WHAT MAKES A CORPORATION BAD? TOXIC DUMPING? IGNORING OSHA STANDARDS resulting in worker deaths?UNION BUSTING? Juggling the books? Having all these phony subsidiaries in BUMFUCK CARIBBEAN? MOVING THE FACTORY TO GUATEMALA? Or ALL of it! Let's study some of the Worst Corporations Around - (extracted from a brilliant article by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman And if you just adore this year's winners, They have WINNERS OF 2006 on their website and the winners of 2007 are now in! Scan these URLS you're going to be a major GENIUS on what's wrong with GREEDY CEOS!)
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2005 was a good year for bad corporations. There were no U.S. elections to worry about, with their troubling possibility of politicians running on the popular platform of curbing corporate power. There were corporate scandals and corporate crime and violence galore, but none that rated the ongoing banner headlines of Enron and WorldCom. Indeed, the ongoing prosecutions of individuals associated with corporate financial scandals enabled Big Business and its apologists to claim there had actually been a crackdown on corporate crime. All leaving corporations free to buy legislation, profiteer, pollute, poison, and mistreat workers without restraint. Benefiting from the spike in oil prices associated with the tragedy of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, ExxonMobil recorded the most profitable year any company has ever achieved.
Thirty years ago, when the oil giants profiteered in the wake of the first oil embargo, almost half the U.S. Senate voted to break up the integrated oil companies. In 2005, just 40 of 435 members of the House of Representatives were willing to co-sponsor the leading legislation calling for a much more modest approach, imposing a windfall profits tax on the oil companies. Eight members of the Senate co-sponsored the leading windfall profits bill there.
In the U.S. Congress, corporations were able to ram through limitations on victims’ rights to sue corporate perpetrators (mislabeled class action “reform”), the NAFTA-expanding Central American Free Trade
Agreement (CAFTA), and an energy bill that deregulates electric utilities and actually gives tax breaks to the oil industry, among many other government gifts.
Perhaps nothing revealed Big Business’s cockiness more than the Chamber of Commerce and other trade associations’ efforts to undermine the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation. Sarbanes-Oxley imposes very modest
anti-fraud requirements on corporations. It was the only reform legislation passed after the Enron and related financial scandals. These corporations will never stop on their own.
Asked to comment on a recent Harris poll that found 90 percent of people in the United States believe corporations have too much power in Washington, D.C., Hank Cox, a spokesperson for the National Association
of Manufacturers, replies, “That’s a perception fostered by the news media and the entertainment industry, and if they really had any idea of how little power corporations have they would be astounded.” The corporations will never give up power, unless forced to do so by the people. Where to start?
No better place than the 10 worst corporations of 2005, presented herewith in alphabetical order:
British Petroleum - In November 2005, BP said that it expects to spend as much as $8 billion
in alternative-energy projects, including solar, wind, hydrogen, and carbon-abatement technology, over 10 years.
It is running two-page ads in major U.S. newspapers touting itself as a leader in alternative energy.
This is part of a high-energy campaign to cover up BP’s dirty tricks that flow from its oil business.
To do so, it has to cover up its shoddy operations on the North Slope of Alaska, where it is seeking to bust open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, (with Bush's help, you do know that, don't you? and its reckless operations at its refineries around the globe.
In March, 15 workers were incinerated, and more than 170 injured, following an explosion at BP’s sprawling refinery in Texas City, Texas. It was the third fatal accident at the Texas City BP facility in the last four years.
In September 2004, two workers were burned to death and another was seriously injured. In 2001, a maintenance worker at the facility died after falling into a tank that had been shut down. Nationwide, BP’s facilities have had more than 3,565 accidents since 1990, ranking first in the nation, according to a 2004 report by the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG).
BP has admitted it was at fault in the Texas City explosion. “We regret that our mistakes have caused so much suffering,” said Ross Pillari, president of BP Products North America, after the company had completed an interim investigation in May.
“We apologize to those who were harmed and to the Texas City community,” said Pillari. “ We cannot change the past or repair all the damage this incident has done. We can assure that those who were injured and the
families of those who died receive financial support and compensation. Our goal is to provide fair compensation without the need for lawsuits or lengthy court proceedings.”
There is a case to be made that BP engaged in criminal reckless homicide, or involuntary manslaughter. To prove this, the District Attorney in Galveston County, where the deaths occurred, would have to find that BP and its executives consciously disregarded “a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a death will occur.”
We believe that the families of the dead deserve a full-blown reckless homicide investigation by the District Attorney in Galveston County. When asked about this, Mohamed Ibrahim, the first assistant district attorney in Galveston County, told us that his office had opened no such criminal investigation into the BP matter. “We have no reason to believe at this point that it was anything but an unfortunate industrial accident,” Ibrahim said. (BOOO! WHere'd they pick you up, Mo?")
“If OSHA [the Occupational Safety and Health Administration] came to us and said it was a result of criminal recklessness, we would look at an investigation,” he added. OSHA IS THE GOV, The main man FOX. You want them to show up at the henhouse, Mo?" In September, OSHA fined the company $21 million for violating federal OSHA law. There was no criminal referral. Lesser workplace crimes this year have resulted in criminal convictions against smaller companies. BP gets off because it is a large multinational?
On the North Slope of Alaska, BP continues to muscle the political
machinery to get its way.
Its reckless operations there — including unreported oil spills — will
someday end up in an environmental disaster, long predicted by oil
industry critic Charles Hamel.
BP is eager to portray itself as the good guy oil company, but it is not
eager to answer tough questions.
In October, U.S. News and World Report held a press conference to
announce “America’s Best Leaders 2005.”
The press event was paid for by BP.
BP’s guy at the door wouldn’t let us in.
No questions about corporate crime allowed.
“I want you to view what is happening at Delphi as a flash point, a test
case, for all the economic and social trends that are on a collision
course in our country and around the globe,” Delphi CEO Steve Miller
told BusinessWeek in October.
Miller’s view of how those trends should be resolved: with a leveling
down of worker wages to the lowest common denominator, and provision of
huge windfalls for executives.
In October, Miller took his company into bankruptcy, with the explicit
purpose of trashing the social contract between unionized auto workers
in the United States and the auto industry. He proposed slashing worker
wages from $27 an hour to a mere 10 bucks.
In a fit of staggering arrogance, Miller and Delphi simultaneously
proposed huge bonuses for company executives.
Delphi is the world’s largest auto parts supplier. In a strange
arrangement, it was spun off from General Motors in 1998. Roughly half
of its business remains supplying GM. Many critics say GM separated
Delphi for the purpose of dumping unwanted expenses on the new company.
But GM agreed to guarantee certain Delphi obligations — including
healthcare and pension costs — in the event the new company was unable
to meet them.
Delphi enters bankruptcy not in any severe financial crisis, but having
experienced steady losses over the last several years.
In its bankruptcy filings, the company stated that three problems are
driving down revenues: the wages and benefits guaranteed under existing
union contracts, declining sales from GM, Delphi’s main buyer, and
rising commodity prices. Through bankruptcy, it sought to address only
the first issue — that is, to attack the living standards of its
Delphi workers have reacted with predictable dismay and anger. “It’s
difficult to see our middle-income jobs go away like this,” said Ron
Garrett, 54, who has worked at Delphi’s Dayton facility for 21 years.
“It’s very tough to see them go out the door.” Workers have picketed and
demonstrated against Delphi’s proposals.
Their outrage has been stoked by the executive compensation plan Delphi
has proposed in bankruptcy court.
Although Steve Miller has touted the fact that he has agreed to accept a
salary of just $1 a year (he also received a signing bonus of $3 million
after taking over the company in the summer, and $750,000 in salary
before making the $1 pledge, and is due an unspecified bonus from the
board of directors when the company emerges from bankruptcy), the
executive class at Delphi will make out great.
Delphi has proposed in bankruptcy court through a “Key Employee Compensation Plan” that executives be given $43 million in incentive bonuses during the two years the company expects to undergo reorganization, that the top 500 executives pocket $88 million when the company emerges from bankruptcy, and that the top 600 get 10 percent of the shares of the post-bankruptcy Delphi.
Rationales for this? Well, the company argued in bankruptcy court, “many of the company’s incentive-based compensation programs failed to provide salaried and executive workforce with total compensation that is competitive with the industry norm.” Got that? Because the company did poorly, executives made less money. The new plan is intended to remedy this perceived inequity. Unfortunately, Delphi proposes the opposite deal for its workers. Also, “the commencement of a bankruptcy case heightens employee concerns regarding possible job loss, and often increases employee responsibilities, creates longer hours, and imposes other burdens of an employer’s status as a debtor-in-possession.” In the dire time of bankruptcy, the company needs the “continued efforts and loyalty” of its executives, so they need big bonuses. Workers’ “continued efforts and loyalty” are apparently thought available on the cheap.
So, we kill Stanley Tookie Williams for killing four people. And we fine DuPont $16.5 million for two decades’ worth of covering up company studies that showed it was polluting drinking water and newborn babies with an indestructible chemical that causes cancer, birth defects and other serious health problems in animals. Sounds like rough justice to us. A public interest group in Washington, D.C., the Environmental Working Group (EWG), brought the disaster to the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
And the EPA sued DuPont in a civil action in July 2004.
No crime here, right?
EWG reported on the case of Glenn Evers.
Evers was a DuPont employee of 22 years, one of the
company’s top technical experts and the chair of an invitation-only
committee of its 40 best scientists and technical experts.
He holds six patents, and his work has, to date, made the
company an estimated $250 million in after-tax profits. Evers was, by his
own description, a dedicated “company man.”
According to EWG, he was also the company’s top chemical
engineer involved with designing and developing new uses of
grease-resistant, or perfluorinated, chemical-based coating for paper food
Chemicals from these coatings and related sources are now
in the blood of 95 percent of people in the United States.
DuPont has claimed that it does not know how the chemicals
got there — and that it is not aware that the company’s product is
“If we had any reason to believe that [there] was a safety
issue for fluorinated telomers-based product, we wouldn’t have
commercialized them,” DuPont Director of Planning and Technology Robert
Ritchie told the Wilmington News Journal in 2003.
But Glenn Evers told EWG how his former employer hid for
decades that it was polluting people’s blood with a hyper-persistent
chemical associated with the grease-resistant coatings on paper food
packaging. (For a complete history, see www.ewg.org.)
The EPA boasted that the $16.5 million fine was the
largest administrative fine it has ever levied under a weak toxic chemical
But as EWG noted, the fine is less than half of 1 percent
of DuPont’s after-tax annual profits from the Teflon product when averaged
over the 20-year cover-up.
“What’s the appropriate fine for a $25 billion company
that for decades hid vital health information about a toxic chemical that
now contaminates every man, woman and child in the United States?” asked EWG
President Ken Cook. “What’s the proper dollar penalty for a pollutant that
will never break down, and now finds its way into polar bears in the Arctic
and human babies in their mothers’ wombs? We’re pretty sure it’s not $16
million, even if that is a record amount under a federal law that everyone
acknowledges is extremely weak.”
We’re pretty sure it’s not just a fine.
The poison is in the blood of 95 percent of people in the
How many cancers has it caused?
ExxonMobil - Here is what ExxonMobil has to say about global warming: "ExxonMobil recognizes that although scientific evidence remains inconclusive, the potential impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on society and ecosystems may prove to be significant. And this: The earth has experienced a warming trend in global surface air temperatures during the twentieth century, but the cause of this trend and whether it is abnormal remain in dispute." (NOT IF YOU READ "GREENHOUSE GAS LEVELS SPIKE". ) "Although recent temperatures are elevated," they lied, "they are not unprecedented in the geological record, which shows considerable variation as well as previous periods that were as warm as or warmer than today."
Here is what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN-affiliated grouping of 1,800 of the world’s climatologists — often needled for the extraordinarily cautious language it employs — says about global warming:
"The Earth’s climate system has demonstrably changed on both global and regional scales since the pre-industrial era, with some of these changes attributable to human activities. Globally, it is very likely that the 1990s was the
warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in the instrumental record (since 1861).
There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities. Recent regional changes in climate, particularly increases in temperature, have already affected hydrological systems and terrestrial and marine ecosystems in many parts of the world.
The rising socio-economic costs related to weather damage and to regional variations in climate suggest increasing
vulnerability to climate change. The projected rate of warming [over the twenty-first century] is very likely to be without precedent during at least the last10,000 years.
The impacts of climate change will fall disproportionately upon developing countries and the poor persons within all countries, and thereby exacerbate inequities in health status and access to adequate food, clean water and other resources.
Unfortunately, so far, the cynical, profit-motivated, short-term and self-interested views of ExxonMobil have mattered more than the evidence-based perspective of the IPCC.
That’s because the most profitable corporation on Earth has lots of political power and is skilled at amplifying its views, and the climatologists do not and are not.
ExxonMobil has funded dozens of front groups, think tanks, industry associations, corporate-friendly research centers, and purportedly independent scientists to spread its denialism. Greenpeace has documented the company’s support for a web of more than 100 organizations — from the American Council on Science and Health to the Washington Legal Foundation — that work to cast doubt on global warming science and likely consequences.
It hasn’t hurt ExxonMobil to have a (failed) oilman and the former head of Halliburton, an oil services company, as president and vice president of the richest, most powerful and biggest greenhouse-gas-emitting country, the United States. The company was not without influence during the Clinton administration, but has been able to
gain complete access and shape policy during the Bush era, in ways large and small.
ExxonMobil, for example, in 2002 urged the Bush administration to push to have Dr. Robert Watson removed as chair of the IPCC, according to company documents obtained by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Soon after, the Bush administration announced its opposition to the respected scientist who ExxonMobil said had a “personal agenda,” and a new chair was selected.
The company has also collaborated with the administration on the basic denialism project. A former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute and chief of staff of the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality, Philip Cooney, resigned in June 2005 after the New York Times revealed he had edited government reports to challenge the link between carbon emissions and global warming. A week later, Cooney was on ExxonMobil’s
ExxonMobil is not just fiddling while the world burns. The company is raking in record profits — more than $36 billion in 2005, the highest ever earned for a single company in one year — as it benefited especially from the spike in oil prices after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Given the company and the oil industry’s obscene profits, many are calling for a windfall profits tax. (If just 3 percent of ExxonMobil’s 2005 profits were taxed and invested in solar energy technology development, it would constitute a quintupling of the U.S. government solar R&D budget.)
But lubricated with oil industry cash, the Bush administration and Congress have chosen what might generously be called a different path. In July, the Congress passed an energy bill that showered tax breaks and other goodies on the industry — more than $4 billion worth, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
ExxonMobil is completely unashamed about this state of affairs. Outgoing CEO Lee Raymond testified before Congress about gas price hikes and industry super-profits in November. “If we are to continue to serve our consumers and your constituents, corporate and government leaders alike cannot afford to simply follow the ups and downs of energy prices,” he told a Senate Committee. The basic message: don’t tax us more, we need the
huge earnings to find more oil to meet rising energy demand. Alternative energy is nice, but not serious.
Of course, it is not only by blocking efforts to address global warming that ExxonMobil is making the world a worse place. It continues to stonewall on paying roughly $5 billion to fishing communities and Native Alaskans in punitive damages assessed for the impact of the Exxon Valdez spill. It is lobbying hard for the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
And through a major oil development and pipeline in Chad, it is funding a dictatorial government that is using oil money to buy weapons. Amnesty International says that the ExxonMobil-led consortium operating the Chad project negotiated a deal enabling the oil companies “to effectively sidestep the rule of law in Chad and Cameroon, and limits the ability of those countries to develop effective human rights protection for their citizens over the next several decades.”
For more details on ExxonMobil’s sordid performance, see ExposeExxon.org, a website maintained by a coalition of environmental and public interest groups seeking to pressure ExxonMobil to “shed its past as
an irresponsible oil company.”
Ford (what? OLE HENRY? The number one anti-semite on the planet? The man who practically started WWII and profited from it the most?)
One block from the White House, on Washington, D.C.’s 15th Street, Northwest, embedded in the sidewalk, in front of The Old Ebbitt Grill, is a bronze medallion honoring the life of Booker T. Washington. The medallion has a picture of Booker T. and reads:“As an influential African American, living in a time of escalating segregation, Booker T. Washington negotiated a course between accommodation and progress in advocating greater civil rights for blacks. His philosophy of ‘request’ not ‘protest’ allowed him to gain the respect of presidents and politicians, but sometimes alienated those of his own race. Washington believed education was a cornerstone for the advancement of blacks and his efforts to raise money for his beloved Tuskegee Institute helped secure its well-deserved reputation as a leading educational institution for African Americans.” “My life work is the promotion of education of my race.”
— Booker T. Washington
Sponsored by Ford Motor Company
The Booker T. medallion is one of a growing list of U.S. volunteer pioneers being honored by the Points of Light Foundation. Ultimately, the medallions will form a mile-long pathway in the heart of Washington, D.C.
There are now 20 medallions embedded on the sidewalks of 15th Street and G Streets in downtown Washington.
The monument — known as The Extra Mile — was dedicated on October 14, 2005 with great fanfare in a ceremony attended by former President George Bush and many extended family members of the honorees.
Each medallion is sponsored by a major U.S. corporation.
The one honoring Cesar Chavez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, was also made possible by Ford Motor Company. His plaque reads in part: “Under his leadership of nonviolent protest, the UFW was able to secure improved wages and benefits, more humane living and working conditions, and better job security for some of the poorest workers in America.”
Obviously, the company is no fan of Cesar Chavez — or Booker T. for that matter.
Ford is doing it to buff its image, as they say. Why?
For one, officials in New Jersey are calling for an investigation of the company for environmental crimes.
It turns out that over a period of years, Ford Motor Company dumped millions of gallons of paint sludge into a now-residential area of northern New Jersey. (Kindly little Korporation, no?)
The paint sludge was from the Ford Motor Co.’s factory in Mahwah, once the largest auto assembly plant in the nation, according to an investigative report published in October in the Bergen Record.
The Record has put out a series of investigative reports on the dumping. They are compiled at http://www.toxiclegacy.com.
According to the series, before closing in 1980, the plant
spat out six million vehicles and an ocean of contaminants — including
enough paint sludge to fill two of the three tubes of the Lincoln Tunnel.
Millions of gallons of paint sludge were dumped in the
remote section of Ringwood, which is now a residential area.
Children played in it. Streams washed over it. And early 2005, New Jersey officials announced some
cancer rates in the area are unusually high. Tests commissioned by the Record found lead, arsenic, and
xylenes in the sludge — some at 100 times the levels the government considers safe. The Record found that Ford repeatedly dumped in poor communities and failed to clean up its mess.
Reporters with the Record dug up documents showing that
Ford executives knew as early as 34 years ago that its waste had
contaminated a stream that feeds the Wanaque Reservoir.
The documents show that the company tried to evade
responsibility by presenting tainted land as a “gift” to the state, the
The Record interviewed truckers who hauled Ford’s waste —
they say that mob-controlled contractors dumped anywhere they could get away
They bribed, threatened, even murdered to maintain control
of Ford’s waste, the paper reported.
Millions of gallons of hazardous waste vanished in their
According to the Record, Ford says its dumping in Ringwood
Ford says others dumped in Ringwood and share
responsibility for the pollution.
Well, let’s have a federal prosecutor decide.
There are points of light. (www.extramile.us)
And there are points of darkness.(www.toxiclegacy.com)
Getting cheap publicity by putting your name on a plaque
is one thing.
Paying for the human and environmental wreckage you’ve
caused in northern New Jersey is something else. (Not to mention matching
your rhetorical concern with climate change and environmental well-being
with company actions that help take the planet off the SUV-hardened fast
track to planetary overheating. See www.jumpstartford.com.)
In honor of Booker T., we “request” that the U.S. Attorney
in Newark take seriously the New Jersey hazardous waste case and open a
criminal investigation of the company.
Try as we might, we couldn’t keep Halliburton off a list of the worst companies two years running. The company has effectively made a business model of crooked dealings with the U.S. government. Getting caught, over and over, doesn’t seem to affect things much. Here are the company’s lowlights for the year, via HalliburtonWatch: January 10: Halliburton admitted that it expanded economic relations with Iran despite the Bush administration’s insistence that the nation finances terrorism.
February 8: The U.S. Army agreed to pay Halliburton’s KBR
subsidiary nearly $2 billion for work that nobody can prove ever took place.
Army auditors determined in 2004 that 43 percent of the $4.5 billion
requested by Halliburton under a major contract could not be verified under
normal accounting procedures. Despite recommendations to withhold 15 percent
of payment from Halliburton, the Pentagon decided to pay the company what it
requested. “This is indeed great news for KBR,” said Andy Lane, chief
operating officer of Halliburton, in a news release. “The Army and KBR have
agreed to continue working closely together to resolve any remaining billing
March 2: The U.S. Justice Department opened a criminal
inquiry into possible bid-rigging on foreign contracts by Halliburton, the
company revealed. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission,
the company said “information has been uncovered” that former employees of
KBR “may have engaged in coordinated bidding with one or more competitors on
certain foreign construction projects and that such coordination possibly
began as early as the mid-1980s.” These bribes involve contracts in Nigeria,
and occurred in the 1990s, when Vice President Cheney headed Halliburton.
March 14: Pentagon auditors found another $108 million in
overcharges by Halliburton’s KBR subsidiary for provision of oil in Iraq,
according to a disclosure by Representative Henry Waxman, D-California.
March 16: The Los Angeles Times reported that the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will investigate complaints by one of
its engineers who said the agency purposely tampered with environmental
science in order to shield a lucrative drilling technique, pioneered by
Halliburton and known as hydraulic fracturing, from pollution laws.
April: the State Department issued a report concluding
that Halliburton’s repair work in Iraqi oil fields is plagued by serious
cost overruns and “poor performance.”
June 29: At a Congressional hearing, Bunnatine H.
Greenhouse, then the senior contracting specialist with the Army Corps of
Engineers, testified, “I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to
contracts awarded to KBR [Halliburton’s subsidiary] represents the most
blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my
professional career.” In August, Greenhouse would be demoted for her
At the hearing, Representative Waxman released a
previously secret military audit criticizing an extra $1.4 billion in
“questioned” and “unsupported” expenditures by Halliburton’s KBR subsidiary
July 22: Halliburton announced that its KBR division,
responsible for carrying out Pentagon contracts, saw profits jump 284
percent during the second quarter of the year.
September 8: The Washington Post reported that former head
of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Joseph Allbaugh, now a
lobbyist for Halliburton, is in Louisiana helping his clients obtain
disaster relief contracts.
But Allbaugh insisted he’s not in Louisiana seeking
contracts for clients. “I don’t do government contracts,” he told the Post.
Instead, he said he’s “just trying to lend my shoulder to the wheel, trying
to coordinate some private-sector support that the government always asks
September 15: Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey
reiterated his call for Vice President Dick Cheney to forfeit his continuing
financial interest in Halliburton. Lautenberg points out that Cheney’s
Halliburton options are worth more than $9 million. Cheney insists he has no
ongoing financial entanglement with Halliburton because he will donate the
profits from stock sales to charity.
September 20: Former KBR employees and water quality
specialists Ben Carter and Ken May told HalliburtonWatch that KBR knowingly
exposes troops and civilians to contaminated water from Iraq’s Euphrates
River. One internal KBR email provided to HalliburtonWatch says that, for
“possibly a year,” the level of contamination at one camp was two times the
normal level for untreated water.
October: Senator Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, charged that
a Halliburton subcontractor had hired as many as 100 undocumented immigrants
to clean up areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The president of the
subcontractor, Alabama-based BE&K, is Retired U.S. Navy Admiral David Nash.
Nash was head of the U.S. office in Baghdad which handed out Iraq contracts.
“There is no connection between the hurricane-related work we are doing in
Mississippi and Louisiana and Nash’s involvement in Iraq,” a BE&K
spokesperson told Reuters.
November 15: Halliburton’s KBR subsidiary and its
subcontractors illegally abuse immigrants and undocumented workers in
hurricane-damaged areas of the Gulf Coast, Roberto Lovato of Salon.com
In an article titled “Gulf Coast Slaves,” Lovato writes of
his travels throughout the storm-ravaged region where KBR’s cleanup
contracts currently amount to $124.9 million.
He observed “squalid trailer parks where up to 19 unpaid,
unfed, and undocumented KBR site workers inhabited a single trailer for $70
per person, per week.” Many suffer from work-related health problems,
including diarrhea, sprained ankles, cuts, and bruises acquired while
working for KBR. Halliburton denies violating labor laws, but immigration
enforcement officials discovered undocumented workers at the Belle Chasse
facility in October.
November 19: The Washington Post reported that a criminal
investigation of Army practices that allegedly favored Halliburton over
competitors during the pre-war contract award process has been referred to
the Department of Justice (DOJ). This probe follows on allegations made by
Army Corps of Engineers whistleblower Bunnatine Greenhouse.
In a written statement to the Post, Halliburton said it
“continues to cooperate fully with the Justice Department’s investigation of
certain issues pertaining to our work in Iraq.” “As the investigation is
ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
December 2: The Army Corps of Engineers paid $38 million
in bonuses to Halliburton for oil transport and repair in Iraq even though
the Pentagon’s own auditors declared $169 million in costs for the work to
be “unreasonable” and “unsupported,” Representative Henry Waxman revealed.
December 27: The Chicago Tribune reported that Pentagon
contractor trade groups are blocking a Pentagon proposal prohibiting defense
contractor involvement in human trafficking for forced prostitution and
labor. The contractors do not want to be responsible for trafficking
undertaken by their subcontractors. Halliburton subsidiaries have been
linked to trafficking-related controversies.
After the Tribune reported in October on the kidnapping of
a dozen Nepali men and their transport to work for Halliburton
subcontractors in Iraq, Halliburton said it was not responsible for the
recruitment or hiring practices of its subcontractors.
The U.S. Army, for its part, said questions about alleged
misconduct “by subcontractor firms should be addressed to those firms, as
these are not Army issues.”
It is all about perception, isn’t it?
KPMG was charged in August with one felony count of
The Attorney General of the United States said that KPMG
“has admitted to criminal wrongdoing in the largest-ever tax shelter fraud.”
Yet, there was no conviction. There was no plea agreement.
For individuals, partners, or executives who commit major
crimes — yes. If there is a crime, there is an indictment. And there is a
plea agreement. Or there is a trial.
But for major U.S. corporations or other large entities,
like KPMG, if you commit a crime, you get a prosecution deferred.
Now, it’s almost automatic.
Ask Skadden Arps partner Robert Bennett. He’s the king of
At the insistence of Bob Bennett, KPMG gets a deferred
Because if you indict KPMG, you might drive it out of
business, à la Arthur Andersen.
But no matter, you can charge the company with a felony.
And the Attorney General can get on national television and say that KPMG
has admitted to criminal wrongdoing.
The U.S. Attorney in New York wanted to pursue criminal
charges. But he was overruled by his higher ups at the Justice Department.
There is no doubt about it. KPMG engaged in criminal
wrongdoing. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said so. But because of
possible “collateral consequences,” there is no conviction.
Corporate crime is now crime without conviction.
It’s all about perception.
What collateral consequences? What law says that if you
are convicted of a crime, you are driven out of business?
When reporters walked into the seventh floor conference
room at the Justice Department for the press conference announcing the KPMG
deal, they were handed a number of documents.
They were handed the Justice Department press release.
This informed us that KPMG has admitted to criminal
wrongdoing and agreed to pay $456 million in fines, restitution and
penalties as part of an agreement to defer prosecution of the firm.
The press release also informed us that “in the largest
criminal tax case ever filed, KPMG has admitted that it engaged in a fraud
that generated at least $11 billion in phony tax losses which, according to
court papers, cost the United States at least $2.5 billion in evaded taxes.”
Reporters were also handed a tough statement by IRS
Commissioner Mark Everson. “Simply stated, if you had a multi-million dollar
tax liability, KPMG would find a way to wipe it out even when the firm’s own
experts thought the transactions would not survive IRS scrutiny,” Everson
said. “The only purpose of these abusive deals was to further enrich the
already wealthy and to line the pockets of KPMG partners.”
“Since the income tax first came into being under
President Lincoln during the Civil War, the wealthy have always paid more
than average citizens,” Everson said. “But not according to KPMG. KPMG’s
actions were a direct assault on our progressive system of income taxation,
and, left unchecked, would have badly eroded the faith of hard working,
taxpaying Americans in the fairness of government itself.”
“At some point such conduct passes from clever accounting
and lawyering to theft from the people,” Everson said. “We simply can’t
tolerate flagrant abuse of the law and of professional obligations by tax
practitioners, particularly those associated with so-called blue chip firms
like KPMG that, by virtue of their prominence, set the standard of conduct
for others. Accountants and attorneys should be the pillars of our system of
taxation, not the architects of its circumvention.”
They can’t tolerate this grand theft, but they did.
If they didn’t tolerate it, they would have indicted KPMG
and forced a guilty plea.
Reporters were also handed an indictment of eight KPMG
partners and an outside tax attorney. These were the nine individuals behind
the crime, prosecutors said.
The entity gets a deferred prosecution for criminal
activities. It must pay $456 million in fines and restitution. But there is
no loss of freedom to operate.
The individuals face a loss of freedom. That’s what prison
is all about.
Why the double standard?
True, the entity must hire a monitor, in this case, former
Securities and Exchange Commissioner Richard Breeden.
But who pays Breeden? KPMG.
How much? KPMG decides.
KPMG’s public response to the deferred prosecution makes
clear the firm does not view the deal as imposing serious punishment (let
alone deterrence). It was as if the company was required to stay after
school for a day.
“KPMG LLP is pleased to have reached a resolution with the
Department of Justice. We regret the past tax practices that were the
subject of the investigation. KPMG is a better and stronger firm today,
having learned much from this experience,” said KPMG LLP Chair and CEO
Timothy P. Flynn. “The resolution of this matter allows KPMG to confidently
face the future as we provide high quality audit, tax and advisory services
to our large multinational, middle market and government clients.”
What documents were reporters not handed at the Justice
Department news conference?
They were not handed a 10-page, single-spaced statement of
facts that laid out the criminal activity in detail. And they were not
handed the information charging KPMG with a felony. They came only later,
after the Attorney General was asked, Where’s the charging document against
Until recently, Swiss drug maker Roche’s sales of Tamiflu
were doing dismally. (Roche makes the drug on license from the patent
holder, the San Francisco-based company Gilead.)
In 2001, sales of Tamiflu, an anti-viral intended to
alleviate the flu, were $76 million. Health advocates criticized the drug as
offering few benefits, and encouraged people concerned about the flu to
instead get a flu shot.
Then along came avian influenza, and the threat of an
outbreak of bird flu among humans. There is no available vaccine for bird
flu, and Tamiflu appears to be the best available pharmaceutical defense for
those exposed to the disease.
For now, avian flu is not communicative among humans. More
than 150 people have been infected with bird flu since 2003, when the first
bird-to-human transmission was recorded, and more than half of those
infected have died.
Many public health experts believe that an outbreak among
humans is virtually inevitable.
An outbreak could have extremely dire consequences. In the
United States, the Centers for Disease Control reports that, a
“‘medium-level’ pandemic could cause 89,000 to 207,000 deaths, 314,000 to
734,000 hospitalizations, 18 to 42 million outpatient visits, and another 20
to 47 million people being sick. Between 15 percent and 35 percent of the
U.S. population could be affected by an influenza pandemic, and the economic
impact could range between $71.3 and $166.5 billion.” The illness and death
toll would be much worse in developing countries.
Slowly, the message has begun to penetrate government
officials’ and the public’s consciousness, and governments are, very
belatedly, looking to stockpile Tamiflu in advance of a potential outbreak.
That has provided a windfall for Roche. 2005 sales of
Tamiflu are expected to top $1 billion.
It has also created a bit of a problem for Roche, because
it cannot make enough Tamiflu to meet demand.
Given the public health urgency of stockpiling the drug,
Roche could have simply announced that it would license other companies to
manufacture it, conditioned on payment of a reasonable royalty.
Instead, it chose a different course.
With no prospect of the company satisfying growing demand,
it announced that it would not license others to produce the medicine. Nor
could others easily make the drug, the company claimed. It said that the
manufacturing process was extremely complicated and dangerous, and that the
key ingredient to make the drug was in short supply.
As it turned out, all of these claims turned out to be
deeply misleading, or worse.
As late as October 13, Roche insisted that it would not
license the product to competitors, and that it was too complicated for them
to make. These claims deterred officials at the World Health Organization
from pushing for compulsory licenses enabling competitors to manufacture
Tamiflu. (“There will be no way in the next two years a company would be
able to produce generic Tamiflu,” the head of WHO’s influenza program said
on October 6.)
Roche “fully intends to remain the sole manufacturer of
Tamiflu,’’ company spokesperson Terry Hurley told reporters. He said that
the company would not reveal production figures, on the grounds that such
information was “commercially sensitive.” All drug makers are able to track
other manufacturers’ sales through commercial databases — but the
information is not made available to public officials. Hurley also offered
the company line on the complexity of making the drug. Manufacturing Tamiflu
involves 10 complicated steps, and would take two-to-three years for a new
entrant, he alleged.
But October 13 would be the last day Roche could make
On October 14, the New York Times reported that the Indian
drug maker Cipla had reverse-engineered the drug two weeks earlier, and
would have small commercial quantities available by early 2006.
With the spread of bird flu being reported daily,
countries in Southeast Asia, where the epidemic among birds originated,
started clamoring for the right to acquire greater quantities of Tamiflu.
Following Cipla’s announcement, many other firms soon said they could
produce the drug as well.
Taiwan’s National Health Research Institutes announced it
had figured out how to synthesize Tamiflu in September — in 18 days.
In Thailand, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization
announced in November that it had capacity to manufacture 1 million Tamiflu
tablets in 10 days.
Roche’s claim that making Tamiflu involved a dangerous and
potentially explosive step also was revealed to be an exaggeration. Reported
the Wall Street Journal: “that step — which involves a chemical reaction
with sodium azide, whose explosive potential has made it the common choice
in automobile air bags — turns out to be relatively routine, according to
some pharmaceutical executives and scientists familiar with the chemistry.
Although it is still dangerous, the process is well within the abilities of
university chemistry labs, let alone the world’s top generic-drug makers,
these scientists say.”
The shortage of a key ingredient in Tamiflu also proved a
chimera. The drug is made with shikimic acid, which is found in the Chinese
plant star anise (used as a spice in Chinese cooking). The limited supply of
star anise placed a constraint on how much Tamiflu could be made, Roche had
claimed. But it turns out that a Michigan State University professor had
developed a technique to make shikimic acid without star anise — and that
Roche had been using the technique under license for years.
With it increasingly plain that dozens of generic
companies were capable of manufacturing Tamiflu, Southeast Asian countries
were prepared to issue compulsory licenses to enable new manufacturers to
start making the product.
With its posture of “fully intend[ing] to remain the sole
manufacturer of Tamiflu” no longer tenable, Roche announced it would license
other companies to make the drug. In December, it said it would enter
intense negotiations with a dozen firms.
Many countries, it turned out, did not need to seek a
license from Roche, compulsory or otherwise. As countries began moves to
authorize generic competition by issuing compulsory licenses, Roche
explained that Tamiflu was not patented in those countries. The governments
themselves did not know what was patented, and Roche had conveniently let
them operate under misperceptions that patents had been granted. This
occurred in the Philippines and Indonesia, among other countries.
While production is expanded — and in addition to the
generic entrance into the market, Roche has announced it has increased its
manufacturing capacity 10 times over — there remains a shortfall to meet the
stockpiling standard urged by many public health officials. The U.S.
stockpile, for example, is sufficient to provide medications to less than 2
percent of people in the United States — about a tenth the coverage
recommended by public health officials.
“Roche has had plenty of time to figure out what its
options are regarding the licensing of the patents,” says James Love,
director of the Washington, D.C.-based Consumer Project on Technology.
“There are too many potential suppliers to undertake individual negotiations
with each company. Roche needs to simply identify the relevant terms it will
impose on generic suppliers and offer open licenses to anyone who can
If Roche refuses such an approach, says Love, “governments
should issue the appropriate compulsory licenses in order to assure the
competitive generics sector they can legally sell generic copies of the
Suez - They want to buy all our city water ? What for? THE ANSWER: To sell it back to you! To see how many others corps are doing this, ^ Click Twice.
One of the continuous challenges of Big Business is to develop stories that explain why the private sector is good and efficient and the public sector is bad, wasteful, and incompetent. Given the scandals, criminality, and wastefulness that pervades so much of corporate activity, this is no easy matter. It certainly poses a major challenge for Suez, the French services giant that is one of the world’s largest private water companies.
Suez has been a leading purveyor and beneficiary of the global trend of water privatization — the selling off of public water systems to private entities, or the turning over of control and management of public systems to corporations such as Suez.
In negotiations over the World Trade Organization’s services agreements, Suez has worked through trade associations to ensure that the European Union works to pry open water service markets around the
world to private and foreign corporations.
And the company has worked hand in glove with the World
Bank to encourage developing countries to turn control over their water
systems to private business.
However, Suez walks a fine line on the public-private
divide. The company wants to extract profits from water service provision,
but it wants to limit its investment obligations and maintain strong public
bodies that can impose high prices on consumers, and make them pay. And, if
and when things go bad, it wants to blame public agencies.
Thus Suez Chair and CEO Gerard Mestrallet talks not about
privatization, but “public-private partnerships.”
“The success of public-private partnerships rests
primarily on a sharing of roles between those parties whose skills are best
suited to fulfilling them,” he says. “It is perfectly clear that the
decision-makers in these arrangements are the public authorities, and
whether or not they seek the expertise of the private sector is entirely
To those who complain about the failure of Suez and other
companies to expand and provide water service to the poor and lower-income
groups, Mestrallet’s line is clear: blame the public sector. “At present, 95
percent of water services worldwide are provided by the public sector, so it
is hardly the fault of the private sector if 1.2 billion people have no
access to water and 2 billion people have no sanitation services.”
Things look a little different in the municipalities and
regions where Suez has had responsibility for water provision, however.
As Public Citizen’s Water for All Campaign (now part of a
new organization, Food and Water Watch) shows in an April 2005 corporate
profile, Suez has raised service charges, underinvested and mismanaged water
projects around the globe. City after city has found out the hard way what
exactly Suez has in mind by “public-private partnership.”
a.. In El Alto, Bolivia, mass demonstrations in January
2005 led the Bolivian government to cancel a water privatization contract
with Aguas del Illimani, of which Suez is a major shareholder. “The Suez
contract is a classic example of ‘ring fencing,’ where the contract
obligates service delivery only in specific areas of the city,” explains the
Water for All Campaign in its report. “What is termed the ‘served area’ in
the Suez contract focuses water service provision on profitable customers
and removes obligation from extending service to the newest and most
marginal settlements — the areas most in need of improvements.” For those
who did seek new connections, the price was $445, more than eight times the
monthly minimum wage. With the contract cancelled, Suez is threatening to
sue Bolivia for $90 million in lost investments and future profits.
b.. In Atlanta, the Suez subsidiary United Water signed
a 20-year deal to operate the city’s water system. Maintenance backlogs
accumulated, with broken water lines sometimes taking two months to fix.
United Water improperly billed the city. Although privatization was supposed
to avert a rate hike, combined water and sewer bills rose by about 25
percent. After only five years, Atlanta opted out of the contract.
c.. In Manila, the Philippines, pressure by the World Bank led the government to privatize the water system to two concessions, one led by Suez, in 1997. Within five years, water rates for Manila residents had tripled. Both the Suez and other concession won contract amendments that would weaken their performance requirements. Still, because the value of the Philippines peso dropped sharply with the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, Suez wanted steeper rate increases. When the Manila authorities refused — the drop in the exchange rate of the peso didn’t mean Manila residents had more pesos to spend — Suez sought to renegotiate or abandon the contract. The company claims it is owed hundreds of millions of dollars by the Manila water authority, while the government claims Suez owes it money. “Suez, the world’s largest water corporation, places profit over the human right to water,” says Wenonah Hauter of Food and Water Watch.
WR GRACE (J.Peter Grace Head of Gramps' corp --Ozymendiously called "W.R.Grace", Peter is a major Right wing funder of dirty tricks including the JFK HIT, virulent anti-communist, Tied to P-2 Vatican banking scandal ) and asbestos poisoner, err sorry, meant to write PIONEER!
NOTE: Peter carries a Beretta full time! Maybe his guilty conscience is afraid of a hit from Terrorists? Or is somebody really after him? He funds the right wing as did his entire family. What's to be afraid of? KILLER PRIESTS? Or asbestos miners who lost family to lung disease? (Their corporation killed a lot of people with asbestos. They knew it killed, too. ) What does it take to get federal prosecutors to indict an asbestos company for endangering the health of the community? If 2005 is any guide, it takes activist citizens who pressure their elected officials to “do something” to bring justice. It takes conscientious federal officials who shrug off bureaucratic inertia and demand that justice be done. And first and foremost, it takes editors and reporters who are willing to stay with a story. One such reporter is Andrew Schneider, now deputy assistant managing editor for investigations at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Before moving to St. Louis, Schneider was a reporter at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, where, in 1999, he broke the story of how W.R. Grace’s vermiculite mine was killing its workers and residents. He has written a couple hundred stories about Grace since then and was in Billings, Montana for the February announcement of the indictment against Grace. With David McCumber, Schneider is the author of An Air That Kills: How the Asbestos Poisoning of Libby, Montana, Uncovered a National Scandal. Schneider told us that federal prosecutors and witnesses were “terrified” that Bush administration corporate connections would derail the indictment. Prosecutors and witnesses were “terrified that it was going to be derailed at any moment,” Schneider said. “They worried about Vice President Dick Cheney,who of course had his relationship with Halliburton, which had $4.3 billion worth of asbestos claims against them,” Schneider said. “They worried about his influence in killing off this prosecution. They worried about the asbestos legislation on the Hill that President Bush has been touting. Bush wins the election and goes on the stump talking about the poor corporations that have been bankrupted by these bogus cases. And that frightened the hell out of the investigators and a couple of the prosecutors.” NOTE: Man with BUSH HELPING the Grace Family, Cheney involved in the litigation, I would recommend that the authors of AIR KILLS should get a new, prepackaged virgin toothbrush every damn morning! And not eat out of their own refrigerator! I wouldn't sit too close to him in a sushi bar, either. Without a radiation detector.
The criminal charge against W.R. Grace and seven of its current or former executives represents the first time in the history of the industry that criminal charges have been filed against an asbestos manufacturer for endangering the lives of residents. And Schneider says the Grace indictment may well serve as a blueprint for prosecutors in other areas of the country to criminally prosecute Grace for endangering the lives of residents in their jurisdictions.
“How widespread it will be, I don’t know,” Schneider said. “But I know there is a great deal of interest from prosecutors in what actually went down. I’m just basing that on the number of calls that I received from prosecutors in different states.”
The indictment handed down against Grace in Billings charged the company and seven current and former Grace executives with knowingly endangering residents of Libby, Montana, and concealing information about the health affects of its asbestos mining operations.
Federal officials alleged that Grace and its executives, as far back as the 1970s, attempted to conceal information about the adverse health effects of the company’s vermiculite mining operations and distribution of vermiculite in the Libby, Montana community.
The seven individual and one corporate defendant were also accused of obstructing the government’s cleanup efforts and wire fraud.
Federal officials said that approximately 1,200 residents in the Libby area have been identified as suffering from some kind of asbestos-related abnormality. (Man, 'attsa toxic meatball of a corporation!) Schneider says that more than 200 Libby residents have died from asbestos-related disease. “We will not tolerate criminal conduct that is detrimental to the environment and human health,” stated Thomas Sansonetti, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
“A human and environmental tragedy has occurred in Libby,”
said William Mercer, U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana. “This
prosecution seeks to hold Grace and its executives responsible for the
W.R. Grace operated a vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana
from 1963 to 1990, as part of its Construction Products Division, which was
headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Vermiculite was used in many common commercial products,
including attic insulation, fireproofing materials, masonry fill, and as an
additive to potting soils and fertilizers.
The vermiculite deposits in Libby were contaminated with a
form of asbestos called tremolite.
Studies have shown that exposure to asbestos can cause
life-threatening diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer and
Federal officials alleged that health studies on residents
of the Libby area show increased incidence of many types of asbestos-related
disease, including a rate of lung cancer that is 30 percent higher than
expected when compared with rates in other areas of Montana and the United
The government claims that the defendants, beginning in
the late 1970s, obtained knowledge of the toxic nature of tremolite asbestos
in its vermiculite through internal epidemiological, medical and
toxicological studies, as well as through product testing.
Despite legal requirements under the Toxic Substances
Control Act to turn over to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the
information they possessed, “W.R. Grace and its officials failed to do so on
In addition to charging that the company concealed
information from EPA, the indictment alleges that W.R. Grace and its
officials also obstructed the National Institute of Occupational Safety and
Health (NIOSH) when it attempted to study the health conditions at the Libby
mine in the 1980s.
Despite their knowledge of the hazards of asbestos, the
company and executives “distributed asbestos-contaminated vermiculite and
permitted it to be distributed throughout the Libby community” by allowing
workers to leave the mine site covered in asbestos dust, allowing residents
to take waste vermiculite for use in their gardens and distributing
vermiculite “tailings” to the Libby schools for use as foundations for
running tracks and an outdoor ice skating rink.
And after W.R. Grace closed the Libby mine in 1990, it
sold asbestos-contaminated properties to local buyers without disclosing the
nature or extent of the contamination. One of the contaminated properties
was used as a residence and commercial nursery.
In response to the groundbreaking series of articles in
1999 by Schneider documenting the hazards posed the Grace mine, “W.R. Grace
and its officials continued to mislead and obstruct the government by not
disclosing, as they were required to do by federal law, the true nature and
extent of the asbestos contamination.”
Ultimately, the Libby mine and related W.R. Grace
properties were declared a Superfund site by EPA, and as of 2001, EPA had
incurred approximately $55 million in cleanup costs. If convicted, the
defendants face up to 15 years imprisonment on each endangerment charge, up
to five years imprisonment on each of the conspiracy and obstruction
charges, and 10 years on prison on the wire fraud charge.
W.R. Grace could face fines of up to twice the gain
associated with its alleged misconduct or twice the losses suffered by
Federal officials alleged that Grace enjoyed at least $140
million in after-tax profits from its mining operations in Libby. Grace also
could be ordered to pay restitution to victims.
Grace denies the charges. In a company statement released
after the indictment was handed down, Grace said it “categorically denies
any criminal wrongdoing.”
“As a company and as individuals, we believe that one
serious illness or lost life is one too many. That is why we have taken so
seriously our commitment to our Libby employees and the people of Libby,”
the company said.
“The entire W.R. Grace team is supportive of the citizens
of Libby. We hope that our continued and dedicated support for their
long-term health care, combined with their characteristic strength and
determination, will help them through these difficult times.”
* * * * * * * * *
Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor. Mokhiber and Weissman are co-authors ofOn the Rampage: Corporate Predators and the Destruction of Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press). These are people you want stored in your google find bar, and books are at ABE BOOKS for a dollar or two, read HOW TO ORDER USED, CHEAP BOOKS FOR A BUCK
POSTER is ANITA SANDS HERNANDEZ, Los Angeles Writer, Futurist and Astrologer. Catch up with her websites on TRUTHS GOV WILL HIDE, NEVER TELL YOU, & the FUTURE, HOW TO SURVIVE the COMING GREAT DEPRESSION, and Secrets of Nature, HOLISTIC, AFFORDABLE HEALING. Also HOW TO LIVE on A NICKLE, The FRUGAL PAGE.* Anita is at email@example.com ). Get a 15$ natal horoscope "my money/life" reading now + copy chart as Gif file graphic!
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