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The Wall Street Journal has been running a terrific series of articles about corruption and human rights abuses in Kazakhstan, which the newspaper describes as “a strategic U.S. friend and energy producer.”
But there was a grimly funny side to the Journal‘s latest story today, in which members of Congress expressed surprise and shock over the possibility that President Nursultan Nazarbayev might possibly be a crook who has diverted billions of dollars into offshore bank account and and despot who rigs elections.
Congressman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina told the Journal he was troubled by “very serious allegations” of corruption by Kazakhstan’s president, adding that the charges were “serious enough that we have got to look into it….We owe it to American companies doing business in Kazakhstan for them to know the truth.”
Yes, I can imagine that ExxonMobil and Chevron will be stunned to hear that President Nazarbayev is on the take. The news might even lead the oil giants to read the Justice Department’s indictment of American businessman James H. Giffen, who is still awaiting trial on charges that he funneled more than $78 million to Nazarbayev and former prime minister Nurlan Balgimbayev. The indictment says the money came from fees Giffen received from oil companies that won stakes in Kazakh oil fields.
I expect American oil companies will be withdrawing from Kazakshtan, just as soon as they get to the bottom of this.
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
Estimated acres of forest Henry David Thoreau burned down in 1844 trying to cook fish he had caught for dinner:
The bombardier beetle, which can fire liquid at its enemies from its rear end at up to 300 squirts per second, was being scrutinized in the hope of building a better airplane engine.
London Fire Brigade investigators blamed a building fire in South London on a bird that carried a lit cigarette to its rooftop nest. “Smokers,” said neighborhood baker Richard Scroggs. “What can you say?”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”