Opinion
Climate
Economy
Politics
Rights & Justice
War & Peace
In 1937, members of the USSR's  Young Pioneers Defense , organized to protect the Motherland, pose in gas masks to support their slogan, "Always Prepared!"
Further

Disorder In the House: Frauds, Dimwits and Grenades 'R Us

House GOPers just turned their first Oversight hearing into bad performance art by raving about Biden's (really Trump's) COVID crimes to kick off their reign of grievance, paranoia and crackpot misinformation: Antifa = fascists, insurgents = ethicists, COVID masks = Taliban, Hunter Biden. They'll get a good boost from veteran, defense contractor, teargas peddler and new Florida Rep. Cory Mills - "Soldier. Conservative. Outsider." Fascist - who gave them a dummy grenade to urge, "Let's come together and get to work."

The process of perverting once-noble democratic governance into what Randy Rainbow calls "the wackest shitshow in town" came seamlessly, he noted, thanks to Kevin McCarthy. "Now that you've handed out important committee assignments to election deniers, QAnon conspiracy theorists, pathological liars and third-rate drag queens," he asked an imaginary Only-Just-Barely Speaker, "tell us how else you mean to drag this country down into the fiery pits of hell?" For hints, see Wednesday's debacle. Eager to launch their red-meat-packed GOP Vengeance Tour, Chair James Comer began by targeting vital-at-the-time COVID relief programs as "the greatest theft of American taxpayer dollars in history," claiming Democrats "have spent far too much time pushing money out the door and far too little time conducting meaningful oversight of how that money is being spent." "With the power of the gavel," he boasted, "we'll get answers the American people deserve" - on not just COVID fraud but lockdowns, fentanyl, Afghanistan, the border, money spent "to push divisive ideologies onto our students" etc, and thank God sensible Republicans are finally here to "hold President Biden accountable."

Less than shockingly, this was self-serving bullshit about programs that were "a lifeline for millions," as Dem Jamie Raskin noted, though he politely called it "cherry-picking." First, they're talking a $3-trillion-plus chunk of money passed by a GOP Senate and signed by Trump. Second, since that massive, urgent, unprecedented spending was approved as many thousands daily died and the economy slowly crashed, Democrats have spent three years - with multiple hearings, reports, investigations and prosecutions - to expose the inevitable fraud and waste that did surface, almost all of which was perpetrated by the Grifter-In-Chief himself. They found that Trump and his rich cronies mismanaged over $84 billion in PPP loans, short-changing many small struggling businesses while rewarding big banks, corporations and GOP allies, including Comer's brother; that GOP lawmakers repeatedly refused to join in oversight efforts unless there was something in it for them; that millions went to what Raskin termed "those trying to profit off the generosity of the American people - imposters, hustlers, con men, liars, outright fraudsters and fakes" - while GOP pandemic profiteers turned a blind eye.

The mind-numbing idiocy and hypocrisy reflected in the day's "festival of disinformation" had no better avatar than "Marjorie Nazi Greene,," aka "Traitor-Trash Sasquatch" and "Georgia mountain creature...somehow simultaneously oleaginous & yet crispy." Thanks to McCarthy's spineless cave to the Treason Caucus, she is back on several stunningly inappropriate committees, including Oversight; also - see cave - she is free to endlessly grandstand under a new House rule allowing any lawmaker to offer an amendment on anything. "We are trying to open things up for everybody," goes the official explanation, though they hope to speed up votes "as a way to lessen the stupidity factor," and good luck with that. Reveling in her new power, MTG jumped right in with one of a reported 140 amendmentsproposed for a bill on the use of the strategic oil reserve; she wanted to forbid Biden from selling oil from the reserve. Maybe because duh that's what it's for in an emergency, her amendment crashed and burned in a 14 to 418 vote reportedly viewed online by, like, a gazillion gleeful patriots. Worse, rumor had it the 13 other people who voted with her were all different versions of George Santos.

She's been busy elsewhere too. Joining a weirdly giddy Tucker Carlson, she announced, "It's time to declare Antifa a domestic terrorist organization," though Tucker mostly wanted to know, "Where do they come from? Where do they sleep?" "America is just sick and tired of Antifa," she intoned, citing the "many people" they've killed and the masks they made people wear "during the so-called pandemic." "Antifa is the ground troops of the Democrat (sic) Party...Enough of Antifa. They are not the anti-fascists - they are the fascists." She also bravely objected when a Dem sought to reestablish a subcommittee on civil rights in the wake of Tyre Nichols' murder in Atlanta - "a Democrat-controlled city," she noted, and by black cops so it wasn't "racism or anything like that." Besides, she said, "I'd like to point something": The mother of Jan. 6 rioter Ashli Babbitt was in the hearing room, and what about civil rights for Ashli and the poor people in jail just for trying to overthrow the government, who are just like Tyre Nichols? Except, noted one observer, "One was trying to get home. The other was trying to kill Nancy Pelosi."

Still, MTG's shining hour was the Oversight hearing; she welcomed it online with, "I'm ready." And wow, was she. Seeking to uncover Dem-perpetrated COVID fraud while in fact exposing the folly of an ignorant Nazi talking to people outside their echo chamber, she grilled a comptroller for PPP loans to ask, "Can you tell me how much money went to CRT?" Guy, puzzled: "CRT?" MTG: "It's a racist curriculum used to teach children their white skin is not equal to black skin and other things." Guy: still puzzled. MTG, proud of her Ah-Hah catch: "A single elementary school in Illinois received $5.1 billion for 'equity and diversity' training." Twitter, where many noted schools these days can't even afford pencils: "Holy shit! One school got $5.1 BILLION DOLLARS!! That sounds 100% accurate and in no way made up!" Also, that might even be enough to make MTG less racist! (Illinois' share of American Rescue Plan funds was $5.1 billion.) Up next: How much did Drag Queen Story Time - "where men dress up as women and read confusing books to children" - get? An LGBTQ community center in Pennsylvania got $16,000, she declared triumphantly: "We need to look into this." Says the woman who got $183,504 in PPP loans, forgiven.

There was plenty more stupid to go around. Soon after Greene's amendment bombed, her frenemy Lauren Boebert excitedly bragged on Twitter, "Congress is working as it should be and I'm proud to say all three of my amendments passed today!", prompting certificate of participation memes, the hashtag #LaurenBoebertIsSoDumb, and the idea "someone should really tell her there's a Senate." When Oversight moved on toTwitter and tech issues, Boebert delivered an impassioned speech that began, "At midnight, Tuesday Jan. 24, 2023, Newsmax was removed from DirectTV, denying 13 MILLION (sic: about 150,000) customers of this highly rated news channel." "What's next?" she shrieked. "Fox News? Will the Weather Channel be canceled if they refuse to bow to the Left's altar of climate change? What about the History Channel? The Left already wants to erase history and deny truth. What about their disdain for Christian belief?" Yada yada, says the party of book banning who think the free market's great until they disagree and want to force providers to air content they like and nothing fascist about that. "If these are the Christians taken up in the rapture," said one wiseacre, "Jesus can come and get them."

And so it went. The first meeting of the Judiciary Committee devolved into angry debate after smirky pedophile Matt Gaetz proposed an amendment that members open meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance "to invite inspirational constituents" to join in the empty posturing. Democrat David Cicilline sought to add an amendment clarifying the pledge couldn't be led by anyone who supported insurrection against the U.S. government, given "an affirmation of your defense of democracy" is "hard to (take) seriously" if, say, you led a tour of seditious "tourists" on Jan. 5 or broadcast Nancy Pelosi's location before her scheduled hanging on Jan. 6. On Oversight, Comer said they're eager to investigate Hunter Biden's paintings - "The American people deserve transparency regarding (his) expensive art transactions" - but they have no interest in investigating the "comically corrupt" $2 billion investment Jared Kushner got from journalist-murdering, bone-saw-wielding Saudis, to whom he long offered "unwavering support," for a private equity firm he launched the day after leaving the White House, though even Saudi watchdogs found Kushner's operation “unsatisfactory in all aspects.” Curious, that.

The mind-numbing hypocrisy integral to the GOP's "festival of disinformation" is unsurprising, of course, coming from a morally bankrupt party with nothing to offer but hate and paranoia; that "wears their unfitness for office and their personal repugnance like a badge of honor"; that regularly stoops to grotesque cruelty though, "When cruelty is the point, did you have a point to begin with?"; that's still inexplicably led by a deranged narcissist who just took the 5th almost 450 times - "Only the mob takes the 5th" - rather than incriminate himself over his measureless grift; that still nonetheless bends to his garbled, vengeful marching orders even if most Americans say they don't like them. And who better to lead that shameless cadre than a Speaker who put liars and election-deniers on an Ethics Committee - what, no Santos? - to restore "transparency to the halls of Congress," or who can say straight-faced he removed capable Dems Schiff and Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee because, "I cannot put partisan loyalty ahead of national security. Integrity matters." LOL. Rick Wilson: "Man, the self-awareness-removal surgery worked really well." We are now deep down the rabbit hole.

Finally, aptly joining this laughable, terrifying cabal of charlatans is Trump-endorsed domestic terrorist, veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, State Department defense contractor, maker of vile Paul Pelosi jokes, proud hawker here and around the world of arms and riot-control gear including tear gas used against BLM protesters ("Antifa rioters") and rubber bullets fired on Hong Kong activists, and lockstep fascist Cory Mills, newly elected to Florida via gerrymandering after an ad proclaiming, "I fought tyranny. We battled Governments brutalizing freedoms, controlling lives, and forcing citizens to cover their faces...In America, our enemy is different" (cue images of masked Biden, Fauci, Pelosi) "but their objective is the same. Total. Government. Control." Mills vows to destroy "woke ideology," "unleash American energy," "defend a baby's life," "hold China accountable," and, he recently sneered, tear-gas media if they'd like. He seems nice. To celebrate his new job, he welcomed GOP cohorts to "a mission-oriented 118th Congress" by gifting each an inert, anal-suppository-like, GOP-elephant-adorned, 40mm grenade for a MK19 grenade launcher, made in Florida and developed in the Vietnam War, because nothing says comity and collaboration like a fake explosive ordinance on your desk. Each bore a note: "I look forward to working with you." He'll fit right in.

"Disorder in the house
Reptile wisdom
Zombies on the lawn staggering around."

- Warren Zevon

Bruce Springsteen & Warren Zevon - Disorder In The Houseyoutu.be

Cory Mills Ad: "Control"www.youtube.com

SEE ALL
A portion of the Bristol Bay watershed is seen from above. 
News

'A New Day for Bristol Bay': Biden EPA Blocks Destructive Pebble Mine

Environmental advocates in Alaska and across the United States on Tuesday applauded what one Indigenous campaigner called "historic progress" in the fight to protect Bristol Bay's ecosystems from the developers of Pebble Mine, a proposed open-pit copper and gold mine that would have led to the dumping of waste in the world's largest sockeye salmon run.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Tuesday its long-awaited "Final Determination" regarding protections for Bristol Bay, following more than a decade of litigation and campaigning by Alaska Natives and advocates.

Under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, the agency said, the EPA will prohibit "certain waters of the United States in the South Fork Koktuli River and North Fork Koktuli River watersheds from being used as disposal sites," and "prohibits future proposals to construct and operate a mine to develop the Pebble deposit."

"Today is a new day for Bristol Bay," said Earthjustice.

The decision is the outcome of a 2019 lawsuit filed by Earthjustice on behalf of tribal organizations and the advocacy group Earthworks, and follows "a fierce, decades-long battle waged by the people of Bristol Bay and so many others," said Earthjustice senior attorney Erin Colón.

"EPA today followed the law and science to establish enduring protections for the Bristol Bay watershed under the Clean Water Act," said Colón in a statement. "This is a major victory worth celebrating, but we cannot rest until even more permanent protections are in place. The Bristol Bay watershed is one of the world's great ecosystems, and the way of life and the abundant future it supports is worth the fight."

Advocates first challenged Pebble Limited Partnership's plan for the mine in 2010, when six tribes in the Bristol Bay area called on the EPA to protect the watershed, which is home to a 37.5 million salmon annually, supports a $2 billion commercial fishing industry, and has provided sustenance for Alaska Natives for generations.

The EPA restricted parts of the watershed from being used by the mining company in 2014, but the developers challenged those protections. In 2017, the agency withdrew them in a settlement with Pebble Limited Partnership.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also denied a key permit for the project in 2020—a decision that is now under appeal by the company.

Dyani Chapman, state director for Alaska Environment Action, said the previous restrictions and Tuesday's determination are in line with what Alaska Natives and environmental advocates have known for decades: "The headwaters of Bristol Bay are, quite simply, a really bad place for a mine."

"The region is home to an incredible range of wildlife and remains healthy because it's been spared a lot of the harsher touches of industrialization," said Chapman. "Over the past 20 years, scientists, the local Indigenous communities, fishermen, and broader public have asked repeatedly for strong and permanent protections for Bristol Bay. This EPA determination is a long-awaited win for sockeye salmon and the entire Bristol Bay region."

Advocacy group SalmonState noted that with two out of three Alaskans opposing the Pebble Mine, the EPA's decision "may be the most popular thing the federal government has ever done for Alaska."

"Thousands of Alaskans and over a million Americans from across the political spectrum have called for protection of Bristol Bay's one-of-kind salmon resource from massive open pit mining and today, the EPA delivered," said executive director Tim Bristol. "This is a victory for every single person—from Bristol Bay's tribal citizens, commercial fisherman, sport anglers, business leaders, chefs, scientists, and so many more—who [has] spoken out over the years, and we thank the EPA and the Biden administration for this well-considered, heavily documented, overwhelmingly popular move."

While celebrating the EPA's determination, advocates said they will continue pushing for congressional protections for the Bristol Bay watershed and acknowledged that the Biden administration's decision could be overturned by a future president. Pebble Limited Partnership also said it will likely appeal the decision.

"Today is a great day for Bristol Bay, and one that many thought would never come," said Bristol Bay Native Corporation CEO Jason Metrokin. "While the immediate threat of Pebble is behind us, BBNC will continue working to protect Bristol Bay's salmon-based culture and economy and to create new economic opportunities across the region."

Verner Wilson, senior oceans campaigner at Friends of the Earth, called the action "a positive step forward" but expressed concern that "it doesn't go far enough."

"Given that Bristol Bay is the largest wild salmon fishery on the planet," said Wilson, "Congress and the state of Alaska must work together to protect it permanently."

SEE ALL
ExxonMobil 2022 profits
News

Calls for Windfall Tax Grow as ExxonMobil Smashes Big Oil Profit Record With $56 Billion Haul

As ExxonMobil on Tuesday joined other U.S. oil companies in reporting record 2022 earnings amid rising gas prices, consumer and climate advocates renewed calls for a Big Oil windfall profits tax.

Texas-based ExxonMobil posted a $55.7 billion profit last year, breaking not only its own previous company record—$45 billion in 2008—but setting a historic high for the Western oil industry, according toReuters. The company's profit is a 144% increase from 2021 and, as Fossil Free Media director Jamie Henn noted, "enough money to send every person in the U.S. $178 to help offset the costs of high fossil fuel costs and gas bills."

Marathon Petroleum—the top U.S. refiner—said Tuesday that it raked in $16.4 billion last year while approving a $5 billion stock buyback, and Phillips 66 reported $8.9 billion in adjusted 2022 profit, a 253% increase from 2021.

Tuesday's earnings reports came just days after Chevron announced $35.5 billion 2022 profit, also a company record, and days before Shell, BP, and Total are all expected to follow suit on the strength of profits related to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the European energy crisis.

Meanwhile, the average U.S. price of a gallon of gasoline crept up to over $3.50 on Tuesday, with average prices by state ranging from $3.40 in Nebraska to $4.93 in Hawaii, according to the American Automobile Association.

Last year, "familiesacross Pennsylvania paid $5 a gallon for gas while Exxon made profits that 'smashed earnings records' and Chevron posted 'record earnings," said U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), responding to recent Big Oil profit reports. "This price gouging is simply disgusting, and I'm going to get to the bottom of it."

Cassidy DiPaola, spokesperson for Stop the Oil Profiteering, lamented that "while we're getting robbed at the pump, Big Oil's obscene profits are out of control and billionaire fossil fuel CEOs are getting richer and richer."

DiPaola continued:

Big Oil is shattering records precisely because of the pain the public is feeling at the pump. We're paying more for gas and electricity because Big Oil companies are gouging Americans and benefiting from a rigged system that keeps prices high in times of war and crisis. And on top of that, Big Oil CEOs are making massive bonuses and rewarding big Wall Street investors while families are having to decide between filling up their gas tanks or paying for medication and childcare.

"Enough is enough," she added. "It's time to fight back against the politicians and Big Oil CEOs who put their billions before the health and safety of our families, our communities, and our climate. We need to hold them accountable now with solutions like a windfall profits tax, and invest in clean energy solutions that can free us from expensive fossil fuels."

Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, said that "Big Oil has imposed a private tax on the American people—to the tune of more than $90 billion from just two companies alone."

"It's past time for the American people to take that money back," he added. "A windfall profits tax would tax Big Oil on its inflated revenues—due only to the rising global price of oil and having nothing to do with Big Oil's costs or investments—and return the money to American consumers."

Last March, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced a bill to tax excess oil company profits and use the proceeds to pay American households a quarterly refund. That same month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced the Ending Corporate Greed Act, which would tax windfall profits of major corporations at a rate of 95%.

While President Joe Biden has threatened to support a windfall profits tax on oil companies if they don't ramp up production, he has not yet done so.

Responding to the increasing calls for taxing excess Big Oil earnings, ExxonMobil chief financial officer Kathryn Mikells toldReuters that windfall profits taxes are "unlawful and bad policy," and would have "the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve."

In a Reutersopinion piece published Tuesday, Sandrine Dixson-Declève, co-president of the Club of Rome and project lead for Earth4All initiative, wrote that "oil and gas companies are perhaps the most flagrant example of our upside-down world."

"Despite being responsible for the majority of the emissions that cause climate change, they continue to make higher and higher profits," she explained. "At the same time, vulnerable people in the lowest-income countries, who have done the least to cause climate change and are most impacted by the extreme weather events caused by a warming world, are getting poorer."

"There is absolutely no reason not to tax windfall profits in all sectors, in particular when they have been made during periods of scarcity and speculation when the rest of the world is worse off," Dixson-Declève added. "Ending tax incentives and subsidies for fossil fuels is simply a no-brainer in a world where climate change is already costing untold financial and human losses every year."

SEE ALL
Bernie Sanders
News

Bernie Sanders to DNC: Ban Super PAC Money in Democratic Primary Races

Ahead of the Democratic National Committee's annual Winter Meeting in Philadelphia, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday called on the party to end super PAC spending in primary races, saying the Democrats should take the event as an opportunity to show their commitment to protecting democracy.

Twelve years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Vermont Independent senator wrote, the last election cycle illustrated how the "disastrous" decision is "undermining American democracy," as super PACs spent roughly $1.3 billion on campaigning—including more than $460 million spent by Democratic groups.

Millions of dollars were spent by billionaires "against progressive candidates in competitive primaries," Sanders wrote, with super PACs funding "outrageous and dishonest attack ads."

"When we talk about billionaires buying elections, this is exactly what we are talking about."

Notably, a super PAC created by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spent millions of dollars in competitive races in North Carolina, Texas, and Pennsylvania last year, running attack ads against progressives who are critical of the United States' support for Israel's violent anti-Palestinian policies. One ad accused Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.) of being disloyal to the Democratic Party.

"When we talk about billionaires buying elections, this is exactly what we are talking about," wrote Sanders, who caucuses with Senate Democrats.

The 2010 Citizens United ruling allowed corporations and special interest groups to create super PACs, which can accept unlimited donations and spend unlimited money on campaigns. The ruling has been condemned for years by Democratic lawmakers including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who earlier this month introduced legislation to overturn Citizens United.

The party could make clear that it opposes the corporate takeover of campaigning by banning super PAC spending in its primaries, said Sanders, noting that the issue was not permitted to come up for a vote at last year's DNC meeting when he proposed it there.

"Virtually all Democrats talk about the need for campaign finance reform," wrote Sanders. "Talk is easy. Now it's time to walk the walk. Let's stand up for democracy."

SEE ALL
Teachers hold placards during a demonstration
News

'We Are Going to Win': UK Workers Launch Largest Coordinated Strike in More Than a Decade

With organizers saying it's entirely within the power of the United Kingdom's Conservative government to ensure public sector employees are paid fairly, roughly half a million workers walked out on Wednesday in the country's largest coordinated strike in more than a decade.

About 300,000 of the striking employees are educators, and they were joined by civil servants, railroad workers, university professors, London bus drivers, museum workers, and border officials, among others, with 59% of Britons telling YouGov in a recent poll that they supported the walkout.

The strong support comes even as an estimated 85% of schools across the U.K. were closed on Wednesday. Students and parents stood on picket lines alongside teachers, whose wages have not kept up with inflation and who are struggling to teach in schools where per-pupil spending for the 2024-25 school year is now expected to be 3% lower than it was in 2010.

"It's partly about pay, which has been reduced by 11% over the last 10 years," Jon Voake, a drama teacher in South Gloucestershire, toldThe Guardian. "But it's also about how our workload's going up. We're all working with bigger groups. Children's education is going to suffer and enough is enough."

In the most economically deprived parts of the country, the National Education Union said, teachers' pay has gone down by more than 20% since 2010 as the rate of inflation in the U.K. stands at 10.5%—"the highest among the G7 group of advanced economies," according toAl Jazeera.

"We're struggling," a London teacher named Mehnaz told Tribune magazine last October. "Many of us are living in cold homes because we need to save wherever we can... I know colleagues who are worried about how they'll pay their rent or their mortgage, or how they'll be able to afford childcare when they're at work because their children's schools are also having to reduce hours and close earlier than they previously did."

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) says that the average public sector worker in the U.K. now has $250 less per month than they did in 2010, accounting for inflation. A graph the organization shared on social media as the workers walked out showed that teachers' real compensation is now far lower than the range among other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

A 5% pay raise offered to public sector workers last year is actually a 7% pay cut when accounting for soaring inflation, union leaders say.

The walkout comes a day after members of Parliament passed an anti-strike law that would enforce "minimum service levels" in a railroad sector and emergency services, threatening workers with termination if they take part in a work stoppage. The bill still needs to pass in the House of Lords before becoming law. The TUC has said it could take the government to court over the proposal, which TUC assistant general secretary Kate Bell told The Guardian is "unnecessary, unfair, and almost certainly illegal."

Ambulance drivers and nurses are reportedly planning to stage a work stoppage in the coming days.

Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told public health workers on Monday, "I would love, nothing more would give me more pleasure than, to wave a magic wand and have all of you paid lots more"—but organizers and labor advocates on Wednesday said Sunak's government simply needs to change its tax policies to mitigate the cost-of-living crisis.

"We just need a fair taxation system," John McDonnell, a Labour MP former shadow chancellor of the exchequer, told The Guardian, calling on the Tories to tax capital gains at the same level of income to pay for raises. "The issue at the moment is that we seem to have a government that is redistributing wealth upwards."

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, toldThe Guardian that the Tories have claimed it would cost £29 billion ($35 billion) to give raises to public sectors, while the actual amount is about £10 billion ($12 billion).

"And £10 billion in an economy like ours can easily be found," said Serwotka.

Mick Lynch, secretary general of the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers, rallied thousands of teachers outside Downing Street in London.

"We are the working class, and we are back," said Lynch. "We are here, we are demanding change, we refuse to be bought, and we are going to win for our people on our terms."

SEE ALL
​Workers build an electric bus at a factory in Lancaster, California on May 1, 2018.
News

New Research Details Promise of Converting From 'War Economy to a Green Economy'

A pair of reports published Thursday show that many workers employed in the U.S. military-industrial complex support shifting manufacturing resources from military to civilian use—a conversion seen as vital to the fight against the climate emergency.

Moving "from a war economy to a green economy" can help avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis, noted the Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute, publisher of the new research.

"Ever-higher military spending is contributing to climate catastrophe, and U.S. lawmakers need a better understanding of alternative economic choices," Stephanie Savell, co-director of Costs of War, said in a statement. "Military industrial production can be redirected to civilian technologies that contribute to societal well-being and provide green jobs. This conversion can both decarbonize the economy and create prosperity in districts across the nation."

In one of the papers released Thursday, Miriam Pemberton, an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, described "how the United States developed a war economy," as reflected in its massive $858 billion military budget, which accounts for roughly half of all federal discretionary spending.

As Pemberton explained:

When the U.S. military budget decreased after the Cold War, military contractors initiated a strategy to protect their profits by more widely connecting jobs to military spending. They did this by spreading their subcontracting chains across the United States and creating an entrenched war economy. Perhaps the most infamous example: Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jet, which is built in 45 states.

The strategy proved successful. Today, many members of Congress have political incentives to continue to raise the military budget, in order to protect jobs in their districts. Much of the U.S. industrial base is invested in and focused on weapons production, and industry lobbyists won't let Congress forget it.

Not only is the Pentagon a major contributor to planet-heating pollution—emitting more greenhouse gases than 140 countries—and other forms of environmental destruction, but a 2019 Costs of War study showed that "dollar for dollar, military spending creates far fewer jobs than spending on other sectors like education, healthcare, and mass transit," Pemberton continued.

Moreover, "military spending creates jobs that bring wealth to some people and businesses, but do not alleviate poverty or result in widely-shared prosperity," Pemberton wrote. "In fact, of the 20 states with economies most dependent on military manufacturing, 14 experience poverty at similar or higher rates than the national average."

"A different way is possible," she stressed, pointing to a pair of military conversion case studies.

"The only way to really lower emissions of the military is you've got to make the military smaller."

As military budgets were shrinking in 1993, Lockheed was eager to expand its reach into non-military production.

"One of its teams working on fighter jets at a manufacturing facility in Binghamton, New York successfully shifted its specialized skills to produce a system for transit buses that cut fuel consumption, carbon emissions, maintenance costs, and noise, called 'HybriDrive,'" Pemberton explained.

By 1999, Lockheed "sold the facility producing HybriDrive buses and largely abandoned its efforts to convert away from dependence on military spending," she wrote. "But under the new management of BAE Systems, the hybrid buses and their new zero-emission models are now reducing emissions" in cities around the world.

According to Pemberton, "This conversion project succeeded where others have failed largely because its engineers took seriously the differences between military and civilian manufacturing and business practices, and adapted their production accordingly."

In another paper released Thursday, Karen Bell, a senior lecturer in sustainable development at the University of Glasgow, sought to foreground "the views of defense sector workers themselves," noting that they "have been largely absent, despite their importance for understanding the feasibility of conversion."

Bell surveyed 58 people currently and formerly employed in military-related jobs in the U.S. and the United Kingdom and found that "while some workers said that the defense sector is 'socially useful,' many were frustrated with their field and would welcome working in the green economy."

"This was a small group so we cannot generalize to defense workers overall," writes Bell. "However, even among this small cohort, some were interested in converting their work to civil production and would be interested in taking up 'green jobs.'"

One respondent told Bell: "Just greenwashing isn't going to do it. Just putting solar panels up isn't going to do it. So we're trying to stress that the only way to really lower emissions of the military is you've got to make the military smaller."

"By the way, do we really need to update all our ICBMs [Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles]?" the survey participant asked. "Don't we have enough to blow up the world three times over, or five times over? Why don't we take those resources and use them someplace else where they really should be?"

SEE ALL