In their own words

Perfectly normal

“What is wrong with this? I borrowed money from the bank and made an investment.” — Mahmoud Karzai, brother of the Afghan president, who borrowed money from the shaky Kabul Bank, used it to become a shareholder of the bank, then borrowed from the bank for a profitable property transaction in Dubai.

Ho-hum, dog bites man

“It will be messy, fiercely contested and manipulated at all levels. Fraud is likely to again be blatant, unsophisticated and widespread.” — Martine van Bijlert, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts’ Network, on the Afghan parliamentary election.

Details, details

“Afghan officials hailed [parliamentary elections] as a success despite attacks, low turnout and extensive cheating.” — Reuters, September 20.


“‘All these stories about irregularities and corruption are damaging for public support for our presence in Afghanistan.” — Anders Rasmussen, NATO secretary general.

Lost decade

“This is the first time in memory that an entire decade has produced essentially no economic growth for the typical American household.” — Harvard University economist Lawrence Katz, commenting on new figures showing that US median family incomes were 5% lower in 2009 than in 1999.

Better than ever

“We wanted to ensure that the delivery of services remained as good as or better than what was the case under state government operation.” — Carmel Tebbutt, NSW health minister, on the government’s privatisation of aged-care nursing homes. The contract for two homes has been given to the Moran Health Care Group, which has been sanctioned by the federal government at least four times for failing to meet standards. It is owned by Doug Moran, who has donated $67,136 to the state ALP since 2002.

Killing is profitable

“Where before the principal motivation for arms sales by foreign suppliers might have been to support a foreign policy objective, today that motivation may be based as much on economic considerations.” — A US Congressional Research Service study of the international arms trade, which found the US had 39% of the world market in 2009.

Doing all right

“He’s doing well by doing good.” — US Republican consultant Mark Abernathy on his friend Sal Russo, who has raised US$5.2 million for the ultra-right Tea Party movement, at least US$3 million of which has been paid to consulting firms owned by Russo or his wife.