Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Spirit Saves Lives?

Terri Fontanez, a mother in Rochester, N.Y, is counting her blessings. She can't even thank the two good Samaritans who saved her four children from a burning minivan. Terri was driving home from a birthday party when another driver T-boned her minivan.  According to WROC 8 News the van immediately burst into flames. Christine Wilson, an off-duty Rochester police officer, saw the accident and rushed to rescue a nine-year-old, six-month-old and one of the two-year-old twin boys from the van. Wilson was overcome by heat and smoke and had to be pulled from the an by her own mother according to  WHAM 13.  One child remained in the burning van.  Certain death but for the brave actions of an unknown man who snatched the child from the burning vehicle. There were no serious injuries reported.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of the Good Samaritans who make this world a better place.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Is Everything For Sale For The Right Price?

Talk about a script, this one has it all.  Enter a main character nicknamed "Fat Leonard" a gregarious Malaysian businessman is well known by U.S. Navy commanders and "The Commander" a top naval officer. Fat Leonard's company has serviced warships for 25 years. To say he is connected may be a bit of an understatement  As the other main characters consist of prosecutors who accuse Leonard Francis of obtaining secret military information in exchange for hookers, Lady Gaga tickets and other bribes.

Surely, it has all the makings for a great drama. Accusations in a federal court in San Diego paint a scene dominated by serious national security breaches and corruption.  High ranking officials could end up being sucked into the drama.  A Colombo type prosecutor shakes his finger at Navy commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz and accuses him of passing confidential information on ship routes to Fat Leonard's Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., or GDMA. Fat Leonard and the commander counter the accusations of moving battle ships and aircraft carriers as if they are matchbook cars with denying looks of innocence.  Were the moves legitimate or designed to fatten profits by inflating costs?

Misiewicz did in fact move Navy vessels, but after all he is a commander.  He may not own the toys, but he certainly controls their movement as part of his job function.   Did Fat Leonard illegally overcharge for fuel, food and other services his company provided the navy or was he just buying into the concept of capitalism?  Questionable  tariffs and port authorities, isn't that expected in the world of foreign trade?

"It's pretty big when you have one person who can dictate where ships are going to go and being influenced by a contractor," said retired Rear Adm. Terry McKnight, who states the obvious to the AP even  though he has no involvement in the investigation.  Alex Wisidagama; and a senior Navy investigator, John Beliveau II do have some information about what is going on.  Perhaps too much information as Beliveau is accused of keeping Francis informed about the investigation and advising him on how to respond to allegations.  (Sounds like practicing law without a license?)   All characters in this alleged ploy pleaded not guilty. Defense attorneys, as expected, have declined to publicly comment concerning the allegations.

It's too early to tell how much interest will be generated by this investigation and whether it will ever crack the top revenue block buster stories in Hollywood. Prostitute stories sell but merely getting gifts from venders tends not to generate too much curb appeal in Hollywood. While Fat Leonard is an interesting sort known for great parties held in his modest 70,000 square foot home in Singapore, Leonard is expected to testify that all of the business transactions were legitimate.  Navy Criminal Investigative Service agents have been investigating Leonard since 2010, but it didn't take much undercover work because probably every captain of every ship knows Fat Leonard.

The question is whether the commander was offered prostitution services in exchange for providing  ship movement schedules. The USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group and other ships are at issue. So did Fat Leonard cheat the Navy out of $10 million in just one year in Thailand or was he just a good capitalist businessman?  Perhaps the answer won't be known until the court drama and the movie rights are all settled.  In the mean time, the federal government has suspended its contracts with Francis. The defendants face up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery. But of course, all defendants are to be presumed innocent!