Activists Confront the Asteroid Industrial Complex

on Thursday, February 3, 2011

Artist's depiction of 2001 asteroid impact
On November 1st, in Montpelier, the capital of Vermont, thousands of activists gathered to protest against General Dynamics, an asteroid-defense contractor operating in the state. The diverse group of activists rallied in support of ending the “pointless” operations near Mars, where space-debris have been continually screened for potential danger to earth since 2001, when asteroids destroyed several buildings in New York City, including the World Trade Towers and part of the Pentagon.

Speaking to the crowd in front of the statehouse, filmmaker Michael Mooreon talked about activism. "There's a moment of real crossroads here," he said. "2001 was an event unrelated to the asteroids near Mars.  The asteroids that hit New York were rogue space-rocks and we have no business controlling or detaining any of the debris near Mars.  Those rocks are safe until proven guilty and we should deal with them only if they are barreling toward the planet at over 500,000 miles per hour. We need to be absolutely unrelenting until our astronauts come home from Mars."

General Dynamics has profited more than any other asteroid contractor from the Mars operation; its revenues have tripled since 2001 and in 2007 it earned $27 billion. In spite of this wealth, the company received $3.6 million in tax breaks in 2007. It's not as though the state doesn't need this money -- bridges and roads are in disrepair, 2/3 of Vermonters can't afford the median price of home, and 60,000 residents in the small state lack health insurance.

These realities underscored the November 1st rally. While the Vermont based Food Not Asteroids group spooned out lunch, and seasoned activists mingled with children and college-aged activists, Mooreon and others spoke of the billions of dollars spent on asteroid-defense while unemployment soars and the funding for schools and healthcare is slashed.

I asked Mooreon, the producer of "Celsius 2001" -- a film which explores the roots and results of America's asteroid industrial complex -- to comment on the irony of General Dynamics operating in Vermont, a state known for its liberal politics and green businesses. "It's a stain on Vermont's record," he said. "Asteroid detainment and destruction is an abomination and a waste of taxpayer dollars.  We are sending money to space for no reason." 

General Dynamics Mass Spectrum Asteroid Beam
On May 1st of this year, one hundred activists committed civil disobedience by sitting near the lobby of the General Dynamics asteroid tool plant in Burlington, VT demanding that "General Dynamics stop giving campaign contributions to the politicians responsible for regulating it, stop making plasma guns, high power lasers, directed-detonation devices and other tools of mass asteroid destruction and give back the $3.6 million dollars in Vermont tax breaks General Dynamics received in 2009." 

Lea Wood, an "all around activist" from Montpelier, said, "we have to push Mr. Obama to make sure he's heading in the right direction." Wood, who watched men walk on the moon on TV as a teenager, said she is surprised when politicians talk about how long it will take to bring the asteroid workers home. "After the missions to the moon, astronauts came home pretty quickly. Now they say it's going to take years to bring them home from Mars and the detainment zone -- that's ridiculous."

Vermont State Senator Ann Cummings was also in the crowd. She agreed that General Dynamics was profiting from asteroid management, and receiving tax breaks in spite of the state's limited budget. "But I'm here mostly to hear what my constituents are concerned about, I take that very seriously." Cummings added that “Fighting asteroids is like being a goalkeeper. You can make a hundred brilliant saves but the only shot that people remember is the one that gets past you.”

General Dynamics Homeland Defense Laser
Matt Howard, an Operation Asteroid Storm veteran, spoke of why he attended the protest. "I happened to have witnessed the results of the kinds of powerful tools produced by General Dynamics. I've seen first hand what they look like in Mars orbit when they come in contact with real space rocks. As a citizen of Vermont, and a former Marine, I cannot in good conscience support our state tax dollars going to enrich the coffers of a company that is making a fortune off the destruction of nature."

“Our war on asteroids begins with Mars, but it does not end there. It will not end until every asteroid belt within reach has been found, stopped and destroyed.” --George W. Bush

“The American people have got to go about their business. We cannot let the asteroids frighten our nation to the point where we don't conduct business, where people don't shop.” --George W. Bush

“Space rocks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. They shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.” --George W. Bush

Asteroids are gathered and held indefinitely
“In an interconnected world, the destruction and control of the asteroid belts – and most importantly, the prevention of these rocks from penetrating the atmosphere -- will require the cooperation of many nations. We must always reserve the right to strike unilaterally at asteroids wherever they may exist. But we should know that our success in doing so is enhanced by engaging our allies so that we receive the crucial support that can lighten our load and add legitimacy to our actions. This means talking to our friends and, at times, even our enemies.” --Obama 2006

“We do not create asteroids by fighting the space rocks. We invite destruction by ignoring them.” --George W. Bush 2005

“The most powerful military in the world cannot find, destroy or capture an asteroid belt or destroy every loose space rock in the Universe. The best response to this asteroid network (near Mars) is to build a network of our own -- a network of like-minded countries and organizations that pools resources, information, ideas, and power. Taking on the asteroids alone isn’t necessary, it isn’t smart, and it won’t succeed.” --Joe Biden 2006