Canadian Immigration Minister Judy Sgro, already embroiled in a scandal over favors given to a Romanian stripper, resigned on Friday after a pizza shop owner said she had reneged on a promise to help him avoid deportation in exchange for free pizza.Pizza, garlic bread, and a little campaign work? I guess Judy is a cheap date.
Sgro left after pizza shop owner Harjit Singh filed an affidavit in Federal Court accusing her of offering to help him stay in Canada in return for pizza deliveries and assistance with her election campaign.
Singh, who is facing imminent deportation after he was accused of using someone else's passport, said in his affidavit that he had approached Sgro to ask for help.
"She assured me that if I helped out in her election campaign she would get me immigration in Canada," he said.
"Judy said she wanted me to deliver pizza, garlic bread etc. to her campaign office ... I did this. She also said that she needed 15-16 people to help work in her campaign. I organized this for her as well," he said in the affidavit, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
Once news of the arrangement leaked out, Sgro reneged on the deal, he added. Singh, who emigrated from India in 1988, was arrested in late December.
Sgro is already under investigation by Parliament's ethics commissioner for giving a temporary residency permit to a Romanian stripper who had worked on her election campaign. She also extended the woman's expired work permit.
The job of immigration minister is a sensitive one in Canada, which is one of the few Western nations still actively seeking immigrants. The Liberals have traditionally drawn widespread support from immigrant communities.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
(Canadian) Immigration Minister Quits in Pizza Scandal
James Taranto caught the following beauty which I have reproduced in full so that I can savor its rich aroma:
On the other hand, perhaps I should be more charitable to the "challenged." Feel free to write to Jeffrey Young, Carolyn Wyatt, and Mary Eich and express your solidarity with their formidable quest. Or point 'em to the clue phone.
Why Can't Johnny Add?It does, however, make one posit the existence of "anti-Einsteins."
Schoolkids in Newton, a Boston suburb, aren't measuring up in math tests, writes Tom Mountain in the Newton Tab. Thirty-two percent of sixth-graders are in the "warning" or "needs improvement" category in the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, and school officials are flummoxed:The school department offered no tangible explanation for these declining scores other than to admit that they have no explanation, as articulated by Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Carolyn Wyatt (salary $106,804), "[The results] have decreased, incrementally, each year and continue to puzzle us." She went on to admit that this downward trend is peculiar to Newton and "is not being seen statewide." Again, she offered no explanation, but she did assure the School Committee that her assistant, Math Coordinator Mary Eich (salary $101,399), is currently investigating the problem.But according to Mountain, it turns out that between 1999 and 2001, Newton adopted an "anti-racist multicultural math" curriculum:In 2001 [Superintendent Jeffrey] Young, Mrs. Wyatt and an assortment of other well-paid school administrators, defined the new number-one priority for teaching mathematics, as documented in the curriculum benchmarks, "Respect for Human Differences--students will live out the system wide core of 'Respect for Human Differences' by demonstrating anti-racist/anti-bias behaviors."It continues, "Students will: Consistently analyze their experiences and the curriculum for bias and discrimination; Take effective anti-bias action when bias or discrimination is identified; Work with people of different backgrounds and tell how the experience affected them; Demonstrate how their membership in different groups has advantages and disadvantages that affect how they see the world and the way they are perceived by others . . ." It goes on and on.
"Nowhere among the first priorities for the math curriculum guidelines is the actual teaching of math," Mountain observes. "That's a distant second." It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out why Newton's kids are falling behind.
On the other hand, perhaps I should be more charitable to the "challenged." Feel free to write to Jeffrey Young, Carolyn Wyatt, and Mary Eich and express your solidarity with their formidable quest. Or point 'em to the clue phone.
Friday, January 14, 2005
Kerry Holding Mideast Talks With Chirac. He assumeth authority though he hath it not.
I'm sure he'll report back on his "talks" to the Senate. If he ever deigns to make an appearance there. One bright spot, he didn't take Empress Teresa.
US must adapt to growing EU ambitions, say Euro-MPs. This ought to be good! Let's see what they have in mind:
The United States must accommodate a more ambitious European Union. That was the main message that emerged yesterday from a European Parliament debate in Strasbourg on the state of EU-U.S. relations.It's kind of hard to pick out the kernels from all the chaff, but it sounds like they're actually thinking about paying for their own defense! Is that it?
Representing the European Commission was Slovenia's Janez Potocnik, the science and research commissioner.
However, Potocnik said the United States must learn to accept a stronger EU role in the world. "That being said, it is clear that the EU-U.S. relationship must adapt to the changing security environment and to changing global priorities," he said. "But it must also adapt to changes within the European Union. We are convinced that as the enlarged EU's foreign policy strengthens, so too will the scope and intensity of our relations with the U.S."
Speaking alongside Potocnik was Luxembourg's development cooperation and humanitarian affairs minister. Jean-Louis Schiltz, who represents the EU's current presidency, expressed a similar sentiment. He said the EU-U.S. relationship must adapt to a "larger degree of choice and political will" on the part of the EU than during the Cold War, growing EU interest in securing its own collective security, and further coordination of internal EU policies. Schiltz concluded that direct EU-U.S. relations in the future would acquire increasing prominence.
Retired French General Philippe Morillon -- who commanded UN troops in Bosnia in the early 1990s -- put EU expectations most succinctly. He indicated the United States must bring pressure to bear on Israel following the recent election of Mahmud Abbas as the new president of the Palestinian Authority.That's it? That's what has their narrow brows fevered? That's the big EUroweenie ambition? Sheesh, go back to worrying about bananas.
Paul Johnson on Germany's Dismal Future
An object lesson for us all is the present deplorable state of Germany. It shows what happens when a society is encouraged by its leaders to turn its back on freedom and opt for security at any price.More by following the link including the way they are being jerked around by the Frenchies and the EU.
A generation ago Germany, thanks to its great postwar leaders Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Erhard, had an exemplary economy--one of the world's best in quality and performance.
Today the German economy is a model--especially for the rapidly expanding nations of the Third World, such as China and India--for what not to do. Stagnant production, static or falling productivity and appalling levels of unemployment are the salient factors. Unemployment figures have recently been revised upward to 4.5 million but could be as high as 6 million when the "hidden unemployed" are taken into account. These figures are close to those of 1932, at the depths of the Great Depression and just before Hitler came to power. So many being unemployed was one reason Hitler's bid for power was successful.
The Germans agree they're in a mess, and many see the obvious way out. The country needs to make the kinds of structural changes in its economy that Prime Minister Thatcher carried out in Britian 20 years ago, changes that have completely transformed the performance and expectations of the British people. But though most Germans know this, they lack the will--and, of course, the leadership--to carry it out. They stay inert, supine, transfixed by fear and angst, paralyzed by the thought of painful adjustments in their safety-first society--and thus coast toward a disaster comparable to Hitlerism.
Germany's demographic structure reinforces all the weaknesses of its stagnant society and economy. It has one of the world's lowest birthrates, a rapidly aging population and a calamitously expensive social security system, all of which combine to project a dark and dangerous future. Germany faces not merely a net decline in population--from 80 million to 60 million--by midcentury, but a lowering of living standards and the unrest that will surely follow.
Er, your kids can use! From California (where else?) - Bump, grind your way to riches, students told:
Students at a Palo Alto middle school learned more than school officials ever expected when a recent "career day" speaker extolled the merits of stripping and expounded on the financial benefits of a larger bust.Hmmm, I'm wondering about the source of ole Bill's expertise in this rather esoteric field of study. Needless to say, there were some complaints, but no "biggies".
The hubbub began Tuesday at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School's third annual career day when a student asked Foster City salesman William Fried to explain why he listed "exotic dancer" and "stripper" on a handout of potential careers. Fried, who spoke to about 45 eighth-grade students during two separate 55-minute sessions, spent about a minute explaining that the profession is viable and potentially lucrative for those blessed with the physique and talent for the job.
According to Fried and students who attended the talk, Fried told one group of about 16 students that strippers can earn as much as $250,000 a year and that a larger bust -- whether natural or augmented -- has a direct relationship to a dancer's salary.
He told the students, "For every two inches up there, it's another $50,000," according to Jason Garcia, 14.
Reached at his home, Fried said he understands that some may have felt he crossed the line, but he stood by his overall conduct. His remarks were part of a larger presentation entitled, "The Secret of a Happy Life," which he's given at the last two career days. The talk is aimed at inspiring kids to find happiness by settling on careers that they love to do and are especially equipped to perform.Indeed!
Thursday, January 13, 2005
United Nations' cartoon condoms: Global body unveils Shaft, Stretch and Dick in TV ads pushing AIDS-prevention message
The United Nations has launched a series of 20 animated TV ads to stop the spread of AIDS, featuring cartoon condoms named Shaft, Stretch and Dick.I can think of some folks whose behavior should be modified. But not to worry, that wacky pixie Desmond Tutu says they're a laugh riot. Maybe he liked the one with the spaceship:
The U.N. is trying to help stop the spread of HIV with 'The Three Amigos,' who appear in this spot called 'Talk.'
Available in 41 languages, the U.N. calls The Three Amigos ad campaign the "start of the world's largest integrated behavior modification program."
The spaceship spot has the Amigos as astronauts on a rumbling launchpad inside a condom-shaped craft as it builds power to liftoff while a female voice, apparently mimicking orgasmic sounds, counts down. The launch suddenly aborts and the voice over at the end tells viewers: "No condom, no blastoff. Stop the spread of AIDS."As effective as they are classy, I'm sure.
I couldn't have put it better myself
Sometimes you come across a single opening line in a newspaper article that's just so perfect you simply have to pass it on to the rest of the world.More japery by following the link.Only five days into an experiment with reality, Germaine Greer has declared herself beaten.Yes folks, it's a battle of wits in the Big Brother house, and Australia's very own crazy old aunt in the attic is, as usual, completely unarmed.
"We know what's best for you"
Time for a SPECTRE council meeting:
A group of billionaire philanthropists are to donate tens of millions more dollars to develop progressive political ideas in the US in an effort to counter the conservative ascendancy.Cool veneer, Number 1! The little people will never figure it out.
George Soros, who made his fortune in the hedge fund industry, Herb and Marion Sandler, the California couple who own a multi-billion dollar savings and loan business, and Peter Lewis, the publicity-shy chairman of an Ohio insurance company, donated more than $63m (€48m, £34m) in the 2004 election cycle to organisations seeking to defeat George W. Bush.
At a meeting in San Francisco last month, the left-leaning billionaires agreed to commit an even larger sum over a longer period to building institutions to foster progressive ideas and people.
The details of the San Francisco meeting are closely held. Mr Soros and his son Jonathan, the Sandlers and Mr Lewis asked aides to leave the room as they discussed the planned financial commitment.Gosh, that's the way all good SPECTRE meetings work, but I sure miss the cool videos of the meetings like in the movies.
But the still-evolving plan, according to one person involved, was "joint investment to build intellectual infrastructure".And a "deeper progressive bench" needs flacks and storm troopers:
The aim is to provide the left with organisations in Washington that can match the heft of the rightwing think-tanks such as the Heritage Foundation. At a state level, the aim is to build what one person called a "deeper progressive bench".
The sums involved are the subject of speculation: one person said he had heard a commitment to spend more than $100m over 15 years, another said at least $25m over five years. Several people said the billionaires had decided to spend more, rather than less, than they did in 2004.
Stephen Bing, a film producer and heir to a real estate fortune who donated $13m, is also expected to be involved in the investment. Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, has been working to include organised labour in the initiative.And don't forget Evita!
John Podesta, the former chief-of-staff to Bill Clinton who now runs the Center for American Progress, a two-year-old Washington think-tank, is expected to play a central role in dispensing the funds. The Open Society Institute, Mr Soros' foundation in New York, is also due to have a big say in the allocation of money.Everyone line up for the gravy train!
Leftwing policy experts have already got wind of the new funds. One former aide to Mr Kerry said there had been talks with the Center for American Progress about making permanent the network of foreign policy experts established by Democrats in the 2004 campaign. He said he had been told: "Money is not a problem."I wonder why no one worked harder for the McCain-Feingold "campaign finance reform" travesty than SPECTRE. I guess they wanted to make sure their money is better than the little people's.
UPDATE: And don't forget SPECTRE's paid blog monkeys. C'mon guys, don't be shy. We know what you are, but we're just curious about the price.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
I really liked this part:
The report reveals on page 130 that Mapes, one of those fired because of the scandal, had documented information in her possession before the controversial September 8 broadcast that George W. Bush, while in the Texas Air National Guard, "did volunteer for service in Vietnam but was turned down in favor of more experienced pilots." This information is critical because Dan Rather, in the broadcast, insinuated that Bush was among the "many well-connected young men [who tried to] pull strings and avoid service in Vietnam."Report quotes here. Quite the lovely bunch of guttersnipes. More by following the original link including the tawdry part played by CBS's John Roberts.
AIM Editor Cliff Kincaid explained the significance of the panel's revelation: "Mapes, who was very close to Rather and enjoyed his confidence, had the evidence exonerating Bush of this malicious charge. The report shows that there were multiple credible sources to prove that Bush did not try to avoid Vietnam by going into the National Guard and that he was in fact willing to go to Vietnam as a pilot. However, CBS News deliberately kept this information from its viewers and conveyed an opposite impression because Rather, Mapes & Company were trying to depict Bush as a coward who, as Commander-in-Chief, was sending American soldiers to their deaths in Iraq."
And here's a good one:
Consider: on the facts presented to Mary Mapes in August 2004, there were, in fact, two ways to tell the "story."Yep.
The second way is the following: a well-connected Kerry fundraiser, Ben Barnes, and other Texas Democrats, are peddling stories about President Bush. They present documents to us, the Killian memos, purporting to show that Bush was given preferential treatment in the TANG in the late 1960s, and perhaps disobeyed orders to get a physical, went AWOL, etc. But our document examiners have some problems with them. And other people are telling us that Killian wouldn't have written something like that, including Killian's widow and son. The documents on their face, viewed objectively, don't pass the smell test... dude, they look like they were printed out on my Dell. What gives? Do the Democrats have a dirty tricks operation? Has someone with connections to the Kerry campaign conspired to perpetrate a federal crime, forgery of government documents, in an effort to influence a Presidential election, not 35 years ago, but right now, in 2004? How high up does the conspiracy go?
Which is the better story? The 35 year-old story about Bush's ne-er do well youth that we already know and have already discounted? Or the brand-new 2004 vintage story about the Democratic Party in Texas conspiring to commit forgeries to influence a Presidential election in wartime? Which story would a real news organization try to run down? A Pulitzer Prize was just waiting out there for someone, anyone, to pick up, and CBS (and, indeed, much of the mainstream media), just let it lie there. That's what proves the liberal bias.
Hat tip for the fetching snap of Ms. Mapes: Mad Mammoth
Farewell, My Producer
Excerpts from the new Inspector Dan Rather mystery by David BurgeMuch more by following the link including cameos by some of your favorite bloggers. And tough guy Nick Coleman too!
It was a quiet cold Monday at Black Rock. Too quiet, I thought, slowly polishing the lens on my trusty Sony VC6809. New York is not the kind of town that likes to keep secrets, and my tingling senses told me that somewhere in Gotham somebody was spilling some beans. And in my line of work, you get to know deep down in your gut those beans have a habit of being silent - but deadly.
My name is Rather. And I'm a dick.
From the man with a dog named Splash - Ted K to urge Democrats to get back to moral roots
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy today will deliver a pep talk to downcast Democrats - saying they can prevail over Republicans on moral values by staying true to their progressive roots."Progressive" - that's more like it.
Jackson's Wall Street Project Loses NYSE Sponsorship
For the first time in eight years, Jesse Jackson's Wall Street Project will not receive a donation from the New York Stock Exchange. And for the second year in a row, the Wall Street Project will not be holding its fundraising gala on the floor of the stock exchange. Jackson did use the NYSE floor for six consecutive years before being frozen out last year.It was a good hustle while it lasted.
"We are not giving to Wall Street Project this year," Diana DeSocio, the spokeswoman for the NYSE told Cybercast News Service on Friday. The 8th Annual Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Project Conference: "Beyond Diversity, Equity and Parity: A New Covenant" will be held between Tuesday and Thursday at the Hilton New York Hotel.
"We have given in some capacity in every previous year since 1998," DeSocio said, acknowledging that 2005 will be the first year the NYSE has withheld sponsorship of Jackson's group.
A Wall Street insider who did not want to be identified told Cybercast News Service that the resignation of former NYSE chairman and Jackson friend Richard Grasso hurt, as did the departure of several NYSE board members loyal to Jackson. That list included former Citigroup Chairman Sandy Weil, former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, former AT&T Chief Executive Officer Michael Armstrong, former New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Carl McCall.
"One of the last vestiges of Richard Grasso's rotten legacy has now been swept away," Flaherty said, referencing the 2003 departure of the former chairman of the NYSE. NLPC has filed shareholder proposals with Verizon, PepsiCo and Fannie Mae to protest the companies' support of Jackson and his organizations. Verizon and PepsiCo have formally appealed to the Securities and Exchange Commission to exclude the NLPC shareholder proposals.
Flaherty sees the withdrawal of the NYSE sponsorship of Jackson's Wall Street Project as a "significant" development. "This reported cut-off of funding is significant because once an institution has been successfully shaken down by Jackson, it has proved difficult to escape him in future years," he added.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
NY Daily News - Rather spared the ax but he should fall on sword
Update: As for the now jobless partisan hack, Mary Mapes, who did Dan's scut work, predictably she's got a big whine going:
Say goodnight, Dan.Who says Dan is just another pretty face?
The bureaucratic axiom that, when there's a screwup, little heads will roll was proven true again yesterday at CBS News. With the ax falling only on people you or I couldn't pick out of a lineup, Dan Rather lives to spread his fictions yet another day.
Life sure ain't fair, at least life at CBS.
"Misleading," "false" and "inaccurate" are a few of the choice words the report uses to describe Rather's public statements. After detailing his flawed role in the original broadcast on President Bush's National Guard service, the report lays out how Rather repeatedly misled viewers and other journalists during 12 days of defending the doomed show.
Most shocking, it paints him as privately disavowing his public apology for the initial report and even says he still believes the initial story is "right on the money."
What's the frequency, Kenneth? It's certainly not one Earthlings will recognize.
The Bush story was Amateur Hour at CBS, but it was not harmless. Versions of it were picked up by more than 50 newspapers across the country, including this one. As one producer wrote in selling the idea to higher-ups, the story could "possibly change the momentum of the election."
That should have been a warning to everyone, especially Rather. But instead of reporters and producers double- and triple-checking everything, just the opposite happened. Charges became facts. Source became sources. And bizarre, unproven theories became the driving narrative.
The Dan Rather revealed at the center of this disaster is not a journalist who is guided by facts. The picture that emerges is of a bunko artist, a man who cooks the books to get the conclusion he wants.
Update: As for the now jobless partisan hack, Mary Mapes, who did Dan's scut work, predictably she's got a big whine going:
"I am shocked by the vitriolic scapegoating in Les Moonves' statement," she said.Mary wouldn't know journalism if it bit her on the butt, but this has possibilities:
"I am very concerned that his actions are motivated by corporate and political considerations — ratings rather than journalism," she said in a statement.
Mapes said the decision to air the story was made by her superiors, not by her.C'mon, Mary! Drop a dime on Captain Dan!
"If there was a journalistic crime committed here, it was not by me," she said.
Monday, January 10, 2005
Hiding from the facts of the modern world
On Palestinian Authority TV, according to MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris asked Allah in a Friday sermon to have mercy on "all the Muslims who died" in the tsunami. Which means everyone else is on his own.That was real warm of him!
Next, the sheik railed against the disaster's cause, which was neither earth, skies nor anything divine in between. It seems it all had to do with "the oppression and corruption caused by America and the Jews" -- naturally. General corruption in Bangkok worked its way into the homily as well, but mainly as the sordid site of "Zionist and American investments." The question for his flock was: "Do you want the sea to lower its waves in the face of this corruption that it sees with its own eyes?" "No," he replied, "the zero hour has come." Too bad his handlers haven't.Indeed, but for prime wingnuttery, check out Kachan Gupta's report from India - Party time for the UN
The Communist Party of India-Marxist, in the latest issue of its weekly publication, People's Democracy, has darkly hinted that Black Sunday was god's retribution for the people voting the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance Government to power in two successive elections and keeping it in office for six years.The last reference is local color, but you get the idea. But now we are coming to the good stuff:
Islamist web sites across the Net are belligerently accusing the United States of America for the terrible disaster and the loss of more than 150,000 lives, two-thirds of them Muslims inhabitants of coastal Aceh, Indonesia. The same loonies had claimed that the USA and Israel were behind the 9/11 terror attacks. For good measure, the Islamists have added that as on 9/11, Jews were forewarned by the USA on 12/26, too.
True blue loonies aver that they spotted UFOs shortly before the Indian Ocean rose in mad fury. According to them, 'aliens, trying to correct Earth's wobbly rotation,' stepped on the wrong tectonic plate. And, boom! Others have described the disaster as divine finger wagging for the current travails and tribulation of the Shankaracharya of Kanchi.
Meanwhile, the real life, high political drama over dispensing aid to the tsunami-hit countries reached its expected denouement in Jakarta on Thursday, January 6, with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan having his way yet once again. He and the UN now preside over a vast fortune of aid money, totalling more than $4 billion -- of which $3.7 billion have been pledged by governments around the world and $630 million by private groups and individuals.Think of it as a "handling" fee. I do.
It's a pity that the US caved in rather than stand up to a sulking Kofi Annan and his petulant fellow travellers in Europe who have been busy kicking up a storm this past week against the nascent 'core group.'
Iraq is not the only place where the UN has covered itself with less than glory in disbursing and managing aid. We have seen millions of dollars squandered or siphoned off in Angola, Somalia and Cambodia. In Kenya, UNICEF botched a project worth millions of dollars.
At the height of the infamous famine in Ethiopia during the 1980s, the UN spent $ 75 million in building and upgrading apartment complexes for its administrators and staff as food rotted in the docks due to lack of transport. In East Timor, $50 million of aid money, administered by the UN, has been reportedly used for building hotels and malls instead of schools and health centres.
As much as 70 per cent -- and that is a conservative estimate -- of the UN's operational costs goes towards staff salaries, inflated bills, first class air travel, fancy cars, fancier accommodation, often in five-star hotels, huge allowances and other pecuniary benefits. Half the UN's workforce, whether at headquarters spinning red tape or in the field administering aid, former Secretary General Boutros-Ghali famously told The Washington Post, 'does nothing.' But everybody has his or her snout in the trough.
A pioneering study on how the UN operates while administering aid provides a revealing insight: In a particular year, the 'Executive Board of the (UN) Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation received $1,759,584 for travel and lodging. During the same time it spent $49,000 on education for handicapped children in Africa, and $1,000 to train teachers in Honduras.'
All this, of course, is necessary to disburse and administer aid.
After a rather bleak 2004 when the UN found itself squeezed out of Iraq and the lucrative multi-billion-dollar 'oil for food' programme, and scandal after scandal of financial malfeasance and worse surfaced, painting the world organisation, to quote a particularly colourful though apt description, as a 'miasma of corruption beset by inefficiency,' a 'Kafkaesque bureaucracy' that deliberately obfuscates the truth and maintains a conspiracy of silence, it is party time for Kofi Annan and his aid administrators.It's Kofi and the Kleptocrats in "Party Hearty!" Be there or be square.
Odious Mary Berry has finally left and now it's time to shovel out the US Civil Rights Commission:
For the first time since Jimmy Carter was president, Mary Frances Berry was not an official participant in a meeting of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR). It was also the first USCCR meeting under new leadership since 1993 when then President Bill Clinton appointed Berry, a professor of civil rights history in Pennsylvania, as chairwoman.And aside from ole Mary's well known political hijinks and her mistreatment of minority members of the Commission, detailed in the article, there were a few other problems:
The USCCR's new staff director, Kenneth Marcus, told commissioners at Friday's meeting that Berry's departure does not mark the end of the agency's troubles, or examinations by the GAO and Congress.Hmmm, Mary sounds like a perfect candidate for an executive gig at the United Nations!
"Overall, the picture is not good," Marcus said. "The agency is now, managerially and in terms of financial controls, at a low point, lacking many of the basic internal controls that most agencies have and are expected to have."
Marcus said many of the problems are described in prior audits from the General Accounting Office, the agency that recently changed its name to the Government Accountability Office.
"The GAO's reports paint a portrait of an agency that was allowed to run out of control, with little financial control, weak management and little accountability," Marcus said. "They are a wake-up call for this agency, that we must implement substantial change and reform in order to meet our fiscal responsibilities and restore public trust and confidence."
The new staff director noted that Congress had recently requested a large volume of documents from the USCCR in order to conduct its own inquiry into the agency's management structure and financial condition.
"I have no reason for confidence in the extent to which congressional requests have been complied with in the past," Marcus explained, adding that his attempts to remedy that situation are being hampered by the former staff director, Les Jin.
"He has refused to engage in any communication with me concerning the condition of the agency," Marcus explained. "In many instances, staff report to me that certain actions material to the financial status of the commission were within the knowledge of Mr. Jin and are not known to them."
Marcus assured the commissioners that steps had already been taken to ensure that future congressional requests would be complied with fully and in a timely manner. He also detailed difficulties in completing an ongoing audit of the agency's balance sheet for Fiscal Year 2004.
"I have also, within the last few weeks, heard from our auditor that, when they arrived at the commission, they found that there was no general ledger, whatsoever," Marcus said.
The USCCR's accounting was handled by the Bureau of Public Debt in the Treasury Department until the end of Fiscal Year 2003. At that time, the bureau notified the commission that it would no longer provide that service.
"Based upon our experience in servicing your agency, we believe there is inadequate management, control and oversight of your agency's funds," the bureau wrote in a September 2003 letter.
"In other words," Marcus said, "the commission's financial controls had deteriorated to the point last fiscal year, that another agency of the federal government refused to continue to service its account."
Unless you are willfully blind:
Last week we were subjected to one of the most extraordinary examples of one-sided news management of modern times, as most of our media, led by the BBC, studiously ignored what was by far the most effective and dramatic response to Asia's tsunami disaster. A mighty task force of more than 20 US Navy ships, led by a vast nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Abraham Lincoln, and equipped with nearly 90 helicopters, landing craft and hovercraft, were carrying out a round-the-clock relief operation, providing food, water and medical supplies to hundreds of thousands of survivors.Gosh! What did they mention?
The BBC went out of its way not to report this. Only when one BBC reporter, Ben Brown, hitched a lift from one of the Abraham Lincoln's Sea Hawk helicopters to report from the Sumatran coast was there the faintest hint of the part that the Americans, aided by the Australian navy, were playing.
Instead the BBC's coverage was dominated by the self-important vapourings of a stream of politicians, led by the UN's Kofi Annan; the EU's "three-minute silence"; the public's amazing response to fund-raising appeals; and a Unicef-inspired scare story about orphaned children being targeted by sex traffickers. The overall effect was to turn the whole drama into a heart-tugging soap opera.Indeed.
The real story of the week should thus have been the startling contrast between the impotence of the international organisations, the UN and the EU, and the remarkable efficiency of the US and Australian military on the ground. Here and there, news organisations have tried to report this, such as the Frankfurter Allgemeine in Germany, and even the China News Agency, not to mention various weblogs, such as the wonderfully outspoken Diplomad, run undercover by members of the US State Department, and our own www.eureferendum.blogspot.com. But when even Communist China's news agency tells us more about what is really going on than the BBC, we see just how strange the world has become.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
As usual, you need to follow the links for the full tactical airburst effect.
Leading off - Election protest shows why Dems don't count:
Leading off - Election protest shows why Dems don't count:
But I'm beginning to wonder if Karl Rove didn't manage to slip something into the whine cellar at Democratic headquarters. It beggars belief that Rev. Jesse on the steps of Congress, and the Congressional Black Caucus in the House, and Barbara Boxer in the Senate would start the new term with yet another reprise of the same old song from the last four years -- that Bush, the World's Biggest Moron, somehow managed to steal another election. That makes three in a row. The GOP's obviously getting better at it.And on the United Nations' "crack" tsunami relief effort via Tim Blair:
As usual, the media did their best to string along with the Democrats' alternative reality. For the most part, the press now fulfill the same function for the party that kindly nurses do at the madhouse; if the guy thinks he's Napoleon, just smile affably and ask him how Waterloo's going. So Alan Fram of the Associated Press reported with a straight face that Sen. Boxer, Congressman Conyers and the other protesting Democrats ''hoped the showdown would underscore the problems such as missing voting machines and unusually long lines that plagued some Ohio districts, many in minority neighborhoods.''
What happens on Election Day is that the Democrats lose and then decide it was because of ''unusually long lines'' in ''minority neighborhoods.'' What ''minority neighborhoods'' means is electoral districts run by Democrats. In Ohio in 2004 as in Florida in 2000, the ''problems'' all occur in counties where the Dems run the system. Sometimes, as in King County in Washington, they get lucky and find sufficient votes from the ''disenfranchised'' accidentally filed in the icebox at Democratic headquarters. But in Ohio, Bush managed to win not just beyond the margin of error but beyond the margin of lawyer. If there'd been anything to sue and resue and re-resue over, you can bet those 5,000 shysters the Kerry campaign flew in would be doing it. Instead, Boxer and Conyers & Co. are using a kind of parliamentary privilege to taint Bush's victory without even the flimsiest pretext.
Kofi Annan has decided that the Aussie-American coalition of the willing is, in fact, a UN operation whether they know it or not. "The core group will support the United Nations effort," he said. "That group will be in support of the efforts that the United Nations is leading."Follow the link to Tim's place for more UN japery.
So American personnel in American planes and American ships will deliver American food and American medicine and implement an American relief plan, but it's still a "UN-led effort."
That seems to be enough for Kofi. His "moral authority" is intact, and the European media can still bash the Yanks for their stinginess. Everybody's happy.
Gerald Warner vents his spleen in The Scotsman:
When that question is posed to bien-pensant commentators, their knee-jerk reaction is to babble about the United Nations, international development, the European Union, NGOs and all the usual suspects whose kleptomaniac instincts dwarf their philanthropic grandstanding. Only mal-pensant commentators, such as you are currently reading, are prepared to proclaim that the enduring motor of world diplomacy is realpolitik and that all institutions of a supranational character are either tyrannical or effete.That'll get your heart started in the morning.
This reality is gaining currency. The American conservatives - and not just of the ‘neo’ variety - have the United Nations in their sights. It is even rumoured that the G8 nations, when they gather at Gleneagles Hotel this summer, intend to cut the UN down to size, perhaps even to emasculate it completely. That would be a welcome development. The UN is a gross excrescence. The efficiency of its response to the tsunami disaster is a question on which the jury is still out; but no serious observer would dispute that its creaking, top-heavy bureaucracy is a totally unsuitable mechanism for organising emergency relief work.
Yet such is the deference paid by liberals to this totem that, when the United States, Australia, India and Japan decided to coordinate their aid efforts, Clare Short denounced this pragmatic move because it would "undermine" the UN. Behind this mentality lies the progressive lobby’s detestation of nationhood and Orwellian aspiration to world government. Leftists have made a fetish of ‘internationalism’ (a great Soviet mantra in its day); hence their conversion to the European Union, since it became the Western Soviet Empire and heir to Brezhnev’s fallen Byzantium.
Sometimes the UN seems to take a deliberately perverse stance, as when Iran was appointed to preside over its disarmament committee. Would coalition troops in Iraq have felt more morally justified if the President of Equatorial Guinea had paused in masticating what is said to be his favourite delicacy (executed prisoners’ testicles) to give them the thumbs-up? How much longer is this organised hypocrisy to be tolerated and subsidised?
Nor can we look to the European Union - the UN’s twin kleptocracy - as the foundation of a New World Order. When Jacques Chirac praised Kofi Annan last week as "a man of integrity", it was like the Artful Dodger acting as a character witness in a pick-pocketing case. The EU is a sclerotic, dirigiste, anti-free market cartel that increasingly threatens to subvert Europe’s ability to catch up with America. The G8 nations, too, are a cartel; but their union is pragmatic, rather than institutionalised, and they represent real power.
From the NY Times' "Fashion and Style" section - Can This Hookup Survive?:
OPPOSITES attract, yes, but they also bicker like third graders sometimes. When the 5-foot-8 rapper Flavor Flav — whose group, Public Enemy, emerged as the Black Panthers of the hip-hop generation in the late 1980's — met the 6-foot-2 former action-film star Brigitte Nielsen, a battle of bling versus brawn began. He balked when she tried to touch his gold teeth; she towered over him, swiped him with her makeup bag and proclaimed that she would wear the pants in the house.Thanks, but I'll give it a pass.
The house in question was the set of VH1's reality show "The Surreal Life," Season 3. Flavor Flav, Ms. Nielsen and four other C-list celebrities were settling in for what appeared to be a fraught 12-day stay, which was shown last fall.
Not long after their arrival, though, Ms. Nielsen, 41, had a few drinks and began parading in pint-sized skivvies and an apron, and Flav, 45, toned down his irritation. He brought her dinner in bed, where she lay in a drunken haze, then joined her under the covers. The next morning, as he watched her serenely cooking breakfast, he said he just might fall in love.
And if Flav, Ms. Nielsen and VH1 are to be believed, that is essentially what happened. Within two months of the "Surreal Life" September season premiere — the most watched show in VH1's history — the channel announced the new couple would be getting their own reality series: "Strange Love." It begins tonight.
But VH1's audience could not seem to turn away as Ms. Nielsen flirted with other men and Flav called her "loose"; as Flav promised he would give up his gold teeth if Gitte (Ms. Nielsen's given name) would marry him; as Ms. Nielsen proclaimed her love for "William Drayton" (Flav's real name).Be still, my heart. And "Flav?" I can remember when the Times' style guide required that Meat Loaf be referred to as "Mr. Loaf." Of course, they have a whiny faux-adolescent like Maureen Dowd writing columns now too. But the big question is just exactly how much they figure on charging to read this bumpf online.
More recently, as Flav and Ms. Nielson have appeared together to build interest in "Strange Love," some fans suspected a setup. The image the two project of an over-the-top caricature of an "it" couple began to seem too deliciously (or horrifically) odd to be true.