Archive for the ‘1’ Category

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Haiti Needs Our Help; But Let’s Keep the UN Far Away from Donations.

January 16, 2010

Haiti 7.0 Earthquake Aftermath

I had just arrived in Dubai when I saw the news about the devastating earthquake in Haiti (it’s always interesting to hear foreign viewpoints on breaking world events).  Having been in Haiti and being in the logistics business, I knew the poor infrastructure in Port-au-Prince would present severe challenges to the relief effort; both sea port and airport are tiny with most roads small and poorly built–leaving them almost impassable in the best of times.    

With rubble everywhere and extensive damage from the 7.0 quake, as I listened to that the very first report, I knew that the roads were going to make the logistics of both search and rescue and disaster assistance very, very difficult.    

Later in the week I was in London watching the now 24 hour Haitian earthquake relief coverage when I was presented with a visual oxymoron–two mutually exclusive concepts occupying the screen simultaneously.  Sky News was showing an interview with the Haitian musician and actor, Pras, who (from what I could gather) was in the United States to join forces with a watchdog group that has been set up to make sure that all donated monies will go directly and completely to Haiti. As Pras was speaking, a news scroll presented the oxymoron and diverted my attention.   

The news scroll at the bottom of the television screen announcing:  United Nations (UN) appeal for 560 million dollars for Haiti. Okay, now I believe everyone should try to give as they are able to the Haiti disaster assistance, but I think donating to any UN organization should be the last thing a person should do!  My personal experience is limited, but my company was one of the first to stumble into chilling evidence in Iraq of the UN’s intricate complicity and outright collaboration with Saddam’s goons in the multi-billion dollar Oil for Food scam. I’ve also personally witnessed UN staffers more than double the cost of a major US Government operation with effortless chicanery.     

In the September 2005, when the last report of the Volcker Commission Oil for Food Program Report came out it stated that the UN needed thorough reform–and it needed it urgently. The Report also went on to estimate that perhaps one-third of all UN contracting activities were compromised by corruption. Using that guideline and my experience means that about half of any 560 million dollar UN fund will be wasted–WASTED (Pras certainly will need a lot of help here).    

People need to remember that since the special UN anti-corruption unit, called the Procurement Task Force, was established in 2006 it has uncovered many, many other major schemes within the UN.  A recent AP article, by John Heilprin (Jan 12, 2010, “UN cuts back on investigating fraud“) lays out the ugly, troubling facts about the UN disbanding this unit leaving the reader with the inevitable implied conclusion that the UN is returning to its old corrupt ways with a flourish.   

There are a lot of excellent charitable organizations out there; The Red Cross, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, The Clinton/Bush Haiti Fund, and many others.  Even if we all give to one of these fine charities we will never be able to erase the horrendous memories or incalculable grief suffered by the Haitian people, but we will be able to help put country of Haiti back on its feet even better than before.    

There is one thing that I do want to impress upon though:  Let’s stick together and keep the UN from pulling in any money that will “supposedly go” to the Haiti Earthquake Relief effort.

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Brazilian Custody Fight, Iraqi Oil No-Bids and AMA support for Health Care Reform—What do they all have in common? Accommodation

December 22, 2009

For those from Brazil, those having spent time there or those with extensive international experience, the reason for the seemingly bizarre events surrounding the custody battle over David Goldman’s son Sean are clearly understood.  Never mind the Legal issues that should be noted (legal precedent was never on the side of the Brazilian stepfather) or the Face issues that the Brazilian government is dealing with from the international scorn—neither is the issue at the heart of the incomprehensible affair. From the years of Brazil’s lower courts’ rulings in favor of the Brazilian stepfather (finally neutralized by intense political pressure from the US causing the case to be moved to federal courts) to the latest development of a single Supreme Court justice blocking the unanimous appellate court ruling to turn Sean over immediately to his father, there is no doubt the shenanigans have been due to Accommodation—okay, bribery. If there was ever more than anecdotal proof that bribes were occurring, it came with the blocking action of the single Supreme Court justice calling for the nine-year old boy to testify. Oh please…this from a Brazilian Supreme Court judge? The amount of money must be significant. Let’s hope the Face issues prevalent here overcome the obvious bribery issues.  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34513705/

Last week there were news reports about the second round of bidding for Iraq’s oil fields, and how US companies (super players Exxon-Mobile and Chevron) did not put bids forward. The yield to Iraq could be as high as 200 billion (yes, with a ‘b’) per year. Now, with that kind of money involved, how can the US giants not participate? Well, the reasons put forward in the articles I read were along the lines of the US companies production sharing preferences (opposed to the flat fee per barrel required) or security concerns. Those may be valid but, once again, not the overriding reason for the US bidding moratorium.  With the US Governments increased anti-corruption actions against the likes of Siemens, Halliburton and Agility, the news reports were very lacking by not including those concerns (reporters must not have experience in Iraq or even much international experience).  Remember, until ten years ago the US was the only country in the world with anti-bribery laws of any kind (that’s not to say the ones in place in Europe, etc actually carry any deterrence value). Long before Afghanistan was making headlines for its rampant corruption, Iraq was essentially the world’s epicenter of corruption. Having worked in Iraq since the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003, I would be surprised that any contract can be won from an Iraqi Ministry without Accommodation being involved.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34395579/ns/business-oil_and_energy/from/ET

Not to be confused with the aforementioned Accommodation, the following Accommodation is actually legal—although if you can see a difference please let me know. In what Democratic Senators are calling the most significant endorsement of Health Care Reform, the American Medical Association (AMA) has thrown its support behind the legislation. After sixty years of opposition, what could have changed the AMA outlook this time—enhanced medical care for all causing a change of conscience? Hardly (I even gave myself a chuckle with that). Unfortunately, improved health care has nothing to do with the change of heart.  No, in a Los Angeles Times report (Sept 15, 2009) the reasons for the endorsement become crystal clear, “Of all the interest groups that have won favorable terms in closed-door negotiations this year, the association (AMA) representing the nation’s physicians may have taken home the biggest prizes, including an agreement to stop planned cuts in Medicare payments that are worth $228 billion to doctors over 10 years”.  If that is any different from the quid pro quo received by the Brazilian Supreme Court judge, or—especially—from the expectations those in the Iraqi Oil Ministry certainly have regarding the riches coming from their oil fields, I can’t make it out. Money—real money—that will absolutely enhance the accommodated party, is being promised. (SEE LA TIMES, SEPT 15,2009)

Accommodation…it’s everywhere. Read my book Lies, Bribes & Peril to get a better understanding of what’s legal and what’s not.

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Ethics, Responsibility & Governance: Where is the Balance?

December 12, 2009

My appearance as an alumni panelist for this presentation in December 2009 at Villanova University.