Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Militarized Children Are The Canaries In Our Coal Mine

I was appalled to receive a bulletin in my school inbox filled with exuberant plans to "celebrate the military child" in Maine schools. 

I find "military child" an oxymoron -- unless it means actual child soldiers -- and I think children in military families need to be supported and cared for rather than celebrated for their sacrifices.

Some excerpts from the DOE bulletin (full text here):
The Maine Department of Education along with the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3), and Governor Paul R. LePage have declared April “The Month of the Military Child” as a month-long awareness and celebration of military children and the important role they play in the community. 
The declaration is part of a national movement celebrating The Month of the Military Child in April as a time to applaud military families and their children for the daily sacrifices they make and the challenges they overcome.
“We are aware of the struggles and sacrifices children make when they move in and out of different schools as part of the life-style of a military family,” said Maine Department of Education Commissioner Robert G. Hasson, Jr. “Great efforts are taken by MIC3 and local school officials to ensure that military children receive a quality, and comprehensive education throughout the school year, no matter where they live,” he added.

Maine's schools are full of children who live with adults suffering from PTSD; ours is a very poor state with a very high rate of military enlistment. Research has shown that family members of veterans with PTSD can develop it themselves, because it can be traumatically stressful to live with someone whose nervous system is captive to their memories of battlefield trauma. (I co-wrote a teen novel about this with another teacher a few years back, and you can read Buggy as a self-published Kindle ebook here.)

We used pseudonyms. You can probably guess why from reading the first chapter.

That is if the family members themselves survive. I'm reminded of the wife and four year old daughter of a veteran who shot them both before shooting himself. Komel and Raniya Crowley were not allowed to see her sister, the little girl's aunt, who drove all day to knock on their door out of fear for their safety. According to Alec Wilkinson reporting in the New Yorker, David Crowley was a veteran of U.S. imperial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, one of the many victims of repeated redeployments ironically called "stop-loss" by the Pentagon. 

Crowley was also reportedly a pacifist after a change of heart following his battlefield experiences. 

The dystopian film he was trying to make, Grey Statehas become something of a cult flick and many of its adherents believe the U.S. government executed the family. Whether directly or indirectly, his fans may be right about that. His own description of the film was that it depicted "a near future collapse of society under martial law."

Today all U.S. senators are summoned to the White House to receive a briefing on the alleged threat to national security posed by North Korea.

You can sign a petition here calling on the Senate not to go to war in East Asia.* 

If we do, will senate families experience having a parent in the military? Not bloody likely.

Meanwhile, Japan has been steadily remilitarizing under the Obama administration's "pivot to Asia" and famously has students at a right wing kindgergarten swearing loyalty to the emperor using a relic of their failed imperial project prior to WWII.

A video of Prime Minister Abe's wife beaming as they do so reportedly scandalized the nation; many Japanese remember how much their families suffered the last time their nation was militarized.  An element of the scandal is that the ultra-nationalist school was sold public land at a fraction of its market value. The school's deputy principal has also gone on record in a letter to parents stating that he hates Koreans and Chinese people; these were the principal victims of Japan's biological warfare experiments during WWII.

Did I mention that the scientists responsible for those experiments were scooped up by the U.S. and protected from prosecution as war criminals?

Or that the U.S. used biological weapons in the Korean War? A war that never ended, incidentally; the cease-fire only created a "demilitarized zone" along the Cold War-era partition line, separating children from their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins ever since.

What's to celebrate?

* I'm iffy on the claim that Russia is an ally of North Korea in this otherwise worthy petition.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Full Disclosure: I Feel Ambivalent About Science #ScienceMarch

Egyptian clock face from a book on curious mechanical devices published in 1354 before science
fell out of favor with religious fundamentalists in the Ottoman empire.

People are marching for science today and I have to admit I'm ambivalent. Of course I agree that refusing to account for human impact on the atmosphere is a fool's errand and we have an overabundance of fools ready to drive straight off the cliff of climate chaos. They do this for one reason: profit. 

Science is such a large, amorphous thing that it's hard not to feel that it's inherently neutral i.e. a tool, which can be used for good or used for evil.

On reflection, I have to say science has been used much more often for evil. 
Source: Radical Penguin
Mining, the original sin against Mother Earth, was possible because of science. So was fashioning all those weapons that emerged from violating the planet's tender crust.

A short list of other bad things made possible by science:

Nuclear weapons
Nuclear energy
Flying killer robots
Factory farming
Napalm and other chemical weapons
Agent Orange aka Roundup
Rivers so polluted they burst into flames, or run with the colors of dye
Little screens that isolate us from one another
Mass surveillance and the end of privacy
The financial crash of '08, because computing made trading derivatives feasible
Corporate mass media with its vast cloud of propaganda 

The U.S. hustled to harvest the scientists who served the Nazis and imperial Japan at the end of WWII, offering immunity from prosecution (and a coverup) in exchange for what they knew. 

NASA and missile technology was thus captured via the Germans, while biological warfare know-how was the Japanese speciality. The U.S. then tested the biological weapons on Koreans during the 1950's.

The U.S. space program, which is constantly touted to school age children as science at its shiniest and most thrilling, is military in purpose. Controlling weapons via satellites requires controlling space to protect your satellites. 

Why has science so often served elites bent on power and destruction? Because it is an incredibly powerful tool, and elites will buy, steal or kidnap whoever they need to for the expertise they desire. 

I am reminded this Earth Day of something I heard Winona LaDuke say. Her father visited Harvard when she was a student there and told her he was proud of her, but he wasn't interested in hearing her philosophy until she learned to grow corn.

All the wisdom we need to know about how to live on Earth is still with us. Science did not and does not need to invent the solutions to the mess we're in. Native wisdom says: protect the water, the air and the earth because you belong to it. You are part of it, and your life depends upon it.

Only a little bit of your life depends on science. I love modern medicine when it saves someone from dying of a burst appendix but I also know that chemicals and other pollution have caused many diseases endemic to my lifetime: cancer, birth defects, spectrum disorders. 

Computing how many parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere represent a climate tipping point is useless for pulling us back from the edge without the political will to admit how much of the problem is caused by the Pentagon. Science isn't going to fix that.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Forgetting To Remember: Palestine's 50 Year Occupation vs. The Holocaust Industry

I spent my week off from school looking at art. One of the stops on my tour was the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where I spent time in peaceful space with ancient representations of the Buddha and various boddhisattvas, balm to my soul.

I also found my way to two special exhibitions of interest. "I must tell you what I saw -- objects of witness and resistance" was a small display of art and artifacts from various bad patches of history including the Armenian Genocide, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  
Chalk mold, Armenia, 1900
During the Armenian Massacres the Ouzounian family, who owned the mold,
were spared by the Ottomans because the army needed the chalk.

Placed deliberately adjacent was "Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross" made up of hundreds of rare prints made from once buried (literally) negatives of Jewish life in Poland from 1940-1945.

Gelatin silver print. Collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Gift from Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007. © Art Gallery of Ontario, 2017.

Nowhere to be seen: artifacts or photographs of the now fifty year brutal occupation of Palestine, including the long ghettoization of the people of Gaza.

Most of those imprisoned in Gaza are refugees or the descendents of refugees from violent displacement during al Nakba (the Catastrophe) in 1946-7. The MFA makes no mention anywhere in its collection of this highly significant event, a human rights disaster with huge implications for those who endure it and the rest of us.

Screenshot of the MFA search results. Yes, I tried al-Nakba, too.

In case you have never been to the MFA in Boston, let me tell you that it is vast. It would take days to see everything on display. But a search of their database reveals what my visit suggested: virtually every example of art related to Palestine is a colonial artifact of the French and British occupations that paved the way for violent Zionist takeover.

An artifact related to Palestine from the Boston MFA's collection 
Besides a handful of Palestinian films shown at the MFA in the past few years, there is one item in their enormous collection that relates to contemporary Palestine: "Emergency Room, Gaza, 1989" is a photo (image unavailable) by American photographer James Nachtwey.

This is not a coincidence. The enormous "Holocaust industry" that supports important exhibits like the work of Henryk Ross deliberately suppresses any narrative suggesting that the state of Israel engages in ongoing, deliberate crimes against humanity.

Poster of journalist Muhammad al-Qiq held by his wife and child. Al-Qiq was imprisoned by Israel without charges or trial and has been on a hunger strike since February protesting the illegal nature of his detention. Photo credit: Wisam Hashlamoun / APA

This year on April 17 -- Palestinian Prisoners Day -- thousands of those imprisoned by Israel began a mass hunger strike

In a momentous break with its Zionist tendencies, the New York Times even published "Why We Are On Hunger Strike In Israel's Prisons" by prominent intellectual Marwan Barghouti. In it he wrote, "an Israeli court sentenced me to five life sentences and 40 years in prison in a political show trial that was denounced by international observers." 

Bowing to subsequent pressure from Israel, the NYT added an editor's note to its original description of the author as a "Palestinian leader and parliamentarian."

Hunger strike supporters wave banners with Barghouti depicted. Photo credit: ABBAS MOMANI/AFP
Getting the word out is tremendously difficult for Palestinians who are up against well-resourced establishments like the NYT, the MFA and a host of others. 

Just working as a journalist in occupied Palestine is extremely dangerous. According to Charlotte Silver reporting on the news site Electronic Intifada:
Over a dozen more Palestinian journalists and media workers remain behind Israeli bars. Some are being held without charge or trial, like al-Qiq, and others have been hit with incitement charges related to their work.
What to do about the world's vast failure to tell the Palestinian story?

Here's one thing I did. The photographs of the Lodz ghetto resonated particularly for me because I had just finished reading the Definitive Edition of Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl. It is definitive because editors have restored about 30% of the material which was left out by Anne's father when he submitted the diary for publication. Much of what would interest a young person had been removed -- Anne's reflections on her emerging awareness of sexuality, and her reports on the struggle to separate from her parents and achieve autonomy.

I mentioned the book to a friend who said her teenage granddaughter would probably like to read it. So, I also recommended a coming of age novel that would make a worthy companion in detailing how a young person copes with the cruelties of occupation, displacement and human rights abuses visited on people she loves: The Shepherd's Grand-daughter by Anne Laurel Carter. 

I would have preferred to recommend a Palestinian author but I think the reader is a bit young for The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist by Emile Habiby. 

I was looking for a parallel story to Anne Frank's. I did not know at the time that Carter's honest depiction of the growth of settlements in occupied Palestine has earned several awards but also has drawn the wrath of Zionists who lobbied in Canada to have it withdrawn from the recommended reading lists of schools calling it "anti-Israeli propaganda."

So that's what Palestinians and those who seek to share some truth about Palestine are up against. Why not order a copy, read it, and share it with a young friend?

Then get busy with your boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) efforts before 2,000 Palestinian prisoners starve to death.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bombing An Afghan Watershed For Glory And Profit #PentagonClimateCrime

When on April 13 the Pentagon dropped a bomb with a one mile blast radius, allegedly killing zero civilians and 94 ISIS militants holed up in tunnels, here are some of the consequences:

The watershed of Kabul is heavily polluted, and the flow of ancient irrigation systems in an arid region is disrupted.

Trees growing within a 500 foot radius are flattened in the agricultural Achin district of Nangarhar province.

The Pentagon's already massive carbon footprint increases.

The U.S. taxpayer is out $314,000,000 the same week that federal income taxes are due.

War profiteer Dynetics gets a major brand boost.

The U.S. continues a pattern of funding its own enemies in the endless "war on terror" by bombing a tunnel complex the CIA helped bin Laden build for the mujahadeen. 

The demagogue with bad hair keeps one of his many campaign promises: "We're gonna bomb the shit out of ISIS."

The U.S. sends a message to governments everywhere e.g., this morning's Reuters headline "Pence warns North Korea of U.S. resolve shown in Syria, Afghan strikes" reporting on the vice president's trip to South Korea to further deployment of THAAD missile "defense" system there.
Image: Hassan Bleibel

The demagogue states on camera, "We are so proud of our military...We have the greatest military in the world!" but fudges when asked if he authorized use of the MOAB.

Corporate media talking heads nearly wet themselves expressing enthusiasm for a man they claim becomes more "presidential" when he orders (or maybe just observes?) airstrikes on other countries.

Alternative media examine the facts, alleged facts, and possible motivators for the airstrike more thoroughly.

North Korea responds by holding a missile parade, and the corporate press claim we are on the verge of going to war with that nuclear armed nation.

The neocons who had Syria on their maps when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 finally get to use a weapon developed for that conflict. 

U.S. military commander in Afghanistan General Nicholson finds the courage to visit Kabul two days later, possibly for talks about bringing in more troops than the 8,000 already there in order to "break the stalemate" of that 14 year conflict.

Antiwar organizer David Swanson observes the parallels with United Airlines' attack on a passenger, noting that if other passengers had simply blocked the aisle it would have halted the violent removal of David Dao. He then adds:
one should expect corporations and their thugs to behave barbarically. They are designed to do so. One should expect corrupt governments that lack popular influence or control to abuse power. 
The question is whether people will sit back and take it, resist with some nonviolent skills, or disastrously resort to violence themselves.
Amen to that, brother.

Banner from website of the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers

Friday, April 14, 2017

Winona LaDuke On The Art Of Indigenous Resistance: What Kind Of Ancestor Do You Want To Be?

Winona LaDuke, two time VP candidate for the Green Party,
as depicted by Rob Shetterly for his Americans Who Tell The Truth series.
"The essence of the problem is about consumption, recognizing that
a society that consumes 1/3 of the world’s resources is unsustainable.
This level of consumption requires constant intervention
into other people’s lands. That’s what’s going on."

I had the opportunity to hear Winona LaDuke speak at a nearby college this week; someone had gifted my sister two tickets, and she shared one with me. My sister knows that I value the wisdom of indigenous elders and I'm interested in hearing from their matriarchs, enough so to be out late on a school night.

The theme of LaDuke's talk to students was an invitation to think about what kind of an ancestor they want to be. She shared the Anishinaabeg ancestors' prophecy from many generations ago that we are in the time of the 7th fire:

We have a choice between two paths. And one path, they said, was well-worn but scorched. And the other path, they said, was not well-worn, and it was green. 
Fundamentally the question is, how's that going to be determined? Fifty years from now, what's my village going to look like?...And who's in charge of that? Where's our water going to come from? What will we be eating? What will we be thinking? How will we treat each other?

LaDuke considers herself privileged to belong to the land where food grows on water (native wild rice is found in northern Minnesota) and sugar comes from trees. She was no doubt aware when making a strong argument for local living and local thinking that most of the affluent Colby students in her audience are super transient or, as Mainers say, "from away." 

She offered them this counsel: the U.S. frontier mentality of always thinking we can move on to a new place that is greener is over. She challenged them to settle down someplace because, "We're all here, and we've all got to work this out...Where's that place that you know? Where's that place that you care for?" 

The place that LaDuke cares for is threatened by another pipeline, a replacement for the now defunct Keystone XL pipeline project.
The project threatens the Anishinaabeg homeland and the Great Lakes region, wherein lies 1/5 of the planet's fresh water.
(Source of this and the next two visuals:

LaDuke herself grew up in Los Angeles and attended Harvard. She's traveled to Washington DC "riding horse" accompanied by her sister and her teenage sons. Now, for many decades she has lived where her great great great great greats harvested the wild rice, and she watches her grandchildren there playing that they are front line NoDAPL water protectors.

Her first act was asking the audience to wait while she retrieved her metal water bottle, explaining that she could not use the water in plastic bottles that the college had set out for her on the podium.

I started the applause for that wisdom; years ago I heard environmentalist Maude Barlow's counsel that boycotting bottled water was the most powerful thing we could do to protect the planet's aquifers.

LaDuke and family spent a lot of time with the water protectors in North Dakota and reporting on that was presumably a reason she'd been invited by the Environmental Humanities Subcommitee of Colby College. Only two young people in the audience had been to the noDAPL camps; that seemed to surprise LaDuke more than the plastic bottles. (My note: possibly one explains the other?) But, in her generous way, she noted that many people had supported the water protectors materially and spiritually.

There was more applause later when she shared her plans for making America great again. She's actively working to restore the biodiversity that was lost when 8,000 varieities of corn cultivated by indigenous, largely women, farmers were replaced by those "invented by a guy in a white lab coat working for Monsanto."

"When America was great there were 250 species of grass in the northern plains, and 50 milion buffalo. That's when America was great."

I reflect with sadness as I hear the cooing doves of early morning in the Maine woods where I belong. Thousands of miles away the ecological disaster of the many wars for empire unfolds; I woke up this morning remembering that yesterday my government dropped a bomb in eastern Afghanistan larger than the one that flattened Hiroshima. Air strikes on the tunnels of the Hindu Kush mountains betweeen Afghanistan and Pakistan to kill "terrorists" is an old trick that will do nothing to end the war there. Collateral damage includes the ancient irrigation systems devised by the people who belong to that land. The endless "war on terror" is a profit scheme, and not a sustainable one. As a local man in Kabul told me in 1979: "As long as there is one Afghan left alive, the Soviets will never rule our country."

LaDuke showed us data assembled by Honor the Earth, the organization she helped found, demonstrating that it is game over for oil. It's no longer profitable to drill for it, and the most extreme extraction schemes like fracking or processing tar sands increase the cost. But greed drives corporations to continue building pipelines that LaDuke predicts will soon be abandoned.

On Anishinaabeg land, LaDuke joins with people building solar and wind power sustainable energy solutions. She supports public art for their spiritual health. She is active and she is hopeful -- because that's the kind of ancestor she wants to be.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Guest Post: Lawrence Reichard On @SenatorCollins Carrying Water for Trump

If Senator Susan Collins wore her corporate sponsors like a NASCAR driver

Today's guest post, shared by permission of the author. Visuals added by me.

Carrying Water for Trump

Bricks and Mortars by Lawrence Reichard

President Trump has been in office 11-plus weeks, and tanker loads of ink have been spilled over Trump, Bannon, Kushner, Ivanka, the perpetually hapless Sean Spicer, and even Mike Pence – remember him?  But one person hasn't received her fair share of ink or credit for the relatively small but key role she has played in advancing Trump's agenda, and that person is Maine's senior senator, Susan Collins.

On a policy level, Trump's first 11 weeks have been a disaster, but the administration is undefeated in senate confirmations, despite some highly questionable picks.  Now Trump and the GOP have engineered the Supreme Court confirmation of a man whose record on labor would make Josef Mengele blush.  And few have done as much as Susan Collins to grease the rails of this train wreck.  She is truly an unsung heroine of the first 11 weeks of the Trump revolution.

In January I wrote that Collins had done a great disservice to women and blacks by officially introducing to her Senate colleagues attorney general nominee, now attorney general, Jeff Sessions, a demonstrable racist who has consistently voted against the interests of women.

And now with her relatively small yet important role in the Gorsuch confirmation, Collins has also sold workers down the river.  Let's hope there's a little breather before the GOP introduces any legislation affecting children.

As a circuit court judge, Neil Gorsuch ruled to uphold the firing of a truck driver for abandoning his rig when staying with the rig might very easily have resulted in his freezing to death – and the trucker returned to his rig as soon as it was safe for him to do so.  Six other judges ruled for the trucker, but not Gorsuch, the lone dissenting judge in the case. 

Check out the YouTube senate confirmation hearing video of Gorsuch telling Senator Al Franken he has nothing but the utmost sympathy for the trucker he would consign to hypothermia.  That audacity left even Gorsuch himself speechless.  He sits there grinning, knowing he has the votes and not caring what some Minnesota senator thinks. 

It would seem that saving a few bucks for a big trucking company is more important to Gorsuch than the life of a truck driver.

As such, Gorsuch is unfit to be a judge in any court that holds sway over human lives.  If Gorsuch would condemn a man to death by hypothermia for the sake of truck cargo, he has no business presiding over traffic court let alone the Supreme Court. And with Gorsuch weighing in at 49 years of age, we could be stuck with this corporate hangman for 30 years or more.

Protesters at outside Collins' office in Lewiston, Maine

As the GOP's official voice of moderation, Collins greased the skids of the Gorsuch nomination by putting the official imprimatur of moderation on the junking of filibusters for Supreme Court nominations.  And to bolster her moderate bona fides, newspaper readers are reminded that last year Collins asked politely whether her Republican party might possibly do its constitutional duty and hold hearings on Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. 

One can practically hear Prince of Darkness Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell guffawing after finishing that phone call.  Some senator from Maine is concerned about excessive partisanship.  How quaint. 

After the Gorsuch confirmation vote, Mitch McConnell was seen high-fiving his senatorial co-conspirators, and you can bet McConnell wasn't simply high-fiving that day's vote – he was giddily celebrating a complete, unadulterated palace coup that started last year with his successfully blocking Merrick Garland.  McConnell had defied the constitution itself and had gotten away with it.  That's definitely worth a high-five, and few did as much as Susan Collins to make it all possible.  

It is precisely because of Collins' alleged moderate credentials that she is employed to carry water for Trump's racist, sexist, anti-worker agenda.  

She's either on board with that agenda or she's being played like a fiddle.  Those are the only possibilities – there are no other possibilities. 

Does Collins believe that the extremely ideological Trump administration didn't talk with Gorsuch about its fervent wish and desire to, in Grover Norquist's infamous words, shrink government to a size that it can be drowned in a bathtub?  And does she think Trump would nominate Gorsuch if he weren't ok with that?  Either Collins knows this or she is seriously asleep at the wheel.  Again, there is no other possibility.

Collins is questioned by reporters about her support for changing Senate rules to ram through Gorsuch's confirmation

Rumor has it Collins may run for governor.  But whether she runs for governor, a fifth Senate term, or dogcatcher, if Trump succeeds in laying waste to government as we know it, if he succeeds in eviscerating Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Obamacare and the environment, with the help of a supine Supreme Court, Susan Collins will no doubt say she had no idea that was the program or that she tried to apply some sort of brakes to the wanton attack on healthcare, the elderly, and clean air and water that is headed our way.  Rubbish.

Susan Collins might never stop carrying water for Trump.  She may never wake up, smell the coffee and reject what fully 65 percent of Americans are already rejecting.  

But if you send her this column, at least she'll know someone is watching.
Editor's note: You can use this link to share Lawrence Reichard's column with Senator Susan Collins:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Penny Poll Results: Money For Health And Education, Not For Wars And Occupations

A young busker raising money for a trip to study in Japan took time to do our penny poll.
She put all ten of her pennies in the jar for education, and so did her sister.

As part of our war tax resistance my husband and I tabled with other resisters in central Maine on a blustery spring Saturday. Set up next to the Waterville Opera House where a matinee of The Little Mermaid was being presented, our penny poll drew 51 responses from passersby on the main street of this former mill town now home to two small colleges. 

Each participant had ten pennies to spend representing one year of federal discretionary spending, and ten possible categories to spend them on.

A wide range of ages including children, elders and millenials participated over the course of four hours. A man toting a giant bag of retunables found a bottle under one of the shrubs near our table after stopping to do the poll. He, like the violin students, put all ten of the pennies provided into the jar marked EDUCATION. His explanation: "If you take care of that area, it takes care of all the rest."

Here are the results of our April 8, 2017 penny poll of 51 people in Waterville, Maine:

EDUCATION          26%
HEALTHCARE       19%
ENV / ENERGY      18%
FOOD/FARMS        10%
VETERANS               7 %
HOUSING                  6%
MILITARY                 6%
TRANSPORT.            3%
DEBT                           3%
GOVERNMENT        2%

I compared our results yesterday with a similar poll we helped conduct in 2011 across every county in Maine. As reported in "Mainers Want Their Federal Income Taxes Spent on Education, Health Care" on the National Priorities Project website:
Education, health care, and veterans’ benefits were the top choices for federal spending among the 1,552 Mainers participating in polls conducted in each of Maine's 16 counties. Results showed that education (21%), health care (19%) and veterans’ benefits (12%) were the top choices among the people who participated. Those were followed by environment/science (11%), food/agriculture (9%), both transportation and interest on the national debt (7%), housing (6%), defense (5%), and general government (2%).

Overall, we see similar priorities in 2011 and 2017; education remains at the top of the list along with health care in second place. The environment and energy have a more prominent spot now after six years of climate chaos, while concern with benefits for veterans and servicing the debt dropped a bit. The military -- which actually receives well over half the discretionary budget year after year -- climbed one point from 5% to 6%.

It is also the biggest carbon polluter on the planet so no amount of spending on sustainable energy solutions will halt global warming without addressing the Pentagon's contribution to the problem.

Here's a graph of the actual way our taxes were spent for fiscal year 2015.

Milennials who came to help shared that they avoid war taxes by avoiding income. They can't afford to own a home or start a family, and they worry about the chilling effect this has on relationships. Many work multiple jobs just to pay their student loans and barely get by.

Milennials have been creative about finding ways to not end up in this situation:

Follow up interviews with those polled would be necessary to determine, case by case, why they vote with their pennies as they do. One theory I have about why they allocate so little funding to essential areas like food or housing is that they do not consider feeding or housing people a proper function of national government; whereas education and healthcare are seen as proper functions of national government.

Have central Mainers lived so long without any meaningful public transportation systems that they've forgotten the role of governments in providing this?

The train lines that used to run north from Waterville were torn up in favor of better paved highways a couple of generations ago. Those highways now have potholes the size of small cars mostly caused by the overloaded pulp trucks busily carrying away Maine's forests. Low income people can't get to most jobs because they can't maintain a car in legal working condition what with inspections and insurance costs, and there are no busses they could use to commute.

rural bus service in India

A family of newly settled refugees near Waterville pays people to drive them to and from their jobs in an indoor tomato farm 20 miles from where they live. In any country I've ever visited -- Canada, Mexico, England, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Afghanistan, India -- there would be bus service even in rural areas. 

But if all you've ever known is the U.S. drunk on exceptionalism and imperial hubris, it can be hard to realize what we're missing in order to fund endless war and obscene profits for weapons manufacturers or "security" providers like Blackwater was in Iraq. The latter's CEO Erik Prince is now said to be a chief advisor to the new regime in the White House. Things are not likely to move in the direction of giving people what they actually want in exchange for their federal taxes anytime soon. 

It's taxation without representation, folks. And you know where that sort of thing leads.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

War Index (With Apologies To Harper's, Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Yemenis, et al.)

Source: National Priorities Project Costs of War counter 4/9/17 at 6am EDT

number of bombs the U.S. dropped on Syria in the final year of the Obama administration
7 number of Muslim majority countries bombed by Obama

59 number of Tomahawk missiles dropped on Syrian government airfield April 6, 2017
$1,590,000 cost of one Tomahawk cruise missile
$93,810,000 total cost of Tomahawk missiles used in April 6 airstrike

2.35% increase in the value of Tomahawk missile manufacturer Raytheon's shares on April 7, 2016
14.03% increase in the value of Dow Jones Aerospace and Defense [sic] index shares since Trump's election

18 number of opinion pieces in favor of the April 6 airstrike on Syria
in the NYT, Wall St. Journal, Washington Post, USA Today and NY Daily News 
0 number of opinion pieces against the April 6 airstrike on Syria
in the NYT, Wall St. Journal, Washington Post, USA Today and NY Daily News 

465,000+ number of Syrians killed by civil war since 2010
1,000,000+ number of Syrians injured by civil war since 2010
12,000,000+ number of Syrians driven from home by civil war since 2010
13,210 number of Syrian refugees accepted into the U.S. in 2016
50% share of Syrian population driven from their homes by civil war since 2010

1,000 estimated number of civilians killed by U.S. airstrikes in March, 2017
9 number of children shot and left to bleed out by U.S. Special Forces in Yemen January 29, 2017

$20,400,000 compensation package for Raytheon CEO Thomas Kennedy in 2015

$19,000,000 compensation package for General Dynamics CEO Phebe Novakovic in 2015
$22,500,000,000 total cost of three Zumwalt destroyer battleships
built by General Dynamics at Bath Iron Work in Maine
$30,510,000 net worth of Maine's congressional delegation in 2014
#1 rank of General Dynamics among campaign donors for Maine's senators in their last election year

28% share of children in Maine whose families receive public assistance

12 number of civil disobedients arrested at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in 2016
9 number of civil disobedients arrested at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works to date in 2017

#Aegis9 about to be arrested on April 1, 2017 at christening [sic] of destroyer ship