Late spring in Kuwait

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Riot police seize a Kuwaiti protestor at a demonstration near parliament. / REUTERS

Anger in Kuwait over alleged corruption by the country’s prime minister continues to grow. Street demonstrations have grown into anti-government mobs, which briefly stormed the Parliament earlier this week, accusing the ruling al-Sabah family of turning a blind eye towards reports of high-level graft.

The target of this ire is Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, a key member of the ruling family. For several months, there have been demands for his ouster, which are only growing in intensity.

Missing money is one of the main complaints. Opposition lawmakers have been trying to get answers to allegations that Sheikh Nasser transferred deposits totaling around $92 million to the bank accounts of two lawmakers friendly to the government. Pro-government lawmakers voted down a request for a Parliamentary inquiry into these transfers, and opposition lawmakers have said they will try again later this month to bring up the issue.

Even more, there are allegations that 16 members of Parliament received $350 million in bribes to sell their votes, and that Sheikh Nasser has done little to deal with those claims.

This scandal shows signs that it will only continue to grow. Within the country, it is called the “Kuwaiti Watergate.” Students of politics know how that ended up for those in power.

Sweep to Kuwait’s ruler orders stricter

Rick Perry may stumble and fumble on the campaign trail. But, when it comes to speaking out against the “soft corruption” of legal and yet suspiciously well-timed stock trades among wealthy members of Congress, the Republican presidential hopeful is not mincing words.

In a campaign web ad, Perry lashes out by saying: “Any congressman or senator that uses their insider knowledge to profit in the stock market ought to be sent to jail, period.
“And Congress ought to pass a law that says so right now, no ifs, ands or buts.”
Perry’s ad comes on the heels of recent a “60 Minutes” report showing that some wealthy members of Congress – among them Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner – have made money by trading in stocks for which, as lawmakers, they had inside information. Both Pelosi and Boehner have denied any wrongdoing.

Perhaps this focus will give new life to a bill to that has lain dormant for years: The STOCK Act, which stands for Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, aims to limit insider trading among members of Congress. It has been introduced every year since 2004 and has gone nowhere.
If you want to check out stock ownership by members of Congress, the Center for Responsive Politics has just issued its annual report showing the net worth and financial holdings of all members of the House and Senate.

Sweep to Open Secrets site 

Continuing on the theme of Washington corruption, if it takes one to know one, disgraced lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, fresh from fresh three years in jail on influence-peddling charges, is naming names. And that name is Newt Gingrich, who Abramoff is calling corrupt.
Abramoff’s attack comes over reports that Gingrich was paid $1.6 million by the quasi-government housing giant, Freddie Mac, to defend the agency against conservatives in Congress who wanted to dismantle it. Gingrich has not commented on the claims, and Abramoff is now speaking with the piety of the converted.
He accuses Gingrich of trading on his Washington connections and public service for private gain. While Washington’s revolving door may spin quickly for Gingrich, the question is whether voters will care.
For the moment, Abramoff’s charge doesn’t seem to be sticking. Latest polls show that Gingrich leads the Republican presidential pack, overtaking Herman Cain for the top spot and leaving Mitt Romney in the dust.

Sweep to Abramoff: Gingrich’s involvement with Freddie Mac is corruption 

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo is co-founding executive editor of 100Reporters and an award-winning former foreign, national and cultural correspondent for The New York Times and the Baltimore Sun.

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