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Military Industrial Complex
By Kathy Kelly and Brian Terrell
It’s one thing to study online articles describing the MQ-9 Reapers and MQ-1 Predators. It’s quite another to identify these drones as they take off from runways at Nevada’s Creech Air Force base, where our “Ground the Drones…Lest We Reap the Whirlwind” campaign is holding a ten-day vigil.
This morning, during a one hour walk from Cactus Springs, Nevada, where we are housed, to the gates of Creech Air Force base, we saw the Predator and Reaper drones glide into the skies, once every two minutes. We could easily distinguish the Predator from the Reaper, - if the tailfins are up, it’s a Predator, tail fins down, a Reaper.
The MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones both function to collect information through surveillance; both can carry weapons. The MQ9 Reaper drone, which the U.S. Air Force refers to as a “hunter-killer” vehicle, can carry two 500 pound bombs as well as several Hellfire missiles.
Army medical commanders are investigating allegations that medically unfit soldiers were deployed to Iraq in recent months out of Fort Wainwright in Alaska.
The cases of three soldiers were profiled in a March 23 report in USA TODAY and highlighted in a recent petition circulated by a handful of rear-detachment soldiers at Fort Wainwright, home of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which recently went to Iraq.
Soldiers said commanders tried — sometimes successfully — to deploy them before they completed medical tests for health problems, before they were able to undergo necessary surgeries or before they were able to recuperate from operations.
National Geographic Explorer: Inside Guantanamo | Watch This Sunday, April 5th | Check site & your local listings for other dates, times
Hasswa, Iraq: Salee, a nine-year-old girl, was playing outside her home with her brother, cousin and some friends. US jets circled overhead. Suddenly the jets fired three missiles, apparently at passenger vehicles.
By Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet
On the campaign trail, Barack Obama's advisers said he "can't rule out [and] won't rule out" using mercenary forces, like Blackwater. Now, it appears that the Obama administration has decided on its hired guns of choice: Triple Canopy, a Chicago company now based in Virginia. It may not have Blackwater's thuggish reputation, but Triple Canopy has its own bloody history in Iraq and a record of hiring mercenaries from countries with atrocious human rights records. What's more, Obama is not just using the company in Iraq, but also as a U.S.-government funded private security force in Israel/Palestine, operating out of Jerusalem.
Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of deaths construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds, oh lord yeah!
Black Sabbath – War Pigs
You know civilization is in danger when I find more wisdom in the words of Ozzy Osbourne than in the words of any elected U.S. official. The U.S. war machine keeps turning. As we enforce our will on foreign countries, we produce more people who hate us. Just when you think the U.S. government is beginning to make sense by withdrawing troops from Iraq, they make the terrible decision to shuttle 21,000 more troops into the Afghan calamity. At a cost of $3.2 billion per month, we will throw another $38 billion down a rat hole in a country that has no vital strategic importance to the United States. Barack Obama is doing this to prove that he is a true statesman. The Soviet Union killed over 1 million Afghans, while driving another 5 million out of the country and left bankrupted and defeated after ten years. Young Americans will continue to die for who? for what? Our foreign policy during the last eight years can be summed up in one military term, SNAFU – Situation Normal All Fouled Up. These foreign interventions are a smoke screen for what is really going on in this country. When a government has unsolvable domestic problems, they try to distract the public by creating foreign conflicts. General Douglas MacArthur understood the danger.
“I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”
File Under The Growing Police State: Marine Corps High School Coming To Our Neighborhood
By Nick Mitchell
I'LL HAVE A "DRAUGHT DODGER!"
Canadian Parliament votes again to let U.S. war resisters stay
by Mike Ferner | April 1, 2009
Two days ago, for the second time in 10 months, Canada's House of Commons told Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government, including Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, to stop deporting U.S. soldiers resisting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The vote united the three opposition parties, the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party in a close 129-125 vote.
Last week, the War Resisters Support Campaign rallied for former Army soldier, Kimberly Rivera, the first female U.S. soldier to go to Canada. Nearly 100 people filled the chairs and lined the aisles at the Steelworkers hall in Toronto for Rivera, her husband and three children, the youngest born in Canada six months ago.
US military occupation forces in Iraq under Commander In Chief Obama suffered 23 combat casualties between March 17 and 31 as the official total rose to at least 71,523. The total includes 34,578 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 36,945 dead and medically evacuated (as of Feb. 28, 2009) from "non-hostile" causes.*
The actual total is over 100,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 30,000 veterans whose injuries-mainly brain trauma from explosions and PTSD diagnosed only after they had left Iraq.**
Military recruiting advertising and media access undermine peace efforts
Brian J. Trautman
"A combination of excessive and disproportionate government funding for military recruiting advertising as well as mainstream media accessibility issues severely undermine the efforts of peace- and social/ecological justice-focused groups (including those that are government-funded) to publicly disseminate their principles and initiatives and to secure much needed donations, volunteers and staff"
The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space will hold its 17th annual space organizing conference in Seoul, South Korea on April 16-18, 2009. The group is made up of 150 peace groups around the world who are working to oppose the introduction of weapons and nuclear power into space. The theme for the annual conference will be Asian-Pacific Missile Defense and an End to the Arms Race in the region.
Ten Korean peace organizations, led by the Peace Network and the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, will host the 2009 Global Network space conference.
151 Congressmen profit from Iraq - April 3, 2009
Legislation Aims to Improve Veterans' Mental Health Services
By Eric Newhouse | truthout
Montana's senior US senator, Max Baucus, introduced an important piece of legislation last week that would require stepped-up mental health screenings for all America's combat troops.
It would cost an estimated $220 million over five years to implement nationally, but it would ratchet up standards of mental health care for combat vets to a higher level - and one that's uniform across the board.
The purpose for the testing - to be done every six months for the first two years after a soldier returns from combat - will be to identify post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or major depression resulting from combat, Baucus said.
Whether it's $900 billion, more than one trillion dollars, or even, in the long run, several trillion dollars, the spiraling costs of George Bush's wars -- one of which is now in the grim process of becoming "Obama's War" -- are indisputable. It's hardly less disputable that those wars to "protect" America from "global terror" have contributed significantly to the country's economic meltdown, that the harder we pursued (and continue to pursue) those wars abroad, the less safe the underpinnings of our world became. Thought of another way, that famous line of the cartoon character Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us," couldn't be more apt.
The "One" campaign against global poverty reports:
The Senate Budget Committee, chaired by Senator Kent Conrad, wants to cut $4 billion from the president's International Affairs Budget - the part of the budget funding almost all of our anti-poverty work.
By Jonathan Springston, Atlanta Progressive News
(APN) ATLANTA - The DeKalb County School Board is planning to open a military-style public high school in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps that would be the first of its kind in Georgia.
But veterans, peace groups, and other anti-war organizations are quickly mounting a campaign against the school, which so far has included writing letters and emails.
"I don't want to see the military taking over our high schools more than they already have," Michael Burke, a Vietnam veteran and member of the Georgia Veterans Alliance (GVA), told APN. "These kids are too young to be subjected to the seduction of the Marine Corps."
"I think this is too much military involvement in our schools," Sven Lovegren, another Vietnam veteran and member of GVA, said.
Soldiers who survive severe injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan can be at risk of developing infections in their wounds, U.S. researchers say.
I often bemoan how the media's policy of sanitizing combat images and its failure to report what the true face of war looks like have caused the public to be detached from the carnage wrought by the occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.
For nearly a decade, both wars have largely been reported by the media and explained to the public by lawmakers in statistical terms: thousands of U.S. soldiers killed in combat, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis dead, and three-quarters of a million veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress.
Perhaps the media is not entirely at fault for failing to provide deeper insight into the psychological impact the wars have had on more than one million U.S. veterans and their families.
Until recently, the press has been prohibited from photographing veterans returning from combat in flag-draped coffins, and funerals for the fallen were likewise off-limits.
But by relying heavily on numbers and press releases as a way of covering both conflicts, the public has been rendered incapable of experiencing or feeling any dramatic element associated with the devastation. It's a sad truth that the average person is unable to accurately say how many U.S. soldiers have been killed and wounded since the wars began (4,257 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, more than 31,000 wounded, 320,000 diagnosed with brain injuries).
Each year War Resisters League analyzes federal funds outlays as presented in detailed tables in “Analytical Perspectives” of the Budget of the United States Government. Our analysis is based on federal funds, which do not include trust funds — such as Social Security — that are raised separately from income taxes for specific purposes. What you pay (or don’t pay) by April 15, 2009, goes to the federal funds portion of the budget.
The War Resisters League spends a lot of time, energy and money to create this resource. Please credit when using. For permissions to reprint, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to view details of the FY2009 Pie Chart
FY 2010 Pie Chart details coming soon.
Orders can also be mailed to:
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The United States has failed to join with the International Community in signing on to an International Treaty banning the use of Cluster Bombs in the world, although it has made laws and has pending legislation which partially protects civilians from harm but falls far short of the provisions provided by the International Treaty. Too, U.S. military policy directly
contradicts the aims of disarming cluster bomb use.
By Sherwood Ross
Now that Obama has been in the White House awhile, I asked my friend Drew, a lifelong GOP contributor, to lunch at a seafood restaurant near his K Street office to see how he was managing to get along.
“So is your public relations business suffering since the Democrats are in power?” I began, to express my sympathy before our lobsters arrived. I knew Drew didn’t talk much once he became absorbed in cracking open the claws.
“Never been better!” he replied to my surprise. “I had four or five failing clients and Obama’s bailed every single one of them out. They have asked me to write Congressional testimony expressing their appreciation. I’ve just booked a Caribbean cruise for my whole family.”
“What a fantastic stroke of luck,” I said.
Erik Roberts, an Army sergeant who was wounded in Iraq, underwent his 13th surgery recently to save his right leg from amputation. Imagine his shock when he got a bill for $3,000 for his treatment.
"I just thought it was bull---- that I'm getting billed for being wounded in Iraq doing my job. I always put the mission first, and now that I was wounded in Iraq, they're sending me bills," he said.
"I put my life on the line and I was wounded in combat, and I came back and they're not going to take care of my medical bills?"
It's a level of outrage shared by his mother, as well as the doctor who performed the surgery.
Longer version with more detail and advice: HERE.
For Meetings with Congress Members and Senators
During April 4-19, 2009, Recess
Adjust to your communities’ priorities and to fit your representative and senators. Make the case to them of the necessary trade-off in defunding war in order to fund human needs. Make alliances with activist groups wishing to pressure elected officials on domestic funding needs and workers’ rights.
Oppose Escalation of War in Afghanistan and Pakistan
A bipartisan group of fourteen members of Congress recently wrote to the president asking him to reconsider his proposal to send more troops to Afghanistan. Your representative and senators should send similar letters, and should include opposition to missile strikes or the introduction of troops into Pakistan.
By John Nichols, The Nation
Members of Congress who actually care about crafting a budget that keeps America secure at home and abroad are beginning to express frustration with the Obama administration's plan to hike the Pentagon's already bloated budget by four percent.
"I have a question as to whether we need defense spending to go up by as much as it is," Iowa Senator Tom Harkin told reporters after a budget briefing that left the chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education subcommittee of the powerful Appropriations Committee worried about where he would find the money to meet mounting demands for education and health care spending on the domestic front.
Florida Veterans for Peace Mark 6th Anniversary of Iraqi Invasion
On the 6th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, St. Augustine People for Peace and Justice and Central Florida Veterans For Peace Chapter 136 sponsored a candlelight vigil in La Plaza de la Constitucion in St. Augustine. A black "Memorial Wall" bearing the names of the 4915 "official" U.S. Military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan lined the inner wall of the Plaza's gazebo. There was a flag-draped coffin and a flag flew at half mast. A group of about 30 people, including veterans of the conflicts in Vietnam, Panama and Grenada joined in reading the names of the 226 military deaths from Florida. A bugler then played taps and a moment of silence was observed. Food Not Bombs provided dinner.
Okay, the new Star Trek film -- you know, the prequel with space sex -- is premiering in Australia. Go figure. All I know is I'm not beaming there. On the other hand, I've already been in close communication with a Trekkie pal, and she and I have chosen our night here in New York. May 14th. See you then. (I'll be the one wearing the TomDispatch hat.)
In the meantime, retired Lieutenant Colonel William Astore, TomDispatch regular and another Trek fan -- okay, it's not exactly War and Peace, but give us a break -- was thinking recently about the strange history of Star Trek, the show that took John F. Kennedy's "new frontier" deep into TV space, even as Lyndon Johnson's U.S. was moving ever deeper into its disastrous war in Vietnam. Now here we are again, a new Star Trek forty-three years later, and this time, two "counterinsurgency" wars already growing desperately old, and one, in Afghanistan, heating up to a boil. If only we could stick to the movies. But since we can't, pop that bowl of popcorn, butter and salt it well, and let Astore take you through some wormhole into alternate American universes on that spaceship we're all riding, the USS Ameriprise. Tom
The women of the American Widow Project, an online support network and nonprofit organization dedicated to unifying a new generation of widows, are far from traditional. They surf, skydive and now road-trip to honor their husbands, who died serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Widows Taryn Davis and Nicole Hart, both 23, will spend most of the next few months driving cross-country, sleeping in campgrounds and knocking on doors. They are traveling to military towns, offering understanding and hope to an ever-growing band of sisters.
"I really believe if we can lessen the pain and lessen the grief that just one widow can go through, then we are accomplishing our mission," Davis told ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff.
Davis and Hart are traveling in a black RV custom-painted with the names of more than 4,000 of the fallen from Iraq and Afghanistan, including their husbands, Cpl. Michael Davis of San Marcos, Texas, and Sgt. David Hart of Lake View Terrace, Calif.
"We really just hope to, if anything, not have them disappear," Davis said.