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Senate Panel Approves $59 Billion to Fund Wars

By Brian Faler, Bloomberg

May 13 (Bloomberg) -- A Senate panel unanimously passed a $59 billion war-funding bill that would bring total spending on the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to more than $1.1 trillion.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 30-0 for the measure, which would provide $33.5 billion for military operations, including President Barack Obama’s troop buildup in Afghanistan.

“This bill is neither a bailout or a stimulus,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat. “It is the minimum necessary to meet emergency requirements and the cost of war.”

The measure includes $68 million to help pay cleanup costs from the oil spill at a BP Plc well in the Gulf of Mexico. “We all understand that more will be needed,” Inouye said.

It would set aside $6 billion for diplomatic and foreign- aid programs and $5 billion for disaster assistance in Tennessee, Rhode Island and other areas.

Five Dollar Friday: This Can't Be Happening

For today's five dollar friday I've given $5 to http://www.thiscantbehappening.net

This site has been expanded from Dave Lindorff's unequaled blog to a news and blog site with four contributors: Lindorff, Charles Young, John Grant, and Linn Washington. And their writing is phenomenal.

Downside of doing Kandahar assault before funding it? It's already failed.

Kandahar 'offensive' scaled back; new goal to improve government
By Dion Nissenbaum and Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Although it's just beginning, the U.S.-led effort to pacify the Taliban's spiritual capital in southern Afghanistan already appears to be faltering.

Key military operations have been delayed until the fall, efforts to improve local government are having little impact and a Taliban assassination campaign has brought a sense of dread to Kandahar's dusty streets.

NATO officials once spoke of demonstrating major progress by mid-August, but U.S. commanders now say the turning point may not be reached until November, and perhaps later.

At the urging of Afghan leaders, U.S. officials have stopped describing the plan as a military operation. Instead, they've dubbed it "Cooperation for Kandahar ," a moniker meant to focus attention on efforts to build up local governance while reducing fears of street battles.

"We're not using the term 'operation' or 'major operations' because that often brings to mind in peoples' psyche the idea of a D-Day and an H-Hour and an attack," U.S. Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal , the commander of U.S.-led international forces in Afghanistan , said Thursday in Washington .

Here's What's in the Escalation Funding Bill, Including the Lipstick and the Pig

The Administration has requested $63 billion in FY2010 supplemental appropriations:
• $33 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD) primarily for deploying 30,000
additional troops to Afghanistan;
• $4.5 billion in war-related foreign aid to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan;
• $5.1 billion to replenish the U.S. Disaster Relief Fund administered by the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA);
• $2.8 billion for Haiti reconstruction and foreign aid in the wake of the
earthquake;
• $13.4 billion to compensate veterans exposed to Agent Orange;
• $3.4 billion to settle land trust claims of American Indians in the long-standing
Cobell case; and
• $1.2 billion to settle the discrimination claims of 70,000 black farmers in the
Pigford II case.

Details here: PDF.

Withdrawing Withdrawal Comment, and the Unpeaceful Peace Movement

By David Swanson

The peace movement, and the progressive blogosphere, can be very unpeaceful places, and it seems like I've spent the past day or two arguing with more people than I've communicated with pleasantly. This is not totally new, of course, but in this case I deserve a good share of the blame for it, so there may be an opportunity to learn a lesson.

Rep Mike Michaud Commits to Voting No on Afghan Escalation Funding and Urges Rep Chellie Pingree to Do the Same

Code Pink in Maine has reportedly been assured by Rep. Mike Michaud that he will vote No on the escalation funding and is urging Rep Pingree to do so too.

Follow the ever improving whip list at http://defundwar.org

Pentagon rethinking value of major counterinsurgencies

Here's a report from McClatchy that I think may present too credulously Pentagon claims that choosing not to create another Iraq or Afghanistan-like quagmire is driven by budget cuts. These wars have failed on their own terms, made us less safe, cost blood, and cost politicians elections. Cutting the military's budget is badly needed, but who's doing it? When? How?

Google Map of Every Drone Strike in Pakistan

See map.

Now we need one on GoogleEarth with images of the bodies of all the children, women, and men.

Obama Scraps Iraq Withdrawal

By David Swanson

So, we elected a president who promised a withdrawal from Iraq that he, or the generals who tell him what to do, is now further delaying. And, of course, the timetable he's now delaying was already a far cry from what he had promised as a candidate.

What are we to think? That may be sad news, but what could we have done differently? Surely it would have been worse to elect a president who did not promise to withdraw, right?

War Escalation Funding Bill to Get Lipstick, Eye Liner, Blush, Wig, New Hat, Nose Job

Looks like Senate wants to add LOTS of gloss to this pig including aid for every known type of disaster except war (although a bit of that too, with Agent Orange victims), and House wants to vote only once and only on the glossed-up Senate version.--DS

Senate panel readies war funding bill, flood aid
By ANDREW TAYLOR (AP)

WASHINGTON — A top Senate Democrat is fashioning a nearly $60 billion measure mixing war funding with U.S. disaster funds and aid for Haiti in hopes of jump-starting the long-delayed measure and clearing it through a nasty legislative thicket by Memorial Day.

The emerging measure, by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, is one of the few must-pass money bills remaining on the Senate's agenda in this election year. As such, it's attracting lots of attention from lawmakers hoping to win money for priorities that would otherwise have to wait until the fall — or later.

Rep. Perriello: I May or May Not Vote for $33 B War Escalation

By David Swanson

Three of us constituents of Congressman Tom Perriello (D., Va.) talked with him for about 45 minutes on Tuesday, asking him to commit to voting against $33 billion to escalate war in Afghanistan. The congressman was polite, intelligent, and knowledgeable. He didn't rant about evil Muslims or Mexicans or anything his predecessor might have done. He even agreed with us on many of the downsides to dumping another $33 billion into escalating a war opposed by a majority of Americans. But he would no more commit to voting against the bill than Virgil Goode would have -- possibly less so. There are libertarian Republicans voting against war funding.

Did You Say $33 Billion?

Afghan Escalation Funding 
More War, Fewer Jobs, Poor Excuses
 
By David Swanson, TomDispatch.com

Isn’t it time to call what Congress will soon vote on by its right name: war escalation funding?

Early in 2009, President Barack Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan with 21,000 "combat" troops, 13,000 "support" troops, and at least 5,000 mercenaries, without any serious debate in Congress or the corporate media.  The President sent the first 17,000 troops prior to developing any plan for Afghanistan, leaving the impression that escalation was, somehow, an end in itself.  Certainly it didn't accomplish anything else, a conclusion evident in downbeat reports on the Afghan war situation issued this month by both the Government Accountability Office and the Pentagon.

Jamie Raskin and Glenn Greenwald Debate Elena Kagan Nomination

Nobody wins this debate, and Greenwald fails to point out Kagan's right-wing tendencies, but Greenwald rightly points out, and Raskin agrees, that we just don't know much about her. This wouldn't be a problem if Congress could be expected to compel her to tell.

Chris Hedges' Hangup on Religion

By David Swanson

Chris Hedges is one of the best, one of the most morally useful, writers we have. He's free of loyalty to political party or dogma. He knows war first hand and describes it without flinching. He's an almost ideal gadfly to our corporatocracy. But he has a hangup on religion that holds him back.

Hedges will tell you that he has no use for fantasies about life after death. He'll profess no interest in gods or prayer or a divine plan or anything of the sort. He's perfectly aware of what lies on the negative side of the balance sheet for religion (or what he would call institutional religion), how it trains blind obedience, how it diminishes the value of life before death, how it shifts responsibility from people to imaginary beings, how it divides groups of people who kill in its name. But when you ask what, then, lies on the positive side of the account for religion that justifies supporting it, Hedges' answers range from slim to silly.

Dept. of "Defense" Makes Plan for 25 Years of Offensive Drone Use

"US Army UAS Road Map 2010-2035" (PDF).

Charlottesville, Va., To Protest Rep. Tom Perriello Funding $33 Billion War Escalation

Brown Bag Lunch Vigil for Peace -- May 19, 2010

VA's 5th District One of Over 100 to Hold Vigils Against War Funding at Congressional Offices on May 19th

WHAT: A mid-day vigil against funding an escalation in Afghanistan, bring your brown-bag lunch
WHERE: Tom Perriello’s Congressional Office 313 2nd Street, SE, Charlottesville, Va.
WHEN: Noon on Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sponsored by: Progressive Democrats of America, WarIsACrime.org, Democrats.com, Socialist Party of Central Virginia, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, Food Not Bombs, Priority for Community Transportation, Joyful Dissent, Amnesty International, May Day RVA, Virginia Defenders of Freedom, Justice, and Equality

Print Flyer.

Join this event on FaceBook

New Poll: A Majority of Americans Think Afghan War Not Worth Fighting

That's the latest. So, do you think Congress will take that to mean it should FUND AN ESCALATION? Ask your rep!

Apocalypse Never: Read This Book or Die

By David Swanson

Tad Daley writes, in his new book, "Apocalypse Never: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon-Free World," that he would like his book to have the impact of "Common Sense," "Uncle Tom's Cabin," or "The Jungle." Yeah, buddy, what author wouldn't? But Daley has a unique argument for the moral necessity of sharing his goal and promoting either his book or others like it: our only alternative is the annihilation of all life on earth.

By the time you've read this book, you will in fact be persuaded that if others do not grasp its central points, not just tyranny or slavery or unsafe workplaces will continue, but all trace of humanity and every other life form in the world will be eliminated.

17 Top Economists Back Tough Financial Reform, Denounce New York Times

The New York Times recently reported that “some academics” assert that the Senate financial reform bill now under consideration is misguided, while others disagree. We strongly dispute the article’s central premise: that we don’t know enough about the causes of the crisis.

Many observers anticipated the calamitous effects of radical deregulation as it was occurring. Their warnings only rarely made it into the Times and other major newspapers. We and others warned that deregulation would lead to a fragile, highly-leveraged system of interconnected banks and shadow banks that lacked external checks either in the market or in the government.

That is why we are prepared to support an amended version of the financial reform bill under consideration now in the Senate. Contrary to the assertions in the article, the bill in the Senate, which currently has some effective features, can readily be amended to address key causes of the financial crisis. Here are some specifics:

Crimes Are Crimes, No Matter Who Does Them

http://www.worldcantwait.net

Email and calls are coming in today. Thanks to Anthony: "i don't know if i say this enough but ... World Can't Wait ROCKS!!!!!!!" and to Gene: "The ad arrived in my mailbox. It looks awesome and reads awesome... It's a great piece of work. Let's do some more!"

The statement, Crimes Are Crimes - No Matter Who Does Them, for which you donated almost $12,000, began appearing in mailboxes in The New York Review of Books on Wednesday. We will be posting comments from people whose names appear in the ad:

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