Resistance Builds to NATO’s Threat of Permanent War and Nuclear Dominance

From Truth Out:

By Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn
Sunday, 18 March 2012

The leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the gently named but dangerous behemoth dominated by the United States – and history’s largest global military cohort – plan to meet in Chicago on May 20 and 21.

The tiny fraternity of concentrated wealth and power that calls itself the Group of Eight (G8) was to have met in Chicago in mid-May as well, overlapping with NATO. Fearing massive protests, the G8 cancelled, retreating to Camp David, Maryland, chased out of town by a coalition of dissidents, activists and agitators.

Isolated and inaccessible, Camp David is where the “leaders” of the planet’s eight wealthiest countries belong – sequestered and remote, barricaded and cut off in every imaginable way. The Camp David move illuminates the elite’s isolation from the people they pretend to represent.

By the same token, NATO – a military alliance of 28 countries, – is the only major intergovernmental body without a basic information disclosure policy. It’s a closed cabal with an active PR front and zero engagement with the public it claims to protect.

From their separate berths, NATO and the G-8’s heads of state, intelligence personnel, foreign ministers and generals, cabinet members and secret operatives, advisors and bureaucrats – the 1 percent of the 1 percent – will conspire to extend and defend their obscene wealth, to exploit the remaining fossil fuels, natural resources, human labor, and the living planet to the last drop, and to dominate the people of the global majority.

A People’s Primer on NATO

On NATO’s official web site, a white dove flutters across an elegant page, but soon enough, it moves to images of helicopters and fighter planes menacing the world under the facade of peace.

“NATO forces” are referenced constantly, and yet the reality of NATO is obscure and enigmatic.

US military spending alone accounts for nearly half of the world’s military spending; add NATO countries, and the figure jumps to three quarters.Under cover of NATO, 9,000 British troops were deployed to fight a US war in Afghanistan, offering a fig leaf presented as “coalition forces” to US military aggression.

Purportedly set up as a defensive organization, in 1999 NATO’s mission statement was rewritten to allow for offensive action across the Eurasian landmass. Since 1999, NATO has waged war in four countries on three continents, none of which are near the North Atlantic region: in Southeast Europe’s Yugoslavia, North Africa’s Libya and Central and South Asia’s Afghanistan and Iraq.

NATO retains hundreds of nuclear weapons in military facilities across Europe, an end-run around the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which forbids the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear countries. England is required by the NPT to work toward nuclear disarmament; instead, its nuclear weapons system has been hidden under NATO since the 1960s, a set-up that means its nuclear weapons could be used against any country attacking, or threatening to attack, any of NATO’s member states.

Between 150 and 240 US nuclear weapons are sited in five European countries. These are B61 gravity bombs—tactical nuclear weapons—which are more flexible and easier to use in a battlefield and have a variable explosive power exceeding, at their upper limits, the power of the Hiroshima atomic bomb by more than a factor of ten. NATO’s pre-emptive “first strike” doctrine is a menacing presence across the planet; its Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) is the latest successor to Reagan’s Star Wars plan. Russia recently signed on and will be on the US side of the space shield, erected against some other states – perhaps Iran, perhaps China – promoted to the status of “enemy.”   

Municipal Militarism Protects Global Militarism

A 1984-style national security dragnet is set to descend on Chicago in an attempt to lock the city down during the NATO summit. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made it clear that he will happily act as the host of NATO – and that the 99 percent are not welcome. Emanuel is concocting a culture of fear, suggesting that it is the growing human resistance to NATO  that represents danger, outside agitators, violence and invasion.

Universities and schools are being urged to close early in May; communities of color are told that NATO’s work is not their concern; merchants are preparing for assault from the dissenting masses. But NATO, and their G8 friends in hiding, are the real masters of war; it is they who are the greatest purveyors of violence on this earth.

It is unsurprising, then, that Emanuel has funding to further arm and mobilize the police and militarize the city. The Mayorl has announced plans to contain and suppress demonstrators. He has pushed through legislation that restricts and criminalizes free speech and assembly and requires costly insurance for public demonstrations. He is issuing a steady stream of pronouncements about a fabricated Chicago, which he says is under siege from ominous and dangerous outside forces.

The mayor, not the popular resistance, is creating conditions – once again – for a police riot in Chicago against people exercising their right to peaceful dissent. Emanuel can still change course, and he should; so far, he has chosen to frame the coming convergence of protesters and the powerful solely in military and security terms.

Join the Coalition/Come to Chicago

Chicago is big enough for all—it is after all a nuclear-free and cease-fire city, cradle of the Haymarket martyrs and the 8-hour day, labor and peace actions, vast civil rights and immigration rights manifestations, home of Ida B. Wells Barnett, Jane Addams, Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Studs Terkel.  Chicago is a vast public space with historic parks, monuments, neighborhoods and streets for popular mobilzations—Chicago belongs to all of us.  We underline the right—the moral duty—to dissent and demonstrate, to resist and to be heard, to participatory (not billionaire paid-for) democracy.

The festival of NATO counter-summits, protests, and family-friendly permitted marches planned for May are the next chapter. Organizers and supporters will use humor and music, art and play, civil disobedience and imagination to voice their rejection of permanent imperial wars and the many forms of violence that arise from the same paradigm: discrimination and hate based on race, gender and ethnicity; epic income disparity; mass incarceration; inadequate resources for education, health care and opportunities for meaningful work.

Music, dance, teach-ins and peoples’ tribunals will overflow the parks and theatres. The protests are in the spirit of the Arab Spring, Occupy and the Madison labor struggle, drawing equal inspiration from the work of many others: the Pelican Bay hunger strikers, teachers and nurses, the undocumented  DREAMers, returning veterans against the wars, women  insisting on reproductive dignity, people resisting foreclosures/take-back-the-landers,, those working for LGBTQ equality and more.

People from everywhere will bring their spirits and their creativity, pitch their tents and stake their claims. Join us!

Friday, May 18: National Nurses United Rally, Daley Center Plaza.

Sunday, May 20 (morning): Iraq Veterans Against the War Rally and March.

Sunday, May 20 (afternoon):  Coalition Against NATO-G8 Poverty Agenda (CANG8) Rally and March, Downtown Chicago.

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Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys

From The New York Times:

The new economics of horse racing are making an always-dangerous game even more so, as lax oversight puts animal and rider at risk.

Published: March 24, 2012

RUIDOSO, N.M. — At 2:11 p.m., as two ambulances waited with motors running, 10 horses burst from the starting gate at Ruidoso Downs Race Track 6,900 feet up in New Mexico’s Sacramento Mountains.

Nineteen seconds later, under a brilliant blue sky, a national champion jockey named Jacky Martin lay sprawled in the furrowed dirt just past the finish line, paralyzed, his neck broken in three places. On the ground next to him, his frightened horse, leg broken and chest heaving, was minutes away from being euthanized on the track.

For finishing fourth on this early September day last year, Jacky Martin got about $60 and possibly a lifetime tethered to a respirator.

The next day, it nearly happened again. At virtually the same spot, another horse broke a front leg, pitching his rider headfirst into the ground. The jockey escaped serious injury, but not the 2-year-old horse, Teller All Gone. He was euthanized, and then dumped near an old toilet in a junkyard a short walk from where he had been sold at auction the previous year.

In the next 24 hours, two fearful jockeys refused their assigned mounts. The track honored two other riders who had died racing. As doctors fought to save Mr. Martin’s life, a sign went up next to the track tote board: “Hang in there, Jacky. We love you.”

 On average, 24 horses die each week at racetracks across America. Many are inexpensive horses racing with little regulatory protection in pursuit of bigger and bigger prizes. These deaths often go unexamined, the bodies shipped to rendering plants and landfills rather than to pathologists who might have discovered why the horses broke down.

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Our Q and A with Rosalind Barnett on gender bias

From The Dallas Morning News:

23 March 2012

Men aren’t from Mars, and women aren’t from Venus. That’s the takeaway from a recent study examining the math performance of girls and boys. Points asked Brandeis professor Rosalind Barnett, who studies gender issues, to comment on the study and the similar achievements by males and females. Contrary to conventional wisdom, girls can make gains in the subject without boys suffering losses, she says.

A University of Wisconsin study shows that as girls do better in math, their gains don’t come at the expense of boys. Is that discovery new, or is that something educators have known but cultural biases have led people to think boys belong in math and the sciences more than girls?

This is a very strong stereotype. It gets picked up when kids are very young. But it seems to be dissolving. Girls are doing well in math. A French study shows that fifth- and seventh-grade girls and boys see girls as doing better in math than boys.

We are seeing some kind of shift. And boys are not doing badly. It’s that girls are doing better.

Why is that?

We’re seeing less discouragement of girls in math and the sciences. More girls in higher grades are taking math classes. And more girls are thinking of college, where they know they will need to do well in math. And more girls are joining the workforce, where understanding math is a gateway into a good job.

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An Apple a Day Might Just Cut Profits

From Common Dreams:

by Donna Smith
Published on Sunday, March 25, 2012 by Common Dreams

My mom said it. Her mom said it. I have even repeated it to my own children. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Yet as patients, healthcare professionals, and others who eat in our healthcare facilities around the country may notice, eating healthy fare – including apples – isn’t promoted among the food offerings in cafeterias or on patient food service trays. Often the most readily available foods in our healthcare facilities are laden partially or wholly processed foods with unhealthy levels of salt, sugar, and/or fat.

Why is it that healthy, nutrient rich foods are often more difficult to find at healthcare facilities when the rising levels of heart disease, Type II diabetes, and other serious health issues have at their core at least some component of nutritional trouble?

We are told bad food habits in America contribute to obesity and the health issues that often flow from our unhealthy eating habits, yet our health providers are complicit in making sure those bad eating habits are reinforced. What is that all about? Job security? Do our providers really want us to be healthier?

Another phrase my mom used to banter about was, “Do as I do, not as I say.” Well said, Mom. So when I recently saw a toddler reaching into the donut case as her breakfast choice at one of our leading hospitals, should I have blamed her mother for allowing her child to eat the high sugar, high fat, low nutrient offering? Or might I wonder why a leading hospital chooses to have a donut case at the front lines of the cafeteria like the candy counters at the grocery stores? Why encourage bad eating?

In that same hospital cafeteria where the toddler poked the donuts one by one with her index finger before finally choosing one (I am not making that up), the section with fresh fruit and whole grain cereals and other healthy choices was in the back, darkly lit section. Why wouldn’t we put the fresh fruit up front and remove the ice cream and other frozen, sugar treat coolers? Many hospitals and clinics also have big fried food stations, pizza counters, and their own burger stands. Why? Why sell saturated fat? Why sell processed foods?

For the life of me – really for my life and yours – I cannot imagine a good reason for our healthcare providers to serve unhealthy foods.

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Republicans are desperate to kill health care reform – stop them.

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Documents Show NYPD Infiltrated Liberal Groups

From The New York Times:

Published: March 23, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — Undercover NYPD officers attended meetings of liberal political organizations and kept intelligence files on activists who planned protests around the country, according to interviews and documents that show how police have used counterterrorism tactics to monitor even lawful activities.

The infiltration echoes the tactics the NYPD used in the run-up to New York’s 2004 Republican National Convention, when police monitored church groups, anti-war organizations and environmental advocates nationwide. That effort was revealed by The New York Times in 2007 and in an ongoing federal civil rights lawsuit over how the NYPD treated convention protesters.

Police said the pre-convention spying was necessary to prepare for the huge, raucous crowds that were headed to the city. But documents obtained by The Associated Press show that the police department’s intelligence unit continued to keep close watch on political groups in 2008, long after the convention had passed.

In April 2008, an undercover NYPD officer traveled to New Orleans to attend the People’s Summit, a gathering of liberal groups organized around their shared opposition to U.S. economic policy and the effect of trade agreements between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

When the undercover effort was summarized for supervisors, it identified groups opposed to U.S. immigration policy, labor laws and racial profiling. Two activists — Jordan Flaherty, a journalist, and Marisa Franco, a labor organizer for housekeepers and nannies — were mentioned by name in one of the police intelligence reports obtained by the AP.

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Water wars between countries could be just around the corner, Davey warns

From The Guardian UK:

Energy secretary tells conference that growing pressure on water resources could worsen existing war and lead to new ones

, environment correspondent, Thursday 22 March 2012

Water wars could be a real prospect in coming years as states struggle with the effects of climate change, growing demand for water and declining resources, the secretary of state for energy and climate change warned on Thursday.

Ed Davey told a conference of high-ranking politicians and diplomats from around the world that although water had not been a direct cause of wars in the past, growing pressure on the resource if climate change is allowed to take hold, together with the pressure on food and other resources, could lead to new sources of conflict and the worsening of existing conflicts.

“Countries have not tended to go to war over water, but I have a fear for the world that climate instability drives political instability,” he said. “The pressure of that makes conflict more likely.”

Even a small temperature rise – far less than the 4C that scientists predict will result from a continuation of business as usual – could lead to lower agricultural yields, he warned, at a time when population growth means that demand for food was likely to be up by 70% by 2060. By the same time, he noted, the number of people living in conditions of serious water stress would have reached 1.8 billion, according to estimates.

“Climate change intensifies pressures on states, and between states,” he told the conference, gathered to discuss whether climate change and natural resources should be regarded as a national security issue. “[Its effects] can lead to internal unrest … and exacerbate existing tensions. We have to plan for a world where climate change makes difficult problems even worse.”

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