News Releases

Trump’s Budget: Military Uber Alles

militaryspendingWILLIAM HARTUNG, williamhartung55 [at] gmail.com, @williamhartung

Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. He is the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.

He recently wrote a piece for The Nation, “We Can Fight Trump’s Cuts to Essential Government Programs,” which states: “Mick Mulvaney, has assembled a ‘hit list’ of agencies and programs to eliminate. … The proposed cuts have everything to do with right-wing ideology and nothing to do with fiscal responsibility. All of the programs slated for closing provide essential public services. All of the programs slated for closure, plus the proposed Planned Parenthood cuts, cost the federal government a combined total of about $3 billion per year. That grand totally amounts to one-half of one percent of, the current Pentagon budget, now runs at about $600 billion per year. And that’s before Trump’s pledge to throw an additional $1 trillion at that bloated department over the next ten years.

“Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation, which has aggressively pushed its skewed budget priorities on the new administration, tried to justify Trump’s ill-considered proposals: ‘I think it’s an important endeavor to try to get rid of things that are unnecessary… The American public has a lot of contempt for how government is run in Washington, in no small part because there is so much waste.’

“Moore’s claim is absurd on the face of it. First of all, supporting well-run programs like women’s health care, the arts, and legal services for the poor is not ‘waste.’ Suggesting that these programs are wasteful to any significant degree, as Moore has done, is what is really deserving of contempt. This is especially so when one considers the tens of billions of dollars of waste in the Pentagon budget, money that has absolutely nothing to do with defending the country or supporting the troops…

“Perhaps the biggest waste of all is the Pentagon’s preexisting plan to spend an estimated $1 trillion over the next three decades on a new generation of bombers, submarines, missiles, cruise missiles, and factory upgrades. Even if one believes there is a ‘need’ for nuclear weapons to deter another nation from launching a nuclear attack, independent experts have indicated that that function could be accomplished with a few hundred warheads. The current U.S. arsenal of deployed and stockpiled nuclear warheads numbers 4,500. And once the New START treaty is fully implemented, 1,550 of those warheads will be deployed and ready to launch. This needless nuclear excess is good news for Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics and terrible news for American taxpayers, not to mention the possible basis for a new nuclear arms race that would threaten us all. And of course, the only way to be truly safe from nuclear weapons is to get rid of them altogether, as presidents from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama have acknowledged, even if they were unable to achieve that admittedly daunting goal.”

COLLEEN KELLY, colleen [at] veteransforpeace.org, @vfpnational

Kelly is communications coordinator for Veterans for Peace. They just released a statement, which notes that following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001: “The U.S. went on to invade Iraq, overthrow the government in Libya and drop bombs in Syria,Yemen, Somalia and other nations. An October 16, 2016 New York Times article states, ‘This year alone, the United States has carried out airstrikes in seven countries and conducted Special Operations missions in many more.’

“The President plans to increase Pentagon spending by $54 billion, claiming that the U.S. military is broken and depleted. Mr. Trump recently spoke to service members aboard the new $13 billion USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier reiterating his call for more spending. Ironically the carrier is a real-life example of why more spending is not needed. U.S. military capabilities far outstrip all other nations. The carrier is an addition to a navy that was already unmatched by all others. With ten carriers, the U.S. has more than all other nations combined and the carriers are larger, providing more deck space per carrier than other nations. The U.S. Navy has thousands of aircraft, making it the second largest air force in the world behind the U.S. Air Force. The U.S. already spends almost three times what any other country spends on [the military] and more than the next nine countries combined.

“As citizens participating in self-government, it is our responsibility to ask, with this massive military capability and spending and endless global wars costing trillions, why are 15 years of war policy not working? Who is benefiting from more spending on killing and death?”

Brazil: As “Coup” Government Targets Retirement Benefits, General Strike Rocks Nation


B92764DF-2D4D-44FB-B068-F58C7C9B35BF_cx0_cy6_cw0_w250_r1_sALEXANDER MAIN, [in D.C.] via Dan Beeton, @ceprdc
Senior associate for international policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Main recently wrote the piece “
Congress must take attacks on Brazilian democracy seriously” for The Hill.

MARIA MENDONCA
Mendonca is project director for the Feminist Alliance for Rights at the Center for Global Women’s Leadership, Rutgers University.

She said today: “Yesterday, a large demonstration in Sao Paulo took 300,000 people to the streets with the slogan ‘Fora Temer’ [‘Out, Temer’]. He is targeting people’s retirement benefits.

“The general strike included bus and metro workers, bank workers, metallurgical and chemical workers, teachers and other public workers all over the country.

“[Temer’s proposal would establish] that workers can only retire when they are 65 yeas old, when the average life expectancy in Brazil is 72.

“Most workers would need to contribute for 49 years to be able to receive full retirement benefits. Many will die before that.

“Low income women, domestic workers, teachers, farmworkers and other vulnerable sectors that work under harmful conditions will suffer even more.

“This ‘reform’ particularly harms women, who earn up to 30 percent less than men.

“Many specialists explain that there is no deficit in the pension system, which is the argument for the proposed reform.

“This fiction was created by the Temer administration to undermine labor rights. And this policy will not help improve the economy. It will generate more economic and social instability.

“The constitutional amendment proposed by the Temer administration will undermine fundamental rights established by the Democratic Constitution of 1988.

“This illegitimate government [of Temer] that took power after a parliamentary coup against elected president Dilma Rousseff is implementing policies that violate basic rights, taking the country back to a situation similar to the years of military dictatorship.”

President of Physicians’ Group Speaks Out at Trump Rally

IMG_4776CAROL PARIS, M.D.  @CarolParis7
Dr. Paris is president of  Physicians for a National Health Program.

She was just profiled in The Tennessean: “Meet the protester who interrupted Trump’s Rally.” See video, which shows Paris repeatedly shouting: “Put your name on a plan that works — Medicare for All.”

She said today: “Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) identified the inherent flaws in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 and has continued to criticize its shortcomings over the past seven years. Now we have the American Health Care Act (AHCA) legislation which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has recently scored. It confirms what we expected: The AHCA takes from the poor and gives to the rich.

“‘Trumpcare’ is a rebranded ‘Obamacare,’ now only meaner and leaner. Last night, I took the opportunity to speak directly to President Trump at the rally he held in my home town of Nashville, Tenn. I had previously tried to contact Mr. Trump about my concerns, sending a letter requesting a meeting, followed by an open letter signed by several health policy experts and businessman Richard Master, whose documentary ‘Fix It’ details the business argument for a universal ‘Medicare for All’ plan.

“I meant no disrespect to the President or his supporters. I simply did what I felt I had to do as a physician and American. Tens of thousands of people are dying needlessly due to lack of health insurance, and millions are suffering with financial burdens due to unaffordable health insurance and unaffordable health care. I know that a simple solution has already been introduced into the House of Representatives called H.R. 676 — Expanded and Improved Medicare for All.

“I am still requesting that meeting, Mr. President.”

For more background, see, by Dr. Margaret Flowers, “Dr. Paris Successfully Interrupts Trump’s Rally with Single Payer Message.”

Arab Women Leaders Point to Arms Sales as Cause of Insecurity

IMG_4633Bloomberg reports: “Trump Wins Saudi Praise for ‘Turning Point’ After Meeting Prince” about Trump’s meeting yesterday with Mohammed bin Salman, the “31-year-old son of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his country’s defense minister.”

The following activists from Somalia and Morocco are in the U.S. for a limited time. They came to the U.S. to speak at this year’s session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which just started at the UN. Best to contact in the U.S. via Preeti Mangala Shekar, communications coordinator for the Feminist Alliance for Rights (FAR), which organized their U.S. visit.

HIBAAQ OSMAN, @el_karama

From Somalia, Osman is the founder of Karama, a movement to end violence against women and ensure sustainable, inclusive peace and democracy in the Arab region.

FATIMA OUTALEB

From Morocco, Outaleb is the Middle East and North Africa representative for the Global Network of Women Shelters. She is a founding director of Karama.

In a statement, FAR notes that Outaleb and Osman “advocate for peace as a result of investments in education, health, transportation and food infrastructure, which are basic goods for a dignified life and form the basis for social and economic stability. ‘Peace is not in our hands,’ Outaleb said, ‘governments know how to make peace, but arms trade and oil is what equates to money.’

“They pointed out that the United Nations already has mechanisms to facilitate peace negotiations, such as Security Resolution (SR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, which has the potential to create and sustain peace, yet it is too often underutilized or not properly executed by member states.”

In “UN: World facing greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945,” the BBC recently reported: “UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien said that more than 20 million people faced the threat of starvation and famine in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria.”

For Outaleb and Osman, the current refugee crises are a “direct result of arms trade, destruction and bombing of countries in the region. The massive displacement of people is a result of this violence, so they have no alternative but to flee in desperation from cities that have been destroyed. Despite the urgency of this humanitarian crisis, the United States and European countries, which have a direct role in arms sales and bombing of these countries, refuse to deal with the underlying causes of war and conflict. In the United States, the recent policy issued by the Trump administration is a clear example, which Outlaleb emphasized, ‘let’s be clear, it is not a travel ban, it is a Muslim ban.'”

Osman added: “The Saudis come before other Muslims as the custodians of Mecca and Medina, so you’d think that they would at least use their economic influence on an issue like Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry. Instead, we see the Saudis buying a lot of weapons from the U.S. …

“A lot of people in Somalia will tell you some don’t want peace because it won’t benefit them. The people paying for wars are rarely the ones in the corridors of power. People are dying for lack of water, medicine and it’s too rarely in the headlines. Intervention is not about helping people to build a country — it’s to kill some enemy or pursue some agenda. Internal to a country like Somalia, you have people fighting to position themselves — it’s not about principles. These violent factions frequently become used by outside powers.

“In Somalia, we had a stable situation with the Islamic Courts Union. It was clearly lacking in democratic principles, but at least it created a secure situation for the public. Then, the U.S. gave the green light for Ethiopia to invade and we’ve been plagued by fighting, terrorism and drone strikes since then. But obviously, we have to take responsibility for our situation — we need to build organizations for a just and peaceful society.”

Background: From Antiwar.com: “Saudi Airstrike Kills 26, Mostly Civilians, in Yemen.”

The British Independent reports: “Donald Trump’s State Department approves Saudi Arabia weapons sales blocked by Barack Obama.”

Defense One recently reported in “Obama’s Final Arms-Export Tally More than Doubles Bush’s” that: “Saudi Arabia has been the largest recipient, reaping prospective deals worth more than $115 billion, according to notices announcing the deals that were sent to Congress for approval.”

How Liberals Collaborated with McCarthyism: Then and Now

McCarthyismELLEN SCHRECKER, ellen.schrecker [at] gmail.com
    A retired professor of American history at Yeshiva University, Schrecker is a leading authority on McCarthyism. Her books include Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America and No Ivory Tower: McCarthyism in the Universities.

She said today: “When President Trump accused his predecessor of McCarthyism for supposedly wiretapping his headquarters during the presidential election, he was wrong. Whatever happened — if anything did — it definitely wasn’t McCarthyism.

“Although surveillance of hundreds, if not thousands, of American citizens was a feature of that bad old phenomenon, McCarthyism was a much broader campaign to eliminate an unpopular political, and allegedly dangerous, movement from American life. It could return.

“But in a different form. ‘Islamic extremists’ and their supporters, not Communists and theirs, might be the target. Immigrants already are. Proposed blacklists — of anti-conservative professors, allegedly Russian-oriented websites, and who knows what else — are sprouting up. And, if we think about personalities, we should recall that McCarthy with his wildly fabricated charges of communist subversion was often out of control.

“But, what is critical and what is poorly understood is how much what we call McCarthyism depended on the willing collaboration of liberals and moderates who normalized its anti-communist hysteria. Hubert Humphrey not only backed the Internal Security Act of 1950, originally sponsored by Richard Nixon, but even added provisions for concentration camps for Communists.

“Universities are particularly endangered. Professors are becoming an endangered species as their alleged ‘political correctness’ is being used as a pretext to attack higher education. While right-wing activists create blacklists of undesirable academics, campuses are under considerable pressure to silence critics of the present government in Israel.

“The net effect of the acquiescence of liberals and moderates, not to mention the legitimation of white nationalism by the present government, could result, as it did in the Fifties, in the further silencing of the left, the elimination of substantive controversy, and a normalization of right-wing extremism.”

“Meet the New Muslim Ban, Harsher Than the Old Muslim Ban”

ARUN GUPTA, arun.indypendent [at] gmail.com, @arunindy
Independent reporter Gupta just wrote the piece “Meet the New Muslim Ban, Harsher Than the Old Muslim Ban,” which states: “The new order appears to be narrower in scope, at least initially. It claims to exclude ‘categories of aliens that have prompted judicial concerns.’ Green-card holders, dual citizens, and Syrian refugees are exempt from the blanket ban. Iraq is no longer on the list of affected countries, and the order allows for exceptions from the other targeted countries and for refugees on a ‘case-by-case’ basis.

“Nonetheless, on March 7, the state of Hawaii filed suit in federal court on behalf of the state and Ismail Elshikh, PhD, the Imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii. The state claims Trump’s order harms Elshikh by preventing his Syrian mother-in-law from visiting her family in Hawaii. The state asserts the Trump Administration is acting ‘arbitrarily and capriciously’ in its choice of countries on the banned list. ….

“The revised order affords the Trump Administration wide latitude in broadening the scope of the order later on, with language that will allow the profiling of entire countries so as to exclude their citizens. It states that the U.S. government will conduct ‘a worldwide review’ to determine what ‘additional information will be needed from each foreign country’ to assess the application of any person from one of the specified countries seeking admission to the United States so as to ensure they are ‘not a security or public-safety threat.’

“The order adds that ‘At any point … the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, may submit to the President the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment.’ And, ‘The Secretary of Homeland Security may conclude that certain information is needed from particular countries even if it is not needed from every country.’

“Put together, this language could enable wildly differing criteria for nationals from one country to the next, as well as countries coming on and off the list at the whim of the White House.”

Lies and Carnage in Yemen

HA066__03HF0-1Iona Craig’s piece “Women and Children in Yemeni Village Recall Horror of Trump’s ‘Highly Successful’ SEAL Raid” was published by the Intercept today.

Geopolitics Alert recently published the piece “U.S. Can’t Eliminate Al-Qaeda While Supporting Its Sponsors.”

ANDREW COCKBURN, @andrewmcockburn

Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine, Cockburn is available for a limited number of interviews. His most recent book is Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins.

He wrote the piece “Acceptable Losses Aiding and abetting the Saudi slaughter in Yemen,” which states: “Just a few short years ago, Yemen was judged to be among the poorest countries in the world, ranking 154th out of the 187 nations on the U.N.’s Human Development Index. One in every five Yemenis went hungry. Almost one in three was unemployed. Every year, 40,000 children died before their fifth birthday, and experts predicted the country would soon run out of water.

“Such was the dire condition of the country before Saudi Arabia unleashed a bombing campaign in March 2015, which has destroyed warehouses, factories, power plants, ports, hospitals, water tanks, gas stations, and bridges, along with miscellaneous targets ranging from donkey carts to wedding parties to archaeological monuments.”

U.S. Korea Deployment and Korean Elections

The Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reports: “The question of whether or not Park Geun-hye will be removed from the presidency will be determined on Mar. 10 at 11 a.m., the Constitutional Court announced on Mar. 8.” [Thursday at 9 p.m. D.C. time]

The left-wing, citizen-owned newspaper editorializes: “Ramming through THAAD deployment both irresponsible and dangerous.”

HYUN LEE, [in NYC] zoominkorea [at] gmail.com
Managing editor of ZoominKorea, which features the new piece “U.S. Considers First-Strike Attack on North Korea,” Lee wrote the piece “North Korea: Trump’s First Foreign Policy Test in Asia.”

TIM SHORROCK, [in D.C.] timshorrock [at] gmail.com, @TimothyS
Shorrock is an independent journalist who has written extensively on Korea. He grew up in Korea and Japan. He said today: “The court’s decision … will almost certainly lead to a snap election in which the opposition party is favored to win (I may be there for it — I’ll be in South Korea all of April and May).” See Shorrock’s blog “Money Doesn’t Talk, it Swears,” which features his writing, including a recent piece: “Congress and North Korea: Diplomacy Not on the Table.” http://timshorrock.com/

Shorrock continued: “Park’s ousting and the coming election have tremendous implications for the U.S. The Trump administration and the conservative South Korean government have just dispatched the THAAD system to South Korea, which is opposed by a majority of Koreans and the opposition party. Many in the opposition also want a less confrontational stance towards both North Korea and China, which has basically launched a boycott of trade and tourism with the South to protest the THAAD deployment. For months, the Pentagon and its think tanks have been warning of the dangers of a Korean opposition victory in this year’s presidential election because they fear losing their militaristic partner in Seoul. Americans need to be aware of how the U.S. is trampling on the democratic rights of South Koreans who oppose THAAD by its unilateral deployment and of the dangers to the entire region of a war that would be sparked by the military strikes on the North that are being contemplated by U.S. and South Korean officials.”

Shorrock’s books include Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing.

Doctors on Republican House Health Plan

ROBERT ZARR, M.D., rlzarr [at] yahoo.com, @doczarr
Zarr is a board-certified pediatrician at Unity Health Care in Washington, D.C., where he cares for a low-income and immigrant population. He is past president of Physicians for a National Health Program.

ADAM GAFFNEY, M.D., gaffney.adam [at] gmail.com, @awgaffney
Gaffney is a national board member of Physicians for a National Health Program and a practicing pulmonologist at Cambridge Health Alliance and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

He said today: “The long-awaited House Republican Obamacare replacement law, released Monday, would be terrible for America. While the well-off would benefit from tax-cuts, the sick and the poor would suffer from cutbacks in Medicaid and insurance subsidies. GOP Care would therefore take us farther, not closer, to universal healthcare, a goal that is achievable only through single payer reform.”

Trump Promises U.S. Steel in Pipelines; A Russian Oligarch Profits

Pipeline1STEVE HORN, steve [at] desmogblog.com, @SteveAHorn
Horn is an investigative journalist and writer for DeSmogBlog.com. See his recent writing exposing many aspects of the fossil fuel industry. He recently broke the story: “Behind Trump’s Push for ‘American Steel’ in Pipelines, Another Russian Company with Putin Ties Stands to Benefit,” which states:

“In his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) … President Donald Trump commemorated the one-month anniversary of his executive orders calling for the approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, as well as one calling for U.S. pipelines to get their line pipe steel from U.S. facilities.

“‘I said, who makes the pipes for the pipeline?’ Trump told the CPAC crowd. ‘If they want a pipeline in the United States, they’re going to use pipe that’s made in the United States, do we agree?’

“But while the pipe may be made in the U.S., as DeSmog has shown in previous investigations, ownership tells a different story. Enter: TMK IPSCO, a massive producer of steel for U.S. oil country tubular goods (OCTG) and line pipe, and a subsidiary of TMK Group. A DeSmog investigation has found ties between TMK Group’s Board of Directors and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“TMK Group was incorporated in 2001, and in 2008, TMK IPSCO opened its doors as a U.S. subsidiary with a heavy focus on making oilfield pipes on behalf of companies performing hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) techniques in the Marcellus Shale basin located in the northeast U.S. TMK IPSCO, which has said it wants to be a direct competitor of U.S. Steel Corporation in the Marcellus, also makes steel for companies doing fracking in the Bakken Shale basin, located primarily in North Dakota.

“TMK Group also has a subsidiary named TMK Completions, which manufactures ‘multi-stage completion systems and tools for both uncemented and cemented well completion designs’ for the fracking process. TMK did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this story.”

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