A few important stories via Josh Marshall today.
The first concerns further US meddling in international elections, this time Italy:
A security alert for American citizens in Italy issued by the US State Department has angered Italian opposition leader Romano Prodi, who accused Washington of causing "unnecessary fear and anxiety" ahead of next month's bitterly-contested polls...Berlusconi is, of course, a long-time Bush ally who has spent considerable political (and real) capital maintaining an unpopular Italian military presence in Iraq. Polls show him trailing ahead of the April 9 elections. More here.
But his comments drew a sharp rebuke from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has previously accused Prodi's disparate centre-left -- which runs the full gamut of the political spectrum from Catholic to communist parties -- of harbouring "shock troops" bent on violently breaking up government election rallies.
The second Marshall story concerns a donation from Barbara Bush to victims of Hurricane Katrina, which was actually "earmarked" for the purchase of eductional software (of dubious quality) manufactured by a company called Ignite!, which just happens to be owned by Mrs Bush's "n'er-do-well" son Neil.
Ignite!'s has a unique business model, which works like this. Neil goes around the world finding international statesmen, bigwigs and criminals who want to 'invest' in Ignite! as a way to curry favor with the brother in the White House.
A couple years ago when I was at Salon I wrote about the craze for investment in Ignite! then taking hold among Red Sea oil magnates and progeny of the rulers of the People's Republic of China (See this article as well about the craze for investing in Ignite! in the United Arab Emirates and specifically in Dubai). Now, Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky has awakened to the wonders of investing in Ignite!
The third story of note concerns a Newsweek article about a former Bush loyalist turned critic, Andrew Natsios, who was head of USAID in the Bremer-CPA phase of Iraqi "reconstruction". Dan Senor (Bremer's former spokesman) ridiculed Natsios's claims that the people involved were incompetent ideologues and corrupt opportunists. But Marshall reminds us that Senor himself was a Bush ideologue with no real qualitfications for his position:
Before attending Harvard Business School from 1999 to 2001, Senor was a staffer for then-Sen. Spencer Abraham of Michigan. After receiving his MBA, he went to the Carlyle Group, where he was a venture capitalist from 2001 to 2003. Senor left Carlyle in 2003 for a brief stint as White House Press Secretary Scott McLellan's deputy before shipping off to Iraq.Wikpedia reveals that Senor, still a regular commentator on Fox News, is also angaged to marry Campbell Brown, anchor of the weekend edition of the Today show on NBC. Small world, isn't it? Almost incestuous, really....