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Guns in the sky

Collage courtesy Sarah Hussain / Red Dirt Report
The top image shows a space-based nuclear weapon in "2001: A Space Odyssey." Below is a screenshot of the words "S.D.I" as featured in the 1987 video for INXS's "Guns in the Sky"
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Back in 1987-88, when I was listening to INXS’s KICK album quite a bit, the opening track, “Guns in the Sky” was one of my favorites. It had a wicked guitar lick, driving beat and Michael Hutchence’s urgent delivery.

The “guns in the sky,” of course, was Hutchence’s political statement against Reagan’s proposed Strategic Defense Initiative (S.D.I.) or “Star Wars.” In the video, words like "START," "USA," "CCCP," "S.D.I." and "STOP" rapidly flash on the screen, in almost subliminal fashion.

In the final verse, Hutchence sings – spitting bile at the Reagan administration warmongers: “Well I’m sick of it / It’s a load of shit / We could stop the world / And let off all the fools / And let them go live with their guns in the sky …

I was reminded of that song – synchromystically speaking – when my Aussie buddy Darren reminded fellow sync-heads this morning that Alex Proyas, director of the sync-heavy, apocalyptic film Knowing, had been involved in a 2004 INXS film project titled I’m Only Looking: The Best of INXS. Darren then shares a BBC story noting how INXS “riffmeister,” guitarist Tim Farriss, severed his ring finger and severely damaged his hand in a boating accident in his native Australia last month. As a result, Farriss may never properly play guitar again. The Brisbane Courier-Mail has more, noting that a resurgence in interest in Australia made INXS very popular there again, and made the 27-year-old KICK album a top seller once again.

No more “Guns in the Sky”? Well, perhaps only from a stage where INXS might play, or in the earbuds of Aussies rediscovering songs like "Guns in the Sky."

The reality is much more serious.

There was a time when “guns in the sky” were being literally planned for us, circling the planet, waiting to “blast” nuclear missiles before they hit their intended target (“Las Vegas?!?!”).

President Ronald Reagan – inspired by the efforts of Prof. Peter L. Hagelstein and Edward Teller (the father of the hydrogen bomb) – went on television in March 1983, in one of the more  bizarre episodes of The Day After Eighties, to pitch “Star Wars” to the American public. The idea was to use X-ray lasers to shoot down incoming Soviet, nuclear-armed ICBMs.

The usually-insightful Secret Sun blogger, Christopher Knowles, posted a great piece yesterday titled “Saucers, Snitches and Secret Space Programs.”

The no-nonsense Knowles kicks things off in his usual cut-through-the-bullshit fashion: “You can tell the Cold War is back for real when the US starts funneling money into exotic space weaponry. Not to mention the fact that Russian warplanes are buzzing Europe and China is openly discussing its plans to drive the US out of Asia, claiming the Pacific Ocean as its Mare Nostrum.”

Using that opening paragraph as a launching pad (no pun intended), Knowles proceeds to delve into a story featured at headlined “Obama wants more money for military spy satellites, lasers, space fence.” The reporter notes, in the subhed that 2015 “could be a great year for lasers and spy satellites.” Well, well, well …

Holy shit! Now does that sound familiar, fellow children of the 1980’s? Turns out that Obama is seeking $3 billion for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, to work on space planes (recall last fall’s X-37B space plane, which spent 675 days straight in space!) and “electronic and laser weapon systems.”

“It will be a great year for futuristic technologies that sound like they come from a comic book,” writes’s Tucker.

The military, Tucker notes, has its hat out, too. Secret spending on classified Air Force programs “increased from $14 billion to $15 billion this year.”

So many secrets. Shouldn’t we have a “right to know”? Well, our newly-elected junior senator, Republican James Lankford, sent out a press release last week, announcing that he is introducing the “Taxpayers Right to Know Act,” which “would provide the American people with a better understanding of how their tax dollars are spent.” Lankford notes that “this bipartisan bill shines a light on the details, costs, and performance metrics of every federal program.”

Really? Well, when Red Dirt Report contacted Lankford’s office, inquiring if the so-called “Black Budget” was excluded in the fine print of Lankford’s bill, his press assistant wrote back (not surprisingly) “Some sensitive intelligence and top secret defense matters will be excluded from this bill.

Obama, meanwhile, is morphing into a jelly-bean-loving Cold Warrior by the day (with stars in his eyes), much to the glee of the Pentagon and the muckety-mucks in the ever-expanding military-industrial complex. 

Knowles' blog post also delves into lunar politics, interestingly enough. Noting a Reuters story out this week headlined "Exclusive - The FAA: Regulating business on the Moon," we are reminded that there is a 1967 United Nations treaty,"(the) Outer Space treaty, (which) in part, requires countries to authorize and supervise activities of non-government entities that are operating in space, including the moon. It also bans nuclear weapons in space, prohibits national claims to celestial bodies and stipulates that space exploration and development should benefit all countries." But it seems there may be exceptions ... exceptions that are being currently ironed out.

Knowles highlights the fact that the mysterious Robert Bigelow and Bigelow Aerospace (based in Las Vegas!) were given the proverbial "wink and nod" to proceed with plans to go to the Moon and engage in, well, whatever they want to engage in. Inflatable space habitats? Mining? Digging up mysterious artifacts below the lunar surface - and discovering important informantion about our place in the universe? And then we note that the White House is quite keen on the U.S. further investigating the Jovian moon of Europa - a favorite sci-fi destination, but one that is protected by its "guardians" - "ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE." Arthur C. Clarke did warn us, didn't he?

Does this scenario begin to sound like Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey? With the nuclear weapon circling the earth (as we noted in our 2013 post "Red Skies" and confirmed by 2001 actor Keir Dullea), which had just morphed from that bone the ape threw into the air. Cue "Blue Danube." It's here that I should note that in the first rough-draft of 2001, Clarke had the "Star Child" allowing nuclear war to take place on Earth. Kubrick fought with Clarke over this and had a quite different ending

We should note that Bigelow owns the notorious and spooky  "Skinwalker Ranch" in Utah, something the skeptical and belligerent former Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura (cue the American Sniper haters), investigated. Is Bigelow being given the old FAA "green light" to move forward on his very, very expensive project for Gottliebian purposes?

Back here on Earth, it would seem that with global tensions rising - particularly between the U.S. and Russia, over Ukraine - that efforts to tamp down these tensions would be made in earnest. And we see Germany's Merkel and France's Hollande flying to Kiev and Moscow today to engage in "peace talks," as noted in The Moscow Times. And Secretary of State John Kerry? He's simply flying to Kiev, to "assess" things and likely further arm the Ukrainians against their pro-Russian foes in Donetsk. As we wrote in this week's piece "A LIT FUSE: Throwing lethal aid at Ukraine only risks a serious proxy war between the U.S. and Russia," talk of peace is not matching the actions of Washington, which is to likely force Putin into a corner and raise the stakes in Cold War 2.0. 

We can only hope that peace wins out in all of this. Stay tuned.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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