Friday, December 31, 2010

Cost of War: Teacher Layoffs and War

Editorial: Teacher Layoffs and War

Just one more example of the Cost of War and of the priorities exposed by the choices our Government is making on how to spend money.

Our government’s perverse definition of “national security” was on display again this summer. By large majorities, the U.S. Congress approved a so-called emergency appropriation of $33.5 billion to escalate the war in Afghanistan—adding to the more than $1 trillion that the United States has already spent waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Meanwhile, as schools faced the potential layoff of an estimated 300,000 teachers across the country, Congress dawdled until the second week in August, finally approving $10 billion to save the jobs of about half that number. The catch was that Congress “found” the money by cutting $12 billion in spending on food stamps (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)—a measure that the Food Research and Action Center says will hurt 40 million people, almost half of them children, when the cuts take effect in 2014. As Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who voted for the bill, said, “I cannot in good conscience condone what we have taken away. . . . The bill shamefully pits these priorities against each other.”

This juxtaposition of robust war spending and inadequate support for education highlights the moral bankruptcy of political and economic leaders who seem to find endless piles of money to kill people abroad but not much to educate them at home. And, of course, the relationship is plain: The more dollars spent on war, the fewer available for human needs—whether alternative energy, food stamps, in-home elder care, public libraries, or keeping teachers in their classrooms.


And the morally bankrupt pattern that emerges makes you wonder if there is not indeed a plan here:

It’s worth pausing to ask: Who stands to gain by the jobs crisis in our country’s schools?

As Naomi Klein argues so powerfully in The Shock Doctrine, the “shock” of a calamity—whether natural or human created—offers opportunities for powerful interests to push their privatization, market-oriented schemes even more forcefully. This neoliberal agenda in education includes weakening teacher unions and dampening worker expectations, expanding charter schools, shifting curricular authority away from teachers and school communities to corporations, and establishing a regime of accountability through standardized tests. Oh yes, and squeezing more work out of school district employees for less money.

It’s not hard to recognize how a layoff crisis furthers this agenda. States starving for education money fall all over themselves in the Race to the Top competition, abolishing caps on the number of charter schools, tying teacher compensation to test scores, adopting national standards, and agreeing to “reconstitute” struggling schools.


So as people become more aware of the injustice and greed on display both in congress and in the workplace what can be done? The article points out the stark contrasts on display and some of the responses.

One Pot of Money

Simultaneously debating war funding and money to stave off teacher layoffs, as Congress did this summer, inadvertently draws attention to the truth that there is one pot of federal revenue, and how it gets allocated is a matter of political choice. Every dollar spent for war is a dollar not spent on children or other human needs.


If there is a silver lining to this crisis, it’s the increased activism along these lines that we see throughout the country—and the willingness to connect grievances. For example, this summer the United Auto Workers and Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition launched a campaign to “rebuild America with jobs, and justice, and peace.” This UAW/Rainbow PUSH initiative links demands “to rebuild the nation’s cities, provide jobs and education, enact a moratorium on foreclosures, and end the wars in the Middle East.


Stop the profiteering! Stop the War!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Atlantic Archives: The Power Of Protest - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

The Atlantic Archives: The Power Of Protest - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Andrew gives an example of protest under the Nazis in which Aryan wives of German Jews held a street protest of their detention that let to the freeing of those Jews. He then applies it to injustice in the US today:

To be clear, I am in no way suggesting that the Nazis and their misdeeds are "morally equivalent" to the contemporary sins of the French or the British, or the torture carried out by the Bush Administration, or the prison rape that so routinely occurs in the United States, or the many innocent civilians who are inadvertently killed by our overseas bombing campaigns.

But these are serious transgressions against morality and the propositions declared self-evident in our founding documents. That our leaders are often well-intentioned, that our systems successfully guard against atrocities better than so many others, and that we’re free to protest without fear of being gunned down or disappeared would seem to increase rather than decrease our obligation to dissent.


The big question is why don't more people rise up? the majority of the American people are against the war in Afghanistan. Why are there not more of them out on the street corner protesting with VFP?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

UN to investigate treatment of jailed leaks suspect Bradley Manning | World news | The Guardian


UN to investigate treatment of jailed leaks suspect Bradley Manning | World news | The Guardian

The United Nations is investigating a complaint on behalf of Bradley Manning that he is being mistreated while held since May in US Marine Corps custody pending trial. The army private is charged with the unauthorised use and disclosure of classified information, material related to the WikiLeaks, and faces a court martial sometime in 2011.

The office of Manfred Nowak, special rapporteur on torture based in Geneva, received the complaint from a Manning supporter; his office confirmed that it was being looked into. Manning's supporters say that he is in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day; this could be construed as a form of torture. This month visitors reported that his mental and physical health was deteriorating.

The costs of war-"The nation we are failing to build in Afghanistan is our own". -Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel - The costs of war

Another analysis of the review of "progress in Afghanistan" released this week.

Some highlights:

We're spending $100 billion a year on a country that had a gross domestic product of a little more than $2 billion when we invaded in 2001. We manage this feat only by helping to fund both sides of the conflict (much of the aid ends up in the hands of the Taliban as well as regional warlords who don't support the Karzai government). The military focus displaces attention that should be devoted to regional diplomacy and a political settlement within Afghanistan


She then focuses on how this multi-billion investment plays out at home:

Missing in the president's review are the actual costs of the war. That includes what economists call "opportunity costs," or what we miss by continuing this course. By 2014, this administration will have spent more than $700 billion on Afghanistan directly. Poverty is an unfashionable word in Washington, but it afflicts a record 43 million Americans. Childhood poverty is rising. Nationally, only one in seven black male teens held any type of job in the first quarter of this year. We should not fool ourselves: A generation of children raised on dangerous streets is being condemned to a life of misery - hunger, broken families, unemployment, drugs and crime. The nation we are failing to build in Afghanistan is our own.


If poverty is too liberal a concern, consider the costs of Afghanistan to our economic competitiveness. America is literally falling apart. Our aged and decrepit infrastructure is becoming a clear and present danger. Lives are lost when a bridge falls in Minneapolis or the levees collapse in New Orleans. SUVs are swallowed by collapsing sewage systems in New York. Children go to schools judged dangerous to their health. Hours are lost when aged train switches freeze, sewer systems collapse or traffic snarls. Even the basics of civilization, such as access to clean water, are increasingly at risk because of aging and leaky sewage systems. Our electric grid, our broadband system and our transportation system all lag behind those of global competitors. Combine the $700 billion spent in Afghanistan and the $700 billion to be squandered on tax breaks for the richest 1 percent of Americans over the next decade, and you have real money, even for Washington. Money that this increasingly challenged country can no longer afford to waste.


And finally the investment in human capital echos John Kerrys words about Vietnam.

Notably absent in the commentary about the president's review, too, are the war's human costs. The service of those in our volunteer army is routinely praised on all sides. The Democratic Congress under President George W. Bush and Obama committed itself to improving military pay, educational benefits and medical and psychological care. But celebrating servicemembers' courage ignores the basic question: How do you ask young men and women to give their life or limbs for a cause that you know is lost? Or worse, has no justifiable purpose?


To Sum it up: We ain't learned nothin yet and our war profits industries and their "Masters of War" do not want to learn about the consequences of their profits.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why VFP tied themselves to the White House Fence or What's Missing in the Latest Afghanistan Review | Stephen M. Walt

What's Missing in the Latest Afghanistan Review | Stephen M. Walt

We saw the heart felt demonstration against War by VFP members last week. Now look at this article analyzing the facts and consequences of the Afghanistan war which is becoming the Pakistan war with a little history thrown in to remind us that we have been this way before and it did not turn out well. by Stephen Walt:

The article begins with these two New York Times articles:
"U.S. Will Widen War on Militants Inside Pakistan" and "Germany Will Begin Afghan Exit Next Year."


Walt questions the Policy Review as being more politics than reality:
what's missing in all this role-playing was a clear and convincing statement of costs and benefits. For all the talk of defeating al Qaeda (which isn't in Afghanistan any more), or preventing "safe havens," the administration scrupulously avoided the question of whether the money spent, lives lost, and presidential time consumed is worth it in terms of advancing core American interests.


If you look at the first headline above it is clear that we are now fighting in Pakistan. Chapter 14 already has Memorial Day tombstones dedicated to US soldiers who died in Pakistan. Walt's more strategic take:
the news that the United States intends to expand the war even further into Pakistan is especially worrisome. On the one hand, it suggests that the administration has figured out that it cannot ever win in Afghanistan so long as the Taliban have a safe haven across the border (and the tacit or active support of some key elements in the Pakistani military). But as Anatol Lieven notes in The Nation, unleashing additional violence in Pakistan could have long-term destabilizing consequences that would be far more significant than whatever ultimately happens in Afghanistan.


He also brings in a chilling historical parallel here:
And it is hard not to see echoes of Nixon's decision to invade Cambodia in 1970, in a failed attempt to eradicate Viet Cong bases there. The two situations are hardly identical, but both illustrate the tendency for wars to expand in both the scope and extent of violence, especially when they aren't going well.


In any case it will mean for our chapter and for the American people that there will be more tombstones next year honoring the dead from Pakistan. I still hold im my memory an Army pilot friend from Vietnam who flew into Cambodia and whose plane went down in flames and remains MIA.

If history holds true the people of Pakistan will pay an even higher price. Walt remembers what the result of US intervention for the Cambodian people:

Let's not forget that the invasion of Cambodia in 1970 also helped destabilize that country, and helped usher in the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge. I'm not predicting a similar outcome here, but that example is a cruel reminder that military force is a crude instrument whose ultimate effects are difficult to anticipate in advance.


And finally the long view:
Decades from now, historians will look back and wonder how the United States allowed itself to get bogged down in a long and costly war to determine the political fate of landlocked country whose entire gross national product is about a quarter the size of the New York city budget. And when they reflect on the fact that the United States did this even after a major financial collapse and in the face of persistent budget deficits and macroeconomic imbalances, they will shake their heads in amazement.

Monday, December 20, 2010

YouTube - Veterans for Peace White House Civil Disobedience to End War

YouTube - Veterans for Peace White House Civil Disobedience to End War

Chris Hedges Message of Hope at the http://www.blogger.com/blog_this.pyra?&n=YouTube+-+Veterans+for+Peace+White+House+Civil+Disobedience+to+End+War&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DtOde31QYbI0%26feature%3Dplayer_embedded&t&pli=1

Thanks to Bill for sending this out on the listserve. Great video of an great speech about why we protest.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The U.S.S. Prius - NYTimes.com

The U.S.S. Prius - NYTimes.com

Unlike the Congress, which can be bought off by Big Oil and Big Coal, it is not so easy to tell the Marines that they can’t buy the solar power that could save lives. I don’t know what the final outcome in Iraq or Afghanistan will be, but if we come out of these two wars with a Pentagon-led green revolution, I know they won’t be a total loss. Wars that were driven partly by our oil addiction end up forcing us to break our oil addiction? Wouldn’t that be interesting?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ellsberg, VFP members and Other Anti-War Protesters To Chain Themselves To White House Fence

Ellsberg, Other Anti-War Protesters To Chain Themselves To White House FenceDan Froomkin
Vietnam-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and several dozen other anti-war protesters will be chaining themselves to the White House fence, inviting arrest in the name of peace.
"We are dedicated to exposing the true costs of war and militarism," explained Mike Ferner, the president of Veterans for Peace, the group organizing Thursday's Lafayette Square rally and civil disobedience.

"We've killed well over a million people. We've orphaned and displaced five times that number at least. And here in our own country, we've managed to throw millions of people of out work and out of their homes," Ferner told reporters at a press conference Wednesday. "There is a connection there. That connection is the true cost of war."

Citing information available for every city and state in America on the Cost of War website, the former Navy hospital corpsman noted that his hometown of Toledo alone has sent almost a billion dollars into the war effort.

Obama is expected to cite "progress" in the war as he releases a review of American strategy in Afghanistan. During his visit to Bagram Air Force Base earlier this month, the president telegraphed his position by telling the troops that "thanks to your service, we are making important progress. You are protecting your country."

Ellsberg, the former military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971 as an act of protest against the Vietnam War, took particular umbrage at Obama's claim that the troops in Afghanistan are keeping Americans safe.

"I regard that last assurance as a lie. As a big lie," he said. Ellsberg said Obama knew full well when he announced a major troop-escalation plan a year ago that the war was unwinnable, and that putting in more troops would actually bolster the Taliban -- and, by extension, al Qaeda -- by helping their recruiting efforts.
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"It is our military operations that are not only failing to protect Americans, they are endangering Americans," said Ellsberg, 79, for whom this will be the 80th civil disobedience arrest.

"There comes a time when you need to put your body in it," said former CIA analyst-turned-activist Ray McGovern, paraphrasing Martin Luther King, Jr. "If the making of peace means prison, that's where we need to be."

"We are hoping that our actions will spark resistance everywhere," said Veterans for Peace Vice President Leah Bolger. "We are hoping to make people question what the government is doing in our name."

A brief rally is scheduled for 10 a.m. across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House with remarks from Ellsberg, McGovern, Ferner, "Peace Mom" Cindy Sheehan, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin, and others.

Protesters will then head for the White House, where organizers hope 100 or more people with chain themselves to the fence and get arrested.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Reaction of Governments to Wikileaks Should Scare the Hell Out of You

a Tweet that says it all:



The Reaction of Governments to Wikileaks Should Scare the Hell Out of You

A Marine's review of Wikileaks ongoing battle with government secrecy.
Roberto Arguedas is a public school teacher in Atlanta with a focus on diplomatic history. He served in the Marine infantry in Fallujah (post Phantom Fury) and Ramadi (during the surge). He blogs at Philistine Vulgarity about politics, games, and more.


His comments on the free speech aspects of this new kind of electronic conflict are especially relevant.

Finally, the reaction of governments to these leaks should scare the hell out of you. The seemingly inevitable arrest (via Reddit) of Julian Assange by British authorities on Swedish sexual assault charges as encouraged by the American government likely represents a 21st century remix of the classic honeypot, and the willingness to use it on such a high profile individual should be worrisome irrespective of the veracity of the charges. It's just the tip of the iceberg, though. Apart from Facebook's notably understated position, the ease and rapidity with which corporations across the US and the world were reminded of where the fishes sleep should be of tremendous concern. If Amazon, credit card companies, Paypal, and Swiss banks are the big stories with their reliance on technicalities to wriggle out of their responsibilities in obvious response to government pressure, it is EveryDNS being brazenly strongarmed into abdicating its role as a neutral gatekeeper that should set the tone for future conversations about net neutrality.

The potential for Comcast or Verizon abusing their place in the food chain pales in comparison to an overt example of governments colluding to silence what they can't defeat in court with intimidation and technological warfare. Naturally, some will point to the "hacktivist" response (apologies if that's your first exposure to that term) as an equal and opposite reaction: while possibly emotionally gratifying, in the end it has the same outcome of discouraging corporate work with transparency organizations since dealing with governments is not as easy to opt out of. As Senator Joseph Lieberman makes clear (via Cory), it's easy for unscrupulous advocates of censorship to view this as an opportunity, a watershed that brings together their traditional loathing of old media with contemporary technology.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wikileaks and the New McCarthyism: Maybe we Just Need a More Open Government | Julian Assange Interviews

Wikileaks and the New McCarthyism: Maybe we Just Need a More Open Government | Informed Comment


Juan Cole's take on Wikileaks:
A big issue in the Wikileaks controversy has to do with restrictions on freedom of speech in a democratic society, and the use of pressure tactics and of corporate policy to curb speech that is not shown to be illegal. That tendency is very troubling, and recalls the strong arm tactics of the House of Representatives, the FBI, and major corporations during the McCarthy era.

Wikileaks continues to be under political pressure (I say political rather than legal because as far as I can tell, the organization has not been indicted or formally charged with wrongdoing), and I found it impossible to get through to their new Swiss site this morning. But there are now lots of mirror sites up all over Europe. The documents are also being made available via torrents that can be picked up through peer to peer (p2p) networks. Presumably the more important cables are in the “insurance” file available at the various wikileaks mirror sites and also via torrents, and which founder Julian Assange says has been downloaded 100,000 times. An encryption key will be disseminated if anything happens to the organization.


He also comments on the effects of the document dumps form a historian's point of view and quotes Robert Gates:

On the other hand, I don’t see the leaks as the end of the world. Most of the authors of the cables have been rotated to another embassy by now, and leaders come and go. There is no evidence of anyone being killed because of the leaks, though one German spy for the US has been summarily fired. I saw Robert M. Gates on Aljazeera reacting to the leaks in Realist fashion. He said that countries interact with the US for three reasons. Some are friendly and interact on that basis. Others are enemies and seek engagement for that very reason. Still others think they need the US. Gates said he didn’t see in what way the leaked cables would change any of those three sorts of relationship. And he is right.


Open culture provides interviews with Julian Assange that may illuminate his position more fully:

A key passage explaining Assange’s world view appears below, and you can get the full profile right here. Next up, we have Chris Anderson, the head of TED, in conversation Assange. The interview, running 20 minutes, tells you essentially “Why the World Needs WikiLeaks.” And then why not add to the list Forbes’ lengthy interview with Assange, published earlier this week. (Thanks Avi for that.)

He had come to understand the defining human struggle not as left versus right, or faith versus reason, but as individual versus institution. As a student of Kafka, Koestler, and Solzhenitsyn, he believed that truth, creativity, love, and compassion are corrupted by institutional hierarchies, and by “patronage networks”—one of his favorite expressions—that contort the human spirit. He sketched out a manifesto of sorts, titled “Conspiracy as Governance,” which sought to apply graph theory to politics. Assange wrote that illegitimate governance was by definition conspiratorial—the product of functionaries in “collaborative secrecy, working to the detriment of a population.” He argued that, when a regime’s lines of internal communication are disrupted, the information flow among conspirators must dwindle, and that, as the flow approaches zero, the conspiracy dissolves. Leaks were an instrument of information warfare.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

America's Two Faces | Republic or Empire

America's Two Faces | Stephen M. Walt

Some perspective on this question by looking at History, specifically the history of Britain's bargain with Hitler before WWII and how that affected the British public's view of their society and its role int he world. I am presently reading Cleopatra by the historian Stacy Schiff and that history is set at the Transition for the Roman empire from Republic to Dictatorship. The picture of Roman politics with its anything to gain power impetus and the hurling of lies and epithets between political opponents (Marc Anthony and Octavian) show a disturbing parallel to present day American political life, from the lies and propaganda to the bread and circuses for the masses.

Stephen Waite comments on a essay called "Post Munich" in the Novel Two Cheers for Democracy by EM Forester: "The essay is called "Post-Munich," and it is a reflection, written in 1939, on the curious political psychology that gripped England after Chamberlain made his deal with Hitler. He describes the country as in a strange double-state: still deeply fearful, and yet simultaneously distractible by the routines of life promised through the deal. Here is what Forster writes:

'This state of being half-frightened and half-thinking about something else at the same time is the state of many English people today. It is worth examining, partly because it is interesting, partly because, like all mixed states, it can be improved by thought.'

Forster goes on to describe why it is so hard to break free and face what needs to be done:

'We are urged. . . to face facts, and we ought to. But we can only face them by being double-faced. The facts lie in opposite directions, and no exhortation will group them into a single field. No slogan works. All is lost if the totalitarians destroy us. But all is equally lost if we have nothing left to lose.'" If you just substitute terrorists for totalitarians and terrorism for fascism, you have a pretty good picture of our politics today. But here's the important question this raises in my mind:

Why, I ask myself, does the United States today seem like England after Munich? The Taliban are not Hitler. I think it is because we have indulged this same appeasement, but with ourselves. We are on both sides of the bargain: we are the world's threatening tyrant, and we are the world's best hope for freedom. And rather than fight out that battle, we have decided we can have it both ways. We have walked up to the fundamental choice that we face about our role in the world, and we have made a Munich pact with ourselves instead of choosing liberty and democracy for all. The point here is that it is as unstable and unholy a pact as Munich. It will come undone, and it should come undone. But then the real choice and the real peril will confront us."

My reaction: I reproduced his email because I think Chris is on to something (just as Forster was back in 1939). Americans think we ought to be managing the whole world, but we shouldn't have to pay taxes or sacrifice our way of life in order to do it. We use our military machine to kill literally tens of thousands of Muslims in different countries, and then we are surprised when a handful of them get mad and try (usually not every effectively) to hit us back. But then we docilely submit to all sorts of degrading and costly procedures at airports, because we demand to be protected from threats whose origins we've been refusing to talk about honestly for years. We are constantly warned about grave dangers, secret plots, impending confrontations, slow-motion crises, etc., and we are told that these often hypothetical scenarios justify compromising liberties here at home and engaging in practices (torture, targeted assassinations, preventive missile strikes at suspected terrorists, etc.) that we would roundly condemn if anyone else did them. We think it is an outrage when North Korea shells a South Korean island and kills four people, (correct), yet it is just "business as usual" when one of our drones hits some innocent civilians in Pakistan or Yemen. We have disdain for our politics and our politicians, but instead of questioning the institutions and practices that fuel this dysfunction, we indulge in fairy tales about so-called leaders who will somehow lead us out of the darkness."


Wait Concludes:
"...the lesson here is that the United States cannot be a republic and an empire, because the latter inevitably ends up corrupting the former. This is the central point raised by the late Chalmers Johnson (who passed away last week), by Andrew Bacevich, and by a number of other thoughtful people. It is an issue that gets raised in various corners of the blogosphere, but hardly ever in the mainstream press and certainly not at most of the think tanks and talk shops inside the Beltway, most of whom are devoted custodians of energetic international activism. And until that debate starts happening in a serious way, we will continue to stumble about, simultaneously bearing the weight of the world and being afraid of our own shadow. "

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Only 48 hours Left for Vets to Claim Stop Loss Money - Heads Up!

Only 48 hours Left for Vets to Claim Stop Loss Money -

Do you know someone who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and was stop-lossed?

IAVA fought hard in Washington D.C., and recently, Congress passed legislation that entitles veterans who were stop-lossed after September 11th, 2001 to additional pay. But time is running out, and there are just two more days for them to collect the pay they've earned.

Help us get the word out by forwarding this email to any eligible veteran you might know. They can learn more at IAVA’s Stop Loss HQ.

Eligible veterans can receive $500 for each month they were held under stop loss orders. Survivors of servicemembers who were killed in combat or died after their service are also entitled to compensation. The deadline to apply is this Friday, December 3rd.

Getting stop loss back pay is simple. Click here to visit the IAVA Stop Loss HQ and get all the details.

Please help us spread the word by forwarding this email to vets who might be eligible for this benefit. Let's make sure no one misses out.

Thanks for having our back.

Tom

Tom Tarantino
Senior Legislative Associate
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A teacher's reflection upon words from Martin Luther King on The Path to War that American has chosen and the values that lead us down that path

Daily Kos: A Sunday reflection upon words
A teacher whose ideas I greatly respect writes on Daily Kos about politics and education. He reminds us here of the prophetic words of Dr Martin Luther King spoken 40 years ago at Riverside Church in NYC: "A Time to Break Silence".

"A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood."


As a very few of us attend the Tillman film this weekend the message of the film is echoed in this 40 year old speech on War, Hate, and greed versus love wisdom and justice. Unfortunately nothing seems to have changed in 40 years.

Read the rest of the article on this speech at the link above.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cost of War: The War Economy pits Social Security against Defense : Veterans Today

The War Economy pits Social Security against Defense : Veterans Today

This is a new source on veterans news I found recently and they are responding to the VFP War Economy compaign with some cold hard facts from Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz who also has provided some of the data we have used for several years on the Gainesville chapter 14 Cost of War project.

Recently we posted two articles based on media releases from Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) and Veterans for Peace on how they propose launching a public awareness campaign to educate the American electorate on how to connect the dots between the Trillion Dollar Wars and meltdown of the U.S. Economy.

In fact the projected fiscal cost of the War on Terror has increase from one trillion in 2005 to over three trillion and growing by 2008. This is a fiscal conservative’s nightmare just THINKING about how much the 2011 price tag of the wars will be unless of course you are a fiscal conservative who benefits from the wars. Source: The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes. Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010: Honor the Consciences of Our Veterans? Bring them home!

t r u t h o u t | Veterans Day 2010: Honor the Consciences of Our Veterans
This is a Veterans Day greeting that VFP can honor.

At my school today they held a Veterans Day breakfast. Four WWII vets were there from the local Veterans retirement home. We all stood and introduced ourselves. Every service was there but most of the participants were older, perhaps the experiences for us have faded and are less painful. I stood and identified my service and my Vietnam tour of duty and ended with "I am proud to be a member of Veterans for Peace". There were several affirming nods in the crowd from other veterans. It felt good.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On How War with Iran might Destroy the United States | Informed Comment

On How War with Iran might Destroy the United States | Informed Comment:

"I can’t think of anything that would be worse for the US economy, or for Obama’s prospects for a second term, than going to a war footing with Iran. And, my own experience is that if you go to a war footing with a country, you have to be prepared for things spinning out of control and into actual war. Since Americans go running to their congressmen demanding a repeal of the Bill of Rights every time there is a little pipe bomb somewhere, anything that might cause terrorism on US soil is deadly to our over 200 year old Republic. My guess is that a third war right about now, for the reasons outlined above, would just about finish us off as a nation."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Biggest Document Leak in History Exposes Real War and confirms the reports from Winter Soldier II

t r u t h o u t | Biggest Document Leak in History Exposes Real War: "The data reveals how hundreds of civilians were killed by coalition forces in unreported events.

There are numerous claims of prison abuse by coalition forces even after the Abu Ghraib scandal. The files also paint a disturbing portrait of widespread torture in Iraqi detention facilities.

As the war progresses the documents record a descent into chaos and horror as the occupation sparked civil war. In case after case, the logs record thousands of bodies, many brutally tortured, dumped on the streets of Iraq.

Through these reports we see, in military snapshots, the full impact the war had on Iraqis – men, women and children. The sheer scale of the deaths, detentions and violence is laid bare for the first time."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Justice Through The Looking Glass - Blow back from Torture at Gitmo

Justice Through The Looking Glass - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

"The system determining the guilt or innocence of many prisoners still detained at Gitmo has long been haphazard. One prosecution recently collapsed because the judge was honest enough not to admit testimony procured through torture"

However the US Government has fought back and perhpas the fight has not always been fair or even legal:

"It involves one Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman, whose release from custody was ordered earlier this year by Judge Henry Kennedy Jr.

Kennedy effectively demolished the credibility of many government witnesses and pointed out big discrepancies in its case. The ruling was published, then suddenly withdrawn, then re-published with vast amounts of the ruling stricken from public view. The redactions were not solely to prevent release of classified information, but to omit the key findings of the case against the government. "

read the link above for more details on how the "Facts" were changed when the Judge was forced to rewrite his opinion.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ron Paul Was Right - About Imperialism!

Ron Paul Was Right - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan
Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political science professor and former Air Force lecturer, will present findings on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that argue that the majority of suicide terrorism around the world since 1980 has had a common cause: military occupation.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sign the Petition | Committee to Stop FBI Repression


VFP IS APPALLED BY THE RECENT ACTIONS OF THE FBI

Like other peace advocates, Veterans For Peace is appalled by the heavy-handed actions of the FBI in raiding the homes of anti-war activists. We would also be astonished by those actions were it not for the FBI’s long history of harassing peaceful dissent. From the disgraced leadership of J. Edgar Hoover down to these 2010 raids in Minneapolis and Chicago, the Bureau has allowed itself to become the dark agent of stifling democratic opposition to America’s embarrassing military adventures abroad and its resistance to equality at home.

The idea that the victims of these home invasions are providing “material support of terrorism” by opposing brutal U.S. foreign occupations is ludicrous. It strikes at the very heart of the freedoms that VFP members thought they were donning the uniform to defend. For those of us who sought to protect democracy from alien forces it is particularly disheartening to watch that democracy now being eroded from within by our own government. Are we truly to believe that the FBI is all that stands between us and the terrorism of the Quakers, the Catholic Worker, Greenpeace, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals?

It is further more than a little ironic that these raids of harassment should occur only a week after the Justice Department Inspector General himself concluded that the FBI does indeed have a long sorry history of baseless intimidation of dissenters to American policy. Veterans For Peace members themselves were victims of these actions surrounding the infamous police violation of dissenter rights at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Republican Convention in 2008.

As veterans and as seekers of peace we stand in solidarity with our comrades in sister organizations who are victims of this sinister FBI action. Who knows who its next targets will be? Pressing our government to withdraw from aggressive and mindless wars should be viewed as heroic activity, not a hostile act subject to persecution.

PETITION LINK Sign the Petition | Committee to Stop FBI Repression

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cost of War: More Than Half The World's Defense Spending - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

More Than Half The World's Defense Spending - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Yesterday Arthur Brooks of AEI, Ed Feulner of Heritage, and Bill Kristol banded together to defend our bloated defense budget.

Some responses:
Gordon Adams responds

"Brooks-Feulner-Kristol fail to point out that it is economically impossible to get the deficit and debt under control unless all spending (and revenues) are on the table. Picking on the other parts of the problem, alone would mean gutting all domestic spending, eliminating much of Medicare and Social Security, or raising taxes into the 80% brackets. And, of course, what they (and, sadly, Secretary Gates) want to do – keep defense off the table – is political death to deficit reduction and debt control – everything will be on the table."

And Paul Waldman puts the debate in context:

"[T]oday, with the Soviet Union gone, we account for most of the world's defense spending -- 54 percent in 2009, according to a recent report. That's right: There are 195 countries on planet Earth, and if you added up the military spending of the 194 of them that aren't the United States, you'd still have less than what we are spending."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Veterans for Peace in Washington this weekend: War is the Obscenity | CommonDreams.org


Veterans for Peace: War is the Obscenity | CommonDreams.org
National President of VFP Mike Ferner, 59, who served as a navy corpsman during Vietnam said:

"The American public should be shocked that we are still killing and crippling thousands of innocent people in these countries as well as our own soldiers -- that's what's truly obscene. Blowing people's arms and legs off, burning, paralyzing them, causing sewage to run through their streets, polluting the water that kills and sickens children, terrorizing and bombing people and their livestock with flying robots-- that defines obscenity. If this banner shocks and offends a single person who hasn't been shocked and offended by what's being done in our name, we've accomplished our mission."

Cost of War - Their Moon Shot and Ours - NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Columnist - Their Moon Shot and Ours - NYTimes.com

"China is doing moon shots. Yes, that’s plural. When I say “moon shots” I mean big, multibillion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing investments. China has at least four going now: one is building a network of ultramodern airports; another is building a web of high-speed trains connecting major cities; a third is in bioscience, where the Beijing Genomics Institute this year ordered 128 DNA sequencers — from America — giving China the largest number in the world in one institute to launch its own stem cell/genetic engineering industry; and, finally, Beijing just announced that it was providing $15 billion in seed money for the country’s leading auto and battery companies to create an electric car industry, starting in 20 pilot cities. In essence, China Inc. just named its dream team of 16-state-owned enterprises to move China off oil and into the next industrial growth engine: electric cars.

Not to worry. America today also has its own multi-billion-dollar, 25-year-horizon, game-changing moon shot: fixing Afghanistan."

Read the rest on how electric cars can restore American middle class or destroy it and how if we do we succeed we must work with China not against them for a win -win.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gainesville community shows peace and unity on September 11 anniversary | Gainesville.com

Contrary to what the major media chose to cover, our local paper and my own personal experiences of the happenings in Gainesville Florida over the 9/11 weekend were full of positive loving meetings between the diverse Faiths and cultures that have coexisted in our town for many years. The weekend ended for me at my local Unitarian Fellowship where two Muslim families attended as guests and their children got to participate in our annual water play and the adults enjoyed our choir's performance of an Iraqi peace song and lullaby sung in Arabic. On Saturday night we attended the candle light vigil and listened to community leaders speak out in support of peace and love and community.

Community leaders at the downtown Plaza spoke for peace on Saturday evening.

Shaunita Wells holds Eli Wells as a member of Veterans for Peace lights his candle during a vigil at the Day for Peace and Unity event, sponsored by the Gainesville Muslim Initiative, at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza.

Gainesville community shows peace and unity on September 11 anniversary | Gainesville.com
By Cindy Swirko
Staff writers
"A week of drama that focused the world's eyes on Gainesville because of a preacher's plan to burn the Quran ended Saturday night with charity, fellowship and a candlelight memorial to those who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

Saturday afternoon many of our friends participated in a peaceful protest march lead by UF students to show public opposition of the hate speech our town has so sadly been associated with for the past several weeks.

About 300 people joined the Students for a Democratic Society to protest Dove World Outreach Center on Saturday.
Erica Brough/ Staff Photographer

On Friday evening I attended the Gathering for Peace, Understanding and Hope at Trinity Methodist just a block from the Dove compound

Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe speaks during the “Gathering for Peace, Understanding and Hope” at Trinity United Methodist Church on Friday.

This Methodist church with over a thousand members hosted an interfaith event with food and children's crafts, music and speakers from all faiths. Many hundreds of people attended (when I was there the giant sanctuary was packed). Uf has a large Muslim community from the middle east, India and Africa and Asia and many showed up dressed in their native attire. I watched a young father, a professor at UF from Pakistan, in his native robe with his middle school aged daughter dressed in a beautiful long red gown leaning on his arm, as he was interviewed by a NY news outlet. I sat on the carpet with two young women in head scarves and talked to one of them about her work at UF to become an occupational therapist. A friend's' child sat with her as she talked of her love of children and desire to work with disabled students. The local Imam read from the Koran and translated into English the story of Jesus and Mary as it is related with great reverence in the Muslim holy book that Terry Jones wanted to burn and has admitted he has never read. Do these people sound like terrorists to you? we would never have had this event or the several others attended by hundreds more people without Mr Jones so I guess some good is coming from this in Gainesville. These are the kinds of events that need to happen all over our country. They are exactly what is needed to stop the spread of Islamaphobia which is casting over a billion people like the ones I met Friday night as terrorists. They aren't and its wrong and we all need to do something about it. Form an interfaith alliance or join the one already in your town and get to know your neighbors!

Mary Bahr, Gainesville Vets for Peace




on Saturday afternoon hundreds of UF students and local residents marched to the Dove compound and protested against their hate speech. A local t shirt factory has given away 2000 Love not Dove tshirts. They started with 200 and donations have kept them going, working nights so they could do their regular orders during the day. On Saturday evening hundreds more residents turned out at the local town plaza to feed the homeless, give blood and donate books for reading instead of burning. Dozens of community leaders of all faiths spoke for peace, love and community in America before our candle light vigil with Muslims, Christians and Jews standing shoulder to shoulder in a silent remembrance of 9/11. We are all amazed and delighted at the outpouring of love and solidarity in this community this weekend and we plan to continue what has begun with Muslim Christian dialogues sponsored by local churches and Quran 101 classes from Islam on Campus and a community open house at the local Mosque. For more fact based information about Muslims, 9/11 and war read Juan Cole's blog Informed Comment. He is an expert on the Middle East married to a Lebanese woman and write and professor at U of Michigan. A few facts from that article which focuses on how the 9/11 terrorism broke Islamic Law: The attack destroyed a Mosque located in the World trade center, dozens of Muslims were killed including some who were rescue personnel. Cole says: "By the laws of classical Islam and the instructions of the Qumran, then, the September 11 act of terrorism was illegal. It is not an affirmation of Islam but a departure from its laws of war. That is why, contrary to popular belief, Muslim authorities have roundly condemned al-Qaeda’s actions in no uncertain terms. "

Gainesville community shows peace and unity on September 11 anniversary | Gainesville.com

Gainesville community shows peace and unity on September 11 anniversary | Gainesville.com:

"A week of drama that focused the world's eyes on Gainesville because of a preacher's plan to burn the Quran ended Saturday night with charity, fellowship and a candlelight memorial to those who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Simpson to disabled vets: You cost too much

Daily Kos: State of the Nation

RALEIGH, N.C.—The system that automatically awards disability benefits to some veterans because of concerns about Agent Orange seems contrary to efforts to control federal spending, the Republican co-chairman of President Barack Obama's deficit commission said Tuesday.

Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson's comments came a day after The Associated Press reported that diabetes has become the most frequently compensated ailment among Vietnam veterans, even though decades of research has failed to find more than a possible link between the defoliant Agent Orange and diabetes.

"The irony (is) that the veterans who saved this country are now, in a way, not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess," said Simpson, an Army veteran who was once chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee....

"It's the kind of thing that's just driving us to this $1 trillion, $400 billion deficit this year," Simpson said. "It's not that I'm an uncaring person, but common sense is the most uncommon thing in Washington."

Just like the irony of millions of Americans paying into Social Security on the promise that they would receive benefits back, while the rich get off the hook for repaying the fund they "borrowed" from for their tax cuts and wars. Disabled vets are just like seniors--those "lesser people" of Simpson's, the ones who fought our wars. Those disabled vets that our own military poisoned while they were serving, can just shove it.

This comes right on the heels of an announcement from Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki that the VA, with the "unwavering support of President Obama," is finally doing the right thing by those veterans exposed to Agent Orange. In announcing this, Shinseki said "the President and I are proud to finally provide this group of Veterans the care and benefits they have long deserved."

Maybe this attack from Simpson will be enough for President Obama to give Simpson the boot.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Our Only Existing Jobs Program Is the Military -- an Insane Way to Keep Americans employed | Economy | AlterNet

Our Only Existing Jobs Program Is the Military -- an Insane Way to Keep Americans employed | Economy |
AlterNet
:
Something w all know but with statistics to back it up:

"Over 1,400,000 Americans are now on active duty; another 833,000 are in the reserves, many full time. Another 1,600,000 Americans
work in companies that supply the military with everything from weapons to utensils. (I'm not even including all the foreign contractors employing non-US citizens.)"

"If we didn't have this giant military jobs program, the U.S. unemployment rate would be over 11.5 percent today instead of 9.5 percent.

And without our military jobs program personal incomes would be dropping faster. The Commerce Department reported Monday the only major metro areas where both net earnings and personal incomes rose last year were San Antonio, Texas, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. -- because all three have high concentrations of military and federal jobs.

This isn't an argument for more military spending. Just the opposite. Having a giant undercover military jobs program is an insane way to keep Americans employed. It creates jobs we don't need but we keep anyway because there's no honest alternative. We don't have an overt jobs program based on what's really needed."

see the complete article at the link above

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

DC Circuit, Want to Rethink that Habeas Ruling for Afghan Detainees?

DC Circuit, Want to Rethink that Habeas Ruling? | Emptywheel

Back in May, the DC Circuit decided that detainees at Bagram Air Force base were not entitled to habeas corpus because, since the base is in an active war zone, it would be unduly burdensome for the government to hold a real hearing.

I’m wondering if the DC Circuit would like to rethink that decision?

After all, in July, the Afghans proved themselves capable of holding a trial in the very same base in which Americans claim to be helpless to do the same, relying on assistance from US military lawyers who claim to be unable to hold their own meaningful hearings.

The chief judge asked God’s forgiveness if he had reached the wrong decision, and then he sentenced four members of an Afghan family charged with making bombs: two brothers to 10 years in prison and two other family members to time already served.

The courtroom, deep inside the American-run detention center in Parwan, erupted. The prosecutors complained that the sentences were too light, and the defense lawyers protested that they were too heavy; one of the defendants, Masri Gul, said he had not been allowed to examine the evidence; and the guards tried to quiet everyone.

[snip]

The American military made a great effort to showcase the bomb-making trial as a symbol of the transfer of authority, inviting Afghan and Western news media. However, the judges’ verdict seemed to depend in large part on crucial forensic work primarily from American technicians, and over all, Americans will continue to play a substantial role in decisions about the transfer of detainees. So far, Afghan and American officials have identified 110 cases for Afghan trials.

If a bunch of US military lawyers are already actively involved in hearings in Afghanistan (ones they’re proud enough to turn into a press spectacle), and if Afghans can pull a trial off, then doesn’t it follow the American military can muster some kind of real review of detainees?

Add in the fact that–as Spencer describes it–this base is looking more and more like an American exurb, down to the traffic jams and the road named Disney.

More notable than the overstuffed runways is the over-driven road. Disney Drive, the main thoroughfare that rings the eight-square-mile base, used to feature pedestrians with reflective sashes over their PT uniforms carrying Styrofoam boxes of leftovers out of the mess halls. And those guys are still there.

But now the western part of Disney is a two-lane parking lot of Humvees, flamboyant cargo big-rigs from Pakistan known as jingle trucks, yellow DHL shipping vans, contractor vehicles and mud-caked flatbeds. If the Navy could figure out a way to bring a littoral-combat ship to a landlocked country, it would idle on Disney.

Expect to wait an eternity if you want to pull out onto the road. Cross the street at your own risk.

Then there are all the new facilities. West Disney has a fresh coat of cement –- something that’s easy to come by, now that the Turkish firm Yukcel manufactures cement right inside Bagram’s walls.

There on the flightline: the skeletons of new hangars. New towers with particleboard for terraces. A skyline of cranes. The omnipresent plastic banner on a girder-and-cement seedling advertising a new project built by cut-rate labor paid by Inglett and Stubbs International.

If we’re going to build infrastructure for a permanent empire in Afghanistan, then we ought to build in all the things empires bring, like real judicial systems.

Seriously. With all this building and trialing and whatnot, the DC Circuit now looks like a collection of chumps buying a transparent government lie about the ability to hold hearings. Isn’t it time to rethink habeas in Afghanistan?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cilla McCain: Dying In Their Sleep: The Invisible Plague Attacking U.S. Soldiers

Cilla McCain: Dying In Their Sleep: The Invisible Plague Attacking U.S. Soldiers
Head up to anyone who knows someone with PTSD taking these medications:
"When we first learned of the other West Virginia soldiers who died in their sleep," Stan says. "We thought it must be a reaction to biological warfare, we thought they must have been exposed to something in Iraq and now it is killing them."

"Indeed, if you conduct an internet search with the phrase "soldier found dead" the results are staggering. Narrow it down even further by including the phrase "unexplained" and you will begin to get a glimpse of what some would call an epidemic.

When the White's received Andrew's autopsy report, the official cause was listed as "accidental intoxication of Seroquel, Paxil, and pain medication." Andrew had not committed suicide, nor did he take his medication in a manner it was not prescribed. Death, as it turned out, is a potential side effect of Seroquel. The doctors and the pharmaceutical company knew that, however nobody told Andrew, despite the fact that he was experiencing many of Seroquel's most serious side effects.

In the 11-months Andrew was taking Seroquel, he gained 40 lbs., suffered from tremors, severe constipation and swelling of the mammary glands. Before his death, a VA doctor referred Andrew to an endocrinologist for tests to determine the cause of his symptoms, even though it is clearly stated in Seroquel's literature that all of this can be caused by using the drug.

Andrew passed away before the appointment.

Dr. Fred Baughman, a neurologist and outspoken critic on the use of anti-psychotic drugs has studied the West Virginia soldier deaths and has determined that "sudden cardiac death" is the cause. In a May 2010 press release, Dr. Baughman states:

"All were diagnosed with PTSD. All seemed "normal" when they went to bed. And, all were on Seroquel (an antipsychotic) Paxil (an antidepressant) and Klonopin (a benzodiazepine). They were not comatose and unarousable -- with pulse and respirations or pulse intact, responsive to CPR, surviving transport to a hospital, frequently surviving. These were sudden cardiac deaths."

Between the VA medical doctors and psychiatrists Andrew was going to for help, none tried to assess the effectiveness of these drugs on his PTSD symptoms. They just kept increasing the dosage as if he were a guinea pig in some twisted lab experiment. Whether sudden cardiac death, polypharmacy, or suicide, a prescription tracking system could be a major step toward preventing tragedy.

To that end, in March 2010, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia called on the Surgeons General from the Department of Defense to provide data regarding prescription drugs in the military. This vital information was never received despite repeated requests, so on June 9, 2010, Senator Webb released a public statement calling on the DOD to finally adhere to the request:

Three months ago in an Armed Services hearing, Army Surgeon General Schoomaker downplayed media reports of skyrocketing prescription drug use of those serving in the Army. I am still waiting to see existing data across services and a judgment of these findings.

Webb's statement went on to say:

A reporting requirement has been added to the FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Act requiring the DOD to keep health records that detail the prescription and administration of psychotropic medications.

There are many possible reasons why an avalanche of prescriptions are befalling our soldiers with no accountability even as those drugs kill. Financial gain by medical personnel of the DOD is one of the most serious allegations being examined and I will continue to follow this matter.

Let us hope the powers that be do not continue to stall and downplay the seriousness of this issue."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

- "The Courage To Leave" Afghanistan by Bob Herbert

sabrina 1's Journal - "The Courage To Leave" by Bob Herbert

By BOB HERBERT
Published: June 11, 2010


"There is no good news coming out of the depressing and endless war in Afghanistan. There once was merit to our incursion there, but that was long ago. Now we’re just going through the tragic motions, flailing at this and that, with no real strategy or decent end in sight.

The U.S. doesn’t win wars anymore. We just funnel the stressed and underpaid troops in and out of the combat zones, while all the while showering taxpayer billions on the contractors and giant corporations that view the horrors of war as a heaven-sent bonanza. BP, as we’ve been told repeatedly recently, is one of the largest suppliers of fuel to the wartime U.S. military.

Seven American soldiers were killed in Afghanistan on Monday but hardly anyone noticed. Far more concern is being expressed for the wildlife threatened by the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico than for the G.I.’s being blown up in the wilds of Afghanistan.

From the comment section one of the best comments ever. It could be a winning platform for anyone running for Congress in the next election:

6.
Phil in the mountains of Kyushu
Japan
June 12th, 2010
12:45 am
As you mention several other points today, you invite comprehensive coherence. So here I humbly offer my list to correspond with your key points today:

1) Withdraw from Iraq – and Afghanistan, Okinawa, and Germany.

2) Cut off all military aid to Israel – and Egypt.

3) End the war on drugs.

4) Start jobs program for nationwide high-speed rail, and light-rail transit in hub cities.

5) Start jobs program for retro-fitting public buildings and homes for energy efficiency.

6) Allow no public monies for any standardized testing.

7) Extend Medicare to all.

8) Cut off all Industrial Ag’s subsidies in corn, soy, rice, and cotton.

9) Allow no biz schools at any public institutions of higher ed.

10) Allow no M.F.A. programs at any public institutions of higher ed.

11) Pay no ed administrator any higher than that of lowest-paid teacher.

12) Restore Glass-Steagall

13) Tax the rich as in the Eisenhower era (up to 91%).

14) Have Supreme Court justices wear on their robes the logos of those corporations with which they’re invested.

15) End the Fulbright program’s subservience to the specialization slots of corporate academe, and have it send Americans abroad in some larger coherent strategy for connections among peoples and cultures. (Hint: one such strategy is at www.EssayingDifferences.com .)

Recommend Recommended by 1082 Readers"

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World's Most Peaceful Countries: Global Peace Index (PHOTOS)

World's Most Peaceful Countries: Global Peace Index (PHOTOS): "Prepared by the Sydney, Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace, the Global Peace Index (GPI) annually ranks 149 countries based on a range of variables, including corruption, crime rates, military spending and access to primary education.

The United States fared distinctly less well, coming in at 85th on the list, which placed us below both Cuba (72nd) and China (80th).

The GPI also lists the world's most violent country as Iraq, followed by Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan and Pakistan.

The report also estimates that world peace would save $7 trillion annually, and argues that the money now spent on security could be re-invested to make a given country more prosperous."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Panel commissioned by Barney Frank recommends nearly $1T in defense cuts - Democratic Underground

Panel commissioned by Barney Frank recommends nearly $1T in defense cuts - Democratic Underground:

"Panel commissioned by Barney Frank recommends nearly $1T in defense cuts
By Roxana Tiron - 06/11/10 10:24 AM ET

A panel commissioned by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) is recommending nearly $1 trillion in cuts to the Pentagon’s budget over the next 10 years.

The Sustainable Defense Task Force, a commission of scholars from a broad ideological spectrum appointed by Frank, the House Financial Services Committee chairman, laid out options the government could take that could save as much as $960 billion between 2011 and 2020.

Measures presented by the task force include significant reductions of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which has strong support from Defense Secretary Robert Gates; delaying the procurement of a new mid-air refueling tanker which the Air Force has identified as one of its top acquisition priorities; and reducing the Navy’s fleet to 230 ships instead of the 313 eyed by the service."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Flotilla Passengers Huwaida Arraf of Free Gaza Movement and Retired Army Col. Ann Wright Respond to Israeli Claims on Deadly Assault

Flotilla Passengers Huwaida Arraf of Free Gaza Movement and Retired Army Col. Ann Wright Respond to Israeli Claims on Deadly Assault

There is a protest in Gainesville against this attack on Monday June 7th 4--6pm at 34th Street NW and Williston Road. Details here

Huwaida Arraf, chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement, and retired US Col. Ann Wright were on the flotilla when it was attacked. They join us to describe the assault and their subsequent detention in Israeli prison. We also speak to Sawsan Zaher, a staff attorney at Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, who interviewed many of the activists in detention.

From the transcript:

"HUWAIDA ARRAF: Sure, I’ll tell you what I can. Thank you for having me, Amy.

I was on the Challenger ship, which is the American flag vessel, and we were one of six ships that were on the flotilla. At approximately midnight, the Israeli navy started radioing us, asking for information, which we supplied to them, as to who we are, what flag we were flying under, where we came from, where we were going. Then they started issuing threats against us, demanding that we turn around and saying that they would be willing to use all necessary force in order to enforce the blockade on Gaza. To this, we replied that the blockade is illegal, and we are unarmed civilians, we are carrying only humanitarian aid, and therefore they would not be justified in using force against us. And we urged them over and over again not to use force against us as we continue on our way to Gaza.

A few hours later, while it was still dark, approximately 4:00, 4:30 in the morning, we saw their naval vessels quickly approaching just around our vessels. On our ship, we had approximately seventeen people, five of them which were American citizens. We all went outside, because we had planned to try to prevent them from boarding our ship as best as we can just using our bodies. Going outside allowed me to see the beginnings of the attack on the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara. We were traveling very close alongside it on its left side. And I saw Zodiacs filled with armed commandos coming up upon the ship, then heard explosions, which I take to be tear—sorry, concussion grenades or sound bombs. And then there were—opening fire. And because we didn’t have any guns or weapons on our ships, fire came from the Israeli commandos. There was also a helicopter overhead. As far as the people on the ship, I could see them at first try to use just water hoses to keep the Israeli soldiers back, but that’s all I was able to see before our ship decided to take as fast as we could.

Although we had initially agreed that we would all stay together and help each other, the captain of the Marmara told us to go on ahead and try to radio out, try to tell the world what was happening, that we were under attack. So we put our boat in full speed and tried to prevent or at least delay them boarding our ship. Unfortunately, we could not get any word out, because our satellite communications systems were jammed. So after about fifteen—ten or fifteen minutes or so, they were able to surround our boat and proceeded to board it.

We tried to put our bodies in the way. We repeated that we’re on an American flag vessel, we are unarmed civilians, don’t board. They had masks and guns, and they proceeded to violently board. They threw concussion grenades onto the boat. They used tasers on people and then, in general, just beat people down that tried to put themselves in the way. We had—we tried to prevent them from getting inside the boat. They broke the glass doors to get access to the wheelhouse. Anyone that stood in the way, they just beat them down. A young Belgian volunteer ended up with a bloody face. Just to give you an example of how they treated us, you know, they grabbed me by the hair and rammed my head into the deck and then were stepping on my head in order to cuff my hands behind my back and then put a sack over my head. And this is the kind of violent treatment that we were subjected to, as Israel says that, yeah, they were as nonviolent as possible and they were the ones under attack.

They immediately went for any kind of media recording equipment, telephones, cameras, that we had and confiscated those, and then proceeded to do their own recording, which I’m presuming is the only recording that’s coming out from their takeover of the ship.

AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Wright, I wanted to get your response to Vice President Biden. He was on the Charlie Rose show last night, and he was questioning what the big deal was getting this humanitarian aid directly to Gaza. This is the Vice President.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: You can argue whether Israel should have dropped people onto that ship or not, but the truth of the matter is, Israel has a right to know—they’re at war with Hamas—has a right to know whether or not arms are being smuggled in. And up to now, Charlie, what’s happened? They’ve said, “Here you go. You’re in the Mediterranean. This ship, if you divert slightly north, you can unload it, and we’ll get the stuff into Gaza.” So what’s the big deal here? What’s the big deal of insisting it go straight to Gaza? Well, it’s legitimate for Israel to say, “I don’t know what’s on that ship. These guys are dropping eight—3,000 rockets on my people.”


AMY GOODMAN: That was Vice President Biden last night. Colonel Ann Wright, your response?

ANN WRIGHT: Well, I think our vice president needs to take another look at this thing. The ships were open to inspection beforehand, and I’m quite sure Mossad had their little agents that were all over that place. These groups are humanitarian groups that are bringing in goods that are needed for the people of Gaza. They’ve had plenty of inspections on them.

If you talk about violence, it’s not 3,000 rockets Hamas is putting on Gaza; it’s a twenty-two-day attack that the Israelis did that killed 1,400 people, wounded 5,000, left 50,000 homeless. And here we are a year and four months later, and the Israelis will not let any sort of reconstruction materials in. And then, when reconstruction materials start coming that way, instead of waiting until—if they have a zone that they are trying to protect, let ships come into it and stop them.

But I would say that there are ways that you can stop them without killing people. There are ways you can stop even passenger ship like that ferry boat, and certainly like our little thirty-foot craft. You don’t have to use commandos with—I mean, you can use commandos with excessive force, which they do, but there are other ways to do it, if you want to kind of preserve a sense of civility, humanity, and meeting the international law, quite honestly.

And going outside a boundary, going into international waters, I mean, what they are are pirates. They are pirates. They kidnap people, and they’re stealing stuff. They’ve probably stolen over a million dollars’ worth of cameras, computers, cell phones. I mean, I’m in Istanbul. We just got here early this morning. Some luggage is here. There’s not a thing in it. Everything has been taken. The Israeli military said, "Oh, yes, we have to count this. You know, we have to take it." Well, what they’ve done, they’ve stolen it. And if we have any friends that are in Israel, I hope that they go down to the black market and see where our stuff is, because somebody is making a killing on this thing. "