Monday, December 12, 2016

Corruption in Ukraine

Sorry this isn't much of a post.  We both have the flu at our house and publishing anything takes a great deal of effort.  The text is from the news feed, followed by the article.

Exiled lawmaker Oleksandr Onyshchenko on Dec. 6 released the first of a series of audio recordings he claims prove President Petro Poroshenko and his inner circle are corrupt.
The recording was released by the online newspaper. In the recording, Onyshchenko and lawmaker Oles Dovhiy, whom the fugitive member of parliament described as representing Poroshenko, discuss the possibility of Onyshchenko, a suspect in an embezzlement case, reaching a plea bargain with Ukrainian authorities. Onyshchenko told that the plea bargain would be reached in exchange for him writing off Poroshenko’s alleged $50 million debt to him.
Onyshchenko has said he had been an intermediary in Poroshenko’s alleged efforts to bribe lawmakers and to organize a smear campaign against ex-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk before Yatsenyuk quit in April. He has also accused Poroshenko of extorting money from businesses and politicians, raiding companies and trying to monopolize the media by negotiating to buy television channels.

A lot of what Onyshchenko is saying is not new and has been said by many more credible sources, including ex-prosecutor generals Davit Sakvarelidze and Vitaly Kasko, lawmakers Sergii Leshchenko and Viktor Chumak and others.
His detailed portrayal of the brazen way in which members of parliament are bribed and state companies are fleeced is astonishing. What makes it more credible is that these practices were well-known before, and that Onyshchenko effectively admitted to taking part in these corruption schemes.

In fact, it is not the critics and accusers who are destabilizing Ukraine and lending Russian dictator Vladimir Putin a hand. It is Ukraine’s amazingly thievish and out-of-touch bureaucracy, which is slowly killing the nation by stealing whatever crumbs are left of the country’s wealth and thus giving fodder to criticism.
If true, Onyshchenko’s accusations could be the beginning of Poroshenko’s downfall, similar to those of his predecessors Leonid Kuchma in the wake of the scandal over the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze and Viktor Yanukovych following his decision to drop an association deal with the European Union.

Oleksandr Onyshchenko, a fugitive lawmaker from the People’s Will faction, has accused President Petro Poroshenko and his inner circle of massive corruption and released what he says is evidence to back his claims.
Though the vast scale of Ukrainian corruption was common knowledge, Onyshchenko’s sweeping allegations add minute detail to the overall picture and specify the exact amounts allegedly paid by the president to bribe lawmakers, as well as those allegedly extorted from state companies by Poroshenko and his right-hand man, lawmaker Ihor Kononenko.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine has opened a criminal case to investigate Onyshchenko’s claims, while some lawmakers have called for the creation of a special commission. Poroshenko’s critics argue that the scandal could potentially lead to his impeachment and have compared it to the scandal around tapes allegedly implicating then-President Leonid Kuchma in the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze in 2000

Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Bureau obtains evidence as to ownership of the Parliamentarian Segey Faermark in Ukrainian subsidiary of Belgian giant Jan De Nul

Friday, December 2, 2016

How advocacy groups work

My nephew sent me a link to this article a week ago.  Took me a week to read it and I don't pretend to understand much of it.  The following section did explain a great deal to me that I had always suspected but could never put into words as well as this.

Keystone XL was less central than abortion, but still “a top-tier election issue for the 2014 elections for the United States Senate, House of Representatives, governors in states and territories, and many state and local positions as well.”8 In case you missed the fuss, Keystone XL was a proposed oil pipeline. The environmental lobby, and the American left in general, devoted extraordinary efforts to preventing its construction. As far as I can tell, the possible environmental consequences were minor; there are many more important environmental policy questions which the movement has fought much less hard. Although notionally environmentalists’ concern was possible spills, everyone understood that Keystone was symbolically about global warming, and therefore really about global warming—even though everyone also understands that in practice it would have had almost no effect. Other policies affect carbon emissions far more, and might have been altered with far less effort. So why did the left choose to draw a line in the sand at Keystone XL?
In “The toxoplasma of rage,” Alexander suggests an explanation.9Advocacy groups deliberately choose bad examples because those generate the most controversy. The one they promote is obviously wrong, so the Tweedledum side objects loudly. However, the general principle is considered correct by everyone on the Tweedledee side, so they feel they have to defend it. Their specific arguments are perforce lousy—even if the principle is right—so Tweedledum senses blood in the water and closes in for the kill. But the underlying, broader issue seems critical, so Tweedledee will defend the unconvincing symbolic example to the death. The brutality of the ensuing battle generates huge publicity for the cause. (And also, to be cynical, donations to the advocacy organization, and advertising revenue for the media that cover it and fan the flames.)
If you want to signal how strongly you believe in taking victims seriously, you talk up the least credible case you can find. A rape that obviously happened? Shove it in people’s face and they’ll admit it’s an outrage, but they’re not going to talk about it much. There are a zillion outrages every day. A rape allegation will only spread if it’s dubious enough to split people in half along lines corresponding to identity politics. People start screaming at each other about how they’re misogynist or misandrist or whatever, and your Facebook feed gets hundreds of comments in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS about how my ingroup is being persecuted by your ingroup.10
A commenter on a post related to the Dakota Pipeline asked how he could become a professional protester, having done it voluntarily for years.  My response was this: You need to put yourself in a position where you can profit by your activism. Neil Young, Leonardo di Caprio, Jane Fonda, Elizabeth May and Niki Ashton come to mind. Or start your own NGO, find something highly divisive to be against that you are unlikely to have any real impact on, enlist the help of people like the above named and the money will start flowing in. You can even partner with other anti-everything NGOs to get name recognition. 

Of course, as a 'true believer' it went right over his head, so I am sure he will always be a useful tool of whatever NGO or other organization has figured out not only how the system works but how to work the system.