Saturday, July 24, 2004
Billy "Boy" DeWitt:
Does this man
deserve $45 million
of your tax dollars
to build his private stadium?
by Martin Van Der Werf
The group gathering petitions to block St. Louis County tax money from paying for the new Cardinals stadium is nearing its goal for signatures, but questions linger about whether it would stop the county from making annual payments on the bonds it issued to help fund it.
The Coalition Against Public Funding for Stadiums has been collecting signatures since March 2003 but looked unlikely to reach the needed 24,268 signatures until a recent gift allowed the organization to start paying the people who are collecting the petitions. ...
ATHENS -- If the strategy of the Athens Olympics security planners is to confuse would-be terrorists, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
The snag is that three weeks before the Games open, everyone else is equally confused too, with rumors, conspiracy theories and paranoia reaching fever pitch. "Olympic terror hysteria" is loose in the country and abroad, To Vima, a major Greek newspaper, said Friday. ...
Axis of Logic, July 22:
Fundamentalist Islam’s Uncle Sam is George W. Bush, the perfect recruiting tool and poster boy for waging jihad against US interests throughout the world. It is he who has made possible the continued expansion of al-Qaeda-inspired organizations into a network of franchised movements following the ideology of Osama bin Laden. From a small network of mujahadeen, al-Qaeda has, thanks to Bush’s self-defeating war in Iraq, extended enormous tentacles into dozens of countries, slowly but surely building independent organizations capable of unleashing terrible carnage. As a collective goal these new splinter groups want to wage war with the US, bringing to the Empire the same death and suffering it has engendered throughout the world but especially in the Middle East. ...
... Fear rules. Fear rocks. Fear of terrorism is George W. Bush's only second-term platform to date (unless you count fear of same-sex marriage). Let John Kerry roll out John Edwards as his running mate, and Tom Ridge rushes to grab back the television spotlight by predicting that Al Qaeda will "disrupt our democratic process." ...
The City of St. Peters has been attempting to block 4 of the 5 shows that 2 Rivers Greens show in St. Charles CO. They have "rejected" an occasional show from time to time, but recently they have rejected episodes of "Green Time", "Labor on the Job", "Labor Beat", and "Working in America". They haven't bothered "Keeping Current" yet. All of the "rejections" have
been for "language".
I've contacted the producers of Labor Beat and Labor on the Job, and was put in contact with the Alliance for Community Media. ACM is going to take up this fight. According to Bunny Rydell of the ACM, St. Peters is prohibited from censoring "public access" programs and that the language St. Peters finds objectionable is ALLOWED.
A letter writing campaign started by Fred Tilinski of the Christians For Justice Action group (St. Peters) was of some help, but with ACM's help and pressure from their lawyers I think we will prevail.
St. Peters is no small audience. It has aprox. 60,000 cable subscribers and growing. We show all 5 of our shows 3X a week.
Today, Mr. McGovern is praised by such diverse sources as gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, Bill Clinton and conservative columnist Robert Novak, a long-time foe who now calls him "a genuine hero" for his war record.
At 82, Mr. McGovern, the last Democrat who ran against an incumbent Republican president during a time of war, is in a privileged position -- to see yet another talent he nurtured in that dramatic 1972 campaign racing to take possession of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
"I remember the first time I met John Kerry vividly," Mr. McGovern recollects as he prepares to travel to the Democratic convention in Boston this week. "He headed up a group called Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He worked for me in my campaign in 1972, worked hard. He was a smart guy and I was very impressed with him." ...
by Anthony J. Hall
As decorated literary veterans of America's long-simmering culture wars, Gore Vidal and Lewis Lapham have demonstrated for decades that the growing chorus of foreign criticism directed at the United States has strong echoes within the superpower's imperial core. In two recent collections of essays, each author draws on the most radiant and anti-authoritarian traditions of the American Enlightenment to illuminate the internal predicaments of the world's most controversial country.
Vidal and Lapham share the status of patrician mavericks who broke free from the class biases of their rich and aristocratic families. Both authors write about the real or imagined machinations of the country's elites with the authority of genuine insiders. Both communicate with just enough hint of noblesse oblige to appeal to the Burkean Tory in me. From my perspective, Vidal and Lapham are both conservative in the most liberal sense of the word. Their conservatism is rooted in an undeviating allegiance to the importance of historical memory as the only dependable guide for any rational navigation into the unknown waters of an uncertain future. ...
Fifty years ago, John Kerry's plan to establish legal SWAT teams in all 50 states to monitor November election results and challenge with lightning speed any partisan funny business would have struck many Americans as paranoid. But these are new times. With a sizable minority of voters convinced that George W. Bush stole the 2000 election through a flawed Florida recount and a biased Supreme Court decision, confidence in the electoral process is so low that some Americans are convinced that the Bush-Cheney gang might attempt a desperate quasi-legal coup d'etat before willingly ceding power. Mr. Kerry's plan will work to forestall any real or imagined GOP banana-republic horrors.
Friday, July 23, 2004
Freak waves spotted from space
The shady phenomenon of freak waves as tall as 10 storey buildings had finally been proved, the European Space Agency (Esa) said on Wednesday.
Sailors often whisper of monster waves when ships sink mysteriously but, until now, no one quite believed them.
As part of a project called MaxWave - which was set up to test the rumours - two Esa satellites surveyed the oceans.
During a three week period they detected 10 giant waves, all of which were over 25m (81ft) high.
Over the last two decades more than 200 super-carriers - cargo ships over 200m long - have been lost at sea. Eyewitness reports suggest many were sunk by high and violent walls of water that rose up out of calm seas.
An armed group in Iraq has kidnapped an Egyptian diplomat in Baghdad, the Egyptian embassy in the capital says.
Arab Al-Jazeera TV named the diplomat as Mohamed Mamdouh Qutb and said he had been abducted following comments by Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif.
Mr Nazif had said Egypt was ready to offer its security experience to the interim Iraqi government. ...
555 13TH St. NW # 300W
Washington, D.C. 20004-1109 United States
TEL: 202-637-8600 FAX: 202-637-8615
Samuel Berger owner
The week before the early surprise "transition of power" in Iraq, the New Yorker magazine published a disturbing piece by Seymour Hersh that contained news probably far more dangerous than any coming out of Baghdad. His report, Plan B, revealed how top Israeli officials reached the conclusion by last August that "the Bush Administration would not be able to bring stability or democracy to Iraq." Fearing the consequences, Ariel Sharon's government began freelancing a new divide-and-conquer strategy meant, among other things, to help ensure the fragmentation of the Iraqi state and potentially destabilize further an already destabilized region. They decided "to minimize the damage that the war was causing to Israel's strategic position by expanding its long-standing relationship with Iraq's Kurds and establishing a significant presence on the ground in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan… Israeli intelligence and military operatives are now quietly at work in Kurdistan, providing training for Kurdish commando units and, most important in Israel's view, running covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria." ...
excerpted from Dan Briody's new book, The Halliburton Agenda
... But Halliburton understood Cheney's value. With him as CEO, the company gained considerable leverage in Washington. Until Cheney's appointment in the autumn of 1995, Halliburton's business results had been decent. After a loss of $91m in 1993, the company had returned to profitability in 1994 with an operating profit of $236m. With the new revenue coming in from Logcap, Halliburton and its prize subsidiary, KBR, were back on track. Though Logcap was producing only modest revenues, it was successful in reintegrating KBR into the military machine.
The big opportunity came in December 1995, just two months after Cheney assumed the post of CEO, when the US sent thousands of troops to the Balkans as a peace-keeping force. As part of Operation Joint Endeavour, KBR was dispatched to Bosnia and Kosovo to support the army in its operations in the region. The task was massive in scope and size.
One example of the work KBR did in the Balkans was Camp Bondsteel. The camp was so large that the US general accounting office (GAO) likened it to "a small town". The company built roads, power generation, water and sewage systems, housing, a helicopter airfield, a perimeter fence, guard towers, and a detention centre. Bondsteel is the largest and most expensive army base since Vietnam. It also happens to be built in the path of the Albanian-Macedonian-Bulgarian Oil (Ambo) Trans-Balkan pipeline, the pipeline connecting the oil-rich Caspian Sea region to the rest of the world. The initial feasibility project for Ambo was done by KBR.
KBR's cash flow from Logcap ballooned under Cheney's tenure, jumping from $144m in 1994 to more than $423m in 1996, and the Balkans was the driving force. By 1999, the army was spending just under $1bn a year on KBR's work in the Balkans. The GAO issued a report in September 2000 charging serious cost-control problems in Bosnia, but KBR retains the contract to this day.
Meanwhile, Cheney was busy developing Halliburton's business in other parts of the world. ...
Fahrenheit 9/11 Making GOP Nervous
DES MOINES, Iowa - Republicans initially dismissed "Fahrenheit 9/11" as a cinematic screed that would play mostly to inveterate Bush bashers. Four weeks and $94 million later, the film is still pulling in moviegoers at 2,000 theaters around the country, making Republicans nervous as it settles into the American mainstream.
"I'm not sure if it moves voters," GOP consultant Scott Reed said, "but if it moves 3 or 4 percent it's been a success."
Two senior Republicans closely tied to the White House said the movie from director Michael Moore is seen as a political headache because it has reached beyond the Democratic base. Independents and GOP-leaning voters are likely to be found sitting beside those set to revel in its depiction of a clueless president with questionable ties to the oil industry. ...
by David Corn
* Bush's initial reaction. Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 has made famous--or infamous--the scene when Bush, after having been told that a second airliner had hit the World Trace Center, sits for seven minutes in a Florida classroom, as the kids read a book. The 9/11 report says,
The President was seated in a classroom when, at 9:05, Andrew Card whispered to him: "A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack." The President told us his instinct was to project calm, not to have the country see an excited reaction at a moment of crisis. The press was standing behind the children; he saw their phones and pagers start to ring. The President felt he should project strength and calm until he could better understand what was happening.
In the Moore film, Bush hardly looks as if he is projecting "calm." To me--and, of course, this is a highly subjective view--he has a what-the-hell-should-I-do expression on his face. But Bush backers and detractors are likely to see what they want to in that seven-minute performance. Bush's reaction, though, cannot be judged on the basis of what is now known about the 9/11 attacks. Consider this: when Bush was told about the second plane, it was obvious that the United States was under attack. Today we know that attack involved four planes. But at the moment that Card whispered into his ear, Bush (and everyone else) had no idea about the full extent of the assault. There could have been twenty airliners hijacked. There could have been WMD attacks coming. Perhaps minutes mattered. So how was it a projection of strength and calm for Bush to remain in a classroom--doing nothing--when who-knew-what was happening? He could have easily excused himself, especially as pagers and cell phones were sounding. His explanation rings hollow.
US army criticised over Halliburton contract
The US army bungled the planning and management of a multi-billion dollar contract with Halliburton to provide food and other services to troops in Iraq, congressional investigators today concluded.
Investigators from the US government's accountability office found a "pattern of contractor management problems" leading to cost disputes between the Pentagon and Halliburton. They also criticised Halliburton's staffing and accounting.
So far, the military has agreed to pay Halliburton - which was headed by the US vice-president, Dick Cheney, between 1995 and 2000 - more than $5bn (£2.7bn) on the deal.
Separate federal investigations are examining whether Halliburton had overcharged the army for fuel and meals, and looking into allegations that former company workers could have taken bribes from a Kuwaiti subcontractor.
A seperate report from congressional Democrats said Halliburton charged the government $2.68 per gallon to import gasoline to Iraq from Kuwait, but a government agency did the same work for $1.57 a gallon. That difference had cost the government an extra $166.5m, the report said. ...
Associated Press July 23:
WASHINGTON - The images were vivid: A U.S. Army sergeant who told his troops to "rough up" two prisoners; a platoon that agreed to make prisoners jump off a bridge into the Tigris River; an interrogator who hit a prisoner in the head. Those were among the new details of abuses by U.S. troops in Iraq (news - web sites) and Afghanistan (news - web sites) reported by the Army Inspector General's office.
The review found 94 cases of confirmed or alleged abuses and 39 deaths, 20 of which were ruled homicides or remain under investigation. ...
Ex-felons Face New Twist in Voting
by Debbie Cenziper and Jason Grotto
Gov. Jeb Bush has decided to eliminate paper applications for felons seeking to recover their civil rights, and attorneys assert that the move will thwart thousands of potential voters.
Days after a Florida appeals court demanded that the state provide more help to felons who want their right to vote restored, Gov. Jeb Bush introduced a new policy that civil rights advocates say circumvents the will of the court and threatens to exclude tens of thousands of potential voters. ...
by Oliver Burkeman Julian Borger
It is hard to imagine an address closer to the heart of American power. The offices of the Carlyle Group are on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC, midway between the White House and the Capitol building, and within a stone's throw of the headquarters of the FBI and numerous government departments. The address reflects Carlyle's position at the very centre of the Washington establishment, but amid the frenetic politicking that has occupied the higher reaches of that world in recent weeks, few have paid it much attention. Elsewhere, few have even heard of it.
This is exactly the way Carlyle likes it. For 14 years now, with almost no publicity, the company has been signing up an impressive list of former politicians - including the first President Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker; John Major; one-time World Bank treasurer Afsaneh Masheyekhi and several south-east Asian powerbrokers - and using their contacts and influence to promote the group. Among the companies Carlyle owns are those which make equipment, vehicles and munitions for the US military, and its celebrity employees have long served an ingenious dual purpose, helping encourage investments from the very wealthy while also smoothing the path for Carlyle's defence firms.
But since the start of the "war on terrorism", the firm - unofficially valued at Dollars 3.5bn - has taken on an added significance. Carlyle has become the thread which indirectly links American military policy in Afghanistan to the personal financial fortunes of its celebrity employees, not least the current president's father. And, until earlier this month, Carlyle provided another curious link to the Afghan crisis: among the firm's multi-million-dollar investors were members of the family of Osama bin Laden.
The closest the Carlyle Group has previously come to public attention was last May, when a Seoul-based employee called Peter Chung was forced to resign from his pounds 100,000-a-year job after sending an email to friends - subsequently forwarded to thousands of others - boasting of his plans to "fuck every hot chick in Korea over the next two years". The more business-oriented activities of Carlyle's staff have been conducted much more quietly: since it was founded in 1987 by David Rubenstein, a policy assistant in Jimmy Carter's administration, and two lawyer friends, the firm has been dispatching an array of former world leaders on a series of strategic networking trips.
Last year, George Bush Sr and John Major travelled to Riyadh to talk with senior Saudi businessmen. In September 2000, Carlyle hired speakers including Colin Powell and AOL Time Warner chair Steve Case to address an extravagant party at Washington's Monarch Hotel. Months later, Major joined James Baker for a function at the Lanesborough Hotel in London, to explain the Florida election controversy to the wealthy attendees.
We can assume that Carlyle pays well. Neither Major's office nor Carlyle will confirm the details of his salary as European chairman - an appointment announced shortly before he left the House of Commons after the election - but we know, for the purposes of comparison, that he is paid pounds 105,000 for 28 days' work a year for an unrelated non-executive directorship. Bush gives speeches for the company and is paid with stakes in the firm's investments, believed to be worth at least Dollars 80,000 per appearance. The benefits have attracted political stars from around the world: former Philippines president Fidel Ramos is an adviser, as is former Thai premier Anand Panyarachun - as well as former Bundesbank president Karl Otto Pohl, and Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the SEC, the US stock market regulator.
Carlyle partners, who include Baker and the firm's chairman, Frank Carlucci - Ronald Reagan's defence secretary and a former deputy director of the CIA - own stakes that would be worth Dollars 180m each if each partner owned an equal slice. As in many areas of its work, though, Carlyle is not obliged to reveal the details, and chooses not to.
Among the defence firms which benefit from Carlyle's success is United Defense, a Virginia-based contractor which makes vertical missile launch systems currently on board US Navy ships in the Arabian sea, as well as a range of other weapons delivery systems and combat vehicles. Carlyle's other holdings span an improbable range, taking in the French newspaper Le Figaro and the company which bottles Dr Pepper.
"They are big, and they are quiet," says David Mulholland, business editor of Jane's Defence Weekly. "But they're not easy to get information out of, (but) United Defense are going to do well (in the current conflict)." United also owns Bofors, a Swedish munitions manufacturer.
Carlyle has said that it does not lobby the federal government, thus avoiding a conflict of interest when, for example, Carlucci met Rumsfeld in February when several important defence contracts were under consideration. But critics see that as a matter of definition.
"It should be a deep cause for concern that a closely held company like Carlyle can simultaneously have directors and advisers that are doing business and making money and also advising the president of the United States," says Peter Eisner, managing director of the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit-making Washington think-tank. "The problem comes when private business and public policy blend together. What hat is former president Bush wearing when he tells Crown Prince Abdullah not to worry about US policy in the Middle East? What hat does he use when he deals with South Korea, and causes policy changes there? Or when James Baker helps argue the presidential election in the younger Bush's favour? It's a kitchen-cabinet situation, and the informality involved is precisely a mark of Carlyle's success."
The world of private equity is an inherently secretive one. Firms such as Carlyle make most of their money buying firms which are not publicly traded, overhauling them and selling them at a profit, so the process by which likely targets are evaluated is much more confidential than on the open market. "These firms certainly don't go out of their way to get into the headlines," says Steven Bell, chief economist at Deutsche Asset Management. "They'd rather make a splash in Institutional Pensions Week. The aim is to realise very high returns for your investors while exerting a high degree of control over the company. You don't want to get into the headlines when you force the management to fire a director."
The process has worked wonders at United, and this month the firm announced plans to go public, giving Carlyle the chance to cash in its investment.
But what sets Carlyle apart is the way it has exploited its political contacts. When Carlucci arrived there in 1989, he brought with him a phalanx of former subordinates from the CIA and the Pentagon, and an awareness of the scale of business a company like Carlyle could do in the corridors and steak-houses of Washington. In a decade and a half, the firm has been able to realise a 34% rate of return on its investments, and now claims to be the largest private equity firm in the world. Success brought more investors, including the international financier George Soros and, in 1995, the wealthy Saudi Binladin family, who insist they long ago severed all links with their notorious relative. The first president Bush is understood to have visited the Binladins in Saudi Arabia twice on the firm's behalf.
The Carlyle Group does not employ anyone at its Washington headquarters to deal with the press. Inquiries about the links with the Binladins (as most of the family choose to spell their name) are instead referred to someone outside the company, on condition he is referred to only as "a source familiar with the relationship". This source says: "I can confirm the fact that any Binladin Group investment in Carlyle has been terminated or is being terminated. It amounted to a Dollars 2m investment in the Carlyle II Fund, which was anyway a very small portion of a Dollars 1.3bn fund. In the scheme of the investments and in the scheme of the business of either party it was very small. We have to get this into perspective. But I think there was a sense that there were questions being raised and some controversy, and for such a small amount of money it was something that we wanted to put behind us. It was just a business decision."
But if the bin Ladins' connection to the Carlyle Group lasted no more than six years, the current President Bush's own links to the firm go far deeper. In 1990, he was appointed to the board of one of Carlyle's first purchases, an airline food business called Caterair, which they eventually sold at a loss. He left the board in 1992, later to become Governor of Texas. Shortly thereafter, he was responsible for appointing several members of the board which controlled the investment of Texas teachers' pension funds. A few years later, the board decided to invest $100 million of public money in the Carlyle Group. The firm's magic touch was already bringing results. Today, it is proving as fruitful as ever.
Carlyle Group to Take On Consumer-Business Ventures
by Greg Schneider
Carlyle Group, the Washington private equity firm famous for tapping the expertise of former politicians to make money investing in government-regulated industries, is branching in a new direction: consumer businesses.
Carlyle has formed a team to oversee consumer-related ventures, hoping to capitalize on a dynamic merger-and-acquisition market for firms that make consumer products. The move highlights a busy period for the firm; in 2003, Carlyle invested a record amount -- $2.5 billion -- and reported an all-time-high $2.1 billion return for its investors.
The new consumer team is headed by Leslie L. Armitage, 35, who has experience in Carlyle's more customary investment areas of defense and automotive manufacturing. (Despite Carlyle's reputation for employing famous political names, Armitage is not related to Richard L. Armitage, the deputy secretary of state.) The formation of the consumer team was reported Friday by Bloomberg News.
Carlyle has a longstanding consumer and industrial investment team, but it focuses mostly on industry. The firm's few true consumer ventures are to be stripped out and placed under the new group. For example, Carlyle owns Panolam Industries International Inc., a maker of decorative home paneling, as well as Dr. Pepper/7-Up Bottling Group and a company that makes entertainment coupon books.
"There were consumer deals getting done [by other buyout firms] that we just didn't have the time to focus on," Carlyle spokesman Christopher Ullman said. "We felt that if there are big deals out there, they should be on our radar scope and we should be in the mix."
The consumer team is not Carlyle's only new venture; the company also recently opened an office in Moscow and plans to announce a Russian investment fund soon, a source familiar with its plans said.
Meanwhile, Carlyle yesterday sold its $302 million stake in KorAm Bank of South Korea to Citigroup. The firm also has disbanded its Asian advisory board, which had been headed by former president George H.W. Bush. Bush stepped down from the board last year, and Carlyle decided its Asian buyout fund was established enough to continue without the advisers. That recent decision also ended Carlyle's association with another prominent world figure, former Philippine president Fidel Ramos.
Finally, Carlyle is reportedly discussing buying telephone lines in Hawaii from Verizon Communications Inc. A source familiar with the situation said the discussions are "well-developed" and could result in a deal in the next few months. The telephone lines would fit with other Carlyle telecommunications holdings, such as several cable television systems around the world. The head of Carlyle's telecommunications group, James A. Attwood Jr., is a former Verizon executive.
Washington Post, April 4, 1995:
Raytheon To Acquire E-Systems; $2.3 Billion Merger Continues Trend
by John Mintz,
E-Systems Inc., the secretive Dallas-based company that builds much of the military's spy equipment, said yesterday it has agreed to a $ 2.3 billion buyout by Raytheon Co., maker of Patriot missiles and Amana home appliances. It was the latest in a wave of acquisitions that is restructuring the ailing U.S. defense industry.
Raytheon, based in Lexington, Mass., has lost several recent bidding wars for other defense companies, and is offering a premium price for this one -- $ 64 a share in cash, or 41 percent more than its closing price of $ 45.37 1/2 on Friday. Analysts said that could be an effort to discourage other potential bidders.
Many of E-Systems' 3,300 employees in the Washington region were relieved at the Raytheon deal, said E-Systems spokesman Tricia Reneau. They hope that because Raytheon does hardly any work in E-Systems' areas of specialty, classified sensors and communications, there will be few layoffs. The employees feared large layoffs if a firm active in its areas, such as Hughes Electronics Corp., had prevailed.
"We're very complementary," said Raytheon Chairman Dennis J. Picard. "We touch each other in our work, but don't do the same things. . . . We're very fortunate to have the opportunity to join with a company which is profitable and growing in the defense and government electronics marketplace."
Industry analysts said the deal is another sign that Pentagon cutbacks are forcing defense firms to merge with competitors and seek economies of scale. The deal must be approved by shareholders and regulators.
E-Systems has annual sales of $ 2 billion, and Raytheon's electronics division has revenue of $ 4 billion. "You need critical mass in defense electronics," said John Harbison, a defense analyst with Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc. "Being less than a $ 5 billion player doesn't cut it anymore."
"E-Systems has talked to everyone in the industry with a fat wallet . . . but this is an excellent fit," said investment banker Jon Kutler, president of Quarterdeck Investment Partners. "E-Systems is a technological jewel, and Raytheon's one of industry's best operators, so it can help E-Systems keep costs down."
E-Systems' stock rose $ 18.62 1/2 yesterday to the offer price of $ 64. Raytheon's fell $ 1.12 1/2 to $ 71.75.
For Raytheon, the acquisition would be a statement that it will remain a player in defense. Some analysts had guessed it might sell parts of its defense business after it failed to close other transactions.
The most recent defeat came last month, when Loral Corp. outbid Raytheon to make an $ 862 million purchase of Unisys Corp.'s defense division. But Picard said Raytheon, which has total annual sales of $ 10 billion, also remains committed to its commercial businesses. Besides making missiles, it builds petroleum plants and manufactures air traffic control machinery, appliances and Beech business aircraft.
Only a small portion of Raytheon's business is classified, while 85 percent of E-Systems' is. Some potential bidders for E-Systems expressed concern about its culture of secretiveness, and its reputation for being close to the Central Intelligence Agency.
But E-Systems Chairman Lowell Lawson said Raytheon, with its commercial expertise, can help it make the move to nonclassified work.
E-Systems, for example, has been trying to interest banks and oil companies in a computer it developed for the National Security Agency to store massive amounts of data.
The sale talks began last fall, when many suitors were courting E-Systems. At the time, it rejected most of the entreaties because it didn't want to be sold to a larger company. But Raytheon had its investment banker, Bear, Stearns & Co., ask E-Systems if it was interested in a deal.
In January, Bear, Stearns hosted a lunch between Picard and Lawson in Boston, and the pair -- one a disciplined, conservative Yankee and the other a conservative Texan -- got along well, industry sources said. ...
The two sides reached agreement last week, helped along by Raytheon's offer of cash and E-Systems' belief that Raytheon has a culture similar to its own, people familiar with the deal said.
Pipeline plan leads back to high-profile investing group
by Robert Tigaux
A northern Virginia power company whose chairman has longstanding ties to the Bush White House and this state's public pension fund last week received swift approval by Gov. Jeb Bush and the state Cabinet for a pipeline project that would bring natural gas from the Bahamas to South Florida.
The company is AES Corp., an $8.5-billion revenue corporation whose chairman is Richard Darman. For those not up on the Washington scene back in the 1980s, Darman rose to become the high-profile budget director in the first Bush administration.
Darman was intimately involved with former President George Bush's promise - later broken - immortalized in the line, Read my lips: no new taxes. Breaking that vow was a major factor in Bush's election loss to Bill Clinton in 1992.
Darman moved on from government. But not too far. In addition to his recent role as chairman of AES, Darman has served since 1993 as part of the senior management team and adviser of the Carlyle Group of Washington.
It's a business tale of cozy ties that this brief column can only begin to describe.
One of the world's largest private investing firms, Carlyle was started by former Bush administration and other former senior federal officials. Its initial focus: buying and reviving troubled defense companies. Carlyle was quickly and immensely successful, thanks to the firm's ability to win federal contracts.
Former President Bush worked as a high-paid rainmaker for Carlyle for years, giving international speeches and opening the doors of foreign governments. He recently retired from that role.
Critics charge that Carlyle's phenomenal success is based on little more than former senior federal officials leveraging their access and personal influence here and abroad. Carlyle, whose address, like that of the White House, is on Pennsylvania Avenue, also enjoyed close client ties and investments with the Saudi royal family and the wealthy business side of the bin Laden family (not tied to Osama bin Laden's terrorism) long before Sept. 11, 2001.
Talk about a who's who. Carlyle's chairman emeritus is Frank Carlucci, who was secretary of defense in the late 1980s. Carlyle's current chairman is former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner. The head of its European operations is former British Prime Minister John Major. Carlyle's senior counselor is James Baker III, who served as Treasury secretary and secretary of state in the Reagan-Bush years.
Five months ago, President George W. Bush named Baker as his personal envoy to Iraq to help that country deal with its debt problems. This is the same Baker who was sent by the Bush family to Florida in late 2000 to help manage the legal battle over the Bush-Gore presidential election recount.
A mature and more powerful Carlyle Group now has substantial investments in a wide range of businesses worldwide. Including stakes in Florida businesses in the automotive, shipping and defense industries. ...
The bottom line? Carlyle's use of the political influence of its senior executives to further its business remains remarkably effective. Few if any investment firms have gained so much clout and wealth as quickly as Carlyle.
The strategy also revives the old warning, once voiced in 1961 by President Eisenhower, against the perils of an emerging "military-industrial complex."
So what does this all this have to do with a gas pipeline waiting to be built from the Bahamas to South Florida?
While remaining a senior Carlyle figure, Darman became a director of the AES power company in June 2002. He was elected AES chairman in May 2003.
Last week, the governor and the Cabinet approved the proposed AES Ocean Express LLC pipeline project. Also approved was a second and competing Bahamas-to-Florida gas project backed by Tractebel Calypso Pipeline LLC, part of a French utility. ...
In the case of a cruise missile, as much as 800 pounds of the stuff. This article is about how much radioactive depleted uranium our guys, representing us, the citizens of the United States, let fly in Iraq. Turns out they used about 4,000,000 pounds of the stuff, give or take, according to the Pentagon and the United Nations. ...
The Pakistan connection
There is evidence of foreign intelligence backing for the 9/11 hijackers. Why is the US government so keen to cover it up?
Guardian, July 22:
op-ed by Michael Meacher
Omar Sheikh, a British-born Islamist militant, is waiting to be hanged in Pakistan for a murder he almost certainly didn't commit - of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. Both the US government and Pearl's wife have since acknowledged that Sheikh was not responsible. Yet the Pakistani government is refusing to try other suspects newly implicated in Pearl's kidnap and murder for fear the evidence they produce in court might acquit Sheikh and reveal too much.
Significantly, Sheikh is also the man who, on the instructions of General Mahmoud Ahmed, the then head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), wired $100,000 before the 9/11 attacks to Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker. It is extraordinary that neither Ahmed nor Sheikh have been charged and brought to trial on this count. Why not?
Ahmed, the paymaster for the hijackers, was actually in Washington on 9/11, and had a series of pre-9/11 top-level meetings in the White House, the Pentagon, the national security council, and with George Tenet, then head of the CIA, and Marc Grossman, the under-secretary of state for political affairs. When Ahmed was exposed by the Wall Street Journal as having sent the money to the hijackers, he was forced to "retire" by President Pervez Musharraf. Why hasn't the US demanded that he be questioned and tried in court? ...
by Wayne Madsen
Former Georgia Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who was abandoned by a number of statewide Georgia Democratic Party officials in 2002 after she questioned what George W. Bush knew about the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington prior to 911, rallied her supporters to claim a decisive win in Georgia's Fourth Congressional District primary on July 20. ...
We have seen other intelligence reports at the CIA about 1999 contacts. They are consistent with the conclusions we provide in the text, and their reliability is uncertain. Although there have been suggestions of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda regarding chemical weapons and explosives training, the most detailied information alleging such ties came from an al Qaeda operative who recanted much of his original information. Intelligence report, interrogation of al Qaeda operative, Feb. 14, 2004. Two senior Bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any such ties existed between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Intelligence reports, interrogations of [Khalid Shaikh Mohammed] and [Abu] Zubaydah, 2003. (Cited in CIA letter, response to Douglas Feith memorandum, "Requested Modifications to 'Summary of Body of Intelligence Reporting on Iraq-al Qaida Contacts (1990-2003)," Dec. 10, 2003, p.5) (Emphasis added.)...
Two very good sources tell me that Victor Bout, arms trafficker to the world's worst regimes and wanted fugative in two countries, has, until very recently, had a lucrative DoD contract to fly munitions into Iraq for U.S. forces. The company he set up for the business, British Gulf, is still in business.
Peter Hain, a senior British official, dubbed Bout the "Merchant of Death" in 2002 for his notorious willingness to supply weapons to one and all: Charles Taylor in Liberia, the RUF in Sierra Leone, UNITA in Angola, the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan (and the Northern Alliance at the same time, no small feat). The UN recently asked its member nations to freeze all assets belonging to former Liberian president Charles Taylor and his closest associates--including Bout. A similar executive order has been at the White House, awaiting President Bush's signature, for several months. The U.S. and Britain initially worked to keep Bout off the UN sanctions list, but backed down in the face of adverse publicity. State's Richard Armitage publicly said last month that Bout should be on the UN list. The State Department has been pushing hard for DoD to end its contract with Bout to avoid embarassing publicity. State is also reportedly on board to get the EO signed and acted on. But there has been alot of foot dragging and the EO remains unsigned.
Cleveland Rep. Dennis Kucinich plans to endorse John Kerry for president today, ending his long-shot bid for the nation's highest office only days before the start of the Democratic National Convention.
Kucinich is expected to fly to Michigan for a joint appearance with Kerry, who is scheduled to deliver a speech at a Na tional Urban League conference in Detroit. ...
Missouri: Kerry 46%, Bush 44% (Kansas City Star)
Florida: Kerry 46%, Bush 46% (Sayfie)
Florida: Bush 48%, Kerry 46% (Mason-Dixon)
Ohio: Bush 48%, Kerry 43%(Strategic Vision)
U.S. aircraft attacked a hideout of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda-linked terrorist network in the Iraqi city of Fallujah early today, a military statement said.
The raid, described as a precision attack, struck the courtyard of a house in Fallujah, where between 10 and 12 suspects were gathered, according to the statement, citing U.S. Air Force Brigadier-General Erv Lesse. The house was left intact, it said. The statement didn't give details of casualties.
The air strike, at 6:33 a.m. local time, was the seventh in Fallujah this month aimed at fighters loyal to al-Zarqawi, a 36- year-old Jordanian, the statement said. ...
McDonnell Douglas Corp., Saint Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $17,461,828 firm fixed price modification to provide for 840 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) guided vehicles. The JDAM is a strap-on kit with inertial navigation system/global positioning system capability that provides the user with an improved aerial delivery capability for existing 500, 1000 and 2000-pound bombs. This effort supports foreign military sales to Israel. The locations of performance are McDonnell Douglas, Saint Louis, Mo., and Honeywell Inc., Minneapolis, Minn. This work will be complete by November 2005. The Air Armament Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity (F08635-02-C-0060, P00018).
The U.S. Army has long lured recruits with the slogan “Be All You Can Be,” but now soldiers and their families can receive plastic surgery, including breast enlargements, on the taxpayers’ dime.
The New Yorker magazine reports in its July 26th edition that members of all four branches of the U.S. military can get face-lifts, breast enlargements, liposuction and nose jobs for free -- something the military says helps surgeons practice their skills. ...
Would you eat food cooked in your own urine? Food scientists working for the US military have developed a dried food ration that troops can hydrate by adding the filthiest of muddy swamp water or even peeing on it.
The ration comes in a pouch containing a filter that removes 99.9 per cent of bacteria and most toxic chemicals from the water used to rehydrate it, according to the Combat Feeding Directorate, part of the US Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts. This is the same organisation that created the "indestructible sandwich" that will stay fresh for three years (New Scientist print edition, 10 April 2002). ...
Idema, who is from New York state, and others are now facing trial in Afghanistan for operating an illegal prison near Kabul where suspected Taliban members were held and tortured.
Idema claims he was in regular contact with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office.
The sprawling scandal includes money laundering and other allegations involving the nations of Kenya and Saudi Arabia. Former Chilean dicator Augusto Pinochet also allegedly used the bank for illegal financial transactions.
St. Louis-based Fleishman-Hillard public relations firm represents Chile.
As reported on June 9 by Media Mayhem:
Last year, WPP and Stonebridge International LLC formed a joint venture -- Civitas Group LLC -- to go after lucrative homeland security contracts.
Stonebridge is headed by Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, the Clinton administration's national security advisor.
The adviory board includes former Republican Sen. Warren Rudman and veteran national security expert Richard A. Clarke, whose recently published book was critical of the Bush administration's national security strategy.
Clarke's company Good Harbor Consulting is also tied to the Civitas Group.
Stonebridge's main partner in Civitas, however, is WPP.
A simple Google search connected BKSHto WPP,a company tied to Republican operative Charles R. Black Jr. Among WPP's clients is the notorious PR firm of Burson-Marsteller.
During a quick tour of the Amana colonies, I discovered that the commune's appliance division, including Maytag washers and dryers, is owned by defense contractor Raytheon.
The Army Corps of Engineers campsite where I stayed was equipped with a giant Dr. Pepper soda machine. Dr. Pepper is owned by the Carlyle Group.
There is no escape.
Monday, July 19, 2004
Now the 9/11 Commission is saying that Iran was assisting al-Qaida in immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Either the guy in the White House is stupid or treasonous. And he quite possibly could be both.
Voice of America, July 17:
Time and Newsweek magazines report the September 11 Commission says the Iranian government may have aided the hijackers by instructing border guards to refrain from stamping the passports of al Qaida members and to allow them safe passage across Iran's border with Afghanistan.
Joseph Wilson is now accused of lying even though there is no evidence that Iraq tried to purchase yellow cake from Niger. The American public is so confused and misinformed on this issue they don't know up from down.
Now the Bush Bund is going after Castro, alleging that Cuba is a center of child prostitution. The claims come on the heels of questions raised by investigative journalist Sy Hersch, who now says there are video tapes of U.S. military personnel at Abu Ghraib sodomizing children in front of their mothers.
You can't believe a word this would-be president says. More lies from Bush -- see if you can track them down:
We also face a problem only 90 miles off our shores, where the regime
of Fidel Castro has turned Cuba into a major destination for sex
tourism. A recent study by the Protection Project at Johns Hopkins
University found that Cuba has "replaced Southeast Asia as a
destination for pedophiles and sex tourists." As restrictions on
travel to Cuba were eased during the 1990s, the study found an influx
of American and Canadian tourists contributed to a sharp increase in
child prostitution in Cuba."
The regime in Havana, already one of the worst violators of human
rights in the world, is adding to its crimes. The dictator welcomes
sex tourism. Here's how he bragged about the industry. This is his
quote, "Cuba has the cleanest and most educated prostitutes in the
world." He said that because sex tourism is a vital source of hard
currency to keep his corrupt government afloat. My administration is
working toward a comprehensive solution of this problem: The rapid,
peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba. (Applause.) We have put a
strategy in place to hasten the day when no Cuban child is exploited to
finance a failed revolution and every Cuban citizen will live in
We have taken action to stop American tourists from participating in
the sexual abuse of children in Cuba or anywhere else in the world.
(Applause.) In 2003, I signed the Protect Act, which allows U.S. law
enforcement to prosecute Americans who travel abroad and engage in sex
with minors without having to prove prior intent. The Protect Act
expands the statute of limitations to the life of the victim for crimes
involving the abduction and physical or sexual abuse of children in
virtually all cases. The Protect Act imposes strict new penalties,
doubling the maximum sentence for U.S. citizens who travel to foreign
countries to sexually abuse children. We've also launched information
campaigns in foreign countries to inform American travelers of
penalties back home for sexually exploiting children abroad.
I'm staying at one right now in Iowa. For $10 a night, I got to camp next to a drunken couple who kept me up until the wee hours of the morning
Sleepless, I am now pondering whether to avoid tonight's party by pulling up stakes.
My name and other personal information has been entered into the Corps data base to reserve my campsite. I guess that's why it cost $10 to camp on publicly owned land.
Meanwhile, the Corps is the same outfit that gave Halliburton its no-bid, multi-billion-dollar contract to fleece the American taxpayers in Iraqi overcharging scam, which wasted millions more.
TEHRAN (MNA) -– Tehran on Sunday responded to a report that some al Qaeda members involved in the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States may have passed shortly beforehand through Iran.
The foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi told a regular news briefing that since Washington has failed to establish security and create a sense of affinity with the Iraqi people it is resorting to propaganda to cover up their abysmal failure in Iraq.
U.S. government sources have said a bipartisan commission report this week on the Sept. 11 attacks will reveal that some of the hijackers transited through Iran on their way to the United States. Pointing out Iran has long borders and it is not possible to fully monitor them Asefi explained, "It is reasonable that five or six people crossing the border illegally over a period of five or six months may evade our attention. The same happens on the border between Mexico and the United States." "It happened before Sept. 11 and who knew that Sept. 11 was going to happen?"
"Iran has shown it is against terrorists and extremism and is serious about confronting terrorists," Asefi added.
Red Cross urged to investigate Allawi claims
by Tom Allard
The former British foreign secretary Robin Cook has urged the
International Committee of the Red Cross to investigate witness claims that the new
Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, shot dead six insurgents last month.
Revelations of the accounts of the killings by the chief Herald
correspondent Paul McGeough at the weekend and the refusal of US authorities to deny
them outright sparked concerns around the world.
The Herald reported that two independent witnesses alleged Dr Allawi
executed up to six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station days before
the US handed control of the country to his interim government.
According to the accounts, which were denied by Dr Allawi's office,
about a dozen police officers and a contingent of Americans saw the killings,
which were alleged to have been carried out by a bullet to the head of each
insurgent, who was handcuffed and blindfolded.
"These are dreadful allegations. It is vital that they are cleared
up one way or another, and that needs an independent inquiry," Mr Cook, who quit
the Blair cabinet over the Iraq war, told the British newspaper the Sunday
"An international body such as the Red Cross would be best able to
give authority to the investigation that the situation now demands."
International Red Cross officials in Baghdad told the Herald last
week they were still negotiating protocols with the new government to visit
Iraqi-run jails. So far their officials had clearance only to visit US-run
The Red Cross was not available for comment yesterday but the
Minister for Defence, Robert Hill, said he had made inquiries. "Our mission in
heard of it, the British said they hadn't heard of it and the Americans
said they hadn't heard of it," he told Channel Ten's Meet the Press.
"[McGeough] reported two alleged witnesses - unnamed witnesses. What
I'm saying is that they are the ones who should be taking forward their
allegations as such, rather than going to an Australian journalist."
Labor's defence spokesman, Kim Beazley, cautioned that the Middle
East was a "giant bazaar of rumours". "You'd have thought if there's an allegation
in this country, two anonymous sources would be regarded as rather thin to go
to print," he told Channel Nine's Sunday program. "But this is an incredibly
serious allegation. You couldn't just let it lie."
Labor's foreign affairs spokesman, Kevin Rudd, said: "Paul McGeough
is a credible journalist ... I don't think therefore we can simply brush it
to one side."
The Greens leader, Bob Brown, also hailed McGeough's credentials and
called the claims "credible" and "stunning". "How long can Australian troops
remain at Allawi's service? Allawi's record is chilling and was well-known to
both Prime Minister Howard and President Bush." AAP reports: A former federal
Liberal Party president, John Valder, says the Prime Minister, John Howard, should be tried and punished for war crimes. He told a Sydney peace forum yesterday the invasion of Iraq was one of the great military atrocities of our time.
"Bush, Blair, and Howard, as leaders of the three members of the
coalition of the willing, inflicted enormous suffering on the people of Iraq. And,
as such, they are criminals," he said.