Friday, November 30, 2018

America’s Post-9/11 Wars Have Cost $5.9 Trillion

Published on Portside (

America’s Post-9/11 Wars Have Cost $5.9 Trillion

William D. Hartung
November 21, 2018
The Nation

  Just in time for next year’s Pentagon spending debate, a new report is calling for a huge increase in the Defense Department’s budget, which is already at one of the highest levels since World War II. The document was produced by the National Defense Strategy Commission, a congressionally mandated group charged with assessing the Trump administration’s new national-defense strategy.

  The premise of the new report is that America faces a “national security emergency” that leaves its ability to defend “its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests” increasingly in doubt.

   As its solution, the commission calls for an increase in Pentagon spending of 3 to 5 percent above inflation for at least the next five years. According to calculations by Taxpayers for Common Sense, the high end of this range would mean an annual Pentagon budget of an astonishing $972 billion by 2024—a potential boon for Lockheed Martin and its fellow weapons-makers, but a disaster for US taxpayers. It is unlikely that Congress will sign off on such a hefty increase, but the fact that it has been put forward at all will provide more rhetorical ammunition for the hawks on Capitol Hill, making it all the harder to rein in runaway Pentagon spending.

   It’s not as if the Defense Department is starved for funds. The United States spends more on its military than the next seven countries in the world combined (five of which are US allies). 

   The increase in Pentagon spending in the past two years alone is greater than the entire military budget of Russia. And that’s before the massive increases proposed by the strategy commission.

  Perhaps this proposal shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the source. The commission was co-chaired by Eric Edelman, an Iraq War supporter and former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, and Gary Roughead, the former chief of US naval operations and a current board member of Northrop Grumman, the fourth-largest weapons contractor in the United States.

  The members of the National Defense Strategy Commission followed a time-tested playbook. They start by enumerating a long list of potential threats, exaggerating them in scale and importance; then they assert that the best way to address these challenges is to double down on the military-first approach that has characterized US foreign policy throughout this century. Yet this argument ignores the fact that the greatest threats we face cannot be solved with military force, and that attempting to do so will have disastrous consequences, as America’s nonstop wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and Somalia have demonstrated. The commission report gives lip service to diplomacy, but only as an adjunct to military power, not as a value in its own right.

  We should be spending less time figuring out how to fight wars with Russia, China, Iran, or any other nation, and more on how to forge partnerships to address the biggest challenges to continued life on this planet: climate change and nuclear weapons. But the new report is silent on the first problem, while on the second, it has not one discouraging word for the Pentagon’s dangerous, counterproductive plan to spend $1.2 trillion on a new generation of nuclear weapons over the next three decades.

  Thankfully, there was another study released last week that takes a more critical view of America’s policy of endless war and runaway military spending. Issued by the Costs of War Project at Brown University, it estimates the full price of the United States’ post-9/11 wars at $5.9 trillion—a stunning figure when you consider that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond have caused far more harm than good. The study takes a comprehensive look at the War on Terror, from the direct costs of overseas military operations to current and future spending on the veterans of those conflicts, to the budget of the Department of Homeland Security, to the interest on the debt resulting from the fact that these wars have been financed through deficit spending.

  A companion report by the Costs of War Project tallies the immense human costs of the post-9/11 wars: over 240,000 civilian deaths, more than 21 million people displaced, widespread environmental devastation, and over 300,000 veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries, to cite just a few examples. In the face of this catastrophe, the idea that a more militarized US policy is the answer to the world’s security challenges is absurd.

  When the new Congress convenes in January, let’s hope it takes a fresh look at the consequences of our current policy of endless war and continuous preparation for war—and puts the report of the National Defense Strategy Commission back on the shelf, where it belongs.

William D. Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex (Nation Books).]
Copyright c 2018 The Nation. Reprinted with permission. May not be reprinted without permission. Distributed by PARS International Corp.

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"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

Baltimore Activist Alert -- November 30 -- December 1, 2018

67] Rally at the Department of Homeland Security – Nov. 30
68] Black Lives Matter – Nov. 30
69] Ballroom Dancing – Nov. 30
70] Summit on Peace with Iran – Dec. 1
71] Wreath for Peace pick-up Dec. 1
72] The St. Francis Neighborhood Center Giving Tree – Dec. 1
73] Nurses Speak Out – Dec. 1
74] Baltimore Poor People's Campaign General Meeting – Dec. 1
75] Peace Vigil Dec. 1
77] Communities United meeting – Dec. 1
78] Thomas Berry Lecture – Dec. 1
79] Nonviolent Direct Action Training – Dec. 1
80] Black Legislative Agenda Day – Dec. 1
81] D.C. Labor Chorus in action – Dec. 1
82] Do you want to join a peace caravan?
83] Emergency Demonstration against an attack on Iran or North Korea  
84] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records  
85] Do you need any book shelves?
86] Join the Global Zero campaign
87] Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil
67] – Rally again on Fri., Nov. 30 outside the Department of Homeland Security from 4 to 6 PM to keep the pressure on the government to reunify families separated at the border. Hundreds of children are still separated from their parents after the July 26th deadline set by the courts for reunification.  This is a permitted, peaceful event and families are welcome.  You can bring your own sign or use one of the available signs.  Gather at 4401 Massachusetts Ave. NW. This location is about 50 yards south [in towards downtown] of Ward Circle.  There is parking on Massachusetts Avenue across the street, or you can park at the Katzen Center for the Arts for $2/hour and free after 5 PM on the other side of Ward Circle. View Email triduncan05 AT gmail. Com.  

68] – There is usually a silent vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, sponsored by Homewood Friends Meeting, outside the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St.  The next scheduled vigil is on Nov. 30. Black Lives Matter.   

69] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at 8 PM.  Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St.  Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be on Nov. 30. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

70] –  I’m attending CODEPINK’s Summit on Peace with Iran from 9 AM to 5 PM on Sat., Dec. 1 at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 945 G St. NW, WDC 20001.  This summit will answer questions about how sanctions are affecting the people, future prospects for the nuclear deal, how the changing relations with Saudi Arabia affect Iran, and how we can prevent a military conflict with Iran.  The cost is $10 to $100 Sliding Scale. Check out the pop-up art exhibit curated by the Iranian cultural group Aftab Committee that will be at the summit! Come explore the unique and vibrant works of two Iranian-American artists Beeta Baghoolizadeh and Ala Hashemi.

CODEPINK has added a spectacular post-summit evening cultural event from 6 to 8 PM at Busboys and Poets, 14th & V Sts., 2021 14th St. NW, WDC 20009. Close out the day with lovely poetry recitations, classical music by the renowned Iranian musician Nader Madj, dancing, open mic and much more.   RSVP at

71] – On Sat., Dec. 1 from 9 AM to noon, there is a Wreath for Peace pick-up, northern location at  St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 1314 Foulk Rd,, Wilmington, DE.  The southern location is the Newark United Methodist Church, 69 E. Main St., Newark, DE.  See

72] – On Sat., Dec. 1 from 10 AM to 2 PM, consider going to the St. Francis Neighborhood Center Giving Tree, hosted by the St. Francis Neighborhood Center at 2706 Dillon St., Baltimore 21224-4706. Support a Baltimore family in need from the Center for the holidays. You can email or Mason at to choose your family NOW, OR attend the amazing Mahaffey's Winter Wonderland Block Party to choose your family. See Bring an unwrapped toy and/or choose a family to support for the holidays. What is expected? If you choose a family, you are asked that each family member receives a stocking with items such as small games, toys, gift cards, scarves, gloves, hats, socks, hygiene items, etc., and that each child also receives a backpack filled with school supplies, school uniforms, shoes, games, books, etc. Youth run out of their school supplies by December and need to replenish for the New Year!  The goodies will be distributed between Dec. 17 and Dec. 21. See

73] – On Sat., Dec. 1 from 10:30 AM to noon, Hopkins Nurses Speak Out at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, 830 E. Pratt St., Baltimore 21202.  When nurses speak up, the truth comes out.  Hopkins nurses will present a hospital-wide report about patient care concerns and how these concerns extend far into the city of Baltimore. Hear from nurses about how federal rights to organize a union are being violated by Hopkins as they fight to hold the hospital accountable to the health of your community. Together, we can push Johns Hopkins Hospital to live up to its promise of serving the people and patients of Baltimore. Also attending will be Baltimore 13th District Councilwoman Shannon Sneed, 8th District Councilperson Kristerfer Burnett, 1st District Councilperson Zeke Cohen, and 12th District Councilperson Robert Stokes, who will offer remarks in response to the nurses' presentation on patient care and community accountability. Also coming will be Maryland Delegate Brooke Lierman. Email  Discounted parking is available in garage at 815 E. Pratt St. Go to

74]  On Sat., Dec. 1 from 11 AM to 1 PM, get over to the Baltimore Poor People's Campaign General Meeting, hosted by Oak Hill Center for Education and Culture at 2239 Kirk Ave., Baltimore 21218.  In Baltimore City, almost half of households earn less than what’s needed to cover basic cost of living expenses. Baltimore has some of the highest rates of eviction in the country with 55 percent of renters paying more than 30% of their income in rent.  Revive Dr. King’s final vision to unite the bottom to create “a new and unsettling force” in this country. Together challenge the policies and distorted moral narratives that perpetuate the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and ecological devastation. But we know that in order to build a strong state and national movement, we need to be organized locally across the state. Call Ashley at 443-977-3531. Go to

75] – Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to Email

76] – Join the CENTER CITY DEATH WALK/VIGIL on Sat., Dec. 1 from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM at 12th and Market Sts., Philadelphia 18107.   The wars continue in Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen…..and DRONES are being used for attacks you DON’T even hear about.  Please wear BLACK, as you will be given plain white masks. Call Marge Van Cleef at 203-804-3013. Hold signs opposing U.S. DRONE WARFARE and TERRORISM, which is the killing of civilians. This is a SILENT VIGIL representing the DEATHS of those killed by DRONES.  Contact Marge Van Cleef at 203-804-3013 (cell).

77] – On Sat., Dec. 1 at noon, there is a Meet Me in the Middle meeting at St Vincent de Paul Church, 120 N. Front St. (President & E. Fayette Streets) across from the Shot Tower subway stop. Get updates on all Communities United's organizing efforts, including the next town hall on December 8. See  The meeting is starting an hour later this month so that you can also support Hopkins Nurse Speak Out, a town hall at 10:30 AM just down the street at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, 830 Pratt St. Nurses seeking to organize a union at Hopkins will present a hospital-wide report about patient and nurse's safety concerns. Call Rafiki at 443-253-2643!

78] – On Sat., Dec. 1 from 2 to 5 PM, attend the Thomas Berry Lecture: From the Cave to the Cosmos, hosted by Center for Environmental Transformation – CFET at Sacred Heart Church in Waterfront South, 1739 Ferry Ave., Camden, NJ 08104-1313. Admission is $20. PEACE and JUSTICE shall meet, ART and SCIENCE shall embrace. Hear from an internationally renowned theologian and scientist, Ilia Delio, and internationally renowned artist and peacemaker, Mickey McGrath, will bring together new views of our Earth, our cosmos, and the presence of God in all. They will share a conversation that will inspire you and bring us together as we explore the meaning and symbolism of all we have known and all we are learning as the Cosmos reveals herself to us. A question and answer portion will follow the talk. Immediately afterwards, join in for a reception at CFET where there will be refreshments and book signings by our speakers.  Contact Cathy Nevins at or 856-816-6373.  Check out

79] – On Sat., Dec. 1 from 2 to 5 PM, get involved with a Nonviolent Direct Action Training, hosted by Extinction Rebellion US at the District House, 2121 H St. NW, Room B114, WDC.  This free training will give a comprehensive overview of how to participate in a Nonviolent Direct Action, including an overview of what NVDA is and why it is effective, as well as concrete considerations such as how to interact with the police, what your legal rights are, how to avoid confrontations, etc. The training will be led by Nadine Bloch.  Register at  See

80] – On Sat., Dec. 1 from 2 to 5 PM, get over to Black Legislative Agenda Day: From the Baltimore Grassroots, hosted by Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle at Harbor Bank of Maryland Main Branch, 25 West Fayette St., Baltimore 21201. Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle is pleased to convene the 5th Annual Black Legislative Agenda Day: From the Baltimore Grassroots.  Use this as an opportunity to work collaboratively on efforts in Annapolis to support legislation that will help our communities. Community organizations should contact LBS about what they are working on during the MD Generally Assembly, and each group will be given time to present what they are working and will have an opportunity to answer questions from the community and ask for people to help with your project. Email  Visit

81] – The DC Labor Chorus 20th Anniversary Concert honoring founding director Elise Bryant will be on Sat., Dec. 1 at 7:30 PM at the Tommy Douglas Conference Center Ballroom. 10000 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring 20903. Donations are gratefully accepted. Email

82] – Do you have any interest in challenging the Trump administration for reneging on the Iran Deal? If yes, would you be interested in joining a Peace Caravan to the Iranian embassy in Washington, D.C.? Contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net.  

83] – It is a violation of U.S. law for us to attack a country that has not attacked us, as only Congress can declare war. The Trump administration is nevertheless beating the war drums for war against Iran and North Korea. The Mueller investigation is tightening the vise, and could cause Trump to attack those countries in order to divert attention from Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Such a military strike would demand an immediate and unequivocal response from us to show that we will not tolerate his abuse of power.

Let's mobilize to show that we the people will not tolerate another military adventure, which would be bound to have profound negative consequences. If a preemptive military strike against Iran or North Korea takes place, then meet outside the War Memorial, 101 N. Gay St., Baltimore, MD 21202. If the attack is before 2 PM local time, then events will begin at 5 PM, local time. If the attack occurs after 2 PM local time, then events will begin at noon, local time, the following day. Contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net.

84] -- If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs, records, tarps and table cloths, contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 at

85] -- Can you use any book shelves? Contact Max at 410-323-1637 or mobuszewski2001 at

86] -- Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees.  This is an historic window of opportunity.  With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many.

87] – A Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil takes place every day in Lafayette Park, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 24 hours a day, since June 3, 1981. Go to; call 202-682-4282.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

“One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Baltimore Activist Alert -- November 29 -- December 15, 2018

50] Bernie Brown is being evicted!!
51] Exhibition of the work of a Ramallah-based cartoonist – through Dec. 15
52] FCNL Annual Meeting – Nov. 29 - Dec. 1
53] Arrest Mohammed bin Salman – Nov. 29
54] Close US Military Bases Overseas – Nov. 29
55] Food Rescue – Nov. 29
56] Providing Humanitarian Aid in North Korea and Other Authoritarian Settings – Nov. 29
57] Alternative Approaches to Global Security – Nov. 29
58] Montgomery County Meeting of the Poor People's Campaign -- Nov. 29
59] "Resolved: America Needs More Immigrants"– Nov. 29
60] Funding of Anne Arundel Public Schools – Nov. 29
61] Sierra Club meeting – Nov. 29
62] "The Ghosts of Johns Hopkins"-- Nov. 29
63] Animal Testing -- Nov. 30
64] WIB peace vigils – Nov. 30
65] White House vigil – Nov. 30
66] Food Rescue – Nov. 30
50] -- Our colleague Bernie Brown was given an eviction notice, effective November 22. He is still in his tiny apartment, but he may be evicted any day now.
Several of us are trying to prevent him from becoming homeless.  If this concerns you, let Max know at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net.

   Do you have any ideas?  One possibility is to clean his abode, and thus prevent eviction.  Another would be to meet with the ownership of the building.  Another option is to find him another abode.  Please let me know if you want to get involved in helping Bernie, a great member of Baltimore’s peace and justice movement.

51] – Just World Educational is working to help a build a better-informed US public (and a better-informed incoming Congress) by hosting an exhibition of the work of the talented, Ramallah-based cartoonist Mohammad Sabaaneh through Sat.,  Dec. 15.  Visit  Mohammad's art-- long known for its biting wit and sharp witness-- is now also becoming recognized for its powerful artistic value.  In the artist's statement he composed to accompany the show, Mohammad wrote: I ask how I can share my world, as an artist and a Palestinian, with the rest of the world’s people? Surely, by art! I refuse to keep art only for the elite, in museums or exhibitions. Art should elevate the people’s awareness and the artist should carve the dark world to create beauty—like linocut. Call 202-338-1958 or email

52] –  The FCNL Annual Meeting officially begins at 9 AM on Thurs., Nov. 29 in the Grand Ballroom at the Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Ave. NW. To schedule lobby visits, contact Amanda Levin at The keynote address is by Ruth Flower, FCNL’s former associate executive secretary for legislative program.  On Sat., Dec. 1 gather at 7 PM for a conversation with Joe Volk, Executive Secretary Emeritus, and Diane Randall, FCNL’s current Executive Secretary. The dialog will be moderated by our Annual Meeting Planning Committee clerk, and former FCNL Young Fellow, Emily Temple. Afterward, there is a reception featuring special music by Brulée, a band fronted by Aura Kanegis, who is also a former FCNL Young Fellow and currently serves as Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). See

53] – On Thurs., Nov. 29 from 10 AM to noon, join a rally at the Argentine Embassy, 1600 New Hampshire Ave. NW, WDC 20009, hosted by CODEPINK: Women For Peace.  Rally to call for the arrest of Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 Summit for war crimes in Yemen and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Argentine officials are currently considering charges against MbS and are being pressured by groups such as Human Rights Watch to invoke their constitutional power to recognize their jurisdiction in enforcing international law by arresting war criminals. The G20 Summit will begin in Buenos Aires on Friday, Nov. 30.  See

54] -- Making America Safer and Saving Billions by Closing US Military Bases Overseas: A Trans partisan Coalition Speaks Out on Thurs., Nov. 29 from 1 to 2 PM in the Russell Senate Office Building, Room SR-188, 2 Constitution Ave. NE, WDC 20002.  Military experts from across the ideological spectrum will hold a public event to release an open letter arguing for the closure of wasteful, damaging, and unneeded US military bases abroad. In an era of bitter divisions between right and left, consensus is growing around a long-overlooked but crucial part of how the United States engages with the world: the nearly 75-year-old strategy of maintaining some 800 US military bases in 80 foreign countries. The open letter was drafted by the new transpartisan Overseas Base Realignment and Closure Coalition (OBRACC). The Coalition reflects growing agreement among military experts that reducing the excessive US military footprint could, counterintuitively, make the country safer while saving billions of dollars a year. Signatories to the letter include Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, and Independents. They span retired military officers and peace advocates; a former GOP member of Congress and Noam Chomsky; Clinton, Reagan, and George W. Bush administration officials; and academics and think tank analysts across the ideological spectrum.

The speakers are Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, (US Army, Ret.), former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Phyllis Bennis, Director, New Internationalism Project, Institute for Policy Studies, Dr. Catherine Lutz, Professor of Anthropology and International Studies, Brown University, John Glaser, Director, Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute, Sayo Saruta, Director, New Diplomacy Initiative (Japan) and Dr. David Vine, Professor of Anthropology, American University. Contact Dr. Vine at 202-885-2923 or, Go to The event will be Livestreamed at and you can listen in by phone at 1-646-876-9923 (ID: 943 926 933).

55] – On Thurs., Nov. 29 from 4 to 5 PM, hosted by Food Rescue Baltimore, every Thursday until Feb. 7, 2019 at the Dovecote Café, 2501 Madison Ave., Baltimore 21217.  Bring a bag, bring a friend, and take delicious, nutritious, free rescued food. Visit

56] – The Soh Jaipil Circle on Contemporary Korean Affairs will host a discussion "Providing Humanitarian Aid in North Korea and Other Authoritarian Settings" on Thurs., Nov. 29 from 4 to 6 PM in Room 505, Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University, 1975 E St. NW, WDC 20052.  Register at

Increasingly, international and domestic aid workers provide humanitarian aid in countries with authoritarian governments. One of the many dilemmas is ensuring that the most vulnerable receive the allocated aid while concurrently liaising and coordinating with national and local government entities who often don’t prioritize the needs of their at-risk populations.  They may have little interest in channeling program outputs to populations targeted by the project or else perceive of the aid as an opportunity to divert funding or commodities to their allies – whether that be their family, tribe, business partners, members of the military, influential persons/entities, or others.  Finally, they will often establish regulations to ensure that aid workers have limited opportunities to visit project sites. 

During a six-month period in 1998 and 1999, Christy Gavitt was employed by the Private Voluntary Organization Consortium for North Korea (PVOC), a consortium of five US non-governmental relief and development agencies.  Along with six other colleagues, she carried out project assessments and the subsequent monitoring of the distribution of 150,000 MT of US Government-contributed maize and wheat through 152 food-for-work projects in seven provinces in North Korea.  The projects focused on the repair of embankments that had been damaged by the previous years’ floods.  This job entailed repeated contact with as many as 300 North Korean senior counterpart officials.  Ms. Gavitt was one of the three Korean speakers on the team. She began her overseas career as a Peace Corps volunteer in South Korea from 1974-76, followed by a year-long internship with CARE-Korea.

57] --  Alternative Approaches to Global Security, a book launch and symposium on rethinking global security and alternatives to war is happening on Thurs., Nov. 29 from 6:30 to 8 PM at the Georgetown University Leavey Center, Leavey Program Room, 3800 Reservoir Road NW, WDC 20007.  RSVP at Light refreshments will be served.  The event will also be livestreamed via the World BEYOND War Facebook page:  There is a preponderance of evidence that our global system of militarized security does not lead to a stable or positive peace. More often than not, the militarized approach entangles us in a vicious cycle of violence, fostering insecurity from the local to the global, and most troubling: it further legitimizes war. If this system doesn’t work, then what new system(s) might and must emerge? The symposium will also be a book launch for the new edition of “A Global Security System: An Alternative to War (2018-19 Edition),” a publication of World BEYOND War. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.  

The panelists are David Swanson. Director, World BEYOND War, Madison Schramm.  2018-2019 Hillary Rodham Clinton Research Fellow, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace & Security, and three students. The students on the panel are from the course “Rethinking Global Security” (JUPS 412). All are seniors in the Justice and Peace Studies Program.  They will share future perspectives, concerns and possibilities on establishing a nonviolent system of global security. Email

58] – On Thurs., Nov. 29 from 6:30 to 8 PM, come to the Montgomery County Meeting, hosted by the Maryland Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, 100 Welsh Park Dr., Rockville 20850.  Plan and discuss how the Maryland Poor People's Campaign will grow in Montgomery County.  Visit

59] -- On Thurs., Nov. 29 in Washington, DC attend a spirited, feisty yet civil debate over one of the most contentious issues driving US politics--"Resolved: America Needs More Immigrants.". Then, help us decide who won--the winning side receives a $5,000 award to donate to the non-profit of its choice! This is a Podius Debate: The American Conservative vs. The Nation, moderated by Judy Woodruff, PBS NewsHour Anchor and Managing Editor.

Arguing for the affirmative are Sasha Abramsky and Michelle Chen for The Nation.  Arguing for the negative will be Helen Andrews and James Antle for The American Conservative. There is a reception at 6:45 PM, and the debate begins promptly at 7:45 PM in the Jack Morton Auditorium, George Washington University, 805 21st St. NW, WDC 20052.  Tickets are free of charge but all attendees must register in advance at

60] – On Thurs., Nov. 29 at 7 PM at the Edgewater Community Library, 25 Stepney Lane, Edgewater 21037, hear from Doug Prouty, Vice President of Maryland State Education Association.  He will be speaking about the new education budgeting allocation formula that will be created during the 2019 State Legislative Session and actions we can take to advocate for funding of Anne Arundel Public Schools before and during the session.  Fixing the fund was half the fight is hosted by Take Action AAC. Go to

61] – Sierra Club Greater Baltimore Group Executive Committee Meeting is on Thurs,, Nov. 29 from 7 to 9 PM at 3000 Chestnut Ave., Suite 202, Baltimore 21211. RSVP to Debbie Kleinmann at

62] – On Thurs., Nov. 29 at 7 PM, hear Antero Pietila presents "The Ghosts of Johns Hopkins" at Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 1225 Cathedral St., Baltimore 21201.  The author of the essential history of real estate segregation in Baltimore, Not in My Neighborhood, is back with a brand new book!

   Johns Hopkins destroyed his private papers so thoroughly that no credible biography exists of the Baltimore Quaker titan. One of America’s richest men and the largest single shareholder of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, Hopkins was also one of the city’s defining developers. In The Ghosts of Johns Hopkins, Antero Pietila weaves together a biography of the man with a portrait of how the institutions he founded have shaped the racial legacy of an industrial city from its heyday to its decline and revitalization. From the destruction of neighborhoods to make way for the mercantile buildings that dominated Baltimore’s downtown through much of the 19th century to the role that the president of Johns Hopkins University played in government sponsored “Negro Removal” that unleashed the migration patterns that created Baltimore’s existing racial patchwork, Pietila tells the story of how one man’s wealth shaped and reshaped the life of a city long after his lifetime. Call (443) 602 7611 or go to

63] – On Fri., Nov. 30 from 9 AM to 4:30 PM, get over to “Animal Experimentation: Working Towards a Paradigm Shift,” hosted by Johns Hopkins Environmental Health & Engineering, 615 N. Wolfe St., Room E7527, Baltimore 21205.  This is a Book Launch. Russell and Burch introduced the principles of replacement, reduction, and refinement of animal experimentation in 1959 in their groundbreaking book, The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique (Russell and Burch, 1959). Their highest goal was to avoid the use of animals wherever possible, and—in cases where animals were still deemed indispensable—to significantly enhance their treatment while also improving the quality of research and testing. There is growing recognition that a focus on human-relevant data is needed for the understanding and possible treatment of chronic, complex diseases, many of which are not well understood and, thus, cannot be readily modeled in other animals. The technology revolution has greatly changed the field of life sciences and now provides us with tools enabling a shift away from animal experimentation. The 51 experts who contributed to “Animal Experimentation: Working Towards a Paradigm Change” review current animal use in science, present new and innovative non-animal approaches to address urgent scientific questions, and offer a roadmap towards the continuing replacement and eventual elimination of animals used in science as envisioned by Russell and Burch almost 60 years ago. See for more information or

64] – On Fri., Nov. 30 from noon to 1 PM, join a Women in Black peace vigil. A vigil will take place in McKeldin Square at the corner of Light and Pratt Sts.  STAY FOR LUNCH at Baba's Kitchen.  Warm-up, dry off, and enjoy a vegetarian chili lunch and lots of good conversation. Bring a side or topping for the chili.  There are still places at the table; invite a friend to come along with you.

Another vigil is at Roland Park Place, 830 W. 40th St, Baltimore. 21211. However, if weather is iffy, contact Anne at  Lunch will take place at 1 PM at the RPP Café, 830 W. 40th St., Baltimore 21211.

A third vigil will be in Chestertown, Kent County at Memorial Park at Cross Street and Park Row.  This vigil is looking for more peace bodies on the Eastern Shore.  Welcome to the network, Chestertown Women in Black.

Wear black. Dress for who knows what kind of weather.  Peace signs will be available. When there are others to stand with, you don't need to carry the burden alone. Do this to be in solidarity with others....when everything around us says “Be afraid of the stranger.” Carpool and parking available. Just send an email that you need a ride to:

65] – On Fri.,  Nov. 30 from noon to 1 PM, join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in a vigil urging the powers that be to abolish war and torture, to disarm all weapons, to end indefinite detention, to close Guantanamo, to establish justice for all and help create the Beloved Community! This vigil will take place at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Contract Art @ or at 202-360-6416.

66] – On Fri., Nov. 23 at noon, get over to Grace Baptist Church, 3201 The Alameda., Baltimore 21218, hosted by Food Rescue Baltimore. This occurs every Friday until Feb. 8, 2019.  For Friday Food Rescue, bring a bag, bring a friend, and take delicious, nutritious, free rescued food. See

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"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

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Plowshares RFRA case closes in on ruling

Plowshares RFRA case closes in on ruling
·         Nov 20, 2018
After two full days of testimony, the attempt by the Kings Bay Plowshares defendants to get their charges thrown out as violations of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act isn’t over yet. U.S. Magistrate Judge Benjamin Cheesbro, after a request by defense attorney Bill Quigley, announced he would allow additional but limited briefing, and is putting together an order to that fact.
The seven defendants all face charges of conspiracy, destruction of property on a naval installation, depredation of government property and trespassing for their roles the evening of April 4 and the early morning of April 5, breaking into Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay and allegedly vandalizing areas near the storage of nuclear weapons and a static missile display.
Defendants Martha Hennessy, Mark Colville, Carmen Trotta, Elizabeth McAlister and Patrick O’Neill took the stand Monday, following Nov. 7 testimony from co-defendants Father Stephen Kelly and Clare Grady.
Hennessy, the granddaughter of Dorothy Day — a woman who was called in a 2012 New Yorker article on her possible canonization “perhaps the most famous radical in the history of the American Catholic Church” — discussed at length what she learned growing up, and especially from Day, on how faith is to guide actions. Hennessy said her actions at Kings Bay were as “as profession of my faith and my responsibility as a citizen.”
Day was a founder of the Catholic Worker movement, and the ideals of that movement have been a key discussion point during the two days of testimony, including strong beliefs of pacifism and against war in all its forms, but nuclear war in particular, and how those beliefs have a basis in religion.
Hennessy said she would have sinned by omission by not acting to do something that would move the nation forward to denuclearization. She said her conscience wouldn’t allow standing by and accepting what she called the idolatry of nuclear weapons and the acceptance of the permanent war economy.
Unsurprisingly, further testimony from the defendants ran along these lines, as they did at the Nov. 7 hearing — a lifelong commitment to the Catholic faith, and how that strong faith moved them to act numerous times to bring light to and counter what they see as evil and injustice.
Kings Bay’s very existence, Colville said on the stand, conflicts with God’s law. He said to allow Kings Bay to continue its operations without doing anything would be a sin of omission and interfere with his relationship with God.
“I went there for repentance in my complicity with nuclearism…,” Colville said.
In addressing part of the RFRA matter — whether the government went about doing what it needed while placing the least possible burden on those practicing their religion — prosecutors repeated a process from defendant to defendant, bringing up their criminal record. The defendants each have lengthy histories in Catholic social justice efforts, and a number of those efforts ended up in arrests and, for some, convictions.
Remarks by the prosecution in the case thus far have gone to the argument that anything less than criminal prosecution could not dissuade the defendants. But, as noted by the criminal histories entered into evidence, the defendants are not strangers to being prosecuted, especially by federal authorities. Several of the defendants admitted in testimony that they served years in prison as a result of other acts against perceived injustice.
In other matters, Cheesbro decided not to change the conditions of O’Neill’s pretrial release, though a probation officer submitted a petition to revoke his bond. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karl Knoche said at the outset that the U.S. Attorney’s Office was not pushing for him to be remanded to jail, and further discussion between O’Neill and Cheesbro appeared to paint a picture of honest confusion. Knoche asked the judge to preset O’Neill with a last- warning admonishment, which Cheesbro did at the end of the discussion.
A number of the defendants who are presently on pretrial release, but subject to ankle monitors and curfew, presented passionate arguments about why they should now be allowed release on personal recognizance bonds, but Cheesbro said their circumstances hadn’t really changed since the former magistrate signed the current set of bond modifications.
Attorney Stephanie McDonald, speaking for Grady, said Grady at least needs to end the ankle monitoring, because it’s exacerbating a medical condition involving the defendant’s nervous system. Cheesbro said he would reserve judgment on whether to modify Grady’s bond specifications until she was able to provide documentation from medical personnel explaining the need.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"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

The Senate Is an Institutional Barrier to Democracy

The Senate Is an Institutional Barrier to Democracy
A photo of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC. It's a rectangular white building with a large dome in the center.
Electoral politics provides no sustainable path forward for a progressive agenda, unless the Senate is abolished or reformed.ZACH GIBSON / GETTY IMAGES

November 9, 2018

  The 2018 midterms offer more proof that the US Senate must — someway, somehow — be democratically reformed or abolished. Unless projected outcomes in Arizona or Florida change, the Democratic Party stands to lose a net two Senate seats despite its senatorial candidates racking up, as counted so far, 46.7 million votes versus Republicans’ 33.8 million. Even entirely excluding the more than 6.4 million votes cast in California, where no Republican senatorial candidate appeared on the general ballot, Democrats still secured 6.4 million more votes nationally, an 8-percentage point lead.
Yes, the 2018 Senate map was historically bad for Democrats — but the map is always bad for Democrats. The 2020 map is no exception. While Republicans will be defending 21 seats to the Democrats’ 12, as the Cook Political Report notes, “The GOP has just three of their 21 seats that are up in states that Trump either lost or won by 5 points or less.” In order to take back the Senate, Democrats will have to hold all of their seats, including Alabama; win both Maine and Colorado; and flip several seats in red states, an exceedingly unlikely outcome.
None of this should be surprising for a legislative body that gives 580,000 Wyomingites the same representation as 40 million Californians. Conservatives may counter that there are also “small” blue states, but the fact is that Republicans consistently benefit more. Senate Republicans have now captured the majority in 6 out of the last 10 Congresses without representing a majority of the public even once.

Short of a party realignment that decouples party politics from the small/large state divide (unlikely as long as rural voters remain more conservative and urban voters more progressive), malapportionment in the Senate will only get worse for Democratic voters. The Democratic Party could move further to the political right in an attempt to win more seats, the typical suggestion from pundits both conservative and liberal, but doing so may not work and does nothing to extend fair and meaningful representation to left-leaning voters in large coastal states. More Joe Manchins won’t fix the problem. Electoral politics provides no sustainable path forward for a progressive agenda, no matter how popular policies like Medicare-for-All and free college tuition have become, unless the Senate is abolished or reformed.
The conservative National Review dismisses the notion, claiming that “fundamentally remaking the Senate is a fantasy” given that the Constitution stipulates that “no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.” It is no surprise to see conservatives discouraging challenges to the undemocratic institutions that favor their party. But similar arguments are coming from more liberal-leaning publications that find attacks on American constitutional institutions politically risky and ultimately for naught given that constitutional amendments require a two-third majority in both chambers of Congress and ratification by three-quarters of the states. Be realistic is the message. Writing for the Atlantic, David Frum warned Democrats that, while they may deplore undemocratic American institutions, these cannot be changed before 2020 and “in the interim, you must adapt. That means devising your political plans for the terrain you have, not the terrain you might wish for.”
But this is a myopic pragmatism. Malapportionment in the Senate, a vestige of state sovereignty from the early days of the union, now gives conservatives a nearly unbreakable hold over much of the federal government. Conversely, those seeking representation through the Democratic Party get less of a say on national legislation, as well as judicial and cabinet appointments that must be confirmed by the Senate. Winning the Senate majority once every decade or so in a blue-wave year won’t change these facts. For the left, acceptance of the Senate as it exists is neither pragmatic nor realistic — not if it wants to exercise political power. And if the left doesn’t challenge undemocratic institutions now, when its grievances are at an all-time high, then when?
The United States is not the only supposedly democratic country saddled with an undemocratic upper legislative chamber (ours just has the most egregious malapportionment), but Americans have, so far, been the least willing to push back. While many Canadian politicians are openly working to reform their own undemocratic Senate, criticism on this side of the border is mostly limited to left-wing thinkers and media. Even Don Beyer, Democratic Representative of Virginia and noted proponent of democratizing electoral reform in the House, has stopped short of calling for Senate reform, reminding the Atlantic that “We’re not America; we’re the United States of America,” the insinuation being that the nation is a union of co-equal, sovereign states, similar to the actual nations party to the United Nations, a comparison that falls short given that the states aren’t actually sovereign. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, has been largely successful in , an unelected and unrepresentative body that once shared power more equally with the more representative House of Commons. The Parliament Act of 1911 took away the upper chamber’s absolute veto power entirely for money bills and limited their power over most other legislation to a delay of no more than two years, further reduced to a single year in 1949. While still undemocratic and undergoing further reform, the House of Lords has been largely defanged.
Of note, the reforms of the Parliament Act of 1911 were the result of a constitutional crisis of the House of Lords’ own making when it vetoed the “People’s Budget,” a progressive House of Commons budget raising taxes on land and the wealthy to fund new social welfare programs. The House of Lords ultimately acquiesced to the lower chamber, not only on the budget, but also the abolishment of its own veto power when King George V threatened to pack the upper chamber with enough new peers to create a Liberal Party majority.
While Democrats may never have the supermajorities needed to reform or abolish the Senate through constitutional amendment, there are ways to create similar constitutional crises that could force Republicans to the bargaining table. For instance, Democrats could threaten to pack the Supreme Court with progressive justices to counterbalance those appointed and confirmed by Republican presidents and Senate coalitions, respectively, that came to power without the mandate that electoral pluralities imply. Similarly, a Democratic Congress could threaten to “pack” the Senate by dividing Democratic strongholds into separate states. Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to redraw states lines with permission of only those state legislatures that are directly affected; no constitutional amendment is necessary. There is ultimately little, besides democratic norms, preventing simple congressional majorities and the state of New York from dividing New York City into several states and giving each borough its own two senators.
Malapportionment in the Senate gives conservatives a nearly unbreakable hold over much of the federal government.
The US Constitution is a bumbling mess of a document capable of allowing all kinds of crises that put constitutional procedures at odds with democratic norms. The Senate, a powerful legislative body now controlled by 51 Republicans representing only 43 percent of the country, is just such a crisis and no less absurd than granting Brooklyn its statehood — we could, after all, fit the population of Wyoming into it four times over and then some.
The US Congress can be democratically reformed, the Senate perhaps even abolished, but it is likely to require the same kind of constitutional hardball that Republicans have been playing for years. There is political risk in making such destabilizing moves, but given how hopeless electoral politics are for the left under the status quo, there isn’t much to lose.

Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Sohale A. Mortazavi is a writer based in Chicago.
Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to
"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