Maria’s other articles for today:
I spent all day yesterday doing errands, and then the computer crashed, causing The Husband to spend hours decontaminating files, so my apologies for not posting. However, I’m making up for it today, with help from Maria.
Oil-For-Food article by Claudia Rosett
Strong Implications: What the Park arrest portends
On July 16, 1997, Strong met with Park in New York, according to Volcker. That was two days after the reform package was announced. Within the week, again according to Volcker, Park traveled to Baghdad, picked up at least $1 million in cash, took it to Jordan and deposited it in a newly opened account in Amman’s Housing Bank. From that account, the bank that same day issued the $988,885 check, made out to “Mr. M. Strong” and dated July 30, 1997.
A few days later, Park was back in New York, where, according to Volcker, Strong’s calendar showed an August 4 meeting with Park. By August 5, Strong had endorsed over the check as part of a transaction transferring to Park from another businessman, Theodore Kheel, an interest in Strong’s family-controlled company, Cordex — which soon after went bankrupt.
In September, 1997, according to Volcker, Park made another trip to Iraq, obtaining yet more cash, which he again deposited in a Jordanian bank — again converting some of it into a bank check made out to “M. Strong,” this one dated Sept. 14, 1997, in the amount of $30,000. Volcker reports that Strong did not remember the payment. What became of this check is unclear.
A month after that, on Oct. 13, 1997, Kofi Annan announced that in keeping with his reform plan, the Iraq-program office was to be opened under longtime U.N. staffer Benon Sevan. Two days later, on Oct. 15, 1997, Sevan set up shop. Saddam went on to scam Oil-for-Food to the hilt, allegedly bribing Benon Sevan starting the following year, in 1998, and kicking out the U.N. weapons inspectors, while Annan urged the Security Council to radically expand the program. By the year 2000, Saddam was demanding increasing kickbacks on oil sales, a baseline ten-percent kickback on almost all relief contracts, funneling rising payoffs to select contractors, and was well into his strategy of trying to buy influence among U.N. Security Council members China, France, and Russia.
Strong remained at the U.N. until early 2005, although his further duties appear not to have involved the Oil-for-Food program. With the rank of undersecretary general, he served from 1998-2002 as Annan’s special adviser on human security, and from 2003 until early 2005 as Annan’s personal envoy to the Korean peninsula. Strong stepped aside last spring, when questions were raised about whether he might be the mysterious “UN Official #2” involved in meetings mentioned in an initial complaint against Park issued by New York federal prosecutors on March 21, 2005.
On the body armor controversy
A Soldier Informs with the Facts
JUDAS ISCARIOT, the disciple who betrayed Jesus with a kiss, is to be given a makeover by Vatican scholars.
The proposed “rehabilitation” of the man who was paid 30 pieces of silver to identify Jesus to Roman soldiers in the Garden of Gethsemane, comes on the ground that he was not deliberately evil, but was just “fulfilling his part in God’s plan”.
According to a study published today, living plants may emit almost a third of the methane entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
Update More at The Daily Ablution.
Meanwhile, at the EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed the first major overhaul in 20 years in the way it calculates fuel economy ratings for cars and trucks, a shift the agency said would reduce mileage estimates by 5 percent to 30 percent, depending on the type of driving and kind of vehicle
21st Century Pirates: The London-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB) claims there were a total of 205 pirate attacks worldwide in the first nine months of 2005, and 251 such attacks in the same period for 2004.