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Should the Pentagon be cutting deals with a company apparently controlled by the powerful daughter of Uzbekistan’s dissident-boiling dictator, Islam Karimov? As previously noted here, Gulnara Karimova has amassed a striking degree of wealth and international fame, with friends who include Bill Clinton and Sting.
Gulnara is widely believed to control Zeromax, which reports annual sales of over $1 billion and is involved in transportation, oil and gas, mining, agriculture and private investment. Last year, Foreign Policy quoted a Central Asian analyst as saying, “Zeromax is essentially one of the facades behind which Gulnara Karimova continues to tighten her grip on any and all available sources of income in the country by any means she deems necessary, with little or no regard for legal niceties.”
FMN Logistics describes itself as “the U.S. small business contracting arm of Zeromax.” Harry Eustace Jr., FMN’s CEO, serves as a board member of the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce (AUCC), where his father, Harry Eustace Sr. serves as Chairman. Eustace Sr. also is a senior advisor to Zeromax.
“The AUCC promotes trade and investment ties between the United States and Uzbekistan and lobbies against U.S. sanctions on Karimov’s government,” Foreign Policy reported. “Following the 2005 Andijan massacre — in which hundreds of unarmed protesters were mowed down by Uzbek security forces — the organization’s president, James Cornell, wrote to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging her to take into account the “special context” of Andijan and “not rush to conclusion or ignore the thorough investigation carried out by the government of Uzbekistan.”
FMN says it is a subcontractor on a deal for “Line Haul Trucking Operations” for the U.S. Army. The contract calls for FMN to move supplies between Tajikistan and the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, with thirty trucks a month traveling the route and carrying “outsized” equipment on low-bed trailers. FMN also claims to have serviced “every US air base in Afghanistan to date.”
My colleague Spencer Woodman called the Pentagon to ask about the situation. A spokesman declined comment on any arrangements it might have with FMN.
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
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
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 tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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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.”