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Saturday, October 25, 2014 / PROGRESSIVE JOURNALISM FOR POSITIVE ACTION
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Peter G Cohen
NOC Featured Blogger
Published: Tuesday 12 November 2013

The Pentagon is lobbying the Congress to provide funds for the “Modernization” of the B-61 gravity  bombs now stored in Europe. Making this bomb more accurate and more “useable” will cost an estimated $8.1 billion through 2024. At the same time, many experts and some European nations would like to see the bombs withdrawn from Europe.  “I would never have thought those silly things would still be there in 2013. I think they are an absolutely pointless part of a tradition in military thinking.” said former Dutch Prime Minister, Ruud Lubbers, to Time Flies, a National Geographic Television documentary. In 2010 a parliamentary resolution called on the Dutch Goverments to inform the United States that its nuclear weapons were no longer required for Dutch security. We know that America’s future is now endangered by many other considerations. Due to the Republican sequester, government functions have been cut back. Our children are receiving less help with preschool, food stamps and school lunches. Our schools are reducing teachers and increasing class size. Through corporate- designed free trade agreements we have given away millions of manufacturing jobs to impoverished and often endangered foreign labor.  Our infrastructure is rotting away and our businesses are sold to foreign buyers. After more than a decade of unnecessary wars, it is irresponsible to make decisions about national defense without considering the many other needs of the nation. Unfortunately, the Representatives who make the Pentagon budget decisions in  Congress are amply rewarded for supporting military excess. “Leading advocates of high levels of nuclear weapons spending have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from major nuclear weapons contractors in the course ...

Published: Sunday 29 September 2013

The victims of storms Sandy and Katrina, of droughts, floods and wildfires, will tell you that the death and destruction of Climate Change is a real threat to our national life. So why has the Congress failed to reduce our carbon output or to enact defenses against the events we cannot prevent? Why is it that when most of the world is reducing the burning of carbon, the United States has only the EPA to limit the burning of fossil fuels? From 2001 to 2012 the National Climatic Data Center has recorded $487 Billion in property damage and 3,952 deaths in the United States. While we lavish more money on the military than it requests, the Congress is doing little or nothing to control or to reduce the impact of climate change? “Fossil-fuel companies like Exxon and Peabody Energy — which obviously have a business interest in slowing any attempt to reduce carbon emissions — have combined with traditionally conservative corporate groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and conservative foundations like the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity, to raise doubts about the basic validity of what is, essentially, a settled scientific truth.”  --Who’s Bankrolling Climate Change Deniers? --Time.com, October 4, 2011. Now we learn that the Koch Bros. have gotten 169 Members of Congress to sign a Climate Obstruction Pledge.  In other words, they will do nothing to reduce our carbon output or its deadly events.  In the last decade, more people have died from Climate Change than died in the attack of 9/11/01! Many of these lives could have been saved, if we had reduced our carbon output and invested in protective measures across the nation. If the Koch Bros. had blocked our war effort after the Twin Towers attack, they would have been tried as ...

Published: Monday 16 September 2013

A system is a dynamic, self regulating  network of interrelated elements. Our defense system started with the need to defend our nation, but has now grown to be the self-regulating system of aggressive expansion and maintenance of worldwide domination. Of course,  this is not publicly admitted, each element (such as anti-missile systems on the Russian borders or the huge naval base now building on Jeju Island, S. Korea, 100 miles from ShangHai) is advanced as absolutely essential to our national security. They are not. The truth is that they are only necessary to the ever-more-costly effort to maintain the influence we had at the end of W.W.II, when the rest of the industrialized world was in ruins. This project cannot succeed in the long run. Nations such as Brazil, China, India and Russia are growing rapidly. They will not long endure the arrogant effort at their containment and our world dominance.  While this effort is doomed to failure and is exhausting our national resources, it is making some corporations exceedingly rich. They supply Congressional supporters of these efforts with abundant campaign contributions. They use their influential retired generals and admirals to influence Pentagon policy and to support the idea that all of these adventures are absolutely essential to our national well-being. Some of our military programs are actually defended on the basis that by continuing to buy unneeded products, such as nuclear weapons, we are preserving the ability to manufacture them, should they become necessary in the future! This feedback of money, which influences all branches of our government and  continues to inflate our military priorities, has resulted in an overblown military, missed diplomatic opportunities, and a depressed, future-less society. To preserve the vigor and health of our ...

Published: Wednesday 11 September 2013

We now have a huge war machine that dwarfs President Eisenhower’s warning about the undue influence of the military-industrial complex..  Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network says, “We’ve become a killer nation. We have to have endless war, like a drunk needs a drink at the bar, in order for American workers to put food on the tables for their families. What does this say about the soul of our nation?” Yes the “complex,” as we call the whole security business, has become so huge that it is now central engine of our economy, absorbing more than half of all discretionary spending. At the same time, our nation is decaying from lack of maintenance and investment. Whether we look at the national infrastructure, the health of the people, the education of our children, the employment of our workers or other measures of well being, the United States is behind other developed nations. Our people are discouraged. Parents no longer have confidence that their children will lead better lives . They see that we have done very little to slow violent climate change or to prepare for the increasing devastation of our homes and businesses, which have cost billions in property damage and thousands of lives in the last decade. We are no longer the forward-looking nation, investing in the future, that we were for most of our history. This imbalance of national priorities is strongly influenced by the flood of money that the Congress is lavishing on wars and military spending. With the mantra of supporting our troops, the Congress often has given the Pentagon more than they asked for. Some of this money gets spent in the Congress person’s district. The large defense corporations have taken care to spread their work across  most of the states. Corporate ...

Published: Friday 30 August 2013

Do you ever wonder why the Congress of the United States, elected by the people to represent them in government, no longer represents them, nor does it “support  and defend the Constitution of the United States” as it is pledged to do by its oath of office? What has happened? The answer is corruption. Corruption so widespread that it threatens the survival of our nation as a democracy. Corruption is so generally accepted that it far exceeds the dangers of terrorism, as it seeps into the most critical agencies of government and our national life. The Congress is the pivot point, the compass of our national direction. It is the meeting point of corporate power and national government. From the moment our newly elected Representatives  assume their posts in Washington they are introduced to the rule of money. “Freshmen are pushed and pushed and pushed to raise money — it’s how they are judged by the leadership and the political establishment in Washington,” said Mr. (Brad)  Miller, who added that he felt the same pressure when he joined the Financial Services Committee in 2003 as a freshman. “It’s only natural that it has got to be on your mind that a vote one way or other is going to affect the ability to raise money.” “After the elections in November, Democratic Party leaders gave a PowerPoint presentation urging their freshman members to spend as much as four hours a day making fund-raising calls while in Washington, and an additional hour of “strategic outreach” holding breakfasts or “meet and greets” with possible financial supporters. That adds up to more time than these first-term lawmakers were advised to spend on Congressional business.” -- For Freshmen in the House, Seats of Plenty, NY Times, 8/11/13 and How ...

Published: Monday 12 August 2013

Our society has not even began to face the rapidly increasing challenge of climate change. Our use of fossil fuels, which have freed humans and animals from drudgery and made possible the huge advances in public health, comfort and food supplythat we enjoy today, now threaten our survival.  Recent reports from the Arctic and scientific modeling reveal that the melting of the permafrost beneath the East Siberian Sea will release a huge amount of methane that has been locked away for millions of years. A recent computer projection predicts that the cost to humanity of this increase in greenhouse gases will reach the incomprehensible amount of $60 trillion. In addition, the relatively shallow East Siberian Sea is believed to hide substantial amounts of oil and gas, which the world’s corporations are now preparing to drill. Everyone should read the original Whiteman-Hope-Wadhams article in Nature, July 25, 2013, or the Subhankar Banerjee article in Truthout, August 4, 2013, entitled, “Let Us Now Sing About the Warmed Earth.” The Truthout article outlines the implications of the oil and gas extraction in the East Siberan Sea as well as the methane release caused by global warming. The Human ConflictAt this point there is very little we can do to avoid the release of methane from the melting permafrost. It is bubbling up over a wide area, and we have no means of capturing it, or of separating it out from the atmosphere. The oil and gas are another matter. They are deep in the ground and have been there for millions of years. We have the option of drilling them out or leaving them where they are. If we bring them up and burn them for energy, they will add to the CO2 in the atmosphere and ...

Published: Saturday 15 June 2013

The records of our phone calls being entered into computers at the NSA is a typical Patriot Act violation of the Fourth Amendment. That Act, born in the fog of fear that was amplified and maintained by the Bush Administration after 9/11, was only weakly protested by the media. In fact, television contributed to the fear by showing the planes crashing into the twin towers over and over again.  There is no doubt that 9/11 was an event that shattered our American complacency. We were repeatedly told that it was the only attack on the United States, in spite of the fact that during the War of 1812 the British had not only landed on U.S. soil, but had burned the capital and several of the federal buildings. Now we are beginning to realize that trading our Constitutional rights, including the Bill of Rights, for the promise of national security may have been an error. We are told that we need to find a “balance” between security and our liberties. These rights, the envy of the world, are the very foundation of the rule of law and the freedoms for which our troops have lost life and limb in all the wars.  We should remember that the Founders of our nation had just fought a long and painful Revolutionary War against the British Empire when they wrote the Constitution of the United States. They were well aware of the necessity of security and adequate defense, but they added the Bill of Rights to the original Constitution to be certain that these rights would be protected always.  From time to time they have been abridged in times of war. When the war was over they have been reinstated as the inviolate laws of the land. Now, however, we are fighting an indefinite war across many nations against any force or individual that employs terrorist tactics. An administration ...

Published: Monday 3 June 2013

Let us look behind the curtain of war preparations for the real reasons for our potential intervention in Syria. Are we truly interested in democracy for Syria? Can this bitter civil war lead to such a result? Or are we being influenced by Israel, whose arch enemy Hezbollah has just announced that it will fight for the al-Assad regime?The history of Syria is not encouraging. Freed from French rule after W.W.II, the Syrian democracy was torn by repeated coups until “emergency law” was established in 1963 and lasted for 48 years, till the outbreak of civil war in 2011.A nation of unusual ethnic and religious diversity, Syria is weakened by poverty and torn by strife. Even if  it is eventually returned to democratic rule, internal conflict could continue.The ongoing civil war, with fighters from surrounding nations and no unified opposition to the al-Assad government, will only become more deadly with foreign intervention or the provision of more arms. Becoming involved in this civil war could be very costly for the United States. What can we do to relieve the suffering and be in a position to help with a cease fire?The most humane and effective action of the United States would be to support the international efforts to relieve the suffering of thousands of Syrian refugee families now in the refugee camps of neighboring nations. This would befriend the Syrian people and improve our reputation in the Middle East. Any military intervention, including the  establishment of a no-fly zone (an act of war), would inevitably be far more expensive than we can afford and contribute to our reputation as an aggressive military nation.We must not allow the war-mongering agents of Israel in Washington to stampede us into an act of war that will contribute to the killing of more Syrian people and other unknown results. It would be far smarter and more humane to assist the refugees and thus position the U.S. to be an ...

Published: Saturday 20 April 2013

 This morning I watched on television, the exceptional interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. I was impressed by the quality of the speakers. I was impressed by the by the similarity of messages that we must not let the  awareness of our good fortune be dimmed by the violent tragedy of the Boston Marathon.  I find that I am able to forgive the bombers, who in one way or another may have been left out of our good fortune, or found a lens that made Patriots’ Day appear differently to them than to the rest of us. Even though they have maimed and murdered unsuspecting children and families, I am willing to try to forgive their senseless violence. Then I thought of the U.S. Senators who blocked the vote on the bill that would have required background checks for gun buyers. And I cannot forgive them. I have clawed the air trying to find some sort of understanding, some reasonable cause for their disregard of the families of the slaughtered children, the many officials who testified, the agreement of the American people that background checks would be useful in reducing gun violence in our nation. But they blocked the vote. They did not even respect the opinion of the majority of  their peers. In effect they voted for the purchase of weapons by people convicted of violent crimes and by people known to be mentally ill. In effect they voted FOR the continuing slaughter of our people -- including children -- using guns.  U.S. SENATORS!  We can hardly say that they have been disadvantaged in our nation. We can hardly say that their careers have somehow  been blocked by our society. We can hardly say that they fear the National Rifle Association, when the majority of Senators were willing to vote for the background checks, ...

Published: Friday 22 March 2013

 Dear Friends of Peace, Environment and Democracy, When I was a little boy my mother and I went to visit her parents in Palm Beach. It was the middle of the depression.  Developments in the making had been abandoned after the crash of 1929. We came across one such development, only the foundations remained and grass was growing in the streets. And there, right in front of us, was a snake eating a small  rabbit. Snake’s jaws open wide, they inch forward a little at a time, until the larger animal has been swallowed. I don’t remember anything else about that visit, but that nauseating scene of the abandoned development with the snake swallowing the rabbit are engraved in my memory. Today we have something similar. A small group of corporate executives and very rich individuals are devouring our nation, a little bit at a time. Over the last three decades they are gradually swallowing both major parties, the supreme court and the presidency. They operate through a wide variety of  well-funded think tanks and lobbying groups. While some of their money was wasted on failed candidates in the last election, they are making steady progress in taking over many of our government agencies and rendering them useless. They have  managed to impose drastic cutbacks on the government, which make it appear less effective. Tax loopholes and foreign headquarters reduce their tax liabilities and increase their opportunity to accumulate more money and influence. Our “democracy” no longer represents the will or the needs of the people. It is “of, by, and for” big money. One of the most tragic examples of this influence is the failure of our government to do anything substantial to reduce our output of climate-changing greenhouse gasses. Even while people were dying during super storm ...

ABOUT Peter G Cohen
Peter G Cohen, artist and writer, has been a student of nuclear weapons since creating materials for SANE’s Ban the Bomb testing campign in the 1950s. As an activist he was a peace candidate for U.S. representative in the Lehigh Valley in 1968 and the director of the New Democrati Coalition of PA, 1969-’70. He is the author of nukefreeworld.com and other internet writings. Peter now lives in Santa Barbara, where he can be reached at
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