Dirt Diggers Digest No. 36

May 28, 2003


Editor: Philip Mattera

1. WorldCom Settlement Documents and Contract Controversy

2. New Database on Media Holdings

3. Los Angeles City Council Votes to Require Slavery Disclosures

4. ACORN Report and Campaign on Predatory Lending at Wells Fargo

5. War Profiteers Card Deck


1. WorldCom Settlement Documents and Contract Controversy

If you're interested in the details of the $500 million settlement

recently reached by the SEC and WorldCom (the largest fine

the agency has ever imposed on a non-financial company), you

can find the Final Judgment and Consent on the FindLaw website

at http://news.findlaw.com/legalnews/documents/.

WorldCom, which now calls itself MCI, is still being targeted by

critics who ask why a company involved in the largest accounting

fraud in history is still allowed to do business with the federal

government. (See, for example, the Citizen Works commentary at

http://www.citizenworks.org/corp/worldcon.php.) At the same time

the $500 million fine was being announced, MCI was awarded a

contract to rebuild the wireless phone network in Iraq. Sen. Susan

Collins of Maine, chair of the Governmental Affairs Committee, recently

announced an inquiry on whether MCI should be allowed to continue

as a federal contractor <http://govt-aff.senate.gov/052103presssc2.htm>.

If MCI is disqualified as a federal contractor, it will join Arthur Andersen

and many others on what is known as the Excluded Parties Listing System

<http://epls.arnet.gov/>. The EPLS website was recently upgraded to allow

a greater variety of searches and downloading functions.


2. New Databases on Media Holdings

The Center for Public Integrity has assisted the campaign to block the

Federal Communication Commission's plans to weaken media ownership

rules with the launch of a project called Well Connected <www.openairwaves.org>.

Along with a report on industry-sponsored junkets for FCC officials, the

Center has created a database that provides information on the ownership of

broadcasting, cable and telephone properties throughout the United States


Among the Center's other recently released resources (access via the website

at www.publicintegrity.org) is HIRED GUNS, a report and database on state



3. Los Angeles City Council Votes to Require Slavery Disclosures

The Los Angeles City Council voted recently to require every company doing

business with the city to report whether it or a precedessor firm ever earned

profits from slavery. The law, which has no provision for investigation or

enforcement, is mainly symbolic in nature.

In 2000 the California legislature passed a law required the state department

of insurance to collect data on insurance companies whose predecessor firms

may have written policies on slaves in the 19th Century. The department's 2002

report on the subject and other material can be found online at:



4. ACORN Report and Campaign on Predatory Lending at Wells Fargo

ACORN recently launched a campaign against Well Fargo because of

the bank's predatory lending practices. Those practices are described

in a report called STOP THE STAGE COACH!, which can be found

at http://www.acorn.org/campaigns/wellsfargo.


5. War Profiteers Card Deck

You can now use your weekly poker game as a vehicle for popular education

on profiteering in postwar Iraq. In a response to the Pentagon's p.r. gimmick

featuring Iraq's "most wanted" on a deck of cards, the Ruckus Society and

various allies have created an alternative set of playing cards that feature the

faces and descriptions of  corporate executives, government officials and others

responsible for U.S. policy in Iraq. As the Ruckus website puts it: "These are

individuals and institutions that stack the deck against democracy in the rigged

game of global power." Among the companies featured are Bechtel, Halliburton

and the Carlyle Group. For ordering information and electronic images of the cards,

see www.warprofiteers.com.



Philip Mattera

Director of the Corporate Research Project

Good Jobs First