War Industry ‘Celebrating Christmas Early’ as House Passes $858 Billion NDAA

“There is no justification to throw… $858 billion at the Pentagon when we’re told we can’t afford child tax credit expansion, universal paid leave, or other basic human necessities,” said the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. “End of story.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 12-8-2022 by Common Dreams

Class of 2022 cadets participate in a live-fire exercise as part of their Cadet Field Training. Photo: Matthew Moeller (US Army)/flickr/CC

Peace advocates on Thursday slammed the House of Representatives’ passage of a mammoth $858 billion military spending bill as an early holiday gift for the Pentagon and the weapons corporations who benefit from the United States’ ongoing—but largely forgotten—War on Terror.

House lawmakers voted 350-80 in favor of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with 45 Democrats and 35 Republicans voting “no.”

The new NDAA authorizes an $80 billion military spending increase over the 2022 bill, and $118 billion more than when President Joe Biden took office in 2021. The 2023 allocation is more than the combined military budgets of China, India, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and South Korea, according to the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). It’s also more than the annual gross domestic product of countries including Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey, based on United Nations figures. Continue reading

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Journalism Defenders Push for Passage of ‘Game-Changing’ PRESS Act

“The PRESS Act is the most important free press legislation in modern times because it would finally stop the government from spying on journalists and threatening them with arrest for doing their jobs,” explained one advocate.

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 12-7-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: AFGE/flickr/CC

Free press advocates this week urged people to contact Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office and ask the New York Democrat to pass legislation protecting journalists from government abuses during the closing days of the current Congress.

“The time between an election and the inauguration of a new Congress—or the lame-duck, as it is affectionately known—is ironically a time when things can happen on the Hill, in part because departing members don’t have to worry about reelection,” Emily Hockett, a Technology Press Freedom Project fellow, wrote for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Continue reading

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‘Heartbreaking’ and ‘Pathetic’: US Obstructs Patent Waiver for Covid Tests and Treatments

“There have been at least 290,000 deaths from Covid-19 since the WTO punted on the question of global access to tests and treatments back in June,” said one advocate. “How many more need to die before the U.S. joins the right side of history?”

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 12-6-2022 by Common Dreams

Global health campaigners denounced U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration for refusing to support a temporary suspension of patents for Covid-19 tests and treatments this year, a move that further delays the possibility of securing a World Trade Organization intellectual property waiver aimed at increasing access to lifesaving medical tools in developing nations.

In a statement released on Tuesday morning, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said that “over the past five months, USTR officials held robust and constructive consultations with Congress, government experts, a wide range of stakeholders, multilateral institutions, and WTO members.” Continue reading

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Report Reveals Corporate Capture of Global Biodiversity Efforts Ahead of Summit

“Their ‘solutions’ are carefully crafted in order to not undermine their business models; ultimately they do nothing for the environment,” said one Friends of the Earth campaigner.

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 12-5-2022 by Common Dreams

Nearly half of the endangered red panda’s habitat is in the Eastern Himalayas, where the loss of bamboo and nesting trees is impacting the population. Photo: Mathias Appel/flickr/CC

With the next United Nations Biodiversity Conference set to kick off in Canada this week, a report out Monday details how corporate interests have attempted to influence efforts to protect the variety of life on Earth amid rampant species loss.

After a long-delayed and mostly virtual meeting in Kunming, China last year to work on a post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF), nearly 20,000 delegates are headed to Montreal for the second part of COP15, which will bring together countries party to a multilateral treaty, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Continue reading

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‘Intentional Vandalism’ Leaves Thousands Without Power in North Carolina

One right-wing extremist implied that multiple electrical substations were targeted to disrupt a drag show in Moore County. Local law enforcement authorities and the FBI are investigating.

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 12-4-2022 by Common Dreams

Police officers survey the perimeter line of the West End substation in Moore County, North Carolina on December 3, 2022. (Photo: John Nagy/The Pilot)

Officials in a North Carolina county where more than 40,000 households remain without power amid freezing temperatures declared a state of emergency on Sunday afternoon, less than 24 hours after multiple electrical substations were damaged by gunfire in an apparent act of criminal vandalism.

“As utility companies began responding to the different substations, evidence was discovered that indicated that intentional vandalism had occurred at multiple sites,” Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said in a statement. The massive blackout, which began just after 7:00 pm Saturday night, is “being investigated as a criminal occurrence.” No arrests have been announced. Continue reading

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Protesting Fuel Poverty, People Tell UK Government to ‘Keep Everyone Warm This Winter’

As energy bills—and fossil fuel profits—continue to soar, demonstrators around Britain demanded immediate action from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and members of Parliament.

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 12-3-2022 by Common Dreams

People called for government action to ensure affordable clean energy for all in Glasgow, Scotland on December 3, 2022. (Photo: Fuel Poverty Action/Twitter)

People in dozens of cities across the United Kingdom hit the streets on Saturday to demand immediate government action to prevent thousands of struggling workers from freezing to death in their homes this winter.

Demonstrators drew attention to the worsening crisis of fuel poverty and called on lawmakers to pick up more of the tab for skyrocketing bills, fund home insulation, and accelerate clean energy production—all of which would be made easier by enacting a stronger tax on oil and gas corporations’ windfall profits. Continue reading

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Protests in China are not rare – but the current unrest is significant

Protesters march along a street in Beijing on Nov. 28, 2022.
Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

 

Teresa Wright, California State University, Long Beach

Street protests across China have evoked memories of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations that were brutally quashed in 1989. Indeed, foreign media have suggested the current unrest sweeping cities across China is unlike anything seen in the country since that time.

The implication is that protest in China is a rarity. Meanwhile, the Nov. 30, 2022, death of Jiang Zemin – the leader brought in after the bloody crackdown of 1989 – gives further reason to reflect on how China has changed since the Tiananmen Square massacre, and how Communist party leaders might react to unrest now. Continue reading

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Pentagon Fails Another Audit, Yet Congress Poised to Approve $847 Billion Budget

“This isn’t using our taxpayer dollars wisely,” said the National Priorities Project. “It’s robbing programs that we need, like the discontinued child tax credit that cut child poverty by half.”

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 12-1-2022 by Common Dreams

F-35A Lightning II drops a 2,000-pound GBU-31 bomb. Photo: Public Domain

Anti-war advocates blasted U.S. lawmakers on Thursday, one day after it was reported that Congress is expected to pass an $847 billion military budget for the coming fiscal year even though the Pentagon recently failed its fifth consecutive annual audit and nearly 40 million people nationwide are living in poverty.

Last month, “the Pentagon once again failed to pass a basic audit showing that it knows where its money goes,” the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies said in a statement. “And instead of holding out for any kind of accountability, Congress stands ready to give a big raise to an agency that failed to account for more than 60% of its assets.” Continue reading

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Lame-Duck Dems Must Lift Debt Limit, Advocates Say as GOP Doubles Down on Social Security Threats

“Democrats must do whatever it takes to defeat Republican attacks on our earned Social Security benefits,” said one advocate. “That means raising the debt ceiling this year, before Republicans take control of the House.”

By Julia Conley.  Published 11-30-2022 by Common Dreams

#StoptheShutdown Press Conference with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer in 2019. Photo: AFGE/flickr/CC

Progressives on Wednesday warned that time is running out for Democratic leaders to take Republicans at their word regarding slashes to social safety net programs, as U.S. Sen. John Thune indicated the GOP will use a potential fight over the debt ceiling next year as leverage to push cuts—unless the Democrats act now to raise the debt limit while they still control the Senate and House.

Thune (R-S.D.), who is the number-two Republican in the Senate as the chamber’s minority whip, told Bloomberg Tuesday that the party has a “long list” of policy priorities for the next Congress, which will commence on January 3. The party plans to put forward budget reforms including to federal programs which they have long claimed, erroneously, are unsustainable. Continue reading

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Senate Report Details Failure to Confront ‘Persistent and Lethal’ Threat of White Supremacists

“The federal government has continued to allocate resources disproportionately aligned to international terrorist threats over domestic terrorist threats,” the report reads.

By Julia Conley.  Published 11-29-2022 by Common Dreams

Charlottesville “Unite the Right” Rally, 2017. Photo Anthony Crider/flickr/CC

Despite the fact that federal law enforcement agencies have in recent years acknowledged that white supremacy represents a major threat to public safety in the United States and is fueling domestic terrorist attacks, a new U.S. Senate report reveals that authorities are continuing to pour resources into fighting international threats instead of addressing extremism stateside.

After a three-year investigation, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this month released a nearly 130-page report detailing how the FBI—part of the Justice Department—and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have “failed to adequately align resources to address the threat from domestic terrorism, despite the agencies highlighting the magnitude of the threat in their annual strategic intelligence assessments.” Continue reading

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