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The New York Times has this headline:
"Steeper Pullout Is Raised as Option for Afghanistan"
over an article that takes what was earlier reported as a possible withdrawl of 5,000 troops and contractors (or 2.5% of the 200,000 in Afghanistan) and reduces it to:
"3,000 to 5,000 troops."
I am assuming that actually means troops AND contractors, rather than troops plus a similar number of contractors as well.
According to the NY Times, the withdrawal in July could be EVEN MORE that that. Wow! But no number is given. Instead the idea of withdrawing a mere 30,000 is pushed off into the distant future as an ultimate goal.
When other nations' governments go off track, their people do something about it. In Tunisia and Egypt people have nonviolently claimed power in a way that has inspired Americans in Wisconsin and other states, as well as the people of Spain and the rest of the world.
Washington, D.C., is the weakest point in our democracy, without which state-level reform cannot succeed. Most Americans want our wars ended, our corporations and billionaires taxed, and our rights expanded rather than curtailed. We want our money invested in jobs and green energy, not a global military that can't stop itself. Our government in Washington goes in the opposite direction, opposing popular will on these major issues, regardless of personality or party.
UPDATE: HRes292 passed. HCR51 failed.
The U.S. House of Representatives today will vote on two resolutions.
H.C.R. 51 sponsored by Dennis Kucinich would -- if also passed by the Senate -- have the force of law and end the Libya War. If this does not pass, Rep. Jerrold Nadler said on the floor this morning, there are no circumstances in which a president will not be able to go to war at his/her whim.
Fearing that Kucinich's resolution might pass, Speaker John Boehner has introduced H.Res. 292, a toothless resolution that would not carry any force and not even go to the Senate for a vote. This resolution admits that the war is unauthorized but does not end it or even suggest ending it.
Congress members are speaking in support of congressional power but bowing to partisan power and presidential power. They need to hear from you.
Call (202) 224-3121
Tell your representative you want a lawmaker, not a court jester.
Speaker of the House John Boehner is expected to bring to a vote on Friday a remarkable resolution called H. Res. 292. This document restores a damaged U.S. Constitution to its full glory in much the way that a spray-on sunless tanning product could restore a collaterally damaged victim who had been liberated by white phosphorous.
Boehner has delayed a vote on a straightforward resolution (H.C.R. 51) that would end U.S. war in Libya. Here's the full text:
"Pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(c)), Congress directs the President to remove the United States Armed Forces from Libya by not later than the date that is 15 days after the date of the adoption of this concurrent resolution."
Yes, yes, poverty exists, just as war does, and the two feed off each other. When I titled a book "War Is A Lie" I meant that the justifications offered for wars were false and that the idea that we must always have wars is false. Our government doesn't market new poverty campaigns in the same way it does wars. It markets campaigns to dismantle healthcare and pension systems or to eliminate foreign aid or to restrict organizing rights. But our culture pushes the false notion that poverty must always be with us.
If the U.S. Constitution says one thing, a treaty ratified by the United States says another, a law passed by Congress yet another, and another law passed by Congress another thing still, while a signing statement radically changes that last law but itself differs with an executive order, all of which statements of law conflict with a number of memos drafted by the Office of Legal Council (some secret and some leaked), but a President has announced that the law is something completely different from all of this, and in practice the government defies all of the above including the presidential announcement . . . in such a case, the obvious but possibly pointless question arises: what's legal?
The above theoretical example of legal confusion sounds extreme, but it is not far off the actual situation with regard to some of our most important public policies. Take the example of U.S. warmaking in Libya. Is that legal?
It is a crime to learn about a crime and not report it.
The Libya War is a crime.
The White House / Pentagon has pressured Congress to delay voting on ending the Libya War and to instead sit through a secret briefing about that crime.
Those who do so and stay silent become accomplices.
Following the assassination of Osama bin Laden and the recent Middle-East speech of Barak Obama many now feel this is a ‘new chapter’ in US diplomacy in the Muslim World. How realistic are these positive expectations or have we been on this road before?
To discuss these and other issues Dialogue With Islam has invited the following distinguished panel:
David Swanson (US Author and activist)
Sir David Blatherwick (former ambassorder of Egypt)
Dr Azzam Tamami (Director of the Islamic Institute of Political thought)
Tickets are £1 by reservation - Limited seats ( or £2 at the door)
Please note this is to cover the hiring of the venue; no profits are made from this event
Please text on 07956 411558
Date: Friday 10th June 2011
Venue: Jagonari Centre
183-185 Whitechapel Road,
Nearest Tube: Whitechapel Station and Aldgate East.
Memorial Day is nice, I suppose. Veterans Day is all right. Patriots Day can be fun. Yellow Ribbon Day's not bad. But you will be pleased to hear that on Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously voted, in pure bipartisan harmony, to add the following gem to the big war-funding, war-expanding, bill that now goes to the Senate:
"The President shall designate a day entitled a National Day of Honor to celebrate members of the Armed Forces who are returning from deployment in support of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other combat areas."
Catchy, ain't it? I can't wait to find out what day the President will so designate. I do hope it's my birthday, but I'm not trying to be greedy -- I know you all just had the same thought. While, oddly, not a single newspaper took notice, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (Dem., Texas) proposed this historic bit of legislation on the floor of the House on Thursday thusly:
Here's George Will asking why the left does not demand Obama's impeachment for illegal war in Libya. Sure, one answer is that there's NOBODY in Congress, not one single member of any party, even pretending to be inclined to impeach Obama for this. But another answer is that Obama belongs to the Good Party, and if he belonged to the Bad Party then we would be obliged to object to illegal wars.
Get off your asses, people, and back Kucinich's resolution next week to end the war on Libya. And if it fails, then ramp up our demands. If the Senate goes along with the House next week, and if Obama does not veto the bill (as of course he does not want to do) then a new law will override the War Powers Act and "legalize" illegal wars. But the Constitution will remain rotting there in the National Archives. And the Constitution is a higher law than the Forever War Defense Authorization Act of 2012.
Watch for announcements of serious actions to be taken in October, but do not wait.
On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives backed eternal worldwide war and imprisonment powers for all future presidents, but blocked any ground troops in Libya (except for the ones already there, since the measure included no consequences for its violation). The House also unanimously created a new national holiday to celebrate the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. It defunded the US Institute for Peace (saving the cost of 5 hours in Afghanistan). And it required that all suspected foreign terrorists be tried by the military and not in courts (unless bullets are put in their heads first).
All in a good day's work.
Here's the play-by-play:
What each of the 152 amendments does: here.
May 26, Thursday, 10:01 a.m. Our state, separated from church, is praying to its Lord.
10:02 a.m. Our state just pledged allegiance to our military.
9:08 P.M. -
POSTPONED PROCEEDINGS - At the conclusion of debate on the Amash amendment, the Chair put the question on adoption of the amendment and by voice vote, announced that the ayes had prevailed. Mr. McKeon demanded a recorded vote and the Chair postponed further proceedings on the question of adoption of the amendment until a time to be announced.
8:42 P.M. -
DEBATE - By unanimous consent, the Committee of the Whole proceeded with 20 minutes of debate on the Amash amendment, equally divided and controlled.
Amendment offered by Mr. Amash.
An amendment numbered 50 printed in House Report 112-88 to strike section 1034 of the bill, relating to the authorization for use of military force.
Join me on BlogTalkRadio tonight 8-10 ET w/ questions http://t.co/gpZlKet
The White House has put out a statement expressing its disapproval of various bits of H.R.1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. Here's the most interesting, if not the most adamant, objection:
"Detainee Matters: The Administration strongly objects to section 1034 which, in purporting to affirm the conflict, would effectively recharacterize its scope and would risk creating confusion regarding applicable standards. At a minimum, this is an issue that merits more extensive consideration before possible inclusion."
And here's Section 1034:
"Congress affirms that--
(1) the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces and that those entities continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad;
The "Defense Authorization" bill now before Congress, HR
1750 1540, is arguably the worst bill ever considered likely to pass into law. It includes $118 billion for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, wars a majority of Americans wants ended. But that's not why it's the worst bill ever.
This bill also includes $553 billion for other military waste. That's enough money to save and improve a lot of lives if it weren't being dumped into the war machine. But that's not why this is the worst bill ever.
The bill limits the President’s ability to implement the New START agreement unless there is full funding for the nuclear weapons complex, bars the retirement of nuclear weapons until two new nuclear facilities are completed, and bars further nuclear weapons reductions below New START levels unless approved by Congress. But that's not why this is the worst bill ever.
The bill invests heavily in a National Missile "Defense" system based in California and Alaska.
This bill revives a second engine for the F-35 that the Pentagon has no use for.
This bill bars any transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo.
But none of that is why this is the worst bill ever.
This is the worst bill ever because it gives presidents the power to single-handedly launch wars and to lock people up without trial.
This legislation, Section 1034 of the worst bill ever, undoes the limitations on one-man rule put in place by the U.S. Constitution over two centuries ago. This is the biggest formal shift of power in our government since we've had a government.
We have military operations now in some 75 countries, and a significant war in Libya, all illegal under the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Act. But the worst bill ever will erase the War Powers Act, and the Constitution will simply be ignored.
Meanwhile the significant withdrawal that President Obama promised to begin in Afghanistan has been scaled back to a withdrawal of 2.5 percent of U.S. forces
Call Congress today and tell your Representative and your two Senators:
Enough is enough!
End the wars!
Bring the troops home!
Convert the economy to peace!
And do not pass the worst bill ever!
Call toll-free 1-888-231-9276.
Movements for justice have historically been driven by a small percentage of any population. One percent of Americans nonviolently occupying Washington, D.C., could make Cairo and Madison and Madrid look like warm-up acts. It is certainly true that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens is the only thing that ever has changed the world for the better.
So, what happens if a society picks out a significant slice of its population, one including many thoughtful and committed citizens, and drugs them?
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) held a first-time, one-day, little publicized event last September that allowed people to turn in their extra prescription drugs. The DEA reports collecting 242,000 pounds or 121 tons. A second such day was held in April with 376,593 pounds or 188 tons of pills collected. This is the stuff nobody wants and is willing to hand in to the government. This is not the amount that's out in circulation. That amount is no doubt in proportion to the roaring flood of television ads for the stuff. "More Americans currently abuse prescription drugs," says the DEA, "than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined. . . . [I]ndividuals that abuse prescription drugs often obtained them from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet." And that's just the users said to be abusing.
PITTSBURGH (NEWSRADIO 1020 KDKA) — KDKA Radio’s Chris Moore spoke with David Swanson about his views on what war really is.
Swanson is the author of “War is a Lie” and expresses his views on how wars really could have been avoided.
Rupert Murdoch, who got his start in business marketing rats and manure, has chosen to deny Italy access to a television network that has presented critical coverage of both Murdoch and of leading Italian media baron and prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. The network, Current TV, is the project of a man identified in Italy primarily as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Al Gore.
By Bruce K. Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
This morning I received an urgent message (see below) from Jeju Island, South Korea saying that yesterday eight leaders of the protest effort against construction of a Navy base had been arrested. Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi was one of those arrested - her second time in recent months.
Gangjeong village resident Professor Yang Yoon-Mo is now in his 45th day of his hunger strike while in jail for trying to block a construction truck. He has vowed to die in jail unless base construction is halted.
In what will come as a shock to the Tea Party and yet probably not rival the recent royal wedding in London for viewership, Republican Congressman Buck McKeon and Republican Senator John McCain plan to crown President Barack Obama King of America. They're not kidding, and this is no stunt.
Here's what noted Republican Abraham Lincoln once wrote on the subject:
"Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose -- and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you have given him so much as you propose. If, today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, "I see no probability of the British invading us" but he will say to you "be silent; I see it, if you don't." The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us."
But what if you can create laws that violate the Constitution, and then obey those laws, the Constitution be damned? And what if being a Republican today means striving to expand presidential power as far as possible -- in fact beyond the power ever held by any king? And what if being a Democrat today means the very same thing?
Then you get something like H.R.1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, and in particular Section 1034:
"Congress affirms that--
(1) the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces and that those entities continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad;
(2) the President has the authority to use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note);
(3) the current armed conflict includes nations, organization, and persons who--
(A) are part of, or are substantially supporting, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; or
(B) have engaged in hostilities or have directly supported hostilities in aid of a nation, organization, or person described in subparagraph (A); and
(4) the President's authority pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) includes the authority to detain belligerents, including persons described in paragraph (3), until the termination of hostilities."
Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you have given him so much as you propose. This language would put into law the perilous policies now acted upon outside of the law. President Obama's war in Libya is absolutely unconstitutional, and nobody is about to do anything about that; so perhaps this doesn't matter. But with this language on the books, Obama and every future president would be able to legally, albeit unconstitutionally, justify launching any war at pleasure.
This new "legal" language would get presidents around the restrictions of the War Powers Resolution, which does not permit unauthorized wars when the United States has not been attacked, which requires the reporting of information to Congress that, in the case of Libya, has not been reported, and which only permits wars -- when it does permit wars -- for 60 days, a deadline that has now been reached in Libya. According to the War Powers Resolution:
"The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to
(1) a declaration of war,
(2) specific statutory authorization, or
(3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces."
"The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and after every such introduction shall consult regularly with the Congress until United States Armed Forces are no longer engaged in hostilities or have been removed from such situations."
In the case of Libya, Obama carefully avoided any consultation with Congress but took the time to consult with just about everybody else around the world.
The War Powers Resolution also requires that:
"[T]he President shall submit within 48 hours to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the President pro tempore of the Senate a report, in writing, setting forth --
(A) the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces;
(B) the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place; and
(C) the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement."
Obama's report to Congress on Libya fell short of A and B and did not even attempt C.
When it comes to the now-surpassed 60-day-limit, the law is clear:
"Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 1543 (a)(1) of this title, whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress
(1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces,
(2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or
(3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States."
The War Powers Act, in allowing 60-day unconstitutional wars is itself, of course, a step back from the Constitution as its authors, most readers, and President Lincoln have understood it. The Constitution devotes Article I to bestowing the vast majority of governmental power on Congress, including here:
"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; . . . . To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations; To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy; To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress; To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."
In tiny little Article II, the U.S. Constitution establishes the duties of the president:
"[H]e shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
What else shall he do?
"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States."
Let's go to constitutional scholar, Barack Hussein Obama for an explanation of this supreme law of the land:
"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." -- candidate Barack Obama, December, 2007.
"No more ignoring the law when it's inconvenient. That is not who we are . . . . We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers." -- candidate Barack Obama, August 1, 2007.
If you like the idea of an independent online force for peace and social justice, join us now.
This video is the first in a series -- intended to generate independent progressive activism in the run up to the 2012 Presidential election and beyond.
RootsAction is part of a growing grassroots movement to push the President and Congress to address pressing economic and war issues -- and to invest in jobs, green energy, schools, housing and education.
We will not be silent as Congress and the President continue to squander billions of dollars on foreign wars, causing destruction and hatred overseas while failing to meet the needs of the vast majority of people in our country.
We will not stand by as people lose their jobs and homes due to Wall Street schemes abetted by both major parties.
We will not give the Obama administration a pass as it continues many of the same policies that sparked loud protests under the Bush White House.
We will take action -- independent of both party leaderships.
RootsAction has been strongly endorsed by such respected, independent-minded progressives as Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk and Coleen Rowley.
We'd love it if you would join us now.
I think Harry Belafonte found useful historical perspective this week when he told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now:
And when you ask me about Barack Obama, it is exactly what happened to Kennedy. We, the American people, made the history of that time come to another place by our passion and our commitment to change. What is saddened -- what is sad for this moment is that there is no force, no energy, of popular voice, popular rebellion, popular upheaval, no champion for radical thought at the table of the discourse. And as a consequence, Barack Obama has nothing to listen to, except his detractors and those who help pave the way to his own personal comfort with power -- power contained, power misdirected, power not fully engaged. And it is our task to no longer have expectations of him, unless we have forced him to the table and he still resists us. And if he does that, then we know what else we have to do, is to make change completely. But I think he plays the game that he plays because he sees no threat from evidencing concerns for the poor. He sees no threat from evidencing a deeper concern for the needs of black people, as such. He feels no great threat from evidencing a greater policy towards the international community, for expressing thoughts that criticize the American position on things and turns that around. Until we do that, I think we’ll be forever disappointed in what that administration will deliver.
AMY GOODMAN: And to those who say, "If you want President Obama re-elected, you will undermine him if you criticize him; and consider the alternative"?
HARRY BELAFONTE: I think we will not only undermine him, but undermine the hopes of this nation, if we don’t criticize him. Absence of protest in the times of this kind of national crisis -- Theodore Roosevelt once said, "When tyranny takes over the national agenda, it is that time that the voices of protest must be awakened. And if you don’t raise your voice in protest, you are a patriotic traitor." And I believe that patriotism is betrayed by those voices that are not heard. Those who would detract you from that fact are those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Nothing will happen but good for Barack Obama and the United States of America, and indeed the world, if everybody stepped to the table and said, "This is the course we must be on."
Let's change that situation.
The President will present more words in a speech today, as his wars rage on. Will you join us in preparing to insist on something louder than words?
"Ban the bombers are afraid of a fight
"Peace hurts business and that ain't right
"How do I know? I read it in the Daily News"
PBS (the P stands for "Pure" I think) is concerned that if the U.S. government stops funding the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. economy will crash:
"An executive at a small defense contractor recently joked to me, 'Afghanistan is our business plan.' I asked him what he would do if the war ended. He stared at me for a moment and said, 'Well, then I hope we invade Libya.'"
Read this if you can stand it.
What it's missing of course is the obvious solution to both our public debt and our actual economic problems, coupled with the obvious solution to our foreign relations disabilities: Move the money from the military to peaceful industries, end the warmaking, boost the economy, increase revenue.
The industry we used to have in the United States:
What a job fair looks like now in Charlottesville:
Discussing the situation:
While the Complex likes to threaten job loss and no doubt eliminates jobs in some places but not others, the overall military budget is bigger this year than last year, as has been true for many years, and it has nearly doubled in the past decade.
A conference on the topic is planned for Charlottesville: