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Monday, December 08, 2014

Of note...

FOIA improvement. God knows we need a better Freedom of Information Act: This administration has been about as transparent as concrete. Patrick Leahy is trying to get a "better FOIA" bill through the Senate.

It will be very telling if the Republicans try to block something like this...
The bill would require federal agencies to permanently maintain a default position that information should be released to the public, called a “presumption of openness.” It would also limit an exemption allowing agencies to keep internal deliberations secret and make other changes to the transparency law.
You know, we still don't have Lee Harvey Oswald's tax records. I'm not saying that those records would contain evidence of "spooky" payments or anything of that sort. I'm just saying that some people would like to look at those documents.

Kissinger and Bhopal. Many younger readers may not know about the horrific Bhopal chemical disaster in India, which took place 30 years ago. A toxic gas cloud killed some 25,000 people and affected over half a million others. The environmental effects persist to this day.

The gas leak emanated from a pesticide plant owned by Union Carbide. There are two theories as to what caused the disaster: Union Carbide blames worker sabotage, while most others believe that the company had enacted cost-cutting measures which compromised safety.

The government of India originally asked for $3 billion in restitution. The company eventually agreed to a settlement of $470 million, a figure which many activists in India considered outrageously low.

We now know that Henry Kissinger played a role in the negotiations which led to the acceptance of the lower figure.  He was a Union Carbide adviser.
A letter released under freedom of ­information legislation reveals that the late Indian steel magnate JRD Tata wrote secretly to the Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, in May 1988 conveying ­Kissinger's concern about the delays in reaching agreement on the compensation to be paid to victims.
This has since been widely derided as completely inadequate given the horrendous scale and persisting legacy of the disaster on December 3, 1984. Crucially, as part of the deal, all charges against Union Carbide and its managers were dropped - though this was subsequently overturned by India's Supreme Court in 1991.
Kissinger had helped Union Carbide secure the bank loan for the initial construction of the plant.

Ukraine. When I published my last piece on the shady background of Ukraine's new Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko -- who was, until recently, a US citizen (in fact, she was a US diplomat) -- I didn't know that Robert Parry was already on the case.

As noted in the earlier piece, Jeresko ran an investment fund backed by AID and funded to the tune of $150 million by American taxpayers. The fund lost a lot of money, and Jaresko has been accused repeatedly of insider dealing and other improprieties.

In a delightful twist, one of her main accusers is her former husband, a man named Ihor Figlus.
But his whistle-blowing was shut down by a court order issued at Jaresko’s insistence.
If this blog had a soundtrack, this is the point where we would be hearing catfight noises.
Figlus had reviewed company records in 2011 and concluded that some loans were “improper,” but he lacked the money to investigate so he turned to Mark Rachkevych, a reporter for the Kyiv Post, and gave him information to investigate the propriety of the loans.

“When Jaresko realized the beans were spilling, she sent Figlus a reminder that he had signed a non-disclosure agreement” and secured a temporary injunction in Delaware on behalf of Horizon Capital and EEGF to prevent Figlus from further revealing company secrets...
When Victoria Nuland revealed that the US had spent $5 billion on "influencing" Ukraine, some people scoffed at the figure. A few even muttered something about Russian disinformation. (Wasn't dear Victoria recorded...?) As Parry notes...
But if one looks at the $150 million largesse bestowed on Natalie Jaresko, you can begin to understand the old adage that a hundred million dollars here and a hundred million dollars there soon adds up to real money.

Those payments over more than two decades to various people and entities in Ukraine also constitute a major investment in Ukrainian operatives who are now inclined to do the U.S. government’s bidding.
Israel and ISIS. Washington's Blog wonders why Israel is functioning as an air force for ISIS.
Israel has repeatedly bombed Syria over the last couple of days.

The attacks have been close to the Syrian capital Damascus, and have reportedly taken out agricultural facilities and warehouses.

As we’ve asked for years, why are we and our allies fighting on the same side as terrorists?
I'll say it again: The US and Israel should always be considered de facto supporters of ISIS until such time as we decide to back Bashar Assad in his civil war. Such an alliance would be very temporary and filled with mistrust. It would be an alliance in which the parties speak to each other through scowls and gritted teeth. That would be fine. It is nevertheless the case that Assad's army is the only viable counterforce to ISIS in Syria.
For a long time now I detested Alassad. But now I am forced to think someone who is hated so much by Isis,Israel and the right wingers they can't see straight must be on to something
Not sure what the problem is with Natalie Jaresko........she seems to have perfect credentials to be the finance minister of a US puppet fascist regime. Obviously the US prefers completely corrupt regimes, as they are easier to get to do your bidding.
Whatever else one can say about Natalie Jaresko she certainly keeps good company. Mind you, it's not as though they don't possess a sense of humor.
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