TRACKING THE TITAN
Sightings from The Catbird Seat
~ o ~
November 7, 2006
Titan Corp. Contractor Sues
By Daniel Hopsicker, MadCowMorningNews
VENICE, FLA. - A Lebanese man whose convenience store in Venice Florida was used by Mohamed Atta and his cadre of terrorist hijackers to receive overseas wire transfers, and from whose apartment Atta and Marwan took taxis to Orlando Airport to pick up visiting Saudis has filed a defamation lawsuit against the MadCowMorningNews alleging unspecified “false statements.”
Chams is asking for $15,000 in damages. He also has a second defamation suit going, this one in Saudi Arabia, for a whopping $21 million, against Titan Corporation of San Diego.
In addition to owning a convenience store, the peripatetic Chams' recent resume includes having been a partner in a Jack Abramoff-style gambling boat which operated for two years in Venice without permits, working for the FBI in San Diego, and pulling down multi-million dollar contracts in Saudi Arabia, one of which suspected of being with the Saudi Bin Laden Group, for controversial U.S. defense firm Titan Corp.
Strangely (or not) the FBI apparently never bothered to mention anything at all to the 9/11 Commission about Makram Chams.
A story Monday in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported the lawsuit:
"A former Venice convenience store owner has filed a defamation lawsuit against local author Daniel Hopsicker, who published reports that the mini-market owner assisted the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists in Venice,"
"The lawsuit refers to Hopsicker as a 'conspiracy fanatic' who 'published and disseminated ... false statements' that Chams "was associated with the 9/11 terrorists.'"
Hopsicker... author of a book about Venice's role in the 9/11 attacks called "Welcome to TERRORLAND," termed Chams' lawsuit "false charges." Hopsicker said he has an attorney and plans to "vigorously defend" himself. He said Monday that "numerous local witnesses have stated that several of the terrorists basically hung out at (Chams') Kwik Check."
"I'm not particularly concerned with Makram Chams' lawsuit; I see it as an opportunity to get testimony under oath from an individual which should enlighten all of us about aspects of the situation in Venice, Florida, before the Sept. 11 attack."
A Kwik Check on the Kwik Check
The FBI's testimony before the 9/11 Commission revealed that the largest overseas money transfer the terrorists received had come from the UAE, for $70,000.
A copy of the money transfer was projected overhead.
What the FBI didn't point out to the Commission was the significance of the address where the money was wired to: 201 Nokomis in Venice, the address of the Kwik-Check owned by Makram Chams, the Lebanese man who shortly thereafter would be in Saudi Arabia procuring multi-million dollar contracts from the Saudi Bin Laden Group.
Atta and his fellow terrorists also availed themselves of a second floor apartment Chams rented in a building across the street from the convenience store. The apartment was occupied by his sister, May Chams, and her husband, an Indian Muslim named "Khal" who disappeared from Venice in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack.
Local Venice Yellow Cab driver Bob Simpson (whose testimony about Atta's local associates was used by the FBI to apprehend a half-dozen Saudi nationals in Venice after the attack) says he picked up Mohamed Atta and his bodyguard Marwan at the apartment in his cab on several occasions, and taken them to the Orlando Airport.
Even Zacharias Moussaoui, whose presence in Venice, was exclusively reported by MadCowMorningNews (and later confirmed by other sources) was seen at Chams' apartment.
Rich Saudis in "Armani and shades"
"The FBI was especially interested in a rich Saudi guy, dressed in Armani, shades, manicure, and a gold Rolex, that I was sent to pick up at the Orlando Executive Airport," said Simpson.
"They (the FBI) knew he’d ridden in my cab because they’d gotten my cab number from a surveillance camera there.”
Six weeks later, when Simpson received a call to go to the apartment to pick up the "rich Saudi in Armani and shades" and return him to the Orlando Airport, the cabbie was asked to help carry a chest, the kind kept at the bottom of a bed, down from the apartment and load it into the trunk of the cab.
"It was so heavy it took two people to carry it. I could not believe anything that small could weigh that much! It must have weighed at least 150 pounds."
Carrying the other end of the chest was someone Simpson recognized much later. "A big bald guy who I later identified as Zacharias Moussaoui helped me carry it down to the cab.”
Simpson's obvious amazement while telling the story about how heavy the chest had been made us curious. We contacted a former intelligence operative, and asked: "What could have made the chest so heavy?"
His reply was immediate. "Gold."
Convenience store owner-turned-defense contractor
At some point after the attack Chams abandoned the mini-market (it has stood vacant since) and left Venice.
A story in the Sarasota Herald Tribune called the abandoned convenience store, “A pocket of urban blight in the otherwise smartly tailored suit of downtown Venice.”
Chams went to San Diego, said his sister, who worked at Barclay's Pharmacy in Venice (the same pharmacy visited by Mohamed Atta and his Cairo lawyer father two weeks before the 9/11 attack.
Asked what he was doing in San Diego, she'd replied, "Helping out the FBI."
Then recently we learned Chams had been working as a contractor in Saudi Arabia for controversial San Diego defense firm Titan Corp a 23-year old company which sells information and communication services to military and spy agencies, and has about 12,000 employees and revenues of about $2 billion a year.
An SEC filing last year Titan reported that Makram Chams had filed a $21 million lawsuit against them in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Goodwill said take them to the dump yourself
Apparently Titan didn't hold the lawsuit against Chams, because he recently received a six-figure payout from Surebeam, a bankrupt Titan subsidiary which, in the aftermath of the anthrax scare had been the lucky recipient of a big windfall from the U.S. Post Office.
Surebeam announced in a press release that the post office "would use Surebeam's electron beam systems to eliminate the threat of anthrax in the U.S. mail system."
Despite there being not the slightest hint of scientific evidence that the company could perform as advertised, the firm was awarded a $40 million contract to set up machines to detect and kill anthrax spores.
Some people (and companies) have all the luck, right? That is...unless there was some other unknown factor in play.
Predictably, Surebeam’s machines didn’t work. Instead, a U.S. Congressional investigation blamed them for causing headaches, nose bleeds, nausea, rashes, and eye irritation suffered by more than 200 Congressional staff members.
Presumably to spare the Post Office the embarrassment of having their donation turned down by Goodwill, the machines were quietly given away to U.S. universities for what Titan called “research.”
"The bin Laden Group been berry berry good to me"
We were curious how a Lebanese convenience store owner in Venice had come to merit a six-figure payout from a company purporting to irradiate and kill anthrax spores.
So we phoned Chams' attorney in San Diego to ask several months ago, he told us Chams was planning on suing us, saying "I know who you are," before declining to reply.
A little sleuthing was in order. It revealed that Makram Chams had apparently landed a $5 million contract in Riyadh for Surebeam with the Saudi Bin Laden Group.
Surebeam, in a curious press release, had boasted of winning a $5 million contract in Saudi Arabia, “to build a network of Surebeam facilities within the Kingdom for pathogen and environmental pest control.”
Oddly, the company which gave Surebeam the $5 million contract went unnamed in the press release, identified only as “a private Saudi Arabian conglomerate headquartered in Riyadh;" and as "a leading Saudi company whose business dealings involve high rise construction, large living compound construction, hotel design and construction, oil and gas projects, defense and security contracts.”
Only one company fits this description, while at the same time being a firm Surebeam would have wanted to keep quiet about having as a business partner...The Saudi Bin Laden Group.
More 'conspiratorial' musings
Makram Chams curious curriculum vitae includes having been a partner in a gambling boat called Vegas-in-Venice, owned by a Philadelphia man alleged to have ties to organized crime. The gambling vessel somehow managed to operate for almost two years in Venice, despite having no approval to do so from the city of Venice, County of Sarasota, or State of Florida.
The only other local partner in the gambling venture, Max Burge, also did business with Skyway Aircraft/Royal Son principal Frederick Geffon.
In addition the well-connected Burge owned the light planes used by the terrorists in their flight training at Huffman Aviation; we recently learned from a local attorney that Burge once owned the Sandpiper Apartments across the street from the airport where Mohamed Atta spent several months living with Amanda Keller.
Questions posed by the mysterious Makram Chams have significant relevance in explaining the background, and sometimes the foreground) of events leading to the 9/11 attack.
How did a Lebanese convenience store owner with unexplained links to Abramoff-style gambling boat interests connected with organized crime, and unexplained links with the terrorists in Venice, end up working for a well-connected defense contractor embroiled in numerous major controversies?
Answers may (or may not) be forthcoming, depending on our financial ability to learn never-before-revealed details about the activities of Mohamed Atta and his fellow terrorists in the United States by deposing individuals under oath with knowledge of what was going on.
May 17, 2006
Cocaine Bust Leads
to 9/11 Connection
A MadCowMorningNews investigation into the ownership of the DC9 airliner caught carrying 5.5 tons of cocaine in Mexico last month has uncovered explosive new details about some of the many lingering mysteries still surrounding the 9.11 attack.
San Diego defense contractor Titan Corporation, already implicated in the fraudulent bankruptcy of a shadowy St. Petersburg FL company which owned the DC9 "Cocaine One" flight busted in Mexico, employed a Lebanese contractor who assisted Mohamed Atta and other terrorist hijackers in Venice, Florida.
Makram Chams owned a Kwik-Check convenience store in Venice, where the biggest overseas money transfer to the terrorists, $70,000 from the UAE., was sent, according to the testimony of FBI agents during the 9.11 Commission hearings.
Actually the FBI testimony never mentioned Chams, or his store.
They did however show the receipt for the money order at the final hearing of the 9.11 Commission, which we attended. And we were already familiar with the address where the money order went: 201 Nokomis Avenue.
Makram Cham's Kwik-Chek... Strangely, Chams left town soon after the 9.11 attack, abandoning a thriving convenience store which has stood vacant ever since.
An understanding of what Makram Chams had been doing while in Venice--and for whom--had eluded us, and been one of our biggest unanswered questions, one which might shed light on whether the U.S. Government possessed guilty foreknowledge--or even culpability--in the 9.11 attack.
Our search for Chams had been unsuccessful. No one knew where he was, or why he'd left. But now Chams has re-surfaced in Saudi Arabia, where he worked in an unlikely capacity: as a contractor for American defense firm Titan Corp.
News of Makram Chams' current whereabouts came to us when a researcher recently sent this addendum to Titan Corp’s 2005 SEC filing:
On March 14, 2005, Makram Majid Chams, a former consultant of Titan filed a claim with the Preliminary Committee on Labor Disputes Settlement in Saudi Arabia. Mr. Chams alleges that Titan wrongfully terminated his consulting agreement and that he was defamed by Titan's publication in a local newspaper of a mandatory notice that he is no longer representing Titan. The plaintiff is seeking approximately $21.9 million in damages. We intend to defend our position vigorously.”
Was the man suing Titan in Saudi Arabia, “Makram Majid Chams,” the same "Makram Chams" who'd lived in Venice?
Only a dunsky could doubt it
The answer was 'yes.' A marriage announcement in the Sarasota Herald Tribune from January of 1998 gave us the full name of the Makram Chams who'd lived in Venice, identical to the name of the man suing Titan in Saudi Arabia.
“Makram Majid Chams,” said the announcement, had married “Rim Ghazi Abou Zein, both of Venice.”
The news was nothing short of astonishing. The man who'd assisted terrorist hijackers in Venice...working for an American defense contractor in Saudi Arabia? What was Chams doing for The Titan Corp? What made him think they owe him $22 million dollars? And most importantly...
Was Makram Chams already working for Titan while in Venice?
Titan was was the biggest campaign contributor of disgraced former Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham. The company was involved in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, and has recently been convicted and fined $28 million for fixing a Presidential election in the African state of Benin...
Titan employed a mysterious Lebanese man who provided assistance to Mohamed Atta and other terrorist hijackers in Venice Florida before the 9.11 attack, who was listed as a contractor working for the company in Saudi Arabia last year...
What business did Titan Corp. have with SkyWay Aircraft? No one is saying. Calls to both companies have not been returned...
The Titan official quoted in the press release had been the executive vice president of an Annapolis Maryland firm, Intergraph, which had a deal with Brent Wilke’s ADCS Inc. which is now being investigated by the FBI...
The deal, brokered by Duncan Hunter, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, resulted in massive mark-ups on a product the Pentagon never asked for. The only losers were U.S. taxpayers, and maybe some dead U.S. servicemen in Iraq whose Humvee’s didn’t get armor plating because there wasn’t enough money for it in the Pentagon budget...
by pb_true at June 20, 2006 - 7:20am
May 27, 2004
Titan’s Army Contract Under Review
By Bruce V. Bigelow, The San Diego Union Tribune
The Army command that hired San Diego’s Titan Corp. to provide Arabic linguists to units in Iraq is evaluating whether the lucrative contract should be awarded to another company.
The evaluation under way at INSCOM, the Army’s Intelligence & Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Va., is part of a five-year renewal process for the Army’s worldwide linguist support services contract. INSCOM awarded the five-year contract in 1999.
The contract has come under increased scrutiny after revelations that civilian translators working for Titan were involved in the abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison.
Titan has sought to renew the contract, which has become the company’s single biggest revenue source. But competing bids for the linguist contract, valued at $657 million, have been submitted by Northrop Grumman, L3 Communications and Computer Sciences Corp.
The Pentagon also began withholding 10 percent of its payments to Titan under the contract because of accounting deficiencies, according to congressional testimony March 11 by Dr. Dov S. Zakheim, then an Undersecretary of Defense and the Pentagon’s chief financial officer....
But Titan spokesman Wil Williams said the procedures identified by Zakheim have been corrected and “our customer is happy with our performance.”...
Williams declined to discuss how many Titan interpreters are working in Iraq, saying threats to civilian contract workers are still pervasive.
Titan disclosed in November that 13 of its employees had been killed in Iraq, including two Americans, but the company has refused to discuss any casualties since then.
Some U.S. soldiers who worked with the translators in Iraq also have said that some of the Titan employees lacked sufficient experience and skill to serve as useful interpreters....
Nevertheless, the contract renewal comes at an especially sensitive time for the company, which said last week it fired an employee who had worked as a translator for American interrogators at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.
An internal Army investigation had identified the employee, Adel L. Nakhla, as a “suspect” in the abuse of Iraqis held at the prison. No charges have been filed against any U.S. civilians implicated in the scandal, but soldiers who also were named as suspects in the Army report now face courts martial
John Israel, another civilian who has since been identified as a Titan subcontractor, was named in the Army report as either directly or indirectly responsible for the prisoner abuses.
Titan has another major reason to be sensitive about the timing of the contract renewal.
The San Diego defense contractor has twice postponed its sale to Lockheed Martin because of federal investigations into allegations that Titan paid bribes overseas to win business.
Titan agreed to accept a reduced offer to keep the deal alive, but the company also must resolve the Justice Department probe to complete the $1.7 billion deal....
Revisions after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks expanded the requirements, so the Army contract now provides up to $657 million for as many as 4,800 linguists to the Army....
The Web site Washington Technology recently ranked Titan as the ninth largest federal prime contractor to the government market for information technology.
< < < FLASHBACK < < <
March 10, 2000
SENATOR INOUYE ANNOUNCES $6.75 MILLION
AGRICULTURE LOAN AWARDED TO
HAWAII FRUIT PROCESSOR
SAFE, HIGH-TECH PROCESSING FACILITY WILL
OPEN GROWERS TO NEW EXPORT MARKETS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. -- United States Senator Daniel K. Inouye is pleased to announce a $6.75 million federal loan was awarded to Hawaii Pride, LLC, which will use the financing to construct a tropical fruit processing facility on the Big Island.
At the new facility, Hawaii Pride will provide post-harvest quarantine disinfestation treatments, ridding Hawaii-grown fresh fruit of fruit flies and other plant pests. Technology at the processing facility represents a safe alternative to previous proposals to treat fruits with nuclear irradiation.
The facility is expected to create 28 full-time jobs and increase employment opportunities on local farms. Growers anticipate the facility will significantly help them to pursue national and international markets for high-quality, premium-priced Hawaii-grown fruits.
"Fruit flies have long been an obstacle to local farmers who want to expand to markets outside the State of Hawaii," said Senator Inouye, who is a strong supporter of diversified agriculture efforts. "Now, with this safe treatment alternative, Hawaii's diversified agriculture growers will have the opportunity to export to new markets and reach new levels of commercialization."
Hawaii Pride was founded by Big Island residents Eric Weinert and John Clark. The company will build and operate the fruit processing facility on a 20-acre site in Keaau located about eight miles from Hilo International Airport and major harbor facilities.
The business – through a strategic alliance with Titan Corporation, a leader in food pasteurization technology and marketing – will utilize the state-of-the-art Titan Scan SureBeam. This technology consists of an electron beam accelerator that has x-ray conversion capabilities.
Big Island papaya producers are expected to be the major users of the new facility's services. Other users will include growers of other tropical fruits such as rambutan and lychee.
Assisting Hawaii Pride in obtaining the loan was Francis J. Blanco, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development's state director in Hawaii. Blanco said, "The purpose of the loan program is to promote economic development in rural areas by providing opportunities for job creation and retention. The Hawaii Pride venture is expected to make a significant contribution to the economic climate of the Big Island."
The loan was issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program. Web Financial Government Lending, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Utah-based WebBank, is the participating lender.
Hawaii Pride was selected on a competitive basis against other projects nationwide.
For additional information about the project, call Francis J. Blanco in Hilo at 808-933-8302 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
August 21, 2001
FTC Should Investigate Companies that Advertise Food Irradiation as 'Pasteurization'
Public Citizen and the Center for Food Safety today called on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to initiate a thorough investigation into companies that advertise food irradiation as "pasteurization" and irradiated food products as "pasteurized."
The groups are asking the FTC to order the companies to stop the practice and penalize those guilty of disseminating false advertising to American consumers.
Most Irradiation Companies with Web Sites
Use Misleading Euphemisms
Five of the eight U.S.-based food irradiation companies that maintain Internet Web sites predominantly use the euphemisms "cold pasteurization" or "electronic pasteurization" to describe the process by which food is exposed to high doses of ionizing radiation. These euphemisms conceal the truth about irradiation from consumers, who, according to numerous public opinion polls, are overwhelmingly opposed to buying or eating irradiated food.
"These abuses have set a new standard for false advertising," said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program.
"Consumers have been deceived long enough. Food irradiation companies must stop playing mind games with the American people."
Even the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said that calling irradiated food products "pasteurized" is "misleading," according to a Q&A for the food industry posted on the agency's Web site.
Deceptive advertising is illegal under the US Federal Trade Commission Act and is punishable through criminal and civil penalties, including fines, court injunctions and corrective advertising. It is important to note that on packages, irradiated food must be labeled as "treated by irradiation" or "treated with radiation," according to FDA and USDA regulations.
The five food irradiation companies named in the groups' letter to the FTC are:
Agbeta Inc. of Carpinteria, Calif.
BioSterile Technology Inc. of Fort Wayne, Ind.
Oasis-Santa Barbara Inc. of Santa Barbara, Calif.
Scanmex LLC of Laredo, Texas
Titan Corp./SureBeam Corp. of San Diego, Calif.
The most prominent of these companies are defense contractor Titan and its affiliate, SureBeam, which uses linear accelerators originally designed for the "Star Wars" program to irradiate food.
Since March, Public Citizen has filed false advertising complaints with the FTC against SureBeam and two of its clients, Omaha Steaks of Nebraska and Huisken Meats of Minnesota.
Omaha Steaks and Huisken have since changed their Web sites to say that their ground beef products have been "irradiated."
SureBeam, however, has significantly expanded the use of the word "pasteurized" in promotional material, using it repeatedly in advertisements appearing in major newspapers and on television, radio stations and the Internet.
In half-page ads that ran last month in daily newspapers in the Twin Cities, for example, SureBeam said that its technique -- which kills microorganisms with electrons fired nearly to the speed of light -- "is much like milk pasteurization."
Milk pasteurization, however, uses heat to kill food-borne pathogens.
The groups also named Hawaii Pride LLC of Keaau, Hawaii, which "treats" papayas and other tropical fruit destined for the mainland with a Titan/SureBeam X-ray machine. Like the SureBeam ad, Hawaii Pride's Web site compares irradiation with "heat pasteurized milk."
"Comparing food that's been blasted with the equivalent of millions of chest X-rays to pasteurized milk -- it would be funny if it weren't so deceitful," said Peter Jenkins, an attorney and policy analyst with the Center for Food Safety.
"The time has come for these companies to be shamed into telling the truth," he states.
Public Citizen and the Center for Food Safety are working to stop the proliferation of food irradiation through coordinated campaigns, including dialogues with elected officials, grassroots organizing, citizen petitions, legal action and efforts to ensure that companies are honest with consumers about the benefits and harms associated with irradiated food.
The groups have compiled an extensive body of research suggesting that irradiated food may not be not safe for human consumption. Irradiation results in the formation of chemicals that are known or suspected to cause cancer and birth defects.
Lab animals fed irradiated food have developed serious health problems, such as premature death, stillbirths, genetic damage, a rare form of cancer, fatal internal bleeding, organ malfunctions and vitamin deficiencies.
Further, irradiation does nothing to remove the feces, urine, vomit and pus that often contaminate meat in today's high-volume, factory-style slaughterhouses and processing plants.
Research indicates that irradiation also can destroy vitamins and nutrients, disrupt proteins and essential fatty acids, and corrupt flavor, texture and odor.
June 3, 2005
L-3 Communications Agrees to Buy Titan;
Lehman Role Questioned
By Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times
Another deal on Wall Street raised questions about conflicts - even before it was signed.
L-3 Communications, the military technology company, announced today that it had agreed to acquire a rival, the Titan Corporation, for about $2.65 billion, with deal expected to close later this year. But the involvement by Lehman Brothers on both sides of the deal has Wall Street questioning such arrangements.
Lehman's unusual role comes amid increased scrutiny of conflict of interest issues after Goldman Sachs was criticized for its dual role in the takeover of Archipelago by the New York Stock Exchange.
In that merger, Goldman advised both companies while having an ownership stake in each. Several shareholders of the two companies have filed lawsuits, contending the executives breached their fiduciary duty by using the same adviser.
Lehman's bankers acted as advisers to Titan, a San Diego-based military contractor, executives close to the company said, while also providing financing for the deal to L-3, which makes intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.
While such an arrangement is not unprecedented, it is unusual because the board of L-3 did not hire an adviser or an independent firm to examine the deal and provide a so-called fairness opinion.
The arrangement may raise even more questions because of L-3's ties to Lehman: two Lehman executives are directors of L-3 and sit on the compensation committee; one is chairman of the corporate governance committee. L-3 was once owned in large part by Lehman's private equity arm.
Some corporate governance specialists suggested that Lehman's role may be as problematic as Goldman's role in the Archipelago deal though both companies in that deal sought fairness opinions from two independent banks.
"The directors of L-3 are living dangerously," said John C. Coffee Jr., a professor of securities law at Columbia. "Given Lehman's position, it would be wise to insist L-3 get an outside adviser."
Executives involved in the transaction said that L-3's board and management were aware of the perception of a conflict but decided that one did not exist after consulting its lawyer, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
The board concluded that it did not need a fairness opinion because it had done a thorough analysis of the transaction, the executives said. Historically, L-3 has not used an adviser for its acquisitions.
The price of the deal, $23.10 in cash a share, is within the estimates of independent analysts who have written reports on Titan, the executives said. Directors unanimously concluded that the two Lehman executives on the board should be allowed to vote on the deal because they work for the bank's private equity arm, not its investment banking operation.
To be sure, Lehman's role in the transaction differs from Goldman's role in the Archipelago deal because it is not acting as an adviser to both sides, and Lehman has no ownership in either Titan or L-3. Lehman was helped in its role as an adviser to Titan by another firm, Relational Advisers. And in addition to Lehman, three other banks are expected to help L-3 finance the deal.
Executives involved also pointed out that negotiations between L-3 and Titan had taken significantly longer than they had anticipated - a deal had been expected last week - an indication they say that both sides were trying to do what is best for their shareholders....
A spokesman for L-3 declined to comment on Thursday, as did a spokeswoman for Lehman. A spokesman for Titan could not be reached.
The deal between L-3 and Titan is delicate because it comes less than a year after Lockheed Martin broke off a similar pact in the face of charges that Titan was involved in a foreign bribery case.
Titan shareholders have sued over the collapse of the Lockheed deal. L-3's discussions with Titan included questions of potential liability in the class-action suit, which accuses Titan of failing to report in announcements about revenue growth that the company faced corruption charges.
Frank C. Lanza formed L-3 in 1997. The deal for Titan is L-3's largest since it bought a military equipment unit of Raytheon for $1.13 billion in 2002.
~ o ~
A Catbird Note: According to a look at Yahoo Finance on Jan 14, 2006, the TOP INSTITUTIONAL HOLDER for L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. (LLL) is PUTNAM INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, LLC, followed by Britian’s BARKLAY’S BANK. The top MUTUAL FUND HOLDERS are SMITH BARNEY AGGRESSIVE GROWTH FUND INC. and PUTNAM VOYAGER FUND.
October 15, 2004
Zapped! State wants to energize
exports by killing fruit flies
by Prabha Natarajan, Pacific Business News
The state plans to build an irradiation facility to zap tropical fruits and vegetables for fruit flies before they take off to mainland and export markets.
The $3 million project, to be funded and operated by private entities, will expand Hawaii's $400 million diversified agriculture industry and give farmers a way to create millions in new revenue.
The new facility, to be built in 2006 near the Honolulu International Airport, would be in addition to Hawaii Pride's 5-year-old facility in Keaau on the Big Island. The Hawaii Pride facility helped the state sell $2.1 million worth of rambutan, longan, lychee, mango and other fruits to local and mainland markets in 2003.
Before it had the Big Island facility, the state was limited in what could be shipped to the mainland because of the federal fruit-fly quarantine on products from Hawaii. The United States Department of Agriculture prohibits shipments of fresh fruits and vegetables from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland and territories unless they have been quarantined or treated.
In 1989, the federal agency approved irradiation as a method to meet the quarantine requirements but the state had to wait a few years before Dole Plantation opened an irradiation facility in Waialua, only to shut it down. In 2000, Hawaii Pride set up an electronic-beam irradiation center in Keaau.
The Hawaii Pride facility opened up marketing opportunities for Big Island growers. The state hopes the two strategically located treatment centers will expand diversified agriculture statewide.
Locally grown tropical fruits, floriculture, vegetables, coffee, macadamia nuts and other products contribute to a $400 million diversified agriculture industry in the state. Since the 1980s, after the state's sugar and later pineapple plantations shut down, the state Department of Agriculture has been pressing farmers to find new crops to grow on the thousands of acres of prime agricultural land freed up for individual farming enterprises. To an extent, Kona coffee farmers have capitalized on the available acreage and created a niche market. But Hawaii farmers continue to remain susceptible to global pressures, including cheaper labor from competing markets.
A new facility would be an economic benefit for farmers on the other islands, who would find it cheaper and quicker to ship to Oahu rather than the Big Island.
"Farmers need to access export markets with the least cost added to product and the least time for handling to keep it fresh," said Lyle Wong, plant industry division administrator for the state Department of Agriculture.
Farmers on Kauai, who are part of this nascent industry, agree and say they're eager for the Oahu facility to open. However, they are hesitant to disclose their names or their inclination for fear of alienating the operator of the Big Island facility.
That's because not everybody favors the state's plan.
Second facility questioned
There is no need for a second plant as long as the existing one is more than adequate to meet the demand, said Susan Hamilton, who operates with her husband Hula Brothers, a 150-acre tropical fruit farm on the Big Island, and whose brother owns the Hawaii Pride irradiation facility on the Big Island.
Hamilton also is one of nine farmer members of the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Cooperative, which consolidates and markets fruits for the members, including those on Kauai. This year, the cooperative expects to handle double its 2003 volume of 350,000 pounds of fruit.
The proposed state facility would use cobalt, which concerns organic and Big Island local farmers due to it being a radioactive source.
"We'll be boycotted," Hamilton said. "Using radioactive materials is not all right with our customers."
"There are other irradiators in Hawaii that utilize radioactive sources, like hospitals, and people use such facilities across the U.S.," he said. "No one has complained about them."
Hawaii Pride's concern is that there may not be enough business in the state to sustain both facilities. Even now, the company is hustling to get more farms to sign on as clients. When the state's facility goes online, Hawaii Pride expects to be hit hard as farmers factor in distance and time.
"The state needs to support us and not find ways to compete against us," Hamilton said.
Organic farmers have stepped away from this dispute. They find that it's easier to not go the irradiation route and instead pick fruits early and ripen them in coolers to prevent flies and bugs from getting to them.
"They may not be a top-quality fruit in that they may not taste that sweet," said Chuck Boener, of Ono Organic Farms on Maui.
But his farm grossed $250,000 last year, charging at least 25 percent more for organic fruit compared to regular fruit, and sometimes the difference in price could be more than 100 percent.
"My main niche market is that I'm organic," he said. "I don't need to get my fruits irradiated and sell them off island."
# # #
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THE SECRET LIVES OF DUKE & DUSTY
THE SECRET NESTS
THE TORCH OF ERIC SHINE
THE TURKEY NESTS
THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
SONGS OF THE DRUG VULTURES
TARNISHED WINGS: THE GREED AT LOCKHEED
THORNS IN THE ROSE GARDEN
THE NUCLEAR NESTS
THE NESTS OF OSAMA BIN LADEN
UNCLE SAM’S GUINEA PIGS
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Last update May 26, 2007, by The Catbird