By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
As President Clinton bantered with elite Washington journalists at the Gridiron Club on Saturday night, Slobodan Milosevic's special forces, dressed in white suits and wearing black face masks, entered the villages of Kosovo and began the slaughter. Clinton's Gridiron appearance followed a knock-'em-dead comic performance two days before at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner and a subsequent stand-pat press conference that left administration handlers feeling they just might have turned the corner on the scandals.
As Clinton played to the media, Milosevic was vowing that it wouldn't take him more than a week to clean out the pro- Albanian guerrillas. Until the weekend, the presence of international monitors had put a brake on civilian killings; but when the Paris peace accords failed, the monitors were ordered out amid preparations for bombing. Predictably, as the monitors' convoys left, Yugoslav troops, blowing them kisses, entered to begin the massacre. By one count at the weekend, Milosevic had enclosed Kosovo in a trap of 16 battle groups, with at least 16,000 troops along the perimeter of Kosovo and 14,000 inside.
On Monday, the press was reporting summary executions, villages burning, and a terrorized population seeking to flee Milosevic's steel trap. Meanwhile, Clinton had once again delayed a decision on whether to bomb, instead sending special emissary Richard Holbrooke back to Belgrade for last-ditch negotiations almost as if to assure Milosevic that he would have time to finish the job.
U.S. Designee Gets Funds From Eco Plunderers
As if things aren't bad enough at the United Nations, Clinton's emissary to the UN Development Program, Gus Speth who also administers the program is accepting funding from international corporations whose depredations the UNDP is supposed to be rectifying.
Among those ponying up a piddling $50,000 each have been Rio Tinto, the British mining giant, accused of environmental violations and human rights abuses in the U.S., New Guinea, the Philippines, Namibia, and Australia; Asea, Brown, Boveri (ABB), the Swiss-Swedish firm, which is under attack by environmentalists for its role in building the giant Three Gorges Project dam in China; and Dow Chemical, the pesticide manufacturer. The money went for consultation "to find the best way to get this process going," according to a UNDP press officer.
Said Joshua Karliner, executive director of Transnational Resource and Action Center, which exposed the contributions, "We fear these global corporations care more about 'green-washing' their own tarnished public images than about meeting the pressing needs of the world's poor."
Speth, a founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, acknowledged that "some of the companies we are currently engaged in dialogue with have had controversial records" on labor and human rights issues. But, he asked, "Does this mean we should not be talking to them? I believe we should be engaging them in programs that demonstrate that profitable, pro-poor investments in developing countries are possible without the negative impacts with which they have been associated in the past."
Acording to the UNDP, the corporate contributions are used "to cover the costs of the design and dialogue process." Said Harry Jackelen, head of UNDP's private-sector development, "It's not a charitable matter. It's a question of opening markets. Our spirit is to engage, not to exclude."
Dollars for Justice
Your Honor or Your Money?
The gap between rich and poor in the U.S. is nowhere more apparent than in the judiciary, where, as Alliance for Justice, a coalition of legal public interest groups, reports, it takes a millionaire to become a federal judge.
Of the 65 judges appointed in 1998, 28 are millionaires and only 15 have a net worth of less than $400,000. Ten are worth more than $3 million. Kim McLane Wardlaw of California (worth $12.1 million) is the wealthiest appeals court judge, and Garr M. King of Oregon (worth $7.2 million) is the richest district court judge. Only six judges have a net worth of less than $200,000. In contrast, of the 204 judges appointed during the first Clinton administration, only 69 were millionaires.
That judges are often wealthy should not, of course, come as a surprise. At state and local levels, many have, in the past, run campaign- finance organizations, and have campaigned for their judicial posts like any other politician. But, although long, arduous battles to gain Senate confirmation often entail sub-rosa politicking, the federal judiciary is meant to be above all that.
The Alliance report also makes clear that Clinton has made no breakthroughs in naming minorities to the federal bench. Of the 65 judges confirmed in 1998, 11 were African American, three were Hispanic, one was Asian American, and one was Arab American. Minorities also are the least affluent of the Clinton judges. Of 16 minority jurists appointed in 1998, none were millionaires, and nine had a net worth of less than $400,000.
Clinton has named only five African Americans (out of 48 appointments) to circuit courts of appeals since the beginning of his first term fewer than Jimmy Carter's single-term total of nine appointments of blacks to such posts.
His Master's Voice
Strauss Waltzes to Aid of ADM
Venerable Democratic lobbyist Robert Strauss, "disturbed to learn" of "allegations of greed" brought by government lawyers against ADM, the agribusiness octopus on whose board he serves, rushed to the support of the firm and executive vice president Michael Andreas last month.