It is becoming a trend among influential GOP candidates to call out the Palestinian people as “invented” or even “non-existent”. First we had Republican candidate Newt Gingrich calling the Palestinians an “invented people”. Another rising star, Republican candidate Rick Santorum, has also said “There is no Palestine”. But I won’t really bother to give any of them dimwits any more attention than they deserve. Their case is a hopeless miserable case after all.
On this occasion I’d like to share with you this, video footage taken in Palestine back in the year 1896. We see Palestinians; we see Jews, Christians, and Muslims living in peace. We see a Jewish man praying at the Western Wall without having to show IDs to any authority, unlike what we see in Jerusalem today. We see neighbors, friends, families, and a society just like that in Cairo or Damascus, as the commentator says. If we look today, we don’t see much of the same thing. Not so much freedom of religion, not so much freedom of life.
The film was recovered by Lobster Films, a film preservation company based in Paris, in February 2007.
No sooner had Rupert Murdoch anointed Rick Santorum last night as the man he will support for the presidency then William Kristol quickly posted a last minute tid-bit at The Weekly Standard website before heading off to bed saying what a ‘good omen’ it was for him to bump into Santorum in the lobby of the hotel that they both just happen to be staying at.
Neocons don’t do ‘omens’. They carefully plan stuff.
They’ve been hanging out in the wings for weeks waiting and watching how each of the candidates are performing, paying particular attention to their foreign policy attributes. It’s odd, however, that Kristol barely even mentioned Santorum as a possibility when he was rummaging around in an article that clearly demonstrated that they were very disappointed with the then field. As I said in my article at the time, Kristol’s list of possibilities then was Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, but I doubt – apart from Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio – that he took any of them seriously.
But now the man with the most influence has come down on the side of Santorum, all we can do now is sit back and watch how all the neocons follow their master’s words.
The Scandal of Reincarnated Rats
John Braithwaite is back.
The famed Australian corporate criminologist is teaming up with a former European pharmaceutical executive – Graham Dukes – and together they are completing a new book on corporate crime in the pharmaceutical industry.
The working title – Corporations, Crime and Medicines.
Thirty years ago, Braithwaite finished his magnum opus – Corporate Crime in the Pharmaceutical Industry (Routledge Kegan & Paul).
The book documented widespread fraud and corruption worldwide.
“In the latter part of the 1980s, I thought that the pharmaceutical industry was actually improving in its standards,” Braithwaite told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview. “Ciba Geigy was one company that had come under particularly aggressive attack from the consumer movement. And Ciba Geigy was responding and setting up corporate social responsibility policies with a new risk management initiative that it was trying to get other companies to join up with.”
“Pfizer became the number one company in the industry. It was sending senior executives to Australia to talk to me. They were really interested in what kind of internal procedures they could be putting in place to make sure that folks like Graham and I would not be making the kinds of critiques that were in Corporate Crime in the Pharmaceutical Industry.”
“I was encouraged by that. I think actually I wasn’t conned. In the course of the 1980s, there was progress.”
“I actually finished the research for Corporate Crime in the Pharmaceutical Industry in 1980. But the book was held up for concerns about libel.”
“But 30 years on, the situation has in fact become worse in most respects. Perhaps there has been some improvement in terms of safety and manufacturing processes among the majors. But on the other hand, the largest pharmaceutical corporations in the world have done a major disservice in the way they have approached the generic industry and, in a sense, stigmatized the generic industry.”
“In Corporate Crime in the Pharmaceutical Industry, we concluded that 19 of the 20 largest U.S. pharmaceutical companies had engaged in serious corrupt activities in the course of the 1970s. And there was really no other industry in the United States that had such a consistent pattern. There were other industries – like the defense industry – that were doing terribly corrupt things. But in terms of top to bottom corruption, the pharmaceutical industry was the worst in the United States.”
“And in some ways, we are inclined to conclude that today it is even worse.”
In the area of research fraud, things are again worse 30 years later.
“A big part of the 1984 book was fraud in safety and testing of drugs,” Braithwaite said. “Remember the GD Searle company, of which Donald Rumsfeld was a CEO? They had the scandal of reincarnated rats. The rats would die when a drug was tested on them. And they would be replaced with living rats. That kind of blatant fraud is not dead in the pharmaceutical industry. There is a lot more sophisticated fraud in the form of suppression of negative safety and efficacy studies. And the boosting of positive studies.”
“But still, there is quite a lot of plain old fashion losing of negative data. And that is the same as the throwing away of the dead rat and replacing the dead rat with the reincarnated rat.”
“You generate data that a drug does not work. And you just suppress that data. It’s as if the study were never conducted and you start again and do another study until you get one that shows you what you want to find. Go to another university professor who will tell you what you want to hear.”
“That situation is, if anything. worse rather than better.”
On the Wall Street meltdown, Braithwaite says the situation could have easily been prevented.
“There was a lot of evidence that there was systemic mortgage fraud – liar loans, false representation of income and employment status of people on loans,” Braithwaite said. “And that had to do with a shift of the nature of capitalism. Banks issuing loans were no longer as interested as they should have been in assessing the capacity of the borrower to repay. Why? Because it was a move from a risk management financial sector to a risk shifting financial sector. You just slice and dice the loans and spread the risk around to a lot of other banks.”
“But it seems to me that there was a ready regulatory response to that. It was knowable that there was a problem. You had the FBI reporting as early as 2004 and 2005 that there was an epidemic of mortgage fraud in the United States. You had this huge trend up in housing loan defaults starting in the mid 2000s. These were very clear red flags.”
“The simple regulatory strategy was for prudential regulators to go to mortgage brokers and banks and say – look, your portfolio of loans has twice the default rate of the average in our state. We want to sit down with you and look into why that is. And if that very simple regulatory inspection measure had been taken, it would have quickly become apparent that there was a pattern of fraud in the loans that they were issuing. And that would have been the early preventive step.”
“And you wouldn’t have necessarily had to prosecute those banks. You would have wanted to go around the country and stop the problem. That would be the most important thing. You would prosecute the ones with the worst patterns of conduct. But the more important thing would be return to integrity in the way loans are issued. Banks return to being interested in ensuring that these were levels of repayment that could be made.”
Russell Mokhiber edits the Corporate Crime Reporter.
[For the complete transcript of the Interview with John Braithwaite, see 26 Corporate Crime Reporter 1(12), January 2, 2012, print edition only.]
KUWAIT – Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour underlined that the solution in Syria is internal and cannot be solved through foreign interference in the country’s domestic affairs because this will hinder the solution and does not deepen dialogue rather it complicates the situation, expressing hope that Syria would overcome the crisis.
The Lebanese Minister told al-Anbaa Kuwaiti Newspaper on Monday that the Syrian leadership did not refuse reforms, rather it accepted them from the beginning and reforms cannot be achieved out of the blue, but rather fulfilled through dialogue.
He added “the events taking place in Syria concern us to a great extent because Syria and Lebanon are neighboring brotherly countries which are connected through geographic, economic, social and humanitarian ties and there are common things between them i.e. stability and security….security and stability in Syria reflect positively or negatively on Lebanon.”
Regarding Lebanese Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn’s statements on the infiltration of al-Qaeda members from Lebanon into Syria, Mansour underlined that Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel did not contradict Minister Ghosn regarding his information about al-Qaeda members, saying that the Defense Minister did not talk about the existence of al-Qaeda in Lebanon, but rather about members crossing borders between Syria and Lebanon.
In a similar context, former Lebanese Information Minister Michel Samaha said that Syria is a resistant country and it protects resistance, adding ” I advice not to try Syria in a military confrontation nor in imposing a no-fly zone because it will fight for its people and for its national sovereignty.”
Samaha pointed out that Syria accepted to receive the Arab observers and they have to prove that they are not biased and that they will relay the situation known by the Syrians through their report.
He clarified that the Syrian people, under the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad, reject to deal with those who call themselves the opposition abroad; the latter presented credentials to Israel. On a relevant note, Lebanese Liberation and Development Bloc member MP Ayoub Hamid called for not interfering in Syria’s internal affairs or using Lebanon as a platform against Syria, recalling that Syria supported Lebanon during its hardest times, particularly during the Israeli aggressions on it and during its internal ordeals.
The New York Times puts this question to the GOP contenders. Sophistry ensues. “Under what circumstances, if any, would the Constitution permit the president to authorize the targeted killing of a United States citizen who has not been sentenced to death by a court,” the paper asks. Gingrich, Huntsman, Perry, and Romney take the same line: “Under wartime circumstances” says Newt; “If such an individual is engaged on a battlefield,” says Huntsman; “Due process permits the use of deadly force against all enemy combatants, including citizens,” Romney avers; and “The President would be so authorized … where a citizen has joined or is associated with a nation or group engaged in hostilities against the United States” according to Perry. Only Ron Paul describes the conditions in which extrajudicial targeted killing of Americans is permitted as “none.”
The others engage in Orwellian obfuscation, claiming that “battlefield” circumstances permit this — as if the situation the Times is asking about is one in which some American terrorist is shooting away at U.S. troops in combat or about to detonate a bomb on American soil. But that isn’t “targeted” killing. The practice Huntsman, Gingrich, Romney, and Perry — and President Obama — defend includes the assassination of Americans who are, in Perry’s words, only “associated with a nation or group engaged in hostilities.” In fact, the power claimed by these men goes far beyond that since, again, this is extrajudicial killing, in which there is no obligation for the executive to provide evidence to a judge or anyone else that the murdered man is guilty of what Uncle Sam accuses him of.
Stripped of the evasions, what they are saying is that you or anyone else can be killed if the president thinks — or claims to think — that you are “associated” with “a nation or group” that is engaged in hostilities with the United States. Janet Reno would approve. This doctrine would have saved her some crocodile tears over the slaughter of the Branch Davidians at Waco. Even the unarmed women and children there, after all, were “associated” with a group engaged in hostilities with the United States.
Needless to say, there are Americans who join extremist groups, but existing law-enforcement powers and military doctrines already permit killing them when they are actually engaged in acts of deadly violence. The Republicans’ invocations of a “battlefield” might sound reassuring, until you realize that the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act, according to two of its supporters, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), designates even the U.S. itself as a battlefield. The whole world is one.
I have trouble taking these claims to more-than-royal power seriously; more precisely, I have trouble ascribing good faith to the intellectuals who try to justify an omnipotent presidency. But it’s a nominally free country, so let them have their say, in elections as well as op-ed pages and the corridors of our think tanks and universities. It seems to me, though, that we ought to hear from those who believe in a limited and law-bound executive as well. Ron Paul shouldn’t be alone in this. The public needs to know what’s at stake here and just how few political leaders think there should be any restraints at all on the power of the president to kill.