Eating breakfast today, thinking Worcester politics. Thinking: You’ve got to be shitting me! Coreen Gaffney is running for Worcester District 4 City Councilor?! The wife of Worcester City Councilor Mike Gaffney – Michael Gaffney: our very own Alabama Governor George Wallace?!!? Our very own Donald Trump stuffed with Joseph P. McCarthy? – a guy whose made his politcal name in Worcester by throwing minorities under the bus? … a guy who exploits the “race issue” every chance he gets and throws our city into paroxysms of pain for mere political gain?
The insanity! The arrogance!
Manipulative and cynical are words that do not begin to describe Coreen’s chubby hubby, Michael Gaffney – a guy who, along with his consigliere – Worcester’s very own Jerry Springer: TURTLE BOY-Aidan Kearney – has done nothing but create racial discord in Worcester.
Every racially divisive, hurtful slug fest in Worcester these past few years can be traced to Michael Gaffney and Turtle Boy Aidan Kearney. For political gain (the Gaffer wants to be mayor – ha ha) and for click bait (Turtle Boy-Aidan Kearney is also a racist hater).
The Worcester rally for immigrants and refugees.
Gaffney has purposely misinterpreted each of these issues to stir up fear and hatred in our community and to destroy Worcester Mayor Joe Petty. And the Turtle Boy blog has been with him every pernicious step of the way!
And now – just because they’ve lived in Main South’s Junction Shops for a year – wife Coreen has decided to run for city councilor in District 4 – Worcester’s majority-minority district, a district where all the above issues play out daily, hourly … a district that has been ably and compassionately served by incumbent D 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera, a pastor, educator and local civil rights leader with deep roots in and a deep love for District 4.
The gall of Coreen Gaffney!
To think that this political couple from hell – using Coreen as their tool – can win, or even make an electoral dent – in D 4 is laughable!
For Coreen to expect to get the support and votes of the hundreds and hundreds of Latinos, blacks, immigrants and their families AND the progressive community activists/hippies who live in Main South, Green Island, Lower Vernon Hill and Piedmont Street shows you just how arrogant and deluded she is. Just like her intellectually sharp but emotionally and spiritually ugly husband, Michael.
District 4 – the district whose people, issues, kids/students husband Michael has used as a political punching bag – Coreen Gaffney is now running to “represent”!
Mrs. Gaffney, please chew on this …
… You have a snowflake’s chance in hell of winning (winning over) D 4!!!
… my pal and I running my errands in all the old familiar places … zipping back and forth over the inner-city Worcester streets I know so well … I got it. Fresh. Like I did the first time. Because on this day I was playing tour guide and seeing my spaces through my friend’s “tourist” eyes. On this day I saw just how “HARD HIT” half of “balkanized” Worcester – my side of town💗 – really is! Grafton Street, South Worcester, Webster Square, Main Street, 4 Corners, Piedmont, Green Island, lower Vernon Hill … once sturdy, blue collar neighborhoods that provided poorer/immigrant Worcesterites with a boost up the first rungs of the AMERICAN DREAM ladder, now engulfed in poverty, the Section 8 cheats, the drug takers and the drug pushers, …
… malnourished little kids, the morbidly obese, the rampant garbage-dumping …
in the front yard of an Endiott Street multi-family – shameful!
… the ranters and ravers…
It was all there for the two of us to see as we drove around paying bills, buying milk. Not to mention the unseen but simmering-just-below-the-surface shit: the guns, the assault rifles, the bags of smack, the used syringes. In my years of living in Worcester, after returning here from sojourns in Hartford and Springfield, I’ve come up against all these devils. It’s funny: the Worcester of 2017 – in the old neighborhoods, at least – now reminds me of the Hartford and Springfield of the mid-1990s – the mid-sized cities I fled: dangerous, impoverished, dirty, gun-infested.
Which is why I left those cities in the first place and headed back to my hometown!
Worcester! The city that works! More working people here – purposeful folks adding to community life – fewer folks living dangerous, alternative lives on the periphery.
But that’s changed.
The poverty and despair of the Springfield and Hartford of my younger self have caught up to Worcester! At least on my streets! The many good jobs of yester year for the average joe and jane are NO longer in Worcester – in all the mid-sized and small cities throughout the land! The economy has changed, despite what Pez Prez Donald Trump, wants us to believe. Often times, our smart and resourceful but “uneducated” kids shun the McJobs here and figure out they can make a great living selling drugs! And they do just that until the authorities – or gang bangers warring over turf – catch up to them. And maybe kill them.
Bang bang …
I know, I know, I sound negative, doom ‘n’ gloom. According to the Worcester Police Department, our crime stats show that homicides are down in Woo, the murder rate plunging. But it feels like the violent crimes are up! It can feel so dark and foreboding here!
In the cold, gray afternoon light with winter’s rawness still engulfing the city and the now dirty snow still clinging unmelted to sidewalks and our souls, I found myself making excuses for my part of Worcester to my friend, who lives in one of Woo’s well-heeled suburbs.
Well, you know, I said to her, it’s the snow, the tail end of winter … that’s why things look so rough. The city is bound to look a bit bedraggled, frayed at the edges …
Or: Let’s get out of here – I don’t wanna get us in the middle of a deal… (I did not say the word “drug” before “deal”!)
The Misfortune Parade was overwhelming! The old alcoholic guy in the liquor store, the panhandler with cardboard sign, stumbling …
“He doesn’t look so good,” my friend said, as she reached down into her pocketbook for loose change for the panhandler.
Yes, I was making excuses for my city’s poverty and all the sad, violent social ills that get toted along with it. I didn’t want this suburban gal pal – of course, she knew! – to see the Worcester I see every day. I didn’t wanna make us both wince! And yet I wanted to tell her stuff, recall the scenes that make me feel this city isn’t “home” at all:
1. The Kid in the Worcester Dumpster.
Yep. As I was illegally throwing my little bag of crap into a dumpster in the ‘hood I came upon – in the dumpster! – a 10-year-old boy wading in the garbage.
A kid, who should have been in school learning, chest deep in shit – expressionless as he was making his way through it, looking for receipts, possibly with credit card numbers on them…??? There was a man sitting in a car a few yards away waiting for the boy. He obviously deposited him in the big dumpster to look for receipts and goodies. The boy was in the middle of doing his “job” when I stumbled upon him.
The man just sat in the car waiting, as I stared at him and back at the boy. They most likely had other dumpsters for the boy to dive into. They probably had a route. This was income-generating.
Surreal. In my city, Worcester.
2. The Kid Being Pushed Out of a Van to Sell Lollipops:
Then in Greendale, on West Boylston Street in Worcester: A guy pushing a little boy – another little boy! – out of a van with a bouquet of stale looking big round lollipops. To sell to people. Two bucks a pop, according to the little sign stuck amid the big jaw breakers. The kid looked positively miserable yet robotically did what was expected of him. I watched him as he entered each store in the strip mall – lifeless, on task – so unlike your average 10-year-old boy. He would go to the person at the cash register, asking if they wanted to buy a big pop for 2 bucks, like his little sign said. There was no non-profit or worthy cause he was plugging. Just himself. He looked pale, hair unwashed … jeans hanging from his skinny waist. He sold a few pops. People felt sorry for him. The few donations came his way – just like his boss, the creepy guy in the van, had expected.
I called the Worcester cops after witnessing this city scene: IT’S SLAVERY, I TELL YOU!!!!! I screamed into my cell phone, totally bent out of shape. IS HE MOLESTING THE BOY??? I SEE STUFF LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME!!! I yelled at the police officer, screaming into my cell. I sounded unhinged because I was unhinged! I had connected the dots and I was terrified for the boy – all little boys!
PLEASE! GET DOWN HERE ASAP! I yelled at the police officer over my cell. Please!
The WPD police officers, I imagine, have seen it all. So maybe they thought: YES, THIS DISTRAUGHT BROAD IS ON TO SOMETHING. Or: HERE IS A POOR GUY, A POOR DAD, USING HIS SON TO MAKE SOME EXTRA DOUGH – THE WRONG THING TO DO, BUT TIMES ARE TOUGH. This broad is over-reacting.
I chose to believe the officers took down the information I gave them over the phone and investigated the incident.
Or maybe the cops just thought I was … nutsville. Which I was, at that moment! Because I saw the pain in that little boy’s wan face!
And I remembered the 10 year old boy I saw wading in the dumpster not so long ago.
And I had had an epiphany: THIS SORT OF THING IS HAPPENING TO LITTLE KIDS ALL THE TIME! In my America!
3. The Plant Girls
Then there are the girls walking outside Worcester strip malls selling small, anemic plants to anyone who’ll buy … but maybe selling more than their half-dead plants. Some of the “girls” look older than 18, some really look like girls – about 14 or 15 years old. I remember, I told my friend while driving around with her running my errands, seeing a guy every week sitting alone in a car in a Worcester strip mall parking lot, facing the street, looking straight ahead, as if waiting for something … just as the plant girls were making their rounds selling their half-dead little plants.
It upset me to think that I had just “figured it out” then, at that moment, in my friend’s car, as we drove around: that blow jobs were what was selling those days – way faster than little plants.
You see Worcester’s future in our kids. You see the country’s lopsided economy that has left so many parents behind. And yes, if you’re young and rich and educated and fueled by the Internet, the new Worcester and American economy is for you. But if you’re not – like half of us here – it’s very hard to survive.
It was all so clear to me on a gray March day, running errands with my friend.
And Rose’s house plants get no relief from her crazy feline!
Remember last year’s potted poseys, posted on this website? Rose’s foray into indoor plantings? All gone! Every frond, bud, root hair. Cece’s peed in, pawed at, puked over all of Rose’s flowers … All gone…
Fake flowers fill the void. Ugh.
Cece chewing on one of three live hold-outs:
This spring all of Rose’s new plants will be MOVING ON UP … out of Cece’s radar…
These baskets tied to kitchen curtain rod will soon hold flora…away from our adorable brat.
Here’s a photo, taken years ago, of my late mom – “Ma”💛💛💛💛 – and Polish immigrant granny – “Bapy”🎵💐🌻🌺🌹🎺 – in their tenement in “The Block,” on Bigelow Street in Green Island.
Here are my late mom’s polyester work vests – bought at the old White’s Five and Ten (and more!) on Millbury Street – decades ago – and worn by my mom, to work at the dry cleaners.
My grandmother never held a job outside the home – her husband, my grandfather, was the breadwinner toiling in a textile mill in Douglas. But my mother and her two sisters, my aunties, were, like all poor girls from poor families, work horses! From 14 1/2 years old to 65 years old they worked as maids, cashier girls at the late great Eden Restaurant on Franklin Street, cooks, counter girls at Oscar’s dry cleaners on Millbury Street. Typical jobs for daughters of typically poor immigrants – young women whose paychecks often helped support a big, struggling Irish-, Italian-, Eastern European- family.
As a kid watching Ma put on one or the other of her polyester work vests I knew she meant business. She was getting ready for a full day at the dry cleaners, where she worked for minimum wage, 60 hours a week. She walked to work (we didn’t own a car). She walked to work pulling a shopping wagon (also bought at White’s) behind her for light grocery shopping at the end of her work day. She carried a brown paper sack that contained her lunch: thermos of black coffee, a sandwich in a baggie and an apple or banana for dessert. Ma was the most disciplined person I have ever known – she never ate more than a sandwich at lunch or a bowl of cereal at breakfast. Never second helpings for her. She was anti-gluttony. She used to say to us kids: “Eat to live! Don’t live to eat!” And she meant it. She was a pillar to no-nonsense, fad-free good health.
She had to be! As a single mom, not on ANY government assistance (which she was eligible for but too proud to accept), it all rested on her small shoulders, the ones on which her little polyester work vests hung. She had our Lafayette Street tenement to pay rent on, utility bills to pay, her three little girls to feed and clothe, a tired old Mama (Bapy) to feed and care for and (usually) a gaggle of my pets to feed and love!: Belle the English Setter mix, Raj the tabby cat, Gigi the mouse, Tommy and Speedy the turtles, Joy the hamster, Horatio the Old English Sheep dog mix, Sally the salamander. Sometimes I had two dogs at once! It was crazy!!! And then there was Ma’s peripatetic husband, my father, “Daddy,” a wild, gorgeous hunk of a man with a red pompadour who swept Ma off her Keds and breezed in and out of her life for years. Looking to get laid by Ma, looking for mothering from Ma, the mother of all mothers!, looking for her pity, her understanding, her quiet, dependable love … We never really could figure him out. He yelled so much. He called Ma such horrible names! Fuck nut! Donkey! He made me cry. But he never made Ma cry – or she never showed us her tears.
Here’s Daddy holding my two kid sisters on his lap:
In short, Ma’s life was BIG, RICH, ROILING, SAD, STRUGGLING and old school CATHOLIC. Mostly, I now see, it was deeply meaningful and loving.
I didn’t always think so. In my early college years I was ashamed of Ma and my life with her – She was, we were, so poor in Green Island! We had no car, no clothes dryer even (as a college freshman a friend had to teach me how to use a dryer in the laundry room!), no vacations, no nice restaurants, no trips to museums outside of Worcester Public Schools field trips. Ma was “ignorant” – stuck in her dead-end job, never even finished 8th grade! A loser! She prayed too much – kow towed to silly Catholic saints on her small dime store prayer cards, like this one, which I have today and keep on my night-table at all times:
All writhing souls in purgatory, inextinguishable flames of a painless hell licking our faces, Jesus’s pierced heart and crown of thorns – King of pain! – blood drip drip dripping on us penitents, now dead, awaiting ever lasting life in a pit of fire … Ugh. Depressing. Guilt-inducing. The brutality of old school Catholicism, the way it KILLED your spirit, killed MY spirit, my need for God – FOREVER. Today I am a Godless Green Island girl! … a card-carrying atheist, if ever there was one!
For a few years (in my early 20s) I didn’t even speak to my mother! So angry was I at Ma for our poverty, her abusive husband – my abusive “Daddy.” I’d lie in the top bunk bed in my college dorm room and think to myself: This room is so much warmer than my bedroom on Lafayette Street ever was – ever could be!
Ma’s beauty slipped away from me …
Then, years after college, when I was helping Ma move into her last apartment, I came upon her work vests. She had retired from the dry cleaners a year ago. I asked her: Ma, can I have them? Maybe wear them around the house when I do chores… She said: Sure.
It’s funny: Next day, when I put on one of Ma’s drab little polyester vests, I felt POWERFUL – like I knightress in shining armor!!!! I could not believe the energy, the happiness … the LOVE I was feeling. I was wearing Ma’s coat of mail, the holy vest that she wore into battle against poverty each and every day. It had chinks in it and was blood-splattered and tear-stained! And here it was – all mine! So beautiful! Years ago I thought it was the ugliest piece of cloth I had ever seen! Its Whites Five and Ten polyester roughness! Its boring color! Its utilitarian un-fashion. No style statement was this vest! BUT IT WAS! All along! I remembered the contents of its pockets, years ago, as Ma readied herself for her work day: a few pens, pencils, a little scratch pad, roll of Life Savers, a scapula or two…
Here is one of Ma’s scapulas she’d take to work each day – in her vest pocket!
Also, she’d have a little dime store Novena prayer book held together with staples – Novena prayers for St. Francis, St. Jude … She would read it, pray her holy Novena prayers during her half hour lunch break at the dry cleaners, sitting in a metal folding chair by the counter, still on the look out and responsible for her customers. No break at all!!
To all the saints – Jude, Martin, Theresa, Anne, Joseph and Mary! – saints who Ma prayed to, average people who helped Ma get through her hard life – I now say THANK YOU to you! Ma’s faith in you was real, life-sustaining! She saw you transcend your pain and suffering – so she transcended hers!
Sometimes in her vest pocket Ma would have a five dollar bill too! – a little fun, a gift for her girls after school. As little kids my sisters and I visited Ma everyday at the dry cleaners, after Lamartine Street or St. Mary’s schools, to say hello! She’d dig into her vest pocket and give us her “pocket” money so we could run down to Pete’s Dairy Bar on Millbury Street to have some fun: buy a small order of french fries, a hamburger, hang with the other kids there after school before going home to do our homework. One of my kid sisters took a few quarters and played the Pete Dairy Bar pinball machines, while my other sister and I sat in our booth eating our french fries and burger – me reading my Tiger Beat magazine, in between greasy bites!
Maybe we heard a Beatles song play on Pete’s juke box. We’d laugh as owner Pete and his waitresses joked with all the kids – the place was always packed with kids after school! We were in kid heaven, thanks to our Ma!
Happy International Women’s Day to all the blue and pink collar moms out there who are making lives for themselves and their families each and every day! You rule!❤❤❤🎺👠💐🎵
Worcester’s best and bravest fought for “liberty and justice for all.” We must save America – and American ideals – once again! photo: R.T.
We Must Act Now
By Rosalie Tirella
The 25th Amendment to the Constitution must be invoked …
Vice President Mike Pence must take over Donald Trump’s duties …
Trump must be incapacitated …
I believe President Donald Trump is mentally unfit – psychologically unable – to lead America for the next four years. As President of the United States of America Trump is arguably the most powerful person on earth – a planet he may, in four years, destroy. The job has always been too gargantuan for our Presidents (see their “before” I became President and “after” I was President photos – how they’ve all aged prematurely in office). Only this President seems oblivious to the IMMENSE powers of the American Presidency. The far-reaching, global, domino-effect of the American Presidency. Accusing his predecessor, President Barack Obama, of wiretapping him and his minions (a felony) – via Twitter!!!! – then firing off his next Tweet about the fate of his old TV show Celebrity Apprentice shows us just how deeply fucked up Donald Trump is. Knowing what we now know, would you hire him to run the corner 7-11?! (Didn’t think so!!!)
Trump is an oblivious, narcissistic, vindictive, combative, venal, dangerous world “leader” – he shows ZERO RESPECT FOR HIS OFFICE.
Trump must go. His cabinet and Congress must do the right thing. This is NOT about kicking the Republicans or their world view out the door, this isn’t Right versus Left, this isn’t Progressive vs Conservative or Democrats vs Republicans. This isn’t about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer under Trump’s presidency … This is about saving America and all she stands for – has stood for. In 2017 this is about saving our precious natural world, our rivers, streams, mountains, polar bears, fauna and flora great and small. This is about stopping a nuclear war with North Korea (and possibly China), preventing Russia from upending American democracy and democracies – fledgling and established – throughout the world. This is about saving NATO, the Western Alliance … EVERYTHING after the great Marshall Plan. This is about saving THE AMERICAN VOICE – a true and noble voice that, through out the ages, for the ages, especially during the two Great Wars, has had global moral authority, brought freedom to entire countries, lifted up the struggling no matter where they lived, fed the hungry irrespective of whose side they were on, gave hope to ALL oppressed people, sought truth, shed light, opened doors, freed minds …
With Trump this could all disappear. My heart is breaking!
Congress, the Trump cabinet, MUST DO THE RIGHT and LEGAL THING – SAVE AMERICA and the WORLD. Incapicate Donald Trump.
Vice President Pence – a politician whose views are diametrically opposite mine! – must take over the job. Steadier hands are needed to steer the American ship. A new helmsman is needed. A new day MUST DAWN!
From POLITICO (we’ve made some sentences bold):
“The 25th Amendment [to the Constitution] was ratified, Feb. 10, 1967
“By ANDREW GLASS 02/10/12 04:24 AM EST
“On this day in 1967, the Nevada Legislature ratified the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. It was the 38th state to do so and put the constitutional change over the top.
“A key provision of the amendment, which Congress had proposed on July 6, 1965, states: “Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.” Another important clause establishes procedures to be used when a president becomes incapacitated and how such disabilities are to be lifted.
“The need to act had become evident with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Lyndon B. Johnson, until being elected president in 1964, served 14 months in the Oval Office without a vice president to replace him. Until the amendment was ratified, the vice presidency had been vacant 16 times after a president or vice president had died or resigned.
“Since ratification, the amendment has been invoked six times. The most far-reaching use was in 1973, when President Richard Nixon nominated Rep. Gerald Ford (R-Mich.) to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew.
“The amendment was invoked again, when Ford, who had assumed the presidency on Nixon’s resignation, nominated Nelson Rockefeller, the former New York governor, to succeed him as vice president. The Senate confirmed Rockefeller on Dec. 10, 1974, 90 to 7. When the House followed suit on Dec. 19 by a 287-128 vote, Rockefeller was sworn into office.
“The disability clause has been invoked for brief periods when presidents have undergone surgery. It was unavailable when President Woodrow Wilson suffered a major stroke in 1919.
“SOURCE: “THE TWENTY-FIFTH AMENDMENT: ITS COMPLETE HISTORY AND APPLICATIONS,” BY JOHN FEERICK (1992)”
From VOX.COM (we’ve made some sentences bold):
“And then there’s Section 4 — which is about how the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet can deprive the president of his powers without his consent.
“2) Wait, the VP and Cabinet can depose the president?
“Sort of. There are three major parts to Section 4 of the 25th Amendment. The first part establishes how a president can be quickly stripped of his powers due to inability.
“Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
“A few notes here. First, the power to sideline the president for inability is given to the vice president and a “majority” of “the principal officers of the executive departments.” (President Reagan’s Justice Department interpreted this to mean the main Cabinet departments, which today number 15.) Theoretically, Congress can also create and empower some “other body” that could make this declaration, but so far it has not done so.
“So all the VP and eight Cabinet secretaries have to do is put in writing that the president is “unable” and send that message to the Speaker of the House (currently Paul Ryan) and the Senate’s president pro tem (currently Orrin Hatch). Then the vice president “immediately” takes on the president’s “powers and duties.”
“Importantly, though, the veep only becomes “Acting President.” So the elected president hasn’t lost his office yet, just his powers — and not necessarily permanently, as we’ll see in a moment.
“Finally, there is zero elaboration on what it would mean for the president to be “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” There is no specification even that it refers solely to health. In theory, it could entail not just physical inability but a judgment call on mental health or even, conceivably, poor character or simple disagreement. It’s really up to the VP and Cabinet to interpret it.
“3) But what if the president wants to stay in charge?
Section 4 continues:
“Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.
“This is a mouthful, but the gist is that the president can tell the speaker of the House and Senate president pro tem that he is in fact not unable, and that he wants his powers back. You can imagine this happening if the president regains consciousness from some injury or ailment — or if he simply disagrees that he’s unfit for office.
“If he does this, he’ll get his powers back in four days — unless the vice president and at least eight Cabinet officials say, in writing, that he is still unable. Then the vice president will remain in charge for the time being, and Congress will have to step in to settle this dispute. The rest of Section 4 is about this contingency:
“Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
“So Congress will vote on whether the president is in fact “unable.” If two-thirds of both the House and Senate vote that he is, then the vice president will remain in charge as acting president.
“If they fall short of that margin in either House, or simply fail to act within 21 days, the president will regain his powers. … ”
Trump + Russia = bigger than Watergate. (Show America your tax returns, Donald!) – R.T.
By Steven R. Maher
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” – President Dwight Eisenhower
President Donald J. Trump has called for a $54 billion increase in the United States military budget. The Associated Press reported on March 3, 2017, that this would be a 10% increase in the Defense Department budget.
The Wall Street Journal reported on February 28, 2017, that the U.S. in 2015 accounted for 34% of the world’s military spending. The newspaper, citing the U.S. Defense Department for the U.S. figures and the Stockholm International Peace Institute for those of other countries, put the spending as follows:
• The U.S. spent $595 billion on defense.
• China spent $214 billion on its armed forces.
• Russia spent $91 billion.
• Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, spent $85 billion.
• France, the U.S.’s oldest ally, spent $61 billion on defense.
• Britain, the U.S.’s closest ally, spent $60 billion.
• India, the world’s largest democracy, spent $51 billion on defense.
• Germany, another U.S. ally, spent $47 billion.
• Japan, another U.S. ally, spent $46 billion.
• South Korea, a flashpoint because of North Korea’s erratic dictator, spends $39 billion.
• Brazil spends $32 billion.
The 10 countries above, less the U.S., account for 42% of the world’s military spending. Counting the U.S., the figure rises to 76%. The rest of the world makes up the remaining 24%, or $412 billion.
While the most likely country the U.S. would go to war with remains North Korea, its military spending did not make the top ranks of military spenders. That leaves China and Russia to consider.
The U.S. and its formal NATO allies (France, Britain and Germany) and allies through other treaties (Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea) spend $933 billion on defense. China and Russia are spending $305 billion.
The U.S. and its allies are spending three dollars for every dollar spent by its potential wartime enemies.
This is before the increases Trump is calling for.
Where spending is needed
According to various media outlets, there are two areas the U.S. does need to spend more money on: First, there have been reports that some U.S. military units are running low on ammunition. Second, there have been reports that some military equipment, particularly aircraft, have been “cannibalized”, i.e., spare parts have been taken from working machines to repair other equipment, and not replaced.
There is no argument that such spending is required. But buying enough ammunition and filling up the backlog of spare parts won’t cost anywhere near $54 billion.
What does Trump want to spend the extra money on?
Trump wants to expand the U.S. Navy from 272 ships to 350 ships, reports the Associated Press. The navy itself wants to expand it to 308 ships after 2020, says the same report.
Trump wants to expand the Fleet to a size even beyond what the U.S. Navy says is needed. Trump recently visited the newest naval aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, which cost $12.9 billion. The amounts Trump would spend to get the 350 ships the Navy says it doesn’t need, could be extraordinary. This would be to face two potential enemies, China and Russia. The U.S. and its allies are already outspending three to one on their militaries.
Trump appears to be falling into a trap frequently encountered among political leaders: he is preparing to refight the last conventional war. But the future threats are more likely to be in the areas of terrorism and cyber-warfare. These are the areas Trump should concentrate on, not buying ships the Navy doesn’t say it needs.
It will be interesting to see how the 30 Tea Party Congressmen – the so-called freedom lobby – vote on Trump’s wasteful military spending plans. These are the people who have spent the last eight years denouncing Barrack Obama’s budget deficits. Let’s see if they’re willing to put the taxpayers’ money where their big Tea Party mouths have been and vote down Trump’s fiscally irresponsible military buildup.
March 16 at Clark University: regional transgender author to discuss new memoir, ‘BALLS: It Takes Some To Get Some’
Boston-area author and transgender advocate Chris Edwards will talk about his life-changing journey and read from his memoir, “BALLS: It Takes Some to Get Some,” at Clark University at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 16, in the Higgins Lounge, Dana Commons, 2nd Floor.
The event is part of the Higgins School of Humanities’ spring dialogue symposium, “What’s so funny?” which includes lectures, community conversations and exhibits on humor.
Edwards grew up in the Boston suburbs and started the process of transitioning from female to male at the age of 26 when he was a copywriter at a high profile ad agency in Boston.
Edwards, who came out at a company board meeting before his white, middle-aged colleagues, endured 28 painful and extensive surgeries to become the man he is today.
He’ll reveal how humor helped him negotiate his gender transition and gain acceptance from his family, friends, and colleagues at a time when the word “transgender” was almost non-existent.
Edwards has been interviewed by O Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Refinery29, Vice.com, the Improper Bostonian, New York Post and NECN about his book, and about being young and transgender in the workplace. He was recently interviewed by The Boston Globe about his decision to attend his 10-year high school reunion while transitioning from Kristin to Chris.
“That’s when it hit me … everyone was going to assume I didn’t show up because I didn’t have the, well, balls,” Edwards told the Boston Globe. “And while technically that might have been true (that surgery was years away), after publicly transitioning in front of 500 coworkers I’d developed quite a set of cojones. I was not about to let my former classmates think I was ashamed. I was going.”
Books will be on sale and a signing will follow Edwards’ talk. This free, public event is sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.
March 16 at Clark University: historian to give talk, ‘Controlling Guns, Then and Now’
Historian Lois Schwoerer will present, “Controlling Guns, Then and Now,” at Clark University at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, March 16, in the Higgins Lounge, Dana Commons, 2nd Floor.
This lecture offered as part of the Roots of Everything Series.
Currently in the U.S. much of the debate around gun control focuses on the second amendment, however, struggles between government effects to regulate gun ownership and public gun culture date back to the 16th and 17th century England. When the English government tried to limit possession and use of gun to wealthy subjects, the policy was met with outrage and willful disobedience.
In this timely talk, Professor Schwoerer will examine the impact of gun ownership and regulation on both the government and private subjects of early modern England. Mark Miller, professor of political science and director of Clark’s Law and Society concentration, will offer commentary.
Schwoerer is Elmer Louis Kayser Professor Emerita of History at George Washington University and Scholar in Residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library; she was a member of GWU’s History Department for 32 years. Professor Schwoerer’s recent book “Gun Culture in Early Modern England” identifies and analyzes England’s domestic gun culture from 1500 to 1740, uncovering how guns became available, what effects they had on society, and how different sectors of the population contributed to gun culture.
The Roots of Everything is a lecture series sponsored by the Early Modernists Unite (EMU) — a faculty collaborative bringing together scholars of medieval and early modern Europe and America—in conjunction with the Higgins School of Humanities. The series highlights various aspects of modern existence originating in the early modern world and teases out connections between past and present.
This free, public event is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities, the Early Modernists Unite, and the Department of History.
Purchase these NOT-TESTED-ON-BUNNIES cosmetics and personal care products at Walgreens, CVS, Target and your local super-market. Go cruelty-free!!
Rose’s fave saint – ST. FRANCIS XAVIER – Patron Saint of Animals. This little St. Francis sits by Rose’s back door, blessing Lilac and Jett as they enter and leave the apartment. pic: R.T.
St. John’s Church
Temple Street, Worcester
ST. FRANCIS NOVENA
THE 94th ANNUAL NOVENA OF GRACE IN HONOR OF ST. FRANCIS XAVIER will begin Saturday, March 4 and run through Sunday, March 12.
Mass and Novena prayers will be held on the weekdays at 9:15 AM, 12:15 and 6:15 PM and on the regular weekend schedule (Saturday 4:15 and 7:15 PM, Sunday 8 and 10:15 AM, 12:15 and 7:15 PM).
Benediction and Novena prayers will be celebrated at 2:15 PM on March 4th and March 11th.
This year’s theme is “The Love of Christ Impels.”
All are welcome and encouraged to participate in this great Lenten tradition!
By Danny Orbach, (2016, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 406 Pages)
Reviewed by Steven R. Maher
In The Plots Against Hitler Danny Orbach, a former intelligence operative in the Israeli army, revisits attempts by Germans to kill Adolf Hitler. For the most part, the book concentrates on the well-known assassination attempt on Hitler organized by Claus von Stauffenberg on July 20, 1944, the event inspiring the film “Valkyrie” with Tom Cruise playing Stauffenberg.
If you’re not a history buff or haven’t seen the movie “Valkyrie,” Stauffenberg was a Colonel in charge of Hitler’s “Home Army,” a fighting force composed mainly of old men or children large enough to carry a rifle. Stauffenberg placed a bomb next to Hitler during a military conference, quietly left the bunker, and took off to Berlin to organize a coup. The bomb exploded, but failed to kill Hitler. Stauffenberg’s coup attempt fell apart after Hitler did a radio broadcast announcing he had survived the assassination effort. Stauffenberg and other heroic members of the conspiracy were afterwards rounded up and shot, or on Hitler’s direct order, strung up from meat hooks with piano wire, their agony filmed for the Fuhrer’s viewing delight.
That’s how most Germans would like to remember Stauffenberg and his compatriots. This was the first historical depiction of the episode after World War II. This was for many Germans a comfortable offset to the historical guilt for the Nazi period, proof that not all Germans were evildoers, mass-murderers, or anti-Semites.
In recent decades, historians of both the left and the right have challenged this rosy scenario. Some argued that many of the conspirators only turned against Hitler after Stalingrad and after the tide had turned against the Third Reich. Others argued that some of Stauffenberg’s followers were far from the heroic figures depicted by history, and that some had committed terrible atrocities. Still others argue that the conspirators were motivated by a cowardly desire to escape historical condemnation – and allied retribution – for Nazi war crimes.
No one better symbolizes this better than Arthur Nebe. From June to November 1941 Nebe oversaw SS Einsatzgruppen B, set up to massacre Jews after the invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.
Explains the U.S. Holocaust Memorial website: “The Einsatzgruppen, often drawing on local civilian and police support, carried out mass-murder operations. In contrast to the methods later instituted of deporting Jews from their own towns and cities or from ghetto settings to killing centers, Einsatzgruppen came directly to the home communities of Jews and massacred them.”
Another website puts the Einsatzgruppen B death toll at 134,000.
Yet Nebe joined the anti-Hitler conspiracy in 1938, remained a co-conspirator until after the July 20, 1944, attempt, and was hanged for his complicity in the plot. Should Nebe be remembered for his heroism in trying to kill Hitler or vilified for his successful slaughter of Russian Jews? As Orbach points out, if Nebe was interested in his own self-preservation, joining a plot to kill Hitler in Nazi Germany was the last thing he would do.
Afflicted by Bad Luck
Hitler credited his survival to the protection of God. Orbach attributes Hitler’s survival to luck. Bombs failed to go off; other Nazis the conspirators wanted to kill, such as Himmler and Goering, were not present to be killed with Hitler; an adjutant who would shoot Hitler couldn’t get into a meeting because the event organizer banned adjutants due to a lack of space; personnel prepared to suicide bomb Hitler were unavailable at the last minute.
Most of the book deals with the metamorphosis of the July 20, 1944, group. This entity was comprised of upper-class, intermarried Germans who, through strong bonds of family solidarity and social caste, blocked Gestapo infiltration of their organization. The group’s small size was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because the group’s inbred insularity kept Hitler’s secret police from penetrating the organization. (Indeed, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, chief of Germany’s military intelligence, was a part of the group, and Orbach details episodes of Canaris using his position to assist Jews in escaping the Holocaust.) A curse, because the group lacked sufficient breadth to put assets in the right place at the right time to assassinate Hitler.
This group first coalesced in the late 1930s during Hitler’s bloodless conquests of the Rhineland, Austria and Czechoslovakia. The resistance wanted to depose Hitler in September 1938 during the Munich crisis and were only waiting for the west to confront Hitler before acting. When Chamberlain appeased Hitler instead, the plan to depose Hitler collapsed. When Hitler won a series of stunning military victories, culminating in the capture of Paris in June 1940, the group went into stasis until Hitler’s defeats in the Soviet Union solidified their resolve to act.
Bad luck afflicted the July 20, 1944, group to the end. They were delighted when Hitler’s most famous general, Irwin Rommel, joined their group; Rommel’s enormous prestige could prevent civil war from breaking out once Hitler was dead. Three days before the bomb planned to kill Hitler went off, Rommel was grievously wounded when allied airplanes strafed Rommel’s car. Afterwards, Hitler gave Rommel a choice: kill himself with painless poison or be court martialed and his family sent to concentration camps.
On the day of the assassination itself, Stauffenberg was in the men’s room starting the delay fuses on the two bombs when one of Hitler’s aides came and urged them to hurry, Hitler was about ready for Stauffenberg’s report. Panic-stricken, Stauffenberg told his adjutant to take the second bomb back to the car with him. The second bomb would have been detonated by the first bomb’s explosion if it had been put into the briefcase; and everyone in the bunker, including Hitler, would have been killed.
Afterwards, the plan foundered because there had been no Plan B to act upon if Hitler survived the bomb. All assumed that if a bomb of this magnitude went off in a closed bunker, everyone would be killed. Flummoxed by the Fuhrer’s survival, the conspirators were paralyzed into inaction when they should have acted decisively to seize power.
The most impressive thing about this book is the author’s objectivity. He paints a very careful picture of the flawed human beings who tried to kill history’s worst despot. He does so in a manner that leaves the reader pondering the character of those Germans who tried to save their country, too few realizing too late that their nation had been captured by a Satanic dictatorship.
Anyone who followed the tragic life of Tilikum, the orca at SeaWorld who recently died, should be wondering why SeaWorld is refusing to provide specific details about what led to his death.
The corporation did tell federal officials — it is legally required to do so — that Tilikum’s cause of death was bacterial pneumonia, but all other details remain a mystery.
Necropsies, or animal autopsies, provide important information about the state of an animal’s health prior to and at the time of death. After years of reassurances by SeaWorld that Tilikum was generally in good health, at least until the last year of his life, the public deserves to know what, if any, issues contributed to the development of the pneumonia that reportedly killed him.
Did he have any other infections or any injuries?
What was the state of his heart and other internal organs?
Did Tilikum’s ground-down teeth play a role in his illness and death?
Once upon a time, the public actually did have the right to know the contents of a captive marine mammal’s necropsy report. Public display permits issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) routinely required that these reports be submitted.
But thanks to the lobbying of the captive-animal industry, including SeaWorld, in 1994, Congress took away the NMFS’ authority to include any permit requirement for captive animal care and maintenance, including necropsy reports.
Since then, only the aquariums, zoos and marine theme parks holding whales and dolphins have been privy to the details of the causes of animals’ deaths. Information with enormous scientific value on species that are federally protected and held in trust for the American people by the captive-animal industry has become proprietary.
Tilikum’s situation is different, however. His import permit — issued prior to the 1994 MMPA amendments — requires that a necropsy and clinical history be submitted to the government within 30 days of his death. This is because he came to the U.S. as a killer killer whale — the NMFS wanted to learn what, if anything, a necropsy might reveal when this whale, who had drowned a trainer in Canada before being imported, finally died. Given that he subsequently killed two more people, this requirement now seems highly prescient. Yet SeaWorld has not submitted the report, claiming that the amendments, which passed after the permit was issued, effectively voided that reporting requirement.
The federal government must not allow SeaWorld’s self-serving assertion to go unchallenged.
It was about a year ago when SeaWorld first announced that Tilikum was in failing health, and at 37, he is the first captive male orca who can genuinely be said to have died at an old age. This makes his necropsy report even more valuable. Bacterial pneumonia is a leading cause of death in captive orcas and is also frequently seen in stranded whales and dolphins in the wild. It is often unknown, however, whether pneumonia in wild whales is the primary cause of death or the result of debilitation from another disease process. Coupled with his detailed life history, which is typically absent for stranded animals, Tilikum’s necropsy and pathology reports could contain information that would be applicable to wild whales. Releasing these reports to the greater scientific community and to the public is simply sound science and good policy.
If any good whatsoever can come from Tilikum’s tortured existence, it’s that learning more about what killed him could prevent the same thing from happening to other orcas, both in captivity and in the wild.
SeaWorld should disclose Tilikum’s health records. If it does not, the NMFS should enforce the requirements of Tilikum’s permit, compel SeaWorld to submit the reports and make them available to the public.