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New Book for Ages 6 to 10: Tube World

http://davidswanson.org/tubeworld

New Book for Ages 6 to 10: Tube World

Tube World is the first children's book by David Swanson, author of several nonfiction adult books. The illustrations for Tube World are by Shane Burke.

Parents: Have your kids been tired in the morning?  Have you found wet bathing suits in their beds?  Do they know things about far-away places that you didn’t teach them and they didn’t learn in school?  Do children visiting your town from halfway around the world always seem to be friends with your kids, and to only be around during certain hours of the day?  You won’t believe the explanation, but your kids might grin and wink at each other if you read it to them.

Kids: Did you know the center of the Earth was hollow?  Do you know the words that can take you there, if you’re under the covers in your swimming suit and prepared for the trip?  Can you imagine traveling anywhere in the world where there’s a swimming pool — and being home again in time for breakfast?  If you haven’t been to Tube World yet, this book will tell you the secrets you need to know.  And it will tell you about some children who discovered Tube World and used it to make the whole world a better place.

Buy the PDF, EPUB (iPad, Nook, etc.), or MOBI (Kindle) from Ebookit.

The paperback has been published in two versions, one with slightly better color, slightly better paper, and a dramatically higher price.

Buy the standard paperback from Amazon,

(If you order from Amazon it will ship right away even if Amazon says it won't ship for weeks; it is print-on-demand.)

Buy the premium paperback from Amazon,

Your local independent bookstore can order the book through Ingram.

Anyone can order the book in bulk at the lowest possible price right here.

Buy PDF, Audio, EPUB, or Kindle for $8 right here:

http://davidswanson.org/tubeworld

Advance Praise for Tube World:

“This book will make you laugh till water comes out your ears!”--Wesley

“This story is super flibba garibbidy schmibbadie libbidie awesome, mostly!”--Travis

“The best part is we saved 2,000 islands and pretty much the whole world in our swimming suits!”--Hallie

About Shane Burke:
Shane Burke lives in Denver Colorado and has been drawing and painting since he could hold a pencil. He took private art lessons when he was young and began winning awards and contests by the age of seven. His first big commission came at age nine when he created artwork for a billboard near his home town of Tracy California. His greatest influences came from his grandfather and elementary school teachers. He loved watching his grandfather paint landscapes and wanted to be just like him. Shane is a creative day dreamer and at complete peace when putting ink to paper.  You can see more of Shane's work at www.beezink.com

Shooting to Kill Immigrants on the Mexican Border: WTF? A Border Agent Fired First at Immigrant Smugglers?

 

By Dave Lindorff


Sometimes it takes a small tragedy to call attention to expose a much bigger one.


The small tragedy happened when Nicholas Ivey, a US Border Patrol agent, was shot dead on a dark night in rough terrain along the border with Mexico in Arizona, a state that has been obsessing about illegal border crossers coming into the US from Mexico seeking jobs.

Planned Military Space Plane Launch Highlights Keep Space for Peace Week Concerns

The Maine-based Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, founded in 1992, maintains that an expected October 25 launch of the military space plane (X-37B) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida will help to accelerate a new arms race in space.

The group also has announced that their annual Keep Space for Peace Week will include more than 75 local actions in a dozen countries around the world.  Set from October 6-13 the protests call on all space-faring nations to halt research, development, testing, and deployment of war-making technologies in space.

Global Network chair Dave Webb (who also serves as the chair of UK’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) said, “We believe that the X-37B space plane is part of the Pentagon's effort to develop the capability to strike anywhere in the world with a conventional warhead in less than an hour - known as Prompt Global Strike.  Thus as the U.S. moves forward with these kinds of global strike systems from and through space it will be likely that Russia and China will be forced to respond by refusing to reduce their nuclear weapons and by developing space technologies of their own to counter the U.S. program.”

The Global Network maintains that the development of these new space planes is one reason that the Obama administration and the Pentagon are eager to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles in Russia and China in the years to come. As key elements in the growing U.S. first-strike program (along with so-called ‘missile defense’ systems), they become even more effective if the U.S. can get its potential rivals to reduce their nuclear retaliatory capability giving the Pentagon an even greater chance of pulling off a successful decapitating first-strike attack.

The actual cost of the X-37 is hidden in the Pentagon's 'black,' or classified, budget - is likely to cost more than $1 billion. The launch vehicle alone - a two-stage, liquid-propelled Atlas V rocket - costs as much as $200 million.

“Our annual Keep Space for Peace Week is an important way for us to continue the effort to build a movement around the planet to keep the heavens free from the ever expanding war system.  Already we see military satellites in space coordinating warfare on Earth.  The aerospace industry and the Space Command are pushing hard to move new offensive technologies like the X-37B into space.  It is our goal to build resistance to these expensive, dangerous, and destabilizing moves,” said Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network.

The Keep Space for Peace Week poster is available here

The list of local actions around the world during space week can be foundhere

The award winning documentary Pax Americana & the Weaponization of Space is now available online here

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Top 10 Astonishing Police Brutality Videos Caught on Surveillance Cameras

 

By Clint Henderson


The internet is full of videos exposing police officers' use of excessive physical force when trying to apprehend or detain "potential criminals". Every year in fact there seems to be an increase in YouTube video uploads, video views, and news stories depicting this type of injustice.

Obama Lost The 'Debate' but the Reason is His Campaign Wanted Him to be a 'Moderate'

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

President Obama was was painful to watch at the debate on Wednesday night.

Time after time, he allowed Mitt Romney to make fraudulent statements or empty statements without slapping the Republican presidential candidate down.

After Years-Long Media Black-Out, The Prosecution of an American President Opens at US Theaters

After a years-long media black-out and a grueling battle to get the film shown in the US, The Prosecution of an American President, the brainchild of the Los Angeles County prosecutor who prosecuted Charles Manson, opens at theaters this week.  In its long trek to the American big screen, the movie was originally scheduled to be run on HBO before the channel dropped it at the last minute.  Bugliosi then had to go outside the country to find a producer, Windsor Ontario NAFTC Studios.

Yahoo News:

Israel is not Calling the Shots in this US Election

 

By Dave Lindorff


Netanyahu blinked.


That’s the takeaway from the goofy address by the right-wing, Cheltenham,PA-raised, MIT-educated Israeli prime minister to the United Nations General Assembly Thursday.

Building Bridges Instead of Imperial Wars

 

John Grant

 

“Blows that don’t break your back make it stronger.”
- Anthony Quinn in Omar Mukhtar, Lion of the Desert
 

 

For years, I’ve been working either in the journalism realm or as an antiwar veteran activist expressing the core idea that the United States of America is an “empire,” that its militarist foreign policy is “imperialistic” and that many of our perennial and current problems are rooted in the reality that, as an imperial nation, like many empires in history, we’re overextending ourselves and destroying something that is dear to all American citizens who love this country.

The US is the World's Biggest War-Monger

 

By Dave Lindorff


There is a massive deception campaign in the US, and in its global propaganda, which seeks to portray the United States as a poor set-upon nation that would like world peace but just has to keep a military stationed around the globe to “police” all the world’s “trouble spots.”


Nadler and Schakowsky Rush to Protect Military Spending

The sociopathology of war spending as (least efficient possible) jobs program is on display in Congress:

Reps Nadler and Schakowsky Push to Repeal Sequestration and Prevent Catastrophic Cuts to Defense and Domestic Programs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, September 21, 2012

CONTACT:

Ilan Kayatsky (Nadler), 212-367-7350

Adjoa Adofo (Schakowsky), 202-225-2111

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced crucial legislation to halt sequestration, the process laid out in the Budget Control Act of 2011 to cut $1.2 trillion in federal spending on defense and domestic programs over 10 years. The Save America’s National Economy Act, aka the SANE Act, would save 2.6 million jobs estimated to be lost because of these cuts in the first three years alone, while safeguarding vital funds for housing, education, and health care for millions of Americans. By stopping the reckless 8% across-the-board cuts slated to begin on January 1, 2013, the SANE Act would return much-needed sanity to our budgeting process so that we can continue the economic recovery without sacrificing the middle class, kids, seniors, and the most vulnerable members of our communities. Nearly 3,000 national and local organizations in all 50 states joined together to state their strong opposition to sequestration.

“This legislation is intended to prevent the catastrophic results of sequestration,” said Rep. Nadler. “The simple truth is that no one – not the president and not the Congress – ever wanted or expected sequestration to take effect. Why? Because we have a jobs problem, and the spending cuts demanded by mandatory sequestration are a huge jobs killer and a major blow to our economy. It is imperative that we stop the misguided and self-made disaster that sequestration, or equivalent spending cuts, will bring.”

“Sequestration would have a devastating impact on American families and workers. This bill says enough is enough,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “The fact is, the sole reason we face sequestration is because HouseRepublicans refuse - time after time - to ask a single dime more from the richest 2 percent of Americans.Instead, Republicans are asking the middle class, low-income families, and seniors to bear the burden of deficit reduction. It’s time for sane budget policies; it’s time to pass the SANE Act.”

In 2013 alone, sequestration would require that defense and discretionary domestic programs each incur an across-the-board $54.7 billion cut. The following are just a handful of the effects should sequestration occur:

·According to the Economic Policy Institute, these cuts would result in the loss of 1.3 million defense jobs and 1.3 million non-defense jobs in just the first three years, with a total job loss of 2.6 million American jobs the first three years.

·According to a joint report issued this month by the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and American Nurses Association, sequestration’s 2% cut for Medicare would result in 496,000 health-related jobs lost in just the first year, and 766,000 jobs lost by 2021 – 49,121 of which would be in New York and 30,265 in Illinois.

·According to the Healthcare Association of New York State, sequestration would subject hospitals nationwide to $40 billion in Medicare reductions, with more than $2 billion of that loss hitting New York’s health care system.

·According to a recent report from the Office of Management and Budget, sequestration would cut some $329 million from the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides health care and compensation to first responders and survivors sickened after 9/11, and of which Rep. Nadler is a lead sponsor.

·According to the AIDS Institute, sequestration would cut $538 million from domestic HIV/AIDS programs, imperiling thousands who depend upon services for their stability and survival.

·According to Federally Employed Women, sequestration would mean the loss of jobs for 25,000 teachers and aides, responsible for hundreds of thousands of children. In addition, 100,000 school children would lose places in Head Start.

The SANE Act will cut the deficit through enhanced taxation of millionaires and reduced expenditures from the war in Afghanistan.

A Sea Change in US-Israeli Relations?

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The situation in the Middle East has reached a dangerous point, to be sure, but there are also signs that a sea change may be taking place here in the US which could herald a whole new relationship between the US, Israel and the rest of the Arab and Islamic world.


The Military Spending Cut Scare

The fearmongering is on.  Here's a typical article, this one from the only daily newspaper in my hometown:

"Defense spending could face large loss from federal cuts

"Charlottesville and Albemarle County could see a potential loss of $46.5 million in defense-related spending if federally mandated cuts, which are slated to start next year, come to fruition."

There are several ways in which this is misleading.  First, "defense" here means military, whether or not defensive.  Second, "cuts" in Washington-talk includes reductions in a budget from one year to the next, OR reductions from a desired dream-budget to a less-desired budget, even one that is an increase over last year's.  For the past 13 years, military spending has grown to levels not seen since World War II. It's over half of federal discretionary spending, and as much as the rest of the world combined.  The Pentagon's budget grew each year George W. Bush was president and the first three years that Barack Obama was president.  It is being cut by 2.6% this year, not the 9% used to calculate a portion of that $46.5 million figure.  If the mandated cuts mentioned above go through, the Pentagon will still be spending next year more than it did in 2006 at the height of the war on Iraq.

In addition, military contractors have been bringing in more federal dollars while cutting jobs.  They employed fewer people in 2011 with bigger contracts than in 2006 with smaller ones.  So the logic of bigger contracts = more jobs is essentially a bucket of hope and change.

And the Pentagon's base budget is less than half of total military spending. It's necessary to add in war spending (over $80 billion nationally this year), nuclear weapons spending through the Department of Energy, military operations through the State Department, USAID, and the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, etc., to get the real total. The Pentagon also has $83 billion in unobligated balances it can draw on.

The war industries in the United States are also by no means limited to the U.S. government.  U.S. weapons makers brought in $66.3 billion last year from foreign governments.  Many of those governments, like our own, are engaged in horrendous human rights abuses, but as long as we're being sociopathic about job creation, there's no reason to leave this out.

The article continues:

"The figures - compiled by the Center for Security Policy and the Coalition for the Common Defense, conservative-leaning Washington, D.C.-based think tanks - are based on publicly available information on Department of Defense contracts compiled and made available online through the Federal Procurement Data System website.

"The coalition describes itself as a group of individuals and local and national organizations 'committed to the Constitutional imperative to provide for the common defense and returning the United States to sensible fiscal principles without sacrificing its national security.'"

Never mind that the Constitution was written to include the creation of armies in times of war, not the permanent maintenance of a military industrial complex as a jobs program.  The above is how the two groups pushing the "news" in this article describe themselves.  How would a journalist describe them?  Well, as long as they're promoting military spending, it seems most relevant and significant to describe the ways in which they benefit from that spending.

The Center for Security Policy has a board of advisors packed with weapons makers executives and lobbyists from such disinterested parties as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, TRW, Raytheon, Ball Aerospace & Technologies, and Hewlett-Packard.  The Coalition for the Common Defense has been maneuvering the anti-spending Tea Party behind massive military spending. Hence the Constitution-talk.  But the "Coalition" isn't run by Constitutional scholars.  It's dominated by weapons company lobbyists, including the Aerospace Industry Association, which represents Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Honeywell, L-3 Communications, and other military industry corporations.  The Aerospace Industry Association spends over $2 million a year lobbying our government in Washignton.  Much of that money ends up being spent on luxurious lobbyist lifestyles in the great Commonwealth of Virginia.  Never forget the danger of the loss of that source of job creation should Congress simply and unquestioningly take direction from the weapons makers.

The article goes on:

"The data is reported by fiscal year and does not include grants or loans.

"From 2000-2011, more than 14,000 Virginia businesses provided defense-related goods and services, according to a state level report prepared by for Common Defense.

"Based on fiscal year 2011 defense contract date, the estimated reduction in Albemarle County in 2013 would be $43.25 million; in the city, the reduction would be an estimated $3.25 million.

"Earlier this year, defense budgets were cut by about $487 billion, an average of a 9 percent cut over a decade. In addition, the reports reflect the impact of sequestration, a 2011 mandate for about $500 billion more in defense spending reductions from 2013-2021, which averages to about an overall 18 percent cut in defense spending."

Here it's worth pausing to note that the $487 billion figure has been multiplied by 10.  It's a figure "over a decade."  Divided by 10 it would be $48.7 billion "over a year."  Or, it could be multiplied by 100 to give us $4,870 billion "over a century."  The reasons to talk about the decade are two.  First, it sounds bigger that way.  Second, by loading the later years heavily, politicians can claim to be making big cuts while actually passing those cuts on to future politicians who may not make them.  While all the news articles deal with cuts "over a decade," Congress actually only passes budgets for a year at a time.

"Published earlier this year, the reports indicate the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads regions would see the most severe losses if the cuts are fully implemented, while the state overall could lose $7.24 billion in earnings and more than 122,000 jobs.

“'There’s no question that Virginia will be the most impacted,' Christine Brim, chief operating officer of the Center for Security Policy told The Daily Progress. 'Virginia has the largest amount of defense spending. This is, without a doubt, the state that is the most impacted.'

"Furthermore, Brim said the effects go beyond just the financial to the core of Virginia’s identity, history and culture as a state important to America’s defense, character traits that still hold true today."

Here's Democratic Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine claiming that one in three Virginians depends directly on military spending.  These claims are almost certainly exaggerated. They are for Albemarle County.  The county's website says: "The economy of Albemarle County is vital and growing. The predominant economic sectors are services, manufacturing, education, retail, tourism, trade,  care & social assistance, technical & professional services and agriculture. The County of Albemarle's labor force is roughly 53,000 and its unemployment rate of 2.6% is consistently lower than the state and national averages." 

"However, Jeff Caldwell, a spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, said the state does not yet have any estimates for the effect of sequestration in Virginia.

“'With so many variables involved, there is no firm number to delineate that impact on the commonwealth or any particular area,' Caldwell said by email.

"Rep. Robert Hurt, R-5th, called the looming cuts 'devastating' for his district, which encompasses most of the Charlottesville region.

“'The White House and the Senate must join with the House [of Representatives] in addressing this impending crisis so we can keep our military men and women adequately equipped, protect jobs across the 5th District and the Commonwealth, and reduce our national debt in a responsible manner,” Hurt said in a statement."

A few points missed in the above: First, refusing to cut military spending does the opposite of reducing the national debt.  Second, military spending is the least cost-efficient way to produce jobs.  It produces fewer jobs than spending on infrastructure, green energy, education, or even tax cuts for working people.  So, if the goal is to save money while producing jobs, military spending is exactly the place to cut.  Third, there is absolutely no evidence that "adequate equipment" is what's on the chopping block here.  Hurt makes it sound like putting the U.S. navy on Jeju Island, South Korea, against the passionate will of the people there, is being done not to threaten China but as an act of philanthropy for U.S. sailors.

"House Minority Leader Eric Cantor, whose 7th District encompasses portions of the Charlottesville region, issued an even more sharply worded statement on his website, calling the planned cuts a 'dangerous threat' and urging President Obama and Senate Democrats 'to take serious action to prevent these arbitrary, devastating cuts from taking place.'"

Did he offer any evidence for those sharp words?

"While Brim acknowledged the need and desire to cut federal spending, she said gutting the defense budget would derail America’s recovery from the recession.

"That’s because conflict would interrupt trade and commerce and 'there would be nothing more costly than having our trade routes disrupted,' she said."

Now this is a new one.  Unless we continue to borrow money from China with which to build up our military presence all over the globe, including in every location strategically helpful in cutting off China's trade routes, our trade routes will be disrupted.  What trade routes?!  Can she name one?  Conflict, indeed, dirupts peaceful activity.  But conflict comes from war spending.  War spending and war preparation spending does not reduce conflict.

"Local leaders, however, were more measured in their assessment of the effect of the cuts on the local economy.

“'While our area would be affected by any change in federal spending, the overall impact would be minimal given that defense spending constitutes a small percentage of our overall economy,' Chris Engel, Charlottesville’s economic development director said by email.

"Albemarle County spokeswoman Lee Catlin said recent reaffirmations of the county’s AAA bond rating in spite of potential defense-related reductions is an indicator of confidence and stability in the local economy.

“'However, we are home to several major federal installations and associated defense contractors who are valued and important partners in our economy, so we are concerned about funding uncertainty,' Catlin said by email.

"And if the spending cuts do come to pass, Engel expressed confidence that the region’s economy would persevere. 'I think our business community has proven itself to be very adaptable in the past and this could be another instance where that trait will be needed,' Engel said."

If these last paragraphs had come first, this would not have been a bad article at all.

Failing the Test: Obama and Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett Must Go

 

By Dave Lindorff


Just because someone has the ability to do something, does not mean he or she should do it.


Bill Provides Another $100 Billion for War, Kucinich Calls on Congress to Stop Funding

Washington D.C. (September 13, 2012) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today spoke out against bloated Pentagon spending and hundreds of billions of U.S. taxpayer money wasted on unnecessary wars. Kucinich vowed to vote against the “Continuing Resolution” which will fund the federal government for another six months.

See video here.

“I rise in opposition to the rule for the Continuing Resolution. The Continuing Resolution contains $99.9 billion in the Overseas Contingency Operation funds to continue the war in Afghanistan and to fund other operations in the so-called war on terror.

Monopolizing War? What America Knows How to Do Best

By Tom Engelhardt

http://tomdispatch.com/blog/175592

It’s pop-quiz time when it comes to the American way of war: three questions, torn from the latest news, just for you.  Here’s the first of them, and good luck!

Two weeks ago, 200 U.S. Marines began armed operations in…?:

a) Afghanistan
b) Pakistan
c) Iran
d) Somalia
e) Yemen
f) Central Africa
g) Northern Mali
h) The Philippines
i) Guatemala

The Method to the Post 9/11 Madness

To your average educated careful consumer of U.S. news media, our militarism looks like ad hoc reactionary responses. A crisis flairs up here. We "intervene" there. An irrational foreign dictator threatens the peace over yonder. We get into wars because we have no choice, and then continue them because ending them would be somehow even worse than continuing them.

The Democratic Party is a Big Fraud

 

By Dave Lindorff


This article was first published on the website of PressTV


Just looking at the video images of the two conventions -- the Republican one last week in Tampa, Florida, and this week’s Democratic convention in Charlotte, NC -- one can see the fundamental contrast between the rank-and-file of the two parties. 

It's Not Just the LAPD: The Big Lie About Police Brutality is That it's Not Rampant

 

By Dave Lindorff


Police brutality is in the news, thanks to the widespread availability of amateur video.

We've seen scene after scene of police beating the crap out of, and even shooting and killing unarmed or minimally dangrous students, women, old men and crazy people, many of them after they have been handcuffed and checked for weapons.

Are Human Rights Becoming a Tool of US "Smart Power"?

By Coleen Rowley

Some nonpartisan commentators finally recognize that current US foreign policy continues to escalate militarily as though on steroids. It has become evident that use of deadly force by a US-dominated NATO is not only outside the parameters of international and constitutional law, but also in some cases outside basic legal principles that have stood the test of time not only for decades, but for centuries.  One explanation, however, for why American civil society, in general, has not pushed back is the "better rhetoric" now being used to sell war. 

Entrepreneur in Empire State Saves World Economy

No joke.  A little innovative thinking and economic calculation, and someone has come up with a model in Niagara Falls that could restore the U.S. economy and every economy influenced by it, not to mention the natural environment and what's left of our miserable souls.

The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station has long been an economic drain (military spending produces fewer jobs than energy or education or infrastructure spending or even tax cuts), an environmental disaster (with the ground poisoned, what can replace this airport?), and a symbol of corruption (with the military trying to get rid of it, Congress members have insisted on keeping the base around as a make-work jobs program protected from charges of Socialism purely by its connection to war).

Charley Bowman of the Western New York Peace Center has come up with an idea that could generate jobs, increase the area's clean energy production by 60% (and that's saying something in a place already benefitting from a fairly largish waterfall), avoid killing anybody anywhere in the world, and last as long as the sun shines, rather than as long as the Pentagon pigs out.  (Playing along with the general pretense that the Pentagon is already facing big cuts may be a strategic move in getting these sorts of projects going, but the Pentagon is almost guaranteed to really face enormous cuts before the sun does.) 

Bowman's idea is to cover the airport with solar panels.  Covering 8 million square meters would produce 546 ongoing jobs maintaining the panels, plus power for 110,000 homes.  Bowman has laid out various options and their costs and savings.  The cost to the public would be no more than we now spend.  Instead of one more military airport, we'd have all that clean energy and a model for the country showing how to develop a local economy.  (What locality in this country doesn't have a military boondoggle that could be put to better use?)  And if we kill fewer Pakistanis and Yemenis and Afghans and Iranians and Somalis in the process, generating a bit less hatred for our country, who's going to complain?  The newly employed?  I doubt it.  Those benefitting from the clean electricity?  We're talking about much of Western New York being powered by sunshine via panels that make a lot less noise and air pollution than military jets.  We could try this in Eastern New York and Northern Pennsylvania and Southern Massachusetts, and … 110,000 houses here, 110,000 houses there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.

Does this solution make sense?  Does it in fact make so much sense as to threaten the Pentagon's bureaucrats?  "Bureaucrat" is, of course, a French term meaning "We'll do things the way we've always done things even if it kills you."  Never fear, bureaucrats!  The Secretary of War is on the case.  Leon Panetta, who 20 years ago favored exactly the kind of conversion proposed by Bowman, swooped in to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station on August 9th waving around giant bags of cash.   "We're committed to maintaining this base for the future," Panetta said. "It's important geographically, it's important to our mission going forward."  Aha! Bet you didn't see that coming!  We need an Air Reserve base in Niagara Falls to hold off the Canadian menace and suppress the growing violence between New York and Ohio.  It's the geographic importance!  Or Congresswoman Kathleen Hochul is a Democrat.  One or the other.  The solar lobby just doesn't buy campaigns the way war and oil profiteers do.  Bowman is proposing 546 jobs at $50,000 each, but for a mere $52,950 total dumped into Hochul's campaigns (according to OpenSecrets.org), the "defense" industry seems to have out-bid him.

Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., ($194,403) has come to the principled conclusion that the base should remain a military base, and the Pentagon should figure out some way to waste money on it.  Schumer assures us that Panetta is a "thoughtful, perceptive and caring" man who understands the base's importance to the Western New York economy, according to the Buffalo News.  But, Panetta warns, if Congress doesn't undo by next January the "cuts" to the military that it passed last year, heads will roll, jobs will be axed, and Western New York will be forced to employ more people at a lower cost while generating clean energy for its residents.  Are you scared yet?  Panetta's dire warning of $487 billion in cuts is, as he sometimes mentions, "over 10 years."  This means that the cuts sound bigger if you multiply them by 10.  That's all it means.  The annual cuts are $48 billion.  But not really, because the cuts are smaller while Panetta and his boss are actually around, with most of the cuts pushed off into the latter part of the 10-year period.  On top of which, the cuts are to dream budgets, not to actual budgets.  Panetta's teasing of the people of Niagara Falls (You'll lose your jobs! You'll keep your jobs!  You'll lose your jobs!) is the equivalent of Lockheed Martin's sending out phony pink slips to scare its workers, and both are the equivalent of a hot steaming pile of what comes out the far side of a well-fed bull.

Following Panetta's shakedown of Western New York for the war profiteers in Northern Virginia, Charley Bowman responded:

"The August 9 performance at the Niagara Falls Air Base by our elected representatives -- and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta -- can be summed up: jobs at the air base are only available through war or military research.  They should know better.  Following a 'lengthy' speech about the need for defense cuts, Panetta promised the frantic search will continue to discover a new military mission for the air base.  His intended message was: no third world country is off limits, as we continue  our struggle in the war on terror. With serious expressions on their faces, Schumer, Hochul and [Congressman Brian ($52,500)] Higgins nodded in agreement.  Secretary Panetta did bring $6 million with him saying a flight simulator will be built at the air base. None of our elected leaders brought up the fact that flight simulation does not need a functioning airport. Such simulation could be done just as well in an urban setting, such as Buffalo's East Side or downtown Niagara Falls. (During the 2.5 hour long vigil outside the Niagara Falls Air Base that day, I counted 3 planes landing -- barely surpassing the flight activity at grass landing strips in rural Western N.Y.)"

Let's Start a Medicare and Social Security Action (MASS Action) Party!

 

By Dave Lindorff


If you want to know how moribund the Democratic Party is, how completely owned by Wall Street the president is, and how sick our national politics have become, just consider Social Security.


Military developing anti-suicide nasal spray as deaths hit record numbers

Don't ask what horrors you've done for your country.  Ask what chemicals you can squirt up your nose.

We Don’t Need No Bloody Treaties: Britain Blows a Fuse over Ecuador’s Asylum Grant to Wikileaks’ Assange

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The concerted and orchestrated campaign to capture Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and ultimately to hand him over to the tender mercies of a kangaroo court in the US, where he would likely be tried for spying and other possibly capital offenses, continues as Britain threatens the Ecuadoran Embassy with a police assault.

 

Demilitarization Is Not a Dirty Word

HUMAN SECURITY FOR GLOBAL SECURITY: Demilitarization is not a dirty word, nonviolence is not inaction, and building sustainable peace is not for the faint of heart

by Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (1997)

The political, social and economic changes we all face are serious.  Some might call the state of the world today chaos.  The ongoing, dramatic changes in technology and communications are other elements adding to uncertainty and the feelings of insecurity that people around the globe are confronting.  No one can predict the future but we can work hard to shape the outcomes.

Democracies Don't Start Wars, But Fake Democracies Sure Do!

 

 

By Dave Lindorff


We’ve all heard it said by our teachers when we were in school, we’ve all heard it said by politicians, including presidents: “Democracies don’t start wars.”


Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Forgetting Fukushima

I had a dream in early summer, one I suspect I'll always remember. I was the passenger in a car with an old high school friend at the wheel, which might explain why he was humping my leg and I was pushing him away in the opening scene. Next the car began to roll forward carelessly, and I perceived that we were at the edge of a grand canyon vista of reddish layers of earth, eroded, beautiful and vast. I called out in alarm and my classmate applied the brake; he wasn't much concerned, he had it under control.

Best Southern Corporate Editorial Ever

One cannot always count on words of wisdom from the editorials published by corporate newspaper chains in the Southern United States, or anywhere else.  This one is far from perfect, but remarkably great.  This was published by the Charlottesville Daily Progress on Tuesday and adapted by them from their corporate sister the Richmond Times Dispatch.  Possibly numerous other Media General (Warren Buffet) newspapers printed the same or similar:

"Would cuts in defense spending be a bad thing?

"Gov. Bob McDonnell suggested President Obama hold Congress in session until it hammers out a deal to avert what is known as sequestration — whose effects on Virginia could be profound."

Note that this editorial is about to challenge the claims of the state's Transvaginal Governor who is also trying to get himself nominated for U.S. Veep on the Romney ticket.  Not only that, but a gang of U.S. Senators including the previous Republican presidential nominee John McCain recently stopped in Virginia on a tour of swing states hyping the danger to the U.S. economy of any cuts to the military budget.  This editorial does not name those senators but does handily reject their bogus claims.

"Sequestration is the term applied to automatic budget cuts that will take effect Jan. 2 unless Congress acts now to prevent them. They are the result of last year’s Budget Control Act. That law tasked a special committee with finding $1.2 trillion in budget cuts over the next decade. If it failed, automatic cuts — half of them in defense spending, half in domestic discretionary spending — would kick in. The committee failed."

Of course "defense" is code for military, even while few would pretend that attacking Libya or Syria or continuing in Afghanistan or drone bombing Pakistan or Yemen, etc., is defensive.  The code is well understood and virtually unavoidable in a corporate newspaper.  You'll recall that there was huge public pushback against the Super Congress, that the public told pollsters we favored taxing the rich and cutting the military.  The Super Congress failed to push through a deal to enlarge the military and continue tax cuts on the wealthy.  And rightly so.  But Congress is intent on accomplishing post-2012-election what the Super Congress couldn't do.

"Without action soon, the first of $600 billion in defense spending cuts will start to bite. That could mean the loss of tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of jobs here in the commonwealth — which is the No. 2 recipient of federal defense outlays. That is a frightening prospect indeed."

Note, however, that dollars don't translate simply and predictably into jobs.  When the military had less money several years ago, it also produced more jobs. Also, the $600 billion is "over 10 years," and might as well be called $1200 billion "over 20 years" for all such monkeying with the numbers enlightens us.  It's $60 billion "over one year," but reduced from that in order to put more of the cutting later in the 10-year period. $50 billion or less, cut from $1.2 trillion or so in total military spending can only frighten people who are truly intent on being frightened.  Of course, fear is what allows military spending on this kind of scale to begin with.

"But it is not in itself a sufficient reason to oppose the cuts. National defense is not a jobs program. Many of the very arguments conservative Republicans have made with regard to government spending over the years — about inefficiency, about the displacement of private investment, about gargantuan bureaucracies doling out contracts to the politically connected — might apply just as well to the Pentagon as to any other government agency."

This is a stunning bit of honest sanity.  Reflect on the earthshattering, "debate" crashing, impoliteness of introducing this bit of truth to the public.  Of course it's also the understatement of the year.  Spending on the military produces fewer jobs than spending on education, energy, infrastructure, or even tax cuts for working people, because it is so incredibly wasteful.  How wasteful?  We don't know, since it's the only department that is never audited.  But we know that it routinely misplaces billions -- with a b -- of dollars, something no other department is allowed to do.  We also know that in much of the world spending money on killing in order to generate jobs would be viewed as sociopathic.

"What’s more, the alarms being rung about the hollowing out of the military sound considerably less grim when put in context. For example, ask yourself this: Was the U.S. military on the brink of collapse in 2007? Few people would answer yes. Yet if sequestration occurs, then military spending would revert to — you guessed it — 2007 levels. That doesn’t sound quite so horrible."

Again, this is simple and obvious but staggeringly new.  It renders ludicrous countless "news" reports that have been published by these papers.

"Even after adjusting for inflation, Pentagon spending is now almost double what it was in 2000. And that leaves out the billions lavished on Homeland Security. And the further billions spent on ongoing military operations abroad, which add more than another hundred billion to the tab."

This too is new and different, pointing out that the "Homeland Security" budget is added on top of the Pentagon's.  But let's not forget State, Energy, CIA, and all the other departments that include military spending, plus the expense of caring for the veterans our wars keep producing.  The total cost of the military is about $1.2 trillion per year, many times what any other nation spends, more than all other nations combined, and more than half of federal discretionary spending.

"True, federal defense outlays are smaller as a share of the federal budget than they have been in many years,"

Oops.  That's not true, not when all military ("defense") expenses are counted.

"and they are smaller as a percentage of gross domestic product than at any time since World War II. But this is not a very useful comparison. It implies that whenever Washington creates a hugely expensive new entitlement program, or whenever the economy booms, Pentagon spending should be jacked up just to keep the proportions steady."

Wow.  This is amazingly decent and dismissive of an entire genre of public "discourse."  The Congressional Budget Office has repeatedly stressed to Congress that military spending is low as a percentage of GDP.  Even though it's high and has been rising each of the past 15 years as a dollar amount adjusted for inflation, as a percentage of the federal discretionary budget, and as a percentage of global military spending, the theory indeed seems to be that if we have more money we should buy more weapons because we can.  This requires a psychiatrist, not an economist.

"The real question is how much the U.S. needs to spend to maintain military dominance. To help answer it, consider a more useful comparison: For every dollar the world spends on military outlays, America accounts for 46 cents. China, a distant second, comes in at about 7 cents."

Hmm.  Is that the real question?  Isn't the real question how the United States can best keep its nation safe?  Isn't it at the very least an open question whether striving to dominate the globe is making us safer or putting us at risk? The answer above to the wrong question is dramatically understated, and yet hugely important and worldview shattering for many potential readers.  I hope they read it.

"Gov. McDonnell is right to worry about the effect of defense spending cuts here in Virginia. Congress should pass legislation to stave off the sequestration meat ax. However, it needs to make judicious cuts to the defense budget. Overseas bases, redundant weapons systems, even force structures should all be on the table. The nation currently borrows 43 cents of every dollar it spends. And there is simply no way to fix that problem without including military cuts as part of the solution."

Wouldn't you know they'd reach the wrong conclusion after so much good rhetoric.  The sequestration meat ax would cut that $1.2 trillion budget by about $50 billion.  It should be cut by much more.  Cutting back to merely three times the size of China would allow us not only to pay off debt but to make college free, eliminate student loans, develop a massive green energy program, and update our infrastructure.  Those are the tradeoffs that should have been mentioned.  The mass murder of non-Americans that is generated by the war momentum that Eisenhower warned us war spending would create might also merit consideration.  Nonetheless, I doubt I shall ever see this good an editorial in my local paper again.

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