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July 22, 2004
Speaking Of....

Speaking of prisoner abuse, although most of the media doesn't seem to be any more, the number of reported cases is up to 94. For those keeping score, that's an increase from the last estimate and I don't suppose we've heard the whole story yet.

Speaking of prisoner abuse, remember when I posted yesterday about those 'vigilantes' being tried in Afghanistan (for prisoner abuse) and said I thought they were probably CIA?

U.S. Says It Got Afghan From Vigilantes "U.S. Acknowledges Receiving Prisoner From American Vigilantes Being Tried in Afghanistan"

Independent 'vigilantes.' Yeah.


Police Question N.J. Amtrak Passengers "Police Question Passengers on N.J. Amtrak Train, Checking Identification of Each Passenger"

Dunno what's behind it. No one is commenting and the FBI is "investigating."

Just for the record, there's no word of anyone being taken prisoner and abused at this point.

In Praise of Unruly Women

Arianna Huffington, AlterNet

When it comes to spicing up the political dessert tray, Teresa Heinz Kerry is one of the most flavorful and compelling public figures to hit the national stage in decades. Why are the media out to get her?

Am I the only one who sees the sexism implicit in that? I mean, can you even imagine seeing, "In Praise of Unruly Men" as a headline?

And, speaking of sexism, if a USofA politician had announced he thought women should "spend more time cleaning behind the refrigerator"...well...I shudder to think.

The women of the European parliament today took revenge on Godfrey Bloom, the Ukip MEP, when they thwarted his attempt to join a committee devoted to women's rights.

Mr Bloom caused uproar on Tuesday - his first day in Strasbourg - by attacking maternity rights, saying pregnant women should resign from their jobs. He then added that women should spend more time "cleaning behind the refrigerator".

He said he wanted to join the committee to "promote men's rights" and "Yorkshire women, who always have dinner on the table when you get home".

And, speaking of jobs, this Sales Clerk, Ph.D headline reminds me of an interview I heard on NPR this morning. Morning Edition was interviewing some state's governor (missed the introduction, but it's not really relevant) who said, paraphrasing, that their state's economy was beginning to show signs of improvement, including increased jobs but was "lagging" in producing "high-wage jobs," the kind that come with benefits.

That confused me. Is it that, today, simple health and vacation benefits are considered perks only of "high-wage" jobs or was this woman a Republican and merely trying to avoid saying that the only new jobs her state was seeing were part-time or temp jobs? Sometimes you miss vital clues to a story's meaning by missing the introduction.

Oh, by the way, the Hightower column I linked to above is about the cheery job growth news. Under the theory of "fair use" I'm reprinting here the projection for, "Jobs with the largest growth between now and 2010":

1. Food preparer, $16,000 – On-the-job training
2. Customer service rep., $26,000 – On-the-job training
3. Registered nurse, $48,000 – Two-year degree
4. Retail sales clerk, $18.000 – On-the-job training
5. Computer support specialist, $39,000 – Two-year degree
6. Cashier, $15,000 – On-the-job training
7. Office clerk, $22,000 – On-the-job training
8. Security guard, $19,000 – On-the-job training
9. Computer technician, $55,000 – Bachelor's degree
10. Waiter/Waitress, $14,000 – On-the-job training
11. General manager, $68,000 – Bachelor's degree
12. Truck driver, $33,000 – On-the-job training
13. Nursing aide, $19,000 – On-the-job training
14. Janitor, $18,000 – On-the-job training
15. College teachers, $52,000 – Doctoral Degree
16. Teacher assistant, $19,000 – On-the-job training
17. Home health aide, $18,000 – On-the-job training
18. Freight haulers, $19,000 On-the-job training
19. Computer engineer, $70,000 – Bachelor's degree
20. Landscaping worker, $20,000 – On-the-job training

Those from academia reading the blog will be happy to see the College "teacher" is #15 on the list.

And Stephen S. Roach from today's NYTimes, also on jobs.

And, speaking of money

War Funds Dwindling, GAO Warns

Pentagon Needs Billions More This Year in Iraq, Afghanistan

The U.S. military has spent most of the $65 billion that Congress approved for fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is scrambling to find $12.3 billion more from within the Defense Department to finance the wars through the end of the fiscal year, federal investigators said yesterday.

The report from the Government Accountability Office, Congress's independent investigative arm, warned that the budget crunch is having an adverse impact on the military as it shifts resources to Iraq and away from training and maintenance in other parts of the world. The study -- the most detailed examination to date of the military's funding problems -- appears to contradict White House assurances that the services have enough money to get through the calendar year.

Sorta makes you wonder what "training and maintenance" we're doing around the world doesn't it? And where, precisely, are we doing these things?

Already, the GAO said, the services have deferred the repair of equipment used in Iraq, grounded some Air Force and Navy pilots, canceled training exercises, and delayed facility-restoration projects. The Air Force is straining to cover the cost of body armor for airmen in combat areas, night-vision gear and surveillance equipment, according to the report.

The Army, which is overspending its budget by $10.2 billion for operations and maintenance, is asking the Marines and the Air Force to help cover the escalating costs of its logistics contract with Halliburton Co. But the Air Force is also exceeding its budget by $1.4 billion, while the Marines are coming up $500 million short. The Army is even having trouble paying the contractors guarding its garrisons outside the war zones, the report said.


And speaking of Halliburton war, how about this:

Profits of War

Halliburton has become a byword for the cosy links between the White House and Texan big business. But how did the company run in the 90s by Dick Cheney secure a deal that guaranteed it millions in profit every time the US military saw action? In this exclusive extract from his new book, Dan Briody reveals how the firm made a killing on the battleground

It's not a smear job, in spite of the sensationalist opening. It's an overview of just exactly what the complex, multi-tentacled Halliburton does to support "the war effort" wherever it may be.

It's important that we bear in mind that Dick Cheney's Halliburton, his employer for many years and the source of his millions, thrives when the USofA is at war.

Kind of gives a whole new slant to the idea of a "war presidency" doesn't it?

Don't miss the bit about the Cheney-Rumsfeld alliance history.

Still speaking of money, "Capitol Hill Republicans" may have been astonished by this, but they shouldn't have been. Anyone watching the polls knows why Bush would reject a two-year tax cut extension compromised and demand a five-year extension, instead.

For those who need things in simple words, it's because he's not going to be in office two years from now.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:07 PM


Well, I hate to admit it but I really liked Arianna's pun ("flavorful").

Posted by: Elayne Riggs at July 22, 2004 12:00 PM


Posted by: Anne at July 23, 2004 08:15 AM

The Hightower list is kind of frightening, actually. Unless the next 20 is significantly different, then the only college majors worth having are computer science, engineering and management, unless you actually go on to get a Ph.D.

On the other hand, "largest growth" doesn't mean that the existing large fields won't remain large. What we need, more than this, is a "jobs most likely to disappear" list.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at July 23, 2004 03:36 PM

You're linking to Hightower, remember Hightower? He's the guy you said in a rebutal to one of my posts that you were hesitant to link to him..

First, if you look at the BLS stats, the order Hightower lists those jobs is not in the rank order based on projected increase. If you do that, Nurses are # 1 followed by college (post-secondary) teachers.

Second, he doesn't cite the whole picture presented by the BLS - for example,

Construction and extraction occupations. Construction and extraction workers construct new residential and commercial buildings, and also work in mines, quarries, and oil and gas fields. Employment of these workers is expected to grow 15 percent, adding 1.1 million new jobs. Construction trades and related workers will account for more than three-fourths of these new jobs, 857,000, by 2012.

Professional and related occupations. Professional and related occupations will grow the fastest and add more new jobs than any other major occupational group. Over the 2002-12 period, a 23.3-percent increase in the number of professional and related jobs is projected, a gain of 6.5 million. Professional and related workers perform a wide variety of duties, and are employed throughout private industry and government. About three-quarters of the job growth will come from three groups of professional occupations—computer and mathematical occupations, healthcare practitioners and technical occupations, and education, training, and library occupations—which will add 4.9 million jobs combined.

Education and health services. This industry supersector is projected to grow faster, 31.8 percent, and add more jobs than any other industry supersector. About 1 out of every 4 new jobs created in the U.S. economy will be in either the healthcare and social assistance or private educational services sectors.

Healthcare and social assistance—including private hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, and individual and family services—will grow by 32.4 percent and add 4.4 million new jobs. Employment growth will be driven by increasing demand for healthcare and social assistance because of an aging population and longer life expectancies. Also, as more women enter the labor force, demand for childcare services is expected to grow.

Private educational services will grow by 28.7 percent and add 759,000 new jobs through 2012. Rising student enrollments at all levels of education will create demand for educational services.

Professional and business services. This group will grow by 30.4 percent and add nearly 5 million new jobs. This industry supersector includes some of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. economy.

Third, the number of the actual increases in the top 20 for some of the jobs Hightower seems to look down upon reflect at least two factors: (1) rising income allows for more "leisure consumption"; and (2) some of these jobs are high turnover because they are entry level positions that many (yes, I know not all) then attempt to move on the areas cited above - note the BLS entry Hightower omits:

Service occupations are projected to have the largest number of total job openings, 13 million, reflecting high replacement needs. A large number of replacements will be necessary as young workers leave food preparation and service occupations. Replacement needs generally are greatest in the largest occupations and in those with relatively low pay or limited training requirements.

Why? Because people acquire more training and move. I was a caddy and a waiter at one point too...

As for the Army's O&M spending:

First, when Congress fund the military, they don't give any money for actual operations (the Operations in O&M really means day to day peacetime training and exercises). Some argue this practice is good so the President has to go to Congress to ask for money when the President commits the military to real world operations and thus Congress has the pursestring control over any President's military excursion.

Second, when Army organizations get their O&M money, it is based on a certain number of helicopter flying hours, weapon training exercises, driving hours for vehicles, etc. - that determines fuel, ammo, maintenance costs. However, if fuel is higher than forecasted or
it takes more ammo to train a tank crew or company of soliders, then the money goes faster than anticipated so either the Army asks for more, shifts from one organization to another within the O&M account, or cuts back on training. Given the priority is for Iraq, Afghanistan, and a few other operations, it is hard for the folks doing regular training to ask for more.

Third, the military fiscal year runs Oct to Sep. The summer is also the big transition time for people, mainly due folks with families timing to school years. Hence, most commanders want to finish a lot of their exercises and training requirements before the summer. Also, like in other organizations with annual budgets, the higher ups tend to look a couple of months before the end of the budget year and see if money is still out there. In government organizations, there is no incentive to save the money so most commanders want to have obligated their money by the summer and then ask for more as opposed to having it taken from them. And add the mix this year that you can't predict in most cases how real world operations will consume resources and O&M accounts are the easiest to shift between units.

And of course the White House is going to say there is enough for the fiscal year - why make a political issue of having to go ask for more money before Congress deals with the upcoming (now passed and 25B was added for operations) appropriations bill - gosh, even the Clinton WH was smart enough to know that (remember the 1 year in Bosnia comments?)

Or Les Aspin saying we didn't need to send heavy armor to Somalia (because of the cost)?

As for Halliburton - it has two major components - its Energy Services Group and KBR which does the infrastructure stuff to include building and providing infrastructure an services to military units where there is no base and we will be there for sometime (and we're Americans so at some point we expect hot food and showers and some of those other luxuries)..

But let's examine the dates in the story you provided:

The firm made $109.7m in Somalia. In August 1994, they earned $6.3m from Operation Support Hope in Rwanda. In September of that same year, Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti netted the company $150m. And in October 1994, Operation Vigilant Warrior made them another $5m.

In the spirit of "refuse no job", the company was building the base camps, supplying the troops with food and water, fuel and munitions, cleaning latrines, even washing their clothes. They attended the staff meetings and were kept up to speed on all the activities related to a given mission. They were becoming another unit in the US army.

The army's growing dependency on the company hit home when, in 1997, KBR lost the Logcap contract in a competitive rebid to rival Dyncorp. The army found it impossible to remove Brown & Root from their work in the Balkans - by far the most lucrative part of the contract - and so carved out the work in that theatre to keep it with KBR. In 2001, the company won the Logcap contract again, this time for twice the normal term length: 10 years.

And what administration awarded the LOGCAP contracts to KBR (the 2001 budget was funded by Clinton administration) - of course, there was for most of that a Republican Congress, but they awarded the money, the Clinton administration (well, he did have a psuedo-Rep as Secretary of Defense for awhile - but let's look at his ties to the Corporate world- won't hold my breath for a blog about Bill Cohen and the Caryle Group? - ahem) both pushed privitization and awarded the contracts. And anyone familiar with government contracting know the advantage from being the first and dominant player in providing a service - that's why they have to carve out special exemption for disadvantage and small business owners..and just how many companies have the ability in a short time to put infrastructure in remote areas and maintain them while having to pay high premiums for workers because it's dangerous to work in those area?

And if war is so "profitable" why is Halliburton's 2003 earnings per share negative (and far below its industry peers - especially when the energy side is booming?)...
and this year's financials show a staggering 2% profit margin???

Did Cheney get rich at Halliburton - yep - and most of it from Clinton administration operations. Nothing new for high placed government executives to go the industry or lobbying and make big bucks because of their former connections - but it's pretty lame to think we went to war for Halliburton.

Posted by: Col Steve at July 24, 2004 12:46 PM

"On the other hand, "largest growth" doesn't mean that the existing large fields won't remain large. What we need, more than this, is a "jobs most likely to disappear" list."

Agreed. Also, the continued growth of the medical field is going to sink the American economy, unless some radical restructuring is done. We already spend a greater percent of our GDP on healthcare than any other nation, how much longer can it go on being the fastest growing industry? I'm suspicious of the quoted estimate, it seems vulnerable to a political earthquake in the not distant future.

Sadly, being a doctor or lawyer will likely go on being over valued. Other important fields are likely to go on being under valued. And for whatever reason, white people will probably continue their current refusal to become engineers (this last New Years I went to a party where the racial gap, in regards to engineering, was more blatant than usual. Every single white person in the room, except me, was either a doctor, a lawyer, an MBA, or in school becoming one of these 3, while all the Asians in the room were either MBA's or engineers of some sort - computer engineers, electrical engineers, system engineers, etc).

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at July 25, 2004 01:28 PM

Col Steve - Yes, I remember Hightower. I said I was reluctant to link to his stuff and even as I did it for this post, I knew I should be checking his figures.

Serves me right. I know he's not necessarily a reliable source.

More on the rest of it later, but I really do have to go do some work today. :)

Posted by: Anne at July 26, 2004 09:33 AM

"Am I the only one who sees the sexism implicit in that? I mean, can you even imagine seeing, "In Praise of Unruly Men" as a headline?"

Agreed. This kind of stuff always surprises me. Is it okay so long as it is written by a woman? Is that the reasoning that let it get by the editors?

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at July 26, 2004 02:16 PM