As inequality in the US grows, the ultra-rich are pouring their spare cash not just into private jets, but into private security. Think there’s a connection?
By Sarah Jaffe
July 29, 2011
“Violence in the streets, aimed at the wealthy. That’s what I worry about.”
That was what an unidentified billionaire told Robert Frank of the Wall Street Journal a while back. Rich people are scared of global unrest, Frank reported, citing a survey by Insite Security and IBOPE Zogby International of people with liquid assets of $1 million or more (translation: folks who have or can get their hands on $1 million in cash fairly easily) that says 94 percent of the wealthy are concerned about “global unrest” around the world.
Of course, Insite has an interest in getting the paranoid rich to beef up their security. Still, the numbers are backed up by other trends seen throughout the world of wealth today: the rich keeping a lower profile, hiring $230,000 guard dogs, and arming their yachts, planes and cars with military-style security features.
John Johnson, the owner of the $230,000 dog featured in the New York Times, is a former debt collector. (You can’t make this stuff up.) He sold his debt collection company three years ago, but still has not just one, but six highly—and expensively—trained “executive protection dogs.” Harrison K-9 services, the trainers behind Johnson’s pricey protection dogs, used to train dogs for elite military units like the Navy Seal team that raided Osama bin Laden’s compound. The article doesn’t say exactly how many dogs Harrison K-9 has provided for the world’s rich and famous, but it does feature a quote from their head trainer saying she’s trained “a thousand” dogs.
In addition to security systems, dogs and armed yachts, the security-conscious oligarch can hire a private spy company—Jellyfish, a spinoff of the notorious private security company Blackwater. Or what about their own personal drone? “Smaller, private versions of the infamous Predator” may be coming to well-heeled private citizens near you, according to the UK’s Daily Mail. So far the private drones appear to only be for spying, but former Navy fighter pilot Missy Cummings told the Daily Mail, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist from MIT to tell you if we can do it for a soldier in the field, we can do it for anybody.”
By Mike Hall
Jul 28, 2011
For two years, management at IKEA’s Danville, Va., subsidiary Swedwood fought the workers’ choice to join the Machinists (IAM). But after yesterday’s overwhelming 221-69 vote, the workers who assemble furniture for IKEA stores have that voice at work.
Coretta Giles says working conditions—especially heat inside the plant—and low wages are two of the biggest issues she wants resolved. She told the Danville Register and Bee she voted for the IAM:
So we can have a voice. So we can all be heard and have another leg we can stand on when we need to.
The Danville plant is not air conditioned and, says Bill Street, director of the IAM’s Woodworking Department, is routinely 15 to 20 degrees hotter inside than outside. Working conditions on normal summer day are oppressive, but the recent heat waves have made it nearly unbearable, he says.
Also, while Ikea pays its Swedish workforce that does the same jobs about $19 an hour, along with five weeks of paid vacation, in Danville full time workers start at $ 8 hour. About third of the workers are from temp agencies and they make even less. While full-time workers receive 12 vacation days, management determines when eight of them must be taken. Says Street:
It’s ironic that IKEA looks on the U.S. and Danville the way that most people in the U.S. look at Mexico. In this case, we’ve become Sweden’s Mexico.
Continue reading at: http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/07/28/ikea-workers-build-solidarity-vote-for-machinists/
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jul/29/european-debt-crisis-cyprus
Island may need bailout following exposure to Greek banks and an explosion that hit the island’s finance and tourism sector
Europe‘s debt drama has rippled across the Mediterranean to Cyprus. The country’s beleaguered leader was scrambling today to form a government amid speculation that the island’s ailing economy may soon need to be rescued by the EU.
Barely a week after EU leaders attempted to contain the crisis by agreeing to a new aid package for Greece, Cyprus has begun to show all the signs of fiscal contagion, with rising borrowing costs and an economy that has seen its credit rating downgraded.
“We are on the verge of economic collapse,” said Ioannis Kasoulides, the island’s former foreign minister and current MEP. “Unless serious structural reforms are implemented, we will face bankruptcy and need [a bailout] too.”
Hopes of the crisis being nipped in the bud were crushed yesterday as President Demetris Christofias struggled to appoint a new administration.
Christofias’ refusal to confront the island’s tough trade unionists – widely blamed for its profligate public sector – appeared to be a major obstacle.
Until recently Cyprus was considered an “economic miracle”. But the global financial crisis and a series of misfortunes have added to its woes. An explosion at a naval base on the island earlier this month left 13 dead and knocked out its main power plant, triggering daily blackouts that have severely affected the financial and tourism sectors on which it depends. Damage from the blast is estimated at €1bn-€3bn (£878m-£2.6bn) and as much as 20% of gross domestic product.
With 19 months left in office, Christofias has come under heavy attack for the accident. The disaster occurred after a cache of explosives confiscated from a Syrian-bound Iranian ship were left out in high temperatures close to the power plant.
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jul/29/european-debt-crisis-cyprus
From Think Progress: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/07/07/262400/clinton-war-on-voting-jim-crow/
By Ian Millhiser
Jul 7, 2011
Speaking yesterday at the annual Campus Progress convention, former President Bill Clinton called out the GOP’s state by state efforts to make it harder to vote— a war on voting designed almost entirely to reduce the number of Democrats who cast ballots:
I can’t help thinking, since we just celebrated the Fourth of July and we’re supposed to be a country dedicated to liberty, that one of the most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today is the disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you from voting next time. There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the other Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today.
Getting rid of same-day registration. Some states getting rid of all advanced voting. Governor of Florida proposed to reverse his Republican predecessor’s signing of a bill that gave people the right to vote when they got out of prison and they’d finished they’re probation period, even if they didn’t have a pardon—that’s one of the most important things we can do. Why should we disenfranchise people forever once they pay their price? Cause most of them in Florida were African Americans and Hispanics and would tend to vote for Democrats, that’s why.
Why do we want to get rid of same day registration? Why has New Hampshire made it almost impossible for college students who come from other states but live in New Hampshire most of the year to vote there? Why is all this going on? This is not rocket science. They are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate.
Continue reading at: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/07/07/262400/clinton-war-on-voting-jim-crow/
27 Jul 2011
The paranoid style in politics often imagines unlikely alliances that coalesce into an overwhelming threat that must be countered by all necessary means.
In Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington conjured an amalgamated East – an alliance between “Confucian” and “Islamic” powers – that would challenge the West for world dominance. Many jihadis fear the Crusader alliance between Jews and Christians. They forget that until recently, historically speaking, populations professing the latter were the chief persecutors of the former.
Now Anders Breivik has invoked the improbable axis of Marxism, multiculturalism and Islamism, together colonising Europe. As he sees multiculturalism as essentially a Jewish plot, Breivik has managed to wrap up the new and old fascist bogies in one conspiracy: communists, Jews and Muslims.
Like his terrorist counterparts who kill in the name of various Islamic sects, Breivik is willing to slaughter people for an invented purity. Modern Norway is a latecomer to the world of nations, becoming sovereign only in 1905. Vikings, Arctic explorers and international humanitarians all went into imagining the place.
Given how readily jihadi texts are dismissed as ravings, it is notable how much attention has already been paid to Breivik’s wacky ideological brew. This is a worrying portent of the line of analysis that says that the “root causes” of Breivik’s madness – immigration and cultural difference – must be addressed. Otherwise, European societies will lose their social cohesion, to choose one current euphemism for the Volk.
To the extent such a view takes hold, the far right may be forgiven for concluding that terrorism works. As for the rest of us, now facing terrorist re-imaginings from both sides of obscure battles in a mythic past, we may long for the leftist and anti-colonial insurgents of bygone days. They at least could offer plausible accounts of what they were up to.
To be sure, tactically speaking, Breivik thought through his operation. Unlike many jihadis, however, he lacked the courage to face men armed like him, and to offer his own life for his beliefs as well as the lives of others. Nonetheless he wanted at his court appearance to strut about in some kind of military uniform.
Smartly tailored uniforms, an abhorrence of cultural difference, and a desire for racial purity are all of a piece with fascist mysticism. As with jihadi ideology, it is precisely the non-rational elements of fascism that give it emotive, and hence political, power. For what Breivik and others see as under threat in the West is the vital source of meaning, of ultimate values, which they associate with the communion of a purified people.
Since the West faces no obvious threat of such existential scale and significance, one must be fabricated. It is here that the unlikely alliance of left wing parties and Islam plays its role, purportedly importing on a mass scale Muslims to colonise Europe. In Norway, Muslims account for less than three per cent of the population; in the UK, less than five per cent. Even so, the fantastical fear of the “loss” of Europe to Islam animates many on the right. It is part of mainstream electoral politics in Europe, and has long been an element of right wing discourse in the US.
Continue reading at: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/07/2011726131835154941.html
By David Edwards
Posted on 07.29.11
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spoke to a forum at the Splendour in the Grass music festival in Queensland Friday, saying that the current generation was “burning the mass media to the ground.”
“We are becoming the agents of perspective,” he said. “This generation is burning the mass media to the ground.”
Assange continued: “We are reclaiming our rights to world history. We are ripping open secret archives from Washington to Cairo. We don’t know yet exactly where we are. But we can see where we are going. The change in perspective that has happened over the last year is what this generation is going to use to find our lighthouse.”
“And when we get there, we’ll turn the fucking spotlight on.”