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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Think You Know John McCain?

His campaign advisers had ties to Myanmar baddies

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The world is watching in horror as the repressive military regime in Myanmar (also known as Burma) is hampering outside efforts to help its citizens recover from Cyclone Nargis. The regime is so secretive that even the United Nations is finding it difficult learn the full extent of this humanitarian crisis, although it estimates that more than 100,000 people have died as a result of the natural (and man-made) disaster, and roughly 1.5 million to 2.5 million are in dire need of aid, clean water, shelter and medcare.

Yet the regime is restricting aid efforts and is reportedly siphoning off supplies for its own use. The Burmese people are left to fend for themselves while disease, starvation and despair set in.

Incredibly, two men with ties to this inhumane junta also had ties to likely Republican presidential nominee John McCain. McCain personally selected Doug Goodyear to organize this summer’s Republican convention. But Goodyear resigned last week, after Newsweek reported that the Arizona consultant’s company, DCI Group, earned $348,000 in 2002 to create a positive image of Myanmar’s military junta in the United States.

Goodyear’s associate at the DCI Group, Doug Davenport, also resigned from McCain’s campaign after news of the DCI-Myanmar-McCain connection surfaced. Davenport had served as McCain’s regional campaign manager for the mid-Atlantic states.

But the Myanmar income is just a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of DCI Group’s earnings: It brought in $3 million in 2007 to lobby on behalf of corporations such as ExxonMobil and General Motors, Newsweek reported. Although McCain has accepted his advisers’ resignations, he seems to be relatively untroubled by Myanmar’s handling of its humanitarian disaster.

McCain told Katie Couric that the United States should ask “other countries in the region” to put pressure on the Myanmar junta to allow aid into the country. When Couric asked him if he thought “enough was being done” about the crisis, McCain responded, “I don’t know.”

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