Archive for the ‘bribes’ Category

US commander says Iran trying to bribe Iraqis

October 13, 2008

WASHINGTON (AFP) – General Ray Odierno, who commands US forces in Iraq, has accused Iran of trying to bribe Iraqi lawmakers in the hope of undermining an agreement that would allow US troops to remain in Iraq after the end of this year, The Washington Post reported Monday.

General Ray Odierno, who commands US forces in Iraq, seen here, ...
Above: General Ray Odierno, who commands US forces in Iraq, seen here, has accused Iran of trying to bribe Iraqi lawmakers in the hope of undermining an agreement that would allow US troops to remain in Iraq after the end of this year, The Washington Post has reported.(AFP/File/Dusan Vranic)

In an interview with the paper, Odierno said Iran was working publicly and covertly to undermine the status-of-forces agreement that the US and Iraq are about to conclude and that must be ratified by the Iraqi parliament.

“Clearly, this is one they’re having a ‘full court press‘ on to try to ensure there’s never any bilateral agreement between the United States and Iraq,” the paper quoted him as saying, using a basketball expression.

“We know that there are many relationships with people here for many years going back to when Saddam was in charge, and I think they’re utilizing those contacts to attempt to influence the outcome of the potential vote in the council of representatives,” the general continued.

Odierno said, however, he had no definitive proof of the bribes, but added that “there are many intelligence reports” that suggest Iranians are “coming in to pay off people to vote against it,” The Post reported.

The status-of-forces afteement is designed to replace a UN resolution that sanctions the presence of US troops in Iraq. This resolution expires at the end of the year.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081013/wl_mideast_a
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Vietnam Hub Of Illegal Timber Trade

March 19, 2008

The BBC

Vietnam has become a major South-East Asian hub for processing illegally logged timber, according to a report from two environmental charities.

The trade threatens some of the last intact forests in the region, say the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Indonesia’s Telapak.

Because Vietnam has increased measures to protect its own forest, producers are getting timber from other nations.

The authors add that some of the timber is reaching the UK as garden furniture.

“Over the last decade, governments around the world have made a raft of pronouncements regarding the seriousness of illegal logging and their determination to tackle it,” the authors of the Borderlines report say.

The cost of such unfettered greed is borne by rural communities in Laos who are dependent on the forests for their traditional livelihoods.

Julian Newman,Head of forest camaigns, EIA, said, “The stark reality is ‘business as usual’ for the organised syndicates looting the remaining precious tropical forests for a quick profit.”

The report says that an increase in the price of raw timber has prompted some wood producing countries, such as Indonesia, to take steps to combat illegal logging.

But, they explain, as tougher measures were enforced by one country, the problem shifts to another.

Uncertain future

EIA and Telapak say they have gathered evidence that “Vietnam is now exploiting the forests of neighbouring Laos to obtain valuable hardwoods for its outdoor furniture industry”, which contravenes Laotian laws banning the export of logs and sawn timber.

They add that they also obtained evidence that timber traders from Thailand and Singapore were also securing raw materials from Laos.

Many rural communities’ long-term survival depend on forests.

The researchers who compiled the report said they met a Thai businessman who openly admitted paying bribes to secure a consignment of timber with a potential value of half a billion dollars.

“The cost of such unfettered greed is borne by rural communities in Laos who are dependent on the forests for their traditional livelihoods,” said EIA’s head of forest campaigns, Julian Newman.

“They gain virtually nothing from this trade; instead, the money goes to corrupt officials in Laos and businesses in Vietnam and Thailand.”

The authors estimate there are about 1,500 wood processing enterprises in Vietnam with a total processing capacity of more than 2.5m cubic metres of logs a year. They believe outdoor furniture accounts for about 90% of the country’s total wood exports.

Although the Vietnamese government has been tightening controls on logging since the early 1990s, it is also encouraging the wooden furniture industry to expand.

EIA said the nation had relaxed regulations concerning ownership in order to facilitate foreign investment, and it was also actively promoting the sector in overseas markets.

Mixed message

The groups said that ultimate responsibility had to rest with western markets that imported products made from the uncertified timber.

Illegal logging is a long-standing concern for environmentalists”To some extent, the dynamic growth of Vietnam’s furniture industry is driven by the demand of end markets such as the European Union and US,” the report concludes.

“Until these states clean up their act and shut their markets to wood products made from illegal timber, the loss of precious tropical forests will continue unabated.”

The team found that many leading brands and retailers had “taken the necessary steps” to ensure that certified and legal timber was used in products they sourced from Vietnamese producers.

But researchers, posing as furniture buyers, found that a number of companies operating in the UK had failed to take the appropriate measures to ensure illegal timber was not entering the country.

Stemming the flow

In an effort to prevent illegal timber entering its borders, the EU developed an initiative called Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (Flegt) in 2003, aimed at forming partnerships with timber producing countries.

The scheme is underpinned by Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs), which involve establishing a certification system to ensure only legally sourced timber enters EU markets.

Global demand for wood products is driving the trade, the report saysMalaysia began negotiations in 2006 to establish a VPA, and Indonesia embarked on a similar process in 2007.

EIA says the system focuses on direct shipments from the country, and does not take into account the fact that raw timber can pass through several countries, eg from Laos into Vietnam.

“Another problem with VPAs is that end products such as furniture are currently not included on the list of timber categories to be controlled,” the report says.

Gareth Thomas, the UK’s International Trade and Development Minister, said the report raised a number of concerns.

“Through the EU, we will be raising this with the Vietnamese government. I personally will be raising this with my Vietnamese counterpart,” he told BBC News.

“We will explore with G8 colleagues whether there is G8 action we can take in this area.”

Bribes A Fact of Life in Cambodian Prisons

March 12, 2008

PHNOM PENH — Visitors to prisons in Cambodia are required to pay bribes to prison guards to gain access to inmates, a Cambodian human rights organization said in a report released Tuesday. The report by LICADHO said, “In order for families to visit a family member in prison, they are usually required to pay a bribe to the prison guards.”
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Read the rest:
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/430784

China Health Care Can’t Keep Pace with Growth

January 7, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s health care system is struggling to keep pace with the country’s economic growth and faces a major challenge in looking after its 1.3 billion people, the health minister said on Monday.

Many hospitals have resorted to charging premiums for medical care and prescriptions and deregulation of the health industry has brought a rash of scandals involving overcharging, bogus drugs and malpractice.

A nurse bathes a new-born baby at a hospital in Changzhi, Shanxi ... 

A nurse bathes a new-born baby at a hospital in Changzhi, Shanxi province, December 12, 2007. China’s health care system is struggling to keep pace with the country’s blistering economic growth and faces a major challenge in looking after its 1.3 billion people, the health minister said on Monday. (REUTERS/Stringer)  

The costs of seeing a doctor or staying in hospital are out of reach for many in the world’s….

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080107/hl_nm/china_health_dc_3

China Begins New Initiative in Fighting Corruption

December 19, 2007

By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, December 19, 2007

BEIJING, Dec. 19 — China’s new National Bureau of Corruption Prevention thought it would be a good idea to open a Web site for citizens to denounce crooked officials. The idea was so good that the site was immediately deluged by irate Chinese, overwhelming the system and causing several crashes during the first two days of operation.

The outpouring from people across the country was seen as a measure of how deeply Chinese resent the official corruption that has infected Communist Party rule over three decades of economic reform. By the end of Wednesday, its second day online, the site had recorded more than 250 entries despite the technical difficulties. Entries ranged from tirades to denunciations to congratulations for cracking down.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/19/AR2007121900678.html

China sets up anti-corruption bureau

September 6, 2007

BEIJING (AP) – China has created its first agency to combat corruption, a rampant problem that the country’s communist leadership has said is a threat to their rule, state media reported Thursday.

The establishment of the National Corruption Prevention Bureau by the State Council, China’s Cabinet, comes as party leaders prepare for a major meeting next month to renew President Hu Jintao‘s mandate and set policy for the next five years.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070906/ap_
on_re_as/china_corruption_1

China: Guilty Again of Cruel and Unusual Punishment

July 10, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
July 10, 2007

China’s state television and the official Xinhua News Agency said that China had executed Zheng Xiaoyu the former State Food and Drug Administration director.

Zheng Xiaoyu managed China’s operation to review and approve food and drugs from 1998 until 2005.

During Zheng’s tenure his agency approved six medicines that turned out to be fake, and the drug-makers used falsified documents to apply for approvals, according to previous state media reports.  One antibiotic caused the deaths of at least 10 people.
Photo
Photo courtesy of Xinhua.

Zheng, 63, was convicted of taking cash and gifts worth $832,000 when he was in charge of the State Food and Drug Administration.

At the time of his conviction, nearly all China watchers predicted that his sentence would be downgraded to life imprisonment, which is frequently the practice in such cases. In fact, in recent memory, there are no known senior officials that actually met their executioners even after a death sentence.

This execution was a needless act of cruelty to assuage the fears of the west about Chinese-made products and to “save face” for the Chinese leadership.

Listen to how China’s government spokesman characterized the execution.

“The few corrupt officials of the SFDA are the shame of the whole system and their scandals have revealed some very serious problems,” agency spokeswoman Yan Jiangying said at a news conference held to highlight efforts to improve China’s track record on food and drug safety.

SFDA stands for the State Food and Drug Administration.

So China, to lesson its own shame and to regain its market share, heartlessly executed a bureaucrat whose crime was looking the other way for less than a million dollars.

We deplore this killing as a needless and wonton abuse of human rights.  This one man is not the cause or source of China’s massive breakdown of proper procedures, checks and balances. His death adds nothing to China’s reputation and does nothing to restore western confidence in China’s products.

Related:

China Planning a Surreal Facade for Summer Olympic Games: Beijing 2008

China battles shoddy food, drugs

July 9, 2007

BEIJING – China must step up its fight against shoddy food and drugs and the corrupt officials who have let them flourish, or it faces social unrest and a further tarnished image abroad, senior party and regulatory officials said.

The comments came at a State Food and Drug Administration seminar where officials were warned to learn from the example set by their former boss, who was sentenced to death for taking bribes from drug companies.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070709/ap_on_re_
as/china_tainted_products_7