The Common Good

Quick Read: Social. Justice. News.

DRONE WATCH: It’s All About the Money

With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down and the Pentagon budget cuts likely, U.S. weapons manufacturers are looking for ways to keep their profits up. The Los Angeles Times reports that exporting drones might be the next step.

"Despite concerns about U.S.-made drones ending up in enemy hands, American military contractors are lobbying the government to loosen export restrictions and open up foreign markets to the unmanned aircraft that have reshaped modern warfare.

Companies such as Northrop Grumman Corp. and other arms makers are eager to tap a growing foreign appetite for high-tech — and relatively cheap — drones, already being sold on the world market by countries such as Israel and China."

If changes are made in export regulations, expect to see drones becoming common weapons in areas of conflict around the world. It’s a dangerous possibility, but … it’s all about the money.

+Leave a Comment | Peace & Nonviolence

Even Facts Have a Point of View

Proponents of "America as a Christian nation" ideology like to point to our founding fathers' faith, however shoddy the details of said faith, to make their arguments. Case in point, David Barton of WallBuilders, whose book The Jefferson Lies touts Thomas Jefferson as an orthodox Christian.

Stephen Prothero in his latest column for USA Today, points to Barton's (and others like Glenn Beck's) talking points as indicative of the larger issue of extreme factionalism that stretches the truth for its own means. 

From the column:

"In our nation's capital, many Republicans and Democrats now treat their political opponents as mortal enemies at war with all that is good and godly in America. And the Supreme Court, which used to be seen as "above" politics, is under closer scrutiny than ever after a string of hotly contested 5-4 rulings. This fervent factionalism is not confined to politics and law, however. It is leeching into science and history. As musician David Byrne of The Talking Heads once put it, even facts now have a point of view."

+Leave a Comment | Faith & Politics

DRONE WATCH: Drone Summary for June

One of the most respected sources of investigative reporting on drones is The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a non-profit organization based in London. As part of its research, TBIJ tracks drone strikes and other US military and paramilitary actions in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. Yesterday, TBIJ released its summary for June. The major conclusions:

  • As relations between Washington and Islamabad continue to falter, Bureau data shows fewer civilians are being killed in CIA drone strikes in Pakistan than at any time in the Obama presidency.
  • US military action in Yemen is at its bloodiest ever, with the strike rate and reported casualties the highest yet recorded.
  • The true extent of US action in Somalia remain unclear, despite many claims of attacks.

The report also provides a comparison of the first 6 months of this year with 2011.

+Leave a Comment | Peace & Nonviolence

Irony Behind Florida Governor's Medicaid Call

Florida governor Rick Scott says he won't take the federal money that would enable Medicaid to be expanded in his state, The Nation's blog reports:

"Nearly 1 million Floridians will be denied access to Medicaid they would have otherwise received under the Affordable Care Act if Governor Rick Scott gets his way. The Supreme Court ruling last week on the law  made it easier for states to opt out of an expansion, and Sunday night the governor’s office e-mailed a statement from Scott that 'since Florida is legally allowed to opt out, that’s the right decision for our citizens.'”

This choice is particularly ironic, given that Scott was CEO of Columbia/HCA in the 1990s: that company was found to have defrauded Medicare on his watch. Eventually it pled guilty to 14 felonies and paid fines of $1.7 billion. Scott denied knowing what was going on when he was in charge of the company. As the Miami Herald reported:

"He has denied knowing frauds were taking place while he was there, and he was never charged with any crimes.

"However, federal investigators found that Scott took part in business practices at Columbia/HCA that were later found to be illegal -- specifically, that Scott and other executives offered financial incentives to doctors in exchange for patient referrals, in violation of federal law, according to lawsuits the Justice Department filed against the company in 2001."

 
+Leave a Comment | Economic Justice

DRONE WATCH: Anti-drone Protests Growing

As killing by drone continues, anti-drone groups organizing protests against the policy are growing. Last week, 15 people were arrested in a protest outside a New York Air National Guard base near Syracuse. According to the Syracuse Post-Standard

Fifteen people, including a woman in a wheelchair, were arrested for trespassing today during a protest at the New York Air National Guard base at Hancock Field.

The members of the Upstate Coalition To Ground the Drones and End the Wars staged their protest for almost two and a half hours this afternoon, from 11 a.m. to about 1:40 p.m., as New York State Troopers and DeWitt Police stood by appearing to confer with members of the military.

The protestors stood in front of the base’s main gate off Molloy Road, blocking vehicles that attempted to enter.

“There’s war crimes here,” protestor Ellen Grady hollered at a blue Chevrolet Impala as it tried to turn in. “We have to close the base.”

+Leave a Comment | Peace & Nonviolence

'Homeless' Pastor on Mission Arrested in Texas

From WOAI-TV in San Antonio, Texas:

She's been living on the streets to bring attention to homelessness, but Sunday night a local pastor stayed behind bars.

The Rev. Lorenza Andrade Smith had a warrant out for her arrest, because she was cited for sleeping on a park bench, which she says proves her point, that the homeless have few places to lay their heads. Along her journey the pastor has discovered what she calls an unjust judicial system for the poor.


She said, “This will be the second time I’m in jail for that same ticket and I’m just trying to survive out in the streets like hundreds of others here in San Antonio.”


+Leave a Comment | Economic Justice

Anderson Cooper to Andrew Sullivan: "The Fact Is, I'm Gay."

In an email interview with his longtime friend and fellow journalism colleague, Andrew Sullivan, on The Daily Beast, CNN's Anderson Cooper spoke out publicly today for the first time about his sexual orientation.

"... [W]hile as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.

"The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.

"I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues. In a perfect world, I don't think it's anyone else's business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted. I’m not an activist, but I am a human being and I don't give that up by being a journalist."

Read the post in its entirety HERE.

Image: Anderson Cooper by Joe Seer/Shutterstock

+Leave a Comment

DRONE WATCH: Sunday Drone Attack Kills Eight

The Associated Press reports

U.S. missiles fired from a drone in a Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border killed eight suspected militants early Sunday, officials said, as the controversial American strikes continue despite Islamabad's persistent demands that they stop.

Unidentified Pakistani intelligence officials said that four Hellfire missiles were fired at a house in the North Waziristan tribal area used by suspected militants. The eight dead included suspected members of a Taliban faction and some suspected members of the Turkmenistan Islamic Movement.

+Leave a Comment | Peace & Nonviolence

New York City Churches Will No Longer Be Evicted from Public Buildings (For Now)

Sarah Pulliam Bailey at Christianity Today reports:

More than 60 churches that faced possible eviction Sunday from New York City public schools should have more room to breathe. The churches will be allowed to continue to meet in public schools, thanks to a permanent injunction issued today from a district court judge.

Read the full report HERE.

+Leave a Comment

Tensions Mount on Turkey-Syria Border

The New York Times reports:

"As diplomats prepared for a weekend meeting to revive stalled Syria peace efforts, regional tensions swirling around the 16-month-old crisis ticked higher on Thursday as Turkey said it was stationing antiaircraft batteries on the common border following the downing of one of its warplanes.
 
Word of the border fortification coincided with further suggestions within Syria that insurgents seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad were operating with increasing audacity in an and around the capital, Damascus. The state news agency, SANA, said an explosion rocked the parking lot of the Palace of Justice, a government court building, on Thursday, sending a plume of black smoke into the sky and injuring three people, just a day after a disputed attack on a pro-government satellite television station 14 miles south of the city."
 
Learn more here
+Leave a Comment | Peace & Nonviolence