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Norfolk Light-Rail Scandal

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 11-01-2011

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By Randal O’Toole

Another city has discovered that light rail is not the road to utopia. In 2007, Norfolk, Virginia decided to revitalize its downtown by building a rail transit line. That line is now 45 percent over budget and its opening has been delayed by more than 16 months.

A 45-percent cost overrun is about average for rail transit construction, but it has hit Norfolk particularly hard. In 2007, the Federal Transit Administration agreed to fund 72 percent of the then-projected $ 232 million cost, with the Commonwealth of Virginia and city of Norfolk each funding about half the remainder. Since the feds did not agree to cover any of the cost overruns, the overruns represent a near-tripling of the costs to state and city taxpayers.

Furious about the unexpected costs and delays., the Hampton Roads Transit board (which consists of city councilors from the cities the agency serves) forced the agency’s general manager to retire. A month ago, a state audit found that the Norfolk city manager and transit planners knew about the cost overrun long before they bothered to tell the city. As a result, both the city manager and the agency’s agency’s head planner resigned this week.

On top of cost overruns are construction delays. Originally scheduled to open to the public in December, 2009, opening was delayed until May, 2011. But now the transit agency admits it won’t even meet that date and can’t say when it will open.

Meanwhile, far from becoming a place “where people can work, shop, eat, and play,” Norfolk’s downtown now features “hundreds of empty condos, apartments, and storefronts.” The latest news is that a major supermarket is closing after a mere three years in business. While the truth is that the relative handful of people who are expected to ride the light-rail line are not enough to revitalize any downtown, lengthy construction delays certainly don’t help.

The best thing Norfolk might do now is to abandon the light-rail line and dedicate the $ 10 million or so that it will cost to subsidize rail operations to improving bus service in the city and its surroundings. Unfortunately, doing so means that it would have to refund the federal government the $ 168 million that it contributed to the line. As a result, city taxpayers will have to throw good money after bad by funding tens of millions in operating subsidies for the next several decades.

Norfolk Light-Rail Scandal is a post from Cato @ Liberty – Cato Institute Blog


Cato @ Liberty

VIRGINIA: Leader Of Anti-Gay Episcopal Sect Fired In Pornography Scandal

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 07-01-2011

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Episcopal Rev. Marshall Brown, who helped 14 Virginia parishes leave the main church in protest of the elevation of openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson, has been fired by his Fairfax, Virginia parish for viewing pornography on church computers. It was Brown’s Truro Church that spearheaded the continuing schism in the American Anglican Church over the ordination of gays.

Truro’s rejection of what its congregants saw as a non-biblical liberal tilt in the denomination made international news. Dozens of Episcopal churches have since joined an umbrella group of religious conservatives who oppose the acceptance of same-sex relationships and the idea that non-Christian religions have equal access to God. In 2005, Truro arranged for Brown, now 57, to get treatment for an Internet addiction after he reported having a problem, according to Bishop Martyn Minns, who was Truro’s rector at the time and is now bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the umbrella group of breakaway churches.

The Anglican Church is currently suing Truro Church over the ownership of its properties, which are valued in the tens of millions of dollars. Nice work, Rev. Busyfingers! So which was it? Manhunt? Sean Cody?

Joe. My. God.

Of ‘Thin Skinned Wusses’ and ‘Fighter Pilots’-A Response on the USS Enterprise Scandal

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 05-01-2011

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I considered writing about the Captain of the Enterprise scandal but blew it off until I read Andrew Marcas’ piece on Big Peace. I was shocked that someone who never served in the military would consider himself qualified to condone such an action. Then in the same article refer to those of us who find Captain Honors deed inappropriate “thin skinned wusses.”

Then to top it off Jim Hanson’s piece blamed Captain Honors misstep on being a fighter pilot and condoned his conduct using some “eloquent” language himself. He goes on to say, “So unfortunately a good officer loses his chance to command the Enterprise over something this lame…”

So before these guys convince the rest of you that the incident does not rise to the occasion of being “barely sordid” or would not classify it as a “scandal” let me set the record straight.

This is not about some independent video producer based in the Midwest like Andrew Marcus. It is about an officer in our military and a senior officer at that. The military is not a democracy; it does not and cannot conform to civilian society. Strict regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) govern the military. Violating any of those regulations results in some form of punishment.

This incident violates military regulations that are designed to promote exemplary behavior, professional growth, inspire subordinates, and exemplify Navy Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Further Captain Honors has lost “respect” and cannot be taken seriously.

Consider any Admiral or General presently serving; none of them would have made it to the rank of Admiral or General if they committed such an act.

What Captain Honors did was not about leadership; it was not about being an officer and a gentleman. Anyone who has had a career in the military would understand that.

I searched for the Navy’s leadership manual online to offer just what “Military Leadership” in the Navy means. I was unable to find it. Certainly the Navy’s leadership doctrine cannot be much different than the Army’s. Since I have a copy of the Army’s “Military Leadership Manual” FM 22-100 I will use some of it to explain why leadership is so important to our Armed Forces. And why officers who do not act in accordance with being “an officer and a gentleman” will soon find themselves relieved of command and their careers ended.

The Army’s “Military Leadership Manual” FM 22-100 states, “actions are the essence of leadership. Leaders who talk about honor, loyalty, and selfless service but do not live these values – both on and off duty—send the wrong message, that this ‘values stuff’ is all just talk.” Leadership is defined as …”influencing people – by providing purpose, direction, and motivation – while operating to accomplish the mission and improving organization.”

Every Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) and Commissioned Officer in the military receives a yearly evaluation. In the Navy it is called a “fitrep” or fitness report, in the Army it is called an Evaluation Report. The “fitrep” can be found at the Navy Personnel Command Website. The “fitrep” is used as the “gold standard” for being promoted, along with ones photo in a class A dress uniform. All “fitreps” in ones career goes before a promotion board along with the personnel file. If your photo is not impeccable, that is, your ribbons don’t match what is in your records, your brass is not on according to regulations, your trousers are wrinkled, there is a speck of lint on your tie, or your shoes are not polished you are going to the bottom of the stack. The same goes for your “fitrep”, any rating below “Greatly Exceeds Standards” will most likely put your promotion off until the next promotion board.

There are also blocks on the “fitrep” for “Promotion Recommendation” so one could be rated with “Significant Problems, Progressing, Promotable, Must Promote, and Early Promote.” Ones chances of promotion are nil if even one “bad” fitrep is in ones records.

The Navy “fitrep” has seven areas of “Performance Traits” each of these has a rating from “Below Standards” to “Greatly Exceeds Standards”. In the case of Captain Honors his next “fitrep” is likely to earn “Below Standards” for “Military Bearing/Character” which includes “adherence to Navy Core Values” and in “Leadership” for “creates problems for subordinates.” If he does not resign his commission he is likely to never be promoted and then forced out of the Navy.

What he did was “a major incident and breach of good order and discipline.” Under Section 933 Article 133 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice titled “Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman,” Captain Honors could face punishment by court-martial.

Further Article 134 states:

Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.

He could also be charged under Section 917 Article 117 “Provoking Speeches or Gestures” which states:

Any person subject to this chapter who uses provoking or reproachful words or gestures towards any other person subject to this chapter shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

This incident rises to the prejudice of good order and discipline and brings discredit to our military. It undermines Captain Honors standing with subordinates and encourages disrespect. This kind of incident only makes our military look stupid. While the punishment may seem harsh no one ever said being a military leader was easy. I can think of no other profession that demands its leaders live up to the letter of the law, in this case the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Big Peace

Those USS Enterprise ‘Scandal’ Videos Are No Scandal, Except to Thin-Skinned Wusses

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 04-01-2011

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For one reason or another, some metrosexuals in government and media are making an issue of the alleged moral outrage of Navy officers recording lewd videos. The series of clips was apparently intended to entertain the troops during their long and obviously tedious deployment.

From NPR:

“In the videos, Honors indicates that he’s trying to entertain the crew. They were shown roughly once a week on closed-circuit shipwide television, according to a handful of sailors who were assigned to the Enterprise at the time. The sailors requested anonymity for fear of retribution.

“One of them said he mailed a complaint about the videos to the Navy Inspector General this week. Others said crew members who raised concerns aboard the ship in 2006 and 2007 were brushed off.” [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

Here is the final “episode” of the series, which contains a compilation of some of the controversial material.

WARNING: Very attractive Navy personnel at 8:25, 10:44, and 10:50. Also, don’t miss the shower scene at 6:00

The clips are juvenile and at times a tad offensive, but let’s put things in perspective here. During WWII, President Roosevelt’s military built brothels for the troops to help keep up their, ahem, “morale.”

belles of shangri la

We are very pleased that the US Government repealed the idiocy of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” regarding sexuality. Now the American public needs a “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” law regarding being easily offended thin-skinned wusses.

We ask teenagers and young adults to volunteer to serve and protect our freedoms, sexual and all, and yet are surprised when they occasionally act their age. Get over it.

These bored and juvenile young men and women are heroes, not because of these videos, rather, despite them. Critics who can’t find tolerance for these extremely minor transgressions regardless of the commitment and effort these young people make in an effort to protect our stateside asses, are among the least deserving of the sacrifices made by our Military.

Humorous side note: The CO of the ship is now a Rear Admiral! Get it?? He’s a “Rear” Admiral!! Now that’s almost kinda funny, unless you are an easily offended thin-skinned wuss.

The newspaper adds that “Honors did not respond to requests for comment. Neither did the Enterprise’s then-commanding officer, Larry Rice, who was later promoted to the rank of rear admiral.” [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

Big Peace

Sen. Thomas Gaffey To Resign State Senate Seat; Democrat Charged With Six Larceny Counts In Double-Billing Scandal

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 03-01-2011

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Sen. Thomas Gaffey, a well-known Democratic lawmaker, will resign from his state Senate seat after announcing that he will plead guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor criminal counts in connection with a double-billing scandal.

The double-billing issue arose three years ago regarding multiple trips that Gaffey had taken as a legislator in which his political action committee had apparently paid for the costs. In some cases, the state – through the Office of Legislative Management – also reimbursed Gaffey, according to the investigation.

“Under the terms of the plea agreement, there is nothing to prevent me from continuing as the state senator from the 13th district,” Gaffey said Monday in a statement. “My family, friends and community have already endured a process which has spanned three years. If I were to remain in office, they would inevitably have to endure an ongoing political controversy for years to come. I will not ask them to do so.”

A 17-page arrest warrant affidavit notes that much of the investigation was done by Charles Urso, a former veteran FBI agent who handled high-profile cases of public corruption before his retirement. He investigated Gaffey’s case as the lead investigator for the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

The affidavit notes that Gaffey took multiple trips with his companion, Patty Murphy, who was a high-level figure in the Democratic town committee in Gaffey’s hometown of Meriden. She was interviewed back in August 2008 by Urso and said that she had a relationship with Gaffey from late 2002 to September 2007.

Gaffey had initially asked her if she wanted to take a trip to San Francisco, which was the first trip in question.

“When Murphy told the senator that she could not afford the cost of the trip, he told her that the PAC would pay his share and that he would pay for her,” the affidavit states. “That was the premise under which she operated and understood was taking place on their trips to San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Nashville, Tampa and twice to Washington, D.C. Ms. Murphy said that she did not attend any of the conference proceedings except to see Gaffey speak. She told Urso that there was no political purpose to her accompanying the Senator on the trips. She went as Senator Gaffey’s companion, and they often had opportunities to do personal side-excursions, including a whale watch in Victoria during the Seattle trip.”

Several of the trips took place during the summer when the legislature is out of session, including the Seattle trip in August 2005 and the Salt Lake City trip in July 2004.

Capitol Watch

NFL Fines Brett Favre — $50000 in Sexting Scandal – TMZ.com

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 29-12-2010

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Fox News
NFL Fines Brett Favre — $ 50000 in Sexting Scandal
TMZ.com
The NFL has fined Brett Favre $ 50000 for "failing to cooperate" with league's the investigation into his sexting scandal involving former NY Jets employee Jenn Sterger. The league noted Commish Roger Goodell "could not conclude" if Favre violated the
Favre Is Fined $ 50000 but Not SuspendedNew York Times
Favre fined $ 50000 by NFL for lack of cooperation in Sterger caseUSA Today
Favre fined $ 50K in Sterger messFOXSports.com
NFL News –Newsday –ProFootballTalk
all 864 news articles »

Sports – Google News

Amid Bingo Bribery Scandal, Alabama Institutes Lobbying Reform

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 28-12-2010

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The Alabama state legislature last week approved a package of ethics bills that supporters say will change state politics for the better amid the unfolding bingo legislation bribery scandal. But as the Birmingham News reports there’s “disagreement on whether those changes are giant leaps or small steps.”

The legislation bans transfers between political action committees and puts some restrictions on what lobbyists can spend on public officials. But there’s no limit on what lobbyists can spend on transportation, hospitality, meals and lodging expenses for lawmakers and their spouses attending some sort of “educational function” that is sponsored by a lobbyist, according to the newspaper.

There’s also no limit on what a lobbyist (or principal of a company lobbying on an issue) could spend on a “widely attended event,” like a dinner or reception where more than 12 people “with a diversity of views or interests” were expected, the newspaper said.

“You could drive five Mack Trucks through the holes in that bill,” Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham told the newspaper. “It’s not going to change one thing.”

But Gov. Bob Riley (R) Riley, who planned to sign the bill, said Alabama has moved “light years” ahead. “Does this mean there is no need for more reforms? Absolutely not. But there is no denying this package of seven bills is a giant leap forward for Alabama,” Riley said, according to the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the federal trial in the massive corruption case in the state is scheduled for April. Eleven individuals — including Alabama state legislators, lobbyists and businessmen — were charged in October for their alleged roles in a conspiracy to influence pro-gambling state legislation. One lobbyist pleaded guilty this month, admitting he was involved with bribe payments to three of the charged current and former legislators.









TPMMuckraker

Longtime Hartford Democrat Abe Giles, 84, Pleads Guilty To Misdemeanor Corruption Charges In Eddie Perez Scandal

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 22-12-2010

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Former state Rep. Abe Giles, a kingpin in Hartford politics in his heyday, has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor corruption charges.

Giles was involved in the longrunning corruption investigation involving then-Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez, who was convicted on five felony charges. Perez has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Giles, 84, will not serve any prison time.

Capitol Watch

Bell, CA Nearly Broke After Salary Inflation Scandal

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 21-12-2010

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The city of Bell, CA is nearly broke after city officials used public funds to inflate their salaries, and is now facing painful cuts to the city’s budget, including possibly disbanding its police department and slashing other city services.

Some of the officials in this blue-collar Los Angeles-area city made up to $ 96,000 a year for part-time elected positions — 20 times the national average for a city Bell’s size. Former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo, who was charged with 53 different counts, made nearly $ 800,000 a year. Eight Bell officials pleaded not guilty to the charges in October.

Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives of the Los Angeles Times report that a review of the city’s financial records to be released next month shows:

that Bell has been running a deficit totaling several million dollars over at least the last three years under former Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo. The red ink is the result of hefty salaries and pensions for top Bell officials and extensive city-run programs, the review found. To cover part of the deficit, city officials took money raised by the sale of bonds for specific projects and diverted it to the general fund, a likely violation of the law, according to experts on municipal finance.

That’s according to “officials familiar with its contents who spoke on condition of anonymity because the document remains under wraps.”

The city reportedly reached out to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department before the scandal surfaced, in anticipation of possibly closing the Police Department and enlisting the Sheriff’s Department instead. The Times writes that Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, “said that the Sheriff’s Department would be cheaper than a hometown police force because much of the infrastructure already is in place.”

In response, members of the the Bell Police Officers Association spoke out over the weekend against the potential plan, including Gilbert Jara, the group’s president: “There have already been cutbacks of police officers and public safety resources,” he said. “We need more police officers on the streets to fight gangs, drug traffickers, domestic abusers and other criminals — not less.”









TPMMuckraker

Africa: The Scandal of the “Ill-gotten Gains”

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 20-12-2010

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By Abdoulaye Bah · Translated by Lynn Palermo
· View original post [fr]

On November 9, 2010, the French Supreme Court of Appeals overturned a decision rendered a year ago by the Paris Court of Appeals, agreeing to hear the case brought by the French section of the NGO Transparency International [fr]  called “the ill-gotten gains” of the heads of state of Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinee  and members of their entourage.

It all begin in March 2007, when the Catholic Committee against Hunger and for Economic Development (CCFD) – Terre Solidaire  published a report on the  embezzlement of public funds by politicians of the South [fr].  It's title?  “Ill-gotten gains…too often bring profit: Dictators' fortune and Western complacency.”

Focusing on domestic goods of the countries victimized by their leaders, the study by the CCFD – Terre solidaire [fr] revealed abuses at the national level:

« Par exemple, Mobutu a transformé Gbadolite, son village natal au Zaïre, en un « Versailles de la jungle », avec une cinquantaine d’hôtels, un aéroport international qui pouvait accueillir le Concorde et plus de trois palais. Quant à Denis Sassou Nguesso, président en exercice au Congo Brazzaville, il détiendrait, avec sa famille, la moitié de l’économie du pays»

For example, Mobutu  transformed Gbadolite, his native village in Zaire into a “Versailles of the jungle,” with about 50 hotels, an international airport capable of receiving the Concorde, and more than three palaces.  Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of Congo Brazzaville, and his family controlled half of the country's economy.

A police investigation confirmed most of the allegations and uncovered the existence of many other goods [fr] in the form of both real estate and personal property (including cars and the dictators' bank accounts).

Sassou Nguesso's house. Source: témoignages.re

The report alleged that the clan of Omar Bongo Odimba (OBO) of Gabon had appropriated 39 real estate properties, of which 17 of there were in the name of their leader.  Most of the properties were located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.  It also identified 70 bank accounts, 11 of them in OBO's name; and an automobile fleet of at least 9 vehicles whose total value is estimated at 1,493,443 euros.

survie.org reveals [fr] that, in addition to OBO's ill-gotten gains in France,

« En 1999, le Sénat américain a publié un rapport d’enquête sur l’origine de la fortune du président (gabonais). Ce document établit qu’Omar Bongo est devenu client de la Citibank de New York en 1970 et qu’il a ouvert de multiples comptes auprès de ses différents bureaux, à Bahreïn, à Jersey, à Londres, au Luxembourg, à New York, à Paris et en Suisse. …. Au total, le montant des avoirs du chef d’Etat, qui ont été placés sur ses différents comptes bancaires à la Citibank, à New York, de 1985 à 1997, serait d’environ 130 millions de dollars. La City Bank aurait expliqué « que l’argent provenait d’une allocation budgétaire, 8,5 % du budget gabonais – soit 111 millions de dollars – étant chaque année réservés au président ».

In 1999, the U.S. Senate a published the report of an investigation into the origins of the fortune of the President (of Gabon).  This document established that Omar Bongo had become a client of Citibank of New York in 1970 and that he had opened multiple accounts at different offices in Bahrain, Jersey, London, Luxembourg, New York, Paris, Switzerland.  … All told, from 1985 to 1997 the Head of State had allegedly deposited around 130 million dollars in various accounts with Citibank New York.  Citibank allegedly explained “that the money came from a budgetary allocation: 8.5% of the Gabonese budget, or 111 million dollars, was reserved for the president annually.”

The report goes further.  survie.org adds [fr] that:

« C’est dans son hôtel particulier qu’il a ainsi accueilli pendant la campagne présidentielle française les candidats Nicolas Sarkozy et François Bayrou ainsi que la moitié du gouvernement Fillon lors de sa première visite officielle sous la présidence de N. Sarkozy. »

During the French presidential campaign, he also received candidates Nicolas Sarkozy and François Bayrou at his home, as well as half of Fillon's government during the first official visit under the Sarkozy presidency.

Another site, asso-sherpa.org revealed [fr] more proof of the abuses of the OBO clan:

“Edith Bongo, alors épouse du Président gabonais, aurait ainsi fait l’acquisition d’une Daimler Chrysler au moyen d’un chèque tiré sur un compte ouvert auprès de la Banque de France par le Trésor Public Gabonais.

Edith Bongo, who was the wife of the Gabonese President at the time, allegedly acquired a Daimler Chrysler with a check drawing on an account opened at the Banque de France by the Gabonese Public Treasury.

Copy of the check for Chrysler purchase. Source: Asso-sherpa.org

Police services have also exposed the role played by various intermediaires (bankers, lawyers) in carrying out these various operations.

According to the report [fr] by CCFD-Terre solidaire, the fortune of Congolese President Denis Sassou NGesso and his entourage allegedly consists  of 18 properties; 112 bank accounts; and a fleet of automobiles, including  at least une vehicle worth 172,321 euros.

Nor is that everything.  The Congolese President and his clan's embezzlements

«  auraient commencé dès sa première période au pouvoir, de 1979 à 1992, en négociant la vente du pétrole en dessous du prix du marché en contrepartie de versements à son profit. A ce jour, la fortune de Denis Sassou Nguesso est estimée à plus d’un milliard de dollars. »

allegedly began during his first presidential term between 1979 and 1992, by negotiating the sale of oil below the market price in exchange for bank account deposits that benefited him personally.  At that time, Denis Sassou Nguesso's fortune was estimated at more than a billion dollars.

As for President Teodoro Obiang, who had closer relations with the United States than with France, the article titled “Biens mail acquis à qui profite le crime?” [”Gains ill-gotten: who profits from this crime?”] by Antoine Dulin and Jean Merckaert and found at ccfd-terresolidaire.org explains the extent of their illegal self-enrichment:

80% du revenu national serait monopolisé par l’oligarchie alors que 65% de la population vit toujours dans l’extrême pauvreté. ….. En 2003, ces comptes représentaient la relation la plus importante de la Rigg’s Bank, avec des versements totaux allant de 400 millions à 700 millions de dollars en une fois ! »

80% of national revenue is allegedly monopolized by the oligarchy, while 65% of the population still lives in extreme poverty.  In 2003, these accounts represented the most important relationship held by Rigg's Bank, with total deposits increasing from 400 million dollars to 700 million dollars at a time!

Furthermore, after the November 2009 elections in Equatorial Guinea, President Obiang formed a new government of 69 members, ousting practically all of the preceding ministers.  According to the site [fr] Africatime.com:

« En effet, dans le Gouvernement, il y a trois fils du Général, un frère, trois neveux, deux beaux-frères et trois cousins. »

Indeed, in the government, there are the General's three sons, one brother, three nephews, two brothers-in-law, and three cousins.

In Cameroon, the authors of the CCFD-Terre solidaire investigation write that:

À peine devenu chef d’État (en novembre 1982), Paul Biya faisait parler de lui à propos de son patrimoine. Le 16 mars 1983, Le Canard enchaîné dévoilait deux acquisitions présidentielles en France : l’une avenue Foch à Paris, l’autre sur la Côte d’Azur, à Cagnes-sur-Mer. …. En mai 1997, L’Événement du jeudi estime que la fortune du président camerounais et de sa famille approche les 70 millions d’euros, dont des châteaux en France et en Allemagne, à Baden- Baden.

Shortly after Paul Biya became Head of State (in November 1982), people were already talking about his inheritance.  On March 16, 1983, Le Canard enchainé uncovered two presidential acquisitions in France: one on the Avenue Foch in paris; the other in Cagnes-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean.  In may 1977, L'Evenement du jeudi estimated the fortune of the Cameroonian President and his family at close to 70 million euros, including chateaus in France and in Baden-Baden in Germany.

Despite all the evidence assembled by these investigations, it took until November 9, 2010 for the Supreme Court of Appeals to reach its decision.

In these times of troubling governance in Africa, the Ill-Gotten Gains affair can only reinforce the perception that government leaders are enriching themselves while their people live in misery.

Global Voices in English

Paterson Aide At Center Of Domestic Violence Scandal Fired

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 13-12-2010

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David Johnson, the close aide to New York Gov. David Paterson (D) who was at the center of a domestic violence scandal that forced Paterson to drop out of the gubernatorial race, was fired last month.

Johnson, who was placed on unpaid leave when the scandal surfaced in February, was officially taken off the payroll on Nov. 19, the AP and others are reporting.

Back in February, the New York Times reported that Paterson and a member of his State Police detail spoke to Johnson’s former girlfriend after she accused Johnson of domestic violence. According to her, Johnson had become enraged over her Halloween costume, choked her and threw her into a dresser.

Two days after the story hit, Paterson announced that he would end his campaign for a full term as governor.

A former judge appointed by the attorney general (and now governor-elect) Andrew Cuomo to investigate Paterson’s actions found that he had acted inappropriately by speaking to the alleged victim. But she recommended no charges for the governor.

Johnson was charged with misdemeanor assault in August and pleaded not guilty. He has not yet been tried.

According to Johnson’s lawyer, Johnson has not been collecting a paycheck or unemployment since he was placed on leave. He remains unemployed.

His lawyer also told the Times that the timing of his firing had no particular significance, but was just end-of-the-year housekeeping by Paterson’s office.









TPMMuckraker

Frum: Lockerbie bomber release “the scandal of the decade”

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 11-12-2010

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And we knew when Megrahi flew, too.


David Frum peruses the Wikileaks cables pertaining to the release of the Lockerbie bomber in August 2009 and finds that the British government lied about its role in springing Abdelbaset al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison.  That won’t surprise too many people; in fact, it didn’t even surprise our own government at the time.  Frum calls […]

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Hot Air » Top Picks

Krauthammer on the government’s wishy-washy response to the Wikileaks scandal

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 03-12-2010

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Far more damaging than simple embarrassment at the revelations.
American Thinker Blog

Forget WikiLeaks: the Real Scandal is in Afghanistan

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 30-11-2010

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I wish Julian Assange would Wikileak this story so maybe, just maybe American would finally pay attention to a real scandal.

From the AP:

KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan border policeman killed six American servicemen during a training mission Monday, underscoring one of the risks in a U.S.-led program to educate enough recruits to turn over the lead for security to Afghan forces by 2014….

Is this what jihadist, Muslim-on-infidel murder by our Afghan “allies” is now — “one of the risks”? This is not a risk worth taking for the servicemen’s interest, the military’s interest, or the country’s interest. This effort, this theory, this utopian drive to remake Afghanistan in something akin to our own image is not workable, nor is it acceptable as the blood-and-treasure-draining policy of this nation.

Nor is this:

NATO is still investigating an incident earlier this month in which two U.S. Marines were killed in southern Helmand province, allegedly at the hands of an Afghan soldier.

Or this:

After two deadly shootings in July, NATO officers said they were re-examining training practices to make sure that such attacks did not happen again.

On July 20, an Afghan army sergeant got into an argument at a shooting range in northern Afghanistan and shot dead two American civilian trainers before being killed. Another Afghan soldier was killed in the crossfire.

Or this:

A week earlier, an Afghan soldier stationed in the south killed three British troopers, including the company commander, with gunfire and a rocket-propelled grenade in the middle of the night.

It goes on:

In November 2009, an Afghan policeman killed five British soldiersat a checkpoint in Helmand.

On Sept. 29, 2008, an Afghan police officer opened fire at a police station in eastern Paktia province, killing a U.S. soldier and wounding three before he was fatally shot. A NATO official expressed shock at the time that an Afghan officer would betray his NATO partners.

And there are more — more even than AP’s “Afghan attacks at a glance” suggest, including ambushes likely involving Afghan soldiers such as this one in August 2009.

The recent increase in such shootings suggests –

Lemme guess. Suggests that the West and Islam don’t mix? That Afghans cannot be trusted as armed “allies”? That the social engineering theories of COIN, based on the utopian premise that the West and Islam and every other belief system are compatible if not also interchangeable, must be scrap-heaped?

Nope.

The recent increase in such shootings suggests that the Afghan security forces may be suffering from growing pains. In the past year, the size of the Afghan police force grew 27 percent from about 95,000 officers to 120,500. The army increased 42 percent from 97,000 soldiers to about 138,200.

Meanwhile, also on Monday, but in Washington not Afghanistan:

Michèle Flournoy, U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, and Adm. James Stavridis, who is both U.S. European Command chief and NATOs supreme allied commander, said the American-led mission will continue — with intensity — for years.

Why?

Let it go.

Big Peace

The Real Scandal Behind the WikiWhimper

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 29-11-2010

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So, let me get this straight. The big data-dump of 250,000 leaked diplomatic cables reveal that American diplomats occasionally spy on other diplomats, the Arabs don’t like the Persians, British royalty can be rude, and Obama and his disciples have poor opinions of other world leaders. Oh, and the Chinese government might be trying to censor parts of the internet, the Russian government might have ties to organized crime and members of the Afghan government are corrupt.

Really? The UK’s Guardian says the leak of the diplomatic cable “sparks a global diplomatic crisis.” Michael Kinsley famously said once that a “gaffe” in DC was committed when someone mistakingly spoke the truth. I guess the stripped-pants crowd is a bit more high-strung. Speaking the truth isn’t a gaffe among the embassy set, its a full-blown ‘crisis.’

Congressman Peter King (R-NY) says the Wikileaks organization should be classified as a “terrorist organization” and its founder, Julian Assange should be criminally prosecuted. Personally, I think Mr. Assange should be sued for false advertising. The revelations from the diplomatic cables aren’t anywhere near what was promised. I want my money back.

Of course, it is possible that more startling revelations come to light. Color me skeptical, though, as it seems Assange would lead with his best stuff. Regardless, I don’t think the real scandal is the content of the cables. I think it is this:

How the hell does a 22-year old private have access to this stuff?

The UK Guardian explains it was actually pretty easy:

It was childishly easy, according to the published chatlog of a conversation Manning had with a fellow-hacker. “I would come in with music on a CD-RW labelled with something like ‘Lady Gaga’ … erase the music … then write a compressed split file. No one suspected a thing … [I] listened and lip-synched to Lady Gaga’s Telephone while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history.” He said that he “had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months”.

Lady Gaga? Is this a joke?

In case you are thinking that Private Manning was some kind of brilliant cyber-sleauth who figured out how to get special access to the cables:

More than 3 million US government personnel and soldiers, many extremely junior, are cleared to have potential access to this material, even though the cables contain the identities of foreign informants, often sensitive contacts in dictatorial regimes. Some are marked “protect” or “strictly protect”.

Three million people have access to classified information that can ’spark a global diplomatic crisis?” Really? Again, is this some kind of joke? Do they give out access for simply eating your vegetables?

This is indicative of why I’ve never bought any of those wild conspiracies of super-secret actions by the government. Most of those theories would necessitate super-duper and elaborate planning and coordination and ninja-like execution. Our government just isn’t anywhere near that competent. Less like ninjas, it is really more like the Apple Dumpling Gang.

So, let’s put aside the gossipy stuff and ask the really important question: Who put these idiots in charge of anything?


Big Government

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