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Tuesday, 20 April 2004


The UN's Fraudulent War on Terror

By Arnold Beichman
Washington Times | April 20, 2004

I simply cannot understand why President Bush keeps appealing to United Nations for its help and cooperation when that institution has proven itself to be incapable of doing anything significant in the field of human rights let alone international terrorism. Nor can I understand why Secretary of State Colin Powell has called the U.N. a "Coalition partner" when it is at best a sneering onlooker.

I base this judgment on a long dead-letter U.N. resolution dated Dec. 9, 1994, passed by the General Assembly almost a decade ago, about which little is heard. In fact, few people even know it exists. And why should they, since the resolution died the day it passed?

To discuss this resolution is to prove beyond a shadow of doubt the U.N. is a fraud, a betrayer of our hopes to establish a rule of law among nations. This 10-year-old resolution, titled "Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism," passed with no opposition. And a fat lot of good it did.

The 1994 resolution text begins with this laudable preamble:

"Having considered in depth the question of measures to eliminate international terrorism, [and] convinced that the adoption of the Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism should contribute to the enhancement of the struggle against international terrorism.... "

Were such a resolution presented once again to the U.N. Sixth Committee, I doubt it would ever be considered. The rot is deep in the U.N. General Assembly. How deep? Mark these words of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan as late as Feb. 24, 1998: "Can I trust Saddam Hussein? I think I can do business with him." Mr. Annan was bestowing his confidence on a dictator whose genocidal practices were well-known, a dictator who poison-gassed 5,000 Iraqis in Halabja in 1991.

The 1994 U.N. resolution demands that member states "take all appropriate measures at the national and international levels to eliminate terrorism." Appended to the resolution is the "Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism."

Congress ought to appoint a special committee to find out why the U.N. has ignored its own resolution and why it has failed to fulfill what its own General Assembly demanded of the Secretariat.

The U.N. resolution said the General Assembly was "deeply disturbed by the worldwide persistence of acts of international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations ... which endanger or take innocent lives." The GA, it said, was "firmly determined to eliminate international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations [and] that those responsible for acts of international terrorism must be brought to justice."

Mark those words: There is no justification, said the U.N., for international terrorism -- that is taking the lives of innocent people as at the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, or in Madrid on March 11, 2004. Terrorism is terrorism regardless of political slogans or issues, said yesterday's United Nations.

If Kofi Annan and the U.N. Security Council are serious about combating terrorism, they should immediately call a special General Assembly session to renew the General Assembly Declaration of 1994. Were this resolution in effect today, the Coalition forces in Iraq would have the legitimating support of the U.N. just as the United States had in 1950 when it almost single-handed rescued South Korea from being swallowed up by the military dictatorship of North Korea's Kim Il-sung.


Insight on the News - World
Issue: 4/27/04


Investigative Report
Documents Prove U.N. Oil Corruption
By Kenneth R. Timmerman

A team of international forensic investigators is preparing to blow the lid off the much-disputed U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq and will present new evidence of corruption at an upcoming congressional hearing that directly will implicate world leaders and top U.N. officials, Insight has learned.

Investigators, led by Claude Hankes-Drielsma and the KPMG accounting firm, currently are in Baghdad sifting through mountains of Saddam Hussein-era records seized from his Oil Ministry and the State Oil Marketing Organization that detail payments by Saddam to his legions of foreign friends and political supporters. An Iraqi newspaper, Al-Mada, published the list of 270 recipients of special "allocations" (also known as vouchers) in January. But as Insight goes to press, the testimony of Hankes-Drielsma on April 22 before the House International Relations Committee is expected to provide new evidence of widespread international corruption.

In a scathing letter sent to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on March 3, which he made available to Insight, Hankes-Drielsma called the U.N. program "one of the world's most disgraceful scams," and said that "based on the facts as I know them at the present time, the U.N. failed in its responsibility to the Iraqi people and the international community at large."

In an earlier letter to Annan, to which he received no reply, Hankes-Drielsma noted that allocations of "very significant supplies of crude oil [were] made to ... individuals with political influence in many countries, including France and Jordan," both of which supported Saddam and his regime to the bitter end.

Under the U.N. program, the Dutch company Saybolt International BV was paid hefty fees to inspect oil tankers loading Iraqi crude in Basra, to make sure no cheating took place. "Now it turns out that the inspecting company was paid off," one investigator said, "while on the ground, individual inspectors were getting cash bribes." Saybolt denies it received an oil allocation, although the Iraqi documents show it was down for 3 million barrels.

Saybolt spokesman Peter Box tells Insight that the company's own investigation of two known incidents of "topping off" involving the oil tanker Essex in 2001 "found no involvement of our staff at that particular time." Saybolt continues to operate in Iraq today, although it now has an "entirely new group of people," Box adds.

Among the revelations at the April 22 hearings, Insight has learned from investigators directly working on the case, will be new details of oil vouchers allegedly granted to Patrick Maugein, a prominent crony of French President Jacques Chirac, said to total 72.2 million barrels.

Maugein's involvement in the U.N.-approved oil deals is significant, investigators say, because he is believed to be a conduit for backdoor payments to Chirac and his family. It was Chirac who spearheaded a worldwide coalition last year that opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and tried desperately to keep Saddam in power.

When the allegations of backdoor payments first surfaced in a Paris courtroom in 1998, Maugein swept them aside as "pure fantasy." And in a statement provided to Insight, he denies having raised funds for Chirac, his family or his political campaigns. But as more evidence begins to leak from the archives of Saddam's former oil ministry, such denials may become harder to sustain.

The vouchers were assigned to two trading companies, identified in the Iraqi documents as Trafigura and Ibex, both of which were involved in the Essex incident. Investigators say they believe both companies are tied to Maugein, either through beneficial ownership or contractual arrangement. Vouchers for an additional 11 million barrels were granted to Maugein business partner Cabecadas Rul de Soussa, according to the original Al-Mada list. The ties between de Soussa and Maugein were first revealed by Therese Raphael of the Wall Street Journal Europe.

Asked about the allegations by Insight, Maugein denied he was involved with either company, although he did acknowledge knowing their principals, with whom he had worked as an oil trader with Marc Rich in Switzerland. He insisted that all his dealings with Iraq were legal and conducted through the oil-for-food program. "Patrick Maugein bought oil for his refinery in Mantua, Italy," a spokesman said. "All the oil deals were run by the U.N. They were paid through the U.N. and monitored by the U.N."

But those denials might not withstand the onslaught of the documents about to be released, investigators say. "Already we've got details of all the accounts held in the names of individuals," one investigator tells Insight in an exclusive interview. "On these records are exact details of which accounts were held by whom," including the foreign proxies and their ultimate beneficiaries - in Iraq and overseas.

The Iraqi documents specifically tie Maugein to the 25 million barrels allocated to Trafigura Beheer BV, a company Maugein claims was a competitor of his own London-based SOCO International. Investigators say other information they have developed shows that Maugein could be a "beneficial owner" of Ibex Energy, a holding company registered in Bermuda that was awarded vouchers for 47.2 million barrels. "That is a very high allocation," an investigator tells this magazine. "If a Cabinet minister gets 12 million barrels, why would Ibex get 47 million barrels unless something much bigger was at stake?"

Other French recipients named in the Iraqi documents include former Interior minister Charles Pasqua (12 million barrels), former French U.N. ambassador Jean-Bernard Merimee (8 million barrels) and Lebanese-French middleman Elias Firzli (14.6 million barrels).

Firzli acknowledged in a lengthy interview with Insight in Paris that the Iraqis were desperate to meet with Chirac and were willing to pay a high price for access. Shortly before the war broke out in March 2003, Firzli says he introduced Iraqi diplomat Nizar Hamdoon - sent as an emissary from Saddam - to senior French government officials in Paris. But Firzli scoffed at the oil vouchers, calling them "small stuff compared to the billions of dollars people made in the 1980s."

Published reports to date have focused on oil vouchers granted to the head of the United Nation's oil-for-food program, Benan Sevan, who has been on an extended vacation since the allegations first surfaced at the end of January. He denied the charges through a U.N. spokesman. And Insight has learned that as investigators pursue the document trail, they believe they are getting closer to world leaders, including Chirac.

But can it be proved? "The Iraqi civil service, even under Saddam, was quite excellent. They kept meticulous records. Every order was cross-referenced, initialed and counterinitialed, so nobody could be accused of taking anything for himself," an investigator who recently returned from Baghdad tells Insight.

Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), chairman of the House International Relations Committee, sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Annan on April 1, which committee staffers tell this magazine was intended to "lay down a marker." It called the scandal "without precedent in U.N. history" and urged Annan to make his response "equally unprecedented." Annan has announced that he will name an independent panel to investigate.

Fears of a U.N. whitewash run high on Capitol Hill. Hyde urged Annan to take steps to ensure that all documents relating to the oil-for-food program "be preserved and secured," and asked that special measures be taken to protect potential whistle-blowers who could provide testimony on the illicit deals. The United States General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, told Hyde's committee recently that $10.1 billion of the estimated $60 billion handled by the United Nations under the program was paid in kickbacks, bribes and set-asides to Saddam and his cronies.

The KPMG forensic-accounting investigators were brought to Baghdad by the Iraqi Governing Council to get to the bottom of the scandal. But Insight has learned that the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), led by J. Paul Bremer, recently took over the investigation, just as the accountants were stumbling over evidence of corruption by Americans working for the CPA. "We were hearing stories of contractors passing envelopes with huge amounts of cash to CPA officials," an investigator says. "As much as $300,000 in cash passed hands."

Speaking from Baghdad, an Iraqi official confirmed to this magazine that the CPA was now in charge of these matters, although the Iraqi Governing Council was footing the bill. "We no longer have control over the documents or the investigation," the official said.

In Washington, the State Department's Bureau of International Organizations is in charge of relations with the United Nations. In preparation for the April 22 hearing, Chairman Hyde has sent two letters to Assistant Secretary of State Kim Holmes requesting that State provide full documentation of the oil-for-food program, including commercial contracts. Since the United States is a permanent member of the Security Council and a leading member of the U.N. Sanctions Committee, State has access to the full United Nations record but has been unwilling to make incriminating information public until now for fear of angering U.S. allies. France accounted for approximately 25 percent of all U.N.-approved trade with Iraq, according to an estimate by the CIA.

"Give France a break," says French ambassador to the United States Jean-David Levitte, writing in the Los Angeles Times. He said allegations that France condoned kickbacks or took bribes "are completely false and can only have been an effort to discredit France, a longtime friend and ally of the U.S."

Kenneth R. Timmerman is a senior writer for Insight and author of The French Betrayal of America, just released from Crown Forum.



Treasury Checks and Unbalances
Posted April 14, 2004
By Kelly Patricia O Meara

Treasury Secretary John W. Snow.

It's that time of year again when Congress and the rest of us get the opportunity to pore over the government's financial statements and decide how well federal bureaucrats spent, and accounted for, the taxpayer dollars with which they were entrusted. The good news is that most of the federal agencies and departments are making progress. The bad news is that the federal government still cannot balance its checkbook.

The most interesting development concerning the 2003 financial statements may be that Treasury Secretary John Snow apparently caught the May 2002 edition of Insight in which this reporter questioned why the word money is never used in these financial reports. Rather than refer directly to the wholesale spending of your tax money, bloodless euphemisms have been concocted to refer to it as assets, transactions, unsupported entries, material-control weaknesses, adjusted records, unmatched disbursements and even abnormal balances.

But this year, on page 22 of the summary of the 2003 Financial Report of the United States Government, Secretary Snow, the top money man to whom all agencies and departments must report, explains: "A clean audit opinion provides assurance that agencies are responsibly accounting for the people's money." There it is. Undeniably there. Although the word money appears only once in the Treasury's 27-page report, critics say, admitting that what is being spent is actually money is the first step toward balancing the federal checkbook. Nonetheless, issuance of the 2003 financial statements marks the seventh year in a row that the federal government could not audit, let alone balance, its books.

Treasury Secretary, Year and Audit Opinion

Robert E. Rubin, 1997, Unauditable
"We believe that the publication of these audited statements is an important step in providing American citizens with more information about the operations of their government."

Robert E. Rubin, 1998, Unauditable
"We believe that the publication of this financial report is an important
step in providing the American public with useful information about their government's assets, liabilities and operations."

Lawrence H. Summers, 1999, Unauditable
"We are committed to producing and reporting financial information that meets the highest standards of integrity and to provide to the American people the accountability and professionalism they expect from their government."

Paul H. O'Neill, 2000, Unauditable
"I am committed to producing and reporting financial information that meets the highest standards of integrity and to provide the American people the accountability and professionalism that they expect from the government."

Paul H. O'Neill, 2001, Unauditable
"I believe that the American people deserve the highest standards of accountability and professionalism from their government, and I will not rest until we achieve them."

John W. Snow, 2002, Unauditable
"I intend to continue the commitment to producing and reporting financial information that meets the highest standards of integrity and to provide to the American people the accountability and professionalism that they expect from their government."

This also was the case under Treasury secretaries Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers and Paul O'Neill, so Snow is eager to note that "The federal government has come a long way since the first governmentwide report subject to audit issued in March of 1998 for fiscal year 1997," and "at that time only 8 of the 24 agencies received clean opinions." Today 20 of 24 federal agencies received clean audit opinions and the agency statements were for the first time produced before the end of the calendar year.

It is the job of the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) to audit the federal government's financial statements, and this year, as in all previous years in which the auditing requirement was in force, "certain material weaknesses in internal control and in selected accounting and reporting practices resulted in conditions that continued to prevent us from being able to provide Congress and American citizens an opinion as to whether the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government are fairly stated." Indeed, the GAO further reports, "As a result of material deficiencies in the federal government's systems, record-keeping, documentation and financial reporting, readers are cautioned that amounts reported in the consolidated financial statements and related notes may not be reliable."

So the books can't be audited and what information is made available "may not be reliable."

And why was the GAO unable to "provide an opinion"? According to David Walker, the comptroller general of the United States, "there are three primary reasons" why the consolidated financial statements remained unauditable for fiscal year 2003: (1) serious financial-management problems at the Department of Defense (DoD); (2) the federal government's inability to account for billions of dollars of transactions between federal entities; and (3) the federal government's ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.

Walker explains in his report of the government's financial statements that "We designated the serious financial-management problems at DoD as high risk since 1995. Overhauling DoD's financial-management operations represents a challenge that goes far beyond financial accounting to the very fiber of DoD's range of business operations, management-information systems and culture. DoD's financial-management problems are pervasive, complex, long-standing and deeply rooted in virtually all business operations throughout the department. To date, none of the military services or major DoD components has passed the test of an independent financial audit because of pervasive weaknesses in financial-management systems, operations and controls."

Of course, the nation is at war, but not one military service or major component of DoD was able to pass an audit even as the department had the largest 2003 cost increase in the whole of the federal government - up more than 35 percent from the previous year to $143.4 billion. And, according to Snow, in 2003 more than $50 billion in additional funding was appropriated to DoD to fight the war on terrorism. Given the fact that systemic financial management at DoD is so bad institutionally that it cannot audit its books, even Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld cannot say whether that additional money was appropriately or effectively spent.

And why can't the DoD account for its money? During testimony last month before the House Government Reform subcommittee on Government Efficiency and Financial Management, Walker reiterated what everyone knows, especially Rumsfeld - that "DoD's financial-management problems are pervasive, complex, long-standing and deeply rooted in virtually all business operations throughout the department." In other words, despite Rumsfeld's blistering insistence that the problem be solved, the financial-management systems still do not communicate with one another. In his testimony Walker does not provide information about the corporate contractors who have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars to correct what he calls "pervasive weaknesses in financial-management systems."

Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.), chairman of the subcommittee on Government Efficiency and Financial Management, tells Insight that his subcommittee has been focused on trying to learn "what financial systems are working and those that aren't, and what is being done to fix the problems. The biggest challenge to getting a clean audit is DoD, and its biggest problem is its financial-management systems. The GAO has said that the challenge there is long-running institutionalized practices - they've identified several thousand different financial-accountability processes used there and they're trying to get those thousands of systems to be uniform and combined as one efficient system."

"Who the contractors are," the subcommittee chairman says, "isn't as important as what is being done. My focus is twofold: Is the work being done, and are the taxpayers being well served regardless of whether it's contractor X, Y or Z? Do the departments and agencies have a long way to go? Absolutely. Are they making strides in the right direction? Yes."

Even so, and despite the warning by Comptroller General Walker that the information in the financial statements may not be reliable, Platts says he believes "The big picture is that Congress has information available that tells us which departments and agencies are doing a good job in accounting for taxpayer funds and which are not. ... The consolidated financials tell us where to target our focus."

Meanwhile, critics say, the problem continues. In the Pentagon, for instance, institutionalized bureaucracies, military careerists and Pentagon procurement colonels continue to resist some of the world's best professional managers brought in to put the financial house in order. This has produced some very odd dual messaging. For instance, the DoD recently added to its Website a slide show that begins with "We are America's Oldest Company, Largest Company, Busiest Company and Most Successful Company." The accompanying slides describe the DoD as a corporation by explaining that it is bigger than Wal-Mart, Exxon-Mobil, GM and Ford and refers to President George W. Bush as the chief executive officer and Congress as the board of directors, with the American people being the "stockholders."

Critics point out that DoD has been the biggest impediment to getting the federal government's books balanced, that under Bill Clinton in fiscal 2000 the department could not account for $1.1 trillion (and still hasn't), and that for seven years it has been unable to audit its books. Rumsfeld has turned the air blue trying to impress both the Pentagon establishment and the entrenched and congressionally protected civil-service bureaucracy with the need to correct these problems. He is fully aware that if DoD were indeed a corporation the bankruptcy courts and the Securities and Exchange Commission long ago would have shut down this "corporation" on which the nation relies for its defense.

Kelly Patricia O'Meara is an investigative reporter for Insight magazine.

Hu, Kim discuss nuclear program
By Stephanie Hoo
BEIJING -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Il reportedly discussed his country's nuclear program with China's president at a meeting yesterday, just days after Vice President Dick Cheney urged Beijing to do more to defuse a growing threat from Pyongyang.
Mr. Kim told China's leader that he was ready to give up his country's nuclear programs if the United States changed its "hostile attitude," a South Korean newspaper reported, according to Reuters news agency.

"Kim reportedly explained the reasons behind the nuclear weapons to Hu and added that North Korea is willing to give up nuclear developments if the United States changes its hostile attitude," South Korea's most widely read daily, Chosun Ilbo, said, quoting a Chinese source.
Mr. Kim's visit was reported by South Korean media but not confirmed by China's Foreign Ministry, which in the past has released information about the secretive leader's visits only after he returns home.
Early yesterday, a convoy of armored cars with tinted windows was seen carrying a delegation from the main Beijing train station to a government guesthouse where Chinese leaders usually receive visiting leaders. Mr. Kim reportedly traveled to China by train.
The reports said Mr. Kim talked with President Hu Jintao over lunch about North Korea's nuclear-weapons program and asked for economic aid. They said the visit would last four days.
Mr. Cheney, who met with Mr. Hu last week, prodded China to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear program, citing new evidence that the North has atomic weapons.
"Time is not on our side," a senior U.S. official quoted Mr. Cheney as telling Chinese leaders.
Washington wants China to use its leverage as the North's last major ally and the leading supplier of food and energy for its ailing economy.
The U.S. official said Mr. Cheney gave Chinese leaders information from a top Pakistani nuclear scientist suggesting that North Korea had at least three nuclear devices and is capable of making more from both plutonium and enriched uranium.
China says it wants a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons and has hosted two rounds of talks on the issue with the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia. Beijing is trying to organize a third round within the next few months.
China's Foreign Ministry said it had "no information" on Mr. Kim's meeting with the Chinese leader, which would be the first since Mr. Hu became president last year. When Mr. Kim visited China in 2000 and 2001, neither side announced the trips in advance.
A special train carrying Mr. Kim and his entourage of about 40 senior party and government officials arrived in Beijing yesterday morning, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.


Heinz Co. Is Campaign Weapon for Bush

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Though John Kerry's wife is an heir to the H.J. Heinz Co. fortune, the food company and its executives are providing President Bush with money and a campaign issue - jobs flowing overseas - in this year's election.

Members of the board of the Fortune 500 company and its corporate political action committee have donated thousands of dollars to Republicans in recent years, including contributions to the Bush campaign. The corporate PAC has given nothing to Kerry.

The Republicans are accepting the cash even as they criticize the Pittsburgh-based company's job cuts and overseas moves - part of an effort to taint the presumptive Democratic nominee with the conglomerate's business practices.

While Teresa Heinz Kerry gained much of her $500 million portfolio through her Heinz inheritance, she does not serve on the board and is not involved with the management of the company. Even her late husband, Sen. H. John Heinz III, R-Pa., did not serve on the board.

No Heinz family member has been employed by the company or served on its board since H.J. "Jack" Heinz II, its chairman, died in 1987.

Heinz Kerry, who heads the separate Heinz Family Foundation and the Howard Heinz Endowment, owns less than 4 percent of the company's stock. Major Heinz stockholders include the company's top executives, led by Chairman William R. Johnson, as well as beer magnate Peter Coors and former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and pro football Hall of Famer Lynn Swann.

During the campaign, Kerry has criticized companies that move jobs overseas or shift their tax status abroad to avoid federal taxes, calling them "Benedict Arnold" businesses. He has faulted the Bush administration for embracing a tax policy that rewards them.

Republicans, in response, have pointed to the Kerrys' ties to Heinz, calling the four-term Massachusetts senator a hypocrite for slamming policies that have poured millions into his wife's bank account.

Stuck in what it fears is a food fight is the Heinz Co., which is trying desperately to keep the campaign out of its ketchup sales. In the last few months, the company - which gets about 5,000 phone calls a month - has fielded 800 calls from consumers with questions or complaints about the company's connections to Kerry, his wife and the campaign, said spokeswoman Debbie Foster.

A look at the company's campaign donations shows a preference for Republicans. In the past six years, the Heinz company's political action committee gave more than $64,000 to GOP candidates, nearly three times the amount given to Democrats. It contributed $5,000 to Bush's campaign. It has shunned the Kerry campaign, but the PAC gave $5,000 to the Massachusetts Democratic Party.

Johnson also put his money on the GOP, giving more than $20,000 to Republican congressional committees and candidates since 1999. Other board members have also contributed to Republicans, giving money to Bush's campaign and Pennsylvania's two Republican senators, Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum.

Company spokesman Jack Kennedy said Heinz is nonpartisan and the PAC gives money to both parties. The heavy Republican totals, he said, may just be an indication of where corporate facilities are located.

Determined to make clear that it is not connected to the Kerry campaign, the Heinz company has issued statements about the relationship. "We want to make sure people buy our products on their merit. We're an equal-opportunity condiment," Kennedy said.

According to Kerry's financial disclosure report filed last May, Heinz Kerry owns more than $4 million worth of company stock. Heinz Kerry sold more than $14.8 million worth of Heinz stock in 2002.

"No, they don't run the company, but they still own a lot of stock. And Teresa has had a long relationship with the company," said James Glassman, a columnist and economic analyst at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. "I think it's absolutely legitimate to point to Heinz and say here's a company with a close association with Kerry that is doing exactly the thing Kerry is condemning."

Republican National Committee spokeswoman Christine Iverson said the GOP is not going after the Heinz Co. but "will continue to point out John Kerry's hypocrisy when his record on the issues does not match his rhetoric."

Last month, the RNC issued a lengthy critique of the Heinz company, detailing hundreds of layoffs and plant closings in five states over the past nine years and pointing out jobs it created in other countries.

The multibillion-dollar Heinz Co. has about 38,900 workers worldwide, with 30 percent located in 27 factories scattered across 17 states. The other 70 percent work in facilities overseas.

About 60 percent of the company's sales are outside America, and the products sold in other countries are often made and marketed locally and in some cases are unique to that region. Tomatoes for ketchup sold in the United States are grown largely in the regions surrounding the major processing plants in Ohio, Iowa and California.

Besides its name brands, Heinz also makes and markets OreIda potatoes, Smart Ones frozen foods and Classico sauces. The company has 50 affiliates operating in 200 countries.


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Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Purple Hearts: Three and Out
Posted April 12, 2004
By Stephen Crump
Kerry glows with pride while wearing one of the Purple Hearts he desperately sought.
Democratic presidential nominee in waiting Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) frequently speaks of courage, brotherhood and responsibility when he mentions his brief service in Vietnam. He took Super-8 home movies there in which he staged heroics in full-battle dress, so that later he might use them for campaign ads. Kerry has made so much of his Vietnam medals which he once pretended to throw away that critics have begun to wonder why he has been so cagey about the dubious circumstances surrounding the Purple Hearts that got him out of Vietnam after only four months of combat service. Under the rules, a serviceman had to be awarded three Purple Hearts to apply to go home. Not one or two, but three. And, say critics, there's the rub.
Kerry, who piloted Patrol Crafts Fast (PCFs) as a young Lt.(jg) in the Vietnam War, has always made much of those Purple Hearts. An award often pinned on the pillow of a combat warrior so badly wounded that he cannot sit up to receive it, the Purple Heart recognizes the sacrifices of combat when a soldier or officer has sustained a wound "from an outside force or agent" and received treatment from a medical officer. The records for such treatment "must have been made a matter of official record," according to the military definition of the award.
According to Kerry's own description in Douglas Brinkley's Tour of Duty, the Dec. 2, 1968, mission behind what he has claimed to be his first Purple Heart was "a half-assed action that hardly qualified as combat." Indeed. Kerry was stationed with Coastal Division 14 at Cam Ranh Bay. At that time he piloted a small foam-filled boat, known as a Boston Whaler, with two enlisted men in the darkness of early morning. The intent, apparently, was to patrol an area that was known for contraband trafficking, but it was an undocumented mission. Upon approaching the objective point, the crew noticed a sampan crossing the river. As it pulled to shore, Kerry and his little team opened fire, destroying the boat and whatever its cargo might have been.
In the confusion, Kerry claims to have received a "stinging piece of heat" in the arm, the result of a tiny piece of shrapnel. He was not incapacitated and continued with regular swiftboat-patrol duty. William Shachte, who oversaw this ad hoc mission, was quoted by the Boston Globe as saying Kerry's injury, from whatever source, "was not a serious wound at all."
But Kerry met with his immediate superior officer, Lt.Cmdr. Grant Hibbard, the next morning and requested a Purple Heart for his wound. Hibbard recalls that Kerry had a "minor scratch" on his arm and was holding in his hand what appeared to be a fragment of a U.S. M-79 grenade, the shrapnel that had caused the wound. "They didn't receive enemy fire," Hibbard tells Insight. Since this was an essential requirement for the award, the commander rejected Kerry's request. Hibbard does not remember that Kerry received medical attention of any kind and confirms that no one else on the mission suffered any injuries.
Shortly thereafter, Kerry was transferred to Coastal Division 11 at An Thoi. Apparently, Kerry petitioned to have his Purple Heart request reconsidered. Hibbard remembers getting correspondence from Kerry's new division, asking for his approval. In the hurried process of moving to a new command himself, Hibbard thinks he might have signed off on the award. If so, "it was to my chagrin," Hibbard remembers. Kerry's second commander, Lt.Cmdr. G.M. Elliott, says he has no recollection of such an event ever occurring.
There are no written records of Kerry's magical first Purple Heart on file at the Naval Historical Center in Washington, the nation's primary repository for such documentation. A Purple Heart normally is not requested but is awarded de facto for a wound inflicted by the enemy - a wound serious enough to require medical attention. The Naval Historical Center keeps all documents connected to such awards to U.S. Navy and Marine personnel. These typewritten "casualty cards" list the date, location and prognosis of the wound for which the Purple Heart is given, and they are produced by the medical facility that provides treatment for the combat wound at the hands of the enemy. There are two such cards for Kerry - for his slight wounds on Feb. 20 and March 13, 1969, but none for his December 1968 claim.
After receiving a Purple Heart for the March 13 scratch and bruise, Kerry sought an early pass out of combat duty, invoking the informal Navy "instruction" known as 1300.39. According to the Boston Globe, 1300.39 meant an officer could request a reassignment from his superior officer after receiving three Purple Hearts. The instruction states that, rather than being automatic, the reassignment would "be determined after consideration of his physical classification for duty and on an individual basis." Of the 138 servicemen and officers in Kerry's unit who received Purple Hearts during the time he was there, records indicate only two received more than two. These were Lt.(jg) Jim Galvin and a boatswain's mate named Stevens. When Insight reached Galvin he said all three of his Purple Hearts were the result of shrapnel or glass shards. Such minor injuries were common on PCF boats with their glass windows and thin metal hulls, and, like Kerry's, Galvin's injuries were not serious enough to take him out of combat for more than a few days.
Unlike Kerry, Galvin elected to stay with his men. Indeed, though a professional Navy officer, he never had heard of instruction 1300.39. It was not until early April of 1969, when Galvin noticed that Kerry was preparing to leave the officers' barracks at An Thoi that he learned about "three Purple Hearts and you're out." According to Galvin, it was Kerry who told him, "There's a rule that gets you out of here and I'm getting out. You ought to do the same." Galvin remembers, "He seemed to take care of everything pretty quickly," because that was the last time Galvin saw Kerry in Vietnam.
The three-times wounded Galvin stayed with his men, transferred to Cam Ranh Bay to get them a respite from the dicey Mekong Delta, and eventually left the swiftboats for destroyer school.
Insight: contacted many men who served in Coastal Division at the same time Kerry did to ask if any of them had heard of anyone leaving the combat zone by invoking three minor wounds. Of the 12 who replied, none had heard of anyone doing so but John Kerry."
Less than a month after having claimed three wounds for which he lost no more than a total of two days of duty, Kerry reported as an aide to a navy yard admiral in Brooklyn, New York, leaving his crew in Vietnam. Two years later, preparing for a congressional race in a left-wing Massachusetts district - where the seat eventually was won by the even more radical Rev. Robert Drinan - Kerry was working with Maoists and other radicals in Vietnam Veterans Against the War, saying of those he left behind who were being killed and wounded for real that they were committing crimes "on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels."
Indeed, Kerry said, he knew men who in Vietnam "had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside." Addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 22, 1971, about these and other alleged war crimes, he called on the United States to pay "extensive reparations."

Stephen Crump is an associate reporter for Insight magazine.

>> 2...

John Kerry's first Purple Heart
With questions lingering over President Bush's service in the Guard, conservatives hope to diminish Kerry's Vietnam heroics -- but they can't erase his real battle record.

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By Douglas Brinkley

April 17, 2004 | It was Dec. 2, 1968, and Lt. j.g. John Kerry was on a special nighttime covert mission in Vietnam. He had been ordered into a Viet Cong-infested peninsula north of Cam Ranh Bay to disrupt a smuggling operation. His vessel was a Boston Whaler, a boat that could float after taking 1,000 rounds of automatic weapons fire. Much of the evening was spent apprehending fishermen in a curfew zone. At approximately 2 a.m., however, they proceeded up an inlet with wild jungle on both sides of the boat. As they approached a bay, Kerry's whaler fired flares into the air. To their horror, not far from them, were a startled group of Viet Cong smugglers trafficking in contraband.
"We opened fire," Kerry told me in a Jan. 30, 2003, interview. "The light from the flares started to fade, the air was full of explosions. My M-16 jammed, and as I bent down to grab another gun, a stinging piece of heat socked into my arm and just seemed to burn like hell. By this time one of the sailors had started the engine and we ran by the beach strafing it. Then it was quiet."
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>> FOOD FIGHT 2...

Bush Spends Nearly $50 Million in March
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush and John Kerry each added to their presidential fund-raising firsts last month: Bush in part by hitting $185 million and spending nearly a third of it and Kerry by raising nearly $55 million in one quarter.
Kerry's $54.8 million fund-raising total for January through March tops the $52.9 million Bush raised during the period. It also beats the previous presidential quarterly record of $50 million, set by Bush last summer.
The Democratic nominee-to-be has a long way to go to catch up with Bush's record overall fund raising, however. Kerry raised about $84 million from January 2003 through last month.
Bush and Kerry are now setting records with every dollar collected. That is in part because this is the first time both major-party nominees have skipped public financing for the primary season, freeing them from the program's $45 million spending limit.
Bush's spending in March, about $50 million, is the most ever in one month by a presidential campaign. Most of the money paid for the Republican's first wave of ads, timed to begin just after Kerry emerged from the Democratic primaries.
Nearly all of Bush's ad spending - about $40.8 million - went to Maverick Media, an admaking firm run by Bush media adviser Mark McKinnon, a campaign finance report Bush filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission shows.
In all, Bush has spent at least $99 million since officially starting his re-election effort last May, much of that reaching out to prospective voters and donors. In addition to ad spending, Bush has devoted at least $19 million to mailings, voter lists and related costs and at least $800,000 to "message" phone calls.
One campaign mailing sent to homes around the country this year includes a color photo of Bush and first lady Laura Bush with their signatures and the message "Grassroots leaders like you are the key to building a winning team."
Bush began April with millions of dollars on hand despite his spending spree. He raised $26.2 million last month and started April with $86.6 million on hand.
Kerry, who loaned his campaign about $6 million late last year to keep it afloat, surfaced from the primaries nearly broke but since has rebuilt his finances.
Kerry raised $42.8 million in March alone, thanks in part to a flood of small-dollar donations over the Internet as well as $1,000 and $2,000 checks from Democrats who delayed giving until after the primaries, or previously gave to his Democratic rivals.
Kerry started April with $31 million in the bank. He has spent about $69 million since starting his campaign, including roughly $30 million last month.
Bush's overall fund-raising advantage has shown on the airwaves in recent weeks. Bush has dedicated at least $50 million to ads over March and April, compared to about $12 million in ad spending by Kerry over that period.
But Kerry has benefited from at least $28 million in ad spending by outside groups that oppose Bush, including the Media Fund, and the AFL-CIO. That has prompted complaints by the Bush campaign accusing some anti-Bush groups of illegally using unlimited donations known as "soft money" in the election; the groups say their activities are legal.
The two candidates remain virtually neck-and-neck in national voter polls.
Kerry is expected to increase his ad spending in coming weeks as his campaign fund grows.
The Massachusetts senator hopes to have reached $105 million in contributions by the party's nominating convention in late July. He is in the middle of a national tour to raise millions of dollars for his campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
His campaign sent an e-mail Tuesday thanking donors for giving $2.5 million online in the past week and asking them to give more. "We cannot slow down now. John Kerry can win this election but he needs your help," campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill wrote.


On the Net:

Federal Election Commission:

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

GOP Hoping to Push Through Asbestos Fund

Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Legislation to speed money to asbestos-disease sufferers could increase the federal deficit by $13 billion over the next decade, congressional budget officials said Tuesday in an estimate that could sour some of the bill's conservative support in the Senate.
This came as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist prepared for a Thursday showdown in the Senate on whether to swap permanent business immunity from asbestos lawsuits for a $124 billion trust fund intended to speed money to sick litigants.
Democrats say they have enough votes to stop majority Republicans from pushing through their plan, saying it does not provide enough money to the victims for giving up their right to sue companies.
The Congressional Budget Office also said the fund would not have enough money.
"Including outlays for administrative costs and investment transactions of the Asbestos Fund, CBO estimates that operations of the fund would increase budget deficits by $13 billion," Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin said in a letter Tuesday to Senate Budget Chairman Don Nickles.
But Frist spokeswoman Amy Call said, "Those additional expenditures would be handled by the legal system and would not be a cost to the federal government."
Nickles' Budget Committee has said it's uneasy about the cost of the asbestos fund. In a March release, the Budget Committee said it worried that creating "a new uncapped government entitlement during a period requiring austere budget discipline, would be imprudent and inconsistent with financial responsibility."
Nickles is "still in favor of asbestos reform, but has always had reservations about the trust fund approach," Nickles spokeswoman Rachel Oliphant said. Nickles will support Frist's call for a Thursday debate, she said.
Frist is expected to try and force the Senate to debate the bill Thursday. It would take 60 votes to force a debate in the Senate, which is split with 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and one independent senator, Jim Jeffords of Vermont. Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota said Tuesday he has enough votes to block the bill.
Under a bill promoted by Frist, R-Tenn., and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the Judiciary Committee chairman, the government would set up a trust fund that could reach as much as $124 billion. The fund, financed by businesses and insurance companies, would speed money to people with asbestos-related diseases.
Democrats say people who have sued companies over asbestos illnesses should not have their cases thrown out of court and be forced to participate in the fund.
They want assurances that all victims can be compensated.
Republicans argue the plan would get money to people who really need it.
Suing companies over asbestos is "almost like a lottery-like system where few claimants ... get very large awards, but many, many get little often based on simply where, for example, the claim was filed," Frist said. "The big winner is always the trial lawyers, who have taken billions of dollars out of the system, money that really should be going to those sick victims."
Democrats contend Republicans are pushing the bill to please businesses and insurers and are not working on a bipartisan solution.
"There are many on both sides of the aisle who truly and deeply want a resolution," Daschle said.
Republicans say the plan also will help the economy by removing the threat of bankruptcy for companies facing potential suits. They also say the bill is the only option the Senate will get.
"If we want to get something done, we are going to have to work with this bill," Hatch said.


On the Net:

Information on the original bill, S. 1125, and the revised one, S. 2290, is available at

Centers for Disease Control background on asbestos:

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Security forces kill 4 terror suspects in shoot-out
By Rana Husseini
Anti-terrorist forces prepare on Tuesday to storm a Hashmi Shamali (northern) building, in which they killed in a shoot-out four suspected terrorists planning attacks against Jordan (Photo by Nader Daoud)
AMMAN -- Security forces on Tuesday killed four suspected terrorists in a Hashmi Shamali (northern) shoot-out, during which several officers were injured, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Minister of State and Government Spokesperson Asma Khader said anti-terrorist forces surrounded a building in the neighbourhood after receiving a tip that a group of armed men planning terrorist attacks were hiding in the area.
"The gunmen were ordered to surrender, but they fired on [security] forces, who returned fire, stormed the building and killed three suspects," Khader told reporters after a Cabinet session last night.
Few hours later, she added, the fourth gunman, who was hiding in a tunnel inside the same building, was killed after he opened fire on the security forces.
One of the four men was Jordanian, according to the spokesperson.
"Apparently, they were linked to a terrorist group, but investigations are still under way," Khader said. She did not elaborate.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Jordanian police kill three ''terror'' suspects in Amman shootout
In a rare incident, Jordanian police shot dead three "terror" suspects Tuesday in a shootout in the Jordanian capital, the authorities said.
Working on a tip, police stormed a hideout in east Amman where the suspects had been hiding, the police said in a statement carried by the official Petra news agency.
Police had called for the suspects to surrender, but they responded with gunfire, the statement said. The incident took place at 2:20 p.m. in downtown Amman at the district of Hashemi, the statement said.
"Information made available to security authorities pointed to the presence of an armed group which had plotted to carry out terror attacks," the statement added.
Two of the three men killed were foreigners, according to police.
Last week, Jordanian officials said an al-Qaeda-linked cell, recently dismantled in the kingdom, was plotting to detonate a chemical bomb capable of killing up to 20,000 people and to attack the U.S. Embassy and prime minister's office with poison gas. (

Report: Jordan foils huge chemical attack on inelligence HQ
The cell that was apprehended last week in Jordan planned to carry out a large-scale chemical attack, Jordanian officials told the London-based al-Hayat daily. According to the Friday's report, the prevention of the attack may have saved thousands of lives.
It added that the "majority of the members" were arrested. Jordanian officials said the plan was to detonate a powerful car bomb, which included chemical materials, at the Jordanian Military Intelligence headquarters. The cell also intended to use poison gas during attacks on the US embassy in Amman and a government building in the kingdom.
The officials said that following the interrogation of the cell members, it was revealed they were connected to senior al-Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is high up on the US most wanted list in Iraq.
Two detained men identified as Suleiman Khaled Darwish and Ali Adwan "established the cell, which was funded by al-Zarqawi from Iraq and Iran," Jordanian sources told al Hayat.
With the help of a third man, Azmi Abd al Fattah al Jayousi, they managed to smuggle three cars packed with explosives. In one of the cars, security forces found the chemical charge. The Jordanian authorities are still looking for al Jayousi.
The Jordanian officials were quoted as saying, "The bomb, had it been detonated, could have affected people in a one kilometer radius and cause the deaths of more 20,000 people, according to estimates by bomb experts".
King of Jordan Abdullah II on Wednesday sent a letter of appreciation to the Kingdom's security forces who managed to foil the plot. "Thank God, the plans of these criminals were foiled and thousands of souls were saved from a crime this country has never known". (

Kosovo: Jordanian policeman kills two American officers in jail shootout
A Jordanian policeman opened fire on a group of international UN police in Kosovo on Saturday, killing two Americans before he was killed when officers returned fire. 10 US officers and an Austrian were injured.
The motive was not exactly clear, however Reuters reported emotions over the situation in Iraq apparently prompted the gunbattle between members of the UN law enforcement mission.
The shootout broke out when a group of correctional officers - 21 Americans, two Turks and an Austrian - were leaving the detention center after a day of training. They came under fire from at least one of a group of Jordanians on guard at the prison, said Neeraj Singh, a United Nations spokesman.
The officers shot back in a gunbattle that lasted about 10 minutes. It was not immediately clear what prompted the Jordanian to shoot.
"As far as we know, there was no communication between the officer who fired and the group of victims," Singh said, adding that investigators probing the incident were questioning four Jordanian officers.
Meanwhile, the Jordanian government expressed regret for the incident in a statement and said it also was investigating the shooting, according to Petra news agency. The statement identified the Jordanian officer as Ahmed Mustafa Ibrahim Ali.
UN and local police officers sealed off the yard of the detention center, took pictures and marked the bullet cartridges with numbers. The body of a police officer, covered with what looked like a dark blue jacket, lay for hours in the yard of the prison compound.
A doctor at the hospital in Kosovska Mitrovica, told The AP that five American officers and one Austrian officer were being treated. It was not immediately clear where the other wounded were being treated, or what their nationalities were.
Kosovska Mitrovica has long been the scene of violence between Serbs and ethnic Albanians, including riots that broke out a month ago, killing 19 and injuring 900. (

Major terror attack thwarted: King Abdullah II

SAN FRANCISCO: Jordan's King Abdullah II said in an interview published yesterday that Jordanian security services thwarted a major terrorist attack aimed at toppling his government.
Jordanian police seized five trucks loaded with 17.5 tonnes of high explosives, the king told the San Francisco Chronicle.
"It was a major, major operation," Abdullah said. "It would have decapitated the government."
Casualties would have been "in the thousands," he added. "It couldn't have been more sinister."
King Abdullah is currently visiting California and spoke in San Francisco on Friday. He is scheduled to meet President George W. Bush in Washington on Wednesday.
The explosives were apparently intended for an attack on the Jordanian prime minister's office and the intelligence ministry, King Abdullah said, adding that it was uncovered after two suspected terrorists were arrested two weeks ago.
King Abdullah said that, although the trucks came from Syria, he was "completely confident that (Syrian President) Bashir (Assad) did not know about it."
The king told the Chronicle that European anti-terrorism experts were aiding the Jordanian police investigation, but gave few details.
Turning to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terror network, King Abdullah said it "has been very badly hurt, but ... that doesn't mean it can't hurt you, as we saw in Madrid."
He referred to the terrorist attacks in Spain last month. "They're still very, very effective."
The king avoided any direct comments on Bush's recent dramatic policy shift toward Israel, but did say that he had not been given any advance notice of the change.
"There were discussions beforehand with members of the administration, but what came out in Washington was different," King Abdullah told the Chronicle. "We really are at a loss for information. ... Washington has taken us a bit by surprise.
"Honestly, we don't know what the implications are," he added.
Jordan said yesterday it wanted American guarantees on the final status of Palestinian occupied territories, four days ahead of a White House meeting between King Abdullah and Bush.
"The meeting will enable Jordan's position to be reiterated on the Palestinian question and we want guarantees from the American administration on the final status," Foreign Minister Marwan Moasher said.
"We have heard the American administration stress in the past, and again on Friday, that the final status must not be decided in advance but during negotiations," said the minister, who heads for the United States today to join the king.
During a Washington Press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush said all questions linked to the final status must be negotiated between the parties. - AFP
Last update on: 18-4-2004

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