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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Drones

Our reading guide to the development and potential dangers of drones.

(Rob Jensen/USAF via Getty Images)

Everyone is talking about drones. Also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs, remote-piloted aircrafts have become a controversial centerpiece of the Obama administration's counter-terrorism strategy. Domestically, their surveillance power is being hyped for everything from fighting crime to monitoring hurricanes or spawning salmon. Meanwhile, concerns are cropping up about privacy, ethics and safety. We've rounded up some of the best coverage of drones to get you oriented. Did we miss anything? Let us know.

A Little History

The idea of unmanned flight had been around for decades, but it was in the 1990s, thanks to advances in GPS and computing, that the possibilities for drones really took off, as the New Yorker recently recounted. While hobbyists and researchers looked for uses for automated, airborne cameras, the military became the driving force behind drone developments. (This history from the Washington Post has more details) According to the Congressional Research Service, the military's cache of U.A.V.'s has grown from just a handful in 2001 to more than 7,000 today. This New York Times graphic shows the variety of drones currently employed by the military — from the famous missile-launching Predator to tiny prototypes shaped like hummingbirds.

This February, Congress cleared the way for far more widespread use of drones by businesses, scientists, police and still unknown others. The Federal Aviation Administration will release a comprehensive set of rules on drones by 2015.

The Shadow Drone War: Obama's Open Secret

As the ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the Obama administration has escalated a mostly covert air war through clandestine bases in the U.S. and other countries. Just this week, the administration's drone-driven national security policy was documented in this book excerpt by Newsweek reporter Daniel Klaidman and a New York Times article.

Both the CIA and military use drones for "targeted killings" of terrorist leaders. The strikes have been an awkward open secret, remaining officially classified while government officials mention them repeatedly. Obama admitted the program's existence in an online chat in February, and his counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, gave a speech last month laying out the administration's legal and ethical case for drone strikes.

The crux of it is that they are a precise and efficient form of warfare. Piloted from thousands of miles away (here's an account from a base outside Las Vegas), they don't put U.S. troops at risk, and, by the government's count, harm few civilians.

How Many Civilians Do Drone Strikes Kill?

Updated 5/31

Statistics are hard to nail down. The Long War Journal and the New America Foundation track strikes and militant and civilian deaths, drawing mainly on media reports with the caveat that they can't always be verified. The Long War Journal tallied 30 civilian deaths in Pakistan in 2011. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which also tracks drone strikes, consistently documents higher numbers of civilian deaths — for Pakistan in 2011, at least 75. Obama administration officials, the New York Times reported this week, have said that such deaths are few or in the "single digits."

But the Times, citing "counterterrorism officials," also reported that the U.S. classifies all military-age men in a drone strike zone to be militants, unless their innocence is proven after the attack. If that's true, it raises questions about the government statistics on civilian casualties. One State Department official told the Times that the CIA might be overzealous in defining strike targets — he told them that "the joke was that when the C.I.A. sees 'three guys doing jumping jacks,' the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp.

What About the Political Fallout?

The U.S. has also used airstrikes to side-step legal arguments about the boundaries of the campaign against al Qaeda. Both Bush and Obama administration officials have argued that Congress' September 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force extends to al Qaeda operatives in any country, with or without the consent of local governments.

Drone strikes are extremely unpopular in the countries where they're deployed. They've led to tense diplomatic maneuvers with Pakistan, and protests and radicalization in Yemen. Iraqis have also protested the State Department's use of surveillance drones in their country.

Domestic concerns about civil liberties and due process in the secret air war were inflamed last fall, when a drone strike in Yemen killed Anwar al Awlaki, an al Qaeda member and a U.S. citizen. Weeks later, Awlaki's 16-year-old American son was also killed by a drone.

Costs and Crashes

Drones are cheap relative to most military manned planes, and they were a central feature of the Pentagon's scaled-back budget this year. But drones aren't immune from cost overruns. The latest version of the Global Hawk surveillance drone was put on the back-burner this January after years of expensive setbacks and questions about whether they were really better than the old U-2 spy planes they were slated to replace.

And while drones may not carry pilots, they can still crash. Wired has also reported on drones' susceptibility to viruses.

Another problem? The Air Force is playing catch-up trying to train people to fly drones and analyze the mountains of data they produce, forcing them to sometimes rely on civilian contractors for sensitive missions, according to the LA Times. The New York Times reported that in 2011, the Air Force processed 1,500 hours of video and 1,500 still images daily, much of it from surveillance drones. An Air Force commander admitted this spring that it would take "years" to catch up on the data they've collected.

Drones, Coming to America...

Updated 6/1

There are already a number of non-military entities that the FAA has authorized to fly drones, including a handful of local police departments. How drones might change police work is still to be determined (the Seattle police department, for example, showed off a 3.5-pound camera-equipped drone with a battery life of a whopping 10 minutes.)

Police drones may soon be more widespread, as the FAA released temporary rules this month making it easier for police departments to get approval for UAVs weighing up to 25 pounds, and for emergency responders to use smaller drones. The Department of Homeland Security also announced a program to help local agencies integrate the technology — principally as cheaper and safer alternatives to helicopters for reconnaissance. The Border Patrol already has a small fleet of Predators for border surveillance. (The LA Times has more on the Customs and Border Protection's use of drones in the interior, during floods and fires, and on criticisms of drones' success in stopping illegal border activity.)

Law enforcement officials are staving off a backlash from privacy advocates. The ACLU and other civil rights groups have raised concerns about privacy and Fourth Amendment rights from unprecedented surveillance capability — not to mention the potential of police drones armed with tear gas and rubber bullets, which some departments have proposed. Congressmen Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Joe Barton, R-Texas, co-chairs of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, have asked the FAA to address privacy concerns in their new guidelines.

One of the first drone-assisted arrests by a local police department took place in North Dakota this year, with the help of a borrowed DHS Predator. It was deployed, as the New Yorker detailed, to catch a group of renegade ranchers in a conflict that originated over a bale of hay.

Scholarly drones

Universities actually have the most permits to fly drones at this point, for research on everything from pesticide distribution to disaster preparation. As Salon points out, the Pentagon and military contractors are also big funders of university drone research.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group that has been outspoken about privacy concerns related to drones, put together the map below of entities authorized to fly drones by the FAA.

Get Your Own Drone!

Could you, too, become the proud owner of a drone? At the low-end, a drone can be a glorified model helicopter, and there's a dedicated community of DIY-drone builders. This fall, a group from Occupy Wall Street tried to use the "Occucopter" do their own surveillance of police movements.

Can I please encourage your readers to go to our website - http://www.tbij.com or particularly here:

http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones/

This has possibly the most comprehensive analysis of the drone war to date with the most journalistically rigorous facts and figures.

We are the UK’s equivalent of a not for profit.

Our work on drones was shortlisted for the Foreign Press Association awards last year.

Thanks for this great resource.

Shaun Dakin
Founder
@PrivacyCamp
#PrivChat

Everything I wanted to know about drones, except the uncomfortable facts, perhaps.

You left out the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s extensive project recording and reporting on covert US drone strikes.

Its estimates, based on extensive field reporting and transparent sourcing, show 75-127 civilians credibly reported killed in 2011 in Pakistan.

Hardly the ‘single digits’ - or even 30 deaths - your piece suggests. Still, statistics are hard to nail down, I hear.

Hi Iain and Chris

We’ve updated to include the Bureau’s work.

Thanks very much.

—Cora

This is, certainly, a great overview.  I had a few points (the whole drone scene has interested me for years, now) I assumed would be missed, but those evaporated as I went through.

About all I can add is UPenn’s GRASP Lab and their Quadrotor drones.  If you follow TED, you might remember the talk about the dozen or so palm-sized UAVs that fly in formation, explore/map spaces, and play musical instruments together.  It’s a fun talk, but should give you the chills when you consider the military applications.

Imagine manufacturing them on-site and deploying them by the thousand, with small weapons or even cameras.  For your safety, of course.

Gary Brownfield

May 31, 2012, 2:24 p.m.

“...by the government’s count, harm few civilians” what in thunder? What if Obama was one of those “innocents” killed? Life means little to him or the rest of his cohorts.

It is interesting that you would conclude the article accusing Occupy Wall Street of using a drone to track police movements.

That shouldn’t be necessary because the police were always right there, harassing the members of Occupy Wall Street.

The drones should have been trying to find out who the hell is ordering the police to do all that harassing.

Dundas I. Flaherty

June 1, 2012, Midnight

Nice work, but one nit: “arial” is a font. Drones are “aerial.”

In ten minutes, a terrorist could fly a drone loaded with poison into any
city’s reservoir…or a fire-starter drone into a forest…or an explosive-
loaded drone into a building - without being captured. DANGER is the key word. How to protect ourselves is the key question.

Larry,
go to radio shack purchase material to build a jammer. Go to FCC learn what frequencies the drone operates on then jam it.They all operate on Frequency, biggest problem is they can all be jammed, forget Hollywood bull shit!
If it operates on a frequency it can be Jammed, even space base operated ones, so not he big threat people seem to think if one knows about jamming them

it’s a good invention as long as used for the purpose of policing against global insurgents elsewhere but never as a good bombing machine to create countless human-bacterias! Then, only businessmen in manufacturing these man-made dangerous flying insects will get richer during more harm to humanity than benefiting mankind.
You may like to visit: shahislam.com later on.

Sorry, the correct name for the website will be: http://WWW.SHAHISLAM.COM.

None should misunderstand Obama’s wisdom, have patience and watch how the North America will become the most honesty driven powerful. *Territory* to lead the world again and next time with more dignity, might and true honor. Ancient judicial systems are desperately in need of repair, modification and timely improvement.
Any North-American may soon expect, if needed, to be served to any of the honest guys in real honorable, truly respectable and totally impartial ways.

Title says Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Drones.

That is patently false, for I want to know how to detect when they’re flying overhead

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-05-31/drones-take-to-american-skies-on-police-search-missions

so that I can sound the town’s siren and alert everybody who is sunbathing topless or nude behind their now-useless privacy fences.

And before somebody says it, I already know:  “There is no such thing as a bad cop, intelligence analyst, or government bureaucrat.”

I make that my mantra on those occasions when I foresee interaction with same…they get touchy, should you suggest otherwise.

Samuel Scharff

June 1, 2012, 4:49 p.m.

A Homeland Security test comparing the relative performance of unmanned Predators and a manned light Cessna aircrat found the latter to be ten times as effective and thirty times cheaper in detecting illegal border crossers. 

“Automated Warfare and the Rise of the Drones”
Counterpunch 4/16-30/2012

“Unmanned” is a misnomer.

These airplanes are manned ... remotely. They should be called, for what it is worth, REmotely Manned Aerial Vehicles. Or in DoD-gobbledygook, REMAVs.

NB: To man (verb) = provide (a place or machine) with the personnel to run, operate, or defend it.

{How Many Civilians Do Drone Strikes Kill? }

And how many civilians in Afghanistan (as well as elsewhere) have terrorists killed?

From the NYT (Feb., 2012): “KABUL, Afghanistan — A record number of Afghan civilians were killed in the conflict here last year, the majority at the hands of the Taliban and other insurgent groups whose use of homemade bombs became more prevalent and whose suicide bombers killed more people each time, according to the annual United Nations report on civilian casualties. ” (From here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/04/world/asia/afghanistan-civilian-deaths-hit-record-un-says.html )

Shall we do nothing? Or simply give the police work over to the Afghans and stick to anti-insurgency suppression (by using drones).

Underscoring ONLY civilians killed by drones is not objective journalism. There is the other side of the coin that deserves mention.

@Lafayette:  I presume they didn’t call them ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles) in order to avoid plaguing NASA with the image of death delivered from afar.

Somehow I don’t think that the military’s/intelligence agencies’ drones bear nicknames like Spirit and Opportunity.

Whenever I read a comment such as Lafayette’s above which attempts to justify killing human beings by pointing to the killing of human beings, I am driven to recall the fact that Afghanistan’s current dismal state is a consequence of the American right smelling the opportunity to manipulate the oil markets and lying us into Iraq while intentionally neglecting Afghanistan and artificially extending the justification for that mission by effectively aborting the mission of terminating OBL.

Which brings me to the fact that both Iraq and Afghanistan were transformed from “missions” into “occupations”.  STRATFOR has an interesting article on insurgency, counterinsurgency, and the overall question of the occupation of the lands of other people.

http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/end-counterinsurgency-and-scalable-force?utm_source=freelist-f&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20120605&utm_term=gweekly&utm_content=readmore&elq=eb031240e9b241598bd639d0acaf23a2

I personally find one of the most thought-provoking sentences in the article to be:

“Some values, such as nationalism and religion, are very real among many populations…”

End quote.  That speaks to the why of the unsuitability of the American right for leadership positions in government, for their singular focus on wealth and power accumulation leads them to believe both that any action taken in the pursuit of wealth or power is justified and that the peoples of other nations can be bought - just like they themselves can be…when that is not true.

We need leaders who are guided by their morality, ethics, and patriotism rather than by greed and a malevolent appetite for power - else the stain upon human history that the American right is responsible for will only spread.

As it spreads in Afghanistan now.

ibsteve2u: Whenever I read a comment such as Lafayette’s above which attempts to justify killing human beings by pointing to the killing of human beings

Thanks for our daily dose of Looney Left Rhetoric.

People are being killed in Afghanistan and by insurgents. And all you have as rebuttal is “the opportunity to manipulate the oil markets”?

One cannot ignore a sworn enemy based upon such naive notions.

And, of course, if we ever did lose Afghanistan and it did become the Operation Base of al Qaeda once again and did make a dirty bomb and explode it in Your Home Town - you’d probably not be the first to complain.

Try harder ...

I do believe that I will leave it to the reader to judge which of us is indulging in lunacy-driven rhetoric, Lafeyette.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been charged with establishing 6 test areas/ranges in order to set rules, policies and procedures for the (safe, we hope) integration of UAVs/drones into National Air Space.

I am one of many who live within a proposed test range…and am interested in being in contact with others in the same situation.
The sites are expected to be selected by December.  Thanks
for the website addresses in previous comments.

Next: Police Drones—Recording Conversations In Your Home & Business To Forfeit Property?

Police are salivating at the prospect of having drones to spy on lawful citizens. Congress approved 30,000 drones in U.S. Skies. That amounts to 600 drones for every state.

It is problematic local police will want to use drones to record without warrants, personal conversations inside Americans’ homes and businesses: Consider the House just passed CISPA the recent Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. If passed by the Senate, CISPA will allow—the military and NSA spy agency (warrant-less spying) on Americans’ private Internet electronic Communications using so-called (Government certified self-protected cyber entities) and Elements that may share with NSA your private Internet activity, e.g. emails, faxes, phone calls and confidential transmitted files they believe (might) relate to a cyber threat or crime (circumventing the Fourth Amendment) with full immunity from lawsuits if done in good faith. CISPA does not clearly define what is an Element; or Self-protected Cyber Entity—that could broadly mean anything, e.g. a private computer, local or national network, website, an online service.

Despite some U.S. cities and counties banning or restricting police using drones to invade citizens’ privacy, local police have a strong financial incentive to call in Federal Drones, (Civil Asset Forfeiture Sharing) that can result from drone surveillance). Should (no-warrant drone surveillance evidence) be allowed in courts—circumventing the Fourth Amendment, for example (drones’ recording conversations in private homes and businesses) expect federal and local police civil asset property forfeitures to escalate. Civil asset forfeiture requires only a preponderance of civil evidence for federal government to forfeit property, little more than hearsay: any conversation picked up by a drone inside a home or business, police can take out of context to initiate arrests; or civil asset forfeiture to confiscate a home/business and other assets. Local police now circumvent state laws that require someone be convicted before police can civilly forfeit their property—by turning their investigation over to a Federal Government Agency that can rebate to the referring local police department 80% of assets forfeited. Federal Government is not required to charge anyone with a crime to forfeit property. There are more than 350 laws and violations that can subject property to government asset forfeiture that have nothing to do with illegal drugs.

{It is problematic local police will want to use drones to record without warrants, personal conversations inside Americans’ homes and businesses}

Unless a drone flies into your home, I will remind you that what you do in a public area, if recorded, is not an “invasion of privacy”.

This article confounds the use of drones effectively to replace American solders (meaning fewer lives lost) and their usage in the US to snoop on drug-smugglers and peddlers - and employed against other public miscreants similarly.

If they catch just one smuggler and stop the dope, it just might save YOUR child’s life. Ever think of that before writing such drivel?

Of course, to buy the drones they’ll have to defund the health care program that was keeping your child alive, but hey - either way, your child won’t do dope.

No, the new military strategy is to move out of Europe and into the Pacific.

So let’s de-fund the half a million military staff stationed abroad, cut it in by 50%, have the rest of the world fill the gap and then with the savings (about $300B per annum) we do both at home, drones and health-care.

First health-care, the drones can wait ...

lolll…a little knowledge is dangerous.  From Foreign Policy magazine ( http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/06/08/this_week_at_war_an_arms_race_america_can_t_win ), a quote:

“In a speech delivered on June 2 to the Shangri-La Security Dialogue conference in Singapore, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta attempted to convince his audience that America’s “rebalancing” strategy to the Asia-Pacific region—previous called a “pivot”—is serious and will be backed by expanded military power. Panetta announced that by 2020, 60 percent of the U.S. Navy will be positioned in the Pacific. He also openly discussed the controversial Air-Sea Battle concept, while denying that the reinforcements and new plans are a challenge to China. He also promised to step up the presence of U.S. military forces in the region, both through new basing arrangements and by an expanded list of training exercises with partner military forces.

Panetta likely hoped his remarks would bolster the credibility of the administration’s strategy. On closer examination, there is less to Panetta’s Pacific naval buildup than meets the eye. The U.S. Navy’s intelligence office, by contrast, expects China’s naval expansion this decade to be more substantial, especially when it comes to its submarine force. The reinforcements that Panetta discussed and new ideas like the Air-Sea Battle concept are necessary but insufficient responses to the worsening military trends in the region.  The United States should not expect to win an arms race in the Western Pacific. Instead, it will have to find other more enduring advantages if it hopes to craft a sustainable strategy for the region.”

End quote.  You see, while the Republicans and neoliberal Democrats were keeping their bases distracted with “Willie Horton” ads and wedge issues like the separation of church and state and who should be “allowed” to marry, they were selling the United States of America out to further enrich their pseudo-American masters while hurting “labor” (a.k.a. “the American people”)...in particular, “unionized” labor.

The few of the right - working through the Republicans and neoliberal Democrats - not only destroyed industry in America, they transferred that industry, the requisite technology to build advanced armaments, and the manufacturing expertise required to churn out advanced weaponry in bulk around the clock to the communists in the People’s Republic of China.

And the right still works to distract the American people by painting pictures - illusions - such as we cannot afford health care because we must build drones.  Think about that:  Does the argument that we must kill Americans in order to protect Americans make any G.D. sense?  We could do both by rebuilding our tax base/rebuilding our industrial and service sectors - but that would reduce the rate of wealth accumulation of those who are the masters of the Republicans and neoliberal Democrats and might lead the American people to become proud again…that is, lead them to again “forget their place”.

The bottom line is the PRC figured America out.  The America of old - the one that had a strong industrial infrastructure (any nation’s true arsenal and reserve) and service sector and so a people whose access to “the American Dream” made them fiercely loyal and so provided the morale that makes a military invincible - was virtually unbeatable even under the assault of superior numbers. 

Years of study - driven by the million+ losses we inflicted upon the PRC in the Korean War and then our ability to win any tactical battle during the Viet Nam war - eventually yielded America’s deadly secret:  The best way to destroy America was to destroy her from within…to entrap her through the greed of her few using worthless paper wealth as the bait.

And it worked…America’s few - working primarily through the Republicans, but with the eager assistance of neoliberal Democrats - have been selling America out like they don’t have kids ever since Nixon. 

And not just selling America out - they’ve been acting as the PRC’s dream fifth column in that they’re trying to kill Americans directly by eliminating the ability of government to intervene as the few destroy the ability of the American people to provide themselves with the economic means of survival.  The PRC hasn’t had to fire a shot, yet - but they’re winning in a landslide…

Thanks to the right and Corporate America’s owner/operators.  Of late, I find that I am unable to detect any practical difference between that set and the PRC’s Central Committee.

As a side note, anybody who pooh-poohs the sting of the losses the PRC has suffered at the hands of America because “that is so yesterday” should contrast that opinion with the modern American right’s virulent hatred for FDR.

You might recall that FDR been dead and gone far longer.

THE ONLY CONSTANT IN TIME

{ibs: they’re trying to kill Americans directly by eliminating the ability of government to intervene as the few destroy the ability of the American people to provide themselves with the economic means of survival. }

Oh, come off it. This is more nonsense from the Looney Left.

China, in the early 1990s, was coming out from behind the Iron Curtain within which the Chinese people suffered greatly. They had every right to go after international markets with lower labor-costs. A free-market is a free-market - it hurts some and helps others.

If America dislocated so many un- and semi-skilled jobs to nimble fingers in China, it is because we have had no Industrial Policy as an overarching strategy. Foremost in such a policy is to recognize this absolute rule of life on earth: The only constant in time is change.

Which means that we are exiting the Industrial Age and entering the Information Age. This transition is just as wrenching an evolution as our exiting of the Agricultural Age and entering into the Industrial Age was in the last part of the 19th century. Whole populations left agriculture and migrated to the cities to find better paying jobs in Industry. Who could blame them? Then why should we now blame China?

Our industrial base is crying out for skilled workers not unskilled workers. The Information Age will only underline that necessity. Which means, long-term, we must start educating better our youth to prepare them for the Brave New World (of Global Competition) that is upon us.

Why cannot we recognize that economic evolution that happens to us is also at work elsewhere in this world as our civilizations develop? Why must we think that Western Civilization is somehow “special” and therefore should be spared the pains of rebirth and innovation that evolution brings?

MY POINT?

The way forward is evident – and it is not just jobs, jobs, jobs. It is the kind of work that the marketplace wants that provide decent salaries for durable jobs. And most of those are no long in un- and semi-skilled production lines.

POST SCRIPTUM

It is a miracle, btw, that BigAuto has been able to keep its production lines going – even at the lower total compensation rates after its restructuring. Which I must add was a Hallmark Triumph of the Obama Administration.

When GM management took their corporate jets to DC in order to “negotiate” with the Administration a “bail-out” of GM, Obama realized that these people had learned nothing as regards the condition in which BigAuto found itself. He got rid of the head of GM and put in another person who knew that downsizing and offshoring some production was the only way to save GM-jobs in America.

That program worked and GM is now making a profit. But, somehow, all we seem to be able to do is complain about jobs, jobs, jobs - and of course it’s Obama’s fault.

Bullshit!, I say.

@Lafeyette:  Excellent job of parroting the line of the anti-American right…which, if anyone takes the time to read it, is essentially “Hah, haw - we found a way to hurt labor!”.  “Labor”, I would remind the reader, is a set that - like “consumers” - includes almost all of the American people.

From the Alliance for American Manufacturing, whose mission statement includes “The Alliance for American Manufacturing is a non-profit, non-partisan partnership formed in 2007 by some of America’s leading manufacturers and the United Steelworkers to explore common solutions to challenging public policy topics such as job creation, infrastructure investment, international trade, and global competitiveness.”

From americanmanufacturing.org/category/issues/china/china-and-currency-manipulation

Quote:  “By some estimates, China’s yuan is undervalued by as much as 40 percent compared with the U.S. dollar.

China’s currency manipulation has contributed to the dramatic increase in the U.S. bilateral trade deficit with China, which now tops $295 billion a year. China has amassed foreign exchange reserves of more than $1 trillion, far surpassing any other nation’s reserves.

China’s currency manipulation also attracts foreign investment into China and away from American manufacturing facilities. This flow of investment already has cost American workers their jobs. When countries adopt artificial exchange rates not based on market forces, they not only exacerbate the U.S. trade imbalance, but they create global trade imbalances. Additionally, currency manipulation results in a sizeable difference in labor costs. This difference creates the illusion of a comparative advantage for a given country. Ultimately, currency manipulation is a subsidy that can put American manufacturers at an unfair disadvantage in the global marketplace.”

End quote.  Those who defend creating and increasing America’s monstrous trade deficits while demanding that the budget of the American government be balanced - even if that means Americans must die - create two impressions:

1) they themselves find selling America out to be personally profitable

2) given that a “friend” of the American people is not someone who creates a situation wherein Americans will die, they are comfortable with being an enemy of the American people

The American right is fond of rhetoric - with which they conceal the numbers…the truth.

http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/international-markets/mecklai-graphthe-day-us-china-trade-balance_716220.html

As a side note, the former Soviet Union collapsed because the well-being of its many was sacrificed to indulge the whims of its few…and those whims included building arms instead of advancing their nation’s industrial and service sectors - and so their people.

Do you suppose the PRC was too stupid to take notes?

@ Lafeyette & ibsteve2u, to u both:
Thanks for your true-fact-filled, sincere thoughts and realization.
Wonderfully written. I wish I had skills like you.

{Excellent job of parroting the line of the anti-American right}

Ad hominem. Stop the name calling and cut to the quick.

Here’s an economic thought for you: Any functional economy has a Labor Market - wherein the price of Labor is decided by the Economic Law of Supply and Demand.

For that law to function properly, both Supply and Demand must be of equal proportions, such that the price of Labor can be negotiated equitably. So, I am all for the basic right unionizing Labor.

Note that the right to unionize is embedded in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Article 23, which the US voted for but has NEVER BEEN ADOPTED AND INTEGRATED INTO OUR OWN BILL OF RIGHTS.

And, of course, in any Modern Nation, it should be. My Point? The US is self-delusional about being a Modern Nation. The present mentality, which must be changed, is that of a Darwinian Economy and the strong prevail over the weak. If Americans want to live by such a credo, then that is their business.

But progressives believe that the governor of Wisconsin is dead wrong. Still, if he has got away with not being recalled it is because the people of Wisconsin, one of the most progressive in the nation, stupidly gave him a 7 point victory. Stupid is as stupid does.

I don’t know what the hell more can be said. And your gibberish has become tiresome.

PS: Some die-hards lust have to have the last word. So, have yours. This discussion, for my part, is over.

{ShahIslam: ... to u both: Thanks for your true-fact-filled, sincere thoughts and realization.}

For my part, thank you for the compliment.

Yes, good dialog is few and far between on Internet blogs. Great debate is the only way to separate the wheat from the chaff - particularly in politics. It is a shame we have so little of it and that blogs are so rife with rhetoric if not polemic.

Debate has become a High Art in Europe, where I live. I fear, in the US, with the overbearing prevalence of Right-wing Media, that polemics has assumed pre-eminence. Particularly in a country where both Winning and Achievement become a sole importance and the means to do so are without bounds. That is, the ends justify the means.

Which has become the name-of-the-game both in LaLaLand on the Potomac and through out the land. Whereas it was once a Beacon of Democracy for countries lost in the madness of Autocracy.

Inch’Allah? Methinks not, just human - stupid is as stupid does ...

Hmmm…do I detect someone sailing before the winds of change, or someone tacking as a tactic?

When you said “Ad hominem. Stop the name calling and cut to the quick.”, I presume that you did so because the time shift between America and your location in Europe caused you to completely forget that you had said “Oh, come off it. This is more nonsense from the Looney Left.” yesterday at 3:19 A.M. (EST, I presume).

Although perhaps Europe interprets Latin such as “ad hominem” differently - e.g., with a focus on whether one is on offense or defense?

Only to the completely blind ones -the men-made religions and the words: holy father, your highness, allah, zis, allahakber etc. matter!

(btw Adam Curtis has an interesting analysis suggesting hubris too in the Chimerica picture en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Watched_Over_by_Machines_of_Loving_Grace_(television_documentary_series)#Love_and_Power )

A question though on the topic of drones..
With so many of these robot video-eyes, why haven’t and don’t the UN do the obvious and get them bearing witness over Syria to deter war crimes (or previously ceasefire violations)?

Maybe then human UN Observers won’t be driven into retreat by a mob, because the facts already can’t be hidden.

Time to shame @UN, @UN_DPA and the Presidential Nobel laurette @BarackObama to act on this obvious, inexpensive intervention.

@cw -

a)  got video…made by witnesses on the ground.  Doesn’t deter the PTB in Syria

b)  Have to deter the Russians...as long as al-Assad feels they “have his back”, he’ll - in that ultimate expression of people as “human resources” - keep wasting his own.

c)  You may have noticed any drone footage the public sees hasn’t got the resolution to identify individuals or even unit insignia - the provision of which might be effective at the person-to-person (microsocial, you might say) level…who wants their grandma cussing them out for shooting their cousins? 

But if you assume that the drones do have the capability of providing the necessary resolution, then you might further assume that the PTB who control the drones don’t want that to be common knowledge.  Satellite resolution capabilities, for example, have long been a delicate…classified, some might insist…subject.

And there is a further complication:  You may have noticed that the Republicans - lacking the ability to make accusations with any veracity against this Administration - have been going bonkers making accusations about the leaking of classified information.  If this Administration were to suddenly make such hypothetical high-resolution drone footage public, then I personally believe that the Republicans would ignore the humanitarian aspects in favor of holding that footage up as “proof” that this Administration “leaks”.

(Notwithstanding the fact that they would thus again be working for a Middle Eastern “strongman” as is their wont and habit…since 1973, at least.)

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