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