CJE Wednesday News Briefs
WS - Mr. Brennan, don’t the screams keep you awake at night?
John Brennan’s confirmation hearing to become head of the CIA will take place at the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, February 7. There is suddenly a flurry of attention around a white paper that lays out the administration’s legal justification for killing Americans with drones overseas, and some of the Senators are vowing to ask Brennan “tough questions,” since Brennan has been the mastermind of the lethal drone attacks. But why have the Senators, especially those on the Intelligence Committee who are supposed to exercise oversight of the CIA, waited until now to make public statements about their unease with the killing of Americans that took place back in September and October of 2011? For over a year human rights groups and activists have been trying, unsuccessfully, to get an answer as to why our government killed the 17-year-old American boy Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, and have had no help from the Senators’ offices.
We look forward to hearing the Senators question Brennan about the legal justifications used by the Obama administration to kill three Americans in Yemen, as we are deeply concerned about their deaths and the precedent it sets for the rights of US citizens.
But we are also concerned about the thousands of Pakistanis, Yeminis and Somalis who have been killed by remote control in nations with whom we are not at war. If CODEPINK had a chance to question John Brennan as his hearing on Thursday, here are some questions we would ask: More…
WS – This is FU$KING INSANE!
CBS News reports that a high school in the far northwest suburb of Chicago will be conducting a school shooting drill which will include all the usual securing of the classrooms by teachers: locking of doors, closing of curtains, switching off of lights, and huddling in shadowy corners.
But this little drill will feature something extra special for the kiddies: the sounds of gunshots as blanks are fired in the school’s hallways. Yes, nothing like a bit of post traumatic stress to round out the school day.
According to the e-mail sent out by the Cary-Grove High School to parents:
This drill, “may (May? May! You said may… Drinking anti-freeze “May” upset your tummy.) cause some students to have an emotional reaction. … Additionally, we have trained social workers on staff who can speak directly with your child should he or she need added support.”
(Read full text of the e-mail here.)
In these days of increasing gunfire, few – if any – parents have a problem with schools being properly prepared to handle such an emergency, and drills are a good method of accomplishing this end. Those born in the 1940s likely remember the whimsical “Duck and Cover” civil defense filmthat first began airing in schools in the 1950s so children would know how to behave in the event of nuclear war (though schools didn’t ‘improve’ the setting with a flash of atomic brilliance). I vividly remember tornado drills as a child — our modern day ‘duck and cover’ exercises – though I don’t remember the deafening train-like sound of a tornado filling the school hallways. And children and adults in the workforce are frequently exposed to those ear-splitting fire drills (without the added fun of smoke-clogged passages). But since the terror attacks that rocked our nation on September 11, 2001, schools have been introduced to a new kind of drill, called “terror drills,” which more recently have come to be known as “shooting drills.” And while most schools conduct these drills in a calm and reasoned fashion, some have made certain gross errors in judgment. More…
Today is “Lame Duck Day” – This is too cruel. I won’t do it!
WS – While those that caused the crisis bathe in profits, drink champagne and bid for Catarina Migliorini’s virginity.
In the past few years, Americans have learned a thing or two about how quickly disaster can strike.
And with each Hurricane Sandy, housing crisis, and stock market crash that rocks our world, we’re faced with the realization that many of us simply aren’t prepared for the worst.
A sobering new report by the Corporation for Enterprise Development shows nearly half of U.S. households (132.1 million people) don’t have enough savings to weather emergencies, or finance long-term needs like college tuition, health care and housing.
According to the Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, these people wouldn’t last three months if their income was suddenly depleted. More than 30 percent don’t even have a savings account, and another 8 percent don’t bank at all. More…
S.& P. E-Mails on Mortgage Crisis Show Alarm and Gallows Humor
The executive at Standard & Poor’s was clear: “This market is a wildly spinning top which is going to end badly.”
That sober assessment of certain mortgage-related investments, delivered to colleagues in a confidential memo in December 2006, is now part of a trove of internal e-mails and documents that have come to light in a federal suit against S.& P., the nation’s largest credit ratings agency.
The correspondence, made public in court documents late Monday, provide a glimpse at the inner workings of an institution that the Justice Department says fraudulently inflated credit ratings, with dire consequences for the entire economy. In a series of e-mails, tensions appeared to be escalating inside the firm’s headquarters in Lower Manhattan as it publicly professed that its ratings were valid, even as the home loans bundled into mortgage-backed securities, or M.B.S., were failing at accelerating rates. More…
Solomon Islands hit by 8.0 quake and tsunami, at least 5 dead
WS - This could be a good thing. Helps mix up the Fukushima radiation.
An 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific on Wednesday. At least five people died as the disaster reportedly flattened several coastal villages.
Five people were confirmed dead in the disaster. They were two elderly men, two elderly women and a boy aged between 10 and 12, local medics said.
The epicenter of the tremor was located at a shallow depth of 5.8 km in the area of the Santa Cruz Islands, the US Geological Survey initially reported. It later revised it to a much greater depth of 28.7 km. The first tremor was followed shortly after by two strong aftershocks – one rated at magnitude 6.4 and another at 6.6 – and dozens smaller ones over the next few hours.
At least three villages along the Lata coast have been reported destroyed, Director of Nursing Augustine Bilve at Lata Hospital told New Zealand’s One News. He said up to 700 people lived in the affected villages and the hospital was expecting many casualties. More…
Meet Rex: the $1m bionic man with working heart, set of lungs and human face
WS – At first, I thought they were talking about Dick Cheney. But the cost to keep Cheney running is much more than $1m. And you’re paying for it.
Most human body parts can be replaced, say scientists, and here’s the evidence
When Luke Skywalker received a perfect bionic replacement for the hand that was cut off in Star Wars Episode V, the idea of replicating human organs and body parts seemed far-fetched.
Thirty years later, the idea is no longer just science fiction. Scientists, among them the creators of “Rex” – the world’s most complete bionic man, unveiled in London this week – believe they can now replicate about two-thirds of the human body.
“We were surprised how many of the parts of the body can be replaced,” said Rich Walker, managing director of the robotics team Shadow, who built Rex. “There are some vital organs missing, like the stomach, but 60 to 70 per cent of a human has effectively been rebuilt.” This is heralded, then, as the dawn of the age of bionic man – although specialists caution that we are still feeling our way.
Social psychologist Bertolt Meyer, who also worked on Rex, has an interesting perspective: he was born without his left hand and has a prosthesis. “I have looked for new bionic technologies out of personal interest for a long time and I think that until five or six years ago nothing much was happening,” he said. “Suddenly we are at a point where we can build a body that is great and beautiful in its own special way.” More…
Nearly Half of All US Farms Now Have Superweeds
WS – The other half have “Superinsects”.
Last year’s drought took a big bite out of the two most prodigious US crops, corn and soy. But it apparently didn’t slow down the spread of weeds that have developed resistance to Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup (glyphosate), used on crops engineered by Monsanto to resist it. More than 70 percent of all the the corn, soy, and cotton grown in the US is now genetically modified to withstand glyphosate.
Back in 2011, such weeds were already spreading fast. “Monsanto’s ‘Superweeds’ Gallop Through Midwest,” declared the headline of a post I wrote then. What’s the word you use when an already-galloping horse speeds up? Because that’s what’s happening. Let’s try this: “Monsanto’s ‘Superweeds’ Stampede Through Midwest.”
That pretty much describes the situation last year, according to a new report from the agribusiness research consultancy Stratus. Since the 2010 growing season, the group has been polling “thousands of US farmers” across 31 states about herbicide resistance. Here’s what they found in the 2012 season: More…