Category: Analysis

Fukushima Situation Now Critical – Global Environment Threatened

HARVEY WASSERMAN – Four climate scientists have made a public statement claiming nuclear power is an answer to global warming. Before they proceed, they should visit Fukushima, where the Tokyo Electric Power Company has moved definitively toward bringing down the some 1300 hot fuel rods from a pool at Unit Four. Which makes this a time of global terror.

STARBASE: Selling the Military to Your Child

ERIN NIEMELA – I am a parent of a an elementary school student in Portland, Ore., and early this week I discovered our school is participating in the STARBASE program. STARBASE is a Department of Defense initiative offering science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) training to at-risk public school students. . . .While some parents applaud STARBASE for bringing STEM subjects to students in an engaging, exciting way, others – myself included – are concerned about the intentions of the program.

How Science Is Telling Us All To Revolt

NAOMI KLEIN – In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. . . . But it was Werner’s own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).

How Disarmament Activists Saved the World from Nuclear War

LAWRENCE WITTNER – The conventional explanation for nuclear restraint by the relatively small number of nations possessing nuclear weapons is that the danger posed by these weapons has “deterred” nations from waging nuclear war and, overall, has created a situation of nuclear safety. But something is missing from the conventional explanation. The missing ingredient is a massive grassroots movement: one that has mobilized millions of people in nations around the globe: the world nuclear disarmament movement. This is the text of a talk delivered by Dr. Wittner in May 2013 to the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Ottawa.

Congressional Oversight Means Overlooking the NSA

CONGRESSMAN ALAN GRAYSON (D, FL) – Members of Congress do not trust that the House Intelligence Committee is providing the necessary oversight. On the contrary, “oversight” has become “overlook.” Despite being a member of Congress possessing security clearance, I’ve learned far more about government spying on me and my fellow citizens from reading media reports than I have from “intelligence” briefings.

Military Expert: Some Pentagon Spending Actually Harms Our National Security

LT. GENERAL ROBERT GARD (Ret.) – Instead of engaging in political gamesmanship to raise the debt ceiling or enacting periodic government shutdowns, we should be focused on eliminating waste and allocating government expenditures more efficiently. Unnecessary defense spending that detracts from security instead of improving it is at the top of the list.

Google: Doing Evil with ALEC

NORMAN SOLOMON – Google Inc. is now aligned with the notorious ALEC. Quietly, Google has joined ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council — the shadowy corporate alliance that pushes odious laws through state legislatures.

Why Water Issues Demand Conversion to Renewable Energy

GRANT SMITH – In surveying the energy landscape, there’s an emerging, inevitable trend. Old coal and nuclear plants are being decommissioned while new ones are extremely difficult to keep within estimated construction budgets. Moreover, the next nail in the coffin for these passé technologies is water. The water/energy nexus, as it is known, is a big deal.

Why Snowden’s Passport Matters

NORMAN SOLOMON – When the State Department revoked Edward Snowden’s passport four months ago, the move was a reprisal from a surveillance-and-warfare state that operates largely in the shadows. Top officials in Washington were furious. Snowden had suddenly exposed what couldn’t stand the light of day, blowing the cover of the world’s Biggest Brother.

What on Earth Are Nuclear Weapons For?

WINSLOW MYERS – Eric Schlosser’s hair-raising new book about actual and potential accidents with nuclear weapons, “Command and Control,” sharpens the dialogue, such as it is, between the anti-nuclear peace movement and nuclear strategists who maintain that these weapons still enhance the security of nations.

Climate, Keystone and the Problem of Fossil Fuel Demand

KURT COBB – If reducing consumption of fossil fuels is the goal, what we actually need to do is strike at demand. The simplest and most effective way to do this is to levy high and rising taxes on fossil-fuel-based energy. The Europeans have done this for a long time, and their per capita energy consumption is half that of Americans.

Justice Department Mounts New Attack on Press Freedom

NORMAN SOLOMON – There’s something profoundly despicable about a Justice Department that would brazenly violate the First and Fourth Amendments while spying on journalists, then claim to be reassessing such policies after an avalanche of criticism — and then proceed, as it did this week, to gloat that those policies made possible a long prison sentence for a journalistic source.

Private Gain to the Few Trumps Public Good for the Many

ROBERT REICH – Why the decline of public institutions? The slide . . . started more than three decades ago with so-called “tax revolts” by a middle class whose earnings had stopped advancing even though the economy continued to grow. Most families still wanted good public services and institutions but could no longer afford the tab. Since the late 1970s, almost all the gains from growth have gone to the top. But as the upper-middle class and the rich began shifting to private institutions, they withdrew political support for public ones.

The Real Culprit in Syria: Climate Change

WILLIAM R. POLK – Underlying the political situation in Syria is an economic and ecological disaster resulting from climate change. As more and more people competed for scarce jobs, food and other resources, they became desperate and their desperation led inexorably to war. Military support for neither side of the conflict will address its root causes.

Obama Has Many Options For Dealing with the Syrian Situation

PATRICK T. HILLER – The red line was crossed; let’s fire a shot across the bow. It sounds so easy, so clean, so surgical. Splash! A harmless shot landing in the water to make the enemy compliant. Since the American public – and for that matter the entire world – is rightfully doubtful of yet another U.S. military adventure, the administration is trying to play down what indeed are the preparations for going to war with another country.

Opposition to Iraq War May Save Syria

DAVID SWANSON – Evidence of “weapons of mass destruction” is “no slam dunk,” U.S. officials are saying this time around, reversing the claim made about Iraq by then-CIA director George Tenet. Opposition to a U.S.-led attack on Syria is growing rapidly in Europe and the United States, drawing its strength from public awareness that the case made for attacking Iraq had holes in it.

Moral Obscenities in Syria: Who Benefits?

PHYLLIS BENNIS and DAVID WILDMAN – The threat of a reckless, dangerous, and illegal US or US-led assault on Syria is looking closer than ever. . . . The US government has been divided over the Syria crisis since it began. . . . But the situation is changing rapidly, and the Obama administration appears to be moving closer to direct military intervention. That would make the dire situation in Syria inestimably worse.

What Would It Take to Start a Peace Army?

STEPHANIE VAN HOOK – Nonviolent Army: to many, this would seem like an unnatural contradiction. Armies are by definition violent; nonviolence is too passive and weak to be of any use in societal defense. But . . . soldiers are only conditioned to use violence, . . . and nonviolence does not mean passivity; it means active, creative courage that goes beyond refraining from consciously harming others toward building a community where everyone belongs–where no one is “other.”

Will Public Inaction Allow a War With Syria?

TOM H. HASTINGS – How culpable is the person who watches a mugger rob someone and does nothing? What is our social psychology as we bystand silently while our government gears up toward yet another war crime? Lies or misleading information that leads to war should be an enforceable war crime and crime against humanity.

Landmine Foe’s Book Reveals Winning Strategy

DAVID SWANSON – Jody Williams’ new book is called My Name Is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl’s Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize, and it’s a remarkable story by a remarkable person. It’s also a very well-told autobiography, including in the early childhood chapters in which there are few hints of the activism to come. One could read this book and come away thinking “Anyone really could win the Nobel Peace Prize.”

If Peace Is Prized, a Nobel for Bradley Manning

NORMAN SOLOMON – Bradley Manning saw an opportunity to provide the crucial fuel of information for democracy and compassion, thereby illuminating terrible actions of the USA’s warfare state. He chose courage on behalf of humanity. He refused to just follow orders. The Nobel Committee must award him its Peace Prize to recognize his dedication to human rights and peace.

Why Alan Grayson is Now the Most Effective Member of the House

DAVID WEIGEL – Alan Grayson, the Democratic congressman from Orlando, is using a new strategy that is getting him closer to an unheralded title: The congressman who’s passed more amendments than any of his 434 peers. The strategy is simple. Grayson and his staff scan the bills that come out of the majority. They scan amendments that passed in previous Congresses but died at some point along the way. They resurrect or mold bills that can appeal to the libertarian streak in the GOP, and Grayson lobbies his colleagues personally.

Why Florida Was Dubbed “the Worst State”

LAURA FINLEY – Much attention has been paid to Florida’s asinine Stand Your Ground law, which John Oliver on The Daily Show described as cut and pasted from 1880s Tombstone. That is just the start of it, however. Other backwards laws and policies have been passed, largely under uber-Conservative Governor Rick Scott.

An “Electoral Uprising” in Iran

KEVAN HARRIS – The contentious events of 2009 not only ensured four more years for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the president’s office but were also heralded as signaling the death of reformist politics in Iran. Yet as another presidential election approached, the three-decade political improvisation called the Islamic Republic once again went off script.

U.S.-Afghan Strategic Partnership: Where Are the Voices of Afghan Citizens?

ERIN E. NIEMELA – While the U.S.-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement is supposed to ensure a secure and sovereign Afghanistan beyond the U.S. withdrawal in 2014, it does not take into account the opinions of those who will most likely be affected by its implementation – the Afghan people. Without their support, the partnership is more likely to inhibit the realization of a peaceful and secure Afghanistan.

TPP: The Terrible Plutocratic Plan

DAVID SWANSON – Like most of you I do not spend my life studying trade agreements, but the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is disturbing enough to make me devote a little time to it, and I hope you will do the same and get your neighbors to do the same and get them to get their friends to do the same — as soon as possible.

Trayvon Martin: A Jewish Response

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER – This article by a leading Rabbi connects the travesty of acquitting killer George Zimmerman with climate change and other environmental disasters through Jewish theology, and challenges us all to take personal responsibility for healing, repairing and transforming the world.

The Biggest Oversight in Obama’s Climate Plan is a Doozy

DAVID ROBERTS – While President Obama’s climate plan addresses U.S. coal-fired plants through EPA regulations, it neglects another, equally large aspect of the coal problem. Specifically, coal mining, leasing, transport, and export in the U.S. Northwest. There’s a bad situation there and it’s getting worse. Obama can and must address the situation head on and end coal leases on Montana and Wyoming public lands.

Reward of a Whistleblower: Solidarity or Solitary?

NORMAN SOLOMON – Rarely has any American provoked such fury in Washington’s high places. So far, Edward Snowden has outsmarted the smartest guys in the echo chamber — and he has proceeded with the kind of moral clarity that U.S. officials seem to find unfathomable. Bipartisan condemnations of Snowden are escalating from Capitol Hill and the Obama administration. More of the NSA’s massive surveillance program is now visible in the light of day — which is exactly what it can’t stand.

Mayors Call for Nuclear Abolition

DAVID SWANSON – Congress can’t break 10 percent approval. Obama’s arms shipments to Syria just crack 10 percent, with 11 percent approval. Over 80 percent of Americans in more polls than I can count say over and over again that the government is broken and does not represent us. But when the mayors of the cities of the United States get together nationally one begins to see positions taken, at least rhetorically, that resemble government of, by, or for the people.

U.S. Backs Violence and Torture in Bahrain

MATAR EBRAHIM MATTAR and JEFF BACHMAN – The U.S government is arming the authoritarian regime of the Bahraini royal family that uses wide-spread violence and torture to suppress its own people and crush a popular pro-democracy movement. Nearly two-and-a-half years after a peaceful uprising began in Bahrain, mass human rights abuses and torture are reaching new levels. They are used as a tool to extract forced confessions from journalists, democracy leaders, and medical doctors on trumped up terrorism charges.

Let Us Understand Our Government: Obama Backs First-Strike Nuclear War as U.S. Policy

FRANCIS A. BOYLE – “Nuclear deterrence” is not now and has never been the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policy from the get-go, then by default this means that offensive first-strike strategic nuclear war fighting is now and has always been the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policy. This policy will also be pursued and augmented by means of “integrated non-nuclear strike options.”

What if They Gave a War and Nobody Paid?

DAVID HARTSOUGH – As April 15 approaches, make no mistake: The tax money that many of us will be sending to the U.S. government pays for drones that are killing innocent civilians, for “better” nuclear weapons that could put an end of human life on our planet, for building and operating more than 760 military bases in over 130 countries all over the world. We are asked by our government to give moral and financial support to cutting federal spending for our children’s schools, Head Start programs, job training, environmental protection and cleanup, programs for the elderly, and medical care for all so that this same government can spend 50 percent of all our tax dollars on wars and other military expenditures.

War Not Over for Iraqi Survivors

KATHY KELLY – Ten years ago, in March of 2003, Iraqis braced themselves for the anticipated “Shock and Awe” attacks that the U.S. was planning to launch against them. The media buildup for the attack assured Iraqis that barbarous assaults were looming. I was living in Baghdad at the time, along with other Voices in the Wilderness activists determined to remain in Iraq, come what may. We didn’t want U.S. – led military and economic war to sever bonds that had grown between ourselves and Iraqis who had befriended us over the previous seven years. Since 1996, we had traveled to Iraq numerous times, carrying medicines for children and families there, in open violation of the economic sanctions which directly targeted the most vulnerable people in Iraqi society— the poor, the elderly, and the children.

Defense Giant Tries to Feed at the Public Trough

LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – At this time of severe cutbacks in government funding for food stamps, early childhood education, and Meals on Wheels, some Maryland legislators are hard at work looking out for the welfare of one of the world’s wealthiest corporations. Under a bill rapidly advancing in the legislature of that state, the Lockheed Martin Corporation will have the taxes on its luxurious Montgomery County hotel and conference center reduced by approximately $450,000 a year and will also receive a $1.4 million refund for the period since 2010.

Three-Quarters of Progressive Caucus Not Taking a Stand Against Cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

NORMAN SOLOMON – For the social compact of the United States, most of the Congressional Progressive Caucus has gone missing.

While still on the caucus roster, three-quarters of the 70-member caucus seem lost in political smog. Those 54 members of the Progressive Caucus haven’t signed the current letter that makes a vital commitment: “we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits — including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.”

How Climate Change Affects Communities of Color

HILARY O. SHELTON – With the devastation from Hurricane Sandy fresh in our minds, it is time to deliberately address the menacing climate change concerns that are facing our planet and their disparate impacts on communities of color. With this in mind, we must also recognize and address the air pollutants contributing to issues of climate change. In 2005, many thought Hurricane Katrina would force politicians and decision-makers to pay attention to the buildup of harmful greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and to build momentum for change. Yet here we are again, seven years later, rebuilding after a catastrophic super-storm, which ravaged the Caribbean and U.S. Atlantic Coast. During the election season, the topic of climate change was barely broached. However, President Obama gave it some much needed attention in his victory speech. And, as many know, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and our allies in the environmental justice movement have been speaking with a sense of critical urgency on this issue for years.