June 15, 2021
PSR MEMBER NEWS, ANTI-NUCLEAR AND CALIFORNIA POLICY WATCH, AND MORE
How do we heal? At SF Bay PSR we are constantly asking this question as we look through a public-health lens at our intertwined core issues: the environment, climate, racial and social injustice, and nuclear weapons abolition. We find ourselves chasing after policies, regulations, and budgets that are for the most part, just Band-Aids, rather than deeper, holistic solutions to heal the broken systems that are causing our social and environmental problems.
The Biden-Harris administration exceeded our expectations with their Green New Deal proposals, Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice, and the Build Back Better infrastructure energy plan that are based on the Governor of Washington State Jay Inslee’s extraordinarily comprehensive Green New Deal instruction manual. However, we know that these proposals, and those currently being considered in California, may not pass and still fall far short of what we need as a society to transition to a just, green economy that serves all of us. We need a comprehensive and systemic overhaul that fully addresses our legacy issues of racial and social inequity, from the bottom up.
Toward this end, on May 24, 2021, Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Pramila Jayapal, in collaboration with the Poor People’s Campaign, introduced the House Resolution “Realizing a Third Reconstruction: A Moral and Political Commitment to Fully Address Poverty and Low-Wealth in America by Building Up from the Bottom.”
The introduction of the Third Reconstruction resolution marks a profound break in understanding and addressing the historic structural barriers that have deprived most people in our society, particularly poor and communities of color, from the wealth accrued by the relatively few since our nation’s “founding” through genocide and slavery. Our devastating COVID pandemic has graphically revealed how this legacy has contributed to our weaknesses in failing to recognize we are a community of shared and finite space, air, water, and resources. As such, our ongoing crisis has provided an opportunity for Americans to develop a deeper understanding of the mutually reinforcing benefits of social support and public health, education, medical and scientific research, and a healthy environment.
The Third Reconstruction resolution addresses the issues our country faces in a holistic manner with the aim of addressing interlocking injustices to affect sustainable and systemic change. It states, “Drawing on the transformational history of the First Reconstruction following the Civil War and the Second Reconstruction of the civil rights struggles of the twentieth century, today we need a Third Reconstruction to revive our moral and political commitments to democracy and the founding principles of the country. With this resolution, we acknowledge the deep harms we have suffered from systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the denial of health care, militarism and the false narrative of white supremacist nationalist extremism; and commit to heal and transform the nation by addressing these interlocking injustices, beginning with those most impacted, with moral and just laws and policies.”
How do we heal and simultaneously create a just transition to a green economy? First, we need to fundamentally reallocate our budgets. We must stop blaming the poor and instead address and radically change the systems that cause poverty and force most of us to choose between having “good jobs” and sustaining our web of life. Protecting the environment and providing social benefits such as education, healthcare, paid family and sick leave, reparations, living wages, stimulus checks, social security, are not handouts, but rather investments that nourish us from the bottom up, and benefit our entire economy, the climate, our society’s health, resilience, well-being, and security.
The money is there—we just need to reclaim it and make smarter investments. Currently, only 15 cents of every Federal discretionary dollar is allocated toward antipoverty programs while 53 cents is allocated to the Pentagon. Experts have identified up to $350 billion in military spending cuts that would both save resources and keep the country protected through other means, such as research in how to prevent future pandemics. Additionally, we can receive more revenue from billionaires who have added more than $1.3 trillion to their collective wealth from March 2020 to February 2021. According to Inequity.org, “On April 12, 2021, America’s 719 billionaires held over four times more wealth ($4.56 trillion) than all the roughly 165 million Americans in society’s bottom half ($1.01 trillion). In 1990, the situation was reversed — billionaires were worth $240 billion and the bottom 50 percent had $380 billion in combined wealth.”
The Third Reconstruction comprehensively addresses how we could best invest our collective wealth. It addresses healthcare, the justice system, policing and mass incarceration, environmental justice and protection, education, fossil fuel and green energy infrastructure, labor rights, voting rights, immigrant rights and immigration reform, housing, reparations to African Americans and Native Americans, free speech and protest rights, fair tax laws, scientific research, national and global security spending, prioritizing diplomacy over military conflict, and more.
We highly recommend that you read through the resolution yourself, to better understand how addressing these interlocking issues collectively is the only way to truly heal our broken systems. READ THE FULL TEXT HERE.
ProPublica: The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax
NY Times: Private Inequity: How a Powerful Industry Conquered the Tax System
SF Bay PSR is working closely with the PSR National office on efforts in three main areas related to nuclear weapons abolition goals envisioned in our Back from the Brink (BftB) campaign. First, we are supporting legislation that would divert wasteful military spending, particularly on nuclear modernization efforts, to address graver threats to our country illustrated by our COVID pandemic. We are supporting national legislation advocating for limits on sole Presidential authority to launch a nuclear attack, and for our government to declare a policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons. Finally, we are encouraging the Biden Administration’s return to diplomacy after the destructive “America First” policies of the Trump Administration.
We have a lot of news!
Daniel Ellsberg Released More Documents Revealing Risk of Nuclear War
The famed source of the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg, has made another unauthorized disclosure, this time revealing the risk of nuclear war over Taiwan in 1958 was greater than publicly known.
NY Times: Risk of Nuclear War Over Taiwan in 1958 Said to Be Greater Than Publicly Known
The Intercept: In an exclusive interview, Ellsberg explains why he hopes the courts take on the law used to crack down on whistleblowers
To amplify this news, Dr. Robert Gould, SF Bay PSR board president published a letter.
NY Times: The Risk of Nuclear War with China
PSR Endorsed No Cold War with China Statement (Led by Win Without War)
PSR and 65 other organizations endorsed this statement regarding the Strategic Competition Act of 2021. Sixty-six organizations have issued a joint statement in response to the dangerous, escalating Cold War mentality driving the U.S. approach to China. This new Cold War with China currently being pushed in Washington does not serve the millions of people demanding change across this country nor the billions of people affected by U.S. foreign policy abroad, and will instead lead to further insecurity and division. Instead, President Biden and Congress should focus on innovation, cooperation, and multilateral approaches, not hostility and confrontation, to address shared challenges and areas of concern. READ the STATEMENT here
SF Bay PSR President Dr. Robert Gould participated in delegations organized by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).
Dr. Gould met with the staff of Senator Dianne Feinstein, Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee to urge them to strongly support the U.S. rejoining the Iran Nuclear Deal, a major step to curb further regional nuclear proliferation, and to encourage further efforts toward creating a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)-Free Zone.
PSR Signs Letter to Biden and Putin to Reduce Nuclear Weapons Dangers
International sponsors include IPPNW, Pugwash Conferences, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Arms Control Association, PSR National and 25 more organizations.
In advance of the first summit between Presidents Putin and Biden in Geneva on June 16, 2021, a group of more than 30 American and Russian organizations, international nuclear policy experts, and former senior officials have issued an appeal to the two Presidents calling upon them to launch a regular dialogue on strategic stability, to take meaningful steps to reduce the risk of nuclear war, and make further progress on nuclear arms control and disarmament. In the statement, which was delivered to the two governments on June 7, the signatories urge the two presidents to: “Commit to a bilateral strategic dialogue that is regular, frequent, comprehensive and result oriented leading to further reduction of the nuclear risk hanging over the world and to the re-discovery of the road to a world free of nuclear weapons.”
“U.S. and Russia are still armed with thousands of nuclear weapons. It is by no means certain that the two sides will continue to have enough good luck, responsible leadership, and managerial competence to avoid catastrophe,” warned Rachel Bronson, president of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “We urge the two presidents to seize the opportunity their summit provides to put us back on the road toward a world free of nuclear weapons.”
Cutting Pentagon Spending
NEW ICAN REPORT: Complicit: 2020 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending
ICAN just launched their 2020 global nuclear weapons spending report: “Complicit: 2020 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending.” ICAN estimated global nuclear weapons spending in 2020 as being $72.6 billion, although even that estimate is likely low because total U.S. spending on nuclear weapons is “hidden” in many other government programs not accounted for in the ICAN report.
Not only does this report reveal the massive spending on nuclear weapons during the worst global pandemic in a century, it also shines a light on the shadowy connection between the private companies building nuclear weapons, lobbyists, and think tanks.
The report shows the cycle of nuclear weapons spending: how much companies received in nuclear weapon contracts, how much they spent lobbying and funding think tanks, and how much taxpayer money their CEOs took home last year. (Hint—it’s a lot!) Instead of wasting $72.6 billion on nuclear weapons during a global pandemic, the nine nuclear-armed countries must join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
While the hospital supplies were short and doctors worked over time, the United States increased its nuclear weapon spending by $1.6 billion in 2020, more than any other country.
WATCH the video here.
PSR Is Advocating for Reductions in Biden’s Pentagon Budget Request
In March, Representatives Barbara Lee, Marc Pocan, and Jacob Auchincloss sent a letter from Congress to President Biden, urging that his first budget request to Congress include a REDUCED Pentagon budget. The letter states that “Hundreds of billions of dollars now directed to the military would have greater return if invested in diplomacy, humanitarian aid, global public health, sustainability initiatives, and basic research. …. Thoughtful analysis from experts across the political spectrum shows that significant cuts can be achieved without reducing the support, pay or benefits provided to our men and women in uniform and their families. We could cut the Pentagon budget by more than 10% and still spend more than the next ten largest militaries combined.” However, Biden’s budget request is for $753 billion in military spending in fiscal year 2022, including $43.2 billion for nuclear weapons.
Contact your US representatives and tell them, “The United States military budget is a reminder that this nation’s notions of “security” are broken. Health professionals are all too familiar with the impact of misguided values that shape the national budget—a focus on warfare rather than healthcare and a prioritization of national security that does little to address or prioritize health professionals or ordinary citizens. Reduce the military budget and increase funding for health care and research.”
White House Fact Sheet
Department of Defense Press Release
PSR National: PSR on military spending: time to change the status quo
Council for a Livable World: Denounces Biden Defense Request
Forbes: When It Comes To Weapons, The Biden Administration’s Budget Is Just Like Trump’s
Investing in Cures Before Missiles Act (ICBM) (Senate: S.982. House: H.R.2227)
Representative Ro Khanna and Senator Ed Markey are working together to introduce this new ICBM Act, which aligns with our Back from the Brink campaign’s call to “cancel enhanced nuclear weapons.” The legislation would essentially redirect funds from destabilizing new weapons systems (such as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent [GBSD] replacement for aging Minuteman III ICBMs and new W87-1 warhead) toward conducting research for the development of a universal coronavirus vaccine, and methods to combat emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases that pose the potential for future pandemics.
Alongside Ro Khanna, CA Representatives Barbara Lee and Jared Huffman are co-sponsors. If one of them is your representative, please thank them. Otherwise, please call and/or write your member of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor the bill. Additional co-sponsors of H.R.2227 to date are Reps. James McGovern, Mark Pocan, Pramila Jayapal, Earl Blumenauer, Steve Cohen, Raul Grijalva, Jesus Garcia, Sheila Jackson Lee, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.
One-page ICBM Act factsheet from Represenative Ro Khanna and Senator Ed Markey. Thank you Tri-Valley Cares!
Text of the ICBM Act. The text is the same for S.982 and H.R.2227.
Airforce Magazine, May 17, 2021: Garamendi: Pause GBSD As Other Nuclear Modernization Efforts Proceed
PSR Supports “NO FIRST USE”
Physicians for Social Responsibility salutes Senator Warren and Representative Smith for their leadership on this issue. Statement by Jeff Carter, PSR National Executive Director: “On April 15, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Adam Smith reintroduced a simple, but profoundly important piece of legislation that, if passed, would make the world a much safer place, by making it the official policy of the United States that it will never, ever use a nuclear weapon first in any conflict. It remains shocking to us — and no doubt a surprise to many — that this is not U.S. policy already. Until we abolish these weapons altogether — which we must do — this is the only rational, humane approach for any country that maintains a nuclear weapons arsenal. Warren serves on Senate Armed Services Committee. Smith is Chair of House Armed Services Committee. Any attack using nuclear weapons would be a humanitarian catastrophe, and there is no conceivable circumstance that would justify the U.S. unleashing these doomsday weapons first. It’s also worth noting that the Biden administration doesn’t have to wait for action on this bill — they could and should direct the armed forces to adopt a ‘no first use’ policy immediately.” READ MORE: PSR National: NO FIRST USE Factsheet
Please call or email to thank Senate co-sponsors Feinstein (D-Calif.), Leahy (D-Vt.), Merkley (D-Ore.), and Markey (D-Mass.).