands on his hands, he will now celebrate his presidential library, Coleen Rowley notes.

By Coleen Rowley

A recent news report asking “Where is Dubya?” found the former president totally unengaged, spending his time painting strange portraits of himself in the bath. In what seems to be a weird personal attempt to emulate Winston Churchill (but more reminiscent of Marie Antoinette playing shepherdess in her last days), the former president calmly ignores the sickening truth that slowly but surely emerges about his administration’s crimes as well as recent UN demands that U.S. leaders be charged with war crimes.

Ben Emmerson, the lead special investigator, recently described to gathered UN dignitaries a setting of self-approved legal immunity among U.S. and UK national leaders. He called the two governments’ standing policy, “A policy of de facto immunity for public officials who engaged in acts of torture, rendition and secret detention, and their superiors and political masters who authorized these acts.”

So the hard task will clearly fall to George W. Bush’s soon-to-open Presidential Center to re-fashion history and create the legacy of the great “Decider” who, with neo-con help, so longed to be a “war president” that he decided to illegally and recklessly launch a “war of choice” (otherwise known as the illegal and catastrophic war of aggression upon Iraq based on false premises).

The new Bush Library will undoubtedly also credit their namesake with the idea of initiating the “global war on a tactic (GWOT)” that, despite a recent bipartisan congressional bill to end it, teeters on the verge of being made permanent. Bush’s successor having cleverly re-named it, then stretched and expanded GWOT to so many new countries that it now has come full circle under rhetoric of “keeping us safe” from foreign enemies that it now targets U.S. citizens for what could possibly be indefinite detention and assassination and includes the U.S. as part of its ever-widening global battlefield. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2013/03/28/george-w-bushs-lie-bury/

Watergate’s Washed-Away Lessons

from Consortium News:

Watergate’s Washed-Away Lessons
March 30, 2013

The Republican Party that emerged from Vietnam and Watergate was determined to obliterate the lessons learned, and the Democrats veered between timidity and complicity as those lessons were unlearned. Now, the key lessons are more reminiscence than real, as Michael Winship laments.

By Michael Winship

At moments, “The Lessons of Watergate” conference, held a couple of weeks ago in Washington, D.C. by the citizen’s lobby Common Cause, was a little like that two-man roadshow retired baseball players Bill Buckner and Mookie Wilson have been touring.

In it, they retell the story of the catastrophic moment during the bottom of the last inning of Game Six of the 1986 World Series, when the Mets’ Wilson hit an easy ground ball toward Buckner of the Red Sox, who haplessly let it roll between his legs. That notorious error ultimately cost Boston the championship.

As The New Yorker magazine’s Reeves Wiedeman wrote of the players’ joint public appearance, “It is as if Custer and Sitting Bull agreed to deconstruct Little Bighorn.” Or those World War II reunions where aging Army Air Corps men meet the Luftwaffe pilots who tried to shoot them down over Bremen.

So, too, in Washington, four decades after the Watergate break-in scandal that led to the downfall of President Richard Nixon. Up on stage was Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, one of the first victims of Nixon’s infamous “plumbers,” the burglars who went skulking into the night to attempt illegal break-ins — including one at the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2013/03/30/watergates-washed-away-lessons/

How Samsung Became the World's No. 1 Smartphone Maker

from Bloomberg Businessweek:

How Samsung Became the World's No. 1 Smartphone Maker
By Sam Grobart on March 28, 2013

I’m in a black Mercedes-Benz (DAI) van with three Samsung Electronics PR people heading toward Yongin, a city about 45 minutes south of Seoul. Yongin is South Korea’s Orlando: a nondescript, fast-growing city known for its tourist attractions, especially Everland Resort, the country’s largest theme park. But the van isn’t going to Everland. We’re headed to a far more profitable theme park: the Samsung Human Resources Development Center, where the theme just happens to be Samsung.

The complex’s formal name is Changjo Kwan, which translates as Creativity Institute. It’s a massive structure with a traditional Korean roof, set in parklike surroundings. In a breezeway, a map carved in stone tiles divides the earth into two categories: countries where Samsung conducts business, indicated by blue lights; and countries where Samsung will conduct business, indicated by red. The map is mostly blue. In the lobby, an engraving in Korean and English proclaims: “We will devote our human resources and technology to create superior products and services, thereby contributing to a better global society.” Another sign says in English: “Go! Go! Go!”

More than 50,000 employees pass through Changjo Kwan and its sister facilities in a given year. In sessions that last anywhere from a few days to several months, they are inculcated in all things Samsung: They learn about the three P’s (products, process, and people); they learn about “global management” so that Samsung can expand into new markets; some employees go through the exercise of making kimchi together, to learn about teamwork and Korean culture.

They will stay in single or shared rooms, depending on seniority, on floors named and themed after artists. The Magritte floor has clouds on the carpet and upside-down table lamps on the ceiling. In a hallway, the recorded voice of a man speaking Korean comes over the loudspeakers. “Those are some remarks the chairman made some years ago,” a Samsung employee explains. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-03-28/how-samsung-became-the-worlds-no-dot-1-smartphone-maker#r=rss

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