The Common Good

Blog Posts By Duane Shank

Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 12 weeks ago
The British military has been flying drones in Afghanistan for several years, firing 350 weapons, including Hellfire missiles. But due to lack of the necessary capacity, British pilots have controlled them from the U.S. Creech Air Force base in Nevada. Last week that changed, as the Guardian reports:“Remotely controlled armed drones used to target insurgents in Afghanistan have been operated from the UK for the first time, the Ministry of Defence said on Thursday. Missions of the missile-carrying Reaper aircraft began from a newly built headquarters at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire earlier this week – five years after the MoD bought the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to monitor and attack the Taliban”.
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 12 weeks ago
An Israeli jet shot down a drone off its northern coast on Thursday. While some Israeli officials said they believed it was an Iranian-manufactured aircraft sent by Hezbollah, that group denied it. The Associated Press reported:Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said the unmanned aircraft was detected as it was flying over Lebanon and tracked as it approached Israeli airspace.He said the military waited for the aircraft to enter Israeli airspace, confirmed it was “enemy,” and then an F-16 warplane shot it down, smashing its wreckage into the sea about five miles (eight kilometers) off the northern port of Haifa. Lerner said Israeli naval forces were searching for the remains of the aircraft.He said it still was not clear who sent the drone, noting it flew over Lebanese airspace, but that it could have originated from somewhere else.
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 12 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "Coming to memorials, when you''re part of this brotherhood, one of the biggest brotherhoods in the world created for the purpose of protecting others, that''s just what you do." Tito Rodriguez, an assistant fire chief with the Clute Fire Department near Houston at a memorial service for 14 people, nearly all of them emergency responders, killed in an explosion last week at a Texas fertilizer plant. (Reuters)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 13 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "We’re doing the right thing today. They must be looked upon as those who gave their blood to help redeem the soul of America." Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), as the House voted to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to four black girls killed in the explosion at a Birmingham, Ala., church in September 1963. (Chicago Tribune)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 13 weeks ago
The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, chaired by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), held a hearing yesterday on “The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killing.” It was the Senate’s first public hearing on drones. McClatchy News reported on the hearing that witnesses urged “the Obama administration to make public more information about its top-secret targeted killing program amid questions about the legality and effectiveness of hundreds of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere.”One witness was from Yemen:“Farea al Muslimi, a U.S.-educated activist from Yemen, testified that drone strikes have killed many civilians in his country, aiding al Qaida’s regional affiliate, al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, by appearing to affirm its propaganda that the United States is waging war against ordinary Yemenis. “The drones have simply made more mistakes than AQAP has ever done,” he said.”Another witness, retired Marine Gen. James Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, had some practical proposals:“Cartwright called on Obama to establish a government task force to evaluate secret drone strikes, including the extent of civilian casualties and their impacts on communities; the effectiveness of precautions used to avert such casualties; and the means by which the results of strikes are assessed. An unclassified version of the task force’s final report should be made public, he said.“Cartwright said the CIA also should publicly acknowledge its role in drone operations outside Afghanistan, establish procedures for declassifying information on those operations after they’re over, and provide information to Congress on the impact of drone strikes on civilians.” 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 13 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “It’s been Obama versus Obama on whistleblower policy. Until recently, there was a virtual free-speech advocacy for whistleblower job rights that’s unprecedented, more than any other president in history. At the same time, he has willingly allowed the Justice Department to prosecute whistleblowers on tenuous grounds.” Tom Devine, legal director of the nonprofit Government Accountability Project. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 13 weeks ago
The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights is holding a hearing this afternoon on “The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killing.” According to Subcommittee Chair Sen. Richard Durbin’s office:“the hearing will address the legal and policy issues raised by drone strikes, including the constitutional and statutory authority for targeted killings, the scope of the battlefield in the conflict with Al Qaeda and associated forces, and the international precedent set by U.S. drone policy.” You can watch it live here.    
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 13 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "What we really do when we conserve all these varieties is conserve options for adapting agriculture in the future. It’s very clear that agriculture is facing major challenges these days." Marie Haga, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, on why thousands of varieties of seeds are being saved in a global seed vault so they can be studied and used for future food needs. (McClatchy News)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 13 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “The crimes of two young men must not be justification for prejudice against Muslims, or against enemies. The Gospel is the antidote for the ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’ mentality.” Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, in his homily yesterday. (Boston Globe)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 13 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "I''ve been policing for 32 years and seen some pretty rough stuff in that time. I''ve never seen anything of this magnitude." Sgt. Patrick Swanton, a police spokesman, speaking of the devastation following  a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 14 weeks ago
The month-long break in drone strikes appears to have ended.On Wednesday, a strike on a training camp in Pakistan killed at least five people. According to Al Jazeera:“A US drone has fired two missiles into a Taliban training camp in Pakistan, destroying the compound and killing at least five people, local officials have said.“Wednesday's strike took place in the Baber Ghar area of the South Waziristan tribal district on the Afghan border, a stronghold of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud where the faction runs several camps.”Also on Wednesday, two separate strikes in Yemen killed five. The Associated Press reported:“Two U.S. drone strikes Wednesday killed at least five suspected al-Qaida militants and destroyed the house of one of them in a mountainous area south of the capital, Sanaa, a Yemeni security official and witnesses said.“The four were killed in the first strike while riding a vehicle in the desert area of Oussab al-Ali, about 140 kilometers (90 miles) south of Sanaa, the official said. The second strike killed a fifth suspected jihadi, Hamed Radman. A drone bombed his house, the official said.” 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 14 weeks ago
Ten major human rights and civil rights organizations have sent a statement to President Obama expressing their “shared concerns” about the U.S. targeted killing program using drones. The signatories included the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights Watch, and others.The statement begins by summarizing the organizations’ concerns, and then elaborates on each point.“The undersigned human rights and civil rights groups urge the United States to take essential steps to ensure meaningful transparency and legal compliance with regard to U.S. targeted killing policies and practices, particularly those outside the internationally-recognized armed conflict in Afghanistan. In particular, we call on the administration to: publicly disclose key targeted killing standards and criteria; ensure that U.S. lethal force operations abroad comply with international law; enable meaningful congressional oversight and judicial review; and ensure effective investigations, tracking and response to civilian harm."
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 14 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “For evangelicals, the rule of law has trumped the desire to empathize. But we feel we are at a tipping point.” Jenny Yang of the National Association of Evangelicals, as the Evangelical Immigration Table gathered in Washington for a day of worship and advocacy. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 14 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "As we come into springtime, there is a bit less focus on the issue of hunger. Fighting Hunger Together is intended to remind people that the demand is the same all year long." Bob Aiken, president of Feeding America, which is launching its second annual April food drive in cooperation with a growing number of food companies. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 14 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “The two things that struck me the most were the incredible calm of the victims, even though they were obviously ­experiencing something no ­human being should ever have to experience. Incredibly calm and able to help us take care of them.” Dr. Ron Walls, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. (Boston Globe)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 14 weeks ago
 On Sunday evening, the first U.S. drone attack in nearly a month killed at least four people in Pakistan. The attack took place in Datta Khel town, 22 miles west of Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan region. According to Agence France-Presse:Six US drones flew over the area when one of them fired two missiles at a compound in the Manzarkhel area of the town. "The drones kept hovering at the compound for a while and then one drone fired two missiles at the time of sunset," a local security official said. "At least four militants were killed in the strike," said the official. 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 14 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “What most people don’t understand is the high cost of war. When we send people to war, we have to understand that it’s not just the guns and planes and ammunition. It means taking care of the people who come back.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) on why he is passionate about his new role as chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee. (Washington Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 15 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “It was obvious, Father said, that we must either steal food or slowly starve. And in that dangerous enterprise we must have the help of some power beyond ourselves. So, standing before us all, he said a prayer to St. Dismas, the Good Thief, who was crucified at the right hand of Jesus, asking for his aid. I’ll never doubt the power of prayer again.” Mike Dowe, 85, a prisoner of war during the Korean War, speaking of Father Emil Kapaun, who died in 1951 in a North Korean prison and is being awarded the Medal of Honor today for his ministry to fellow POWs. (Washington Post and Saturday Evening Post)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 15 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "Our concerns really are around making sure that the path to citizenship is clear and expeditious and isn't tethered to anything like enforcement." Kica Matos, director of immigration rights at the Center for Community Change, one of the organizers of the National Rally for Citizenship taking place today at the Capitol. (Reuters)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 15 weeks ago
After years of secrecy, the leaks of classified information on the drone killing program in Pakistan have turned into a torrent. Today, it was the McClatchy Newspapers, running two stories by national security and intelligence reporter Jonathan S. Landay.The first examines in depth intelligence reports that covered most of the drone strikes in 2006-2008 and 2010-2011. Reviewing the killings covered in these reports, Landay concludes that:“Contrary to assurances it has deployed U.S. drones only against known senior leaders of al Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified “other” militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area, classified U.S. intelligence reports show.”The second, apparently using some of the same reports, reveals the history and extent of cooperation between the CIA and Pakistani intelligence. While Pakistan was aiding the U.S against al Qaida, CIA drones were aiding the Pakistani military against the Taliban.“Even as its civilian leaders publicly decried U.S. drone attacks as breaches of sovereignty and international law, Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency secretly worked for years with the CIA on strikes that killed Pakistani insurgent leaders and scores of suspected lower-level fighters, according to classified U.S. intelligence reports. Dozens of civilians also reportedly died in the strikes in the semi-autonomous tribal region of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan that is a stronghold of al Qaida, Afghan militants, other foreign jihadists and a tangle of violent Pakistani Islamist groups.”Both stories are long, both are well worth reading. Taken together, they reveal more secret details of the drone killing program.
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 15 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "We don't need more guns. We need people who can build relationships with young people." Judith Brown Diannis of the Advancement Project, a coalition of civil rights groups that supports a coalition of young people from across the nation in opposing more armed guards in schools. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 15 weeks ago
While there appears to be a lull in drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen, are the next targets being prepared? The Japan Times reports that as tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain high, the possibility of unarmed drones carrying out surveillance over North Korea is increasing.“Japan and the U.S. might deploy the Global Hawk, a high-altitude reconnaissance drone, at Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture to increase surveillance of North Korea … Interest in monitoring North Korea has been climbing since it began threatening nuclear strikes, and reportedly moved a midrange missile to its east coast Thursday.”The Voice of America reported a confirmation of the story,“The Defense Ministry in Tokyo also confirms the United States is considering deploying high altitude aerial reconnaissance "Global Hawk" drones to Misawa air base in northern Japan to monitor North Korea.”While the Global Hawk is not designed to carry weapons, its surveillance capabilities have made it “one of the best sources of tips for where to send the Predator and Reaper drones, which fly at lower altitudes and fire missiles.” Is that what’s in store for North Korea? 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 15 weeks ago
How did the drone assassination program begin? In a front page feature Sunday, The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti offered an answer. In June 2004, a Pakistani Taliban leader, Nek Muhammad , was killed by a drone strike in the South Waziristan tribal area. The killing, writes Mazzetti, was the result of a secret deal between the CIA and Pakistani intelligence officials.“Mr. Muhammad and his followers had been killed by the C.I.A., the first time it had deployed a Predator drone in Pakistan to carry out a “targeted killing.” The target was not a top operative of Al Qaeda, but a Pakistani ally of the Taliban who led a tribal rebellion and was marked by Pakistan as an enemy of the state. In a secret deal, the C.I.A. had agreed to kill him in exchange for access to airspace it had long sought so it could use drones to hunt down its own enemies.“That back-room bargain, described in detail for the first time in interviews with more than a dozen officials in Pakistan and the United States, is critical to understanding the origins of a covert drone war that began under the Bush administration, was embraced and expanded by President Obama, and is now the subject of fierce debate. The deal, a month after a blistering internal report about abuses in the C.I.A.’s network of secret prisons, paved the way for the C.I.A. to change its focus from capturing terrorists to killing them, and helped transform an agency that began as a cold war espionage service into a paramilitary organization.“The C.I.A. has since conducted hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan that have killed thousands of people, Pakistanis and Arabs, militants and civilians alike. While it was not the first country where the United States used drones, it became the laboratory for the targeted killing operations that have come to define a new American way of fighting, blurring the line between soldiers and spies and short-circuiting the normal mechanisms by which the United States as a nation goes to war.”According to the Associated Press of Pakistan, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Office responded that “the story is baseless and a part of the propaganda to create confusion about the clear position of Pakistan on this matter.”  
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 15 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “A whole civilization belonging to all humanity is being destroyed.” Dr. Paolo Matthiae, an archaeologist who has worked at the ancient Syrian city of Ebla on what is happening to the site in the ongoing fighting. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 15 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “There will be people all over the world today who are now scared witless.” Richard Murphy, research director for Tax Justice Network, a British-based organization, on the leak of 2.5 million files detailing the offshore bank accounts and shell companies of wealthy individuals and tax-averse companies. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 16 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores, and thereby speed the day when ‘every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.’" Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., assassinated 45 years ago today. (A Time to Break Silence)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 16 weeks ago
The Church of the Brethren will consider a “Resolution Against Drone Warfare” at its annual conference this summer. Passed by the church’s Mission and Ministry Board, the resolution states“We are troubled by the quickly expanding use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. These drones are being used for surveillance and remote killing of people. In our opposition to all types of war, the Church of the Brethren has spoken out specifically against covert warfare.... Drone warfare embodies the fundamental problems that covert warfare entails.”The resolution urges the church and its members to“Call upon Congress to hold the President accountable for his administration’s past use of armed drones, and to control the future use of armed drones by instituting legitimate oversight of any deployment of drones by the military or the CIA. We will no longer tolerate secretive “kill lists,” and the decision-making process in the matter of armed drones must be made public so that the lethal actions of government may be properly understood and judged.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 16 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “Finally we have seen the governments of the world come together and say ‘Enough!’ It is time to stop the poorly regulated arms trade. It is time to bring the arms trade under control.”  Anna MacDonald, head of arms control for Oxfam International, on the passage yesterday of the Arms Trade Treaty. (New York Times)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 16 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "I made this decision to serve and help our sisters and mothers in the area. Our area of Bajur (tribal region) is poor and backward, we have problems in the health and education sectors — this is the reason I decided to take part in the election." Badam Zari, one of the first women to run for parliament from Pakistan’s conservative tribal regions. (Al Jazeera)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 16 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "We ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace." Pope Francis, in his Urbi et Orbi (To the city and the world) speech on Easter Sunday. (BBC)    
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 16 weeks ago
Daily Digest is out of the office on this Good Friday. We pray that you all have a very blessed Easter weekend. The Digest will be back as scheduled on Monday morning. 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 17 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "We appeal to the people of South Africa and the world to pray for our beloved Madiba and his family and to keep them in their thoughts. We have full confidence in the medical team and know that they will do everything possible to ensure recovery.” Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa, in a statement after Nelson Mandela suffered a recurrence of his lung infection and was taken to a hospital. (BBC)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 17 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “Thirty-three Americans are going to continue to be murdered with guns each day and every day until Congress acts, and they are going to be hearing about it much more than they were six months ago. Reality number two is that there will be another mass shooting, and when there is, people who refuse to do the easy things are going to have a lot of explaining to do.”  Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, on the failure of Congress to act on gun control.  (Politico)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 17 weeks ago
With data from the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, a team of developers has created a visualization of every drone strike in Pakistan since 2004. The interactive timeline shows how the campaign built over time, and illustrates the number of people killed. According to the Bureau:“The project, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, aims to capture the scale and human cost of the drone war in Pakistan through its visual representation of the CIA’s covert Pakistan drone war from the first event in 2004 to the latest strike.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 17 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “Baptists have always joined hands across lines with those of many faiths and those who don’t claim faith and have a commitment to the common good. The Baptist history of religious liberty is a special gift to the nation and I look forward to working on religious liberty issues in this new role.” Melissa Rogers, the new director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. (Associated Baptist Press)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 17 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “After enjoying Seders with family and friends in Chicago and on the campaign trail, I’m proud to have brought this tradition into the White House. I did so because I wanted my daughters to experience the Haggadah and the story at the center of Passover that makes this time of year so powerful.” Barack Obama on why the White House will again host a seder this evening, the beginning of the first day of Passover. (Washington Post) 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 17 weeks ago
While the drone debate continues to grow, the administration is moving to expand their use. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. Air Force began flying surveillance drones from a base in Niger late last month.“Since taking office in 2009, President Obama has relied heavily on drones for operations, both declared and covert, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. U.S. drones also fly from allied bases in Turkey, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines.“Now, they are becoming a fixture in Africa. The U.S. military has built a major drone hub in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, and flies unarmed Reaper drones from Ethiopia. Until recently, it conducted reconnaissance flights over East Africa from the island nation of the Seychelles.“The Predator drones in Niger, a landlocked and dirt-poor country, give the Pentagon a strategic foothold in West Africa.”At this point, the primary objective from the new base is the fight against an Islamic insurgency in Mali, intelligence information from the drones is shared with French and African troops involved.
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 17 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "Indigenous people are coming together with many, many allies across the United States and Canada, and we will not allow these pipelines to cross our territories. Along with every single legal thing that can be done, there is direct action going on now to plan how to physically stop the pipelines." Phil Lane Jr., a hereditary chief from the Ihanktonwan Dakota in the state of South Dakota, speaking of three multibillion-dollar pipelines that are planned to transport oil from the Alberta tar sands. (Guardian) 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 17 weeks ago
Four people were killed in a drone attack on a vehicle in Pakistan yesterday. According to The New York Times,"The officials said missiles fired late Thursday night from a drone operated by the Central Intelligence Agency hit a moving vehicle in Datta Khel Bazar in the North Waziristan tribal region, which is a redoubt of local and foreign militants. “Four men inside the vehicle were killed,” a tribal official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The nationality of those killed was not immediately clear. The vehicle exploded after it was hit by two missiles, leaving the bodies charred and beyond recognition.”This is the first reported attack in nearly two weeks. 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 18 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "But more than anything, we must keep alive in the world the thirst for the Absolute. We must never allow a one-dimensional vision of the human person to prevail — a vision that reduces the person to what he produces and consumes." Pope Francis, in a meeting with the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, and Jain delegations that had come to the Vatican for his inauguration. (Catholic News Service) 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 18 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "I am excited that today I have achieved my dream of going back to school. I want all girls in the world to have this basic opportunity." Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani who returned to school yesterday for the first time since she was shot in the head by the Taliban in October. (Al Jazeera)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 18 weeks ago
In an exclusive this morning, The Daily Beast’s Daniel Klaidman reports that the CIA is about to lose its drone program.“At a time when controversy over the Obama administration’s drone program seems to be cresting, the CIA is close to taking a major step toward getting out of the targeted killing business. Three senior U.S. officials tell The Daily Beast that the White House is poised to sign off on a plan to shift the CIA’s lethal targeting program to the Defense Department.“The move could potentially toughen the criteria for drone strikes, strengthen the program’s accountability, and increase transparency. Currently, the government maintains parallel drone programs, one housed in the CIA and the other run by the Department of Defense. The proposed plan would unify the command and control structure of targeted killings and create a uniform set of rules and procedures.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 18 weeks ago
Quote of the day. “When I say 2.5 million people have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, jaws drop. I know which lines are going to get gasps, and that’s one of them. I don’t think they appreciate how many people have served, and particularly the number who have had repeated deployments.” Paul Rieckhoff, chief executive officer of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. (McClatchy News)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 18 weeks ago
Current and former U.S. officials have told the Los Angeles Times that the CIA is gathering intelligence on Islamic extremists in Syria as part of contingency planning for possible drone strikes. Although drone strikes have not been considered or authorized, according to the Times:“The Counterterrorism Center, which runs the CIA’s covert drone killing program in Pakistan and Yemen, recently shifted several targeting officers to improve intelligence collection on militants in Syria who could pose a terrorist threat, the officials said.“The targeting officers have formed a unit with colleagues who were tracking Al Qaeda operatives and fighters in Iraq. U.S. officials believe that some of these operatives have moved to Syria and joined Islamic militias battling to overthrow President Bashar Assad.“The CIA effort, which involves assembling detailed dossiers on key militants, gives the White House both lethal and nonlethal options if it concludes that Syria’s 2-year-old civil war — which has caused 70,000 deaths, according to United Nations estimates — is creating a haven for terrorists.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 18 weeks ago
Quote of the Day. "It is a gesture to underline relations which have been developing over the recent years and to express my wish that our friendly ties flourish even more during this new era.” Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of the world''s Orthodox Christians, on why he will be the first to attend a papal investiture since the split between the eastern and western churches in 1054. (Associated Press)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 18 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "It is critical that parents are actively engaged as their teens learn to drive. We can enact the best laws and create the strongest programs, but without parental involvement, teens will continue to be at risk." Jonathan Adkins of the Governors Highway Safety Association, as recent deadly crashes in five states are a reminder that vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of U.S. teenagers. (USA Today)
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 18 weeks ago
Following a three-day visit to Pakistan, Ben Emmerson QC, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, warned that continuing U.S. drone strikes are a violation of  that country’s sovereignty. According to the Guardian, Emmerson said,"The position of the government of Pakistan is quite clear. It does not consent to the use of drones by the United States on its territory and it considers this to be a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity."As a matter of international law the US drone campaign in Pakistan is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate government of the state. It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty."Pakistan has also been quite clear that it considers the drone campaign to be counter-productive and to be radicalizing a whole new generation, and thereby perpetuating the problem of terrorism in the region.” 
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 18 weeks ago
As an Iranian fighter jet approached a Predator surveillance drone over the Persian Gulf earlier this week, it was warned away by a U.S. Air Force jet escort. The Los Angeles Times reports:“The incident, which was not disclosed for two days, is at least the third time U.S. and Iranian military forces have faced off over American spy drones in the last 15 months, and it inevitably raised concerns of a more serious confrontation.“The Obama administration has stepped up military and intelligence surveillance flights near Iranian airspace and moved warships and other military assets to the Middle East in connection with the increasing Western pressure on Iran to suspend its nuclear development program.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 18 weeks ago
In an opinion piece this morning, former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta urges President Obama to make available to Congress and the American people the legal opinions governing the targeted drone killing program. Podesta writes:“In refusing to release to Congress the rules and justifications governing a program that has conducted nearly 400 unmanned drone strikes and killed at least three Americans in the past four years, President Obama is ignoring the system of checks and balances that has governed our country from its earliest days. And in keeping this information from the American people, he is undermining the nation’s ability to be a leader on the world stage and is acting in opposition to the democratic principles we hold most important. This is why I say, respectfully: Give them up, Mr. President.”
Posted by Duane Shank 1 year 19 weeks ago
Quote of the day. "Many years ago, the father was looked at primarily as a financial provider. Now he''s looked at in a much more holistic sense of what providing means. It''s not just financial — it means spiritual and emotional provision as well." Christopher Brown of the National Fatherhood Initiative on new research showing how parents spend their time. (USA Today)