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Little Support in Washington for Kerry’s Mideast Efforts

By Mitchell Plitnick | LobeLog | May 25, 2013

While Secretary of State John Kerry was in Israel declaring his aim to “exhaust all the possibilities of peace” to try to stop wasting the Obama Administration’s time and energy on the futile effort to find a resolution to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, Congress was illustrating once again why the United States cannot play a constructive role in this conflict.

Congressional activity this month has been largely focused on Iran and, to a lesser degree, Syria. But a few events demonstrated that, despite President Barack Obama’s lofty goals and rhetoric about peace, Congress has continued its long-term, bi-partisan shift to the right on this issue. Interestingly, one of the most illustrative examples was actually a bill in support of peace and a two-state solution to the conflict.

That bill, H.Res.238, titled “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding United States efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace,” was brought by California Democrat Barbara Lee, one of the most ardent pro-peace voices in Congress. The bill is mostly unremarkable; it does nothing more than re-state what is, ostensibly, long-standing US policy. Yet, if anyone was paying any attention to the bill, they would notice that one of the provisions “calls on the Israeli Government to cease support for and to prevent further settlement expansion in the Occupied Territories.”

This is, of course, official US policy, but in practice, it is opposed by most of Congress and the Israel Lobby. Obama found out how difficult it can be to pursue US interests and enforce official US policy early in his first term when he attempted to get Israel to comply with this very idea.

The bulk of Lee’s bill, both in the preamble and the eleven “resolved” clauses, is an unequivocal praise of US peace efforts, from Ronald Reagan through Obama, and an absolute commitment to Israel’s security. Yet the bill has only four co-sponsors and was immediately referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where it will quite certainly die. It is telling that on the same day Lee introduced this bill, she put out two press releases, neither of which mentions H.Res.238.

While Lee has to find a way to bulk up her pro-peace credentials quietly, so she won’t incur the wrath of AIPAC (which, despite Lee representing the very liberal areas of Berkeley and Oakland, California, is very strong in her district), those who oppose any sort of resolution of this conflict operate openly and proudly. The so-called “Israel Allies Foundation,” an ultra-right wing group which opposes any sharing of Jerusalem, will celebrate the anniversary of the Israeli occupation with an event in the Rayburn House office building of the House of Representatives. According to their announcement, the event will include speeches from Congress members while “Jewish and Christian leaders” gather with their assembled flock to pray.

As Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now explains, “IAF was ‘pioneered’ by far right-wing Israeli former MK Benny Elon, a longtime opponent of the two-state solution, a strong supporter of the settlement movement, a devotee of the “Jordan is Palestine” approach, and an advocate of “transfer” of Palestinians.  Elon has authored his own “peace plan” whose first point is: “Government Decision: Declaring the Palestinian Autorithy [sic] an enemy.” He and his views have long received a warm welcome from some on Capitol Hill, including as recently as February of this year.”

It is telling that, as Kerry was preparing for his latest excursion to Israel, Congress was very quiet about Israel-Palestine peace. Aside from Lee’s meaningless bill, there was hardly a peep on Capitol Hill about Kerry’s trip. Meanwhile, the Israeli cabinet was debating whether or not the two-state solution is even Israel’s position in the first place.

The situation has grown so dire that J Street, the self-proclaimed “pro-Israel, pro-peace lobby”, issued an alert to its members asking them to demand that Israel “affirm the Israeli government’s commitment to two states for two peoples.” According to their alert, “For there to be any hope of progress, the Israeli government must state unequivocally that support for a two-state solution is a core principle of its foreign policy – as it has been under every Prime Minister since Yitzhak Rabin.”

This is, however, a patent falsehood. Rabin’s position was never a two-state solution. He initiated the Oslo process, but the endgame was, quite intentionally, never defined before his death. Nor did his successor, Shimon Peres, ever affirm support for a two-state solution while in office. The next Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, ran for office on an explicitly anti-Oslo platform, and his party, the Likud Coalition, to this day expresses absolute opposition to a Palestinian state as part of its platform. Ehud Barak proposed a two-state solution of sorts, though its terms were clearly never going to be acceptable to the Palestinians. Ariel Sharon removed Israel’s settlements from Gaza, and his closest advisor, Dov Weisglass, said that the purpose of that withdrawal was to freeze the peace process, a statement Sharon never repudiated. And, while Ehud Olmert seemed to support a two-state solution, when the Palestinians offered almost total capitulation on issues of territory, Jerusalem and refugees, his government still rejected it.

J Street is understandably grasping at straws. Without the Oslo framework of a two-state solution, it has no reason to exist, and is very likely to wither and die. It is therefore desperate to maintain the illusion that the peace process as it has existed for the past twenty years is still alive, even though it is clear to any rational observer that it’s not.

Kerry’s current blitz, whether intentional or not, is going to be the final nail in the coffin. As the entire question of Palestine slips behind an Iranian and Syrian curtain for the summer, it will take a dramatic action to bring attention back to it. But that action will not come from John Kerry or Barack Obama. It might come from an Israeli government that could feel emboldened by the lack of attention on the Palestinian Territories to take the sort of actions that Naftali Bennett, who has called for annexation by Israel of 60% of the West Bank, would recommend. It could come from the Palestinians, if they finally choose to face reality and acknowledge that the United States is incapable, due to its “unshakeable bond” with Israel and the enormous influence of the Israel Lobby, of ever pressuring Israel into even the minimal concessions needed to start talks again, let alone bring them to a conclusion.

Or it could happen because this situation, in all its hopelessness and cynicism, finally erupts into sustained violence again. But whatever the outcome turns out to be, we can be sure that in the near term, the issue will move to the back burner. In the long-term, whenever it emerges, the playing field will no longer reflect acceptance of the Oslo process and its endless negotiations to nowhere.

May 26, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Comments Off on Little Support in Washington for Kerry’s Mideast Efforts

Still Getting Gitmo Wrong

Guantanamo (Joshua Nistas/US Army)
By Peter Hart| FAIR | May 25, 2013

President Barack Obama’s address yesterday on U.S. terror strategies got a lot of attention for supposedly charting a new course in America’s longest war. But some of the facts were mangled along the way.

On CBS Evening News (5/23/13), reporter Major Garrett stated that

Obama urged Congress to close the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. To that end, he will seek permission to send 86 of the 166 jailed terror suspects already cleared for release to other countries.

Those 86 prisoners have not been, and will not be, charged with any crime whatsoever; they are not “terror suspects.” Garrett’s statement was all the more awkward considering that it came right before CBS played a clip of Obama saying this:

Imagine a future, 10 years from now, or 20 years from now–when the United States of America is still holding people who have been charged with no crime on a piece of land that is not a part of our country.

To refer to “people who have been charged with no crime” as “terror suspects” is simply Orwellian. Garrett went on to say:

 An intelligence report in January, Scott, found that fewer than 5 percent of those detainees released since 2009 have rejoined the fight.

That is indeed the language used in the government’s accounting of former Guantanamo detainees–and the definition of “re-enagaging” has been narrowed considerably since the Bush years. Reporters have taken some of this Pentagon propaganda on this issue at face value in the past, which should be all the more reason to continue to be skeptical. If someone has been imprisoned without charge or trial for a number of years, can one plausibly claim that they have “returned” to committing crimes that they were never charged with in the first place?

It’s not just CBS. In the New York Times (5/24/13), Peter Baker writes:

Mr. Obama said he was lifting a moratorium he imposed on sending detainees to Yemen, where a new president has inspired more faith in the White House that he would not allow recidivism.

Again, these are prisoners cleared for release because they cannot be charged with any crimes. It is bizarre to seriously discuss the threat that they might go back to committing crimes there’s no apparent evidence that they’ve ever taken part in.

May 26, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Comments Off on Still Getting Gitmo Wrong

Sanctifying nuclear hazards

By Praful Bidwai | The News | May 25, 2013

The disconnect between nuclear power realities and the Indian establishment’s perceptions is complete. Nuclear power has been in worldwide decline for more than a decade. The number of operating reactors peaked in 2002 at 444, but has fallen to under 380. Their output peaked in 2004, and has since decreased annually by two percent or more.

Nuclear energy’s contribution to global electrical generation has declined from its sixteen percent peak to barely eleven percent. Its share in global primary energy supply has fallen to a marginal four percent and of final energy consumption to a minuscule two percent. By contrast, renewable sources [primarily hydro-power] account for 16 percent of global primary energy.

The sixty-year-old nuclear power technology is exhausted. It has seen no major innovation recently, partly because it has been in severe retreat for a quarter-century in its heartland – western Europe, North America and Japan, which host two-thirds of the world’s nuclear fleet.

The US – which has the world’s largest number of reactors – has not installed a single new reactor since 1973. In western Europe, no reactor has been commissioned since Chernobyl (1986). And Japan now runs only two of the 54 reactors it operated before Fukushima.

Exorbitantly expensive nuclear power has failed the market test and globally lost over one trillion dollars in subsidies, abandoned projects, cash losses, etc. No bank will finance reactors; no insurance company will cover them.

Nuclear power evokes fear and loathing everywhere because of its grave public hazards, including exposure to cancer-causing radiation, potential for catastrophic accidents, and the problem of storing highly radioactive wastes for thousands of years, to which science has found no solution. These hazards are magnified by secrecy, technocratic domination and collusion between operators, regulators and governments.

Fukushima is likely to prove the last chapter in the global nuclear power story. When they retire, most of the world’s 160-odd reactors which are 30 or 40 years old won’t be replaced with new ones.

Indian policymakers are totally blind to this. Driven by irrationality, the domestic nuclear lobby, and relentless pressure from foreign reactor manufacturers and governments (to whom Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised lucrative contracts for backing the US-India nuclear deal), they are pursuing their fantasy of a 12-fold expansion in India’s nuclear capacity by 2032.

They are oblivious of the Indian Department of Atomic Energy’s appalling record. The DAE, argues physicist-analyst MV Ramana, derives its power from the Bomb and the promise of abundant power. It hasn’t delivered even ten percent of the promise – eg 43,500 MW by 1980. It has never completed a project on time, or typically without a 300 percent cost overrun. It has so far installed just 4,780 MW in nuclear capacity – under 2.5 percent of India’s current total.

The official nuclear fantasy now extends to two Russian-supplied reactors being built at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, against which the local people have waged a resolute, two decades-long, peaceful struggle. This gathered great momentum after the Fukushima meltdown began in March 2011.

The government has viciously maligned and savagely repressed the movement with arbitrary arrests, FIRs against more than 200,000 people, and charging thousands with sedition, waging war on the state, and attempt to murder. It betrayed its promise not to implement the project until people’s safety concerns are fully allayed.

Meanwhile, evidence piled up that Kudankulam’s operator, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), violated numerous safety regulations and missed some 20 officially announced commencement deadlines because of serious engineering problems, including supply of sub-standard equipment by Russian company ZiO-Podolsk whose CEO has been jailed for fraud.

Exasperated, an environmental group moved a writ petition seeking the Indian Supreme Court’s intervention in implementing safety norms and enforcing accountability. The petition showed that Kudankulam lacks proper environmental and coastal zone regulation clearances, that the NPCIL has breached norms stipulated by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), and that it has no plans for hazardous spent-fuel storage.

The court pronounced judgement on May 6, clearing the plant’s commissioning while declaring it safe. The verdict trivialises safety concerns, declares nuclear energy indispensable for India’s progress, legitimises the malfunctioning nuclear establishment as infallible, and propounds a perverse notion of the public interest which runs against the constitutionally guaranteed right to life.

The verdict will go down as an anti-people, anti-environment black mark in Indian jurisprudence. Its greatest failure lies in dogmatically denying that nuclear power poses certain unique hazards. Even a conservative, but thoughtful, judgement would have acknowledged this and explored ways of minimising the hazards while boosting transparency and public confidence. This verdict doesn’t.

It declares nuclear power unproblematically safe, and says the Kudankulam reactors satisfy all environmental and safety criteria, based on the say-so of the AERB, DAE and NPCIL – all interested parties! It refuses to recognise the fact that the AERB is not independent, but a subordinate agency of the DAE, to whose secretary (also the Atomic Energy Commission chairman) it reports. The NPCIL is a wholly owned DAE subsidiary.

The AERB has no personnel, equipment or budget of its own. Recently, it was gravely indicted by the comptroller and auditor general of India for failing to fulfil its mandate to evolve and enforce safety standards. Former AERB chairman A Gopalakrishnan calls it a “toothless poodle”. But the verdict uncritically accepts the AERB’s certification of the Kudankulam reactors as safe, ignoring the gross conflict-of-interest involved.

The judgement simply bypasses numerous site-specific issues, including vulnerability to tsunamis, a history of volcanic activity and geological instability, and absence of an independent freshwater source, which is absolutely critical to all reactors.

The verdict ignores the NPCIL’s brazen violations of the AERB’s reactor-siting norms – viz, there must be “zero population” within a 1.5-kilometre radius of a reactor, and a maximum of 20,000 people within a further five- kilometre radius. But at least 5,000 people live within a 1.5- kilometre distance, including over 2,000 in a new rehabilitation colony with 450 tenements, which is less than 800 metres away. By NPCIL’s own admission, 24,000 people live within a five-kilometre radius, according to the 2001 census. Their number must be much greater in 2013. This too is ignored.

According to another norm, no fuel should be loaded in a reactor until a full emergency evacuation drill is conducted in a 16- kilometre radius. This never happened. The judgement ignores this, and also the fact that the plant lacks proper coastal zone regulation and environmental clearances. Equally ignored is the NPCIL’s non-compliance with the seventeen recommendations made by a special safety committee post-Fukushima.

The verdict dismisses people’s safety apprehensions, heightened after Fukushima, as a mere “emotional reaction”. It declares radiation exposure as a “minor inconvenience” which must be subordinated to the “larger public interest” of promoting nuclear power, which is indispensable to growth and will “uphold the right to life in a larger sense”.

The judgement’s worst part is the vile assertion dismissing “apprehension” about hazards, “however legitimate”: “Nobody on this earth can predict what would happen in future and to a larger extent we have to leave it to the destiny (sic)”. That is, the public must live with unacceptable hazards.

The verdict’s sole positive feature is its order to lift all false cases against the protesters. It otherwise lacks reason or logic, and is suffused with fatalism, irrationality and moral misjudgement.

The writer, a former newspaper editor, is a researcher and peace and human-rights activist based in Delhi.Email:

May 26, 2013 Posted by | Nuclear Power | , , , | Comments Off on Sanctifying nuclear hazards

Collateral Consequences Weighed for Corporations, Not for Individuals

By RUSSELL MOKHIBER | CounterPunch | May 24, 2013

In case you had any doubt that federal prosecutors favor corporations over individuals, check out Mythili Raman’s testimony before a House hearing this week.

Raman is the acting chief of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice.

She appeared before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee.

The title of the hearing — “Who Is Too Big to Fail: Are Large Financial Institutions Immune from Federal Prosecution?”

In a nutshell, the answer is — Yes they are immune from federal prosecution.

But it’s not just them.

It’s the vast majority of major corporate criminals, which now are granted deferred and non prosecution agreements when twenty years ago they were forced to plead guilty.

This sea change in corporate crime practice was ushered in by then Deputy Attorney General Holder in 1999 when he drafted the Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations. (Holder has been through the revolving door since — over to Covington & Burling to defend the corporations he’s now charged with prosecuting, then back to the Justice Department as Attorney General under President Obama. And no doubt, soon back to Covington.)

Under the subsequent rewrites of the Holder memo, federal prosecutors must now take into consideration the collateral consequences of a criminal prosecution on a major corporation including “whether there is disproportionate harm to shareholders, pension holders, employees, and others not proven personally culpable, as well as impact on the public arising from the prosecution.”

And this, along with the the eight other factors that prosecutors must take into account before prosecuting a corporation tilts the balance away from prosecution and toward deferred and non prosecution agreements.

Raman made it a point to emphasize twice during her testimony that individuals are not given the same consideration.

“For individuals, collateral consequences never enter into the equation,” Raman said.

Why not?

After all, collateral consequences for individuals can be devastating.

According to the American Bar Association Task Force on Collateral Consequences, the individual convict “may be ineligible for many federally-funded health and welfare benefits, food stamps, public housing, and federal educational assistance.”

“His driver’s license may be automatically suspended, and he may no longer qualify for certain employment and professional licenses.  If he is convicted of another crime he may be subject to imprisonment as a repeat offender.  He will not be permitted to enlist in the military, or possess a firearm, or obtain a federal security clearance.  If a citizen, he may lose the right to vote. If not, he becomes immediately deportable.”

And Raman says that federal prosecutors can’t take these into consideration.

But must take the collateral consequences of a corporate conviction into consideration.

Why the difference?

Because the corporate crime lobby has marinated the justice system.

And morphed our criminal justice system from one that was meant to deliver equal justice for all to one where corporate criminals reign supreme.

“You can imagine why, when I see some of the biggest banks in the world, who get a slap on the wrist, for laundering drug money from the drug cartels, and (their executives) are not going to jail” Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-California) told Raman at the hearing. “And then we have all of these young people getting arrested, some of them not criminal, just stupid, getting involved with small amounts of cocaine. And yet we have some of the richest, most powerful banks in the world laundering drug money from the drug cartels. Why don’t they (the bank executives) go to jail?”

Raman started to answer and Waters cut her off.

“We know what you do,” Waters said. “It’s what you do that we don’t like. What you do is — they get fined. And it’s a cost of doing business.”

Russell Mokhiber edits the Corporate Crime Reporter.

May 26, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Collateral Consequences Weighed for Corporations, Not for Individuals

Myanmar imposes two-child limit on Rohingya Muslims

Press TV – May 25, 2013

Officials in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine have placed a two-child limit for Muslim Rohingya couples in a gross violation of fundamental human rights and amid accusations of ethnic cleansing against the community.

Local authorities said on Saturday that the new measure will be exercised in the townships of Buthidaung and Maundaw, where about 95 percent of the population are Muslim.

Rakhine state spokesman, Win Myaing, said the measure was enacted a week ago, and was meant to stem population growth in the Muslim community.

Human rights groups say the policy makes Myanmar the only country in the world to impose such a restriction on a religious group.

They also warn that the new move will serve to fan the flames of sectarian violence in Myanmar.

Human Rights Watch has accused Rakhine authorities of fomenting an organized campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against the Rohingya Muslims.

Thousands of Rohingyas are deprived of citizenship rights due to the policy of discrimination that has denied them the right of citizenship and made them vulnerable to acts of violence and persecution, expulsion, and displacement.

The Myanmar government has so far refused to extricate the stateless Rohingyas in Rakhine state from their citizenship limbo, despite international pressure to give them a legal status.

The extremists frequently attack Rohingyas and have set fire to their homes in several villages in Rakhine. Myanmar Army forces allegedly provided the fanatics containers of petrol for torching the houses of Muslim villagers, who are then forced to flee.

Hundreds of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and thousands displaced in recent attacks by extremists, who call themselves Buddhists.

Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century.

May 26, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Islamophobia | , , , , , | Comments Off on Myanmar imposes two-child limit on Rohingya Muslims

Mideast Masters of Jazz

Gilad Atzmon – Alto Sax
Zane Musa – Soprano and Tenor Sax
Mahesh Balasooriya – Keyboard
Tony Austin – Drums
Hamilton Price – Bass

Recorded at The Mint, Los Angeles, May 17, 2013

Gilad Atzmon website

May 26, 2013 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Another 7-year old girl injured in Jewish settler hit and run vehicular assault

IMEMC & Agencies | May 26, 2013

Sunday May 26 2013; Palestinian medical sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, have reported that a 7-year old child was injured after being rammed by a settler’s vehicle in the city.

The sources said that Bayan Kamel Shatat, 7, suffered moderate injuries and was moved to the Hebron governmental hospital.

Rateb Jabour, coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Hebron, said that the child is a first grade student, and that she was returning home from school. The settler fled the scene after the incident.

On Wednesday May 22, a 9-year-old child was seriously injured after being rammed by a settler’s car in the As-Salayma neighborhood, east of the Ibrahimi Mosque, in Hebron city.

On the same day, a 16-year-old child identified as Marwan Zakariyya ‘As’ous, suffered serious injuries and was moved to the Rafidia Hospital, after being rammed by a settler’s car at the Beta Junction, south of Nablus.

On May 14, Hanin Bassem Al-Ja’bary, 7, was injured after a settler rammed her with his vehicle close to the Ibrahimi Mosque, in the Old City of Hebron. The settler fled the scene.

There have been numerous similar incidents in Hebron and other parts of the West Bank, and despite repeated claims filed to the Israeli Police, no actual and effective measure were taken against the assailants.

May 26, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Another 7-year old girl injured in Jewish settler hit and run vehicular assault

Iran blasts US for meddling remarks on election

Press TV – May 26, 2013

Tehran has criticized Secretary of State John Kerry and other US officials for their interfering remarks about Iran’s upcoming presidential election.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Saturday that according to the Algiers Accords, the United States has agreed not to meddle in Iran’s internal affairs.

The United States’ support of democracy is just a subterfuge and is all a show, he added.

It would be in Washington’s interest to abide by international law and to stop interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, he observed.

But unfortunately, US officials know very little about Iran’s electoral process, the Iranian foreign minister stated.

He went on to say that the US should accept that every country has its own electoral process, which is based on the country’s laws.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian foreign minister pointed to the contradiction between Washington’s self-proclaimed concerns for people’s democratic rights and its disregard for the results of the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council elections and condoning of the Israeli regime’s apprehension and abduction of Palestinians’ democratically elected legislators and acts of aggressions against the Gaza Strip.

“They (US officials) will have to answer to the public opinion that to what attitude have democracy and the rights of the people in this issue been sacrificed to?”

The Iranian foreign minister also questioned the legitimacy of the US Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of former US President George W. Bush after the 2000 presidential election.

He also cast doubt on the fairness of the US Electoral College, which allows about one fourth of the states, which are the most populous, to determine the outcome of presidential elections.

Salehi’s comments came a day after Kerry criticized the Guardian Council, Iran’s highest electoral supervisory body according to the Constitution, for not approving hundreds of candidates.

The US secretary of state made the remarks during a visit to Israel on Friday.

Kerry also accused the Guardian Council of choosing candidates that represent the interests of the Iranian establishment.

Last Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Araqchi censured Washington for making “baseless remarks” about Iran’s electoral process and interfering in its internal affairs.

Araqchi was responding to US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell, who had criticized Iran’s Guardian Council over its vetting process, in which hundreds of presidential hopefuls were not approved.

May 26, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Canadian prime minister makes promises amid deepening scandal

Press TV – May 26, 2013

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has promised to toughen the expense rules of the Senate of Canada following a scandal that led to the resignation of his chief of staff.

Harper also called for the prevention of any loops in the law on Tuesday morning before leaving for South America.

“I don’t think any of you are going to be very surprised to hear that I’m not happy. I’m very upset about some conduct we have witnessed, the conduct of some parliamentarians and the conduct of my own office,” Harper said, referring to the scandal.

On May 19, Nigel Wright, Harper’s chief of staff, announced resignation after it was revealed on May 14 that he had secretly given a check of 90,000 Canadian dollars (about USD 87,000) to conservative Senator Mike Duffy apparently for the purpose of helping him repay housing expenses.

Wright said in a statement that he had decided to quit “in light of the controversy surrounding my handling of matters involving Senator Duffy.”

Duffy and another senator, Pamela Wallin, resigned from the Conservative Party on Thursday and on Friday respectively. Wallin is involved in a controversy regarding her travel expenses. The Canadian senator awaits the outcome of an audit into her own travel expenses, which is claimed to have been USD 321,000 since September 2010.

May 26, 2013 Posted by | Corruption | , , , | 2 Comments

IMF chief escapes indictment in corruption case

PressTVGlobalNews · May 25, 2013

The Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) has not pressed criminal charges against International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde after days of investigation into a corruption case, Press TV reports.

Lagarde walked out of the court after two days of court hearings looking into her involvement in fraud and misappropriation of public funds.

The French court was probing Lagarde’s handling of a dispute in 2007 that resulted in a 400 million-euro (USD 515 million) payment to former politician and controversial business figure, Bernard Tapie.

On Friday, the former finance minister was given the status “assisting witness”. This means she will be regarded as a witness in future related questioning.

The IMF chief was France’s finance minister under the government of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Reports indicate Sarkozy had promised Tapie benefits if he agreed to become a major funder in his 2007 presidential election campaign.

Some say the court’s decision is an unfair one.

“Christine Lagarde’s behavior in this affair is unacceptable, because she allowed one of France’s biggest businessmen to bypass traditional public justice and gave him a private arbitration… her decision greatly favored Mr. Tapie,” Copernic Fondation’s Pierre Khalfa said.

In 2007, Lagarde asked a panel of judges to arbitrate in a row between Tapie and the partly state-owned Credit Lyonnais over his sale of sports group Adidas in 1993.

She has been accused of “numerous anomalies and irregularities.”

The criminal charges are regarded as the second straight scandal for an IMF chief since Lagarde succeeded Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who quit over allegations of an assault on a hotel maid in New York.

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May 26, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Video | , , , | Comments Off on IMF chief escapes indictment in corruption case