Category: Big Picture

An Eyewitness to the Horrors of the US ‘Forever Wars’ Speaks Out

KATHY KELLY – What are the lessons learned from the rampage, destruction and cruelty of U.S. wars? I believe the most important lessons are summed up in the quote on Cynthia Banas’s T-shirt as she delivered water to Marines in Baghdad, in April, 2003: “War Is Not the Answer”; and in an updated version of the headline Ramzi Kysia wrote that same month: “Heavy-handed & Hopeless, The U.S. Military Doesn’t Know What It’s Doing” -in Iraq, Afghanistan or any of its “forever wars.”

Kaine Introduces Resolution to Block War with Iran

ALEXANDER BOLTON – Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Friday introduced a resolution to block President Trump from further escalating hostilities with Iran. The resolution is privileged, which means Republicans cannot block it from reaching the floor, and comes the day after the surprise drone strike that killed Iraninan Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s elite Quds Force.

Iraqis Storm US Embassy in Baghdad After US Bombing of Militias; Iran, Russia and China Conduct Joint Naval Exercises in Gulf of Oman

NATYLIE BALDWIN – In response to an attack last Friday in Iraq that killed a U.S. military contractor and injured several U.S. service members, the U.S. bombed Iraqi Shia militias known as Popular Mobilization Units (PMU’s), particularly one known as Ketaib Hezbollah, which it claimed was responsible for the Friday attack. The Iraq government warned Washington not to conduct the retaliatory attack, citing violation of Iraq’s sovereignty. The conflict has arisen amid a climate of relations that were already frayed as many of the recent popular protests in Iraq were partly an expression of disgust about perceived foreign control of the country by both the U.S. and neighboring Iran, in addition to domestic grievances.

188 Democrats Join GOP to Hand Trump $738 Billion Military Budget That Includes ‘Space Force’

JAKE JOHNSON – More than 180 House Democrats joined a nearly united Republican caucus Wednesday night to pass a sweeping $738 billion military spending bill that gives President Donald Trump his long-sought “Space Force,” free rein to wage endless wars, and a green light to continue fueling the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.

Raising the Stakes in the Struggle over Immigration Detention

ANDREW MOSS – As the struggle for immigrant rights continues to be fought across America, new battlegrounds may come into view, then fade from public attention. What hasn’t yet come to full attention, however, is the struggle over the future of immigration detention itself, a conflict whose outcome may have far-reaching consequences for immigration reform in years to come.

Carbon Emissions From 30 of the World’s Largest Cities Are Already Dropping Since Signing Climate Pact

C40 CITIES and GOOD NEW NETWORK – The world’s leading scientists have calculated that global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2020 in order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. New analysis published ahead of the C40 World Mayors Summit confirms that 30 of the world’s largest cities, representing more than 58 million urban citizens, have now reached this crucial milestone.

The US Is Spending $1.25 Trillion Annually on War

WILLIAM D. HARTUNG and MANDY SMITHBERGER – There are at least 10 separate pots of money dedicated to fighting wars, preparing for yet more wars, and dealing with the consequences of wars already fought. So the next time a president, a general, a secretary of defense, or a hawkish member of Congress insists that the U.S. military is woefully underfunded, think twice. A careful look at U.S. defense expenditures offers a healthy corrective to such wildly inaccurate claims.

Virgin Plastic Pellets are the Biggest Pollution Disaster You’ve Never Heard Of

ZOE SCHLANGER – “Pellets make up the second most common type of microplastic that we find, second to fragments which break down from things that are bigger,” says Sherri Mason, a plastics pollution researcher at Pennsylvania State University who has published foundational studies on microplastics found in freshwater. She spends much of her time collecting and counting bits of plastic in the environment. “I can go to any beach, give me five minutes and I’ll find a nurdle,” she says. “Along a river, 10 minutes. Once you know what a nurdle looks like you find them everywhere.”

2019’s States with the Most Underprivileged Children

ADAM MCCANN – In an ideal world, all children would live worry-free and have access to their basic needs: nutritious food, a good education, quality health care and a secure home. Emotionally, they all would feel safe and be loved and supported by caring adults. When all such needs are met, children have a better chance of a stable and happy adult life. But in reality, not every child is so privileged — even in the richest and most powerful nation in the world.

‘Completely Terrifying’: Study Warns Carbon-Saturated Oceans Headed Toward Tipping Point That Could Unleash Mass Extinction Event

JULIA CONLEY – The continuous accumulation of carbon dioxide in the planet’s oceans—which shows no sign of stopping due to humanity’s relentless consumption of fossil fuels—is likely to trigger a chemical reaction in Earth’s carbon cycle similar to those which happened just before mass extinction events, according to a new study.

Let’s Not Spend $1.7 Trillion on Our Nukes, a Group of N.J. Professors Says. Let’s Get Rid of Them, and the Threat of a Catastrophic War.

ZIA MIAN, ALAN ROBOCK and SHARON WEINER – On May 23rd, the New Jersey General Assembly approved Resolution 230, urging the federal government to pursue a broad range of measures to reduce the danger of nuclear war and to join the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. California and some American cities have already adopted similar resolutions to call for action in Washington on nuclear weapons. Here’s why.

Keep Your Eye on HR1 – the Most Consequential Pro-Democracy Legislation in Half a Century

ROBERT WEISSMAN – Our democracy is in a double crisis. We face the immediate threat posed every day by Donald Trump, with his combination of unprecedented corruption, disdain for the rule of law and autocratic governance. We also face the deeper rooted problems of Big Money dominance of our elections, shocking voter suppression, extreme gerrymandering and outrageous corporate influence over the policymaking process. After the 2018 election, we have the chance to do something about this double crisis

Facebook’s New Propaganda Partners

FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY IN REPORTING (FAIR) — That a single corporation — Facebook — has a monopoly over the flow of worldwide news is already problematic, but the increasing meshing of corporate and US government control over the means of communication is particularly worrying. All those who believe in free and open exchange of information should oppose Facebook becoming a tool of US foreign policy.

Jordan Cove LNG Campaign Contributions Raise Questions

TED SICKINGER – Controversy over foreign meddling in the 2016 Election has been swirling around Washington D.C. since the day Donald Trump was elected president. But some southern Oregon residents are convinced they’ve got their own case of foreign interference. And if it’s not OK for the Russians, they say, why would it be OK for Canadians?

In an internal memo, the White House considered whether to simply ‘ignore’ federal climate research

CHRIS MOONEY and JULIET EILPERIN – White House officials last year weighed whether to simply “ignore” climate studies produced by government scientists or to instead develop “a coherent, fact-based message about climate science,” according to a memo obtained by The Washington Post. The document, drafted Sept. 18 by Michael Catanzaro, President Trump’s special assistant for domestic energy and environmental policy at the time, highlights the dilemma the administration has faced over climate change since Trump took office. Even as Trump’s deputies have worked methodically to uproot policies aimed at curbing the nation’s carbon output, the administration’s agencies continue to produce reports showing that climate change is happening, is human-driven and is a threat to the United States.

Putin Takes Ax to Military Spending

FRED WEIR – Amid the current worries in the West over Russia, the idea that Russia would be cutting its military spending seems counterintuitive to us. But that’s just what Vladimir Putin is doing with his new budget, in which plans for a major infrastructure boost are coming at the expense of some of the Kremlin’s more ambitious defense projects.