Posts tagged drones
Jesse Ventura goes Off the Grid on DRONES
Published by NextNewsNetwork
If another country surveilled the United States with unmanned aircrafts, what would our government do? In this #OffTheGrid clip, Jesse Ventura argues that we’d probably declare war! What do you think the U.S. would do? Tweet Jesse @GovJVentura.
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Is Washington Hostile to Citizen Input?
Published by NextNewsNetwork
WASHINGTON DC | Today’s DC Report is an exclusive about several activists appearing in federal court rooms this week for protesting the drone policies of the United States.
Four of those activists were sentenced in Sacramento, Calif. yesterday. On Friday, five more anti-drone activists will appear in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va.
But this story carries an important twist: These activists have been going to Congress for years to try and get elected officials to consider stopping the targeted killings carried out by U.S. Predator and Reaper drones. But their concerns have fallen on deaf ears in Washington.
These activists maintain that the drone hits are war crimes in violation of international law. They stress that scores of innocent men, women and children are being systematically killed on a virtually daily basis.
They add that the drone hits are taking place in nations with which the U.S. is not even at war. The impacted nations include: Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. The activists point out that Congress never officially declared war on Afghanistan and Iraq as the Constitution requires.
Activist Toby Blome’ (Blo-May) is one of the four activists sentenced with community service and probation yesterday in Sacramento. The activists were arrested for blocking the entry road into nearby Beale Air Force Base for over an hour on April 30, 2013. However, Blome said that staging protests is not necessarily the favored tactic.
Instead, the protests are actually a last-ditch effort to be heard. As Blome told WHDT: “We were resolved to blocking that road that morning [because] our elected officials just won’t listen.”
While blocking the road, the activists tried to get a letter delivered to the Beale air-base commander to protest U.S. drone policies. Beale is a key base from which Global Hawk surveillance drones are remotely controlled. These distant drones pinpoint foreign targets that armed Predator and Reaper drones use to kill suspected terrorists. But scores of noncombatants are killed in the process.
The Beale base commander shot a letter back to the four Sacramento activists, saying that if they carry out the same activities again, the consequences will be more severe than community service and probation. But these and other activists are determined to carry on. They want the general public to know which domestic Air Force bases remotely control drone missions on the other side of the globe.
The underlying theme is that in the modern-day United States, it’s becoming nearly impossible for concerned citizens to be heard by the federal government.
When asked about visiting the offices of members of Congress, Sacramento activist Martha Hubert replied that Rep. Nancy Pelosi and her staff act like the activists don’t exist.
Hubert said: “We try to talk to her in Washington and in California. Her staff says they’ll give her the message but they never did. No meetings with her have ever been arranged.”
Hubert’s fellow activist Robin Ryan added: “We, the defendants, were denied a trial by jury. Had that not been denied, we would have been able to shed more light on the reasons behind this [protest]. We were able to speak only after we had been found guilty.”
On Friday in Virginia, additional protestors are appealing their trespass conviction at the Central Intelligence Agency in June, 2013. They attempted to seek a meeting with CIA Director John Brennan concerning CIA drone hits that allegedly violate international law. The activists carried with them a letter related to what they call “illegal targeted drone killings.”
At this juncture, this issue raises troubling questions about whether our government in Washington is really our government at all. If this is what it takes to try and be heard, then the freedom that the military thinks it’s defending may be clinically dead.
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What Really Happens in the Drone Program from an Insider
Over the weekend, Heather Linebaugh wrote a powerful Op-ed in The Guardian newspaper lamenting the lack of public understanding regarding the American drone program. Heather should know what she’s talking about, she served in the United Stated Air Force from 2009 until March 2012. She worked in intelligence as an imagery analyst and geo-spatial analyst for the drone program during the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Here are some key excerpts from her article:
Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them a few questions. I’d start with: “How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?” And: “How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?” Or even more pointedly: “How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?”
Few of these politicians who so brazenly proclaim the benefits of drones have a real clue of what actually goes on. I, on the other hand, have seen these awful sights first hand.
I knew the names of some of the young soldiers I saw bleed to death on the side of a road. I watched dozens of military-aged males die in Afghanistan, in empty fields, along riversides, and some right outside the compound where their family was waiting for them to return home from the mosque.
What the public needs to understand is that the video provided by a drone is not usually clear enough to detect someone carrying a weapon, even on a crystal-clear day with limited cloud and perfect light. This makes it incredibly difficult for the best analysts to identify if someone has weapons for sure. One example comes to mind: “The feed is so pixelated, what if it’s a shovel, and not a weapon?” I felt this confusion constantly, as did my fellow UAV analysts. We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian’s life all because of a bad image or angle.
Recently, the Guardian ran a commentary by Britain’s secretary of state for defence, Philip Hammond. I wish I could talk to him about the two friends and colleagues I lost, within a year of leaving the military, to suicide. I am sure he has not been notified of that little bit of the secret UAV program, or he would surely take a closer look at the full scope of the program before defending it again.
Full article here.
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Image added to Mike’s original post. Image credit: By U.S. Air Force Photo / Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Fmr NYT Journalist Seymour Hersh Blasts Bin Laden Fairytale, Calls for Corporate Media Shutdown
Published by breakingtheset
About the video:
Abby Martin gives props to world renowned journalist Seymour Hersh, for calling out the abysmal failure of the corporate media in the US, saying that the MSM should fire 90 percent of its reporters and that “not one word” of the bin laden death narrative is true.
Posted by Robert Wenzel
Koch Brothers Spend $7.2 Billion To Acquire Conglomerate/Drone Manufacturer
Molex Incorporated, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Koch Industries. Molex will become a standalone subsidiary of Koch Industries. Koch Industries will pay approximately $7.2 billion for the firm.
Of note, prominently featured on Molex’s industries page is the conglomerate’s ties to the military-industrial complex:
Aerospace and Defense
By providing faster, smaller, lighter and more cost-effective COTS, harsh environment and military-grade solutions, Molex brings a wide range of technology and innovation to the aerospace and defense industry. Molex continues to develop, an array of integrated and custom solutions to assist in reaching all design goals – with exceptional quality, efficiency and reliability – to ensure seamless connectivity for critical applications.
No More Mandatory Sentences for Low-Level Drug Offenders?
Published by NextNewsNetwork
WASHINGTON – An announcement is expected today from Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States concerning punishment for low-level drug offenders. The nation’s top lawyer is expected to declare that low-level drug offenders without a violent record will no longer be subject to long mandatory sentences. The announcement is expected to be a part of a speech delivered by Holder to the American Bar Association in San Francisco.
BOVINA, New York — The small town of Bovina, New York was put under lockdown by police on Sunday as they searched for an unnamed suspect. The residents of the tiny town of just 633 people were ordered by law enforcement officials not to leave their homes and to keep their doors locked. As of late Sunday night, the person of interest to the police was in a private home, and law enforcement officials consider the situation to be contained, although the town is still under lockdown conditions.
ZINJIBAR, Yemen — Armed drones from the United States struck several targets in Yemen over the weekend. At least 31 people have been killed by recent drone strikes in that country. The attacks have increased in frequency over the last two weeks, after U.S. officials announced a foiled terror plot in the the African nation. Facilities destroyed in the most recent round of attacks include a health clinic and a school. The Obama administration claims the recent attacks killed at least 14 members of al-Queda.
NEW YORK CITY — Two workers at New York’s JFK airport were sickened by exposure to a chemical they were handling while opening mail. Initially thought to be a chemical agent, the substance in question turned out to be nail polish remover. When the airport workers started feeling ill, the postal facility at the airport was closed off and the workers sent home. The FBI called in medical personnel to test the postal workers for exposure to dangerous chemical agents, and found the exposure was limited to just the cosmetic product.
Written by Ron Paul
Why Are We At War in Yemen?
Most Americans are probably unaware that over the past two weeks the US has launched at least eight drone attacks in Yemen, in which dozens have been killed. It is the largest US escalation of attacks on Yemen in more than a decade. The US claims that everyone killed was a “suspected militant,” but Yemeni citizens have for a long time been outraged over the number of civilians killed in such strikes. The media has reported that of all those killed in these recent US strikes, only one of the dead was on the terrorist “most wanted” list.
This significant escalation of US attacks on Yemen coincides with Yemeni President Hadi’s meeting with President Obama in Washington earlier this month. Hadi was installed into power with the help of the US government after a 2011 coup against its long-time ruler, President Saleh. It is in his interest to have the US behind him, as his popularity is very low in Yemen and he faces the constant threat of another coup.
In Washington, President Obama praised the cooperation of President Hadi in fighting the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. This was just before the US Administration announced that a huge unspecified threat was forcing the closure of nearly two dozen embassies in the area, including in Yemen. According to the Administration, the embassy closings were prompted by an NSA-intercepted conference call at which some 20 al-Qaeda leaders discussed attacking the West. Many remain skeptical about this dramatic claim, which was made just as some in Congress were urging greater scrutiny of NSA domestic spying programs.
The US has been involved in Yemen for some time, and the US presence in Yemen is much greater than we are led to believe. As the Wall Street Journal reported last week:
“At the heart of the U.S.-Yemeni cooperation is a joint command center in Yemen, where officials from the two countries evaluate intelligence gathered by America and other allies, such as Saudi Arabia, say U.S. and Yemeni officials. There, they decide when and how to launch missile strikes against the highly secretive list of alleged al Qaeda operatives approved by the White House for targeted killing, these people say.”
Far from solving the problem of extremists in Yemen, however, this US presence in the country seems to be creating more extremism. According to professor Gregory Johnson of Princeton University, an expert on Yemen, the civilian “collateral damage” from US drone strikes on al-Qaeda members actually attracts more al-Qaeda recruits:
“There are strikes that kill civilians. There are strikes that kill women and children. And when you kill people in Yemen, these are people who have families. They have clans. And they have tribes. And what we’re seeing is that the United States might target a particular individual because they see him as a member of al-Qaeda. But what’s happening on the ground is that he’s being defended as a tribesman.”
The US government is clearly at war in Yemen. It is claimed they are fighting al-Qaeda, but the drone strikes are creating as many or more al-Qaeda members as they are eliminating. Resentment over civilian casualties is building up the danger of blowback, which is a legitimate threat to us that is unfortunately largely ignored. Also, the US is sending mixed signals by attacking al-Qaeda in Yemen while supporting al-Qaeda linked rebels fighting in Syria.
This cycle of intervention producing problems that require more intervention to “solve” impoverishes us and makes us more, not less, vulnerable. Can anyone claim this old approach is successful? Has it produced one bit of stability in the region? Does it have one success story? There is an alternative. It is called non-interventionism. We should try it. First step would be pulling out of Yemen.
Image credit: http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org
The Important Things We DON’T Have Money For, And The Crazy Things We DO Have Money For…
In an age of “belt tightening” and “budget cuts”, you would think that government officials would be trying to spend our money wisely. Unfortunately, when it comes time to cut spending our politicians tend to do everything that they can to protect their own interests and their own pet projects, but they don’t seem to mind implementing cuts that deeply hurt military families, the poor and the elderly. The facts that you are about to read will likely upset you very much. The federal government and our state governments are wasting money in some of the most ridiculous ways imaginable. Meanwhile, we are being told that we don’t have any money for a lot of really important things. Our hard-earned tax dollars are being horribly mismanaged, and the American people deserve to hear the truth about this gross negligence.
Now before I go any further, I want to make it very clear that I believe that the federal government and our state governments are already taking in more than enough money. They should be able to do everything that they need to do on the money that they are already extracting from all of us. And if we had been living within our means all this time, we would not be drowning in debt as a nation today.
Unfortunately, our politicians did choose to go into tremendous amounts of debt, and the American people did not stop them. So now we are rapidly heading toward a debt crisis unlike anything the world has ever seen before.
And our politicians should be reducing spending. There is no question about that. But what this article is about is priorities, and right now our politicians really seem to have their priorities messed up. What follows are some examples of this…
The city of Detroit says that it is totally broke and has no money for pensions…
…but somehow the city has 444 million dollars to spend on a new hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings.
…but somehow the federal government is able to spend tens of millions of dollars to fill our skies with surveillance drones.
The U.S. government is so broke that it has had to borrow more than a trillion dollars from China…
…but somehow we have plenty of money to help “modernize China’s energy grid“.
The U.S. Congress has cut $60,000,000 for schools on Indian reservations across the country…
…but somehow the IRS is able to pay out $70,000,000 in bonuses to their workers.
It is being projected that federal budget cuts will cost the U.S. economy 1.6 million jobs through the end of 2014…
…but somehow the federal government has plenty of money to provide many former members of Congress with six-figure annual incomes for life…
Members of Congress receive retirement benefits that are far more generous than those earned by the average worker, according to a recent Bankrate analysis.
Not only do congressional representatives and senators earn the guarantee of a monthly pension check — a benefit that has become increasingly rare for most U.S. workers — they also receive Social Security payments and can opt to pay into the federal Thrift Savings Plan, a 401(k) style-plan with fees that are far lower than most retirement plans.
As a result, longtime members of Congress can easily retire with six-figure annual incomes for life.
The Obama administration is forcing the U.S. Army to reduce the number of active combat brigades from 45 to 33…
…but the Obama administration has no problem finding millions of dollars to send to radical jihadist Syrian rebels that are beheading innocent Christians over in Syria.
Barack Obama says that there simply is not any money available for White House tours…
…but the Obamas are able to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on exotic vacations. In August, Obama and his family will be spending 8 days in a beautiful home on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard.
The federal government says that there was not enough money for the traditional 4th of July fireworks at many military bases around the country this year…
…but somehow the National Institutes of Health has $509,840 to spend on “a study that will send text messages in ‘gay lingo’ to methamphetamine addicts to try to persuade them to use fewer drugs and more condoms.”
Due to “budget cuts”, swimming pools for military families are being shut down all over the country…
…but Barack Obama felt that it was so important to send $500,000,000 to the Palestinian Authority that he signed a national security executive order last Friday that enabled him to get around an act of Congress that was intended to prevent him from sending that money to them.
The state of California is so strapped for cash that it may have to release thousands of violent criminals back on to the streets…
…but somehow the state of California has plenty of money to provide a multitude of welfare benefits for illegal immigrants.
A total of about 38 million dollars is being cut from “meals on wheels” programs around the nation due to the sequester…
…but somehow the federal government has plenty of money to hassle ordinary citizens with ridiculous amounts of red tape. For example, a small-time magician out in Missouri that does magic shows for kids was recently forced to submit a 32 page “disaster plan” for the rabbit that he uses in his shows.
With priorities like this, is it any wonder that our national debt is completely and totally out of control?
Fatal Consequences of Living in the NSA Surveillance State – Marcy Wheeler
Published by NextNewsNetwork
When Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the consequences of living in the NSA Surveillance State, Marcy Wheeler, known to civil libertarians by the cyber-nickname “Emptywheel,” had something to say about it. She has been a full-time commentator on individual liberties issues since 2007.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree and a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan.
Through her blog, Emptywheel.net, Ms. Wheeler has provided in-depth analysis of documents dealing with Guantanamo Bay, torture, personal privacy issues, and many other subjects of extreme importance to those who cherish individual freedom and the Bill of Rights.
We’re very grateful that she joins us today to discuss recent revelations regarding the NSA’s surveillance program.
Posted by Judy Morris
Colorado town proposes bounty for shooting down federal drones
A small Colorado town is considering whether to issue hunting licenses that would offer residents a bounty for shooting down unnamed drones operated by the U.S. government.
Deer Trail resident Phillip Steel told KMGH that he had already collected enough signatures to put his proposed measure on the ballot.
“We do not want drones in town,” Steel explained. “They fly in town, they get shot down.”
Steele’s proposed ordinance specifically outlines the rules for drone hunting.
Read the rest at The Raw Story, here.