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France issues arrest warrant for Equatorial Guinea heir

The party may be coming to an end for Teodorin Nguema Obiang, Equatorial Guinea's heir apparent and the world's richest minister of agriculture and forestry. The U.S. Justice Department filed a complaint against Teodorin, son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, in June, seeks tens of millions of dollars in assets in the Untied States the feds say were purchased with dirty money laundered in the United States. Now, French prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for Teodorin, after he refused to be interviewed by magistrates on graft charges: 

Since 2010 French judges have been probing allegations of corruption under President Obiang, Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso, and Omar Bongo, the late president of Gabon.

Investigating magistrates Roger Le Loire and Rene Grouman issued the warrant on Thursday, four months after beginning proceedings and after Obiang refused a second summons for questioning.

The charges were brought by Transparency International (TI), an anti-corruption campaign group which alleges the leaders and their relatives spent state funds from their countries on lavish purchases in France.

TI alleges Obiang owned more than four million euros worth of vehicles in France, while altogether the three leaders had accumulated French assets worth 160 million euros ($210 million). [...]  In September last year, 11 of the family's luxury cars were seized in Paris as part of the probe. Police in February searched an Obiang residence in an upmarket Paris district, removing vanloads of possessions.

 

Obiang is claiming immunity sovereign immunity as vice president of Equatorial Guinea. He also enjoys diplomatic immunity as the recently appointed deputy head of mission to Paris-headquartered UNESCO. As sovereign immunity is generally recognized except in cases of war crimes or crimes against humanity, it seems pretty unlikely that prosecutors could make charges stick. Short of going all Danny Glover,  the best foreign governments can probably do is take away Teodorin's toys and revoke his priveleges.

If, as expected, internationally-indicted Teodorin takes over from his father as president of the budding petrostate and U.S. ally, things should really get interesting. 

ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP/GettyImages

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5 reasons Condi Rice will not be Mitt Romney's VP pick

It pains me that I even need to explain this to some smart people who should know better -- I'm looking at you, Tyler Cowen -- but here are 5 reasons why Mitt Romney is not going to pick Condoleezza Rice as his running mate, no matter what Matt Drudge would have us believe. As Red State's Eric Erickson colorfully put it, "I don’t know who is hitting the crack rock tonight in the rumor mill, but bull shiitake mushrooms."

1.  She's pro-choice. Among the many things conservatives dislike about Mitt Romney is the fact that he once espoused pro-choice views. He needs them to donate money and knock on doors and turn out on election day, so he's unlikely to do something so clearly guaranteed to alienate ye olde base. And this is to say nothing of the fact that the right has plenty of other reasons not to like her, from her torture fights with the Dick Cheney wing of the Bush administration to the fact that she has never married.

2. She's not interested. How many times has Condi Rice explained that she's just not that into politics? These are not the usual protestations of not being enamored of the veep job in particular; they are blanket denunciations of the very concept of being a politician. Condi doesn't want to kiss babies; she doesn't want to shake hands; she doesn't want to dial for dollars; she doesn't want to eat rubber chicken every night; she doesn't want to be Mitt's attack dog. When she says she'd rather be commissioner of the NFL, she means it.

3.  She has no experience. Condi served as a not-so-great national security advisor and a pretty good secretary of state. She's generally a well-liked and well-respected public figure, and she's been smart about distancing herself from George W. Bush. But she has no record -- none -- of being interested in the big domestic policy issues like health care, jobs, entitlement reform, education, and so on. To foreign-policy wonks, these are deadly dull subject, and commenting on them is fraught with real pitfalls. Remember when Wesley Clark, a retired general, tried to talk about domestic policy? Yeah. And what's he doing now? Running a game show on NBC.

Romney, although he's a former governor, still comes across as a n00b when he talks policy. He'll want someone well versed in the ins and outs of Medicare, Social Security, and tax reform. That's not Condi.

4. She's being floated as a distraction. You don't have to be a political genius to recognize misdirection when you see it. Romney was having a tough news cycle yesterday, fueled by the Boston Globe's reporting that the candidate had spent longer as the official head of Bain than his campaign claims -- a tar-baby of a story that gets more difficult to explain the more you try.

Hey look, media, over there! Veep rumors! Condi's the perfect kind of story to get the chattering classes going -- an out-of-the-box pick that shows how tolerant and moderate Romney is. An elegant distraction, however transparent. And it seems to have worked.

5. Her name was leaked. The very fact that her name was given to Drudge -- assuming that actually happened -- suggests that she's expendable and therefore not a serious contender. Wake me up when we get a lot closer to the convention.