Standards Decline At Failing Universities

Sadly struggling US institutions are not getting the help they need and continue to speed their own decline with poor decisions and failure to recruit capable staff. Worse is that many graduates of these failed institutions go on to a life of crime at a huge social cost to the nation. Surely the time is coming when people must take the matter in hand and close down these intellectually bereft disasters. As their existence is prolonged it appears they are becoming hotbeds of dangerous ideologies that call for violence to reshape the world to their narrow fundamentalist vision, exporting this dangerous cancer overseas further destabilising countries already racked by vicious dictatorships.

Still at least I think he’s given up on the EU job. (ht2 Chicken Yoghurt)

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Rich Thieving Scum Whine

London is losing its status as the world’s leading financial centre and being overtaken by New York, according to a global survey of finance professionals.The collapse of Northern Rock and the proposed tax crackdown on non-domiciled residents are making the UK less attractive to overseas businesses, according to the City of London Corporation, which commissioned the survey.

A separate survey, also commissioned by the City, said the UK tax system had lost its competitive edge over other financial centres. The UK had become increasingly unpredictable and uncertain, complex and unnecessarily aggressive in its approach to taxpayers, it found.

So basically a shot across the bows by kleptocrats unlimited. Also via Mask of Anarchy (and see Exxon using UK courts to attack Venezuela) we see Tesco is weighing up suing the Guardian over blowing its Enron scams-

“Tesco is, apparently, considering suing The Guardian newspaper over a story alleging widespread offshore tax avoidance by the Grocer That Ate Middle England. This could give rise to a little friction between the rest of the Tesco board and one of its non-executives. In her day job, Carolyn McCall is chief executive of Guardian Media Group.”

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Tesco Pulls An Enron

Your friendly (every) neighbourhood Tesco supermarket hates you, when you need the police, or a hospital, or safe roads, or schools they most assuredly wish to deny them by not paying their way. Good job they come across so friendly in their teevee adverts, because really they just want your money and then for you to fuck off and die (and their custard slices taste like shit).

Tesco has created an elaborate corporate structure involving offshore tax havens which enables it to avoid paying what could be up to £1bn of tax on profits from the sale of its UK properties.

The complex new structures uncovered by a six-month Guardian investigation include a string of Cayman Island companies, each named after a different colour, from aqua to violet. These are being used by the supermarket giant as it proceeds with its announced programme to sell and lease back £6bn worth of its UK stores.

The Guardian’s analysis of Tesco’s accounts over the past five years also shows that the company has paid an effective tax rate of just over 20% on the rest of its profits, at a time when the UK corporation tax rate is 30%.

· New company structures set up by Tesco to own stores that are being sold and leased back mean that 99.9% of the company that owns the stores could end up being held offshore. Tesco would be liable to pay UK tax on only the 0.1% of its profit on the sale of the stores held in the UK. Tesco’s first two property deals, worth about £1bn, have used this structure and will avoid tax on £500m of profits.

· Although its accounts for the past five years report an average rate of corporation tax of 29%, the actual rate of tax Tesco paid, according to its cash flow statement, is closer to 20%. This is on profits separate from the property deals. UK corporation tax is 30%.

· Tesco has sold its 37 stores in the first two sale and leaseback deals at twice the book value that is included in its accounts, making a profit of about £500m on the £1bn of stores sold. If it achieves the same rate of return on all its disposals as expected, its share of profits from property sales would come to about £3bn. The UK corporation tax due on this would be as high as £1bn, but the retailer could avoid paying this because of its offshore structure.

· A string of other company structures leading to the Cayman Islands have been set up and more of Tesco’s properties have already been transferred to them so that they could be quickly activated for the next tranche of store sales.

So weirdly if you went shoplifting in one of their stores and absolutely crammed your coat with stuff you’d still be nothing like the thief that the shop around you is. Not that I’m suggesting you go shoplifting in Tescos, after all why mix with such lowlife corporate crooks?

See also Korova’s posts at Mask of Anarchy on Tesco.

NeoCon AEI Advance Iranian Influence Meme

A new report (“Iranian Influence in the Levant, Iraq, and Afghanistan”) published by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think-tank purports to show the reach and scope of Iranian influence across the Middle East…Co-written by AEI fellows Fred Kagan and Danielle Pletka, and Kagan’s wife, Kimberly, who heads the Institute for the Study of War…… it warns: “Much as America might desire to avoid war with Iran, continued Iranian interventions… might ultimately make that option less repulsive than the alternatives.” The report relies entirely on open-source material, international and domestic media, non-governmental and government reports, as well as interviews conducted by Fred and Kimberly Kagan, who respectively visited Afghanistan and Iraq.

While President Bush may share AEI’s view on Iranian malfeasance, his influence is waning. In a National Public Radio interview this month, Defence Secretary Bob Gates appeared to contradict his boss’s view that Iran posed a “threat”, instead saying that Tehran posed “significant challenges”.

“When I think of a threat I think of a direct military threat, and while the jury’s out in terms of whether they have eased up on their support to those opposing us in Iraq, I don’t see the Iranians in the near term as a direct military threat,” he said.

It seems the scholars at AEI have caught on, as they have attempted to shift the focus of the debate from Iranian motivations and intentions towards an “empirical study” of Iran’s influence. In the final analysis, it reflects a tactical shift away from openly beating the war drums as do scholars like Ledeen, whose most recent book is entitled, “The Iranian Time Bomb: The Mullah Zealots’ Quest for Destruction”, and towards an attempt to highlight the extent of Iranian influence in the region. The conclusion to be drawn is that, even without the nuclear issue at the forefront, Iran continues to exert a negative impact on U.S. interests.

But perhaps the authors should do some fact-checking of their own. On page three, the incorrectly identify the former President of Syria as “Hafez al-Hassad,” who died in 2006. Assad died in 2000.

Well they never were the brightest, or the most honest, or…ok they are just scumbags. Obviously angling for that sweet spot of the bipartisan imperial ego that cannot bear any power other than its own to dominate and the arrogant presumption that America has any business (interests)thousands of miles from ‘der Homeland’. Give them enough time and they will cook up a report saying Iran causes restless leg syndrome & wrinkles. Keeps them wealthy and after all isn’t that the most important function of war and ‘think’ tanks for the neocon organism?

Dirty Thieving Capitalist Scum

Why am I even surprised, oh wait I’m not, I’m just disgusted-

Britain’s high street banks have raised billions of pounds in funds through complex financial deals that use supposedly charitable trusts which are not donating a penny to good causes, the Guardian has learned.

Last week it emerged that Northern Rock had raised £71bn through a Jersey-registered trust called Granite, which issued a prospectus that told potential investors: “Any profits … will be paid for the benefit of the Down’s Syndrome North East Association (UK) and for other charitable purposes.”

Down’s Syndrome North East, a small charity run by volunteers from a semi-detached house on the outskirts of Newcastle, was told nothing about this and did not receive any money. During the period that Northern Rock was using its name to raise billions of pounds, volunteers were raising a few hundred pounds through sponsored slimming and cycling tours, and primary school children donating similarly small sums.

There was confusion at the NSPCC when the Guardian told the charity that for the last five years it had been the named beneficiary of a £47.9bn trust, with officials saying they could find no record of ever being informed of this by the Halifax.

Abbey said it had donated £30,000 from earlier wound-up trusts. Abbey currently raises funds on the back of home loans worth £40bn. 

Oh Abbey you generous bastards, bet they ate a lot of cake with that. And here we are bailing out Northern Rock, note bailing out, not actually getting ownership for all the money. Frankly if we are dumb enough to buy The Church of the Free Market scam we really shouldn’t whine at the disaster they are walking us into. Still at least ties make a handy ad hoc noose.

This Is A Lie- The Fix Is In: Iraq Puppets Ask For Domination

Hypocracy spreads, as previously posted first they deny the parliament the right to vote because they would vote out the US/Coalition (ha!)-

when the only people who all those purple-fingered Iraqi voters actually elected to office try to attach some conditions to the U.N. mandate, demand a timetable for withdrawal or come out against privatizing Iraq’s natural resources, then somehow the legislature magically disappears

Read full post here.

Now today this utter capitulation to imperial exploitation-

Iraq’s government is preparing to grant the US a long-term troop presence in the country and preferential treatment for American investors in return for guaranteed security, it emerged today.

By disappearing previous legislation attempts the US/UK have forced the only negotiations over the UN mandate into a corner where the Iraq govt. shills must hand over their country to a genocidal shock doctrine takeover by US & other multinationals.

Preferential treatment for US investors could provide a huge windfall if Iraq can achieve enough stability to exploit its vast oil resources.

Christopher Pang, the head of the Middle East programme at the Royal United Services Institute, said the proposals were continuing the “pattern since 2003”. “That US troops will stay in Iraq is a fait accompli. They have just built their largest embassy there,” he said.

But promises of long-term troop deployments were “jumping the gun”, Pang said, because a president coming to power after US elections next year could change policy.

Would a Democrat president end this murderous occupation and thus endanger all that oil they need for the huge dirty and inefficient US energy economy? I wouldn’t hold you breath. In return for fewer above the law death squads the Iraqis get some internal control back but tens of thousands of US troops and permanent bases remain and the assets are given preferentially to US investors. Utterly repulsive, immoral, an illegal invasion rubber stamped into a long term resource grab by the Empire. Shame on anyone, anyone who goes along with this in America.

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Corruption Pays

Oh no! Can you believe it, a public asset is sold off for peanuts to the private sector and the govt. shills who ran the deal become multi-millionaires and national defence becomes the property of corporations and…the Carlyle Group was involved. Who’d a thunk it?

The part-sale of QinetiQ was ordered by the Treasury in the late 1990s and led to government assets being snapped up by a US private equity company at an eighth of their value.

“The report will be highly critical of the whole process, in particular the over-incentives given to senior civil servants to privatise part of QinetiQ,”

“…both US research workers and British research workers funded from the public purse would resent the fruits of their work going to enrich individuals in a private company.”

Sir John Chisholm, chairman of QinetiQ – and also chairman of the Medical Research Council – and Graham Love, the chief executive, turned investments of £129,000 and £108,000 into assets worth £22m and £18m respectively when the firm was floated in 2006.

At the same time Carlyle, the private equity group, which bought a stake in QinetiQ for £42m in 2003, was able to sell at a £300m profit three years later.

What you have to ask yourself is, the politician’s (Brown!) who did this, whose interests do their actions serve? The public who were robbed, or the corporations who were enriched, ok not a hard question. So what do we do when our elected representatives have betrayed us and are working against us? Because y’know a vote every few years ain’t really cutting it. Meanwhile the US part of this deal is simply more of the same pattern of public funds and liabilities being harvested into private hands by means of the ‘defence’ industry and great big lovely wars which turn a loss for the public commons but a profit for the corporations. So again can you guess who the politician’s are serving? Is there still the death penalty for treason?

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Jury Finds Met Police Guilty On de Menezes

Hurray for juries, one of that last mechanisms where people can challenge the power of institutions, they didn’t fall for the Met’s bullshit-

The Metropolitan police was today found guilty of a catastrophic series of errors during the operation that led to firearms officers shooting Jean Charles de Menezes dead on the London underground. The force was fined £175,000 and ordered to pay £385,000 costs after an Old Bailey jury found it had breached health and safety rules and failed in its duty to protect members of the public in the killing of the innocent Brazilian electrician at Stockwell station, south London, on July 22 2005.

And what do the establishment think?

The Met commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, said after the verdict that he would not be resigning and would go back to New Scotland Yard to “get on with my job”. The prime minister, Gordon Brown, and the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, said Sir Ian retained their “full confidence”.

Fuck you, we like executing brown people- in other words. In fact it could happen to any of us-

Clare Montgomery, prosecuting, told the court De Menezes had been acting no differently to “hundreds of others” when he was gunned down.

The case is still not fully investigated-

Speaking outside the Old Bailey, Mr de Menezes’s relatives said they wanted to see a “full and thorough” inquest into his death. Harriet Wistrich, the family’s solicitor, said the police had been an “unstoppable force” when they pursued him, and the defence had “descended to the gutter” to blacken his name.

And while the catalogue of incompetence, laziness, ass-covering and arrogance is a tempting explanation, it doesn’t quite cover it all. Something wicked was at work here and the truth is still concealed. Even this detailed summation has holes, what was the full role of the SAS? Why do we hear so little from members of the public who were witnesses? Why did the Met lie so much in the aftermath and why should we think they are not still lying? Why are whistleblowers subject to intimidating arrest and searches? Why is everyone keeping their jobs and some being promoted?

The War On Democracy: Guatemala & Otto Perez Molina

Although former Gen. (and SOA/WHINSEC graduate) Otto Perez Molina does not have enough votes at this stage he has support from the Empire (and The National Association of Evangelical Ministers of Guatemala!). That the Economist compares him to Uribe in Colombia while whitewashing his past kind of tells you where this is going. Worst of all Guatemalans who try to escape and find work in the US are being treated terribly and in some cases murdered. Some discussion here from Kyle & commenters at Immigration Orange-

Otto Perez has been using “Mano Dura” rhetoric to gain votes but it does the country no good. I love this letter the Guatemalan Solidarity Network published. In short, the author says that the frontrunner is a narco, Alvaro Colom, in second place is a human rights disaster, Otto Perez, and in third place you have the party of the elite bourgeoise, Alejandro Giammattei. Hilarious

‘Mano Dura’ is the right wingers strong arm ‘hard hand’ brand to say they will be tough on crime, they also favour an orange colour scheme (which rings some bells).

Guatemalans have cast their ballots in presidential and parliamentary elections, after one of the bloodiest campaigns in the country’s history. More than 50 candidates, activists and their relatives were murdered in the run-up to the polls. Mr Colom, who is running for the presidency for the third time in a row, promised to overhaul the security forces and the judicial system, which many criticise for being slow, corrupt and inefficient.

Mr Perez Molina pledged to increase the size of the police force by 50% and revive the death penalty. Of the 14 presidential candidates, Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu is the best-known internationally, but she was trailing far behind the front-runners.

Guatemala has one of the most unequal distributions of income in the Western Hemisphere. Furthermore, in the wake of President Bush’s visit to the country in May, a new interest in large-scale ethanol production was ignited which is likely to lead to an even greater degree of the concentration of wealth….Guatemala is strategically positioned in the heart of the Western Hemisphere, with access to both the Atlantic and the Pacific…

COL Otto Perez Molina, 1985, Command and General Staff College
(Commandant’s List)
Assassination, 1994: Chief of the G-2 (military intelligence) and on the
payroll of the CIA, Perez Molina
was in charge in 1994, when the General Staff was implicated in the
assassination of Judge Edgar Ramiro
El?as Ogaldez. (Allan Nairn, The Nation, 4/17/95)
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Why Is The British Govt. Protecting Burma?

Ministers are coming under increasing pressure to reveal which British companies import goods from Burma amid a growing clamour of protest at the appalling human rights abuses carried out by the country’s military dictatorship.

Campaigners, trade unionists and MPs demanded that the Treasury release details of imports from the south-east Asian state, insisting that consumers have a right to know whether goods, from gems to clothing, come from the troubled country.

Leaders of the UK-based Burma Campaign, which presses for the restoration of democracy in the country, said yesterday that requests for a breakdown of Britain’s imports from Burma had been rebuffed after HM Revenue and Customs said releasing the information was not in the national interest.

British imports from Burma totalled £34.5m in 2005, a fall on 2004’s total of £73.8m. But campaigners said that consumers had a right to know whether they were buying goods that might help prop up the military regime.

They have targeted the trade in gems – most of the world’s high-quality rubies originate in Burma – teak imports and clothing as key areas where the Burmese regime generates vital foreign exchange.

Michael Moore, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said: “The ruling junta in Burma is one of the most barbaric regimes in the world. Given the heinous crimes and human rights abuses that it continues to commit, it is indefensible for companies to do business with it. Those that do should be named and shamed.”

And the answer to that question? Money. Customs make the mob seem low rent.

SOA Instructor Col. Julián Villate, Drummond Mining & Operation Dragon

soawcol150.jpgCol. Julián Villate, what a renaissance guy, well not really he gets lots of different gigs but they are always the same job, whether it be:- Colombian Army Colonel, instructor at School of The Americas/WHINSEC, ‘security consultant’ to Drummond mining, often named lynchpin around which various assassination plots are formed, be they Uribe’s critics, union organisers or lefty types; US embassy employee, Operation Dragon ‘mastermind’. He is much in demand and wherever he goes, people turn up dead and capital is protected. Go figure.

Retired Colonel Julian Villate — now employed by Alabama-based coal producer Drummond Co Inc — was accused by Senator Gustavo Petro on Tuesday of trying to hire hit men to kill him.

Oops, he is a bit of amn of mystery though

A retired army colonel who is accused of conspiring to assassinate Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s most vocal critic worked for the US embassy two years ago. US embassy spokesman Marshall Louis confirmed on Wednesday that Villate was employed by the diplomatic post between December 2004 and July 2005, when he resigned. Louis said he was not allowed to reveal what Villate did for the embassy, or why he resigned.

What was Opertaion Dragon?
It was a large plot to target for assisnation SINTRA-EMCALI labor union’s campaign against corruption and privatisation of the Cali Municipal Corporation (EMCALI) as well as human rights workers and associates. And the colonel?

…in Lt. Colonel Villate’s possession were names, phone numbers and addresses of those under surveillance, as well as highly sensitive information concerning detailed protection measures granted to those under surveillance by the Protection Program of the Colombian Ministry of the Interior. Lt. Colonel Villate’s notes also reveal the existence of an intelligence network through direct correspondence involving a nexus of private companies, private security groups and public security forces, including: the management of EMCALI, the Superintendent of Public Services, the Third Brigade of the Colombian Army, the Intelligence Service of the National Police (SIPOL), the National Electrical Finance body (FEN), the Colombian Ministry of the Interior, the Administrative Security Department (DAS), and the Cali Metropolitan Police Department.

…there have been continued threats against individuals targeted by “Operation Dragon.” On September 17th, 2004, paramilitaries with alleged ties to Lt. Colonel Villate made multiple phone calls to SINTRAEMCALI President Luis Hernandez, Vice President Luis Enrique Imbachi Rubiano, and union leader Carlos Marmolejo. On the same day, a man in a bulletproof vest conspicuously inquired about the whereabouts of union leader Carlos Ocampo at his university. On October 21st, former SINTRAMEMCALI member and retired EMCALI employee Tania Valencia was carjacked, beaten and interrogated about the activities of Representative Lopez Maya, Carlos Marmolejo, and Carlos Ocampo. During these encounters paramilitaries referred to SINTRAEMCALI union members as “Indumiles”, a term used by Lt. Colonel Villate in his notes to describe those under surveillance and targeted for assassination

Gosh, so when Drummond mining hired him, they probably, erm how shall I put this? Knew what he was good at doing and needed that expertise for their operations?
And those operations…

The bus carrying 50 tired and grimy miners had just left La Loma mine when gunmen forced it to stop and dragged two union leaders off. One was shot dead on the spot, the gunmen pumping four bullets into his head. The other was tortured and then killed. Six months later another union leader who had come to the mine was also assassinated.The men, members of the Sintramienergetica union, had been trying to improve the appalling and unsafe working conditions at a United States-owned mine, which sends huge amounts of coal from Colombia to Europe and North America.The lawsuit alleges that Drummond intimidated union activists by allowing “known paramilitaries to freely enter their mining facilities” and permitted pamphlets to be handed out accusing union members of being part of a “guerrilla union”.

Drummond has replied-

Drummond, one of the largest coal-mining companies in the world, denies any involvement with the paramilitaries. For decades, landowners and businesses have used private militias to protect them from the guerrillas. And Drummond says the court must first prove that the workers were not associated with these guerrillas.

Er no actually they don’t, and just a word of advice, judges take a dim view of being told by the accused what their job is. Hey why not get the good colonel to the witness stand? Because get what Drummond said:-

…the company said the retired colonel “came with the best recommendations. . . . The fact that he had worked for the United States Embassy in Colombia would lead one to suppose that there had been a thorough check of his résumé.”

Pretending the recommendations weren’t’ actually- Hey ! He really hate leftists and loves to kill them!- I mean if you have someone who has along history of planning and executuing assassinations and you hire him, well it isn’t to sit in reception and look pretty, is it?

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Private Equity Offers To Be First Against The Wall

On the same day, Sir Ronald Cohen, one of the founding fathers of the UK private equity industry, went as far as to predict that there would be rioting in the streets if poor people were left behind in this country. “Entrepreneurial economies, which have high rates of growth and high rates of job creation, do lead to great divergences in wealth. When economic situations get bad, it takes a spark to ignite a violent reaction,” he proclaimed. As an industry, private equity does not seem to know whether to be defiant in the face of criticism or repentant.

Translation- if the proles twig how much we’re scamming them for they’ll be hell to pay.

Where’s Our Nuremberg?

Taguba said that he saw “a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee.” The video was not made public in any of the subsequent court proceedings, nor has there been any public government mention of it.

Sy Hersh writes another great piece which confirms what the sane, intelligent and insightful amongst us already knew. The torture was ordered from the top:

By law, the President must make a formal finding authorizing a C.I.A. covert operation, and inform the senior leadership of the House and the Senate Intelligence Committees. However, the Bush Administration unilaterally determined after 9/11 that intelligence operation conducted by the military—including the Pentagon’s covert task forces—for the purposes of “preparing the battlefield could be authorized by the President, as Commander-in-Chief, without telling Congress

It’s a lot worse than the publicly available information indicates:

The former senior intelligence official said that when the images of Abu Ghraib were published, there were some in the Pentagon and the White House who “didn’t think the photographs were that bad”—in that they put the focus on enlisted soldiers, rather than on secret task-force operations. Referring to the task-force members, he said, “Guys on the inside ask me, ‘What’s the difference between shooting a guy on the street, or in his bed, or in a prison?’ ” A Pentagon consultant on the war on terror also said that the “basic strategy was ‘prosecute the kids in the photographs but protect the big picture.’ ”

And even senior Generals with 3 masters show a critical lack of intelligent imagination:

A few weeks after his report became public, Taguba, who was still in Kuwait, was in the back seat of a Mercedes sedan with (General) Abizaid. Abizaid’s driver and his interpreter, who also served as a bodyguard, were in front. Abizaid turned to Taguba and issued a quiet warning: “You and your report will be investigated.”
“I wasn’t angry about what he said but disappointed that he would say that to me,” Taguba said. “I’d been in the Army thirty-two years by then, and it was the first time that I thought I was in the Mafia.”

Still better late than…

“From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service,” Taguba said. “And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable.”


Bush Still Covering Up For Enron

Remember? the biggest corporate fraud ever? Helped get Arnold into California and Bush get elected, so many years and scandals ago. If we’d acted then a lot of people would be alive now, if…

Wall Street’s investment banks just got another one step closer to making defrauding investors an accepted line of business. And Enron’s employees who lost their pensions and the small investors who got fleeced in the Enron frauds just got shafted again—this time at the urging of President George W. Bush.

Wall Street’s most powerful investment banks and their friends in high places lobbied the U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement to reject the recommendation of the Securities and Exchange Commission that the Justice Department support defrauded investors in their appeal to the Supreme Court.

The case before the Supreme Court is called Stoneridge v. Scientific-Atlanta, but the Court decision will directly impact the millions of victims of Enron’s collapse—and say much about the honesty of U.S. markets.

Briefs in support of the defrauded investors were filed by dozens of state attorneys general, by the Council of Institutional Investors and some of the nation’s largest pension funds whose investments are at risk if Wall Street banks can concoct fraudulent schemes with impunity. Yet, in an unprecedented failure to meet his responsibilities to the public, Solicitor General Clement, who represents the United States before the Court, decided to punt.

Clement is not exactly a neutral party. He’s a star of the right-wing bar. He clerked for Laurence Silberman and Antonin Scalia, among the most partisan and reactionary judges of our time. He served as an aide to Sen. John Ashcroft. He is an activist in the right-wing Federalist Society that seeks a return to 19th century jurisprudence.

And this spear carrier for the right got his marching orders from the top. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson called directly and arranged for President Bush to weigh in personally.

The intervention of the treasury secretary and the president is hardly business as usual—particularly since neither Paulson nor President Bush are neutral observers either. Paulson is the former chairman of Goldman Sachs, a named defendant on the Enron case. And Enron and CEO “Kenny Boy” Lay were George Bush’s leading supporters, contributing cash, the corporate plane and fundraising energy to Bush’s rise.

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Your Mission Should You Choose To Accept It

A rare glimpse at the top ranks of executives in the private equity industry reveals a world of private jets, personal helicopters and take-home earnings running into hundreds of millions of dollars.

One of the most powerful names in private equity, the Blackstone Group, was obliged yesterday to reveal a breakdown of its finances as part of its preparations for a stock market flotation. Though little known to the public, Blackstone has snapped up businesses ranging from Madame Tussauds to Center Parcs holiday camps, Cafe Rouge restaurants and America’s biggest office landlord, Equity Office Properties.

Its prospectus reveals that its chief executive, Stephen Schwarzman, enjoyed personal earnings of $398m last year. When Blackstone goes public, he will receive a windfall of at least $449m and he will retain a stake in the business worth $7.7bn.

A colourful figure known in New York for his star-studded parties, Mr Schwarzman, 60, founded Blackstone in 1985 with an investment banking colleague, Peter Peterson, who served as US commerce secretary in the Nixon administration.

Mr Peterson, who is still working at 81, took home $212m last year and will get $1.88bn by selling shares on Blackstone’s flotation. A third senior executive, Hamilton James, enjoyed annual income of a $97m and stands to receive $147m.

The sheer scale of the wealth amassed by private equity has angered unions. The TUC’s general secretary, Brendan Barber, last month warned that the rise of a super-rich class in the industry threatened to “fundamentally change” the nature of British and European capitalism.

In the US, the Service Employees’ International Union has hit out at the “extraordinary riches” for a handful of individuals at the top of the industry. It says the money should be shared with workers in businesses acquired by private equity who contribute to the industry’s huge returns.

 Vice-chairman Tomlinson Hill got $45m last year and chief financial officer Michael Puglisi received $17m. Seven more executives will have shares worth a combined $380m on flotation.

In political circles, pressure is mounting for greater transparency and taxation of private equity. The Labour-dominated Treasury select committee is due to hold hearings on the issue today.

Eli Talmor, a private equity expert at the London Business School, said the industry’s rewards still pale in comparison with the billions earned by top hedge fund managers.

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