Linde investigated over alleged bribery in UN Iraq aid programme - report
Linde AG (one of Germany's largest companies) is being investigated over bribery allegations linked to the UN Oil-for-Food programme in Iraq, the weekly Focus reported in a prerelease of its upcoming edition, citing Munich's head prosecuting attorney Anton Winkler. (...)
According to a UN report, Linde was one of more than 2,000 firms around the world alleged to have made illicit payments to Saddam Hussein's government to profit from the aid programme, the magazine said. It also said that 63 German companies were allegedly involved and that currently up to 36 preliminary proceedings against executives of those mostly smaller firms are pending.
63 German companies? There was little discussion in the German media about bribery charges against German companies doing business in Iraq during Saddam's reign. There were so many other interesting topics to cover...
As Secretary-General Annan prepares to leave his post at the United Nations, a mystery is surfacing surrounding his apartment on Roosevelt Island, subsidized by New York taxpayers, which is still in use by the family of his brother, Kobina Annan.
The apartment was where Mr. Annan and his wife lived before 1997, when he became secretary-general. The Roosevelt Island home is part of an estate of low-rent state-regulated housing. For years, the Annans saved considerable sums by occupying an apartment meant to help financially strapped low- to moderate-income New York families.
One question Mr. Annan has never addressed is why he and his wife felt comfortable availing themselves of this generous arrangement. Another is how it is that, since Mr. Annan and his wife left that Roosevelt Island apartment 10 years ago to move into the rent-free residence on Sutton Place supplied to the secretary-general, their former low-rent apartment was handed over to be occupied by the family of Mr. Annan's brother.
...the current effective taxpayer subsidy for the Annan apartment could, by a conservative estimate, amount to upward of $10,000 a year, or even as much as twice that, which, over a decade, adds up to a significant sum.
(BTW, Mr. Annan's brother Kobina is Ghana's ambassador to Marocco. Also, he seems to have a knack for making money, as this report on his involvement in the oil-for-food scheme shows.)
For some strange reason, I cannot find any mention of this smart rent saving scheme of Kofi in the German media...
They are probably still busy translating the piece.
One of SPIEGEL ONLINE's favorite hobbies used to be smearing Tony Blair as a mind-numbed "vassal" of the United States. Blair was repeatedly lambasted as a poodle, lapdog or underling of the Bush administration...even as then Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was signing billion dollar pipeline deals with Russia, ignoring atrocities in Chechnya and openly praising Vladimir Putin as a "spotless democrat." Since Angela Merkel took office, the "vassal" rhetoric seems to have subsided...or so we thought.
The "vassal" rhetoric is back and this time the perpetrator is Amerika-Korrespondent Gerhard Spoerl. In his most recent article, entitled "Bye, Bye Blockheads" Spoerl celebrates what he describes as the downfall of America's neo-conservative movement. He writes:
"John Bolton was among the subservient ones, the vassals who were increasingly congregating around strong figures like Rumsfeld. Douglas Feith was another one. But does anyone remember him? He was allowed to bully intelligence officials who had the audacity to voice an opinion on weapons of mass destruction that diverged from that of the Pentagon and the office of Vice President Cheney. Bolton ended up as the Ambassador of the United States of America to the United Nations. Yet another irony of fate: Bolton, the blockhead and America First type, as UN ambassador. As a diplomat. And now he has resigned. Finally."
Interestingly enough, after deriding Bolton as a "vassal" and "blockhead," Spoerl cannot list a single example of what Bolton did wrong while serving at the United Nations. Apparently, engaging in petty name-calling is enough to engage the SPIEGEL audience.
The article also features another oft-used smear tactic common at SPIEGEL ONLINE:
The photo gallery also includes Richard Armitage as one of the eight key neo-cons in America. Yet anyone who knows Armitage knows that he cannot stand Cheney, Rumsfeld, Feith and other "neo-cons" or conservative "hawks" in the Bush administration who he views as having betrayed Colin Powell, his former superior in the State Department. To label him a "neo-con" at this point is questionable at best.
And like so many other members of the Far Left, Spoerl looks down his nose at his political opponents by claiming that they were fools to believe that Iraqis would welcome Americans in 2003. It has become a given fact for many on the far-left that no Iraqis welcomed the Americans. Unfortunately, reality contradicts this all-too common revisionism. Many Iraqis clearly did welcome the Americans and these videos (and many more like them) prove it:
As we have mentioned before: Gerhard Spoerl and others like him are the true vassals. They are vassals to a special 1968-brand ideology of anti-American Schadenfreude that their sick readers simply can't seem to get enough of. They will twist facts and reality to fit their worldview and have demonstrated their willingness to do so time and again. They are intellectually stuck in the Vietnam-era and see everything through the prism of defeat for America, its military and its President. Right now, they are crowing and thumping their chests in self-satisfaction. What happens to the people of Iraq and what happened to the people of Vietnam and Cambodia after a US withdrawal is something they could truly care less about. If a few million people have to die for them to be right and maintain a firm footing on the moral high ground - then so be it.
And let us close by asking this: How often have you seen people like Gerhard Spoerl lifting so much as a finger to make the world a better place? All they can do is criticize and tear others apart because deep down they are so pathetic, miserable and inadequate. They would rather ridicule and wallow in their own cynicism than spend a moment formulating constructive, measured criticism in an attempt to find a better way forward.
Ohne den 11. September 2001 säße im Weißen Haus ein anderer, über Afghanistan wüsste die westliche Welt so viel wie über West-Kansas, und stehen gelassene Koffer wären höchstens als Stolperfalle gefährlich. Oder doch nicht? Experten skizzieren für SPIEGEL ONLINE die Welt, in der wir jetzt leben würden.
[…] Israel, Syrien und Iran scheinen sich allmählich aussöhnen zu wollen. Die Furcht vor dem Unsicherheitsfaktor Nummer eins in der Region eint sie: Saddam Hussein rasselt seit dem Golfkrieg 1990 ständig mit dem Säbel.
Nette Idee. Hätte man tatsächlich was draus machen können. Hat man aber nicht. Stattdessen malt man sich eine nahezu idyllische Welt voller rational handelnder Akteure, in der die einstigen Erzfeinde Israel, Syrien und Iran plötzlich dicke Freunde sein wollen, und das wird dann makabererweise auch noch mit Saddam Husseins friedenstiftendem Säbelgerassel begründet.
So greift man erst in einen Wassermalkasten voll bunter Farben, und stellt dann angesichts der unattraktiven Schwarzweißbilder der Bush-Ära mit kindlichem Erstaunen fest, daß die Welt ohne ihn viel hübscher wäre. Mit der Bezeichnung Best-Case-Szenario sind diese Träumereien jedenfalls noch äußerst freundlich umschrieben. Doch der SPIEGEL wäre nicht der SPIEGEL, wenn er eine dermaßen peinliche Schönfärberei nicht wenigstens pro forma mit dem Feigenblatt einer pseudokritischen Analyse zu entschärfen versuchen würde:
Schöne neue Welt - könnte sie so aussehen, wäre ein bestimmter Tag des Jahres 2001 anders verlaufen?
dass sich die Welt ohne die Terroranschläge dieses Tages völlig anders entwickelt hätte? Dass der mächtigste Mann der Welt ein anderer wäre; dass die Welt friedlicher wäre; dass islamistischer Terror nicht unser Leben bestimmte?
Experten zweifeln erheblich an einem solchen Szenario. Bei SPIEGEL ONLINE beschreiben sie, was dieser eine Tag wirklich verändert hat.
Soso, Experten. Ich kann mir schon gut vorstellen, wie man die aufgetrieben hat. Wahrscheinlich hat unser Redakteursschneewittchen einfach "SPIEGEL, SPIEGEL, in der Hand, wer ist der klügste im ganzen Land?" gerufen und plötzlich standen unsere sieben Zwerge vor der Tür, überglücklich, daß sie endlich mal jemand nach ihrer Meinung fragt.
Anders ist jedenfalls nicht zu erklären, wie dieses Dreamteam es fertiggebracht hat, einen Artikel zum Thema "Die Welt ohne 9/11" zu schreiben, ohne dabei wenigstens einmal Begriffe wie Dschihad, Demokratisierung, Achmadinedschad, Katjuscha oder Völkermord zu verwenden; ganz so, als ob die Erfindung der Schariah, die ethnischen Säuberungen im Sudan, die Gründung der al-Qaida, der palästinensische Terrorismus, die Raketenrüstung der Hisbollah, der Beginn des iranischen Atomprogramms oder das gegenseitige Massakrieren von Sunniten und Schiiten erst durch die amerikanische Reaktion auf den 11. September ausgelöst worden wäre, während diese Politik gleichzeitig natürlich nichts, aber auch gar nichts mit dem Sturz der mittelalterlichen Schreckensherrschaft der Taliban, den ersten freien Wahlen im Irak, der Demokratiebewegung im Libanon und der zunehmenden innerarabischen Diskussion über westliche Freiheiten zu tun hat.
Aber lassen wir stellvertretend für diese geballte Brainpower unserer glorreichen Sieben einfach mal den "Politologieexperten" zu Wort kommen, der durch seine rosarote Brille unter seiner über die Augen gezogenen Zipfelmütze offenbar einen ganz ausgezeichneten Blick auf die Weltpolitik hat:
In den USA wäre Bush auf relativ unspektakuläre Art ein zweites Mal gewählt worden. Keinesfalls war eine solche Polarisierung zu erwarten, dass Bush am Ende unter seinen Republikanern bessere Zustimmungsraten hatte als Ronald Reagan zu seiner Glanzzeit - und unter Demokraten schlechtere als Richard Nixon vor seinem Rücktritt. Die Welt wäre weniger dramatisch, doch vielleicht ein schönerer Platz zum Leben mit beliebteren USA.
Mal ganz davon abgesehen, daß der Verlust des Beliebtheitspreises in einem globalen, um das nackte Überleben geführten Konflikt nur Abzüge in der B-Note bedeutet, ließe sich ohne allzu viel Phantasie mit einer weit größeren Berechtigung als jede der hier in SPIEGEL online vorgestellten Märchenwelten auch folgende, nicht einmal extrem negativ fortgeschriebene Entwicklung skizzieren:
SPIEGEL ONLINE's recent interview with Kofi Annan was a true masterpiece of multilateral enlightenment. The Secretary General wasted no time in pointing out that New Yorkers see terrorism as the greatest threat "because of the way the press plays it." Those pesky New Yorkers must not be smart enough to know what is really threatening them. After all, they are buying the media spin and only Kofi seems to know what is truly ailing the planet. Why can't we all be so wise and worldly?
But I digress. The truly stunning aspect of the interview involved one of the questions. Actually, it was more of a statement:
"SPIEGEL: It seems that every US generation in recent history has had to go through the experience of losing a war."
Hmmm. OK, now let's see. Which generations have had to experience losing a war. The baby-boomers had to experience Vietnam. (Scratching head) OK. Now what other "US generation" had to experience losing a war? Did the US lose any other wars...? Are the reporters confusing the US with Germany? This is all so confusing. For what it's worth, this was Kofi's answer:
"Annan: Yes, and it is a bit sad to put it that way. One has to learn from history. Quite frankly, it is almost impossible to have a sense of vision without a sense of history. If history is learned, then it doesn't have to repeat itself over generations."
Indeed. One does have to learn from history. Lesson One for RetardedIntellectually-Challenged German Journalists: Recent US Military History.
Endnote: One of the interviewers was Georg Mascolo, the same guy who thinks Alexandria, Virginia is deep in the heart of conservative, red-state America. On another note, here is an interesting article on anti-Americanism in German media by Josef Joffe. Parts of Joffe's work were so good that we put them on our sidebar.
2006 will be Kofi Annan's last year as UN Secretary General - and now already he is applauded by all sides. ... German UN ambassador (Gunter) Pleuger: "Kofi Annan is the most impressive and most successful of the five Secretaries General I worked with ... the UN is equated with the person Kofi Annan." Martina Buttler, New York Radio Correspondent for ARD (Largest German Public Broadcasting Organization)
Aug. 3 (Bloomberg) -- John Bolton used his first full day as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to forge a strategy with China aimed at defeating a formula offered by four U.S. allies to expand the Security Council, the Chinese envoy said.
Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said he and Bolton decided to coordinate efforts yesterday to block the initiative by Japan, Germany, Brazil and India, during one of Bolton's first meetings in New York with a UN envoy. ... ``We agreed to work together to make sure our interests are being maintained,'' Wang told reporters today at the UN. ``That means we have to work in parallel ways to make sure the unity of UN members will not be spoiled by this maneuver.''
German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will be furious! I mean, the guy has done so much to please the Chinese "government", it borders on the ridiculous. He even tried to lift the arms embargo against China.
"You can get all the weapons you want, Herr President. Just help Germany to a permanent UNSC seat. Should I walk faster?"
"OK, send the weapons. As to the UNSC seat, we'll first have to consult Mr. Bolton... You may now kiss my hand."
Bolton!! A right-wing conservative, unable to the nuanced diplomacy French style the German media so much adore!
Ah, well, never mind. Luxembourg is still on Germany's side.
The conclusions of the Volcker report regarding Kofi Annans involvement in the UN oil-for-food programme come as no surprise. Roger Simon goes into details and summarizes:
...anyone who thinks Kofi Annan is the man to reform the United Nations has the intelligence of a gnat or the morals of Saddam Hussein.
Here is another example of a whitewashing attempt: the "European Anti-Fraud Office's" (Olaf) investigation into the EU's financial contributions to the Palestinian Authority. John Rosenthal found this hilarious statement in a press release by Olaf:
...there are consistent indications to support the hypothesis that it cannot be excluded that some of the assets of the PA may have been used by some individuals for other than the intended purposes.
Of course, Olaf states that no misuse of EU funds took place...
(...) A palpable atmosphere of dread has overtaken the UN headquarters ahead of the release of a second interim report into the affair by the investigative panel headed by Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Officials hope the report will exonerate the secretary general of direct wrongdoing. But many expect it to criticise him for overlooking the activities of his son, Kojo Annan, who for eight years received nearly $400,000 (£220,000) from a Swiss firm that was given a large contract in the oil-for-food programme.
The suggestion even of managerial incompetence or blindness to nepotism on the part of Mr Annan will take a toll on him at a time when he is already beleaguered by other scandals and will almost certainly prompt new calls for his resignation.
He was on the streets throwing stones at police in the 1970s and once took an oath of office wearing sneakers. But a reckless past and emotion-laden politics have long been part of the appeal of Joschka Fischer, Germany's unconventional foreign minister.
That love affair is now on the wane, however, as a furor over visa rules raises questions about his political judgment and casts another cloud over Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government, already beset by high unemployment and faltering efforts to revitalize Europe's largest economy. (...)
... some commentators already see gloom settling over the government. The liberal weekly Die Zeit doubted the Schroeder-Fischer team could survive its own "arrogance'' and "lack of discipline.''
Now, let's assume for a moment Kofi and Joschka both get the pink slip. What does the future hold for these two losers?
I think I'll have both of them work in a secure, tranquile environment. Desk jobs at John Bolton's UN office come to mind...
March 11, 2005 -- WASHINGTON — A former chief U.N. weapons inspector revealed yesterday that he was offered millions of dollars in bribes from Tariq Aziz, Iraq's ex-deputy prime minister — to give a favorable report on Saddam Hussein's weapons programs.
Didn't Aziz know what every decent left-wing journalist in Germany knows and knew before the Iraq war? There were no WMD programs in Iraq! Bush and the neocons lied!
So, why the bribe?
All Aziz had to do was asking Saddam or reading German newspapers...