Pentagon "Fails to Account" for Iraq Funds, Toxic Legacy at Fallujah, BP Buys Scientists
Revealing News Articles
August 2, 2010
Below are key excerpts of revealing news articles on the failure of the Pentagon to account for 96 percent of Iraq reconstruction moneys, the toxic legacy of the US attack on Fallujah, BP's attempt to control information about the oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico by controlling the scientists it hires to study its environmental impact, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. The most important sentences are highlighted. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
US 'fails to account' for Iraq reconstruction billions
July 27, 2010, BBC News
A US federal watchdog has criticised the US military for failing to account properly for billions of dollars it received to help rebuild Iraq. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction says the US Department of Defence is unable to account properly for 96% of the money. Out of just over $9bn, $8.7bn is unaccounted for, the inspector says. Much of the money came from the sale of Iraqi oil and gas, and some frozen Saddam Hussein-era assets were also sold off. The money was in a special fund administered by the US Department of Defense, the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), and was earmarked for reconstruction projects. But the report says that a lack of proper accounting and poor oversight makes it impossible to say exactly what happened to most of it. "The breakdown in controls left the funds vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected loss," the report said. This is not the first time that allegations of missing billions have surfaced in relation to the US-led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath. In 2005, the inspector general criticised the Coalition Provisional Authority, the US-led occupation administration, for its management of an $8.8bn fund that belonged to the Iraqi government. A criminal investigation conducted led to the conviction of eight US officials on bribery, fraud and money-laundering charges.
Note: For a collection of major media articles showing how the US military has repeatedly failed to account for hundreds of billions of dollars, click here.
Toxic legacy of US assault on Fallujah 'worse than Hiroshima'
July 24, 2010, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukemia in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was bombarded by US Marines in 2004, exceed those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, according to a new study. Iraqi doctors in Fallujah have complained since 2005 of being overwhelmed by the number of babies with serious birth defects, ranging from a girl born with two heads to paralysis of the lower limbs. They said they were also seeing far more cancers than they did before the battle for Fallujah between US troops and insurgents. Their claims have been supported by a survey showing a four-fold increase in all cancers and a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in under-14s. Infant mortality in the city is more than four times higher than in neighbouring Jordan and eight times higher than in Kuwait. Dr Chris Busby, ... one of the authors of the survey of 4,800 individuals in Fallujah, said ... "to produce an effect like this, some very major mutagenic exposure must have occurred in 2004 when the attacks happened". US Marines first besieged and bombarded Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad, in April 2004 after four employees of the American security company Blackwater were killed and their bodies burned. After an eight-month stand-off, the Marines stormed the city in November using artillery and aerial bombing against rebel positions. US forces later admitted that they had employed white phosphorus as well as other munitions.
Note: For many reports from major media sources of the horrific impacts of the US wars of aggression in the Middle East and Central Asia, click here.
BP accused of 'buying academic silence'
July 22, 2010, BBC News
The head of the American Association of University Professors has accused BP of trying to "buy" the best scientists and academics to help it contest litigation after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. "This is really one huge corporation trying to buy faculty silence in a comprehensive way," said Cary Nelson. BP faces more than 300 lawsuits so far. In a statement, BP says it has hired more than a dozen national and local scientists "with expertise in the resources of the Gulf of Mexico". The BBC has obtained a copy of a contract offered to scientists by BP. It says that scientists cannot publish the research they do for BP or speak about the data for at least three years, or until the government gives the final approval to the company's restoration plan for the whole of the Gulf. And it adds that scientists must take instructions from lawyers offering the contracts and other in-house counsel at BP. What Mr Nelson is concerned about is BP's control over scientific research. "Our ability to evaluate the disaster and write public policy and make decisions about it as a country can be impacted by the silence of the research scientists who are looking at conditions," he said. "It's hugely destructive. I mean at some level, this is really BP versus the people of the United States."
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.
Doubts surface on North Korea's role in ship sinking
July 23, 2010, Los Angeles Times
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calls the evidence "overwhelming" that the Cheonan, a South Korean warship that sank in March, was hit by a North Korean torpedo. Vice President Joe Biden has cited the South Korean-led panel investigating the sinking as a model of transparency. But challenges to the official version of events are coming from an unlikely place: within South Korea. Armed with dossiers of their own scientific studies and bolstered by conspiracy theories, critics dispute the findings announced May 20 by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, which pointed a finger at Pyongyang. They also question why Lee made the announcement nearly two months after the ship's sinking, on the very day campaigning opened for fiercely contested local elections. Many accuse the conservative leader of using the deaths of 46 sailors to stir up anti-Communist sentiment and sway the vote. The critics, mostly but not all from the opposition, say it is unlikely that the impoverished North Korean regime could have pulled off a perfectly executed hit against a superior military power, sneaking a submarine into the area and slipping away without detection. They also wonder whether the evidence of a torpedo attack was misinterpreted, or even fabricated. "I couldn't find the slightest sign of an explosion," said Shin Sang-chul, a former shipbuilding executive-turned-investigative journalist. "The sailors drowned to death. Their bodies were clean. We didn't even find dead fish in the sea."
Note: This article raises the suspicion that the sinking of the South Korean vessel was in reality a "false-flag" operation. To read an excellent short history and analysis of false-flag attacks, click here.
Afghanistan war logs: Massive leak of secret files exposes truth of occupation
July 25, 2010, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
A huge cache of secret US military files today provides a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan. The disclosures come from more than 90,000 records of incidents and intelligence reports about the conflict obtained by the whistleblowers' website Wikileaks in one of the biggest leaks in US military history. The files, which were made available to the Guardian, the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, give a blow-by-blow account of the fighting over the last six years. The war logs [detail]: • How a secret "black" unit of special forces hunts down Taliban leaders for "kill or capture" without trial. • How the US covered up evidence that the Taliban have acquired deadly surface-to-air missiles. • How the coalition is increasingly using deadly Reaper drones to hunt and kill Taliban targets by remote control from a base in Nevada. The logs detail, in sometimes harrowing vignettes, the toll on civilians exacted by coalition forces: events termed "blue on white" in military jargon. The logs reveal 144 such incidents. Some of these casualties come from the controversial air strikes ... but a large number of previously unknown incidents also appear to be the result of troops shooting unarmed drivers or motorcyclists. Rachel Reid, who investigates civilian casualty incidents in Afghanistan for Human Rights Watch, said: "These files bring to light what's been a consistent trend by US and Nato forces: the concealment of civilian casualties."
Note: To check out WikiLeak's Afghan War Diary website, click here. Despite the media attention the logs have received, with many comparisons to the Pentagon Papers, some observers have noted that, unlike the Pentagon Papers, very few of the "revelations" in the Afghan War Logs have revealed anything previously unknown.
U.S. asks blog sites to shut down
July 25, 2010, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Under mysterious circumstances and with unusual abruptness, two websites used to create blogs and message boards were taken down at the behest of U.S. investigators earlier this month, baffling users and commentators on the Web alike. Both Blogetery.com, which said it hosted around 70,000 blogs, and online forum site IPBFree.com were taken offline in early July. The initial cryptic responses to users' questions about what happened added to the confusion. Both IPBFree administrators and Burst.net, Blogetery's Web host, deeply apologized for the incident but said they were barred by law to provide any specific information. But Burst.net later told PC World that they had voluntarily decided to take down Blogetery after investigators approached them. It is still unclear who hosted the IPBFree site, why it was taken down or if the action was related to the Blogetery case.
Note: For more on this, click here. It appears certain factions within government are testing their ability to shut down certain websites.
Goldman reveals where bailout cash went
July 24, 2010, USA Today
Goldman Sachs sent $4.3 billion in federal tax money to 32 entities, including many overseas banks, hedge funds and pensions, according to information made public [on July 23]. Goldman Sachs disclosed the list of companies to the Senate Finance Committee after a threat of subpoena from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Ia. Goldman Sachs received $5.55 billion from the government in fall of 2008 as payment for then-worthless securities it held in AIG. Goldman had already hedged its risk that the securities would go bad. It had entered into agreements to spread the risk with the 32 entities named in Friday's report. Overall, Goldman Sachs received a $12.9 billion payout from the government's bailout of AIG, which was at one time the world's largest insurance company. Goldman Sachs also revealed to the Senate Finance Committee that it would have received $2.3 billion if AIG had gone under. Other large financial institutions, such as Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, sold Goldman Sachs protection in the case of AIG's collapse. Those institutions did not have to pay Goldman Sachs after the government stepped in with tax money. Shouldn't Goldman Sachs be expected to collect from those institutions "before they collect the taxpayers' dollars?" Grassley asked. "It's a little bit like a farmer, if you got crop insurance, you shouldn't be getting disaster aid."
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the Wall Street bailout by taxpayers, click here.
Ex-US judge pleads guilty to child prison scam
July 23, 2010, BBC News
Former Pennsylvania judge Michael Conahan has pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge for helping put juvenile defendants behind bars in exchange for bribes. He is accused along with former judge Mark Ciavarella of taking $2.8m (£1.8m) from a profit-making detention centres. Prosecutors in a federal court in Scranton, Pennsylvania, said Conahan had closed a county-owned juvenile detention centre in 2002, just before signing an agreement to use a for-profit centre. Prosecutors say Mr Ciavarella, a former juvenile court judge, then allegedly worked with Mr Conahan to ensure a constant flow of detainees. The two men were originally charged in early 2009 with accepting money from the builder and owner of a for-profit detention centre that housed county juveniles in exchange for giving children longer, harsher sentences. A spokeswoman for the non-profit Juvenile Law Center alleges that Mr Ciavarella gave excessively harsh sentences to 1,000-2,000 juveniles between 2003 and 2006. Some of the children were shackled, denied lawyers, and pulled from their homes for offences which included stealing change from cars and failure to appear as witnesses.
Note: To understand just how corrupt our judicial system is, watch Consipiracy of Silence at this link.
Calif. town outraged to learn of officials' pay
July 23, 2010, Washington Post
Residents in this modest blue-collar Los Angeles suburb where one in six lives in poverty were angry: Their city manager was getting paid more than President Barack Obama and the police chief more than the commander of the nearly 13,000-member LAPD. They demanded and got the manager, the chief and another high-salaried official to resign. They looked for the culprits and found them in the very people they entrusted to lead their city of 40,000 people. Now, they're campaigning to boot them out of office. Their mayor and three of their four council members, people they see every day at the grocery store or church, approved the contracts, and put an obscure measure on the ballot that allowed council members to pay themselves any amount of money. And they did: collecting between $90,000 and $100,000 a year as part-time officials. The salaries exploded into public view last week after a Los Angeles Times investigation, based on California Public Records Act requests, showed that the city payroll was bloated with all sorts of six-figure salaries: - Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo made $787,637 a year.
Note: Is there something wrong with a system where politicians set their own pay, as is also done in the US Congress? For lots more on government corruption, click here.
Raw-food raid highlights a hunger
July 25, 2010, Los Angeles Times
With no warning one weekday morning, investigators entered an organic grocery with a search warrant and ordered the hemp-clad workers to put down their buckets of mashed coconut cream and to step away from the nuts. Then, guns drawn, four officers fanned out across Rawesome Foods in Venice. Skirting past the arugula and peering under crates of zucchini, they found the raid's target inside a walk-in refrigerator: unmarked jugs of raw milk. Cartons of raw goat and cow milk and blocks of unpasteurized goat cheese were among the groceries seized in the June 30 raid by federal, state and local authorities – the latest salvo in the heated food fight over what people can put in their mouths. On one side are government regulators, who say they are enforcing rules designed to protect consumers from unsafe foods and to provide a level playing field for producers. On the other side are " healthy food" consumers [who] seek food in its most pure form. "This is about control and profit, not our health," said Aajonus Vonderplanitz, co-founder of Rawesome Foods. "How can we not have the freedom to choose what we eat?" Demand for all manner of raw foods – including honey, nuts and meat – has been growing, spurred by heightened interest in the way food is produced. But raw milk in particular has drawn a lot of regulatory scrutiny, largely because the politically powerful dairy industry has pressed the government to act.
Note: For lots more on government corruption from reliable sources, click here.
Mexican Officials Say Prisoners Acted as Hit Men
July 26, 2010, New York Times
Prisoners in a northern Mexico jail were allowed out at night to carry out murder-for-hire jobs using jail guards' weapons and vehicles, officials said [on July 25], revealing a level of corruption that is stunning even in a country where prison breakouts are common as guards look the other way. The prisoners carried out three massacres this year in the city of Torreón in which 35 people were killed, Ricardo Najera, the spokesman for the attorney general's office, said at a news conference. Among them, the authorities said, was last week's attack on birthday revelers at a party hall. The gang shot randomly into the crowd, they said, killing 17 people. Ballistics studies confirmed that four guns used in the shooting were the same as those assigned to jail guards, Mr. Najera said. "The criminals carried out their executions as part of a settling of scores against members of rival gangs linked to organized crime," he said. "Unfortunately, in these executions the criminals also cowardly murdered innocent civilians – and then returned to their cells."
John Podesta writes probing foreword for new book on UFOs
July 28, 2010, Los Angeles Times
He's not saying he was abducted by a UFO and probed or anything, but former President Clinton's chief of staff John Podesta is lending his name to a new book on UFOs. Podesta has written the foreword for UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record by investigative journalist Leslie Kean, which will be released Aug. 10. Podesta has been on the record before as an advocate for the Pentagon to release classified government papers on UFO investigations. "It is time for the government to declassify records that are more than 25 years old and to ... provide scientists with data that will assist in determining the real nature of this phenomenon," he said back in 2002. Now, eight years later, Podesta is still -- as he puts it -- "curious." UFO enthusiasts say the inclusion of Podesta gives the book weight. "Its credibility begins on the first page with John Podesta and continues with case studies of extraordinary quality to the very end," writes John L. Petersen, the founder and president of the Arlington Institute (a think tank for futurists).
Note: For reliable information on UFOs, check out our UFO Information Center.
Video star can't stop dancing
June 29, 2008, Chicago Tribune
The new Web video from Matt Harding, accidental professional dancer, is up, and it is spectacular, a cry of life and brotherhood and joy. As Harding toured the world ... filming the third installment in his "Where the Hell Is Matt?" video series, you might have thought that the trick would have played itself out. An ordinary guy doing a kind of running-in-place dance at 69 earthly locales with an ethereal song as soundtrack shouldn't be endlessly endearing and deeply inspiring. Part of the charm of the video (also at Harding's own wherethehellismatt.com) is his new twist for it. At each stop on his latest set of travels, Harding invited locals to come dance with him. The collection of disparate peoples doing essentially the same pointless yet joyful thing is a reminder of what's universal in humankind. Part of the charm comes from the unadorned simplicity of Harding himself -- he just looks damned happy to be wherever he is -- and the delight that is his story. A video game designer disaffected by the industry's trend toward violence, he quit his job in early 2003 and began traveling. At the suggestion of a friend, he used the video function of a point-and-shoot digital camera and taped himself dancing at all his stops.
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