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grahamhgreen's Journal
grahamhgreen's Journal
July 26, 2013

Drone Strikes Ruled War Crimes; Public Outcry Forces Cutbacks

The tempo of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan has slowed significantly in recent months, and anonymous officials tell The Associated Press that the reason has to do with the public's intensifying criticism of the program, which has reportedly killed hundreds of civilians since 2004.

While the attacks are by no means stopping, their frequency has reached a low not seen since the secret program began in Pakistan, with 16 strikes occurring so far this year. That's a far cry from the peak of 122 strikes in 2010, according to data from the New America Foundation, whose most recent estimates show those strikes killed 97 alleged "militants" and four "others" in 2013. Current and former intelligence officials tell AP that public scrutiny has led the program to be more focused on "high value" targets, supposedly dropping the controversial practice of "signature strikes," which attack anonymous individuals based solely on behavior observed in the field....

The decreased number of strikes comes after massive public outrage in Pakistan, where the high court in Peshawar has ruled that US drone strikes constitute war crimes and violations of the country's sovereignty. Ben Emmerson, the UN's special rapporteur on civil rights, reached similar conclusions during his own investigation of the ongoing US drone campaign. In the past, Pakistani officials have publicly spoken out against drone strikes while secretly consenting to them behind closed doors. But anonymous US officials told the AP that the strikes decreased after Pakistani officials made it clear the attacks could not continue at the current rate, citing concerns over the civilian death toll.

July 26, 2013

Donít buy the right-wing myth about Detroit

There's a lot of right wing spin on Detroit floating around the internet. Here's some good info:

As mythology goes, the specific story being crafted about Detroit’s bankruptcy is truly biblical — more specifically, just like the fact-free mythology around the Greek financial collapse, it is copied right from the chapter in the conservative movement’s bible about how to distort crises for maximum political effect.

In the conservative telling of this particular parable, Detroit faces a fiscal emergency because high taxes supposedly drove a mass exodus from the city, and the supposedly unbridled greed of unions forced city leaders to make fiscally irresponsible pension promises to municipal employees. Written out of the tale is any serious analysis of macroeconomic shifts, international economic policy failures, the geography of recent recessions and unsustainable corporate welfare spending.

This is classic right-wing dogma — the kind that employs selective storytelling to use a tragic event as a means to radical ends. In this case, the ends are — big shocker! — three of the conservative movement’s larger long-term economic priorities: 1) preservation of job-killing trade policies 2) immunity for corporations and 3) justification for budget policies that continue to profligately subsidize the rich.

Pretending Detroit and the NAFTA era are unrelated: The bait-and-switch on the first two objectives is fairly easy to see.

Detroit isn’t just any old city — it happens to be the biggest population center in the state hit the hardest by the right’s corporate-written trade agenda. Indeed, according to the Economic Policy Institute, the state lost more jobs than any other from NAFTA (43,600, or 1 percent of its total job base) and lost another 79,500 jobs thanks to the China PNTR deal. And that’s just two of many such trade pacts. Add to this the city’s disproportionate reliance on American auto companies which made a series of horrific business decisions, and Detroit is a microcosmic cautionary tale about what happens when large corporations are allowed to write macro economic policy and dictate the economic future of an entire city.

If told, this cautionary tale would likely spark a discussion about revising current trade deals, regulations, public investment and industrial policy in general. That is, it would spark precisely the discussion that the conservative movement and the corporations that fund politicians don’t want America to have. So the right works to make sure that discussion is short circuited by a narrative that focuses the Detroit story primarily on taxes and public pensions.

MORE: http://www.salon.com/2013/07/23/dont_buy_the_right_wing_myth_about_detroit/

July 23, 2013

US Drones Killed 94 Kids In Less Than 3 Years

US Drones Killed 94 Kids In Less Than 3 Years

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/drone-pakistan-civilian-deaths-2013-7#ixzz2ZtBf8MYz

A new previously classified report from the Pakistani government details how, even before he increase in tempo and questionable drone tactics of the Obama administration, strikes from American drones resulted in a high number of civilian casualties.

The report, titled “Details of Attacks by NATO Forces/Predators in FATA,” was obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

The report, which stretches from January 2006 until October 2009, details a startlingly high amount of collateral damage in the Pakistan government’s casualty tally.

Of the 746 people killed in drone strikes over that period, 147 of them are described as civilians. A shocking 94 of them were children.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/drone-pakistan-civilian-deaths-2013-7#ixzz2ZtC73vnD
July 22, 2013

Detroit's Collapse Reveals the Awful Dystopia that the United States Is Becoming

From 1950 until now, two big things happened to ruin
the city with regard to industry. The first was robotification.
automation of many processes in the factories led to fewer workers
being needed, and produced unemployment. Then, the auto industry began locating
elsewhere, along with its support industries, to save money on labor
or production costs or to escape regulation

It seems to me that we need to abandon capitalism as production
becomes detached from human labor. I think all robot labor should be
nationalized and put in the public sector, and all citizens should
receive a basic stipend from it. Then, if robots make an automobile,
the profits will not go solely to a corporation that owns the robots,
but rather to all the citizens. It wouldn’t be practical anyway for
the robots to be making things for unemployed, penniless humans.
Perhaps we need a 21st century version of ‘from all according to their
abilities, to all according to their needs.’

Communally-owned mechanized/ computerized forms of production would
also help resolve the problem of increasing income inequality in the
United States.

More: http://www.alternet.org/economy/detroits-collapse-reveals-awful-dystopia-united-states-becoming

July 14, 2013

USA vs NSA Animation: Which Side are You on?

Personally, I prefer the USA, our Constitution, and my privacy.

The apologists may as well be working for the Stasi, IMHO.
July 11, 2013

Snowden Seen as Whistle-Blower by Majority in New Poll

A majority of U.S. registered voters consider Edward Snowden a whistle-blower, not a traitor, and a plurality says government anti-terrorism efforts have gone too far in restricting civil liberties, a poll released today shows.

Fifty-five percent said Snowden was a whistle-blower in leaking details about top-secret U.S. programs that collect telephone and Internet data, in the survey from Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University. Thirty-four percent said he’s a traitor. Snowden, 30, worked for McLean, Virginia-based federal contractor Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. (BAH)......

“The verdict that Snowden is not a traitor goes against almost the unified view of the nation’s political establishment,” Brown said.

Simply put, being anti-privacy is being anti-constitution.
July 11, 2013

Saudi princess arrested in human trafficking case

Source: CBS

A Saudi princess was charged Wednesday with human trafficking for allegedly holding a domestic worker against her will and forcing her to work at an Orange County condominium, prosecutors said.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas identified 42-year-old Meshael Alayban as a Saudi princess who was charged with one count of human trafficking. If convicted, she faces up to 12 years in prison.

Alayban was arrested after a Kenyan woman carrying a suitcase flagged down a bus Tuesday and told a passenger she believed she was a human trafficking victim. The passenger helped her contact police, who searched the Irvine condo where Alayban and her family were staying, authorities said.

The 30-year-old woman told authorities she was hired in Kenya in 2012 and her passport was taken from her on arrival in Saudi Arabia. She was forced to work excessive hours and was paid less than she was promised and not allowed to leave, authorities said.

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57593204/saudi-princess-arrested-in-human-trafficking-case/

July 5, 2013

Should the Director of National Intelligence Be Impeached for Lying to Congress About PRISM?

Wyden: And this is for you, Director Clapper, again on the surveillance front. And I hope we can do this in just a yes or no answer because I know Senator Feinstein wants to move on. Last summer the NSA director was at a conference and he was asked a question about the NSA surveillance of Americans. He replied, and I quote here, '...the story that we have millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people is completely false.' The reason I'm asking the question is, having served on the committee now for a dozen years, I don't really know what a dossier is in this context. So what I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

Clapper: "No, sir."

Wyden: "It does not."

Clapper: "Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly."

Wyden: "All right. Thank you. I'll have additional questions to give you in writing on that point, but I thank you for the answer."

Clapper's statement appears to be untrue; however, legal experts may able to parse it in a different way. If it wasn't a lie it appears to be clearly misleading.

Lying to Congress is an extremely serious offense, although few have been found guilty. Roger Clemens was indicted for lying to Congress (but ultimately found innocent of perjury). Many of the cases of individuals convicted of lying to Congress arose from Watergate, including President Nixon's Attorney General, John Mitchell, and Nixon's Chief of staff, H.R Haldeman.

Executive officials can be impeached for "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors." As a non-criminal matter, there are serious grounds to argue that lying to Congress is among the most severe potential "high crimes and misdemeanors."
Lying to a Grand Jury was the grounds for President Clinton's impeachment; and that was lying to a grand jury, not lying to Congress when Congress is the relevant oversight branch.


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