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For those looking for a good summer read I highly recommend yesterday’s indictment of Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana. It’s a genre-busting saga with something for everyone: mystery lovers will enjoy the overseas intrigue; fans of detective stories will marvel at the maze of shell companies Jefferson allegedly set up to solicit bribes; and fans of comedy will delight in learning more about how Jefferson stashed cash in his freezer.
The indictment bore out the reporting I did on the Jefferson case last year. I first reported here that in addition to his escapades in Nigeria, Jefferson was also taking payoffs for business deals he helped arranged in Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome, and that was alleged and detailed in the indictment. I also reported here on the array of Louisiana-registered firms whose officers included Jefferson’s family members and close political associates; a number of those firms, such as Providence International Petroleum and International Petroleum, were named in the indictment. And I reported extensively on Global Environmental Energy Corp (GEEC), another shady firm with close ties to Jefferson. GEEC–a waste recycling company with ties to several felons, including a man who allegedly bilked the YMCA and a bible college–is not named in the indictment but it can be identified as “Company C.” You can read about GEEC’s relationship with Jefferson beginning on page 46 of the indictment (paragraph 194).
Yes, I know about the presumption of innocence, but Jefferson is going to have a hard time weaseling out of this. I once interviewed an international businessman who was introduced to Jefferson in the late-1990s by a mutual friend in Louisiana. He told me that within thirty minutes, Jefferson was proposing a host of possible business opportunities that seemingly involved making payoffs to African government officials. “I was astonished,” this person told me. “Imagine the sort of things he would have been proposing if I’d known him for a week.”
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”