Ehud Olmert was sentenced to six years in prison, a two-year suspended term, and a fine of NIS 1 million ($289,000) in the Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday, with the judge issuing a scathing rebuke of the former prime minister
The graft crimes for which Olmert was convicted, Judge David Rozen said, were “among the worst in the criminal code.” Rozen added that “without trust there can be no upstanding public service.”
Olmert will have 45 days to appeal the sentence, and the Supreme Court will rule on whether he will be jailed during the appeal process. If he loses his appeal, Olmert will become the first former prime minister to serve jail time since the state’s founding. As things stand, he is slated to begin serving out his sentence on September 1.
“The crime of bribery can pollute civil service,” Rozen said. Bribery, he continued, “destroys governments,” and is “one of the worst crimes” in the penal code. The judge added that public officials who take bribes are tantamount to “traitors” because they betray the trust of the public.
Olmert “held the most important and central position and ended up convicted of contemptible crimes,” the judge said.
Before reading Olmert’s sentence, Rozen called the former prime minister an “intelligent, brilliant people person” and praised him for being an “avid Zionist” and for contributing to bereaved families and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial
Wearing a royal blue shirt and khaki chinos, Olmert looked tired and subdued as he entered the court room. A Channel 2 reporter said he looked away as the judge read his sentence.
The sentence was handed down over a month after Olmert was convicted on multiple bribery charges stemming from his involvement as mayor of Jerusalem in a massive graft scandal surrounding the development of the city’s Holyland hilltop residential complex.
According to the decision, businessman Shmuel Dachner, who would eventually turn state’s witness (and who passed away mid-trial, hours after a cross-examination session), gave Olmert’s debt-ridden brother Yossi Olmert post-dated checks for NIS 500,000 ($143,000) at Olmert’s behest. Dachner was representing real estate developer Hillel Charney, who was convicted of money laundering and bribing Olmert, his then-assistant — and future Jerusalem mayor — Uri Lupolianski, and others.
Two thematically-related stories on the BBC at the moment:
UK drug company GlaxoSmithKline is facing a criminal investigation in Poland for allegedly bribing doctors, BBC Panorama has discovered.
Hundreds of millions of pounds may have been wasted on a drug for flu that works no better than paracetamol, a landmark analysis has said.
The fact is that drug companies exist to make a profit. Improving the health of people in countries in which they operate is not their primary goal - it is just one of the ways in which they make money.
If you want to improve public health in the most efficient way, drug companies need to be kept out of the decision-making process.
China spends more than $230 billion on research and development, second only to the US, but it doesn’t have much to show for it.
But it turns out a good chunk of that has been lining the pockets of the most prominent science officials, at least in wealthy Guangdong province. More than 50 of the leading scientists have been implicated in a scheme to embezzle as much as hundreds of millions of yuan from state R&D projects.
It’s a scandal that goes all the way to the top of Guangdong’s government. In January, the Communist Party sacked Li Xinghua, director of the provincial Communist Party science and technology department. Then on Feb. 14, news broke that Wang Kewei, former deputy director of that same department, was accused of skimming funds off the province’s light-emitting diode (LED) industry development project, to which Guangdong had allocated 450 million yuan ($74 million), reports the South China Morning Post (paywall).
The premise of Sirota’s piece is that John Arnold, through the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, is influencing the content of “Pension Peril” through a $3.5 million grant; further, it alleges that WNET engaged in corruption by accepting the grant.
While it is true that Mr. Arnold is an advocate of pension reform, I thought it would be interesting to note his other associations — including those of PandoDaily’s financial backers.
According to the Grants page at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, ProPublica, Inc. was given a grant in the amount of $2 million for the term 2013-2015. ProPublica also notes the Laura and John Arnold Foundation on their supporter page. It should be noted that ProPublica has also been covering pensions, including news reports and investigations.
A search at ProPublica shows that “John Arnold” and “Laura and John Arnold Foundation” are only revealed in the Supporters page. There are no disclosures of Laura and John Arnold Foundation funding in any of the pension articles at ProPublica.
On January 16, 2012, Gigaom featured an article regarding PandoDaily’s start-up financing, “Sarah Lacy’s PandoDaily launches with $2.5 million in funding.”
The company is being funded by a $2.5 million investment from some of the most well known investors in Silicon Valley and some of the top seed funds. Investors in PandoDaily are - Marc Andreessen, Peter Thiel, Tony Hseih (Zappos), Zach Nelson (NetSuite), Andrew Anker, Chris Dixon (FounderCollective), Saul Klein (IndexVentures), Josh Kopelman (First Round Capital)…
In 2012, Lacy founded technology news site PandoDaily with a reported $2.5m investment from investors including Marc Andreessen, Peter Thiel, Tony Hsieh, David Sze, Jim Breyer, Reid Hoffman, Chris Dixon and Josh Kopelman. The site consists of a daily technology blog and a monthly event series entitled “PandoMonthly”.
Peter Thiel - Libertarian and Republican Donor:
Venture capitalist and hedge fund manager Peter Thiel. Was a co-founder of PayPal and later CEO. Mr. Thiel would also go on to support Meg Whitman for her unsuccesful bid as governor of California ($25,900).
Meg Whitman was a partner with Pierre Omidyar at eBay — as CEO she purchased PayPal from Thiel et al in 2010. Thiel was also a trader for Credit Suisse and speech writer for William Bennett.
• Largest contributor to “Club for Growth” in sum of $1 million.
• Co-authored “The Diversity Myth: ‘Multiculturalism’ and the Politics of Intolerance at Stanford” (1995) with David O. Sacks.
• Libertarian objectivist.
• $3.9 million to “Endorse Liberty” supporting Ron Paul for president (2012).
• Private meeting with Rand Paul — “the future of the Liberty Movement.”
• Endorsed Ron Paul for president in 2007.
• Contributed to McCain/Palin 2012.
• $1.7 million Ron Paul Super-Pac in 2012.
• Helped fund James O’Keefe’s “Taxpayers Clearing House” in 2009.
• Multiple contributions to Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney.
Peter Thiel’s Republican Party political candidate donations:
Rep. James E. Rogan, Don Stenberg, Sen. John Thune Douglas Forrester, Rep. Robin Hayes, Sen. John Cornyn, Sen. Elizabeth Dole, Sen. Lamar Alexander, State Sen. Dick Monteith, Rep. Lee Terry, Sen. Chuck Hagel, Rep. Dan Lungren, Rep. Bob Beauprez, Rep. Mike Simpson, Rep. Tom Tancredo, Rep. Mary Bono, Gov. Butch Otter, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Rep. Nancy Johnson, Rep. Scott Garrett, Rep. Tim Johnson, Rep. Bill Thomas, Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. Jim DeMint, Sen. Jim Talent, Rep. Denny Rehberg, Rep. Rob Simmons, Rep. Jon Porter, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, Rep. Ed Royce, Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Gordon H. Smith, Rep. Bob Schaffer, John Neely Kennedy, Sen. Norm Coleman, Rep. Mike Coffman, Rep. Eric Cantor, John Raese, Dino Rossi, Ryan Brumberg, Sen. Rand Paul, Randy Altschuler, Rep. Justin Amash, State Sen. Richard Tisei, Kevin McCarthy, Sen. Ted Cruz, Josh Mandel, and Sen. Orrin Hatch.
For a more detailed look at Peter Thiel’s political contributions click here.
Peter Thiel “has worked as a derivatives trader at Credit Suisse Financial Products, a securities lawyer for Sullivan & Cromwell, and a speechwriter for former education secretary William J. Bennett.”
Marc Andreessen - Romney/Ryan Supporter:
Marc Andreessen is another venture capitalist millionaire (not a billionaire as Theil is). Andreessen was the founder of Mosaic and Netscape. In addition to helping start PandoDaily, his investments include Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and others. Andreessen serves on the board of eBay (see Whitman, Omidyar, et al).
While he supported Barack Obama in 2008, Mr. Andreessen flipped in 2012 to support Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
He’s contributed $15,000 to Ryan Prosperity Action, Inc.; Cantor Victory Fund; Romney for President, Inc.; Scott Brown; over $50,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee; and $30,5000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
In 2012, Business Insider reported:
He has contributed $100,000 to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign via a SuperPAC…
…Andreessen says he supports Romney because he is a “dyed-in-the-wool” businessman who understand that “regulations” get in the way of business.
Andreessen says he used to support Democrats - like Clinton/Gore, for example - but “I turned 40 last year and so I figured it was time to make the switch.”
The amount Republican super-donor Peter Thiel and newly minted Republican Marc Andreessen infused into PandoDaily remains unknown. No attempt was made to contact any of the individuals in this story. What remains clear is that PandoDaily and David Sirota have accused WNET and the Arnold Foundation with corruption for having the latter provide grant money for the series, “Pension Peril.”
The question remains, how can WNET be accused of corruption when ProPublica, who also cover pensions, is the recipient of $2 million from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and gets away unnoticed?
Update and of further interest.
PayPal Founder Peter Thiel Continues to Tout Anti-Government Manifesto
Southern Poverty Law Center
Intelligence Report, Summer 2012, Issue Number: 146
“I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,” Thiel wrote in a 2009 manifesto published by the libertarian Cato Institute. “Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.” Bemoaning the fate of the “smartest libertarians” who, he claims, were so bummed out by the state of capitalism that they “escaped not only to alcohol but beyond it,” he outlined a vision of the future free from the quixotic desires of the poor, stupid, and X-chromosomed among us.
This is more info related to a Page Kragar posted yesterday regarding the Marine, Maj. Jason Brezler, who got in trouble for warning others about this creepy cop.
Afghan police chief Sarwar Jan was accused of sexually abusing teen boys on U.S. bases in Afghanistan when U.S. Marines pressed to have him removed from power in a violent district in 2010. Turns out that might only be the beginning of his crimes, though. According to new documents obtained by Foreign Policy, coalition forces also believe he extorted money from civilians, operated illegal security checkpoints and was working with the Taliban, selling the insurgent group weapons and police uniforms for cash.
The accusations are outlined in a witness statement submitted in support of Marine Maj. Jason Brezler, who faces an administrative hearing in which Marine Corps officials could toss him out of the service for warning fellow Marines about Sarwar Jan through an email on an unclassified network.
One month after Brezler sent that message to Afghanistan, Sarwar Jan’s teenage servant, Aynoddin, allegedly opened fire on Marines working out in a dusty gym at Forward Operating Base Delhi in Helmand province. Staff Sgt. Scott Dickinson, Cpl. Richard Rivera and Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley - all members of a police adviser team attached to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, from Camp Lejeune, N.C. — were killed in that Aug. 10, 2012 insider attack. A fourth Marine, Staff Sgt. Cody Rhode survived, but sustained five gunshot wounds.
The incident underscores the mixed allegiances and hostilities of some Afghan commanders, 12 years into the war in Afghanistan. Commanders like Sarwar Jan frequently resurface in new assignments after being drummed out of their old ones. The practice frustrates military forces advising them and jeopardizes the coalition’s mission, according to a new witness statement submitted on Brezler’s behalf by Paul Davies, a British civilian who worked alongside the Marines and Sarwar Jan last year in Afghanistan. […]
At least 13 of the 15 council members are Democrats, one Republican and one with no affiliation listed in his Wiki. If we had a more balanced council, or incumbents were not so very powerful, this kind od gifting corruption would not be allowed. Or at least not slip by without more debate, hopefully public debate. Remember people all politics is local.
The council rejected reducing the span of gifts, and in fact allowed themselves more expensive gifts instead. So, if you want some pull, some access, whip out that credit card and take good care of your city councilman.
By Steve Lopez
October 29, 2013, 7:52 p.m.
I’m not sure how many of you out there were planning on sending gifts to Los Angeles City Council representatives this holiday season, but if you missed the news, the council members are happy to accept even bigger presents than they have in the past.
Don’t send the 10-pack cigar sampler. Send a whole box!
Last week, as my colleague David Zahniser reported, the council rejected calls by the city Ethics Commission to scale back gift-giving. As it is, public officials can’t accept gifts from lobbyists, for obvious reasons. But the Ethics Commission wanted to add other people to that list. Contractors, for instance, and others who might be fishing for business with the city.
Makes sense, right?
In the United States a defense contractor (SAIC) recently agreed to pay the government $5.75 million to settle (but not admit guilt) accusations that the firm defrauded the government by taking military contracts and then finding a way to keep the money and not do any work. No one went to jail over this, mainly because the government knows that companies like SAIC would spend much more than the disputed contract was worth to fight the accusations in court. Since justice delayed (long enough) is justice denied the government tends to take what it can get and publicize the theft and the circumstances.
There is a lot of this misbehavior, mainly because the defense budget is so large and the number of people monitoring it is outmatched (in numbers, experience, enthusiasm and lack of moral scruples) by the contractors. It’s not for nothing that defense contractors, especially those working in numerous office parks just off the beltway road that circles Washington DC, are called “beltway bandits.” Most contractors are honest, hard-working people trying to provide what the Department of Defense needs. But a significant minority are out to grab as much as they can, any way they can and as often as they can without getting prosecuted. Getting caught from time to time and paying a settlement is seen as a cost of doing business.
Read the whole thing, because this is why DoD contracting seriously needs reform.
The company mentioned is just another in a long line of Woo sellers that use sketchy studies and pseudo science to sell health supplements. In this case they are pimping “anatabine” as capable of helping you quit smoking and they appear to be getting ready to market it as an Alzheimer’s preventative.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) received a Rolex watch from a major campaign donor and he did not disclose the gift in his personal filings, the Washington Post reported online Tuesday.
The watch was a gift from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the CEO of dietary supplement maker Star Scientific whose relationship with McDonnell has been the subject of an ongoing federal investigation.
and then there is this:
In the spring of 2011, Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell flew to New York and was treated to a high-end shopping spree courtesy of Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr.
During the trip, McDonnell spent time at the Manhattan showroom of famed designer Oscar de la Renta, where she tried on a suede jacket that cost at least $10,000. Williams put the garment on his tab.
Williams also bought the first lady two pairs of designer shoes, a Louis Vuitton leather handbag and a designer dress, according to sources familiar with the ongoing investigations into her husband, Gov. Bob McDonnell.
It’s the most understandable, intuitive and tempting mistake in geopolitics: secretly pay a powerful foreigner to do what you want. The CIA, like many spy agencies, has done it throughout its history, and now we know it helped undermine the America’s longest war.
Nearly every month since the war began in 2001, the CIA has sent a guy over to Afghan President Hamid Karzai with a bag — sometimes a suitcase, sometimes a backpack, sometimes a shopping bag — full of cash. His former chief of staff says they used to call it “ghost money,” and it totals tens of millions of dollars, according to an eye-opening New York Times story. Quite the hypocritical twist from a sponsor country that so frequently hectors Karzai about corruption. “The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan,” a U.S. official levels with the paper’s Matthew Rosenberg, “was the United States.”
When Iran pays off Karzai, it’s disruptive foreign meddling. But when the CIA does it, it’s supposed to be an insurance policy to entrench U.S. influence in the president’s office. Alas, there’s something more important than influence in geopolitics: leverage. When Washington most needed leverage with Karzai, it didn’t have much — at least not that it was prepared to use — and the CIA ghost money helps explain why.
Consider some of the U.S.’ goals in Afghanistan over the past several years. (Put aside whether you think they’re smart or stupid.) In 2009, the Obama administration began pressing Karzai to clean up his kleptocratic government and expand its institutional capacity to provide services to a dispersed population. Where once the U.S. hugged Karzai close and publicly praised him, diplomats and top officials began talking more about free and fair presidential elections. During that election season, someone decided to let slip that Karzai’s brother was on the CIA payroll.