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April 18, 2003
Reconstruction abroad Stories about rebuilding

Reconstruction abroad

Stories about rebuilding contracts continue to appear.

Foreign companies have complained that they cannot be prime contractors under USAID's Iraq programme, although the agency has repeatedly said non-US firms can be subcontractors. In recent weeks, US officials have intimated that they were unlikely to give a piece of the Iraqi pie to those countries who did not help bake it, such as Russia, France and Germany.
The subject of this article is Bechtel Group Inc., who were awarded a contract worth between $34.6M and $680M.

They gave generously for their ties to government, but as they gave to both parties, I don't suppose much partisan "hay" can be made out of it.

The company and its workers contributed at least $277,050 to federal candidates and party committees in the last election cycle, about 57 percent to Democrats and 43 percent to Republicans, the center found.
(The Center for Public Integrity)

Several Democratic lawmakers have criticized the fast-track bidding process that allowed only a few experienced companies to submit proposals. The U.S. Agency for International Development has controlled the bidding, saying speed was essential to meet Iraq's pressing postwar needs.
I have to say I sort of agree. From experience I can say that the government bidding process has been known to take three years or more on a contract. That's unacceptable in these circumstances.

I also have to say that using experienced contractors, especially those with experience overseas, is a good idea. We've done enough damage to Iraq without sending over companies run by people who don't have any familiarity with working with other cultures. There's a slightly longer article here.

Coalition forces find largest weapons stash yet in Afghanistan.

Yep. No weapons in Iraq. Still lots of weapons in Afghanistan.

Deconstruction at home

I'm not sure what else you'd call these attempts to dismantle environmental protections.

A few recent actions: In January, the EPA exempted the oil and gas industry from water pollution rules. Last month, the agency decided cities could not be held responsible for their toxic runoff. There is a move currently underway to loosen rules mandating that chemical plants, automobile factories and steel mills cut their emissions of air pollution.

(The EPA is, however, still being too aggressive for the Bush administration. The Office of Management and Budget has targeted the agency for "review" in an overall move to reduce regulatory constraints placed on industry.)

And, speaking of things that are disintegrating, there were more government resignations, three of them this time. This group resigned in protest of the failure to protect Baghdad's museums from looting.

Looks like Big Business is conducting business as usual, even in the face of bankruptcy. American Airlines employees have discovered that while they were being begged to take pay cuts, the top executives were getting the usual multi-million dollar bonuses and other perks.

According to the SEC filing disclosed late Tuesday, the company funded a pension trust for 45 top executives in October that protected some of their benefits even if the carrier filed for bankruptcy protection.

In addition, the company offered its six top executives bonuses double their annual base salaries if they remain until early 2005.

Carty, who has a base salary of $811,000, could get a $1.6 million bonus at a time when employees will still be struggling under huge pay cuts.

Looks to me like the world's largest airline might be about to crash-land under a load of corporate greed.

For those interested, the battle over Cheney's energy policy, the one probably written by his buddies in industry, is still being waged.

And, speaking of hearts and minds, even though we weren't at the moment, industry has come up with what I have to admit is a very clever plan to start rooting out the entrenched environmentalism from our culture. It's a disgusting, immoral, dishonest plan, but if they're not stopped, it's one that will totally work.

But not all the news is bad. For instance, not all carmakers are oil-sucking anti-environmentalists. Take a look at my next new car. (I have a friend whose family owns a couple of the current hybrids and who says they're incredible.)

Off to read some more.... Lots happening today.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:36 AM