Monday, May 7, 2007

Waiting for a Wolfowitz Verdict

Today, The New York Times reports:

The World Bank committee investigating misconduct charges against Paul D. Wolfowitz, the bank president, failed to complete its review on schedule this weekend, but bank officials said the panel would eventually find that he violated bank rules barring conflicts of interest.

I wonder if the committee delayed finishing its final report because more information is coming in. In putting together the story I posted on Friday (see below), I was surprised to see how easy it was to unearth a few facts about the Shaha Riza deal that had not yet become public--particularly facts about Wolfowitz's claim that Riza was close to a big promotion before she was forced to accept a transfer out of the Bank due to his arrival as president of the institution. There still are, according to Bank officials involved in that episode, questions about what transpired. One Bank official told me there had been pressure applied from the top--from either Wolfowitz or his aides--on a Bank employment board considering that promotion for Riza. Perhaps the panel investigating Wolfowitz had to examine this and other matters. Bank watchers have also identified other potential problems, including the legality of her transfer from the Bank to the State Department. (Meanwhile, one of Wolfowitz's two top aides at the Bank stepped down on Monday.)

But the big picture is this: Wolfowitz has claimed the ethics charges against him are "bogus." Given that, what would be the appropriate punishment if the panel finds he did violate Bank rules when he arranged for a lucrative package for his girlfriend that included a big salary boost and guaranteed annual pay boosts that could lead to tremendously generous pension? If the panel does render such a judgment, it would mean that Wolfowitz was guilty on two fronts: guilty of committing the ethics breach and guilty of not admitting his own wrongdoing. Should such a person--who claims to care about ending corruption in international lending--be allowed to lead the World Bank?

It's anyone's guess what the Bank's board is going to do regarding Wolfowitz's future. They could vote to remove him--or settle on a reprimand or statement of no confidence. But his hard-line defense may have made it tougher for the board to keep him on. If Wolfowitz cannot acknowledge that he engaged in a conflict of interest, how can the board have faith in his judgment?

Posted by David Corn at May 7, 2007 01:56 PM


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

I doubt Wolfowitz would even have the position in the first place if not for the wrong people having far too much influence.

These neocons have a long history of believing themselves above the law and no rule ever applies to them. They get away with it because we let them do so with impunity.

Maybe it's something in the water?


capt said...

Of beer and bubbles: The formula for a perfect pint

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A mathematical formula can now predict how the frothy head on a beer changes over time, a finding that may have a wide range of commercial uses beyond pulling the perfect pint, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

The formula explains how the tiny bubbles that make up foam grow -- an explanation that could lead to the development of products such as metal shrink wrap.

The possibilities include "the heat treatment of metals or even controlling (the) head on a pint of beer," Robert MacPherson of The Institute for Advanced Study in New Jersey, and David Srolovitz of Yeshiva University in New York report in the journal Nature.

Foam is made up of many tiny bubbles that scientists think of as cells with boundaries. The new formula calculates how these microstructures grow.

These tiny structures or grains are abundant in nature, making up the foam on a beach or the pebble in your shoe. They also can be found in man-made materials such as ceramics or metals.

"What the theory does is it tells you how the size of every single bubble will evolve in time," Srolovitz said in a telephone interview.

David Kinderlehrer, a mathematician at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said the finding will help materials scientists concoct a number of newfangled materials by rearranging the grains in various materials using computer simulation.

"It tells you how an individual grain grows by itself until something happens to it. That is very important for understanding how to process material," Kinderlehrer said in a telephone interview.

In metal, that means striking the right balance.

"The strength of a metal depends on grain size. As you make smaller and smaller grains, the metal gets stronger and stronger but it also gets more brittle," Srolovitz said.

"For a particular application you want the grain size that represents a compromise between as strong as you can get and as brittle as you can live with," Srolovitz said.

Kinderlehrer said new materials now under study are batteries that do not corrode and shrink-wrap metals that could be used to repair nuclear power plants -- without shutting them down.

"A lot of things we can only imagine," said Kinderlehrer, who wrote a commentary accompanying the study.


*****end of clip*****

Tastes great - less filling.


capt said...

Envision This: Mathematicians Design Invisible Tunnel

Electromagnetic "wormhole" results from turning invisible sphere inside out


The idea is the same as that of a wormhole linking two distant points in spacetime, hence the nickname. "We're tricking the electromagnetic waves … into thinking that, actually, space has been changed," Greenleaf says.

"It's a very nice twist" on the spherical cloak, says physicist John Pendry of Imperial College London, one of the physicists who first worked out the idea. "We can invent a secret connection between two parts of space, and that is interesting."

Building an invisible tunnel should be as hard—or easy, depending on your level of optimism—as making a spherical cloak, Greenleaf says. A Duke University team demonstrated an imperfect cloak last year that warps microwaves around a disk of concentric copper rings. But researchers are still struggling to build metamaterials that bend visible light.

Greenleaf's group speculates that wormholes could be used to pass metal objects into an MRI scanner or, by making a prickly sphere of them, create a 3-D video display. Of course, by the time invisibility becomes easy to achieve, modern technology will probably be a bit out of date.

Note: Parts of this article have been modified for clarity.


*****end of clip*****

"Modified for clarity"?



Robert S said...

Of beer and bubbles: The formula for a perfect pint


Don Ho, you left too soon...

Tiny Bubbles
words & music by Leon Pober

Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles)
In the wine (in the wine)
Make me happy (make me happy)
Make me feel fine (make me feel fine)

Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles)
Make me warm all over
With a feeling that I'm gonna
Love you till the end of time

So here's to the golden moon
And here's to the silver sea
And mostly here's a toast
To you and me

So here's to the ginger lei
I give to you today
And here's a kiss
That will not fade away



Robert S said...

It is well and good to criticize Wolfie, it is another to look at the functions of the World Bank:

Structural Adjustment—a Major Cause of Poverty
* by Anup Shah
* This Page Last Updated Sunday, November 20, 2005

Many developing nations are in debt and poverty partly due to the policies of international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Their programs have been heavily criticized for many years for resulting in poverty. In addition, for developing or third world countries, there has been an increased dependency on the richer nations. This is despite the IMF and World Bank’s claim that they will reduce poverty.

Following an ideology known as neoliberalism, and spearheaded by these and other institutions known as the “Washington Consensus” (for being based in Washington D.C.), Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) have been imposed to ensure debt repayment and economic restructuring. But the way it has happened has required poor countries to reduce spending on things like health, education and development, while debt repayment and other economics policies have been made the priority. In effect, the IMF and World Bank have demanded that poor nations lower the standard of living of their people.

David B. Benson said...

capt --- Thanks for the real-time Iraq war cost counter...

capt said...

"Today democracy is a facade of plutocracy.

Because the peoples will not tolerate naked plutocracy, power is nominally turned over to them, while real power rests in the hands of the plutocrats. In democracies, whether republican or monarchical, the statesmen are marionettes, and the capitalists are the wire pullers: they dictate the political guidelines, they control the voters by buying public opinion, through business and social connections [they control] higher government officials ..

The plutocracy of today is more powerful than the aristocracy of the past, because nothing stands above it except the state, which is its tool and helper.":

Count Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, "Pan-european" publicist and political figure, in his book Praktischer Idealismus ("Practical Idealism"), Vienna, 1925.

"People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.": James Baldwin Biography - Fiction Writer, Essayist, Social Critic, 1924-1987

"When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.": P. J. O'Rourke - (1947- ) US humorist, journalist, & political commentator

The greatest of fault, I should say, is to be conscious of none: Robert Carlyle (1795 - 1881)


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

capt said...

The amount of money they are talking about $124 billion is insane - pure bat crazy.

To add as much to the running total is beyond the looking glass.

We are there, everything is backwards.



capt said...

‘The Other K Street’


"I want to enlist everybody," he said. The subject of the event: the failure of conservatism.

"It will go beyond indicting conservatives for their incompetence," said Hickey, who was wearing a white dress shirt and a purple tie. "Conservative failure grows out of conservative ideology; it grows out of what they stand for," he asserted. He offered a sound-bite-size description of his theory: The Big Con.

"Fantastic," Creamer said.

"Awesome," Woodhouse agreed.

"That’s a theme we’ve been working on," Hickey said. "Now it’s a project."


*****end of clip*****

The big con? I think I have heard that before but it is good.


capt said...

De-Authorize the War Now, No Residual Troops

I first called for de-authorization of the war in Iraq in January, and I have repeated that call all around the country -- because I believe immediate de-authorization and removing all of our troops from Iraq this year is the only way to end Bush's war.

Congress should de-authorize the war today and demand that the President begin redeploying our troops.

There would be no need to negotiate the withdrawal with the President, and he could not veto the resolution.

The time has has come for Congress to stand up to this President who refuses to recognize that his war is bleeding our military and weakening our country. He believes mere stubbornness is a foreign policy and that he can just ignore the will of the American people. In the interest of our national security, he must be stopped.

Congress has the ability to end this war under the War Powers Act -- let's not wait or waver while more people die. And de-authorizing the war should mean removing all our troops. Every last one.

This is essential, because our presence in Iraq worsens the violence and enables our enemies to portray us as imperialist occupiers. If we announce that we are getting out completely, we undercut this propaganda. We need to get all our troops out of the crossfire of this civil war.

Anything less than immediate de-authorization, and beginning the process to remove all troops, is not a real plan to end this war. I know this region well, and understand how people there see the world.

I have served as US Ambassador to the UN, President Clinton's Special Envoy, and as Secretary of Energy. I have been there. I even met with Saddam Hussein and secured the release of hostages. I applaud Senators Clinton and Byrd's steps to begin the process of getting us out of this disastrous war. But I urge them and their colleagues in Washington to commit to the full task at hand:

Immediate de-authorization, and the removal of all U.S. troops.


*****end of clip*****

That is a pretty strong position to take. Bill has been a good governor (fwtiw).


Robert S said...

Banco del Sur: A reflection of declining IFI relevance in Latin America
1 May 2007

Update and analysis of recent announcements about Banco del Sur, focusing on the implications for the ongoing crises of relevance in Latin America confronting the IMF, World Bank and IDB, as well as the challenges for deeper South American integration.

by Vince McElhinny
Bank Information Center
April 2007

The announcements of the inauguration of the first Latin American office of the planned Bank of the South and the adhesion of three new member countries have come as a direct challenge to the Northern based IFIs struggling to remain relevant to the region. The advances of Banco del Sur, closely aligned with discussions on regional energy policy and the larger project of building a Union of South American Nations, has also tested the South America rhetoric of integration proclaimed most recently at the Cochabamba Summit last December, 2007. This note provides a brief update and analysis of these recent announcements about Banco del Sur, focusing on the implications for the ongoing crises of relevance in Latin America confronting the IMF, World Bank and IDB, as well as the challenges for deeper South American integration.



The Global South has had enough of the exploitive lending practices, designed to maintain debt payments, while insisting on domestic "austerity" programs in the countries which the bank claims to be "helping."

No wonder Chavez is consistently demonized...

Robert S said...

Bush Sat on Evidence of Cuban Terror
by Robert Parry | May 8 2007

Earlier this year, as accused right-wing terrorist Luis Posada Carilles successfully sought to be freed on bond, the Bush administration possessed secret evidence implicating the 79-year-old Cuban exile in terrorist bombings in Havana a decade ago.

The evidence, an FBI document based on interviews with confidential sources in the late 1990s, linked Posada to a wave of hotel bombings in 1997 that killed an Italian tourist. Administration lawyers have now filed the document in court as part of the illegal immigration case against Posada that is scheduled to resume in Texas on May 11.

On April 19, however, Posada was freed on $350,000 bond and allowed to live in his wife’s home in Miami, where many right-wing Cuban exiles regard him as a hero.

The relatively gentle handling of Posada and other right-wing Cubans connected to terrorist acts against the communist government of Fidel Castro is in marked contrast to George W. Bush’s harsh treatment of Islamic militants captured during the “global war on terror.”

While suspected Islamic terrorists are locked away indefinitely at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and can undergo “alternative interrogation techniques,” Posada has been afforded all U.S. legal protections and then some.

Robert S said...

When property's on the line, response to dissent turns lethal
by Pierre Tristam | May 8 2007

capt said...

New Thread