Peace Action

In Brattleboro on December 9, people held a downtown rally for peace. The focus was on Honduras and Palestine. “We speak out today at a time when the U.S. government fuels wars across the globe,” the Brattleboro event organizers said. “The longest war in U.S. history is currently in Afghanistan.” About 20 people were at the event. They will have another peace rally at the same location, Pliny Park at the corner of Main and High streets, on December 17 at noon. Details are at:

www.facebook.com/events/1550784861675928

Almost half (48 percent) of this year's entire federal budget of about $3 trillion is being spent on war. That’s according to:

www.WarResisters.org/FederalPieChart

With 5 percent of the world's population, the USA spends at much on the military as the rest of the world combined.

John Ungerleider is a professor of Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation at the School for International Training in Brattleboro. “The military budget is so high mainly because members of Congress want to keep defense jobs in their districts,” he told the Valley Post. Asked if the U.S. would be more likely to be attacked if the military budget was cut by 50 percent, Ungerleider said, “Of course not.” The best way for people to get the government to cut military spending is to donate to, and/or volunteer for, a group like the American Friends Service Committee www.afsc.org, he said.

Melvin Goodman is a professor at Johns Hopkins University. For a decade he worked at the CIA as a division chief and foreign policy analyst. New Yorker magazine writer Seymour Hersh said of Goodman’s 2013 book, National Insecurity, “Goodman is not only telling us how to save wasted billions, he is telling us how to save ourselves.”

In the book, Goodman writes, “The United States has the most secure geopolitical environment of any major nation, but sustains a defense budget that equals the combined budgets of the rest of the world…. We have more than 700 military bases and facilities around the world; few other countries have any. We can deploy 11 aircraft carriers; among our rivals only China plans to deploy one—and that is a revamped Ukrainian aircraft carrier, a carryover from the ancient Soviet inventory…. Since the end of World War II, the United States has fought inconclusive wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan; conducted dubious invasions of Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada, and Panama; and mounted counterproductive covert operations around the world, including those in the Congo, Chile [which resulted in the installation of dictator Augusto Pinochet, who tortured and killed thousands of his political opponents], El Salvador, and Guatemala. Only Desert Storm in Iraq in 1991 can be termed a success, although it left Saddam Hussein in power and President George H.W. Bush out of power the following year, setting the stage for George W. Bush’s use of force against Iraq two decades later.”

David King is the United Kingdom's Special Representative for Climate Change. "The Iraq war was just the first of this century's 'resource wars,' in which powerful countries use force to secure valuable commodities," King told the Guardian newspaper.

The U.S. and other rich nations have a long history of stealing resources from Africa. This story is told in the books “Bury the Chains” by Adam Hochschild and "Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power" by Steve Coll, and in the film "Lumumba" by Raoul Peck. The average life expectancy in the central African nation of Chad is 50; in the USA, it’s 80.

While the chances of dramatically cutting U.S. military spending may seem small, in 1989, the chances of Nelson Mandela -- who was then seven years into a life sentence in prison -- becoming president of South Africa were also small. In 1994, Mandela was elected president and one of the world’s most brutal and racist governments was overthrown.

In the United States, 152 years ago, ending slavery and granting women the right to vote both seemed unlikely. Mass movements of ordinary people won justice.

In other news from the Valley, in Greenfield on December 9, there was a rally to support immigrants. Everyone in Greenfield recently got a postcard from an anti-immigrant group urging people to contact their elected officials and ask them to deport people. About 20 people were at the rally. The people who organized the rally have a web page at: www.fccpr.us.

In other news from the Valley, on December 7, there was a rally in Keene outside the Verizon store. About 40 people were protesting the company's support for President Trump's plan to end so-called "net neutrality" rules. The rally was organized by Keene high school junior Conor Hill, Keene high senior Oni Saleh, and Harrison Hicks, a senior at the MC² charter school in Keene. More information is at www.FreePress.net.

In other news from the Valley, in Keene a vacant building will be converted to apartments, a developer announced earlier this month. People should be able to move in around June. A photo of the building (the first photo) is at:

http://valleypost.org/2016/07/03/proposals-vacant-buildings

Earlier this month, the state of New Hampshire announced it would provide funding to protect Keene-area land from development. The Monadnock Conservancy in Keene will get $350,000 to save farmland on the banks of the Connecticut river in Westmoreland.

The USA is losing 6,000 acres of open space every day, according to www.tpl.org/OurLand.

The below map shows the open space that has been protected in the Connecticut River watershed in Massachusetts, southeast Vermont and southwest New Hampshire. The map was current as of 2015. Click on the map to enlarge it, then scroll down and click "see full size image." Then click on the map again to enlarge it more. You can move the image using the arrows on your keyboard. Pisgah (New Hampshire) state park can be seen on the map. Is is the biggest protected area that is both east of Brattleboro and southwest of Keene. It is about 13,300 acres.

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