quinta-feira, 9 de dezembro de 2010

Nature editorial: Give up the ghosts

Give up the ghosts

(09 December 2010
doi: 10.1038/468732a; p
ublished online

The spectral fingerprints of a big drug company have once again been found all over academic publications. Documents released last week by a watchdog group based in Washington, DC, raise concerns about the role of writers paid by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in works attributed to psychiatric researchers at a number of US institutions. They add to the drumbeat of allegations in recent years indicating that such ghostwriting — in which articles contain substantial portions written by someone who is not listed as an author — is endemic in the biomedical literature.
The documents were made available as a result of litigation over GSK's antidepressant Paxil (paroxetine) and were pounced on by the Project on Government Oversight, which raised concerns about authorship of a research article, journal editorial and textbook.
The researchers did acknowledge the alleged ghostwriters of the textbook and the editorial in notes, but only for “editorial support.” For the journal article, which appeared in a supplement to Psychopharmacology Bulletin, GSK is thanked for an “unrestricted educational grant.” But the original front page of the manuscript — which the academic author is instructed to remove before submission to the journal — declares that it was prepared by writers from Scientific Therapeutics Information, a company based in Springfield, New Jersey, hired by GSK. The article and textbook discuss the uses of Paxil. The editorial, in Biological Psychiatry, gives an overview of depression as a major and growing public-health problem — which certainly does no harm to a company aggressively marketing an antidepressant.
The academic authors and the American Psychiatric Association, which published the textbook, have strongly denied that the pharmaceutical giant influenced its content. So, too, have the authors of the editorial and the journal article. GSK shareholders, then, may wonder what the company got for its money. The issue here is not that industry-financed experts cannot write useful and unbiased reports, but that their role must be declared in full. It is for readers, not authors, to conclude that there is no conflict of interest.
All the academic authors involved in this case have been recipients of US National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding; all but one still are. The NIH may argue, rightly, that the ghostwritten publications did not use its money. It will also note, correctly, that this in an issue that demands far broader action. Both are beside the point. Money is fungible, and rarely do the studies and intellectual output of senior researchers divide neatly into industry-funded and taxpayer-funded work. If its grantees are not playing by the rules, the NIH is tarred and public trust is damaged. So, how clear are the rules on ghostwriting? A study last year found that just 10 out of 50 top US academic medical centres had explicit, web-accessible policies that prohibit the practice. Another three banned ghostwriting in practice without naming it as such (J. R. Lacasse and J. LeoPLoS Med. 7, e1000230; 2010).
Discussing the issue of ghostwriting a year ago, Francis Collins, the NIH director, said publicly that he was “shocked” that “people would allow their names to be used on articles they did not write, that were written for them, particularly by companies that have something to gain by the way the data is presented.” Many will share that shock, but, unlike Collins, few are in a position to do something about it. The agency is “considering how best to address and ensure” greater transparency and accountability as its grantees develop and author articles, Sally Rockey, NIH chief of extramural research, told Nature in an e-mail last week.
A good start would be for the NIH to require all institutions that take its funds to articulate, publicize and vigorously enforce a clear ban on ghostwriting. Other funders should follow suit. Without such a clear signal, and the willingness to give a ban teeth, this troubling ghost will linger at the feast.

terça-feira, 16 de novembro de 2010

What In The World Is Going On Inside Bank Of America?

What In The World Is Going On Inside Bank Of America?

by Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post, November 8, 2010
WASHINGTON -- You could do a lot worse things with your time than read every word of what William K. Black and L. Randall Wray have written for the Huffington Post in the last two weeks -- even though it would take a while.
Black and Wray both teach economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Black, himself a regulator during the S&L scandal of the 1980s, has emerged as one of the most blistering critics of the Obama administration's limp response to the mortgage and foreclosure crisis. For an introduction, read my article on Black and his list of nine stories the press is underreporting - most of them involving fraud, fraud and more fraud.
In their first piece, back on Oct. 22, Black and Wray described how the ongoing foreclosure fraud epidemic is the work of precisely the same unrepentant bank officers whose fraudulent mortgage schemes crashed the financial system in the first place. They called on the FDIC to put some of the nation's biggest banks into receivership, in order to clean house. "Foreclose on the foreclosure fraudsters," they wrote -- and start with the worst: Bank of America.
I wrote a news story about their piece, I thought it was so important.
In part two, they called for a foreclosure moratorium, and explained why the guilt gets greater the higher you go in the mortgage fraud food chain - not the other way around.
Black, writing alone, also corrected President Obama's assertion during his interview with Jon Stewart, that chief economic adviser Larry Summers had done a "heckuva job." Summers did not resolve the financial crisis, Black wrote, he just papered over the problem. In another solo effort, Black warned that papering over the problem will actually increase the total cost of the crisis in the long run, and he concluded that "the administration's banking policies have attained the terrible trifecta: terrible economics, terrible ethics, and terrible politics."
After Bank of America executive Rebecca Mairone posted a largely nonresponsive rejoinder to Black and Wray's call for her bank's dissolution, the professors took to their keyboards again and wrote about how "[t]he bank's response primarily criticizes its borrowers as deadbeats, yet the data it provides support points we have made in our prior posts."

In her defense of BofA, Mairone noted that most of the bank's problem loans were made by Countrywide Financial, which Bank of America acquired in January 2008 -- well after the toxicity of its mortgage holdings had made the company and its practices notorious. Mairone casts the action as a heroic one, staving off a failure that "would have been devastating to the economy, the markets, and millions of homeowners." But Black and Wray argue that putting Countrywide into receivership would have been a much better option: "A receiver would have fired Countrywide's fraudulent senior leaders. Bank of America, by contrast, put them in leadership roles in major operations, including foreclosures, where they could commit continuing frauds." And Bank of America bragged at the time of having had more than 60 people doing "due diligence" on Countrywide before the acquisition. So they knew what they were getting into; or at least they should have known.
In the second part of their response to Mairone, Black and Wray called on Bank of America to come clean. And in that post, they raise some fascinating questions that all of us should be asking. Among them:
  • How did you determine the losses in Countrywide's assets?
  • How large were the market value losses at that time?
  • How large are the market value losses now?
  • Which members of the due diligence team were assigned to determine the incidence of fraud in various loan categories? What did they find?
  • How large a sample of subprime and liar's loans did BofA's due diligence team review?
  • What likely mortgage fraud incidence did BofA's due diligence team discover?
  • What did they report to BofA with regard to fraud incidence?
  • What changes in lending and personnel did BofA implement in response to these findings?
  • What actions did BofA take in response to finding the incidence of mortgage and accounting/securities fraud?
Ambac Assurance sued Bank of America in September, saying Countrywide had fraudulently induced Ambac to insure bonds backed by loans that they knew had been improperly made. This came after Ambac's review of the underlying loans. Black and Wray ask:
  • Ambac reviewed Bank of America's assets and reported a 97 percent rate of false reps and warranties. Has Bank of America done such a review?
  • If so, who conducted the review, and what rate of false reps and warranties did they find?
  • Does Bank of America agree that liar's loans have extremely high fraud rates?
  • Does Bank of America agree that an honest secured lender would never seek to inflate an appraisal?
  • Does Bank of America agree that a competent, honest secured lender would prevent others from frequently inflating appraised values?
  • Does Bank of America agree that appropriate home mortgage underwriting can minimize adverse selection and produce a positive expected value to home lending?
  • How many fraudulent mortgage loans made by Countrywide has Bank of America identified?
  • What is Bank of America's procedure when it finds suspicious evidence of a fraudulent loan?
  • How many fraudulent mortgage loans, by year, since 2000, have Countrywide and Bank of America identified.
  • Has Bank of America reviewed Countrywide's nonprime loans for fraud incidence, fraud losses, and the incidence of lender fraud and fraud by the lender's agents? Please provide the results.
  • What has Bank of America done to remedy the injuries that borrowers suffered through loan or foreclosure fraud by them or Countrywide?
  • Does Bank of America agree that Countrywide's nonprime lending was often conducted in a manner that was unsafe and unsound?
  • Does Bank of America agree that Countrywide's record keeping was not adequate and required substantial improvement?
  • At current market value of its assets, just how insolvent is Bank of America?
  • How much can the bank sell its toxic assets for in today's market?
  • What is the value of mortgages and mortgage backed securities held by Bank of America for which it has no clear title?
  • How many mortgage-backed securities has the bank sold to investors for which it does not hold the notes that are required?
  • What is the bank's current estimate of losses it will suffer in court due to lawsuits by investors?
  • The top four banks are holding $434 billion in second liens (good only if the first lien -- the mortgage -- is paid), and carrying these on their books at 90% of face value. What are Bank of America's reasonably expected losses on second liens against properties that are delinquent, in foreclosure, or likely to go into foreclosure?
As for the ongoing foreclosure crisis, in which it has become apparent that banks are forcing people out of their homes despite the absence of original, "wet ink" documentation, Mairone blamed the foreclosures on deadbeat borrowers, many of them unemployed, a third of whom no longer occupied their homes. Black and Wray asked:

  • Does Bank of America hold the "wet ink" notes on any of these homes, as required by 45 states?

  • How many of the mortgages were fraudulent from the very beginning: low docs, no docs, liar loans, NINJA's (all specialties of Countrywide)?

  • How many homes are now vacant because the homeowners were illegally removed from them?

  • How many of these homeowners were unemployed or otherwise financially distressed when the loans were originally made?

Jim Swilley, courageous Georgia megachurch (Church of The Now) pastor, comes out to congregation after gay teen suicides

Jim Swilley, Georgia Megachurch Pastor, Comes Out To Congregation After Gay Teen Suicides

Huffington Post, November 14, 2010

Jim Swilley, the pastor of a Georgia megachurch (Church of The Now), recently revealed to his congregation that he is gay. The 52-year-old father of four said that his wife, to whom he was married for more than 20 years, encouraged him to come out years ago, but at the time, he told her: "These words will never come out of my mouth."
However, the recent spate of teen suicides, particularly that of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, prompted him to change his mind. "For some reason his situation was kind of the tipping point with me," Swilley told CNN's Don Lemon this weekend.
"There comes a point in your life where you say 'How much time do we have left in our lives? Are we going to be authentic or not?'"

domingo, 14 de novembro de 2010

Frank Rich: "Who Will Stand Up to the Superrich?"

Who Will Stand Up to the Superrich?

Barry Blitt

by Frank Rich, The New York Times, November 13, 2010
In the aftermath of the Great Democratic Shellacking of 2010, one election night subplot quickly receded into the footnotes: the drubbing received by very wealthy Americans, most of them Republican, who tried to buy Senate seats and governor’s mansions. Americans don’t hate rich people. They admire and often idolize success. But Californians took a hearty dislike to Meg Whitman, whosacrificed $143 million of her eBay fortune — not to mention her undocumented former housekeeper — to a gubernatorial race she lost by double digits. Connecticut voters K.O.’d the World Wrestling groin-kicker, Linda McMahon, and West Virginians did likewise to the limestone-and-steel magnate John Raese, the senatorial hopeful who told an interviewer without apparent irony, “I made my money the old-fashioned way — I inherited it.”
To my mind, these losers deserve a salute nonetheless. They all had run businesses that actually created jobs (Raese included). They all wanted to enter public service to give back to the country that allowed them to prosper. And by losing so decisively, they gave us a ray of hope in dark times. Their defeats reminded us that despite much recent evidence to the contrary the inmates don’t always end up running the asylum of American politics.
The wealthy Americans we should worry about instead are the ones who implicitly won the election — those who take far more from America than they give back. They were not on the ballot, and most of them are not household names. Unlike Whitman and the other defeated self-financing candidates, they are all but certain to cash in on the Nov. 2 results. There’s no one in Washington in either party with the fortitude to try to stop them from grabbing anything that’s not nailed down.
The Americans I’m talking about are not just those shadowy anonymous corporate campaign contributors who flooded this campaign. No less triumphant were those individuals at the apex of the economic pyramid — the superrich who have gotten spectacularly richer over the last four decades while their fellow citizens either treaded water or lost ground. The top 1 percent of American earners took in 23.5 percent of the nation’s pretax income in 2007 — up from less than 9 percent in 1976. During the boom years of 2002 to 2007, that top 1 percent’s pretax income increased an extraordinary 10 percent every year. But the boom proved an exclusive affair: in that same period, the median income for non-elderly American households went down and the poverty rate rose.
It’s the very top earners, not your garden variety, entrepreneurial multimillionaires, who will be by far the biggest beneficiaries if there’s an extension of the expiring Bush-era tax cuts for income over $200,000 a year (for individuals) and $250,000 (for couples). The resurgent G.O.P. has vowed to fight to the end to award this bonanza, but that may hardly be necessary given the timid opposition of President Obama and the lame-duck Democratic Congress.
On last Sunday’s “60 Minutes,” Obama was already wobbling toward another “compromise” in which he does most of the compromising. It’s a measure of how far he’s off his game now that a leader who once had the audacity to speak at length on the red-hot subject of race doesn’t even make the most forceful case for his own long-held position on an issue where most Americans still agree with him. (Only 40 percent of those in the Nov. 2 exit poll approved of an extension of all Bush tax cuts.) The president’s argument against extending the cuts for the wealthiest has now been reduced to the dry accounting of what the cost would add to the federal deficit. As he put it to CBS’s Steve Kroft, “the question is — can we afford to borrow $700 billion?”
That’s a good question, all right, but it’s not the question. The bigger issue is whether the country can afford the systemic damage being done by the ever-growing income inequality between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else, whether poor, middle class or even rich. That burden is inflicted not just on the debt but on the very idea of America — our Horatio Alger faith in social mobility over plutocracy, our belief that our brand of can-do capitalism brings about innovation and growth, and our fundamental sense of fairness. Incredibly, the top 1 percent of Americans now have tax rates a third lower than the same top percentile had in 1970.
“How can hedge-fund managers who are pulling down billions sometimes pay a lower tax rate than do their secretaries?” ask the political scientists Jacob S. Hacker (of Yale) and Paul Pierson (University of California, Berkeley) in their deservedly lauded new book, “Winner-Take-All Politics.” If you want to cry real tears about the American dream — as opposed to the self-canonizing tears of John Boehner — read this book and weep. The authors’ answer to that question and others amounts to a devastating indictment of both parties.
Their ample empirical evidence, some of which I’m citing here, proves that America’s ever-widening income inequality was not an inevitable by-product of the modern megacorporation, or of globalization, or of the advent of the new tech-driven economy, or of a growing education gap. (Yes, the very rich often have fancy degrees, but so do those in many income levels below them.) Inequality is instead the result of specific policies, including tax policies, championed by Washington Democrats and Republicans alike as they conducted a bidding war for high-rolling donors in election after election.

The book deflates much of the conventional wisdom. Hacker and Pierson date the dawn of the collusion between the political system and the superrich not to the Reagan revolution, but to the preceding Carter presidency and its Democratic Congress. They also write that contrary to the popular perception, America’s superhigh earners are not mostly “superstars and celebrities in the arts, entertainment and sports” or the stars of law, medicine and real estate. They are instead corporate executives and managers — increasingly (and less surprisingly) financial company executives and managers, including those who escaped with outrageous fortunes as their companies imploded during the housing bubble.
The G.O.P.’s arguments for extending the Bush tax cuts to this crowd, usually wrapped in laughably hypocritical whining about “class warfare,” are easily batted down. The most constant refrain is that small-business owners who file in this bracket would be hit so hard they could no longer hire new employees. But the Tax Policy Center found in 2008, when checking out similar campaign claims by “Joe the Plumber,” that only 2 percentof all Americans reporting small-business income, regardless of tax bracket, would see tax increases if Obama fulfilled his pledge to let the Bush tax cuts lapse for the top earners. The economist Dean Baker calculated that the yearly tax increase at the lower end of that bracket, for those with earnings between $200,000 and $500,000, would amount to $700 — which “isn’t enough to hire anyone.”
Those in the higher reaches aren’t investing in creating new jobs even now, when the full Bush tax cuts remain in effect, so why would extending them change that equation? American companies seem intent on sitting on trillions in cash until the economy reboots. Meanwhile, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office ranks the extension of any Bush tax cuts, let alone those to the wealthiest Americans, as the least effective of 11 possible policy options for increasing employment.
Nor are the superrich helping to further the traditional American business culture that inspires and encourages those with big ideas and drive to believe they can climb to the top. Robert Frank, the writer who chronicled the superrich in the book “Richistan,” recently analyzed the new Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans for The Wall Street Journal and found a “hardening of the plutocracy” and scant mobility. Only 16 of the 400 were newcomers — as opposed to an average of 40 to 50 in recent years — and they tended to be in industries like coal, natural gas, chemicals and casinos rather than forward-looking businesses involving the Green Economy, tech or biotechnology. This is “not exactly the formula for America’s vaunted entrepreneurial wealth machine,” Frank wrote.
As “Winner-Take-All Politics” documents, America has been busy “building a bridge to the 19th century” — that is, to a new Gilded Age. To dislodge the country from this stagnant rut will require all kinds of effort from Americans in and out of politics. That includes some patriotic selflessness from those at the very top who still might emulate Warren Buffett and the few others in the Forbes 400 who dare say publicly that it’s not in America’s best interests to stack the tax and regulatory decks in their favor.
Many of the countless tasks that need to be addressed to start rebuilding an equitable America are formidable, but surely few, if any, are easier than eliminating a tax break that was destined to expire anyway and that most Americans want to see expire. Two years ago, Obama campaigned on this issue far more strenuously than he did on, say, reforming health care. Now he and what remains of his Congressional caucus are poised to retreat from even this clear-cut battle. You know things are grim when you start wishing that the president might summon his inner Linda McMahon.

segunda-feira, 20 de setembro de 2010

Vote na Dilma por Arnaldo Jabor


por Arnaldo Jabor


As promoções da época!

Vote na Dilma e ganhe, inteiramente gratis, um José Sarney de presente agregado ao Michel Temmer.

Mas não é só isso, votando na Dilma você também leva, inteiramente grátis (GRÁTIS???) um Fernando Collor de presente.

Não pense que a promoção termina aqui.

Votando na Dilma você também ganha, inteiramente grátis, um Renan Calheiros e um Jader Barbalho.

Mas atenção: se você votar na Dilma, também ganhará uma Roseana Sarney no Maranhão, uma Ideli Salvati em Santa Catarina e uma Martha Suplício em S. Paulo.

Ligue já para a Dirceu-Shop, e ganhe este maravilhoso pacote de presente: Dilma, Collor, Sarney pai, Sarney filho, Roseana Sarney, Renan Calheiros, Jáder Barbalho, José Dirceu, Delúbio Soares, José Genoíno, e muito, muito mais, com um único voto.

E tem mais, você também leva inteiramente grátis, bonequinhos do Chavez, do Evo Morales, do Fidel Castro ao lado do Raul Castro, do Ahmadinejad, do Hammas e uma foto autografada das FARC´s da Colombia.

Isso sem falar no poster inteiramente grátis dos líderes dos bandidos "Sem Terra", Pedro Stedile e José Rainha, além do Minc com uniforme de guerrilheiro e sequestrador.

Ganhe, ainda, sem concurso, uma leva de deputados especialistas em mensalinhos e mensalões. E mais: ganhe curso intensivo de como esconder dinheiro na cueca, na meia, na bolsa ..., ministrado por Marcos Valério e José Adalberto Vieira da Silva e José Nobre Guimarães.

Tudo isto e muito mais!

TSE retira comentário do Arnaldo Jabor do Site da CBN

Leia o comentário de Dora Kramer, Estadão de Domingo:

'A decisão do TSE que determinou a retirada do comentário de Arnaldo Jabor do site da CBN, a pedido do presidente 'Lula' até pode ter amparo na legislação eleitoral, mas fere o preceito constitucional da liberdade de imprensa.
Não deixe de repassar é o mínimo que podemos fazer diante de tanta corrupção! 

quarta-feira, 10 de fevereiro de 2010

U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-Tx), who singlehandedly changed the course of Afghan history, dead at 76

Charlie Wilson, lawmaker of movie fame, dies at 76

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Representative Charlie Wilson, the swashbuckling Texan chronicled in film for helping secure billions of dollars to fund covert U.S. operations against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, died on Wednesday of cardiac arrest. He was 76.

Wilson, a Democrat, served 12 consecutive terms in the House of Representatives, and was known as the "Liberal from Lufkin," the town in mostly conservative east Texas where he lived.

He had complained of chest pains on Wednesday and was pronounced dead when he arrived at Memorial Health System of East Texas in Lufkin, the hospital said in a statement.

In the 2007 movie "Charlie Wilson's War," actor Tom Hanks portrayed Wilson as a boozy womanizer who found his life's cause in helping mujahideen in Afghanistan fight and eventually repel occupying Soviet forces.

As a long-time member of the House Appropriations Committee, Wilson quietly helped steer billions of dollars to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, which distributed the funds to buy Afghan fighters high-tech weapons like Stinger missiles used to shoot down Soviet helicopter gunships.

"I just saw the opportunity to grab the sons o'bitches by the throat," the fiercely anti-communist Wilson told The Dallas Morning News in a 2007 interview.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was at the CIA during the covert campaign, said Wilson's life showed how "one brave and determined person can alter the course of history."

"His efforts and exploits helped repel an invader, liberate a people, and bring the Cold War to a close," Gates said.

After the Soviet withdrawal, Wilson expressed reservations about U.S. lawmakers' decisions to cut funds to Afghanistan, blamed for creating a void that led to the rising influence of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, the Islamic militant group accused of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"Charlie kept fighting for the Afghan people and warned against abandoning that traumatized country to its fate -- a warning we should have heeded then, and should remember today," Gates said.

On a less flattering side, the movie opens with Wilson in a hot tub in a Las Vegas hotel, flanked by two strippers who are high on cocaine. The U.S. Justice Department in 1980 investigated Wilson for possible drug use, but the probe came up empty.

"The feds spent a million bucks trying to figure out whether, when those fingernails passed under my nose, did I inhale or exhale, and I ain't telling," Wilson told author George Crile, who included the material in his book, Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History.

Wilson was known for hiring attractive young women to staff his congressional office in Washington, where they were known as "Charlie's Angels" after the then-popular TV show.

While known as a defense hawk, Wilson had a liberal voting record on social issues, despite his district's conservative leanings.

Wilson was born in Trinity, Texas, in 1933, attended the U.S. Naval Academy, and served in the U.S. Navy.

He was elected to the Texas legislature and went on to serve in the U.S. House from 1973 to 1997. He is survived by his wife Barbara and sister Sharon Allison.

(Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington, editing by Vicki Allen)

Link:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100211/people_nm/us_wilson

From Dan Rather in Haiti:

"It is the rare congressman who by dint of personality, persistence and country smarts did something that literally altered history on the global stage. What Charlie Wilson did in Afghanistan changed the course of world events.

Charlie Wilson was all Texan and all American.  He dreamed big, lived large.  He was a member of the pantheon of Texas heroes from Sam Houston to Jim Bowie."

Author of Charlie Wilson's War, George Crile once said, "Invariably, when reporters wrote features about Joanne Herring they invoked Scarlett O'Hara...But to appreciate her full impact, it helps to add Zsa Zsa Gabor, Dolly Parton and even a bit of Arianna Huffington."

When I sent word to Ms. Herring I wanted to interview her, she sent me this simple message:
Ok honey call me now I am to do dr debakeys eulogy and am terrified
A woman of grace and candor, Joanne Herring is a reporter's dream.

Texan on the Potomac: Joanne King Herring

Age: 80

Past life: She did extensive lobbying work with her husband (she's had three) in Washington and became the "it" girl for party planning. She hosted KHOU "News at Noon with Joanne King" and hosted the "Joanne King Show." The first Houston female to receive national recognition as a successful TV personality, her show ranked sixth in national daytime programming.

Politically, Herring was known for her staunch opposition to communism and her close ties to the Middle East and Afghanistan.

After her first husband died, she hooked up with Texas congressman Charlie Wilson (literally) and together they waged a covert war on Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, sending weapons and other aid to Afghan rebels. Wilson proposed and Herring declined. Herring told me "we were more in love with the war than with each other...you know what I mean, honey." Yes, I know. But did Charlie?

According to The Daily News last year, Ms. Herring and Congressman Wilson--and a band of high-powered attorneys--quashed any suggestion in the movie that their little war was somehow responsible for 9/11. Ms. Herring's response? "The important thing for people to realize: Who did we go to fight? Russia. Did we beat them? Yes. You cannot predict future wars; if you could, we wouldn't have them."

Ms. Herring is a woman who gets what she wants. Not only did she help convince Mr. Wilson to give weapons to Afghans to fight the Soviets, she got through to Hollywood and they edited every four-letter word that came out of Julia Roberts' mouth.
Joanne with Julia.jpg
Her take on Charlie Wilson's War: Herring hired a top Texas lawyer, Dick DeGuerin of Houston, to prevail upon the film's director, Mike Nichols, to make Julia Roberts more wholesome. "He agreed to cut out all the swearing from me as long as I went along with the rest of it...They wanted hanky-panky and so that's what they got. Anyone who knows me will realize that I don't behave like that."

The film was "pretty accurate but I never got up in the middle of a party and jumped in a bathtub with someone," she clarifies. What's more, "Republicans were more involved than what they were given credit for...And I did more than Julia was given credit for."
JH Icon Magazine 2006.jpg
Her parties: The parties she threw in Washington were so big she was asked to extend her skills to Houston, entertaining heads of state when they visited the U.S. She explained to me, saying "Houston was the middle city," but we know that she was asked to do them not because of Houston's geographic location, but because Herring was the hostess with the mostest. She once built the 29-year-old King of Sweden a disco.

She thought, "I have four boys. We will use it over and over." So Herring kicked one of her sons out of his bedroom and built a disco room in her Houston mansion. (The house was later bought by Ken Lay of ENRON, who got rid of the disco. Party pooper.) And Ms. Herring used the disco room to throw parties for the Shah of Iran, the King of Morocco and her sons' fraternity parties. What a cool mom.
For King Hussein of Jordan, she put together a special gust list. "He brought all men, so I invited the most beautiful women I knew." She insists she "did it in a fun way" and they all came because of King Hussein's entourage. Of course. And when talk arose that Herring was playing matchmaker at the party, she called it a "scream" and laughed at the thought of these "princesses" (name-drop: a Vanderbilt) going home with King Hussein or his men.
JH w Pres HW Bush.jpg
Why she left public life: She never really has...

Best known for: A film about her exploits, Charlie Wilson's War, her character portrayed by Julia Roberts. Raising big money, being an expert of Middle Eastern affairs and for her reputation as a fabulous Houston socialite and fashionista--with substance.

Where she is now: Still fighting for Afghanistan and raising money all around the country. "I am working with Ms. Caroline Firestone and Ms. Laura Bush to start a college for Afghan women." Last month she spoke at a $1,000-a-head dinner at Bobo in New York City hosted by the Rebuilding Afghanistan Foundation. Herring also funds a group of 100 single mothers in five counties in Texas. When we spoke she was penning the late Dr. Michael DeBakey's eulogy. DeBakey was a dear friend of Herring's. (She invited him to many of her parties throughout the years.) Herring said she was "astonished to find out he had chosen me to do his eulogy--out of all these distinguished people." When I suggested it was probably her humor that reminded DeBakey of Herring, she replied, "You have to laugh. Because you might cry...a lot."
JH with Raegans.jpg
Fun facts and quotes: Oscar de la Renta is one of her favorite designers and she likes to shop at Neiman Marcus. She drives a red Jaguar convertible and her two black poodles wear bandanas. "I was driving in traffic and someone gave me the finger. I smiled and blew him a kiss." "People think it's Joanne, the social queen. That's not me at all. I get bored to death when people talk about nothing."

Click here for a Chron article about Herring at Charlie Wilson's L.A. premiere.

Posted by Mackenzie Warren at July 16, 2008

Link:  http://blogs.chron.com/txpotomac/2008/07/where_are_they_now_1.html