The Shock Doctrine

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151 Congress Members Invest up to $196 Million in Defense Contractors

Center for Responsive Politics, OpenSecrets.org, April 3, 2008

"According to the most recent reports of their personal finances, 151 current members of Congress had between $78.7 million and $195.5 million invested in companies that received defense contracts of at least $5 million in 2006. In all, these companies received more than $275.6 billion from the government in 2006, or $755 million per day....

"While Democrats are more likely to advocate for ending the Iraq war sooner than Republicans, as a group they have more of their own money invested in America's military efforts. In 2006 Democrats had at least $3.7 million invested in the defense sector alone, compared to Republicans' $577,500. More Republicans, however, held stock in defense companies in 2006—28 of them, compared to 19 Democrats."


Making a Killing from Hunger

GRAIN staff, GRAIN, April 1, 2008

"Nothing that the policy makers say should obscure the fact that today’s food crisis is the outcome of both an incessant push towards a “Green Revolution” agricultural model since the 1950s and the trade liberalisation and structural adjustment policies imposed on poor countries by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund since the 1970s. These policy prescriptions were reinforced with the establishment of the World Trade Organisation in the mid-1990s and, more recently, through a barrage of bilateral free trade and investment agreements. Together with a series of other measures, they have led to the ruthless dismantling of tariffs and other tools that developing countries had created to protect local agricultural production.

These countries have been forced to open their markets and lands to global agribusiness, speculators and subsidised food exports from rich countries. In that process, fertile lands have been diverted away from serving local food markets to the production of global commodities or off-season and high-value crops for Western supermarkets. Today, roughly 70% of all so-called developing countries are net importers of food. And of the estimated 845 million hungry people in the world, 80% are small farmers. Add to this the re-engineering of credit and financial markets to create a massive debt industry, with no control on investors, and the depth of the problem becomes clear."


Many Insurance Companies Now Offering Private Firefighting Services for Wealthy

Emmet Pierce, San Diego Union-Tribune, March 25, 2008

"Now other companies that provide homeowner's insurance are identifying supplemental fire-protection services as a business opportunity. The Chubb Group of Insurance Companies recently announced a program that includes the spraying of fire-blocking gel during wildfires, and Fireman's Fund also plans to enter the market....

"'We are seeing more of that kind of above-and-beyond service in high-end markets,' said Candysse Miller, executive director of the Insurance Information Network of California. But as a new wildfire season approaches, some public safety officials worry that private firefighting programs could interfere with their efforts to combat flames. Other observers worry that two tiers of fire protection may be emerging: one for the general population and one for the affluent."


23,000 U.S. Businessmen Working as Informants for FBI

Matthew Rothschild, Progressive, March 16, 2008

"Today, more than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. The members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public does—and, at least on one occasion, before elected officials. In return, they provide information to the government, which alarms the ACLU. But there may be more to it than that. One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to "shoot to kill" in the event of martial law."


Virtual Border Fence Delayed 3 Years Due to Boeing's Faulty Software

Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post, February 28, 2008

"The Bush administration has scaled back plans to quickly build a "virtual fence" along the U.S.-Mexico border, delaying completion of the first phase of the project by at least three years and shifting away from a network of tower-mounted sensors and surveillance gear....

"Those problems included Boeing's use of inappropriate commercial software, designed for use by police dispatchers, to integrate data related to illicit border-crossings. Boeing has already been paid $20.6 million for the pilot project, and in December, the DHS gave the firm another $65 million to replace the software with military-style, battle management software."


St. Paul Police Buy Tasers in Advance of the Republican National Convention

Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters, February 15, 2008

"Sen. John McCain, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, strongly supports the war in Iraq and those in uniform, but his investigations of major weapons deals have defense industry executives uneasy. Privately, some defense company officials say they are backing Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, one of the two remaining contenders for the Democratic nomination, who they see as a better ally for the industry in the longer-term....According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Clinton leads in receiving donations linked to the defense industry with $143,433, versus $129,350 to McCain and $70,502 to Obama."


Former Rumsfeld Aide Secures Contracts for Qinetiq

Tim Shorrock, CorpWatch, January 15, 2008

"A Pentagon office that claims to monitor terrorist threats to U.S. military bases in North America -- and was once reprimanded by the U.S. Congress for spying on antiwar activists -- has just awarded a multi-million dollar contract to a company that employs one of Donald Rumsfeld’s former aides. That aide, Stephen Cambone, helped create the very office that issued the contract."


Public Housing in New Orleans

Marty Rowland, Marty Rowland, December 24, 2007

"The unanimous vote by the New Orleans City Council members to approve the demolition of the “Big Four” St. Bernard, C.J. Peete, B.W. Cooper, and Lafitte housing developments amounts to this: They are tearing down buildings in a futile attempt to fix problems that cannot be fixed by tearing down buildings....

"Problem #1: There is a severe housing shortage in post-Katrina New Orleans, especially for the poor. Well, how is tearing down 4,500 units of affordable housing going to help? HUD and HANO propose to replace the developments with new ones that will take years to complete. But folks cannot wait!"


Homeland Security Programs in U.S. High Schools

Mimi Hall, USA Today, December 10, 2007

"Developed in response to the working-class area's expanding job market, the Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Program at Joppatowne High School is becoming a model for the nation....Some other high schools offer homeland security classes, but Joppatowne is the first to offer a full-scale program that's directly tied to area businesses. It's also a statement on the times: in a post-9/11 world, the future job market is going to be filled with prospective candidates for homeland security jobs, so why not be prepared....

"They're also a link to big business. Big government contractors such as Battelle and SAIC are working with the program, offering internships and the use of equipment and staff."


Private Firefighting Becomes Massive Industry

Miriam Raftery, Raw Story, December 10, 2007

"Today, a decline in public funding for firefighting services has sparked explosive growth in the private sector. The world’s largest insurance company – American Insurance Group – now has “Wildfire Protection Units” in 150 US zip codes. During the 2007 California wildfires, AIG’s firefighters saved homes in wealthy areas, while less fortunate neighbors were left with rubble....Fighting fires has become big business. The National Wildfire Suppression Association (NWSA), a trade organization founded in 2000, now represents over 200 private companies and 10,000 wild land firefighters. The private firefighting industry is estimated to be worth billions of dollars."

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