Newsflash:
Featured News Featured News Medea Benjamin on How Drones May Be Used Against US Citizens Soon
Saturday, 02 June 2012 15:42

Medea Benjamin on How Drones May Be Used Against US Citizens Soon

Written by  Medea Benjamin | OR Books | Book Excerpt

Internationally renowned activist Medea Benjamin has written a compelling case against drones. One of the most fearful aspects is that drone technology is growing so rapidly in so many nations that soon the nations the US deems enemies will be using them against our forces and us.

Furthermore, there is about to be an explosion of drone use domestically that will be used for surveillance and potentially for firing on perceived criminals or enemies of the state.

Please help spread Benjamin's message and support Truthout/BuzzFlash by getting a copy of "Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control" by clicking here now. Support progressive books and Truthout/BuzzFlash with your contribution and by spreading Benjamin's important warning about drones.

Excerpt From "Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control": 

The overwhelming US dominance in the use of drones is coming to an end. By 2011, American officials were already publicly fretting that the technology they have spent decades and billions of dollars developing is beginning to fall into the hands of other nations, friends and foes alike.

"From Desert Storm to the present, the US and its allies have had relatively exclusive access to sophisticated precision-strike technologies," Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn, III remarked at a June 2011 conference in Washington on the future of war. Over the next decade or two, he said, "that technology will be increasingly possessed by other nations... thereby creating challenges for our ability to project power to distant parts of the globe."

Indeed, Philip Alston, former UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, noted that an arms race spurred by the widespread use of unmanned aerial vehicles by the US government to assassinate its perceived enemies is already well under way. Over fifty countries have the technology and many of them—including Israel, Russia, Turkey, China, India, Iran, the United Kingdom, and France—either have or are seeking weaponized drones.

Some of these countries do not just possess the technology; they are already using it.

During its 2008-2009 invasion of the Gaza Strip known as "Operation Cast Lead," the Israeli Defense Force repeatedly deployed unmanned aircraft to fire on suspected members of Hamas, the elected Palestinian government.

According to a leaked US State Department cable reported on by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in one incident an Israeli drone "shot at two Hamas fighters in front of the mosque and sixteen unintended casualties resulted inside the mosque due to an open door through which shrapnel entered during a time of prayer."[i] While the technology may be precise, fallible human beings are still the ones picking the targets and pulling the trigger.

Israel ostensibly ended its military occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2005. But thanks to modern drone technology, it does not need boots on the ground to dominate—and extinguish—Palestinian life.

"For us, drones mean death," said Hamdi Shaqqura of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in an interview with the Washington Post. According to his group, Israeli drones killed at least 825 people between 2006 and 2011, the majority civilians. And that has affected almost every aspect of Palestinian life. According to one study, the majority of children living in Gaza suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the constant buzzing and bombing of Israeli death machines. Palestinians even have to take drones into account when trying to do something as benign and banal as fixing a broken-down car—you really don't want a group of people lingering around for long when there's a plane armed with missiles hovering overhead. "When you hear drones," Shaqqura explained, "you hear death."

"It's continuous, watching us, especially at night," said Nabil al-Amassi, a Gaza mechanic and father of eight. "You can't sleep. You can't watch television. It frightens the kids. When they hear it, they say, 'It is going to hit us.'"

Along with Israel and the United States, Britain is the only other country to have employed weaponized drones in war as of 2011. In the 1980s, the UK developed the Phoenix, a drone that was briefly used in the Kosovo War and then in Iraq in 2003. So many were lost or crashed that British troops nicknamed the aircraft the "Bugger Off," as the planes rarely returned from a sortie. For Afghanistan, the UK bought US-made Reapers and rented Israeli Hermes drones. This was part of a stopgap measure while developing their own Watchkeeper drone in a joint venture by Israeli and UK private companies that, after many delays, was supposed to be operational by 2012.

Like their US and Israeli counterparts, the British government sees unmanned aircraft as the way of the future, with the Guardian reporting that UK officials say "almost one third of the [Royal Air Force] could be made up of remotely controlled aircraft within 20 years."

In July 2011, British drone operators made a mistake that underscores the continued fallibility of modern weapons, killing four civilians in Afghanistan with missiles fired from Reaper drones that they were piloting out of a US air base in Nevada. (The Royal Air Force has been piloting Reapers from Creech Air Force base in Nevada since late 2007.) Lest anyone believe the incident exposed flaws with the increased reliance on the almighty drone, UK military officials were quick to explain the deaths were the result of intelligence failures on the ground rather than problems with the aircraft.

That fallible human element does not harm just those on the receiving end of the West's liberating Hellfire missiles. When Iraqis were actually able to see the unencrypted video feeds that the unmanned vehicles were broadcasting back to US troops, it gave them the chance to escape and evade assassination. In 2002, Iraqis were also able to use a Soviet-era MIG-25 to shoot down a US drone. In 2006, the Syrian air force reportedly shot down an Israeli spy drone flying on the Lebanese side of the border with Syria. And in a little-reported incident in February 2011, as Yemeni police were transporting a Predator drone that had crashed in southern Yemen, Al Qaeda gunmen attacked, running off with the downed aircraft.

But the perceived enemies of the US government are doing more than just hijacking and shooting down drones: they are using their own.

During its 2006 war on Lebanon, the Israeli Defense Force claimed to have shot down several surveillance drones that Hezbollah had received from Iran. In Iraq, US troops shot down a similar Iranian drone in March 2009.

Just as US drone technology is falling into the hands of less-than-friendly regimes, the technology—like the Hummer and other military equipment before it—is finding its way back to the homeland. In a September 27, 2011 presentation at the headquarters of the US Air Force on the future of "remotely piloted aircraft," the branch's chief scientist Mark T. Maybury pointed to "homeland security" as a key future use of drones, complete with maps of the United States intended to highlight the need for "Integrating [drones] in National Airspace."

The future is here.

In 2005 Congress authorized Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to buy unarmed Predators. By the end of 2011, CBP was flying eight Predator drones along the southwestern border with Mexico and along the northern Canadian border to search for illegal immigrants and smugglers. By 2016, CBP hopes to have two dozen drones in its possession, "giving the agency the ability to deploy a drone anywhere over the continental United States within three hours," according to the Washington Post. And beyond, it seems, as the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has deployed several drones in neighboring Mexico to spy on that country's powerful drug cartels.

In June 2011, the Post reported that CBP's drone fleet had "reached a milestone...having flown 10,000 hours." But they had little to show for it. The paper flatly noted that the 4,835 undocumented immigrants and 238 drug smugglers that the Department of Homeland Security claimed to have apprehended thanks to UAVs were "not very impressive" numbers. What is impressive is the cost: $7,054 for each undocumented immigrant or smuggler who was caught.

"Congress and the taxpayers ought to demand some kind of real cost-benefit analysis of drones," said Tom Barry of the Center for International Policy, a Washington think tank. "My sense is that they would conclude these aircraft aren't worth the money."

But politicians in Washington don't seem too concerned. CBP's Michael Kostelnik told the Post he has never been pressed by a lawmaker to justify his agency's use of drones. "Instead the question is: Why can't we have more of them in my district?"

Indeed, many lawmakers are cheerleaders for the drone industry, setting up their own Congressional Drone Caucus (formally known as the Unmanned Systems Caucus) specifically to lobby for more and better drones, to lift export restrictions, and to relax regulations by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that limit the use of drones domestically.

The FAA is responsible for the safety of the nation's airspace, and that's why any entity wishing to operate a UAV domestically must obtain FAA permission. The agency had been proceeding very cautiously out of concern that many of the remotely piloted aircraft don't have adequate "detect sense and avoid" technology to prevent midair collisions. By 2012 it had only permitted a small number of domestic law enforcement agencies to use drones, with strict conditions attached.

But the FAA came under increasing pressure from Congress, industry, and law enforcement agencies to open the skies to UAVs. On February 14, 2012, President Obama gave a Valentine's Day present to the drone manufacturers. He signed a $63.4 billion Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that requires the FAA to come up with a comprehensive integration plan within nine months and to fully integrate drones into U.S. airspace by September 15, 2015. The bill also requires expedited access for public users, like law enforcement, firefighters and emergency responders. Within 90 days, it must allow them to fly drones under 4.4 pounds, as long as they are kept under an altitude of 400 feet and meet other requirements.

US drone lobby group that helped draft the bill, Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), was delighted; commercial airlines and pilots were not. They worry that the quick push to integrate drones will not only take away jobs, but lead to accidents. "Until unmanned aircraft can show they won't run into other planes or the ground, they shouldn't be allowed to fly with other traffic," said Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association.

Even before the new rules had gone into effect, the CBP had made some very unconventional—and some would say illegal—uses of its drones to assist local, state and federal law enforcement. As the Los Angeles Times reported in December 2011, CBP's Kostelnik acknowledged that far beyond just providing surveillance at the border, 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."

It was deemed a crisis, I suppose, when drones were called in to Nelson County, North Dakota to help Sheriff Kelly Janke look for six missing cows on the Brossart family farm in the early evening of June 23, 2011. The heroic drones helped find and apprehend the cattle rustlers—and rescue the six cows.

Police forces, full of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, are chomping at the bit to get the latest in 21st century military equipment. And while they anxiously await FAA approval, some departments have applied for—and received—permission to test out various kinds of drones.

The Miami-Dade Police Department in Florida purchased a 20-pound drone. "It gives us a good opportunity to have an eye up there," Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus told reporters. "Not a surveilling eye, not a spying eye. Let's make the distinction. A surveilling eye to help us to do the things we need to do, honestly, to keep people safe."

DroneWarfare2In November 2011, the Miami police department also obtained approval from the FAA to fly two $50,000-a-piece surveillance drones said to resemble flying garbage cans, albeit limited to heights of just three hundred feet. "No other law enforcement agency in the country is using this," bragged Sergeant Andrew Cohen. "We're forging new ground."

The Mesa County, Colo., Sheriff's Office is testing a remotely operated miniature helicopter designed to carry wireless video, still cameras, and light thermal imaging equipment. The sheriff's office is using the testing process to gather information that could eventually lead to the helicopter being approved by the FAA for daily use by law enforcement for search and rescue operations, for providing real time updates to tactical teams during crisis, or for simply sending the helicopter out to photograph a crime scene.

In October 2011, a police department just outside of Houston, Texas, dropped $300,000 in federal homeland security grant money on an unmanned, 50-pound helicopter decked out with a powerful zoom camera and infra-red equipment. While unarmed—for now—Michael Buscher, CEO of manufacturer Vanguard Defense Industries, told reporters the drone is designed to be weaponized and could in the future be outfitted with "what we call less lethal systems." Those include Tasers that can electrocute suspects on the ground and bean-bag-firing guns called a stun batons.

"You have a stun baton where you can actually engage somebody at altitude with the aircraft," Buscher explained. "A stun baton would essentially disable a suspect." But not to worry, Sheriff Tommy Gage assured reporters. "We're not going to use it to be invading somebody's privacy. It'll be used for situations we have with criminals," he said. Situations, like hunting fleeing suspects. Or helping SWAT teams scope out an area during a standoff. Or during other criminal investigations, like those involving potential drug shipments.

"No matter what we do in law enforcement, somebody's going to question it, but we're going to do the right thing, and I can assure you of that," Gage said at a press conference.

Feeling reassured? The ACLU isn't. The civil rights watchdog is particularly concerned that drones are moving us closer to a "surveillance society" in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded, and scrutinized by the authorities. In a December 2011 report on aerial surveillance, the ACLU predicted that "all the pieces appear to be lining up for the eventual introduction of routine aerial surveillance in American life—a development that would profoundly change the character of public life in the United States." This is especially worrisome since "our privacy laws are not strong enough to ensure that the new technology will be used responsibly and consistently with democratic values." The report concluded that based on current trends—technology development, law enforcement interest, political and industry pressure, and the lack of legal safeguards—"it is clear that drones pose a looming threat to Americans' privacy."

"The potential for abuse is vast," warns Constitutional lawyer and writer Glenn Greenwald. "The escalation in surveillance they ensure is substantial, and the effect they have on the culture of personal privacy—having the state employ hovering, high-tech, stealth video cameras that invade homes and other private spaces—is simply creepy."

Equally creepy is the possibility that drone technology is not just coming back to the US by way of local law enforcement agencies desperate for new, Department of Homeland Security-funded gadgets. Soon, the technology could be brought back to the homeland whether US policymakers like it or not.

As Ralph Nader observed in a column published in the fall of 2011, drone technology is "becoming so dominant and so beyond any restraining framework of law or ethics that its use by the US government around the world may invite a horrific blowback." Two days after the piece was published, a twenty-six-year-old man from Massachusetts, Rezwan Ferdaus, was arrested and accused of plotting to attack the Pentagon and US Capitol with small drone aircraft filled with explosives. The plan he delivered to undercover agents involved using three remote-controlled planes, similar to military drones, guided by GPS equipment.

Ferdaus, a Northeastern University graduate with a degree in physics, had already used his skills to convert eight cell phones into detonators, supplying them to undercover agents who he thought were affiliated with Al Qaeda. FBI agents seemed to have egged him on to go further, providing him with assault rifles, grenades, 25 pounds of C-4 plastic explosives and even an F-86 remote-controlled aircraft.

According to the criminal complaint filed in court, the planes were large enough to carry "a variety of payloads (including a lethal payload of explosives), could use a wide range of take-off and landing environments, and could fly different flight patterns than commercial airlines, thus reducing detection." The Capitol's dome would be "blown to smithereens," Ferdaus was quoted in the complaint as saying.

If he had succeeded in creating and launching a suicide-bombing drone, Ferdaus would arguably only have beaten the U.S. government at its own game. Less than a month before news of the alleged plot was made public, the US Army announced it was awarding military contractor AeroVironment a $4.9 million contract to supply it with a small, backpack-size drone capable of crash-diving into a target kamikaze-style.

John Villasenor, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the New York Times such a drone in the hands of terrorists could pose a challenge that may prove extremely difficult to thwart. "If they are skimming over rooftops and trees," he said, "they will be almost impossible to shoot down."

Of course, for years so-called terror experts have warned of extremists setting off suitcase bombs in American cities. Despite the constant fear mongering from the political establishment, the truth is that people in the Middle East have more to fear from the US government's weapons of war than the American public does from deadly tools in the hands of terrorists.

Still, while Ferdaus's plot was foiled and previous threats may have been overblown, the point was driven home: Watch out, America—what goes around, comes around.

Posted with permission

Read 3324 times Last modified on Saturday, 02 June 2012 15:53

More Featured Stories

  • Two, Three, Many Americas?
    Two, Three, Many Americas?
    Since the posting of "Becoming Two Countries in 2014," many readers have argued that we actually are becoming three or more Americas, while others cling to the dream of becoming one America again. The purpose of the original posting was not to propose breaking up the country, but to focus progressives on strategic questions of how to live and work through the political polarization paralyzing the country for the foreseeable future.
    Written on Friday, 25 October 2013 14:19 Read more...
  • Eight Members of Congress Arrested in Push for Immigration Reform
    Eight Members of Congress Arrested in Push for Immigration Reform

    Civil rights veteran John Lewis, D-Ga.; Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.; Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.; Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y.; Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.; Rep. Al Green, D-Texas; Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.; and Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.; joined 200 others who were arrested as part of a “civil disobedience” event in front of the U.S. capitol.

    Written on Wednesday, 09 October 2013 03:56 Read more...
  • Progressive Democrats Fear Showdown Will End in Social Security Cuts
    Progressive Democrats Fear Showdown Will End in Social Security Cuts

    As Republicans hold the government hostage and threaten to wreak economic havoc with the looming debt-ceiling showdown, some progressives on the Hill are worried that the strong-arm tactics will lead to an agreement on so-called “entitlement reform.” That’s Washington parlance for cuts to the nation’s most significant social programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

    Written on Monday, 07 October 2013 02:19 Read more...
  • If America wants Assad to respect international law, it must respect it, too

    This weekend, the White House came courting to Congress, showing evidence and secret intelligence to make the case for military action. What was remarkably lacking, however, throughout all the pomp and circumstance, was any other tool in their intervention toolkit.



    Written on Tuesday, 03 September 2013 15:27 Read more...
  • Claiming and Teaching the 1963 March on Washington
    Claiming and Teaching the 1963 March on Washington

    August 28 will mark the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Publicly associated with Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, this march brought more than 250,000 people to the nation’s capital.

    Written on Wednesday, 21 August 2013 00:59 Read more...
  • The GOP’s Big Yellow Taxi Syndrome
    The GOP’s Big Yellow Taxi Syndrome

    Republicans bellyached for years that government must shrink. It had to be smaller. Cut the budget come hell or high water, they yammered. Well, darn if the sequester hasn’t brought hell and high water to Republican districts across America. Now Republican lawmakers can’t stop carping about how small government shouldn’t occur in their districts.  Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till you vote to kill it?

    Written on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 15:24 Read more...
  • Sanders, Reid, DeFazio Introduce Legislation to Strengthen Social Security
    Sanders, Reid, DeFazio Introduce Legislation to Strengthen Social Security

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today introduced legislation cosponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to strengthen Social Security by making the wealthiest Americans pay the same payroll tax that nearly everyone else already pays.

    Written on Friday, 08 March 2013 01:46 Read more...
  • Representative Conyers Re-introduces Humphrey Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment
    Representative Conyers Re-introduces Humphrey Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment

    Under the Act, the Department of Labor would work collaboratively with local and state governments, non-profits, and the private-sector to fund community-based “fast track” jobs. This work could include renovating housing and schools, weatherizing homes, fixing our aging infrastructure, expanding access to broadband and wireless Internet, neighborhood beautification projects, or other community initiatives in the health and education sectors.

    Written on Friday, 01 March 2013 01:49 Read more...
  • End War of Drugs to honor King
    End War of Drugs to honor King

    Congratulations on your second inauguration. Let’s talk about drugs.

    As it happens, today’s festivities fall on Martin Luther King Day. This isn’t the first time you and Dr. King have encountered one another on the calendar. You first accepted your party’s nomination for the presidency on the 45th anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” speech.

    Written on Monday, 21 January 2013 15:39 Read more...
  • Farmers Rally at White House to Protest Monsanto's GMO Empire
    Farmers Rally at White House to Protest Monsanto's GMO Empire

    Hundreds of small farmers and advocates for organic seed growers gathered outside the White House Thursday, calling on President Obama and other lawmakers to come to their aid as they continue their fight against Monsanto, one of the world's largest, most powerful—and to them sinister—industrial agriculture corporations

    Written on Saturday, 12 January 2013 15:41 Read more...
  • Idle No More -- Think Occupy, But With Deep Deep Roots
    Idle No More -- Think Occupy, But With Deep Deep Roots

    I don't claim to know exactly what's going on with #IdleNoMore, the surging movement of indigenous activists that started late last year in Canada and is now spreading across the continent, but I sense that it's every bit as important as the Occupy movement that transfixed the world a year ago; it feels like it wells up from the same kind of long-postponed and deeply-felt passion that powered the Arab spring.

    Written on Saturday, 12 January 2013 01:29 Read more...
  • Open Letter to Congress and the President
    Open Letter to Congress and the President

    The historic re-election of President Obama must not be followed by historic damage to the nation’s social safety net.

    We call on the President and Congress to reject any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Rather than undermining those vital social programs, elected officials must protect them.

    Written on Wednesday, 14 November 2012 01:48 Read more...
  • The Electoral College: Another Front in the War Against Labor
    The Electoral College: Another Front in the War Against Labor

    The Electoral College - the way we pick our president and vice president - is all about cheap labor. When it was put into place in 1789, it was to give slaveholders a greater national voice - part of a compromise with the slave states to keep them in the union. So back then, it was all about cheap labor - slavery.

    Written on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 19:33 Read more...
  • Conservative Media Ignore GOP Voter Registration Fraud
    Conservative Media Ignore GOP Voter Registration Fraud

    The RNC-funded Strategic Allied Consulting, run by checkered GOP operative Nathan Sproul, is under criminal investigation in Florida for submitting fraudulent voter registration forms to election officials. (Sproul is still running voter-canvassing operations for conservatives in thirty states.) Sproul’s associate Colin Small, who had worked for Strategic Allied Consulting and as “Grassroots Field Director at the Republican National Committee,” was charged last week with eight felony counts and five misdemeanors for trashing voter registration forms in Virginia.

    Written on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 18:57 Read more...
  • Union lawyers caution over voter suppression at the polls
    Union lawyers caution over voter suppression at the polls

    With three weeks left to Election Day, civil rights organizations and union lawyers are getting ready to overcome voter suppression. An anonymous “family foundation” is paying for billboards warning against voter fraud, like this one in a minority neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland. Clear Channel, which owns the space, says the anonymity violates its policies but it will not take the ads down.



    Written on Sunday, 21 October 2012 15:48 Read more...
  • On War and Peace, George McGovern Will Die Vindicated
    On War and Peace, George McGovern Will Die Vindicated

    The former presidential candidate, who is nearing death, warned of the folly of the Vietnam and Iraq Wars. Americans came to agree with him -- but only when it was too late. Speaking at the Democratic National Convention in 1972, George McGovern kicked off his ill-fated presidential bid by focusing on his opposition to the ruinous war in Vietnam. "I have no secret plan for peace. I have a public plan.

    Written on Saturday, 20 October 2012 20:43 Read more...
  • Innovative Model Is Helping Save the Future of Unions and May Turn the Election
    Innovative Model Is Helping Save the Future of Unions and May Turn the Election

    If groups like Working America can build an awareness of economic issues among swing voters, it could be a game-changer.  She's asking them to sign up as a member with Working America, which simply means giving her a phone number and email address to match the street address she already has. She also asks for a donation, either a monthly contribution or a few dollars on the spot, to keep Working America going.

    Written on Tuesday, 25 September 2012 13:46 Read more...
  • Coordinated Actions Worldwide this Weekend Call for Banning Fracking
    Coordinated Actions Worldwide this Weekend Call for Banning Fracking

    Concerned people from the U.S. and numerous other countries will join in a global campaign event Saturday to call for a ban of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking." More than 150 events, on five continents, are planned for this weekend’s “Global Frackdown” -- a day of action against fracking -- coupled with the promotion of the expansion of clean, sustainable energy options.

    Written on Sunday, 23 September 2012 16:42 Read more...
  • "Mudcat" Saunders on the Southern Strategy
    "Mudcat" Saunders on the Southern Strategy

    With less than two months until Election Day, one of the challenges facing Democrats at the voting booth has plagued them for decades: how to play well in the South.

    Written on Saturday, 22 September 2012 17:06 Read more...
  • Mitt Romney: A Corporation Masquerading as a Person for President
    Mitt Romney: A Corporation Masquerading as a Person for President

    Hey, Mitt, why start with the 47 percent? Fully 100 percent of the nation’s 500 biggest corporations are dependent on various kinds of corporate welfare – subsidies, giveaways, bailouts, waivers, and other dazzling preferences – while many pay no tax at all on very substantial profits (see their familiar names – General Electric, Pepco, Verizon etc. – here).

    Written on Saturday, 22 September 2012 16:53 Read more...
  • 4 Surprising Ways the South's New Political Landscape Is Upending National Politics
    4 Surprising Ways the South's New Political Landscape Is Upending National Politics

    "As goes the South, so goes the nation." - W.E.B. DuBois. With the nation's eyes on party conventions in Tampa and Charlotte, the media is cramming to get a handle on the Southern political landscape. The resulting punditry has ranged from thoughtful analysis of changes in the South to rants blaming the region for all (or most) of the nation's ills.

    Written on Thursday, 06 September 2012 13:37 Read more...
  • DNC: Nun on Bus Raps Paul Ryan's Knuckles For Immoral Budget; Tweaks Bishops
    DNC: Nun on Bus Raps Paul Ryan's Knuckles For Immoral Budget; Tweaks Bishops

    Sister Simone Campbell, whose social justice organization, Network, sponsored the Nuns on the Bus tour protesting the Republican budget, gave Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan the what-for from the podium of Wednesday night's Democratic National Convention, leading my colleague, Joshua Holland, to tweet that she had rapped Ryan's knuckles. Ryan set himself up for the ire of the kind of nuns who minister to the poor when he tried to wrap his draconian budget in the magisterium of Mother Church.

    Written on Thursday, 06 September 2012 13:13 Read more...
  • Convention: Pulling Democrats’ platform to the left
    Convention: Pulling Democrats’ platform to the left

    Proudly liberal activist Tim Carpenter, who toiled in Orange County for more than 20 years before resettling in Massachusetts and co-founding Progressive Democrats of America, has made a career of standing staunchly to the left of mainstream Democrats, relentlessly beckoning and cajoling others to come a little closer.

    Written on Wednesday, 05 September 2012 23:32 Read more...
  • Add It Up: Taxes Avoided by the Rich Could Pay Off the Deficit
    Add It Up: Taxes Avoided by the Rich Could Pay Off the Deficit

    Conservatives force the deficit issue, ignoring job creation, and insisting that tax increases on the rich wouldn't generate enough revenue to balance the budget. They're way off. But it takes a little arithmetic to put it all together. In the following analysis, data has been taken from a variety of sources, some of which may overlap or slightly disagree, but all of which lead to the conclusion that withheld revenue, not excessive spending, is the problem.

    Written on Saturday, 01 September 2012 22:27 Read more...
  • Women Speak Truth Inside Republican National Convention on Opening Night
    Women Speak Truth Inside Republican National Convention on Opening Night

    CODEPINK will be with PDA at Progressive Central 

    “And the Republicans are particularly bad when it comes to women’s rights. I can’t be quiet while the GOP tries to take away the reproductive rights my parents’ generation worked so hard for.”

    Written on Wednesday, 29 August 2012 14:33 Read more...
  • Romney, Ryan, and The Devil’s Budget: Will America Keep Its Soul?
    Romney, Ryan, and The Devil’s Budget: Will America Keep Its Soul?

    America was born with a great soul, a moral view of Democracy in which citizens care about their fellow citizens and join together to take responsibility not just for themselves but for each other, for America as a union, a joint enterprise. The government’s job was to carry out that moral vision and to do so it created what we call The Public, the provision of basic protection and empowerment for all.

    Written on Friday, 24 August 2012 19:50 Read more...
  • Will Latino voters fully flex their voting power in 2012?
    Will Latino voters fully flex their voting power in 2012?

    This election season there are two dominant stories about the much-discussed "Latino vote." One, that President Obama enjoys a strong advantage among Hispanic voters. But two, it may not matter much because, even though Latino communities are growing fast, they have yet to be a major force at the ballot box.

    Written on Tuesday, 21 August 2012 12:49 Read more...
  • Is Your Neighbor a Democrat? Obama Has an App for That
    Is Your Neighbor a Democrat? Obama Has an App for That

    Curious how many Democrats live on your block? Just download the Obama campaign's new mobile app. The app, released last week, includes a Google map for canvassers that recognizes your current location and marks nearby Democratic households with small blue flags.

    Written on Saturday, 18 August 2012 01:40 Read more...
  • Romney choice of Paul Ryan for VP sets up bruising battle over federal budget
    Romney choice of Paul Ryan for VP sets up bruising battle over federal budget

    Ending four months of speculation and mystery, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney Saturday chose House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate.

    Romney announced the pick in Norfolk, Va., the first stop on a four-day campaign bus tour through Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio, all swing states that President Barack Obama won in 2008.

    Written on Saturday, 11 August 2012 13:36 Read more...
  • What’s Needed for Change at This Political Moment? 5 Well-Known Progressives, 5 Strong Opinions
    What’s Needed for Change at This Political Moment? 5 Well-Known Progressives, 5 Strong Opinions

    An amazing dialogue about class, race and movement-building by five progressive journalists and activist scholars.

    Written on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 20:14 Read more...
  • With New Burden on Unions, Court Tips the Balance Toward Corporations
    With New Burden on Unions, Court Tips the Balance Toward Corporations

    The most politically partisanand politically activist—Supreme Court in modern American history has already assumed that, when it comes to electioneering, corporations have pretty much the same rights as human beings.

    Written on Friday, 22 June 2012 23:32 Read more...
  • It’s One Person, One Vote, Not 1 Percent, One Vote
    It’s One Person, One Vote, Not 1 Percent, One Vote

    The failed effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is widely seen as a crisis for the labor movement, and a pivotal moment in the 2012 U.S. presidential-election season.

    Written on Friday, 08 June 2012 02:55 Read more...
  • Probing Obama’s Secrecy Games
    Probing Obama’s Secrecy Games

    Will high-level Obama officials who leak for political gain be punished on equal terms with actual whistleblowers?

    Written on Friday, 08 June 2012 02:52 Read more...
  • Big shot banker proves big banks are too big
    Big shot banker proves big banks are too big

    In April, Jamie Dimon–the swaggering chief of JPMorgan Chase–scoffed at critics who warned that his bank's high-flying investment division was dangerously overextended and risking collapse: “A complete tempest in a teapot,” scoffed Dimon.

    Written on Friday, 08 June 2012 02:43 Read more...
  • Time For Outrage On Behalf of the Planet--It's Time to Fight the Status Quo
    Time For Outrage On Behalf of the Planet--It's Time to Fight the Status Quo

    My solution is: get outraged. Campaigners marched in Copenhagen under the banner "System Change, Not Climate Change." On the eve of Rio+20, that message again will rise, but slogans and proposals and will mean nothing without the requisite power standing behind them.

    Written on Friday, 08 June 2012 02:34 Read more...
  • Medea Benjamin on How Drones May Be Used Against US Citizens Soon
    Medea Benjamin on How Drones May Be Used Against US Citizens Soon

    Internationally renowned activist Medea Benjamin has written a compelling case against drones. One of the most fearful aspects is that drone technology is growing so rapidly in so many nations that soon the nations the US deems enemies will be using them against our forces and us.

    Written on Saturday, 02 June 2012 15:42 Read more...
  • Defense contractors eye cuts to jobs, plants
    Defense contractors eye cuts to jobs, plants

    Defense contractors already are preparing for the layoffs and plant closures that will occur if Congress fails to reach a deal on the federal deficit this year, triggering $600 billion in automatic Pentagon spending cuts.

    “We are running towards a cliff, all telling each other like lemmings that somehow this isn’t going to happen,” said Marion C. Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). “But the cliff is coming up.”

    Written on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 19:29 Read more...
  • Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Slam Latest Chapter in Republican War on Women
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Slam Latest Chapter in Republican War on Women

    Washington, D.C.--Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) today released the following statement after the House passed H.R.4970, the House Republican version of the Violence Against Women Act:

    Written on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:49 Read more...
  • I can best serve from outside the Congress
    I can best serve from outside the Congress

    Dear Friend,

    I would like to thank you for your support, and thank the tens of thousands of concerned Citizens for Kucinich who in the past few months have written, emailed and called to discuss my running for Congress in Washington State.

    Written on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 20:48 Read more...
  • Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia
    Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia

    It’s official; George W Bush is a war criminal.

    In what is the first ever conviction of its kind anywhere in the world, the former US President and seven key members of his administration were yesterday (Fri) found guilty of war crimes.

    Written on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 19:52 Read more...
  • PARODY: Mitt Romney: I Can Relate To Black People, My Ancestors Once Owned Slaves
    PARODY: Mitt Romney: I Can Relate To Black People, My Ancestors Once Owned Slaves

    In yet another seemingly faux pas moment for the former governor and presidential candidate, Mitt Romney tells a crowd of supporters in Alabama that he can relate to the plight of black individuals because his ancestors were slave owners in the 1800′s.

    Written on Saturday, 12 May 2012 16:50 Read more...
  • New York Times reports on NC Marriage Ban, WI Recall
    New York Times reports on NC Marriage Ban, WI Recall

    North Carolina's voters on Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage, joining 29 other states and the rest of the South.

     


     

    Democrats in Wisconsin have a month to persuade voters to unseat the governor, Scott Walker, in a recall election with Tom Barrett as Mr. Walker's opponent.

    Written on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 17:42 Read more...
  • Chicago pulls permit for nurses rally planned for NATO summit
    Chicago pulls permit for nurses rally planned for NATO summit

    The city of Chicago today yanked a permit for the first demonstration planned for the weekend of the NATO summit in a dispute over where the National Nurses United can hold its rally May 18.

    Written on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 13:28 Read more...
  • Socialist Wins in France: Two Articles Explain the Historical and Current Context
    Socialist Wins in France: Two Articles Explain the Historical and Current Context

    "France, Okay, But Could a Socialist Gain Power in the US? Here's How It Almost Happened" by Greg Mitchell of the Nation, and "François Hollande wins French presidential election" by Angelique Chrisafis of the Guardian.

    Written on Monday, 07 May 2012 17:44 Read more...
  • NNU Rally to Tax Wall Street and Heal America
    NNU Rally to Tax Wall Street and Heal America

    Nurses, Robin Hood and the band of merry women and men, and scores of friends
are strapping on their boots and preparing to head to Chicago Friday, May 18.

    Written on Monday, 07 May 2012 16:29 Read more...
  • 9 Swing States, Critical to Presidential Race, Are Mixed Lot
    9 Swing States, Critical to Presidential Race, Are Mixed Lot

    Since the housing bubble burst, Nevada has been plagued with record foreclosures, the nation’s steepest drop in home values and its highest unemployment rate.

    Iowa, on the other hand, may have missed out on some of the boom but was spared the worst of the bust: its housing prices have stayed relatively stable, and it now has the fifth-lowest unemployment rate in the country.

    Written on Sunday, 06 May 2012 22:46 Read more...
  • Defense trumps poverty in Republican House
    Defense trumps poverty in Republican House

    American soldiers learned the hard way not to walk down enemy trails in Vietnam — and certainly not twice. But here come the House Republicans, marching into the sunlight by shifting billions from poverty programs to the Pentagon, all within hours of adopting an entirely new round of tax cuts for those earning more than $1 million a year.

    Written on Friday, 04 May 2012 16:50 Read more...
  • McDermott Will & Emery's Pardo discusses impacts of EPA's fracking rule (video and transcript)
    McDermott Will & Emery's Pardo discusses impacts of EPA's fracking rule (video and transcript)

    How will U.S. EPA's oil and gas air rule affect the fracking industry? During today's OnPoint, Jim Pardo, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, discusses the broader impacts of the rule ....

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 23:19 Read more...
  • One Year After Bin Laden’s Death, Bring the Troops Home Now
    One Year After Bin Laden’s Death, Bring the Troops Home Now

    Today marks one year since the death of Osama bin Laden. The CIA estimates there are fewer than 100 al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. Since ‘getting Bin Laden’ and defeating al Qaeda were the stated reasons the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, President Barack Obama should use the anniversary to announce the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 23:12 Read more...
  • Obama's Afghanistan Speech: A Guide for the Perplexed
    Obama's Afghanistan Speech: A Guide for the Perplexed

    President Obama’s dramatic speech from Afghanistan should be parsed as a careful election-year orchestration of his plan to “wind down” the war. It is no accident that the speech came during the first-year commemoration of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the event providing Obama the rationale for ending American combat while placing hawks and political rivals on the defensive.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 23:05 Read more...
  • End Student Debt!
    End Student Debt!

    The student loan crisis finally reached center stage in Washington after the House GOP budget called for letting interest rates double on government-subsidized loans (and for deep cuts in Pell grants and other student support). If it passes, students who borrow the maximum will end up paying as much as $1,000 a year in added interest.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 20:13 Read more...
  • Women: Occupy the Left
    Women: Occupy the Left

    Women’s rights have always been a bit of an add-on for the left. At this spring’s Left Forum, only fifteen of 440 panels touched on any feminist issue, broadly understood. New Left Review is famous, at least in my apartment, for its high testosterone content (despite being edited by a woman); ditto Verso, the left’s flagship publishing house, where women authors are as rare as Siberian tigers.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 20:06 Read more...
  • Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist
    Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist

    Desperate for new revenue, Ohio lawmakers introduced legislation last year that would make it easier to recover money from businesses that defraud the state. It was quickly flagged at the Washington headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a business-backed group that views such “false claims” laws as encouraging frivolous lawsuits. ALEC’s membership includes not only corporations, but nearly 2,000 state legislators across the country — including dozens who would vote on the Ohio bill.

    Written on Monday, 23 April 2012 19:50 Read more...
  • Meet the US media companies lobbying against transparency
    Meet the US media companies lobbying against transparency

    Corporate owners or sister companies of some of the biggest names in journalism against FCC order to post political ad data. News organizations cultivate a reputation for demanding transparency, whether by suing for access to government documents, dispatching camera crews to the doorsteps of recalcitrant politicians, or editorializing in favor of open government.

    Written on Sunday, 22 April 2012 15:31 Read more...
  • Former ALEC Supporters Now Find Connection Toxic
    Former ALEC Supporters Now Find Connection Toxic

    With thousands of consumers expressing their concerns about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to corporations across America, even former supporters of ALEC are feeling the heat, and some are rushing to distance themselves from the organization. YUM! Brands (owners of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut) became the 12th corporate member of ALEC to announce it is leaving the organization yesterday.

    Written on Friday, 20 April 2012 15:24 Read more...
  • A Cruel Ethos - Pay Upfront or Die
    A Cruel Ethos - Pay Upfront or Die

    Our acceptance of death for those who can’t afford medical care is unique among the advanced industrialized nations of the world. This ethos allows people who don’t have enough money or enough medical insurance to die everyday. We remain blind to the humanistic healthcare ethos of other nations, that result in greatly reduced costs and superior outcomes.

    Written on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 03:20 Read more...
  • Drug War Nightmare: How We Created a Massive Racial Caste System in America
    Drug War Nightmare: How We Created a Massive Racial Caste System in America

    The drug war has created a new Jim Crow system. Ever since Barack Obama lifted his right hand and took his oath of office, pledging to serve the United States as its 44th president, ordinary people and their leaders around the globe have been celebrating our nation’s “triumph over race.”  Obama’s election has been touted as the final nail in the coffin of Jim Crow, the bookend placed on the history of racial caste in America. 

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 19:15 Read more...
  • How ALEC Is Creating Florida-Style Messes in Other States
    How ALEC Is Creating Florida-Style Messes in Other States

    Wisconsin is a rod-and-gun state, with a hunting history that has fostered traditions of broad gun ownership and respect for the right to bear arms.

    So how did Wisconsin get saddled with a “Castle Doctrine” law that mirrors some of the worst aspects of the Florida legislation that's now at the center of the controversy over the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 17:42 Read more...
  • We Need More Heels Running Around Capitol Hill
    We Need More Heels Running Around Capitol Hill

    "[I]t will come, but I shall not see it ... It is inevitable. We can no more deny forever the right of self-government to one-half our people than we could keep the Negro forever in bondage. It will not be wrought by the same disrupting forces that freed the slave, but come it will, and I believe within a generation."

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 13:31 Read more...
  • The 1%’s Doctrine for the 99%
    The 1%’s Doctrine for the 99%

    Many on the American Right insist federal actions from the Civil War to recent banking regulations were encroachments on states’ rights and personal liberties, but underlying these claims – in the 1860s and today – is the greed of the richest 1 percent treating the 99 percent as chattel, writes Mark Ames.

    Written on Monday, 26 March 2012 21:21 Read more...
  • Congress Takes a Step or Two Forward, Two Steps Back
    Congress Takes a Step or Two Forward, Two Steps Back

    Watching some of the news coming from Capitol Hill this week, two old music videos started buzzing around in our heads. One was the classic “I’m Just a Bill,” from Schoolhouse Rock, in which a beleaguered piece of legislation sits outside on the marble steps hoping to someday become a law.

    Written on Monday, 26 March 2012 21:15 Read more...

PDA In Your State

Join "Countdown to Coverage" Share TPP with your Daily Newspaper

CWA devised a simple plan for which they were uniquely suited: drag TPP out of the shadows and into the light - one city at a time - using a medium they understand intimately: Daily Newspapers!

Two CWA members - Dave Felice in Denver, CO and Madelyn Elder in Portland, OR have started the ball rolling. We just need to keep up the momentum leading up to a big day of petition deliveries.

Button-ShareTPPWithNewspaper

Step 1 is to send an Op-Ed to your Daily Newspaper.

Sign the TPP Fast Track Petitions

MoveOn.org Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track

Public Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority

MoveOn.org Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership

CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab

 

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of