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Neil Bush, Moon, Paraguay & US Dept of Education

Neil Bush, the Rev. Moon, Paraguay and the U.S. Dept. of Education

by Bill Berkowitz

President's brother flaks for Moon organization in Latin America while his curriculum on wheels is being investigated by the Education Department's inspector general

Over the past several years, Neil Bush, the younger brother of President George W. Bush and the son of former President George H.W. Bush, has made several international trips of behalf of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's assorted enterprises. In late February, Bush called on Paraguay's president while in the country as a guest of a business federation founded by the Rev. Moon.

A source in the Paraguayan president's office, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that Neil had met with President Nicanor Duarte "along with a delegation from the Universal Peace Federation," a group associated with Moon. According to its website, the UPF "is a global alliance of individuals and organizations dedicated to building a world of peace, a world in which everyone can live in freedom, harmony, cooperation, and co-prosperity for all."

Meanwhile, back home, late last year, a number of news reports confirmed that the U.S. Department of Education's Inspector General was looking into "allegations that federal money is being spent inappropriately on technology sold to schools" by Ignite!Learning, a company founded by Neil Bush.

Bush urges conference attendees to be 'transformers of their societies'

In a statement issued on February 27, headlined "Call for Increased Collaboration in Paraguay," Dr. Thomas G. Walsh, the Secretary General of UPF, said that Bush called on people to become "transformers of their societies" during a speech at an International Leadership Conference entitled "Toward a New Paradigm of Leadership and Government in Times of World Crisis," held in late February at the Excelsior Hotel in Asuncion, Paraguay.

According to Walsh, Bush "spoke of a `culture of service' and a vision of uniting individuals and organizations to promote peace and the common good, calling service `an essential component of any complete life.'"

The conference, following on the heels of one in January in Uruguay, "featured presentations from UPF's peacebuilding curriculum," Dr. Walsh's statement read. Topics included God's Ideal for Peace, presented by Thomas Field, director of UPI for Latin America; Spirituality and Leadership by Jorge Guidenzoph, President of the Uruguayan National Conference on Leadership; the Cause and Origin of Conflicts, by Ricardo de Sena, Director of UPF's Office of UN Relations; the Principles of Reconciliation, by Dr. Antonio Betancourt, director of UPF's Office of Government Relations; and Character Education, by Lic. Jesus Gonzalez, President of the International Educational Foundation.

A photo worth ...

A photo from Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images ( showed Neil Bush leaving the presidential palace after a meeting with President Duarte on February 28, 2008.

Getty Images captioned the photo: "5 days ago: Neil Bush (C), younger brother of US President George W. Bush, leaves the presidential palace after a meeting with Paraguayan President Nicaron Duarte in Asuncion, on February 28, 2008. Bush is in Paraguay with a delegation of the Federation for Universal Peace, headed by South Korean reverend Sun Myung Moon."

One veteran Moon watcher filled in the blanks for Talk2Action:

From left to right, the first person is Dr. Thomas G. Walsh, the Secretary General of UPF;

Second from the left is Antonio Betancourt, a "long time Moon follower" who currently is the Director of Government Relations of UPF International and "Character Education," and who was a major player in "what was formerly called the Summit Council for World Peace or Summit Council, ...a group active in Moon's effort to unite North and South Korea, to save the `Fatherland' and to form Moon's sovereign nation";

Third from the left is Chang Shik Yang, the Continental Director of the Unification Church now called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU). Yang "played a lead role in the development of Moon's black minister snagging unit, the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC), and also is Moon's top man in the Middle East."

Fourth is Neil Bush;

On the far right is Larry Moffitt who is the Vice President of editorial operations for United Press International (UPI), a news service owned and operated by Rev. Moon.

The 'greatest weirdest Bush Conspiracy'

Neil Bush's trip to Paraguay is all the more interesting when considered against the backdrop of what columnist Ken Layne called the "greatest weirdest Bush Conspiracy." In a recent piece headlined "The Bushes and the Moons," Layne wrote:

The story goes like this: George W. Bush and/or George H.W. Bush bought hundreds of thousands of acres in Paraguay, adjoining a similar spread owned by the Unification Church's Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Both massive parcels are hidden within a remote South American wilderness atop the world's biggest freshwater aquifer adjoining a secret U.S. military airbase. Oh, and there's a special non-extradition law to protect the Bush/Moon families as they enjoy their old age and run drug/weapons smuggling rings, safe from American justice. And they'll own all the drinking water in the world, or something.

Travels with Moon

Two years ago, Neil Bush, along with Rev. Moon, visited the Philippines and Taiwan. While in the Manilla, Bush was present for the inaugural convocation of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), and he joined Moon in meeting with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The Manila Bulletin reported: "Together with peace leaders that included Neil Bush ... Moon arrived yesterday as part of a 100-day tour that is taking him to 100 cities and 67 nations and covering a journey of almost 100,000 miles."

Ignite's COW

At home, Neil Bush is best known for his 1980s involvement in the Silverado Savings and Loan debacle, which cost taxpayers more than $1 billion; the lurid details of a messy divorce from Sharon Bush, his wife of 23 years; and his mother Barbara Bush's shameless demand that her contribution to a Hurricane Katrina relief foundation, working with those who had to be relocated to Texas, be used by local schools to acquire Ignite! products.

Ignite sells what it calls a "Curriculum on Wheels (COW)," a cart-mounted video projector and hard drive loaded with video content to help teach math, social studies, and science, which costs about $3,800, not including yearly costs for licensing the content, eSchool News pointed out.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group, had called for the inquiry. According to eSchool News, "CREW contends school districts are using federal dollars inappropriately to purchase technology from" Bush's Austin, Texas-based company. CREW also claimed that "there is no proof the company's products are effective and claim[ed] that schools in at least three states are using the products mainly as a result of political considerations."

Ignite! Learning's president, Ken Leonard, issued a statement denying the group's allegations:

"While Ignite! Learning welcomes accountability for ensuring that public school expenditures are in compliance with appropriation guidelines, Ignite! Learning has no knowledge of any customer that has procured our curriculum solutions through means which are other than completely ethical.

According to a CREW press release, "Ignite also has a program called Adopt-a-Cow in which corporations buy the equipment and donate it to schools or to charities supporting school districts. An Ignite spokesman said seven Cows were donated last year to the Fund for Public Schools in New York City."

CREW also "obtained documents through a Freedom of Information Act request showing that the Katy Independent School District west of Houston used $250,000 in state and federal Hurricane Katrina relief money last year to buy the Curriculum on Wheels."


Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His column "Conservative Watch" documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the U.S. Right.

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