Multinational Monitor

JAN/FEB 2002
VOL 23 No. 1


Derailed: The UK’s Disastrous Experience with Railway Privatization
by Brendan Martin

Business Goes to School: The For-Profit Corporate Drive to Run Public Schools
by Barbara Miner

Off the Grid: Mexico’s Free Market Extremism and Labor’s Challenge to Privatization
by David Bacon

Power to the People In South Africa: Operation Khanyisa! and the Fight Against Electricity Privatization
by Patrick Bond

System Failure: Deregulation, Political Corruption, Corporate Fraud and the Enron Debacle
by Andrew Wheat


Theft of the Century: Privatization and the Looting of Russia
an interview with
Paul Klebnikov

Undermining Security: A Warning Against Social Security Privatization
an interview with
Dean Baker

Accounting for Bad Accounting
an interview with
John Coffee



Behind the Lines

Preparing for the Next Enron

The Front
The Big Ugly at Ok Tedi - The Boeing Boondoggle

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News


Behind the Lines

Corporate Law in Delaware

The Chief Justice of Delaware’s Supreme Court has announced his intention to increase court revenues through “alternative funding sources,” including corporations.

In his “State of the Delaware Judiciary” address to Delaware’s General Assembly in January, Chief Justice E. Norman Veasey warned that limited state revenues were not adequate to pay for the “businesslike systems” needed in Delaware’s courts, including innovative case management systems and “state-of-the-art” court facilities.

“The Judiciary must develop innovative programs and strategies to meet needs that cannot be funded through traditional state budget processes after the General Assembly has applied the maximum resources it is able to provide,” Veasey said.

In an administrative directive, Veasey formed a “Blue Ribbon” Court Resources Task Force to find private sector funding sources. The task force includes executives and attorneys representing DuPont, Burris Foods, MBNA and Verizon.

The task force is also charged with examining the feasibility and “ethical appropriateness” of using private sector volunteers and experts to “fill discrete and appropriate personnel needs of the Judicial Branch.”

Critics say that while it purports to be seeking out a disinterested balance of academic and other legal experts to fulfill its charge, the task force revealed its elitist bias when it held its first meeting at the exclusive Wilmington Club in January.

“A public task force should meet in public places,” says John Flaherty of Common Cause. “The judicial system is not a secret society.”

More Burma Bans

More large U.S. retailers have joined the list of companies pledging to stop importing merchandise from Burma because of human rights violations in that country.

Mail order giant Spiegel Group, a U.S. mail-order retailer that owns Eddie Bauer and other brands, announced the move in January in a letter to the Free Burma Coalition.

“We applaud the contribution that Spiegel is making toward human rights in Burma,” says Free Burma Coalition fellow Aung Din. “No company should support forced labor.”

In November, a delegation of the International Labor Organization, an agency of the United Nations, concluded after visiting the country that forced labor still exists in Myanmar/Burma, despite an agreement by the military-led government in 2000 to make forced labor illegal throughout the country.

The U.S. State Department 2001 Country Report on Human Rights in Burma concludes that “forced labor, including forced child labor, has contributed materially to the construction of industrial parks subsequently used to produce manufactured exports, including garments.”

Burmese apparel imports to the United States rose by 800 percent between 1995 and 2000. As a result of the country’s human rights violations, a broad coalition of groups have pressured companies to stop importing from Burma.

Value City/Filene’s Basement, operator of 110 department stores, also pledged not to import or retail goods from Burma in January. Meanwhile, Denmark-based IKEA joined the growing list of boycotting companies, as did Ames department stores.

Activists believe that Ames was one of the biggest importers of Burmese goods into the United States.

World Bank Dams Uganda

In December, the World Bank’s Board of Directors signed off on the controversial Bujagali Hydropower Project in Uganda, despite the fact that there are ongoing internal investigations into the project’s compliance with the Bank’s own policies.

World Bank officials say the project is “a key investment in poverty reduction in Uganda, where less than 3 percent of the population has access to grid-supplied electricity.” The Bank approved a total of $225 million in loans and risk guarantees to the project and its commercial banking partners.

But longtime critics of the project say the dam is a bad economic deal for Ugandans, and will drive up tariffs for those already connected to the grid. The dam will also alter Bujagali Falls, a culturally significant natural heritage [See “Falling for AES’s Plan?,” Multinational Monitor, June 1999].

Meanwhile, the World Bank’s own Inspection Panel has yet to conclude an ongoing investigation into the project.

And, critics say, Bank officials have refused to assess various alternatives, including the development of Uganda’s 450 megawatts of geothermal reserves.

“Just one year after the World Commission on Dams report described a better way to plan for energy needs, it is deeply frustrating that the World Bank would choose to support another environmentally destructive, economically risky dam that is likely to fail its development goals,” says Lori Pottinger of the International Rivers Network.

The project’s hydropower station will be built, owned, and operated by a subsidiary of the AES Corporation of Arlington, Virginia, one of the biggest corporate recipients of World Bank financial support [See “AES: IFC’s Corporate Welfare King,” Multinational Monitor, September 2001].

— Charlie Cray


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