Category Archives: Politics

Senate Votes in Favor of Surveillance Drones — 30,000 of them!

Photo: Mixer / Flickr – CC

by Michelle Golonka

There is no doubt that this country is becoming a police state. And once again, another story that threatens the personal privacy of U.S. citizens has been kept from us by the mainstream media.

Senate Bill H.R. 658 (also referred to as  FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act), which was signed into law in February, paves the way for use of surveillance drones in U.S. skies. The FAA predicts that there could be up to 30,000 drones in the sky by 2020.

The American Civil Liberties Union warned that the legislation could severely undermine Americans’ privacy:

“Unfortunately, nothing in the bill would address the very serious privacy issues raised by drone aircraft,” Jay Stanley of the ACLU said. “This bill would push the nation willy-nilly toward an era of aerial surveillance without any steps to protect the traditional privacy that Americans have always enjoyed and expected.”

“We don’t want to wonder, every time we step out our front door, whether some eye in the sky is watching our every move.” the ACLU statement reads.“The bottom line is: domestic drones are potentially extremely powerful surveillance tools, and that power — like all government power — needs to be subject to checks and balances,” Stanley concluded.

“We hope that Congress will carefully consider the privacy implications that this technology can lead to.”

This is an outrage. There is no logical reason as to why we should be under surveillance. Of course the advocates for creating this intensified police state will proffer that this is needed “to fight terrorism,” but let’s examine that issue for just a moment.

We’ve only had two successful acts of terrorism in the US, both happening well over ten years ago. It’s not like we’re under a constant monthly or weekly barrage of terrorism, at least not from foreign threats. We’ve been terrorized by our politicians and our media plenty, far more than we have from foreign entities. That’s an undeniable fact.

It’s just too bad American media has kept us in the dark.

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Stephen King: “I’m not taxed enough.”

by Michelle Golonka

The disproportionate and unfair tax rate disparity between the rich and poor is going to be a major hot-button issue this election, particularly when Romney’s meager 13% tax rate is even lower than Obama’s.

Over the past year, a number of one-percenters (led by Warren Buffett) have come forward, asking the federal government to tax them more, noting that the disproportionate taxation policy has made the country worse for everyone. Best-selling novelist. Stephen King, is the latest super-rich progressive to step forward. King has recently written a plea for the Daily Beast, called “Tax Me, for Fuck’s Sake!” King writes:

I’ve known rich people, and why not, since I’m one of them? The majority would rather douse their dicks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing “Disco Inferno” than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar. It’s true that some rich folks put at least some of their tax savings into charitable contributions. My wife and I give away roughly $4 million a year to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (jaws of life are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts. Warren Buffett does the same; so does Bill Gates; so does Steven Spielberg; so do the Koch brothers; so did the late Steve Jobs. All fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.

What charitable 1-percenters can’t do is assume responsibility—America’s national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts. Charity from the rich can’t fix global warming or lower the price of gasoline by one single red penny. That kind of salvation does not come from Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Ballmer saying, “Okay, I’ll write a $2 million bonus check to the IRS.” That annoying responsibility stuff comes from three words that are anathema to the Tea Partiers: United American citizenry.

Why can’t there be more generous individuals like Stephen and Warren? The equal taxation movement is garnering increasing attention. Perhaps one day this idea will become a reality?

Hey, a girl can dream.

 

[The full piece can be read here.]

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May Day brings the return of the Occupy-ers

The Occupy movement made its return for May Day, the international labor holiday yesterday, May 1st. Protestors throughout the world used this holiday as an opportunity to rally for workers’ rights. WBUR.org quotes Emerson student Suzi Pietroluongo on why she was protesting in Boston.

“Today I’m hoping just to get people aware of what May Day is, get people aware that there is an issue in this country and that they can do something about it.”

Marches, protests and rallies occurred throughout the world in places like NYC, London, Greece, Turkey and Madrid to name a few. The Occupy-ers have found a way to re-emerge in the public eye through the media by choosing to rally on this international holiday.

Occupy May Day in Minneapolis, MN, USA
Photo: Fibonacci Blue Flickr/CC

According to WCVB Boston

“The Occupy movement had organized protests in 125 U.S. cities, according to Occupywallst.org. The theme was a general work strike to create “a day without the 99%” — no work, no shopping, no banking.”

Occupy-ers seem willing to take on any opportunity there is to rally for their causes of worker’s rights and fighting against capitalism. These international protests caused a ruckus, but who knows what sort of impact it will actually have on our society.