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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
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.”