When news arrived of the catastrophic earthquake in Sichuan, my mind turned to Zheng Sun Man, an up-and-coming security executive I met on a recent trip to China. Zheng heads Aebell Electrical Technology, a Guangzhou-based company that makes surveillance cameras and public address systems and sells them to the government.
Zheng, a 28-year-old MBA with a text-messaging addiction, was determined to persuade me that his cameras and speakers are not being used against pro-democracy activists or factory organizers. They are for managing natural disasters, Zheng explained, pointing to the freak snowstorms before Lunar New Year. During the crisis, the government "was able to use the feed from the railway cameras to communicate how to deal with the situation and organize an evacuation. We saw how the central government can command from the north emergencies in the south."
With the help of U.S. defense contractors, China is building the prototype for a high-tech police state. It is ready for export.
Thirty years ago, the city of Shenzhen didn't exist. Back in those days, it was a string of small fishing villages and collectively run rice paddies, a place of rutted dirt roads and traditional temples. That was before the Communist Party chose it — thanks to its location close to Hong Kong's port — to be China's first "special economic zone," one of only four areas where capitalism would be permitted on a trial basis. The theory behind the experiment was that the "real" China would keep its socialist soul intact while profiting from the private-sector jobs and industrial development created in Shenzhen. The result was a city of pure commerce, undiluted by history or rooted culture — the crack cocaine of capitalism. It was a force so addictive to investors that the Shenzhen experiment quickly expanded, swallowing not just the surrounding Pearl River Delta, which now houses roughly 100,000 factories, but much of the rest of the country as well. Today, Shenzhen is a city of 12.4 million people, and there is a good chance that at least half of everything you own was made here: iPods, laptops, sneakers, flatscreen TVs, cellphones, jeans, maybe your desk chair, possibly your car and almost certainly your printer.
We are circling over Buenos Aires. The airspace is crowded with other planes, all of them holding like ours. The pilot explains that it is the fault of the humo, or smoke, a word I will hear a great deal in the coming week.
An hour and a half later I am on the ground, head pounding, breathing in the humo. The cover of the Clarín newspaper shows someone gagging and declares: "The Worst Atmospheric Contamination in History."
Some things, such as slight overstatement, haven't changed in Buenos Aires. Still, it's hard not to think of the first time I came here. It was January 2002. The economy had just crashed, the banks had locked out their customers and Argentines had thrown out five presidents in three weeks. There was smoke in the air then, too, but it was from the bonfires in the streets.
Written by Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com
, April 20, 2008
Can there be any question that, since the invasion of 2003, Iraq has been unraveling? And here's the curious thing: Despite a lack of decent information and analysis on crucial aspects of the Iraqi catastrophe, despite the way much of the Iraq story fell off newspaper front pages and out of the TV news in the last year, despite so many reports on the "success" of the President's surge strategy, Americans sense this perfectly well. In the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, 56% of Americans "say the United States should withdraw its military forces to avoid further casualties" and this has, as the Post notes, been a majority position since January 2007, the month that the surge was first announced. Imagine what might happen if the American public knew more about the actual state of affairs in Iraq -- and of thinking in Washington. So, here, in an attempt to unravel the situation in ever-unraveling Iraq are twelve answers to questions which should be asked far more often in this country:
So said Dick Cheney when asked last week about public opinion being
overwhelming against the war in Iraq. "You can't be blown off course
His attitude about the the fact that the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq has reached 4,000 displayed similar levels of sympathy. They "voluntarily put on the uniform," the Vice-President told ABC news.
This brick wall of indifference helps explain the paradox in which we
in the anti-war camp find ourselves five years into the occupation of
Iraq: anti-war sentiment is as strong as ever, but our movement seems
to be dwindling.
Sixty-four per cent of Americans tell pollsters they oppose the war,
but you'd never know it from the thin turnout at recent anniversary
rallies and vigils.
When asked why they aren't expressing their anti-war opinions through
the anti-war movement, many say they have simply lost faith in the
power of protest. They marched against the war before it began,
marched on the first, second and third anniversaries. And yet five
years on, U.S. leaders are still shrugging: "So?"
Hillary Clinton denied leaking the photo of Barack Obama wearing a turban, but her campaign manager says that even if she had, it would be no big deal. "Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely."
Sure she did. And George W. Bush put on a fetching Chamato poncho
in Santiago, while Paul Wolfowitz burned up YouTube with his antimalarial African dance routines
when he was World Bank prez. The obvious difference is this: when white politicians go ethnic, they just look funny. When a black presidential contender does it, he looks foreign. And when the ethnic apparel in question is vaguely reminiscent of the clothing worn by Iraqi and Afghan fighters (at least to many Fox viewers, who think any headdress other than a baseball cap is a declaration of war on America), the image is downright frightening.
The past couple of weeks have been rocky on the stock market, but one company that hasn’t been suffering too much is Taser International. At the end of January, its stock jumped by an impressive 8 per cent, and it’s even higher today.
Matthew McKay, a stock analyst at Jeffries & Co. in San Francisco, cites a simple cause: news that the Toronto Police Services Board plans to buy 3,000 new Taser electroshock weapons, at a cost of $8.6 million for gear and training. If the deal goes ahead, tasers would become standard issue weaponry for all of Toronto’s frontline officers, right next to their handcuffs and batons.
On Wednesday night, I participated in a public forum about the prospect of a fully taser-armed police force, organized by the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition. One speaker, who had a history of psychiatric illness, told the room: “We’re worried because we’re the people who are going to get shocked.”
Remember the "ownership society," fixture of major George W. Bush addresses for the first four years of his presidency? "We're creating...an ownership society in this country, where more Americans than ever will be able to open up their door where they live and say, welcome to my house, welcome to my piece of property," Bush said in October 2004. Washington think-tanker Grover Norquist predicted that the ownership society would be Bush's greatest legacy, remembered "long after people can no longer pronounce or spell Fallujah." Yet in Bush's final State of the Union address, the once-ubiquitous phrase was conspicuously absent. And little wonder: rather than its proud father, Bush has turned out to be the ownership society's undertaker.
Moody's, the credit-rating agency, claims the key to solving the United States' economic woes is slashing spending on Social Security. The National Association of Manufacturers says the fix is for the federal government to adopt the organization's wish-list of new tax cuts. For Investor's Business Daily, it is oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, "perhaps the most important stimulus of all."
But of all the cynical scrambles to package pro-business cash grabs as "economic stimulus," the prize has to go to Lawrence B. Lindsey, formerly President Bush's assistant for economic policy and his advisor during the 2001 recession. Lindsey's plan is to solve a crisis set off by bad lending by extending lots more questionable credit. "One of the easiest things to do would be to allow manufacturers and retailers" -- notably Wal-Mart -- "to open their own financial institutions, through which they could borrow and lend money," he wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal.
This review was written by Juan Santos, a writer Naomi respects a lot. She encourages readers of The Shock Doctrine
to check out his website
, and in particular his series of writings called Apocalypse No!
A Review of The Shock Doctrine: The Face of Fascism in a Global System Heading for Collapse
by Juan Santos, The Fourth World
, December 30, 2007
Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatistas is a poet, but he is not just any poet: he’s a poet armed not only with words, but with bullets – and not only with words and bullets, but with the heart of the Mayan people of Chiapas. He is a poet and a revolutionary who abandoned the ivory tower for the jungle – for the Selva Lacandona - to live with, to fight with, and to die with los de ‘bajo – the people on the bottom, who lives are crushed beneath the weight of the pyramid of Empire. He has taken their part, their lot, their future as his own.