Posted: January 31, 2012 Filed under: Department of Homeland Security, Drone Warfare, ethics, Patriot Act | Tags: military-industrial complex, surveillance state, unmanned aerial vehicles, war
Fast on the heels of giving the US Military props for their funding, R&D and real-time application of alternative energy sources, I’m reminded that in all things involving humans, the good, the bad and the ugly principle applies. Chalk this up to a gentle knock on the noggin, a serious reminder that our military’s purpose is to defend the country, develop defense and wartime strategies [alternative energy works into this] and support all things weapon-related with gusto.
In this case, the subject is drones, aka UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles], a new generation that is sure to amaze. And disturb.
An article I recently read made my jaw drop with awe and an undeniable sense of foreboding. We could call this the nascent I Robot stage of drone development. I’ve written to the subject of drones before. The science is incredible but I find the use of drones, war and peace applications alike, incredibly creepy.
The X47B, however, a fully-automated drone being tested by the Navy is in a class of its own.
Fully automated. Meaning no one in Omaha is joy-sticking the X47B remotely, guiding its maneuvers, reconnaissance or defensive/offensive usage. This drone will be dependent on onboard computers, perceiving threats through highly attuned sensors, and then acting, accordingly.
How sophisticated is this drone? X47B has been designed to land on an aircraft carrier at sea. My husband served in the Navy and lived on a carrier [a floating city] of approximately 5000 personnel. Though not a pilot, he’d be the first to say that landing an aircraft on any carrier is incredibly challenging.
X47B is that advanced, that sophisticated.
The speed with which robotic aircraft is developing is frankly . . . stunning. On 9/11, the US military had few drones in its arsenal. Reportedly, 1 in 3 US aircraft are now robotic, primarily because of the cost effectiveness in comparison to traditional planes and reduced casualties to military personnel. As aerospace pioneer Simon Ramo stated in his book “Let Robots Do the Dying:”
More aggressive robotry development could lead to deploying far fewer U.S. military personnel to other countries, achieving greater national security at a much lower cost and most importantly, greatly reduced casualties.
But as has been pointed out in numerous articles, we aren’t fighting Robot against Robot wars. At least not yet. Israel’s R&D drone technology is said to have started as early as 1992. Russia, Pakistan, even Iran are funding and developing their own drone programs. In fact, according to ABI Research, 65 countries are utilizing or developing drone programs. We’ve seen and read of the carnage when drones miss their target or targets are just plain wrong. We’re talking Robots vs. Humans and the question of accountability cannot be dismissed.
X47B is a new generation, a next step. As startling as its capabilities sound, the X47B will not be alone in the expanding robotic landscape. We have robotic ground vehicles, mapping robots, IED detecting devices [that look like oversized Tonka toys] in the field, as well as robotic submarines and tanks to small, insect-like drones, complete with micro-cameras, in development.
Ready or not, we’re approaching a Brave New World of robotics and weapon development. The US military sees robotic vehicles, surveillance equipment and weapon systems replacing manned missions to handle the Three Big D’s—dull, dirty and dangerous. Defenders of autonomous systems insist that on-ground personnel will have the ability to abort missions and on-board computer-driven directives. Still, the question lingers–if on-board computers are making split second computations would a manual ‘abort’ order have any relevance?
But what sets the X47B apart from its predecessors?
The GPS-based navigation and landing system is state-of-the-art, making the carrier landings feasible for this fighter-sized vehicle. In addition, the program will allow the drone to conduct aerial refueling. Missions would be preprogrammed, making remote guidance unnecessary. The X47B provides a far larger payload, allowing it to attack larger targets and perform multiple back-to-back missions, many of which would be beyond human endurance. And it has stealth capabilities.
Robotic technology is racing forward. What has not proceeded with equal speed or ease is the conversation about the ethics and morality involved in using these systems, particularly as relates to the chain of accountability.
As Noel Sharkey, computer scientist and robotics expert, recently stated in the LA Times:
Lethal actions should have a clear chain of accountability. This is difficult with a robot weapon. The robot cannot be held accountable. So is it the commander who used it? The politician who authorized it? The military’s acquisition process? The manufacturer, for faulty equipment?
The LA Times further states:
Sharkey and others believe that autonomous armed robots should force the kind of dialogue that followed the introduction of mustard gas in World War I and the development of atomic weapons in World War II. The International Committee of the Red Cross, the group tasked by the Geneva Conventions to protect victims in armed conflict, is already examining the issue.
There is no denying that we’re entering a far different world in the way wars, international tensions, border protection, even domestic policing will be handled in the near future. Let’s hope the right questions are asked and adequate answers provided before we slide down a very slippery slope.
Is there oversight? you may ask. If the Congressional Unmanned Vehicle Caucus is an example, not much. Though the caucus likes to advertise itself as a watchdog it has become little more than a booster club for all things drone. For instance, instead of questioning the enormous amount of money, the cost-effectiveness of domestic drones used for border surveillance—illegal drug smuggling and illegal immigration—or even the success rate of the domestic drone fleet [which is anything but spectacular], the Department of Homeland Security actively supports the acquisition of ever-expanding systems. As is so often the case, it’s a ‘follow the money’ love affair. Alternet reports that:
In the 2010 election cycle, political action committees associated with companies that produce drones donated more than $1.7 million to 42 congressional members who were members of the congressional drone caucus.
Yup, it’s always the same formula, working the cheap seats with suitcases of ready cash.
X47B will be testing its carrier landing capabilities in 2013, aerial refueling in 2014, and if all goes as planned the drone will be operational by 2016-17.
There’s still time for Americans to demand a serious Q&A. But not much time.
Posted: January 2, 2012 Filed under: #Occupy and We are the 99 percent!, Anti-War, Civil Liberties, Injustice system, Patriot Act, U.S. Politics
While I grew into my young adulthood, Frank Rizzo was the Police Commissioner and then later served as mayor of Philadelphia, Pa. Rizzo died in 1991 but I suspect somewhere in the Great Unknown, the man wails with disappointment, bemoaning the fact he lived before his time. Rizzo once said that if necessary he would roll tanks down Market Street to preserve the peace.
My parents loved Rizzo’s blustery, make-my-day style. I thought he was nuts. As it turns out? The man was a visionary.
One of the overlooked or rarely mentioned contributions of the Occupy Wall Street Movement has been the public eyeballing of today’s military style, domestic police force. Many were surprised, even appalled by the military-style uniforms, the aggressive force, the ‘shock and awe’ approach of smoke and sound cannons caught on video.
Let me start off by saying I enjoy safe environments, appreciate the fact that children walk our streets without the fear of immediate abduction, that little old ladies are not routinely bashed over the head for their social security checks or that drug cartels have yet to murder mayors and judges in turf wars [eg., Mexico].
Crime is down in America. That’s a good thing.
But the push for overkill security measures from our national police forces, fueled by the residual shock of 9/11, defense contractors recognizing small but reliable profit centers and Federal grants under the Homeland Security Department has shot into hyper-drive. This transformation has occurred not simply in urban settings, where drug-related crime is often a legitimate concern, the source of violence against innocent citizens and police alike. No, the rise of military-style SWAT teams has come to small town America. And numerous Federal Agencies.
Why should we, ordinary citizens, be concerned? Surely, there is a parallel between the military and police—the hierarchal structure, the use of weaponry and force. However, the main difference is a soldier is expected to kill the enemy, break the place up in times of war. In contrast, police departments are expected to protect the peace and citizenry, as well as respect our Constitutional rights. Situations quickly grow hairy when these roles [soldier/policeman] begin to morph into one another.
A case in point, actually several cases were laid bare by Radley Balko, who as early as 2007 testified before Congress, warning of the growing number of SWAT Teams in America and/or the militarization of our police departments. This did not happen overnight. In fact the swing to military-style policing has been growing steadily since the 1980’s when Congressional legislation made military surplus available to police departments.
Here are a few examples that Balko has described:
Dress cops up as soldiers, give them military equipment, train them in military tactics, tell them they’re fighting a “war,” and the consequences are predictable. These policies have taken a toll. Among the victims of increasingly aggressive and militaristic police tactics: Cheye Calvo, the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Md., whose dogs were killed when Prince George’s County police mistakenly raided his home; 92-year-old Katherine Johnston, who was gunned down by narcotics cops in Atlanta in 2006; 11-year-old Alberto Sepulveda, who was killed by Modesto, Calif. police, during a drug raid 2000; 80-year-old Isaac Singletary, who was shot by undercover narcotics police in 2007 who were attempting to sell drugs from his yard; Jonathan Ayers, a Georgia pastor shot as he tried to flee a gang of narcotics cops who jumped him at a gas station in 2009; Clayton Helriggle, a 23-year-old college student killed during a marijuana raid in Ohio in 2002; and Alberta Spruill, who died of a heart attack after police deployed a flash grenade during a mistaken raid on her Harlem apartment in 2003.
As well as:
. . . paramilitary creep has also spread well beyond the drug war. In recent years, SWAT teams have been used to break up neighborhood poker games, including one at an American Legion Hall in Dallas. In 2006, Virginia optometrist Sal Culosi was killed when the Fairfax County Police Department sent a SWAT team to arrest him for gambling on football games. SWAT teams are also now used to arrest people suspected of downloading child pornography. Last year, an Austin, Texas, SWAT team broke down a man’s door because he was suspected of stealing koi fish from a botanical garden.
Btw, the case of child pornography? Turned out the man raided had a password-free wifi connection. It was his next-door neighbor who was into kiddie porn.
On SWAT teams employed specifically by Federal Agencies:
In 2007, a federal SWAT team raided the studio of an Atlanta DJ suspected of violating copyright law. And in June, the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General sent its SWAT team into the home of Kenneth Wright in Stockton, Calif., rousing him and his three young daughters from their beds at gunpoint. Initial reports indicated the raid was because Wright’s estranged wife had defaulted on her student loans. The Department of Education issued a press release stating that the investigation was related to embezzlement and fraud — though why embezzlement and fraud necessitate a SWAT team isn’t clear, not to mention that the woman hadn’t lived at the house that was raided for more than a year. Ignoring these details, however, still leaves the question of why the Department of Education needs a SWAT team in the first place.
The Department of the Interior also has one [SWAT team], as does the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Last August, gun-toting federal marshals raided the Gibson Guitar factory in Nashville, Tenn. The reason? The company is under investigation for importing wood that wasn’t properly treated.
In 2006, a group of Tibetan monks inadvertently overstayed their visas while touring the U.S. on a peace mission. Naturally, immigration officials sent a SWAT Team to apprehend them.
According to Andrew Becker and GW Schulz from the Center for Investigative Reporting, Federal funds deluged America after 9/11 with little oversight. And so, a place like Fargo, ND though an unlikely target for jihadist terrorism, has received 34 billion dollars over the last decade, resulting in a wild spending spree.
In recent years, they [Fargo’s PD] have bought bomb-detection robots, digital communications equipment and Kevlar helmets, like those used by soldiers in foreign wars. For local siege situations requiring real firepower, police there can use a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. Until that day, however, the menacing truck is mostly used for training runs and appearances at the annual Fargo picnic, where it’s been displayed near a children’s bounce house.
No one can say exactly what has been purchased in total across the country or how it’s being used, because the Federal government doesn’t keep close track. State and local governments don’t maintain uniform records. But a review of records from 41 states obtained through open-government requests, and interviews with more than two-dozen current and former police officials and terrorism experts, shows police departments around the U.S. have transformed into small army-like forces.
Last month, I wrote a post for Sky Dancing on the growing popularity of drones for domestic applications, Eyes in the Sky. Yes, it is true police departments have routinely employed helicopters for apprehension purposes but a drone can be kept in the air for 20+ hours, employ cameras to spy on citizens in their own homes. There’s been no public discussion or debate on using drones in American airspace. For good reason, I would argue. The public identifies the drone to our recent wars in the Middle East, an effective killing machine. On its face, remote aircraft application takes the issue of surveillance to another level, one that many citizens would reject.
Perhaps more disturbing is the fact that with all the money spent on military weaponry and hardware over the last decade+, it’s reported that local municipalities have pinched costs when it comes to basic training, the how to’s, the when and wherefores for their personnel. Basic safety and procedural training protects not only the innocent citizen bystander but police officers as well.
The tragedy we witnessed in Oakland during the Occupy protests where Scott Olsen, an Iraqi vet, was nearly killed was a preventable action. The pepper-spraying and crackdown of peaceful protestors in NYC and elsewhere by overzealous police is a chilling development, as is the routine use of stun guns on the elderly, on children, even pregnant women, and/or the multiple shooting of family pets in warrantless house raids [an alarming number of which have been mistakes]. These are steps too far, steps we will surely regret as a society. This is particularly true at a moment when authoritative incursions are being made on our basic civil rights, eg., the recent sign off on indefinite detention; the kill order on and ultimate assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, a bad guy but an American citizen nonetheless; a continuing war against whistleblowers; the veil of secrecy in an ever-expanding state of war and surveillance; the deliberate fear-mongering and scapegoating used by our politicians; the disturbing rise and spread of corporatism, etc.
The slide into tyranny is an easy hop, skip and jump from where we find ourselves right now. We’re deluding ourselves by pretending our democratic principles cannot be/have not been eroded. This should not be a partisan issue because all parties have been responsible and all parties will be injured if the trend continues.
Frank Rizzo may be smiling in the afterlife. But Benjamin Franklin leans over his shoulder, reminding us all:
‘Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither. ‘
Sorry, Frank. Ben was the far wiser man.
Posted: December 21, 2011 Filed under: Civil Rights, Diplomacy Nightmares, Environment, Foreign Affairs, George W. Bush, Global Financial Crisis, indefinite detention, Injustice system, Iraq, Middle East, morning reads, Patriot Act, Russia, the internet, The Russian Winter, Wikileaks | Tags: Bradley Manning, Britain and the Middle East, History, war, weather
Peace River Citrus...tasty orange juice, freshly squeezed.
Ooof, that is quite a lot of war in the title for today’s post…lots of things to share with you this morning. It’s been raining pretty steady and the wind is whipping up the cows in the pasture down here in Banjoland.
Today’s post is going to focus on a theme that revolves around History…but first, a quick article about something meteorological.
This weather link is so damn cool!
I saw this article when it was first published earlier this week, and planned on using it for today…Weird Kelvin-Helmholtz Wave Clouds over Birmingham and let me tell you, it is freaky!
While driving through Birmingham, Alabama, Redditor alison_bee couldn’t help but notice the bizarre, repetitive wave shapes appearing in the clouds near the horizon. While these strange cloud formations look otherworldly, they’re an example of what’s called Kelvin-Helmholtz instability — which is a pretty awesome name for a spectacular phenomenon.
What did I tell you?
Heres what Redditor and meteorologist zensunnioracle had to say:
Meteorologist here. These are indeed Kelvin-Helmholtz waves. What is happening is that the nocturnal near-surface layers (lowest 50-100m) of the atmosphere are much more stable than the layers above it in the mornings. Until the ground heats up due to daytime heating, the surface layers stay more stable than the air over it. Kelvin-Helmholtz waves occur when the wind shear between the layers destabilizes the topmost portion of that stable layer, and entrains the air into the unstable layer. What you see is stable air being lifted, cooled, and condensed so that this process becomes visible, though this commonly happens many places without being visible.
As spectacular as these waves are here on Earth, the same forces create similar patters on the gas giant planets like Saturn and Jupiter. While those are some truly enormous waves, these pictures from alison_bee should show that the Earthbound variety aren’t to be sneezed at either.
Video of these clouds as they roll over the city at the link…
Do you remember that hostage situation in a Russian cinema back in 2002? European Court Orders Russia to Pay Victims of 2002 Theater Siege
The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay more than $1.3 million to victims of the government’s mishandled attempt to end the siege of a Moscow theater in 2002.
The Strasbourg-based court ruled Tuesday that Russia had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by a lack of planning and poor execution of the rescue operation.
Chechen militants refused to surrender after a standoff at the Dubrovka theater lasting several days, leading Russian security forces to launch a raid on the theater, where the militants were holding more than 800 people hostage. The troops fired an unidentified gas into the theater to try to knock out the militants, but nearly 130 hostages died in the attempt.
In addition, the report stated that Russia did not provide adequate medical aid to the hostages after its rescue effort and failed to conduct an effective investigation of the tragedy.
This comes at a time when tensions are running high in Russia, as Peggy Sue described it in a post last week, The Russian Winter.
Well, the Arab Spring is still ongoing, I thought this next post was interesting because it discusses British History in the Middle East, and the lessons that should be learned. The ‘Arab spring’ and the west: seven lessons from history
October 2011: Egyptians in Talat Harb square, Cairo, protest against military rule; October 1956: Egyptians demonstrate in the same square against British-French invasion. Photograph: Getty/Associated Press
There’s a real sense in which, more than any other part of the former colonial world, the Middle East has never been fully decolonised. Sitting on top of the bulk of the globe’s oil reserves, the Arab world has been the target of continual interference and intervention ever since it became formally independent.
Carved into artificial states after the first world war, it’s been bombed and occupied – by the US, Israel, Britain and France – and locked down with US bases and western-backed tyrannies. As the Palestinian blogger Lina Al-Sharif tweeted on Armistice Day this year, the “reason World War One isn’t over yet is because we in the Middle East are still living the consequences”.
Just a side note, I think the comparison of those two photos is a perfect introduction to this article.
The Arab uprisings that erupted in Tunisia a year ago have focused on corruption, poverty and lack of freedom, rather than western domination or Israeli occupation. But the fact that they kicked off against western-backed dictatorships meant they posed an immediate threat to the strategic order.
Since the day Hosni Mubarak fell in Egypt, there has been a relentless counter-drive by the western powers and their Gulf allies to buy off, crush or hijack the Arab revolutions. And they’ve got a deep well of experience to draw on: every centre of the Arab uprisings, from Egypt to Yemen, has lived through decades of imperial domination. All the main Nato states that bombed Libya, for example – the US, Britain, France and Italy – have had troops occupying the country well within living memory.
If the Arab revolutions are going to take control of their future, then, they’ll need to have to keep an eye on their recent past. So here are seven lessons from the history of western Middle East meddling, courtesy of the archive of Pathé News, colonial-era voice of Perfidious Albion itself.
Please go to the link to read about the seven lessons, the first one is a big lesson that we will probably never learn…there are also embedded videos to support the article, some go back to Libya and Jerusalem in the 1930′s.
And for another History Lesson, there is a lengthy timeline here at this link to MoJo: Lie by Lie: A Timeline of How We Got Into Iraq
At A congressional hearing examining the march to war in Iraq, Republican congressman Walter Jones posed “a very simple question” about the administration’s manipulation of intelligence: “How could the professionals see what was happening and nobody speak out?”
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, responded with an equally simple answer: “The vice president.”
Oh… this is extremely detailed, so just go read the entire thing! Perhaps it will make you remember some of the events listed, as it made me recall them, in my mind’s vivid memory.
History has yet to write the story of Bradley Manning, however, Amy Goodman has done a good job of reporting on his case. Amy Goodman: Bradley Manning and the Fog of War
Accused whistle-blower Pvt. Bradley Manning turned 24 Saturday. He spent his birthday in a pretrial military hearing that could ultimately lead to a sentence of life … or death. Manning stands accused of causing the largest leak of government secrets in United States history.
Goodman explains the reasons for his “imprisonment” and gives a summary of what his outlook may be:
Back in the Fort Meade, Md., hearing room, defense attorneys painted a picture of a chaotic forward operating base with little to no supervision, no controls whatsoever on soldiers’ access to classified data, and a young man in uniform struggling with his sexual identity in the era of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Manning repeatedly flew into rages, throwing furniture and once even punching a superior in the face, without punishment. His peers at the base said he should not be in a war zone. Yet he stayed, until his arrest 18 months ago.
Since his arrest, Manning has been in solitary confinement, for much of the time in Quantico, Va., under conditions so harsh that the U.N. special rapporteur on torture is investigating. Many believe the U.S. government is trying to break Manning in order to use him in its expected case of espionage against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It also sends a dramatic message to any potential whistle-blower: “We will destroy you.”
For now, Manning sits attentively, reports say, facing possible death for “aiding the enemy.” The prosecution offered words Manning allegedly wrote to Assange as evidence of his guilt. In the email, Manning described the leak as “one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetrical warfare.” History will no doubt use the same words as irrefutable proof of Manning’s courage.
There are so many things going on these days that indicate a change in the rights and liberties of American citizens. We are in the process of losing these rights in this Bush/Obama Administration.
I love this history theme for today’s post…here is another article from Truthdig: William Pfaff: History Tells Us Not to Dismiss a Democratic Challenge to Obama
A week ago, in the Providence Journal newspaper (in Rhode Island), the publisher of Harper’s Magazine, John R. MacArthur, wrote that President Barack Obama, through expedient political compromises, has lost the moral authority that an American president must command, and therefore has lost his right to a second presidential term. Mr. MacArthur quotes in support of his argument the veteran journalist Bill Moyers, who was a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s staff from 1965 to 1967, and since has become a prominent commentator on public television and in liberal and Democratic Party circles.
Just click the link to read the rest…and there is a note at the end of the post you may find interesting too. (Especially those following the Euro/EU economic news.)
And for the last link, we’re going Medieval…on the Right and Left’s perceptions of the “War on Christmas.” Illuminating the “The War on Christmas” — Got Medieval
No snark today, just a few pretty medieval pictures interspersed with thoughts on this whole War on Christmas thing that you hear so much about these days.
At heart, I think, the War is a matter of incompatible perception. One camp looks at Christmas and sees this:
British Library MS Additional 52539, f. 2 (click-expandable)
And the other, this:
British Library MS Egerton 2045, f. 95 (click to expand)
Behold, a pair of “Adoration of the Magi”. Neither version looks very much like the medieval marginalia this series typically features but they both muck about with the page’s margins, nevertheless, so they’re fair game.
The second adoration is actually the most properly called “marginalia”; look closely, and you’ll see there’s a tiny rectangle of text there in the middle of the page, barely a half line of scripture. Everything else–Jesus and Mary, the three magi and their retainers, the gifts, the castle, even the camel–is located fully within the page’s sumptuously decorated margin, a margin that has expanded so as to nearly blot out the page’s text.
Likewise with the first; it’s marginal, if only just. While it’s technically a “historiated initial,” if you squint at the lower left quadrant, you’ll see that the kneeling cup-bearing servant is slipping out into the margin. Everyone else is crowded in so that there’s no room left for him to stand in the main image.
Which one is the metaphor for the Christmas War-Uponers, and which the Christmas Defense Squad?
There is so much one can learn about the attitudes and thought process of the Medieval mind through the art of page decorations.
As the above blog post analyzes the pictures of Christmas, that include the Savior, an occasional Christmas “Beasty” and all the other familiar characters, i.e. the Three Wise Men, I wonder what the three idiots on the curvy couch would have to say about all this marginalization going on.
So this is your History Lesson for the day, what else are you reading and thinking about? See y’all later in the comments.
Hmmm…that makes me think of the phrase, See You in the Funny Papers.
Posted: December 10, 2011 Filed under: Breaking News, Civil Liberties, Drone Warfare, Injustice system, Patriot Act, We are so F'd | Tags: drones, police state, privacy
For anyone who is not persuaded that this country has made a significant U-turn in terms of privacy, civil liberties and what we used to quaintly refer to as ‘freedom,’ this You Tube report is for you. Hat tip to Democratic Underground on this particular find.
Personally, these drones scare the bejesus out of me. But any public official saying that ‘nothing is ruled out’ when it comes to drone application in the domestic arena is even more frightening. It should also remind us that this is what perpetual war and disaster capitalism creates–a security industry for profit wrapped in secrecy and the American flag.
The Eyes in the Sky will be watching. All of us.
Posted: October 24, 2011 Filed under: #Occupy and We are the 99 percent!, 2012 presidential campaign, Africa, Barack Obama, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, DR Congo, Economic Develpment, Economy, financial institutions, Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, immigration, jobs, Kenya, legislation, Libya, MENA, Nigeria, open thread, Patriot Act, Politics as Usual, Republican presidential politics, Somalia, U.S. Politics, Women's Rights | Tags: Bluegrass music, Maxine Waters, Silk Road
Mama bird protecting her kids...
Good Evening Y’all!
Hey, I have some links for you tonight, to make up for the lame evening reads post earlier today.
The first link is something from last week, and I completely missed it. H/T to Taylor Marsh: President Obama learns perils of roiling Maxine Waters – Joseph Williams – POLITICO.com
Obama responded in a high-profile speech urging black lawmakers to “stop grumbling”and fight alongside him. Waters responded with five TV hits in one day, delivering a blunt message: “I don’t know who he was talking to.”
Administration officials called Waters’s office to complain, discounted her as a perennial malcontent, and reminded reporters that Obama’s speech, which laid out accomplishments like tax credits for working families and protections from predatory lenders, drew a standing ovation from the majority-black audience. At the same time, White House surrogate Rev. Al Sharpton, an MSNBC host, publicly took Waters to task for being too hard on Obama.
Yeah the Obama admin called Waters…but Obama has never personally talked to Waters. (Can you believe it?)
Her aides say Obama, however, has not personally reached out to the congresswoman since taking office. The president’s distaste for the flesh-pressing aspect of politics that Waters is used to, is well known.
“I don’t have a relationship with the White House,” Water said, quickly adding that the president is cordial to her when they meet at a ceremony or reception. Still, “I’ve never had a conversation with the president.”
WTF? That is ridiculous. It’s been almost a day since I saw this article and it still bothers me!
The article ends with an assumption that Waters will suck it up and do whatever she can to ensure Obama gets re-elected. I’m not so sure she will break her neck getting out there like some barker for a Obama 2nd term carousel. What do you all think?
Let’s get to some global news…In Libya, the new government is promising strict adherence to Islamic law. One of the current laws they are overturning from Gaddafi’s rule regards the ban on polygamy.
Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the chairman of the NTC…attempted to reassure the NTC’s Western backers that the country would be a “moderate” Muslim nation, amid concern over its plans to introduce Islamic law. He appeared to soften his position less than 24 hours after using the liberation ceremony to declare that Sharia law would be the basis of all legislation.
His attempt at conciliation hinted at the difficulty the NTC is having in balancing the demands of secularists and influential Islamist factions who played a strong role in the uprising.
France and the EU warned the NTC to respect human rights after Mr Jalil’s speech on Sunday in which he singled out a ban on polygamy as legislation which would have to be swept aside.
Yup, get rid of the ban on polygamy…way to move forward there. I guess the Arab Spring is not for all Arabs…particularly the female kind.
So far the Obama Administration is staying silent on the direction the NTC in Libya is heading…Let’s see if Hillary Clinton will make any statements about the future of Libyan women’s rights.
In Kenya, some recent violence seems to stem from the Kenyan military action into Somalia targeting the terrorist group al-Shabab. Two Explosions in Kenya’s Capital; 1 Dead
Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, has been rocked by two explosions in crowded downtown areas that have killed one person and wounded more than 20 others.
Officials say someone hurled a grenade Monday evening at a Nairobi bus stop. One person died and eight others were rushed to the hospital after the attack.
Earlier Monday, an unidentified assailant threw a grenade into a downtown Nairobi bar, wounding at least 13 people.
Police are investigating both attacks, which followed warnings from the Somali militant group al-Shabab that it would launch attacks inside Kenya.
There is some very disturbing reports about teenagers raping old women out of Nigeria, and the mass rapes of the Congo-Kinishasa are continuing to make news in the African Press.
You can read more at the All Africa website: allAfrica.com: Sustainable Africa: Women and Gender
The Occupy protest is causing Faux news to take it to another level…as if they could go any lower. Fox & Friends: Protesting Mom ‘More Disgusting Than Any of the Filth Down on Wall Street’ | Video Cafe
The Fox & Friends kids’ reaction to the Stacey Hessler story was the same sort of predictable nonsense you’d expect from people paid primarily to get outraged over the latest liberal/marxist attack on America. The weekend edition though just might be outdoing their weekday counterparts in hysteria.
According to them, Hessler is (a) an unfit mother of four young kids for leaving them behind in Florida as she lives on the street in Manhattan; (b) who probably wasn’t ‘putting out’ for her banker husband anyway (hmm…oh, nevermind); and is now (c) shacked up with some young waiter from Brooklyn.
Get a load of the load of B.S., just check out the link for the video, there is also a transcript of the banter between the weekend version of Fox & Friends.
Rachel Maddow has the picture below featured in one of her blog’s post…
This sign — and commentary — is hanging outside a food pantry in Manhattan’s East Village. Maybe it’s time we did something about the economy.
This week marks 10 years since the PATRIOT Act was signed into law…and now there is a new proposed change in the Freedom of Information Act. Rule Change Would Allow Government to Lie About Whether Records Exist
A proposed rule to the Freedom of Information Act would allow federal agencies to tell people requesting certain law-enforcement or national security documents that records don’t exist—even when they do.
Under current FOIA practice, the government may withhold information and issue what’s known as a Glomar denial that says it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of records.
The new proposal—part of a lengthy rule revisionby the Department of Justice—would direct government agencies to “respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist.”
Open-government groups object.
No kidding…when we are in an age that is actually considering immunity for banks…what else do you expect.
On to immigration reform…Obama style.
Democrats consider new immigration reform push
Democratic sources tell CNN that it’s likely that Democrats on Capitol Hill –with the approval of the White House– will re-introduce some form of immigration reform, possibly as early as December. At this point, the details of any plan are unclear. But what is clear is that Democrats are interested in using their version of reform as a “contrast issue” to Republicans, who largely emphasize border security.
Sources say there are ongoing discussions among Democrats ranging from re-introducing comprehensive reform to bringing up the Dream Act again, which would allow the children of illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military to become citizens. The Dream Act was defeated last year.
Another possibility being considered is to combine a tough border security plan introduced by Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl with a form of the Dream Act. “Nothing has been decided,” says one Senate Democratic leadership aide. But, he adds, “there’s a lot of interest.”
Well, let’s see what comes of this new immigration reform, considering Obama’s administration has had a record number of deportations…three years in a row…I am sure it will be something to appease and insure Obama gets the Latino vote.
Obama has a way to go to get approval from Latino voters, check out the civil right statements being made in Alabama…Civil rights groups charge Obama with hypocrisy over Alabama immigration law
The Obama administration is facing charges of hypocrisy for fighting a controversial Alabama immigration law while using the measure to arrest and deport illegal immigrants in the state.
Civil rights and Latino advocacy groups laud the Justice Department’s (DOJ) lawsuit challenging Alabama over its newly enacted immigration law, which allows state law enforcement officials to require suspected criminals to show proof of their immigration status.
But the groups blasted the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) continued use in Alabama of the Secure Communities program, which transmits the immigration status records of people arrested in the state to federal authorities. The new state law subjects the Latino community to racial profiling and the Secure Communities program places illegal immigrants who are arrested in line to be deported by DHS, the groups said.
“You have two agencies that are pursuing courses that are inconsistent with each other,” said Joanne Lin, a legislative council for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in an interview.
When you read this post about the hypocrisy…of do as I say, not as I do…this next article about a speech Attorney General Holder gave at a memorial for civil rights advocate Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who passed away earlier this month, is kind of ironic…in a pathetic way. Holder: Alabama ignoring its past
Attorney General Eric Holder says too many in Alabama “are willing to turn their backs on our immigrant past.”
Referring to Alabama’s recently enacted immigration law, Holder told the audience gathered at Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church on Sunday that he “was not going to let that happen.”
And then you have the bat-shit crazy electrified fence idea from the GOP idiot de jour, Herman Cain…but what about the GOP stance on immigration as a whole:
Why Republican Candidates Skirt the Real Immigration Issue
If you’re a restrictionist (personally, I’d like to see more folks allowed to come here legally), the test to gauge whether Republicans are actually intent on substantially decreasing illegal immigration, or just pandering, should be their position on workplace enforcement. It’s common to hear them decry birthright citizenship and in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants as “magnets” that exacerbate unlawful border crossings. But jobs are the draw that ultimately matters. GOP candidates benefit from obscuring that reality, because they are determined to win the support of the business community, which is understandably averse to increased workplace enforcement. It would disrupt many industries, impose extra human resources costs on companies wary of breaking the law, and result in fines and other penalties for lawbreaking companies.
Thus the awful status quo wherein someone can rise to temporary front-runner status in a GOP primary joking about the death by electrocution of Mexicans, but wouldn’t dare to joke about arresting CEOs who deliberately hire illegal immigrants or prosecuting upper-middle-class homeowners who do the same. At GOP fundraisers, bad ideas like that are no laughing matter. Unlike restrictionists, I don’t think illegal immigrants who are employed and law-abiding are hurting America so much as contributing to it, so until they’re made citizens, which I’d like to see happen, I’d rather focus enforcement efforts on human smugglers, gang members, and other criminals. Another option would be to grant amnesty to any illegal immigrant who came forward to show that he’d been hired sans documents, fine his employer, and give him a green card. That would end the hiring of undocumented labor quickly, but is totally politically unrealistic.
I think Conor Friedersdorf makes some valid points. I agree with making legal immigration more accessible, and the unrealistic option about granting amnesty to immigrants that have been hired by American employers seems like a good idea to me.
Alright, I have a few cool links to end this post. The world’s population is supposed to hit 7 billion soon…
How big was the world’s population when you were born?
The Guardian has this cool thing at the link above, you type in the date you were born and poof, it gives you a bit of statistical info…check it out.
Over a MoJo there is an article about Bluegrass Music and Chinese Folk songs, which I thought went kind of well with Boston Boomers post last night. Abigail Washburn Brings Bluegrass to the Silk Road
And lastly to connect you with the real Silk Road…I found this cool group of pictures from a carnival round up on the blog She-Wolf: Welcome to the Medieval Carnival!
It’s my pleasure to host this month’s edition of Carnivalesque, showcasing the best in recent blogging on ancient and medieval history.
There are lots of cool links at She-Wolf’s carnival, but this last one is fantastic.
I thought this Flickr collection was worth a mention. Juliana Lees has been collecting images of pre-1200 Eastern textiles found in Western churches and cathedrals, with a particular interest in Silk Road influences.
Ancient textiles from the East in Western churches and museums -
Ancient textiles from the East have often been conserved in Western churches and cathedrals. They were sometimes used as shrouds and subsequently venerated as holy relics, the source of lucrative pilgrimages. They were also brought back from the East by crusaders and pilgrims, or given to established abbeys and cathedrals by great lords and princes. Some of these Sassanian, Byzantine, Egyptian and Moorish textiles are still in religious edifices, in their treasuries or episcopal museums. Others can be found in museums all over the world. There is no doubt that they have been of the greatest importance in disseminating the styles and cultural influences of the Silk Routes into Western Europe and many motifs familiar to us on Romanesque capitals and artefacts have their origin in the imported silks and especially the Sassanian images.
Well, that should be more than enough for you all to ponder.
I’ll leave you all with a song that has been in my head all day…have a great evening!