Friday, December 9, 2011
Nine years of war: what has it cost us? What have we gained?
In lives: As of today, 4801 coalition forces have been killed, 4483 of them U.S. military members. Official estimates say 32,200 have been injured, but some estimates put that number closer to 100,000. Many of those injuries are brain injuries and amputations that will affect those injured for the rest of their lives.
On the Iraqi side, more than 100,000 civilian deaths have been documented, but Just Foreign Policy, Lancet and other place the number at more than a million. The number of injured is undocumented.
In money: The official tally stands at $800 billion-- that's $3000 a second—for the duration of the war. These are direct costs, however, and don't include the cost of replacing equipment, vehicles and weapons, and the cost of providing health care and other benefits for veterans. That could push the cost to about $4 trillion.
I won't put all the blame for the recession on the war, but, in these times, can you imagine the number of jobs that could have been created with that money?
What have we gained? Only the most cynical would say that the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein justifies what we have lost. A few might claim that Iraq paved the way for the Arab Spring, but I'd be more inclined to say that the people would have overthrown Hussein themselves by now.
Can anyone think of even one other benefit from this bloody, bloody war?
Anti-war activists called this war before it happened. We saw the handwriting on the wall on 9/11, we tried to stop it and when we couldn't, we tried to bring it to an early end, and we couldn't do that, either. the last few years the energy of the anti-war movement has been sapped by a misguided faith in Barack Obama. Maybe we're just tired. Or maybe we're coming to believe that everything must change before there can be no more wars.
For more than nine years, Arise has vigiled every Monday at noon in front of the Federal Building in Springfield. We've had a half dozen major demonstrations there, joined by anti-war activists from around the Valley. On snowy or rainy days, maybe the numbers get as low as four, but usually there's a dozen or more people. We'll mark the end of this war in some way before the end of the year. But we will continue to vigil.
There's still Afghanistan.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
From Change.org: In November, two gay men in Cameroon were sentenced to five years in prison simply for being gay, the harshest penalty allowed under Cameroonian law. During the trial, according to the AFP, the judge issued some particularly homophobic comments, leading one lawyer to call the trial “a bad ruling,” and leading Amnesty International to label these men as “prisoners of conscience.”
The sentence comes on the heels of increased homophobia in Cameroon, and debates over legislation that would further criminalize homosexuality in the country. Human rights attorney Alice Nkom told AllOut.org that “Violence against gay people in Cameroon has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels: the situation is quickly becoming a crisis. The president of Cameroon can put a stop to this, and if he feels enough pressure he will do so.”
Help send a message to Cameroon that the world is watching, and won’t stand silent while people are sentenced to jail solely because of their sexual orientation. Demand the release of these gay men from prison.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
But the federal government is about to eliminate the remaining funding for lead poisoning prevention, and Massachusetts is very unlikely to be able to make up the difference. Read more at Boston Globe.
Last year Massachusetts had thirteen employees working in lead-poisoning prevention programs. This year, we have three. What will next year bring?
What can you do as the parent of a child who may be at risk? If you're renting, ask the potential landlord if the apartment has a lead certificate. And ask your pediatrician to test your child, and test regularly. Looks like we're on our own for the indefinite future.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Where did my giddiness come from? I have found these last couple of days to be very upsetting ones in terms of U.S. war policy. Monday morning began with our local paper's front page announcement of a local National Guard contingent of engineers being sent off to Afghanistan for the next year. Their assignment? To clear roads of explosive devices. Will they come back to us? Will their bodies and their minds be whole?
Adding to my upset was knowing that every day the U.S. Senate was on the verge of passing on an obscene War Budget of nearly $ 700,000,000,000 for just one fiscal year. All dedicated to Killing -- or the Threat of killing -- to keep our top-dog position throughout the planet.
Then came the whopper. Embedded in the War Budget was a more frightening commitment to an already out-of-control escalated Anti-Terrorism policy (and what is that stipulation doing in a $$$ appropriation bill anyhow? Is there no Rules Committee in the Senate?) But it came to the floor and passed with 61 votes! The U.S. Senate moved a little closer to facism where THE U.S. MILITARY can summarily pick up a suspected terrorist & be her/his police, prosecutor, judge, and jury, putting a person away secretly and pretty much forever. The MILITARY in charge in this country. How is this different from the situation in Egypt? -- is the question I've been flinging about all week.
A lot of us were despondent.
So when I looked at the computer after dinner and saw that the Merkley Amendment had passed by a voice vote, I was astonished and delighted.
By the time I went to bed still trying to process all this, I was left with two explanations. The Senate needs a cover-up, a sop to what they will be about today (thursday) when the entire $ 600+ Blllion comes up for a vote. We citizens may well see them do what they've done before -- admonish the Pentagon and the President about the Wars one day, and then turn around the next day and vote all the money requested to execute the same wars.
I was still restless before I fell asleep. Where was this next thought coming from? Is it possible to look deeper, back into the younger days of some of these hapless Senators? Did they once glimpse what world peace, what the public good, etc. could look like? Was there an element of altruism in the voice vote yesterday afternoon?
These men and women, these Senators, so caught up in corruption on a scale never before possible in a governing body in all of history, may occasionally have a moment of collective recognition about the loss of youthful idealism. I suppose I'm thinking of the confused senior senator from my state, John Kerry, whom I often give up on, while still having a need to explain his thought processes to myself.
Is there a way to appeal to the traces of altruism in some of these Senators, instead of just denouncing them ? Still retaining the piercing insight we in the anti-war movement bring to the scene, I was wondering if I could add just a pinch of forgiveness for the human frailty of people with too much power which derives from too much money from too many unbearably ugly corporate connections in our society and the lies necessary to cover them.
What will happen today? Same old same old, most likely. How do we influence that? Drawing on the new energy of the Occupy movement and on our own inner resources and on the community we create as a movement, we can infuse our own overstressed bodies and brains and the organizations we work within to figure it out together and keep on struggling and doing what we do.
-- Sally Weiss, PDA End War and Occupations
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
From the Springfield No One Leaves Coalition:
Friday, November 18, 2011
Tea party members have shown up at every Occupy Springfield event but I wonder if today they found themselves with strange bedfellows. Are Tea Party members homophobes? I wouldn't have automatically thought so...
Lively's group was handing out flyers to passerbys with big red letters at the top and bottom saying, "Arise Lies" and "Tell Arise to Apologize!" I won't type the whole thing, but a few lines should give you the feel and I'll add a few comments (and the bizarre punctuation, which I will replicate, is theirs, not mine):
Arise for Social Justice is a Marxist Front Group that Hates Biblical Truth and Persecutes Bible-Believing Christians. (I wonder if the Christians in Arise feel persecuted?)
Like the Communists of Soviet Russia, and their Fellow Traveler Saul Alinsky, Arise uses Lies and Deceptive Propaganda to Destroy Their Enemies. (Wow! Didn't know we had that much power! Usually we just go for the systemic change approach.)
Arise has Promised to Drive Pastor Scott Lively Out of Springfield because he Holds to Biblical Truth About Homosexuality. (Completely wrong on this one. Just like the radioactive material in a decommissioned nuclear power plant, we would much prefer for Lively to remain in our community where we can keep an eye on him.)
Arise LIED to Portray Pastor Lively as a Heartless Monster and put his personal Safety At Risk.
So let me stop right here on this line because while today's event had its humorous moments, homophobia is deadly serious. Lively's safety at risk? The hate crime statistics for 2010 were released just three days ago, and according to the figures, " roughly 1.5% of all hate crimes in the United States in 2010 were against Christians while 19% were against gays. That means that lesbians, gays, and bisexuals were more than twelve times likely to be the victim of a hate crime than a Christian." LezGet Real. And of that 1.5% of hate crimes committed against Christians, how many were perpetrated by gays?
Homophobia's effects don't stop with hate crimes, of course. Nearly 400,000 gay and transgendered youth in this country are homeless. Gay youth attempt suicide three times more often than straight youth. Joblessness is higher. Discrimination is still a daily experience. Just whose personal safety is at risk?
But OK. Today wasn't about being a victim. Today was about facing down hate and homophobia and taking back our power. We WILL not live in fear, we will not fail to confront hate.
Springfield's own Joe Olivero took this great video that says it all.
|"Artist's rendering" which fails to show nearby houses|
Please forward this to your friends and coworkers!
Springfield residents should contact their city councilors to support these resolutions and contact Governor Patrick to urge him to uphold state law.
Springfield, MA - November 17, 2011 - Members of Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield (STIS), a volunteer group opposed to the building of the Palmer Renewable Energy (“PRE”) biomass incinerator, are outraged at the issuance of the building permit by Springfield Building Commissioner Desilets that would allow construction to begin on the incinerator. According to Lee Ann Warner, STIS spokesperson, "This permit flies in the face of the Springfield City Council's 10-2 revocation vote of PRE's special permit. It sets a very dangerous precedent for Springfield to allow utility-scale incinerator development within the city limits without any special permitting. This effectively eliminates the public’s voice in decisions that affect our health."
Patrick Markey, concerned Springfield citizen and attorney, states, "The city’s issuance of a building permit for the PRE incinerator is contrary to the requirements of the City’s zoning rules. The facility lacks a necessary special permit."
Sue Reid, Director of Conservation Law Foundation – Massachusetts, added "The issuance of a building permit to PRE is directly at odds with the City Council’s revocation of PRE’s Special Permit. In addition, PRE’s rush to secure an unlawful building permit is baffling: state law prohibits PRE from beginning any construction because it does not have a final air permit.”
On Monday, November 21, at 6:30 pm in City Hall, the Springfield City Council will meet and vote on two resolutions concerning the PRE biomass incinerator. Michaelann Bewsee notes, "The first resolution would reaffirm City Council’s finding that the PRE Biomass plant is an incinerator that requires a special permit on land zoned Industrial A. The second resolution calls on the state to enforce its rule of no construction of a polluting facility prior to issuance of a final, non-appealable state air permit. The people of Springfield spoke loudly and clearly that they do not want – and should not have to tolerate – any more pollution in our already overburdened city. We commend the city councilors for acting on behalf of the people and support them in passing these resolutions."
Thank you from the volunteers at STIS, www.springfieldincinerator.
Monday, November 7, 2011
No matter how you feel about the war, the government or military service in general we all know that the men and women who have served and are serving this country do/did so at risk of their lives and deserve so much more than they ever get.
This list of V's. Day meals and discounts comes from a friend. Nia:wen GhostDancer.
- Proof of Military Service. First, most companies require some form of military ID – including a U.S. Uniform Services ID Card (active/reserve/retired), Current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), Photograph in uniform, be wearing uniform (if your service permits), Veterans Organization Card (e.g., American Legion and VFW), DD214, discharge paperwork, or other form of identification. Other restaurants and companies may only require a photo of you in uniform, or go by the honor system.
- Participation. Second, always call ahead to verify locations, times, and participation. Many of the listed companies are franchises and may have different policies. We will do our best to keep this page updated as we find new info.
- Free Car wash. Thousands of car washes around the country are offering vets a free car wash on Veterans Day. Find a list at Grace for Veterans, which helped veterans receive 101,537 FREE Washes on Veterans Day in 2010.
- Amazon.com – Discount “Veterans Day Honor” MP3 album download. This downloadable album includes 12 songs as performed by the military bands and ensembles of the U.S. Armed Forces. Visit Amazon on Veteran’s Day to download the album.
- Netflix – One Month Free Trial.
- Sport Clips – FREE haircut to active-duty military & veterans. Offer only available at select locations. Please call to verify local participation.
- Tim Hortons – all US locations are offering a free donut to all veterans (check out the Star Spangled donut!).
- $100 for opening new Chase Freedom VISA.
- All Executive suits $177, 2nd $57 – Lowest prices this year for suits! You save $866 when you buy 2!
- All Traveler and Signature Suits $377, 2nd $97
- All Joseph & Signature Gold Suits $577, 2nd $197
- ALL SPORTCOATS, BLAZERS AND DRESS PANTS 50% OFF
- JOS A BANK VETERANS DAY SALE ORDERS $175+ SHIP FREE Valid: NOVEMBER 11, 2010.
- Valid: November 11, 2010
- America’s Incredible Pizza Company (St. Louis and St. Peters, MO). Free meal Nov. 11th. Call ahead to verify hours and locations.
- Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach, CA). Free admission for veterans, military personnel, police officers, and firefighters who show valid service ID on November 11, 2011. More info.
- Brevard Zoo (Melbourne, FL), Nov. 11-13. Free Admission to military veterans with proof of service. More info.
- Des Moines Botanical Center. Free admission November 11, 2011 for Veterans and their families. More info.
- San Antonio Symphony and the United States Air Force Band of the West. Free Veterans Day Concert November 13, 2011. More info.
- Abuelo’s Mexican Food. Offers vary by location. Be sure to verify in advance.
- Barmuda (Iowa) – free meal. Barmuda is offering a free meal to all active duty members and veterans in all restaurants. More information.
- Big Lots – 10% off your entire purchase with valid military ID. more info.
- Boston’s Gourmet Pizza (Denver area) – Free individual pizza. All military veterans and active duty military personnel can enjoy an FREE individual one topping pizza this Veteran’s Day 5-7 PM! There are two Boston’s Gourmet Pizza & Sports Bar locations in the Denver area. The Highlands Ranch location is just off of C-470 and Broadway, at 53 W. Centennial Blvd. The newly re-opened Parker location is just off of C-470 and Parker Road at 19340 E Cottonwood Dr.
- Cabela’s. Cabela’s is giving their standard employee discount to all US military veterans, active duty military, Guard/Reserves, law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel on Nov. 11-12. Discount varies from 5% to 50%, depending on the item. (I received this information from an active duty military member who forwarded an e-mail that was distributed base wide, however, I have not been able to confirm this; please contact Cabela’s before assuming this offer is in place).
- Dollar General. 10% discount on entire purchase on Veteran’s Day. Offer good for all active-duty military, retirees, veterans, Guard/Reserve, & immediate family members. The coupon can be found in the store circular, or by asking an employee. More info.
- Meineke in (Salem, MA). Free Oil Change – Friday Nov 11. U.S. Military Veterans and active duty personnel will receive a Free Oil Change that includes standard oil and filter and a complete courtesy check at one of the two participating locations: 462 Highland Avenue, Salem, Massachusetts (978) 741-0335 ; 4 11 Broad Street – Route 1A, Lynn, Massachusetts (781) 592-0001 .
- Sears 10% discount Thursday and Friday, Nov. 11-12. Sears is offering a “Salute to Local Heroes” discount to all military, veterans, police, firefighters, teachers, and hospital staff. Offer is good for 10% of regular, sale, and clearance prices. See this store flyer for more information.
- Sleep Number Stores. Free travel pillow to all active duty military & retirees now through Nov. 14. Find your “sleep number” setting, and get a free pillow – easy!
Gail E. Cheatham
Kickapoo Tribe in KS
2314 SW Burnett Rd
Topeka, KS 66614-1204