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Health Care & Environment
11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]
11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]
11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder
11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]
11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]
11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]
11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]
11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]
11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]
11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
International & Futurism
11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]
11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]
Anti-Missile Missiles and the Politics of Fear
A key to capping or eliminating the Iranian nuclear program will be finding ways to assure Tehran that if it foregoes the nuclear option, it will not be vulnerable to attack.
September 19, 2009—President Obama's sensible decision to pull the plug on the Bush administration's plan put missile defense components in Poland and the Czech Republic has—predictably—drawn howls of protest from Republican critics who argue that it will leave the U.S. and its European allies exposed to an Iranian missile attack. While they're at it, they note that the decision somehow involves "abandoning" our Polish and Czech allies, as if the deployment of a missile defense program were the only way to cement relations with two countries that are, after all, already NATO allies covered by the U.S. defense umbrella. The details of the Obama administration's alternative approach matter, but of equal interest is whether the latest attempt by military hawks to play the "fear card" will get political traction.
What is there to be afraid of? As Ploughshares Fund president Joseph Cirincione has observed on foreignpolicy.com, Iran is unlikely to master the technology for a medium- or long-range missile capable of reaching Europe or the United States for ten to fifteen years. Even if they reached that threshold it would be insane for any Iranian leader to use them, as the net result would be the obliteration of his own country. Cirincione's point is backed up by a recent study of the matter by the East-West Institute. Even this decidedly non-alarmist view assumes that Iran will move full speed ahead on nuclear weapons and long-range missile programs, a development which is by no means assured. In short, the "Iranian threat" to the United States and Europe that President Obama's critics are jumping up and down about may not arise for ten or fifteen years or longer, if ever.
Why does Iran want a nuclear capability in the first place? If there is any rationale other than showing it can master the technology—a point of national pride for some Iranians—it is as a deterrent against possible attacks from the United States, or Israel, or even (albeit much less likely) a resurgent Iraq. A key to capping or eliminating the Iranian nuclear program will be finding ways to assure Tehran that if it foregoes the nuclear option, it will not be vulnerable to attack.
In short, the key to blunting Iran's nuclear program is to lessen the fears on both sides, not to rattle sabers while trusting in a technological fix that is untested and probably unworkable in any case. The Obama administration's alternative approach—a willingness to at least talk to Iran about what it would take to curb its nuclear and missile programs—is a crucial step in the right direction.
Finally, in a point that is largely ignored by the "sky is falling" crowd, it is not as if the Obama administration has abandoned plans for any missile defenses in Europe. It has merely shifted gears towards a plan that would focus on the shorter-range missiles Iran has made progress on, rather than the long-range ones that may or may not ever be built. Whether or not this new missile defense plan is the best option, it is important to note that the President's critics are so wedded to ideology—rather than evidence—that they are pretending that the president's new approach doesn't even exist.
As we have seen in the case of the non-existent "death panels" that have dogged administration efforts to secure health care reform, a lie, if repeated often enough, can hijack the debate over even the most serious matter. So, even though the Obama administration has the facts on its side, it will be incumbent upon its supporters to make that clear early and often, in language that reduces fear rather than stoking it.
William Hartung is Director of the Arms and Security Initiative (ASI) at the New America Foundation. Prior to taking that position he was Director of the Arms Trade Resource Center at the World Policy Institute at the New School in New York City.
This article was originally published by Talking Points Memo, and is published in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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This story was published on September 24, 2009.