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Older soldiers find a niche in new Army | 'GI Jorge,' a father, grandfather and struggling property appraiser, is becoming a soldier at 40 to secure his family's financial future.
By Carol Rosenberg | Miami Herald
As the South Florida real estate market disintegrated and the number of jobless rose, 40-year-old Jorge Gil Muela made a young man's decision.
The five-foot-seven, 235-pound property appraiser walked into a recruiting center in a Kendall strip mall in December to join the Army. He was told to shed 50 pounds. It's a small price, he said, for the job security and pay, family health insurance and new career as a cargo handler.
A 185-pound Muela will report for duty at Fort Sill, Okla., next month, leaving his wife, children and grandchildren behind in Miami.
Thanks to a defense contractor's errant use of a peer-to-peer file-sharing network, President Obama's helicopter may not be as safe as it looks.
A Pittsburgh-area company that monitors peer-to-peer networks accessed with file-sharing software like LimeWire and Napster says it has identified a potentially serious security breach involving Marine One and an IP address in Tehran, Iran.
The company found a file detailing the helicopter's blueprints and avionics package, which it then traced to its original source, Tiversa CEO Bob Boback told NBC affiliate WPXI, which reported the story Saturday.
When Lisa Pagan reports for duty Sunday, four long years after she was honorably discharged from the Army, she will arrive with more than her old uniform. She is bringing her kids, too.
"I have to bring them with me," she said. "I don't have a choice."
Pagan is among thousands of former service members who have left active duty since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, only to later receive orders to return to service. They are not in training, they are not getting a Defense Department salary, but as long as they have time left on their original enlistment contracts, they are on "individual ready reserve" status — eligible to be recalled at any time.
I've blogged before about our enslavement of workers in the Marianas, but here's a forthcoming film that tells a longer, broader history of our colonization of Guam and the Northern Marianas, and the current place of Guam in the global resistance to US military bases and the global expansion of US military bases. U.S. soldiers who are native to these islands and unrepresented by any vote in Washington are dying in Iraq at a per-capita rate four times higher than that of any U.S. state.
We do, on U.S. military bases in other countries. Check out this very cool site that allows you to see all of the world's military bases in Google Earth. You Congress member might like to know this, even if they claim that military spending creates jobs. Research shows that non-military spending produces more and better paying jobs in the U.S. economy, and that's when compared with military spending in the U.S. Here, most jobs created are created in nations most of whose populations do not want the bases. Of course, to save the $140 billion we'll have to spend a little to close the bases, and we'll have to decommission a lot of soldiers, not just bring them home. Why not find them jobs in green energy, mass transit, healthcare, education?
Updates on proposed base in Vicenza here.
President Barack Obama this week is laying out the road home from the war in Iraq during the next 19 months. More or less.
The President has indicated that he'll order the withdrawal of upward of 100,000 American troops from a war that began six years ago and has cost us more than 4,200 American dead, well over 70,000 wounded or injured and nearly a trillion dollars in national treasure.
This withdrawal, however, will leave tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq to train and advise Iraqi security forces, safeguard American facilities and personnel and continue tracking down and eliminating the worst al Qaida in Iraq terrorists.
The US is likely to boycott a UN racism conference, reports say, saying a text drawn up for the event criticises Israel and restricts free of speech.
An unnamed state department official said the draft document for April's forum in Geneva was "unsalvageable".
Canada and Israel have also said they plan to boycott the meeting.
Six people were hurt when Afghan police opened fire on demonstrators who claimed U.S. troops had desecrated a Koran during a raid on a mosque.
The incident took place in Deh Khodaidad village in Ghazni, southwest of the capital, Kabul.
Police said a government team had been sent to investigate claims that foreign troops had raided the mosque, rounded up worshippers and tore apart copies of the Koran on Thursday night.
A spokesman for the U.S. military said he was aware of a "peaceful protest." Afghan police said any injuries had been caused by "saboteurs" in the crowd.
Santa Barbara Welcomes Author of "The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle Against America's Veterans" This Sunday
Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life at UCSB present:
Aaron Glantz, author of "How America Lost Iraq" discusses his new book:
“The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle against America's Veterans”
Sunday, 1 March / 3:00 p.m. / Free
Victoria Hall, 33 West Victoria Street, Santa Barbara
"The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle against America's Veterans" is the first book to systematically document the U.S. government's neglect of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Aaron Glantz, who reported extensively from Iraq during the first three years of this war and has been reporting on the plight of veterans ever since, offers a devastating indictment of the Bush administration for its blatant neglect of soldiers and its disingenuous reneging on their benefits.
Whether well-founded or not, fears abound that the new BCT assignments to the homefront foreshadow abuses of executive power; that a president could use the threat of terrorism or an actual attack to invoke the Insurrection Act and call in battle-hardened troops to suppress social disorder or political dissent....“What we have here is a little backward...We are sending the National Guard and Reserves overseas and taking the active duty out of combat fighting to remain here in the United States. What’s going on?”
Obama seeks $205 billion for Iraq, Afghan wars
By Tabassum Zakaria and Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama requested about $205 billion in war funding through the end of fiscal 2010 on Thursday, as he sought to withdraw tens of thousands of troops from Iraq and boost forces fighting a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.
Obama's first budget proposal asked for $75.5 billion through September, which would bring total war spending to $141.4 billion for the current fiscal year. Obama also requested a slightly smaller $130 billion to fund the wars for fiscal year 2010, which starts on October 1.
Obama asked Congress to increase the Pentagon's regular budget to $533.7 billion next year -- up 4 percent, or $20.4 billion, from its spending plan for the current year, drawn up under the Bush administration.
Early this winter, the PBS "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" interviewed the medical director at a community clinic in Northern California. He recalled the sight of military equipment moving along railroad tracks next to his office. "I've joked with my colleagues," Dr. David Katz said, "if we could just get one of those Abrams tanks we could probably fund all the primary care clinics for a year."
The comment didn't make it on the air - it was only included in video on a PBS Web site - and that was unfortunate. We need more public focus on what our tax dollars are buying.
By Miriam Pemberton and Suzanne Smith
In December, The New York Times reported that Obama’s Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, and Defense Secretary had all “embraced a sweeping shift of priorities and resources in the national security arena…a rebalancing of America’s security portfolio after a huge investment in new combat capabilities during the Bush years.”
The budget released today does show signs of a modest course correction. A “sweeping shift” will have to wait. The main cause: while the new administration has slowed the rate of increase in the base military budget, it has still requested more money for the Pentagon than the Bush administration ever did. Its request of $534 billion is $20 billion more than the amount Congress appropriated for FY 2009.
Afghanistan's Complex Nature of Fighting
Anti-war protesters take cause to churches
Since October 2007, a small group of demonstrators has visited 20 Westchester churches during Sunday morning services, silently unfurled banners of protest against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and waited for a reaction.
They have received scattered applause in a few churches and have been invited to stay for coffee in several.
But they have been thrown out of other churches - often with anger and sometimes with a touch of force - and have been called communists, narcissists, morons, pinkos, wackos, fools and words that can't be printed.
Some church pastors support the group's anti-war stance, if not their methods of protest, while others condemn the unannounced visits as tactless intrusions on worship.
The group of six main demonstrators has no name and is not affiliated with any larger organization or movement. But word has spread in the church community that they are out there - and could be coming your way.
In fact, the protesters plan on visiting at least one church a month until American troops are out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We usually don't get the greatest response," said Nora Freeman, 53, of Port Chester.
"Most of the time it's dead silence at first, which is kind of eerie," said Debbie Kair, 52, of Hartsdale.
In the Wall Street Journal of January 24, the loathsome McCarthyite neocon David Horowitz gazed approvingly on the inauguration of Barack Obama. To Horowitz it meant the removal of an obstacle to war. Thus he wrote:
Targeting Israel with Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions, and Prosecutions
by Stephen Lendman
Enough is enough. After 61 years of Palestinian slaughter, displacement, occupation, oppression, and international dismissiveness and complicity, global action is essential. Israel must be held accountable. World leaders won't do it, so grassroots movements must lead the way.
In 2004, Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote:
"The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure - in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months, a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation."
By Nick Baumann, Mother Jones
Representative Barney Frank is one of the most powerful Democrats in the House of Representatives. As chairman of the Financial Services Committee, he's overseeing the spending of hundreds of billions of dollars to bailout Wall Street and stave off the mortgage crisis. The White House needs him, and he's been a dependable ally so far. Now he's leaning on President Barack Obama to cut the Pentagon budget.
By Dave Lindorff
Barack Obama’s first address to Congress provided Americans with yet another example of competent speechmaking, and I suppose, given that we’ve just endured eight painful years of oratorical farce, being able to listen to your president without wincing is something.
The problem is that the way forward proposed by the president as laid out in this address was almost always half-hearted, wrong-headed or doomed.
Obama declared at the outset of his address that the economic crisis was the major issue confronting the country, and while one could argue that this crisis is merely a symptom of much bigger issues, like the nearly completed deindustrialization of the nation, the death grip of militarism, and the growing political power of corporations, one could also concede that there is an urgent need to deal with the deepening recession.
The Center for Defense Information wrote:
At a Feb. 19 discussion of the new anthology "America's Defense Meltdown," a veteran of five decades of experience with the Department of Defense acquisition system described just how broken the system has become. Pointedly, Thomas Christie made it clear in his presentation that some of the worst practices were developed during the Clinton administration, and now many of those responsible for that are now back haunting the halls of the Pentagon. People who think that nothing could get worse than the incompetence of the Bush-Rumsfeld years might want to wait a bit before they claim that any corner has been turned in the Obama-Gates Pentagon.
Department of Defense officials who are involved in preparation of the Fiscal Year 2010 budget request are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement pledging not to divulge budget-related information to unauthorized persons.
A copy of the non-disclosure agreement, which was obtained by Defense News, is available here (pdf).
In President Obama's January 20, 2009 inaugural address, he promised a new degree of transparency specifically on budget matters: "And those of use who manage the public's dollars will held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."
But the light of day evidently does not extend to the budget development process, and perhaps it should not.
Strategy, Plans, Requirements, Challenges and Opportunities
Date : 27 Apr 2009 - 28 Apr 2009
Location : Washington, DC, United States
Venue : Sheraton National Hotel Arlington
Organisation : TTC - Technology Training Corporation
Type event : Conference
Category : Defence / Security
Tags : IED; Soldier Modernisation
22 Leading Experts from: JFCOM, SOCOM, Navy IWO, Army AWO, USMC CIW, USAF IWO, AFSOC, PA&E, TRADOC, Joint Staff, ONR, USMC SVG, OUSD-SOLIC, JNLWP, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, CNAS, CNA, CSIS, and Kroll examine:
* IW – A New Paradigm for Future Warfighting
* Implications of DoDD 3000.07 and the Joint IW Roadmap
* Potential Impact on Strategy, Doctrine, Procurement and Operations
* OSD and Service Plans, Needs and Initiatives
* IW vs. Conventional Warfighting — Future Hybrid Threats
By Steve Cobble, MilitaryBudgetCutsNow
Congressman Barney Frank yesterday called a meeting on Capitol Hill to discuss his proposal to cut 25% from the military budget. He specifically invited grassroots activists and organizations interested in a less expensive, saner, less warlike military budget to come meet with him, to get the ball rolling towards reform.
Frank pushed the need for organizations and coalitions interested in domestic social needs to join the military budget cuts fight--otherwise, he said, they would not have the money for their own needed projects. He also handed out his excellent Nation essay.
But the fallout from attacking yet another country on false pretexts is unfathomable. This is why Americans observing mainstream pundits and assorted ideologues trumpeting the current course of the long-delayed AIPAC espionage trial as a victory for freedom of the press should ponder this: is it really in our best interests that Israel and its American lobby be empowered to classify or declassify American secrets at their whim?
On Feb. 17, Judge T.S. Ellis added a new twist in the case of two former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) executives indicted under the 1917 Espionage Act. In what the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Secrecy News describe as a major blow to the prosecution, Judge Ellis ruled [.pdf] that J. William Leonard can testify on behalf of the defendants when they go to trial on April 21, 2009.
Former British resident Binyam Mohamed arrives back in Britain tomorrow after his release from Guantanamo Bay. British and US lawyers claim that sustained beatings - which have only recently stopped - have left him with severe psychological and physical problems....Lieutenant colonel Yvonne Bradley, Mohamed's US military attorney, added: "He has been severely beaten. Sometimes I don't like to think about it because my country is behind all this."
Binyam Mohamed will return to Britain suffering from a huge range of injuries after being beaten by US guards right up to the point of his departure from Guantánamo Bay, according to the first detailed accounts of his treatment inside the camp.
The death of an American arms dealer in Iraq has led to one of the most intricate and far-reaching inquiries into corruption among US military officers in Iraq. Some suspect that he was killed because he was a whistleblower who knew too much.
When Dale Stoffel, 43, was gunned down on his way into Baghdad at the height of the insurgency in Iraq, his murder appeared all too predictable. He was an adventurer who seemed to have met his end at the hands of jihadists while engaged in one of the riskiest businesses on the planet.
A new report released just hours ago reveals that U.S.-made white phosphorus artillery shells among other U.S. weapons were found throughout Gaza. When white phosphorus munitions are used in densely-populated civilian areas as Israel has, it violates international humanitarian law’s prohibition on indiscriminate attacks and amounts to a war crime.
In light of this new finding, we are urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to immediately call for:
* an investigation into Israel’s use of U.S. arms in Gaza
* a suspension of U.S. military aid to Israel and
* to urge the United Nations to impose an arms embargo on all parties in the conflict
Samia Salman Al-Manay'a, 16 years old, was asleep in her home in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, when a phosphorus shell landed on the first floor of the house on January10th. Ten days later, from her hospital bed, she spoke to our delegation.
"The pain is piercing. It's as though a fire is burning in my body. It's too much for me to bear. In spite of all the medicine they are giving me the pain is still so strong."
U.S. soldiers forced to return to active duty haven't received the pay bonuses they were promised five months ago, advocates say.
The 13,000 soldiers, who were made to remain on active duty beyond their enlistment period by so-called stop-loss orders, are entitled to monthly bonuses of up to $500 under a plan approved last year by Congress and was set to take effect Oct. 1. But the soldiers are still waiting to see the bonuses, USA Today reported Monday.
BY TIM RINNE, Omaha World-Herald
The writer, of Lincoln, is state coordinator of Nebraskans for Peace.
Nearly 500 miles above Earth, the calm was suddenly disrupted Feb. 10 when a U.S. satellite collided with a derelict Russian orbiter at 26,000 mph. The impact created two expanding clouds of debris with hundreds of orbital fragments.
Initial reports indicated that the debris clouds posed no immediate threat to the International Space Station. But the space station is hardly the only thing up there that we need to worry about.
Iridium, the U.S. corporation that owned the now-pulverized satellite, operates a constellation of 66 such craft providing global telecommunications services. And Iridium is just one corporation in one industry in one country.
Space is now home to almost a thousand commercial and military satellites with a dozen different sponsors such as Russia, China, the United States, the European Union, Japan, India and — just this past month — Iran.