Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 29, 2013
Ah, Yiddish. It’s such an expressive language. With the violent destruction of most of eastern European Jewry, the immigration of those who survived to the United States or Palestine has seen Yiddish threatened by assimilation in the case of the former and by outright disapproval in the case of the latter. I’ve discussed the potential revival of Yiddish with a local book vendor who once recommended I read IJ Singer’s The Brothers Ashkenazi. He contends that without a truly vital large-scale (read “national”) Jewish culture in which Yiddish can be nourished, the language is ultimately doomed.
Be that as it may, consider the variety of Yiddish words for the word penis alone. Putz, schmuck, schmeckel, shlong, shvantz, and the one I’m featuring here, pud. I recently wrote a science fiction story in which PUD features prominently as an acronym for Public or Private Urban Drone. P.U.D., get it?
In my near future, urban drones are ubiquitous, owned and operated by public or private entities such as the police or corporations. First off, it is perfectly legal for individuals to own their own drones and spy on their neighbors. Then, there’s the potential for corporate ownership of drones, already a reality. The use of police drones is a highly contentious issue, as is the FBI’s use of drones for domestic spying. Perhaps the most interesting, and most scary site I’ve linked to in this post is DIY Drones, which speaks for itself.
DIY?!? Remember when punk rock first started using the term do it yourself? Now we’re talking about DIY drones!
Yiddish is discouraged in Israel as a gutter or mongrel language by the Israeli state and the Hebrew speaking Israeli society. Which is why I love this joke:
Retiring from a big corporate job in LA, Marvin moves to Tel Aviv. (So nu, you were thinking maybe he’d move to a kibbutz?)
Wanting to contribute to nation-building somehow he focuses on stock-trading, the only vocation he knows. But, to commute to his new humble penthouse office, he refuses to drive a Mercedes like everyone else so he buys himself… a camel.
Every night Marvin parks his camel in the garage under his Tel Aviv Condo and the next morning he mounts the camel for the commute to his new office in Ramat Gan.
One day Marvin comes down to the parking garage and the camel is gone… stolen!
He calls the police who arrive within minutes. The first question is “What color was your camel?”
Marvin replies he doesn’t remember, “Probably camel colored I guess… sort of brownish-greyish.”
“And how many humps on your camel?’ asks the policeman.
“Who counts humps… one, maybe two, I don’t know for sure.”
“And the height of the camel, sir?”
“What’s with these dumb questions?” Marvin asks. “The camel was about three feet taller than I am. So maybe 9 feet, 10 feet. I can’t be certain.”
“Just one last question to complete my report, sir. Was the camel male or female?”
“Ah, that I know for sure he was a male.”
“How can you be so certain of his sex when you don’t remember anything else about your camel” asks the policeman.
“Well,” says Marvin, “everyone knows he’s a male. Every day I’d ride the camel to work through the streets of Tel Aviv and people would stop and say to each other… ‘Look at the schmuck on that camel!’ “
Posted in Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, corporations, Drones, FBI, life, Military Drones, NSA, police, Police Drones, private contractors, Private Drones, privatization of war, punk rock, security privatization, U2, US military, Yiddish | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on October 6, 2007
Here’s a reprint, in full, from the New York Times. You might be asked to subscribe if you click on the link. The accompanying graphic is excellent.
Foreign Policy, Privatized
By ALLISON STANGER and OMNIVORE
Published: October 5, 2007
WHILE most Americans are aware of the controversy over the role of the private security company Blackwater in Iraq, probably few understand that armed contractors in Iraq are just the tip of an iceberg. Across the globe, in everything from diplomacy to development to intelligence, contractors are a major American presence, and only a small fraction of them carry weapons. American foreign policy, to a great extent, has been privatized.
The charts below, based on figures from the Federal Procurement Data System, tell the story. In 2005, federally financed contractors were working in every United Nations-recognized country except Bhutan, Nauru and San Marino.
It has become conventional wisdom to blame the Bush administration for the “hollowing out” of government, but this misses the mark. While contract spending has more than doubled since 2001, serious federal efforts to outsource began under President Bill Clinton.
Nor is contracting necessarily bad: United States money creates jobs for the local population, and humanitarian organizations like Save the Children, CARE and Catholic Relief Services have relied heavily on dollars from Washington. Outsourcing can play to America’s strengths, exploiting our capacity for innovation, flexibility and efficiency.
Yes, as we have seen in Iraq, hiring contractors can lead to severe problems with accountability and fraud. And while steps like making contractors liable for civil penalties may manage some symptoms, they will not cure the disease. We need to devise far better ways of overseeing contractors worldwide.
Some are tempted to turn back the clock and reassert traditional government authority, denouncing private-sector greed and the “coalition of the billing.” But that would be a terrible mistake, for outsourcing is in part a rational response to the new possibilities of the information age. The challenge will be to manage creative forms of collaboration between government and the private sector in ways that serve the public interest.
Allison Stanger, a professor of political science at Middlebury College, is writing a book on the privatization of American power. Omnivore is a graphic design firm in New York City.
Posted in Allison Stanger, Blackwater, government contractors, Iraq, Iraq War, military contractors, military privatization, New York Times, news, Omnivore, politics, private contractors, private security contractors, Private Security Firms, PSFs, security privatization, The privatization of foreign policy, US military | 3 Comments »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on September 22, 2007
In one of the more amazing stories to date, Blackwater is being investigated by Federal prosecutors for illegally smuggling weapons into Iraq that may have been sold on the black market and then wound up in the hands of terrorists. So, there’s a distinct possibility that, when Blackwater contractors are under attack in Iraq, they’re being fired upon with their own weapons. You can’t make this stuff up!
Posted in Baghdad, Blackwater, Blackwater aids terrorists, Blackwater back at work, Iraq, Iraq War, Islamic extremists, Islamic militants, Islamic terrorism, military contractors, military privatization, news, politics, private security contractors, Private Security Firms, privatization of war, PSFs, security privatization, terrorists, US military, weapons smuggling | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on September 21, 2007
This should come as no surprise, but Blackwater is back at work in Iraq. The US government is allowing Blackwater operations “limited to essential missions only outside Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone.” This is being done in consultation with the Iraqi government, according to the BBC. Wonder who and how much the US had to bribe to get this deal?
Posted in Baghdad, Blackwater, Blackwater back at work, Blackwater banned, Business as usual, Green Zone, Iraq, Iraq War, military contractors, military privatization, politics, private contractors, private security contractors, Private Security Firms, PSFs, security privatization | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on September 19, 2007
Movements of key CIA station personnel in Baghdad—along with most State department diplomats and teams building police stations and schools—have been frozen for the second day in a row, according to a State department source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Essentially, the CIA, State department and government contractors are stuck inside the International Zone, also known as “the Green Zone,” in Central Baghdad. Even travel inside that walled enclave is somewhat restricted.
So reads an article by Richard Miniter on Pajamasmedia.com. Apparently, the CIA, State Department, and government contractors all rely on Blackwater for security.
“By jamming up Blackwater, they [the Iraqi government] shut down the movements of the embassy and the [CIA] station,” a State department source told Pajamas Media. He is not cleared to talk to the press.
Posted in Blackwater, Blackwater banned, Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, government contractors, Iraq, Iraq War, military contractors, military privatization, Pajamas Media, Pajamasmedia, politics, private contractors, private security contractors, Private Security Firms, PSFs, security privatization, State Department, US military | Leave a Comment »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on September 18, 2007
The Iraqi government has suspended Blackwater’s license to operate, and demanded that the company leave the country, as a result of a firefight in which several civilians and a police officer were killed (story here). Blackwater contractors (read mercenaries) were protecting a convoy of US State Department officials when they supposedly came under attack and, according to the Iraqis, started firing indiscrimately at surrounding civilians. The Iraqi government has said it is considering prosecuting Blackwater employees for the deaths, and that it will review the status of all Private Security Firms in the country as a result of the incident. Here’s a profile of Blackwater from the BBC.
Posted in Blackwater, Blackwater banned, Iraq, Iraq War, military contractors, military privatization, politics, private contractors, private security contractors, Private Security Firms, privatization of war, PSFs, security privatization, US military | 2 Comments »
Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 27, 2007
On Friday, May 25, 2007, Reuters reported (here) that a US judge moved a wrongful death and fraud suit, brought by the families of four civilian contractors against Blackwater, out of the courts and into private arbitration. A victory for Blackwater, the decision confirms that Blackwater’s contract with the contractors “is iron-clad and that its terms absolve the company of liability” according to legal expert Jeffrey Addicott.
And today, The Washington Post reported that Blackwater contractors opened fire in Baghdad in two separate incidents this week (here). Blackwater will neither confirm nor deny that there were casualties.
There is plenty of information out there about the insidious nature of Blackwater in particular, and about the dangers of military privatization in general, beginning with Jeremy Scahill’s excellent book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. No need for me to belabor the point.
In the fast-paced BBC TV drama “The State Within,” one of the characters in the last episode comments that military and security privatization is the Klondike (or was it the Yukon) of the current century. The reference is to the 19th century Alaskan gold rush. “The State Within” is about a conspiracy between US State Department officials, a Halliburton-style development corporation and a private security firm, modeled after Blackwater, to overthrow the government of a former Soviet republic in central Asia using a fabricated terrorist incident, the blowing up of a British airplane in America, to create an international crisis. Chilling, and well worth renting at your local video store.
Posted in Blackwater, Jeremy Scahill, military privatization, politics, security privatization, The State Within | Leave a Comment »