As reported by McClatchy, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Corruption (SIGAR) has found that Westerners are facilitating much of the unscrupulous activity in the country through schemes such as procurement fraud.
Only a fourth of the ongoing corruption investigations by U.S. oversight officials in Afghanistan are strictly targeting Afghan suspects, the top U.S. investigator in Afghanistan said Tuesday in Kabul. The other three-fourths are investigating transactions that involve at least one Western suspect.
While he wouldn't identify officials or companies under investigation, the figures seem to support Afghan government contentions that corruption is every bit as widespread among Western officials as it is in their own ranks.
"About 40 percent of our investigations involve procurement fraud," said Raymond J. DiNunzio, the assistant inspector general for the U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction. U.S. and Western governments frequently issue large contracts to support military and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, for labor, security guards and building materials, for example.
The CCTV video (the action really begins at the 1:11 minute mark) is entertaining enough. It's not every day that you get to witness a pair of homophobic thugs getting their comeuppance. Nor do I suspect that our anti-heroes in question Dean Gardener, 19, and Jason Fender, 22 believed that they would achieve world-wide Internet fame, really more scorn and ridicule, for getting their clocks cleaned by guys in heels who can pack a punch.
The British tabloid Daily Mail provides the background:
Two thugs who attacked what they thought were a pair of transvestites picked on the wrong men - when their intended victims turned out to be cage fighters on a night out in fancy dress.
Dean Gardener, 19, and Jason Fender, 22, singled out the two men walking along a street in wigs, short skirts and high heels.
Bare-chested Gardener was caught on CCTV confronting one of the men in a pink wig, black skirt and boob tube - then seen swinging a punch, a court heard.
But the other cage fighter, wearing a sparkling black dress and matching long wig, sprang to his friend's help, delivering two lightning-quick punches to the two stunned yobs.
The cage fighters were then seen teetering away in their high heels, stopping only to pick up a clutch bag they dropped during the melee.
Gardener and Fender were left dazed and seen staggering to their feet after their failed attack.
Police later discovered the two drag queens were cage fighters on a fancy dress stag night out with other friends.
The episode took place in late August in Swansea, Wales and was captured by one of the over 4.2 million CCTV cameras that operate in the United Kingdom. There's about one CCTV surveillance camera for every 14 people in the UK making the British the most watched people on the planet. On any given day, a Briton will be filmed on average 540 times.
On June 27 Tony Blair will step down as leader of the Labour Party. His successor will be Gordon Brown, as he was the only candidate to receive the necessary nominations from 44 MPs. Brown has been viewed as the heir apparent since 1994 and his victory was all but assured, so no other candidate from the mainstream of the parliamentary party elected to challenge him, although the ultra-Blairite faction toyed with the idea. His only opponents were Michael Meacher and John McDonnell, both from the left of the party. The former withdrew from contention to make it easier for the latter to get on the ballot, but there was little enthusiasm for a contest amongst MPs and few of them seem to have wanted to mark themselves out as members of the awkward squad by voting against Brown, so more than 300 out of 354 MPs nominated the Chancellor, sufficient to prevent McDonnell getting on the ballot.
Disappointing as this was to those like me who favoured a public debate on Labour's future path, there is a silver lining. In the Deputy Leadership Election, six candidates made it on to the ballot, covering more or less all of the ideological range of current MPs, from ultra-Blairites to Brownites to the soft left. Last night the candidates had a televised debate on BBC's Newsnight, hosted by Jeremy Paxman.
The video's here and discussion of the various candidates and their performances can be found in the extended entry.
I've decided to withdraw from the partisan warfare of our own a bit, to look at other people's cluster... well let's call them grave errors.
I think that at theis point most of us are aware that British Prime Minister (PM) Tony Blair is set to resign his post as party leader, allowing Chanceller of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to become PM on June 27, 2007. However, Blair's final legacy may yet be having balkanized a nation so profoundly that ultimately continued union is untenable. This nation of course being the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.
On May 3, 2007, Scotland will hold elections to it's devolved parliament, which the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) is expected to win. Scotland is a party stronghold sending MPs to Westminster for the Labor party much as Massachusetts does for Democrats. On the natonal level, it's largely elects only Labour. Capitalizing on opposition to the Iraq War and Blair's "Third Way" politics, the social democratic, pro-independence SNP has surged in the polls saying that in three years time it will hold a referendum on Scottish Independence.