Tuesday, December 27, 2005

One.org

I'm a huge u2 fan, and have heard Bono speak about poverty in Africa for years. I've been skeptical, because corruption seems so deeply ingrained in Africa that I found it hard to believe anyone could do any good for the people who really need it. But, Bono persisted. And the cause grew. Now, fighting corruption is listed amongst the top goals for a relatively new but star-studded anti-poverty organization: one.org.

I believe that evil thrives in darkness but runs from light. As celebrities, politicians, athletes and citizens like us shine a bright spotlight onto the issue of corruption in Africa, the corrupt will run and hide or be caught and stopped. And if we are steadfast, finally, light will shine in the "Dark Continent," and its people will feel the warmth of enlightenment and break free from the chains of poverty.

Add your voice to the millions of others who are supporting one.org. If you're reading this: you have a computer and you can read... which makes you immeasurably better off than the average African. So simply adding your name to the list of supporters is the least you can do. They don't want our money, just our voices.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Report Shows Oil-for-Food Funded Saddam's Appetite for WMD

From Wikipedia:

The Duelfer report, released on 30 September 2004, described in a key finding the impact of the Oil-for-Food Programme on Saddam's regime:

• The introduction of the Oil-For-Food program (OFF) in late 1996 was a key
turning point for the Regime. OFF rescued Baghdad’s economy from a terminal
decline created by sanctions. The Regime quickly came to see that OFF could be
corrupted to acquire foreign exchange both to further undermine sanctions and to provide the means to enhance dual-use infrastructure and potential WMD-related development.[vol. I, p.1] (emphasis added)

Iraq and France Working To Undermine Oil-for-Food from the Start?

From the Wikipedia overview of the Oil-for-Food program:

"The Oil-for-Food Programme (Oil-for-Food Program in American English),
established by the United Nations in 1996 and terminated in
late 2003, was intended to allow Iraq to sell oil on the world market in exchange
for food, medicine, and other humanitarian needs for ordinary Iraqi citizens without allowing Iraq to rebuild its military. The program was introduced by the US Clinton
Administration
in 1995 that nevertheless opposed the further liberalization
of the proposal pursued by Iraq and France."


So, even before the program was approved, IRAQ and FRANCE were working together to further liberalize the program. Any doubts that was because they saw opportunity for extreme graft?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Where's the Outcry?

Not much buzz about the 2,200 companies and governments who funded Iraq's army and insurgency through the oil-for-food program.

The Moderate Voice and The Reaction at least point out that a French diplomat has admitted to accepting kickbacks. Gee, wonder why the French didn't want to support enforcement of the UN's resolution to go to war with Saddam if he didn't disarm and adhere to sanctions levied on Iraq in the 90s?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Corruption Costs Lives: The U.N. Oil-for-Food Scandal

On Thursday, Paul Volcker, former Fed Chairman and current Chairman of the Independent Inquiry Committee investigating corruption in the U.N. Oil-for-Food program issued an eye-opening, jaw-dropping report that more than 2,200 companies and government agencies, especially from France and Russia, were illegally giving millions of dollars in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein.

These companies, agencies and their leaders and the corrupt officials at the U.N. should be held accountable for their crimes, which likely kept Saddam in power longer than he otherwise would have been able to. The elder Bush and members of the Clinton administration couldn't understand how Saddam stayed in power through the late 90s and early 2000s. Well, this is how.

The illegal kickbacks to Saddam paid for his torture and rape chambers, the countless sins of his sons, his pusuit of WMDs, his funding and promotion for terrorism including payments to families of homicide bombers attacking Israel, his oppression of the Kurds and Shiites, repression of women, etc.

Without the money from these kickbacks, would the War in Iraq have been necessary? Would the insurgency be as well supplied? Would France and Russia have blocked a larger coalition and a unified world response to Saddam's violation of U.N. sanctions? How much of this money was funnelled to terrorists, directly by Saddam or indirectly through his henchmen? Would 2,014 American soldiers and counting have been killed in Iraq?

And, was it coicidence that the U.N. announcement came a day before the CIA leak investigation closed? The U.N. story, which is much larger in terms of global consequence, sure got buried fast. But in the grand scheme of things, we cannot allow such diversions to detract from the evils done through the corruption of the oil-for-food program. Those 2,200 companies should be legally prosecuted, fined, their leadership imprisoned, and their produce boycotted!

Dennis Hastert, two heartbeats away from the Presidency, Launches a Blog

So, Dennis Hastert has started blogging. Kudos to the "old guy" as he calls himself.

But, his blog needs some work.

First, couldn't he find a better picture to use? He looks like a mean, cranky old politician, just the image Republican party is trying to get away from!

And, I have to take issue with him about the oil companies. Here's an e-mail I sent to his office since there's no space for comments on his blog:


Mr. Speaker,

I think it's great that you've started a blog, but would suggest you allow comments to your postings to build a two-way dialog with your engaged constituents. Certainly a staffer could monitor and filter comments for you. I would have preferred to respond that way.

But, I must take issue with something you said on your blog. You said that as oil companies announce record prices, Republicans don't believe in punishing success. I wholeheartedly agree with the principal of not punishing success, but I have deep questions about whether the oil companies record profits represent success or unfair trade practices - such as price gauging.

I know oil companies will claim that the profits will be used to build refineries (and you rightly criticize them for their lack of refinery expansion in 30 years), but such promises sound more like a diversionary tactic to shift attention away from their predatory practices of bilking the American consumer and also fall a day late and probably many dollars short.

As a conservative who is concerned about the direction of our party, I hope you will use your office to counter the growing perception that Republicans are too tightly tied to oil interests and join other on Capitol Hill to lead an investigation into what appears to be a series of improprieties within the American oil industry that stretches from Enron to Oil-for-Food and now apparent price gouging.

At the same time, I hope you will work with the President to increase the pressure for drilling in Alaska, development of more alternative fuel and/or hybrid technologies for automobiles and trucks, improvements in our pipeline infrastructure, drilling off the Florida coast and any other reasonable measure to decrease our dependence on foreign oil.

Respectfully,

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

My other blog

As I continue to experiment with blogging, check out my other blog: "dbest of...", where I'm trying see how much interaction a blog can generate.

http://dbestof.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Talking about great ads...

This one gave me goosebumps...

Kudos to Anheiser Busch.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Little Things Make Great Advertising

Like most in communications/marketing/advertising, I'm a skeptic. I don't believe the news because I know the modern news game - and it's a broken system. Most efforts to target market me backfire b/c if I wanted to know about your product, I'd find it without your ugly flyer on my door, envelope in my mailbox, spam in my inbox or, worst of all, ring of my phone. I think most ads are horrible. The best seem to be ones that you can never remember who they're for. That's kinda a bad thing to spend millions on - something memorable, but does nothing for your brand or product.

Then there are those rare ads that can be so simple they break through and grab you.

On the way home I heard such an ad on the radio. Production quality was poor. Some local yocal insurance man rambling his Texas drawl. Then he said something about, "... what insurance companies don't want you to know is they're in kind of a soft market...". That sounded interesting, and i started listening. Then in closing, he delivered the line that made the ad: "... or visit my Web site: insurancecompaniesarestupid.com." I laughed out loud. It wasn't just how he said it - and he nailed the line - but the fact that he had the nerve to say it. I mean this guy has to work with insurance companies every day - he's an agent. And he struck a nerve with me - because I pretty much think all banks and insurance companies are running rackets.

Well, he earned a chance to earn my business. I visited his site, and filled out a form to get a homeowner's insurance quote. We'll see if he really can save me $.