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Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

They all just hang out together

Posted by Charles II on March 16, 2014

Robert Parry, The Consortium:

[Following the Iraq debacle,] You might have expected that the neocons would have been banished to the farthest reaches of U.S. policymaking, so far away that they would never be heard from again. However, instead of disappearing, the neocons have proved their staying power, now reemerging as the architects of the U.S. strategy toward Ukraine.

… the ultimate goal of the Ukraine gambit is not just “regime change” in Kiev but “regime change” in Moscow. By eliminating the independent-minded and strong-willed Putin, the neocons presumably fantasize about slipping one of their ciphers (perhaps a Russian version of Ahmed Chalabi) into the Kremlin.

Then, the neocons could press ahead, unencumbered, toward their original “regime change” scheme in the Middle East, with wars against Syria and Iran.

JP Sottile, The Consortium:

Behind the U.S.-backed coup that ousted the democratically elected president of Ukraine are the economic interests of giant corporations – from Cargill to Chevron – which see the country as a potential “gold mine” of profits from agricultural and energy exploitation, reports JP Sottile.

Despite the turmoil within Ukrainian politics after Yanukovych rejected a major trade deal with the European Union just seven weeks earlier, Cargill was confident enough about the future to fork over $200 million to buy a stake in Ukraine’s UkrLandFarming. According to Financial Times, UkrLandFarming is the world’s eighth-largest land cultivator and second biggest egg producer.

On Dec. 13, Cargill announced the purchase of a stake in a Black Sea port. Cargill’s port at Novorossiysk — to the east of Russia’s strategically significant and historically important Crimean naval base — gives them a major entry-point to Russian markets and adds them to the list of Big Ag companies investing in ports around the Black Sea, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Cargill was decidedly confident amidst the post-EU deal chaos.

Freedom House, the National Endowment for Democracy and National Democratic Institute helped fund and support the Ukrainian “Orange Revolution” in 2004. Freedom House is funded directly by the U.S. Government, the National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Department of State.

David Kramer is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and, according to his Freedom House bio page, formerly a “Senior Fellow at the Project for the New American Century.”

That puts Kramer and, by one degree of separation, Big Ag fixer Morgan Williams in the company of PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan who, as coincidence would have it, is married to Victoria “F*ck the EU” Nuland, the current Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Interestingly enough, Ms. Nuland spoke to the U.S.-Ukrainian Foundation last Dec. 13, extolling the virtues of the Euromaidan movement as the embodiment of “the principles and values that are the cornerstones for all free democracies.”

These people hang out together, they have the same triumphalist world view in which America is the lamp to the world and capitalism = democracy, so they work together on common goals, even if those goals may contradict international law and those American values that are not commercial. It’s not a conspiracy, but neither is it the government that Americans voted for when they voted for Barack Obama. After all, what Cargill, Monsanto, and John Deere are doing in the Ukraine (using our State Department and the tax money collected by our government) is more akin to a hostile takeover of the kind that Mitt Romney pioneered.

Posted in impunity, Russia, State Department, The Plunderbund | 3 Comments »

Courts for sale

Posted by Charles II on March 2, 2014

Judith Resnik, NYT:

SHOULD wealthy litigants be able to rent state judges and courthouses to decide cases in private and keep the results secret?

The answer should be an easy no, but if the judges of Delaware’s Chancery Court persuade the United States Supreme Court to take their case and reverse lower federal court rulings outlawing that practice, corporations will, in Delaware, be able to do just that.

Posted in activist judges, corruption, judicial rulings, judiciary | Leave a Comment »

An article I ought to read

Posted by Charles II on February 7, 2014

I linked this lengthy article by Mark Ames and Yasha Levine in a comment to PW. It has to do with the latest billionaire Oz who imagines that his benevolent neo-liberal ideas will solve the world’s problems, namely Pierre Omidyar. There’s a lot in it:

* How to turn microfinancing into payday lending, complete with suicides and ruined lives
* The latest corporate libertarian Great White Hope Hernando deSoto, aide to dictator Alberto Fujimori
* Hayek’s ILD as the first of the international right-political think tanks linked to Cato and Heritage

And Omidyar is financing Jeremy Scahill, Laura Poitras, and Glenn Greenwald to do FirstLook Media.

It’s an interesting article. I should read it.

Posted in corporatists, corruption, half-vast rightwing conspiracy, media, Media machine, neoliberals, unintended consequences | 2 Comments »

DeLay Walks

Posted by Charles II on September 19, 2013

In one of the longest miscarriages of justice, a Texas appeals court decided that the evidence that Tom DeLay laundered corporate cash into Texas state campaigns was insufficient. He is a free man.

It’s stuff like this that makes it clear how corrupt our courts are. I would not be a bit surprised to learn that DeLay contributed to the campaigns of those appellate justices.

Posted in corruption, Republicans acting badly, The Plunderbund | 1 Comment »

DoJ doctors Holder speech; Obama appoints fox as chicken inspector

Posted by Charles II on August 13, 2013

It’s good it’s August, or I would not believe that the Administration could get this silly.

First item. Dan Froomkin unearthed the archived version of a Holder speech in which he boasts about the prosecution of people committing fraud against homeowners. Quoting from Atrios, the original:

This landmark Initiative, spearheaded by the FBI, was launched to help streamline and advance investigations and prosecutions against fraudsters who allegedly targeted, and preyed upon, Americans struggling to keep their homes. And it’s been a model of success. Over the past 12 months, it has enabled the Justice Department and its partners to file 285 federal criminal indictments and informations against 530 defendants for allegedly victimizing more than 73,000 American homeowners – and inflicting losses in excess of $1 billion.

New, fluffier version:

This landmark Initiative, spearheaded by the FBI, was launched to help streamline and advance investigations and prosecutions against fraudsters who allegedly targeted, and preyed upon, Americans struggling to keep their homes. And it’s been a model of success. Over the past 12 months, it has enabled the Justice Department and its partners to file federal criminal charges against 107 defendants for allegedly victimizing more than 17,185 American homeowners – and inflicting losses in excess of $95 million.

This is, of course, exactly what Orwell described in 1984.

And then there’s this from Timothy Lee of the Washington Post:

On Friday, President Obama promised to appoint an “independent group” of “outside experts” to review the government’s surveillance programs.

Today, the president formally ordered the formation of this group

The panel will be chosen by, and report to, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper [who lied under oath to Congress].

And there are other signs that the group won’t turn out quite the way the president described it on Friday. Friday’s speech talked about the need for input from outside experts with independent points of view. The president made no mention of the need for outsiders or independent viewpoints in his memo to Clapper.

The stated mission of the group has also shifted. On Friday, Obama said the group would examine “how we can maintain the trust of the people, how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse.” But today’s memo makes no mention of preventing abuses. Instead, it will examine whether U.S. surveillance activity “optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while appropriately accounting for other policy considerations, such as the risk of unauthorized disclosure and our need to maintain the public trust.”

The era of Obama is over. He has become Mitt Romney.

______

Update. Perhaps in response to the mocking he got by Timothy Lee, Obama changed course yet again. Timothy Lee:

Update: In a Tuesday email, the White House says that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will not, in fact, choose the members of the Review Group. “The panel members are being selected by the White House, in consultation with the Intelligence Community,” writes National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. “The panel will not report to the DNI.”

Posted in Barack Obama, corruption, cronies, impunity, NSA eavesdropping, wiretapping | 8 Comments »

Civil asset forfeiture: evading due process

Posted by Charles II on August 5, 2013

Jo6Pac posted a link on the abuse of civil asset forfeiture in comments. Via Mikey at DK, I found this piece by Sarah Stillman:

On a bright Thursday afternoon in 2007, Jennifer Boatright, a waitress at a Houston bar-and-grill, drove with her two young sons and her boyfriend, Ron Henderson, on U.S. 59 toward Linden, Henderson’s home town, near the Texas-Louisiana border. They made the trip every April, at the first signs of spring, to walk the local wildflower trails and spend time with Henderson’s father. This year, they’d decided to buy a used car in Linden, which had plenty for sale, and so they bundled their cash savings in their car’s center console. Just after dusk, they passed a sign that read “Welcome to Tenaha: A little town with BIG Potential!”

They pulled into a mini-mart for snacks. When they returned to the highway ten minutes later, Boatright, a honey-blond “Texas redneck from Lubbock,” by her own reckoning, and Henderson, who is Latino, noticed something strange. The same police car that their eleven-year-old had admired in the mini-mart parking lot was trailing them. Near the city limits, a tall, bull-shouldered officer named Barry Washington pulled them over.

He asked if Henderson knew that he’d been driving in the left lane for more than half a mile without passing.

No, Henderson replied. He said he’d moved into the left lane so that the police car could make its way onto the highway.

Were there any drugs in the car? When Henderson and Boatright said no, the officer asked if he and his partner could search the car.

The officers found the couple’s cash and a marbled-glass pipe that Boatright said was a gift for her sister-in-law, and escorted them across town to the police station. In a corner there, two tables were heaped with jewelry, DVD players, cell phones, and the like. According to the police report, Boatright and Henderson fit the profile of drug couriers: they were driving from Houston, “a known point for distribution of illegal narcotics,” to Linden, “a known place to receive illegal narcotics.” The report describes their children as possible decoys, meant to distract police as the couple breezed down the road, smoking marijuana. (None was found in the car, although Washington claimed to have smelled it.)

The county’s district attorney, a fifty-seven-year-old woman with feathered Charlie’s Angels hair named Lynda K. Russell, arrived an hour later. Russell, who moonlighted locally as a country singer, told Henderson and Boatright that they had two options. They could face felony charges for “money laundering” and “child endangerment,” in which case they would go to jail and their children would be handed over to foster care. Or they could sign over their cash to the city of Tenaha, and get back on the road. “No criminal charges shall be filed,” a waiver she drafted read, “and our children shall not be turned over to CPS,” or Child Protective Services.

“Where are we?” Boatright remembers thinking. “Is this some kind of foreign country, where they’re selling people’s kids off?” Holding her sixteen-month-old on her hip, she broke down in tears.

Later, she learned that cash-for-freedom deals had become a point of pride for Tenaha, and that versions of the tactic were used across the country.

The piece Jo linked, by Isaiah Thompson of Raw Story, describes a different angle. Find someone violating a law and seize the home–even if the homeowner had nothing to do with the violation (Thompson also describes what is going on in Tenaha):

In October 2009, police raided the house and charged [Rochelle Bing's] son, Andrew, then 24, with selling 8 packets of crack cocaine to an undercover informant. (Upon entering the house, police reported finding unused packets, though not drugs, in a rear bedroom.) Rochelle Bing was not present and was not accused of a crime. Yet she soon received a frightening letter from the Philadelphia district attorney’s office. Because Andrew had sold the drugs from inside his mother’s house, a task force of law enforcement officials moved to seize Bing’s house. They filed a court claim, quickly approved, that gave Bing just 30 days to dissuade a judge from granting “a decree of forfeiture” that would give the DA’s office title to the property.

It’s for these kinds of abuses, not the crap the right brings up about “takings” that constitutional protections for private property were designed.

Posted in corruption, crimes, fascism, impunity | 5 Comments »

All about the Benjamins: Indiana/Florida school chief cooked test scores for donor’s school

Posted by Charles II on July 29, 2013

Via Atrios. It’s Tom Lo Bianco, AP, so link only.

Christel DeHaan is a major GOP donor, giving $2.8M to GOPers, including $130K to Tony Bennett.
Tony Bennett was the head of Indiana schools, and is now head of Florida schools.
Christel DeHaan had a private academy, Christel House Academy in Indianapolis.
Test scores gave it a C because of bad algebra scores.
After a flurry of e-mails about how bad this would be for Christel House, the scoring system was changed.
Christel House got an A.

The one good thing is that Bennett is in Florida because he was defeated for office by teachers angered at his methods, who supported Glenda Ritz.

Maybe Bennett and Michael Berkland can get together for an alternate reality show.

Posted in corruption, Republicans acting badly, The Plunderbund | 3 Comments »

Corruption

Posted by Charles II on July 10, 2013

Via Mark Tran, The Guardian, world corruption statistics.

Here’s the US, where 36% of the population thinks corruption has increased a lot in the last two years and only 40% believe it has stayed the same or decreased… where 58% think the media is affected by corruption, and 61% think the Congress is…where 53% think business is affected, 42% think the police are, and 42% think the courts are….where 5-9.9% of respondents report having, in the last twelve months, paid a bribe to the judiciary, medical services, education, etc. (about on par with Italy and Slovenia)

Posted in corruption | 1 Comment »

Brent Pricing: LIBOR Scandal For Oil?

Posted by Charles II on May 18, 2013

Via Jay Ackroyd, an article from The Economist:

IT IS a lesson of the past five years that benchmarks in unregulated markets can fall victim to the incentives they create. Subprime mortgages bundled into securities often won high scores from ratings agencies that stood to profit in a busy market. The London Interbank Offered Rate, LIBOR, was sometimes underestimated by banks which were cast in a healthier light by lower interest rates. Has something similar been going on in energy?

That is the suspicion after a series of raids on May 14th by the European Commission’s competition authorities. The commission declared that it feared oil companies had “colluded” to distort benchmark prices for crude, oil products and biofuels. Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Norway’s Statoil and Italy’s ENI (which was not raided) all said that they were co-operating with the commission.

. At least 200 billion barrels a year, worth in the order of $20 trillion, are priced off the Brent benchmark, the world’s biggest, according to Liz Bossley, chief executive of Consilience, an energy-markets consultancy. The commission has said that even small price distortions could have a “huge impact” on energy prices. Statoil has said that the commission’s interest goes all the way back to 2002. If it is right, then the sums involved could be huge, too.

Posted in corruption, crimes, Oil | Comments Off

Scoring the Media on Coverage of the West Fertilizer Explosion

Posted by Charles II on April 28, 2013

All roads lead to Charles and David.

Hugh Kaufman of the EPA in an interview with FAIR

HK: I think the worst [coverage] was the New York Times. The New York Times claimed that the company notified EPA that they had 270 tons of this explosive ammonium nitrate, but they did not notify EPA of that. In fact, they told EPA that the facility posed no fire or explosion hazard. The New York Times did not say that, and I think that’s probably the biggest problem.

Interestingly, Texas is a Republican state — a red state — and in fact, many of the leaders want to secede from the union, and they despise EPA — they want the EPA abolished. And yet the Republican newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, has probably has the best environmental coverage of the case, which makes it very ironic to me.

CS: You also pointed to Reuters.

HK: Reuters did a piece where they implied and stated that EPA and OSHA do not have authority to regulate the facility or this ammonium nitrate, and that’s totally false. Again, you have the Reuters and the New York Times taking the public off the scent. Of course, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox — none of the cable channels are covering the details. The only cable channel I’ve seen that mentioned the fact that this is law-breaking and they lied to EPA was on the Young Turks on YouTube.

CS: I think it’s still on Current TV too.

HK: Is it still on Current, yeah? And the Wall Street Journal has done very good coverage too. So you’ve got the Wall Street Journal on the right, Dallas Morning News on the right and Current on the left, doing the good coverage, and everybody in the middle doing no coverage or bad coverage. By the way, MSNBC did one good thing. They put on their website the sheet the company gave to the state of Texas that identified they did have 270 tons of the explosive material, so that was a good thing.

HK: Reuters did a piece where they implied and stated that EPA and OSHA do not have authority to regulate the facility or this ammonium nitrate, and that’s totally false. Again, you have the Reuters and the New York Times taking the public off the scent. Of course, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox — none of the cable channels are covering the details. The only cable channel I’ve seen that mentioned the fact that this is law-breaking and they lied to EPA was on the Young Turks on YouTube.

CS: I think it’s still on Current TV too.

HK: … You know who the largest owner of fertilizer business in the world is?

CS: I think you’re going to tell me.

HK: The Koch brothers.

These are the guys who want to buy the LAT and the Chicago Trib, so that their voice can be heard.

Posted in corruption, environment, impunity, koch brothers | 1 Comment »

 
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