I went to the ‘Move On’ rally in Los Angeles. It was pretty lame, only a couple of thousand people showed up, mostly older white union workers. It was nice to be in a crowd where I was not the oldest one there. I was the average age. The Move on union demographic is mid 50’s Anglo and if that is the case across the country, then we are in trouble if we want a revolution. This is the Celebrex generation, and we will have to take our meds before we manage to get out on the street. On the other hand we are soon to be the retired generation and as everybody knows, the old fogies vote. Perhaps we will have our summer of love in our 60’s.
The world transforming, people are taking risks in countries with mad dictators willing to machinegun unarmed civilians. Unarmed civilians with sticks and stones are taking on tanks and helicopter gunships and winning. That is almost unbelievable. The military must have felt guilty and given up after token battles. I can’t imagine American soldiers, trained killers, giving up so easily if ordered to kill citizens. After all they kill civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq almost as a matter of course. But will Americans find out? Not Waco compound armed to the teeth militant Americans, but every - day in the street protesting Americans armed at best with sticks and bricks, up against Americas finest.
America is the heart of the beast. If America gives up then that is it, it’s over. The USA is going to downsize the military, budget considerations. What a joke, they give the banks hundreds of billions, insure the housing industry and the auto industry with billions more, and give insurance companies tens of billions of additional funds, all together perhaps a trillion dollars or more has been spent propping up industries that have a dubious requirement to survive. We are told it would have been worse if the government had not stepped in. If they have a big war to fight, unless they can’t print enough cash to keep it going, they will come up with the military required to do the job. That after all is what America is all about, providing military cover for international capital.
If the USA no longer can provide that function, like the British before them, the nation will implode and perhaps begin to provide for the people who are its citizens instead of the corporate types who lobby Congress and fill their coffers with the funds required to stay in office. Let the Chinese or the Russians be the big man on campus for a change. Or better yet, let’s develop an international system that does not depend on any one big player. Perhaps then war by committee will be harder to fight.
Wisconsin budget battle touches all 50 states
By the CNN Wire StaffFebruary 26, 2011 11:03 p.m. EST
Civil rights activist Van Jones speaks at a Washington, D.C., rally in support of Wisconsin public union workers.
(CNN) — A coalition spearheaded by liberal advocacy group Moveon.org held rallies across the country Saturday in support of public employees and others outraged at the Wisconsin budget-cutting bill they consider an attack on unions.
MoveOn.org and other liberal and labor groups held noon events at all 50 state capitals.
“Save the dream, we are reunited,” a group shouted in Washington, D.C.
The focal point of the protests was the Wisconsin Capitol, where a light snow and cold temperatures failed Saturday to deter about 70,000 who drummed, chanted and marched.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, Governor Walker has got to go,” chanted the group rallying in Madison.
There were no incidents during the protest, said Joel DeSpain, spokesman for the Madison Police Department
The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a Republican bill that would strip most state workers of the bulk of their collective-bargaining rights.
Among other things, the measure would require workers — with the exception of police and firefighters — to cover more of their health care premiums and pension contributions. Collective bargaining would be limited to wages, though any pay increases beyond the inflation rate would be subject to voter approval.
In Olympia, Washington, two raucous competing rallies over the union fight in Wisconsin drew more than 2,000 people, according to CNN Seattle affiliate KIRO.
More than a half dozen union members decried the bill, while a smaller protest of Tea Party members and conservative groups was held on the Washington Capitol steps. Many of those demonstrators filled petitions to “Stand with Walker.”
Saturday’s marchers in Wisconsin got a boost from Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who said Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich, who also wants to cut collective bargaining rights, “aren’t just asking workers to tighten their belts, they’re demanding they give up their uniquely American rights as workers.”
From Third Age.com
Robert Gates Warns Army of New Era, Tighter Budgets
February 26, 2011 6:13 PM
By Laura Phillips.’
Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned cadets during a farewell speech at the U.S. military academy that the Army will have to adjust to light, nimble warfare and tighter budgets.
Gates told the West Point students that future battles are likely to center around naval and air engagements rather than land, making it difficult to justify a large budget.
“The strategic rationale for swift-moving expeditionary forces, be they Army or Marines, airborne infantry or special operations, is self-evident,” Gates said, noting the need for continued counterterrorism and rapid response missions.
“The Army … must confront the reality that the most plausible, high-end scenarios for the U.S. military are primarily naval and air engagements — whether in Asia, the Persian Gulf or elsewhere,” he continued, noting that this would be even more likely when the country lightens its presence in Afghanistan.
When the U.S. does pull troops from Afghanistan, Gates said he is concerned about retaining the talented and battle-tested young officers that return. He urged the Army to help find ways to promote them into meaningful careers.
Russia’s military spending
25 February, 2011, 12:49
Russia has revealed details of its ambitious plan to upgrade its army over the next ten years, planning to spend US$650 billion on the project.
The unveiled large-scale plans of the Russian defense ministry propose the spending of vast sums of money up to 2020.
First and foremost, Russian defense will focus on the development of strategic nuclear weapons, construction of over 100 military vessels for Russian Navy, including construction of four originally French-made Mistral-class amphibious assault ships, and the introduction into the Air Force of over 1,000 helicopters and 600 military planes, including fifth generation PAK-FA fighter.
Most of the military hardware will be equipped with next-generation weaponry.
For the first time ever, Russia is planning to buy military equipment from NATO-member countries – two Mistral helicopter carriers will be bought in France (with two more licensed to be built in Russia), as well as samples of armored vehicles from Italy and elements of personal combat systems also from France.
Moscow’s plans to modernize Russian strategic nuclear forces do not contravene the newly-signed New START nuclear arms reduction treaty with the US, which aims at the reduction of up to a third of the strategic nuclear weapons in both Russia and the US.
President Dmitry Medvedev came out and said that he really wants the Russian military to be a source of innovation, and upgrading military forces is what all the spending is based upon.
From China Daily
China Daily, February 16, 2011
Analysts warned that instability may increase in the Asia-Pacific region if the US Congress approves the nation’s increased defense budget.
The defense budget for the 2012 fiscal year, which President Barack Obama sent to Congress on Monday, will rise to a new record despite a significant reduction in overall federal spending.
It is set to increase by $4.2 billion from the level the Obama administration requested for the 2011 fiscal year, which was never approved by Congress, leaving expenditure at 2010 levels under a temporary spending bill.
It remains uncertain whether the latest budget request will get approval, as opinion remains divided on the issue on Capitol Hill.
If approved, increased spending on military deployment in the Asia-Pacific region, which the US has been paying increasing attention to, may cause more instability in the region, said analysts.
“This will also increase the pressure on China as it is surrounded by US deployments,” said Li Qinggong, deputy secretary-general of the China Council for National Security Policy Studies.
The base budget - excluding the part for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - for the 2012 fiscal year beginning Oct 1, reaches $553.1 billion, according to a defense budget blueprint released by the Pentagon.
Growth areas include cyber security, space-based weapons and nuclear security. It also includes $9.7 billion for Lockheed’s F-35 fighter.
In addition to the base defense budget, the Obama administration is also requesting $117.8 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is $41.5 billion below the request made for the 2011 fiscal year.
The latest war funding reflects the planned withdrawal of troops from Iraq by the end of this year and a modest decline in funding for operations in Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon.
The Obama administration plans to withdraw troops from Iraq by the end of 2011 and will start to pull out from Afghanistan in July 2011.
Li noted that with increased attention paid to the Asia-Pacific region, some of the increased US military spending will likely go toward supporting its allies and holding joint military exercises with them.
One week before the Pentagon’s budget report was announced, Washington witnessed a heated discussion among security experts and defense officials about China’s military development, especially in naval and space programs.
Some analysts have said China is an important factor related to the yearly increase in the US defense budget.
China’s defense policy is not aimed at any country, Vice-Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said at a news conference in January.
The policy will always remain defensive in nature, Cui said, adding that there is no reason for any other country to worry about China’s defense policy, he added.
Abraham Denmark, the Asia-Pacific regional security expert with the Center for a New American Security and former country director for China affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, said that it is legitimate for China, a major economic power, to enhance its military capabilities.
“The major question for American strategists is how China will use its new-found power, economically, militarily and politically,” he said.
Though many defense experts acknowledge that it will take China many years to catch up with US in military development, since the Pentagon is facing possible budget cuts as the administration is trying to reduce the huge federal deficit, these public discussions prior to Congress decision may help the Defense Department get more funding this year, Zheng Wang, senior fellow with the United States Institute of Peace, told China Daily.
However, Li noted it is still unclear whether this spending plan will ultimately be approved by the Congress where opinion remains divided about the scale of the budget cuts and increases.
Some Republican lawmakers are already calling for deeper cuts given the US budget deficit and nearly $15 trillion national debt; others want to add to the defense budget.