Saturday, August 31, 2013

@BarackObama, @StateDept Vow To Bomb #Syria, Citizens Object

Both Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama went on television yesterday to shill for bombing Syria. The quote above is some earlier hot air from Kerry, juxtaposed with the image of Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, who testified that those same concerns motivated her leak of evidence of U.S. war crimes and diplomatic malfeasance. For which she has now been sentenced to 35 years in prison, while the actual war criminals roam free.

Barack Obama's speeches used to sound so much better before the 1% hired them written for him.  Saying that he'll bypass Congress and the UN but only order a "limited narrow act" sounds as awkward as "winning the future" and about as likely to happen. Alarmists warn that Syria's support from Iran and Russia means any action taken against the regime in Syria -- even if one surgical (sic) air strike -- could have an adverse global ripple effect.
This graphic from Yahoo reminded me of Mark Twain's sardonic observation: "God created war so that Americans would learn geography.”  Hasn't helped much as we're at war constantly while the US vs.  th3m site reported a quiz only 57% of Pentagon employees who played it could locate Damascus on a map within 200 miles of its actual location.

Millions will take to the streets over Labor Day weekend to say: the suffering of the people of Syria, who have died by the tens of thousands and become refugees by the millions since their uprising against the tyrant Assad began, will not be helped by the U.S. bombing them. 

As a man who knew a thing or two about effecting regime change put it:
“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?” ― Mahatma Gandhi 
The futility of bombing to halt atrocities was noted by Marwan Bishara at Al Jazeera: the case of Kosovo, despite 38,000 aerial sorties over 78 days of NATO bombardment, the real ethnic cleansing continued unabated and even intensified after the bombing.
Bishara joined many in observing that whether the gas attacks were mounted by the Assad regime or by rebels being supplied by the Saudis, overt military action by the U.S. would signal a sea change:
Regardless of whether Assad did indeed give Washington a motive, or if Obama is using the chemical attack as a pretext, the decision to intervene militarily is more than a punitive response. 
It signals an implicit admission of failure in Syria over the past two years, and a major departure from a policy of reluctant, limited and indirect interference - the poverty of intervention by proxy.
Seasoned Middle East journalist Robert Fisk speculated on the timing of Kerry and Obama's expressions of moral outrage:
...we should have been traumatised into action by this war in 2011. And 2012. But why now?  
I suspect I know the reason. I think that Bashar al-Assad’s ruthless army might just be winning against the rebels whom we secretly arm. With the assistance of the Lebanese Hezbollah – Iran’s ally in Lebanon – the Damascus regime broke the rebels in Qusayr and may be in the process of breaking them north of Homs. Iran is ever more deeply involved in protecting the Syrian government. Thus a victory for Bashar is a victory for Iran. And Iranian victories cannot be tolerated by the West.
U.S. taxpayers and other world citizens may be forgiven for feeling that there is something creepily familiar about the empty words of the POTUS and his chief diplomat resouding in the echo chamber of the corporate media. As an email from my Codepink associate Pat Taub yesterday put it:
The NPR coverage of Syria deja vu has been unbelievable.  They don't even offer a a 10 second alternative viewpoint.  You were right when you described NPR as doing little more than reading the White House press releases!
(For an analysis of NPR's methods of manufacturing consent, see this excellent piece by Phil Weiss of Mondoweiss "All Trivia Considered.")

Weiss and Annie Robbins also noted that the coalition of the willing is proving damned hard to manufacture this time, as the UK Parliament snubbed PM Cameron's attempts to have them follow Obama down the garden path. Left and right are coming together around just saying no to bombing or sending more weapons to Syria, and 192 reps in the House signed a letter to Obama reminding him that he is constitutionally obligated to consult Congress before bombing people.

It's a weak point since Congress rubber stamped attacking both Afghanistan and Iraq post 9/11, and in light of the fact that the Executive branch continues drone bombing in Pakistan and Yemen at will.

Whether or not Congress represents the will of the people is another point. Both Maine's reps Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud signed the letter, but only around 25% of their colleagues joined them. Meanwhile NBC reported yesterday that a poll showed 79% of respondents in the U.S. thought the president needed to consult Congress before military intervention could occur -- no matter what the administration's independent investigation of the nerve gas attack showed, as in we-don't-need-no-stinkin'-UN-investigation-report. You can read the documents on CNN that Obama and Kerry say they are are basing their case on.

Here are some other facts considered salient by those who object:

If you care to follow that particular money trail, check out Raytheon's page at
But you can fool some of the people all of them time (or maybe just hire them to act fooled). From a Facebook comment to the above post about the Raytheon factor:

Nicholas Shannon I volunteered to go to Jordan to try to help with this conflict. I'm deploying as soon as they let me. To me its more than a service to my country, its the right thing to do. I want to help the families and all the children. I have two kids am i know how fortunate i am to live in this great country. I will do everything i can to help the innocent people of syria. I will not sit behind my keyboard and rant reasonless opinions that fall on deaf ears.

Finally, a group of retired intelligence officers including Dan Ellsberg, CODEPINK associate and former State Dept. official Ann Wright and FBI whistleblower Colleen Crowley published an open letter to General Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman calling on him to refuse illegal orders to bomb Syria. Dempsey had expressed in a letter to Sen. Carl Levin that a "decision to use no less than an act of war." Word.

I urge you to contact the White House today to insist on funds for humanitarian relief only.

Join me to stand in solidarity with Syrians bravely struggling against a brutal dictatorship and atrocities that continue to claim thousands of innocent victims.

Friday, August 23, 2013

We Survive By The Stories We Tell Ourselves #FreeChelsea @xychelsea

In honor of the news that Chelsea Manning's sentence was commuted yesterday to time served, I am republishing this blog post from August, 2013. 

Another soldier in trouble was in court this week: Sgt. Robert Bales, the fall guy for a massacre of civilians in Afghanistan that many felt could not possibly have been carried out by one person acting alone. Nonetheless, he is the lone man on trial for murdering sixteen people, nine of them children, in the dark hours before dawn March 11, 2012 in Panjwai, Kandahar.

Survivor Mohammed Haji Naeem cried as he testified about watching one of his children die after being shot by Bales. According to Common Dreams writer Sarah Lazare, he said in the trial:
"I have nerve damage and stutter since I was shot. I wasn't weak, but since this bastard shot at me I'm almost like nothing now."
The story that the U.S. government would like us to believe is that this is a lone gunman-type episode, where a soldier snapped and began harming civilians in an indiscriminate rampage.
 Grave sites from the Panjwai massacre.
Source: Mamoon Durrani/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The U.S. government does not want us to see the Panjwai massacre as part of an overall pattern of wanton violence and destruction of human life in Afghanistan -- or other countries where the U.S. claims it has strategic interests.

But the soldier formerly known as Bradley -- now Chelsea Manning as she prefers to be called -- provided thousands of pieces of evidence that this was hardly a standalone tragedy. In fact, it was her revulsion at taking part in a military that produced atrocities like torture or the casual killing of innocent people that she says motivated her to release the trove of files on war crimes catalogued on the Wikileaks site as the Afghan War Logs. Files that are just the tip of the leaked iceberg.

As Fukushima melts down and the ice caps dissolve with the promise of multiple heat waves to come; as the planet is fracked and its potable water supply is compromised; as children are gassed to death in Syria, and Gaza is isolated yet again, and wars rage on in so many countries it would be hard to list them all, some ask:

Why lavish so much attention on one white soldier who was subjected to the kind of imprisonment and mistreatment that is commonly visited on people of color in the incarceration nightmare that  the U.S. has become?

I tell part of her story because Chelsea Manning is hugely important as a whistleblower who brought us many, many inconvenient truths about our national government in action around the planet. Here from blogger Greg Mitchell (co-author with Kevin Gosztola of a book on Manning):
First, just a very partial list from "Cablegate" (keep in mind, this does not include many other bombshells that caused a stir in smaller nations abroad): 
-Yemeni president lied to his own people, claiming his military carried out air strikes on militants actually done by U.S.  All part of giving U.S. full rein in country against terrorists.
-Details on Vatican hiding big sex abuse cases in Ireland. 
-U.S. tried to get Spain to curb its probes of Gitmo torture and rendition. 
-Egyptian torturers trained by FBI—although allegedly to teach the human rights issues.
-State Dept memo: U.S.-backed 2009 coup in Honduras was 'illegal and unconstitutional.'”
-Cables on Tunisia appear to help spark revolt in that country. The country's ruling elite described as “The Family,” with Mafia-like skimming throughout the economy. The country's First Lady may have made massive profits off a private school. 
-U.S. knew all about massive corruption in Tunisia back in 2006 but went on supporting the government anyway, making it the pillar of its North Africa policy. 
-Cables showed the UK promised in 2009 to protect U.S interests in the official Chilcot inquiry on the start of the Iraq war.
-U.S. pressured the European Union to accept GM — genetic modification, that is.  
-Washington was misled by our own diplomats on Russia-Georgia showdown. 
-Extremely important historical document finally released in full: Ambassador April Glaspie's cable from Iraq in 1990 on meeting with Saddam Hussein before Kuwait invasion.
-The UK sidestepped a ban on housing cluster bombs. Officials concealed from Parliament how the U.S. is allowed to bring weapons on to British soil in defiance of treaty. 
-New York Times:  “From hundreds of diplomatic cables, Afghanistan emerges as a looking-glass land where bribery, extortion and embezzlement are the norm and the honest man is a distinct outlier.”
-Afghan vice president left country with $52 million “in cash.”
-Shocking levels of U.S. spying at the United Nations (beyond what was commonly assumed) and intense use of diplomats abroad in intelligence-gathering roles. 
-Potential environmental disaster kept secret by the U.S. when a large consignment of highly enriched uranium in Libya came close to cracking open and leaking radioactive material into the atmosphere. 
-U.S. used threats, spying, and more to try to get its way at last year's crucial climate conference in Copenhagen. 
-Hundreds of cables detail U.S. use of diplomats as “sales” agents, more than previously thought, centering on jet rivalry of Boeing vs. Airbus. Hints of corruption and bribes. 
-Millions in U.S. military aid for fighting Pakistani insurgents went to other gov't uses (or stolen) instead. 
-Israel wanted to bring Gaza to the ”brink of collapse.”
-The U.S. secret services used Turkey as a base to transport terrorism suspects as part of its extraordinary rendition program.
These are the stories that the corporate press largely fails to tell, and that the U.S. government wants to prevent being told. Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for providing the information that allows investigative journalists to uncover the ugly truth. She should be pardoned, or at the very least have her sentence commuted to time served. You can sign a petition calling for a pardon here.

The gender change installment in Manning's story was not entirely a surprise, but it comes at a time when the focus was on the 35 year sentence. For me, it is a story that could explain why Manning comforted defense attorney David Coombs as they left the courtroom. Coombs was thinking about at least a decade in jail prior to being able to apply for parole; Manning may have been thinking about finally shedding an identity that had burdened her since childhood. She must have looked forward to creating an enormous space for psychic freedom while her small frame remained imprisoned.
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use,

Coombs may have advised his client about the best time, strategically speaking, to release the photo shown above (which Manning had sent to a superior in the Army) and to announce the name and gender change.

According to New Yorker writer Emily Greenhouse:
Gender dysphoria is a classified medical disorder, and the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over the military court in Maryland, where Manning was sentenced, has recognized that. In a unanimous decision in January, a three-judge panel concluded that denying a transgender prisoner a sex-change operation amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

#BecauseofBradleyManning We Know Truth Telling Is Dangerous #FreeBrad

The U.S. government and its corporate masters lashed out (again) at young soldier Bradley Manning today, with court martial Judge Denise Lind handing down a sentence of 35 years. He's already been detained for 1,294 days, and tormented plenty, but none of his punishment can change the fact that the information Manning provided changed history forever.

Keeping Wikileaks founder Julian Assange under house arrest at Ecuador's embassy in London will not halt the changes already underway. Information wants to be free, and Assange already helped Manning free a lot of it; historians thank them both.

Similarly, hours of airport detention of journalist Laura Poitras or of David Miranda, working as a courier between Poirtras and his partner, journalist Glenn Greenwald, cannot change the fact that the information they shared from NSA leaker Edward Snowden has changed history.

And will continue to do so.

Governments may fulminate, threaten, and symbolically smash hard drives containing leaked material (do they even know how digital information works? one has to wonder). They may ground airplanes hoping the faint of heart will cower before them, but real journalists respond by becoming even more determined to see that the truth gets out.

"I believe the public has a right to know"
—Alexa O'Brien, journalist and unofficial civilian transcriber of the Bradley Manning trial

Here's something to know: NSA surveillance now in place can monitor about 75% of all Internet activity, as reported by mainstream news organization Reuters here.

Here's something else to know: the NSA is funded from the Pentagon budget, which gobbled up about 57% of the federal budget for 2013 and looks to do the same for 2014.

A place governments historically run into trouble is that they don't believe the public has a right to know, but they still insist that the public pay for what they can't know about. Like war crimes and dragnet spying, to give just two examples.

Tax revolt anyone?


Update: Manning has since admitted that he leaked the Collateral Murder video of war crimes in Iraq.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bradley Manning Is A Moral Giant

Credit for all photos of Manning: Bradley Manning Support Network / 
Made available for unrestricted use by Manning family
Bradley Manning's apology during the sentencing portion of his court martial trial for whistleblowing had a shocking effect on many. Because they have championed Manning for releasing evidence of war crimes and U.S. State Dept. complicity in corporate government, many activists were disappointed in his stating that he was sorry, and that he now regrets the unintended consequences of his leaking actions.
When I hear this, I wonder if he perhaps means unintended consequences like a month in a cage in Kuwait, ten months in solitary confinement in the Marine brig at Quantico, Virginia, or perhaps being on trial with the possibility of a life sentence just for sharing information.

Other commenters have noted that 90 years in jail would cause many of us to recant.

I would like to note that Manning chose to testify as an unsworn witness. This prevented the prosecution from cross-examining him, and also means (I think) that he did not swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him God. Remember crossing your fingers behind your back when you were coerced into saying something you didn't want to say as a child? This is what I would like to believe Manning was doing.

Another thing that many found shocking was his own defense team's decision to share a photo of Manning coiffed and made up as a pretty woman, attached to an email he sent to his superior in the Army with the subject line "My Problem." The attempt by prosecutors to portray Manning as a person deeply troubled by gender identity issues, and thus unstable, appears to have been adopted by the defense during the sentencing portion of this trial. (Of course much of what the prosecution has alleged has been kept ultra-secret from the public, who only pays for every penny of all the war crimes, court martial trials, confinement and so on.)

The defense introduced this material to make the point that Manning had tried going through the proper channels to get help for his isolated, stressed position in the ultra-macho atmosphere of the U.S. Army during the occupation of Iraq. His commanding officer says he never forwarded the email or shared Manning's concerns up the chain of command because of his concern that the photo would be shared widely and that Manning's life there would become even more miserable. This sounds humane, and may well have been humane, but it also had the effect of keeping Manning in his job as an information analyst during a period of extreme emotional duress. And it is in that context, apparently, that the defense hopes Judge Lind will view Manning's actions.

David Coombs is considered the pre-eminent court martial defense attorney in the U.S., and I sincerely hope that he knows what he is doing.

There was something during the sentencing trial that did shock me. It also hurt me so badly that I just laid my head down on the kitchen table at 6am and had a good cry.
Manning's older sister testified about their childhood growing up with parents who were both alcoholics. She said that their mother drank constantly while pregnant with her little brother, and that he was neglected and underfed as an infant. This seems to explain Manning's extremely small size, which often appears in stark relief as he is swarmed by the enormous beefy soldiers tasked with guarding him.

I am the adult child of an alcoholic parent, and have watched members of my family drink themselves to death. I also continue to live with and cry over the generational effects of alcohol addiction and other forms of substance abuse in my extended family. It is not a pretty sight, and the littlest members -- the ones who haven't started drinking yet and who I fervently hope won't fall prey to the family illness -- are who I thought of when I learned the ugly truth about Manning's earliest years.
I will stand on a different bridge than usual this Sunday, speaking up for peace and against war with Starr Cutler-Gilmartin and her friends. I will wear my Bradley Manning support t-shirt, and I will be thinking about Manning's sentence which will probably be handed down in a couple of days from now. I have stood to support Manning outside Quantico, outside the White House, outside Leavenworth prison in Kansas; I have read the accounts of people like Medea Benjamin and David Swanson who went to the courtroom at Ft. Meade to hear Manning's statement last week. I read reporters Alexa O'Brien and Kevin Gosztola often, because they have so faithfully covered the trial of Bradley Manning.
Manning will always be a towering figure in my mind, a person of great moral stature who dared to strike a blow for truth in the hope of making a better world for us all. Although I will probably never meet him, I send him love every day.

After he is sentenced, I will be in the streets protesting his spending even one more day in jail for his actions. Click here to find a demonstration near you.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

"Government Small Enough To Fit In Your Vagina"

You want to shame me for having a female body? 

Shame on you for thinking that way about my body.
                                     -- women everywhere, 2013

Mindy I-B is a young woman I was lucky enough to meet recently. I blogged about her first 13 hour vigil to honor Texas Senator Wendy Davis' 13 hour filibuster blocking passage of draconian restrictions on women's access to safe, legal abortion on demand. 

On August 15, Mindy again took to the busiest intersection in Waterville, Maine to stand for 13 hours, communicating with the public about the need for women to have control over their own bodies and their own reproductive destinies. I was able to join her for a couple of hours in the middle of a hot summer day; I was pleased to see her wearing the orange t-shirt I had given her which I purchased from women in Texas, the sale of which benefits Planned Parenthood.
Here Mindy is joined by Linda Vayo, her former high school English teacher, who said she might have expected one of Mindy's older sisters to protest, but that Mindy had been so quiet during the years she was in school.  Mindy agreed, but she's concerned about ongoing attacks on women's reproductive rights.
She was also wearing tampons as earrings, to honor the Texas women who had their sanitary supplies confiscated when they wanted to enter their state legislature during the debate over the law. 

And, her sign had the "V" word!

When I arrived just after noon, Mindy said she had started at 7am and that within the first hour she was there two male police officers approached and complained about the verbiage on her sign. 

Did she think it was appropriate? one officer asked. Yes, completely appropriate, Mindy told me she replied.

Did she think that the word vagina might be offensive since it could be seen by children and women? the officer asked.  Mindy said she just let the absurdity of thinking that vaginas offend women sink in for a moment, and she thought that the officer seemed to realize how silly that sounded almost as soon as the words were out of his mouth.

Was there any chance they could convince her to put away her sign? he asked. Mindy replied in the negative, and he said he would consult his superiors before doing anything else.

By the time I got there just after noon, no police had returned. Apparently someone higher up in the chain of command had heard of the 1st amendment. Yay!

Mindy and I had time to talk about lots of things, including the self-education she has been engaging in around women's issues. Movies like the UnSlut Project and Miss Representation are some examples we discussed. Also The Invisible War, about sexual assault and its cover up in the military. And the Eve Ensler play, Vagina Monologues.

The shaming of women for their bodies figured largely in our conversations. Young women in particular are just plain refusing to be shamed, and I know that's another thing that her sign and her earrings were about.

I wasn't crazy about the GOP reference in Mindy's sign, because I don't like the false dichotomy we're always being sold where the other party in our corporate government is supposed to be seen as the champion of the people. Of course, they are better where reproductive health is concerned, but have bowed many times to pressure from conservatives to restrict access to both contraception and abortion where federal funds are concerned. (Apparently Democrats feel it is much better to use the funds to kill people who are already born in, say, Yemen.)

We talked about Mindy's sign and I shared that the "small enough" part of the slogan refers to conservative ideology about shrinking government down to a size small enough to drown it in a bathtub. The irony of government that aspires to be small while trying to legislate what women can do with their own wombs and vaginas was not lost on Mindy.
Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights (GRR!) members in yellow shirts, me and my sister Hope Savage in pink, plus Mindy and her friend Jessica Balucas in orange, all supporting Planned Parenthood in Portland, Maine July 30, 2013.
Mindy and I were also in action together at Portland City Council hearings recently on creating a safety buffer zone around the Planned Parenthood clinic there. Patients entering the clinic must contend with protesters who say vicious things, for example, (as the chief of police testified): "We will wrap your legs in barbed wire, and you will burn in hellfire."

I predict that the world will be hearing a lot more from Mindy.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Stop Buying Spying! Fund Human Needs Instead

I just watched this video on the revolving door between national "security" posts in government, and highly lucrative posts in the for-profit sector that contracts with said government officials to do their unconstitutional dragnet spying.

Booz Allen Hamilton is, of course, just one of the many contractors feeding at the Pentagon trough. One remembers, for instance, DynCorp, which used taxpayer funds to hire underage dancing boys to entertain warlords in Afghanistan. Or Haliburton, which took taxpayer funds and failed to rebuild critical infrastructure in Iraq. I could keep going (Blackwater/Xe anyone?) but instead, I'd like to take a look at what we could have bought instead of all this corruption, graft and death-dealing.

It appears that Congress is going to ignore the sequester and give the boys at the Pentagon even more money than the Obama administration asked for in its fiscal year 2014 budget request, but let's use that lowball figure for now until we know just how enormous the final Dept. of "Defense" tab will be for next year.

For the $527 billion requested for the Pentagon -- which includes about $10 billion for Booz spying programs -- we could instead have a year's worth of all this:

ALL* U.S. households could be fitted with renewable solar-photovoltaic power
50 million children from low-income families could receive health care
5 million low-income adults could receive health care
10 million preschoolers from low-income homes could be in Head Start
1 million elementary school teachers could be employed
7 million university students could receive one year scholarships
1 million military veterans could receive V.A. benefits.

*114,761,359 households per the U.S. Census 2007-2011.

Source: the very excellent federal budget website, where Interactive Data-Trade Offs looks at spending by state or congressional district, and allows citizens to see how many human needs that money could be supporting.

I view this information in light of news such as: Philadelphia is proposing to open its schools this fall so under-funded that parents are threatening a citywide boycott due to safety concerns. $50 million (instead of the $180 million barebones budget request) is all that is being offered for their K-12 education budget. NSA snoopers, listen up: I WANT MY TAXES SPENT ON EDUCATION, NOT ON SPYING AND PEOPLE DYING.

Upset yet? For action tools, visit CODEPINK's Bring Our War $$ Home campaign page. Join us in demanding that the federal government stop buying killing and spying, and start buying things people really want instead.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Spying Budget Secrets: #NSA Bloat In Pentagon Spending

More $$ for NSA contractors, sequester for the rest of us is the message emanating from our captive government. "Defense" and "security" spending ballooned after the events of 9/11 crashed into the national consciousness, and much of what continues to be funded by U.S. taxpayers is allegedly too secret to even talk about.

The budget we can see allocated 57% of federal discretionary spending to the Pentagon last year, and proposes to do so again in fiscal year 2014. The $598+ billion the House has already authorized for the coming year exceeded the sequester limit and included billions for the NSA (the precise figure is too secret to tell you, but experts estimate it's at least $10 billion per annum).

How does the NSA spend that money to keep us all safer? Edmund Snowden via the Guardian and Wikileaks pulled back the curtain to reveal that the man hiding there was collecting all our emails, all our cell phone calls, and much of our other online activity, then storing it for future searching. Without probable cause, without oversight, and while claiming that 100% of such communications are "relevant" to protecting the U.S. from acts of terrorism.

But not to worry. Forced into some kind of response by the outcry over dragnet surveillance of all citizens and indeed everyone on the planet who is online, the President announced an oversight committee. To be headed by an industry insider from leading security contractor Booz Allen Hamilton! More on them in a minute.

The government is so angry at Snowden for exposing these vastly disturbing secrets that it threatened him and anyone who helped him with all kinds of dire consequences.

So I'm taking my life in my hands by revealing some related secrets about where taxes actually go after the government snatches them from a worker's paycheck. Just for reference, that's where 80% of U.S. tax revenues come from. Certainly not from the mega corporations who employ tax experts and lawyers to make sure they pay nothing, even in years with record profits.

A great deal of the Pentagon portion of national security is contracted out. The poster child for this practice would have to be Snowden's former employer, Booz Allen Hamilton.

Here's an illuminating Business Week infographic on how much in public funds Booz has been guzzling in the decade since 9/11.

That's a lot of information, but here's the bit that jumped out at me: 99% of Booz revenue in fiscal year 2013 came from the federal government.  That's 99% of $5.8 billion. Which is $5,742,000,000 just for a year.

What else would $5,742,000,000 buy? More than 800,000 low-income preschoolers could attend Head Start for a year. More than 2.5 million homes could be outfitted with solar powered electricity. And so on.

A budget is a moral document. And the U.S. is going to hell in a handbasket.

Friday, August 2, 2013


I am married to a man who spent decades researching and speaking about the dangers of the nuclear power industry. Because he has a clear grasp of the scientific aspects of the grave threat hovering over life on this planet, he continues to be appalled at the silence and indifference of the corporate press and the U.S. public who depend upon it for their "news."

If the media outlets that command so much attention with celebrity birth news were reflecting reality right now, they would be running headlines like this:

      ------ EXTRA! EXTRA! ------
Bequerels of radiation increasing exponentially
Strontium-90 among radioactive isotopes detected in groundwater mixed with sea water indicates core is in meltdown; mixing of fresh and salt water indicates pollutants are leaking into Pacific Ocean.

Instead, those who care must sift through highly technical reports like this one and connect their own dots between the scientific facts:  
950,000,000,000 Bq/m3 of Cs-134/137 was detected from reactor2 seawater trench shaft....They also measured 520,000,000,000 Bq/m3 of all β nuclides to include Strontium-90. The chloride concentration was 7,500 ppm.
Of course there are plenty of smart people who are paying attention; it's just that they have no way to break through the wall of silence imposed by media corporations owned by the same people who profit from building nuclear reactors -- and who lose big money if their criminal liability is exposed in disasters at nuclear power plants.

Carol Wolman, bless her heart, has been sending around a petition to U.S. senators serving West coast states, calling on them for an independent investigation that sidesteps TEPCO and its inability to contain Fukushima's meltdown. Wolman shared a really scary article published on July 24, "Rising Tritium Could Trigger Huge Fukushima Blasts" by Yoichi Shimatsu, a former editor of the Japan Times Weekly (a publication I used to write for). It read, in part:
Two serious threats are emerging during this tritium build-up: 
- medical effects of exposure to beta particles on top of gamma radiation from the Fukushima releases; 
- and more ominous, the possibility of a tritium-deuterium fusion reaction that triggers a plutonium blast more powerful than the 2011 explosion at Reactor 3. 
Apologists for the nuclear industry, including the Wall Street Journal, boldly assert beta radiation emitted by tritium poses no health threat. This irresponsible claim is based on a gross underestimate of the effects of beta rays. While less powerful than gamma radiation, beta radiation can ionize DNA. Externally beta rays can be blocked by a thin sheet of metal foil, but inside human tissues there are no physical barriers to prevent beta particles from rupturing chromosomes.
There are measures that could be taken to ward off the blast Shimatsu warns us of, but pretty much everyone agrees that TEPCO lacks both the will and the ability to spring into action.

My spirit grows weary of repeating the same formula to the pack of evil moronsknown as energy executives, nuclear engineers, government bureaucrats and politicians. But here we go again, preaching to the wicked. 
The underground corium pockets can be detected by radiation scanners and with blast tomography, which reveals the locations of larger concentrations. Next, steam-injection pumps used at near-exhausted oil fields should be deployed to pump borax solution into those pockets. Borax unlike boric acid, crystallizes in solution, thereby partitioning the underground spaces with neutron-absorbing barriers. Subdivided into smaller cysts, the fissile materials will be deprived of critical mass.
Evil morons would also have been an apt term for those scientists, politicians and bureaucrats who conspired to drop nuclear bombs on Japan at the end of the Pacifica phase of WWII. Why it wasn't necessary, and the lasting effects for all of us, have been amply documented elsewhere for those with ears to hear the truth.

Meanwhile, my friend Bruce Gagnon has just returned from Asia and Australia on a speaking tour and fact-finding mission about the so-called Pacific Pivot, planned by the Pentagon and announced through their mouthpiece Barack Obama. In his blog Organizing Notes Gagnon writes:'s clear that Obama's "pivot" is more than the Navy - the US Air Force also has big plans to expand this provocative and expensive encirclement of China. 
As we approach Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9) days of remembrance it is vital to understand that any hopes for nuclear disarmament are being smashed to bits by the US military surrounding of Russia and China.  Russia and China have no incentive nor military justification to contemplate reducing their nukes at the same time the Pentagon's rope tightens around their necks. 
Nuclear disarmament activists should listen to Russia and China as they react to US moves.  They are being upfront about their reluctance to shrink their retaliatory capability.  Disarmament activists need to be talking much more about US "missile defense," naval, and Air Force moves into the Asia-Pacific.  All of these destabilizing deployments are killers to hopes for nuclear abolition.
Kind of like the destabilizing meltdown of Fukushima is a killer to hopes for the future of life on Earth.

Too discouraging? Try looking at pictures of bunnies for a few minutes. Then, get back to work sharing information.
From the excellent information website Fukushima Diary. It has a KAWAII (cute) tab with pictures to relieve stress.