August 14, 2007

Akubar Arman and Franklin County: COAT Blows the Lid off of a Cover-up

Filed under: News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:38 am

A month ago, I noted the outstanding work being done over at Central Ohioans Against Terrorism (COAT), and by Patrick Poole in his related FrontPage columns.

Here’s my take, after reading “Anatomy of a Cover-up” at COAT (HT NixGuy), about the Franklin County Commissioners and their handling of the Abukar Arman situation:

  • Patrick Poole has the scoop.
  • It looks like the Columbus Dispatch has been duped — and used — by Franklin County’s (mis)Information Director, who should be shown the door.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a blatant example of a government entity deliberately feeding information to an Old Media outlet for the express purpose of minimizing the impact of an impending New Media report…. and the Old Media outlet in question appears to have swallowed it whole.

I’m not going to pretend to be as up on these things as Mr. Poole. But it is indeed interesting that Mr. Arman, who “oddly enough,” with his various paid occupations in late 2006, called himself “a freelance writer” in the column linked (“On the Iraqization of Somalia”), is clearly sympathetic to the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which controlled Somalia during most of the last six months of last year. In July of 2006, Newsweek, not exactly known for being rough on Islamists, called the Sharia-based ICU “Somalia’s ‘Taliban.’” The ICU was defeated and driven out of Somalia in late 2006 by Ethiopian forces, with some US assistance.

Less than two months ago, “freelancer” Arman penned this piece that appeared in the Somaliland Times. He clearly longs for the days of ICU control (“The Ethiopian/US invasion prematurely ended a delicate peace process, six months of law and order …..”).

I located the info in the previous two paragraphs in ten minutes of Googling. Did the Dispatch’s Barbara Carmen not read any of these or any other Arman’s writings herself? Apparently not, as she reports that “Poole ….. says that Arman, in his writings, has expressed support for the rule of the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia and for Youseff Al-Qaradawi, designated as a global terrorist by the United States.” Carmen herself cites no examples of what Arman has written. L-A-Z-Y.

Somehow, Franklin County’s Criminal Justice Planning Board, overseeing the Office of Homeland Security and Justice Programs, doesn’t seem to be the best place for a Sharia Law supporting, Taliban-equivalent sympathizing guy to be.

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UPDATE, August 16 — “The Colum-busted Dispatch: Links to Writings of Story’s Subjects Appear, 9-10 Days Later”

Couldn’t Help But Notice (081407)

Venture capital deals are on the rise (link to report site added by me):

The MoneyTree report released Monday (August 6) from PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association based on data from Thomson Financial also shows the number of deals for the April-May-June period was the highest nationally since the third quarter of 2001 as 977 deals raised $7.1 billion nationally. That’s a 2.5 percent increase in dollars over the second quarter of 2006 but a 6.2 percent increase in number of deals.

A look at the MoneyTree Historical Trend Data graph is enough to make one hope that the volume doesn’t pick up too much in future quarters. The hottest period for VC deals was from mid-1999 through early 2001. Given that the dot-com bubble was popping at the very same time, you have to think that most of the deals during that overheated period were either fresh duds or throwing more money at already-dying situations.

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From Law.com“It’s the end of an era: Securities class actions are way down, and the practice shows little sign of recovering”:

Last year, plaintiffs filings were down nearly 40 percent from the previous year, to the lowest level of securities class actions in more than a decade. The downward trend is expected to continue this year.

Why? Take your pick from among several explanations. (A) The stock market is near an all-time high, and fraud tends to be discovered when the market is down. (B) The field’s most prolific plaintiffs firm, Milberg Weiss, has been reduced to a shadow of its former self. (C) Recent appellate court rulings, including a couple at the U.S. Supreme Court, have made it tougher on plaintiffs. And no one can rule out (D), that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and increased enforcement by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice have made corporate America more honest.

Occam’s Razor says (B), especially since one Milberg Weiss partner, David J. Bershad, pleaded guilty last month “to federal charges that he conspired in the payment of illegal kickbacks to individual class action plaintiffs. ….. He also agreed to forfeit $7.75 million, pay a $250,000 fine and cooperate in the government’s ongoing investigation and prosecution of other figures in the conspiracy.”

In a class action, no individual litigants are allowed standing superior to any other. Payments of kickbacks to lead plaintiffs (note: plural), as Bershad has pleaded guilty to having done, violate this principle.

Milberg Weiss and a few other firms in essence hired lead plaintiffs to invest small amounts of money in a large number of stocks. They then waited to see which ones would drop in response to earnings surprises and other bad news, and raced to the courthouse to be the first to file class actions. Most companies were guilty of nothing, but still often settled to avoid years of litigation, bad publicity, and the possibility of uninformed juries ruling against them only because of their “deep pockets.”

The government’s investigation and ultimate prosecution of Milberg Weiss began in the late 1990s, when even the trial lawyer-sympathetic Clinton Administration could no longer ignore the scale of the cynical game being played. The Bush Justice Department took it from there, eventually indicting the firm and two of its partners in May of last year. Now the trial lawyers know they’re being watched.

But hold the champagne — In 1999, in an effort to turn the tide beginning shortly after the investigation started, Milberg Weiss and its partners began funneling major campaign contributions to Democratic Party committees and Democrat lawmakers, including Hillary Clinton and Eliot Spitzer. Trouble is, the other party won the White House in 2000, and the prosecution was undeterred.

Frivolous suits will stay down as long as it’s clear that next administration’s Justice Department continues to be vigilant. Whether or not these “strike suits” return if a Democrat takes the White House is an open question. I’d rather not find out what the answer is.

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Time Magazine’s circulation is down 17%. Faster, please, so someone else can do a better job than this with “Person of the Year.”

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Bibi Netanyahu’s comeback is nearly complete — You can tell because the press is out with the antagonistic characterizations, like “media-savvy arch-hawk.”

Positivity: 22 Month-Old Survives Six-Story Fall

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Albany, New York (Windows Media video at link):

An Amazing Story of Survival: Little Boy is Lucky to be Alive
July 30, 2007 09:42 PM

Six story miracle: a toddler falls out a window and manages to survive with barely a scratch, and now, his family is talking to NEWS10 about the ordeal.

It is an amazing story of survival. A little boy gets up and walks after taking a tumble six stories down to the ground. His family calls it miraculous, that he was barely hurt. NEWS10′s Jeff Stoecker has their incredible story.

Faazil Syed may be about the luckiest 22-month-old on the planet. Thursday afternoon, his father got a terrifying call at work.

“Your child has fell out of the window, come soon,” Faazil’s father, Syed Zahurulla says police told him.

As Syed Zahurulla sped back to his home at the Towers at Colonie, he feared the worst, and prayed for a miracle. His son climbed on a TV stand, leaned on a screen, and fell six floors from their bedroom window.

“I thought that’s his last day, I didn’t have any hope – (the) only hope I just had was with God,” says Zahurulla.

Little Faazil tumbled down six stories, landed on a bush, and then rolled onto some mulch, which softened the blow. When his mother looked down out of the window, she says she saw him sitting up. She immediately tore down the six flights of stairs. When she got outside, some maintenance workers were trying to keep Faazil still. Well, he would not have it. He got up, walked over to his mother, and that is when he started to cry.

Go here for the rest of the story.