Saturday, January 26, 2013

Militarism Is Making Us Poor

Next time someone tells you we can’t afford health care, green jobs or decent schools, keep this graphic in mind…

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A 25% Cut for the Pentagon? Think of it as a Stimulus for What’s Really Needed

Key Dems Say Unnecessary Defense Spending Is Crippling the U.S. and Should Be Part of Debt Debate

Liberty Bond Promo from World War Iby Lisa Graves

Beaver County Peace Links via PRWatch

Jan 14, 2013 - The largest Democratic Party organization in the nation has called on Congress to support a 25% cut in Pentagon spending. The California Democratic Party -- which includes more than 2,000 representatives of the state's more than seven million Democrats -- adopted this policy in the past year in the face of threats by Republicans in Congress to refuse to allow the U.S. to increase its credit limit.

That policy provides in part:

[We] support a strong national defense that includes considerations for all aspects of defense, not just defense provided by the Armed Forces. We recognize that our national security depends primarily upon a strong economy, a stable federal budget, a stable environment and our perception in the world as a responsible member of the world community. ... [W]e recognize that the current level of military and security spending -- over $1 trillion per year -- is ... unsustainable and unnecessary, and is crippling our government's ability to deal with our many serious problems, including unemployment, massive debt and looming catastrophic global warming ...

Despite this mandate, the two most powerful Californians in Congress -- Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- have not advocated for what their core constituents have asked that they and the other 38 Democratic members of the California Congressional delegation put on the table: a 25% cut in defense spending.

CSIS DoD Budget Projection

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Although California has a number of military installations and defense contractors, much of the money the Pentagon spends is on foreign bases and foreign wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan. The billions for the lengthy military actions in the Middle East are put on top of the Pentagon's core budget by calling this spending "Overseas Contingency Operations," which are counted as separate from regular appropriations for defense. The California Democratic Party is urging the 40 Dems in the state's 55-member congressional delegation to support cuts in the Pentagon's overall budget to "ensure that military spending prioritizes defense of the homeland and not the siting of numerous military bases on foreign soil as a substitute for robust diplomatic engagement."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Voice for Peace in Afghanistan: 'Stop This Criminal War'


Malalai Joya pushes back against a decade of war, occupation and propaganda

By Jon Queally
Beaver County Peace Links via Common Dreams

Jan 10, 2013 - Malalai Joya has a simple message for US, NATO, and Afghan leaders: Get out.

'Get out' of her country, she tells those from the US and other western nations. And to the warlords, the Taliban, and the fundamentalists represented in the ruling government, she says 'get out of the way' of a peaceful and prosperous future for regular Afghans.

As Afghan President Hamid Karzai prepares to meet with Barack Obama on Friday and speculation swirls about the future US role as 2014 slowly approaches, one of Afghanistan's leading peace advocates has a message that those in the US—increasingly cited for their war-weariness—rarely hear: Afghans themselves, caught between an occupying power and a corrupt government, are "fed up" with war, death and the destruction of their rights and aspirations.

"We are fed up with the so-called 'helping hand' of the US and NATO that is used to justify occupation," Joya said in an extensive interview with journalist Elsa Rassbach and published by Common Dreams Thursday.

Joya, who rose to international prominence as the youngest female member of the Afghan parliament in 2005, says the US-led war in Afghanistan—"waged under a fake banner of human rights and democracy"—has gone on far too long, and what most Afghans want is the complete withdrawal of US troops so that regular Afghans can reclaim their dignity and solve their own problems.

Responding to the Obama and Karzai meeting, Joya explained to Rassbach that agreements made in Washington between the two will do nothing to improve the lives of most Afghans.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

In Kabul, Widows and Orphans Move Up

By Kathy Kelly
Beaver County Peace Links via Z-Net

Kabul, Jan 8, 2013 -- Yesterday, four young Afghan Peace Volunteer members, Zainab, Umalbanin, Abdulhai, and Ali, guided Martha and me along narrow, primitive roads and crumbling stairs, ascending a mountain slope on the outskirts of Kabul.

The icy, rutted roads twisted and turned. I asked if we could pause as my heart was hammering and I needed to catch my breath. Looking down, we saw a breathtaking view of Kabul. Above us, women in bright clothing were navigating the treacherous roads with heavy water containers on their heads or shoulders. I marveled at their strength and tenacity. “Yes, they make this trip every morning,” Umalbanin said, as she helped me regain my balance after I had slipped on the ice.

About ten minutes later, we arrived at the home of Khoreb, a widow who helped us realize why so many widows and orphans live in the highest ranges of the mountain. Landlords rent one-room homes at the cheapest rates when they are at this isolating height; many of the homes are poorly constructed and have no pipes for running water. This means the occupants, most often women, must fetch water from the bottom of the hill each and every morning. A year ago, piped water began to reach some of the homes, but that only meant the landlords charged higher rent, so women had to move higher up the mountain for housing they can afford. It only made their daily water-carrying longer and more arduous.

Khoreb’s home, like that of each family we visited, was neatly kept. She had formerly shared the one-room dwelling with only her daughter. But when the one-room house next door was rendered unlivable by water damage from a storm, the family of eight that lived there had nowhere to go. On Khoreb's invitation, they now live in her room.

Throughout our visit, she and her daughters cracked open almond nuts, and they didn't throw away the shells: they saved them to feed them into a small heater; the nut shells are needed as fuel. They didn't snack on the almonds; the almonds were shelled for eventual sale in the market place. Cracking and selling almonds is their main source of income. The women have no brothers, sons, or husbands to help them.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Those Who Say 'I Support the Troops' Really Don't


By Michael Moore
Beaver County Peace Links via HuffPost

I don't support the troops, America, and neither do you. I am tired of the ruse we are playing on these brave citizens in our armed forces. And guess what -- a lot of these soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines see right through the bullshit of those words, "I support the troops!," spoken by Americans with such false sincerity -- false because our actions don't match our words. These young men and women sign up to risk their very lives to protect us -- and this is what they get in return:

1. They get sent off to wars that have NOTHING to do with defending America or saving our lives. They are used as pawns so that the military-industrial complex can make billions of dollars and the rich here can expand their empire. By "supporting the troops," that means I'm supposed to shut up, don't ask questions, do nothing to stop the madness, and sit by and watch thousands of them die? Well, I've done an awful lot to try and end this. But the only way you can honestly say you support the troops is to work night and day to get them out of these hell holes they've been sent to. And what have I done this week to bring the troops home? Nothing. So if I say "I support the troops," don't believe me -- I clearly don't support the troops because I've got more important things to do today, like return an iPhone that doesn't work and take my car in for a tune up.

2. While the troops we claim to "support" are serving their country, bankers who say they too "support the troops," foreclose on the actual homes of these soldiers and evict their families while they are overseas! Have I gone and stood in front of the sheriff's deputy as he is throwing a military family out of their home? No. And there's your proof that I don't "support the troops," because if I did, I would organize mass sit-ins to block the doors of these homes. Instead, I'm having Chilean sea bass tonight.