April 10, 2006
Ah. My fun reading for this week is going to include testimony from the Enron trial. For those not keeping track, the trial is reaching somewhat of a crescendo this week, with former CEO Jeff Skilling taking the stand in his own defense. He is using the time-honoured defense of most crooked CEOs: the No Clue defense. As in: “I had no clue that the company I’d been running for four years was cooking the books!”. Is that believable? If true, what does such an admission say about the competence of corporate executives, in general? If Skilling and Lay are found to be innocent through incompetence, maybe the lawmakers who deal with Wall Street should consider creating a law akin to involuntary manslaughter for large-scale fraud.
The No Clue defense isn’t really believable, anyway. Here’s an older NYT article which points out inconsistancies in Skilling’s defense. The Big Inconsistency: Skilling has flatly denied that Enron used cash reserves to bolster company earnings (an illegal practice). A former Enron accountant has already pointed to one specific instance of this happening (July 2000, to the tune of $14,000,000). Skilling also claims to have read every financial schedule from “cover to cover”, and never saw any problems within. That kinda blows away any claim that he could be ignorant of the fraudulent accounting, although it’s still minutely possible that he was too incompetent to notice the scams. There are other recollection problems highlighted in the NYT article.
I’ve been trying to find Jeff Skilling’s net worth via google without much luck. He did sell large quantities of Enron stock in September 2001, just two months after his abrupt resignation, worth about $15.5 million. He claimed, during the investigation, that he sold this stock because he was worried about a market crash after September 11th, but his original sale request went to the broker on September 6th. It was held up for a while because his broker wanted to ensure that Skilling wasn’t breaking any SEC rules, given his recent position.
I hope that by the end of the trial, we’re calling it the “No Hope” defense. Rot, you bugger, rot.
April 10, 2006
There must be something in the water here at blevkog, but here’s another bit of right-wing christian silliness thanks to the ever-productive comedy and overstatement team at Operation Save America. It appears that those entertaining
straight men soldiers are off to fight the spread of “tolerance and friendship among all sexual orientations” at a high school in North Carolina. It seems that some upstart young high schoolers (“naive” and “willing dupes” are the terms they use) have formed a group to promote tolerance at their school – how dare they! I meant what did Christ die on the cross for other than a war on fags?
Run for your lives, because the “homosexual agenda”, or as they also describe it the “lie from the pit of hell”:
is not only out of the closet and parading its sin publicly in the hallways of South Rowan, it demands all bow down and be subject to it, or be sued. Friends, if we do not fight this battle now when we have a good chance of winning in Jesus’ name, we may find ourselves having to fight when there is little or no hope of victory, realizing that it is better to die free than live under the bondage of homosexual slavery.
Mmmmmm… bow down…bondage of homosexual slavery… mmmmm. Oops, sorry there, lost my train of thought.
The telling bit is that the OSA loons are most offended by the fact that this organization is going directly to the kids, circumventing parents and teachers in the misguided belief that kids should learn to think for themselves. I guess if you believe in the Flying Spaggheti Monster, you’re going to want your kids free from all the confusion that doubt and reality introduce. I understand.
(I mean, however would you be able to manipulate them into voting sheep for God’s Own Party if they start thinking? And how are those tasty little wedge issues going to work if they start tolerating differences? And what if they start believing that the destruction of the world is not a good thing?)
If you ask me, they can’t build that fence they’re fantasizing about fast enough. Do you know if they’re looking for donations?
April 10, 2006
Today is the day of the “great debate” on Canada’s role in Afghanistan. As I’ve said before in these e-pages, I’d prefer the debate to have some meaning, but I’d be happy if it answered a few questions. Canadians might not understand that Afghanistan is not an isolated island in the middle of nowhere – it adjoins two geopolitically volatile countries – Pakistan and Iran. These are both Islamic nations and have at various times financed radical fundamentalists throughout the Middle East. In particular, Pakistan helped the CIA finance and organize the mujahadeen resistance, and likely has continued interest in perpetuating an Islamist government in Afghanistan.
Our involvement here is not trivial, nor inconsequential. Before giving our unqualified assent to extending this mission, we should be able to answer these very basic questions
- What is NATO’s overall strategy (without details, naturally) for defeating the growing Taliban threat? What is the expected manpower requirements for this and roughly what is expected of Canada?
- Put in writing the goals of the mission. Simply for clarity.
- If larger troop counts are requested in the future, will Parliament be asked to vote on continued Canadian involvement?
- Is there a plan to reduce the influence of Pakistani militants in the country?
- What type of government are we interested in fertilizing? Are we willing to accept stability at any cost?
- Knowing that one of the primary reasons Afghanistan is the disaster that it is was the withdrawal of Soviet and American control, interest, and money, at the end of the war in ’87-’88. Is there a plan to garrison Afghanistan should the need arise, and if so, what are the projected costs for Canada in manpower and dollars?
- Afghanistan already receives more foreign aid from Canada than any other country. Canada has reneged on promises to increase foreign aid to 0.7% GDP and the Martin government refused to create a timetable for attaining this number. Knowing that the development of civilian infrastructure in Afghanistan is critical, is the Harper government prepared to increase foreign aid to Afghanistan? If so, is it also prepared to increase the amount of money that Canada provides to foreign aid generally, or does that money come from somewhere else in foreign aid budget?
I have many more questions, but these would suffice for now. If anyone would like to add any, we can compile a list and approach our elected officials in the future when meaningful discussion of this mission begins.