You need to know this. NBC News has obtained an official White House memo, which lays out the legal justification behind using drones for the targeted killing of American citizens abroad. Three Americans have been killed via a drone strike under the Obama Administration, including Anwar al-Awlaki, his son, and Samir Khan. According to the document, President Obama, and other high-level administration officials, can order the killing of an American overseas if the individual is an imminent threat, incapable of being captured, and the operation is compatible with the rules of war. As far as what constitutes an “imminent threat,” the document provides an overly broad definition, arguing that even if the individual is not actively engaged in an imminent attack against America, he or she can still be considered an “imminent threat”, if they have in the past plotted to attack Americans, and remain a member of a hostile organization. It’s doubtful this sort of legal justification could hold up to judicial scrutiny, and civil liberties groups are up in arms after the leak. Hina Shamsi, the director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, said the White House’s justification for targeted killings, “Summarizes in cold legal terms a stunning overreach of executive authority –- the claimed power to declare Americans a threat and kill them far from a recognized battlefield, and without any judicial involvement before or after the fact…hard to believe it was produced in a democracy built on a system of checks and balances.” The man who crafted the White House’s drone policy is top adviser John Brennan. And he’s also President Obama’s nominee to head up the CIA, meaning it’s unlikely the President is having second thoughts about the drone warfare program, which has been ramped up during his presidency. This will be the greatest national security challenge facing our nation in the coming years. We must stop the senseless robotic killings abroad, and bring back the rule of law in America.
In screwed news…here’s a news flash for the “drill, baby, drill” crowd: more drilling doesn’t mean lower gas prices. It’s been a drilling boom in America, with oil production within the United States increasing 13.8% last year. However, a new report from the Energy Information Administration, shows that household spending on gasoline is at a 30-year high, as gasoline prices have increased dramatically over the last two years. Americans are now spending about 4% of their incomes on gas – or roughly $3,000 bucks a year. Meanwhile, while oil production surges, and gas prices climb, transnational oil corporations are rolling in the cash. ExxonMobil – the most profitable company in the history of the world – reported profits of $45 billion in 2012. And the top 4 oil companies reported total profits of more than $100 billion last year. The simple truth is – no matter how much oil we produce here in the United States, gas prices won’t go down, because oil corporations are making huge amounts of money keeping them high. That’s why we need more regulation, and more public ownership of our natural resources, like oil. There’s no reason why only a few billionaires should profit off the stuff underneath all of us. We should all be profiting off oil production – just like residents of Alaska do.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Some of the biggest fraudsters in the run-up to the financial crisis, in 2007 and 2008, were the credit rating agencies, like S & P and Moody’s, that gave prime ratings to junk mortgages. It’s been alleged that many of these ratings agencies actually took kick-backs from the banks to supply favorable ratings, which ended up screwing over investors. Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting, that the U.S. Justice Department will file suit against S & P, for its role in the crisis. S & P responded by saying a DOJ lawsuit would be, “entirely without factual or legal merit.” You might remember it was S & P that downgraded the United States’ credit rating, after the debt-limit fiasco back in 2011. So this might be less about actually holding Wall Street suits accountable, and more about revenge for embarrassing our nation.
Teen pregnancies are plummeting in New York City. The city’s health commissioner told the New York Daily News, that over the last decade, teen pregnancy rates have dropped by 27%. This drop likely has something to do with New York being one of only 21 states that allows minors to have access to contraceptive services. Also, the public school system started a program two years ago, to provide students in districts with high pregnancy rates with access to Plan B. And, the majority of parents in the New York City public school system approve of this expanded access to emergency contraceptives. In other words, rather than relying on abstinence education, like so many Republicans in southern states – where we see high teen pregnancy rates – insist on, New York is confronting real world problems, with real world solutions.
And finally…free internet for everyone! Well…almost. The FCC is considering plans to set-up free, high-speed public Wi-Fi in both major metropolitan areas, and rural areas. Though it would take several years to implement, this proposal could go a long way to bringing the United States up to speed with the rest of the developed world, when it comes to broadband access, speed, and price. Currently, the United States ranks 16th in the world in these areas. Microsoft and Google are two major proponents of the plan. Meanwhile, telecom giants, that want the wireless spectrum completely privatized, are horrified by the idea of free public access to high-speed internet. The world is rapidly changing in the digital age, which is why it’s important we take the necessary first step to making access to high-speed internet a basic human right.