Climate March is April 22

In Northampton on April 22 there will be a march calling on politicians to do more to fight climate change. The march will start at 5 p.m. at 129 Main Street. Details are at:

www.facebook.com/events/249294522680797

On April 9, five people from the Brattleboro area were among hundreds who completed a 65 mile, five-day march to the Vermont statehouse calling on politicians to do more to fight climate change. Among the five were Tara Bossard-Kruger, Nancy Braus, Byron Stookey, and Ann Zimmerman. The march organizers have a web site at www.350vermont.org.

In other news from the Valley, on April 11, hundreds of Stop and Shop workers in the Pioneer Valley went on strike. As of April 16, they were still on strike. They joined 31,000 Stop and Shop workers in other parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The Pioneer Valley workers have a web site at www.ufcw1459.com. They need people to boycott Stop and Shop, and show up at their picket lines, if they are going to win.

Low wages are one of the main reasons workers went on strike. Stop and Shop is owned by a corporation based in Holland that has about 370,000 employees, including about 2,000 in western Massachusetts.

Workers who join a union in the USA make an average of 27 percent higher wages. That's according to www.bls.gov.

The below photo shows striking workers outside the Greenfield Stop and Shop on April 12. To enlarge the photo, click on it, then scroll down and click “see full size image.” photo by Eesha Williams

At one point on April 13, about 40 people were on the picket line outside the Greenfield Stop and Shop.

In other news from the Valley, on April 15 a land trust that has full-time workers at its office in Brattleboro announced it had saved 146 acres of farmland in Vernon, Vermont. Vernon borders Brattleboro and Massachusetts. The land trust's web site is at www.vlt.org.

On April 10, a land trust based in Keene announced it had saved 110 acres of farmland and forestland in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. Jaffrey is about four miles from Massachusetts and about five miles from Keene. The land trust has a web site at www.MonadnockConservancy.org.

The USA is losing 6,000 acres of open space every day.

In other news from the Valley, on April 15 there was a peace rally outside the Brattleboro food co-op. Organizer Daniel Sicken (pronounced SEE-kin) can be reached by phone at (802) 387-2798 or by e-mail at dhsicken@yahoo.com.

Almost half 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 4 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 51; 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, 154 years ago, ending slavery and granting women the right to vote both seemed unlikely. Mass movements of ordinary people won justice.

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