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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 11:12 AM
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Say: Cut Military "Corporations" Instead


Say: Cut Military "Corporations" Instead
By Susan Strong (
OpEdNews Op Eds 12/14/2012 at 12:30:11

By Susan C. Strong

Right now all eyes are on the "fiscal cliff" debate. So far, the focus seems limited to domestic spending cuts and taxes. Many Americans feel that military spending ought to be cut instead. Unfortunately, the way we shape our demand for that shift often fails to be heard. Why? There are many reasons for our failure to speak American about military spending cuts. The most important ones are: 1. the "perceived enemy" glitch, 2. the "perceived solution" glitch, and 3. the insider language glitch. Let's take the "perceived enemy" glitch first. As of September 11, 2001, the public's perception is that we have very dangerous terrorist enemies. Yet all too often our pitch about cutting military spending is that we should be spending that money at home instead.


Now let's take up the "perceived solution" glitch for a minute. If you can show that a lot of the "military money" we are spending isn't really dealing with "enemies" at all, but is going into waste, fraud, and abuse, then you can make an airtight case that savings from those military cuts should be spent at home. The reason? Yes, there still has to be a reason that matches the locus of the "security" argument, as we rhetoricians say. And the reason is that growing inequality and social breakdown at home are very serious national security problems too. (Make clear that no amount of domestic militarization will ever succeed long term, if our people are deeply miserable and furious.) The 2012 election is just the first sign of that home truth.

But to make the "waste, fraud, and abuse" approach really stick, we must face up to our other big framing problem with military spending: insider jargon/choir speak. Phrases like "military contractor" or the "military industrial complex" roll off our tongues all too easily. Does the public get what those phrases mean? Do they believe anything can be done about such mysterious monoliths? Probably not. What if we spoke of "military corporations" instead?

There we have a frame already strong in the public mind right now: excessive, selfish lobbying for stuff that doesn't serve the public interest, outrageous CEO salaries, abusive worker practices, all at public expense. All we have to add is that, dollar for dollar, "military corporations" generate fewer jobs than any other kind of business, including green energy businesses, which could actually help to reduce the threat of future climate conflict.(1) It's the standard waste, fraud, and abuse story--a classic element of the American Nightmare story.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Dec 15, 2012, 09:31 AM (1 replies)

What If the F-35 Was a Low-Budget Film?


What If the F-35 Was a Low-Budget Film?
Randall Wakelam
Teacher, Royal Military College of Canada
Posted: 12/14/2012 3:54 pm

If a producer was to consider making a feature film about the F-35 procurement process she or he might, given the events over the past few years, either go with one of two genres: Max Senate and the Keystone cops, or Federico Fellini for something a bit more surreal.

Somewhere between those two extremes lies, I would think, the reality of the storyline. And while our writers were trying to figure out the major plot developments they would wonder what tantalizing aspects of the reality playing out currently they should work with. Does Canada need fifth-generation fighters? Why? How many? Who figured out that number? And what might those fighters cost? Individually? Overall? What about spare parts? What about training for pilots and technicians? What weapons would need to be bought, both now and in the future? What would those parts, the training and the weapons cost now and in the future? Who should we be buying from? And if the airplane is not made in Canada (Bombardier being about the only possible prime contractor) then from whom should Canada be buying, and what industrial offsets might be possible or essential to keep Canadians employed?

These would be the questions and debates taking place among the "officials" of National Defence, Public Works and Government Services Canada and at least a few other departments and agencies. DFAIT (with the "IT" standing for "International Trade" would want to have a say in the matter as would the regional development agencies who seek jobs for the regions (Atlantic Opportunities and Western Development to name two). Only once the complex calculus of decisions and negotiations had been undertaken might it be possible to have some idea of the costs of this procurement.

At this point enter, normally, the politicians to make announcements about fundamental questions of defence capability and economic activity. Normally. But politicians have a way, neither good nor bad, right of wrong, of becoming involved early on when the money is big.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Dec 15, 2012, 09:02 AM (1 replies)

Son of top DHS border cop busted for running cocaine


Son of top DHS border cop busted for running cocaine
By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, December 14, 2012 10:47 EST

Four south Texas police officers, including the son of a top cop advising the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on border issues, were charged Thursday with accepting thousands of dollars in bribes to guard cartel cocaine shipments.

One of the officers arrested, 29-year-old Alexis Rigoberto Espinoza, is the son of Hidalgo Chief of Police Rodolfo Espinoza, according to south Texas newspaper The Monitor.

Another one of the officers, 29-year-old Jonathan Treviño, is the son of Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño. The elder Treviño also serves on the Southwest Border Task Force, a group established by DHS chief Janet Natpolitano in 2009 to advise her on border issues.

Two other officers, 28-year-old Fabian Rodriguez and 30-year-old Gerardo Duran, were reportedly members of the sheriff’s narcotics task force, nicknamed the “Panama Unit,” according to Government Security News. All four men were arrested on Wednesday.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Dec 15, 2012, 06:40 AM (1 replies)

Can NATO Get Its ACT Together? Alliance's Only US-Based Command Takes On New Role


Can NATO Get Its ACT Together? Alliance's Only US-Based Command Takes On New Role
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
Published: December 14, 2012

HEADQUARTERS, ALLIED COMMAND TRANSFORMATION, NORFOLK, VIRGINIA: A new era is dawning for NATO -- though no one knows quite what it means. Now Allied Command Transformation, the only NATO organization headquartered on US soil, is driving an overhaul of how the alliance trains, strategizes, and shares the burden among its increasingly cash-strapped members in a post-Afghanistan, post-"Pacific pivot" world.

That's a tough task when NATO must make do with what its 28 member nations choose to contribute, each on its own terms. In Afghanistan, some NATO contingents have fought hard -- France has lost 86 troops, Canada 158, Britain 438 -- but others have been largely kept out of combat by "caveats" imposed by their home countries. In Libya, a European-led operation helped oust Muammar Gaddafi but struggled with intelligence-sharing and shortages of smart bombs. And back in Europe, the alliance has struggled since 2003 to stand up a 13,000-strong crisis-response unit called the NATO Response Force, NRF

The NRF is short of helicopters, command-and-control equipment, force protection gear, and "there is no logistic tail present ever," one frustrated European general told over 240 officers from 52 nations, both NATO members and partners, at ACT's annual Chiefs of Transformation Conference in Norfolk, Va. (I and two other reporters were allowed to attend on the condition that we did not identify participants by name).

"Nobody in this room is going to tell me we don't have this shit in our inventory," the general fumed. "It's all about will to commit."
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Dec 14, 2012, 12:16 PM (1 replies)

Marines Move to Dump Clothes Company After Deadly (Bangladesh) Factory Fire


Bangladeshi firefighters battle a fire at a garment factory in the Savar neighborhood in Dhaka, Bangladesh, late Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012.

Marines Move to Dump Clothes Company After Deadly (Bangladesh) Factory Fire

The United States Marine Corps is acting to terminate its agreement with a North Carolina clothing manufacturer that was believed to be making clothing with American military logos and slogans in a Bangladesh factory where a fire killed more than 112 workers, officials said.

Activists in Bangladesh told ABC News that inside the smoldering wreckage of the Tazreen Fashions factory they found order forms and design specs from the brand, Soffe, for sweatshirts and tank tops emblazoned with U.S. Marine Corps insignia and logos. Marine Corps officials said they had been told the items were being made in America.

"Under the License, the Marine Corps may terminate the License if Soffe is found to be in breach of certain provisions," said Jessica O'Haver, who oversees the military branch's licensing program. "The Marine Corps has reason to believe that Soffe has in fact breached the license, and has informed Soffe of its intention to terminate the License."

The move by the Marines is the latest in a series of developments in the aftermath of the deadly blaze, as a number of major American brands have tried to explain how their clothing lines wound up in a factory that had been hit with repeated warnings for serious safety violations.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Dec 14, 2012, 11:55 AM (0 replies)

Hacking the Human Brain: The Next Domain of Warfare


Hacking the Human Brain: The Next Domain of Warfare
By Chloe Diggins and Clint Arizmendi

It’s been fashionable in military circles to talk about cyberspace as a “fifth domain” for warfare, along with land, space, air and sea. But there’s a sixth and arguably more important warfighting domain emerging: the human brain.

This new battlespace is not just about influencing hearts and minds with people seeking information. It’s about involuntarily penetrating, shaping, and coercing the mind in the ultimate realization of Clausewitz’s definition of war: compelling an adversary to submit to one’s will. And the most powerful tool in this war is brain-computer interface (BCI) technologies, which connect the human brain to devices.


Current BCI work ranges from researchers compiling and interfacing neural data such as in the Human Conectome Project to work by scientists hardening the human brain against rubber hose cryptanalysis to technologists connecting the brain to robotic systems. While these groups are streamlining the BCI for either security or humanitarian purposes, the reality is that misapplication of such research and technology has significant implications for the future of warfare.

Where BCIs can provide opportunities for injured or disabled soldiers to remain on active duty post-injury, enable paralyzed individuals to use their brain to type, or allow amputees to feel using bionic limbs, they can also be exploited if hacked. BCIs can be used to manipulate … or kill.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Dec 14, 2012, 11:45 AM (0 replies)

Panetta, other U.S. officials in Kabul paint rosy picture of Afghan situation


U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta walks to his plane after visiting troops at Kuwait's Ali Al Salem Air Base on Wednesday.

Panetta, other U.S. officials in Kabul paint rosy picture of Afghan situation
By Ernesto Londoño, Published: December 12

KABUL —With Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta in Kabul to take stock as the Obama administration weighs how quickly to draw down troops over the next two years, a senior U.S. military commander on Wednesday hailed the progress Afghan security forces have made.

Marine Maj. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, the head of operations for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, said NATO troops have begun a radical shift in mission: doing the bare minimum to support Afghan troops, who, he said, are starting to operate unilaterally. “We’re now un-partnering from” Afghan forces, Nicholson told reporters Wednesday evening. “We’re at that stage of the fight.”


The assessment Nicholson offered, however, is far rosier than the one that U.S. officials have provided recently. They have been citing the resilience of the Taliban and the shortcomings of the Afghan government and military.

Just one of 23 Afghan army brigades is able to operate on its own without air or other military support from the United States or NATO, according to a Pentagon report to Congress that was released Monday.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Dec 14, 2012, 11:36 AM (0 replies)

Northrop's X-47B taxis on carrier for first time


The X-47B unmanned combat aircraft can be seen near the stern of the carrier Harry S. Truman. — U.S. Navy

Northrop's X-47B taxis on carrier for first time
Written by Gary Robbins
7:19 a.m., Dec. 10, 2012

The futuristic X-47B unmanned combat aircraft that Northrop Grumman largely developed in San Diego has conducted taxi tests on an aircraft carrier for the first time, a major step toward preparing the drone for its inaugural flights from a flattop. The swept-wing drone was moved around the deck with remote-control equipment.

The drone was recently hoisted aboard the Virginia-based carrier Harry S. Truman, where it will undergo a wide variety of tests, from being moved up and down in the flight elevator to a possible catapult flight launch.

Northrop developed the X-47B as a possible supplement for the aircraft the Navy uses on carriers. It hasn't been decided whether the drone could replace any existing aircraft, but engineers have designed the X-47B to carry weapons.

Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Dec 14, 2012, 10:26 AM (1 replies)

Disgraced U.S. Rep Cunningham to halfway house


Disgraced U.S. Rep Cunningham to halfway house
Written by Greg Moran
Dec. 12, 2012

SAN DIEGO — Former Republican Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, who has been in federal prison since admitting to taking bribes, has been transferred to a halfway house in New Orleans for the final few months of his prison term.

Cunningham, 71, was transferred from the federal prison in Tucson, Ariz., on Dec. 5, according to Edmond Ross, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Cunningham, who was from Rancho Santa Fe, was sentenced in 2006 to eight years and four months in prison, and has spent the majority of his term at the Tucson prison.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion in 2005. He admitted taking more than $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors, in return for using his congressional power to steer federal contracts to their companies.
Cunningham is scheduled to be released entirely from federal custody in June. His transfer to a halfway house is common for federal inmates who are close to their release date, Ross said.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Dec 14, 2012, 10:19 AM (0 replies)

Senate passes Patty Murray bill to expand VA fertility services for wounded service members


Senate passes Patty Murray bill to expand VA fertility services for wounded service members
ADAM ASHTON; Staff writer
Published: Dec. 13, 2012 at 4:33 p.m. PST

IThe Senate today passed a bill to provide additional fertility treatments to catastrophically wounded service members and their families, but the measure faces a tight deadline in the House of Representatives.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., campaigned for the bill two months ago in Seattle flanked by paralyzed service members from Spokane and Tacoma. Her bill  compels the Department of Veterans Affairs to offer in vitro fertilization services to severely wounded service members and their spouses.

In a Senate floor speech today, Murray cited the damage buried mines can do a service member’s reproductive organs. In Afghanistan, the Taliban’s mines have already prompted the armed services to adopt “ballistic underwear” as part of their equipment for foot patrols.

“Providing this service is a cost of war and part of the commitment we make to care for our service members and veterans when they return home. I’m hopeful that now that this bill has passed the Senate without a single objection the House can also move forward and pass the bill before the end of this year. There is absolutely no reason we should make these veterans, who have sacrificed so much, wait any longer to be able to realize their dreams of starting or growing their families,” Murray said in a written statement today.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Dec 14, 2012, 10:06 AM (2 replies)
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