31 October 2004

Worst case of contracting abuse ever

Involving Dick Cheney's company.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' top contracting official on Friday called the government's grant of multi-billion dollar contracts to oil services giant Halliburton the worst case of contracting abuse she has ever seen.

"It was misconduct, and part of that misconduct was blatant," said Bunny Greenhouse, in an interview on NBC's Nightly News program.

Greenhouse has already demanded an investigation into the contracts that last year were granted to Halliburton, the energy services firm run by Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995-2000. According to her attorney, the FBI has since asked her for an interview on the matter.

Waived rules, no-bid contracts, and extra favorable treatment for a Texas firm for an administration headed by two oilmen.

30 October 2004

Is it permissible to kill animals in the name of art?

I believe this is truly abhorrent.
Most people who see Nathalia's pictures for the first time are impressed by how beautiful they are. It takes a few seconds before you start to wonder how they have been made. A photo-montage? Some kind of digital manipulation? When you look closer, there is something slightly distorted in the rabbit's expression. Something slightly abnormal about the face of the cat. Slowly you realise that the animal is dead, that the animal has died for the sake of the picture. Is this acceptable?

There is nothing illegal in Nathalia's art. She has killed the animals in as humane a way as possible. Has she been guilty of a moral crime? We do not think so. We think that art is of vital importance. What do you think?

Absolutely disguisting.

10 October 2004

Corruption at its Worst

A company with no previous experience in the security industry gets a no-bid $16 million dollar contract to provide security at Baghdad Airport. Now, according to employee whistleblowers, Custer Battles then proceeded to bill the government for fraudulent charges to the tune of $50 million.
Lawyers for the two men suing Custer Battles say the firm's fraudulent charges amounted to $50 million. Federal law allows fines against companies that defraud the government in an amount equal to three times the fraudulent proceeds.

The Pentagon, Justice Department and other federal agencies are investigating several cases of alleged fraud among contractors in Iraq. Internal watchdogs at the Pentagon and CPA have said U.S. contracting officials did not follow proper procedures on many of those contracts.

And how about the treatment dished out to the whistleblowers.

Isakson and Baldwin say in the lawsuit they were fired when they objected to Custer Battles' business practices. When he was fired as the company's country manager for Iraq, the lawsuit says, Custer Battles employees held Isakson at gunpoint, disarmed him and sent Isakson and his 14-year-old son in a taxi from Baghdad to Amman, Jordan.

Some more reading on the Isakson Iraq odyssey.

Every day, the notion that military privatization saves money is thoroughly debunked with accounts like these.

6 October 2004

We simply ask that corporations stop demonizing a perfectly good legal system that they regularly utilize

Businesses in the U.S. file four times as many lawsuits as do individuals represented by trial attorneys.
American businesses file four times as many lawsuits as do individuals represented by trial attorneys, and they are penalized by judges much more often for pursuing frivolous litigation, according to a report issued today by Public Citizen.

The survey of case filings in two states (Arkansas and Mississippi) and two local jurisdictions (Cook County, Ill., and Philadelphia, Pa.) in 2001 found that businesses were 3.3 to 5.8 times more likely to file lawsuits than were individuals.††This comes as businesses and politicians are campaigning to limit citizensí rights to sue over everything from medical malpractice damages to defective products. By way of comparison, the number of American consumers (281 million) outnumbers the number of businesses in America (7 million) by 40 times.

The report also found that businesses and their attorneys were 69 percent more likely than individual tort plaintiffs and their attorneys to be sanctioned by federal judges for filing frivolous claims or defenses. The report, Frequent Filers:† Corporate Hypocrisy in Accessing the Courts, is available by clicking here.