Australian news, and some related international items

America’s $1.4 Trillion So-Called “National Security” Budget Makes Us Less Safe—Not More

America and the world would be far safer places if this outrageous spending was drastically cut and those funds redirected to “moral” investments in people, society, and planetary health—not war and weapons.

Common Dreams WILLIAM HARTUNG, July 7, 2022 by TomDispatch

This March, when the Biden administration presented a staggering $813 billion proposal for “national defense,” it was hard to imagine a budget that could go significantly higher or be more generous to the denizens of the military-industrial complex. After all, that request represented far more than peak spending in the Korean or Vietnam War years, and well over $100 billion more than at the height of the Cold War. 

It was, in fact, an astonishing figure by any measure — more than two-and-a-half times what China spends; more, in fact, than (and hold your hats for this one!) the national security budgets of the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined. And yet the weapons industry and hawks in Congress are now demanding that even more be spent. 

In recent National Defense Authorization Act proposals, which always set a marker for what Congress is willing to fork over to the Pentagon, the Senate and House Armed Services Committees both voted to increase the 2023 budget yet again — by $45 billion in the case of the Senate and $37 billion for the House. The final figure won’t be determined until later this year, but Congress is likely to add tens of billions of dollars more than even the Biden administration wanted to what will most likely be a record for the Pentagon’s already bloated budget.

This lust for yet more weapons spending is especially misguided at a time when a never-ending pandemic, growing heat waves and other depredations of climate change, and racial and economic injustice are devastating the lives of millions of Americans.  Make no mistake about it: the greatest risks to our safety and our future are non-military in nature, with the exception, of course, of the threat of nuclear war, which could increase if the current budget goes through as planned.

But as TomDispatch readers know, the Pentagon is just one element in an ever more costly American national security state.  Adding other military, intelligence, and internal-security expenditures to the Pentagon’s budget brings the total upcoming “national security” budget to a mind-boggling $1.4 trillion. And note that, in June 2021, the last time my colleague Mandy Smithberger and I added up such costs to the taxpayer, that figure was almost $1.3 trillion, so the trend is obvious.

To understand how these vast sums are spent year after year, let’s take a quick tour of America’s national security budget, top to bottom.

The Pentagon’s proposed “base” budget, which includes all of its routine expenses from personnel to weapons to the costs of operating and maintaining a 1.3 million member military force, came in at $773 billion for 2023, more than $30 billion above that of 2022. Such an increase alone is three times the discretionary budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and more than three times the total allocation for the Environmental Protection Agency. 

In all, the Pentagon consumes nearly half of the discretionary budget of the whole federal government, a figure that’s come down slightly in recent years thanks to the Biden administration’s increased investment in civilian activities. That still means, however, that almost anything the government wants to do other than preparing for or waging war involves a scramble for funding, while the Department of Defense gets virtually unlimited financial support.

And keep in mind that the proposed Biden increase in Pentagon spending comes despite the ending of 20 years of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, a move that should have meant significant reductions in the department’s budget.  Perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn, however, that, in the wake of the Afghan disaster, the military establishment and hawks in Congress quickly shifted gears to touting — and exaggerating — challenges posed by ChinaRussia, and inflation as reasons for absorbing the potential savings from the Afghan War and pressing the Pentagon budget ever higher.

It’s worth looking at what America stands to receive for its $773 billion — or about $2,000 per taxpayer, according to an analysis by the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. More than half of that amount goes to giant weapons contractors like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, along with thousands of smaller arms-making firms.

The most concerning part of the new budget proposal, however, may be the administration’s support for a three-decades long, $1.7-trillion plan to build a new generation of nuclear-armed missiles (as well, of course, as new warheads to go with them), bombers, and submarines. As the organization Global Zero has pointed out, the United States could dissuade any country from launching an atomic attack against it with far fewer weapons than are contained in its current nuclear arsenal.  There’s simply no need for a costly — and risky — nuclear weapons “modernization” plan. Sadly, it’s guaranteed to help fuel a continuing global nuclear arms race, while entrenching nuclear weapons as a mainstay of national security policy for decades to come. (Wouldn’t those decades be so much better spent working to eliminate nuclear weapons altogether?) 

The riskiest weapon in that nuclear plan is a new land-based, intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).  As former Secretary of Defense William Perry once explained, ICBMs are among “the most dangerous weapons in the world” because a president warned of a nuclear attack would have only a matter of minutes to decide whether to launch them, increasing the risk of an accidental nuclear war based on a false alarm. Not only is a new ICBM unnecessary, but the existing ones should be retired as well, as a way of reducing the potential for a world-ending nuclear conflagration……………………..

The Nuclear Budget

The average taxpayer no doubt assumes that a government agency called the Department of Energy (DOE) would be primarily concerned with developing new sources of energy, including ones that would reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels to help rein in the ravages of climate change.  Unfortunately, that assumption couldn’t be less true.

Instead of spending the bulk of its time and money on energy research and development, more than 40% of the Department of Energy’s budget for 2023 is slated to support the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which manages the country’s nuclear weapons program, principally by maintaining and developing nuclear warheads.  Work on other military activities like reactors for nuclear submarines pushes the defense share of the DOE budget even higher. The NNSA spreads its work across the country, with major locations in California, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Its proposed 2023 budget for nuclear-weapons activities is $16.5 billion, part of a budget for defense-related projects of $29.8 billion……………………………

Our Misguided Security Budget

Spending $1.4 trillion to address a narrowly defined concept of national security should be considered budgetary malpractice on a scale so grand as to be almost unimaginable — especially at a time when the greatest risks to the safety of Americans and the rest of the world are not military in nature. After all, the Covid pandemic has already taken the lives of more than one million Americans, while the fires, floods, and heat waves caused by climate change have impacted tens of millions more. 

Yet the administration’s proposed allocation of $45 billion to address climate change in the 2023 budget would be less than 6% of the Pentagon’s proposed budget of $773 billion………………………………..

July 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Church stands against nuclear power in the Philippines

JUCA News, July 04, 2022

Renewable generation must double in the next few years if we are to save the nation from an economic meltdown

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga has spoken out against the revival of the Bataan nuclear power plant saying it would be a great danger to the people and the environment. The Philippine bishops’ conference stands against nuclear power also.

“The voice of our people is strongly, openly no,” he said. Bishop Santos claimed the danger would be greater than any possible benefit. The danger “heavily outweighs its benefits,” he told Radyo Veritas on June 3.

The bishop was reacting to news reports that the Philippines’ new president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. plans to revive the nuclear power plant built by his father — the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

When former president Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order that allowed nuclear power plants to be considered as a source of electricity generation, a wave of concern swept through the minds and hearts of the security, environmental, medical, and renewable energy thinking community……………………

“The Diocese of Balanga has decided… [we] are against this [move] and this stand will not change.”

The gray-haired veterans of the anti-Bataan Nuclear Power Plant campaigns, such as famous campaigner Professor Roland Simbulan of Nuclear Free Philippines, will recall the hundreds of millions of dollars that were siphoned off the deal into the private accounts of Marcos cronies.

Had the nuclear plant been operational, the Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption and the many earthquakes would have likely caused a nuclear disaster.  The real possibility of a nuclear accident is what rightly scares millions of people away from nuclear power as a source of electricity when there are many alternatives of renewable energy available.

Solar and wind farms, hydro dams, geothermal, and biomass are all available and at much lower cost in comparison to nuclear energy, coal, oil and gas imports.

According to a report by the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC), the few existing renewable energy (RE) projects, especially solar and wind power have already saved the Philippines 4.04 billion pesos (about US$73 million).

Besides, renewable energy sources of electricity are free, thanks to nature. The wind blows, the sun shines and volcanic heat is always present for geothermal plants and delivered by nature without cost. They just need more investment and harnessing and they pose no danger………………………………………………………

The greatest challenge is the safe disposal of the deadly contaminated nuclear waste, which will last for thousands of years. The Philippine Department of Energy consultant proposes burying it on a remote island. For sure, the contamination will leech into the ocean and poison sea life and those who eat fish.

Pope Francis has encouraged everyone to use alternative ways to protect the environment and nuclear power is not one of them.

The future of the planet and humans is to stop burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, and stop global warming and accelerate the building of renewable energy projects……………

July 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ukraine Reform Conference – name changed to Ukraine Recovery Conference – to hide the reality of Ukraine’s endemic corruption.

Ukraine’s endemic corruption problems are suddenly forgotten as hungry Western investors smell ‘reconstruction’ profits,

The flagship “Ukraine Reform Conference” is suddenly rebranded to suit current needs. Rt. 6 July 22,

Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist, and host of independently produced talk-shows in French and English.

The annual Ukraine Reform Conference has, since 2017, brought together Western officials and their local ‘civil society’ foot soldiers to discuss ways that Ukraine can reduce its rampant corruption. But this year, before getting underway this week in Lugano, Switzerland, it underwent a name change to the Ukraine Recovery Conference

Perhaps drawing attention to the existence of the country’s endemic corruption isn’t convenient for those looking to avoid heavy criminal penalties set up to explicitly prevent investment that fuels corruption?

Simply changing the marketing of the conference does nothing to alter the reality. If anything, it’s counterproductive for Ukraine itself and serves to enable and perpetuate serious systemic problems that prevent the country from progressing.

“The authorities are delaying the fulfillment of many important anti-corruption promises,” according to Andrey Borovik, executive director of the Ukraine office of Transparency International, an organization funded by Western governments and multinationals. As for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, “corruption just doesn’t seem to worry Mr. Zelensky much – at least when those implicated are close to him,” claimed Kyiv Independent (another Western funded outfit) editor Olga Rudenko in a guest piece for the New York Times in February, right before the Russian military operation started. 

Not exactly the kind of guy you’d want overseeing massive investment projects, one would think.

These days, tackling corruption is taking a rhetorical backseat to the Western push to frame Ukraine as just your typical European country. “For the last two years, we have been discussing large European values, mostly a theoretical debate,” Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa has said. “Then, suddenly, we realised that those fundamental European values actually exist. And that they are threatened. And that Europeans are defending them. With their lives. In Ukraine.” 

Despite acknowledging that Ukraine would have to enact “a number of important reforms,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that “Ukraine has clearly shown commitment to live up to European values and standards. And embarked, before the war, on its way towards the EU.” In reality, the only thing that has actually changed is that Western officials saw an opening to exploit current public sympathy, if not ignorance, to gain acceptance for an idea that normally would be a much tougher sell to the average EU citizen. That is, the notion that Ukraine would be a net benefit to the bloc rather than an Achilles heel rife with problems that has no business being included in a zone that allows for free movement of people and goods among member states. 

…………….. the head of Interpol, Jurgen Stock, has warned EU nations in particular that “the wide availability of weapons during the current conflict will lead to the proliferation of illicit weapons in the post-conflict phase.”

Neglecting to place Ukraine’s corruption problem uncompromisingly front and center in order to better peddle the premature public narrative of the need for investment under the guise of ‘reconstruction’ represents a threat to the EU – and one that Western officials are only too happy to facilitate, apparently. One has to wonder why that is. 

It’s hardly a secret that Western nations have historically leveraged foreign aid to gain economic and political footholds within other countries, either through state-backed programs, civil society funding, or corporate opportunities. But there’s also another catch. Current Western laws such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in the US, the UK Bribery Act, or the Loi Sapin II in France all create an obligation for any entity or individual investing in foreign countries to ensure a corruption-free transaction. If Western investment in Ukrainian reconstruction ends up in the wrong hands, then board members, employees, and managers could all end up facing criminal charges with penalties of prison.

………………………. Western entities have an economic interest in portraying Ukraine as a safe place to invest. Otherwise, they’re easy pickings for the authorities of other foreign countries who might choose to use corrupt investment dealings in Ukraine as a means of taking a competitor off the playing field.

…………………… to get the green light, and to convince the average taxpayer to accept funding the risk, everyone has to make the venture sound benevolent – hence the Marshall Plan comparisons – and reduce any references to corruption to a minor detail.

July 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ukraine has sold two French-donated 155mm Caesar howitzers to Russia

PANAGYURISHTE ($1=1.88 Bulgarian Levs) — French and Ukrainian [from Donbas] sources claim that in the hands of the Russian army, and more precisely in the production workshops of the Russian manufacturer Uralvagonzavod, there are two 155mm self-propelled howitzers Caesar, donated by France to Ukraine, as military aid against the Russian invasion on February 24 this year.

On June 20, French lawyer Régis de Castelnau wrote on his official Twitter account“Another success of Macron: 2 French Caesar guns were intercepted intact by the Russians. They are currently in the Uralvagonzavod factory in the Urals for study and possible reverse engineering. Thank you Macron, we are paying”.

A few days later, on June 23rd, the Russian company [Uralvagonzavod] responded to the French lawyer, through its official Telegram profile and citing Régis de Castelnau’s tweet, writing: “Hello, Mr. Regis. Please convey our thanks to President Macron for the donation of the self-propelled guns. This material is of course not tip-top… not like our MSTA-S! But nevertheless, it will be useful. Send more – we’ll take them down.”

Ukrainian sources from Donbas claim that they are also aware of this case, but not from the French lawyer or the Russian plant, but from French military sources, emphasizing that the online publication Donbas Insider does not cite who exactly the French military sources are.

France’s General Staff has denied reports of a French Caesar self-propelled howitzer being captured by Russian forces in Ukraine. “This information is false,” said the General Staff of France. “We categorically deny it. We’ve discussed this with our Ukrainian partners.” According to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, no evidence was provided to support the claim.

The news of captured weapons would not surprise anyone in wartime. We have witnessed the Ukrainian and Russian military capturing various enemy weapon systems. But the same “unidentified” French sources claim, according to a Donbas Insider, that the two Caesar self-propelled howitzers were sold, through an intermediary, by Ukrainians to Russians. The price, which is being discussed in tight circles, is $120,000 each. recalls that the unit value of a Caesar self-propelled howitzer varies around the amount of 7 million euros.

A political analyst at says that the possibility that the two howitzers were sold to Moscow is evident in the tone and ending of French lawyer and politician Régis de Castelnau’s words. “It is very clear to him [the French lawyer] that during the war, in addition to prisoners of war, the adversaries acquire different foreign equipment. This is war, some die, others abandon their positions out of fear, and others profit from the war. The end of the comment “Thank you Macron, we are paying’ suggests that Régis de Castelnau believes that the two howitzers were not abandoned and therefore captured, but sold. The irony is too strong in this particular case to ignore this fact”, says Dr. Sebastian Levi, correspondent, and analyst of for the Middle East region.

Levy also says that he believes the two self-propelled howitzers were resold with the help of an intermediary, a military dealer. Levy, however, has no evidence for his claims but refers to his league reasoning.

However, sales are a fact

The feeling that corrupt Ukrainian servicemen are involved in the illegal arms trade to extract maximum profit is not from now, and it is not only about this case.

On June 2, revealed the sale of at least one FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank guided missile system on the dark web for $30,000. The seller is unclear, but according to the information posted on the darknet, the location [where the system will be shipped or picked up from] is Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.

“Ukrops are selling Javelins on the darknet. The command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine resells equipment and weapons supplied by NATO to the Middle East and North Africa. Anyone with a TOR browser can buy this ATGM in the online store,” writes the pro-Russian Telegram channel ABS News.

Interpol knows

Interpol knows the illegal sale of arms by Ukrainians to Russians. The German online edition Overton-Magazin writes that concerns can be seen in the statements of Jürgen Stock, Secretary-General of Interpol, “who fears that the weapons will be handed over to criminal organizations. However, this is happening with the complicity of Western governments, which are not willing to put in place safeguards and vetting mechanisms for the use of these weapons. In fact, even the US intelligence services do not know where the weapons delivered to Ukraine are going.”

According to the German publication, a part of the weapons delivered to Ukraine were actually seized, but another part was resold by Ukrainian holdings, which are in the hands of Russian businessmen. Overton-Magazin even points to a specific case that should be investigated for illegal trade, and that is the downed Ukrainian helicopters that tried to evacuate Ukrainian soldiers from Mariupol. The investigation so far indicates that the helicopters were shot down by American Stinger anti-aircraft missiles donated by the Americans.

Here’s what the German publication Overton-Magazin wrote“The Western narrative of the prophesied defeat of Russia and the victorious resistance of Ukraine is the main argument for promoting the deployment of weapons. It gives the impression that all that is needed is the ‘last little push’, to achieve victory. The reality, however, is not so romantic.”

………………………. And finally, let’s mention the most important fact that is known, but no one dares to talk about it: in order for such a sale to be carried out, the presence of strong corruption is necessary, especially among the military command and the lower officer ranks of the Ukrainian army.

July 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Not only Russian: Ukrainian forces also are killing children.

Ukrainian shelling kills ten-year-old girl,, 5 July 22

The child was torn apart by a shell that hit a residential district in Donetsk, the devastated family told journalists.

A 10-year-old girl was sitting by a bank in front of her house in Donetsk when a shell fired by Ukrainian forces landed in the middle of the street, killing her. The child was torn apart by shrapnel, the grieving family told RT’s Ruptly video news agency. 

“My granddaughter has been blown into three pieces,” the girl’s grandfather told journalists. “Look there, there is blood everywhere,” he said, pointing to the metallic gates leading to the yard of his house. 

Pools of blood were still covering the street in the spot where the girl had been hit by the shell’s fragments.

She did not make it home,” the girl’s grandfather added, pointing to the girl’s sneakers, which were lying on the ground near her home’s gate. The girl’s body has already been taken to a morgue. “She and a boy … they were just walking around,” the girl’s mother said. “She sought to run home…” she began, before bursting into tears. 

The family’s neighbor told reporters she had heard a loud bang and rushed to the street only to find “one girl’s leg lying near a garden plot and another one here, at the gate.” 

Ukrainian forces were shelling different parts of the capital of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) on Tuesday, the city’s mayor, Aleksey Kuzmin, said in a Telegram post. Several people received shrapnel wounds, Kuzmin said, as he confirmed the girl’s death as well. The child’s identity has not been made public. 

According to the mayor, the Ukrainian soldiers had used 155mm caliber shells. This caliber is common in NATO artillery systems, while the Russian and Ukrainian artillery pieces usually have a caliber of 152mm. RT could not independently verify which artillery type was used by the Ukrainian forces………….

July 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Test rocket carrying component for future nuclear armed ICBM explodes after takeoff

By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent, July 8, 2022, (CNN)A test rocket carrying a component for a future US nuclear armed intercontinental ballistic missile blew up 11 seconds after takeoff Wednesday night from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, according to a statement from the base…………

This was the first test of the Mk21A Reentry Vehicle (RV) the part of the weapon that would hold a nuclear warhead if the system was operational. There was no nuclear element or armed component to this test

The Mk21A is planned to be the reentry vehicle for the future LGM-35A Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missiles, a new ground-based nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile planned to replace the current Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile as a key element of the US nuclear deterrent capability.

The explosion comes a week after the latest test of a US hypersonic weapon failed after an “anomaly” occurred during the first test of the full system.

The test, carried out June 30 at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii, was supposed to launch the Common Hypersonic Glide Body atop a two-stage missile booster. The booster is designed to launch the system and accelerate it to hypersonic speeds in excess of Mach 5, at which point the glide body detaches and uses its speed to reach the target. It was the first time the entire system was tested, called an All Up Round test…….

July 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Evidence is the foundation of the TPNW — IPPNW peace and health blog

IPPNW statement to the First Meeting of States Parties on the importance of establishing a scientific advisory panel Carlos Umaña: “These warnings about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons are the most compelling reason for eliminating nuclear weapons and the most powerful argument we have for the need to universalize the TPNW.” Delivered by Co-President […]

Evidence is the foundation of the TPNW — IPPNW peace and health blog

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July 8 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion:  ¶ “Four Ways Governments Can Encourage Businesses To Meaningfully Lower Their Carbon Emissions” • If we hope to limit global warming to 1.5°C, greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 and decline 43% by 2030, the UNIPCC says. Governments cannot achieve that by themselves. Here are ways to encourage businesses to help. [CNN] Emissions […]

July 8 Energy News — geoharvey

July 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ex-NATO commander: Blow up Crimean bridge with U.S. missiles — Anti-bellum

Ukrainian News AgencyJuly 7, 2022 Ex-NATO Commander Calls On Ukraine To Blow Up Crimean Bridge Former Commander-in-Chief of the NATO Allied Forces in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, said that the Crimean Bridge is a legitimate target for attack by Ukraine. It is reported by Express on Friday, July 8.Breedlove indicated that damage to the Crimean […]

Ex-NATO commander: Blow up Crimean bridge with U.S. missiles — Anti-bellum

July 9, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment