George Zimmerman’s Acquittal in Trayvon Martin Murder Trial Provokes Nation to Confront Persistent Racism.
Another chapter in the tragic Feb. 26, 2012 shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by volunteer neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., was written with the July 13 jury verdict that acquitted Zimmerman. Many people across the U.S. and the world were stunned by the jury’s decision, given that Zimmerman had been the one to follow the black teenager against police instructions, provoking whatever physical altercation that ensued.
Interview with Judith Brown Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, conducted by Scott Harris
Movement Challenging Drone Surveillance and Warfare at Home and Abroad Gains Momentum
Drones were in the news again as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula last week confirmed the death of its second-in-command in Yemen, Said al-Shihri by a U.S. drone strike. While President Obama and many Americans support the use of drones to target terrorists, a growing number of people in the U.S. and around the world take a different view.
Medea Benjamin is an outspoken peace activist and opponent of drone warfare. As co-founder of the group, Code Pink Women for Peace, she has led innumerable protests both inside official government hearings and outside on the street since 2002. She has led delegations of women and men to many of the world’s hot spots, including Israel-Palestine and Iraq and Iran. In recent years, she has traveled to the nations where U.S. drone strikes have been carried out, including Pakistan and Yemen. Her newest book is titled, “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.”
In a talk July 14 in New Haven, Conn., Benjamin noted that only two percent of those killed by drones were on the U.S. government’s high value target list, such as al-Shihri. The majority of those killed by drones were deemed “militants,” a term describing any male of fighting age found in the regions where drone strikes occur. In addition, hundreds of women and children have also been killed. While Benjamin expresses concern that drone technology is proliferating around the world, she is encouraged that the movement to stop the use of weaponized drones is also building.
Learn more about growing opposition to the U.S. drone warfare program by visiting Code Pink Women for Peace at Codepink.org.
Excerpt of a speech by Code Pink: Women for Peace activist and author Medea Benjamin, recorded and produced by Melinda Tuhus
Diverse Groups Join Lawsuit to Halt NSA Dragnet Surveillance of U.S. Citizens’ Communications
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who last month leaked details to newspapers about the U.S. spy agency’s massive collection of domestic and overseas phone and Internet communication records, remains in legal limbo at Moscow’s International airport. The Obama administration had revoked Snowden’s passport shortly before charging the 30-year-old former government defense contractor with three felonies: espionage, theft and conversion of government property. Now it appears that Russia may soon grant Snowden authorization to leave the airport transit zone, where he’s been stranded for a month, and move to new quarters in downtown Moscow. Although the governments of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have stated they would grant Snowden political asylum, none of these nations are served by direct commercial flights from Moscow.
While recent public opinion polls suggest that the majority of the nation believe Edward Snowden to be a whistle-blower and not a traitor – with large numbers of citizens saying that the government’s anti-terrorism efforts go too far in restricting civil liberties – congressional leaders of both parties have allowed few challenges to the national surveillance state. But Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan is expected to introduce an amendment on July 24 that would end government authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act.
On the legal front, the Electronic Frontier Foundation initiated a lawsuit on July 16 to halt the U.S. National Security Agency’s massive collection of Americans communications data. The lawsuit includes a broad coalition of 19 plaintiffs, from civil liberties activists to church leaders and drug and gun rights advocates. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with one of the plaintiffs, Rev. Rick Hoyt, minister of the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, who explains why his congregation joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation NSA lawsuit.
Interview with Rev. Rick Hoyt, minister of the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles and one of 19 plaintiffs in Electronic Frontier Foundation NSA lawsuit, conducted by Scott Harris