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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-03-06 12:18 PM
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Katrina profiteering, war on workers Bechtel, Halliburton drive up costs

Katrina profiteering, war on workers

Bechtel, Halliburton drive up costs while local contractors, workers are shut out

One year after Hurricane Katrina, one thing is clear: the term masters of deceit could be accurately applied to the Bush administration for its handling of the Gulf Coast reconstruction. Despite the presidents photo-op appearances in the region on Aug. 29, his promises ring hollow when compared to the facts on the ground.

A report released Aug. 17 by CorpWatch, titled Big Easy Money, details a litany of abuses of money and power by Bush cronies jumping on the gravy train. It is a familiar cast of characters, including many of the same firms that have looted and bungled the reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq, such as Bechtel, Service Corp. International and Halliburton. The report dubs them disaster profiteers who, as in Iraq, have been given cost-plus contracts that allow them to collect a profit on everything they spend, which is an incentive to overspend.

The corporations receiving the lucrative contracts have used non-local contractors, driving up costs and reducing revenues for the devastated communities, the report says. African American contractors were excluded even when they offered to do the work for free for the good of the community for example, cleaning up dead bodies after the storm.

Lower Ninth Ward resident Chevelle Washington and her five-month-old grandson David join with friends and relatives of people who died in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina at a memorial service, Aug. 29. AP photo by Alex Brandon.

CorpWatch reports that corporations received astronomical contracts for cleanup work, but, by using contracting pyramids, reduced the money actually spent on cleanup to a fraction of the amount the companies received from U.S. taxpayers.

For example, AshBritt received a $500 million contract for debris removal, amounting to about $23 per cubic yard of debris removed. This contract was subcontracted four times. The New Jersey firm that ended up doing the work was only paid $3 per cubic yard.

In some cases, local firms received subcontracts but were paid only a fraction of the original contract. One company received $150,000 on a $3.1 million contract.

Divisive and abusive hiring practices are another problem. Opportunity Agenda, a social justice advocacy group, notes, Many African American survivors of the hurricane were shut out of reconstruction jobs due to failed housing policies, discrimination, and the lack of transportation and other services. At the same time, the group says, Interviews with reconstruction workers in New Orleans many of whom are immigrant laborers who are vulnerable to abusive employment practices revealed that large numbers have experienced problems of wage theft and nonpayment for labor, leaving low-income workers even more economically vulnerable.

Rosana Cruz, Gulf Coast field coordinator for the National Immigration Law Center, told CorpWatch, The level of assault against workers feels like a war.

FULL story at link above.

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acmavm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-03-06 12:22 PM
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1. There are numerous ways of being a traitor to one's country and the
BFEE have them all covered.
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Deja Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-03-06 12:24 PM
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2. Creative Corporate Welfare. That's what it's about.
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muesa Donating Member (176 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-03-06 01:07 PM
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3. Watch Bechtel and Halliburton's KBR subsidiary
They are moving into "green energy" and "renewable energy" at hyper speed. They sure know how to raid the public treasury.

Rebuilding NOLA is chump change for them compared to "green energy" and "renewable energy."
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Virginia Dare Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-03-06 01:30 PM
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4. Despite what the corporate overlords and their puppets...
in the GOP would lead us to believe, it doesn't have to be this way.

I watched a documentary on the great New England hurricane of 1938 the other night.

At that time, during the waning years of the Depression, charities were unable to step in and help out to the degree that they had helped during previous disasters in this country, so Roosevelt made the hurricane clean-up part of the New Deal, using public funds to put unemployed Americans to work rebuilding the infrastructure.

What prevents us from doing something similar now?
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rubberducky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-03-06 02:12 PM
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5. This subject raises my blood pressure...
to dangerous levels. I never could understand why the people of NO were not employed to do the reconstruction work. It just doesn`t make sense to employ people from outside the area to do the work. But, when they dropped the minimum wage in the hurricane area I knew they were up to no good. How could msm ignore this?? It is so damn unbelievable, that the people who really needed the work were not even considered.
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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-03-06 10:09 PM
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6. Link to CorpWatch article
to download full pdf (with pictures)
to get text file with info (no pictures)
{div class="excerpt"]Disaster profiteers make millions while local companies and laborers in New Orleans and the rest of the Katrina-devastated Gulf Coast region are systematically getting the short end of the stick, according to a major new report from the nonprofit CorpWatch.

A CorpWatch analysis of FEMA's records shows that "fully 90 percent of the first wave of (the post-Katrina reconstruction) contracts awarded - including some of the biggest no-bid contracts to date -- went to companies from outside the three worst-affected states. As of July 2006, after months of controversy and Congressional hearings, companies from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama had increased their share of the total contracts to a combined 16.6 percent." The CorpWatch analysis shows that more federal reconstruction contracts have gone to Virginia and Indiana - usually large, politically connected corporations -- than to any of the three Katrina-devastated states.

The CorpWatch report also exposes abusive "contracting charge pyramids" where the companies doing the actual reconstruction work often get only a tiny (and insufficient) fraction of the taxpayer money awarded for projects and widespread non-payment of local companies and laborers, including what has been alleged to be the deliberate and systematic exploitation of immigrant workers, including undocumented individuals.

One year after disaster struck, the slow-motion rebuilding of the Gulf Coast region looks identical to what has happened to date in Afghanistan and Iraq. We see a pattern of profiteering, waste and failure - due to the same flawed contracting system and even many of the same players" says CorpWatch Director Pratap Chatterjee. "The process of getting Katrina-stricken areas back on their feet is needlessly behind schedule, in part, due to the shunning of local business people in favor of politically connected corporations from elsewhere in the U.S. that have used their clout to win lucrative no-bid contracts with little or no accountability and who have done little or no work while ripping off the taxpayer."

Big, Easy Money report author Rita J. King said: "The devastation of the Gulf Coast is tragic enough, but the scope of the corporate greed that followed, facilitated by government incompetence and complicity, is downright criminal. Sadly, disaster profiteering has become commonplace in America. Well connected corporations are growing rich off of no-bid contracts while the sub-contractors - the people who actually perform the work - often do so for peanuts, if they get paid at all."...

I am glad that this has been published,and that people and groups are spreading the word. It is outrageous. CorpWatch's report's intro says In the 2 months Kenyon worked collecting bodies in NOLA, they got 535 bodies, billed over $6 million, which works out to $12,500/body. Local morticians were turned away by FEMA. Money money money money money money money moneymoneymoneymoney.....
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