Out in the night, watching Jupiter chasing a waxing moon across a star-dappled sky, clouds drifting lazily over the mountains, where the waterfalls have grown thick and vivid from a week of heavy rain, which returned this morning for another hard soaking before the dogs and I got up and walked in the yellow light — oh yes, the sun! — as thunder rolled in the distance.
Everything looks so vibrant, lush, alive — except the civilians the U.S. keeps killing with its not-so-secret drone attacks in Pakistan, our latest undeclared war. As Democracy Now! reports, the most recent victims are a 16-year-old boy, who attended an anti-drone meeting to learn how to document civilian casualties from strikes near his home, and his 12-year-old cousin.
I don't think most Americans have any idea how widely drones are being used, and how many people, including civilians and kids, are being killed. As journalist Pratap Chatterjee reports:
[I]n every village around Mir Ali, Miranshah, there are drones, often 24 hours a day.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, where I work, has created a database of everybody that has been killed since these drone strikes began a number of years ago under Bush. Eighty-five percent of them have taken place under Barack Obama. And we have used the most conservative counting methodology that we can. It has to be reported by multiple sources. And using that methodology, we have counted over 2,300 people that have been killed, and as many as 3,000. Waheed Khan, age 12, and Tariq Aziz, age 16, were the 174th and 175th documented child casualties in this war.
Yet another example — and I've been meaning to post this one, about how the Obama Administration is cracking down on state medical marijuana dispensaries, even though he promised he wouldn't, by going after media outlets, including California's few remaining independent newspapers, that advertise the clinics — of how Obama isn't much different than Bush, except he vacations in Hawaii.
The Prez will be here again this week as part of the APEC meetings, which include not just the leaders of some 20 Pacific nations, but top-ranking business executives from the region, too. As a report in the Star-Advertiser noted:
"The summit is unlike any other event in the world, allowing senior business executives to engage with world leaders and have an immediate impact on economic policy decisions," [APEC 2011 US Host Committee Monica] Whaley said in a statement. "These discussions move markets."
In other words, Hawaii residents are paying millions for security measures, and enduring road and beach closures, though fortunately not drone attacks, so government and industry can do its usual back-slapping, glad-handing, arm-twisting, palm-greasing lobbying and deal-making in safety, comfort and style.
Aurai! We're so blessed!
Meanwhile, even though most citizens remain clueless about APEC and how globalization adversely impacts the masses and the aina, the high muckety-mucks are getting a tiny bit worried that the struggling peasants may wake up and pick up pitch forks:
"In the context of APEC, I would argue that the major problem we are facing this year is the increase of this disparity in income between the rich and the poor," [UH APEC Studies Center Director Tung] Bui said. "This is not only happening in the developing countries like China and Vietnam and the Philippines, but also in the United States."
He added that he expects that, in their declaration on economic growth, leaders will recognize "that growth has got to be inclusive for everyone -- there should be a fair share for the rich and the poor as well."
By George, that's it! Just make a bigger pie! Because even though we live on a planet with finite resources, and our back is right up against the resource-depleted, global-warming wall, we can just grow right out of the depression, grow right out of the inequity, keep on growing forever, right?
Is that the best that the supposedly best minds in government and business can give us?