Privatization & Procurement
Want a billion dollars in development aid? If you happen to live in Afghanistan, the two quickest ways to attract attention and so aid from the U.S. authorities are: Taliban attacks or a flourishing opium trade. For those with neither, the future could be bleak. This piece take a look at the lack of reconstruction aid in areas like Bamiyan, Afghanistan.
The launch of Russia's stock markets in the early 90s and privatization of state assets has profoundly impacted Russian society. As the case of mining giant Norilsk Nickel illustrates, this experiment has given rise to both immense personal wealth for a new elite, and economic uncertainty for the ordinary citizen.
In "HALLIBURTON'S ARMY: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War" (Nation Books; February 9, 2009; $26.95), muckraking journalist Pratap Chatterjee conducts a highly detailed investigation into Halliburton and its former subsidiary KBR's activities in Kuwait and Iraq, uncovering much new information about its questionable practices and extraordinary profits.
Media corporations give millions, receive billions. The cost for two weeks of ad-driven debate on Kerry's military record cost almost $1 million. Political advertising will bring over $1.5 billion to media corporations this election season. In turn they will invest millions in campaign contributions and lobbying. Meanwhile, substantive political coverage continues to decline.
Underfunded schools, desperate for resources, are increasingly receptive to corporate-sponsored educational materials and programs, and are ever more accepting of the associated commercialism and product promotion. ''We are paying for educational deficits by selling kids to advertisers,'' says Peggy Charren, president of the advocacy group Action for Children's Television
Jordan is selling its stake in the flagship Arab Potash Company to the Canadian potash giant PCS as part of privatization efforts spearheaded by USAID.
A new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan will be unveiled by President Barack Obama this week. It plans to ramp up the training of the Afghan army and police at a cost of some $2 billion a year. Private contractor DynCorp is already lining up to bid for some of the lucrative contracts. This article provides an overview of key reports assessing the training of the Afghan police, and DynCorp's role, to date.
Nowhere is the system for buying and selling water more permissive than in Chile, where water rights are private property, not a public resource, and can be traded like commodities with little government oversight or safeguards for the environment. The small town of Quillaga is being swallowed up in the country's intensifying water wars.