US Government’s Obscene Assassination Justification

Jeremy Scahill - ImminentObama has before compared the drone program to dealing with a sniper on a roof of a building who is pointing the rifle at children on a playground. And he say, you know, “I understand what the ACLU’s objections are and human rights people and stuff. But do we need to go to a judge to get authorization to take that shooter down before he kills a bunch of kids on a playground? No we don’t.” And I think… everyone in this room agrees with that. If you have someone who’s going to kill a bunch of kids, and they’re a sniper, and they’re not responding to any kind of attempts to get them to put the rifle down, people in this society overwhelmingly would say, “Yes. If we need to kill that person we’ll kill them.”

The problem is, that’s a fake analogy. They have never provided a shred of evidence that a single person that they’ve killed in a drone strike represented an imminent threat to US persons or the security of the United States. They have never given a shred of evidence to suggest that they killed someone en route to putting a bomb on a plane. I guarantee you, because this White House leaks like crazy, if they had that evidence they would put it out there…

If their standard was just that we’re killing people that we think maybe in the future might in certain circumstances try to encourage others to commit acts of terrorism — If that was the policy! — okay, that’s what they’re doing. But that’s not what they say the policy is. They say the policy is we’re targeting people who represent an imminent — “imminent” is their word — threat to US interests, US persons, and US facilities around the world. If that’s the standard then you have to say then what is the definition of the word “imminent.”

There was a white paper of the Justice Department leaked in advance of John Brennan’s confirmation hearings to be CIA director, that had a definition of the word “imminent” not even the most barely literate English speaker would recognize as the definition of “imminent.” It basically was like if you ever thought about terrorism in your life, we can kill you in a drone strike.

—Jeremy Scahill
The Government’s Secret War with Drones

Neanderthals Might Have Stopped Us All from Being Donald Trump

NeanderthalsAs many of you know, I have a soft spot for losers. Even when a clear serial killer is on trial, I feel bad for them. And as a result, I’ve long felt somewhat protective of the Neanderthals. Over three years ago, I wrote, Are Humans Better than Neanderthals? That was about how documentaries, which are usually quite objective when it comes to all other species, became really bigoted when it came to this close relative. Well, now I’ve learned a little bit more about Neanderthals, and it too is presented in a biased way.

The Economist published, A Parthian Shot. Okay, first: enough with the pun headlines! I know it sucks to have to work for a bunch of libertarian idiots (even if you are one yourself), but this pun barely even makes sense! And then the subtitle of the article is, “Neanderthals’ parting gifts to Homo sapiens were disease-causing genes.” But this is distinctly not what the article says!

Neanderthals “Gifted” Us Various Things

The article itself says that they did gift us some disease-causing genes, but some of those very same genes may be responsible for our surviving as a species. For example:

Some genes might put their bearers at risk of obesity in the modern world of fatty, sugary snacks. But in a world where food is scarce (as it presumably was in the northern latitudes where modern humans and Neanderthals mixed), those same genes might help their owners through lean periods.

But there’s an obvious response to this: what about the diseases that come from our ancient Homo sapiens ancestors? Humans are between 1% and 4% Neanderthal. That means that all those genetic diseases that don’t come from them comes from ancient humans and later mutations. Obviously, we need to ask, “Who exactly is ‘us’?”

We Aren’t Neanderthals; Nor Are We Ancient Humans

When a donkey and a horse mate, we call the offspring a mule or hinny. In almost all cases, they are infertile. But what if they were like humans and Neanderthals? Suppose you get a half breed that then mates with a human? Okay: one-quarter Neanderthal, but certainly not “human.” We are not the humans of 40,000 years ago. Around that time, the two species and a couple of other related ones interbred and created what we are today. And doubtless that increase in genetic diversity was really helpful to us.

Two years ago, I wrote, You Are a Neanderthal! which pointed out that part of our DNA was strictly from them. But the truth is that we aren’t Neanderthals — I was just writing for effect. We are what we are. And that’s part Neanderthal, part ancient human, and parts unknown. We should embrace this!

Neanderthals Could Save Us from Trump

And here’s something to think about. Given that we modern humans are a lot more related to the ancient humans than we are Neanderthals, that means that the ancient humans out competed them — more of the specific ancient human genes survived. And that makes me think that the best of what we are might be Neanderthal. When you watch Donald Trump accept the Republican nomination for President, think: that’s what separates us from the Neanderthals; Donald Trump is why we needed those Neanderthal genes.