Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I WANT YOU TO BE RESPONSIBLE

President Obama will hold a "fiscal responsibility summit" in Washington next Monday with the goal of reining in government spending. Watch out.

With our federal budget deficit heading toward $1.4 trillion this year, or nearly 10% of our overall economy, something must be done. Look out.

Obama adviser John Podesta says the summit is the first step in a process to help the public "understand how the financial balance sheet of the federal government comes back into order."

Translation: Middle class and poor folks are going to really get nailed.

According to the Washington Post Obama's team has invited big business, economists and a range of other "special interests" to the event which will feature five breakout sessions. Larry Summers (refer to Naomi Klein interview here) will lead the discussion on Social Security. Hold onto your hat.

Former Republican senator Jon Danforth calls it a "media event." He's right, they are preparing the American people for the clamp-down.

The Post also reports that one of the key goals of the summit is, "Controlling spending on a vast social safety net for the elderly and the poor that threatens to bankrupt the government."

Then they say, "Lawmakers also will be asked to dedicate more money to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and perhaps another round of cash to prop up the crippled financial system and to stimulate the sagging economy."

Translation: They want to cut Medicare and Social Security so they can fund two wars and more bailouts for Wall Street. And they will call it "fiscal responsibility." Watch out for this kind of change, it will kill you.

Each day we get another tiny glimpse of the Obama plan. When he went to Canada this past week he told our neighbors to the north that his campaign promise to renegotiate the NAFTA trade agreement would "have to wait."

You might remember that during the campaign one of his top economic aides went to Canada and was caught, in an unguarded moment, telling them that Obama didn't really mean all this fair trade talk about changing NAFTA, it was only a campaign tactic. So in a way he kept this promise - to the Canadians anyway.

Obama is being credited by the Washington pundits as "changing his tone." So he got off Bush's horse, took off his six-shooter holster, and is now "projecting an image of competence and reengagement." In the end most of the big economic and military policies will be much the same but the tone will be more gentle and inclusive.

What about our side? Well, on Tuesday next week, the day after Obama's fiscal responsibility media event, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) will hold a briefing in Washington on his proposal to cut the military budget by 25%. He is inviting organizations to come to the event and to then go home and build support for this version of "fiscal responsibility." So we do have a horse in this race being led by Rep. Frank and it is up to us out here in the hinterlands to put a saddle on it and grab Paul Revere's lantern and begin riding the local circuit and sounding the alarm - "Fiscal responsibility is coming, cut the military budget."

You see there is a war going on inside the Democratic party today. It's a battle between those who want to enable the corporations and those who want to help the people who put them into office. It's time to pick a side in this contest.

We can see the score now. How it turns out is up to you. Take responsibility or face the consequences.

Friday, February 20, 2009

ANXIOUS FOR SPRING

It's snowing here again today. A lighter snow than we had yesterday. Thursday's snow was very wet and shoveling it was like trying to move wet cement. We got our new roof rake which has a very long skinny wobbly handle but I was able to go up onto the back porch landing and rake off a ton of the wet stuff. Then of course I had to remove the snow from the landing - double work. By the time I was finished my gloves were soaked. It costs us $35 to have our long and wide driveway plowed and it breaks my heart to think we have to have it done again today.

OK, I am willing to admit to my friends in Florida that I am ready for spring! (I didn't say I am ready to move back to Florida. I just said I'm ready for spring.)

We are also running out of seasoned wood. Lately we've been mixing in wood not quite cured enough to burn. Quite a few folks we know around here have the same problem. We've had some really cold spells this winter and I guess we just burned the wood up like crazy.

As you can see in the photo above my Baltimore Orioles are down in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for spring training. They are trying a youth movement this spring to see if that will help them stop their 10 losing seasons in a row. They have 37 pitchers trying out for 13 jobs. (Sounds like the present unemployment crisis doesn't it?) They made a couple smart trades this winter and they have baseball's best young prospect in the minor leagues banging on the clubhouse door. I know I am risking losing you right now if I don't stop with all this........

But for me baseball is the call of spring. Growing up it was hard to concentrate in school once baseball season started. I just wanted to be outside playing catch. I used to bring my hat and glove to school and throw the ball with my buddies every chance I had during recess. I was not very interested in math, science, or English once the smell of the new grasses filled the air. Things haven't changed much now except our grass is still covered in snow.

All I ever really wanted to be was a baseball coach. Then I found I couldn't turn away from the madness of the world. But every spring I get pulled back again to the sound of the crack of the bat hitting the ball, the pop of the pitcher throwing the ball into the catchers mitt, and the sounds of the crowd at a game.

Baseball also means optimism. For a few weeks before the season starts every fan entertains the notion that their team just might be able to make a run for the pennant this year. Even with the evidence of 10 losing seasons behind me I still have hope for change - at least for awhile anyway.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

U.S. CATCHING HELL ON FOREIGN POLICY

The people of Vicenza, Italy have vigorously opposed plans for a new US air base in their community
130 Czech mayors rallied in Brussels yesterday at the European Union in opposition to
US plans for a Star Wars radar base in their country

Without trying to sound overly dramatic, I think it is fair to say that people around the world detested George W. Bush. President Obama has a short "window of opportunity" to win back hearts and minds as they say. His announcement this week of the troop "surge" in Afghanistan is not a brilliant start.

People in other lands are fed up with the U.S. empire which now numbers more than 800 military bases and come at an astronomical cost to the taxpayers of our nation.

Here are a few highlights from around the globe:

* Calling themselves "the invisibles" protesters paraded outside the EU parliament in Brussels yesterday while 130 Czech mayors assembled inside to speak with many members of the legislative body. Solidarity protests, also using same the white "invisible" costumes, were held throughout major European cities. The invisible theme represents the fact that 70% of the people in the Czech Republic oppose plans for the US Star Wars radar facility in their country. It is not yet known how Obama will move on this Bush deployment plan.

* The New York Times today says, "The Parliament of Kyrgyzstan voted Thursday to terminate the American military’s eight-year lease on an air base outside the capital, Bishkek, and President Kurmanbek Bakiyev is expected to send Washington an official notification requiring it to vacate the base within six months...... The closure of the base, a key logistical hub for American forces in Afghanistan, is a serious complication for President Obama’s plans to deploy as many as 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan over the next two years. The base, in Mana, provides transit facilities for thousands of personnel and 500 tons of cargo each month, and is used by the tanker aircraft that refuel fighter planes on combat missions over Afghanistan."

* Speaking of Afghanistan, 40% of all deaths in that war in 2008 were civilians. This is causing much anger with the people there who are resoundingly demanding that US and NATO forces leave their country. Writing for the International Herald Tribune, William Pfaff asks, "Exactly what do we think we are doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan?" Obama's answer so far is looking for Osama Bin-laden. Do we still believe that one?

* Anti-War.com reports: International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei says that Israel’s status as the Middle East’s only nuclear power and its only non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is a major obstacle to efforts for global nuclear disarmament. “What compounds the problem is that the nuclear non-proliferation regime has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of Arab public opinion because of the perceived double-standards concerning Israel, the only state in the region outside the NPT and known to possess nuclear weapons.” Though Israel has never formally admitted to its arsenal, it is widely known that it has a considerable number of nuclear weapons. The US is seen by the rest of the world as enabling Israel's nuclear weapons development while lecturing Iran about the evils of nukes. Recently Obama refused to even acknowledge that Israel had nukes which only helped raise the hairs on every one's back throughout the Middle East.

* Germany's Spiegel Online recently reported that top NATO commander in Afghanistan, US General John Craddock, has issued a "guidance" providing NATO troops with the authority "to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan." According to the document, deadly force is to be used even in those cases where there is no proof that suspects are actively engaged in the armed resistance against the Afghanistan government or against Western troops. It is "no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective," Craddock writes. German NATO General Ramms made it perfectly clear in his answer to General Craddock that he was not prepared to deviate from the current rules of engagement for attacks, which reportedly deeply angered Craddock.

* Despite ordering the closing of Guantanamo Bay Obama has ordered that the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the US. Intelligence officials say the rendition program will play an expanded role because it is the key remaining mechanism—aside from Predator missile strikes—for taking "suspected terrorists" out of circulation. The rendition program became a source of embarrassment for the CIA, and a target of international controversy, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures, mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries where they were tortured. The European Parliament has condemned renditions as an "illegal instrument used by the United States." Prisoners swept up in the program have sued the CIA as well as a subsidiary of Boeing Corp., which is accused of working with the agency on dozens of rendition flights.

* 2009 is the 60th anniversary of NATO and the US-led alliance is planning big celebrations in Europe to promote their expanded global role as an extension of US foreign and military policy. In 1999, seeking to justify its existence after the collapse of the former Soviet Union, NATO acknowledged that it was seeking to orient itself according to a new fundamental strategic concept. From a narrow military defense alliance it was to become a broad-based alliance for the protection of the vital resource needs (oil/natural gas/etc) of its member states. Besides being mired in Afghanistan today, NATO is now expanding eastward as a tool in the aggressive US program to surround resource rich Russia. There are even discussions now within NATO to take the alliance into the Asian-Pacific to help the US militarily surround China.

From April 3-5, 40 heads of state and government leaders, including President Obama, will come to Strasbourg, France and Baden-Baden, Germany for 60th anniversary events. In response to these events activists from throughout Europe are planning protests in Strasbourg during the period of April 1-5. In order to plan these events 500 activists from 19 countries met at Marc Bloch University in Strasbourg, on February 14-15.

The No to War - No to NATO coalition issued a statement after their meeting that reads in part: "60 years are more than enough – this is the consensus uniting the participants of the peace, anti-globalization movements, leftist parties and organizations, Trade Unions, and student initiatives. They stand against the war policy of NATO, against today's wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, against the intervention strategy and reinforce their claim to 'No to NATO'. They refuse to accept the EU linked with NATO and ask for a drastic reduction of military spending: we do not want to pay for your crisis , nor for your wars."

NATO of course is responding by trying to keep the protests away from Strasbourg. They have arranged for the city government to outlaw protests. In response No to NATO says, "We want to express our rejection of this kind of politics and want to give the citizens of Strasbourg and the social movements the opportunity to publicize their rejection without any obstacles. These are the demands for the prefecture which turned down the proposal of the NATO Preparatory Committee to demonstrate against NATO in the inner city of Strasbourg on 4th of April. The implementation of the NATO Summit will turn Strasbourg into a fortress; this is not acceptable for its own citizens and for the thousands of peaceful demonstrators form all parts of the world.

"Extraordinary security parameters will be enacted: the establishment of a red zone, the labelling of the citizens, the establishment of an all-encompassing new video surveillance system. For us this staging of heads of states in the city centre of Strasbourg – a closed off city – and its inhabitants who will be unable to have a normal daily life, having no freedom of movement, is unbearable and makes it impossible for us to unveil NATO's real face. Whereas the citizens will pay for the summit and the glorified presentation of NATO their dissenting opinion is to be marginalized."

For activists back here in the US it should be reassuring and exciting for us to see so much effort being organized to shut down the US empire. But we have to do our part as well. We can start by calling for the closing of US bases and for major cuts by Congress in the Pentagon's bloated budget. None of us have to do this on our own. When we work together as a globalized movement we can really begin to make progress.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

MORE ON MILITARY BASES CONFERENCE

* More than 100 years after the colonial Spanish-American war, the U.S. has military bases in Guam, the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico. More than 60 years after the end of WWII and 50 after the end of the Korean War, we have 124 base sites in Germany, 124 in Japan, and 87 in South Korea. Even as we recognize the central importance of diplomacy, new bases are being acquired in Latin America, Central Europe and Central Asia.

* Overseas bases are too expensive, especially in a time of economic crisis.
- Costs are estimated at around $140 billion per year.
- Unlike domestic bases, overseas bases suck taxpayer money away from the US.
- They suck money away from critical needs at home and abroad.
- Much of the spending enriches private base contractors like corruption-plagued KBR.

* Our overseas basing structure is damaging our national security not making us safer.
- As in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan, overseas bases become lighting rods for attacks on the US, encouraging resentment, radicalism, and anti-Americanism. Even in countries like Japan and Germany, their negative impacts on “host communities” have resulted in suffering, resentments and protests.
- Overseas bases often harm the nation’s reputation, engender grievances and anger, and create antagonistic rather than cooperative relationships with other nations.

* Overseas bases do not stabilize dangerous regions of the world. They destabilize them.
- They encourage skyrocketing levels of militarization.

- They enlarge the security threat to other nations who respond by boosting military spending.

* Overseas bases increase the likelihood of war
- They encourage our leaders to opt for military rather than diplomatic resolution of conflicts by making it easier and thus more likely to resort to deadly, catastrophic wars, like the war in Iraq, or military interventions in countries like Nicaragua or Somalia.

* Overseas bases inflict terrible costs on local communities and nations.
- Some of the costs include environmental damage, health hazards, social and cultural disruption, increased violence against women, crime, and prostitution.

* Overseas bases inflict painful costs on military families, separating personnel from loved ones and disrupting family life with frequent deployment shifts around the globe.

* Overseas bases lead us to support dictators and repressive, undemocratic regimes.
- Examples include Uzbekistan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

* Congress should hold hearings to examine the overseas basing structure, including its constitutional responsibility to approve SOFAs which are, functionally, treaties.

* We must begin to close our overseas bases to help ensure our and others security. Closing military bases also necessitates cleaning up and removing military toxics so that these sites can safely be put to other uses.

These are the issues that will be featured at the upcoming Security Without Empire: National Organizing Conference on Foreign Military Bases that will be held at American University in Washington DC on February 27-March 2. A protest vigil at the Pentagon will kick off the weekend beginning at 4:00 pm on February 27.

For registration information see the conference web site at: www.projectonmilitarybases.org

REMEMBERING HIROSHIMA - I MEAN GAZA

Who will see?

And who will speak up about the genocide?

Who will remember as the world moves on to other "more important" issues?

The expendable people will perish over time.

Ownership of the land will shift to the new settlers coming from New York city or some other place far away.

But few will notice.

Few really care.

We are like the walking dead now.

We rarely feel.

We've lost our ability to mourn.

Especially for those who have been labeled with the word terrorist by the headline writers of the daily newspaper.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

READING THE TEA LEAVES

Activists in South Korea protest at US embassy calling for dialogue with the north

I've got several things on my mind today - the economic collapse, the recruitment of our children into the military, and Hillary Clinton over in Japan threatening North Korea. So here goes.

A short video I saw this morning over at AfterDowningStreet's web site got me started again on this rant. The video is called America's Controlled Economic Implosion. The bottom line is that the oligarchy is trying to drive the economy into the ground as a way to essentially undertake the largest transfer of wealth in our nation's history. You can watch the video for yourself right here. In one part of the video you see Rep. Dennis Kucinich saying to one of the Treasury Department operatives "Our question is who you are working for?" My sentiments exactly.

If you read the interview with Naomi Klein below you see her talking about the role Larry Summers played, while at Harvard University, helping to transfer the wealth of Russia into the hands of the oligarchy after the dismantling of the former Soviet Union. So it's not a matter of Wall Street ineptness here - I see it as an intentional process of taking us down to our knees. And most importantly, I see that Obama's team of economic disaster pirates are playing the same grab-and-go strategy as Bush's did. Correct me if I am wrong on this one?

The second thing is about recruitment of kids into the military. This morning I got an email from Veterans for Peace about a place called the Army Experience Center that is inside a shopping mall in Northeast Philadelphia. The photo that went with the email (I couldn't copy it) had a bunch of kids sitting on a Humvee shooting military weapons at this recruiting center in the mall. Reports put the cost of the center at $12 million. Veterans for Peace in Philadelphia just held at protest at the place as a way to draw attention to what is going on there. Good because this place is bad news for us.

I've long been saying that under corporate globalization, or call it the new world order, every country will have a different role. My reading of the tea leaves is that our role, from what I've heard the Pentagon say over the past few years, will be security export.

It's no coincidence we have no manufacturing base in this country any longer. It's no coincidence that we are losing jobs like crazy. It's no coincidence that news reports in the last few days have said military recruitment is picking up because of the economic collapse. The power structure has a plan for us and we don't talk much about it. We rush around putting out fires but do a poor job in our movements of connecting the dots and analyzing the "strategic situation" at hand. We don't do enough talking in our political work about this larger picture so the public can get a better handle on what is really coming down.

Our kids are being prepared for a life of endless war - with few other options. Why in hell are we not screaming our lungs out about this?

The last thing is Clinton - our new Secretary of State. I'm tracking her and Gates (DoD), and Gen. Jones (National Security Adviser) in order to get a sense where Obama is going on foreign policy. Clinton is over in Japan right now and this morning a New York Times article says: Mrs. Clinton also warned North Korea not to undertake a test of a ballistic missile, as it has threatened in recent days. “The possible missile launch that North Korea is talking about would be very unhelpful in moving our relationship forward,” she said after a meeting with the Japanese foreign minister, Hirofumi Nakasone.....Mr. Nakasone said he was not concerned that “the U.S. policy toward North Korea is going to change in any significant way.”

What right does the US have in telling North Korea that they had better not test a missile? Hell, we do it practically every day from Cape Canaveral in Florida, or Vandenberg AFB in California, or White Sands missile test range in New Mexico. The arrogance and double-standard seems to still be a central part of US foreign policy, even under this new administration. Please show me the change?

I'm just trying to read the road signs today. I don't much like what they are telling me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

NAOMI KLEIN ON OBAMA

Here is an interview with Naomi Klein that was printed in the February issue of The Progressive magazine.

The Progressive interview begins with the following introduction of Klein. Matthew Rothschild, the editor of the magazine, conducted the interview.

A columnist for The Nation and The Guardian, Klein published the monumental book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism in 2007, which systematically refutes the claim that democracy and free markets are inseparable. In part, the book is a history of U.S. imperialism since the overthrow of Allende’s Chile. And in part, it’s an exposé on how Milton Friedman and the Chicago school of economics, the U.S. Treasury, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank all do the bidding of U.S. corporations and banks, especially in times of crisis.

Klein was recently profiled in The New Yorker, which called her “the most visible and influential figure on the American left—what Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky were thirty years ago.”


Q: What was your first reaction to Obama’s victory?

Naomi Klein: Well, I made a really conscious choice that I was going to enjoy the night. Obviously, I’m keenly aware of what a centrist Obama is, and that there will be lots of disappointments to follow. But that doesn’t negate the power of that evening. I have some really hard-core anarchist friends, and I told them, “Listen, you’re not going to take this night away from me. I will not hear it the night of.” I was in Washington, D.C., and it was a fantastic night in D.C. It was the night the service sector owned the city.

Q: How so?

Klein: That night I was walking to the apartment where my husband stays, and passing by this really elite, storied club. I always look in the window. It looks like the kind of place where Central American coups are plotted. On this night, a half hour after the results had been announced, there were these two African American men high-fiving each other outside the club. One of them was the doorman for this private club, and the other was a chauffeur for one of the club members. As I was passing, one of the club members came out looking just miserable. He was sort of a Daddy Warbucks character, with just an absolute scowl on his face. I watched these two men who had just been celebrating go back to their posts. One of them opened the door of the club, and the other opened the door of the waiting limousine. And they shared this smile. I just thought: Wow! This is a night where the people holding the doors are having a way better time than the people walking through the doors. And that’s pretty rare in that city.

Q: What kind of movement do you think there is behind Obama, and how do progressives hold him accountable?

Klein: That remains to be seen. We’re in uncharted territory here. The Obama machine is a very weird mix between the most elite Wall Street funding, and the most grassroots, small scale, community organizing models. These two forces brought Obama to power.

Q: Is the community organizer going to win out, or is the collector from Wall Street?

Klein: When you ignite that kind of energy, you can’t necessarily control it. But the Obama campaign has the list. And he is sending a mixed message: He’s saying I’m going to need you. But what does that mean? Is he going to call rallies of hundreds of thousands of people to put pressure on him? No sitting Presidents call rallies to protest themselves. So there has to be a way to break free from that electoral machine.

Q: What do you make of this group of corporatists and Clinton retreads that are surrounding Obama on the economic front?

Klein: I would say it’s disappointing, but we don’t have a right to be disappointed. This is who surrounded Obama during the whole campaign. He’s been taking advice from Larry Summers and Bob Rubin and Paul Volcker all along. He opened up the circle a little bit to people like Joseph Stiglitz and Robert Reich. But to me it’s just shocking—and I know we shouldn’t be shocked—that Larry Summers is [a leading economic adviser]. And even more shocking to me—and I don’t know how to say this in a politically correct way—is that the main thing that people are objecting to is what Summers said at Harvard about women’s aptitude in science. It was an offensive thing to say, and he lost his job for it. But that, to me, is so much less of a crime than the fact that he was the main architect in Treasury for the shock therapy in Russia that impoverished sixty million people—and did a lot of harm to women. He cheer led Boris Yeltsin as he attacked the Russian parliament, dissolved democracy, and suspended the constitution.

And Summers played a key role in the shock therapy in Thailand and South Korea in 1998. So he has a dismal track record. He was standing by Clinton’s side when Clinton abolished Glass-Steagall, which is the key piece of legislation that would have prevented the financial crisis we’re in now. He fought tooth and nail alongside Alan Greenspan to prevent the derivatives industry from being regulated.

The reason I’m so upset about this is because we’re paying the price for the deliberate amnesia that so many of us signed onto during the Bush years, where we were allowed to say whatever we wanted that was critical about U.S. policy, even about the free market, if we said it all started in 2001, when Bush took office.

Obama’s campaign was the ultimate example of this. “This crisis that we’re seeing is the result of the deregulation policies that have been in place for the past eight years.” No, not eight years! The key pieces of legislation were passed under Clinton. We all turned the other way, and we allowed these lies to be repeated. And we thought, we’ll just get rid of Bush, and let them have their strategy. Well, this is the result of that strategy: Larry Summers is treated like the savior of the economy.

Q: Obama is an intelligent man. Surely, he knows this litany. So why do you think he is lining up with people like Summers? Is that where he is politically? Or is he trying to please the pundits and the power establishment? Is he trying to please Wall Street?

Klein: Politicians don’t take the kind of bold risks that we really need in this moment. People are talking about the need for a green New Deal, and comparing this moment to the early 1930s, and they’re right. But what led FDR to take those risks and be that bold was that he was under enormous pressure from grassroots movements from below. In the absence of that, Obama’s under tremendous pressure not to shock the system.

I don’t think we should play down the fact that the market plunged after Obama was elected, and that’s incredibly traumatic for a leader. In a time of market volatility, there are very few political leaders who can withstand watching that. If he were to have appointed Joseph Stiglitz as Treasury Secretary, the market would have plummeted. The market wants continuity. The market wants to know it’s the same club.

Q: By the way, how did you react to Alan Greenspan’s confession that he’d found a flaw in his theory?

Klein: This is an amazing moment for the left, for progressives. Because the free market ideology is truly in crisis. Greenspan said he believed the banking industry could self-regulate because trust and reputation are important assets in the market. What he didn’t calculate for is just greed. That’s a completely implausible story. This is a man who was an Ayn Rand protégé. His whole philosophy was that greed is the primary driving force in all of humanity. So how could Alan Greenspan be surprised by greed? The prime regulator of the global economy for eighteen years did not calculate that bankers might be greedy?

Q: What’s your critique of the bailout of the banks?

Klein: This bailout was the Bush Administration’s last trough. Like the Iraq War, it was a cash machine, where private companies withdraw funds and pay them back in the form of campaign contributions. The Bush Administration cut an incredibly bad deal with the banks. We know how bad it is because five days earlier Britain’s Gordon Brown negotiated a deal to purchase equity in exchange for a capital injection. He got a 12 percent return, a seat on the board, voting rights, and he got guarantees that they would use the capital injection to lend money to small businesses and homeowners. So, five days later, Henry Paulson comes up with his terms: 5 percent as opposed to 12 percent, no voting rights, no seats on the board, and no guarantee that the money will be spent doing what they said it was intended to do: to get lending going.

The stakes are so huge. Think about $700 billion that we’re just throwing away. Then the right turns around and says, “About all that ‘yes, you can’ stuff, No, you can’t. We’re broke.”

We all have a huge stake in stopping this heist.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

AFGHAN CIVILIANS ANGER GROWING



Haven't we heard all this before?

Precision munitions, only firing at militants..........

Here is an even more revealing video done by the UK's Guardian from Afghanistan

KEEPING OUR EYES OPEN

* It's an older graphic above from 2005. US military spending in 2009 is well over $700 billion a year - actually up to $1 trillion if you count in Iraq and Afghanistan and we should. Still, as we watch for signs of Obama and Democratic Party thinking of cutting the Pentagon budget, nothing new to report. We'll keep our eyes on the story.


* The news yesterday about US unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's) being based in Pakistan should cause holy hell to break out in that nation considering they are being used to bomb and kill people inside their own country. I am still as convinced as ever that the US intends to destabilize Pakistan to the point that Obama says, "Hey, look how dangerous Pakistan is and remember, they have nuclear weapons. We are going to have to take over the country so we can make sure that the nukes don't fall into the hands of terrorists." Look at a map - Pakistan lies just south of Afghanistan and borders on the Arabian Sea. The oil corporations want the pipelines to run from the Caspian Sea southward through Afghanistan and Pakistan to ports on the Arabian Sea. It's a no-brainer.


* The word is out that Obama will form a commission in the next week or two that will begin undertaking the task to "reform" Social Security. You've likely heard Obama and other Democrats say "We are all going to have to sacrifice." Well this is a big part of the plan. They are going to do what Bush could never get away with. Hold onto your hats, and your Social Security checks, because this is going to be a bumpy ride. One wag is quoted as saying, "According to inside gossip, the task force will be led entirely by economists who were not able to see the $8 trillion housing bubble, the collapse of which is giving the country its sharpest downturn since the Great Depression."


* Things are moving along nicely for the Global Network 17th annual space organizing conference that will be held in Seoul, South Korea on April 16-18. It looks like we are going to have a great delegation of our key leaders present from England, Sweden, India, US, Australia, Japan, and from Korea. (Other peace activists from Italy and the Philippines will also be present.) From the US we'll have people representing Veterans for Peace, Nebraskans for Peace, Citizens for Peace in Space in Colorado, the Humanists, and the staff of the Global Network. On days before or after the conference we will be going to visit people who are struggling against a US military training area expansion at Mugeon-ri. The US wants to use the training area to practice war plans with North Korea. There has been much resistance to this expansion plan for the past several years by the farmers who live there with many protests and arrests.

* The new military draft plan? According to the today's New York Times, "Stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American military will begin recruiting skilled immigrants who are living in this country with temporary visas, offering them the chance to become United States citizens in as little as six months......The program will begin small — limited to 1,000 enlistees nationwide in its first year, most for the Army and some for other branches. If the pilot program succeeds as Pentagon officials anticipate, it will expand for all branches of the military. For the Army, it could eventually provide as many as 14,000 volunteers a year, or about one in six recruits."


* Nothing new to report from baseball spring training.