Note that the rendering quality of Shockwave movies has been going up significantly lately..
With estimates soaring of graft and fraud under the United Nations Oil for Food program in Iraq, we are hearing a lot about the need to “get to the bottom” of this scandal, the biggest ever to hit the U.N. To get to that bottom will need a much harder look at the top–where Secretary-General Kofi Annan himself resides.
That violates all sorts of taboos. But so, one might suppose, does a United Nations that allowed Saddam Hussein to embezzle at least $21.3 billion in oil money during 12 years, with the great bulk of that sum–a staggering $17.3 billion–pilfered between 1997-2003, on Mr. Annan’s watch.
These are the record-breaking new estimates released Monday by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, whose staffers, despite Mr. Annan’s refusal to cooperate, have spent the past seven months voyaging deep into the muck of Oil for Food. At a hearing Monday, these investigators surfaced to tell us the theft and fraud under Oil for Food was at least twice as bad as earlier reports had suggested, and that all this is just a preview of yet more appalling disclosures they expect to release early next year. Sen. Norm Coleman, the subcommittee’s chairman, underscored the urgency of such investigations, noting not only that the size of the fraud “is staggering,” but that some of Saddam’s vast illicit stash might right now be funding terrorists and costing American lives.
Mr. Annan, by contrast, seems to inhabit a different universe–one in which the chief problem lies not in the U.N.’s complicity, including his own, in the biggest fraud in the history of humanitarian relief, but rather in the attempts to shine any light on all that sleaze. In Annan Land, there was earlier this year no need for any probe into Oil for Food; and even now there is no need for any investigating beyond the U.N.’s own “independent inquiry” into itself, led by former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, required to funnel its findings first through Mr. Annan, funded to the tune of $30 million out of one of the old Oil for Food accounts it is supposed to be investigating, and not planning to clock in with any specific results until sometime next summer.
Hardliners have tightened their political grip on North Korea while Kim Jong-il, the Stalinist state’s dictator, has retreated into virtual seclusion after the death of his favourite consort from cancer.
Chinese and Western sources say the regime has prepared for a state of siege as it confronts a re-elected US administration under George W. Bush that is determined to break Pyongyang and disarm it of nuclear weapons.
As Japanese envoys tried to persuade the North Koreans last week to rejoin multinational talks, Mr Kim’s absence from the scene led to speculation a debilitating power struggle might have paralysed the ruling group.
This followed the death of Koh Young-hee, a dancer who had provided Mr Kim with an heir-apparent to the world’s only communist dynasty.
Russia’s state-run communication agency ITAR-TASS reported from Beijing quoting a diplomat in North Korea yesterday that pictures of the chairman of the DPRK National Defense Committee Kim Jong Il are being removed from public places in North Korea.
The news reported that foreigners who were recently invited to the People’s Palace of Culture in Pyongyang noticed that only the late President Kim Il Sung’s picture remains and that Chairman Kim’s picture has been removed from the entrance.
A Emperor tamarin (Saguinus imperator subgrisescens) sits on a branch in his enclosure in the Zurich, Switzerland, zoo, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2004. The bearded Emperor tamarins live in tropical forests of Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia. (AP Photo/Keystone, Steffen Schmidt)
Whether it’s flying to small towns to help Republicans raise money or engineering a redistricting plan giving his party control of the Texas congressional delegation, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay delivers for his members. Now the members have delivered for him.
House Republicans on Wednesday changed a party rule so DeLay, R-Texas, could remain as leader if indicted in a Texas campaign finance investigation that he calls political.
The old rule required GOP leaders and committee chairmen charged with a felony to relinquish their positions. The new language orders a case-by-case review, with the leaders retaining their posts until all House Republicans decide their fate.
Along with legal arguments for protecting those who might be charged but not convicted, there clearly was another message for DeLay: “thank you.”
Telling consumers where their meat, fruit and vegetables came from seemed such a good idea to U.S. ranchers and farmers in competition with imports that Congress two years ago ordered the food industry to do it. But meatpackers and food processors fought the law from the start, and newly emboldened Republicans now plan to repeal it before Thanksgiving.
As part of the 2002 farm bill, country-of-origin labeling was supposed to have gone into effect this fall. Congress last year postponed it until 2006. Now, House Republicans are trying to wipe it off the books as part of a spending bill they plan to finish this month.
“For Republicans to deny Americans the opportunity to ‘buy American’ at the grocery store is anti-consumer, anti-farmer and anti-rancher,” Daschle said Wednesday.
Swarms of locusts obscure the Giza pyramids near Cairo, November 17, 2004. The pink locusts that swept through Cairo recalled the plague of biblical Egypt, flying high above tall towers and scaring pedestrians who stamped on them or ran for cover. Photo by Aladin Abdel Naby/Reuters
Funny how companies inconvenience their paying customers like this.
It is now easier to find a crack than it is to register the game as a customer.
I’m sure this will do wonders to fight piracy.