Tuesday ReadsPosted: February 5, 2013 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Alliance for Affordable Internet, child abuse, drone attacks, Hillary Clinton, Janet Napolitano, Nordic Economies 62 Comments
It’s amazing what people will do to children and it’s amazing what kind of people think assaulting children with belts is just okey dokey. This is one of those stories that’s actually hard to believe.
A Dollar General employee arrested in Wrightsville last week for hitting a child with a belt has now been charged with aggravated assault and cruelty to children. The charges were upgraded from simple battery because store video showed the woman hitting the 8 year old at least 25 times.
After initially saying they were looking into the details of the case before acting, Dollar General told 11Alive News Monday afternoon the employee, Emilia Graciela Bell, had been fired. “We are deeply shocked and saddened by the reported incident at our store in Wrightsville, Georgia,” read the statement, “And have expressed our sincere apologies to the child’s family.”
Investigators have not yet released the video, but the boy’s family told WMAZ Macon over the weekend it was more severe than a spanking.
“It was more or less a beating than a spanking the way she was hitting him,” said Logan Ivey’s father Jody. “I don’t know how to explain it, and I don’t want to think about it.”
Eight-year-old Logan said it was very painful.
“I felt like I had five needles sticking in me; it really hurt, I was screaming ‘Momma,'” he said. “And I was crying real bad because she had actually hurt me…when she stopped whipping me my pants were actually a little bit warm.”
Wrightsville Police Chief Paul Sterling said Logan Ivey was running around in the store and got into a confrontation with 39-year-old store clerk. Bell told investigators the boy threw a cookie at her and that’s when she removed her belt, chased the boy down and spanked him behind the counter.
What’s even more interesting is that Eric Erickson seems to think it’s perfectly appropriate. Any one with children or small animals should keep them far away from the Red State Zombie Sadist.
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson wrote that a Dollar General employee deserves “a medal” for reportedly responding to an eight-year-old child who threw a cookie at her by hitting the child with her belt dozens of times.
What is wrong with these people?
A 16 page memo has been obtained by NBC and outlines the Justice Department case for drone attacks.
A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” — even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.
The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both were U.S. citizens who had never been indicted by the U.S. government nor charged with any crimes.
The secrecy surrounding such strikes is fast emerging as a central issue in this week’s hearing of White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, a key architect of the drone campaign, to be CIA director. Brennan was the first administration official to publicly acknowledge drone strikes in a speech last year, calling them “consistent with the inherent right of self-defense.” In a separate talk at the Northwestern University Law School in March, Attorney General Eric Holder specifically endorsed the constitutionality of targeted killings of Americans, saying they could be justified if government officials determine the target poses “an imminent threat of violent attack.”
But the confidential Justice Department “white paper” introduces a more expansive definition of self-defense or imminent attack than described by Brennan or Holder in their public speeches. It refers, for example, to what it calls a “broader concept of imminence” than actual intelligence about any ongoing plot against the U.S. homeland.
You can watch Micheal Isikoff speak with Rachel Maddow on the white paper at the link above.
I’ve written a lot about some of the Nordic Countries–like Finland and Norway–that show strong economies while still maintaining strong social nets and a commitment to income equality. The Economist this week has a special on the countries and shows how they’ve carved a middle path between markets and government.
Denmark has one of the most liberal labour markets in Europe. It also allows parents to send children to private schools at public expense and make up the difference in cost with their own money. Finland is harnessing the skills of venture capitalists and angel investors to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. Oil-rich Norway is a partial exception to this pattern, but even there the government is preparing for its post-oil future. This is not to say that the Nordics are shredding their old model. They continue to pride themselves on the generosity of their welfare states. About 30% of their labour force works in the public sector, twice the average in the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation, a rich-country think-tank. They continue to believe in combining open economies with public investment in human capital.
You can read more about these countries and their initiatives throughout the magazines pages.
Hillary Clinton may not be our SOS but she is still thinking about how to better the lives of people in the US and around the world. Here’s one of her initiatives that partners Silicon Valley with the developing world.
One of those new initiatives, the Alliance for an Affordable Internet, barely got a mention in Clinton’s speech. But it merits attention. If successful, the project—a public-private partnership among the State Department, the World Wide Web Foundation, and tech companies such as Cisco Systems (CSCO), Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), Yahoo (YHOO) and Intel (INTC)—could end up helping many people in poor countries get onto the Web. It could also cement long-term ties between the State Department and the companies—while opening new markets and reaching new customers for Silicon Valley. “We’re going to help the next billion people come online,” said Clinton, quickly announcing the project before going on to talk about clean cook stoves for women in the developing world.
Only a quarter of people in developing countries are online, compared to three-quarters of those in developed nations. If the U.S. is to play a role in changing that equation, credit will go in part to a State Department employee named Ann Mei Chang.
Chang, a 25-year veteran of Silicon Valley—most recently she was a senior engineering director at Google—joined the State Department in November 2011 to be an adviser on technology and women’s issues. Now she lives in Nairobi, Kenya, a city recently billed by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt as Africa’s soon-to-be Silicon Valley. Chang has been spending her time studying Kenya’s technological success and teaming up diplomats with U.S. tech companies to figure out how other countries can follow its example.
Chang says that in most developing countries, an entry-level Internet connection costs the equivalent of the average person’s monthly income. One reason is high taxes. In many places, computers, mobile phones, modems, and other software are taxed as luxury goods. “It’s one of the few things they can tax,” says Chang. The effect is that fewer people can afford to log on. “That’s short-sighted,” she says.
Here’s some interesting political speculation on Janet Napolitano. Would she run if Hillary chooses to stay retired?
So, what happens if Hillary Clinton doesn’t run in 2016?
It is hard to imagine the presidential field without a woman contender, and here’s one to keep your eye on: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Napolitano is quietly making it known that she is considering the race, and there is reason to take her seriously.
Before coming to Washington, Napolitano was a highly regarded and very popular governor in Arizona, a state not known as a hospitable one for Democrats. In 2005, Time Magazine named her one of the nation’s five best governors, noting: “Positioning herself as a no-nonsense, pro-business centrist, she has worked outside party lines since coming to office in January 2003 to re-energize a state that, under her predecessors, was marked by recession and scandal.”
While in Arizona, she was criticized for not being aggressive enough in dealing with the influx of illegal immigrants. But her more recent job gives her an opportunity to change that image. This week, for instance, finds her on a high-profile tour of the southwest border, where she will highlight the stepped-up resources that the Obama administration has been devoting to reducing the flow of illegal entrants to this country.
Still, running for the White House from the cabinet is not an easy thing to do. Not since then-Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover did it in 1928 has anyone successfully made the leap from the president’s cabinet to the Oval Office.
So, there’s a few things to get us started off today. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
The Conversation We Must HavePosted: January 2, 2013 Filed under: Afghanistan, Drone Warfare, Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, MENA, Pakistan, Somalia, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics, Yemen | Tags: criminal wiretapping, drone attacks, renditions, the National Security Military Industrial Complex 11 Comments
It’s easy to overlook our far away wars and the deaths caused by drone attacks when most people in the country are trying to hang on to their jobs, homes, and incomes. It’s more than enough effort just to hang on while watching your hopes of secure, middle class lifestyles and retirement being diddled away in shows of Potomac political harangues, power plays, and stupid political memes. However, a big portion of who we are as a country has to do with our face to the world and the values we display. It’s a subject we must follow carefully because we’re as bad as we’ve ever been in many ways.
Hence, I bring you back to the topics of renditions, torture, drone strikes, domestic spying, and national security issues evoked by 9/11 and continued because we can’t have national discussions about the big policies any more. We’re too busy defending erosion of our lives and rights here. There is an important article at WAPO that highlights the immoral side of our “war” against terror that continues under the Obama administration. Americans interested in human rights and our vision of an American “morality” must read this.
The three European men with Somali roots were arrested on a murky pretext in August as they passed through the small African country of Djibouti. But the reason soon became clear when they were visited in their jail cells by a succession of American interrogators.
U.S. agents accused the men — two of them Swedes, the other a longtime resident of Britain — of supporting al-Shabab, an Islamist militia in Somalia that Washington considers a terrorist group. Two months after their arrest, the prisoners were secretly indicted by a federal grand jury in New York, then clandestinely taken into custody by the FBI and flown to the United States to face trial.
The secret arrests and detentions came to light Dec. 21 when the suspects made a brief appearance in a Brooklyn courtroom.
The men are the latest example of how the Obama administration has embraced rendition — the practice of holding and interrogating terrorism suspects in other countries without due process — despite widespread condemnation of the tactic in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Renditions are taking on renewed significance because the administration and Congress have not reached agreement on a consistent legal pathway for apprehending terrorism suspects overseas and bringing them to justice.
I find this quote shocking.
The impasse and lack of detention options, critics say, have led to a de facto policy under which the administration finds it easier to kill terrorism suspects, a key reason for the surge of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Renditions, though controversial and complex, represent one of the few alternatives.
“In a way, rendition has become even more important than before,” said Clara Gutteridge, director of the London-based Equal Justice Forum, a human rights group that investigates national security cases and that opposes the practice.
Our country is caught up in fighting fights that were dealt with decades ago because one party wants to throw us back into the good ol’ days of witch hunts and control and ownership of other human beings through religious extremism and economic coercion and privateering. We’re having to fight for the lessons of the civil war, the depression, and civil rights era. Meanwhile, the national security industrial complex–in our names–erodes the very basic rights of our citizens and the way we behave abroad. As pointed out at emptywheel, Murdoch and son love them some Obama for extensions of abusive wiretapping. Murdoch and son are themselves guilty of criminal wiretapping in the UK. Is that ironic?
In addition to applauding Obama’s “fairly ruthless antiterror prosecut[ions] and unapologetic assert[ions] of Presidential powers,” the WSJ revels in this opportunity to mock those who thought illegal wiretapping was wrong.
This is a turnabout from 2007 and 2008, when letting U.S. spooks read al Qaeda emails or listen in on phone calls that passed through domestic switching networks supposedly spelled doom for the American Republic. Democrats spent years pretending that Mr. Bush’s eavesdropping program was “wrong” and “destructive,” as Attorney General Eric Holder put it at the time, lamenting that “I never thought I would see a President act in direct defiance of federal law.”
Maybe this mutual love of abusive wiretapping is why–as Elliot Spitzer has pointed out–DOJ has thus far failed to pursue News Corp under Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
And finally, where is the inept U.S. Department of Justice in all this?
The DOJ has brought many irrelevant and tiny cases against companies for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal to bribe either individuals or government officials, even in a company’s overseas operations. The DOJ loves to use the statute to show just how tough it is.
Yet now they have the most important case sitting right there in front of them. It’s easy. Even a rookie could field this one.
But what are they doing? It’s not clear.
If they fail to make this case against News Corp., Eric Holder is a failure as attorney general.
After all, Eric Holder’s DOJ successfully fought to give legal sanction to Cheney’s illegal wiretapping. It would look rather silly, after having extended warrantless wiretapping past the end of the Obama Administration, for them to prosecute Rupert Murdoch for doing the same thing Cheney did.
There is little oversight in all of these human rights outrages. Congress appears to be more interested in creating near-catastrophe problems with the economy and defunding planned parenthood then actually doing its oversight duties on the executive branch. There are many things begun in the Bush administration that were criticized by Democrats that are now completely ignored by congressional committees. Republicans have no interest in these issues and Democrats don’t want to criticize the administration. Here’s another example of questionable policy from the WAPO article.
The State Department officially categorized al-Shabab as a terrorist organization in 2008, making it illegal for Americans or non-citizens to support the group. Still, Obama administration officials acknowledge that most al-Shabab fighters are merely participants in Somalia’s long-running civil war and that only a few are involved in international terrorism.
Is any one questioning the wisdom of adding dubious organizations to the terrorist list or is this just another way to expand the power, scope, and aggregate buying of the National Security Military Complex?
How many of you know that we’ve just recently upped its drone attacks in Afghanistan despite UN condemnation? This caused Wired Magazine to call 2012 “The Year of the Drone in Afghanistan”.
Last month, military stats revealed that the U.S. had launched some 333 drone strikes in Afghanistan thus far in 2012. That made Afghanistan the epicenter of U.S. drone attacks — not Pakistan, not Yemen, not Somalia. But it turns out those stats were off, according to revised ones released by the Air Force on Thursday morning. There have actually been 447 drone strikes in Afghanistan this year. That means drone strikes represent 11.5 percent of the entire air war — up from about 5 percent last year.
Never before in Afghanistan have there been so many drone strikes. For the past three years, the strikes have never topped 300 annually, even during the height of the surge. Never mind 2014, when U.S. troops are supposed to take a diminished role in the war and focus largely on counterterrorism. Afghanistan’s past year, heavy on insurgent-hunting robots, shows that the war’s future has already been on display.
Many of the victims of these attacks have been citizens. Drones are also operating in Pakistan, Yeman, and Somalia.
Reports say over 3,300 people, many of them women and children, were killed in US drone attacks in Pakistan between June 2004 and September 2012.
Rights and peace groups opposed to the targeted killings say the US administration has already violated international law by pursuing its assassination drone attacks.
Meanwhile, the UN plans to set up an investigation team in Geneva to probe the American drone attacks, as UN officials are concerned that Washington is setting a legal and ethical precedent for other countries developing armed drones.
The targeted killings started under former President George W. Bush and were expanded by President Barack Obama. In 2012, Obama personally approved the names put on the “kill lists” used in the targeted killing operations carried out by American assassination drones.
Afghanistan and Pakistan are not the only countries targeted by the US assassination drones. The unmanned aircraft are also operating in Yemen and Somalia.
According to a report compiled by the Washington think-tank, New America Foundation, the number of the US drone airstrikes in Yemen almost tripled this year compared with the previous one.
The report said that the United States has intensified its drone strikes in Yemenas well, increasing the number of operations drastically from 18 in 2011 to 53 in 2012 and killing at least 223 people.
Then, there is the Espionage Act where
There has been so much dysfunction in Congress these days–as well as active religious and right wing extremism aimed at women, GLBT, and minorities–that it’s hard to look to other faucets of our policy. It’s important that we follow these important human rights abuses that are done in our name also. It would be nice to be able to focus on really important policy issues for a change, wouldn’t it?