This Just In...

Abramoff Just "The Middle Guy"

It's not just Jack. Investigators are looking at the lobbyist as just "the middle guy" in a complex web of corruption, which suggests that the FBI has bigger targets in sight, an agency official tells Time magazine.

And here's an indication of how big the case is: "The FBI has 13 field offices across the country working on the case, with two dozen agents assigned to it full time and roughly the same number working part time. "We are going to chase down every lead," Chris Swecker, head of the FBI's criminal division, told Time."

Meanwhile, Arianna Huffington points out the Guam connection, which was reported last year by the LA Times. In that case, a US grand jury opened an investigation into Abramoff over two years ago, but the federal prosecutor looking into the lobbyist's work on behalf of companies employing Guam workers in "sweatshop conditions" was removed by the Bush administration.

Mining Mishaps

In a great example of hard-hitting local coverage, the Charlotte, W.V. Sunday Gazette-Mail has an excellent series of stories looking at what went wrong at the Sago mine and reporting that miners across the country face greater risks because of personnel cuts and organizational problems in the rescue system.

Unkempt Garden State

It's no surprise to anyone with half an interest in New Jersey politics, but State Senator Raymond J. Lesniak's web of influence is pretty sticky, according to the New York Times.

Here's the nub of the problem which is all-too-common in the Garden State's legislature:

"At the heart of that nexus is Mr. Lesniak's law firm, Weiner Lesniak, based in Parsippany. In the past decade, it has done legal work for scores of New Jersey municipalities, collecting millions of dollars. In many instances, the contracts awarded to Mr. Lesniak's firm came after the senator or his allies offered campaign contributions or other political support to local officials who decide who will get the work, a fact that Mr. Lesniak acknowledges."

Choice quote is Lesniak's response: "Are you supposed to hire people who donated to your opponent?"

Justice At Last?

And an appeals court in Kiev began proceedings today on the case of the long-unsolved murder of Ukranian journalist Georgy Gongadze. A crusading reporter, who exposed corruption in the country's political system, Gongadze disappeared on September 16, 2000. Two months later, his body -- with the head cut off -- was found in a woodland near Kiev.

Former police workers Nikolai Protasov, Valery Kostenko and Alexander Popovich are suspects and their former superior, police General Alexei Pukach, was accused in in absentia and put on the wanted list. But Gongadze's family thinks that the true masterminds of the murder are still at large. (The judge turned down their request to have the case re-investigated)


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1/10/2006 01:18:00 AM  

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