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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Boeing’

Boeing & Airbus urge delay of 5G — RT Business News

Posted by M. C. on December 22, 2021

https://www.rt.com/business/543876-boeing-airbus-5g-risks/

The world’s two largest planemakers, Boeing and Airbus, have called on the US government to delay the rollout of new 5G cell services next month, citing an “enormous negative impact on the aviation industry.”

In a joint letter to US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the bosses of the two companies warned that “5G interference could adversely affect the ability of aircraft to safely operate.”

The letter cited research by trade group Airlines for America, which found that if the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) 5G rules had been in effect in 2019, about 345,000 passenger flights and 5,400 cargo flights would have faced delays, diversions or cancellations.

According to a new rule, announced by the FAA earlier this month, pilots are forbidden from using auto-landing and other certain flight systems at low altitudes where 5G wireless signals could interfere with onboard instruments that measure a plane’s distance to the ground.

The new rule comes as US telecom giants AT&T and Verizon are due to deploy 5G services on January 5.

Last week, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said that the FAA’s 5G directives would bar the use of radio altitude meters at about 40 of America’s biggest airports.

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Rebellion Deepens: America Says ‘No!’ To Vax Mandate!

Posted by M. C. on November 3, 2021

Mainstream media can no longer ignore the growing rebellion among US workers over the demands that they take an experimental vaccine for the “privilege” of working. As Reuters puts it today, “From Boeing to Mercedes, A US Worker Rebellion Swells Over Vaccine Mandates.” Will Washington destroy the economy to push the shot? Also today, mainstream Newsweek publishes, “How Fauci Fooled America.” Is the truth starting to come out?

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America Dominant Again (in Arms Sales) – TomDispatch.com

Posted by M. C. on May 26, 2021

https://tomdispatch.com/america-dominant-again-in-arms-sales/

William Hartung

Think about this: on Saturday, May 12th, with barely an hour’s notice, Israel took out the al-Jalaa Tower, a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed the Associated Press, al-Jazeera, and other media outlets. That act of destruction, among so many others, caused shock globally and protests not just by those media groups but by previously Israeli-supporting Democrats in Congress. As it happens, the weapon that destroyed that tower was a GBU-31, a Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM (aka a “smart bomb”) that was manufactured in the United States. Not only that, but in the midst of the ongoing carnage in impoverished, increasingly devastated Gaza (as well as in Israel), the Biden administration has been pushing through a new $735-million package of just such weaponry for Israel, ensuring more of the same to the horizon.

This has even disturbed key pro-Israeli congressional figures like Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who, according to the New York Times, “told Democrats on the panel… that he would ask the Biden administration to delay a $735 million tranche of precision-guided weapons to Israel that had been approved before tensions in the Middle East boiled over.” Later, he would pull back on his threat, but Bernie Sanders has actually introduced a resolution in the Senate aimed at halting the future delivery of that weaponry (as several Democrats have already done in the House).

As the invaluable Pentagon specialist and TomDispatch regular William Hartung notes today, the U.S. leads all other nations on this planet by a country mile in selling the latest weaponry globally, as has been true for almost three decades. In other words, this country has been number one (U.S.A.! U.S.A.!) when it comes to such weapons sales (and so future destruction) forever and a day. In the case of Israel, those sales, however, are a secondary matter. For years, the U.S. has annually been giving — yes, giving — nearly $4 billion in military aid to Israel, a relatively wealthy country.  Since 2001, Israel has, in fact, received more than half of all the “military financing” approved by this country. Imagine what those tens of billions of dollars might have done had they been used instead for America’s fading infrastructure or other domestic investments.

In other words, Washington is complicit in the ravaging of Gaza in these last weeks, just as it has been in the devastation of Yemen in these years (thanks to similar sales of weaponry to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates). It’s a money-making, military-industrial tale from hell and Hartung tells it today in all its grim horror. Tom

America Dominant Again (in Arms Sales)

And Again… and Again… and Again

By William Hartung

When it comes to trade in the tools of death and destruction, no one tops the United States of America.

In April of this year, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published its annual analysis of trends in global arms sales and the winner — as always — was the U.S. of A. Between 2016 and 2020, this country accounted for 37% of total international weapons deliveries, nearly twice the level of its closest rival, Russia, and more than six times that of Washington’s threat du jour, China. 

Sadly, this was no surprise to arms-trade analysts.  The U.S. has held that top spot for 28 of the past 30 years, posting massive sales numbers regardless of which party held power in the White House or Congress.  This is, of course, the definition of good news for weapons contractors like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin, even if it’s bad news for so many of the rest of us, especially those who suffer from the use of those arms by militaries in places like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, the Philippines, and the United Arab Emirates.  The recent bombing and leveling of Gaza by the U.S.-financed and supplied Israeli military is just the latest example of the devastating toll exacted by American weapons transfers in these years.

See the rest here

William D. Hartung, a TomDispatch regular, is the director of the Arms and Security Program at the Center for International Policy and the author, with Elias Yousif, of “U.S. Arms Sales Trends 2020 and Beyond: From Trump to Biden.”

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Caveat Emptor, Boeing – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on May 27, 2020

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/05/walter-e-block/caveat-emptor-boeing/

By

Caveat emptor is one the basic building blocks of just law. “Buyer beware” is the lynchpin of commerce. If the seller is responsible for flaws in the product (caveat vendidor), there will be precious few goods or services ever supplied. For who would want to grant any disgruntled consumer open sesame to engage in a lawsuit?

This includes products that have “danger” written all over them, at least potentially, such as knives, guns, scissors, hedge clippers, razor blades, automobiles, planes, etc. Also covered are items not ordinarily thought of as fraught. But staples can bite into fingers and cause infection; rubber bands can take out an eye. This is to say nothing of even the most humble drugs: take 100 aspirins at one sitting, and you will no longer be among the living. Meat can spoil. Even garden vegetables come replete with dirt, which can contain who knows what.

But these are mere utilitarian considerations, unworthy of consideration, almost, to those concerned with justice. There is also that little matter of deontology. It is plainly unjust to hold the seller responsible for what the buyer can do with a purchase, even if it falls apart from proper use. If we want to hold pistol and rifle manufacturers responsible for actions perpetrated by terrorists, that will end their production. If we want to be logically consistent we shall have to do the same with cars; no one would want to do that.

The charge levelled at Boeing is that it “cut corners” in the production of its 737 Max airplane, which resulted in the crash of  Lion Air flight 610, which killed 189 poor souls, and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, in which 157 people perished.

That is to say, this Seattle based firm would always have spent more, subjected their aircraft to additional tests, etc. But this could be said of all producers, without exception. Every last one of them continually “cuts corners” in the sense that they did not spend an infinite amount of money trying to perfect what they offered for sale. Unless there was out and out fraud, which has not been charged let alone proven, it would be improper in the extreme to even think of levelling criminal charges against the executives of this company, as is sometimes bruited about (Source: Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2019, p. B1).

Boeing never guaranteed the complete safety of its products. They are all sold on an “as is” basis. It would be unfair in the extreme to hold them to a standard they did not voluntarily undertake.

No, if criminal charges are to be brought against anyone in this sad situation, not that they should be, the more justified target would be the Federal Aviation Administration. Their mandate, in contrast, was precisely to ensure safety. There were not merely a certification agency, attesting to propriety. Rather, they are a licensing bureau. It would have been illegal for the 737 Max to leave the ground with passengers aboard without their explicit imprimatur. The very existence of Boeing is now in question. The same, alas, cannot be said for the FAA. At the very least, this government agency ought to be disbanded, and replaced by a private competitive certification agency.

Milton Friedman eloquently made the case for this institutional arrangement in his book, Capitalism and Freedom. He did so for physicians. But the same arguments apply in the present case.

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Boeing and the FAA will see entirely different consequences for their failures | The Daily Bell

Posted by M. C. on May 18, 2020

The private firm faces a very real chance of bankruptcy. Nor will its present size necessarily save it. “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Boeing might well join other large firms that are no longer with us:

The Army Corp of Engineers was responsible for some 1900 fatalities in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and they are still in business, thank you very much. The U.S. Post Office has lost billions of dollars, and the same applies to them.

https://www.thedailybell.com/all-articles/news-analysis/boeing-and-the-faa-will-see-entirely-different-consequences-for-their-failures/

By Walter E. Block PhD

It is still impossible to confidently apportion blame for the tragic airplane crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, which killed 189 and 157 people, respectively.

The jury is still out on this matter, despite the ongoing Senate hearings on the matter. Every human life is precious, and several hundred of our fellow creatures met an all too early demise with this failure of the 737 MAX airplane.

The major candidates for responsibility for this loss are the Boeing company, which built the plane and the Federal Aviation Administration, which certified its safety (a third possibility, which we shall ignore, arguendo, is driver error; the pilots of these two aircraft were insufficiently trained to operate them).

What have we learned from the recent Congressional hearings on this failure? Not too much. It has been documented that the automated flight control system on the planes, the mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) was problematic, that Boeing knew in advance of difficulties with the single angle of attack (AoA) sensor and pilot training, and that this company refused to ground the plane despite this information.

It has also been well established that Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) along with their confreres are opposed, bitterly so, to plane crashes.

What will be the fate of Boeing and the FAA if is it demonstrated that both share culpability for these catastrophic events, in roughly equal measures? Their destiny will be very different.

The private firm faces a very real chance of bankruptcy. Nor will its present size necessarily save it. “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Boeing might well join other large firms that are no longer with us:

BlockBuster, Borders Books, Enron, Kodak, Lehman, Pan Am, Schwinn Bicycles, Readers Digest, Toys-R-Us, Radio Shack, Rand typewriter, Sears, Thomas Cook, United Shoe Machinery.

Automobile firms alone account for many companies in the graveyard of commerce: American Motors (Nash Rambler), Checker, DeLorean, DeSoto, Edsel, Hummer, Mercury, Oldsmobile, Packard, Plymouth, Pontiac, Rambler, Saab, Studebaker, Willys.

A perusal of the past lists of the Fortune 500 will reveal many more such examples.

It is unlikely in the extreme that the Federal Aviation Administration will face any such danger.

The Army Corp of Engineers was responsible for some 1900 fatalities in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and they are still in business, thank you very much. The U.S. Post Office has lost billions of dollars, and the same applies to them.

The number of farmers has been decreasing, sharply, lo these many years, while employment at the Department of Agriculture has been moving in the opposite direction. The Food and Drug Administration presided over the Thalidomide disaster and is still very much with us.

The Fed was charged with keeping inflation under control, and has presided over a loss in the value of the dollar of some 96% since its inception in 1913. Is it still in operation? Of course.

No, private businesses come and go, in proportion to their success in customer satisfaction, while the same cannot be said for government bureaus. When is the last one of them that ever got cashiered? I can’t think of one either.

What lesson can we learn from this stark divergence?

It is that consumers have far more control over private producers than they as voters have vis a vis government regulatory agencies, which, also, presumptively, labor in their behalves. The public policy recommendation suggested by this fact is that we should rely more and more on private enterprise to deliver our mail, keep us safe in the air, and prevent food, flood and drug damage.

How would this work in practice?

Simple. Instead of having one monopoly regulatory agency, the FAA, that is immune from termination no matter how serious their failure, lean in the direction of a private enterprise certification industry that takes on this role. If the Jones agency approved of the Boeing 737 Max, while the Smith certification firm refused to do so, we all know what will tend to happen. We will have better protection from such a system than from present institutional arrangements.

Are there any real-world examples of this sort of thing?

Yes. There are Good Housekeeping Seals of Approval, Consumers Reports for retail purchasers. There are Underwriters Laboratories, for commerce and manufacturing and Fitch, Moody’s and Standard and Poor for stock and bond market ratings.

These are only the tip of the iceberg.  According to the directory of U.S. Private Sector Product Certification Programs, there are 180 private organizations that certify almost 1000 different products.

Are any of these perfect? Of course not. But they stand head and shoulders over our present situation where failure cannot be punished by banishment.

All we need do to improve matters for plane safety is to apply this certification system to aviation, too.

 

 

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Bombs Away | Lorissa Rinehart

Posted by M. C. on October 29, 2019

https://thebaffler.com/latest/bombs-away-rinehart

Lorissa Rinehart

Most of the world celebrated when the Berlin Wall fell and nuclear holocaust ceased to feel like it was just around the corner. But for the arms industry, the end of the Cold War meant catastrophe, shrinking their market by more than 50 percent in the following years. Those companies that didn’t fold entirely attempted to restructure mid-fall by diversifying their product output while implementing huge layoffs. Survival became Darwinian: adapt or die.

Part of adapting meant changing the way arms manufacturers reached potential clients, since they could no longer rely on the United States or the USSR to serve as an all-in-one PR firm, sales team, and procurement officer as they did when Cold War proxies were buying weapons by the boatload. Instead, companies like Boeing began contracting advertising firms to help increase their existing market shares while penetrating new ones. Starting in the late 1970s, the ads they produced began appearing in military journals that were produced largely in the Western world and distributed in developing nations, where there was room for growth, a practice that only increased into the 1990s. The U.S. government also began to lend a helping hand: in 1996, the Pentagon provided almost $380 million in marketing assistance to U.S. weapons-exporting firms…

As the world settled into its new, post–Cold War order, mergers, closures, and layoffs in the weapons industry accelerated. History was ending, and the future looked bleak—for arms dealers, anyway. Then, two essential paradigms shifted.

The first occurred with the September 11, 2001 attacks. The aftermath, of course, led to an exponential increase in arms sales not only to the United States and Russia, but also to secondary players, many of which are in the Middle East. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia steadily increased from $3 million in 2000 to $3.5 billion in 2018. Though a much smaller number, the United States increased its sales to Morocco from a total of $4 million in 2000 versus a 2018 total of $333 million. Independent studies produced by the Congressional Research Service and the Cato Institute report similar trends throughout the Middle Eastern region.

The second shift remains largely unexamined, unquantified, and unqualified. Yet it constitutes a sea change in the methods and strategies employed in advertising conventional weapons. Quite simply, the launch of Facebook in 2004 and the universe of social media that followed revolutionized the way the arms trade is able to target, reach, and appeal to potential buyers.

Despite this glaring omission in analyses from both academia and the mainstream news,  the importance of social media as a plank in the weapons industry’s marketing platform is evident from the prodigious and extensive output of nearly every major manufacturer across multiple platforms.  One need only tune into Lockheed Martin’s YouTube Channel for corroboration. One of the company’s most recent videos, published on September 16, typifies their marketing strategy on the platform. Backdropped by a blue sky, a low angle image of a Warrior Armored Fighting Vehicle—in other words, a British tank—is interrupted by the kind of pixelated distortion familiar to video games, suggesting a resetting, the introduction of something new, as well as danger ahead.

The camera snaps back to three tanks kicking up dust beneath their tracks while a title card identifies them as being equipped with the “Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP)” that upgrades rather than replaces existing armored vehicles. A score fades in with a looped baseline and progressive harmony that simultaneously suggests urgency and hope as the tanks fill the screen with steel and firepower. A cannon fires into a virginal landscape to demonstrate the product’s “Enhanced Lethality.” There are slo-mo shots that look modeled after the juicer moments in action movies, when higher frame rates allow viewers to savor the destruction being wrought on screen. Borrowing from video games, Hollywood, and the daydreams of would-be generals, Lockheed’s WCSP promotional video accomplishes what any good advertisement sets out to do: it establishes its product as cutting edge and cost effective, absolutely necessary and certifiably sexy. This strategy and aesthetic is replicated across multiple videos including those for their Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), F-35 Fighter Jets, and fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Northrop Grumman also has an active YouTube channel replete with high production value content, including a video for its OmegA Heavy Lift Rocket that looks more like a trailer for a patriotic space movie than an ad for a military payload delivery system. But none match the cinematic sophistication of Raytheon, with videos that seem to be taken right out of the Mission: Impossible franchise. A recent production for their Special Mission Aircraft, which “offers several modes of intelligence collection and analysis,” dispenses with the overwrought soundtrack featured by Northrop and the soon-to-be dated special effects in many of Lockheed’s videos. Instead, this short film, as well as many others on Raytheon’s channel, features clean visuals, highly legible text, and upbeat modular music; banners advertising the craft’s specs are punctuated by the telemetry sound effect that often accompanies urgent dispatches from headquarters in a spy film…

Highly produced promotional videos are only one aspect of the arms industry’s social media presence. More personal and “approachable” content can be found on Facebook, where Boeing’s page recently highlighted the Blue Angels, the Navy’s demonstration squadron of fighter jet pilots. Since 1986, the Blue Angels have flown the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet; conveniently, then, the Angels serve not only as entertainment at patriotic airshows, but also as de facto, and rather attractive, spokespeople for the manufacturer of their aircrafts.

But Facebook seems to be most effective for these companies when integrated with industry trade expositions targeted toward government weapons procurement officers and agencies. General Dynamics Mission Systems ramped up their posting during the 2019 Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX), a multi-day demonstration of new technologies with Naval implications. Specifically, the company used Facebook to promote their Bluefin-9, an unmanned underwater vehicle. This video of a General Dynamic’s salesperson posted during the expo, serves as an infotisement that includes technological specifications as well as potential military applications; its length and content suggest it was intended to serve both as an enticement to attract potential buyers to General Dynamic’s expo booth as well as a resource for procurement officers when presenting their findings to superiors back in the office.

Likewise, the UK’s largest weapons manufacturer, the ironically acronymed BAE Systems, took to Facebook regularly during the 2019 Defence and Security Equipment International conference, making a concerted push for their Light Attack Aircraft System (LAAS), a plug-and-play technology suite designed to interface with a variety of military aircrafts. One infographic posted during the event sets an LAAS equipped plane against a mountainous landscape backlit by a sherbet orange sunrise. Encircling it are a veritable halo of graphics and descriptions detailing its laser-guided rockets, mission computers, missile-warning systems, along with other high-tech features. The advertisement makes an appeal to those in the market for an affordable option that doesn’t sacrifice lethality. As Dave Harrold, BAE’s senior director of business development commented in a National Defense Magazine interview during DSEI, LAAS “can be much more efficient and cost effective. Not everybody can afford an F-35.”

Finally, there is the most rapid, least formal social media platform: Twitter, where users go to get quick hits of dopamine or to prove their pithy yet insightful points IN ALL CAPS once and for ALL. Here, the arms industry’s major players take full advantage of the virtual conveyor belt of infotainment. Posting up to fifteen times a day, Raytheon is perhaps the most prolific tweeter among weapons manufacturers. Aggressive tweets about neutralizing hostile drone swarms and innovative guided missile systems are counterbalanced with those promulgating an inclusive corporate culture, to project a holistic brand image and appease consumers who prefer their deadly war machines built in a welcoming and diverse environment…

To put it succinctly, conventional weapons are presented on social media as if they were any other consumer product. The result is an uncanny collage alternatively composed of banal, benign, and ultraviolet content that visually analogizes advertisements for tanks, fighter jets, and laser-guided bombs with those for cars, travel deals, and cleaning products. This leveling was warned of by the authors of a 1980 study on arms advertising—“If there is any use value of weapons at all it is the destruction of human life,” they wrote, “therefore, a line should be drawn between arms advertisements and all other forms of sales promotion”—and it has only become more pronounced in the intervening decades. It’s hard to know what its ultimate effect will be, but if nothing else, it creates a virtual reality in which ever more lethal weapons are accepted and a state of perpetual war is taken as a given. And, as is increasingly the case, what is true on social media transposes itself onto the real world, where the sale of conventional weapons is still steadily on the rise.

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The Rutherford Institute :: Guns for Hire: No, the Government Shouldn’t Be Using the Military to Police the Globe | By John W. Whitehead |

Posted by M. C. on October 9, 2019

In fact, the U.S. government has spent more money every five seconds in Iraq than the average American earns in a year.

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/guns_for_hire_no_the_government_shouldnt_be_using_the_military_to_police_the_globe

By John W. Whitehead

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes… known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” — James Madison

Eventually, all military empires fall and fail by spreading themselves too thin and spending themselves to death.

It happened in Rome.

It’s happening again.

At the height of its power, even the mighty Roman Empire could not stare down a collapsing economy and a burgeoning military. Prolonged periods of war and false economic prosperity largely led to its demise. As historian Chalmers Johnson predicts:

The fate of previous democratic empires suggests that such a conflict is unsustainable and will be resolved in one of two ways. Rome attempted to keep its empire and lost its democracy. Britain chose to remain democratic and in the process let go its empire. Intentionally or not, the people of the United States already are well embarked upon the course of non-democratic empire.

The American Empire—with its endless wars waged by U.S. military servicepeople who have been reduced to little more than guns for hire: outsourced, stretched too thin, and deployed to far-flung places to police the globe—is approaching a breaking point.

War has become a huge money-making venture, and America, with its vast military empire and its incestuous relationship with a host of international defense contractors, is one of its best buyers and sellers. In fact, as Reuters reports, “[President] Trump has gone further than any of his predecessors to act as a salesman for the U.S. defense industry.”

Under Trump’s leadership, the U.S. military is dropping a bomb every 12 minutes.

This follows on the heels of President Obama, the so-called antiwar candidate and Nobel Peace Prize winner who waged war longer than any American president and whose targeted-drone killings resulted in at least 1.3 million lives lost to the U.S.-led war on terror.

Most recently, the Trump Administration signaled its willingness to put the lives of American troops on the line in order to guard Saudi Arabia’s oil resources. Roughly 200 American troops will join the 500 troops already stationed in Saudi Arabia. That’s in addition to the 60,000 U.S. troops that have been deployed throughout the Middle East for decades.

As The Washington Post points out, “The United States is now the world’s largest producer — and its reliance on Saudi imports has dropped dramatically, including by 50 percent in the past two years alone.”

So if we’re not protecting the oil for ourselves, whose interests are we protecting?

The military industrial complex is calling the shots, of course, and profit is its primary objective.

The military-industrial complex is also the world’s largest employer.

America has long had a penchant for endless wars that empty our national coffers while fattening those of the military industrial complex.

Aided and abetted by the U.S government, the American military-industrial complex has erected an empire unsurpassed in history in its breadth and scope, one dedicated to conducting perpetual warfare throughout the earth.

Although the U.S. constitutes only 5% of the world’s population, America boasts almost 50% of the world’s total military expenditure, spending more on the military than the next 19 biggest spending nations combined. Indeed, the Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety.

Unfortunately, this level of war-mongering doesn’t come cheap to the taxpayers who are forced to foot the bill.

Having been co-opted by greedy defense contractors, corrupt politicians and incompetent government officials, America’s expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $32 million per hour.

In fact, the U.S. government has spent more money every five seconds in Iraq than the average American earns in a year…

War is not cheap, but it becomes outrageously costly when you factor in government incompetence, fraud, and greedy contractors.

For example, a leading accounting firm concluded that one of the Pentagon’s largest agencies “can’t account for hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of spending.”

Unfortunately, the outlook isn’t much better for the spending that can be tracked.

Consider that the government lost more than $160 billion to waste and fraud by the military and defense contractors. With paid contractors often outnumbering enlisted combat troops, the American war effort dubbed as the “coalition of the willing” has quickly evolved into the “coalition of the billing,” with American taxpayers forced to cough up billions of dollars for cash bribes, luxury bases, a highway to nowhere, faulty equipment, salaries for so-called “ghost soldiers,” and overpriced anything and everything associated with the war effort, including a $640 toilet seat and a $7600 coffee pot.

A government audit found that defense contractor Boeing has been massively overcharging taxpayers for mundane parts, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in overspending. As the report noted, the American taxpayer paid:

$71 for a metal pin that should cost just 4 cents; $644.75 for a small gear smaller than a dime that sells for $12.51: more than a 5,100 percent increase in price. $1,678.61 for another tiny part, also smaller than a dime, that could have been bought within DoD for $7.71: a 21,000 percent increase. $71.01 for a straight, thin metal pin that DoD had on hand, unused by the tens of thousands, for 4 cents: an increase of over 177,000 percent.

That price gouging has become an accepted form of corruption within the American military empire is a sad statement on how little control “we the people” have over our runaway government…

The government is destabilizing the economy, destroying the national infrastructure through neglect and a lack of resources, and turning taxpayer dollars into blood money with its endless wars, drone strikes and mounting death tolls.

This is exactly the scenario Eisenhower warned against when he cautioned the citizenry not to let the profit-driven war machine endanger our liberties or democratic processes:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

We failed to heed Eisenhower’s warning.

The illicit merger of the armaments industry and the government that Eisenhower warned against has come to represent perhaps the greatest threat to the nation today…

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When Israel bombed disabled Palestinians | The Electronic Intifada

Posted by M. C. on July 17, 2019

Tolerance is not Israel’s strong point. Ask a Christian.

The U.S. Department of State reveals in its 2012 Report on International Religious Freedom regarding Israel and the Occupied Territories that while “the country’s laws and policies provide for religious freedom and the government generally respected religious freedom in practice,” that attitude among Jews toward missionary activities and conversations were negative.

“Most Jews opposed missionary activity directed at Jews, and some were hostile to Jewish converts to Christianity,” according to the State Department’s report. “Messianic Jews and Jehovah’s Witnesses were harassed regularly by Yad L’Achim and Lev L’Achim, Jewish religious organizations opposed to missionary activity.”

https://electronicintifada.net/content/when-israel-bombed-disabled-palestinians/27876

Sarah Algherbawi

Nasser al-Buhaisi had just graduated from college.

The 22-year-old obtained a degree in religious law from Gaza’s Al-Azhar University during June. One day later, he died.

Al-Buhaisi had been paralyzed due to a road accident in 2006. He had studied hard despite being in intensive care.

His determination made me reflect on the situation facing people with disabilities in Gaza. The situation is never easy but becomes far more difficult when Israel attacks vital services – as it did a few months ago.

In the early evening of 5 May, Israel bombed the Zoroub building in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city. The General Union of Disabled Palestinians was based on one floor of the building.

Approximately 50 people were told to evacuate that floor before the bombing occurred.

Bassam Abu Obaid was the last one from the union to quit the building. “I was finishing off some woodwork and didn’t want to leave,” he said.

Soon after he left, the building was attacked by Israel, using guided bombs made by the Chicago firm Boeing. Although all the people using the services run by the General Union of Disabled Palestinians had made it out safely, three others were killed in the building.

“Killed twice”

The destruction made Abu Obaid recall last year when an Israeli sniper shot him as he took part in Gaza’s Great March of Return.

“It felt like I had been killed twice,” he said. “I had a life there [in the Zoroub building].”

Abu Obaid had one of his legs amputated from the knee down as a result of the injury inflicted on him by an Israeli sniper. A doctor told him that Israel had used an exploding bullet and “committed a war crime,” he said.

Making matters worse, Abu Obaid was denied permission to travel for treatment in Israel. As an alternative, he went to Egypt, where the amputation was carried out…

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From Boeing to E-Ring: Shanahan is Industry’s Man at the Pentagon | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on May 15, 2019

“My impression is right now everyone in the armed services, at the top, are like pigs at the trough and their goal is to scarf up every dollar they can get their hands on in Washington because this might be their last hurrah,”

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/from-boeing-to-e-ring-shanahan-is-industrys-man-at-the-pentagon/

By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

WASHINGTON — John McCain is looking down on Washington and he is definitely not smiling.

The late senator had very little in common with the anti-interventionist principles of this magazine, but in the brighter moments of his 35-year career in Congress, he was the Senate’s most vociferous watchdog of Pentagon waste and contractor malfeasance. His grilling of military brass in this area was legendary, and his willingness to dress down an E-Ring four star or civilian executive in front of the C-Span cameras makes today’s congressional slobbering before the military high-hats look pathetic, and sad.

That’s why he would be all the more crushed to see how the Blob is apparently prepared to confirm a recent senior executive at Boeing—the second largest contractor in the entire federal government—to the role of secretary of defense. Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who McCain, suffering at the time from brain cancer, suggested might be the fox guarding the henhouse, has been idling in the interim SecDef role since James Mattis just before Christmas. Now that a Pentagon Inspector General’s report has quietly cleared him of charges that he was putting his thumb on the scales for billions of dollars of new work for Boeing, President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he will officially nominate Shanahan for the role of Pentagon chief, starting the clock on Senate confirmation.

This has raised the hackles of defense reformers who always saw Shanahan’s presence at the DoD as the highest form of contempt: even by Washington standards, they see this as is a bald display of industry influence on the levers of power and, ultimately, U.S. national security policy.

“Having promised to change nothing, to simply extend the massive spending policies initiated by Mattis, Mr. Shanahan is sure to be confirmed,” charged retired U.S. Army colonel and defense analyst Douglas Macgregor in an interview with TAC. “Keeping the money flowing without interruption is the sine qua non for success in the Senate Armed Services Committee.”

Critics point out that Shanahan has never been anything but a company man. His only experience in military and defense issues was as a program executive of contracts that sink billions of American taxpayer dollars each year into bloated weapons systems and increase shareholder value.

“Shanahan has zero government experience. He’s a defense corporation guy; his track record as deputy secretary is appallingly pro-MIC [military industrial complex],” Pierre Sprey, longtime military watchdog and defense analyst, told TAC.

Armed with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT, Shanahan went straight to Boeing in 1986. After overseeing Boeing’s military rotorcraft (Apache, Chinook, and Osprey helicopters) and missile defense programs, he went onto the commercial side in 2007, where he was known as “Mr. Fix It” for saving the company’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft program. (More recently, he was forced to dodge any connection to 737 Max planes, which were falling out of the sky before a worldwide grounding.)…

So what we see here is an evolution of the MIC, what many call the “self-licking ice cream cone,” says Sprey. In earlier times, the secretaries had military or government experience and their cultivation of industry influence in the Pentagon was more sotto voce. “Over time, though, you can see more and more egregious military industrial complex shills, just some politicians and defense technocrats.” Shanahan is the first to go from a defense industry giant straight into the DoD’s center of power.

“My impression is right now everyone in the armed services, at the top, are like pigs at the trough and their goal is to scarf up every dollar they can get their hands on in Washington because this might be their last hurrah,” said Doug Macgregor. “And Shanahan is going all out for them.”

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Trump Nominates ‘Embodiment of the Military-Industrial Complex’ Patrick Shanahan to Lead Pentagon

Posted by M. C. on May 14, 2019

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/05/10/trump-nominates-embodiment-military-industrial-complex-patrick-shanahan-lead

The White House announced Thursday that President Donald Trump will nominate acting Defense Secretary and former Boeing executive as Pentagon chief. (Photo: United States Air Force)

In a move critics warned could further deepen the ties between the sprawling and immensely profitable private weapons industry and the U.S. government, the White House announced Thursday that President Donald Trump will nominate former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan to head the Pentagon.

“Conflict of interest? Boeing is already the second-largest recipient of private contracts from the U.S. military.”
—National Priorities Project

Shanahan has been serving as acting secretary of defense since the departure of former Pentagon chief Jim Mattis in January.

“When Patrick Shanahan was selected by Trump for a Pentagon post,” The Nation‘s John Nichols tweeted Thursday in response to Shanahan’s nomination, “the Seattle Times wrote: ‘Shanahan, 54, has no military or political experience. He is, however, familiar with defense procurement from the business side.’ Very, very familiar.”

In a column last year, Nichols described Shanahan—who worked at Boeing for 31 years before becoming Trump’s deputy defense secretary—as “the embodiment of the military-industrial complex.”

“His main claim to fame in the deputy post was his ardent advocacy for Trump’s ‘space force’ scheme,” Nichols wrote. “So what experience does Shanahan have? He is, literally and figuratively, the embodiment of the military-industrial complex about which former President Dwight Eisenhower warned Americans at the close of his presidency in 1961.”

As NBC reported, Trump’s decision to nominate Shanahan—who must be confirmed by the Senate—comes “just weeks after the Pentagon’s internal watchdog cleared the longtime former Boeing executive of allegations he provided his old employer… with preferential treatment. Shanahan was accused of pushing Boeing fighter jets on the Air Force and Marines.”

The National Priorities Project (NPP) highlighted Shanahan’s potential conflicts of interest in a series of tweets following news of his nomination.

“Patrick Shanahan, former Boeing executive, is poised to keep running the Pentagon as Defense Secretary with President Trump’s nomination,” NPP wrote. “Conflict of interest? Boeing is already the second-largest recipient of private contracts from the U.S. military.”

“Last year, the average taxpayer paid $102 for contracts with Boeing, ” the group noted, “compared to just $40 for public housing and homeless assistance.”

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