A Wing and a Payer...
After this week's "white paper" leak, exposed the Department of Justice's "profoundly disturbing" justification of drone executions of U.S. citizens a bipartisan group of 11 senators wrote a letter urging President Barack Obama to release the Justice Department's still unreleased full legal opinion on drone strikes. The white paper, which had already been shown to senators several weeks ago, contains a memo which outlines the administrations rationale for such attacks. But wait! This isn’t the actual legal memos used to authorize the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and who knows who else....
The Drone Report...
Ah, Did you notice anything in this report? A particular word, perhaps? A that can get you sent away for upwards of 45 years? The word ‘leak’?
In their letter to Obama, the 11 senators wrote, "We ask that you direct the Justice Department to provide Congress, specifically the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, with any and all legal opinions that lay out the executive branch's official understanding of the President's authority to deliberately kill American citizens." – especially with the prospect of domestic “surveillance” drones on the horizon…
A not too distant horizon.
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First City in U.S. Passes Resolution Against Drones
By David Swanson
Shortly after 11 p.m. on Monday, February 4th, the City Council of Charlottesville, Va., passed what is believed to be the first anti-drone resolution in the country. According to my notes, and verifiable soon on the City Council's website, the resolution reads:
"WHEREAS, the rapid implementation of drone technology throughout the United States poses a serious threat to the privacy and constitutional rights of the American people, including the residents of Charlottesville; and
"WHEREAS, the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia have thus far failed to provide reasonable legal restrictions on the use of drones within the United States; and
"WHEREAS, police departments throughout the country have begun implementing drone technology absent any guidance or guidelines from law makers;
"NOW, THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED, that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, endorses the proposal for a two year moratorium on drones in the state of Virginia; and calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court, and precluding the domestic use of drones equipped with anti-personnel devices, meaning any projectile, chemical, electrical, directed-energy (visible or invisible), or other device designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being; and pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones."
The same City Council passed a resolution on January 17, 2012, calling for an end to drone wars, as well as ground wars, excessive military spending, and any possible attack on Iran.
The wording of Monday's resolution comes largely from a draft suggested by the Rutherford institute. An initial line was deleted and two amendments were made to the final paragraph, one endorsing a two-year moratorium on drones (something that had passed in committee in both houses of the Virginia legislature as of Saturday in the House and Monday in the Senate), the other committing the City not to use drones for surveillance or assault.
The wording was not as comprehensive as the draft that had appeared in the City Council's official agenda for Monday's meeting, a draft I had authored. See it here in the city agenda or on my website.
At the previous meeting of the City Council on January 7, 2013, I and a few other residents had spoken in support of a resolution, and three of the five city council members agreed to put it on the agenda for the February 4th meeting. Some of the public comments were excellent, and the video of the meeting is on the city's website.
On Monday, citizens speaking in favor of the anti-drone resolution dominated the public speaking period at the beginning of the meeting, shortly after 7 p.m. Many were quite eloquent, and the video will be available soon on the city's site. The council members did not discuss and vote on the matter until shortly after 11 p.m. The discussion was quite brief, coming on the heels of hours devoted to other matters.
The same three city council members who had put the item on the agenda voted in favor of the resolution, passing it by a vote of 3-2. They were Dave Norris, Dede Smith, and Satyendra Sing Huja. Norris and Smith negotiated the slight improvements to the Rutherford Institute's draft with Huja, who initially favored passing that draft as it was written. Norris and Smith favored banning the City from purchasing drones, but Council Member Kristin Szakos argued that there might be a positive use for a drone someday, such as for the fire department. Kathy Galvin joined Szakos in voting No.
Norris has been a leader on the City Council for years and sadly will not be running for reelection at the end of his current term.
Following the January meeting, I submitted my draft to the city, asked people to phone and email the council members, published a column in the local daily newspaper, and organized an event in front of City Hall on Sunday, the day before the vote. Anti-drone activist John Heuer from North Carolina delivered a giant model drone produced by New York anti-drone activist Nick Mottern. Our little stunt produced coverage on the two television channels and in the newspaper. I asked people to commit to attending the meeting on a FaceBook page. The room ended up packed, and when I asked those who supported the resolution to stand, most of the room did so.
No organized pro-drone lobby ever developed. We met and confronted the argument that localities shouldn't lobby states or Washington. And, of course, some people are opposed to drones in the United States but eager to see them used however the President may see fit abroad. Charlottesville's City Council ended up not including the section in my draft that instructed the federal government to end its practice of extrajudicial killing. But there was no discussion on that point, and several other sections, including one creating a local ordinance, were left out as well. The problem there, according to Smith, was that "we don't own the air."
Yet, we should. And Oregon is attempting to do so with its draft state legislation.
In the past, Charlottesville has passed resolutions that have inspired other localities and impacted federal and state policies. Let us hope this one is no exception.
David Swanson, featured guest on the show this morning, posted this on warisacrime.org.
Justice Department Leaks Memo "Legalizing" Murdering Americans (But Not Some Americans Already Murdered)
Here is the memo. With a few tweaks and a more creative title -- like "Murder With Your Hands Clean" -- this memo could sell a lot of copies.
And why not? Either there's a whistleblower in the Department of So-Called Justice about to be charged with espionage, and NBC is about to face the same persecution as WikiLeaks, or this is one of those "good" leaks that the White House wanted made public in an underhanded manner -- perhaps as an imagined boost to morality-challenged CIA director nominee John Brennan who faces his Senate Rejection Hearing on Thursday.
The memo, which is thought to be a summary of a longer one, says the United States can murder a U.S. citizen abroad (abroad but somehow "outside the area of active hostilities" even though killing him or her seems rather active and hostile) if three conditions are met:
"1. an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States;"
The memo goes on to base its claims on the supposed powers of the President, not of some random official. Who is such an official? Who decides whether he or she is informed? What if two of them disagree? What if he or she disagrees with the President? or the Congress? or the Supreme Court? or the U.S. public? or the United Nations? or the International Criminal Court? What then? One solution is to redefine the terms so that everyone has to agree. "Imminent" is defined in this memo to mean nothing at all. "The United States" clearly means anywhere U.S. troops may be.
"2. capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible;"
And if a high-level official claims it's infeasible, who can challenge that?
"3. the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles."
When a U.S. drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, no one had shown either of them to meet the above qualifications.
When a U.S. drone strike targeted and killed 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, no one had shown him to meet the above qualifications; I don't think anyone has made such a claim to this day. And what about his cousin who died for the crime of being with him at the wrong time?
The sociopaths who wrote this memo have "legalized" the drone-killing of Americans with the exception of all the Americans known thus far to have been murdered by our government with the use of drones.
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Here is One Good Thing you can do for the world today:
Question: If we do not exercise our conscience, will we lose it, collectively, as a country? Some among us who appear to have no conscience to lose…
And then there are the rare individuals who ac - without fear and aware of the risks - out of conscience. While no one involved in the waterboarding of terror suspects has ever faced criminal charges, John Kiriakou has been convicted and sentenced to 30 months in prison. His life is ruined.
All for the "crime" of having talked honestly to journalists about what happened and who did it.
The prosecutors did not claimed that John talked to any foreign government, passed any government documents or accepted funds from anyone hostile to the United States. Because they couldn’t.
John Kiriakou, a hero to civil libertarians, spoke Truth to Power – not just any ‘Power’ but the US National Security apparatus that keeps America locked down, buttoned up afraid of the acts of conscience that keep us free. The irony is extraordinary. For more than 14 years, John worked in the field and at home, under conditions of great peril and stress and at great personal sacrifice, dedicating himself to protecting America and Americans from harm at home and abroad.
- Title: John Kiriakou on 'Air Cascadia'
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Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive -Sir Walter Scott, in his poem "Marmion" (1808)
Perhaps both defense and prosecution ought to have looked a little closer at the 'kandy-colored tangerine-flake stream-lined 'Expert Witnesses' called to testify in the trial of Mohamed Mohamud.
That said, while both blood and ink are still wet, a second glance at the jury selection proccess might be in order. This case requires a lot of 'vertical' as well as 'horizontal understanding. It demands of a jury the capacity to set emotions aside - but not off the table entirely - and look at the story from reason's perspective. Once the fundamental algorithms come into focus, empathy is called for...and plenty of it.
Trouble is that the one thing the American Left and Right have in common is a distrust bordering on contempt for the intellect.
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What's Your Jihad?
What is in your heart and mind the drives you, inspires you, transforms your world?
Me? Well, researching stories, lining up guests, producing 'Air Cascadia', for one. It takes a lot longer to 'write short' than to 'write long'. Mark Twain famously said, "I would have written you a shoter letter but I didn't have time." Alternately, I could also say 'Squirrel Farm', a living, breathing 'Food Forest' and a 3-D paradigm for a permatural approach to life. And my answer to the question, 'What's your Jihad?' might be as simple as 'Kindness': I strive to be kind.
So, what's your Jihad? And those close to you, friends, family, co-workers, ask them What's your Jihad? Get that beautiful, forbidden, hot-button word out in the Loud. Voice by voice by voice by voice...it adds up to a clarion call for understanding, communication and sharing our common truth.
The more you use it, the more you defuse it.
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Al Qaeda Goes to Hollywood!
“High in the coastal mountains of Lincoln County, three men -- Mohamed Mohamud and two undercover FBI agents posing as al-Qaida terrorists -- readied for an explosion.
One of the agents, using the pseudonym "Hussein," handed Mohamud a cell phone to detonate what he thought was a 3-pound bomb loaded into a backpack. The men had set the pack on the ground, downhill from their perch, on that cloud-covered Thursday: Nov. 4, 2010.
Out of sight, FBI agents had snatched up the pack and switched the dummy bomb loaded inside with a real one. After a few failed attempts to dial the number that would ignite the bomb, Mohamud's phone rang through.” (from The Oregonian, January 16th, 2013)
It’s the whole Package: Action: The Feds drive too fast on their way to bomb practice; Mohammed complains he can’t study for finals because the motion makes him carsick), Suspense: Whoops! Wrong bomb! Okay, this next bomb is real ..Jesus! That was hella loud, dude; I nearly shit myself. Love Interest: Language problem, people. In Somalia we call it Romance. You Jingo-Military-Imperialist bullies call it rape. In the end love conquers all (Lindsay Lohan would be perfect; how much did they say the bail would be?) Pathos: When Mohammed can’t come up with the scratch to pay his rent, for some weird reason the Feds-dressed-up-like-al-Qaeda-terrorist-co-conspirators just happen to have the money right here…so, Okay, maybe it wasn’t really sad after all, but for a moment… He could always sleep in the bomb-van.
A loud boom rocked the hillside.
"How do you feel?" Hussein asked Mohamud.
"I feel good, Allahu Akbar (praise be to God)," Mohamud said.
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We Petition the Obama Administration To:
Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz.
It is too late to do anything for Aaron Swartz, but the who used the powers granted to them by their office to hound him into a position where he was facing a ruinous trial, life in prison and the ignominy and shame of being a convicted felon; for an alleged crime that the supposed victims did not wish to prosecute.
A prosecutor who does not understand proportionality and who regularly uses the threat of unjust and overreaching charges to extort plea bargains from defendants regardless of their guilt is a danger to the life and liberty of anyone who might cross her path.
the Tar Sands Blockade link:
Audrey's tree sit holds fast to earth and sky...despite the slings and arrows, the cherry-pickers and the backhoes.
And Good News from the Heart of Cascadia::
The PGE Cross-Cascades Transmission Corridor, Cascade Crossing, has signed an MOU with BPA to drop the leg of the power line that goes through Mt. Hood and Willamette National Forests. Instead, the line will stop at the Warm Springs Reservation.
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Money, Money Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink...
As a nation of consumers, as opposed to citizens of a nation. (Note how you can take that first phrase, 'Citizens of a Nation' and plug in the word, 'consumers': 'Consumers of a Nation' - which accurately describes Americans.
Last year, Americans witnessed an explosion in million-dollar checks from a handful of uber-wealthy people underwriting political campaigns and election ads. In 2012, there were also numerous efforts to make it harder for Americans to exercise their fundamental right to vote through restrictive voter ID legislation and limits on voter registration.
That is why the weekend of January 19, 2013, is so important. That coming weekend marks two dates significant to American democracy. It includes the federal holiday marking the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which commemorates the civil rights leader who worked to secure voting rights for all Americans. It also marks the anniversary of the devastating U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates for big money and helped make the 2012 elections the most expensive in the history of the world.
On January 19, activists in more than 60 towns and cities across the country will participate in a national day of action through rallies, teach-ins, and conferences to move closer to taking back our democracy.
The Bonneville Power Administration ‘s deadline for public comment on massive transmission towers in the Gorge is March 1. Activists, property right voices and just about anyone doomed to live beneath the shadow of the behemoth want more time.
At least 90 days. The transmission line is part of its I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Plan when BPA hosts the first of six public meetings tonight to discuss the construction.
BPA is deciding between four proposals to extend power to residents, with its "central alternative" as a 79-mile, 500-kilovolt transmission line from Castle Rock to Troutdale across the Columbia River. However, the agency's plans have come under attack from some local residents, as the planned power towers will be within 500 feet of 327 property owners.
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Drones On The Range...
Weeks before President Obama announced that he intended to appoint Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense, the reaction from Progressives was electrifying. The predictable blowback , of course, was that it electrified the Rightwing Punitorium, America’s echo chamber – there’s a lot of space between the ears echoes to bounce around in. There had to be a catch.
And there was. Obama’s next move was nominating John ‘Dark Side’ Brennan to be the next CIA chief. This the same guy who, back in 2008 prompted 200 psychologists to urging him not to select John Brennan to head the CIA because of his open support of 'dark-side' policies. Brennan withdrew his name the next day, and The New York Times explained the move as a reaction to 'concerns he was intimately linked to controversial CIA programs authorized by President Bush.'
My guest today, Ray McGovern is himself a veteran CIA analyst. He has scrutinized Brennan's backing of torture and drone killings. Read his interview "Obama's and Brennan's 'Kill List'" .
McGovern points out that "Brennan is now the administration’s strongest advocate of extrajudicial killing of U.S. citizens by drones. As for civilian deaths from CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, Brennan made the preposterous claim [in June 2011] that, over the previous year, 'there hasn’t been a single collateral death' from CIA drone strikes there."
This week we learn that some TriMet drivers work as many as 20 or more hours in a 24-hour period.
This problem is not a local phenomena nor is it limited to the occupation itself - the only point here is that working brutal hours at the wheel of a large public vehicle presents dangers not associated with other fields of employment.
The real issue behind the headlines is this: America is stranded in a false 'Recession', known to Wall Streeters as a 'jobless recovery. Government numbers show that Americans productivity has never been higher. No, Virginia, this does not mean that workers are just crazy in love with their jobs. What it means is that fear is driving people to work harder than is healthy because they live in terror of losing their jobs, their rattletrap health insurance, their homes...in short, their lives. And banks are still enjoying those TARP funds that rained down on them like mana from the sky a few years back. Corporate CEOs aren't hiring because form them it's a buyers market. and they aren't buying. So we are going to be living with increasing deadly incidents caused by employee exhaustion.
Public Transportation Managers in civilized nations would see the situation for what it is - because that is what they are being paid huge salaries to do - and they would immediately take steps to change the structure. What that is not where we live or who we are. So it is that the TriMet general manager has responded by calling for an internal investigation.
I don't know what more the general manager needs to know.: if the problem is that there are so few drivers that the ones on staff are working 20 hour shifts, then the solution is to hire more drivers. There always seems to be enough money to pay management to make all the smart moves, but not enough to maintain safe schedules.
Part of TriMet's approach is to "fight driver fatigue"...with what? Magic swords?
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Julian Assange Speaks
WikiLaks founder Julian Assange last addressed the press and supporters from the
Monarchs and religious leaders, generally step to the podium around this time of year. So why not Julian Assange? You might be a Wall street Wunderkind soaking up the sun in laundered drug cartel investments, You might be a a 17 year old German Anarchacker who doesn't know day from night, swinging through the cyberjungle ; you might be a lunatic-fringe tea party wingnut housewife in
San Diego sitting at a lap top in a state of the art kitchen... it's all the same. we all love/hate Assange.
Today Assange will deliver a message to the world from a balcony at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.
The Left so often cannibalizes its own. We are nudged into the anti-Assange contingent, forgetting what we saw happening in Iraq thanks to Assange's Wikileaks. So Thank you, Julian Assange – and Feliz Navidad.
The plaza reopened to the public on Monday afternoon after an inmate work crew “completely cleaned” it, county spokeswoman Jennifer Inman said.
New signs posted on the plaza clearly inform people that camping and cooking are prohibited on the property. The signs also say the area is closed between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless someone receives written permission to be there during those hours.
“The rules aren’t new or different. They’re just expressed more clearly than they were before,” Inman said.
A protest group known as Safe Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep, or SLEEPS, spent two nights on the plaza before voluntarily leaving last Wednesday afternoon.
The county fenced off the area shortly after the group’s departure — acting on an order issued during the protest by County Administrator Liane Richardson. She said it needed to be temporarily shut down “to ensure the health and safety and uninterrupted county operations.”
Richardson told protesters last week that human feces had been found in a planted area on the plaza.
Warrantless Spying Bill Extension Through Without Debate
The Senate is about to vote on an extension of the controversial FISA Amendments Act -- the unconstitutional law that allows the NSA to spy on Americans speaking to people abroad without a warrant. Yet you wouldn't know it by watching CSPAN because the Senate isn't debating it.
The law was set to expire on December 31, 2012 to ensure thorough review. But Senate leaders have so far refused to schedule any time on the Senate floor for debate or consideration of vital privacy-protecting amendments. Worse, they won't even tell the American public when they're going to vote on it.
Does the post-election outpouring of secessionist fervor exemplify a passing fancy? Or does it rather suggest a deeper, even revolutionary, change in the American political terrain?
The immediate trigger was Barack Obama’s victory, which heralded a new coalition of voters—women, people of color and young people—who voted for the Democratic candidate at such a rate that, given the prevailing demographic trends, the Democratic Party appears to possess a major advantage for the foreseeable future.
After the election, right-wing activists immediately called for Texas to secede from the union. This echoed a declaration by progressive Vermonters, first made in 2003, to explore ways to opt out of a country that they deemed too reactionary.
A November 9 petition asking the Obama administration to “peacefully grant the state of Texas to withdraw from the United States of America” has garnered nearly 120,000 signatures to become by far the most popular petition on WhiteHouse.gov. Additional secession petitions have come in from the other 49 states, with those from Louisiana, Florida and Georgia amassing more than 30,000 signatories apiece.
One thing is certain: a bloc of Southern states that once were essential to any Democratic majority—from Wilson to Clinton, from the onset of World War I to the defeat of Al Gore in 2000—is no longer. Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina: The Democrats now can lose every one of these states in a presidential race and still win handily. Obama just did. The “Southern strategy” is gone.
Both parties’ wooing of the Deep South proved enormously beneficial to many states, such as Alabama, that began to split away from the Democrats in the 1970s and today are wholly alienated from the Democratic Party. Alabamans receive $2 in federal spending for every $1 they pay in taxes; this dramatic imbalance is an artifact of a dysfunctional U.S. Electoral College that encouraged the leaders of both major parties to court Southern states.
With the South now politically unhinged from the process of deciding the presidential election, calls for secession are the first evidence of the new panic on the Right. Facing the specter of more liberal Supreme Court justices and a political logic that will slowly extinguish political incentives to deliver federal aid to the Southern states, extremists in the region have resurrected a 19th century strategy. Playing the only political card they have left, they are threatening to exit the nation.
The talk is loudest in Texas chiefly because of the state’s size, national clout and pride of place. Admittedly, the Texas secessionists are loony. The most vocal organization, the Texas Nationalist Movement, states baldly: “The fact of the matter is, that there cannot be a union between those that esteem the principles of Karl Marx over the principles of Thomas Jefferson. Here in Texas, we esteem those principles of Thomas Jefferson—that all political power’s inherent in the people.”
The Portland City Council will consider a resolution Thursday to move a public vote on water fluoridation from the May 2014 ballot to the May 2013 ballot. It's likely to pass, like it or not. Because our elected representatives are flagrantly ignoring the will of the people on this one. And if they are willing to pull it this time, count on them to do it again…After all, they know what’s best for our teeth.
Today’s vote decides the date and the fate of the fluoride ballot.
Fluoridation opponents prefer a May 2014 vote to a May 2013 vote. The extra time would allow them to set up an independent review committee to study both sides of the issue, preferably with the cooperation of pro-fluoridation Upstream Public Health.
Saying "no" to such an unnecessary delay might irritate fluoridation opponents, but it wouldn't violate the public's trust. There isn’t any trust to violate…
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