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Obama Offers Token Troop Withdrawals While Maintaining the "War on Terror” Mindset

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  • President Obama passed up an opportunity to recognize our democracy and respect the views of the vast majority of the American people.
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  • Pure Orwellian Doublespeak
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Phyllis Bennis, AlterNet

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President Obama’s speech tonight (June 22) violated one of his most important campaign promises: to “end the mind-set that leads to war.”

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To the contrary, his announcement of a token shift of 10,000 soldiers leaving by the end of 2011, and maybe another 23,000 in another year, makes clear that his claim tonight that “the tide of war is receding” remains untrue. The enormous current deployment of 250,000 U.S. and allied military forces (100,000 U.S. troops, 50,000 NATO troops and 100,000 Pentagon-paid contractors) in Afghanistan continues, and reflects not an end but an embrace of the mind-set of war, even with this small shift of soldiers. This was an opportunity for President Obama to recognize our democracy, to acknowledge and – dare I suggest? – even respect the views of the vast majority of the American people. Sixty-four percent of the people of our country believe the war is not worth fighting. When this war began in October 2001, only about 12% of people in the U.S. did not support it. So 64% opposition means a lot of folks have come to that realization now after years of escalating Afghan civilian and U.S. military casualties, years of a collapsing economy, and yes, years of hard-fought anti-war organizing.

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Washington: 'Let's Cut Spending!' The Public: 'Let's Raise Taxes!'

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The big lesson from this survey is pretty straightforward: public opinion is important, but we shouldn’t overestimate its importance to debates in Washington. Often, what the public thinks is ancillary to what actually happens.

Jamelle Bouie, Nation Magazine

Conservatives are fond of claiming the United States as a “center-right country,” but public opinion polling routinely shows a country of people who amenable—if not enthusiastic—about liberal solutions to public policy problems. For example, in a recent Pew survey, when asked what they would support to cut the deficit, large majorities support a grab bag of liberal policies: raising the Social Security contribution cap, raising taxes on high-income earners, reducing our military presence, and limiting tax deductions for large corporations. Here's a chart showing the survey results.

This holds true even when broken down by partisan affiliation. Along with 73 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of independents, 54 percent of Republicans support the Social Security contribution cap. Likewise, 56 percent of Republicans want to reduce our military commitments abroad, and 62 percent want to limit tax deductions for large corporations.

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Open Letter to the Labor and Antiwar Movements

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  • Bring together representatives of labor unions, communities of color, immigrant communities, and religious congregations into the planning process in all local areas for building antiwar actions.
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  • The other groups that should be included in the antiwar movement's planning process are the entire socialist movement, the entire Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,Transgender (LGBT) community, the entire conservation/environment movement, the entire human rights movement, the entire civil rights movement, the entire women's rights movement, the entire Atheist, Freethinker, Agnostic, Skeptic, Secular Humanist community.
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  • We ask all who support the labor/antiwar alliance as explained in this letter to join us as signatories of this open letter.
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Issued by the New National Assembly to Bring the Troops Home Now

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor John Stoltenberg

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

Antiwar groups across the country have called for massive protests against the wars this coming October. Actions in different cities and nationally are slated for October 1, 6, 7, 15 and perhaps other dates. Some are local or regional in scope, at least one is focused on Washington D.C. All of the major antiwar groups, while having some demands unique to their own formations, share the central demand of bringing the troops home now.

There is something else we all share: a commitment to making the October demonstrations as large as possible. Toward that end, we urge that every effort be made by peace groups to include unions on the ground floor in planning the actions.

A call issued by the Communications Workers of America and endorsed by the AFL-CIO for actions on April 4, 2011 resulted in a thousand rallies and marches being organized all across the country, with a cumulative turnout of an estimated 100,000. There was a distinct antiwar component in virtually all of these events, with speakers calling for bringing the war dollars home and using the money saved to meet human needs.

Consider also the demonstration of over 100,000 in Madison, Wisconsin in February of this year, which featured many antiwar signs and posters protesting astronomical war spending. This powerful demonstration took place at a time when Wisconsin public employees were told they must accept sharp cuts in benefits because of a manufactured budget crisis. This when the U.S. government is spending more that $10 billion a month to prosecute the war in Afghanistan.

The labor movement — confronted by multiple horrendous attacks from corporate America and their bought-and-paid for politicians — is more open than in previous periods to mobilizing its ranks as part of its fightback campaign and in drawing connections between war spending and the economic crisis. We now have a new opportunity to unite the antiwar struggle with the struggle for jobs and against cuts and concessions. We urge that this opportunity be seized for the October demonstrations.

We suggest these concrete steps to help unite the most powerful social forces in the struggle for peace:

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  • Bring together representatives of labor unions, communities of color, immigrant communities, and religious congregations into the planning process in all local areas for building antiwar actions.
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  • Encourage antiwar forces to join labor actions in those states where there is active resistance to the corporate anti-union agenda. For example, October is going to be the height of labor mobilizing against Senate Bill 5 in the Ohio referendum. Labor may be less willing to join an antiwar-led action but more willing to have antiwar messages/speakers in any planned labor-led action.
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  • Explain in all outreach materials how continuing the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya is connected to the continuing economic crisis that all working people face and how there is no solution to unemployment, lower wages, overcrowded schools, and substandard health care unless these wars are ended.
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  • Make clear that the economic crisis imposes a de facto draft on working-class youth, especially in communities of color, where young people are denied opportunities for education and jobs unless they enlist in the military.
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Finally, we ask all who support the labor/antiwar alliance as explained above to join us as signatories of this open letter. To do so, simply write natassembly@aol.com and advise whether you are signing on as an individual or a group or both.

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Americans To Teachers And School Districts: Stop Fighting And Start Teaching

While the teacher-versus-district disputes are usually well-reported, you tend to hear less about how these battles affect the community at large -- the local citizens who tend to be none too pleased to learn that teachers and administrators are fighting over their tax money instead of using it to educate the community's children.

AJ Barbosa, Huffington Post

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If you like reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it.

When the Hesby Oaks School reopened its doors in 2006 after being closed for two decades, the community of Encino, Calif., had reason to be pleased. The Los Angeles Unified School District had invested more than $24 million dollars in the school's reopening. It was a big investment, to be sure, but one that promised to pay dividends. And indeed, over the years that followed, that promise was largely fulfilled, as the school’s consistently high test scores brought new families to the area.

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Five years on, though, that investment isn’t looking quite as good. To save money, the district has proposed a round of budget cuts that would lead to widespread teacher layoffs. Hesby Oaks, “the little school that could," as one first-grade teacher recently referred to it, is poised to lose no less than half of its teachers.

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Legislators, the key to compromise is human dignity

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  • Consider, among the budget proposals, who is truly affected.
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  • Woe to You, Legislators!
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Brian Rusche, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

The Legislature and governor are locked in impasse, largely because it is difficult to find compromise unless transcendent values are held in common.

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I'd like to suggest one value that liberals and conservative share: the human dignity of every person.

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Consider the human dignity of Freddy, working all of his adult life, primarily in factory jobs -- until he developed glaucoma. He lost 35 percent of his eyesight, is unable to work and must turn to the state's General Assistance program for $203 a month, while the two-year process of determining his eligibility for federal disability support moves through the system.

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Woe to You, Legislators! Jim Wallis, Sojourners/God's Politics

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  • The self-professed budget hawks have completely ignored the most consistently egregious, wasteful, and morally compromised area of the whole federal budget — our endless and unaccountable military spending. Paul Ryan and the Republicans would cut nothing from the Pentagon profligacy. This makes them hypocrites.
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  • Tell Congress we want a moral budget
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  • Why 30,000 People are Fasting
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Special Report | Why We Fight Wars: It's In Our Culture

How the Military Mindset Is Permeating Our Political Culture and Society

6 Items including:

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  • The Militarization of America
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  • War Games: Army Lures Civilians By Letting Them Play Soldier
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  • Waterboarding, Hitting Your Kids, Empathy and Politics
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  • Early Childhood Military Education?
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  • Killer drones used like a sport
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  • Fighting Wars With Music and Art
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  • Sexual Puritanism and Empire: Sex, Shame, and Military Might
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David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

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Signe Wilkinson

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Waterboarding, Hitting Your Kids, Empathy and Politics, Brian Enright, OpEdNews.com

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  • I believe that many of those people who were raised with--let us call it "tough" parenting--tend to believe otherwise, that  only such aggressive methods as waterboarding are effective ways of getting others to "obey"  and "tell the truth".
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  • I believe that such things as waterboardin also serve as an excuse to vicariously act out one's own long-denied fear and anger by"punishing" the prisoner's evil behavior.
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  • Early Childhood Military Education?
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Early Childhood Military Education? Ann Pelo, Common Dreams

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  • Who are the young people for whom these military leaders are supposedly advocating? Low-income, at-risk children—the pool of children from which the military has traditionally recruited.
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  • What sort of education do the generals want for these children? Skill-and-drill, standards-driven, assessment-burdened curriculum that prepares children for skill-and-drill basic training, for standards-driven military discipline, for test-based military promotion.
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  • War Games: Army Lures Civilians By Letting Them Play Soldier
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Killer drones used like a sport, Stephen Lendman, War Is A Crime

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  • They "sit in air-conditioned rooms far away from (America's wars). They guide their weapons with joysticks and monitors. The remote warriors work with a high degree of precision - at a fraction of the cost of a fighter jet," but just as deadly.
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  • Despite waging multiple imperial wars, Obama, in fact, may oblige them, heading America perilously closer to all out general war, especially to distract growing millions from their economic misery at home.
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  • America Detatched from War
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  • The Militarization of America
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The Militarization of America, William Astore and Tom EngelhardtTomdispatch.com

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  • Our president and elected representatives must serve as a check on the military establishment, rather than issuing blank checks to them.
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  • How the Military Mindset Is Permeating Our Political Culture and Society
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  • Fighting Wars With Music and Art
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War Games: Army Lures Civilians By Letting Them Play Soldier, Joseph De Avila, Wall Street Journal | NY
Recruiters Bring Lifelike Videogame To Amusement Parks, and Kids Love It

Fighting Wars With Music and Art, Karmah Elmusa, Mother Jones

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  • Lee's purpose is not to send you into a permanent funk, but to highlight artistic forms of resistance and protest all over the globe.
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  • The Militarization of America
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Sexual Puritanism and Empire: Sex, Shame, and Military Might,  Phil Rockstroh, AlterNet

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  • How many times do the prigs, ninnies, and scolds of the U.S. have to repeat this sort of inanity before they grow up and realize that human beings have strong libidos? Libido propels both creativity and contretemps, and it is wise to aver that “the issue of character” should best be evoked and debated, as a general rule, when the situation involves hypocrisy.
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  • What "character issues" come into play involving an individual’s complicity in the maintenance of blood-fueled imperium?
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  • Anthony Weiner's Uncensored Penis Picture Plus 10 Other Images That Are Even More Obscene
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Killer drones used like a sport

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  • They "sit in air-conditioned rooms far away from (America's wars). They guide their weapons with joysticks and monitors. The remote warriors work with a high degree of precision - at a fraction of the cost of a fighter jet," but just as deadly.
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  • Despite waging multiple imperial wars, Obama, in fact, may oblige them, heading America perilously closer to all out general war, especially to distract growing millions from their economic misery at home.
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  • America Detatched from War
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  • The Militarization of America
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Stephen Lendman, War Is A Crime

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Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Bob Heberle

Defense contractor giants like Boeing, Lockeed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and others, as well as smaller rivals compete for growing demand for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). They include remote control operated killer drones, also called unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).

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It's America's newest sport. From distant command centers, far from target sights, sounds, and smells, operators dismissively ignore human carnage showing up as computer screen blips little different from video game images. The difference, of course, is people die, mostly noncombatants.

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More on that below.

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On March 10, 2010, Der Spiegel writer Marc Pitzke headlined, "How Drone Pilots Wage War," saying:

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They "sit in air-conditioned rooms far away from (America's wars). They guide their weapons with joysticks and monitors. The remote warriors work with a high degree of precision - at a fraction of the cost of a fighter jet," but just as deadly.

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America Detatched from War, Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

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Admittedly, before George W. Bush had his fever dream, the U.S. had already put its first unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drone surveillance planes in the skies over Kosovo in the late 1990s.  By November 2001, it had armed them with missiles and was flying them over Afghanistan.

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The Militarization of America, William Astore and Tom Engelhardt,  Tomdispatch.com

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  • Our president and elected representatives must serve as a check on the military establishment, rather than issuing blank checks to them.
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  • How the Military Mindset Is Permeating Our Political Culture and Society
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  • Fighting Wars With Music and Art
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Rescind President Obama's 'Transparency Award' now

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  • Obama has invoked baseless and unconstitutional executive secrecy to quash legal inquiries into secret illegalities more often than any predecessor.
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  • The Obama administration's record on secrecy and surveillance is a disgrace and should not be sanitised by unearned prizes.
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Drafted by FBI whistleblowers Sibel Edmonds and Coleen Rowley, London Guardian | UK

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Coleen Rowley

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

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Bradley Manning: signatories regard his abusive treatment in a military brig as a warning to government whistleblowers from the Obama administration. Photograph: AP

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On 28 March 2011, President Obama was given a "transparency award" from five "open government" organisations: OMB Watch, the National Security Archive, the Project on Government Oversight, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and OpenTheGovernment.org. Ironically – and quite likely in response to growing public criticism regarding the Obama administration's lack of transparency – heads of the five organisations gave their award to Obama in a closed, undisclosed meeting at the White House.

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If the ceremony had been open to the press, it is likely that reporters would have questioned the organisations' proffered justification for the award, in contrast to the current reality:
• President Obama has not decreased, but has dramatically increased governmental secrecy. According to a new report to the president by the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) – the federal agency that provides oversight of the government's security classification system – the cost of classification for 2010 has reached over $10.17bn. That's a 15% jump from the previous year, and the first time ever that secrecy costs have surpassed $10bn. Last month, ISOO reported that the number of original classification decisions generated by the Obama administration in 2010 was 224,734 – a 22.6% jump from the previous year (see The Price of Secrecy, Obama Edition).

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