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Raytheon’s recent patent application for a new choking sound-cannon has gotten a bit of attention since Gizmodo picked up the story from New Scientist.

http://gizmodo.com/5867984/future-riot-shields-will-suffocate-protestors-with…

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228425.300-riot-shields-could-scatter…

My soon-to-be-patent-attorney friend has chided me not to worry, because this is “just a patent application.” And here’s an example of how a little bit of legal education, which strictly de-emphasizes context and the analysis of power dynamics, can be a dangerous thing. There is a substantive difference between a patent application by a random would-be inventor working out of her garage and a patent application by Raytheon.

Raytheon is one of the largest arms dealers in the world. Raytheon has billions of dollars of US government contracts. Raytheon has current contracts to develop crowd control weapons, and is testing them on American prisoners. Raytheon has already developed crowd-control weapons from battlefield technology and sold them to domestic prisons for use here in the States.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129630188

Raytheon is girding itself for shifts in US government defense spending, partly by selling more war-weapons to other countries…

http://www.defenseprocurementnews.com/2011/12/01/saudi-patriot-deal-receives-…

…but also by increasingly marketing to ‘non-military customers.’ Such as the Department of Homeland Security and prisons, public and private. These ‘non-military’ customers buy a lot of crowd-control weapons.

http://technorati.com/business/finance/article/raytheon-illustrates-diversifi…

Another sonic weapon, developed by LRAD, has already been deployed against first amendment-exercisers here in the States.

http://gizmodo.com/5860592/what-is-the-lrad-sound-cannon

It’s really not a giant leap of logic to imagine that this particular patent application might be something nasty, deployed for nasty purposes.

Oh, BTW? Raytheon has been repeatedly sanctioned for illegal and unethical practice – it’s the 5th-worst government contractor, according to the Project on Open Government’s misconduct database. Competing, of course, with the OTHER four major defense contractors.

http://www.contractormisconduct.org/index.cfm/1,73,221,html?ContractorID=46&r…

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“The one thing that everybody wants is to be free…not to be managed, threatened, directed, restrained, obliged, fearful, administered, they want none of these things they all want to feel free, the word discipline, and forbidden and investigated and imprisoned brings horror and fear into all hearts, they do not want to be afraid not more than is necessary in the ordinary business of living where one has to earn one’s living and has to fear want and disease and death….The only thing that any one wants now is to be free, to be let alone, to live their life as they can, but not to be watched, controlled and scared, no no, not.”

― Gertrude Stein, in September, 1943, on Vichy France

quoted in James R. Mellow, Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company

“The one thing that everybody wants is to be free.” But this seems to be true only in conditions of the most egregious oppression, the most heinous un-freedom. What does ‘everybody’ in the United States want now, today? What is ‘everybody’ doing for the sake of freedom? Even if only their own freedom, even if freedom in some restricted and unimaginative sense, even if only part-time? What does ‘everybody’ want before it’s too late?

Photograph: Petain’s Vichy cabinet. Reasonable-looking men.

Thanks to the Asia-Pacific Journal and Timothy Brooks for access to this photograph: http://www.japanfocus.org/-Timothy-Brook/2802

Man_who_never_was_bookcover

Operation Mincemeat involved Allied spies dressing up a corpse and dropping it off the coast of Spain with faked Super Secret Invasion Plans in its pockets. Dead men do tell tales: The subterfuge was successful, Hitler was convinced, and he moved troops to Greece instead of Sicily. Reportedly, the mastermind behind the plot sold it to the British intelligence supervisors by pointing out that corpses rarely crack under torture.

The heroic corpse has gone unnamed for all of the intervening decades, though there have been contenders in the running, a film and previous books on the subject. The plotters went to their graves without ever revealing whose body made Operation Mincemeat possible. Now, however, historian Denis Smyth has written a book, claiming he has convincing evidence identifying “Major Martin” as Glyndwr Michael: a homeless Welshman who died eating rat poison.

It is time for Mr. Michael to get his propers. The Brits’ level of respect for their ersatz hero is evident in the operational codename Mincemeat. And even today, there are those who would deny Mr. Michael’s contribution. John Steele authored an earlier book, in which he claims that “Major Martin” was a sailor aboard the HMS Dasher. One can detect a frisson of disgust at the mere idea that the war-hero corpse-spy could have been a lunatic of the underclass: “There is no comparison whatsoever between the body of an alcoholic tramp and that of a Royal Marine,” he told the Telegraph.

Let us lift a pint tonight in commemoration of Mr. Michael’s unsung contributions to the Last Great War, and praise the ghosts of uncounted numbers other filthy, raving, suicidal, homeless madmen whose magnificence and humanity have been disregarded.

 

 

(image courtesy of kitschy kitschy koo)

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