Money & Politics
Among the many superlatives associated with Hurricane Katrina can now be added this one: it produced one of the most extraordinary displays of scams, schemes and stupefying bureaucratic bungles in modern history, costing taxpayers up to $2 billion.
There's no longer any countervailing power in Washington. Business is in complete control of the machinery of government. The House, the Senate and the White House are all run by business-friendly Republicans who are deeply indebted to American business for their electoral victories.
What role did senior executives of the Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank play in the collapse of Cyprus banking? Billions of euros - mostly invested by Russians and Ukranians attempting to dodge taxes - have been gambled away in the last few years.
Workers accuse the Kuwait contractor building the US embassy in Baghdad of smuggling low-paid South Asians into Iraq and labor trafficking. Still, the US State Department casts a blind eye on the complaints as it rushes to complete its most ambitious project ever.
In this pantheon of corporate muscle, no industry wields as much power as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), a pressure group breathtaking for its deep pockets and aggression, even by the standards of US politics.
Business and trade-group lobbyists are beating a path for the first major battle over the Obama administration's efforts to overhaul the financial regulatory system. Recent discussions have involved the American Bankers Association, National Auto Dealers Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Mortgage Bankers Association and other lobbyists.
British officials are seriously concerned about the level of corruption in the Iraqi defense ministry, after the embezzlement of vast amounts of money earmarked for the country's security forces. Officials from the British Ministry of Defense had already warned US and Iraqi authorities against the squandering of money -- and have been proved right, on a catastrophic scale.
Vice President Al Gore's campaign announced an all-out effort today to contest Florida's presidential election result, demanding a recount by hand in four counties and promising to support legal challenges as the dispute grew increasingly bitter.