Tag Archives: Atrocities

Drones Will Soon Use Artificial Intelligence to Decide Who to Kill

Once complete, these drones will represent the ultimate militarisation of AI and trigger vast legal and ethical implications for wider society

By Peter Lee. Published 4-11-2018 by The Conversation

An Air Force RPA reconnaissance drone is retrofitted for use in attack squadron. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The US Army recently announced that it is developing the first drones that can spot and target vehicles and people using artificial intelligence (AI). This is a big step forward. Whereas current military drones are still controlled by people, this new technology will decide who to kill with almost no human involvement.

Once complete, these drones will represent the ultimate militarisation of AI and trigger vast legal and ethical implications for wider society. There is a chance that warfare will move from fighting to extermination, losing any semblance of humanity in the process. At the same time, it could widen the sphere of warfare so that the companies, engineers and scientists building AI become valid military targets. Continue reading

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New AUMF? Critics Warn Against Giving Trump—or Any President—Power to Wage War ‘Virtually Anywhere on the Planet’

The proposal follows Trump’s illegal weekend attack on Syria

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-16-2018

Protesters marched in New York City to oppose military action against Syria in 2013. (Photo: The All-Nite Images/Flickr/cc)

As the 17-year-old War on Terror rages on—and with the international community still reeling from the illegal missile strikes that the U.S., U.K., and France launched on Syria over the weekend—Congress is considering a measure that critics warn will expand the executive branch’s authority to wage war.

Some lawmakers have tried for years to replace the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that has been used (pdf) by three administrations to justify military actions across the globe. Now that President Donald Trump has repeatedly ignored reminders that only Congress can approve attacks not covered by the authorization, Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) plan to introduce a new AUMF that could give even more war powers to the president.

Christopher Anders, deputy director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office, explained that under the proposed AUMF described in reports on Monday, Trump would essentially “get a blank check from Congress to go to war virtually anywhere on the planet.”

Outlining his concerns with various aspects of the proposal, Anders concludes it “would cause colossal harm to the Constitution’s checks and balances, would jeopardize civil liberties and human rights at home and abroad, and would lead to a breathtakingly broad expansion of war without meaningful oversight.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told NBC News that he worries “about an AUMF that is more permissive than what the president currently interprets his authority to be,” adding: “It’s gonna be hard for me to support something that has no sunset and no geographic limitation.”

Columbia Law School professor Matthew Waxman, a former national security official in the George W. Bush administration, said that an AUMF without an expiration date will bolster concerns among those who fear that greenlighting a new measure “entrenches an indefinite war.”

“The political reality, though, is that a much more restrictive AUMF won’t be possible anytime soon,” Waxman said, “and we’ll be engaged in an indefinite war either way.”

Reports about the new AUMF—which could be introduced as early as Monday—follow Kaine’s controversial comments to “CBS This Morning” earlier in the day.

While Kaine sharply criticized the attack on Syria as an “illegal military act,” the senator also said he would have “likely” supported it if Trump had asked for permission from Congress first.

Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)—a long-time critic of the 2001 AUMF and the only member of Congress to vote against it—swiftly condemned Trump’s weekend attack, but many more were criticized for their apparent indifference or tempered responses to Trump’s unconstitutional act.

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Republicans Unveil Proposal to Push One Million Off Food Stamps

“Rich people who don’t need it get lavish billion-dollar handouts from this president…The struggling poor, on the other hand, are going to see new work requirements attached to their $1.40-a-meal food stamp.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-13-2018

Social welfare advocates on Friday denounced a proposal included in a draft of the 2018 Farm Bill which would impose work requirements on most adults who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly called food stamps. The proposal represents the first concrete attempt by Republicans to erode the social safety net since President Donald Trump took office.

Critics said the plan showed blatant hostility toward the 42 million Americans who rely on the program, and that it would do nothing to “break the poverty cycle” as House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) claimed on Thursday. Continue reading

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Confirming He ‘Does Not Give a Crap About Working People,’ Trump Proposes Rejoining TPP

“In a series of broken promises Trump made to the working people of this country, rejoining the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership would be the biggest yet,” warned Sen. Bernie Sanders

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-12-2018

Photo: End the Illusion

As if his enormous tax cuts for the rich, attacks on the safety net, and efforts to help bosses steal their employees’ tips weren’t proof enough, President Donald Trump further demonstrated that he “does not give a crap about working people” on Thursday by telling lawmakers he is considering rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade pact he withdrew from last year and repeatedly derided as “terrible.”

In a statement responding to the news that Trump has directed his top economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to examine options for reentering the 11-nation accord, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen argued that the president’s move “could bring short term joy to Democratic campaign operatives” but would be yet another signal that Trump “cannot be trusted on anything.” Continue reading

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Israeli Sniper Targets, Kills Journalist in “PRESS” Vest

Corbyn: “The silence from international powers with the responsibility of bringing a just settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict must end.”

By CommonDreams. Published 4-7-2018

Sources in Gaza have confirmed that journalist Yaser Murtaja has died after being shot in the abdomen by an Israeli sniper while covering the protests. He was clearly wearing a vest that identified him as press.

Yaser Murtaja, a cameraman for Palestinian Ain Media, was wearing a “PRESS” flak jacket as he was shot by an Israeli sniper Friday. He died of his injuries in a hospital on Saturday.

The 30-year-old journalist was one of nine people killed and more than 1,000 injured by Israeli troops Friday on the Gaza border.

Thousands of Palestinians continued “The Great March of Return,” the week-long protest on Friday, demanding the right of return of Palestinian refugees to towns and villages from which their families were driven out when Israel was created. Continue reading

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Shell Knew, Too: New Docs Show Oil Giant’s Scientists Secretly Warned About Climate Threat Decades Ago

“These reports reaffirm that fossil fuel companies have been—and always will be—bad actors,” said 350.org’s executive director

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-5-2018

“Although CO2 is emitted to the atmosphere through several natural processes,” a 1988 Shell report states, “the main cause of increasing CO2 concentrations is considered to be fossil fuel burning.” (Photo: FraserElliot/flickr/cc)

Royal Dutch Shell’s scientists warned the oil giant about the threat that fossil fuel emissions pose to the planet as early as the 1980s, according to a trove of documents obtained by a Dutch journalist and published Thursday at Climate Files.

Environmental advocates say the documents—which bolster an investigative report published last year—demonstrate the “stunning” immorality of oil and gas companies. The records are expected to aid global efforts to hold the industry to account for its contributions to global warming. Continue reading

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Trump’s Easter Morning Tweets Affirm His ‘Anti-Immigrant Agenda,’ Say Rights Groups

“This just reaffirms what we have known all along: Trump never wanted to protect immigrant youth,” says United We Dream.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-1-2018

Demonstrators take part in a rally in support of “Dreamers” on March 4, 2018. (Photo: Victoria Pickering/flickr/cc)

Human rights groups on Sunday said that President Donald Trump affirmed his “anti-immigrant agenda” when he tweeted that there would be no legislative deal to help a group of immigrants known as Dreamers, said that a border wall is urgently needed, and implied that Mexico and Democrats are allowing “caravans” of undocumented people to arrive in the United States.

Trump sent out the series of tweets roughly an hour and a half after tweeting “Happy Easter.” In one, he also calls on Senate Republicans to take the “nuclear option,” in other words, change Senate rules to allow legislation to move forward with a simple majority rather than 60 votes, thus avoiding Democratic opposition. Continue reading

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Protests Continue Over Killing of Stephon Clark as Autopsy Reveals Officers Shot Him in the Back

“This independent autopsy affirms that Stephon was not a threat to police,” says family’s attorney.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 3-31-2018

Results of an independent autopsy on Friday debunk the police assertion that Stephon Clark was facing and advancing towards the officers. (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

Protests over the deadly police shooting of 22-year-old unarmed Stephon Clark are continuing on Saturday, with a former NBA player set to lead a rally in Sacramento to continue the call for justice and accountability.

“I love Sacramento and this community will always be a part of me,” said Matt Barnes, whose basketball career included playing with the Sacramento Kings. “As the father of two boys, I can’t stay silent on this issue. We clearly need to unite, organize, and act to bring the accountability that is so desperately needed. This rally is the beginning to seeing that change.”

The schedule rally follows four consecutive nights of protests over the March 18 shooting. Continue reading

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As ‘March of Great Return’ Begins, Israeli Forces Gun Down Palestinian Protesters Along Gaza Border

Israeli snipers killed at least 16 Palestinians and injured hundreds more as an estimated 20,000 gathered along the Gaza-Israel border for the launch of the six-week “March of Great Return” on Friday. “Dozens of signs have been set up across the border in Arabic, Hebrew, and English, saying ‘We are not here to fight; we are here to return to our lands.'”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 3-30-2018

An estimated 20,000 Palestinians marched along the Gaza-Israel border on Friday. (Photo: Ma’an News Agency)

UPDATE: Today’s death toll has risen to 16 with many hundreds more wounded.

With worries that numbers will continue to rise, Israeli snipers killed at least nine Palestinians and injured hundreds more as an estimated 20,000 gathered along the Gaza-Israel border for the launch of the six-week “March of Great Return” on Friday.


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Further ‘Exposing Cruelty of Trump,’ ICE Ends Policy Limiting Detention of Pregnant Women

New policy aimed at furthering Trump’s goal of “increasing the number of people subjected to detention, without any regard to particular health needs or other vulnerabilities including pregnancy.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 3-29-2018

Immigration officials will abandon efforts to spare most pregnant women from detention, according to new guidance issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Thomas Homan.

The announcement, made in a memo written by Homan last December but not revealed until Thursday, was condemned by immigrant rights advocates.


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