Inside the system

New war propels US defence stocks to record highs

US arms manufacturers’ share prices have hit record highs as the US charges into a new war in Iraq and Syria. At this stage Obama’s strategy to “degrade and destroy” the group Islamic State involves open-ended airstrikes but no US ground combat operations.

This will put an increased emphasis on the role of drones, missiles and other military equipment pumped out by the major arms firms.
Jack Albin, Chief Investment Officer at Chicago based BMO Private Bank, oversees $66 billion in investments, including shares holdings in arms producers like Northrop Grumann Corp. and Boeing. He cheerfully points out that the horrors unfolding in the Middle East could “present an opportunity” for war profiteers.

The world’s biggest arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin is leading the race to turn blood into profit. Their share price reached a record high of $180.74 in September. The proxy conflict between the West and Russia in the Ukraine is also creating bigger markets for arms in Europe and tensions in the South China Sea are stoking increased defence spending in the Asia Pacific.
Jeff Babione, Deputy Manager of Lockheed’s F-35 fighter jet program, says “There’s no doubt the world is getting to be a more and more dangerous place”.

And as bombs rain down on grain silos in Syria and civilians in Iraq, profits are raining down on Maryland, Washington and Massachusetts.

Plastic sword seized in terror raids

A one metre long curved sword seized by police was of the most emotive symbols of September’s terror raids in Sydney. The Daily Telegraph said the “formidable sword hidden in a black sheath” showed its owners had “an evil intent to match—a plot to saw off the head of an innocent Australian”.

But it turns out the sword was a plastic ornament bought at a Sydney night market that had been on display in the family home for years.

Federal Police have conceded that reports of a planned beheading were based on a single phone call where the word “behead” was not even used.

As further proof of the Islamophobic stupidity of the anti-terror offensive, the sword seized was in fact a Zulfiqar, a common Shia Islamic symbol. The raids targeted figures supposedly linked to the Islamic State, a terror group notorious for their merciless persecution of the Shia in Iraq. Grasping the fact that Shia Muslims would not be members of a group that wants to kill them was apparently beyond ASIO.

Abbott’s war to cost only 200 million middies

After telling us that there was absolutely no money for decent healthcare, pensions or education in the May budget, the Abbott government has suddenly found hundreds of millions to spend on bombing Iraq and beefing up security agencies at home.

In September Abbott estimated that Australia’s role in the latest US led war in the Middle East would cost around half a billion dollars a year. When asked about the length of the war, Attorney-General George Brandis just said “This is something that is going to take an unspecified and potentially quite long period of time”. US supplied “smart guided” weapons fired from Australia’s super-hornet jetfighters will cost between $70,000 and $650,000 each. On top of this Abbott will throw an extra $630 million at national security agencies like ASIO over the next four years. But not to worry, as The Shovel pointed out all this war and spying will only cost the equivalent of 200 million middies a year.

Medibank chief to get 400 per cent pay rise

When Medibank chief George Savvides moves from being a public servant to a CEO as a result of its privatisation, his pay packet is expected to jump by 400 per cent.
He could be taking home between $2 million and $8 million, but in his first year it will probably be about $5 million, Ulysses Chioatto, head of research, Australia and New Zealand, at Institutional Shareholder Services told Fairfax. It’s likely that the privatisation will push up premiums for ordinary people. This is privatisation in a nutshell: a gold-rush for the rich that comes at the expense of ordinary people. As Joe Hockey says, “someone has always got to pay”.

Israel promotes rape advocate as expert on Palestinians

UPON ARRIVAL in the US for the UN General Assembly in September, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the press with a list of “experts” to be contacted on questions relating to his trip, particularly regarding Palestine.

Appearing twice on the list was Israeli academic Mordechai Kedar, a professor of Arabic literature at Bar-Ilan University. This respectable expert, acting as a mouthpiece for the Middle East’s “only democracy” advocates for the use of rape as a weapon of deterrence in war.
After the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank this year he told an Israeli radio program that “Terrorists like those who kidnapped the children and killed them — the only thing that deters them is if they know that their sister or their mother will be raped in the event that they are caught.” He rationalised his horrific comments by saying “It sounds very bad, but that’s the Middle East”.

Vice Chancellor millionaires’ club swells

There were six university Vice Chancellors with pay packets over $1 million last year, the National Tertiary Education Union has revealed after analysing university annual reports.
Sydney University’s Michael Spence made $1,075,000 with a healthy 24 per cent increase, joining Melbourne Uni’s Glyn Davis, University of Queensland’s Peter Hoy, University of WA’s Paul Johnson and QUT’s Peter Coaldrake in the millionaire’s club.

The country’s highest paid VC was Australian Catholic University’s Greg Craven on $1,095,000. It must be a tough job forcing through all those course cuts.

Research and writing by Adam Adelpour

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