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2018 Costs of Climate Disasters & US Militarism

In the year 2018 the effects of global heating cost the world about $85 billion. The United States suffered at least half of this damage. The hurricane Florence cost $19 billion in the Carolinas and Michael about $15 billion in Florida. Estimated damage of the Camp and Woolsey fires in California is about $10 billion. According to London-based Christian Aid’s report droughts cost Europe $7.5 billion, Australia about $7.4 billion, Argentina $6 billion, and Cape Town in South Africa $1.2 billion. Floods cost China $9.3 billion and India $3.7 billion, and damage from the Typhoon Mangkhut was about $1.5 billion in the Philippines and China. 

The estimated expenses of the United States military for the fiscal year 2018 were about $874 billion by the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Energy (nuclear weapons). 

The Watson Institute at Brown University estimated that from October 2001 to October 2018 the US wars in Afghanistan (& Pakistan) and Iraq have cost the United States about $4.8 trillion and have caused nearly 500,000 deaths which includes more than 250,000 civilians, about 112,000 opposition fighters, 6,951 US soldiers, 7,820 US contractors, and 1,464 allied troops. They also found that an additional 800,000 people died because of indirect costs of the wars such as disease and malnutrition. Since military spending is financed by loans the future interest on this debt could exceed $8 trillion by the 2050s. 

Yet I believe that by ending such wars and greatly reducing military spending while making taxes much more progressive we could pay off the national debt and avoid most of those interest costs. We would also be avoiding the massive deaths and misery from wars caused by US imperialism that are unnecessary to maintaining American security.

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Gerrymandering Reform

Gerrymandering is the American-invented process of designing legislative voting districts for the advantage of the political party in power that draws the lines. Because the Republican Party made extraordinary gains with money in the 2010 election after the Citizens United decision, they were able to gerrymander a majority of states after the census that year. Recently courts have overturned gerrymandering in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. 

In the 2018 election a very large turn-out enabled Democrats to win state-wide offices in Wisconsin and Michigan. Yet Republicans held on to majorities in the legislatures because of the gerrymandering even though the Democrats had more total votes for legislators in those states. Democrats in Wisconsin got 54% of the votes for the state Assembly but won only 36 of 99 seats. In North Carolina the Republicans outvoted Democrats 50.4% to 48.3% but won 9 seats to 3 for the Democrats with one district being contested because of election fraud on absentee voting. In these three states Republicans are trying to reduce the power of the newly elected Democratic governors, attorney generals, and secretaries of state. In 2018 Democrats increased their number of governors by seven, but Republics still have governors in 27 states. In 2018 ballot initiatives for redistricting reform passed in Michigan, Missouri, Colorado, and Utah, and the Ohio legislature did so in May. 

Democrats are likely to win big again in 2020, and some may be tempted to retaliate by gerrymandering to favor Democrats; but I believe Democrats would do better in the long run by being fair and implementing non-partisan redistricting that ignores party affiliation and draws compact districts impartially. In 2010 the bipartisan California Citizens Redistricting Commission drew the new districts. In the 2018 election California Democrats won 45 seats in the US House to 7 for the Republicans. In the California State Senate Democrats now have 29 seats to 11 Republicans, and in the State Assembly the Democrats won 60 seats and Republicans 20. 

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Pelosi & the Climate Change Committee

Soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is appointing Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) to chair the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis although progressives want a Green New Deal Select Committee with subpoena power. Pelosi’s committee will accept members of Congress who take money from the fossil fuel industry. The previous committee had subpoena power, but this one will not. Why not? 

During the next two years until the next election when the Democrats could take control, House Democrats need to use subpoena power to question relevant witnesses to reveal the truth in committee hearings to show how a Green New Deal could work better to solve critical problems such as global heating and the need for infrastructure support and better jobs. 

See http://san.beck.org/UH4-ClimateSolutions.html

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Trump’s Wall, Shutdown, Lies & Removal

As 2018 is coming to a close, President Trump is demanding from Congress $5 billion for a border wall he promised Mexico would finance. During his shutdown of the federal government over this he visited US soldiers in Iraq, where the war in which Americans killed about a million people is supposed to be over. He told the troops that he has given them a 10% pay raise, the first one in ten years. Actually the latest raise is only 2.6%, and soldiers have been getting pay raises almost every year. 

As president Trump has spread his foolish ideas and incompetence throughout the government by appointing people who are also incompetent and blinded by his reactionary ideas. Several have been fired or quit because they are nearly as corrupt as this ruthless real estate crook. 

In 2019 with the Democrats in control of the House of Representatives and the Muller report on the many crimes of Trump and his administration expected in February, impeachment of the President is inevitable. Republican senators then will have to choose whether to continue to ignore the crimes and incompetence of Trump or to vote with the Democrats to remove him from office and try to save their party from his misrule. Considering that government is in the hands of a warmongering national security advisor John Bolton and several “acting” administrators who have not been confirmed by the US Senate, the megalomaniac Trump must be replaced in order to lessen the danger to this country and the world which he has already done so much to harm.

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Russia is Escalating the Arms Race. How Will the US Respond?

Recently Russia has been testing the Poseidon, a nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed drone and a long-range torpedo that could be armed with a 2-megaton bomb. Russia also has been testing a hypersonic Zircon missile that travels at 6,138 miles an hour which could be launched from Russia’s Yasen-class submarines. 

Why is Russia developing these genocidal weapons? Maybe it is because the United States has been developing anti-missile weapons that can shoot down ballistic missiles at the borders of space which could nullify the deterrence of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). The Zircon might not be shot down because it travels lower, and thus this could be an attempt to restore MAD. The US also is working on hypersonic missiles. 

These awful weapons threaten our civilization, and I believe that we must reverse the nuclear arms and abolish all nuclear weapons. Another reason why the Russians may be escalating the arms race is because since the end of the Cold War the US has been expanding its NATO military alliance by taking in most of the nations that had been Soviet satellites. When Gorbachev decided to dissolve the Warsaw Pact alliance, the US promised not to expand NATO into those countries at all. Both superpowers and the whole world will be much better off when all these horrible weapons are banned for the good of humanity. That is one of the main reasons why I am running for President. 

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Good News on Solar and Wind Power

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate has estimated that humanity could save $26 trillion worldwide by shifting to sustainable development. Lower costs for renewable energy have made wind and solar power more affordable than coal and gas even in China and India. The average benchmark global cost of new solar PV (non-tracking) is now just $60/MWh, and the cost for onshore wind is even lower at $52/MWh.

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When was Jesus born?

The date December 25 was used by Christians to celebrate Christmas starting in the 4th century CE as it was a major holiday in Roman culture. The astronomer Johannes Kepler noted a supernova in 1604 during a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Pisces, and he calculated that Jesus may have been born in 6 BC when there was that conjunction also with Mars in February. 

The sign Pisces is significant because the 25,868-year cycle of the precession of the equinoxes shifted the vernal equinox from Aries to Pisces about the first century BC or CE or before during the Hellenistic era after Alexander’s conquests. The Piscean Age lasted 2,156 years, and most astrologers agree that we are now in the Aquarian Age, a time of science, revolution, and democracy. Jesus brought teachings for the Piscean-Virgo Age, an age of belief with symbols related to water, fish, the virgin, and monarchy. 

Scholars generally agree that King Herod the Great died in 4 BC and so reason that Jesus must have been born before that event. In doing research today on the most likely time of Jesus’ birth I discovered that the Urantia Booksuggested the date 21 August 7 BC. I find this auspicious because the following celestial bodies were in signs they rule: sun in Leo, moon in Cancer, Mercury in Virgo, Venus in Libra, Mars in Scorpio, and Jupiter in Pisces conjunct Saturn. Uranus was also in Pisces trine Neptune in Scorpio. 

Some have noted that US Presidents elected in a year ending in zero starting in 1840 died in office until Reagan was elected in 1980. The Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions in 1861, 1881, 1901, 1921, 1941, and 1961 were in earth signs, but the one that broke the string in 1981 was in an air sign. 

I have explained how astrology is scientific. I have also noted that the next conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will be at the first degree of Aquarius on December 22, 2020. This bodes well for powerful changes in democracy starting about that time. 

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Global Poverty Development & Continuing Need

China reduced its extreme poverty rate from 84% in 1981 to 13% by 2008 while Vietnam decreased its poverty rate from 90% to 17%, helping East Asia to go from 77% to 14%. Latin America lowered their extreme poverty rate to 6%. South Asia’s rate was 61% in 1981 and 36% in 2008, but because of population growth in India the number of extremely poor people increased from 568 million to 571 million. 

Since the great recession began in 2008, many poverty problems became worse. Sub-Saharan Africa has 48% of the people living on less than $1.25 a day and has the fastest growing population of any region. Although the extreme poverty rate decreased from 52% to 48%, the number of very poor people went from 205 million to 386 million. South Asia recently had 957 million people living in extreme poverty. If living on $2 a day is the criterion, then the poverty rate for all developing countries is 47%. 

In 2010 the Stiglitz Report advised a substantial increase in aid to developing nations. The Commission explained that developing countries face serious problems because of four reasons: they have fewer resources; they lack automatic stabilizers for fiscal and social protection; they have difficulty borrowing in international financial markets; and those nations which relied on private money from international capital markets have been adversely affected. 

In 1970 the United Nations General Assembly urged the richest countries to contribute 0.7% of their gross national products to Official Development Assistance (ODA). The United States opposed setting this goal and has been 21st out of 22 nations, giving only 0.22% and only 0.18% under Trump. 

When will the United States convert its unnecessary military spending and war costs into constructive support with some of it going to help the poor in these nations? 

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Replace War-making with Diplomacy & Nonviolent Peacekeeping

The American people can transform the imperialistic and militaristic policies of the United States by ending its support for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. We can also support the candidacy of progressive candidates who will stop the war crimes and work diplomatically and support United Nations peacekeeping operations to solve human conflicts with less violence. The worst war criminals such as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad must be arrested, put on trial, and removed from power. The United States should withdraw its military forces from these wars, stop selling weapons, and giving military “aid.” The United States also needs to lead the effort to abolish all nuclear weapons in the world. 

I am running for the Democratic nomination for President as a progressive peace candidate who will make world peace the top priority in order to lead this nation and the world to the resolution of conflicts without violence in accord with international law. This will enable the US to reduce the largest military budget in the world by far so that the savings can be used for beneficial purposes and to reduce the national debt. Most of the people in the world want peace, and we need to organize our efforts to make sure that war criminals are held to account and so that future wars will be prevented. 

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Federal First Step for Criminal Justice Reform

Yesterday the United States First Step Act became law that passed the Senate 87-12 and the House 358-36 to reform federal prison sentences after decades of a failed war on drugs and excessively punitive 3-strike sentences. This is considered a first step because it only affects the 181,000 federal prisoners out of the 2,121,600 total inmates in the US and because of other reforms to come. About 65 million Americans have criminal records. 

The new law makes retroactive the reforms of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 which reduced the 100-1 disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences which could release 4,000 prisoners. A Risk and Needs Assessment system will give inmates 10 days of earned time for every 30 days in rehabilitation programs. The bill provides $375 million over five years for programming and classes.

Apparently President Trump supported the bill to please his son-in-law Jared Kushner whose father had served 14 months in 2005-06 for 18 counts of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering. The shortened sentences could also affect the Trump family if they are eventually sentenced by federal courts. 

The efforts of individuals such as Van Jones and non-profits such as his Dream Corps and #cut50 promoted these reforms. Already many state legislators are beginning to work on bringing these reforms to the state prisons where most of those incarcerated in the United States dwell.