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Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, the brutal dictator who repressed and reshaped Chile for nearly two decades and became a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and corruption.

Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, the brutal dictator who repressed and reshaped Chile for nearly two decades and became a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and corruption.

Unclassified doc. detailing meeting took place here pdf.

John McCain, who has harshly criticized the idea of sitting down with dictators without pre-conditions, appears to have done just that. In 1985, McCain traveled to Chile for a friendly meeting with Chile’s military ruler, General Augusto Pinochet, one of the world’s most notorious violators of human rights credited with killing more than 3,000 civilians and jailing tens of thousands of others.

The private meeting between McCain and dictator Pinochet has gone previously un-reported anywhere.

According to a declassified U.S. Embassy cable about the meeting secured by The Huffington Post, McCain described the meeting with Pinochet “as friendly and at times warm, but noted that Pinochet does seem obsessed with the threat of communism.” McCain, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at the time, made no public or private statements critical of the dictatorship, nor did he meet with members of the democratic opposition, as far as could be determined from a thorough check of U.S. and Chilean newspaper records and interviews with top opposition leaders.

At the time of the meeting, in the late afternoon of December 30, the U.S. Justice Department was seeking the extradition of two close Pinochet associates for an act of terrorism in Washington DC, the 1976 assassination of former ambassador to the US and former Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier. The car bombing on Sheridan Circle in the U.S. capital was widely described at the time as the most egregious act of international terrorism perpetrated on U.S. soil by a foreign power.

McCain’s visit with Pinochet took place at a moment when the Chilean strongman held virtually unrestricted dictatorial power and those involved in public, democratic opposition were exposed to great risk.

At the time of McCain’s meeting with Pinochet, Chile’s democratic opposition was desperately seeking support from democratic leaders around the world in an attempt to pressure Pinochet to allow a return to democracy and force a peaceful end to the dictatorship, already in its 12th year. Other U.S. congressional leaders who visited Chile made public statements against the dictatorship and in support of a return to democracy, at times becoming the target of violent pro-Pinochet demonstrations.

Senator Edward Kennedy arrived only 12 days after McCain in a highly public show of support for democracy. Demonstrators pelted his entourage with eggs and blocked the road from the airport, so that the Senator had to be transported by helicopter to the city, where he met with Catholic church and human rights leaders and large groups of opposition activists.

Mark Schneider, a foreign policy aide and former State Department human rights official who organized Kennedy’s trip, said he had no idea McCain had been there only days before. “It would be very surprising and disappointing if Senator McCain went to Chile to meet with a dictator and did not forcefully demand a return to democracy and then to publicly call for a return to democracy,” Schneider said.

Senator Edward Kennedy arrived only 12 days after McCain in a highly public show of support for democracy. Demonstrators pelted his entourage with eggs and blocked the road from the airport

McCain’s visit with Pinochet took place at a moment when the Chilean strongman held virtually unrestricted dictatorial power and those involved in public, democratic opposition were exposed to great risk.

McCain’s presence in Chile was apparently kept as quiet as possible. He and his wife Cindy arrived December 27 and traveled immediately to the scenic Puyehue area of southern Chile to spend several days as the guest of a prominent Pinochet backer, Marco Cariola, who later was elected senator for the conservative UDI party.

The trip was arranged by Chile’s ambassador to the United States, Hernan Felipe Errazuriz. According to a contemporary government document obtained from Chile, Errazuriz arranged for a special government liaison to help McCain while in Chile for the “strictly private” visit, and described him as “one of the conservative congressmen who is closest to our embassy.”

Errazuriz also arranged the invitation for the McCains to stay at the farm of his wealthy friend, Marco Cariola, according to Cariola, who did not know McCain previously. The McCains spent the three and a half days fishing for salmon and trout and riding horses. The area is one of Chile’s most beautiful tourist attractions, with dozens of crystal clear lakes and rivers surrounded by luxurious estates such as the Cariola farm where the McCains were staying.

On December 30, McCain traveled back to Santiago for a 5 pm meeting with dictator Pinochet, followed by a meeting with Admiral Jose Toribio Merino, a member of the country’s ruling military junta.

Read it all…

Source: HP

CNN does at times come across as brainless – how can Obama’s restoring the tax rate under the Clinton presidency – and giving a tax cut to the middle class be classed socialism?

Especially now in such hard and uncertain economic times ~ Cindy McCain had earnings of $4.2 million last year ~ what Obama wants to do is to tax this group 3% more – in order to give a tax break to the middle class. Is it any surprise McCain – is having difficulty in understanding how a tax cut for the middle class might help the largest group in society.

For some additional context, here’s the stats on the number of mentions of “socialism” or “socialist” in the same context as “Obama” during first-run broadcasts on the cable networks since Friday as of 11:00 AM Pacific time on Monday:

    All: 251
    CNN: 101
    FOX: 81
    MSNBC: 69

Seems that instead of being “fair and balanced” (i.e., giving the right-wing free rein to lie), CNN perhaps ought to be pursuing “truthful and accurate” reporting.

Source: Daily Kos

McCain calls the Obama tax cut for the middle class and lower income earners – a government handout – as his wife Cindy McCain made an incredible $4.2 million last year – and over paid her taxes by $900,000 without realizing it. This for most of us is like going into your pockets and realizing – you left some money in there – which is always a surprise – but finding anything like $900,000 – for most would be extraordinary.

As the economy tanks and 760,000 job losses this year alone (this figure only counts those actively seeking work and not the long term unemployed who have given up looking) – McCain adopts a risky strategy – by calling the Obama tax cuts – a government handout, welfare and even socialism.

McCain risks isolating even Joe the Plumber – his new ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ and ‘Plane on eBay’ – as Obama’s plan – offers a better deal for all the Joe Plumbers out there. Joe the Plumber realizes as much – he has told reporters he would not benefit from McCain’s plan because he makes less (far less) than $250,000 a year. His point is he is not sure Obama will lower taxes as promised (but with a Democratic House and Senate – this might be very likely) and he admires the fact that John McCain fought in the war and was a POW. Nothing to do with taxes.

While people face uncertainty or hardship – if they have already lost their jobs – or can’t afford health insurance – and have become unwell or are afraid of falling ill – as 1 million have lost their homes and up to 12 million are living in homes which are not worth as much as they paid for them – McCain has a choice between at least 7 homes – one a ranch and his wife earned a terrific $4.2 million in 2007, McCain still feels that to offer tax relief to the middle class – is wrong.

Conservatives have described Obama as being Robin Hood – but is a 3% tax increase – stealing from the rich – it’s no wonder people of the time liked Robin Hood and why he is still remembered today – he gave people relief when they needed it most.

To make a comparison – Cindy McCain spent $300,000 on a single outfit to attend the first day of the GOP Convention. A person making $30,000/yr would need to work for 10 long years to buy that dress and earrings. If you were making $50,000 it would take you 6 years – for what Cindy McCain spent for use on a single day. Most people wouldn’t buy a dress with $300,000 – they would buy a house or put it towards a dream home – or pay off their mortgage and invest the rest. Put it in a college fund so their kids can go to university or save it for their retirement.

McCain talks about spreading opportunity ‘around’ – but look at the opportunity he and his wife have – Cindy McCain had the opportunity to pay $300,000 for a single outfit – which because Hurricane Ike was only able to wear for a few minutes. With all this privilege and wealth why then would McCain – not wish to help the very poor with an opportunity to buy a needed new coat – or help a young person to have the opportunity to go to college (considered special needs area of low priority) – or help a family to gat adequate health care – not by giving them a credit with one hand and taking or increasing taxes on health benefits – with the other – while deregulating or placing no controls on insurance companies – as he did with the banking industry.

Why is McCain only focused on what the rich have and want to use his Presidency to unsure the rich have even more – and for the poor – fine words – and smoke and mirrors – and more war – for Big Oil.

Conservatives have described Obama as being Robin Hood – but is a 3% tax increase – stealing from the rich – it’s no wonder people of the time liked Robin Hood and why he is still remembered today – he gave people relief when they needed it most.

PHOENIX—Sen. John McCain’s wife and father-in-law continued a lucrative business partnership with disgraced financier Charles H. Keating Jr. for 11 years after the GOP presidential nominee said he ended his close friendship with Keating in March 1987.

Cindy McCain’s business partnership with Keating in a real-estate development between 1986 and 1998 netted her a tidy profit, in addition to years of significant tax benefits. Her father, who died in 2000, earned similar returns.

McCain’s campaign and his Senate office did not respond to repeated phone calls and emails concerning Cindy McCain’s investment with Keating. McCain and his wife file separate tax returns and signed a pre-nuptial agreement before their marriage in May 1980. Cindy McCain owns one of the nation’s largest beer distributorships, Hensley & Company.

On Monday, McCain’s attorney, John Dowd, said in a conference call with reporters that McCain was not aware of his wife’s and father-in-law’s investment with Keating at the time it was made. “John was unconnected to that and unaware of it at the time and did not participate in it,” Dowd said. 

The Fountain Square Associates’ prospectus promised investors a 37 percent annual return on their investment. Cindy McCain and Hensley were among 54 investors in the partnership, most of whom were Keating employees and associates. Western Leasing purchased six shares in the partnership, Keating bought two and most of the remaining investors one share or less. Each share sold for $59,850.

 However, during the Keating Five Senate Ethics Committee hearings in 1990-91, McCain testified that he was aware of the family investment with Keating in early 1986.

Under questioning from Dowd, McCain said he learned of the investment from a Hensley & Co. executive.

“I was told …they were going to invest in a shopping center and that the investment –- the project — was being put together by a subsidiary of American Continental,” McCain told the ethics committee. “He [the executive] later told me that had happened. And I had no interest in it and just noted in passing that this investment took place.”

The GOP presidential candidate writes in one memoir that a turbulent 30-minute verbal altercation in his Senate office on March 24, 1987, ended his six-year friendship with Keating. The argument began after McCain heard from another senator that Keating had called him “a wimp.”

“We never met again,” McCain wrote in his 2002 memoir, “Worth the Fighting For.” “I never had another conversation with him.”

The rupture in their personal relationship, however, didn’t stop McCain from attending two meetings the next month with federal banking regulators at Keating’s insistence. McCain’s attendance at the April meetings nearly halted his political career. The Senate Ethics Committee, which investigated McCain’s actions on behalf of Keating, who was seeking regulatory relief for his savings and loan business, found that McCain used “poor judgment” in his dealings with Keating.

Nor did the end of McCain’s relationship with Keating affect his immediate family’s business relationship with the financier. Cindy McCain and her father, James Hensley, remained investors in the Keating real-estate partnership that included a north Phoenix shopping center. The center sold in July 1998 for $15.4 million.

Their business relationship with Keating began April 15, 1986, when the two bought an 8 percent stake in Fountain Square Associates Ltd. Partnership. Cindy McCain and her father made the $359,100 investment through Western Leasing Co., a partnership they jointly owned.

Fountain Square Associates was structured as a tax shelter for wealthy investors. Its only asset was the Phoenix shopping center, which was built by another Keating-controlled company. The shelter allowed investors to use real-estate depreciation as a tax deduction, a provision later banned by Congress.

The Fountain Square Associates’ prospectus promised investors a 37 percent annual return on their investment. Cindy McCain and Hensley were among 54 investors in the partnership, most of whom were Keating employees and associates. Western Leasing purchased six shares in the partnership, Keating bought two and most of the remaining investors one share or less. Each share sold for $59,850.

Fountain Square Associates’ general partner, which oversaw daily operations, was American Continental Resources Corp., a subsidiary of Keating’s Phoenix-based American Continental Corp. American Continental also owned Lincoln Savings & Loan, the thrift that Keating asked McCain and the four other senators to protect from regulators.

Despite the bankruptcy, American Continental Resources managed to keep control of the shopping center owned by Fountain Square Associates, which allowed Cindy McCain and Hensley to take advantage of its tax breaks. After the shopping center sold, McCain’s 1998 Senate financial disclosure statement reported under “unearned income” that his wife made between $100,001 and $1 million on the sale of the property. In previous years, McCain’s financial statements had valued the Fountain Square partnership at less than $1,000, generating income of less than $200.

In 1989, American Continental filed for bankruptcy, leaving more than 23,000 investors holding worthless bonds. Many bondholders were elderly and thought thought their investments were insured because Keating had sold them at federally insured Lincoln Savings branches.

Keating was convicted on 73 counts of bankruptcy and wire fraud in 1993, and sentenced to 12 years in federal prison. Four years later, his conviction was overturned on a technicality. In 1999, Keating pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud and was sentenced to time served.

Despite the bankruptcy, American Continental Resources managed to keep control of the shopping center owned by Fountain Square Associates, which allowed Cindy McCain and Hensley to take advantage of its tax breaks. After the shopping center sold, McCain’s 1998 Senate financial disclosure statement reported under “unearned income” that his wife made between $100,001 and $1 million on the sale of the property. In previous years, McCain’s financial statements had valued the Fountain Square partnership at less than $1,000, generating income of less than $200.

In 1998, Cindy McCain held millions of dollars worth of assets in stocks, municipal bonds and other securities, including a partnership share worth at least $1 million in the Arizona Diamondbacks. She also had investments in two other real estate projects, each worth at least $1 million, including a master planned community in Yuma, Ariz., and 160 acres of undeveloped property in Mesa, Ariz.

The same year, Cindy McCain also owed more than $1 million to a Phoenix bank, and had more than $200,000 in loans from the family’s beer distributorship.

Sen. McCain’s only income in 1998, besides his Senate salary, was his $49,688 Navy pension. He also listed three bank accounts totaling less than $31,000. He reported no liabilities.

The Fountain Square sale generated the second largest amount of income from Cindy McCain’s array of investments in 1998, according to Sen. McCain’s financial disclosure statement. Only dividends from Cindy McCain’s investment in Hensley & Company stock, which exceeded $1 million, generated more income.

Cindy McCain’s and Hensley’s 1986 investment in Fountain Square earned the father and daughter team a nice return. Its greater value to the family, however, may have had more to do with politics than money. Their investment was made the same year that McCain was running for the Senate seat held by the retiring Barry M. Goldwater. Keating and his employees contributed more than $50,000 to McCain’s campaign, bringing their total contributions to McCain since 1982 to at least $112,000.

Source: Washington Independent

Dear Cindy,
Please calm down, understandably you must feel that the whole world is against your husband – and for the most part they are – and one of the reasons for this is that your husband – John McCain has waged one of the “dirtiest campaigns” in U.S. history.

Cindy McCain said today that she expects her husband to clear the record at tonight’s debate and let America know where he truly stands.

McCain, who stopped to visit a half-dozen children at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt today, said the presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama has “waged the dirtiest campaign in American history,” and her husband Sen. John McCain will use tonight’s debate to correct the distortions.

Source: HP