We are addicted to violence. As a nation it is our drug of choice and we are all strung out after years of wars. Like a junkie we do our business in secret — drone strikes as track marks on the arms of Uncle Sam. We see the dealer rolling through the streets with his tricked out tanks and fighter jets with rims. And we say, I want to be just like you, G.I. Joe. I want to be a war hero. So we push the guns into the hands of young men without any hope. And we push the guns into the hands of those who live in fear of a world changing too fast. And we push the guns into the hands of children saying: be a man, be a hero.
Do you realize that the $850 billion bank bailout — that sum of money — is greater than the entire fifty-year running budget of NASA?
This seems like an appropriate quote for today.
In 2012, NASA’s budget will be less than half a percent of the total Federal Budget. This also represents 35% of the total spending on academic scientific research in the United States.
Over the past 50 years, with little more than the pocket change left over, NASA has turned science-fiction into science-fact. Space stations, human spaceflight, interplanetary exploration - this is all reality now.
Imagine what we could accomplish if we started prioritizing science.
Congress is finally standing up to President Barack Obama on targeted killing. Almost a year after three American citizens were killed in US drone strikes, legislators are pushing the administration to explain why it believes it’s legal to kill American terror suspects overseas.
Congress is considering two measures that would compel the Obama administration to show members of Congress what Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) calls Obama’s “license to kill”: internal memos outlining the legal justification for killing Americans overseas without charge or trial. Legislators have been asking administration officials to release the documents for nearly a year, raising the issue multiple times in hearings and letters. But the new proposals, including one from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) first flagged by blogger Marcy Wheeler and another in a separate intelligence bill, aren’t requests—they would mandate disclosure. That shift shows both Republicans and Democrats are growing impatient with the lack of transparency on targeted killings.
After radical American-born clericAnwar al-Awlaki, alleged American Al Qaeda propagandist Samir Khan, and Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, were killed by drone strikes in Yemen in September and October of last year, Republican and Democratic members of Congress sent letters asking the Obama administration to explain the legal justification for targeted killing of American citizens. “We got a license to kill Americans, and we don’t know the legal basis for the license to kill Americans…because our letters haven’t been answered,” Grassley complained during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week.
The New York Times has confirmed the existence of a secret memo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)—the branch of the government that tells the president whether what he wants to do is legal—outlining the legal basis for the targeted killing program. But the Obama administration has yet to acknowledge that any such memo exists, despite defending the targeted killing policy in speeches and public appearances, and is currently fighting an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that seeks to force the government to reveal the legal justification for targeted killing. Now Congress seems to be moving towards the ACLU’s position.
The Pentagon has renewed its shipment of weapons to the Yemeni military, having finally ended the nearly one year halt put on such shipments because of public protests and the military’s crackdown on popular dissent.
Those familiar with the Yemeni military’s checkered human rights history will be concerned to know that the new US aid, totaling $112 million, includes sniper rifles, machine guns, and over 1 million rounds of ammunition.
If that makes it sound like someone is preparing a war, that’s because someone is. The renewal of shipments comes as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta wrote a new letter to Congress informing them of the need to increase “counter-terrorism operations” in Yemen.
Already US troops are on the ground in Yemen, guiding offensives like the recent one against secessionists in the Abyan Province. Other offensives are expected against the nation’s interior as well as against secessionist Shi’ites in the far north. Given the huge number of opponents of US-backed ruler Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the Yemeni military is likely to use up those rounds of ammunition long before they run out of potential targets.
The so called War on Drugs has not succeeded in making significant reductions in drug use, drug arrests or violence. We are pouring huge amounts of our public resources into this current effort that are bleeding our public treasury and unnecessarily undermining human potential […] We should be investing dollars in programs and strategies that work not just to lower crime but work to empower lives.
We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites.
We don’t blink an eye of the money that we have been spending on perpetual warfare. We literally don’t even, we don’t just sit here and go, ‘Whoa, trillions & trillions of dollars for warfare.’ But when we’re talking about healthcare, which is our people and their well-being, we’re shocked that it should cost us some money.
— Mark Ruffalo (via bobbyparsa)
“Increasing pressure in all these ways is critical because no transition plan can progress so long as the regime’s brutal assaults continue. That’s why the entire world is now looking to those few nations that still have influence in Damascus. They need to step up and use all their leverage to make sure Assad sees the writing on the wall. Sitting on the sidelines – or even worse, enabling the regime’s brutality – would be a grievous mistake.
And by the same token, let me say to the soldiers and officials still supporting the Assad regime, the Syrian people will remember the choices you make in the coming days, and so will the world. The new Syrian Justice and Accountability Center is now up and running, compiling evidence of serious violations of human rights. And we are seeing high-level defections every day. It is time to abandon the dictator, embrace your country men and women, and get on the right side of history.” - Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State