Friday, May 26, 2006

Enron and Iraq

Good evening! It's the weekend. I'm wiped out from working on the yard so I'll be typing slow. Or even slower. Let's get things kicked off with Democracy Now!

Enron Execs Found Guilty On Conspiracy, Fraud Charges
The two top figures in the Enron corporate scandal have been found guilty. On Thursday, Enron founder Ken Lay was convicted in two separate trials on 10 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and for making false statements to banks. Enron's former CEO Jeffrey Skilling was also convicted. A jury found him guilty on 19 of 28 counts. The conspiracy and fraud convictions each carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Four years ago Enron filed for bankruptcy after years of defrauding its own employees and investors. The bankruptcy put over 4,000 people out of work. The value of the company's stock dropped from ninety dollars to about 30 cents. Thousands of Enron employees lost their lifesavings.

For more on this, you can check out "Enron Execs Found Guilty on Multiple Conspiracy, Fraud Charges," "Enron: The Bush Connection," "Enron Played Central Role in California Energy Crisis," "Enron - The Smartest Guys in the Room" because Democracy Now! devoted the hour to Enron.

They did a great job too, covering everything and not just "Ken Lay's going to jail!" They gave you the background and everything. This is from "Enron Played Central Role in California Energy Crisis:"

AMY GOODMAN: In California, the state's former governor Gray Davis praised the jury for convicting Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling. David said, quote, "Given the way Enron ripped off California, I think the jury did an excellent job. I take some solace in the fact that Lay and Skilling be will send some time in prison," he said. Six years ago, California was plunged into an unprecedented energy crisis, rolling blackouts shut down parts of the state, power bills soared. It turned out that at the center of the crisis was Enron, although the company's role wasn't fully understood at the time. Two years ago, lawyers involved in a lawsuit in Washington state obtained audio tapes that proved Enron asked power companies to take plants offline at the height of the California energy crisis, in order to make more money. In one taped phone call, an Enron employee celebrated the fact that a massive forest fire had shut down a transmission line carrying energy into California, causing the price of energy to rise.
ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: Now, the magical word of the day is “Burn, baby, burn.”
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: What's happening?
ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: There's a fire under the core line. This will delay us from 45 to 2,100.
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: Really. Burn, baby, burn!
AMY GOODMAN: In this phone call, an Enron employee talked about how the company had ripped off poor grandmothers in California. Listen carefully.
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: So the rumor is true? They're f---ing taking all the money back from you guys? All that money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?
ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: Yeah, Grandma Millie, man. So she’s the one who couldn't figure out how to f---ing vote on the butterfly ballot, but yeah, now she wants her f---ing money back for all the power you've charged right up her -- jammed right up her a-- for f---ing $250 a megawatt hour. Yeah, you know. You know Grandma Millie. She's the one that Al Gore is fighting for.
AMY GOODMAN: Enron employees also discussed the possibility of Ken Lay becoming Secretary of Energy if George W. Bush won the 2000 election.
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: Tell you what, you heard this here first. When Bush wins, that f---ing Bill Richardson, he's gone, that f---ing Clinton, all these f---ing socialists are gone.
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: You know who the biggest single contributor to the Bush campaign is? ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: You.
ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: Is it Enron?
ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: Jesus Christ. Is that true?
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: Yeah, I think it is.
ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: The biggest single contributor.
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: Yeah, the biggest corporate contributor to the --
ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: Holy -- really? That's huge. That's huge.
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: Ken Lay is going to be Secretary of Energy.
ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: Get out of here! Can you imagine that?
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: Why not, though? Why not? It could be, right?
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: I mean, why not? Who, you know, who's to say, why not?
ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: He could be. That would be awesome, actually.
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: That would be -- how great would that be for all the players in the market?
ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: It would be great. I'd love to see Ken Lay be Secretary of Energy.
ENRON EMPLOYEE 1: We'd open these markets up.
ENRON EMPLOYEE 2: Yep, and you know what? If you don't know what you're doing, you're f---ed. See you.
AMY GOODMAN: And in this phone call from January 2001, an Enron employee asked a worker at a power plant in Las Vegas to take the plant offline. That same day energy supplies were so tight that Northern California experienced a stage three power emergency, and rolling blackouts hit as many as two million consumers.
POWER PLANT WORKER: Las Vegas Co-Gen, this is Rich.
ENRON EMPLOYEE: Hey, Rich, this is Bill up at Enron.
ENRON EMPLOYEE: How you doin', man?
POWER PLANT WORKER: Junior or Senior?
ENRON EMPLOYEE: Heh, heh, the Third.
POWER PLANT WORKER: The Third! What's happening, Bill the Third?
ENRON EMPLOYEE: Not much, man. I'm giving you a call. We've got some issues for tomorrow.
ENRON EMPLOYEE: Are you ready for some issues? You're just about out of there, aren't you? POWER PLANT WORKER: I got a couple more hours, I ain't going anywhere. All right, shoot. I've got pen and paper.
ENRON EMPLOYEE: All right man. I'm not -- this is going to be a word-of-mouth kind of thing.
ENRON EMPLOYEE: Tonight, when you finish your normal QF, so for hour ending 1, which will actually be tomorrow --
ENRON EMPLOYEE: We want you guys to get a little creative --
ENRON EMPLOYEE: -- and come up with a reason to go down.
ENRON EMPLOYEE: Anything you want to do over there? Any cleaning, anything like that?
POWER PLANT WORKER: Yeah. Yeah. There's some stuff that we could be doing tonight.
ENRON EMPLOYEE: That's good.
POWER PLANT WORKER: Yeah, we need to do some -- we need to come down and inspect this switch on the steam turbine, this one switch on this induction steam valve that's been failing us, and we need to be down in order to pull the switch and adjust it.
ENRON EMPLOYEE: I like that. And, I don't know, I guess around 11:00 for hour ending 11 --
ENRON EMPLOYEE: You got to go back -- we need you to go back down.
POWER PLANT WORKER: Okay, shut back down for hour ending 11?
POWER PLANT WORKER: So, we'll do our normal afternoon shutdown tomorrow.
ENRON EMPLOYEE: But we're not wanting to have it prescheduled.
ENRON EMPLOYEE: It’s supposed to be, you know, kinda one of those things.
POWER PLANT WORKER: Okay, so we're just coming down for some maintenance, like a forced outage type thing.
POWER PLANT WORKER: And that's cool?
POWER PLANT WORKER: Because the schedule I just got over here, well, you know what it says.
ENRON EMPLOYEE: Yep, I'm looking right at it.
POWER PLANT WORKER: Okay, it's the new schedule.
ENRON EMPLOYEE: You just got a new one?
POWER PLANT WORKER: It says "new schedule" on the bottom. It's showing 52 all day.
ENRON EMPLOYEE: Oh, right, and so that's the one you're going to want to ignore.
ENRON EMPLOYEE: I knew I could count on you.
POWER PLANT WORKER: No problem. I'm sure I'll have a good time.

AMY GOODMAN: Again, that's an Enron employee asking a worker at a power plant in Las Vegas to take the plant offline. That same day energy supplies were so tight, Northern California experienced a stage three power emergency, and rolling blackouts hit as many as two million consumers. Greg Palast, you write about this in Armed Madhouse.

I'm looking forward to reading Palast's new book. It comes out the first week of June, I think. But that's what was going on, or part of it. People lost their savings and that does need to be paid attention to but Enron did more than cook the books, they jacked up prices and then created energy brownouts and blackouts.

Toll Rises For Haditha Massacre As Murtha Sees Dozen Court-Martials
The estimated toll of innocent civilians killed by US Marines in the Iraqi town of Haditha is now higher than previously thought. Democratic Congressmember John Murtha told the Marine Corps Times that the number of dead Iraqis is actually 24, up from the previous figure of 15. Murtha says would not be surprised if a dozen Marines face court-martials for the killings. Retired Brigadier General David Brahms, a former top lawyer for the Marine Corps, said: "When these investigations come out, there's going to be a firestorm. It will be worse than Abu Ghraib -- nobody was killed at Abu Ghraib."

So will we get another highly edited report? Will some Senators (like Texas' John Corny -- that's his nickname in this community) say we mustn't talk about it and mustn't know? They're so good about "protecting" us, aren't they?

Read Cedric's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY GOES 'WOOPS!'" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY GOES 'WOOPS!'" -- it's a joint entry they did together. I told Elaine I'd go alphabetical so she'll reverse the order, but it's a joint entry. And give it up for Cedric who did a post each day this week. Wally did too but he posts Monday through Friday every week barring any special events or personal duties. Cedric was hoping to see if he could do a little more this week. It was rough for him to find the time, but he did it. Be sure to check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts and check out Kat's "Kat's Korner: Dixie Chicks Taking The Long Way home while NYT gets lost along the way" which is just amazing.

For more on Enron, check out The Center for Public Integrity's "Power Outage: An Enron Backgrounder from the Center for Public Integrity:"

The Center for Public Integrity was the first to report on this mutually beneficial relationship, identifying Enron as Bush's top "career patron" in its book, The Buying of the President 2000. The Center has followed the Enron scandal from its inception in 2001 to today's events. This is a timeline of our investigative reporting:
January 5, 2000 -- The Center for Public Integrity identifies Houston-based Enron Corp. as George W. Bush's No. 1 "career patron" in The Buying of the President 2000. The Center notes that Enron was one of the more than two dozen corporations to benefit from a voluntary emissions compliance program that Bush put into place while governor of Texas.
January 9, 2002 -- The Center reports that 24 top executives and directors of Enron contributed a total of nearly $800,000 to President Bush, the national political parties, members of Congress, and others overseeing investigations of the company for possible securities fraud from 1999 through 2001. The Center's report also notes Enron's $1.9 million in "soft money" donations over that same period and discloses that Kenneth Lay, Enron's chairman, made significant contributions to a political committee set up by Attorney General John Ashcroft. Within a day of the release of the Center's report, Ashcroft recuses himself from the Enron investigation.
January 11, 2002 -- The Center reports that 14 of the 100 highest-ranking officials in the Bush administration reported owning stock in Enron on their personal financial disclosure forms. Among the largest: White House political adviser Karl Rove, with shares valued at more than $100,000 (and possibly as high as $250,000).

More reality comes via C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue but Bully Boy and Tony Blair appear to have their minds elsewhere. Al Jazeera notes that Bully Boy's concerned about speaking better and Tony Blair hides behind the puppet government. [See Cedric's excerpt of Norman Solomon writing on puppet governments.] The AFP and Reuters report that Tony Blair, unable to fly the American flag, is saying it's the duty of the entire world to support the puppet government he and Bully Boy have created. Apparently not buying into Blair's bluster, CBS and the AP report that Romano Prodi, the new prime minister of Italy, held a talk with his cabinet "to map an exit strategy for the nation's troops in Iraq, who are being gradually withdrawn." Updating that story, Maria Sanminiatelli reports that Italy has announced they are pulling 1,100 troops out of Iraq (which would leave 1,600 stationed in Iraq). This as the Guardian of London reports Bully Boy's begging Tony Blair to stay on as England's prime minister.
In Baghdad, the AFP reports that two players on Iraq's national tennis team as well as their coach have been murdered "reportedly for wearing Western-style tennis shorts." The AFP reminds that "[l]ast week 15 members of the Iraqi Taekwondo team were kidnapped between Fallujah and Ramadi." The BBC reports on roadside bomb attacks on two markets that have resulted in the deaths of at least nine and at least fifty wounded. There were other bombings that wounded Iraqis today but no reports of any other fatalities. Reuters notes that three corpses ("bullet wounds and showing signs of torture") were discovered in Baghdad.
More corpses were discvered today. In Kut, the Associated Press notes the discovery of four. Reuters notes the killing of two police officers in Baquba following the kidnapping of employees of a TV station. In Sinjar, a liquor store owner is dead from a bombing (two others wounded).
In Basra, the BBC notes the death of a "Sunni Imam and his bodyguard" from a drive-by shooting. Also in Basra, the AP reports that mosques were closed following the murder of the Sunni cleric. KUNA reports on an oil pipeline fire in Khour Al-Emmaya, reportedly caused by a leak in a pipeline "at a docking station." In Kirkuk, the Associated Press reports that a roadside bomb took the life of one police officer and wounded four others.
CNN reports on the investiation into the deaths of civilians in Haditha last November and quotes Pentagon sources that "Charges, including murder, could soon be filed against Marines allegedly involved." Editor & Publisher notes that the investiagtion and the off the record admissions take place months after the press reported the events in Haditha. Gulf News reports that Human Rights Watch John Sifton as stating: "There is no excuse for a massacre and anyone concerned about America's image can only wish that those who are responsible will be severely prosecuted and those who tried to cover this up will be punished.'' This as CBS and the AP note "Investigators believe that their criminal investigation into the deaths of about two dozen Iraqi civilians points toward a conclusion that Marines committed unprovoked murders, a senior defense official said Friday." Finally, the Scotsman reports that "the bodies of Privates Adam Morris, 19, and Joseva Lewaicei, 25, British troops who died in a roadside bomb attack near Basra two weeks ago, arrived back at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire yesterday."