Tuesday Reads: Targeting Citizens with Predator Drones while Failing to Protect and Nurture Children

Good Morning!! Yesterday Dakinikat wrote about predator drones being used by local law enforcement in North Dakota. According the the LA Times story Dakinikat referenced,

Michael C. Kostelnik, a retired Air Force general who heads the office that supervises the drones, said Predators are flown “in many areas around the country, not only for federal operators, but also for state and local law enforcement and emergency responders in times of crisis.” Yet Congress never approved the use of drones for this purpose.

…former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), who sat on the House homeland security intelligence subcommittee at the time and served as its chairwoman from 2007 until early this year, said no one ever discussed using Predators to help local police serve warrants or do other basic work.

Using Predators for routine law enforcement without public debate or clear legal authority is a mistake, Harman said.

But the article makes clear that law enforcement types are slavering over the possibility of using the sophisticated surveillance technology offered by drones–and without a warrant.

Glenn Greenwald had more at his blog yesterday. He says that the so-called “approval” for the use of predator drones on U.S. soil came because Customs administrators included the words “interior law enforcement support” in their budget request! And since Congresspeople rarely read the bills they vote on, no one noticed. So now government agents can spy on us and track us whenever they want, apparently.


Whatever else is true, the growing use of drones for an increasing range of uses on U.S. soil is incredibly consequential and potentially dangerous, for the reasons I outlined last week, and yet it is receiving very little Congressional, media or public attention. It’s just a creeping, under-the-radar change. Even former Congresswoman Harman — who never met a surveillance program she didn’t like and want to fund (until, that is, it was revealed that she herself had been subjected to covert eavesdropping as part of surveillance powers she once endorsed) — has serious concerns about this development: ”There is no question that this could become something that people will regret,” she told the LA Times. The revelation that a Predator drone has been used on U.S. soil this way warrants additional focus on this issue.

You’d better not be doing anything suspicious on your own property–like smoke a joint in the backyard or something. You could be spotted, raided, and thrown in jail in no time flat, all without a warrant.

Dakinikat sent me a link to this article at the NYT on the relationship between poverty and education: Class Matters. Why Won’t We Admit It?

No one seriously disputes the fact that students from disadvantaged households perform less well in school, on average, than their peers from more advantaged backgrounds. But rather than confront this fact of life head-on, our policy makers mistakenly continue to reason that, since they cannot change the backgrounds of students, they should focus on things they can control.

No Child Left Behind, President George W. Bush’s signature education law, did this by setting unrealistically high — and ultimately self-defeating — expectations for all schools. President Obama’s policies have concentrated on trying to make schools more “efficient” through means like judging teachers by their students’ test scores or encouraging competition by promoting the creation of charter schools. The proverbial story of the drunk looking for his keys under the lamppost comes to mind.

The Occupy movement has catalyzed rising anxiety over income inequality; we desperately need a similar reminder of the relationship between economic advantage and student performance.

As a developmental psychologist I can tell you there are tons of studies that show that socioeconomic status (SES) is related to many different variables. This is a fairly complex issue, because poor people are disadvantaged in so many ways. Poor families are more likely to have only one breadwinner–usually a mother–who is probably overwhelmed by stress and worry. That leaves mom with much less energy to spend talking to and reading to her children.

A researcher I know slightly, Catherine Snow of the Harvard School of Education, worked on a number of government-funded longitudinal studies that investigated this. The research showed that very young children who are talked to, encouraged to tell stories about things that happened to them, and are read to in an interactive way are better prepared for literacy and will perform better in school than children who don’t get those kinds of attention. Interestingly, they found that the best predictor of academic success is a child’s vocabulary.

Children in poor families may also be stressed by inadequate nutrition, abuse from stressed-out parents, and perhaps exposure to violence in their neighborhoods. This kind of stress leads to higher cortisol (stress hormone) levels, which in turn can cause all kinds of problems, including obesity.

Back to the NYT article:

The correlation has been abundantly documented, notably by the famous Coleman Report in 1966. New research by Sean F. Reardon of Stanford University traces the achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families over the last 50 years and finds that it now far exceeds the gap between white and black students.

Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show that more than 40 percent of the variation in average reading scores and 46 percent of the variation in average math scores across states is associated with variation in child poverty rates.

International research tells the same story. Results of the 2009 reading tests conducted by the Program for International Student Assessment show that, among 15-year-olds in the United States and the 13 countries whose students outperformed ours, students with lower economic and social status had far lower test scores than their more advantaged counterparts within every country. Can anyone credibly believe that the mediocre overall performance of American students on international tests is unrelated to the fact that one-fifth of American children live in poverty?

Why does the government ignore this research–much of which has been done with government funding? There has been no effort to deal with the source of the problem–poverty–just bullheaded efforts to force schools to meet unrealistic standards. The authors admit that many in the government want public schools to fail so that education can be privatized and turned into a profit-making corporate enterprise.

The authors offer some suggestions, but since none of our elected officials seems to want to deal with the problem of increasing poverty among children in this country, their ideas come off sounding pretty weak.

This article really hit home with me, because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why America as a whole doesn’t seem to care about children. I’ve been trying to write about post about it, but have struggled to put my ideas into words. I might as well just put some of it down here. My thoughts were not only about education, but also about the problems of protecting children from abuse and exploitation.

Children are our future. It’s a cliche because it’s true. We spend billions of dollars on the ridiculous and dangerous Department of “Homeland Security,” and we do very little at the federal level to protect children from poverty (one in four young children in the U.S. live in poverty), violence, abuse, and exploitation.

We are destroying our system of public education by requiring standardized tests instead of teaching children critical thinking. We encourage profit-making charter schools instead of providing more support for public schools.

In my fantasy future government, the President would have a cabinet level department devoted exclusively to children’s issues. This department would focus on designing the very best possible educational system for young children. There would be a strong focus on early childhood education, and especially on educating parents about the best ways to foster future academic success for their children, based on serious research. The department would work with the NIH and NSF to provide research grants to study these educational issues.

In addition, the department could develop ways to deal with the rampant abuse of children–physical, emotional, and sexual–that takes place in this country. The need for this is obvious if you read the news regularly. Children are beaten, raped, and murdered in their own homes every day. They are sexually abused in schools and in organized activities by people who should be protecting and guiding them. And people who hurt and kill children generally receive lighter sentences than those who prey on adults.

What has prompted me to think about these issues is not only the recent high-profile sexual abuse scandal at Penn State, but the stories that have been breaking recently about child sexual abuse in the Hollywood entertainment industry.

Two men who worked with child actors were recently arrested, Jason James Murphy, who worked on the well-received movie Super-8, and Martin Weiss, a talent agent.

The arrests have led a number of former child actors to come forward and talk about being abused as children. Reuters covered the story last week.

First, it was the Catholic Church. Then Penn State. Now, a new child-abuse scandal in Hollywood is raising questions over the safety of minors in the entertainment business and sparking calls for new child-labor regulations.

Last week Martin Weiss, a longtime manager of young talent, was arrested on suspicion of child molestation after an 18-year-old former client told police he had been abused by Weiss 30 to 40 times from 2005 to 2008.

Weiss’ arrest came just weeks after it was discovered that a convicted child molester and registered sex offender under the name Jason James Murphy was working in Hollywood and helping cast children for movie roles.

TheWrap contacted a wide array of professionals and found a mix of surprise, and those that say that this type of abuse is an ongoing concern, pointing to abuse allegations over the years by actors such as the late Corey Haim and Todd Bridges.

Other former child actors who have talked openly about the problem are Paul Peterson who appeared on The Donna Reed Show, Allison Arngrim from Little House on the Prairie, and Corey Feldman, who appeared on Nightline in August to talk about his own abuse.

“I can tell you that the No. 1 problem in Hollywood was and is and always will be pedophilia. That’s the biggest problem for children in this industry. … It’s the big secret,” Feldman said.

The “casting couch,” which is the old Hollywood reference to actors being expected to offer sex for roles, applied to children, Feldman said. “Oh, yeah. Not in the same way. It’s all done under the radar,” he said.

“I was surrounded by [pedophiles] when I was 14 years old. … Didn’t even know it. It wasn’t until I was old enough to realize what they were and what they wanted … till I went, Oh, my God. They were everywhere,” Feldman, 40, said.

The trauma of pedophilia contributed to the 2010 death of his closest friend and “The Lost Boys” co-star, Corey Haim, Feldman said.

“There’s one person to blame in the death of Corey Haim. And that person happens to be a Hollywood mogul. And that person needs to be exposed, but, unfortunately, I can’t be the one to do it,” Feldman said, adding that he, too, had been sexually abused by men in show business.

This Fox News article gets a little graphic, so skip over it if you prefer.

Another child star from an earlier era agrees that Hollywood has long had a problem with pedophilia. “When I watched that interview, a whole series of names and faces from my history went zooming through my head,” Paul Peterson, 66, star of The Donna Reed Show, a sitcom popular in the 1950s and 60s, and president of A Minor Consideration, tells FOXNews.com. “Some of these people, who I know very well, are still in the game.”

“This has been going on for a very long time,” concurs former “Little House on the Prairie” star Alison Arngrim. “It was the gossip back in the ‘80s. People said, ‘Oh yeah, the Coreys, everyone’s had them.’ People talked about it like it was not a big deal.”

Arngrim, 49, was referring to Feldman and his co-star in “The Lost Boys,” Corey Haim, who died in March 2010 after years of drug abuse.

“I literally heard that they were ‘passed around,’” Arngrim said. “The word was that they were given drugs and being used for sex. It was awful – these were kids, they weren’t 18 yet. There were all sorts of stories about everyone from their, quote, ‘set guardians’ on down that these two had been sexually abused and were totally being corrupted in every possible way.”

Yes, Virginia, child sexual abuse is common in every strata of our society. It’s not rare, and it’s time we got serious about dealing with it. If we had a Cabinet department of children’s issues, we could address the problem with public education programs. It worked for smoking and littering–why not try it with child abuse?

The department could request that the media show public service announcements to educate parents about nonviolent ways of disciplining their children and about the dangers of hitting or otherwise abusing children. I firmly believe that child abuse is the root cause of many of society’s ills–including domestic abuse, pedophilia, rape, murder, and serial murder. The majority of abused children don’t grow up to be perpetrators, but they often turn their anger on themselves, becoming depressed or suicidal or self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.

High profile cases like the Penn State and Hollywood casting scandal can often spur changes in societal attitudes. We should seize upon these issues to push Federal, state, and local governments to take positive action to improve the lives of American children.

Now I’ve rambled on too long and haven’t covered many stories. I’ll have to leave it to you to post what you’ve been reading and blogging about in the comments. If you made it this far, thanks for reading my somewhat incoherent thoughts.

62 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Targeting Citizens with Predator Drones while Failing to Protect and Nurture Children”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    Schools are also competing with cellphones and internet social networks. So many kids today are equipped with technology and can be found with a device in their hands that has replaced books to a large extent.

    Kids as young as 8 yrs of age have cellphones. It has become a sign of status to own one. iPods are another distraction for teachers trying to cram learning into their heads. Twitter has helped create a mini language all it’s own. English and grammar have been reduced to 140 characters and “sexting” has become the new way of communication.

    A teacher friend had instructed her class to leave their cellphones at home or in their lockers during class time and was taken to task by parents who told her she was “overreaching” her position because she was keeping them from staying in touch with their children and their whereabouts.

    We expect our teachers to teach but seem to place a lot of barriers between them and the student when they must compete with devices that distract from the learning process and are upheld by parents and pressured administrations.

    I may have simplified the problem but a classroom today is much different than the one you and I were exposed to. It just seems that the teacher of today no longer rules her domain but must compete against forces over which he/she has little control.

    And from this atmosphere we expect to see the “geniuses” of the future? Not so much.

    • quixote says:

      I’m a teacher, college not school but the problem of in-class distractions is the same. The effect, though, is much more damaging to learning the younger the student is. And, believe me, it’s plenty damaging enough at the college level.

      I have no idea why anybody would teach school at this point. You get paid squat in the first half of your career, you have everybody telling you how to do your job, you have parents freaking out if the umbilicus isn’t attached, and your actual job is getting a bunch of kids who mostly don’t want to be there excited about learning.

      Thankless doesn’t begin to describe it.

  2. Susan says:

    Wouldn’t anyone be pleased to have access to a tool that makes their jobs easier and safer?

    Flying over and observing events or people on the ground as an enforcement activity was settled as a Constitutionally approved activity decades ago. Helicopters have been shining lights in your back yard searching for lost children and fleeing criminals since the ’70’s, at least.

    If you’re worried about being caught smoking week, I’d expend my energy challenging the really stupid drug laws rather than trying to put the cat back in the bag with drones.

    • dakinikat says:

      I wish you could’ve been in New Orleans with me when they did their food riots exercise. It didn’t make me feel safe. It felt like an air raid.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I don’t “smoke weed” or use any other mind-altering substances. How will you feel when these drones start dropping bombs on demonstrators? Will you think that’s a great new law enforcement tool too?

      • Susan says:

        bostonboomere said: You’d better not be doing anything suspicious on your own property–like smoke a joint in the backyard or something. You could be spotted, raided, and thrown in jail in no time flat, all without a warrant.
        You brought the subject of weed up, bb. If the idea of being tied to the drug bothers you so much, don’t use the example. You might, particularly, want to stop short of suggesting that the police will raid your home and throw you in jail, without a warrant, for doing something which, in many jurisdictions, warrants nothing more than the equivalent of a traffic ticket.

        As to your fear that drones will be used to drop bombs on protesters, again, you’re focusing on the wrong thing. It’s not the tools that are the problem. The problem is the people who decide how to use the tools. That’s always been the issue.

        Btw, how would you feel if they were bombing a bunch of people who were protesting against gay rights? Weren’t you in favor of criminalizing that speech last week? Would that make drone bombing any more appealing to you?

        dak, I understand that you felt threatened. I don’t know enough about the situation to know how the event was publicized or even if it was publicized but having law enforecement officers who’ve been trained is better than having law enforcement officers who have not been trained. I’m also aware that the New Orleans Police Department is notoriously corrupt and inefficient. You have a legitimate reason to feel concern about any police action there but few law enforcement organizations are as badly run as the NOPD.

        Kneejerk disapproval of law enforcement actions is no more productive than kneejerk approval of law enforcement actions.

      • bostonboomer says:


        I used smoking marijuana as an example of how this technology could be used to spy on people’s private behavior on their own property without a warrant. You incorrectly interpreted that as my being “worried” about my own use of drugs.

        I don’t know why you read “fear” into what I wrote. I’m concerned about civil liberties, and most of ours have been taken away by law at this point although the final crackdown has not come yet. I accept the reality of the situation, but I’m not living in “fear.”

        I’m not in favor of “criminalizing” any speech that doesn’t incite violence. I quoted a philospher who suggested that tolerated hatred is leads to an uncivil society. The suggestion was not “criminalizing” anything, just that a civilized society shuns those who use hatred to incite violence against out groups. And no, I would not approved of bombs being dropped on protesters of any kind. Are you serious? WTF?!

        Finally, Susan, I find your efforts to interpret my emotions highly offensive, and I would appreciate your not doing that in the future. And please don’t tell me what to write and how to write it. You’re free to dislike what I write, and to say so. If you have a different point of view, say so.

        We try to keep this blog friendly and civil. If you need to make snotty, snide remarks, this may not be the place for you. We can moderate your comments if necessary.

      • Susan says:

        You’ll do what you’ll do but you can’t change the fact that you supported the idea of criminalizing speech with which you disagree. You didn’t qualify it when you asserted agreement the idea that such speech should not be permitted. I was the one who said that only speech which encourages violence should be limited.

        I didn’t assign you feelings. I said “If you’re worried…” which you seem to be because you felt the need to make it clear that you don’t smoke marijuana.

        You asked how I would feel if drones dropped bombs on protesters which was, on it’s face, a pretty snarky comment. I certainly have given you no reason to think that I would approve of any such thing. I responded with the same question.

      • bostonboomer says:


        Your comments aren’t “snarky.” They are rude and invasive. And I never supported nor will ever support “criminalizing” speech. I’m through arguing with you. This is not your blog. You are a guest here, and you need to comply with our rules.

      • Susan says:

        I accidentally posted before I finished my comment.

        Many of the people who post here are passionate about their beliefs as am I. The vast majority agree with everything you and the other front pagers write. I agree with a lot of it or I wouldn’t come to this blog. But, sometimes, I disagree and I say so. I do so passionately but, imo, courteously.

        I find your threat to moderate my comments disturbing. Is there no room for disagreement on this blog?

        • dakinikat says:

          Disagreement is fine. We came from a place/blog where the atmosphere got really nasty and most of us left because of that. We just ask that the criticism be directed towards the subject of the conversation and not the person(s) making the comment. We’re particularly gunshy because we had to do the moderation of comments that were turning into flame wars. If I know the topic is going to be debated I try to avoid using folks names at all. That way there is less chance things will be taken personally. In my 30 years of being on the internet, I’ve found that it’s easy to get misunderstood. This is especially true when you feel strongly about something. Less chance for it to evolve into something personal if you hit the argument instead of trying to assign motivation to the person making it. Just a suggestion on my part, but it comes from a lot of experience.

    • Woman Voter says:

      No, don’t smoke “week” or ‘weed’ for that matter…and don’t want WAR machines launching weapons in the neighborhood. Reminds me of the car chases, where a person was speeding and ends up with several people injured and even killed. Too much bravado, I think and not enough common sense.

  3. Susan says:

    That should read “weed” and, in response to Glenn’s stereotyping of people who’s hair doesn’t catch fire at the possibility of the use of such drones, I opposed the war in Iraq and I am aghast that anyone voted last week to allow the military to hold anyone, including American citizens, indefinitely, without filing charges or providing those persons with their Constitutionally-protected rights. That’s the real threat to our freedom right now and the issue was discussed on the floor of the House and the Senate.

    • ralphb says:

      Indefinite detention is the big reach but they only do that because we don’t complain about the smaller things such as drone surveillance. It’s all of a piece and means the steady and unceasing erosion of individual liberties until the full fledged police state is upon us.

      For every one of these actions, there is the inevitable overreach which follows. Those who really care about civil liberties should be frankly outraged at each and every one of these moves toward a more dictatorial society.

      • dakinikat says:

        Speaking as some one that lives in a city where we fear our police, I’m more worried about our police department getting more sophisticated ways of violating our rights. The justice department keeps having to come down here all the time and remind them that the city isn’t their little country to extort and their powers aren’t supposed to be used to settle grudges and harass innocent people they don’t like.

      • ralphb says:

        The NOPD has been like that ever since the Dixie Mafia lost control. It was a safer, better city in many ways before. Sad to say but it sure seems that way.

      • Susan says:

        Tell me how, exactly, the aerial drones erode your individual liberty? What could you do before that you cannot do if there’s a drone overhead? I understand that there’s a creepy 1984-ish vibe attached to them but we do have helicopters and satellites already flying over and recording data. No one seems to think that Google maps are a threat to our freedom.

      • ralphb says:

        Courts have ruled that satellite data cannot be used by civil authorities. Helicopters cannot keep watch over an area 20 hours per day and do it cheaply or silently.

        We have a theoretical right to privacy and security in our homes. Why do you want to give that up?

      • bostonboomer says:

        What can you do that you can’t do with a drone overhead?

        Um…have privacy?

        Oh…and quite a few people do object to google maps.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I wrote about that last week, Susan, and I’ll be doing it again. Police State Amerika is here and our “representatives” don’t pay any attention to what we want them to do. It’s over. We’re living in a de facto military dictatorship. Even the legislators who voted for these drones didn’t realize what they were giving the military.

    • quixote says:

      Susan, I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but the argument that you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide was exploded the first time somebody addressed it. (In about the 1930s? Or even earlier?)

      That may be easier to see if you transpose it to a more obvious situation. Let’s say you live in a country where murder never occurs. Does that mean the local constitution should make it okay to kill people? And that nobody has to worry about that because it never occurs?

      Not being killed is a right. You have it whether you’re in immediate danger of being killed or not. The more technology makes it easy to invade our lives, the more obvious it’s becoming that privacy is a right. You have it whether you’re in immediate danger of being snooped on or not.

      And, yes, using drones without a warrant is against Constitutional principles, starting with the assumption of innocence. That’s what the warrant is for. Some independent third party sees enough evidence that assuming innocence may not be justified.

      Nobody’s arguing against legitimate law enforcement. That would involve getting a warrant to proceed against people interfering with officers in the execution of their duties. Given that we’re talking about six cows here, I think the officers could have taken the time to get a warrant.

      Some more background: the property in question is owned by a family of survivalists who see themselves as at odds with an illegitimate government. So those of us here arguing for their privacy rights aren’t doing it because we agree with them.

      • Susan says:

        I did not and have never made the argument that people should not be worried about their freedoms if they’ve done nothing wrong. Did you read my comment about the indefinite detentions? I have as much to fear from an out-of-control law enforcement community as anyone else does.

        There are innumerable exceptional circumstance in which a search is Constitutionally permitted without a warrant and there’s even disagreement as to whether observing something while flying overhead even constitutes a search.

        A warrant is not needed when officers have been threatened by armed individuals. The positive to take away from that particular incident is that the bad guys were arrested without anyone getting hurt.

        And, no, I did not assume that anyone was siding with the militia-types. I think there is genuine concern about the drones which has probably been heightened by the recent events at protests. I’m offering a perspective that has also been informed by my life experience.

      • quixote says:

        Susan, honestly, that’s just full of red herrings. Of course there are exigent circumstances. Six cows are not that kind of circumstance.

        And peering into people’s space, and at people themselves for that matter, with the tools of modern technology is increasingly recognized as an invasion of privacy. Even Google’s Eric Schmidt didn’t much care for it when the tables were turned on him. European privacy law is way ahead of the US on this partly because they’re closer to the fascist history and know what it can do, and partly because the billions of dollars buying congresscritters are here and not there.

    • Susan says:


      As of last January, the US Supreme Court had not ruled on the use of satellite imagery in law enforcement.

      Click to access RL34421.pdf

      Use of drones by law enforcement personnel will surely be taken up by the courts before it becomes common, anyway, so everyone will have their chance to have their say.

      I’m a realist. I live in an urban area and, in spite of a high wooden fence, my outside activities can be observed through the window of my neigbor’s house and the commercial buildings that are on the other side. It’s a fact of life. When I want privacy, I go into my house.

      Secondly, I’ve spent hours searching yards for lost children and fleeing criminal suspects and I welcome any tool that would make those searches easier. Additionally, the description of the sheriff arresting armed and dangerous thieves without harm to anyone makes a very convincing argument, imo. Chasing armed robbers or other fleeing suspects in a cruiser is dangerous to bystanders as well as everyone involved. If criminals can be apprehended without engaging in car chases, it’s a win for everyone.

      As I said, it’s not the tool, it’s the person who makes the decision to use the tool that needs to be monitored.

      • ralphb says:

        Local courts have ruled against use of satellite imagery. So far as I know, the SC hasn’t had a case before it yet. So what?

        Stop throwing up the same argument about exigent circumstances like lost children or fleeing suspects. Situations like that aren’t the problem. The problem is routine and ordinary of surveillance against the populace without probable cause.

        Is that so hard to understand?

  4. mjames says:

    Sandusky just waived the preliminary hearing. I can think of two reasons why: (1) he was only saying he was going ahead with the hearing to see if any witnesses would actually show up to testify against him; and (2) there really are ongoing plea negotiations. As a lawyer, I would have liked the hearing to proceed in order to evaluate the strength of the evidence. As a child advocate, I don’t know if it’s better or worse for the witnesses not to testify today. BB?

    • bostonboomer says:

      The witnesses are adults, so I don’t think it will be a problem. I think the reason Sandusky waved the hearing was to avoid the publicity that would come from the testimony being reported in the media. From what I’ve heard, the witness were ready to testify and will also show up for the trial. These are people who have suffered for years in silence, and want to tell their stories.

      • bostonboomer says:

        On the other hand, the defense will lose the opportunity to evaluate the case against them.

    • Susan says:

      Sandusky has the worst lawyer imaginable. His attorney impregnated a seventeen-year-old client and lost his license to practice for awhile.

  5. dakinikat says:

    More American Exceptionalism:


    More than 1.6 million American children were homeless at some point in 2010, the nonprofit National Center on Family Homelessness reports today, adding that the number is about a 38 percent increase from 2007.

    The figure, which includes children under the age of 18 who are living with one or more parents or caregivers on the streets, in shared housing because of “economic hardship” and in “emergency or transitional shelters,” underscores how the recession that began in late 2007 “has been a man-made disaster for vulnerable children,” Ellen L. Bassuk, founder of the national center, says in a statement.

    • Gregory says:

      I live in a small town in NE Texas. We have about 35,000 people living here. Just down the street from my house, about 2 blocks, there are people literally living in tents near the house of their relatives. Last year a mentally ill homeless man died under a bridge not even a mile from my house. If it is happening here, it is happening everywhere.

    • ralphb says:

      The NYT did some good stories about that a couple of years ago. It was horrible then and has only gotten a lot worse now. There were some genuinely heart rending tweets when they took down the OccupyBoston encampment about the homeless people that had been staying there. The Occupiers were wondering what they could do to help them now.

  6. Minkoff Minx says:

    And another one bites the dust: U.S. drone crashes in Seychelles: embassy | Reuters

    A U.S. drone aircraft crashed at Seychelles International Airport on Tuesday, the U.S. embassy in Mauritius said.

    “A U.S. Air Force remote-piloted MQ-9 crashed at the Seychelles International Airport in Mahe. The MQ-9 was not armed and no injuries were reported,” the embassy said in a statement.

    The Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) confirmed the incident and said that the plane was on a “routine patrol” and had crashed because of mechanical failure.

    • ralphb says:

      Ummm, must have been doing overflights of Somalia or the like.

      • bostonboomer says:

        They started doing it in Somalia about a month ago or so. It seems Obama claims the right to patrol the globe with drones. I wonder what will happen now that Iran and Pakistan have each captured on of them and can copy the technology?

      • ralphb says:

        It’s not gonna be pretty. I’ll bet one of them winds up in China.

  7. peggysue22 says:

    Disturbing post, bb. All of it. As I said earlier, the secrecy of drone deployment for domestic purposes is chilling IMHO. The lack of public discussion and debate on the cost, not only in money but the continued loss of privacy, is something that should [I would think] give citizens pause. And then there’s this whole idea that security is all about police surveillance, rather than the safety and care of our children [all our children] or our future energy needs or the quality of our air, water and food, etc. It’s a question of ‘security’ defined by a police/war state and the ‘security’ of a humane society, a society that focuses on people rather than equipment and short-term financial gains.

    And make no mistake, security/war paraphernalia is big business. It’s not an accident that many of our urban police departments look as if they’re equipped for WWIII. Earlier, Ralph mentioned the blinding laser equipment that some PD’s have bought. Add this to the sonic blasters, that can, in fact, cause permanent hearing loss. The Pentagon has deemed weapons of this sort ‘non lethal’ and are intended to be used against an unarmed crowd.

    The wars may be winding down but as one journalist remarked “the subsequent ‘enemy’ appears to be the general population.”

    Good link here:


    Should people be concerned? I think so.

    The extended info on pedophila makes my skin crawl. I’ve heard Peterson [Donna Reed show] speak to the problems of child actors before but I didn’t know the sexual element was this widespread. This is case where even children are viewed as a commodity.

    Sad and destructive.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    I wrote a long discussion on America’s lack of care for children. Did anyone read it? I’d love some feedback on what I wrote on that topic. I stayed up until 2AM writing it.

    • peggysue22 says:

      It’s a good discussion, an important one, bb. Our values have become totally skewed in the last few decades. That fact that we can predict fairly well what a child’s education and most likely future will be by looking at his/her zip code is pretty damning to the whole system. Poverty is a soul killer and pretending that everyone can ‘pull themselves up by their bootstraps’ is a cruel joke. Until we embrace the idea that our children are our most important resource, we’ll continue to flail around with excuses and finger pointing. What makes no sense is that even for competitive purposes [since everything is turned into a cost analysis], we simply do not have the luxury of nor can we afford wasting good minds and creativity in a global marketplace. We have no problem spending gobs of money imprisoning people but squawk when it comes to spending funds on children for education, nutrition, whatever it takes. I agree with Hillary Clinton’s view: it takes a village, meaning all of us.

      Or we’ll ultimately pay as a society for our own short sightedness.

    • ralphb says:

      I think it was a great discussion and brought home the problems very well. As a society we don’t seem to care about the individuals, even or especially the children. Our priorities seem to be all wrong and I believe it’s a major contributor to our civic demise. Thanks and please keep it up!

      • bostonboomer says:

        I agree, Ralph, and thanks. I didn’t mean to sound whiny. The sad thing is that there is so much research to show that if you catch kids early enough, you can make a huge difference in terms of later literacy and academic performance. Early childhood education is key, but the Republicans want to get rid of Head Start and just about any other program that helps disadvantaged kids. There are even studies that show that if parents are given the tools, they can change their ways of interacting with their kids and make a huge difference.

      • ralphb says:

        Absolutely and I don’t think you’re whiny at all. Chelsea Clinton’s first report on Brian Williams show last night was about a lady from Arkansas and the tremendous good she does for disadvantaged children in Pine Bluff. Not hard news but inspirational and she did a very good job on the story.

    • mjames says:

      I thought it was spot on.

      Tragic and tragically stupid that resources are not directed towards children. We’ve known forever that where one lives affects the education one gets. For as long as I can remember I have been for de-linking school funding to property taxes. There is no level playing field for poor kids. I have also believed for a very long time that schools should provide far more services than they currently do, things like afterschool programs where kids can run around outside, do homework, and eat healthy snacks, until a parent or guardian gets off work. And I mean free services. It is barbaric to make all adult family members work and then provide no care for the children.

      Now we’re about to up the ante on private, for-profit schools, which will ensure that kids get deprived of a decent education more than ever.

      Yes, I agree with you 100%. It’s so sad – and it is only going to get worse and worse. So sad that it’s sometimes hard to comment.

    • foxyladi14 says:

      I read it BB.it was an excellent article.thank you. 🙂

    • BB, I love the way you contrasted our government’s use of predator drones against its collective failure to care for children. That was a stroke of brilliance from the get-go.

      You’ve hit on the crux of the problem: priorities.

      Unfortunately, we live in a country that prioritizes the rights of corporations over women and children (and ordinary people in general) while pretending to value the ‘life’ of a zygote.

      Until there is a massive realignment of priorities in American political life, the standard of living for ordinary people–especially children, who are the most vulnerable of all, and have not enough GENUINE advocates (like Hillary) in political leadership–will sadly continue to deteriorate and the psychopaths who wish to see the American people (or any peoples for that matter) destroyed will be the ones served by that lack of realignment of American priorities.


  9. dakinikat says:

    Police harrasing ocuppy NOLA this morning

    They got awoken at 5 am with “morning comrades’ on the megaphone… the group keeps winning injunctions to stop being thrown out of the protest are …

  10. Gregory says:

    I really don’t have a problem with the use of drones as a tactical tool the way the Sheriff in the story used the drones. I’d rather not have good lives wasted because of armed idiots. The problem isn’t really the drones or any of the tools which can be used in an efficient manner to acquire real world data that saves lives. The problem is that our court system has broken down and our rights are getting trampled on in the quest to fight crime, terrorism, or whatever.

    Now if they were using drones to just continually patrol areas or put up video cameras on telephone poles or buildings everywhere I would definitely have a problem with that. Same with eavesdropping, data mining, etc. I do believe they should have probable cause before committing these “tools”.

    This really reminds me of getting pulled over by a highway patrolman last year. I was driving a nice car, had the family in the car and we were coming back from Dallas. The officer pulled me over because I didn’t have my lights on and it was soon to be dark. Problem is, Jettas come standard with driving lights always on and it was only 5 pm in the summer time. To this day I still can’t figure out why he pulled me over. Law enforcement officials often do strange things which infringe upon the rights of others because they view everyone as a criminal.

    • ralphb says:

      The problem in a nutshell is overreach. If they were only used in exigent circumstances, or via warrant, there would be no problem. But if the authorities have a tool, they will use it at every possible chance or all the time. It just never fails.

      • dakinikat says:

        If they’re going to do it, they need to be subject to a civilian court that issues a warrant and determines there’s justifiable cause, imho. Otherwise, it’s just another way to collect data on people that goes into a database that will be searched eventually for characteristics that are deemed undesirable. It’s one thing to say, go ahead and use a drone to search for a lost dog or have a judge say there’s adequate evidence to do reconnaissance on a drug dealers hide out. Cruising around the skies collecting information on every one is another matter. I’ve always felt uncomfortable about satellite surveillance but at least the satellites move and there’s a bunch of different uses competing for a limited time window. Since this technology is new and secret, we have no idea of what kind of data it collects and stores and who sees it. It makes me want to stay inside and draw the drapes. I don’t care what the activity is, I don’t think the government needs to be a voyeur unless it can prove some reasonable cause to invade people’s privacy.

      • northwestrain says:

        In Washington the US Coast Guard have become the Gestapo on the water. They stop and board pleasure craft and interrogate and intimidation the owners. Post 9/11 we the people of the US are the enemy and we are treated like the enemy.

        Drones are being used — without discussion from the ones who pay the bills — the citizens of the US. In some cities the cops want to employ drones full time. Just in case — “something” might happen. There may be valid uses for drones — but not without an open discussion and transparency.

        England is ahead of the US on full time surveillance of the civilian population. Cameras are everywhere — but perhaps they haven’t gone the drone route yet.

        AS it is in the US — our phone calls are monitored, our email is monitored — facebook is monitored as is twitter. We can be tracked via cell phones — and many phones can be turned ON by cops.

        The response of — “IF you aren’t doing anything illegal — then why worry?” — means that anyone who says that has never studied history. If the Gestapo or cops want to silence their critics they are more than willing to manufacture evidence. It also means that the US is just another police state.


        As for standardized testing and the learning environment is a huge majority of schools — most schools are little more than day time prisons. Standardized testing means that most students spend most of their time getting ready to take tests — and not on developing skills needed to survive in the world. Critical thinking is a survival skill IMHO.

        Also the Fundamentalists are sneaking their Biology teachers into public schools — and many students are being taught religious garbage rather than learning about science.

      • Gregory says:

        I just don’t see the difference between using a drone, using a spy plane or using spy cameras strategically placed. As far as I can tell they are all legal. If the DEA wants to use a drone to fly over an area where they suspect that people are growing marijuana then by all means they should do that. They can also use satellites to get this data. I’d much rather them have accurate data and be able to seize the contraband and arrest the perpetrators with as little violence as necessary. To jump from this to East German style fascism is a pretty large leap. Not saying it couldn’t happen but last I checked there are not any predator drones patrolling main street in my town or any other town.

      • Susan says:

        The only instance described was the very definition of “exigent circumstance”.

        Yes, law enforcement officers use all of the tools in their arsenal but the vast majority of them do not use those tools inappropriately or in ways that violate the Constitution.

        • dakinikat says:

          I dunno. OJ Simpson got freed from double homicide charges based on the jury being ticked about LA police using tools inappropriately. New York is well known for that sort of thing as is Chicago. From everything I read these days in Police Monitoring groups and agencies, there’s a lot of inappropriate use of all kinds of things in law enforcement. That’s not to say every cop is a problem, but I’d say there’s rampant abuse in most police department is most cities. Look at the treatment of the Occupy protestors right now.

      • quixote says:

        Gregory, I already carried on about privacy rights and law enforcement somewhere about half way upthread, so it’s there if you want to take a look. Nobody’s arguing against legitimate law enforcement needs. Those can be met with search warrants.

        Without a search warrant, you’re arguing for unrestrained police power. That’s what they had in East Germany. There is then no difference in principle (I’ll stress that: IN PRINCIPLE) between us and any other fascists. (“Fascist” means someone who believes in the unrestrained power of authority. Used for good, of course….) Our cops are generally better behaved, except when pepper spraying sitting protestors, but if you believe in unrestrained authority the difference between Us and Them is only one of degree, not of kind.

  11. Susan says:

    So, I see that I’ve been reduced to second-class citizen status.

    You might consider, bb, that the problem is not that I’m rude and invasive but that you’re thin-skinned and intolerant of those who disagree with you.

    I loathe being told that my opinions need to conform in order to be part of a group so I’ll take my leave of this blog. Thank you. For the most part I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time that I spent here.