| Friday 8th
2006 | Issue 572
WAKE UP!! IT'S YER MAKING A KILLING...
Version - Download, Print, Copy and Distribute!
Forces | Crap Arrest Of The Week | Trident
Tested | Party & Protest | SchNEWS
in Brief | Christmas Carracas | Card
Carrying Lefty | ...and finally...
THE EXPLOSION OF CORPORATE MERCENARIES
Whos fielding the second biggest occupying force in Iraq,
after the US? Nope; its not UK plc with its 7,000 troops.
Not by a long way. Its corporations! A recent report estimated
that up to 50,000 private military and security mercenaries
are operating in Iraq, representing over 180 profit hungry corporations
the true coalition of the willing. As ever with
the march of global capitalism, its a you-scratch-my-back,
Ill-lick-caviare-off-yours kind of deal and yet more evidence
that ethics are a disposable irritant in the accumulation of hard
The defeat in Vietnam, with a stream of all-american boys coming
home in body bags forced the US elite into more covert ways of exerting
imperial power. A switch to secret bombing campaigns and biological
warfare against opponents didnt prove too popular either.
During the seventies and eighties the US mainly resorted to undercover
black ops or funding and training local militias to
do their dirty work. Ronald Raygun used the secret £30million
CIA contingency fund to launch a war against the Sandinistas
in Nicaragua and, like Papa Bush who followed him, bunged more than
a few quid the way of the Bin Laden & Co of the Mujahadeen in
Afghanistan. But big business could no longer rely on governments,
struggling to deliver in the face of a disapproving democracy public,
to secure control of resources and access to markets.
With army recruitment at an all time low and a people used to easy
living, conscription is politically impossible and the army just
hasnt seemed such a groovy or necessary lifestyle choice since
slacking was invented in the sixties.
The suits had already persuaded their pals in government to hand
over support functions like supplies, cooking, technology and transportation:
so why not go the full hog? Pay us enough money, and well
take care of anything, no questions asked, no awkward media reports,
no conscription or call-up of wide-eyed reservist farm boys: just
chisel- jawed hardened ex-soldiers (often recruited from countries
where life is cheaper), answerable to no-one but shareholders, willing
to die if the reward for living is set high enough. Its the
ultimate outsourcing thrill.
Their arguments (and bribes) won out and corporations, now free
to sell their violent capabilities to whomever they liked, expanded
their customer base by getting stuck into Chechnya, Yugoslavia,
Columbia and all over Africa. The real loot, though, was to be made
by dealing with richest and most warlike countries, especially the
US. As we know, the real rationale for war in Iraq wasnt weapons,
but business plans of mass destruction (see SchNEWS 462) - including
those of the Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs). In
2001 the top ten US private military firms spent more $32 million
on lobbying, donating more than $12 million to political campaigns,
three quarters of which lined the pockets of Bushs Republicans.
No wonder business is booming!
The donations were, of course, a good investment and companies
were subsequently rewarded with massive contracts for the full scale
Iraqnroll-out of privatised corporate warfare. Moving
way beyond mere ancillary support, they now carry out
core tasks such as planning, intelligence, training, security in
conflict zones, and actual combat (talk about making a killing!).
Firms such as Blackwater, DynCorp International, and Vinelli Corporation
have been raking in mega-millions while their employees (or their
sub-sub contractors) are paid bounties far higher than regular soldiers
wages, still subject to the budget-scrutinising, PR image-controlling
discipline of a national army.
Empowered by the military might of the US State, but not part of
it, they are free to run around Iraq, armed and dangerous, answerable
to no one. Their deaths go largely uncounted and under-reported,
but were estimated at over 480 by May 2006. Their many excesses,
evident from examples of leaked videos showing them randomly shooting
Iraqi civilians or abusing prisoners, go unpunished. (It was private
privates having all the fun at Abu Grahib.) In fact,
not one of the many thousands of mercs whove done a tour of
duty-free in Iraq has ever been convicted of a crime. Which is just,
of course, how corporations always like to operate.
And where Yankees lead, naturally, plucky Brit wannabes soon follow.
Part of the reason the UK government was so willing to go
all the way with the US on Iraq (well, it wasnt exactly
a first date!) was precisely to make sure its companies could secure
their place at the frenzied feeding trough. In 2003, British PMSCs
had a annual turnover of £320 million. Now that figure stands
at £1.8 billion. In that same period, Aegis Defense Services
- the UKs largest service provider - jumped from
a revenue of just £500,000 to a trigger-happy £62 million
three quarters of which is comes from Iraq.
Aegis now coordinates the operations of all PMSCs working in Iraq,
including handling security at prisons and oil fields. Aegis is
led by Lt-Col Tim Spicer - better known as the former boss of Sandline
International, Spicer involved himself in embargo breaking arms
deals to Sierra Leone and attempted to suppress an uprising in Papua
New Guinea on behalf of Rio Tinto Zinc.(see SchNEWS 481).
Given all the complaints that the government tie businesses up
in red tape, youd be forgiven for thinking that thered
be tight government regulation of PMSCs, attempting to reign in
their lack of accountability. However if you want to run a private
war, theres less hoops to jump through than if you wanted
to run a party in a nightclub (or have a demo, for that matter).
Laws covering mercenaries date back to 1870, and despite belatedly
producing a green paper in 2002, following one media scandal too
many, Tony Bliar and pals have done nothing to actually introduce
any regulations. The US and UK appear to have been more than happy
to take advantage of the unofficial soldiers, utilising them to
run some illicit arms here, do a bit of torture there, perhaps destabilising
a country or two along the way. The only downside seems to be not
being able to recruit and maintain regular soldiers any more
the government was forced to announce extra bonuses for those serving
in Iraq recently, in an attempt to stave off defections to the private
As the political tide shifts and both the US and UK begin to make
noises about withdrawing from Iraq, dont expect their cash
to stop flowing to the hired goons they leave behind to fight the
next phase of their war.
** To read more, and the source of many of the factual snippits
blatantly liberated for this article, see the excellent
Corporate Mercenaries report published by, and available at www.waronwant.org
Arrest Of The Week
Court Case of the munchies...
Three Multiple Sclerosis sufferers are facing up to 14 years in
prison for supplying cannabis choccies. The dangerous mob are currently
in court in Carlisle, on trial for sending 33,000 munchi-licious
bars of CanaBiz - a THC-enhanced chocolate bar - to fellow sufferers
over a 5 year period. The three are part of THC4MS, a group who
supply the bars free of charge to those who can prove they are afflicted
with MS. The group have pre-empted Sativex, a THC based medication
possibly to be supplied on the NHS at some stage although no-one
knows when. Maybe the boffins keep getting stoned and losing the
recipe, which is available at www.thc4ms.org
where you can also follow the trial and enquire about getting some
CaniBiz bars for yourself.
action at Faslane nuclear submarine base continues against the backdrop
of Ex-CND supporter Tony Blair announcing this week that hes
already decided to give the green light to the replacement for Trident
(UK plcs independent deterrent). The police continue
to rack up a ridiculous amount of arrests, and have even outdone
themselves by managing to get a prosecution. The crazily ambitious
target we set them of notching up 365 arrests in 365 days now makes
us look statistically naive. The total number of arrests is already
330, with 296 days of blockading still to go! Proving that opposition
to nuclear policy is a broad church, recent arrests include 4 members
of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) on 8th November, and
15 at a Quakers demo on 13th November. Other groups who did
the decent thing and lately completed their 48 hour protest shift
are the London Singing group, Power of the Word (writers) and a
Sussex students managed to block the A814 outside the base twice
during their stint.(25-27 November) Using arm tube lock ons, they
held the road for over an hour each time. Strathclyde police are
obviously getting a bit hacked off with the continued protests -
the first load of arrestees were held for 26 hours while those from
the second day were released after just two hours - but only after
being forcibly strip-searched in custody.
To find out how to sign your group up for yer couple of days of
anti-nuclear duty, see www.faslane365.org
or phone 0845 45 88 365
** The replacement for Trident is projected at £20 billion
quid - er...and the rest since when has any government contract
ever been delivered on budget? (Some estimates range all the way
to £100 billion). Even taking for granted the fact that simple
pacifist, humanitarian and common sense arguments are bound to be
ignored by politicians, the Ministry of Defence itself now reckons
that there are no major military threats to the UK or NATO. So we
have the inevitability of climate change on which the government
is reluctant to spend any cash at all, but when we face not even
a remote possibility of nuclear attack - out come the mega bucks!
Blatantly ignoring the Non Proliferation Treaty is apparently a
price worth paying so that UK Plc can continue to punch above
its weight and get a seat at the top table with
other bullies like China and the US of A. Dishing out juicy contracts
to prop up the welfare state for defence companies involved is,
of course, an added bonus.
So with politicians making the world an ever more dangerous place,
collective action against nuclear weapons has never been more needed.
Although neo-Labour is still considering all the options
and promising a parliamentary vote, more realistic campaigners have
launched a pre-emptive strike at building work on the Atomic Weapons
Establishment at Aldermaston. The bomb-making factory is being made
fit for the purpose of building the UKs new generation
of weapons of mass destruction. Block the Builders will be at Aldermaston
on Monday (11th December) to blockade construction traffic entering
** See www.blockthebuilders.org.uk/pledge
for more info.
- DEC 9th - Anti-deportation Protest in Manchester from
11.30-1.30pm on Market Street in the city centre. There will also
be an organising meeting afterwards at 2pm in the Basement cafe,
24 Lever Street. Email North West Asylum Seekers Defence Group
or see www.asylum-seekers-defence.org.uk
- 11 - Block the Builders at AWE Aldermaston, Newbury,
West Berks. The action will take place in the morning, and free
accommodation is available for the night before - call 0207 700
2393. For more info see www.blockthebuilders.org.uk
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- 15 - SMASH EDO fund raising gig, at the Cowley Club,
London Road, Brighton from 8pm with bands - Charlottefield
- 16 - London Anarchist Forum an anarchist midwinter
social. Bring food and drink to share, free, from 2.30pm at the
Autonomy Club, Freedom Press, Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High
St, E1 7QX email email@example.com
- 23 - Smash EDO Party, from 8pm at the Cowley Club, London
Road, Brighton. Members and their guests only.
To celebrate the forthcoming closure of part of the Brighton bomb
builders, EDO MBM, after three years of sustained pressure, Smash
EDO campaigners held a Victory Masquerade demo outside the factory.
Over fifty people turned out to show that the campaign isnt
going away. www.smashedo.org.uk
* Following on from our recent article on the dangers of mobile
phone masts (See SchNEWS 561), campaigners
have utilised the Bliars own website and created a petition
on the issue. They need to get at least 3500 signatures in order
to get the issue on to the front page. Visit http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/PhoneMasts
* Circle community have occupied a 100 acre farm near Bath
and Bristol to set up a climate action zone, eco-project and get
the organic farm up and running again. Theres space for projects
and workshops events etc. and they need some of yer direct action
activist support asap call Phoenix on 07769 791 387 or see
* Orange is the new green! Apparently easyJet is one of
Europes most environmentally efficient airlines. Put another
way they cram in another 20 passengers on to each plane so, per
person, less fuel is used for the flight than other airlines not
so stingy on the leg room. Company bosses greenwash the fact that
easyJet was the major force behind the explosion in cheap flights
responsible for so much environmental damage. Check www.planestupid.com
for info on actions against airports.
SchNEWS favourite authoritarian socialist, Hugo Ok
Im not perfect but Im giving it a good go and pissing
off the Americans Chavez, was comfortably re-elected as President
of Venezuela last Sunday, picking up almost two thirds of the vote.
The election was not jiggery pokery free though; reminiscing about
the business-friendly coup back in 2002, Rafael Poleo, a prominent
opposition journalist and businessman, promised that a call would
be made to the military high command to decide if it is going
to continue forcing the Venezuelan opposition to put up with an
embarrassing regime. i.e. Forget democracy , cant we
just get our guns out? The threat fell largely on deaf ears though,
and people (less apathetic than here) queued all night to cast their
votes, promising more welcome years of continued opposition to neoliberalism,
from a state that supplies one fifth of US oil imports.
CARD CARRYING LEFTY
In the run up to Christmas, Eco-capitalism marches unashamedly
on. SchNEWS favourite ethical bankers (surely a contradiction
in terms), the Co-op, have just launched a credit card which can
help save the planet! Thats right, its the old consuming-more-can
help-prevent-climate-chaos sleight of hand. Its not really
all about the consumption thats causing ecological disaster
in the first place! For every £100 you spend, the Co-op will
bung 12.5p over to good causes. Yep thats right, 0.125% generously
given to various organisations working hard to protect the planet,
while the bank waits for you not to pay it off so it can take make
its 10% APR. If you fancy using the card to buy a holiday in the
sun dont worry this plastic comes with £25,000
worth of travel insurance and discounts on selected holidays
and car rental. Carbon neutral, or what! SchNEWS reckons its
time that company propagandists got the boot and the corporations
came clean; their purpose is to make cash from flogging crap we
dont really need and this is killing the planet. And spending
beyond your ability on credit is only makes matters worse.
Getting charged 40 notes by your bank for going a quid overdrawn?
The Office of Fair Trading has signaled its disapproval and reckons
anything over £12 is unfair. You should be able to recover
any charges made by your bank going back up to six years! Check
Up to yer eyeballs in debt and dont have much to show for
it? Why not go bankrupt? The laws were liberalised last year and
if youre skint and dont own your own home, chances are
youll hardly pay back a a penny and be debt free within a
Just in case you were thinking about getting a new telly, hi-fi,
mobile phone or other some such eco-harming electronic lifestyle
gadgetry for Christmas (its OK, its OK, we know you
werent really), you might want to make sure its not
Samsung. The corporation have taken their latest advertising tag
line Imagine Pushing the Limits Further (TM) very seriously
and announced the launch of a machine-gun equipped robot guard.
No, this is not a joke, but scary evidence of the extent that a
horrendous sci-fi near-future is coming sooner than you think. A
snip at only just over £100,000, its fully autonomous,
using cameras with infra-red capability to see day or
night with a sophisticated pattern recognition system which
can detect the difference between humans and trees. Well you
wouldnt want to waste any bullets on trees would you? The
robot also has a speaker to warn the intruder to surrender or get
one in the head. There are plans to unleash them along the North
/ South Korean border next year, in a move bound to ease the tensions
between the two countries.
We dont expect them to release the hybrid Sentry-Home-Interactive-Total-Entertainment
system, which will go on a killing spree unless you continuously
watch celebrity reality TV, until early next decade.
SchNEWS warns all readers, we're off for the next
few weeks to move home. Back in the New Year. Honest!
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