A new study, “Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan,” describes the terrorizing of Pakistan’s civilian population by US drone assaults.
The study, released by researchers at New York University School of Law and Stanford University Law School, includes interviews with survivors of drone attacks and relatives of victims, giving a searing account of the horror and suffering that US imperialism has inflicted on an entire population.
Armed US drones first began operating over Afghanistan in October 2001, followed by attacks in Yemen and Pakistan, where most killings have occurred so far. From 2002 until today, the US has extended its arsenal from 167 to 7,000 unmanned aerial vehicles that are remotely controlled from facilities in the US, including the US Air Force Base in Creech, Nevada and the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
The Obama administration has increased the number of attacks from between 45 and 52 under G.W. Bush to 293. It has also changed the strategy for picking the drones’ victims from “personality strikes” – aimed at high-ranking members of alleged terrorist organizations – to a strategy of “signature strikes.”
According to US authorities these strikes are based on a “pattern of life” analysis and target “groups of men who bear certain signatures or defining characteristics associated with terrorist activity but whose identities aren’t known.” In one such “signature strike,” three men were killed, because one of them had gray hair and was as tall as Bin Laden.
The US government maintains that these strikes are of a “surgical” nature. Testimony of witnesses in several strikes in which Washington claimed to have killed only “militants” disproves this allegation.
People ask me a lot, when we're speaking to various groups about the war, what surprises me or what puzzles me about events today?
The answer's always the same. How the Drone War, for example, is suddenly okay because Barack's the one in charge.
Or how it no longer matters that Guantanamo remains open. Or --
You get the idea, right?
I honestly thought even the zombies would have woken up by now.
I was wrong.
There are people who used to give a damn about Bush's drones killing people. Now that they're Barack's drones, these same people no longer care.
I really do not get that. I really do not get how you are opposed to something and then it becomes okay because a Democrat's doing the crime. I just don't get that.
In other news, Randy Shield has a great article about Laura Nyro at CounterPunch and here are three paragraphs from the article:
When I was coming of musical age in the late 1960s I was swimming in the sea of Laura Nyro. As I listened to my mother’s records and read the covers and credits I kept seeing Laura Nyro’s name. It started with the Fifth Dimension (“Sweet Blindness,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “Stoned Soul Picnic”), progressed to the Blood Sweat and Tears (“And When I Die”) and Three Dog Night (“Eli’s Comin’”) and was capped off one day when mom came home from work with the 45 of “Stony End” by Barbra Streisand. There was Laura Nyro again. What a well-traveled wise-woman genius Laura Nyro must be! But I still hadn’t heard Laura Nyro herself. When I finally heard her I could see that nearly everyone who covered her tamed her — they pulled back from the idealism and passion that she leapt into.
In 1962 Nyro exclaimed to her Aunt Esther, “I’m fourteen years old, and nothing has happened to me yet!” And then the rains came. At age 22, on the same weekend she sold out Carnegie Hall, three songs she had penned as a teenager (“Wedding Bell Blues,” “Eli’s Comin’,” “And When I Die”) were in Billboard’s Top 10 by other artists. By then she had already been offered and turned down the lead singing job of the Blood Sweat and Tears after Al Kooper left. By then she had been flirted with by her idol Miles Davis, sought out at a party by Bob Dylan who told her, “I love what you do, I love your chords” and bowled over by an up and comer named David Geffen who became her manager. She was an early influence on Todd Rundgren and Elton John (check out “Burn Down the Mission”) and garnered kudos from jazz pianist Billy Childs who cited her as his favorite composer. There was a private piano duet with Stevie Wonder, and don’t forget yoga with Joni Mitchell, who would later tell music magazine Mojo, “Laura Nyro you can lump me in with, because Laura exerted an influence on me. I looked to her and took some direction from her.”
At age 20, a week after Bobby Kennedy got shot, Nyro wrote and recorded the wail of “Save the Country.” At age 19 she wrote “Sweet Blindness,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” the relentless “Eli’s Comin’” and counseled the world that nothing cures like “Time and Love.” In the vicinity of age 17 or 18 she was going down the “Stony End” when she wasn’t “Blowin’ Away” on the high of love or pleading with Bill to get on the ball and marry her in the “Wedding Bell Blues.” And at age 16 she looked death square in the eyes and wrote “And When I Die” and at age 14 “Nothing has happened to me yet!”
Laura Nyro truly was one of the greats. She passed away as the 90s were winding down. Which is sad all by itself. But even sadder is that she had found her sound.
Randy's writing about her young, early voice. But she couldn't -- or didn't want to -- maintain that intensity. She made interesting albums -- like Mother's Spiritual -- in between the two phases. But with Live From The Bottom Line, she'd found her new voice and it was sure footed and promised so much.
She did one studio album for Columbia after that. She was working on a new recording and also helping the label pull together for her double-disc best of when she died from cancer.
She really was something at the start of her career. But that new voice emerging -- writing voice -- on the live album and the studio album and the studio album released after her death all indicate that she'd found a new and rich field to harvest songs in.
I'll probably quote from Randy's article again on Monday. It's a great article. Right now, I'd say it's the best piece of musical writing of 2012.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"