Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

8:40 – Santorum walks up to the podium. He’s wearing suit and tie, his sons wearing his trademark sweater vests.

“Three states, three winners. What a great country!”

Santorum to Gingrich: “Good job, buddy. Good job.”

Santorum makes reference to Obama’s infamous 2008 comment about people clinging to guns and religion, says his father and grandfather came from that.

“They [the left] don’t believe in you. They believe in their ability to care for you. That’s not America.”

Wants to be the candidate that provides “the good sharp contrast”

8:50 – Santorum’s closing words: “I ask you – it’s a wide open race. Join the fight!”

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Signing Off Until 2012

Posted: December 27, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I’m flying out of the country with plans to spend the remainder of the year at the beach. Best wishes to all of you for the new year. Blogging and tweeting will resume after the first.

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Nice Day for a White Wedding

Posted: April 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’ll be live-blogging and live-tweeting the Royal Wedding throughout the morning.  For those of you without access to a TV, you can watch it streamed live on the Royal Family’s YouTube channel.

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The Huffington Post published my story on the Khmer Rouge trial getting underway in Cambodia right now.

Looks like scams in Nigeria aren’t limited to Internet hoaxes.

The government’s top contractor in Iraq, KBR, Inc., has pleaded guilty to bribing high-level officials in the Nigerian government during a decade-long scheme to win more than $6 billion in overseas construction contracts, federal authorities announced on Wednesday.

KBR and its former parent company, Halliburton, agreed to pay the government a combined $579 million in fines to settle the criminal and civil charges, the most ever paid by a U.S. firm in a foreign corruption case.

“Today’s guilty plea by KBR ends one chapter in the department’s long-running investigation of corruption in the award of $6 billion in construction contracts in Nigeria,” said Rita Glavin, acting assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s criminal division. “This bribery scheme involved both senior foreign government officials and KBR corporate executives who took actions to insulate themselves from the reach of U.S. law enforcement.”

KBR was part of a joint venture of four companies — the other three firms involved were not identified — that was awarded four contracts between 1995 and 2004 to build liquefied natural gas facilities on Bonny Island, Nigeria, on Africa’s West Coast.

During that time, federal officials said the joint venture paid top officials in the Nigerian government, including members of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, more than $182 million in bribes.

If this story had come out during 2000 or 2004, the Democrats would have hammered Dick Cheney relentlessly for it, since this happened during his tenure as CEO from 1995 to 2000. The Government Executive story does not mention Cheney, nor does the 51-page plea agreement filed in a Houston federal court, and make no accusations of wrongdoing on his part. Bart Gellman in his exhaustively researched and well written Cheney biography Angler found no evidence that he ever used his position as vice president to benefit Halliburton, which for years was practically the left’s equivalent of the Saddam Hussein-Al Qaeda connection.

Still, both KBR and Halliburton have taken a PR beating in recent years, between this and allegations of overbilling and lousy services in Iraq. Having to pay a $679 million settlement to the Justice Department during these tough economic times cannot be fun for the board or the shareholders.

Need to hire some security in a war zone? Call Blackwater Xe.

The scandal-ridden security firm Blackwater USA is officially changing its name effective immediately as the company moves to rebrand itself after being fired last month by the State Department from its job protecting diplomats in Iraq.

The company will now be known as Xe and hopes to be a “one-stop shopping source for world class services in the fields of security, stability, aviation, training and logistics”, according to a memo sent by company president Gary Jackson to employees today.

The division that handles the diplomatic protection services will now be known as U.S. Training Center, Inc., but now its primary focus will be operating training facilities, including the flagship campus in North Carolina, according to Jackson. It was that very division that handled Blackwater’s overseas operations, which also faced the most criticism.

Blackwater has been the target of at least four grand jury investigations and accusations of tax fraud, improper use of force, arms trafficking and overbilling. The firm has denied any wrongdoing.

The firm is best known for its automatic weapon-brandishing diplomatic protection force in Iraq. Officials there recently refused to license Blackwater to operate in Iraq citing lingering outrage over the September 2007 shooting deaths of 17 civilians by Blackwater guards.

Five former Blackwater guards have pleaded not guilty to federal charges that include 14 counts of manslaughter and 20 counts of attempted manslaughter. No charges were brought against the corporation.

As if the name itself were the problem. If they don’t sort through their domestic and international legal messes and take proactive steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again, the name change will mean nothing. At the very minimum, heads need to roll and people need to be held accountable if the company wants to save face and start fresh.

A classic example of this that I found during the two years that I went to school there was South Central Los Angeles, the area where USC is located. After the 1992 riots, the area was renamed South Los Angeles, because they felt that there was too much of a stigma associated with South Central. The same underlying problems caused by gangs, poverty, drugs and crime are still there. It’s not a war zone by any stretch of the imagination, but the area didn’t turn into Bel Air just because of the name change.