Outside the United States, the Pentagon controls a collection of military bases unprecedented in history, reports todays Le Monde. “With U.S. troops gone from Iraq and the withdrawal from Afghanistan underway, it’s easy to forget that we probably still have about1,000 military bases in other peoples’ lands. This giant collection of bases receives remarkably little media attention, costs a fortune, and even when cost cutting is the subject du jour, it still seems to get a free ride.
“With so much money pouring into the Pentagon’s base world, the question is: Who’s benefiting?
“Some of the money clearly pays for things like salaries, health care, and other benefits for around one million military and Defense Department personnel and their families overseas. But after an extensive examination of government spending data and contracts, I estimate that the Pentagon has dispersed around $385 billion to private companies for work done outside the U.S. since late 2001, mainly in that baseworld. That’s nearly double the entire State Departmentbudget over the same period, and because Pentagon and government accountingpractices are so poor, the true total may be significantly higher. Continue reading “America’s 1,000 Plateaus”
When you think of adoption, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Maybe it’s the vague, rosy notion of a happy ending — of rescue, salvation or (more likely) some do-gooding Hollywood mouthpiece like Angelina Jolie adding kids of various ethnicities to her big, colorful brood.
Salon.com carries a story that tells a different tale: “What probably doesn’t automatically come to mind is coercion, racism and a conservative Christian agenda that extends beyond mere abortion prevention. Award-winning journalist Kathryn Joyce describes all these issues — and, sadly, many more — as being shockingly rampant in the multi-billion-dollar adoption industry. And she delves into them, in somewhat jarring investigative detail, in her new book, “The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption.”
“Joyce details how the adoption industry has become overly enmeshed with the Christian right — how evangelical, pro-adoption church leaders have, in recent years, been creepily urging followers to adopt en masse, often internationally and from war-ravaged countries. Christian adoption booms are common in countries like Haiti and Indonesia after natural disasters and other crises — remember Laura Silsby, the Baptist church leader from Idaho who was charged with child trafficking after illegally attempting to smuggle 33 unauthorized Haitian children across the Haiti-Dominican Republic border in 2010? Continue reading “How the Christian Right exploits adoption”
We know this but don’t often admit it: cats are killing machines
In all fairness, some of us like our cats for this reason – ridding our houses rodents or other pests, or at least deterring them. But if you are really, really sensitive about the issue of animal cruelty, letting kitty prowl about outside puts lots of birds and small animals at risk. A story on NPR exposed the ugly details about this. Millions of details, as it turns out:
“Previous studies had suggested that cats kill about 500 million birds a year. Marra’s group came up with something very different. ‘We estimate that cats kill somewhere between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds a year,’ Pete Marra says. ‘For mammals, it’s upward of about 15 billion.’ Continue reading “American cats kill billions of birds”
Globally speaking, not much money goes to schools. Which is too bad since so many other issues can be traced back to education. How about a billionaire like Bill Gates taking up global education?
“This week, business leaders are gathering in Davos to debate global priorities at the World Economic Forum” reports Al Jazeera. The forum declares itself to be “committed to improving the state of the world”. So why isn’t education higher up on the agenda?
“On the face of it, there should be little need to make the business case for education. It is intrinsically tied to all positive development outcomes. Economic growth, health, nutrition and democracy are all boosted by quality schooling. If all children in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, poverty would fall by 12 percent – and that’s good for business. The private sector benefits directly from an educated, skilled workforce. Continue reading “Billions for the world’s schools?”
Spying is all about predictions: about knowing what someone else can or will do next, about thinking how to win.
At least that is how governments tend to think about spying. In this context it makes sense that the Obama administration would spend some time prognosticating. Turns out they spend billions to satisfy their curiosity, as the U.S. and many other countries have done for decades. Asia Times carries a story today about this curious and expensive enterprise, which begins with the paragraphs below:
“Think of it as a simple formula: if you’ve been hired (and paid handsomely) to protect what is, you’re going to be congenitally ill-equipped to imagine what might be.And yet the urge not just to know the contours of the future but to plant the Stars and Stripes in that future has had the US Intelligence Community (IC) in its grip since the mid-1990s.
“That was the moment when it first occurred to some in Washington that US power might be capable of controlling just about everything worth the bother globally for, if not an eternity, then long enough to make the future American property. Continue reading “Intelligence community tries to predict what’s next”