Poland mourns dead president

Everyone on the plane  died in the crash  The numbers vary in the reports I have read to date, so anywhere from 96 to 130 died. It is agreed in all reports there were no survivors.

April 10 2010

Thousands of Poles have gathered at the presidential palace in Warsaw to mourn Lech Kaczynski, the president, and the 96 others who were killed in an air crash in western Russia.

A significant part of Poland’s political establishment was wiped out as all the passengers on board the plane, including senior government officials and parliamentarians, were killed on Saturday.

Poles flocked to churches across the nation to lay flowers, light candles, sing hymns and pray.

Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister, described the accident as “the most tragic event of the country’s post-war history”, before flying to the crash site where he and Vladimir Putin, his Russian counterpart, met and laid flowers together.

The heads of Poland’s armed forces, the central bank governor, deputy ministers and 15 MPs were among those killed when the jet tried to land in heavy fog and crashed in a forest.

Wreckage scattered

Wreckage, including the engines, was scattered across a forest and parts of it burned for more than an hour.

The officials had been on their way to the city of Smolensk to take part in reconciliatory ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre where Russian forces killed more than 20,000 Polish prisoners of war.

Kaczynski’s wife, Polish church leaders and families of Katyn massacre victims were also killed.

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from Warsaw, said: “Katyn was a major blight between the Soviet Union and Poland for many many years … Thousands of prisoners of war massacred, among them senior officers, troops and also intellectuals – the elite really, who were wiped out effectively in that massacre.

“The irony, of course, is not lost on many people that in Saturday’s tragic crash, the elite were all on board one aircraft going towards Katyn to commemorate that event.”

Following the constitution, Bronislaw Komorowski, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, took over as interim head of state and a presidential election has to be held before the end of June.

Komorowski said he would announce the date of the poll after talks with all political parties.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, has appointed Putin to chair a special commission to investigate the crash.

‘Instructions ignored’

Alexander Alyoshin, the first deputy chief of the Russian air force’s general staff, said the plane’s pilot repeatedly ignored instructions from air traffic controllers.

“The head of the air traffic control group gave a command to the crew to put the aircraft into the horizontal position and when the crew did not implement this order, several times gave orders to divert to an alternative airport,” he was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

“Despite this, the crew continued the descent. Unfortunately this ended in tragedy.”

Authorities have found both flight recorders, commonly known as “black boxes”, from the jet.

Komorowski, Poland’s acting president, declared a week of mourning after the crash.

“We are united – there is no [political] left or right – we are united in national mourning,” he said.

Poland had been due to hold a presidential election in October, when Kaczynski was likely to have run against the liberal Komorowski.

Popular president

The conservative Kaczynski, who had served as president of Poland since 2005, had a reputation for being incorruptible and was a popular figure.

Marek Matraszek, a political consultant in Warsaw, told Al Jazeera that politically, Kaczynski had been loosing in popularity recently.

“But even his deepest enemies would not deny that he was hugely respected by the Polish people,” he said.

“Many of his political opponents, while disagreeing with him politically, respected him for his career, his personality, his principles … This will very much go forward into cementing how Poles will remember him: not as a politician but rather as a man of deep principle.”

Matraszek said the loss of so many politicians would have a significant effect on the political scene in Poland.

“This is an issue that cuts across political barriers … Every political party and every part of the political establishment has been affected. These were very senior people with a great deal of experience who will be very difficult to replace … Many of the people who died had no real successors.” Source

April 10 2010

Locals in Smolensk region shared with RT dramatic eyewitness accounts.

Crash site

Both Polish and the Russians will be doing an investigation into the crash.

This is a tragic event for all concerned.

April 10, 2010 — Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has addressed the Polish nation on the death of their president and expressed his condolences over the tragic events in Smolensk.

In Poland

Suppressed History: The Genocide at Vinnitsa

Recent

Thailand protests claim first lives

Russian urges adoption freeze after boy age 7 returned alone

Kyrgyzstan: The nepotism that sparked a revolution

Haaretz Threatened for Exposing Israeli Assassination Cover-Up

Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism, rules sheriff

Thailand protesters defy government decree

Australia: Locals do their block as big gas moves into Queensland

Advertisements

The Top Ten Ethics Scandals of 2008

December 18 2008

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has released its year-end list of the “top” 10 ethics scandals of 2008. Why isn’t the recent criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on the list? Well, for one, it’s not a Washington-centered problem. But Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, adds that while the Blagojevich case may be the flavor of the week right now, she thinks the scandals on her administration’s list will have more of an impact in the long run. Here they are:

1. “Unchecked Congressional Ethics”: CREW wants Congress to have a high-powered ethics office with subpoena power. MoJo Blog covered the vote on this earlier this year; we looked at this issue last year, too.

2. “No Guarantee that Bush Administration Records will be Properly Archived”: We’ve been keeping you up to date on the ongoing missing White House emails problem.

3. “Speech or Debate Clause”: Lots of politicians who are charged with crimes seek to have their indictments dismissed under the “Speech and Debate” clause of the Constitution, which they claim protects anything in their congressional office from being used against them in court on the grounds that its “legislative material.” Sloan says that this may be the biggest of the ten scandals her organization highlighted. If Blagocevich had been a member of congress, Sloan says, he would have been protected from much of US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation. Law enforcement would not have been able to tap his office phone or include anything he did in the course of his legislative work as part of an indictment, Sloan says. And both Democrats and Republicans are protecting this hard-line interpretation of the speech and debate clause. “This is a bipartisan issue of protecting members accused of corruption from investigation and prosecution,” Sloan says. Mother Jones covered this problem as early as 2006, with the raid on the offices of now ex-Louisiana Democratic Rep. William Jefferson.

4. “The Pay-to-Play Congress”: You’ve heard about this from John McCain and Barack Obama, who both talked about the power of earmarks to corrupt the legislative process. Every year, CREW notes the most egregious instances of earmark abuse, when campaign donors get earmarks from the politicians who they support. We wrote about corruption expert Lawrence Lessig’s Change Congress effort and will have more with Lessig next week.

5. “Enriching Family with Campaign Cash”: CREW has released two reports on this problem, “Family Affair – House” and “Family Affair – Senate.” We noted the most recent offender, Charlie Rangel.

6. “Controversial Presidential Pardons”: The president’s pardon power is essentially unlimited, and that has CREW worried about what President Bush will do with it before he leaves office. Elizabeth Gettelman wrote about the hypocrisy of commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence but ignoring Marion Jones. And Bruce Falconer asked if pardoning “all those involved in the application of what [the Bush] administration called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques'” would be wise.

7. “VA Officials Intentionally Misdiagnosing PTSD”: CREW broke a story earlier this year about VA officials being pressed to misdiagnose Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a cost-cutting measure. In September, Bruce Falconer wrote a story for the print magazine about whether the Bush administration had “maxed out the military.”

8. “Bailout Oversight”: The government spent $700 billion and all you got was a few bank failures. We’ve covered the hearings and brought you the latest. Most recently, we looked at the Fannie/Freddie bailout and asked about Treasury’s blank check.

9. “Political Calculations Dictate Border Fence Placement”: Ray L. Hunt has land that falls on both sides of the border fence, but CREW says he’s getting special treatment because he’s a Bush “pioneer.” That kind of suction wouldn’t be unusual for Hunt: in July, Laura Rozen wrote about how Hunt seems to have almost unlimited access to the White House (and, in this case, to Kurdish oil.)

10. “A Politicized Bush Justice Department”: To prevent the abuse of the courts for political ends, the DOJ was traditionally the least-politicized of all the executive branch departments. That all changed when Bush took office. In 2007, Daniel Schulman was among the first to document how the conservative Federalist society may have influenced personnel decisions at the DOJ. Stephanie Mencimer covered another interesting aspect of this story in May when she examined the Justice Department’s reluctance to release documents from the 2002 GOP phone-jamming in New Hampshire. And Stephanie was also there for the most unsurprising moment of the DOJ politicization saga: Karl Rove’s failure to show up for a hearing on the subject in July.

It seems unlikely that the first year of the Obama administration will match up to the last year of the Bush administration in terms of ethics-scandal-potential. But we’ll be here, keeping an eye on everyone, Barack Obama included. Stick with us.

(You can find a PDF version of CREW’s full report on the “top ten” scandals here)

Source

And of course we must not forget more recent revelations.

UK: Council’s pension fund ‘caught up in Bernard Madoff’s Wall Street fraud’

Cheney admits authorizing detainee’s torture

Senate Report Links Bush to Detainee Homicides; Media Yawns

Media Search in the US

Write your local paper and denounce any possible planned pardons for crimes committed in the “war on terror”. Here are some sample letters and talking points you can follow.

Lie by Lie:  Iraq War Timeline