Magazine article In These Times

Appall-O-Meter

Magazine article In These Times

Appall-O-Meter

Article excerpt

4.7 Custer Rides Again

Northern Virginia is chockablock with obscure little "consulting firms" chiseling unheard of amounts of money for dubious services to the American war effort, apparently with little fear of consequences. Occasionally a whistleblower or a crusading journalist spoils the party, but if the case of Custer Battles, LLC, is any indication, it's not for long.

According to a suit filed under a federal whistleblower statute, Custer Battles used the standard techniques-shell companies, bogus invoices-to overcharge the Coalition Provisional Authority for its work helping to establish a new Iraqi currency. A jury found against the company, levying a fine of $10 million.

However, reports the Associated Press, a federal judge has overturned the judgment, arguing that while Custer Battles may have fleeced the CPA, plaintiffs failed to show that in doing so the firm was fleecing the American government. Damn that liberal bench!

3.8 Who's Your Flat Daddy?

The Maine National Guard has adopted a novel way to comfort the families of hundreds of its soldiers serving overseas. As the Boston Globe reports, the guard has been supplying them with "flat daddies" and "flat mommies"-life-sized cutouts of deployed loved ones, mounted on rigid foam.

"He goes everywhere with me," Kay Judkins said of her flat hubby, "Slim Jim," whose flesh-and-bone, three-dimensional counterpart sweeps for mines in Afghanistan. "Every day he comes to work with me. ... I just bought a new table from the Amish community, and he sits at the head of the table. …

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