Welcome Visitor:

Happy Thanksgiving From Kazakhstan

In what has become a sort of tradition for me here (well, last three years, anyway) I substituted the usual family get-together with the Amcham Thanksgiving Dinner at the Regent hotel, and then a bit of video football on the Xbox.

Kazakhstan: Former KGB Headquarters Reopened As A Museum

Of course, since this article is targeted at the international community outside Almaty, there's no mention of the street address of this new museum. I'll have to find out where it is so I can visit.

Kazakhstan: Former KGB Headquarters Reopened As A Museum - Radio Free Europe Oct 28 2003 10:51PM ET

Nepotism in Central Asia

Aliyev's son strongarms the election process in Azerbaijan. Will Kazakhstan be the next Central Asian monarchy?

Nepotism in Central Asia - New York Times Oct 27 2003 0:53AM ET

Soviet legacy pours oil on Caspian flames

Violent election incidents like this are not unknown, but not uncommon in the region. However, election irregularities are rampant.

Soviet legacy pours oil on Caspian flames - Scotland on Sunday Oct 25 2003 10:11PM ET

Jury Awards $70M Against Halliburton

Business as usual in Kazakhstan. Halliburton is forced to pay for swindling another oil company out of a field it had first dibs on.

Jury Awards $70M Against Halliburton -

Narc's Movie Nitpicks

I'm introducing a new section of the site, called Narc's Movie Nitpicks. The web is full of movie reviews, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to duplicate that content here. However, invariably there are two or three otherwise minor items I tend to obsess on in a film, whether I love or hate it. In some cases, those minor items are the reason I love or hate the film, and in others I love or hate it despite that.

For each of these films, I'll create a short entry that describes these little obsessions, Narc's Nitpicks.

Happy Birthday To Me

Well, last week was my 32nd birthday, and on Friday evening I held a party to celebrate, the result of which turned out to be some nice gifts (including a full restocking of the liquor cabinet) and a few photographs.

Former Mobil Executive Convicted Of Tax Evasion

In a case with possible implications for former adviser to President Nazarbayev James Giffen, J. Bryan Williams, 63, has been convicted of tax evasion and given the most lenient sentence possible by the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Williams admitted to having knowledge of payments made to his former employer in the amount of $2 million, as well as the opening of Swiss accounts. He has been ordered to pay a $25K fine and $3.5M in back taxes.

This excerpt could be particularly damaging to the reputation of Kazakhstan:

Prosecutors said one Kazakh official used bribe money to buy more than $180,000 in jewelry and to pay for a Swiss spa visit while the other official used at least $45,000 to send his daughter to an exclusive Swiss high school.

Exxon Mobil lawyers claim that the payments Williams received and admitted knowledge of were unrelated to the company's purchase of oil fields in Kazakhstan. However, Williams was manager of government crude acquisitions and sales for Exxon Mobil at the time the payments were made.

Investments in Kazakhstan exceeded $23 bln - president

Announced at the meeting of the Islamic Development Bank's manager's council this week.

Investments in Kazakhstan exceeded $23 bln - president - Interfax Information Agency Sep 2 2003 2:31AM ET