June 13, 2005

LNS All Along The Watchtower, Emergency Broadcast, No. 1, Part III

Illegitimate, Incompetent, Corrupt…

Jason Nisse, US Probes Isle of Man Scheme Used by Billionaire Bush Donors, Independent UK, 6/5/05: The Manhattan District Attorney, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are jointly probing a tax-shelter plan run out of the Isle of Man.
The scheme, devised by one of America's biggest banks and used by two billionaire donors to George Bush's election campaign among others, is being probed for possible breaches of securities and anti-money-laundering rules.
The investigating bodies believed that up to $100m (£55m) of tax was saved through one scheme alone, and as much as $700m in taxes may have been avoided over an 11-year period…
Earlier this year the Manhattan District Attorney, Robert Morgenthau, started probing allegations that some of these trusts were controlled by the people passing on the stock options. Both the IRS and the SEC have now joined in this probe.
They have contacted the regulators on the Isle of Man asking for information on one particular scheme used by two Texan billionaire brothers, Charles and Sam Wyly.
The duo, who made their money in computing and retailing, not only gave over $200,000 to President Bush's re-election campaigns, but also bankrolled TV adverts attacking his rivals, John Kerry and Senator John McCain…
The Isle of Man authorities have passed documents to US investigators relating to 20 different entities linked to the Wyly brothers that are registered in the Irish Sea tax haven. One, Devotion Ltd, is a holding company with two directors and no employees; it is run, according to SEC filings, from a remote farm on the island.

Tim Jones, Lost coins are a hot potato for GOP, Ohio party bigwig under investigation in the disapperance of at least $12 million in worker's compensation funds invested in his business, Chicago Tribune, 6/3/05: In what is all-too-predictably being labeled "Coingate," state and federal authorities have sicced their investigative dogs on the activities of Thomas Noe, a Toledo coin collector who was chairman of President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign in northwest Ohio and who, over the years, has been a lawn sprinkler of campaign cash to major Republican candidates in the state.
Noe is in trouble because an estimated $12 million to $13 million in state money from a worker's compensation fund is missing after being invested in rare coin funds that Noe controls.
Authorities say they are pursuing criminal charges, and Noe, the gregarious, 50-year-old bankrolling confidant of Ohio Republicans, has become political poison. His former friends, including the governor, couldn't be running any faster to get away from him and the taint of scandal.
Gov. Bob Taft, U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine and three other statewide officeholders with gubernatorial ambitions announced this week that they are giving up about $60,000 they had received from Noe.
In Washington, the Republican National Committee said Thursday it would donate to charities $6,000 that the Bush-Cheney campaign and the RNC received from Noe and his wife, Bernadette. The Bush campaign received more than $100,000 raised by Noe. RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said remaining contributions "appear to be completely appropriate."
Bush met with Noe last October to thank him and his wife for their fundraising efforts. Bush narrowly won Ohio, whose 19 electoral votes enabled him to secure a second term.
In the meantime, a federal grand jury this week began investigating contributions to the Bush-Cheney campaign that had any connection to Noe…

John O’Neill Wall of Heroes

Illegal Detentions in Iraq by US Pose Great Challenge: Annan, Reuters, 6/9/05: Thousands of people are detained in Iraq without due process in apparent violation of international law, the United Nations said on Wednesday, adding that 6,000 of the country's 10,000 prisoners were in the hands of the U.S. military.
In Iraq, "one of the major human rights challenges remains the detention of thousands of persons without due process," Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council.
According to the Iraqi Justice Ministry, there were about 10,000 detainees in all of Iraq as of April, "6,000 of whom were in the custody of the Multinational Force" commanded by the United States, Annan said.
"Despite the release of some detainees, their number continues to grow. Prolonged detention without access to lawyers and courts is prohibited under international law including during states of emergency," his report said…

Amanda Griscom Little, Esprit de Gore, Gore is transforming into fiery climate evangelist, Grist, 6/8/05: Last Saturday in San Francisco, the self-described "guy who used to be the next president of the United States" delivered an hour-long multimedia presentation on the scientific evidence of global warming to hundreds of guests crammed into a tent for the culmination of the city's five-day-long U.N. World Environment Day celebration. The audience, peppered with celebrities, members of Congress, U.N. officials, and dozens of mayors from around the world, erupted into a standing ovation when Gore wrapped up his quasi-evangelical call to action.
Thrusting his fists skyward, he rattled off the seemingly insurmountable challenges civilization has overcome in the past -- slavery, communism, restricted suffrage, segregation, disease, apartheid -- and roared, "So now we are called to use our political institution, our democracy, our free speech, our reasoning capacity, our citizenship, our hearts, and talk with one another, reason with one another, see the reality of this problem, act as Americans, and understand that it's a different issue than any we've ever faced." Then the crescendo: "We have to make our stand!" he thundered. "This is our home! We must keep our eyes on the prize! Help solve this problem!"
Not all of the speech was so histrionic. There were frequent moments of comic relief, including parodic animation from the producers of The Simpsons about how global warming works. And Gore succeeded in telling the climate-change story with surprisingly good narrative rhythm and in accessible terms rather than overly wonky or academic language -- something few public figures have managed, or even attempted, to do…
Other highlights of the presentation included a gasp-inducing photo montage of the "drunken" forests, collapsed homes, and ruptured highways that are among the casualties of melting permafrost, and detailed scenarios about the cities that would be lost given various potential changes in sea levels. When showing downtown Manhattan submerged, with the World Trade Center among the casualties, he alluded to the Sept. 11 attacks: "Never again, we said." Then added, "Is it only terrorists that we're worried about? Is that the only threat to the future that is worth organizing to respond to?"
Perhaps most persuasive was Gore's argument that mandatory caps on planet-warming emissions can give countries a big economic advantage in the 21st-century global marketplace, by driving innovation and boosting demand for hot new technologies related to renewable energy and efficiency. "We cannot even sell our cars in China because we don't meet their emissions standards!" he balked.
Google cofounder Sergey Brin, whose company was a World Environment Day cosponsor, reinforced this point later in the evening with a speech asserting that the coming paradigm shift toward clean technologies is an industrial movement that will dwarf even the digital revolution in terms of economic potential and historical meaning…
Former Republican Rep. Pete McCloskey said the performance was "Dynamite! If that isn't the kick in the pants that will galvanize the American public, I don't know what is." Culinary celeb Alice Waters added, "It should be required viewing for every person in this country."
That's precisely what Hollywood producer-cum-eco-activist Laurie David aims to make happen. On Saturday, before the event, she met with Gore and a team of directors to discuss hitherto undisclosed plans to make a feature-length film out of his climate-change presentation. "It's a documentary of this brilliant briefing that he's been crisscrossing the country to deliver, with his own personal story woven through," David told Muckraker. "The idea is to make it as much a wake-up call on the climate crisis as it is a window into Al Gore and his 20-year commitment to this issue." She describes the stylistic approach as "equal parts Fog of War and Bowling for Columbine." If the deal goes forward -- and all the funding has been secured, so it's looking like a go -- David hopes to have the documentary released by December, in time for Academy Awards consideration.

Ann Wright, Resigned Foreign Service Officer Speaks Out—We Stand for Something Different, Foreign Policy In Focus, 6/2/05: When I resigned, two years ago, in opposition to the war in Iraq, in the first two days after my resignation I received over 400 emails from Foreign Service officers and members of international organizations. Most were saying that we are so glad that I had joined two other Foreign Service officers who didn’t want this kind of mess on our karma. It did take me 35 years to finally kind of see the light on some things. See the light and after having been involved in a lot of other types of things through my diplomatic services. In Somalia, as head of the United Nations Justice Office in Mogadishu, setting up the police judicial system, prison system. In Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, opening up embassies there. Then in Sierra Leone and Micronesia. Then re-opening the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan in December of 2001 and staying there for four months.
Then going on to Mongolia, which turned out to be my last assignment. And there in Mongolia, seeing the—seeing in spades why America is so despised right now. I saw the extortion that the Bush administration is using on the world to wage his war on Iraq. when you extort small little countries like Mongolia by telling them that you’re going to cut off all their economic aid, you’re going to cut off all their aid—they were only getting $10 million dollars in economic aid—and all their military aid, which only was peacekeeping training for their tiny little military—unless they voted with the United States on the Article 98 provision of the International Criminal Court. So vote against the International Criminal Court, and tell us how many soldiers you’re going to put into the Coalition of the Willing.
Such a contrast with the Global Good Neighbor Policy—we need to be moving in that direction.
The Mongolians are tough people. They say, “We were the last ones in Baghdad before you all,”—remember Genghis Khan. Well, the Mongolians were very good diplomatically; they kept us at bay. Having to go in as a diplomat to say, “If you don’t vote against Article 98, you know, we’ll have to cut off your aid.” That was part of the puzzle that forces you finally to say, “I have had enough, I am not going to do any more of this stuff.”
This extortion was also true with on of the items you mention in the Global Good Neighbor Ethic for International Relations—the Millennium Challenge Account. Well, the Mongolians were rising to the top tier of those countries that possibly would be eligible for part of this $5 billion in this new development account.
We were always wondering what in the world was the Bush administration of all administrations doing kicking five billion dollars into international aid? Why was that? Well, looking back on it, I think it truly was from the very early days of the administration—it was going to be used as a bargaining tool on the war in Iraq. And indeed, they created it for that purpose, so that they could, for little countries like Mongolia, that maybe they would get 100 million dollars out of this big pot of money. It was a major, major, major deal for the Mongolians to finally say and to move off their principles of initially saying we think the International Criminal Court is a very good idea and we don’t think going to war in Iraq is a good idea.
When they were extorted by our administration, by our country, by the government that maybe half the country elected. That’s horrible stuff. We are the bad neighbors that we are, and I was a part of it, tragically, in way too many ways. The world needs to know America stands for something different. Americans need to know that we stand for something different, and I think your document does a very, very fine job of getting us moving in a dialogue that will help us try to move out of this horrible predicament that we’re in right now.


Tom Bowman, Unceremonious End to Army Career, Outspoken general fights demotion, The Baltimore Sun, 5/29/05: John Riggs spent 39 years in the Army, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery during the Vietnam War and working his way up to become a three-star general entrusted with creating a high-tech Army for the 21st century.
But on a spring day last year, Riggs was told by senior Army officials that he would be retired at a reduced rank, losing one of his stars because of infractions considered so minor that they were not placed in his official record.
He was given 24 hours to leave the Army. He had no parade in review, no rousing martial music, no speeches or official proclamations praising his decades in uniform, the trappings that normally herald a high-level military retirement.
Instead, Riggs went to a basement room at Fort Myer, Va., and signed some mandatory forms. Then a young sergeant mechanically presented him with a flag and a form letter of thanks from President Bush.
"That's the coldest way in the world to leave," Riggs, 58, said in a drawl that betrays his rural roots in southeast Missouri. "It's like being buried and no one attends your funeral."
So what cost Riggs his star?
His Pentagon superiors said he allowed outside contractors to perform work they were not supposed to do, creating "an adverse command climate."
But some of the general's supporters believe the motivation behind his demotion was politics. Riggs was blunt and outspoken on a number of issues and publicly contradicted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld by arguing that the Army was overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan and needed more troops…
"They all went bat s- - when that happened," recalled retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner, a one-time Pentagon adviser who ran reconstruction efforts in Iraq in the spring of 2003. "The military part of [the defense secretary's office] has been politicized. If [officers] disagree, they are ostracized and their reputations are ruined."
A senior officer's loss of a star is a punishment seldom used, and then usually for the most serious offenses, such as dereliction of duty or command failures, adultery or misuse of government funds or equipment.
Over the past several decades, generals and admirals faced with far more serious official findings - scandals at the Navy's Tailhook Convention, the Air Force Academy and Abu Ghraib prison, for example - have continued in their careers or retired with no loss of rank…
Garner and 40 other Riggs supporters - including an unusually candid group of retired generals - are trying to help restore his rank.
But even his most ardent supporters concede that his appeal has little chance of succeeding and that an act of Congress might be required…
In 2001, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the Army's top officer, asked Riggs to take over the Army's transformation task force. The group was organized to create an Army for the 21st century, centered on the Future Combat System, a series of armored vehicles, drone aircraft and sensors that would give soldiers greater control over future battlefields.
Those who worked with Riggs, as well as his endorsement letters, say the general worked hard at trying to turn the Army into a high-tech force.
The December 2002 Scientific American magazine singled him out as one of the country's top 50 technology leaders for his work…
n a January 2004 interview with The Sun, Riggs said the Army was too small to meet its global commitments and must be substantially increased.
The interview made him the first senior active-duty officer to publicly urge a larger Army - and the first to publicly take on Rumsfeld and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, who had repeatedly told lawmakers that such increases were not necessary.
After the interview appeared, Pentagon sources said, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz stormed into the office of the Army's vice chief of staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., and demanded an explanation for Riggs' views. Riggs said Casey called him that day and ordered him not to talk about troop increases but to "stay in your lane."
Casey, Riggs said, then asked him when he was planning to retire…
Former Army Secretary Thomas White, who was fired by Rumsfeld over policy differences and was succeeded by Brownlee, praised Riggs' work and said he found the reduction in rank puzzling. But White, a retired Army brigadier general, questioned the notion that the officer corps had suddenly become politicized.
"It's always been political," White said. "It operates in a capital filled with politicians. I don't know if it's more or less than it was 20 years ago."
Nonetheless, several senior officers said they privately fear that Riggs' treatment could have a chilling effect on the willingness of other officers to provide their candid views, forcing them instead to bend to the political winds. Five of the retired officers who wrote letters urging that Riggs' rank be restored agreed either to be interviewed or to let their letters be quoted.
One of those was Shinseki, who himself had a stormy relationship with Rumsfeld and battled with the secretary over troop levels and spending programs. At his retirement ceremony in June 2003, Shinseki warned "our soldiers and families bear the risk and hardship of carrying a mission load that exceeds the force capabilities we can sustain."
Neither Rumsfeld nor his top deputies were in attendance.
In his letter of support for Riggs, Shinseki said, "There was no one who was more professional, more honest, more selfless, more dedicated, nor more loyal to the Army and to its soldiers than John Riggs."
Riggs has become an outcast, saddled with a reduction in rank that is one of the harshest and rarest punishments in an institution built on honor and rank…
But Garner, the retired lieutenant general, has a more hardened view of the Army's top brass and is troubled by what happened to Riggs, "this superb soldier."
"The real tragedy here," Garner said in an interview, "is that none of the leadership of the Army has the guts to stand up and say it's wrong."

Kulchur War, Defense of Science, Separation of Church & State

ROBERT WELLER, Air Force Academy Chief Admits School Bias, Associated Press, 6/3/05: The superintendent of the Air Force Academy acknowledged to leaders of a national Jewish group Friday that religious intolerance permeates the military school.
"As a commander, I know I have problems in my cadet wing," Lt. Gen. John Rosa said at a meeting of the Anti-Defamation League's executive committee. "I have issues in my staff, and I have issues in my faculty — and that's my whole organization."
He said he admonished the academy's No. 2 commander, Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, a born-again Christian, for sending an e-mail promoting National Prayer Day…
The academy has been under investigation because of complaints that evangelical Christians have harassed cadets who do not share their faith. Some cadets have complained of anti-Semitic slurs, and one of the top chaplains at the school claims she was fired because she criticized what she saw as proselytizing at the academy.
Academy leaders deny the claim, saying Capt. MeLinda Morton was simply reassigned to Japan. The Defense Department's inspector general is investigating.
Rosa said he has spoken with academy critics and agrees with many of their complaints. He said he didn't learn of a Yale University memo issued last year on religious intolerance at the school near Colorado Springs until much later.
Rosa said the problem is "something that keeps me awake at night."
"If everything goes well, it's probably going to take six years to fix it," he added.


ALEX DOMINGUEZ, Albright Slams Bush on Family Planning, Associated Press, 6/6/05: Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright criticized Bush administration family planning policies at a women's health conference Monday.
President Bush has threatened to veto bills that lift restrictions on U.S. family planning aid to health centers abroad that promote or perform abortions. Republican administrations have also barred U.S. money from international groups that support abortion, even with their own money.
Albright said giving women the power to make their own choices means healthier women, children and societies. The former Clinton administration official said pregnancy related complications are the leading cause of death of women of child bearing age, killing 600,00 a year worldwide…
Albright, the chairwoman of the Ministerial Initiative of the Council of Women World Leaders, spoke at a women's health conference sponsored by Columbia University's Mailman Sc

Posted by richard at June 13, 2005 07:42 PM