Archive for Arms Proliferation

General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper at Creech Air Force Base, NV, one of several test sites promoted by the state.

We’ve also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs] that could be used to disperse chemical and biological weapons across broad areas. We’re concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United States. – Pres. George W. Bush, Cincinnati, OH, October 7, 2002

That was the first time many of us heard the term “unmanned aerial vehicles.” Ticking off a litany of bogus reasons for invading Iraq, Bush hoped we would collectively wet our pants in fear of unmanned drones over America unleashing death from above. That was then. This is now.

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No joy in joystick

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The Air Force seems to have a problem retaining drone pilots. They are quitting faster than new ones can be trained, writes Pratap Chatterjee at Alternet:

The Air Force explains the departure of these drone pilots in the simplest of terms. They are leaving because they are overworked. The pilots themselves say that it’s humiliating to be scorned by their Air Force colleagues as second-class citizens. Some have also come forward to claim that the horrors of war, seen up close on video screens, day in, day out, are inducing an unprecedented, long-distance version of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

But is it possible that a brand-new form of war — by remote control — is also spawning a brand-new, as yet unlabeled, form of psychological strain? Some have called drone war a “coward’s war” (an opinion that, according to reports from among the drone-traumatized in places like Yemen and Pakistan, is seconded by its victims). Could it be that the feeling is even shared by drone pilots themselves, that a sense of dishonor in fighting from behind a screen thousands of miles from harm’s way is having an unexpected impact of a kind psychologists have never before witnessed?

Burnout may be a factor. Whereas pilots for manned Air Force aircraft log 300 hours per year, the drone warriors can spend 900-1,800 flying drones in circles, working “either six or seven days a week, twelve hours a day,” according to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh.

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Shootings on the Tens

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Today’s gun violence forecast. But first, the weather…

RJ Eskow. All he needs is a green screen. Maybe some little AR-15s forming a fast-moving front. Brought to you by Glock. When they say there’s a fast-moving “front” in this forecast, they mean it in the Remarque sense.

And this just in:

Florida dad killed by neighbor’s stray bullet as family welcomes home newborn

Catch RJ and guests each Saturday at noon on The Zero Hour at WeAct Radio.

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When Enforcing Laws Is Outlawed…

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Only Law Enforcement Officers Will be Outlaws

(UPDATED below: The Zombie Apocalypse is here.)

Via Crooks and Liars,

A Texas state representative says that a bill banning the enforcement of any new gun control laws is constitutional because it would only prosecute police and other state officials.

Texas is the asylum. Guess who’s running it?

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Because at this special time of year every all-American kid dreams of being an assassin.

Semiauto handgun? Check. Bushmaster? Check. (Picked it up at Walmart’s everyday low prices.) High-capacity magazines? Check. Silencers? Doh!!

Not to worry, though. The NRA — yes, Wayne LaPierre’s NRA — is hoping to get silencers deregulated as wholesome, kid-friendly, essential firearm accessories. As seen in Newtown! Salon reports:

In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes, the gun lobby’s grand strategy rests grotesquely on fake concern for child hearing health. Among the opening shots in the campaign was a feature in the February 2011 issue of Gun World, “Silence is Golden,” penned by the veteran gun writer Jim Dickson. “One only has to look at children in the rest of the world learning to shoot with silencers, protecting their tender young ears, to see what an innocent safety device we are talking about here,” writes Dickson. “To use an overworked propaganda phrase, legalize silencers ‘for the sake of the children.’” [Emphasis Salon's]

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Or these test subjects. VIDEO: 2009 ABC News Experiment Demonstrates More Guns Unlikely to Stop Mass Shootings

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WTVD: “The Tea Party in Asheville is being criticized for a fundraising raffle for two guns, including one similar to one used in the school shootings in Connecticut.”
“Western Carolina University political scientist Chris Cooper says he’s surprised by the tea party’s timing, when the National Rifle Association took down its Facebook and Twitter accounts after the shooting.

Jane Bilello with the Asheville Tea Party says the fundraiser was planned before the shooting. But she stands by the group’s position that gun control does not work.

The raffle includes an AR15 semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle and a .22 Magnum pistol.”

Asheville Tea Party and Asheville Tea PAC Board Members’ email addresses:

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Friday Open Thread: Empty Chair

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Anyone who saw it will know what I’m talking about. That was one of the most awkward speeches I’ve ever seen at a National Convention, personifying a grumpiness, confusion, and factual ambivalence that exemplifies the approach being taken by the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee. The entire Convention theme was predicated on a strawman argument, and last night was virtually policy-free. Romney and surrogates spun his polling weaknesses hard in an effort to move the numbers. Likeability, Bain, minorities, women, and Medicare were repackaged and trotted out as though none of the substantive issues raised by skeptics had any merit. The whole scene was a focus-grouped exercise in creating a narrative. If that narrative had any relation to the factual reality you and I occupy, it was wholly accidental.

I saw a great tweet from Sam Spencer: “You know whose empty chair will be at #dnc2012? Osama bin Laden’s.”

Next, of course, it’ll be time for the Democrats to build a narrative of their own. While I don’t expect them to make the Convention a policy wonk’s wet dream, I do expect that they’ll actually say what they would do differently from a Romney administration. I expect they will say that returning to Bush style supply-side/trickle-down economics is just continuing to set us up for more income inequality and more debt. I expect they’ll say that the Affordable Care Act is insuring millions of people who weren’t insured before. I expect they’ll note that nuclear nonproliferation is a good thing. I expect there to be a lot of policies noted and sold as part of the narrative. There may also be a healthy chunk of factual information about the economic crisis President Obama inherited and the attitude of Congressional Republicans who had no intention of allowing the President to succeed. The GOP has said that this demonstrates a lack of leadership and willingness to accept responsibility. It’s a basic Karl Rove tactic that boils down to accusing the other guys of your own bad behavior.

The narrative is likely to focus on how Mr. Romney is a flip-flopping corporate raider and how President Obama needs four more years to fulfill the hopes of his supporters. It’ll focus on the many successes of the administration while casting the GOP as a fringe party made up of radicals and funded by the 0.1%. It will ignore that Wall Street got away with the 2008 collapse.

Anyway, here’s an open thread. It can be whatever you want it to be. Use the facts, or just spin up a fictitious golem. Bring a fleshy argument or an empty chair.


Sixty-Seven Years Ago

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Today marks the 67th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. Over 70,000 people were killed instantly, and whithin two months the death toll rose to 166,000.

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Open Thread: War

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Heath Shuler wants U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. There are still 40,000 troops in Iraq. We’re shooting up Libya. We spend more on ‘defense’ than anything else. Our troops are stationed across the globe. Meanwhile, here at home our government is claiming poverty and the need to burden the working classes.

What are your thoughts about the state of U.S. international military interventions?