Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yankees Win, Worldwide Wave of Corruption Trials

Dana Milbank
E J Dionne Jr
Mehdi Khalaji

"Look at the stories we're talking about today and I think it's about a transcendent party." - Michael Steele
"Presumably, the chairman meant that his party is ascendant, meaning on the rise, and not transcendent, meaning beyond the limits of comprehension."   - Dana Milbank

Congragulations to the New York Yankees for winning the World Series. It was a good match-up against the Phillies, but the Yankees had better hitters this year. One of the best stories about the meaning of sports and the game of baseball came from Yahoo, of all places, which is where I got the picture of the Chamberlains, Harlan and Joba, father and son, hugging after the game: "You see the Yankees' $200+ million payroll and it's easy to get cynical. Same goes for their $1.5 billion new stadium, the seats that cost more than the average mortgage payment, the steroid controversies involving some of their team members and all the endless hype and hooey about mystique, aura and all the Yankee legends and ghosts.
But then you see this very simple and very real scene of a 24-year-old pitcher sharing the hug of a lifetime with his dad and you remember that those father-son relationships — one of the only things that really matter — are at the very heart of this great game that we love. " And there is wild partying in Japan, as one of their favorite players, Hideki Matsui who played for 10 years in Japan and got the nickname Godzilla,  won the series MVP...

juggling pythons...

Agreeing to try and strengthen ties with Burma, the US sent the Assistant Secretary of State over to meet with officials. Ok, he didn't really get to meet with any head honchos of the Burmese government, as the Prime Minister is just there for decoration, but he did get to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her political party. Pundits interpret the fact that she was allowed to leave her home and meet in a hotel was a sign of the regime loosening up.  The US has said that there are certain steps Burma must take before sanctions will be lifted. The EU has frozen the bank accounts of Burmese officials and they are feeling a pinch in their ill-gotten gains.

But this is the same load of human rights crap we have demanded of Cuba, and it hasn't worked there, either. Our foreign policy continues to be offering friendship with one hand, while holding a stick in the other, continuously offering the carrot and threatening with the stick. Oh, the burdens of being the lone superpower...

years of living dangerously...
The real news is what's going on in Indonesia. The government is trying to root out its institutional corruption, and has created an anti-corruption task-force. The national police force has been caught on tape trying to find ways to make the task-force ineffective, and two government officials named on the tape have been forced to resign: "Human rights groups say the KPK has become a target of the police force because it has been so successful in investigating and charging corrupt officials.
Indonesia is often ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, but the efforts of the KPK have encouraged investors to believe the country is trying to clean up its act."

You might say there is a world-wide wave trying for more honest and decent governments. Maybe the result of the Iranian green movement? Despite heavy military, police, and thug presence on the streets yesterday, tens of thousands anti-government protesters took to those same streets and braved getting beaten up and tear-gassed. It was supposed to celebrate taking over the US Embassy in 1979, but the clashing  groups tended to cancel out any sponsored celebration. Many of the dissidents have expressed their displeasure that we are trying to engage with an illegitimate government, preferring that we brandish the stick at the Ayatollah...

Anti-corruption trials are taking place in Argentina, China, and France. Many old soldiers are coming forward in Argentina and confessing to torture and crime committed during the military junta's rule, a last confession for them in a Catholic way. The last dictator is being taken to trial in a soccer stadium, to hold all of the  many observers: " A trial began on Monday for Argentina’s last dictator, Reynaldo Bignone, a retired general, as well as for five former generals and two others who are accused of kidnappings and murders that prosecutors say took place in the Campo de Mayo military base.

General Bignone is accused of holding ultimate responsibility for myriad cases of torture, illegal break-ins and deprivations of human rights from 1976 to 1978, before he was appointed president by the military junta in the waning years of the dictatorship."

Its sad to see even friendly foreign leaders dragged to trial. The former French Prime Minister is also going to trial: "Jacques Chirac, the former French president, has been ordered to stand trial on embezzlement charges over accusations he rewarded cronies with payments for non-existent jobs while mayor of Paris. If the case goes ahead it will make Chirac the first holder of France's highest office to face a corruption trial. Chirac was mayor of the French capital between 1977 and 1995 before being elected to the ElyseĆ© for 12 years. He is accused of having used his position as mayor to award 21 "ghost" contracts to his political aides and paying them from the city payroll.

Upon hearing news of Simeoni's recommendation, Chirac declared himself to be "serene" and "determined to prove" that the allegations are false."

With the upcoming trials of corruption by political leaders in Russia and Israel, take heart America, there is still time to catch the wave and bring Dick Cheney and cronies to justice..

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