By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
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.
Dwayne Andreas, Michael's father, who founded ADM, has been one of the staunchest of the big Democratic contributors.
"The Andreas family, including Mick [Michael], have been extraordinarily generous contributors to every form of good cause, charitable organization, and community need," wrote Strauss in a letter, which was obtained from attorneys in the case and published last week by the Corporate Crime Reporter in Washington. ADM pleaded guilty to price fixing in 1995, and paid a $100 million fine. Last year, Michael Andreas was convicted of conspiracy to fix the price of the feed additive lysine. Sentencing was scheduled last month, but has been postponed. He faces a possible 36 months in prison and a $25 million fine.
Dwayne Andreas has been called the largest corporate-welfare recipient in the U.S., costing taxpayers over $40 billion from 1980 to 1995. The ADM patriarch who has been a big contributor to politicians in both major parties, from Tom Dewey to Tip O'Neill to Hubert Humphrey to Richard Nixon once said,"The only place you see a free market is in the speeches of politicians."
It was 20 years ago this week that the accident at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in central Pennsylvania spread panic in cities throughout the East including New York, which was downwind from the plant. Despite claims from nearby residents that they became ill following the accident, anecdotal evidence of the births of mutated animals, and a recent study by Steve Wing of the University of North Carolina that found an increased incidence of cancer around the plant, the government has stuck to the line that not enough radiation escaped the facility to have caused widespread health damage.
As a result, people who claim to have been injured still wait for their day in court. Currently, personal-injury suits on behalf of approximately 2000 people remain on appeal. Frustrating the plaintiffs, federal district court judge Sylvia Rambo threw out most of their expert witnesses. Metropolitan Edison, which owned Three Mile Island, has paid more than $3.9 million in out-of-court settlements, many involving children, with the largest more than $1 million for a child born with Down's syndrome.
Originally promoted in the '60s as electricity "too cheap to meter," nuclear power has proved to be a costly disaster. Today there are 105 nuclear plants producing power at some of the highest electric rates in the nation. No nuclear reactors have been commissioned since 1973, and by 2035 every nuclear reactor currently licensed to operate in the U.S. is scheduled to be shut down.
Vicious Godfather Cleared
One Murder Solved, 54 To Go
Hardcore Clinton scandal aficionados were thrown for a loop last week by reports that Carl Derek Havord Cooper, 29, had confessed to murdering Georgetown Starbucks manager and former White House intern Mary Caitrin Mahoney, 25, and two café employees in July 1997. Cooper's confession was contained in a police affidavit unsealed in Superior Court. He is being held without bond.
Scandal buffs had speculated that Mahoney might have been rubbed out because she was about to go public with details of the president's liaison with Monica Lewinsky. According to the theory, Clinton is the godfather of a "Dixie Mafia" with ties to drugs and money laundering. By one conspiracy count, 55 unexplained murders can be traced in one way or another to the president.
According to police, Cooper entered the Starbucks just after closing time, and ordered Mahoney to give him the keys to the safe. When she refused, he shot her and the other two employees, Emory Allen Evans, 25, and Aaron David Goodrich, 18.
Additional reporting: Ioana Veleanu