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August 6 - 12, 2004
 on the page…
Social Science
By Yakov M. Rabkin
Famed for inventing the periodic table of elements, 19th-century chemist Dmitry Mendeleyev believed in science's potential to govern society, a new book says.
 on view…
Going for Gold
By Romilly Eveleigh
This year's envoy to the Sao Paulo Biennale of art doesn't have a taste for bronze.
Shock Therapy
By Anna Malpas
Pointing to Soviet psychiatric abuses of the '60s and '70s, a group with links to the Church of Scientology lambastes mental health practices today.
 in concert…
Playing It Safe
By Sveta Graudt
In the wake of last year's terrorist attacks and opposition from local authorities, the Nashestviye open-air rock festival is moving to Tver.
 on screen…
Doctor's Plot
By Victor Sonkin
It has been a good year for Russian film, and with a star-studded cast and prize-winning literary source, director Yury Grymov is helping television keep pace.
 columns…
Image
By Igor Tabakov
Seventy-five years ago this Thursday, at 6:54 a.m., Russia's first electric commuter train departed from Yaroslavsky Station.
Wanted
By Kevin O'Flynn
Larisa talks about her Steinway as if it were a member of the family. Rumor has it that legendary bass Fyodor Chaliapin played it in his day.
Salon
By Victor Sonkin
Anything remotely connected with Madagascar is fair game for Igor Sid's upcoming book of Russian texts about the African island.
Global Eye
By Chris Floyd
Now, Bush and the pope are firing their moral missiles at the ultimate source of the world's distemper: uppity females.
Calendar of Events

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Dark Matter

As the presidential campaign reaches critical mass, the United States will break a long-held taboo and launch the first weapon into the global commons of outer space.

By Chris Floyd
Published: April 9, 2004

This summer, the human race will pass a sinister milestone. It will come quietly, creeping like a thief in the night -- a starless night, the sky blanked by a minatory shadow.

For while the world's attention will be turned this July toward the bloody carnage erupting in Iraq after the illusory turnover of "sovereignty" by the still-entrenched occupation force, and riveted by the flood of sewage pouring from the White House as the presidential campaign reaches critical mass, the United States will break a long-held taboo and launch the first weapon into the global commons of outer space.

It's a small step, a test satellite called the "Near Field Infrared Experiment," set for launch -- by a Minotaur missile, no less -- this summer from a NASA base in Virginia. NFIRE is part of the Bush Regime's multibillion-dollar, crony-feeding boondoggle known as "missile defense." The satellite's primary mission is to gather data on the exhaust fumes of rockets in space, information that will then be used to help future space weapons differentiate more clearly between a target and its trailing plume.

But NFIRE is itself weaponized, carrying a projectile-packed "kill vehicle" that can destroy passing missiles -- or the satellites of the United States' military and commercial rivals, as ABC News reported last week. This marks the first time in history that any nation has put a weapon in space, despite America's still-official policy against such a practice. And as Pentagon officials made clear in an eye-opening presentation to Congress in February, NFIRE's test is just the first spark of a conflagration that will soon set the heavens ablaze with American weaponry capable of striking -- and destroying -- any spot on earth. As one top Pentagon official -- opposed to this lunatic proliferation, thus remaining anonymous -- said: "We're crossing the Rubicon into space weaponization."

The ABC report -- largely ignored, except by the Irish Examiner and some specialist web sites -- was strangely incomplete, however. It noted only that there is a $68 million appropriation for NFIRE buried in the 2005 military budget -- leaving the implication that the project is still on the drawing board.

But in fact, NFIRE is already operational. It began in August 2002 and has moved steadily toward its long-established Summer 2004 launch date, according to NASA and press releases from the private contractors involved. The Pentagon's own published specs for the mission state clearly: "The Generation 2 kill vehicle will be integrated into the near-field experiment payload" when the spacecraft launches in summer 2004. The Minotaur missile that will haul the weapon into orbit was ordered by the Pentagon in January 2003, Orbital Sciences Corporation reports. Doubtless there will more NFIREs burning in 2005 as well, but the weaponization of space is not some distant prospect: That dark future is now.

And the boys in Space Command are just getting warmed up. They wowed the salivating Bushist faithful in Congress with highly detailed plans for a whizbang space arsenal led by the "Rods From God" -- bundles of tungsten rods fired from orbiting platforms, hurtling toward earth at 3,700 meters per second, accurate within a range of 8 meters and able to destroy even the most hardened targets, the Center for Defense Information reports. They could be launched at only a few minutes' notice at any target on the planet.

"God's Rods" will be accompanied by orbiting lasers, "hunter-killer" satellites, and space bombers that needn't bother with silly-billy legal worries about "overflight rights" from other countries, but can descend out of the ether to swoop down on any uppity nation that displeases the world-Caesar in Washington.

This belligerent Buck-Rogering, long a gleam in many a militarist's eye, gained relentless momentum with the arrival of Don Rumsfeld as Pentagon war chief. In the late 1990s, while helping Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz plot their "Project for the New American Century" -- wholesale militarization of U.S. policy, aggressive war (including the invasion of Iraq even if Saddam Hussein was no longer there), "global dominance" of "vital energy resources," etc. -- Rumsfeld also headed a "blue-ribbon panel" of the usual Establishment worthies looking into "the role of space in national security." Their conclusion? You guessed it: Rummy said America must garrison the heavens to prevent a -- wait for it -- "space Pearl Harbor."

Oddly enough, over at PNAC, at about the same time, Rummy and Cheney were speaking openly about the possibility of a "new Pearl Harbor" that would "catalyze the American people" into supporting their plans, which were published in September 2000. Space weaponization -- via "missile defense" -- was an essential part of the scheme. Once in office, they shoveled billions to their favored defense cartels and fast-tracked space-weapon programs. Indeed, National Security Advisor Condi Rice intended to crown these early efforts with a major speech enshrining the Bush Regime's "top priority" for national security: "missile defense."

Unfortunately, the speech -- scheduled for Sept. 11, 2001 -- had to be canceled due to the "new Pearl Harbor" that struck that day, the Washington Post reported last week. But the plan and its long-standing priorities -- invasion of Iraq, military control of Central Asia, space weaponization -- continued without missing a beat, though clothed now in the expedient rhetoric of a "global war on terror."

Of course, with each passing day, Bush's PNAC centerpiece -- the rape of Iraq -- is actually breeding more terror, more hatred for America, more risk for the people he rules with such ignorant, blood-flecked insouciance. But this doesn't matter; what matters is the plan, the dominance. And so space too must be conquered, at any cost, until the whole world is under cosmic military occupation -- a global Fallujah, seething with chaos and fury.

Annotations



Reining in our Weaponry
San Francisco Chronicle, March 15, 2004

Shooting Stars
ABC News, March 30, 2004

U.S. Takes First Steps to Weaponize Space
Spacedaily.com, March 30, 2004

US Creeping Toward Weapons in Space
Irish Examiner, March 31, 2004

NFIRE Mission Description [page 3]
U.S. Department of Defense, February 2003,

U.S. Military Launch Manifest
Small World Communications, March 22, 2004

Rods From God: Possible Space Weapons of the Future
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 28, 2003

21st Century Gunboat Diplomacy
The Nation Institute, March 30, 2004

Top Focus Before 9/11 Wasn't Terrorism
Washington Post, April 1, 2004

Rebuilding America's Defenses
Project for the New American Century, September 2000

Rumsfeld Commision Warns Against 'Space Pearl Harbor
Agence France Presse, Jan. 11, 2001

U.S. Military Moves to Control Space
EnviroVideo, Feb. 24, 2001

Orbital Wins $60 Million in New Small Launch Vehicles Order
Orbital Sciences Corporation, Jan. 23, 2003

Star Wars: Protecting Globalization From Above
CorpWatch, Jan. 18, 2002

Ballistic Missile Defense Interceptors
U.S. Missile Defense Agency, Jan. 30, 2004

SAIC Wins NFIRE Contract
U.S. Department of Defense, Jan. 21, 2003

Near Field InfraRed Experiment
NASA, August 2002

The Minotaur Missile
Gunter's Space Page, Jan. 16, 2004

USN Selected for NFIRE Mission
Universal Space Network, Inc., December 18, 2003

MDA Plans to Launch Sattelite to Assist in Missile Defense Tests
Space News, December 9, 2002

Spectrum Astro Forming Industry Team for Targets and Countermeasures Bid
Spectrum Astro, Jan. 7, 2003