Robert Weissman

It's a 'frightening' prospect if an authoritarian like Trump declares state of emergency

President Trump says that he will likely declare a national emergency over the border wall if negotiations over the government shutdown continue. We speak with Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “The Congress has given the president quite a bit of authority to declare emergencies with terms that are almost unbounded,” Weissman says. “Congress has always expected, and society has always expected, that presidents wouldn’t abuse that authority recklessly, declaring emergencies just because they want to. We obviously have a president now who has no such constraints.”

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Despite White House Chaos, Trump Delivers Favors for Corporate America

The Trump administration may be dazed and confused about many things, but not about its corporate agenda.

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An Unusual Experiment with the Truth: Trump Tweets on Record Corporate Profits

An unusual experiment with the truth from Donald Trump: he tweeted, truthfully, that “corporations have NEVER made as much money as they are making now.”

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President Trump’s Corporate Government

We’re 100 days into Corporate Government.

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The For-Profit Presidency, Month One

One month into the Trump administration, and it’s clear that there has been a wholesale corporate takeover of the government.

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The 10 Worst Corporations of 2008

2008 marks the 20th anniversary of Multinational Monitor's annual list of the 10 Worst Corporations of the year.

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The 10 Worst Corporations of 2004

It is never easy choosing the 10 Worst Corporations of the Year – there are always more deserving nominees than we can possibly recognize. One of the greatest challenges facing the judges is the directive not to select repeat recipients from last year's 10 Worst designation.

The no-repeat rule forbids otherwise-deserving companies – like Bayer, Boeing, Clear Channel and Halliburton – from returning to the 10 Worst list in 2004.

Of the remaining pool of price gougers, polluters, union-busters, dictator-coddlers, fraudsters, poisoners, deceivers and general miscreants, we chose the following – presented in alphabetical order – as the 10 Worst Corporations of 2004:

Abbott Laboratories: Drug-Pricing Chutzpah

Chutzpah. Webster's defines the Yiddish term now incorporated into English slang as: 1. unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall. 2. audacity; nerve.

In the next edition, they may want to add: 3. See Abbott.

In December 2003, the company raised the U.S. price of its anti-AIDS drug Norvir (generic name ritanovir) by 400 percent. That is, unless the product is used in conjunction with other Abbott products – in which case the price increase is zero.

Norvir has become an increasingly important treatment in recent years. Scientists have discovered that while Norvir is generally too toxic for safe use as a protease inhibitor (one category of anti-AIDS drugs), in lower doses it works well as a booster to increase the efficacy of other protease inhibitors. As a result, Norvir is frequently prescribed along with other protease inhibitors.

The Norvir price increase does not apply when the product is used as a booster with another Abbott protease inhibitor (in the combined product Kaletra). Thus the impact of the Norvir price increase is to make Kaletra far cheaper than rival combinations of Norvir and non-Abbott protease inhibitors.

Norvir is especially important for patients in need of a "salvage therapy" of new and powerful treatments because their virus has become resistant to other medicines.

Lynda Dee, co-chair of the AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition's Drug Development Committee, called the price increase for these patients, who may have no choice as to the medications they need to survive, "pharma-terrorism perpetrated against the patients who need new drugs the most."

Abbott said the price spike was justified by its need to raise money for research and development. "New medicines cost hundreds of millions of dollars to develop," Jeffrey Leiden, president and chief operating officer of Abbott's Pharmaceutical Products Group, told a National Institutes of Health meeting in May.

Moreover, Leiden said, the price increase would not deny any patients access to the drug. The price increase does not apply to federal AIDS drug programs, which cover 54 percent of people with HIV/AIDS. Price increases only apply to private insurers and to uninsured individuals, who Abbott says can get the product for free under a special program it operates.

Making the Abbott price jump especially pernicious in the eyes of consumer advocates was that the drug was invented on a grant from the U.S. federal government.

Because of the U.S. government's financing role, Essential Inventions, Inc., a nonprofit corporation created to distribute affordable public health and other inventions, in January petitioned the government to exercise its "march-in" rights under the federal Bayh-Dole Act and issue an open license to generic firms to produce their own version of Norvir.

"Essential Inventions is asking the Bush administration to adopt a simple rule – U.S. consumers should not pay more for drugs invented on government grants," said Essential Inventions president James Love. Following the U.S.-only price increase, Norvir is 5 to 10 times more expensive in the United States than in other high-income countries.

But NIH rejected the Essential Inventions proposal, arguing that companies that obtained licenses to government-funded inventions have a duty only to commercialize the inventions. NIH does not have authority to consider the price at which a product is sold and the impact of the price on access, the agency ruled – even though the Bayh-Dole Act says government-funded inventions should be made "available to the public on reasonable terms."

"If Secretary Thompson agrees that quadrupling the price of a life-or-death AIDS drug, rigging the market, and discriminating against U.S. consumers is 'reasonable,' you can't help but wonder what the [s]ecretary considers unreasonable," said Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, in criticizing the NIH decision.

AIG: Deferred Prosecutions On the Rise

When the world's largest insurer, American International Group Inc. (AIG), was charged by federal prosecutors with crimes in November, it quickly cut a deal with the Justice Department that ended a criminal probe into its finances with a deferred prosecution agreement.

In a deferred prosecution, the corporation accepts responsibility, agrees not to contest the charges, agrees to cooperate, usually pays a fine and implements changes in corporate structure and governance to prevent future wrongdoing.

If the company abides by the agreement for a period of time, then the prosecutors will drop the criminal charges.

In a non-prosecution agreement – like the one secured by Merrill Lynch's in 2003 with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer – prosecutors agree not to bring criminal charges in exchange for corporate fines, cooperation and a change in corporate structure and governance.

"This comprehensive settlement brings finality to the claims raised by the SEC and the Department of Justice," said AIG Chair M. R. Greenberg. "The role of the independent consultant complements our own transaction review processes. We welcome this enhancement to our overall risk management and control mechanisms."

Under the deal with AIG, an AIG subsidiary was charged with a crime for the next 12 months, but then the charge will be dismissed with prejudice – if AIG abides by the deferred prosecution agreement.

As part of the agreement, AIG and two subsidiaries will pay an $80 million penalty, and $46 million into a disgorgement fund maintained by the SEC.

Federal officials in October filed a criminal complaint charging AIG-FP PAGIC Equity Holding Corp., a subsidiary of AIG, with violating the federal securities laws, by aiding and abetting PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (PNC) in connection with a fraudulent transaction to transfer $750 million in mostly troubled loans and venture capital investments from subsidiaries off of its books.

These transactions were previously the subject of a deferred criminal disposition involving PNC.

Earlier this year, the Department dismissed the criminal complaint against a PNC subsidiary, after the company fulfilled its deferred prosecution agreement obligations.

Merrill, AIG and PNC are three of 10 major corporations that have settled serious criminal charges with deferred prosecution, no prosecution or de facto no prosecution agreements over the last two years. Companies are getting off the criminal hook with these agreements, which were originally intended for minor street crimes. Now they are being used in very serious corporate crime cases.

If a crime has been committed – and there is little doubt that crimes have been committed by the corporations in these cases – then the companies should plead guilty and pay the penalty. If prosecutors want to impose change on the corporation, they can do this after securing a conviction through probationary orders. Right now, corporate lawyers are teaming up with prosecutors to go after individual executives while the company's record is wiped clean.

Coca-Cola: KillerCoke.org vs. CokeKills.org

On KillerCoke.org, you'll find a raft of information on Coke and its bottlers' operations in Colombia. There is extensive documentation of rampant violence committed against Coke's unionized workforce by paramilitary forces, and powerful claims of the company's complicity in the violence.

An April 2004 report from a fact-finding delegation headed by New York City Council member Hiram Monserrate contends:

"To date, there have been a total of 179 major human rights violations of Coca-Cola's workers, including nine murders. Family members of union activists have been abducted and tortured. Union members have been fired for attending union meetings. The company has pressured workers to resign their union membership and contractual rights, and fired workers who refused to do so."

"Most troubling to the delegation were the persistent allegations that paramilitary violence against workers was done with the knowledge of and likely under the direction of company managers."

Allegations such as these formed the basis of a lawsuit filed in 2001 by the International Labor Rights Fund and the United Steelworkers of America in U.S. courts against Coke on behalf of a Colombian trade union and union leader victims of violence at Coke bottling facilities in Colombia.

In 2003, a federal court dismissed the claims against Coke, arguing that its relationship with the owners of the Coke bottling plant in Colombia was too attenuated to hold the soft drink multinational responsible for human rights abuses at the plant. The plaintiffs have since refiled their complaint – they argue the original decision was mistaken, but that Coke's subsequent purchase of the Colombia bottlers means the company is now clearly responsible for the bottlers' actions.

Strangely, for the response to KillerCoke.org, you can check out CokeKills.org. That site, which is operated by Coke, redirects you to CokeFacts.org.

Here's what Coke has to say:

"The pervasive violence in Colombia, and the targeting of union members by its perpetrators, has, unfortunately, touched The Coca-Cola Company in a very personal way. Employees of our Company and bottling partners in Colombia have been threatened, kidnapped, and some have even been murdered ... In a lawsuit in Colombia, the court concluded that the bottler not only took proper steps to initiate investigation by the authorities, but went further to enhance its workers' safety by heightening security at the plant."

Leave aside for the moment the issue of Coke's legal liability. The idea that Coke can't control the behavior of its bottlers is simply implausible. It can control them if it so chooses – just the way that clothing retailers can control the actions of their manufacturers, but even more so.

Instructive in raising questions about Coke's good-faith concern for its workers is its unwillingness to support an independent investigation into the Colombia allegations – even after the company's former General Counsel, and the former assistant U.S. attorney general, Deval Patrick, had committed to one. Coke's refusal to authorize an investigation reportedly contributed to Patrick's decision to resign from the corporation.

Dow Chemical: Forgive Us Our Trespasses

At midnight on Dec. 2, 1984, 27 tons of lethal gases leaked from Union Carbide's pesticide factory in Bhopal, India, immediately killing an estimated 8,000 people and poisoning thousands of others.

Today in Bhopal, at least 150,000 people, including children born to parents who survived the disaster, are suffering from exposure-related health effects such as cancer, neurological damage, chaotic menstrual cycles and mental illness. Over 20,000 people are forced to drink water with unsafe levels of mercury, carbon tetrachloride and other persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals.

Activists from around the world – including human rights, legal, environmental health and other experts – mobilized this year to demand that Dow Chemical, the current owner of Union Carbide, be held accountable.

Twenty years after this disaster, the company responsible for this catastrophe and its former executives are still fugitives from justice. Union Carbide and its former chairman, Warren Andersen, were charged with manslaughter for the deaths at Bhopal, but they refuse to appear before the Indian courts.

Here is part of Dow's statement on Bhopal:

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The 10 Worst Corporations of 2003

2003 was not a year of garden variety corporate wrongdoing. No, the sheer variety, reach and intricacy of corporate schemes, scandal and crimes were spellbinding. Not an easy year to pick the 10 worst companies, for sure.

But Multinational Monitor magazine cannot be deterred by such complications. And so, here follows, in alphabetical order, our list for Multinational Monitor of the 10 worst corporations of 2003.

Bayer: 2003 may be remembered as the year of the headache at Bayer. In May, the company agreed to plead guilty to a criminal count and pay more than $250 million to resolve allegations that it denied Medicaid discounts to which it was entitled. The company was beleaguered with litigation related to its anti-cholesterol drug Baycol. Bayer pulled the drug – which has been linked to a sometimes fatal muscle disorder – from the market, but is facing thousands of suits from patients who allege they were harmed by the drug. In June, the New York Times reported on internal company memos which appear to show that the company continued to promote the drug even as its own analysis had revealed the dangers of the product. Bayer denies the allegations.

Boeing: In one of the grandest schemes of corporate welfare in recent memory, Boeing engineered a deal whereby the Pentagon would lease tanker planes – 767s that refuel fighter planes in the air – from Boeing. The pricetag of $27.6 billion was billions more than the cost of simply buying the planes. The deal may unravel, though, because the company in November fired for wrongdoing both the employee that negotiated the contract for Boeing (the company's chief financial officer), and the employee that negotiated the contract for the government. How could Boeing fire a Pentagon employee? Simple. She was no longer a Pentagon employee. Boeing had hired her shortly after the company clinched the deal.

Brighthouse: A new-agey advertising/consulting/ strategic advice company, Brighthouse's claim to infamy is its Neurostrategies Institute, which undertakes research to see how the brain responds to advertising campaigns. In a cutting-edge effort to extend and sharpen the commercial reach in ways never previously before possible, the institute is using MRIs to monitor activity in people's brains triggered by advertisements.

Clear Channel: The radio behemoth Clear Channel specializes in consuming or squashing locally owned radio stations, imposing a homogenized music play list on once interesting stations, and offering cultural support for U.S. imperial adventures. It has also compiled a record of "repeated law-breaking," according to our colleage Jim Donahue, violating the law – including prohibitions on deceptive advertising and on broadcasting conversations without obtaining permission of the second party to the conversation – on 36 separate occasions over the previous three years.

Diebold: A North Canton, Ohio-based company that is one of the largest U.S. voting machine manufacturers, and an aggressive peddler of its electronic voting machines, Diebold has managed to demonstrate that it fails any reasonable test of qualifications for involvement with the voting process. Its CEO has worked as a major fundraiser for President George Bush. Computer experts revealed serious flaws in its voting technology, and activists showed how careless it was with confidential information. And it threatened lawsuits against activists who published on the Internet documents from the company showing its failures.

Halliburton: Now the owner of the company which initially drafted plans for privatization of U.S. military functions – plans drafted during the Bush I administration when current Vice President and former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense – Halliburton is pulling in billions in revenues for contract work – providing logistical support ranging from oil to food – in Iraq. Tens of millions, at least, appear to be overcharges. Some analysts say the charges for oil provision amount to "highway robbery."

HealthSouth: Fifteen of its top executives have pled guilty in connection with a multi-billion dollar scheme to defraud investors, the public and the U.S. government about the company's financial condition. The founder and CEO of the company that runs a network of outpatient surgery, diagnostic imagery and rehabilitative healthcare centers, Richard Scrushy, is fighting the charges. But thanks to the slick maneuvering of attorney Bob Bennett, it appears the company itself will get off scot free – no indictments, no pleas, no fines, no probation.

Inamed: The California-based company sought Food and Drug Administration approval for silicone breast implants, even though it was not able to present long-term safety data – the very thing that led the FDA to restrict sales of silicone implants a decade ago. In light of what remains unknown and what is known about the implants' effects – including painful breast hardening which can lead to deformity, and very high rupture rates – the FDA in January 2004 denied Inamed's application for marketing approval.

Merrill Lynch: This company keeps messing up. Fresh off of a $100 million fine levied because analysts were recommending stocks that they trashed in private e-mails, the company saw three former execs indicted for shady dealings with Enron. The company itself managed to escape with something less than a slap on the wrist – no prosecution in exchange for "oversight."

Safeway: One of the largest U.S. grocery chains, Safeway is leading the charge to demand givebacks from striking and locked out grocery workers in Southern California. Along with Albertsons and Ralphs (Kroger's), Safeway's Vons and Pavilion stores are asking employees to start paying for a major chunk of their health insurance. Under the company's proposals, workers and their families will lose $4,000 to $6,000 a year in health insurance benefits.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor.

The Unbalanced Hawks at the Washington Post

What is going on at the Washington Post?

We would say that the Post editorial pages have become an outpost of the Defense Department -- except that there is probably more dissent about the pending war in Iraq in the Pentagon than there is on the Post editorial pages.

In February alone, the Post editorialized nine times in favor of war, the last of those a full two columns of text, arguing against the considerable critical reader response the page had received for pounding the drums of war.

Over the six-month period from September through February, the leading newspaper in the nation's capital has editorialized 26 times in favor of war. It has sometimes been critical of the Bush administration, it has sometimes commented on developments in the drive to war without offering an opinion on the case for war itself, but it has never offered a peep against military action in Iraq.

The op-ed page, which might offer some balance, has also been heavily slanted in favor of war.

In February, the Post op-ed page ran 34 columns that took a position on the war: 24 favored war and 10 were opposed, at least in part. (Another 22 mentioned Iraq, and sometimes were focused exclusively on Iraq, but didn't clearly take a position for or against the war.)

Over the last four months, the Post has run 46 op-ed pieces favoring the war, and only 21 opposed.

This constitutes a significant change from September and October, when the opinion pieces were much more balanced, and even tilted slightly in favor of peace.

A few words on our methodology: We reviewed every editorial and op-ed piece in the Post over the last six months that contained the word "Iraq." We looked at the substance of the articles, and did not pre-judge based on the author. We categorized as neutral pieces which mentioned Iraq as an aside, or which discussed the war without taking a position. For example, an article which assesses how European countries are responding to U.S. Iraq-related proposals, but does not take a position on the war itself, is categorized as neutral. Neutral articles are not included in our tally.

The methodology tends to undercount pro-war columns. We categorized as neutral articles which we thought presumed a certain position on the war, but which did not explicitly articulate it. Over the last four months, there were 17 "neutral" articles which we believe had a pro-war slant, and only five "neutral" pieces with an anti-war orientation.

Our methodology also tended to overcount pro-peace op-eds. We tallied an op-ed as pro-peace if it took a position opposing the drive to war on the issue of the moment -- even if the author made clear that they favored war on slightly different terms than the President proposed at the time (for example, if UN authorization was obtained).

Someone else reviewing the Post editorial page might disagree with our categorization of this or that article. We concede it may be rough around the edges. But overall, we think other reviewers would agree that our count is in the ballpark, and tends to underestimate the disparity between pro- and anti-war pieces.

Moreover, the dramatic quantitative tilt in favor of the war if anything underplays how pro-war the Post's editorial pages have been.

Among the regular columnists at the Post, those providing pieces that we considered anti-war include E.J. Dionne, a self-described "doubter" not opponent of the war, Mary McGrory, who pronounced herself convinced by Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations (a position from which she has backtracked) and Richard Cohen, who actually is pro-war. Only William Rasberry could be labeled a genuine and consistent opponent of war.

On the other side, the regular pro-war columnists are extraordinarily harsh and shrill. George Will labeled David Bonior and James McDermott, two congresspeople who visited Iraq, "American collaborators" with and "useful idiots" for Saddam. Michael Kelly, in one of his calmer moments, says no "serious" person can argue the case for peace. Charles Krauthammer says that those who call for UN authorization of U.S. military action in Iraq are guilty of a "kind of moral idiocy."

The Post op-ed page has been full of attacks on anti-war protesters. Richard Cohen has managed to author attacks on John Le Carre, for an anti-war column he wrote, poets against the war, and Representative Dennis Kucinich. Cohen joined war-monger Richard Perle in calling Kucinich a "liar" (or at very least a "fool"), because Kucinich suggested the war might be motivated in part by a U.S. interest in Iraqi oil. (Is this really a controversial claim? Pro-war New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says that to deny a U.S. war in Iraq is partly about oil is "laughable.")

Neither Le Carre, the poets, nor Kucinich has been given space on the Post op-ed page.

Indeed, virtually no one who could be considered part of the peace movement has been given space. The only exceptions: A column by Hank Perritt, then a Democratic congressional candidate from Illinois, appeared in September. Morton Halperin argued the case for containment over war in February. And Reverend Bob Edgar, a former member of Congress who now heads the National Council of Churches, a key mover in the anti-war movement, was permitted a short piece that appeared in the week between Christmas and New Year's, when readership and attention to serious issues is at a lowpoint.

Edgar only was given the slot after editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, in an op-ed, characterized the anti-war movement, and Edgar by name, as "Saddam's lawyers."

Does this shockingly one-sided treatment on the Post editorial pages of the major issue of the day matter?

It matters a lot.

The Washington Post and the New York Times are the two papers that most fundamentally set the boundaries for legitimate opinion in Washington, D.C. The extraordinary tilt for war in the Post editorial pages in the last four months makes it harder for officialdom in Washington and the Establishment generally to speak out against war.

Everyone who might be characterized as an "insider" in the political-military-corporate establishment knows there are major internal divisions on the prospect of war among elder statesmen, retired military brass and present-day corporate CEOs. There are many reasons those voices are inhibited from speaking out, but the Post's extremist editorial pages are certainly a real contributor.

The failure to give a prominent platform to anti-war voices has also worked to soften the debate among the citizenry. It's no answer to say a vibrant anti-war movement, reliant on the Internet, its own communications channels and dissenting voices in other major media outlets, has sprung up. Sending out an e-mail missive is not exactly the same thing as publishing an op-ed in the Washington Post.

The Post editorial page editors have failed to fulfill their duty to democracy. The heavy slant on the editorial pages, the extreme pro-war rhetoric offset only by hedging and uncertain war critics, and the scurrilous attacks on the anti-war movement to which minimal response has been permitted -- all have undermined rather than fueled a robust national debate.

At this point, there is no real way for the Post to rectify its wrongdoing. It could start to mitigate the effect by immediately making a conscious effort to solicit and publish a disproportionately high number of pro-peace op-eds, and to let the peace movement occasionally speak for itself, especially since the paper's regular columnists so savagely and repeatedly attack it.

Unfortunately, the drive to war, which the Post editorial pages have helped fuel, may not stop in Iraq. There is good reason to believe that a war with Iraq will be followed by calls from the hawks at the Post and around the administration for more military action, against some other target. Will the paper's editorial page editors find a better way to achieve balance in advance of the next military buildup? Or are the paper's editorial pages now simply devoted to the Permanent War Campaign?

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, multinationalmonitor.org. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press; corporatepredators.org.

The New American Filter

Here's a good bet: Young, good-looking, hip and upcoming policy wonks aren't going to bite the hands that feed them.

If a public policy group holds a conference or a press briefing in Washington, D.C. that is sponsored by big corporations, then the discussion will barely mention big corporations, their role in causing the problems, or solutions that might adversely affect those big corporations.

You can take it to the bank.

Case in point:

This week, at the National Press Club, the Atlantic Monthly Magazine and The New America Foundation co-sponsored an event titled, "What is the Real State of the Union?"

In the materials is a copy of the January/February issue of The Atlantic Monthly, hot off the press.

The magazine and the Foundation got together 14 hot New America Foundation fellows and asked them to think anew and write about problems facing the nation.

So, for example, we get Jerediah Purdy on Trust (too much trust can actually be a bad thing -- a polity of suckers is no better than a nation of cynics); Shannon Brownlee on Health Care (one of our biggest health care problems is that there's just too much health care -- cutting down on the excess could save enough to cover everyone who is now uninsured); Margaret Talbot on Crime (the inevitable consequence of America's high incarceration rate is a high prison-release rate -- and the prisoners getting out are often more violent and anti-social than they were before); and Welfare and Poverty (it may be the greatest policy achievement in recent history -- over the past decade significant numbers of formerly welfare dependent black women have successfully entered the work force. But what about black men?).

Along with the materials, is a one-page note from Ted Halstead, the president of the New America Foundation, and Elizabeth Baker Keffer, the publisher of the Atlantic Monthly.

"We close with a note of thanks to each of our advertising partners and their support of our effort to create a platform for thoughtful dialogue about the true state of our union. In particular, we recognize: Shell, Lockheed Martin, ADM, TIAA-CREF, Microsoft, The Hartford, Hewlett Packard, and the Nuclear Energy Institute."

The event at the press club was an all day affair. And by the early afternoon session, there was hardly a mention of the C word -- corporations.

This seemed to us to be a simple case of the rule: Don't bite the hand that feeds you. And they didn't.

One of the afternoon sessions was moderated by Jim Fallows, national correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and chairman of the New America Foundation. One of the panelists during that session was Senator John Breaux (D-Louisiana).

The senator, apparently oblivious to a banner hanging behind him prominently featuring the corporate logo of the conference sponsors, including the yellow seashell of Royal Dutch Shell, begins to tell a story about the debate over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, how he argued that drilling would do minimal damage to the environment, how other Democratic senators would come up to him and in private say they agreed with him, but couldn't side with him in public because of the "interest groups" -- read environmental groups.

Yes, interest groups were the problem.

They get in the way of reasonable compromise, Breaux said.

During the question period, Fallows calls on us.

Well, isn't it interesting, we observe, that Senator Breaux totally ignored the interest groups that are sponsoring the conference.

I mean, there is the Shell Oil corporate logo glowing over the senator's left shoulder, and all he can talk about are the environmental groups, as if the oil companies have no say in the matter?

Who are we kidding here?

And isn't the senator's failure to recognize the elephant in the room symptomatic of the entire effort?

Here you have The New America Foundation and the Atlantic Monthly taking money from Shell, and ADM, and Lockheed Martin, The Hartford, and the Nuclear Energy Institute to write about the real state of the union, and you ignore corporate power -- just don't talk about it?

At this point, one of the young New America kids takes the microphone from our hands and won't hand it back.

We pry it from his hands and continue to address Fallows.

In the essay about crime, why do you write nothing about corporate crime and focus solely on street crime, ignoring that corporate crime and violence inflicts far more damage on society than all street crime combined?

And in the essay on welfare, why do you focus solely on black Americans, and ignore corporate welfare, which costs more than all individual welfare combined?

And Fallows' answer is -- well, to run a magazine, you can't rely on subscription income alone.

Well, yeah, but you don't have to totally ignore the subject of corporate power, either.

And you don't have to give free advertising to your advertisers by ordering a banner with their corporate logos emblazoned across the bottom, to be beamed across national television via C-Span.

And we give up the mike.

And then, Michael Lind, a New America fellow, comes up to us and says had we read his article (on National Unity -- overcrowded cities on the coasts; dying rural communities in the interior; the way to save both may be to create a post-agrarian heartland) -- we would have known that he in fact calls for a cutback on agricultural subsidies and we wouldn't have asked this "stupid question."

In fact, Michael, it was not a stupid question.

Just because you had a throwaway line on cutting agricultural subsidies, that doesn't mean the issue of corporate power, corporate crime and corporate welfare has been addressed.

New America scholars are young, hip and with it.

The Economist says they are "the brightest American thinkers under 40."

The New York Times says they "break out of the traditional liberal and conservative categories."

The Washington Post calls the New America Foundation "The think tank for Generation Next."

Looks more like they are bought and paid for.

And in exchange, they filter out any discussion of corporate power.

Call it the New American Filter.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor. They are co-authors of "Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy."

The 10 Worst Corporations of 2002

The year 2002 will forever be remembered as the year of corporate crime, the year even President George W. Bush embraced the notion of "corporate responsibility."

While the Bush White House has now downgraded its "corporate responsibility portal" to a mere link to uninspiring content on the White House webpage, and although the prospect of war has largely bumped the issue off the front pages, the cascade of corporate financial and accounting scandals continues.

We easily could have filled Multinational Monitor's list of the 10 Worst Corporations of the Year with some of the dozens of companies embroiled in the financial scandals. But we decided against that course. As extraordinary as the financial misconduct has been, we didn't want to contribute to the perception that corporate wrongdoing in 2002 was limited to the financial misdeeds arena.

We included only Andersen from the ranks of the financial criminals and miscreants. Andersen's assembly line document destruction certainly merits a place on the list. (Citigroup appears on the list as well, but primarily for a subsidiary's involvement in predatory lending, as well as the company's funding of environmentally destructive projects around the world.)

As for the rest, we present a collection of polluters, dangerous pill peddlers, modern-day mercenaries, enablers of human rights abuses, merchants of death, and beneficiaries of rural destruction and misery.

Appearing in alphabetical order, the 10 worst are:

Arthur Andersen, for a massive scheme to destroy documents related to the Enron meltdown. "Tons of paper relating to the Enron audit were promptly shredded as part of the orchestrated document destruction," a federal indictment against Andersen alleged. "The shredder at the Andersen office at the Enron building was used virtually constantly and, to handle the overload, dozens of large trunks filled with Enron documents were sent to Andersen's main Houston office to be shredded." Andersen was convicted for illegal document destruction, effectively putting the company out of business.

British American Tobacco (BAT), for operating worldwide programs supposedly designed to prevent youth smoking but which actually make the practice more attractive to kids (by suggesting smoking is an adult activity), continuing to deny the harmful health effects of second-hand smoke, and working to oppose efforts at the World Health Organization to adopt a strong Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Caterpillar, for selling bulldozers to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), which are used as an instrument of war to destroy Palestinian homes and buildings. The IDF has destroyed more than 7,000 Palestinian homes since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967, leaving 30,000 people homeless.

Citigroup, both for its deep involvement in the Enron and other financial scandals and its predatory lending practices through its recently acquired subsidiary The Associates. Citigroup paid $215 million to resolve Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that The Associates engaged in systematic and widespread deceptive and abusive lending practices.

DynCorp, a controversial private firm that subcontracts military services with the Defense Department, for flying planes that spray herbicides on coca crops in Colombia. Farmers on the ground allege that the herbicides are killing their legal crops, and exposing them to dangerous toxins.

M&M/Mars, for responding tepidly to revelations about child slaves in the West African fields where much of the world's cocoa is grown, and refusing to commit to purchase a modest 5 percent of its product from Fair Trade providers.

Procter & Gamble, the maker of Folger's coffee and part of the coffee roaster oligopoly, for failing to take action to address plummeting coffee bean prices. Low prices have pushed tens of thousands of farmers in Central America, Ethiopia, Uganda and elsewhere to the edge of survival, or destroyed their livelihoods altogether.

Schering Plough, for a series of scandals, most prominently allegation of repeated failure over recent years to fix problems in manufacturing dozens of drugs at four of its facilities in New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Schering paid $500 million to settle the case with the Food and Drug Administration.

Shell Oil, for continuing business as usual as one of the world's leading environmental violators -- while marketing itself as a socially and environmentally responsible company.

Wyeth, for using duplicitous means, and without sufficient scientific proof, to market hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to women as a fountain of youth. Scientific evidence reported in 2002 showed that long-term HRT actually threatens women's lives, by increasing the risks of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism.

What's the lesson to draw from this year's 10 worst list? Not only are Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia, Tyco and the rest indicative of a fundamentally corrupt financial system, they are representative of a rotten system of corporate dominance.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Multinational Monito, also based in D.C.

Of Caviar and Capitalism

Are capitalism and caviar incompatible? Is the system that prides itself on the creation and veneration of wealth unable to to maintain a sustainable market for one of the great trappings of wealth?

Well, at the very least, the tragic story of the global caviar industry gives pause. It stands as a parable illustrating the pitfalls of the market fundamentalist ideology that has dominated global economic policy-making for two decades.

The story of the industry is recounted in a new book by Inga Saffron, a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter and former Moscow correspondent for the paper, "Caviar: The Strange History and Uncertain Future of the World's Most Coveted Delicacy" (New York: Broadway Books).

For most of the twentieth century, the world caviar market was supplied primarily by the Soviet Union. Caviar -- the salted eggs of sturgeon or paddlefish -- is a creation of Russian culture. Although sturgeon once populated many of the world's great seas and rivers in large numbers, most of the world's supply after World War I came from the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea.

After coming to power, Saffron says, "the Soviets realized they could make a lot of money if they controlled the caviar market."

They exported the product to Western markets to earn hard currency, but limited supply to increase prices.

"I don't want to say that they had a great environmental record, because they didn't," Saffron says. "But they did act as a brake on fishing because they limited caviar exports."

Even when the Soviets embarked on their disastrous dam-building schemes, which blocked sturgeon from swimming upstream to spawn, they developed an extensive hatchery system that maintained the sturgeon population.

Communism, it turned out, was pretty good for caviar.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, so did the protections and support system for caviar.

In the chaos following the fall of the Soviet Union, factories across the country stopped doing business as government money for operating expenses evaporated. Funding to maintain the hatcheries similarly disappeared, and the hatchery system fell apart. Overall, Saffron says, the hatchery system became much less efficient, and was able to put back many fewer fish than it had before.

Even worse, perhaps, was the rampant poaching that occurred after the fall of the USSR.

"Many of the people who had been thrown out of work began to fish illegally," according to Saffron. "They began to poach for sturgeon and make caviar in their kitchens, because that is the only way they could make money. It was the one resource in Southern Russia."

The old Soviet limits on fishing "were ignored, and people just fished all the time," she says.

Enforcement agencies were weak and ineffectual. Many were bought off or intimidated by the criminal gangs that gained control over much of the industry.

Today, the sturgeon in the Russian and Kazakhstan portions of the Caspian are in steep decline, and Saffron has little hope that they will be saved. International controls on caviar imports are coming too little, too late, and in any case cannot stop the internal traffic in the delicacy.

The collapse of the sturgeon in the Russian and Kazakhstan portions of the Caspian is history repeating itself. Rampant overfishing led to the rapid destruction of sturgeon populations in Germany, France, the Eastern United States and the U.S. Great Lakes, all in a matter of decades in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Today, the counterexample to the laissez-faire caviar failure is Iran. Like the Soviet Union once did, Iran maintains strong limits on fish catch in its portion of the Caspian and operates a sophisticated and effective hatchery system.

Countries relying only on price signals to regulate the industry have witnessed a short cycle of boom and bust.

Countries that have succeeded in maintaining a viable caviar industry over time have made long-term investments in infrastructure and put in place systems to ensure sustainable management of limited resources.

Those are key elements for effective economic management and a livable world.

Markets alone will not deliver them.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, http://www.multinationalmonitor.org. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1999; http://www.corporatepredators.org).

Why Newsweek is Bad for Kids

Did you see the cover story of Newsweek magazine last week?

The cover story is titled, "Why TV is Good for Kids."

What are we to expect from Newsweek next week?

Why Soda Pop is Good for Kids.

Why Sedentary Living is Good for Kids.

Why Obesity is Good for Kids.

Some things are good for kids.

Reading is good for kids.

Love and caring is good for kids.

Teaching is good for kids.

Running, playing basketball and baseball and tennis and swimming are good for kids.

But don't try and insult us by telling us that sitting in front of a TV is good for kids.

Why, against all common sense, is Newsweek going to try and convince us that television is good for kids?

Well, one reason might be: Newsweek is owned by the Washington Post Company, which owns a sprawling cable company and six broadcast stations around the country.

Of course, nowhere in the article does Newsweek tell us this.

And how does Newsweek try and convince us that TV is good for kids?

They trot out an expert, Daniel Anderson, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, who claims that TV is good for kids.

But what Newsweek doesn't tell us is Anderson is a paid consultant to a variety of television networks and advertising interests.

His clients include: NBC, CBS, Universal Pictures, Sony, General Mills, the Leo Burnett ad agency, Nickelodeon and the National Association of Broadcasters.

The article says that TV is a good thing because kids learn from television and parents are "looking for TV to help them do a better job of raising kids."

But Frank Vespe, executive director of the TV TurnOff Network (www.tvturnoff.org), points out that the article misses a crucial issue: the average American school child spends more time in front of the television each year -- about 1,023 hours -- than in the classroom -- about 900 hours.

"This amount of television -- more than twice what anyone thinks is a healthy amount -- has negative consequences for health, education, and family time," Vespe said.

This amount of television watching actually hurts children.

Vespe points to studies documenting how kids gain weight from watching TV, and that TV reinforces sex roles and stereotyping.

Voracious TV-watching kids turn into voracious TV-watching adults. The average American watches four hours a day, 1460 hours a year, about two full months, 24 hours a day, every year.

Newsweek did run a one-page counterpoint ("No It's Not") to its "TV Is Good for Kids" eight pager.

The "No It's Not" counterarticle is written by a mom who points out that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children younger than two and a maximum of two hours a day of "screen time" -- TV, computers or videogames -- for older kids.

We rang up the author of the "Why TV Is Good for Kids" article, Daniel McGinn.

McGinn immediately points out that at the end of his article, he did write that the expert, Anderson, advised on a handful of television shows during their conception.

"People who help create television shows get paid to do so," McGinn tells us.

Well, yes, but Anderson gets paid to do much more.

According to his own bio, Anderson has been paid by NBC and by General Mills to consult "on television viewing behavior."

And he's been paid by the Leo Burnett ad agency to consult on "children's cognitive processing of television."

That's a touch more than helping to "create television shows."

We asked Newsweek's McGinn why he didn't inform his readers that Newsweek is owned by the Washington Post which owns a cable company and six broadcast news outlets.

"Newsweek is owned by the Washington Post," he says. "I'm not sure what the Washington Post owns today."

You mean you don't know that the Washington Post Company owns television outlets?

It's right on the company's web site: WDIV in Detroit, KPRC in Houston, WPLG in Miami, WKMP in Orlando, KSAT in San Antonio and WJXT in Jacksonville.

The Post also owns Cable ONE, the owner and operator of cable television systems serving subscribers across the country.

Earlier, McGinn left a message on our machine saying he was willing to talk with us "at whatever length."

At this point, though, McGinn decides the conversation has gone on long enough.

"Who do you write for?" he asks. We tell him.

"Have a great day, bud." And he hangs up.


Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, http://www.multinationalmonitor.org. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1999; http://www.corporatepredators.org).

Thirsty for Justice

Shown the folly of over-reliance on markets even in the world's richest country, the market fundamentalists at the World Bank are continuing their push for privatization of services -- with the provision of drinking water at the top of the list -- in the developing world.

Water works plagued by poor service and underinvestment can be rejuvenated by private water operators. That according to the World Bank, a compromised consulting industry and the private water industry -- dominated by the French firms Suez and Vivendi -- itself.

But citizen movements across the planet are rising to challenge the World Bank and corporate schemes to gain control of now-public water systems. Perhaps the hottest flashpoint in the conflict between the people and the Water Barons is in Ghana. There, the National Coalition Against the Privatization of Water (NCAP of Water) is aggressively opposing a Bank-advocated privatization scheme that would lease out the country's urban water systems for a song. The scheme was hatched in 1995, and may be implemented next year, unless NCAP can thwart it.

(A newly released International Fact-Finding Mission assessment of the Ghanaian privatization proposal is available at: http://www.citizen.org/documents/factfindingmissionGhana.pdf)

To make the system generate enough revenue to pay the operator -- a handful of international operators, including Suez and Vivendi, are in the running to take over the system -- the privatization scheme would require persistent rate hikes. The goal is to achieve "cost recovery" -- tariff revenue sufficient to meet operations and maintenance costs, without any public subsidy to keep prices in check. This, even though systems in the United States, among other industrialized countries, routinely rely on support from general tax revenues.

Compounding the rate hikes, the privatization scheme calls for the inclusion of an "automatic tariff adjustment" -- with rates rising automatically to offset inflation and, most importantly, currency devaluations. That makes sense from the viewpoint of the foreign operator -- they will want to maintain constant profits in dollar-denominated terms, not in cedis, the local currency. But it is a disaster from the point of view of Ghanaian consumers -- their cedi income does not go up just because the value of the cedi declines. Assuming future devaluations, Ghanaian consumers will find themselves paying a higher and higher proportion of their income to the water company.

In exchange for certain ongoing rate hikes into the indefinite future, Ghana is supposed to benefit from a more reliable and efficient system, and from expansion of the piped water system to reach the millions of urban consumers who are not connected to water pipes. But almost all of the evidence suggests these promises will turn out to be illusions or deceptions.

First, the record of private water company operation in developing countries is very poor. There is little to suggest that private companies deliver "efficiencies" in this area, though they are clearly skilled at extracting enormous profits.

The details of the Ghanaian privatization plans offer little comfort that things will be different in this case.

There are some incentives built in the proposal to increase the amount of water delivered -- many lower income Ghanaians may get water from pipes only once every two or four weeks -- but the proposed leasing terms would encourage the private operator to improve service for high-volume richer consumers, rather than low-volume poorer ones.

Achievement of water delivery and other performance standards would be self-monitored by the private water operator, overseen by a newly created regulatory agency with little experience and little chance of effectively controlling a giant multinational.

The proposed leasing arrangements impose only the most minimal investment requirements on the private operator (who would lease the system, rather than purchase it outright) -- and the operator is guaranteed a return even on that minimal investment, making it more of a loan than actual investment. So the operator will offer almost nothing in terms of new money for repairs or pipe expansion.

There is some new money promised in the deal for pipe expansion. But the money will all be in the form of new loans and some grants from the World Bank and donor countries. The private operator does nothing to obtain these loans, and has no pay-back obligations. This money -- desperately needed for system expansion -- could be made available right now (or could have been provided five years earlier), but the Bank and donors have made the loans and grants conditional on privatization.

Even this money is far less than needed to connect most urban Ghanaians to the piped water system. They will continue to rely on exploitative private water tanker operators, who buy water in bulk from the water utility, drive to areas without piped water service and sell to consumers at rates five or ten times that of price of piped water. The poorest people in cities have no choice but to rely on these water sources, and find themselves spending 10, 15 or even 20 percent of their income on drinking water.

The tanker prices could easily be controlled. The utility could operate tankers and sell tanker-provided water at the piped water rate. Or the private tankers could be tolerated, but required to sell water at a regulated price -- with the utility refusing to sell water to those tanker operators who fail to comply.

The World Bank has not considered these approaches, and at least one pro-privatization consultant's document suggests that such measures would interfere with the flourishing private market in water provision!

NCAP of Water, like colleagues around Africa and elsewhere in the developing world, rejects this market fundamentalist illogic. They insist that drinking water be treated as a right, not a commodity. Rather than inviting predatory multinationals in to drive up prices, suck up profits, serve the urban elite, and ignore the poor, they say, the public sector can and must be reinvigorated to ensure decent delivery of water, one of life's essentials.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, http://www.multinationalmonitor.org, and was a member of the International Fact-Finding Mission on Water Sector Reform in Ghana. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1999; http://www.corporatepredators.org).

Brokerman

So, you want to buy some stock in an American corporation.

And you go to your broker.

Brokerman, please help me. I want to buy some stock in an American corporation. But here's the thing, Brokerman, sir. Is Wall Street a safe neighborhood, sir? Can't safely go into Wall Street, with executives being led away in handcuffs, can I, Brokerman sir?

Calm down, calm down -- Brokerman says.

It's all media hype. I'm here on Wall Street, and I haven't been mugged, have I?

But Mr. Brokerman, sir, I'm watching television and see these corporate executives being handcuffed by big burly guys in blue jackets and big yellow letters on the back that say F-B-I.

Turn off your television. It's all tabloid stuff, Brokerman says. Lookee here, Brokerman says -- I've got these ratings. I take all the financial data from all the publicly held companies and rate each one, A to F -- just like grade school. Now -- Brokerman says -- here are a group of stocks that you can buy safely -- because the computer has rated them A.

Don't worry. Trust me. Everything is going to be all right.

Trust me.

Yeah right.

Andersen -- guilty, obstruction of justice.

ImClone Systems CEO -- under indictment, insider trading.

Martha Stewart -- under investigation, insider trading.

Enron -- criminal investigation.

Or what about Adelphia, CMS Energy, Computer Associates, Dynergy, Global Crossing, Halliburton, Kmart, Lucent Technologies, MicroStrategy, Network Associates, PNC Financial Services, Qwest Communications, Reliant Resources, Tyco International and Xerox?

All of them are now facing serious questions about their business practices.

Three Rite Aid executives -- indicted for cooking the company's books by overstating revenues by $1 billion.

And now, the Securities and Exchange Commission files fraud charges against WorldCom for hiding $3.8 billion in expenses.

Trust me. Trust me.

Remember Merrill Lynch? Remember the Merrill Lynch analysts who were telling their customers -- trust me, buy this stock, this stock is highly rated? And then they would turn around and email their buddies -- hey, this stock is crap, why are we recommending this crap to our customers?

And then New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer gets ahold of the emails, brings some kind of enforcement action, and goes before the television, and says the case is settled, Merrill will pay $100 million.

But Spitzer doesn't get Merrill to admit wrongdoing. And he signs some kind of agreement that is totally unenforceable. He later admits that had he forced Merrill to admit wrongdoing, the firm would have gone kaput. Just like Andersen.

And Merrill Lynch isn't the least of them. Most of the big investment companies are now under investigation by the states for misleading investors just like Merrill did.

Weiss Ratings Inc. is an independent ratings firm (www.weissratings.com). Earlier this month, Weiss Ratings released a study that found that among the 50 brokerage firms covering companies that have gone bankrupt this year, 47 firms continued to recommend that investors buy or hold shares in the failing companies even as they were filing for Chapter 11 in the first four months of 2002.

Lehman Brothers maintained six buy ratings on failing companies, while Salomon Smith Barney maintained eight hold ratings up through the date the companies filed for bankruptcy.

Also sticking with buy ratings until the very end were Bank of America Securities, Bear Stearns, CIBC World Markets, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, Goldman Sachs, and Prudential Securities.

"This analysis shows that Wall Street's record is far worse than previously believed," says Martin D. Weiss, chair of Weiss Ratings. "Even when there was abundant evidence that companies were on the verge of bankruptcy, over 90 percent of the latest ratings issued by brokerage firms continued to tell investors to hold their shares or buy more."

So, what happens when people think that the Street is being overrun by criminals?

They don't go there.

And that's what investors have started doing. Pulling out. As the Dow heads below 9,000 (James "Dow 36,000" Glassman, where art thou?), can anyone doubt why?

Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman are co-authors of "Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy."

Big Banks and Terrorism

What is the purpose of law enforcement? To enforce the law, and make public the results.

What deterrent effect does law enforcement have if the public is not aware of the results of the law enforcement?

Not much.

And yet, when it comes to big banks and major financial institutions, the Treasury Department enforces the law in private. Why? To protect the reputation of the big banks.

We thought about this the other day when President Bush and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill stood together at the White House Rose Garden and announced a crackdown on big banks and other financial institutions who do business with terrorists.

President Bush signed an executive order providing the Treasury Department with the authority to block funds of terrorists and anyone associated with a terrorist or terrorism.

"With the signing of this executive order, we have the President's explicit directive to block the U.S. assets of any domestic or foreign financial institution that refuses to cooperate with us in blocking assets of terrorist organizations," O'Neill said. "This order is a notice to financial institutions around the world -- if you have any involvement in the financing of the al Qaeda organization, you have two choices: cooperate in this fight, or we will freeze your U.S. assets -- we will punish you for providing the resources that make these evil acts possible."

So what?

What good does it do to punish the big banks if no one knows about the punishment?

If the history of law enforcement against corporate criminals is any indication, the fines will probably be a slap on the wrist. But in this case, we have no way of knowing, because the Treasury Department won't tell us.

President Bush's executive order -- and all laws governing trading with the "enemies" of the United States -- terrorists, Cuba, Libya -- are enforced by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Which American citizens are most concerned about OFAC's enforcement powers? Big banks and financial institutions. Why? Because they do business with the "enemies" of the United States and they have the most to lose if that dirty little secret gets out. They have corporate reputations to protect.

So, they have worked a deal with OFAC -- enforce the law against us, fine us if you must, but don't tell the public. And for years, OFAC has agreed to be a party to this cover-up.

How do we know this is going on?

Because the white-collar criminal defense lawyers who the banks and financial institutions hire to defend them against OFAC criminal and civil enforcement actions readily admit it.

Last week, Dale Chakarian Turza, a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Clifford Chance Rogers & Wells, told us that she believes that OFAC enforcement officials, led by chief of the penalty division, Betsy Sue Scott, run a "very active case load." That means that big banks and financial institutions are being cited with law violations and are paying fines. And the enforcement activity never sees the light of day.

Of course, the banks and financial institutions like it that way. And they will like even more now, as they search their databases to determine which terrorists have deposits at their institutions.

Which bank would want the public to know that they are doing business with Osama bin Laden?

"None of our clients want any publicity in this area," Turza said. "It is not a badge that any financial institution or others who are tagged by OFAC wear proudly. These are very serious statutes. Violations are generally inadvertent. No bank or other financial institution likes to have any publicity or press on an enforcement action."

"So the defense bar is generally very pleased when our clients don't get press in this area," Turza said.

Secret settlements are unusual when it comes to enforcing the law against corporations. Every time the Federal Trade Commission enforces the law, it puts the result up on its web site. Same for the Securities and Exchange Commission. Same for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In most cases, when the Justice Department enforces the law against a major corporations, the public finds out about it -- one way or another.

Publicity is supposed to have a deterrent effect. Why should OFAC be different?

"In some ways I think they get better compliance through silence," Turza said.

Yeah, right. And if we ever got arrested for a street crime, we wouldn't want the public to know, either. Could we have that deal, too?

The Treasury Department's policy of cutting secret deals with big banks is an indefensible embarrassment. The Department refuses to return reporters' calls about the subject.

Last month, we sued the Treasury Department to compel enforcement officials there to produce records of enforcement actions settled by OFAC.

The public has a right to know.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor.

The Wartime Opportunists

Corporate interests and their proxies are looking to exploit the September 11 tragedy to advance a self-serving agenda that has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with corporate profits and dangerous ideologies.

Fast track and the Free Trade Area of the Americas. A corporate tax cut. Oil drilling in Alaska. Star Wars. These are some of the preposterous "solutions" and responses to the terror attack offered by corporate mouthpieces.

No one has been more shameless in linking their agenda to the terror attack than U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick. Writing in The Washington Post last week, Zoellick proclaimed that granting fast-track trade negotiating authority to the president -- to assist with the ramming through Congress of a Free Trade Area of the Americas, designed to expand NAFTA to all of the Americas, among other nefarious ends -- was the best way to respond to the September 11 tragedy.

"Earlier enemies learned that America is the arsenal of democracy," Zoellick wrote, "Today's enemies will learn that America is the economic engine for freedom, opportunity and development. To that end, U.S. leadership in promoting the international economic and trading system is vital. Trade is about more than economic efficiency. It promotes the values at the heart of this protracted struggle."

No explanation from Zoellick about how adopting a procedural rule designed to limit congressional debate on controversial trade agreements advances the democratic and rule-of-law values he says the United States must now project.

The administration has identified fast track as one of the handful of legislative priorities it hopes to see Congress enact this year.

Getting fast track passed isn't big business's only priority for the shrinking legislative calendar. The Fortune 500 has been whimpering since George Bush was elected president and top administration officials told the business community to silence their demand for corporate tax cuts until after passage of the inequality-increasing personal income tax cut.

Even before the September 11 attack, business interests and the anti-tax ideologues were increasingly making noise that corporate tax cuts were the solution to the coming recession.

Now they are beginning to argue that capital gains tax cuts and corporate tax breaks are America's patriotic duty.

In releasing a study purporting to explain how a capital gains cut would spur economic growth, the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) touted a capital gains tax cut -- a tax break that exclusively benefits the wealthy -- as an anti-terrorism initiative. "By reducing the rate at which capital gains are taxed, President Bush and Congress could help revitalize the sagging economy and bring new revenues to Washington -- decidedly aiding our war against terrorism," said NTU director of congressional relations Eric Schlecht.

Not wishing to be outdone, Senator Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, didn't wait long to explain how the terror attack makes it imperative to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). "There is no doubt that at this time of national emergency, an expedited energy-security bill must be considered," the Alaska senator announced last week. "Opening ANWR will be a central element in finally reducing this country's dangerous overdependence on unstable foreign sources of energy," he said.

Neither Murkowski nor the oil companies pushing for opening ANWR have ever been able to offer a coherent explanation of how using up U.S. oil reserves heightens energy security. Security rests in maintaining the reserves. Real energy security and independence can only come from renewables (particularly solar and wind) -- where the supply is plentiful and infinitely renewing. Only a failure of public and private investment leaves the country (and the world) unable to harvest renewable energy efficiently.

[Editor's note: Murkowski later backed off his position, but Senator James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, stepped in to support opening up ANWR as a legitimate response to the September 11 attacks.]

And, of course, the purveyors of Star Wars couldn't let the opportunity pass them by. The Center for Security Policy --the center of a web of defense industry-backed think tanks and organizations pushing for a National Missile Defense program -- urged President Bush in advance of his address to Congress to announce that "this Administration will use every tool at its disposal to ensure that the resources and latitude needed to develop and deploy missile defenses are made available."

A missile defense system -- even if it overcame the technical obstacles which have so far proved insurmountable, after billions spent -- would have done nothing to stop the September 11 attack. Nor would it do anything to stop any other conceivable terrorist attack on the United States, none of which involve might missile delivery systems.

Opportunism and cynical manipulation of tragedy are nothing new in Washington. But the proposals to exploit the September 11 tragedy for narrow corporate aims mark a new low.

The United States is emerging from a national mourning period. Now is the time to proceed with caution and care, as the nation seeks to address legitimate security concerns (e.g., airport security) and tend to victims of the attack. It is no time to rush through proposals on matters essentially unrelated to the attack, especially damaging and foolhardy proposals that have been unable to win popular or Congressional support when the public has had a chance to consider them dispassionately, and on the merits.

Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Common Courage Press, 1999).

The Ball Park Franks Fiasco

Let us now have a moment of silence for the victims of the Ball Park Franks fiasco.

Thank you.

This is the situation: Bil Mar Foods is a unit of the Chicago-based giant Sara Lee Corporation, the maker of pound cakes, cheesecakes, pies, muffins, L'Eggs, Hanes, Playtex and Wonderbra products -- your typical food and underwear conglomerate.

Bil Mar makes hot dogs -- Ball Park franks hot dogs. You've seen them when you go to a baseball game at Tiger Stadium in Detroit and elsewhere.

Last month, Sara Lee pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts in connection with a listeriosis outbreak that led to the deaths of at least 21 consumers who ate Ball Park Franks hot dogs and other meat products. One hundred people were seriously injured. The company paid a $200,000 fine.

According to Kenneth Moll, a Chicago attorney representing the families of the victims, this is what happened:

Bil Mar has a hot dog facility in Zeeland, Michigan. The company shut down the facility over the July 4th weekend of 1998 to replace a refrigeration unit that was above the hot processing facility. The hot dogs are heated at one end and sent down a conveyer belt to the other.

Moll's theory is that the removal of the air conditioning unit and its replacement dislodged some dangerous bacteria in the ceiling. When the plant reopened, steam from the passing hot dogs went up to the ceiling, condensed and dripped back down with the dangerous bacteria onto the hot dogs.

In November 1998, Paul Mead from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta started receiving calls from the state health departments around the country that had isolated strains of a deadly bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes.

Mead looked at the bacteria and found that they were the same strain. He sent out questionnaires and discovered there was an open package of hot dogs in the home of one of the people who died. The CDC tested the hot dogs and isolated the same bacterial strain -- a DNA fingerprint of the type of bacteria.

According to Moll, Mead went to the Bil Mar plant in Zeeland, Michigan and tested unopened packages of hot dogs and was able to isolate the same DNA fingerprint bacteria. In December 1998, Sara Lee ordered a recall of millions of pounds of hot dogs and deli meats.

According to a series of reports in the Detroit Free Press, plant workers were regularly testing work surfaces for the presence of cold-loving bacteria -- a class of bacteria that includes the deadly Listeria monocytogenes as well as some harmless bacteria.

According to the Free Press, beginning in July 1998, after the replacement of the old refrigeration unit, workers recorded a sharp increase in the presence of cold-loving bacteria. The number of positive samples remained high until the company stopped performing tests in November 1998 -- a month before the Sara Lee recall.

"Sara Lee was doing testing of the environment in the plant for cold-loving bacteria," said Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Then their tests started coming up positive, so they stopped testing. They knew they had a problem with bacteria in the plant. But instead of solving it, they chose to ignore it."

This is crucial, because if the company knew that they were had a Listeria monocytogenes problem and ignored it, they could be hit with a felony conviction. And felony convictions have all kinds of collateral consequences, including possible loss of federal contracts -- Sara Lee had a big hot dog contract with the Department of Defense.

In an interview, U.S. Attorney Phillip Green said there was insufficient evidence to bring a felony charge.

"There was simply no evidence that Sara Lee Bil Mar knew that the food product that they were producing and shipping out was adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes," Green told us.

When asked about the allegations raised by the Free Press that the company was testing for cold-loving bacteria, Green told us, "the testing that you are referring to is known as Low Temperature Pathogens testing -- that is a very general test that does not necessarily indicate the presence of Listeria monocytogenes."

"The USDA regulations don't require a plant to conduct testing on finished product for the presence of deadly pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes," Green said. "And Bil Mar was following accepted industry practices in conducting general testing for the low temperature pathogens."

But Green refused to answer specific questions about evidence concerning a possible felony violation.

Moll -- the attorney representing the victims -- told us that the evidence "does necessarily indicate the presence of Listeria monocytogenes." The CDC's Mead found studies showing that, had Sara Lee done further testing for the deadly strain of listeria, almost half of the cold-loving bacteria could have tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

But U.S. Attorney Green never read Mead's report. He never called on Mead, perhaps the crucial expert in this case, to testify before the grand jury.

In fact, it is apparent from our investigation into this matter that federal prosecutors were overpowered by Sara Lee's outside lawyers in this case -- the Chicago firm of Jenner & Block, led by former Chicago U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas.

Valukas refused, on advice of his client, to speak with us.

But the extraordinary degree of the collaboration between Sara Lee and the federal prosecutors in this case can be seen on Sara Lee's web site where it has posted a "joint press release."

No, that's not a typo. The U.S. Attorney and Sara Lee issued a joint press release announcing the plea agreement in which no mention is made of Ball Park Franks hot dogs.

The issuance of a joint press release is an extraordinary event. U.S. Attorney Green can't name a case where the prosecutor and convict issued a joint press release announcing their plea agreement. Neither can the current chief of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice, Michael Chertoff. He calls it "unusual."

In a number of ways, the Sara Lee prosecution brings home the double standards in our criminal justice system.

A company pleads guilty to a crime that leads to the death of 21 human beings. The company pleads to two misdemeanors. The company is fined $200,000. Think about that.

We were so outraged by this that we went over to the White House and asked President Bush's press secretary about it.

We laid out the facts of the Sara Lee case and then asked our question. This is how it went:

Question: Ari, has the President expressed a view on the death penalty for corporate criminals -- that is, revoking the charter of a corporation that has been convicted of a crime that has resulted in death?

Fleischer: ... The President does not weigh in on those matters of justice. They should not be dictated by decisions made at the White House.

Question: Now, Ari, wait a second. Ari, Ari, wait a second. He's in favor of the death penalty for individuals generally. Is he in favor of the death penalty for corporations convicted of crimes that result in death?

Fleischer: ... These are questions that are handled by officials of the Justice Department -- not by people at the White House.

Someday, Ari, the White House too will have to answer -- why death to individual criminals, but not to your corporate criminal paymasters?

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor.

Chemical Executives Meet to Combat PBS Special

Let us now turn to Hyatt Hotel in lovely Crystal City, Virginia, across the Potomac River from our nation's capital.

The date: March 22, 2001. The time: 1:30 p.m.

Our man on the scene, environmental activist Dave DeRosa, has infiltrated the Vinyl Formulators Environmental Forum.

The group of about 30 chemical company executives has gathered to discuss "damage control."

And what damage are they seeking to control?

The damage was surely done March 26, 2001 when the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) sought to defy its well-deserved image as the Petroleum Broadcasting System by running a 90-minute indictment of the chemical industry and how it killed off the people on the front lines -- also known as workers.

The words "homicide" and "manslaughter" aren't mentioned in the Moyers documentary, but we suggest that the all of the nation's prosecutors -- including U.S. Attorneys, Attorneys General from the fifty states, and district attorneys -- tune in and take notes, or just transcribe the thing and attach it to an indictment.

We see workers dying. We see Dan Ross, who died at age 46 of a rare brain cancer. Ross was convinced that his job killed him. And he died not knowing how right he was.

We see spouses grieving. Elaine Ross vows to her dying husband that she would "never, ever let the chemical industry forget who he was -- never."

She joins up with Lake Charles, Louisiana trial attorney Billy Baggett, who through discovery amasses thousands of internal company documents.

The documents formed the basis of a twelve-part series by then Houston Chronicle reporter Jim Morris (titled "In Strictest Confidence"> that ran from June 1998 to December 1998 -- outlining the story that Moyers tells in graphic detail tonight.

Morris and Moyers report on a 1959 Dow Chemical memo showing that vinyl chloride exposure at 500 mg "is going to produce rather appreciable injury when inhaled seven hours a day, five days a week for an extended period."

"As you can appreciate, this opinion is not ready for dissemination yet and I would appreciate it if you would hold it in confidence but use it as you see fit in your own operations," the memo says.

Then there is the 1973 Ethyl Corp. memo claiming that rat tests results "certainly indicate a positive carcinogenic effect."

And there's the classic 1971 Union Carbide internal memo that voices general worry about the political climate in the United States and warns that: "a campaign by Mr. R. Nader and others could force an industrial upheaval via new laws or strict interpretation of pollution and occupational health laws."

Thank goodness, for the sake of the chemical industry, that the populace is now once again distracted -- watching the Sopranos, the Oscar awards, the NCAAs -- instead of paying attention to Morris and Moyers.

Now back to the hotel and the industry session on damage control.

There is Mark Sofman, director of flexible vinyl at the Vinyl Institute. According to DeRosa, Sofman tells the assembled executives that a concerted chemical industry campaign against the Moyers show led to a breakthrough -- the trial lawyer, Billy Baggett, will only have a minor part in the show -- and indeed, Baggett is effectively gagged in the final cut. ("It's simply not true that Billy Baggett's role was reduced," says a Moyers' spokesperson.)

According to DeRosa, Bill Carroll, a vice president at Occidental Chemical Company, told the group that the Moyers show "will be a painful 120 minutes to watch."

He compared this kind of "unwanted attention" to the heartbreak of psoriasis -- "It's sometimes in remission but it's never cured." (How, in a democracy, could the industry cure it?)

According to DeRosa, Nick Nichols, an industry flak who has been working on damage control on the Moyers show for eight weeks, advised the industry executives to "pick a good messenger."

He suggested somebody with charisma and credibility. Ideally, it would not be an old balding guy. Preferably it would be a woman -- with credentials. This led one of the vinyl executives from the audience to say -- "Like tobacco guys have been using." Nichols agreed.

According to DeRosa, Nichols claimed that the premise of the show is that "the industry engaged in pre-meditated murder."

In one of the articles in the Houston Chronicle series from 1998, Morris writes about prosecutors in Venice, Italy who brought manslaughter charges against 31 chemical industry executives in the deaths of workers exposed to vinyl chloride and other chemical carcinogens. (According to Greenpeace, the case is still pending.)

Will the prosecutors of America please pay some attention? The hard work has been done for you. More than 35,000 documents detailing the wrongdoing are available at www.ewg.org. All you have to do is research the law, and apply the facts. America awaits your judgment.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1999).

Will Congress Revoke IMF Funding?

There is no policy of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank that is more stupid, cruel and brutal than the insistence that poor countries charge fees for children to attend school and for people to access basic health services.

The IMF and World Bank condition loans to impoverished countries on the adoption of Contract with America-style "structural adjustment" policies. User fees -- also known as community financing, cost sharing or cost recovery -- are often one part of the structural adjustment policy package.

In passing an appropriations amendment in July that would stop future funding for the IMF and the World Bank if the two lending agencies do not stop imposing user fees for basic healthcare and education services, the U.S. House of Representatives has taken an important step toward ending this callous and wrongheaded policy.

Unfortunately, the Treasury Department, anxious to avoid any appropriations limitations for its IMF and World Bank policy arms, is working to block inclusion of the amendment in the final foreign operations appropriations bill. As administration officials and members of Congress and their staffs negotiate the terms of a final foreign operations appropriations bill, the educational opportunity and health of millions of people in the world's poorest countries hang in the balance.

The evidence accumulated from around the world over the last decade is quite clear. User fees for education lower school attendance rates, especially among young girls. User fees for primary health services deny access to care and preventative treatment for the poor, leading to the spread of unnecessary and preventable death and disease. And user fee "exemptions" for the poor, or sliding payment scales, routinely fail due to administrative problems, corruption, inadequate notice to the poor or other difficulties.

* In Gambia, in primary health care program villages with insecticide provided free of charge, bednet impregnation -- for malaria prevention -- was five times higher than in villages where charges were introduced. Households consistently cited lack of money as the main reason they chose not to dip bednets.

* Introduction of a 33 cent fee for visits to Kenyan outpatient health centers led to a 52 percent reduction in outpatient visits. After the fee was suspended, visits rose 41 percent. In Papua New Guinea, the introduction of user fees led to a 30 percent decline in outpatient visits. Studies in Niger have found that user fees extend the period that patients wait before seeking outpatient care.

* UNICEF reports that in Malawi, the elimination of modest school fees and uniform requirements in 1994 caused primary enrollment to increase by about 50 percent virtually overnight -- from 1.9 million to 2.9 million. The main beneficiaries were girls. Malawi has been able to maintain near full enrollment since that time.

* In India, reports Dr. Vineeta Gupta, general secretary of Insaaf International, a Punjab, India-based organization, a World Bank-inspired system which is supposed to exclude the poor from healthcare charges fails in practice due to corruption and administrative difficulties, denying the poorest Indians access to healthcare services.

The purported logic of education and healthcare user fees is that payments from children's families and sick people will enable government service agencies to provide services to more people.

But this is a twisted rationale, which should be rejected on both principled and practical grounds. As an issue of principle, access to primary education and healthcare is a right that should not be conditioned on ability to pay.

In practical terms, the real-world record shows that user fees deny children educational opportunity and people of all ages access to basic health services. Charges typically generate little revenue in any case. So the ultimate result of user fees is service denial, not expansion.

The IMF/Bank user fee rationalization presents a false choice: even poor country governments have multiple sources of potential revenue there are ways to increase funding for basic services without imposing charges. Most importantly, the real way to free up resources for education and healthcare is for the World Bank and IMF, without delay, to use their existing assets to cancel the debts owed them by poor countries.

There are no significant corporate or monied interests served by the imposition of user fees in desperately poor countries. The IMF and World Bank continue to support them out of a dogmatic commitment to a marketized ideology that refuses to concede to empirical refutation. The Treasury Department is opposing corrective legislation so that it can preserve its control of the IMF and World Bank without Congressional interference.

These are shameful counterweights to the humanitarian imperative of removing user fees. Whether the humanitarian claim prevails will depend, in significant part, on whether U.S. citizens act now to put an end to user fee nightmare.

A Moral Defense of Capitalism?

We've just come from a press conference held by the Center for the Moral Defense of Capitalism.

The Center called the press conference to announce its opposition to Earth Day.

At the press conference, the Center's executive director, Robert Tracinski, asked the question that was on everybody's mind -- why in the heck would anybody be against Earth Day?

"People think that environmentalism just means being for clean air and clean water -- and who could possibly be against these things?" Tracinski asked. "In fact, we believe that environmentalists don't really care about clean air and clean water. Their real goal is to destroy technology and to subordinate mankind to nature."

"Watch the crowds of environmentalists who will gather on the Mall tomorrow, and notice that they have never met a form of technology they liked," Tracinski said. "Every kind of new technology is attacked, from nuclear power to genetically modified foods. But they also oppose every old, existing technology, from fertilizers and pesticides to the internal combustion engine. And they always place the blame for every problem on one basic target -- the Industrial Revolution."

We pointed out to Tracinski that most environmentalists don't want to get rid of all technology -- they just want to get rid of dirty technologies and replace them with cleaner technologies -- electric cars for gasoline powered cars, for example.

"If they are for a new technology, let them go out and invent it," Tracinski said. "But they say -- get rid of the old technology first and maybe somewhere in the future we will have some new technology."

Not really Bob. The new technology is here and being actively blocked by the old technology industries. Don't you read the papers?

The Center, based in Spotsylvania, Virginia, is closely affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute. Rand was the philosopher who laid the intellectual groundwork for Reaganism (Alan Greenspan is a Rand fan) -- no law restraining corporate power is a good law.

The Center for the Moral Defense of Capitalism feels the same way. Its web site (www.moraldefense.org) is dominated by articles denouncing the antitrust laws and the government's case against Microsoft.

One article, which is representative of the tone of the others, is titled "The Injustice of Antitrust Laws as Reflected in the High-Tech Lynching of Microsoft."

The article is written by Richard Salsman, a senior policy analyst at the Center. Salsman compared the government's case against Microsoft to a KKK lynching of a black man.

"Like the black man, the local victim didn't do anything wrong -- on the contrary, he seems to have done everything right," Salsman writes. "Still he is hated. He is despised. He is being lynched. For no other reason. What will you do?"

Comparing the lynching of a flesh and blood human being to the government's antitrust case against Microsoft is a bit over the top.

So, we wanted to know, who is funding your Center Bob? Where is this money coming from, anyway?

"We really don't feel comfortable giving out our donors -- we don't consider it important," he said.

Wait a second Bob. What do you mean you don't consider it important? Is this Microsoft money talking?

"I'm not going to answer that question," Tracinski said. "I don't consider it to be important."

But then Bob breaks down -- a little.

"We have received money from Microsoft, but we aren't going to say how much," Tracinski said.

Microsoft's Rick Miller confirmed that the company had donated to the Center, but he too refused to reveal the amount of the contribution.

Miller said that Microsoft gives to a wide range of interest groups across the political spectrum and doesn't support everything every one of them says or believes. Gates, for example, is not in favor of dismantling the antitrust laws, as is the Center, although Gates believes the antitrust laws are being misapplied in the case at hand.

Still, if implemented the extremis views of the Center for the Moral Defense of Capitalism would lead to a society where big corporations would be allowed to roam freely without restraint -- lawless corporations in a lawless land.

Tracinski said he didn't understand why we wanted to know whether Microsoft was funding his operation.

We want to know exactly what beast we are dealing with here, Bob. Don't be like the Wizard of Oz, yelling at us not to look behind the curtain.

A whole pack of Totos is pulling on that curtain and nothing you can do will prevent it from being ripped to shreds.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor.

A Smithsonian Tupperware Party

A new book published by the Smithsonian covers "the promise of plastic in 1950s America." But what about the consequences? Why no questions about the workers in the industry, and people who live near plastics manufacturing facilities, and the threat to their health and well being? Why no questions about the 30 percent (by volume) of municipal landfills that are filled with plastics and the impact this has on the environment?The Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History recently held a press briefing to launch the publication of a new book, "Tupperware: The Promise of Plastic in 1950s America," by Alison J. Clarke (Smithsonian Press, 1999).In the book, Clarke tells the story of Earl Tupper and Brownie Wise. Tupper, the conservative New Englander who worked for DuPont, created Tupperware in 1942. Tupper believed that Tupperware would improve women's lives -- no more spills or odors in the refrigerator, no more wasted leftovers.But for years, Americans were not impressed with plastics or Earl Tupper's food containers. Tupperware sat on store shelves.Enter Brownie Wise. Wise, a middle-aged housewife and impoverished single mom, sold Tupperware door-to-door. Tupper was amazed by her numbers. Tupper wanted to know her secret. Wise confessed: the Tupperware home party.Tupper pulled his entire product line from all department stores and retail outlets. In 1951, the Tupperware party became the company's exclusive form of distribution and sales. By the mid-1950s, the Tupperware party became a regular occurrence throughout America and sales boomed.Friction grew between the reclusive Tupper and the flamboyant Wise. He fired her in the late 1950s, but the corporation continued to flourish.Today, a Tupperware party is held every 2.5 seconds, sales top $1.2 billion worldwide, and Tupperware has become a cultural symbol for the American way of life."Astounding," is the way the Smithsonian public relations people put it.Perhaps. But nowhere in the book, and nowhere in the press materials handed out by the Smithsonian, is there any mention of the controversy raging over the impact of the plastics industry on our health and on the earth.The book covers "the promise of plastic in 1950s America." But what about the consequences? Why no questions about the workers in the industry, and people who live near plastics manufacturing facilities, and the threat to their health and well being? Why no questions about the 30 percent (by volume) of municipal landfills that are filled with plastics and the impact this has on the environment?A large percentage of Americans believe that plastics are harmful to health and the environment. But the Smithsonian never addresses the issue. Why? And why is the Smithsonian publishing a book that asks so few critical questions about the company?In December 1984, The Tupper Foundation -- the foundation started by Earl -- gave $4 million to the Smithsonian's Tropical Research Institute in Panama.Earl Tupper's papers were donated to the Smithsonian's Museum of American history -- papers that Clarke relied on to research her book. In May 1993, the Tupper Foundation also gave $200,000 to the archives collection at the Museum of American History, where Earl Tupper's papers are housed. Tupperware Worldwide, the company, gave $15,000 to the Smithsonian over the past four years to safeguard archival film footage about the company. This financial support was not disclosed to reporters at the press conference, or in the book.Smithsonian officials pretend not to understand the problem of corporate control over history."Why is it important?" asks Mimi Minnick, an archivist at Tupper collection at the Smithsonian. "They are a private family. [The $200,000] is an unrestricted gift. They had no control or influence over the book. They didn't buy anything."It could be that Tupperware and the Tupper family didn't buy anything from the Smithsonian. But the rule of thumb in these cases is simple -- don't bite the hand that feeds you. And the Smithsonian didn't.The Smithsonian used to be a public space -- where independent historians could present history and independent scientists could present science -- free of the distorting lens of profit-making large corporations.Now, it has been transformed into an bustling accounts receivable -- where big money defines the outline of history and science.In the past, the Smithsonian has taken big money from the chemical industry to present an exhibit on "Science in American Life" and from the oil industry to present an exhibit on "Oil in the Arctic." Now, it puts out a puff piece on plastics.And of course, it is not just the Smithsonian that is selling its public space to the highest bidder. It's almost a daily event in our nation's capital.For example, at the Library of Congress, the Library recently hosted an interview by Parade magazine editor Walter Anderson of Disney Corporation Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner, part of a series "on the moral, academic and technological challenges of the next century."We put in a call to Library spokesperson Craig D'Ooge to inquire as to how much money Disney has donated in recent years to the Library of Congress. "They are a major contributor," D'Ooge said. "I'll get back to you with the numbers."Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor.

The 100 Top Corporate Criminals

The criminal element has seeped deep into every nook and cranny of American society. Forget about the underworld -- these crooks dominate every aspect of our market, culture, and politics.They cast a deep dark shadow over life in turn of the century America.We buy gas from them (Exxon, Chevron, Unocal).We take pictures with their cameras and film (Eastman Kodak).We drink their beer (Coors).We buy insurance from them to guard against financial catastrophe if we get sick (Blue Cross Blue Shield).And then when we get sick, we buy pharmaceuticals from them (Pfizer, Warner Lambert, Ortho Pharmaceuticals).We do our laundry washers and dryers from them (General Electric).We vacation with them (Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines).We buy our food from them (Archer Daniels Midland, Southland, Tyson Foods, U.S. Sugar).We drive with them (Hyundai) and fly with them (Korean Air Lines).All of these companies and more turned up on Corporate Crime Reporter's list of the Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the 1990s, released this past week at a news conference at the National Press Club. Standing before a roomful of reporters and cameras (including a C-Span camera which took us live to our TV nation), we made the following points:Every year, the major business magazines put out their annual surveys of big business in America. You have the Fortune 500, the Forbes 400, the Forbes Platinum 100, the International 800 -- among others. These lists rank big corporations by sales, assets, profits and market share. The point of these surveys is simple -- to identify and glorify the biggest and most profitable corporations.The point of releasing The Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the Decade, on the other hand, was to focus public attention on the pervasive criminality that has corrupted the marketplace and that is given little sustained attention and analysis by politicians and news outlets.To compile The Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the 1990s, we used the most narrow and conservative of definitions -- corporations that have pled guilty or no contest to crimes and have been criminally fined. And still, with the most narrow and conservative of definitions of corporate crime, we came up with society's most powerful actors.Six corporations that made the list of the Top 100 Corporate Criminals were criminal recidivist companies during the 1990s. Exxon, Royal Caribbean, Rockwell International, Warner-Lambert, Teledyne, and United Technologies each pled guilty to more than one crime during the 1990s.And we in no way imply that these corporations are in any way the worst or have committed the most egregious crimes. We did not try to assess and compare the damage committed by these corporate criminals or by other corporate wrongdoers. We warned that companies that are criminally prosecuted represent only the tip of a very large iceberg of corporate wrongdoing.For every company convicted of health care fraud, there are hundreds of others who get away with ripping off Medicare and Medicaid, or face only mild slap-on-the-wrist fines and civil penalties when caught. For every company convicted of polluting the nation's waterways, there are many others who are not prosecuted because their corporate defense lawyers are able to offer up a low-level employee to go to jail in exchange for a promise from prosecutors not to touch the company or high-level executives.For every corporation convicted of bribery or of giving money directly to a public official in violation of federal law, there are thousands who give money legally through political action committees to candidates and political parties. They profit from a system that effectively has legalized bribery.For every corporation convicted of selling illegal pesticides, there are hundreds more who are not prosecuted because their lobbyists have worked their way in Washington to ensure that dangerous pesticides remain legal.For every corporation convicted of reckless homicide in the death of a worker, there are hundreds of others that don't even get investigated for reckless homicide when a worker is killed on the job. Only a few district attorneys across the country (Michael McCann, the DA in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, being one) regularly investigate workplace deaths as homicides.An argument can be made that the most egregious wrongful corporate acts -- the genetic engineering of the food supply, or the systematic pollution of the nation's air and waterways, or the bribery by corporate criminals of the political parties -- are totally legal.For your convenience, we print here the list of 100 crooks that fall well within a very conservative definition of criminality. Carry this list wherever you go, and when the subject turns to crime, feel free to pull out the list and lash the criminal element.THE TOP 100 CORPORATE CRIMINALS OF THE 1990s1) F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.Type of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $500 million2) Daiwa Bank Ltd.Type of Crime: FinancialCriminal Fine: $340 million3) BASF AktiengesellschaftType of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $225 million4) SGL Carbon Aktiengesellschaft (SGL AG) Type of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $135 million5) Exxon Corporation and Exxon ShippingType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $125 million6) UCAR International, Inc. Type of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $110 million7) Archer Daniels Midland Type of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $100 million8)(tie) Banker's TrustType of Crime: FinancialCriminal Fine: $60 million8)(tie) Sears Bankruptcy Recovery Management ServicesType of Crime: FraudCriminal Fine: $60 million10) Haarman & Reimer Corp.Type of Crime: AntitrustCriminal fine: $50 million11) Louisiana-Pacific Corporation Type of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $37 million12) Hoechst AGType of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $36 million13) Damon Clinical Laboratories, Inc.Type of Crime: FraudCriminal Fine: $35.2 million14) C.R. Bard Inc.Type of Crime: Food and drugCriminal Fine: $30.9 million7 Corporate Crime Reporter 41(1), October 25, 199315) Genentech Inc.Type of Crime: Food and drugCriminal Fine: $30 million16) Nippon GohseiType of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $21 million17)(tie) Pfizer Inc.Type of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $20 million17)(tie) Summitville Consolidated Mining Co. Inc. Type of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $20 million10 Corporate Crime Reporter 20(3) May 20, 199619)(tie) Lucas Western Inc.Type of Crime: False StatementsCriminal Fine: $18.5 million9 Corporate Crime Reporter 4(6), January 30, 199519)(tie) Rockwell International CorporationType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $18.5 million21) Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.Type of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $18 million22) Teledyne Industries Inc.Type of Crime: FraudCriminal Fine: $17.5 million23) NorthropType of Crime: False statementsCriminal Fine: $17 million24) Litton Applied Technology Division (ATD) and Litton Systems Canada (LSL) Type of Crime: FraudCriminal Fine: $16.5 million25) Iroquois Pipeline Operating CompanyType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $15 million26) Eastman Chemical CompanyType of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $11 million27) Copley Pharmaceutical, Inc.Type of Crime: Food and drugCriminal Fine: $10.65 million28) Lonza AGType of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $10.5 million29) Kimberly Home Health Care Inc.Type of Crime: FraudCriminal Fine: $10.08 million30)(tie) Ajinomoto Co. Inc.Type of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $10 million30)(tie) Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI)Type of Crime: FinancialCriminal Fine: $10 million30)(tie) Kyowa Hakko Kogyo Co. Ltd.Type of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $10 million30)(tie) Warner-Lambert CompanyType of Crime: Food and drugCriminal Fine: $10 million34) General Electric Type of Crime: FraudCriminal Fine: $9.5 million35)(tie) Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.Type of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $9 million35)(tie) Showa Denko CarbonType of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $9 million37) IBM East Europe/Asia Ltd.Type of Crime: Illegal exportsCriminal Fine: $8.5 million38) Empire Sanitary Landfill Inc. Type of crime: Campaign financeCriminal fine: $8 million39)(tie) Colonial Pipeline CompanyType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $7 million39)(tie) Eklof Marine CorporationType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $7 million41)(tie) Chevron Type of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $6.5 million41)(tie) Rockwell International CorporationType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $6.5 million43) Tokai Carbon Ltd. Co. Type of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $6 million44)(tie) Allied Clinical Laboratories, Inc.Type of Crime: FraudCriminal Fine: $5 million44)(tie) Northern Brands International Inc.Type of Crime: FraudCriminal Fine: $5 million44)(tie) Ortho Pharmaceutical CorporationType of Crime: Obstruction of justiceCriminal Fine: $5 million44)(tie) UnisysType of Crime: BriberyCriminal Fine: $5 million44)(tie) Georgia Pacific CorporationType of Crime: Tax evasionCriminal Fine: $5 million5 Corporate Crime Reporter 38(8), October 7, 199149) Kanzaki Specialty Papers Inc.Type of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $4.5 million50) ConAgra Inc.Type of Crime: FraudCriminal Fine: $4.4 million51) Ryland Mortgage CompanyType of Crime: FinancialCriminal Fine: $4.2 million52)(tie) Blue Cross Blue Shield of IllinoisType of Crime: FraudCriminal Fine: $4 million52)(tie) Borden Inc.Type of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $4 million52)(tie) Dexter CorporationType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $4 million52)(tie) Southland CorporationType of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $4 million52)(tie) Teledyne Industries Inc.Type of Crime: Illegal exportsCriminal Fine: $4 million52)(tie) Tyson Foods Inc.Type of Crime: Public corruptionCriminal Fine: $4 million58)(tie) Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA)Type of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $3.75 million58)(tie) Costain Coal Inc.Type of Crime: Worker DeathCriminal Fine: $3.75 million58)(tie) United States Sugar CorporationType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $3.75 million61) Saybolt, Inc., Saybolt North AmericaType of Crime: Environmental, briberyCriminal Fine: $3.4 million62)(tie) Bristol-Myers SquibbType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $3 million62)(tie) Chemical Waste Management Inc. Type of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $3 million62)(tie) Ketchikan Pulp CompanyType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $3 million62)(tie) United Technologies CorporationType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $3 million62)(tie) Warner-Lambert Inc.Type of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $3 million67)(tie) Arizona Chemical Co. Inc.Type of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $2.5 million67)(tie) Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail)Type of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $2.5 million69) International Paper Type of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $2.2 million70)(tie) Consolidated Edison CompanyType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $2 million 70)(tie) Crop Growers CorporationType of Crime: Campaign financeCriminal fine: $2 million70)(tie) E-Systems Inc.Type of Crime: FraudCriminal Fine: $2 million70)(tie) HAL Beheer BVType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $2 million70)(tie) John Morrell and CompanyType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $2 million70)(tie) United Technologies CorporationType of Crime: FraudCriminal Fine: $2 million76) Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsubishi International CorporationType of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $1.8 million77)(tie) Blue Shield of CaliforniaType of Crime: FraudCriminal Fine: $1.5 million77)(tie) Browning-Ferris Inc. Type of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $1.5 million77)(tie) Odwalla Inc.Type of Crime: Food and drugCriminal Fine: $1.5 million77)(tie) Teledyne Inc.Type of Crime: False statementsCriminal Fine: $1.5 million77)(tie) Unocal CorporationType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $1.5 million82)(tie) Doyon Drilling Inc.Type of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $1 million82)(tie) Eastman KodakType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $1 million82)(tie) Case CorporationType of Crime: Illegal exportsCriminal Fine: $1 million85) Marathon OilType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $900,00086) Hyundai Motor CompanyType of Crime: Campaign financeCriminal Fine: $600,00087)(tie) Baxter International Inc.Type of Crime: Illegal BoycottCriminal Fine: $500,00087)(tie) Bethship-Sabine YardType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $500,00087(tie) Palm Beach CruisesType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $500,00087)(tie) Princess Cruises Inc.Type of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $500,00091)(tie) Cerestar Bioproducts BVType of Crime: AntitrustCriminal Fine: $400,00091)(tie) Sun-Land Products of CaliforniaType of Crime: Campaign financeCriminal Fine: $400,00093)(tie) American CyanamidType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $250,00093)(tie) Korean Air LinesType of Crime: Campaign financeCriminal Fine: $250,00093)(tie) Regency Cruises Inc.Type of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $250,00096)(tie) Adolph Coors CompanyType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $200,00096)(tie) Andrew and Williamson Sales Co.Type of crime: Food and drugCriminal fine: $200,000 96)(tie) Daewoo International (America) Corporation Type of Fine: Campaign financeCriminal Fine: $200,000 96)(tie) Exxon CorporationType of Crime: EnvironmentalCriminal Fine: $200,000100) Samsung America Inc.Type of Crime: Campaign financeCriminal Fine: $150,000Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor Multinational Monitor.

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