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‘July, 2008’

Native Son Rising: “Passing Strange”

Native Son Rising: “Passing Strange”

Inter Press Service (IPS), July 31, 2008

Edwina, played by de’Adre Aziza, has her eye on “the Youth” (Daniel Breaker).

She informs him, “And after we marry and you’ve got a job in the corporate sector, you’ll buy me a sprawling two-story house fulla African sculptures from tribes we know nothing about, kente cloth couch covers, and Malcolm X commemorative plates lining the walls of our airy, peach-coloured breakfast nook?”

Who says leftists don’t have a sense of humour? Welcome to “Passing Strange”, a witty, inventive satire on Broadway about growing up, rebellious, bourgeois and black in Los Angeles and leaving before 20 to explore the radical corners of Europe.

The smoking gun: the IDT-Haiti contract

The smoking gun: the IDT-Haiti contract

July 29, 2008

Articles I wrote this month about the resignation of IDT CEO James Courter as John McCain’s finance co-chair provoked supporters of former Haiti President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to noisy denials and personal attacks.

I wrote that Courter had resigned after I reported that the Federal Communications Commission had fined IDT $1.3 million for failing to file its contract with Haiti.

Why would IDT fail to file the contract? Maybe because it shows that in this Aristide-administration deal, payments were below the legal 23 cents a minute set by the FCC (money that would have gone to Haiti) and that IDT payments were ordered sent to a shell company account in the Turks & Caicos instead of to a government account in Haiti.

Read the contract.

Corruption: Laundromat Royale

<em>Corruption</em>: Laundromat Royale

Inter Press Service (IPS), July 18, 2008

It sounded like the plot of an action thriller. A U.S. Senate subcommittee held hearings Thursday on how UBS/Switzerland, the world’s largest private bank, and LGT (Liechtenstein Global Trust), owned by the royal family of that micro-tax-haven state, organised complex tax evasion schemes for U.S. clients, and used spy-type tactics to avoid being detected.

LGT bankers allegedly used code names and public phones instead of making calls that could be traced. UBS agents carried encrypted laptops and business cards that didn’t mention they were in the “wealth management” division. According to testimony and records, both banks took care to disguise their activities because moving and hiding the money of tax evaders and other criminals is very lucrative, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in profits.

Evasive Tactics: UBS trolls for tax cheats

Evasive Tactics: UBS trolls for tax cheats

Condé Nast Portfolio, July 16, 2008

UBS Code names, secretive European royalty, encrypted computers. A spy novel? Nope. Nope. It’s how two European banks helped rich Americans duck the taxman, a Senate probe found.

The Newport regatta has always drawn America’s moneyed class, and the Art Basel show in Miami is hot on the nouveau riche circuit—making both glitzy venues ideal for financial giants to prospect for new clients.

But UBS, one of the world’s largest banks, had another goal in mind when it shelled out money for the UBS Regatta Cup in Newport or the Art Basel Art Fair in Miami, or performances in major U.S. cities by the UBS Vervier Orchestra.

Off the Trail: IDT chief quits McCain campaign

Off the Trail: IDT chief quits McCain campaign

Condé Nast Portfolio, July 15, 2008

Jim Courter, one of Senator John McCain’s top fundraisers, has resigned from the McCain campaign just days after Lucy Komisar reported on portfolio.com that Courter’s company had been fined by regulators.

The Federal Communications Commission last week levied a fine of $1.3 million against IDT, a New Jersey telecommunications company headed by Courter, for failing to disclose its 2003-04 long-distance phone agreements with Haiti.

McCain ‘Trailblazer’ Burned

McCain ‘Trailblazer’ Burned

Condé Nast Portfolio, July 11, 2008

The FCC hits James Courter’s IDT with a $1.3M fine for a cloudy deal in Haiti.
James Courter, photo by Terry Ashe, Time-Life Pictures/Getty Images

IDT, the New Jersey telecommunications outfit run by one of John McCain’s top fundraisers, Jim Courter, was fined $1.3 million by the Federal Communications Commission for failing to file a contract for telephone service to Haiti in 2004.

Courter, a former New Jersey Republican congressman, is one of 20 McCain national finance co-chairs, and joined the campaign in February 2007. He’s a “Trailblazer” for McCain, meaning he raised at least $100,000. The IDT PAC has contributed $84,850 in 2008.

IDT’s work with Haiti has been put under scrutiny since a former employee, Michael Jewett, then IDT’s manager for the Caribbean, sued the company. His suit claims he was fired when he balked at negotiating a scheme that routed a portion of the company’s long distance revenue from Haiti calls to a shell company, Mount Salem in the Turks & Caicos, which he was told was owned by then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

“Thurgood”: Desegregating Schools, Then the Supreme Court

“Thurgood”: Desegregating Schools, Then the Supreme Court

Inter Press Service (IPS), July 9, 2008

As Sen. Barack Obama prepares to accept the Democratic presidential nomination next month, “Thurgood” on Broadway takes audiences back to this earlier iconic and groundbreaking figure in U.S. civil rights history.

Playwright George Stevens, Jr., director Leonard Foglia, and actor Laurence Fishburne bring life to the musings of Thurgood Marshall, the first black member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

He had fears and doubts, but braved life-threatening encounters with Southern racists as he dedicated himself to overturning the legal structures of segregation in the United States.

Moving back through time, he recalls incidents that seared his conscience.