Sunday, March 31, 2013

Report: Iraq, Afghanistan Wars Will Cost US $4-6 Trillion Dollars

By Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service | Report

Washington - Costs to U.S. taxpayers of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will run between four and six trillion dollars, making them the most expensive conflicts in U.S. history, according to a new reportby a prominent Harvard University researcher.

While Washington has already spent close to two trillion dollars in direct costs related to its military campaigns in the two countries, that total “represents only a fraction of the total war costs”, according to the report by former Bill Clinton administration official Linda Bilmes.
“The single largest accrued liability of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is the cost of providing medical care and disability benefits to war veterans,” she wrote in the 21-page report, ‘The Financial Legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan: How Wartime Spending Decisions Will Constrain Future National Security Budgets’.
Bilmes, who since 2008 has co-authored a number of analyses on war costs with the World Bank’s former chief economist, Joseph Stiglitz, noted that more than half of the more than 1.5 million troops who have been discharged from active duty since 9/11 have received medical treatment at veterans’ hospitals and have been granted benefits for the rest of their lives. More than 253,000 troops have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Additional costs include the replacement and repair of equipment — which wears out at an estimated six times the peace-time rate — and the accumulation of interest on money borrowed by the Treasury to finance the wars since the nearly two trillion dollars in war costs were not subject to the normal budgetary process.
So far, Washington has paid some 260 billion dollars in interest charged on war-related borrowing, but the “potential interest cost of the U.S. war debt reaches into the trillions,” according to the report.
“One of the most significant challenges to future U.S. national security policy will not originate from any external threat,” she wrote. “Rather it is simply coping with the legacy of the conflicts we have already fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The report comes at a key moment, as Republicans in Congress appear increasingly split between defence hawks on the one hand, who want to maintain or increase Pentagon spending and have been pushing for a more aggressive U.S. role in the Syrian civil war, among other hotspots, and deficit hawks, on the other, who believe the country can ill afford bigger military budgets, let alone new foreign military adventures, especially in the Middle East.
For the complete article, please go here:

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967 

Propaganda, Self-Censorship and Climate Change

A stump from a pine tree cut down after being attacked by the mountain pine beetle in east of Missoula, Montana, July 7, 2011. Some scientists are increasingly worried that as the warming accelerates, trees themselves could become climate-change victims on a massive scale. (Photo: Josh Haner / The New York Times)
By Bruce Melton, Truthout | Op-Ed
Scientist Bruce Melton argues that it's time for the environmental movement and environmental journalism to state the full truth - loudly and often - to counter denialist propaganda. That would entail using the four "poison" words: climate change and global warming.
Climate change messaging is changing these days. One only needs to look as far as the Sierra Club's unprecedented encouragement of civil disobedience with the Keystone Pipeline to see this happening. The polls are telling us that some 70 percent or more of Americans believe the Earth is now warming. This falls to a little over 50 percent when the words "because of man" are added to the question, but it is a majority.
Contrast this with about 97 percent of climate scientists believing Earth is warming and caused by man. Why is there such a difference? Part of the reason is because a pox has been put on these four little words: climate change and global warming.
A self-imposed moratorium in the environmental and broadcast communities has been in effect on those four words since the early part of George W. Bush's administration. Environmental organizations across the nation recognized that negative climate science propaganda was changing public awareness. So those words found themselves being repeated less and less. They were poisoning environmental outreach efforts and their use created distrust.
Why did this happen? Likely, it was almost completely because of propaganda from vested interests. The voices of the propaganda, for various reasons, cast doubt about climate science in much the same way that similar voices (and sometimes the same voices) cast doubt about smoking and cancer, acid rain and ozone-depleting chemicals. The vested interests' work was authoritative and their money and vision allowed them to distribute their message widely...
The discoveries in climate science, however, continue to show the situation is getting worse faster than anticipated. And because of nearly 20 years of delay, as the climate scientists have told us all along, future impacts will be even greater than we have previously anticipated.
Please go here for the entire article:

War contributes greatly to global warming, which shouldn't surprise us. All those bombs going off, all those rockets, all those planes and helicopters. All that fuel of various kinds being used. It pollutes the air and water of this very fragile and interconnected planet. 
- Alice Walker

We've built a new Earth. It's not as nice as the old one. It's the greatest mistakes that humans have ever made, one that we will pay for literally forever. We live on a new planet. What happens next is up to us.
- Bill McKibben

Thom Hartmann: The Little-Known "Monsanto Protection Act" Shields the Company From Being Sued by Consumers Who Claim They've Been Harmed by Monsanto's Products

Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. A little-known provision in the most recent budget appropriations, which passed through Congress last week, is a big deal for biotech giant Monsanto – and GMO opponents. The so-called "Monsanto Protection Act" shields the maker of genetically modified seeds from being sued by consumers who claim they've been harmed by their products. On Tuesday, President Obama signed the spending bill into law, which means the controversial GMO provision will remain in place for at least six months until the government needs a new bill to fund it's operations. Since it's passage a week ago, more than 250,000 people have signed a petition opposing the measure, and activists have gathered outside the White House to protest. Opponents are expressing anger not only about the "Monsanto Protection Act" content, but also about the secretive way the legislation made it's way into the final appropriations bill. Reports suggest that many members of Congress were not even aware the provision was slipped into the spending bill. The International Business Times reported on the story, noting, "The message it sends is that corporations can get around consumer safety protections if they get Congress on their side. Furthermore, it sets a precedent that suggests that court challenges are a privilege, not a right." It should be a right to know what is in our food. And it should be a right to hold companies liable when they poison consumers. We must ensure that the "Monsanto Protection Act" is overturned. Call Congress and tell them to repeal this provision now.
For more, please go here:
"Globalized industrialized food is not cheap: it is too costly for the Earth, for the farmers, for our health. The Earth can no longer carry the burden of groundwater mining, pesticide pollution, disappearance of species and destabilization of the climate. Farmers can no longer carry the burden of debt, which is inevitable in industrial farming with its high costs of production. It is incapable of producing safe, culturally appropriate, tasty, quality food. And it is incapable of producing enough food for all because it is wasteful of land, water and energy. Industrial agriculture uses ten times more energy than it produces. It is thus ten times less efficient."  Vandana Shiva

Mechtilde of Magdeburg: Love Alone Liberates Our Noblenesss

You speak to me of beginnings?
I will tell you I was created in love.
For that reason
Nothing can express my beauty
Nor liberate my nobleness
Except love alone.

- Mechtilde of Magdeburg

James Garbarino: How a Boy Becomes a Killer

A sign hangs near a cemetery where Jessica Rekos, 6, was buried on December 18th in Newtown, Connecticut

Molly & James Garbarino at Annual Statewide Healthy Start Conference, Corvallis, Oregon, 2000

I love James Garbarino. I love James Garbarino for first teaching me how we all have "circles of caring", and how those circles of what we care about can grow and expand. I love him for the courage, empathy, and fierce caring he has which moved him to explore war zones firsthand in America and around the world to better know and share the impact of violence on children. I love Jim Garbarino for the treasure of his numerous books, his tireless advocacy on behalf of children everywhere, his clear understanding of the impact of psychological abuse and the impact of much of what is "normal" in American culture and yet toxic for children and, indeed, for us all. I love Jim for taking the time and making the effort to connect with me after I first reached out to him. I feel such deep respect and affection and gratitude to Jim Garbarino for these reasons and more... I was first blessed with connecting with this author, psychologist, professor, expert witness and child advocate and his work in 1999 when I read "Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them." What followed was sharing my thanks for his book, plus some of my story, and then connecting personally, for which I continue to feel deeply blessed. James Garbarino is among the many people who have made a real difference in my life and the lives of countless others. Certainly the children. Through illuminating the roots of so much suffering, the path of healing and transformation becomes possible. Blessed are all the peacemakers. And are all who so love the children, all the children. Another world is possible.  ♥ Molly
How a Boy Becomes a Killer

By Dr. James Garbarino

Editor's note: James Garbarino is the author of "Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them" and is a professor of psychology at Loyola University in Chicago. He serves as an expert psychological witness in murder cases and is working on his next book, "I Listen To Killers."

(CNN) -- Twenty children and six adults killed in a town in Connecticut. Why? As someone who listens to killers as an expert psychological witness in murder cases, I have spent much of the last 20 years trying to understand how and why young men kill, maim and attack others.
Killings like those in Newtown, Connecticut; Aurora, Colorado; and Virginia Tech are always met with expressions of shock, anger and sadness. These are understandable first reactions, but in the long run they accomplish nothing.
So long as the discussion does not move beyond labeling these events "senseless violence," horrors such as these never move us closer to a place of deeper understanding. Greater understanding is crucial because understanding leads to more peace and less violence through preventive action. All the crime scene investigations in the world will not do this.
Although all our instincts urge us to dissociate from the killer, achieving better understanding requires us to put ourselves in his shoes no matter how frightening and distasteful that may be. I have done this over the past 20 years, and I have learned that it's the only way we can understand a fundamental truth: Although to the rest of us, the observers and the victims, extreme acts of violence seem "senseless," these murderous acts make sense to the shooters.
This is true whether it's Adam Lanza in Newtown, Connecticut; James Holmes in Aurora, Colorado; Seung-Hui at Virginia Tech; Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris in Columbine, Colorado, and the many thousands of others who wage war against their society, either in the form of high-profile massacres or the daily grind of shootings around the country that barely make the local news.
How do we go about this process of "making sense," not as a way of excusing but as a path to understanding and preventing violence? We start by recognizing that many young Americans (and other young people around the world) develop and carry with them a kind of moral damage, which I have come to call "the war zone mentality."
However it develops, they grow up with a damaged sense of reality. They view the world as if they are soldiers confronting a hostile environment that they perceive to be full of enemies. Once they get fixated on this damaged world view, they may hatch the delusion that even teachers and young children are their enemies. For Adam Lanza, apparently even his mother was an enemy who had to be destroyed.
There is no one cause. It is as if they are building a tower of blocks, one by one, that can get so high it falls over, with innocent people dying. These building blocks can be found in a dangerous neighborhood or a school rife with bullying. They can be found through the Internet and mass media: the many, many web sites and videos that promote paranoid views of the world and validate violent action in retaliation.
They can be found in pervasive and intense playing of video games, the hands-on virtual violence that desensitizes young people to proxy killing. These games become a psychological pathway to real killing by dampening impulses of compassion and altruism.
They also come from a culture that supports access to lethal weapons: the crazy availability of guns like the Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle used by Adam Lanza that are, in effect, weapons of mass destruction when turned against children at school, or moviegoers in a theater or shoppers at a mall. These weapons have no place in civilian life.
But moral damage and a misperception of reality usually are not enough to lead to murder. The typical killer is emotionally damaged and has developed mental health problems, perhaps exacerbated by being bullied and rejected by peers, or abused and neglected at home. He might be suffering from profound sadness, depression, despair, self aggrandizement and narcissism.
The mental health problems that result from emotional damage require more, not less, social support, and not just from parents, who may be overwhelmed and ashamed of their offspring. The boys and young men can be socially isolated because their damage makes peers and the community turn away from them, and that only compounds their problems.
Couple deluded thinking and rage with the rationale of the war zone mentality, and the result can be a boy or young man ready to kill, sometimes with horribly spectacular results. But this is more commonly seen in the "routine" killings that I work with as a psychological expert witness in murder cases across the country.
 Please read the complete article here: 


 One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, 
but by making the darkness conscious. 
~ Carl Jung

 We don’t set out to save the world; we set out to wonder 
how other people are doing and to reflect on how 
our actions affect other people’s hearts. 
~ Pema Chödrön

Spiritual practice involves, on the one hand, acting out of 
concern for others' well-being. On the other, it entails transforming 
ourselves so that we become more readily disposed to do so. 
~ Dalai Lama