Tuesday, February 28, 2006

All the Ports, All the Time

There have been many different counts as to how many port facilities Dubai World Ports is acquiring in the United States. Do you count Baton Rouge and Lake Charles separately from New Orleans? The P&O website puts them together. The facilities in partnership with Delaware River Stevedores are located in three cities - Philadelphia, Camden, and Wilmington. Is that one site or three? I'm not bothering with an official count, but here is everything they've got. These will be the first port facilities Dubai World Ports controls within the United States.

Major Port Management
New Jersey - the Newark Container Terminal
New York - the New York City Passenger Terminal (900,000 passengers per year)
New Orleans - various facilities including complete ownership of the Baton Rouge and Lake Charles ports
Baltimore - the Seagrit and Dundalk terminals
Miami - Port of Miami Terminal Operating System
Philadelphia - various facilities in Philadelphia, Camden, and Wilmington in partnership with Delaware River Stevedores

Lesser Port Facilities
Portland, ME
Davisville, RI
Norfolk, VA
Newport News, VA
Portsmouth, VA
Gulfport, MS
Beaumont, TX
Port Arthur, TX
Galveston, TX
Houston, TX
Freeport, TX
Corpus Christi, TX

Additional Information
Dubai World Ports web site. P & O Ports web site.

The Business Telegraph reports that the Miami partner, Eller & Company, is suing because it was not consulted about the deal and will become an involuntary partner with the Dubai Ports World.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Dubai World Ports enforces the boycott against Israel.

The best source of information I have found was written by Kathy Gil on About.com. I have shamelessly used her as a source for this.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Port Whine

Silver and ermine and red faces full of port wine.
John Betjeman, Poet

"The United Arab Emirates gave the Bush administration $100 million to help victims of Hurricane Katrina weeks before a state-owned company there sought U.S. approval for its ports deal." This is the lead in an Associated Press story this morning. Gee, are we surprised why Bush was so quick to support the transfer.

The reason Dubai Ports World asked for a delay is to give them time to correct an oversight, their failure to bribe Republicans in Congress. You'll find that DP World, or affiliated companies, will hire a few ne'er-do-well congressional brothers-in-law to hefty consulting contracts. Those lawmakers with not-for-profit charities will see some pretty big donations from the Middle East. Some committee chairs will get junkets to exotic ports to "study other DP World facilities" (and play golf and discuss international trade with prostitutes). Back benchers, like Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), will be told to shut up and play nice or plan their career after politics.

If you are a cynical old fart, like me, now is the time to sit back and enjoy the rhythm of finely performed jobbery. Watch how the opponents slowly change their positions, magically swaying to a tune we mortals can never hear. Wait for the summer, when the rewards will trickle in. The Dubai acquisition of American ports is a done deal. It will just cost the company a few million dollars more.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Any Port in the Sea of Corruption

NausicaƤ's true desire is to solve the mystery of the Sea of Corruption. - description of a story from a Japanese graphic novel
Whether the Dubai acquisition of the operation of six U.S. ports is a national secruity issue makes for great chatter, but that is not the point. The point is, how did this thing get greased through, and why.

  • Treasury Secretary Snow's connection to DP World through CSX Corp is suspicious.
  • The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved the deal, yet Donald Rumsfeld sits on that committee and never heard about the deal. That means, at best, only a few members of the committee reviewed the deal. Doubly suspicious.
  • David Sanborn, as DP World's Director of Operations in Europe, was certainly involved in negotiations for the acquisition of the English company, P&O. He has been nominated by Bush to head the U. S. Maritime Administration. Triply suspicious.
  • The secret agreement with DP World includes several sweetheart clauses such as allowing the company to keep business records outside the reach of US courts. I-can't-count-that-high suspicious.
  • Bush threatening to veto legislation blocking the deal even before he was "aware" of the deal. Just plain weird, unless...

This is all about money. I don't know whether it is simple bribes and kickbacks or a more pervasive form of corruption. I do know this smells of money, pure and simple. This is how a kleptocracy functions. Get used to it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Guess the quote

Quiz: About whom was this written.
His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.
Answer: If you guessed George W. Bush you are wrong. But you knew it wouldn't be that easy. This was written by the Office of Strategic Services in 1943. It is a psychological profile of ... Adolph Hitler.

It isn't so much that we can compare Bush to Hitler. It has been done for so many years that the comparison has lost its punch. What is still frightening is that you can not tell the difference between a psychological description of Hitler and a political description of Bush.

Security for Sale


That is most people's first reaction to the news that an United Arab Emirates-owned company (DP World) was buying the operations contract for a half-dozen of the largest ports on the east coast and that President Bush is okay with that. Firedoglake and ThinkProgress have excellent reports on this, so I don't have to repeat the details.

If I wanted to bring a few dozen Stinger missiles or a couple of Pakistani nuclear bombs into the country, I'd stick them in a container with "farm equipment" and ship them through the port of New York or Baltimore, depending on whether my target was the Big Apple of DC. If I wanted to do it safely, I'd use a port operated by my buddies. So, the question begs, Why Allow This?

The answer can be found in the nominee to head the
U.S. Maritime Administration, David Sanborn (the Republican crony, not the blues saxophonist). His previous position was Director of Operations for Europe and Latin America for DP World. I've no doubt that Sanborn cut the deal and greased the wheels. Sanborn will oversee DP World's operations of the ports in the future. Sanborn, no doubt, has made a tidy little profit. No doubt, no doubt, some of that money will filter through to Republican campaign coffers. Such is life in a kleptocracy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Dick Cheney Interview you won't hear

Brit Hume's interview of Dick Cheney on FOX about how he shot his lawyer friend, Harry Whittington, is going to be the non-event of the month. It's tape delayed so, even if Hume gets delusions of being a real journalist, anything interesting will be cut. This is what an honest interview would sound like.

Question: What happened?

Well, I was drunk out of my gourd and showing off for Pammy. I heard a rustle in the brush behind me, spun around, and nailed poor Whit.

Q: He was thirty yards away, right?

Pfft, where’d you get that shit. He was like fifteen, twenty feet. He was like, right there. Boom. You should have seen it.

Q: What did you do first?

I barfed. He was all bloody and moaning and Pam was screaming. Yea, I threw up, I’m not embarrassed. You want to know what bothered me? I’ve got this Secret Service, you know, they’re supposed to take care of me. Well, I’m barfing my guts out and they’re over there with Whit like I’m not even there. I’m going to write them up on that too, I tell ya. They shoulda been taking care of me. They’re gonna be in big trouble.

Q: You didn’t go to the hospital, you went to the ranch for supper. Why?

Didn’t you hear I threw up? It’s not like I was hurt or anything and I was hungry. Besides, I needed a couple of stiff drinks and then I needed to sober up. You can’t do that in a Texas hospital.

Q: What the worst thing about this?

The worst thing? I’ll tell ya, I asked the girls which one wanted to say she shot him, and they both refused. Can you believe that? What kind of loyalty is that anyhow? They said they were willing to lie for me, big woo, but they weren’t willing to take the rap for me.

Q: Thank you, Mr. Vice-President.

Yea, whatever.