Heard of Rev. Sun Myung Moon? Right-wing media financier, charismatic religious leader, messiah…ok, so he’s probably not that last one. Though, of course, he claims to be. He also sponsors a “tear down the cross” campaign, urging Christian churches to remove crosses from their churches because Christ has failed and Moon is the second coming.
Did I mention that he’s poured billions into the uniformly Christian right-wing media? Yeah. You can watch him being crowned the “king of peace” in our capital building here. Weird shit. Remember, this is the guy who mandates that his followers clean themselves up after sex with a “holy handkerchief” that should never be washed. Also, you have to keep a picture of Rev. Moon beside the bed to keep a watch over you during such acts.
So remember, Washington Times = unwashed sex cloth.
Does this actually sound like a good idea to anyone? I didn’t think so.
Good Intentions Corrupted: The Oil for Food Scandal And the Threat to the U.N.
by Mark Califano and Jeffrey Meyer
After reading this book, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to read the entire Independent Inquiry Committee report. This book is fairly brief summary of the findings of the U.N.’s independent investigation into the oil-for-food scandal. In it’s roughly 250 pages you get a picture of what has to be the worst management and oversight job ever. You’re confronted with tales of missed opportunities, corruption, and negligence on page after page.
It’s hard to be surprised that Iraq attempted to circumvent the sanctions and corrupt the oil-for-food program. We all know the horror stories of that regime and corruption is nothing next to them. They seemed to have tried what you’d expect: bribe top officials (i.e. the Secretary General, though they appear to have failed), “surcharges” on oil contracts, kickbacks on humanitarian contracts, smuggled oil, sketchy oil allocations to important people, etc. Iraq succeeded at all of those and it’s not surprising. However, the scale at which they succeeded and the scale of the failure of oversight is remarkable. Top officials literally refused to do their job. Officials like Benon Sevan, the director of the program. He was receiving oil allocations from Iraq on the side, while essentially refusing to investigate charges of kickbacks and illegal surcharges. It’s absolutely pathetic. The 661 committee, the committee set up to oversee the program (notable members being France, Russia, and the U.S.), failed miserably as well. Russia stonewalled most oversight and restrictions on Iraq, probably due to state energy companies being the biggest buyers of Iraqi oil. The U.S. and Britain made some noises, but even they were more concerned with looking out for “dual-use” goods than actually overseeing the program. Describing one remarkable incident, the authors detail how the U.S. seems to have essentially turned a blind eye to oil smuggling by Iraq to Jordan.
As I said, failure at every level. The book wraps up with a list of recommendations, some of which, according to Paul Volcker’s introduction, have been implemented. Several key players in the scandal have been indicted. So, there is hope. Califano and Meyer make an admittedly dry subject interesting and easy to understand, thankfully. The book moves quickly enough and has just the right amount of detail to allow to understand the issues, but not get lost in them. No small task considering the subject matter. This is for all intents the definitive account of the oil-for-food scandal. It’s not pretty and it presents great challenges to the U.N. I can only hope they’re met.
I’m not an activist. I readily admit this. So, this may not carry much weight, but in any case: this is pointless. Can anyone actually give me an example of war that was stopped by protests? Don’t tell me Vietnam; people hated the protesters more than the damn war. I suspect the same thing is true now, to some extent. The war is going poorly and the premises have dissolved, so public opinion has turned against it.
Seriously, do these protests do anything more than give the idiots on TV an opportunity to ridicule the lunatic fringe and celebrities such protests inevitably attract?
Random fact 1:
Whatever part of the brain we use to gage a person’s age based on outward appearance is completely broken for me. Anyone from my age to mid-30s is in a broad “older than me” category. Beats me.
Random fact 2:
Norway has declared iTunes illegal. That seems silly.
Random fact 3:
How could it all go so wrong:
The military regime in Burma is intent on wiping out Christianity in the country, according to claims in a secret document believed to have been leaked from a government ministry. Entitled “Programme to destroy the Christian religion in Burma”, the incendiary memo contains point by point instructions on how to drive Christians out of the state.
The text, which opens with the line “There shall be no home where the Christian religion is practised”, calls for anyone caught evangelising to be imprisoned. It advises: “The Christian religion is very gentle – identify and utilise its weakness.”
The document, shown to The Sunday Telegraph by human rights groups, may have been produced by a state-sponsored Buddhist group, but with the tacit approval of the military junta. The regime has denied authorship of the document – which also calls for teenagers to be prevented from wearing Western clothes – but has made no public attempt to refute or repudiate its contents.