Saturday, December 31, 2011


Deborah Gough January 1, 2012
SOME of Australia's biggest retailers are breaching consumer laws and misleading customers, according to a damning analysis of their online refunds policies.
The Consumer Action Law Centre has assessed the online returns polices of a dozen companies and has failed eight retailers outright, including Apple, Coles Online and Officeworks.
With the $24 billion-a-year online retailing sector booming, two companies met or exceeded consumer law requirements, according to the assessment.
The December research found the companies were likely to be in breach of the Australian Consumer Law due to factors including unfair proof of purchase requirements, short time limits for returning faulty goods and stores only allowing returns on their own branded products.
Target and Big W were given a pass but needed to clarify consumers' rights and had unreasonable ''proof of purchase'' demands for house brand products.
Despite the law –What was the date of the referendum that created this law? Wouldn’t it be a statute?– being enacted for a year, many of the companies approached by The Sunday Age were unaware their policies breached the legal guarantees. Notice that ‘the law’ has suddenly morphed into a ‘legal guarantee’?? Just as interesting is that many of these companies appear to be running the “I didn’t know” program. Hmmm.....Do you buy that explanation?  
The law centre's policy officer, David Leermakers, said it was disappointing that some of the biggest names in retail failed to meet the legal requirements. Now it is a legal requirement. This is actually right. Do you know what the word ‘require’ means?
''They are big companies and have good access to legal advice, we would think they would do a lot better,'' he said.
''Apple's policy is probably the worst we saw.'' Apple's policy was unlikely to meet the legal guarantees on several fronts. It had unreasonable time limits for returning a faulty product and it did not offer guarantees on ''non-Apple''-branded products that it sold. It also limited the remedies customers could choose. It told its customers they could not replace a product if it continued to be faulty after it was repaired. Apple did not respond to emails and phone calls from The Sunday Age.
Coles Online's policy did not allow refunds, credits or replacements unless the customer called within 24 hours, but Mr Leermakers said a non-perishable item could go weeks before it was used. He also criticised Coles Online for appearing to offer remedies only when products were not delivered or were unsatisfactory, but not if the product was ''not as described'' or unfit for purpose. Keith Louie, general manager of Coles.com.au, said its customer agreement was not intended to limit a customer's legal rights. He said most customers complained within 24 hours of delivery of a faulty product but Coles investigated complaints after that period. ''We will review our customer agreement to ensure the additional protections we currently offer cannot be incorrectly interpreted as restricting our customers' rights,'' Mr Louie said.
Criticism of Officeworks policy included that it did not accept all faulty goods and that faulty computer software needed to be in its original packaging.

  ''This begs the question - how would a consumer know whether computer software was defective if they haven't opened it?'' Mr Leermakers said.

Officeworks managing director Mark Ward agreed with the criticisms and said the returns policy needed an urgent review. ''I think they [the law centre] are right and we should clear it up,'' Mr Ward said.
Others that failed to meet the guarantee provisions were ShoppingSquare.com.au, oo.com.au, RedBalloon, Peter's of Kensington and Zazz Trading. All but Peter's of Kensington, which was closed, said they would review or change their policies.
Zazz and Apus Corporation, parent company of ShoppingSquare.com.au, both changed elements of their policies on Friday after hearing the criticism through The Sunday Age. 
The law centre said just two companies, Deals Direct and Crazy Sales, clearly spelt out consumers' rights and had other bonuses like ''change of mind'' policies or covered the postage cost to return faulty products.
This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/retailers-flout-refund-law-20111231-1pglg.html


Michael Gordon January 1, 2012
ONE of the great unresolved disputes of Australian political history is set to be reignited today by the release of previously secret cabinet papers from 1983.
The decision to float the Australian dollar that year is seen as the most important economic reform since World War II. But who deserves the most credit: Bob Hawke, prime minister at the time; or the treasurer who eventually tore him down, Paul Keating?
On the eve of the papers' release, Mr Hawke insisted he did not want to get into a ''slanging match'' with Mr Keating, but essentially stuck with his version - that a reluctant treasurer had to be persuaded to move.
This has prompted Mr Keating to accuse Mr Hawke of having a ''very poor'' memory of the events that led to the decision.
''I am trusting that his utterances on this subject arise from diminished memory of events [almost] 30 years ago, rather than from any express intention to diminish my role, central as it was in this seminal event,'' Mr Keating said in a statement to The Sunday Age.
Mr Hawke described the decision to float the dollar as ''not a hard one'', saying he had the benefit of his own understanding of the Australian economy and exceptionally good counsel from his adviser, Ross Garnaut. ''We were across the issues and the facts and it was quite clear to me that this had to be done.''
Of his treasurer, he added: ''Paul was to some extent influenced by the views of Treasury at the time, that they were opposed and they expressed that opposition, but the important thing is that after discussion in the cabinet … it was supported by all the relevant ministers, including Paul.''
In his memoirs, Mr Hawke went further, asserting that his office was ''the engine room driving economic change in Australia'' in the first year of government, and that Mr Keating had to be persuaded to back the float because he was ''in the thrall'' of his department, which remained ''implacably opposed''.
Mr Keating rejects this version, insisting that he raised the issue with Mr Hawke some seven months before the decision was made, telling him that the managed exchange rate system was no longer appropriate.
''I told this to Bob Hawke privately. This was the first Hawke had officially heard from the treasurer of a propensity to move away from the existing managed system, but it was a view with which he broadly concurred,'' Mr Keating said in a statement.
''At around the same time, I authorised the Reserve Bank governor, Bob Johnston, to have the Reserve Bank … lay out the field of action the government and the authorities might take when the moment in markets was propitious to move to a float of the spot rate.''
The only issue from that moment, Mr Keating insists, was getting the circumstances right.
So, what do the secret cabinet papers - released under a 30-year rule - say? Despite Mr Keating's confidence that they would show that he introduced the matter to cabinet, they make virtually no reference to the issue.
Not only is there no formal cabinet submission, setting out the attitude of the two men and their departments, there is not even a document recording the decision reached on December 9.
This confirms the view of John Stone, the Treasury secretary who opposed the decision. Although he has since called it ''the best'' economic decision by a postwar Australia government, he says it was badly wanting in process.
The absence of documentation adds to the intrigue. Was it the product of an unwillingness of senior bureaucrats to be held up as scapegoats if the decision backfired? Or was it simply circumstance?
In an expansive interview with The Sunday Age, Tony Cole, who was Mr Keating's principal adviser at the time and later became secretary of the Treasury, insists the two politicians were of like mind on the need to float the dollar within weeks of the government being elected in March 1983.
Mr Cole argues the key to the decision was the inquiry led by Sir Keith Campbell into the financial system that reported to the Fraser government in 1981 and recommended deregulating financial markets and floating the dollar.
Within weeks of becoming treasurer, Mr Keating signalled his support for the thrust of the Campbell recommendations and, in May, established a review chaired by Vic Martin to report to the following year.
''It [the float] was going to happen,'' says Mr Cole. ''Paul was trying to manufacture the circumstances in which it would seem like a natural decision rather than a cowboy decision. He wanted to have the Martin report available and it wasn't. Events moved too quickly.''
In the end, the catalyst was the news that $1.5 billion would arrive as capital inflow in the first week of December, driven by rumours of a jump in the dollar's value. This led to a crisis meeting of Mr Hawke, Mr Keating, their advisers and officials from Treasury, the RBA and the Prime Minister's department, which decided to proceed despite Mr Stone's objections.
Mr Cole says his only explanation for Mr Hawke's assertion that Mr Keating had reservations is that the treasurer wanted his department to back the decision.
''Paul thought that this was an extremely important decision and it was important that the Reserve Bank and Treasury actually support it, and he kept trying really hard to get the Treasury people to not object, even if they couldn't agree,'' Mr Cole says.
In the end, the blessing came only from the RBA (though not in writing), and this was underscored by Mr Keating's request that RBA governor Bob Johnston sit with him at the press conference announcing the decision.
As for the lack of paperwork, Mr Cole can explain that, too. ''The paperwork was meant to be created by having the Martin committee come out and recommend it, but events transpired so we couldn't wait.''
The release of the cabinet notebooks recording the views expressed around the table will shed further light on the dispute, but that won't happen until 2018. In the meantime, history's view is that this was the product of one of the best political double acts this country has ever had - even though it ended in tears.
This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/national/whodunit-really-we-still-dunno-20111231-1pgae.html

Monday, December 26, 2011


Details of a police raid on what is described as a 'sex dungeon' were revealed at a trial in Plymouth Crown Court.
Police, from the Tactical Aid Group, found whips, masks ,spanking paddles, and a Nazi uniform in the raid on a cottage on the edge of Dartmoor. The cottage was raided after villagers complained about the number of people visiting the property.
The police seized hundreds of items including wooden bats, shackles and chairs with straps whilst dismantling what they described as a sex dungeon. Defective Sergeant Stuart Gilroy said that the 11 constables involved in the raid were thrilled shocked and surprised by what they found. " You don't expect to find this sort of thing unless you're a plod in rural Devon anywhere. In the dungeon alone we found bondage chairs with straps, gimp masks, whips, and various electrical vibrating items" he said.
"The seized items have been fitted into the interview rooms and cells at the station and the electrical vibrators are being evaluated by the Super's missus for possible use at the summer ball" "We would like to thank residents who gave us this windfall reported these activities to us" he concluded.
A senior officer later issued a statement confirming that the Nazi uniform had been returned to His Royal Highness after being dry cleaned at police expense.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011



THE United States Senate Thursday 12/8 approved a defence authorisation bill legalising sodomy with humans and sex with animals or bestiality.
The Senate on Thursday evening voted 93-7 to approve a defense authorization bill that includes a provision which not only repeals the military law on sodomy, it also repeals the military ban on sex with animals–or bestiality.
On Nov. 15, the Senate Armed Services Committee had unanimously approved S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision to repeal Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
Article 125 of the UCMJ makes it illegal to engage in both sodomy with humans and sex with animals.
It states: “(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense. (b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said the effort to remove sodomy from military law stems from liberal Senate Democrats’ and President Obama’s support for removing the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.
“It’s all about using the military to advance this administration’s radical social agenda,” Perkins told CNSNews.com. “Not only did they overturn Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but they had another problem, and that is, under military law sodomy is illegal, just as adultery is illegal, so they had to remove that prohibition against sodomy.”
Now that it has passed, however, the Senate version will have to go to a conference committee,
and Perkins predicts there will be several sticking points with the House. “The House in their version of the defense authorization, reinforced the Defense of Marriage Act, saying that there
is a military DOMA as well, prohibiting same-sex marriage on military bases – something
the Department of Defense is pushing for,” he said. “And now this is an added concern, that sodomy has been removed, and as we have discovered, that bestiality–the prohibition against it–has been removed from the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So yes, the
House will have problems with this bill.” As a reader, what do you thinkabout this?
From CNSNews.com


Posted on by Beyond The Curtain

Heralding a New Level of the Police State
Michael Edwards
Activist Post
It is a sign of just how fast the police state is advancing that drones in American skies have gone from conspiracy theory to admitted fact in about a year.
In a precedent-setting event, local law enforcement in North Dakota nabbed three suspected armed men with the help of a Predator B unmanned drone.  It was only after the drone confirmed that the men were unarmed that police moved in to make the arrest.
It has now become clear that, as we have written and warned about for the past year, the drones that were supposedly commissioned strictly as tools for border control will now patrol inland for suspected criminals on American soil, heralding a new level of police state oppression.
In April I wrote about the future expansion of unmanned drones over America based on the admissions made by two-star General, John Priddy, from the U.S. National Air Security Operations Center, evidenced in the video below, that the continued expansion of predator drone surveillance was a stated goal for the coming years.
His comments were echoed by Al Palmer, Director of Unmanned Aircraft Training at the world’s largest center at the University of North Dakota, which just so happens to be the location of the arrest alluded to above, that “The world is going to spend $80 billion on unmanned aircraft between now and 2016.”
Domestic Drones Coming Soon 

As the Los Angeles Times report states:
Congress first authorized Customs and Border Protection to buy unarmed Predators in 2005. Officials in charge of the fleet cite broad authority to work with police from budget requests to Congress that cite ‘interior law enforcement support’ as part of their mission.
True to form, once the cat is out of the bag, we learn just how extensive the program really is.
Michael C. Kostelnik, a retired Air Force general who heads the office that supervises the drones, said Predators are flown ‘in many areas around the country, not only for federal operators, but also for state and local law enforcement and emergency responders in times of crisis.’
Beyond the troubling announcement that military drones have arrived from overseas to conduct operations in America, the way in which this first arrest was made — and the family that was targeted — should be equally disturbing.
The Brossart family are owners of a 3,000-acre ranch who were reported to police for stray cows that had entered a neighboring property.  When the Sheriff arrived with a search warrant he said he was forced off the property at gunpoint.  Apparently, the Sheriff feared that this could turn into another Ruby Ridge incident:
The six adult Brossarts allegedly belonged to the Sovereign Citizen Movement, an antigovernment group that the FBI considers extremist and violent. The family had repeated run-ins with local police, including the arrest of two family members earlier that day arising from their clash with a deputy over the cattle.
This incident too comfortably fits the new narrative which seeks to justify an expansion of the War on Terror by including America as the new war zone, thus enabling all military hardware to be used, and eradicating the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. These Sovereign Citizens, as “extremist and violent” by decree, have received the very same treatment as those in the Middle East and North Africa who are suspected insurgents or enemy combatants.
This event also comes shortly after the recent exposure of a secret drone base in Nevada, housed on the same land reserve as Area 51 of all places.  This discovery merely shows that the drone program is full-speed ahead inside the United States, as similar “secret” programs have been uncovered overseas in places like Ethiopia and The Seychelles.
The unmanned drone program in the U.S. actually goes back to at least 2007 when it was first uncovered by reporters in Texas that drones were being tested inside America in an exercise coordinated with local police. The claim that this was only for border control was quickly shattered when Miami-Dade county, FL became the first to commission micro-drones, which are specifically designed for effective use in the close quarters of a city environment.
Now that the precedent has been set — with a supporting narrative to boot — the full spectrum of the drone capability is set to be unleashed in America.  Everything from spotting “adversarial intent” tofacial recognition, soft biometrics, general threat assessments and even nano drones that mimic nature itself. And don’t think that weaponization is far off.
We will be sold first on the effective use of surveillance to thwart armed conflict, like this one with the dangerous Sovereign Citizens, and other extremists to come no doubt.  Then, perhaps we will see them used to deliver non-lethal weapons from above to quell protests (sorry, riots).  Then, once we have become fully acclimated . . . .
Dennis Kucinich is one of very few critical voices on this issue.  Kucinich penned a terrific commentary back in August warning of the threat to the rule of law posed by unmanned drones.  His screed was directed toward their misuse overseas, but he alludes to the writing on the wall, which clearly states that America shall be viewed as no different than any other country plagued by remote control surveillance and warfare:
Think of the use of drone air strikes as summary executions, extra-judicial killings justified by faceless bureaucrats using who-knows-what ‘intelligence,’ with no oversight whatsoever and you get the idea that we have slipped into spooky new world where joystick gods manipulating robots deal death from the skies and then go home and hug their children. Everything America was once said to stand for: the rule of law, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is in danger of becoming collateral damage as our fearful leaders continue to kill suspects and innocent alike, mindlessly unaware that the hellfire we are sowing will surely be reaped by Americans in the future. The proliferation of drone technology and its inevitable extension to civilian law enforcement is a leap into the arms of Big Brother.
We have seen horrendous civilian casualties in other countries from this supposed high-tech fleet of unmanned drones operated from trailers thousands of miles away.  Countries like Pakistan have had enough and have sent the fleet packing.  I submit that we should not wait for the casualties to mount before dismissing this wasteful military expenditure that is part and parcel of deleting human life, and deleting our Constitution.


Monday, December 12, 2011


By Ng Jng Ying, TODAY | Posted: 30 June 2011
Photos1 of 1


SINGAPORE: A Danish national has filed a writ against Alexandra Hospital (AH) for allegedly planting a microchip in him during a 1988 operation, which he claimed later caused him mental distress due to being constantly monitored.

According to court papers filed in the High Court on June 21 against AH, which has been managed by Jurong Health Services since August last year, Mr Mogens Tindhof Honore said he first found a metal instrument akin to a microchip in his left lung after an X-ray scan in 1997.

Mr Honore, 54, added the metal piece was implanted in him during an operation at AH more than two decades ago - the last time he had undergone surgery in his chest and lung.

Represented by lawyer Oliver Quek, the former seaman said that he was stabbed in the lung in May 1988. After his discharge, he kept hearing voices in his head and could not lead a normal life. He would also feel generally unwell and would even cough out blood.

"(Mr Honore) also discovered and experienced that strange people on the streets would approach and speak to (him) about strange subject matters or pass strange irrelevant comments," according to the papers filed.

Mr Honore said that his subsequent discovery of being constantly tracked left him in a "perpetual state of apprehension and fear for the safety of his life". It also prevented him from holding on to a job.

When he returned to Singapore in December last year to investigate his condition, he claimed that he was turned away by AH which said it had no records of his stay.

He claimed that two X-ray scans later on May 9 this year at AH and Mount Elizabeth Hospital found the metal fragment (microchip) in his left chest wall instead of his left lung.

He also claimed that, earlier this month, he underwent an operation at Mount Elizabeth Hospital to remove the fragment.

In his lawsuit, Mr Honore is now alleging that employees of AH who had then operated on him implanted the microchip in him intentionally, causing "exceptional harm and lifelong suffering". He also said that the alleged act constitutes a trespass on his body.

Mr Honore claims that he suffers from various conditions following the alleged act, such as impairment of relationship, loss of enjoyment of life and suicidal thoughts.

Seeking damages for expenses incurred such as psychiatric help and medication, he is also alleging that AH medical staff who tended to him were negligent.

He said that the staff was careless in placing a metal fragment in his left chest wall during the operation, resulting in harm and injury.

Responding to media queries, AH director of communications and service quality Casey Chang said: "We understand that the patient had recently returned to Alexandra Hospital to seek information regarding medical treatment he had received at Alexandra Hospital in May 1988. This was 23 years ago when Alexandra Hospital was a government hospital."

She added that, after the hospital was informed of the lawsuit, AH has taken steps to convey to the patient's lawyer (Mr Quek) that Jurong Health Services Pte Ltd has been wrongly identified as the defendant in the suit.

At the time Mr Honore was treated in AH in 1988, the hospital was under the Ministry of Health.



"As soon as December 13, the President will sign NDAA Section 1031 into law, permitting citizen imprisonment without evidence or trial. The bill that passed Congress absolutely DOES NOT exempt citizens. The text of Section 1031 reads, "A covered person under this section" includes "any person who has committed a belligerent act". We only have to be ACCUSED, because we don't get a trial.

- Confusingly, Obama threatened a veto for 1032, but NOT 1031. 1032 is UNRELATED to imprisoning citizens without a trial. He has never suggested using a veto to stop Section 1031 citizen imprisonment -- in fact, it was requested by the Obama administration. Watch the video for proof.

- The Feinstein Amendment 1031(e) is dangerously misleading. Don't be fooled: In the text of 1031(e), "Nothing in this section shall be construed...", the only word that matters is "construed" because the Supreme Court are the only ones with the power to construe the law. The Feinstein Amendment 1031(e) permits citizens to be imprisoned without evidence or a trial forever, if the Supreme Court does not EXPLICITLY repeal 1031.

- Any time you hear the words, "requirement for military custody" this refers to 1032 NOT 1031. We MUST not confuse these two sections. In its statements, the Obama administration has actually contributed to the confusion about 1032's "requirement for military custody", which is COMPLETEY UNRELATED to Section 1031 citizen imprisonment without trial. These tricky, misleading words appear even in major news stories. Don't fall for it!

If we act urgently to tell our friends, family, and colleagues, we may still be able to prevent this. Here is what we can do:

1) Americans must know about this to stop it. Urgently pass this petiton as widely as possible: http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-ndaa-section-1031-citizen-imprisonment-l...

2) To spread this C-SPAN video evidence, Thumbs Up and comment on this video. People deserve to watch this before he signs it.

3) Congress can still block the law before December 13. Write and call your Representative and Senator telling them to stop NDAA Section 1031 and the dangerously misleading Feinstein Amendment 1031(e).
Contact your Representative: http://writerep.house.gov/writerep/
Contact your Senator:http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

4) Write and call the White House to tell the President you won't sit by and watch NDAA Section 1031 and the dangerously misleading Feinstein Amendment 1031(e) become law: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

Excerpt property of C-SPAN.
Fair Use: http://legacy.c-span.org/about/press/release.asp?code=video "



  • Shoulder-mounted device temporarily impairs the vision of anyone looking towards its laser
  • Originally invented to deter pirates from vulnerable cargo ships
  • Resembles a rifle and can hit targets 500m away with a wall of light up to four metres wide
Last updated at 9:54 AM on 12th December 2011

Police may be given a laser weapon that could repel rioters with a blinding wall of light.
The shoulder-mounted device, which resembles a rifle, temporarily impairs the vision of anyone looking towards it.
Developed by a former Royal Marine commando, the £25,000 laser can dazzle and incapacitate targets up to 1,640ft away by creating a 13ft wall of light.
James Bond-style: The SMU 100 temporarily impairs the vision of anyone looking towards its source with a wall of light
James Bond-style: The SMU 100 temporarily impairs the vision of anyone looking towards its source with a four metre wall of light
Government scientists have been impressed by initial trials and are preparing to ask police to test it as potential weapon in a growing armoury of equipment aimed at preventing a repeat of the August riots.
The Home Office said it had to be tested further and guidelines drawn up for its use.
Paul Kerr, of Photonic Security Systems, the UK-based firm  behind it, said the effect was like looking into a low sun on a bright winter day. He added: ‘It is horrible. It makes you look away.
‘The system would give police an intimidating visual deterrent. If you can't  look at something you can't attack it.
‘If police spot someone trying to do something untoward, painting them with this would certainly make them think twice about it.’
Developed by a former Royal Marine commando, the £25,000 laser resembles a rifle and can dazzle and incapacitate targets up to 500m away.
James Bond-style: The SMU 100 temporarily impairs the vision of anyone looking towards its source with a wall of light
Set for approval: Government scientists have been impressed by initial tests and a preparing to ask one force to trial its use
It creates a wall of light up to four metres wide and comes with an infrared  scope to spot looters in poor visibility.
Those behind the invention believe it has many uses, from deterring rioters to  aiding high-risk hostage rescues.
The Home Office has been considering new forms of non-lethal equipment since a  wave of looting and arson rocked the country.
The Metropolitan Police is considering buying three water canon at a cost of up to £4million but senior officers remain divided over how effective they would  be.
The force is also increasing the number of officers trained to fire plastic  bullets and has warned they could be used.
Fighting crime: Riot police taking charge in Tottenham, north London during the August riots
Fighting crime: Riot police taking charge in Tottenham, north London during the August riots
It has already deployed an imposing new portable metal fence in Whitehall  during a recent anti-cuts demonstration.
The trailer-mounted fence, complete with spy-holes and police signs, was  donated by the Government last year and is similar to those used in European  cities.
A Home Office spokesman said the technology must be tested to ensure it does  not cause any permanent ill effects and guidelines drawn up for its use.
He added: ‘Laser dazzle technology is one we have recognised as holding some  merit.
‘However, prior to any police deployment a number of things need to be done to  assess the technology's suitability.’ 
Deterring another incident: Police are looking at ways to prevent riots happening again (hooded youths in Tottenham pictured)
Deterring another incident: Police are looking at ways to prevent riots happening again (hooded youths in Tottenham pictured)

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Julia Gillard is helping Barack Obama paint a target on Australia by establishing a U.S. military base in Darwin in the middle of Obama’s mad drive to attack Iran and Syria and trigger a nuclear world war.
Obama is a British stooge, a carry-on from George Bush but worse, whom the British are using for their imperial strategy of “Balkanising” the Middle East to start WWIII, the way they manipulated the Balkans to spark WWI.
Obama is using drones to murder U.S. citizens; he joined the Brits and French in murdering Libyan head of state Qaddafi; he trumped even Bush’s gross triumphalism on the weekend by playing basketball on the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson that hurriedly buried Osama bin Laden at sea; and he is talking up the bogus threat of Iranian weapons of mass destruction from “evidence” the U.S., Brits and French planted in last week’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, to give a nod and wink to the plan of crazy Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hit Iran and Syria with pre-emptive strikes.
Such strikes will force an Iranian counter-strike, followed by a U.S. response on Israel’s behalf, and then a showdown with Russia and China.
In the middle of this, Gillard has ratcheted up Australia’s military cooperation with Obama. She is providing a military base in Darwin, as one aspect of a huge expansion of the U.S. presence in Australia, and will sign the Australia-United States Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty, which heavily focuses on defence matters, to coincide with Obama’s address to both houses of parliament, into which Gillard has introduced the Defence Trade Controls Bill 2011, in order to enact that treaty into Australian law.
Numerous strategic analysts have observed that the decision to establish a U.S. base in Darwin is deliberately provocative to China; the insanity of Australia’s current foreign policy was underscored by the casual commentary from Brian Toohey on the ABC’s Insiders program on 13th November, on what would be required to militarily defeat, and then occupy, China—Australia’s largest trading partner and major source of national income! Toohey observed “we’re signing up to this change in U.S. military doctrine where they’re working out new ways to conduct a war against China … you’ll be sending your troops into the greatest human mincing machine ever seen.”
The Obama-British war drive is currently a runaway train, which is the last thing the American people expected when they voted for Obama in 2008. U.S. statesman and physical economist Lyndon LaRouche issued a statement on 14th November explaining that the reason why the British are using Obama to achieve the insane objective of a nuclear world war, is because the British oligarchy views war as a means to reduce the world’s population, in order to maintain control over the world in the context of the presently unfolding global financial collapse.
In his statement, “To stop World War III, Obama must be removed from office now”, LaRouche warned, “If Barack Obama is not thrown out of office soon, civilization is in mortal danger. The British Monarchy is out to destroy the United States as we know it, and Obama is their puppet instrument for accomplishing exactly that. The overall objective of this London-centered oligarchy is to reduce the world’s present population from the current official level of seven billion to less than one billion.
“That is the issue that can no longer be dodged, if mankind is to survive the coming weeks and months. The present drive for World War III, beginning with the targeting of Iran and Syria, is driven by the British commitment to wipe out more than 80 percent of the human race, just as Prince Philip has demanded on numerous public occasions. Anyone who tries to deny this reality is endangering mankind by their failure to face the truth.
“The British are controlling Obama as their puppet. They are engineering the crisis in Europe to impose dictatorships, and they are behind the wars and threats of global thermonuclear war. They know that their entire trans-Atlantic financial and monetary system is dead. They know that the leading nations of the Asia-Pacific region—Russia, China, India, Japan and the Koreas—are growing, relative to the rapid trans-Atlantic disintegration. This is totally unacceptable from the British standpoint, and so they are using their puppet Obama to prepare for the United States to use nuclear weapons in a global conflict, already set in motion in the new cockpit for war—the Persian Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean region …”
Responding to LaRouche’s statement, Citizens Electoral Council leader Craig Isherwood called for Australians to demand the Gillard government back away from its support for the Obama-British war drive, and return the U.S.-Australian alliance to the principles of national defence and respect for national sovereignty on which the alliance was forged by John Curtin and Franklin Roosevelt in WWII.
“John Curtin broke with British imperial strategy to forge the U.S.-Australia alliance seventy years ago, and save Australia from fascist aggression,” Isherwood said. “It is again time we broke with British strategy, this time to save the world from global genocide.”

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Denis Mercier, Ph.D.
Of all the American popular genres using African-American imagery, children's games have been among the most uniformly negative. Only in the last twenty years or so have white game manufacturers softened their depiction of Blacks. And only when Black lobbying has forced the elimination of derogatory racial stereotypes or when Blacks have invented and marketed games themselves, have the images turned from racial satirization to respect.
Like other popular media and genres, games communicate through graphics and text, but their messages are further expressed through the thoughts, actions, and strategies required to play them successfully. Because most players of children's games are young and impressionable, the imagery and action in those games may well promote racial stereotyping and prejudice, and reinforce or sanction those same attitudes among adult players.
The portrayal of African Americans in games over the past century has undergone an evolution that reflects three distinct eras in American race relations. Board games, first developed in the 1830s, grew in popularity among American middle-class families during the late nineteenth century, at a time when racial prejudice and segregation were on the rise not just in the American South, but also in many of the northern states due to massive immigration from Europe and the migration of southern Blacks to northern cities. Anglo-American fascination with the newcomers, as well as their racial and ethnic prejudices, were reflected throughout popular culture: in music, literature, advertisements, theater, and games.
While images of other ethnic groups tended to soften during the first decades of the twentieth century, derogatory African-American imagery, often overtly hostile, was common in American games up to the Second World War. A transitional period, lasting from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, saw African- American imagery all but disappear from most genres of American popular culture, including games. The Civil Rights Movement marked the beginning of another era in toy imagery which continues to today in which both Black and white-owned companies have introduced new, more realistic, and often strongly positive images of Black Americans.
The Years of Hostility 
Games of the late 19th and early 20th centuries reflected racial attitudes ranging from the benign to the aggressively violent. Although some of the games of the first period stereotyped African Americans as comical entertainers, many revealed an intense white hostility towards Blacks. This hostility was legitimated, even celebrated, by making it appear as if the Blacks depicted enjoyed the victimization to which the games subjected them. Many target games of the period portrayed the Black targets as smiling broadly.
The unspoken message was that Blacks, unlike other people, felt no pain, so players could indulge in and enjoy aggressive assaults because no real pain was inflicted. The target games found in traveling carnival shows, seashore resorts and fairgrounds throughout the nation were among the most racially aggressive of all popular games. One popular carnival game which featured names like "Dump the Nigger," "African Dip," or "Coon Dip" did not require directly hitting a Black person, but hitting the target device attached to a delicately balanced plank upon which a Black person sat. The target, if hit squarely, caused the sitter to be dumped into the tank below.
An even more brutal cousin to "African Dip" was "Hit the Coon" or "African Dodger," also popular at resorts, fairs, and festivals. A painted canvas of a scene, usually a cotton plantation, had a hole through which a Black man stuck his head and tried to get out of the way of the ball. Small prizes were awarded for a direct hit. In 1878 the C.W.F. Dare Company of New York offered painted "Negro Head Canvases" and "Negro Heads" made of wood since live targets were not always easy to come by. Some operators provided human targets with protective wooden helmets covered with curly hair. Eventually such games grated against public sensibilities and were declared illegal.
Other target games of the era came in a wide variety of forms. A ring-toss called "Garden Aunt Sally" featured a mammy figure smoking a pipe. "The Game of Sambo," a standup target game produced by Parker Brothers in the early 1900s, had targets which were meant to be comic caricatures of African- American faces. "Bean-Em," was a beanbag game with Black figures as targets, and there were two ball-toss games: "Hit Me Hard," in which balls were thrown through the mouth of an incongruously mirthful and "cute" boy-child with an enormous smile, and "Chuck," in which two players attempted to toss discs shaped like watermelons into an open mouth.
Bagatelle games, the precursor of pinball, were another form of target game. Made of wood, with lithographed paper overlay and nail "pins," most games were designed to be used with marbles as balls. The "Gropper On. M. Co." of Brooklyn, New York made one featuring good luck charms (lucky stars, horseshoes, etc.) and "Rastus" and "Rufus," two "dandy dudes" eyeing each other suspiciously while preparing to shoot dice. (Another character on the game board, "Eruption," is apparently a stereotyped Irishman).
Under "latest novelty games," the 1914 Butler Brothers Catalog listed two target games in which racial aggression and sadism were blatantly obvious. The "Little Darky Shooting Gallery" with its "three comic cardboard targets," one of which was a heavy-set Black woman, came complete with "spring gun and vacuum rubber tipped arrows for $1.95 a dozen.”
"Darky Ten Pins" featured "ten 6-1/2 inch heavy cardboard litho coons on wood bases," each smiling and holding enormous watermelons. Numerous other companies made and distributed variations of bowling games. Two of the better known ones were "Jim Crow Ten Pins" with smiling minstrel-type figures, and "Zulu Tribe" ten pins with minstrel faces and exotic costumes.(1)
Parker Brothers, one of the few major manufacturers to market bowling sets, issued "Sambo Five Pins" in the early 1920s. The inside of the box tells a story which begins, "Sambo was a good ole Southern Darky...”
Black images in target games overtly demonstrated white hostility against African Americans. Yet Black images had been featured since the 1840s in a less violent genre of game-the card game. A relatively non-derogatory image of a Black servant appeared in the popular card game "Dr. Busby" (1843). "Old Maid," one of the most popular card games ever and the first to be learned by generations of American children, featured a veritable encyclopedia of derogatory stereotypes such as the Black characters "Lily White," "Jazzbo Jackson," and "Melon Moe”.
"The Game of Ten Little Niggers," introduced by Parker Brothers in 1895, was a variation of Old Maid that featured Black characters exclusively. The deck contained a pair of each of the ten "Little Niggers" plus one oddball to get "stuck" with. The Fireside Game Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, introduced "In Dixie Land," a similar game, two years later. This featured black-and-white photos of different "Southern characters," many of which appeared in postcards.
Jigsaw puzzles, initially limited to geographical subjects, came to the United States from England in the 1870s. Soon manufacturers introduced other subject matter, including Black stereotypes which appealed to the American middle-class market.
In 1874, the McLoughlin Brothers of New York manufactured a puzzle called "Chopped Up Niggers." Although the puzzle's images of Blacks were more sympathetic than many of the period, the blatant sadism of the name is clear. Around 1905 J.R. Brundage, Inc. "Things Unusual" of New York brought out a line of jigsaw puzzles, one showing Black men dancing madly in formal evening clothes entitled "Woozy Jig.”
Many of the images of African Americans in card games and puzzles stereotyped Blacks as comical. That stereotype was especially prevalent in mechanical games. In 1912 the page of "Popular Games of all Kinds" in the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog featured a game from "Timi-Tipp" of Germany:
Jolly Coon Race, 89 cents
 A new and very comical game for two or three people. Metal Figures of darkies with moveable arms, racing along three poles. Their comical actions are very funny. All start at the same time and it is exceedingly amusing to see the race...
Easing Into Transition
A growing population of Blacks in northern cities resulting from the great migration of southern Blacks after the First World War gradually developed the leadership and organization necessary to fight for civil rights and combat derogatory racial stereotypes.
In response, during the 1920s, white manufacturers began to tone down the broadest, most overdrawn Black caricatures. By the 1930s, manufacturers had by and large ceased to design new games which portrayed Blacks as "targets," and many of the "older" designs were produced in dwindling numbers. Although bowling games remained popular throughout the 1930s, the pins portrayed not just Blacks, but other "amusing" characters.(2)
In the Russel Manufacturing Company's "Goof Race and Ten Pins," three "goofs," a soldier, a clown, and a watermelon-eating Black figure, could be made either to "race" down an incline or to line up to be bowled over.
Snake Eyes Game Board games of the 1930s reflecting this decline in violent racial undercurrents included "Snake Eyes," a craps-like game by Selchow and Righter of New York, featuring Black faces with "roly-boly" eyes on its cover.
Various "--Amos 'n' Andy" games and puzzles were used as promotions by the Pepsodent Companv. the radio program's sponsor at the time.(3) Although these games contained no physical violence or hostility, they continued to trivialize Blacks and deny them dignity.
Trends towards improved depiction of Blacks in games during this period did not exclude the appearance of games containing old stereotypes. Currents of popular culture flow in many directions simultaneously. As late as 1928 the "African Dip" was still being advertised in various amusement catalogs, among them The Billboard of June 16:
An African Dip It'll get You The Bank Roll
The Game that Always Gets Top Money at Carnivals, Parks, Fairs, Picnics and wherever a Crowd is Gathered
Seeing is Believing!
Men you see an AFRICAN DIP working, take out your watch and time how many balls are being thrown. Figure the price paid for the balls, selling three for a dime. It is common to take in over $40.00 per hour, sometimes $50.00. Notice how pleased the people are that spent their money. Also the fun the onlookers had. 
In 1940, All-Metals Products Co. of Wyandotte, Michigan marketed a "Sambo Target" for use with their toy pistol set. A gap-toothed, bug-eyed young Sambo was the centerpiece of a brightly lithographed, metal target board.
As in the previous decade, broad caricature was more prevalent than overt violence in the 1940s. A "Pickaninny Jackpot" board and punchboard game featured cards portraying stereotyped Black children holding up watermelons with the "jackpot" figures printed on the melons. These images perpetuated the pickaninny- watermelon stereotype that persisted since antebellum times. In 1945, a game called "The Adventures of Little Black Sambo" used graphics heavily influenced by the illustrations in contemporary editions of the children's book: an African "native" with minstrel-like features and no hair. A "Deluxe" Old Maid game of the late forties by Playtime House of Rochester, New York, featured "Mamie (sic) Pamby" as pair number 13. "Mamie" was the archetypal Mammy. Although in the early 1950s Selchow and Righter reissued "Snake Eyes" without changing the graphics, as the decade progressed, and the political and economic clout of African Americans grew, Blacks ceased to be the literal and figurative targets of abuse and ridicule. As in nearly every other genre of popular culture, images of Blacks disappeared entirely from games during the turbulent civil rights years.
Images of African Americans simply became too "controversial" for the culture-makers to treat in overtly derogatory--or any other--ways.
Post-Civil Rights: 
Respect to Reverence 
African Americans remained invisible in the game genre long after they achieved de jure the equality of their rights. Mainstream game makers such as Selchow and Righter, Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers slowly integrated Black characters, issues and accomplishments into their offerings as they revised games or created new ones.
This study, despite much effort, has yet to discover any attempt by mainstream manufacturers to market "Black editions" of established games to the growing African-American market. As the Black consumer, game-playing market grew, it demanded games that encouraged Black pride. For the most part, Black entrepreneurs alone met this demand.
In 1974 a mainstream manufacturer, EDU-CARDS, a division of KPB Industries of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, offered a flash card set, "Famous Black People in American History." The game involved showing a charcoal portrait of a famous person, giving a clue, and asking, "Who am I?" The subjects ranged from Marian Anderson to Phyllis Wheatley.
More typical of the slow and deliberate pace of integration was the 1978 edition of Milton Bradley's "Chutes and Ladders," which included a young Black boy as one of the moveable game pieces. (The other game pieces depicted white little boys and girls.)
The phenomenally successful "Trivial Pursuit" series of games included numerous references to African Americans in the arts, media, sports and history. Marketed jointly by Horn Abbot and Selchow and Righter, all of the series-from the original Genus in 1981, the Silver Screen, All-Star Sports and Baby Boomer in 1983 to the Young Players in 1985 -liberally acknowledged Black participation in and contributions to U.S. and world events.
Among lesser-known manufacturers, the John N. Hansen Co. Inc. and TRIVIA GAMES INC. produced versions of "JUNIOR TRIVIA" (ca. 1985). The questions from the categories Entertainment/Famous People, Sports/Games, Science/Computers, Literature/Art/Words, Geography/Space, and History/Traditions include little about Black achievement and contribution beyond that of sports heroes such as "Dr. J." (Julius Irving).
Instead the questions ask about Fat Albert's favorite sport, the nickname of the 747 airplane ("Fat Albert"), the country in which Dr. Livingston worked (Africa), the Friday of the Wall Street Crash in 1929 ("black"), and the Ku Klux Klan. Hersch and Company's "Out of Context: Game of Outrageous Quotes" (1985) included quotes by Jesse Jackson, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Joe Louis, Richard Pryor, Andrew Young, Angela Davis, Wilt Chamberlain, Vanessa Williams, Sonny Liston, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Mr. T., Eddie Murphy and more. Game players could not help but realize the major role Blacks play in everyone's daily lives.
But it took Black entrepreneurs to celebrate and revere African Americans in games.
With U.S. Games Systems, Inc. of Stamford, Connecticut, educator Deloris L. Holt and illustrator Langley Newman, published the "Black Historv Playing Card Deck" (1977). It is a complete deck of cards divided into four suits: Human Rights, Adventure, Science and Industry, and the Arts. In the Arts suit, for example, the King is Paul Robeson, the Queen Lorraine Hansberry; the Jack is Louis Armstrong, the Ten Muhammad Ali, the Nine Bessie Smith, the Eight Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the Seven Jackie Robinson, the Six Henry Ossawa Tanner, the Five Jessie Owens, the Four Langston Hughes, the Three Henry Zino, the Two Ira Aldridge, and the Ace Edward Kennedy (Duke) Ellington. Each card features a color portrait and a separate booklet contains short biographies of each "notable black person in America's rich heritage." Developed in 1987, "Black Americana HIGH ACHIEVER" is patterned loosely on the "Trivial Pursuit" model. The game contains over 2500 questions on African-American history and culture. A sample question is "From what Black college did teacher-astronaut Sharon Christa McAuliffe graduate?"(4)
Over the past one hundred years or so the attitude toward African Americans in games has evolved from hostility to at least grudging respect. The evolution has been uneven, however. The most primitive period was by far the longest.
Furthermore, the recent and as yet much briefer dramatic turn toward reverence is due to Black initiative and participation.
Notes (1) Don Kader, "Collecting Black Memorabilia," Collectors' Showcase (Sept./Oct., 1982), 16. (2) William C. Ketchum, Jr., The Catalog of American Collectibles: A Fully Illustrated Guide to Styles and Prices (New York: A Rutledge/Mayflower Book, 1979), 298. (3) Richard Friz, "On the Air: The Amos 'n' Andy Show," Collectibles Illustrated (May/June, 1983), 82. (4) Answer: She received her Master of Education degree from Bowie State College in Maryland.

Thursday, October 27, 2011



Ray Cassin October 24, 2011
THE City Square has mostly been noted as one of Melbourne's less successful public spaces. Crowds just don't throng there as they do to Federation Square or Bourke Street Mall. Then briefly, for a week, that all changed. About 100 protesters, a diminutive Melbourne outcrop of the ''Occupy'' protests that began in New York last month and have since mushroomed across the world, set up camp in the square. Some Melburnians actually chose to enter their city's notoriously dud space, and did so without the lure of free entertainment or an oversized, illuminated Christmas tree. The campers came to make a point. And other people came to hear it, or at least to gawk at them. No one was assaulted or obstructed in the course of their daily business. In truth, Occupy Melbourne didn't occupy very much, except public space. It didn't block Swanston Street or Collins Street. Nor did it threaten anyone, though some cafe and bar owners complained that their business had suffered because of the new presence in the square. This complaint, if true, suggests that Melbourne's vaunted cafe culture is not quite the pinnacle of urban sophistication it is sometimes claimed to be. Elsewhere in the world, watching the local street politics unfold is just one thing you might do while lingering over an espresso. But here, apparently, people who hawk short blacks and flat whites can't imagine that a politicised street carnival on their doorstep might be a business opportunity, with happy sippers to be found at least among the gawkers, if not the campers. So the campers antagonised local business, though not the kind of business they had in mind. Occupy Melbourne, like its international counterparts, is directed against corporate greed and the increasing disparities of wealth that have resulted from economic deregulation. The rage of the ''Occupiers'' - though ''rage'' seems like crazy hyperbole when applied to the less-than-strident lot who colonised our square - is a reflection of the fact that since the global financial crisis of 2008 none of the perpetrators has been held to account, though the livelihoods of ordinary people have become ever more precarious, or disappeared entirely. That, grossly oversimplified, was the point of the ''Occupation''. And if you believe the square's whiney cafe proprietors and Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, a week was more than enough time in which to make it. ''They've made their point and should move on'' was the message, and last Friday Victoria Police heeded it. The campers were evicted by police behind riot shields - the public order response team, to use the official euphemism - with mounted colleagues and the dog squad assisting. There were some bleeding heads, and drifts of pepper spray, without which no riot is complete these days. Except that it wasn't a riot, was it? It was a group of people sitting around and talking. Or it was until Doyle decided that a week is time enough to make a point. One imagines him in Colonel Kilgore mode as the riot police moved in: ''I love the smell of pepper spray in the morning … smelled like victory.'' Occupy Melbourne is not, of course, unique among the world's Occupations in having attracted the ire of civic authorities or in having been subjected to what Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana described as ''minimum force''. The early days of Occupy Wall Street were a rash of clashes between police and protesters. And yesterday, Occupy Sydney was pushed out of Martin Place, where the harbour city's campers had been doing their sitting and talking. Whether it was necessary to use force to move them on, however, is another question. People whose idea of changing the world begins with sitting around and talking are usually open to negotiations about voluntary relocation. Occupy Melbourne, for example, intends to pitch a new camp at the weekend, in Treasury Gardens. No baristas and bartenders to annoy there, and they can chat with the public servants over a sandwich at lunchtime. It's where the Occupiers might have been willing to go earlier, if they had been asked. So the Occupiers will decamp, and, provided the state government and the city council can get past their fear of revolution or whatever it was that brought about last week's bizarre overreaction, there will be no further wielding of minimum force. After all, we still believe in free speech and assembly, don't we? Well, we certainly think we do. But when I hear people who ought to know better insisting that a week is long enough to make a point, I wonder how deeply rooted our belief in these basic liberal freedoms really is. Occupy Wall Street and other Occupations around the world may have had some unsolicited intimate moments with their local constabularies, but they continue. And they continue simply because the Occupiers want to keep Occupying. In most of the countries with which we like to compare ourselves it is accepted that protest movements will either become absorbed into the political mainstream, and thereby transform it, or will gradually wither. That is the dynamic of democracy. Here, however, the notion of democratic debate has become so impoverished that people who have been sitting and talking for a week can be told their time is up.
Ray Cassin is a senior writer.
Follow the National Times on Twitter: @NationalTimesAU
This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/why-do-the-occupiers-so-preoccupy-our-masters-20111023-1meem.html

Wednesday, October 26, 2011



Defense giant Lockheed Martin had a totally sweet quarter, raking in $700 million and looking forward to the same this time next year. So it raises eyebrows when Lockheed’s anointed mouthpieces predict mass economic disaster if Congress touches the defense budget.
On Tuesday, the aerospace industry put out a report saying that chopping the defense budget would put over a million Americans out of work. Cuts that could total up to a trillion dollars over 10 years would “devastate the economy and the defense industrial base and undermine the national security of our country,” said Marion Blakeley, president of the Aerospace Industries Association, which sponsored the report.
But while Blakeley’s group paid for research to draw that dire conclusion, some of her members reported a sunnier economic outlook to their shareholders. In its third-quarter earnings report, also released Tuesday, Lockheed – manufacturers of the F-22 and F-35 jets — told investors to expect that as long as Congress passes President Obama’s next defense budget, ”the Corporation expects 2012 net sales to be flattish as compared to 2011 levels, and that consolidated 2012 segment operating profit margin will remain at approximately 11 percent.” Boom: another $700 million in earnings, on its way.
While there’s no doubt that defense cuts will mean job losses, there’s also no doubt that a report prepared for an industry so reliant on defense cash will paint a stark picture of what happens if that cash is threatened. Congressmembers looking to get reelected pay attention, since fighting for defense money as a jobs program is easier than making a case for what a sensible, appropriately funded defense strategy ought to be. That’s the problem with reports like these: They make it easy to ignore structural economic and defense problems and imply that all will be well if the cash keeps flowing.
To see the report’s breathlessness, check out its methodology. (.pdf) The aerospace report draws a straight correlation between lost jobs and lost sales (the result of lower defense budgets for orders). But defense firms concerned about losing jobs have, like all businesses, other options for preserving them, like dipping into their earnings.
And those earnings, as evidenced by the third-quarter disclosures, are up. Lockheed’s $700 million net quarterly earnings are up sharply from its $56 million haul this time last year. Boeing’s net income during that time was $1.09 billion, up from $837 million. General Dynamics? $652 million in net earnings this quarter, slightly up from its $650 million last year.
Meanwhile, Lockheed paid CEO Robert Stevens $19.1 million in 2010. Boeing’s Jim McNerney made$19.7 million.
In other words, defense cuts won’t, by themselves, force firms to fire people. Companies will surely be stressed by the revenue loss, but their bright economic pictures give them some options.
Then there are some dubious assumptions in the report. It says job-providing “modernization” cash is 45 percent of the $550 billion annual defense budget, but as defense gadfly Winslow Wheeler emails, the Congressional Budget Office puts it at 29 percent. (.pdf) Wheeler adds that the study presumes a cost of $130,000 per lost job: “One seasoned observer opined to me that the total for salary, materials, etc. should be about twice that.”
Nor does the association report actually address the defense manufacturing base that so alarmed Blakeley. It drew its million-job-loss total from “across the breadth of the U.S. economy,” into ripple-effect industries like finance, health care and “retail trade, leisure and hospitality services.” Meanwhile, the structural effects of the shifting defense industrial supply chain go unstudied.
Now: America’s defense industrial base — the engineering and manufacturing sector of the economy that ensures the U.S. can build warships, planes and missiles — is in the midst of a decades-long globalization that policymakers have yet to come to terms with. A recent report from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) warns that the U.S.’ influence over that supply chain suffers from a key vulnerability: “its dependence upon relatively large defense procurement budgets.” (.pdf) Cut the budget too deeply, and the economic effects could cascade: the most expensive military program in history, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet family, is built in eight countries.
In fact, CNAS warns that engineering “large-scale, high-technology projects” domestically is a “dying art,” since “many of the nation’s best young people tend to avoid ‘old’ manufacturing industries — including the aerospace sector — opting instead for what seem to be more exciting (and potentially much more lucrative) prospects in startup ventures and ‘cutting-edge’ firms that appear to be at the technological frontier.”
In other words, it’s not just the prospect of declining defense budgets that ravage the most important nodes of the defense industrial base. On the low-pay end of the spectrum, it’s the fact that manufacturing plants have moved to low-wage places like China — which also erodes U.S. engineering know-how. On the high end, defense firms now have to compete with Apple, Google, Facebook and anything Y Combinator funds for bright tech engineers. All that is a problem that extends way beyond defense budgets, and into fundamental questions of how the U.S. structures its economy and values work.
And assume for a moment that all the aerospace industry’s lost-jobs estimates are accurate. Notice that’s an economic argument, not a national security argument. The explosion in defense spending since 9/11 was predicated on an emergency — all financed by borrowed money, contributing to the fiscal mess that cuts are meant to fix — that’s receding. U.S. troops will be out of Iraq on December 31; the Afghanistan war is beginning its own drawdown. Arguing for military spending primarily as a stimulus measure begs the question of why less capital-intensive industries — road repair, anyone? — shouldn’t get their own big checks from the government.
The answer — at least, one that ex-Defense Secretary Robert Gates proposed — isn’t to look at the military as a big jobs program. It’s to ask what the country wants defense strategy to be. If the U.S. is faced with the necessity of cutting defense, then it makes sense to ask what missions ought to be scaled back or jettisoned. In a series of reports this year, the most recent of which came out on Tuesday, the doves at the Project on Defense Alternatives have at least attempted that, even if not all their ideas are good ones. The aerospace industry? Not so much.
It’s natural for defense cuts to raise anxiety in a military-industrial complex that’s reaped a decade of cash windfalls. And it’s just as natural for defense companies to cherry-pick arguments to support their revenue. That’s all in the game. But unless they’re also willing to accept big tax hikes to finance their continued desired spending, then it’s hard to see how reports like this get around Winston Churchill’s (or maybe Sir Ernest Rutherford’s) famous aphorism: “Gentlemen, we have run out of money. Now we have to think.”
Photo: U.S. Navy Aviation