Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

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Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Monday, November 15, 2010

U.S. Military – The World's Largest Polluter

Brita Belli

Dear Brita Belli, Editor;

(Please note; I am responding to the article below.)

The Editors of E/Environmental Magazine, in responding to a writer from New York about what the military is doing to "reduce its carbon footprint" fails to mention that this carbon footprint is a heck of a lot bigger than what military operations alone entail.

We have the entire military-financial-industrial complex which includes everything from mining to manufacturing in order to keep the U.S. military machine in operation.

As an example for starters---

It is estimated that between 30% to 60% of all the iron ore mined on Minnesota's Iron Range has gone into military production for everything from tanks to bridges and trucks. Not only does the mining leave a massive carbon footprint but the processing of this iron ore into steel leaves a huge carbon footprint. The manufacturing operations turning this steel into tanks, guns, trucks, bombs leaves another huge carbon footprint and we haven't even begun to consider the enormous quantity of power required to run all of this... one more huge carbon footprint.

The real carbon footprint of the U.S. military entails a lot more than simply how the military uses finished products and engages in untold waste and its contribution to pollution.

Learning to live in peace with our neighbors we share this planet with while "turning swords into plowshares" makes a lot of environmental sense. I wonder how it was that Al Gore and so many environmentalists missed this?

Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell Phone: 651-587-5541

E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: What is the U.S. military doing to reduce its carbon footprint and generally green its operations?        -- Anthony Gomez, New York, NY

As the world’s largest polluter, the U.S. military has its work cut out for it when it comes to greening its operations. According to the nonprofit watchdog group, Project Censored, American forces generate some 750,000 tons of toxic waste annually—more than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined. Although this pollution occurs globally on U.S. bases in dozens of countries, there are tens of thousands of toxic “hot spots” on some 8,500 military properties right here on America soil.

“Not only is the military emitting toxic material directly into the air and water,” reports Project Censored, “it’s poisoning the land of nearby communities, resulting in increased rates of cancer, kidney disease, increasing birth defects, low birth weight and miscarriage.” The non-profit Military Toxics Project is working with the U.S. government to identify problem sites and educate neighbors about the risks.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military manages 25 million acres of land that provides habitat for some 300 threatened or endangered species. The military has harmed endangered animal populations by bomb tests (and been sued for it), reports Project Censored, and military testing of low-frequency underwater sonar technology has been implicated in the stranding deaths of whales worldwide. Despite being linked to such problems, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has repeatedly sought exemptions from Congress for compliance with federal laws including the Migratory Bird Treaties Act, the Wildlife Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

It’s unclear whether the U.S. military is taking heed of criticisms in regard to pollution and endangered species management, but it is undoubtedly concerned about climate change, as its effects on the environment could lead to unprecedented natural resource wars and mass migrations of people. And reducing our reliance on potentially hostile foreign oil sources is a short term national security imperative as well. A recent Obama administration directive calls for the DoD to draw 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020. Nikihl Sonnad of the GreenFuelSpot website reports that the Army and Air Force are planning to include solar arrays on several bases in sunny western states. The Air Force is also building the nation’s largest biomass energy plants in Florida and Georgia, and the Navy is building three large geothermal energy plants and funding research into extracting energy from ocean waves.

Some of the military’s R&D into renewables is for battlefield applications. Outfitting troops with the capability to produce their own on-site power from solar and wind sources not only makes sourcing oil less of a necessity but also should serve to reduce casualties from fuel transport operations. Over 1,000 American troops have lost their lives delivering fuel in the past few years alone (in part because enemy combatants often use fuel trucks as attack targets), says Sonnad.

Elisabeth Rosenthal reports in The New York Times that “there is great hope that some of the renewable energy technology being developed for battle will double back and play a role in civilian life.” She adds that the armed forces have enough purchasing power to create genuine markets in the non-military world.

CONTACTS: Project Censored, www.projectcensored.org; U.S. DoD, www.defense.gov; Military Toxics Project, www.stopmilitarytoxics.org/about.html; GreenFuelSpot, www.greenfuelspot.com.

SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk®, c/o E – The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; earthtalk@emagazine.com. E is a nonprofit publication. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe; Request a Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell Phone: 651-587-5541

E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

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Sarah Palin coins ‘word of the year’


"Brazilian and U.S. Elections: Opposite Outcomes"

A dialog with Professor Immanuel Wallerstein...(see Professor Wallerstein's "Commentary No. 293, Nov 15, 2010, below)

Professor Wallerstein,

I don't know much about the Brazilian elections and their politics or economics; but, I do know a little something about what is going on here in the United States which you don't seem to want to talk about:
Obama was hand-picked by Wall Street to do its dirty work; that he hoodwinked (actually he probably didn't have to work very hard in dpoing this) a large section of liberal, progressive, left intellectuals (including you) and "leaders" of the U.S. labor movement and all these foundation supported organizations into supporting him doesn't mean that he ever had good intentions of making good on his "hope" and "change" which you suggest his "failure" (or is it really his success?) is more the result of the economy than his bad intentions.

I guess this means you and the "Progressives for Obama" will be supporting Barack Obama in 2012?
If Lula is as beholden to ruling class and Wall Street interests as Obama is, then perhaps it is wrong for Brazilians to support him, too?

Its alright for Obama to support a neo-liberal agenda of capitalist globalization but it is not ok for Republicans to support the very same agenda--- same agenda but Obama has nicer, more people-friendly sounding rhetoric.

I supported both Al Gore and I was a delegate for John Kerry--- both of whom would have been more friendly to resolving the problems of working people than Barack Obama under the best of economic circumstances.

You say Barack Obama had a liberal voting record... there is no proof of this... a select few of his votes when his vote didn't even matter was on the liberal side intended for looks... you want us to believe the same thing about Barack Obama's voting record as a state senator and a U.S. Senator that you want us to believe of his support for healthcare reform--- the problem is, the majority of his voting record in the Illinois Senate like in the U.S. Senate was pro-corporate; not pro-people.

You bring all these issues forward that obscure the real issues: "centrism," "charismatic," "popular," "true political convictions."

But, isn't it at times when "the overall structural situation overwhelms" that we really know what politicians convictions and abilities really are based upon how they respond to the problems being encountered by working people? And you seem willing to let Obama off the hook for everything he has done that is all wrong--- in Wall Street's best interest; and, for everything Obama has not done for working people--- which just happens to be in Wall Street's best interest, too.

As someone who is looked towards for leadership in the anti-globalization movement as you are; it seems to me you have a responsibility to provide a more analytical accounting when it comes to Obama.

I would point out that Brazil's Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva is not waging dirty, immoral, unjust, illegal and unconstitutional imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which your commentary does not even mention which had a little something to do with the failure of working people--- liberal, progressive and left--- to turn out at the polls. Has it occurred to you that the American people are just plain fed up with war mongers and these wars which the Democrats refused to address in this election campaign just might have had more to do with the balloting than: "its the economy stupid."

Actually, did it occur to you that people were answering the question: How is Barack Obama's war economy working; when they stayed home on Election Day?

It is not simply about the economy; it is about this war economy.

I think I detect a bit of resentment in your commentary that the American people--- especially working people, who in their overwhelming majority are liberal, progressive and left--- who have not fallen for the line you and the "Progressives for Obama" put forward regarding how benign liberal and left Barack Obama is when most working people understand he is nothing but a right-wing, warmongering, reactionary, anti-labor flim-flam man and con artist posing as the President of the United States when he has multiple jobs working for Wall Street--- including being a corporate health insurance salesman when he isn't saddling the American tax-payer with huge debts from which Wall Street bankers will reap tremendous profits as our standard of living declines as a direct result from the austerity measures that have to be imposed so the bankers can collect--- and profit.

It's all about the PROFITS Wall Street derives from a war economy; profits that are a direct result from the growing poverty.

The "Brazilian and U.S. Elections: Opposite Outcomes"... because the U.S. has a Wall Street driven war economy to contend with and Barack Obama is not liberal or left... Brazil's "Lula" is perhaps a little liberal and a little left and having provided the Brazilian people with some much needed help--- something Obama has refused to do... but, then again, some of those small left organizations and parties in Brazil have some real clout, too, because their political homes are among the working class.
Also, Professor Wallerstein; you didn't mention the continuing home foreclosures and evictions nor Obama's failure to enforce affirmative action (Executive Order #11246).
Obama needs to be dumped by facing a primary challenge in the Democratic Party from real liberals and leftists--- not "centrists"--- who are being dogged and challenged by liberals and leftists friendly to them working in a progressive electoral coalition outside of the Democratic Party with both capable of making an intelligent and unifying decision based upon what is good for working people and the country on what to do going into the 2012 General Election... it is this liberal, progressive and left coalition that has always been the source of real change capable of delivering real reforms.

Needless to say, Barack Obama never made any suggestions to put the unemployed to work solving the problems of the people paid for with funds cut from ending these wars and taxing the rich... we could have had National Public Health Care and National Public Child Care creating some 15,000,000 new jobs for less than what these wars are costing us... a real alternative to Obama's Wall Street agenda.

Te longer all of you liberals, progressives and leftists continue supporting Obama and these Wall Street Democrats the longer the suffering of the American people will continue as problems go unresolved--- not only does Obama suffer a huge problem with his credibility but those of you who are liberal, progressive and left will continue to suffer from a lack of credibility the longer you support Obama.

Yours in solidarity and struggle with a much different view of Barack Obama,

Alan L. Maki

Quoting Becky Dunlop :
Please do not reply to the listserv. To correspond with the author, write immanuel.wallerstein@yale.edu. To correspond with us about your email address on the listserv, write dunlop@binghamton.edu. Thank you.

Commentary No. 293, Nov. 15, 2010
"Brazilian and U.S. Elections: Opposite Outcomes"

     On October 31, President Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva won a sweeping victory in the Brazilian elections. On November 2, President Barack Obama was soundly defeated in the U.S. elections. The curious thing is that neither one of them was standing in the elections. In Brazil, Lula had had two terms, the maximum allowed, and was supporting Dilma Rousseff as his successor. In the United States, the 2010 elections were midterm legislative elections, not a presidential election.
     There are some striking similarities in the two men and the two political situations. Lula was elected president of Brazil in 2002 as the candidate of hope and change. Obama was elected president of the United States in 2008 as the candidate of hope and change.
     Both men were outsiders in terms of the traditional political processes of their countries. Lula was the first president of working-class background and of little formal education. Obama was the first African-American president of his country.
     In their campaigns, both rallied large-scale popular support. In Lula's case, this was not his first, but his third attempt to become president. He had been a trade-union leader and the leader of a workers' party, the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT). Obama has been a community organizer and a senator with a very left ("liberal") voting record in the legislature. Both received support from militants in social movements and appealed particularly to young voters. Both emphasized the misdeeds of the previous president in their country - Fernando Henrique Cardoso in the case of Brazil and George W. Bush in the case of the United States - and in both cases their election was seen as a repudiation of the policies of the previous president.
     In neither case did the newly-elected president have a clear path in the legislature. In the Brazilian case, the electoral system led to a legislature with multiple parties and the PT had no more than a quarter of the seats. In the U.S. case, the rules of the U.S. Senate allowed the opposition party to block or force major concessions in any legislation the U.S. president wanted to see enacted. Both men felt they had to make political compromises.
     In both cases, a major fear of the newly-elected president was that the already difficult economic situation of their countries would turn to disaster. Lula feared runaway inflation and runaway investors. Obama feared collapse of the banks and runaway unemployment. The way each responded to these fears was to turn to a relatively conservative ("neoliberal") economic approach and the appointment of relatively conservative people in the key economic positions of their administration.
     This almost immediate "neoliberal" approach dismayed a large part of their electoral base. In each case, the two men sought to reassure their more left supporters that this "neoliberal" approach was essential but transitional, and that they would see that eventually their hopes for more fundamental change would be realized.
     These assurances were taken with increasing skepticism and public dissent by these supporters, and particularly by leading left intellectuals and leaders of social movements. In the Brazilian case, some of them publicly resigned from the PT and threw their support to smaller left-wing parties. The response of both Lula and Obama was to point to various kinds of programs they had put into effect which were intended to improve the lot of the poorer parts of the population, such as the campaign against hunger in the case of Brazil and the new health legislation in the case of the United States. The skeptics pointed in each case to the important benefits that had accrued to the wealthier segments of their countries.
     When, however, the actual elections took place, many of the left skeptics returned to the fold. In Brazil, a group of very prominent left intellectuals issued a public appeal to vote for Dilma Rousseff 0n the grounds that her opponent would wreak disaster for Brazil. A similar position was taken by the most important social movement, the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra (MST), which had been badly let down by Lula but nonetheless thought that things would be still worse if Rousseff were not elected.
     In the U.S. case, intellectuals who had supported the third-party candidacy of Ralph Nader in 2000 because they felt that there was no significant difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush publicly repented of this approach and argued for supporting Democrats in the legislative elections. So did leaders of social movements - among African-Americans, Latinos, and gays - despite their public disappointment with the limited fulfillment of Obama's promises.
     All this seems remarkably similar, yet the outcome could not have been more different. Rousseff won handily in Brazil and Obama, in his own words, received a "shellacking." Why? It could not be clearer. There was one enormous difference in the two situations. Brazil's economic situation had markedly improved in the past few years, and the U.S. economic situation had become markedly worse. There could not have been a clearer demonstration of the Carville thesis: "It's the economy, stupid."
     It was not Obama's "centrism" that explains why voters turned against him. Lula has been every bit as "centrist" in his politics. It was not Obama's lack of charisma. He had seemed very "charismatic" in 2008. Lula was popular because things seemed to be going well. And Obama was unpopular because they seemed to be going badly. It is not that one sold out and the other did not. It was not a question of their true political convictions. Sometimes, the overall structural situation overwhelms the abilities of talented politicians to do much about them.
by Immanuel Wallerstein

[Copyright by Immanuel Wallerstein, distributed by Agence Global. For rights and permissions, including translations and posting to non-commercial sites, and contact: rights@agenceglobal.com, 1.336.686.9002 or 1.336.286.6606. Permission is granted to download, forward electronically, or e-mail to others, provided the essay remains intact and the copyright note is displayed. To contact author, write: immanuel.wallerstein@yale.edu.

These commentaries, published twice monthly, are intended to be reflections on the contemporary world scene, as seen from the perspective not of the immediate headlines but of the long term.]

Becky Dunlop
Secretary, Fernand Braudel Center
Binghamton University
PO Box 6000
Binghamton NY 13902
Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell Phone: 651-587-5541

E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

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