need to above all realize that: every chemical we refine, every
bomb we drop, and every mile we drive, is integrated into each
of our lives through our connection to this remarkable planet
that we share. Our physical lives rise out of the earth, are
sustained by, and sink back into it. Every action taken, each
breath, each mouthful, and moment experienced, is inseparably
connected to all life here on earth.
Ways to Spend Time
Luther King - Beyond Vietnam
of Independence 1776 - 2006
July 9, 2006
hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of
Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted
among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the
governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive
of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to
abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation
on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as
to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established
should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly
all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to
suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves
by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when
a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably
the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute
Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off
such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future
country has 725 foreign military bases and 926 domestic ones2.
We are the world's largest possessor, creator, and user of weapons
of mass destruction. We sell more weapons then the next twenty
arms dealing countries put together. We have supported and perpetrated
more wars and regime changes in the last fifty years than any
other country on earth. Our 2007 military budget is $547 billion
dollars (after the monies to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan are
added) with $84.2 billion in new weapons systems - an 8% increase
from 2006. (The average college graduate in the US can expect
to earn 2.1 million dollars over the course of a lifetime, or
about a minute and a half of pentagon spending) The pentagon
does not know where a trillion dollars went in 2002 and they
admit that they do not know how 25% of their budget is spent
poll of a hundred bipartisan experts in foreign policy and security
issues has 84% of them expressing that the US is losing the
war on terror and 86% saying that Americans are less safe because
of it, and it provides a recruiting bonanza for anti-American
ideologues They express a 'belief that the U.S. national security
apparatus is in serious disrepair " and that to win America
must place a much higher emphasis on its nonmilitary tools such
as the United Nations and other multilateral institutions5,
The US government is now $8.4 trillion in debt, if you add the
American peoples personal and public debts it is $44 trillion,
which is 350% higher than our gross domestic product. (If one
could count a number a second 24/7 it would take 30 years to
count to one billion -9 zeros- and 31,700 years to a trillion
-12 zeros US.) We are running a $724 billion dollar trade deficit,
meaning we import that amount more than we export annually.
In other words our nation is the worlds largest debtor nation,
we are increasingly (up 17.2 % in 2005) spending more than we
beings with US citizens in the lead are warming our planet.
Colombia professor James Hansen the head of the Goddard space
institute believes we have ten years to reverse this trend.
Most atmospheric scientist agree we are causing this warming
but are less sure of a timetable to a environmental tipping
point from which it will be difficult to recover. However the
rate of warming and the effects of it have been surprising to
almost all of the experts on the subject. Our government is
essentially not addressing this issue9.
bush administration has declared the unitary executive theory
of government, which advocates for the Presidents right to interpret
the constitution and expand his powers as far as the other branches
will allow. In this effort he has signed over 700 signing statements
(essentially line item vetoes) that declare he does not have
to follow this or that aspect of a bill passed into law by congress.
In addition he has negated the fourth and sixth amendments to
the constitution with the NSA's non-court approved spying on
the American people and by jailing American citizens without
charges, allowing them no access to representation and denying
them their right to a speedy trial of their peers. Our government
has decided to pull out from: The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty,
the Treaty Banning Antipersonnel Mines, the International Criminal
Court, the Biological Weapons Convention treaty, the Kyoto Protocol,
and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. In addition we are not
complying with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical
Weapons Commission, and have shown a total disregard of the
Geneva Conventions, the United Nations, and nearly all international
11, 12, 13.
evidence now is unequivocal that the Administration knowingly
misled the public into war, by cherry-picking intelligence,
bullying CIA analyst and ignoring foreign intelligence reports
consistently change key wording in scientific findings to reflect
their point of view. And they have engaged in a foreign and
domestic propaganda campaign that disseminates inaccurate information
on a broad range of subjects.
is a great deal of evidence that shows that our election system
has been skewed towards the Republican Party over the last eight
years. Electronic voting machines have shown a distinct pattern
that drastically differs from both exit polls and past voting
patterns. A team at the University of California at Berkeley,
found a highly suspicious pattern in which Bush received 260,000
more votes in those Florida precincts that used electronic voting
machines than past voting patterns would indicate compared to
those precincts that used optical scan read votes where past
voting patterns held. According to Dr. Steve Freeman, a statistician
at the University of Pennsylvania, the odds are 250 million
to one that the exit polls were only wrong in the counties that
used voting machines with no means to recount the vote and held
in the counties that had a recountable trail, where the exit
polls disagreed with the computerized outcomes the results always
favored Bush. If you combine this with the suspicious lack of
machines for democratic precincts that created unreasonably
long lines, and with the governments own tally of 1,855,827
ballots that were cast but not counted, you have an election
system that would not pass the third world standard for a fair
is our present government "deriving their just powers from
the consent of the governed" and are they enhancing our
ability as citizens to have, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of
We have the technology and most of the infrastructure to rapidly
change from the increasingly expensive fossil fuel economy to
a perpetually renewable solar and methanol economy.
Imagine all the roofs on earth quietly and safely collecting
during the day and using this electricity to create methanol,
by combining CO2 from the air, and hydrogen from wastewater,
in a fuel cell. The methanol then becomes a relatively safe2
and stable energy storage medium, which can then be used to
cleanly power cars, heat homes, and when run the opposite direction
through a fuel cell it will make electricity at the site where
it is needed3.
Essentially the methanol becomes a very efficient battery without
the long-range toxic residues and energy loss associated with
all current batteries. And, because the CO2 is taken directly
from the ambient air when it comes back out of the fuel cell
there is no net gain of green house gas to the atmosphere.
This approach to our energy needs would not require vast tracks
of land for wind farms or solar installations, it would not
have all of the long-range dangers of nuclear power, or the
massive environmental damage created by fossil fuels. It presents
a good solution to our electrical infrastructure problems by
replacing centralized - top down - power generation with a decentralized
on site - bottom up - power generation which would be much more
efficient and environmentally safe.
The 1994 Nobel Laureate in chemistry Dr. George Olah4
and his collogues at the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute
of USC have been doing research into the use of Methanol as
a energy storage medium for a number of years now5.
Dr. Olah explains the advantages of methanol over the more touted
hydrogen for the storing of energy as: Methanol is a stable
liquid that can be used without any conversion in our present
automobiles and gas stations (except it is corrosive to aluminum
so intake valves made from aluminum would have to be replaced
with plastic ones) whereas, Hydrogen would require a completely
new infrastructure for both our vehicles and our gas stations,
ands its molecular structure would necessitate very specialized
systems to store and transport it.
The other relevant comparison is Ethanol, which has been getting
a lot of attention from the government and private industry
lately. Currently in the United States ethanol is being made
from corn. This approach is highly impractical because corn
is a land depleting, relatively water-demanding crop, which
is heavily subsidized by the government. Ethanol can be made
from any cellulose fiber, and there are a number of better crops
such as switch grass that are being proposed for producing it,
but any crop takes away from food production and adds to the
huge problems generated by modern agriculture. Methanol does
not require cellulose for its production so avoids the massive
land use problems inherit to ethanol. However Dr. Olah stresses
that we can have multiple ways of meeting our energy needs.
Where other systems are practical they should be implemented.
Methanol can also be made from methane by inserting an oxygen
molecule, so landfills, feed lots, and sewage treatment plants
could potentially create large amounts of it, and reduce the
amount of methane (which is a very dangerous green house gas)
in the process. In addition methanol can be made from the CO2
waste from factories if combined with hydrogen from water and
electricity in the manner described above. Also, Methanol can
be used to create propylene, which is a major ingredient in
plastics, and is now made from fossil fuels.
We are faced with the need to rethink and reinvent our ways
of producing energy and transporting ourselves. If we do nothing
we will probably not survive this century6.
Why not make use of all of the technologies that are currently
being developed to give our children and the children of the
world a chance to live decent clean life's?
tailpipes, our survival and the bottom line
Sat Apr 22, 2006
A hundred years ago our planet had vast amounts of energy stored
beneath its surface in the forms of oil, gas and coal. There
is debate about how all that energy got there, but there has
been little dispute about what to do with it. We are burning
it on an ever-increasing scale (2% annual increase since 1960).
Our cars and factories are pouring all of this energy into our
atmosphere. This week PBS's show NOVA presented "Dimming
the Earth" which described the amount of energy we have
trapped into our atmosphere, "as comparable to burning
a 50-watt light bulb on every square meter of the earth's surface".
The show went on to say that the burning of fossil fuels has
two major effects on the earth's climate; the first is the release
of green house gases, which trap heat from the sun in the atmosphere,
creating an overall rise in global temperatures - there is a
vast amount of information about this and virtually no dispute
among atmospheric scientists - and the second major effect is
air pollution. When we burn these fuels we send billions of
very small particles of sulphur dioxide, soot, and ash into
the air, called aerosols by scientists. We all know about the
health damaging effects of smog, but what has more recently
come to light is that these small solids change the properties
Clouds form when moisture gathers around airborne particles
such as pollen. What has now been observed in several scientific
studies is that the particles emitted by the burning of fossil
fuels, create clouds that are made up of many more tiny droplets
than "natural" clouds. These smog created clouds have
a twofold effect: they shield sunlight from getting to the earths
surface and because of the reflective nature of water they reflect
light back into space from the millions of tiny droplets held
suspended in them. This has been duped the "global dimming"
Many scientist now believe that global dimming caused by these
pollutants have been mitigating the temperature rises brought
about by Global warming. Over the last thirty years or so we
have increased the earths temperature by about one to one and
half degrees Fahrenheit. Without global dimming our planet would
be two to three degrees warmer than it currently is. So there
is a sort of tug-a-war between the green house gases and the
particulates released by burning fossil fuels.
We know that airborne pollutants effects human health in a variety
of dangerous ways and are responsible for a sharp rise in asthma
and other respiratory diseases. We have responded to these dangers
in Europe and the United States by placing catalytic converters
in our automobiles and smog scrubbers in factory smoke stacks.
These efforts have shown a marked improvement in the air quality
of cities. However they have also allowed the green house effect
to become more pronounced. If we continue to decrease smog while
pouring CO2 and other green house gases into our atmosphere
we will rapidly warm our planet.
Dr. James Hansen1
of Columbia University and the head Goddard Institute for Space
Studies, believes this warming could be as much as five degrees
in the next thirty years and ten to fourteen degrees over the
course of this century. Such a temperature rise would be devastating
to life on Earth, and would likely bring on a cascade of self-promoting
warming effects such as: forests drying and burning, a steady
thawing of the Greenland and arctic ice sheets, and (most dangerous
of all) a release of the methane hydrates that are now frozen
at the bottom of the oceans.
These responses to human activity by the earth's climate could
remake the planet into something that is very inhospitable to
human life. Dr, Hansen warns that his research shows that man
has just 10 years to reduce greenhouse gases before global warming
reaches what he calls a tipping point and becomes unstoppable.
What these climate models do not take into consideration is
what could happen if humans started focusing our energies on
fixing the life threatening problems we face. If we consider
all of the effort, thought and inventiveness that we have put
into our modern lives, from the complex and incredible industry
we have shown to get these fossil fuels out of the ground and
into our gas tanks, and then to get our cars on the intricate
and vast systems of roads we have produced for them, to the
technological innovativeness that we have poured into warfare
and consumer products in the last forty years we must conclude
that we can have a positive effect on promoting our own survival
if we decide as a people to focus on protecting life rather
then destroying it.
To do this we will have to define our basic values. We all want
good health and a decent standard of living for our families,
the people we love, and ourselves. The information presented
above makes it clear that we will not be able to make this happen
on the old model, of individual achievement and acquisition.
We will have to co-operate on a global scale if we want to survive
this next century. If we continue to make warfare, and short-term
corporate profit taking, our priorities we will literally ignite
and burn away our life here on earth. However if we embrace
the cooperation and openness to innovation that appears at present
to be our only way to survive we may gain a new way of understanding
and living in the world.
Orwell's trousers, and the prevailing orthodoxy
Sun Apr 16, 2006
Recently I read George Orwell's original unpublished (some say
suppressed) introduction to Animal Farm. In it he talks about
how no one - and particularly the left - was willing to discuss
the brutality of Stalin, because the Soviets were critical allies
in the war effort, and the left was more or less head over heels
in love with the possibilities presented by communism. But,
more importantly he is talking about allowing a prevailing orthodoxy
to remain unquestioned. Here is a quote. (I had to include the
first sentence just because it is so descriptive of our current
British press is extremely centralized, and most of it is owned
by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain
important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also
operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films
and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body
of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people
will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to
say this, that or the other, but it is 'not done' to say it,
just as in mid-Victorian times it was 'not done' to mention
trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the
prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising
effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never
given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the
The natural question that arises from this is, what are the
unmentionable trousers of our time, and is it important to question
our prevailing orthodoxy?
As much as I would like to leave that an open-ended question
surprisingly, I also have an answer. It goes like this please
sing along if you know the words.
The ever expanding market driven 3% annual growth laisser faire
greed is good dog eating dog fixed market militirist captilist
economy is killing us and most of the other forms of live here
on this planet.
Here are a few examples:
· The United States is the weapons-are-us supermarket
to the world. We sell more weapons annually then the next 14
weapons selling nations put together. We also give away and
sell at deep discounts a whole bunch of used military equipment.
Warfare is arguably the single most environmentally destructive
practice that humans do, and I believe these weapons sales are
a major contributor to it.
The US government has worked against almost every movement and
government that has sprung up anywhere in the world that was
dedicated to the betterment of it's citizenry, apparently in
an effort to promote the business interests of our large corporations
and thereby expand our ecomnomic and military empire. It is
not that the record doesn't exist of this behavior it just "does
not do" to speak of it. From Iran's Mossadegh and Sukarno
in Indonesia, Manley in Jamaica, Allende of Chile, and Arbenz
of Guatemala, right on up through, Chavez in Venezuela and Aristide
of Haiti, the story is very similar, although the reasons given
vary, I believe Capitalism is at the heart of it.
The reasons cited by the Bush administration for not signing
on to the Kyoto protocols were for the most part, that participating
in these measures would be detrimental to US business interests.
We are faced with one of the most life threatening events in
human history and the immediate profits margins of the ultra
wealthy few (and the need to keep our shell game economy afloat)
are more important than the overall health of life on earth.
We daily pour poisons in our soil and directly onto our food
to create a temporary and unsustainable over abundance that
gets dumped on foreign markets, (devastating their traditional
farmers in the process) and ends up as subsidized corn syrup
so we can super-size our children.
We allow large corporations to "brand" our children
with their products, using systems of indoctrination that connect
to their lizard brain with sexually stereotyped titillation
and ultra-violence. This market driven media uber-culture attempts
to trump all the healthy values we want our children to carry
with them into their future and the future of our society, in
order to sell product and gain market share.
So there are five examples and of course there are many more
that come easily to mind but that is probably enough for now.
So one wonders what was the consequence to a person in Victorian
society, that dared to mention the emperors new trousers, and
did naming the problem have a positive effect on sexism and
sexual repression among their culture?
bush agenda versus life on earth
Fri Apr 14, 2006
The questions I keep asking are: why is the Bush administration
doing this wide range of determined world destroying behavior,
and how do we counter them?
It appears George himself is irrelevant in terms of policy.
He has stated he does not pursue any information for himself
but takes what ever his handlers shovel into his trough as the
gospel (a loose quote). It is one of the things that must make
him so appreciated by mr. chenny. I have to assume that the
real policy makers are in possession of any information that
I am, and probably a great deal more.
Noam Chomsky says that you can look through the bush decision
record and see that every decision they have taken benefits
the wealthy one percent and gives the boot to the rest of us,
this is clearly true, and an answer to my question in a short
term sense. However, the severely diminished world that would
be brought about by:
· Global warming: resulting in world wide food and water
shortages - and the conventional wars that would ensue from
these, flooded cities, the loss of waterfront property and all
the unpredictable whether effects that no one can plan for.
· A world wide nuclear arms race and the eventual use
of these weapons by individuals or states. (The message that
most people would take away from the US position in regards
to Iraq and N. Korea is if you have WMD we will talk big at
you if you do not we will attack you if you posses something
of vital interest to us. It appears that Iran got the message)
· A mass extinction event: we are now in the sixth largest
extinction event in history, and have moved up from the seventh
largest in the last couple of years.
· The loss of power and control that will occur, as they
continue to follow the well proven path of the failure of empires,
that they are on: An over reach and over emphasis of the military,
widening gaps between the rich and the poor, a total loss of
confidence and support by the citizenry, increasingly brutal
treatment in satellite states, and paranoia and surveillance
· The mental problems that occurred to people after participating
in a period of complete disregard for life: Post dramatic stress,
depression, lack of intimacy, etc...
All this must at least make them stop and think about their
actions. I realize we are dealing with a "non reality based
community" here but why would they work so far away from
their own long-term interest?
The historian and author Barbara Tuckman wrote a book called
The March of Folly in which she details this same type of behavior
throughout western history - the renaissance popes, world war
one, Vietnam, and more - she documents this syndrome in which
systems and individuals work assiduously against their own best
interest. It is apparent that we are caught in another one of
So the question is, are we just going to be lead into their
nightmare or are we going to stand up for our own dreams? Alternatives
to their insanity still exist, but we will have to be able and
willing to change. Here is what I believe is an agenda for the
The first priority has to be this years congressional campaign
we are much more likely to be heard on our other agenda items
with a majority of democrats in the house and senate then republicans.
We will need to win by margins above the five percent or so
by which the republicans can rig the elections.
Next we will need to push for impeachment of the president,
as much to show the world that we do care about them as to protect
our children and ourselves from further disaster.
We need to insist on election reform. As long as our politics
are run by private money the wealthiest among us (corporations
and there major stock holders) will be well represented and
the rest of us will not. We need to figure out how to have a
fair voting system that can be recounted with accuracy.
We need to end all funding for nuclear weapons, sign the nuclear
test ban treaty, and reinstate nuclear nonproliferation treaty,
and start unilateral reducing our nuclear stockpiles, while
publicly renouncing all talk of nuclear first strike and fire
military leaders who advocate this type of behavior.
We need to stop exporting weapons all over the globe. And force
the arms manufacturers into another line of work (possibly renewable
We need to cut the military research and development budget
and send that money towards teams of negotiators and mediators
who can be deployed around the world to listen to the various
sides in disputes and work on solving these problems.
We need to address our energy problems with solar powered roofing
and siding materials, and get the outer shells of our homes
producing energy for us, and massively export this technology.
We need to directly address global warming with a large research
and development budget to figure out ways to reduce our green
house gasses and get some of the co2 back out of the atmosphere.
We need to institute a single payer healthcare system.
We need to develop system by which clean fresh water can be
produced and distributed to every citizen of the world.
We need to encourage local organic farming in every neighborhood
around the world and redistribute the surpluses to the areas
that cannot produce enough food.
We will need to revoke the charters granted to large corporations
by the US government under which they can legally operate if
they refuse to adopt a long-term, life sustaining agenda in
place of their current damn-the-future, make-money-now policies.
There is a start to what we could be doing to live up to or
potentials as compassionate human beings who care about our
children's future and respect the gift of life we share here
We need to above all realize every chemical we refine, every
bomb we drop, and every mile we drive, is integrated into each
of our lives through our connection to this remarkable planet
that we share. Our physical lives rise out of the earth, are
sustained by, and sink back into it. Every action taken, each
breath, each mouthful, and moment experienced, is connected
to all other life here. No force on earth will ever be able
to sever the actual physical connection that we have one with
the other, and between all of us.
Strike Policy Goes Nuclear
joint chiefs of staff of the US military have been working on
two doctrines to clarify their current position on the use of
nuclear weapons. The first is called The Doctrine for Joint
which states in the executive summary:
use of nuclear weapons represents a significant escalation from
conventional warfare and may be provoked by some action, event,
or threat. However, like any military action, the decision to
use nuclear weapons is driven by the political objective sought."...
"Integrating conventional and nuclear attacks will ensure
the most efficient use of force and provide US leaders with
a broader range of strike options to address immediate contingencies…
This integration will ensure optimal targeting, minimal collateral
damage, and reduce the probability of escalation." …
"Although the United States may not know with confidence
what threats a state, combinations of states, or nonstate actors
pose to US interests, it is possible to anticipate the capabilities
an adversary might use…
These capabilities require maintaining a diverse mix of conventional
forces capable of high-intensity, sustained, and coordinated
actions across the range of military operations; employed in
concert with survivable and secure nuclear forces" …
"The immediate and prolonged effects of nuclear weapons
including blast (overpressure, dynamic pressure, ground shock,
and cratering), thermal radiation (fire and other material effects),
and nuclear radiation (initial, residual, fallout, blackout,
and electromagnetic pulse), impose physical and psychological
challenges for combat forces and noncombatant populations alike.
These effects also pose significant survivability requirements
on military equipment, supporting civilian infrastructure resources,
and host-nation/coalition assets. US forces must prepare to
survive and perhaps operate in a nuclear/radiological environment."
After public exposure, the Pentagon has formally canceled the
Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations and three related documents2.
The decision to cancel the documents simply removes controversial
documents from the public domain and from the Pentagon's internal
reading list. The White House and Pentagon guidance that directs
the use of nuclear weapons remains unchanged by the cancellation.
The second major policy paper that the Joint Chiefs have been
working and doing major operational tests for is called JCS
Strategic Deterrence Joint Operating Concept (JOC), prepared
by STRATCOM., or Space and Global Strike Plan3.
A draft of this offensive strike plan published in February
2004, describes the role of nuclear weapons as follows:
weapons provide the President with the ultimate means to terminate
conflict promptly on terms favorable to the United States. They
cast a lengthy shadow over a rational adversary's decision calculus
when considering coercion, aggression, WMD employment, and escalatory
courses of action. Nuclear weapons threaten destruction of an
adversary's most highly valued assets, including adversary WMD/E
capabilities, critical industries, key resources, and means
of political organization and control (including the adversary
leadership itself). This includes destruction of targets otherwise
invulnerable to conventional attack, e.g., hard and deeply buried
facilities, "location uncertainty" targets, etc. Nuclear
weapons reduce an adversary's confidence in their ability to
control wartime escalation".
programs have undergone extensive testing and implementation4
over the last few years with very little notice from the public
or coverage by the media.
published in the South Whidbey Record
have been reading the essays of Wendell Berry. I highly recommend
them to anyone interested in issues of community, food production,
security, economy, or just really fine writing. From these writings
and my own experience these truths emerge;
Soil, water, and sunlight create the food we eat and therefore
they create our bodies. Healthy soil, water, and sunlight should
be a primary concern of our economy, governmental policy, and
parenting practices All other concerns rest on this foundation.
Healthy food production requires lots of human interaction with
the plants, and animals we feed on. The more people involved
in food production the more care is taken in the process. The
further away from us that our food is produced the less knowledge
about and control of it's health we have.
Protecting the health of soil and water are the primary purview
and concern of the local communities that are built on top of
and in which they flow through. Communities protect the land
around them from self-interest, and affection for it. The primary
group that communities are made of is families. Families by
their nature are built on mutual trust, affection, and economic
co-operation. Communities are made up of many families existing
in the same locality. They function well to the extent that
they practice mutual trust, common courtesies, economic co-operation
and local entertainments. The idea of the public varies from
this in that it is primarily concerned with the protection of
the private rights of individuals and not the function of groups.
Our corporate institutions and industrial economy are inimical
to healthy food production and to communities because they separate
people from their homes by requiring them to work away from
them. This breaks the mutual economic interest of communities,
while dividing us from our ability to raise our children, the
source of our food, and increasingly our water. The energies
of the community are drawn out of the them and sold to an institution
that uses it for the profit of a few shareholders. The larger
the shareholder the more profit they are able to realize from
the labor. So, where human energy used to be spent in the betterment
of local economies where mutual trust and economic dependence
bound people together, now it is spent away from these moderating
influences and in an environment where competitiveness and a
strict interpretation of the law is the rule, conditions that
tend to separate people from each other. Our food is grown under
this model of competitiveness with an eye towards profit rather
than health. The cheapest producer of food in the world market
wins. Trans-national corporations are just as their name states
not bound to any locality or people so they by their nature
and by law have no ties to or affections for the land or the
people on it. After this global shuffle of goods takes place
they come back to our communities and are sold to us with the
purchasing power we gained from selling our labor. Leaving us
entirely dependent on the corporate institutions for our basic
necessities, and with very little understanding of where these
goods come from or what has gone into their creation. Politicians
who require large sums of money for political advertising get
locked into a system of support for their corporate sponsors
and tend to pass legislation with corporate interests in mind.
Freedom is only practicable through independence. Our country
was founded on the desire for independence from a distant and
therefore disconnected government. Empires extract resources
from their colonies often with very little understanding of
local needs and without affection for, or commitment to local
environments. This makes local people unable to act freely in
the best interest of their communities, families and land. In
many ways the citizens of the world are in this position with
respect to a multi-national corporate empire. Our local resources
are being extracted with very little value added by the communities
from which they come (this is most starkly true of the "developing
world") and we are totally dependent on the same small
group of corporations for virtually all of our survival needs
(this is most starkly true in the "developed world").
These goods tend to have less care and quality put into them
because of the need to spend less time on them to bring the
price of their manufacture down and the total disconnect between
producer and consumer. This allows us very little freedom of
choice or action. Our stores are filled with many items but
we have almost no way to judge quality or the healthfulness
of them. We can move anywhere we want but the same disintegration
of communities prevails everywhere.
Our intense concentration on warfare and weaponry takes money
away from middle-income families and invests it into weapons
manufactures who make large profits from it. In the case of
nuclear weapons (which our country has a the largest stockpile
in the world and Russia is once again building it's arsenal
as a reaction to Bush administration policy) we are literally
professing our willingness to kill every human, plant, and animal
in our country and much of the rest of the world for at best
an ill defined principle of capitalist democracy. This century
has seen the expansion of the cold war rather than the end of
The world in its entirety is sacred. From a Christian point
of view it is literally the creation of God and "God said
it was good". He liked what he had made. By taking what
God made and reforming it into cheap consumer items or weapons,
and using resources without care or thought we very directly
dishonor God. From a secular point of view the resources of
this earth are all we have. We are using them in an unsustainable
fashion and are spoiling the beauty and livability of our land
in the process.
do have some choices however. We can commit ourselves to a local
economy by purchasing local goods and services. We can make
every effort to encourage local small business by investing
in them. We can do our banking through local banks and avoid
corporate chains of every kind. We can try to find jobs that
add to our community by adding value to every natural resource
that leaves it (including intellectual). We can choose to spend
vacation time locally. And, we can communicate with each other
respectfully and thoughtfully by listening carefully and by
trying to find solutions to problems while putting aside our
attachment to being right, intelligent and correct. We will
have to put aside our narrowness and self-protections in order
to face and solve our problems as they are in the blood and
bone reality of our lives and not in the denial based fantasies
of nationalism or any fundamentalist system of excluding others
while building our own self importance and
published in the South Whidbey Record
The Bush Administration has said they will no longer support
dictators. Sadly, their practice is in stark contrast. Uzbekistan
is a good example of a one party state that routinely arrests
and holds dissidents with very little due process. Torture,
mass arrests, and indefinite detentions are common. We now give
them millions of dollars in weapons and military grants along
with most of their oil rich neighbors in which political conditions
are similar. The Bush Administration has lifted arms sale sanctions
on Armenia, Azerbaijan, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Yugoslavia
all countries that have appalling human rights records. In fact
many of the countries we supply with our sophisticated weaponry
-- in the form of US grants and financing, or used military
articles sold at 5% to 50% of their actual value, or gifts --
are basically dictatorships. Since 9/11 we have sharply increased
our support of these countries. Pervez Musharraf -- the man
who took power in Pakistan in a military coup -- has been sold
and given billions of dollars in weapons that are just one assassin's
bullet away from the hands of people who are very unfriendly
to the US. A study of our own history shows us that this is
part of long standing pattern of support for tyrants and dictators
not an exception.
the world with small arms and ammunition, bombs, tanks, warships,
helicopters, and airplanes has been a bi-partisan effort of
our government and arms manufacturers for at least the last
fifty years, and it carries real consequences for our soldiers
who end up fighting against enemies that we have armed. Our
helicopters were shot down in Afghanistan with stingers missiles
we supplied to the Resistance Movement (mujahadeem) there. Weapons
have no allegiance. If you arm people with sophisticated weapons
you are guaranteeing they will use them. For every bullet we
sell there is potentially a dead body and an angry, grieving
family. For detailed information on this subject go to: fas.org
(federation of American scientist) or cdi.org, (center for defense
information) look under arms trade.
can turn away from this and towards sustaining and supporting
life. Instead of weapons and war we can retool ourselves and
our nation to be the worlds largest producers of sustainable
energy technologies, solar, wind, biomass, neighborhood hydrogen
generation plants, new lighting systems, new transportation
systems, sustainable farming practices, and equipment, new technologies
to get all people clean water, decent medical care, housing,
and sewage treatment. With a nationwide commitment to producing
technologies that support life we can be the worlds largest
exporter of the tools the world needs to survive this century.
We can pour our nations remarkable creative energies into research
and development to bring up the worlds standard of living while
reinvigorating our own economy by providing good manufacturing
jobs in these new industries. Food, clean water, electricity,
jobs, housing, and hope for the future, are the best way to
fight terrorism. We are not safer with more enemies in the world
we are only safer with more friends.
In the Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition, all life is of God
which means that life itself is sacred. Science is recognizing
the interdependence of life. We must turn away from dumping
weapons, soil killing fertilizers, chemicals, and sowing the
tools of hate and vengeance on this sacred earth and turn towards
loving it as we love our own children. We as a nation can provide
the example. Write your congress people and senators, talk to
your neighbors. Invest in life.
Letter to the Editor
In 2004 we are allocating 431 billion dollars to the defense
department. If you add the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, servicing
our past military debt and other military expenditures it's
536 billion dollars annually (www.warresisters.org/piechart.htm)
Almost one and a half billion dollars a day. This is about half
of the U.S. budget. In contrast, our foreign economic assistance
last year was 11.4 billion dollars -- So, about a week's worth
of our military budget. As a percentage of GNP(less than 1%),
the U.S. ranks last in foreign aid, relative to other developed
nations, with Sweden, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Denmark,
at the top. ( the Netherlands with a population of 5.3 million
gave 3.2 billion dollars in 2001)
We could give every child in the United States early childhood
education (birth through age five) for ten years for seventy
billion dollars. We could pay the yearly salaries and benefits
for 15 RN's for the cost of one minute of the war in Iraq ($763,000).
We could improve, repair, and modernize 20 schools for the cost
of one hour fighting in Iraq ($46M). We could prevent all the
cuts to education (FY2003) for the cost of one day fighting
in Iraq. We could pay the annual salary for 38,000 elementary
school teachers for the cost of one Stealth Bomber ($2.1B) We
could eradicate polio worldwide for the cost of three tests
for the Missile Defense Program ($275M). We could provide clean
drinking water to the 1.2 billion people who currently don't
have it build sanitation facilities for the 2.9 billion people
who don't have them, sewer systems for the 4 billion people
who do not have them and save 3.31 million children's lives
annually worldwide for 75 billion dollars (50 days of our military
counted 800 defense company lobbyists for the year 2000 at a
cost of $60million (www.opensecrets.org). These defense companies
gave about $15 million to political campaigns of both Democrats
and Republicans that year. So who is getting represented here?
If we put half of the resources, energies, time, and thought
into negotiating peaceful solutions to disputing parties and
helping the poorest among us, wouldn't we be working towards
a more peaceful world rather a more heavily armed one?
to the Editor
I want to share some information with you on cluster bomb use
in Afghanistan. I feel it is extremely important for us to know
about, and reflect on the way we are behaving in our military
actions around the world. We must always keep in mind that we
pay for and produce these weapons.
The current generation of cluster bomb (CBU-87) is a thousand
pound shell, housing two hundred and two bomblets. The main
bomb opens at certain predetermined times releasing the bomblets
(called BLU-97). Depending on preset spin and altitude of their
opening they can be dispersed over area of from 70 by 70 feet
up to 450 by 800 feet. Each of the bomblets contains its own
inflatable parachute and it's housing has been preformed to
explode at extremely high velocity into 300 shrapnel like pieces.
They also have a zirconium ring that provides for fuel and other
fires by spreading small incendiary fragments. The shaped charge
has the ability to penetrate five inches of armor on contact.
The tiny steel case fragments are also powerful enough to damage
light armor and trucks at fifty feet, and to cause human injury
at 500 feet. Naturally the kill or severely maim at closer distances.
The incendiary ring can start fires in any combustible environment.
have excerpted the following from another article found on the
In eleven weeks, U.S. planes had dropped 1,210 cluster bombs,
each containing 202 BLU-97 bomblets. The British Halo Trust
now estimates on the basis of groundwork in the vales of Afghanistan
that 20% of the bomblets failed to explode, meaning 48,884 yellow
soda-can sized, yellow-colored deadly sub-munitions now litter
the villages, paths and fields of Afghanistan. ( I believe the
color yellow is emphasized here because U.S. food drops were
also in yellow packages. D.I.)
On New Year's Day, 2002, the United Nations' UNIC Director
Eric Falt disclosed that U.S. planes had dropped cluster bombs
in 103 cities of Afghanistan and possibly in another 25. The
areas around Herat, the Shomali Plain and Tora Bora were particularly
hard hit with cluster bombs. More than 600 cluster-bombs were
dropped by U.S. planes in the Shomali plain region alone during
the five weeks the U.S. planes pounded Taliban positions.
The villages of Denar Kheil, Kalakhan and Qarabagh were particularly
hard hit, being covered by BLU-97s. Early on November 10,
2001, CBU-87 bombs were dropped upon Denar Kheil in the Shomali
Plain. Between January 9 - 20th , a de-mining team found 100
active BLU-97 bomblets in the village. It is believed that
snow, sand and mud in Afghanistan make it even more likely
that the bomblets are not exploding [hence the higher reported
More than 10 Afghans are killed or injured each day from unexploded
ordnance. And nearly one out of 10 families has a member who
has been disabled by mines or other unexploded ordnance.
Cluster bombs are anti-vehicle and anti-personnel weapons.
They kill people without destroying property. They also serve
as land mines and detonate later, even years later, when they
are unearthed. The Times of London noted that the U.S. lobbied
at a landmine conference some years ago against classifying
cluster bombs as landmines. But they serve this secondary
and murderous purpose: "35,000 unexploded bomblets in
Kosovo still kill one person a week," the paper noted.
They are still killing people in Laos, 30 years after the
war there ended: 30 years after being dropped from U.S. planes,
one Laotian a month dies of a cluster bomblet.
think we all need to ask ourselves is this the way to fight
we go to war in Iraq or anywhere else, we will be using Depleted
I believe it is extremely important for the US taxpayer's who
pay for these weapons, to understand what they are, how they
are used, and what the long-range consequences of their use
Uranium weapons (DU) are conventionally fired missiles tips,
bunker busting bombs, and 30mm-120mm cannon shells, that have
been made with the material left over from the process of enriching
Uranium. It is radioactive and has a half-life of 4.4 billion
years. These weapons penetrate armor easily, and have the capacity
to go through two heavily armored tanks with one cannon shell.
They catch fire in flight and burn their way into personal carriers
creating a "fire storm" inside the vehicles, and leaving
radioactive dust in their path. This dust gets airborne with
any disturbance and is said to have spread all over southern
Iraq, Kuwait, and a good part of Saudi Arabia.
first used these weapons in the Gulf War. The US DOD estimates
we used about 315 tons of them there. We also used from 10-200
tons in the Balkans, and have used 500-600 tons in Afghanistan,
I heard last week that we are still bombing the Tora Bora cave
complex. This is a particular problem because of the caves are
involved with the water shed for the Kirsch valley one of Afghanistan
most prolific agricultural areas.
Retired Army Maj. Dr. Doug Rokke, who was tasked with the clean
up of DU in the Gulf War, said in a recent speech in Seattle,
that all of the men he was in command of, in the removal of
some 20 "friendly fire" vehicles from southern Iraq,
are either dead or gravely ill from their exposure to DU, including
himself. DU is strongly suspected in "Gulf War Syndrome",
which has killed 10,000 gulf war vets, and has seriously affected
the health of 250,000 others, it causes cancer of all kinds
but particularly affects the liver, and kidneys. Many vets have
complained of abnormal infant births in there family after they
served. There are also high cancer rates in towns around DU
production and storage facilities.
Jim McDermit who recently came back from Iraq said "In
southern Iraq mothers ask is my baby normal, rather than is
it a boy or girl, after giving birth".
is said to be just as affective for use as a weapon, without
the 4.4 billion year legacy. But is much more expensive.