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  Spring 2009

Corporate War on the People

Multinationals Face Legal Challenges—at Last 

Halliburton: In February Halliburton and its former subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) agreed to pay $579 million in fines for bribing Nigerian officials.  This is the largest fine ever paid by US companies in a foreign corruption case.

       Halliburton admitted it paid $182 million to Nigerian government officials over a 10-year period to win a six billion-dollar contract. KBR was awarded four contracts between 1995 and 2004 to pipe raw natural gas to a specially-built plant and convert it to liquified gas.

       The US court charged that KBR chairman Jack Stanley authorized a 23 million-dollar bribe to a consultant in Gibraltar to grease the palms of Nigerian officials. Stanley faces up to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to violate US anti-bribery laws.

 Blackwater: The notorious U.S. military contractor Blackwater (now called Xe) has been sued in the U.S. And some of its mercenaries have been federally indicted for killing unarmed civilians in Baghdad in 2007.

The widow of a 32-year-old Iraqi sued  Blackwater in a federal court. She charges that “on Christmas eve 2006, a highly intoxicated and heavily armed Xe-Blackwater employee named Andrew Moonen, shot and killed Raheem Khalaf Sa’adoon, for no reason….Although Xe-Blackwater learned of their employee’s crime shortly after it occurred, Xe-Blackwater acted, and continues to act, in conspiracy with Moonen to evade any accountability whatsoever…. Xe-Blackwater continued to rehire and deploy mercenaries known to have killed innocents.”

The lawsuit also alleges Xe-Blackwater rushed to get the agent out of Iraq, and destroyed documents in the case.

Xe-Blackwater was banned from working in Iraq in January. This was the result of a 2007 incident in which guards  killed 17 civilians and wounded 20. They opened fire with automatic weapons in Baghdad while escorting an American diplomatic convoy.

Stop Private Militaries

Blackwater recently changed its name to Xe to avoid further public scrutiny.  We can keep the pressure on these mercenaries.  Contact your elected representatives at the DC switchboard 202-224-3121. Demand that they co-sponsor HR 897, HR 2740, and HR 4102. These bills call for more accountability and an end to all mercenary armies

 GM, Ford, Daimler, and IBM:  In April victims of South African Apartheid won the right to sue GM, Ford, Daimler, and IBM “for aiding and abetting torture ... extra judicial killing, and apartheid.”  A NY federal judge, Shira Scheindlin ruled that the corporations can be tried under US laws, They allow charges of human rights abuses abroad to be heard in US courts.

Scheindlin stated: "The level of wilful blindness in the face of crimes violating the law of nations cannot defeat an otherwise clear showing of knowledge. These companies knew that the assistance they provided would directly and substantially support apartheid."

       Khulumani, a South African organisation that helps apartheid victims, is one of the plaintiffs.


Ousted Bank Leaders Still on Gravy Train, but not “Retained”

       Banks on the dole claimed they needed taxpayers to pay scandalous bonuses to “retain” skilled bosses. But in fact most were neither skilled nor retained.

       Citigroup posted a $18.7 billion loss last year. So they got a $52 billion bailout. CEO Vikram Pandit took over from Charles Prince in Dec 2007. He eliminated 39,000 jobs.

       • Charles O. Prince was retired in Nov. 2007 as Citigroup Inc.’s CEO. Citigroup paid him $66.8 million in the three previous years. The bank gave him a $10.4 million bonus for his last 10 months on the job and perks worth about $1.5 million a year. This includes an office, assistant, car and driver and any resulting income taxes. These benefits last for five years or until he gets another full-time job.

       • Michael Klein is former Citigroup investment banking head. He got a $34.3 million exit package in July 2008. He also has a free office and secretary.

       • John Reed resigned as co-CEO of Citigroup in 2000. He received a $5 million parting bonus and a $2 million annual “retirement benefit.”  He also got financial planning services for up to five years, a car and driver, an office and secretary for as long as he wants.

       • Sanford I. Weill retired as chairman of Citigroup in 2006. He ended a 10-year consulting contract with the bank after just three years. He got a $1 million-a-year retirement pension, consulting fees of $3,846 a day for up to 45 days a year, a car and driver, an office, private security, financial planning fees and medical and dental coverage. The bank will reimburse him for income taxes owed on the perks. He received $69 million in salary, bonus and other pay during his last three working years. He had use of company aircraft, which he gave up in February.      

       Merrilll Lynch had to sell itself last year to Bank of America. It is providing an office and assistant to former CEO Stan O’Neal for three years. The costs are absorbed by Bank of America. Bank of America took $45 billion of bailout funds and $118 billion of asset guarantees.      

       Kennedy Thompson was ousted last year as Wachovia’s CEO. Wells Fargo bought out Wachovia on Dec. 31. They are providing Thompson with an office and assistant for three years. Wells Fargo received $25 billion in bailout funds. 


AT&T Looks Out for Executives at Expense of Workers 

Despite record profits, AT&T keeps pushing for cuts in quality jobs, health care benefits and standard of living increases for its workers. They claim these cuts are necessary because of the poor economy. But last year AT&T made $12.9 billion in profits. This is almost a billion more than the previous year.

       CWA’s bargaining committees trying to reach an agreement with AT&T. They need 10,000 signatures on their petition of support. To sign go to: www.unionvoice.org/attdowhatsright/ibidi7447wbn8dd.


You Don’t Get What You Pay For 

Circuit City fumbled their company into bankruptcy. They cut 34,000 jobs. Then they demanded executive bonuses from the US bankruptcy court. Next they held a liquidation sale. They warned customers that all sales were final.

       Customers were not allowed to open and check merchandise. After they purchased it, they found out they had bought damaged goods.


NYC Did Not Use MA Money to Help Poor

New York City may no have used any of its $1 billion in federal Medicaid stimulus money for actual services to help the poor. The City says it used the money to close up budget holes. It refuses to reveal how the money was actually spent.

       Mayor Bloomberg has drastically cut supportive housing for New Yorkers with AIDS. He has proposed a $1.8 million cut to supportive housing programs. This would affect Scatter Site I and congregate housing. It proposes eliminating Scatter II housing completely. These cuts would prove devastating to thousands of low-income New Yorkers with AIDS who rely on these services.

       An additional $74 million in federal stimulus funding (called the Homelessness Prvention and Rapid Re-Housing Program) could prevent AIDS housing cuts. The funding was allocated to the City HUD. It will be administered through the Dept. of Homeless Services. It is unclear if this money will be available for AIDS housing, which is run through the Human Resources Administration. 


Sources: The Washington Post ~ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ~ Housing Works ~ Working Families e-Activist Network ~ Dollars & Sense ~ The Black Commentator

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