Thursday, March 10, 2011

Anti-war group seeks to draw down defense spending/New Wave of Protests Fighting Banksters


The Gazette  Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Anti-war group seeks to draw down defense spending

Money should be redirected to domestic issues, coalition says

by Alan Brody | Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS — The federal government should redirect money currently dedicated to defense spending to underfunded domestic priorities, a group of lawmakers and anti-war advocates said Monday.

"If federal funds were spent where they should be — to build our infrastructure, both educational and physical — instead of fighting wars in lands where we know we can't win, then we would all be better off as a nation," said Del. Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg (D-Dist. 41) of Baltimore.

He is one of 40 state lawmakers who signed a letter asking Maryland's congressional delegation to shift billions of dollars in federal military aid to state and local needs that have seen steep declines in recent years as a result of the economic downturn. They are asking Congress to reduce the Pentagon's budget by 25 percent over the next five years.

Maryland taxpayers will contribute more than $14.3 billion in 2011 to the military budget, which is slightly less than the state's proposed general fund budget for fiscal 2012. That reflects "a shocking misallocation of natural resources," according to the letter.

The coalition that hosted Monday's news conference, called "Fund Our Communities, Bring the War Dollars Home," argued that defense spending could be significantly scaled back without harming troops, citing a report commissioned by U.S. Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas).

"Our coalition calls for a reprioritization of public funding, one that represents the values of the people of this country rather than the interests of the military-industrial complex," said Jean Athey, who is one of the coalition's lead coordinators.

"The current fiscal crisis of our country derives in part from decades of ever-escalating military expenditures. Meanwhile, the rest of our society is in serious decline, and in many places, workers are being scapegoated for problems that are not of their making," she said.

The Maryland coalition, which is part of the recently established New Priorities Network, is composed of 40 labor unions, civil rights organizations and other religious and advocacy groups.

Any cuts in military spending should not reduce the pay or benefits provided to servicemen and servicewomen or the protective gear for active-duty personnel, Athey said.

Instead, money can be redirected by reducing the number of foreign military bases and slashing the armed forces' weapons cache, among other options, she said.

In 2008, the United States accounted for 48 percent of the world's military spending, nearly eight times as much as China, according to the International Institute of Strategic Studies.

 "The people of Maryland are hurting," said Sen. Jamie B. Raskin, (D-Dist. 20) of Silver Spring, who co-wrote the letter along with Del. Sheila E. Hixson (D-Dist. 20) of Silver Spring.

"In Annapolis, we have no control of the federal budget," he said. "But we're begging our delegation in Washington to redirect resources from the military-industrial complex to the social and physical infrastructure, which is crumbling."

Copyright © 2011 Post-Newsweek Media, Inc./Gazette.Net

New Wave of Protests Fighting Banksters

by Laura Flanders

It was tax day in 2009 that saw the first Tea Party protests, and the FOX-led media firestorm that's followed has made it seem as though the Tea Party's the only game in town if you want to complain about bailouts.

This year, though, as tax day approaches, a new wave of protest is sweeping the country.  On February 26th, inspired by the UK,
US Uncut actions took place at Bank of America branches around the country—and all 50 states held solidarity rallies to support Wisconsin's protesters.

Taxpayers connected with National People's Action and other community-based groups occupied a Bank of America, protested the Attorneys General and the Republican congressional leaders this week. and as James Mumm of National People's Action noted on GRITtv yesterday, this one actually represents the majority.  And diversity.

Compare the coverage with what followed every Tea Party outburst and you'd weep.

In February 2009, when one CNBC correspondent spoke out from the floor of the stock exchange against taxpayers' help to beleaguered mortgage holders, Rick Santelli's "rant" went viral thanks to web-based front groups of the corporate-funded right. Tax day protests a couple of months later were covered live on FOX and by June's health care meetings, even a single wild-eyed ranter could snag prime time attention, on every show, on every network.

This time the attention's critical. The Empire Justice Center is predicting a “tsunami” of foreclosures coming, and Bank of America is refusing to write down mortgage debt. Republicans in Congress want to eliminate the Home Affordable Modification Program, which helps people keep their homes and Democrats are flagging in their support.

How big do protests have to be for money media to pick them up? We don't know, but we know it's out of all proportion when the critique goes against the super rich. Luckily the action's picking up. Now, will media spotlight? We in the independent media will do our best to keep up. But we're going to need your help.

The Other 98%
US Uncut
Move to Amend
National People's Action

© 2011 Grit TV

Laura Flanders

The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv and editor of At The Tea Party, out now from OR Books. GRITtv broadcasts weekdays on DISH Network and DIRECTv, on cable, and online at and Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter and be GRITtv's friend on Facebook.

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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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