Privatization & Procurement
Private military contractor KBR has been awarded a $35 million Pentagon contract involving major electrical work even though it is under criminal investigation in the electrocution deaths of at least two American soldiers in Iraq.
Over 11,000 academics have pledged to boycott Elsevier, the Dutch publishing giant, for profiting off their work and making it unavailable to the general public. Now Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, plans to turn the world of corporate academic publishing on its head.
At Halliburton's recent annual shareholders meeting in Houston, all was remarkably staid as the company celebrated its $4 billion in 2008 operating profits, a striking 22% return at a time when many companies are announcing record losses. Just three months ago, however, Halliburton didn't hesitate to pay $382 million in fines to the U.S. Department of Justice as part of the settlement of a controversial KBR gas project in Nigeria in which the company admitted to paying a $180 million bribe to government officials.
Wendy Walsh's seventh-graders at Gillespie Middle School in North Philadelphia have something in common with investors in the for-profit education company Edison Schools. Both fear that Edison, the nation's largest private operator of public schools, may be failing them. ''The children ask me what's going on,'' Walsh says, ''and I don't know what to tell them. We're all facing the great unknown.''
A damning report on Mittal Steel's acquisition of an impoverished African country's iron ore reserves is published today, accusing the world's largest steelmaker of offering an inequitable "raw deal" that has created an unaccountable "state within a state".
On Monday, the Justice Department unsealed its case against five Blackwater private security guards, built largely around testimony from a sixth guard about the 2007 shootings that left 17 unsuspecting Iraqi civilians dead at a busy Baghdad traffic circle.