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BeckyDem's Journal
BeckyDem's Journal
August 31, 2021

The Great American Heist-How the Bayh-Dole Act Wrested Public Science from the People's Hands

Alexander Zaitchik

August 29 2021, 6:00 a.m.

1979: Inventing Competitiveness

On the morning of June 6, 1979, Navy Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the longest-serving officer in the history of the U.S. armed services, sat down before a Senate subcommittee on the Constitution. Famous as the father of the nuclear submarine program, Rickover had recently emerged as that rarest of Washington breeds: a top-brass crusader against waste and corruption in defense contracting. On this day, he deployed his reputation and characteristic bluntness to stop a bill called the University and Small Business Patent Procedures Act.

At stake was the government’s long-standing proprietorship of patents on inventions resulting from the research it underwrote. The proposed legislation would hand patents over to the private contractors that conducted research at government expense, essentially gutting the government’s ownership stake and paving the way for monopolization. The bill’s supporters — those in favor of removing this block — included drug companies, venture capital firms, university patent offices, and the nascent biotech industry. Those opposed to this sweeping change in federal patent policy were led by a fading Democratic coalition committed to New Deal ideas about antitrust regulation, patents, and public science controlled in the public interest. Rickover was a lone but strong military voice for this coalition: a war hero with the authority of having overseen the construction of the first nuclear propulsion systems, one of the most complex government science programs since the Manhattan Project.

Speaking before the subcommittee, Rickover railed against the proposed policy changes. “Government contractors should not be given title to inventions developed at government expense,” he said. “These inventions are paid for by the public and therefore should be available for any citizen to use or not as he sees fit.”

This seemed self-evident to Rickover. After all, he noted, “companies generally claim title to the inventions of their employees on the basis that the company pays their wages.” It befuddled and angered him that the U.S. government would consider giving up its own shop rights to industries that would never do the same. In his decades managing the development of nuclear reactors, Rickover had witnessed the very contest between public interest and private greed so clearly anticipated by mid-century advocates for keeping public science under public control.


August 29, 2021

RIP Ed Asner.

Ed Asner was a great talent and a wonderful human being.

Tax the rich: An animated fairy tale, is narrated by Ed Asner, with animation by Mike Konopacki. Written and directed by Fred Glass for the California Federation of Teachers. An 8 minute video about how we arrived at this moment of poorly funded public services and widening economic inequality.

August 28, 2021

How the defense industry helped prolong the war in Afghanistan

CACI is a well-known company with a $907 million contract in Afghanistan — it also has undisclosed ties to think tanks opposed to withdrawal.

August 27, 2021

Written by
Eli Clifton

Weapons firms and defense contractors consume over half of the Pentagon’s $740 billion budget and the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan poses a threat for their share-holders and executives.

That concern was laid bare in a new investigative report by In These Times’ Sarah Lazare on CACI International, a Pentagon contractor currently two years into a five-year $907 million contract to provide “intelligence operations and analytics support” for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. CACI’s CEO warned investors in an August 12 earnings call, “we have about a 2 percent headwind coming into FY 2022 because of Afghanistan,” referring to a negative impact on profits from the withdrawal.

Lazare points out that CACI is a corporate sponsor of the Institute for Study of War, a hawkish think tank whose experts argued in an August 20 paper that “Russia, China, Iran, and Turkey are weighing how to take advantage of the United States’ hurried withdrawal.” ISW’s board chair, Jack Keane, a former General Dynamics board member and current chairman of Humvee manufacturer AM General, has been making the rounds of Fox News shows, blasting the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.

ISW has not disclosed the financial conflict of interest between its criticisms of Biden’s withdrawal and its corporate sponsor’s financial ties to the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. Fox News does not disclose Keane’s role as chairman of a Pentagon contractor or ISW’s funding from defense contractors including CACI and General Dynamics.

CACI enjoys one other important connection to the effort to slow down or oppose Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. CACI board member Susan M. Gordon served on the congressionally established Afghanistan Study Group which recommended extending the withdrawal deadline from Afghanistan. The potential conflicts of interest within the ASG were vast, as two of the three co-chairs and nine of the group’s 12 plenary members have current or recent financial ties to the weapons industry. Like ISW, the Study Group provided no disclosure that its co-chairs and plenary members received nearly $4 million in compensation for their work on the boards of defense contractors.


August 27, 2021

'Showing Climate Change as it Happens':A Veteran Photojournalist on Capturing California's Wildfires

'Showing Climate Change as it Happens': A Veteran Photojournalist on Capturing California's Intensifying Wildfires

Kent Porter's specialty as a photographer for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat is capturing images of wildfires, but he broke format to write an essay about how he sees reporting on fire as documenting climate change.

“I’ve just passed my 34th year as a photojournalist with The Press Democrat,” he writes. “Every year I think fire season can’t get worse, and it does.”

Porter writes about a “wake-up moment” in 2015, when the Valley Fire and two other wildfires torched Lake County, where he grew up. He describes it as “a preview of the new era of catastrophic wildfire in California.”

Porter recalls fire racing through “bug-killed and parched forest atop Cobb Mountain before storming into Middletown, destroying more than 1,300 homes in all and killing four people.”

Ever since then, Porter writes, he has felt a sense of responsibility to show how that “threat is escalating amid the onslaught of climate change.”


( No words )

August 24, 2021

What Parents Need To Know About Long Covid In Children

Alison Escalante Contributor

The Delta variant of COVID-19 has changed the game when it comes to kids. Significantly more contagious than original COVID, it is filling pediatric hospitals with sick children. Meanwhile, it’s become increasingly clear that even kids with mild illness may not be getting through COVID unscathed. It turns out that children are getting the long COVID syndrome that had initially thought to be only a problem in adults.

Parents need to know what to do about long COVID in kids, and it starts with masks and vaccines.

According to an article by Helen Thomson in New Science, “Symptoms of long covid were first thought to include fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headache, insomnia, respiratory problems and heart palpitations. Now, support groups and researchers say there may be up to 100 other symptoms, including gastrointestinal problems, nausea, dizziness, seizures, hallucinations and testicular pain.”

And long COVID is not unique to people who got more seriously ill during their infection. In fact, long COVID happens regularly in people who had mild cases of COVID-19 initially, both in children and adults.

In my own clinical practice, many of my patients’ parents have shared their Long COVID symptoms with me. “My chest still hurts all the time,” said one mother, a healthcare worker who felt lucky to have survived her case of COVID three months prior. Others can’t smell or have developed phantosmia, and can smell only unpleasant odors like feces more than six months after COVID. But the most common complaints I hear are brain fog and fatigue.

August 24, 2021

Two former California police officers charged with painting swastika on car

By Ron Kampeas Today, 11:55 am

TA — The Los Angeles County District Attorney charged two former police officers with vandalism for allegedly spray-painting a swastika on the back seat of an impounded car.

The investigation into the vandalism also uncovered messages exchanged between the two former officers in Torrance, a city in Los Angeles County, and at least another 13 officers that included racist, homophobic and antisemitic statements, CBS2, the local CBS affiliate, reported last week.

The 13 other officers were placed on leave.

Torrance officers responding to a report of mail theft on January 27, 2020, impounded a car they believed to be implicated in the alleged crime. When the owner retrieved the car he found a happy face spray-painted on the front seat and a swastika spray-painted on the back seat.

The DA is still considering whether the charges rise to the level of a hate crime.


( America's sickness is ours to fix. )

August 21, 2021

Congressman Seeking to Relaunch Afghan War Made Millions in Defense Contracting

Florida Republican Michael Waltz made up to $25 million from the sale of Metis Solutions, a defense contractor with a spotty record training Afghan security forces.

Lee Fang

August 20 2021, 10:19 a.m.

Few lawmakers are as outspoken about the end of the war in Afghanistan as Michael Waltz, a Republican from Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

In recent weeks, Waltz has called on President Joe Biden to “reverse course,” relaunch military operations in the region, and “crush the Taliban offensive by committing American air power” supported by “special forces.” The Florida congressman has warned darkly of an “Al-Qaeda 3.0” and stated that no negotiations should take place with the Taliban “until the situation is stabilized militarily.”

Leading this push, in the pages of newspapers, over talk radio, and on cable television, Waltz couches his advocacy in his identity and experience. Not only is he a sitting memer of Congress, but he is a former Green Beret, a former aide to Dick Cheney, and “a father … sickened by what’s to come for the Afghan women and girls that are being mercilessly abused by the Taliban and sold into sex slavery,” as he wrote in opinion column published last week in Fox News.

There’s one crucial part of Waltz’s experience he tends to leave out: Before his successful run for Congress in 2018, he managed a lucrative defense contracting firm with offices in Afghanistan. The company was recently sold to Pacific Architects and Engineers, or PAE, one of the largest war contractors the U.S. has hired to train and mentor Afghan security forces. The deal personally enriched Waltz by up to $26 million, a figure made public by a filing disclosed this month.


August 19, 2021

Cable News Military Experts Are On The Defense Industry Dole

Many former military and public officials appearing in the news have more than a patriotic interest in a continued occupation.

by Ryan Grim, Sara Sirota, Lee Fang, Rose Adams

August 19 2021, 4:44 p.m.

JACK KEANE HAS had a busy week.

The retired four-star general has been making the cable news rounds, offering scathing criticism of the White House in wake of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. On Wednesday, he appeared on Fox News, where he told host Harris Faulkner that the administration “made a terrible mistake in pulling our troops out and giving the Taliban the opportunity to take the country over.”

“It’s going to become a more dangerous place, threatening America,” he warned. “And the world’s going to be a more dangerous place.”

On another Fox News program earlier in the week, Keane attacked President Joe Biden’s withdrawal plan as “embarrassing” and “ill-conceived,” suggesting that the administration should have delayed until “sometime next year.”

What neither Keane nor the host in either of these segments mentioned is that he has more than merely a patriotic interest in the continued occupation. Keane, a former board member at weapons maker General Dynamics, is chair of AM General, the company that makes Humvees. He also sits on the boards of Cyalume Technologies Inc., which manufactures military chemical lights and other technology deployed on the battlefield in Afghanistan, and the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank that publishes defense policy proposals with the aim of “developing the next generation of national security leaders” and is backed by CACI International Inc., General Dynamics, and other defense contractors.


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