Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Saturday, 16 October 2010
Balckwater , Bill Gates, and Monsanto pool their resources and cash
Now Playing: Monsanto Now "Owns" Blackwater (Xe)?
Topic: BIG MONEY PLAYERS
Monsanto Now "Owns" Blackwater (Xe)?
A report by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation (Blackwater’s Black Ops, 9/15/2010) revealed that the largest mercenary army in the world, Blackwater (now called Xe Services) clandestine intelligence services was sold to the multinational Monsanto. Blackwater was renamed in 2009 after becoming famous in the world with numerous reports of abuses in Iraq, including massacres of civilians. It remains the largest private contractor of the U.S. Department of State “security services,” that practices state terrorism by giving the government the opportunity to deny it.
Many military and former CIA officers work for Blackwater or related companies created to divert attention from their bad reputation and make more profit selling their nefarious services-ranging from information and intelligence to infiltration, political lobbying and paramilitary training – for other governments, banks and multinational corporations. According to Scahill, business with multinationals, like Monsanto, Chevron, and financial giants such as Barclays and Deutsche Bank, are channeled through two companies owned by Erik Prince, owner of Blackwater: Total Intelligence Solutions and Terrorism Research Center. These officers and directors share Blackwater.
One of them, Cofer Black, known for his brutality as one of the directors of the CIA, was the one who made contact with Monsanto in 2008 as director of Total Intelligence, entering into the contract with the company to spy on and infiltrate organizations of animal rights activists, anti-GM and other dirty activities of the biotech giant.
Contacted by Scahill, the Monsanto executive Kevin Wilson declined to comment, but later confirmed to The Nation that they had hired Total Intelligence in 2008 and 2009, according to Monsanto only to
keep track of “public disclosure” of its opponents. He also said that Total Intelligence was a “totally separate entity from Blackwater.”
However, Scahill has copies of emails from Cofer Black after the meeting with Wilson for Monsanto, where he explains to other former CIA agents, using their Blackwater e-mails, that the discussion with Wilson was that Total Intelligence had become “Monsanto’s intelligence arm,” spying on activists and other actions, including “our people to legally integrate these groups.” Total Intelligence Monsanto paid $ 127,000 in 2008 and $ 105,000 in 2009.
No wonder that a company engaged in the “science of death” as Monsanto, which has been dedicated from the outset to produce toxic poisons spilling from Agent Orange to PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), pesticides, hormones and genetically modified seeds, is associated with another company of thugs.
Almost simultaneously with the publication of this article in The Nation, the Via Campesina reported the purchase of 500,000 shares of Monsanto, for more than $23 million by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which with this action completed the outing of the mask of “philanthropy.” Another association that is not surprising.
It is a marriage between the two most brutal monopolies in the history of industrialism: Bill Gates controls more than 90 percent of the market share of proprietary computing and Monsanto about 90 percent of the global transgenic seed market and most global commercial seed. There does not exist in any other industrial sector monopolies so vast, whose very existence is a negation of the vaunted principle of “market competition” of capitalism. Both Gates and Monsanto are very aggressive in defending their ill-gotten monopolies.
Although Bill Gates might try to say that the Foundation is not linked to his business, all it proves is the opposite: most of their donations end up favoring the commercial investments of the tycoon, not really “donating” anything, but instead of paying taxes to the state coffers, he invests his profits in where it is favorable to him economically, including propaganda from their supposed good intentions. On the contrary, their “donations” finance projects as destructive as geoengineering or replacement of natural community medicines for high-tech patented medicines in the poorest areas of the world. What a coincidence, former Secretary of Health Julio Frenk and Ernesto Zedillo are advisers of the Foundation.
Like Monsanto, Gates is also engaged in trying to destroy rural farming worldwide, mainly through the “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa” (AGRA). It works as a Trojan horse to deprive poor African farmers of their traditional seeds, replacing them with the seeds of their companies first, finally by genetically modified (GM). To this end, the Foundation hired Robert Horsch in 2006, the director of Monsanto. Now Gates, airing major profits, went straight to the source.
Blackwater, Monsanto and Gates are three sides of the same figure: the war machine on the planet and most people who inhabit it, are peasants, indigenous communities, people who want to share information and knowledge or any other who does not want to be in the aegis of profit and the destructiveness of capitalism.
* The author is a researcher at ETC Group
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 9:01 AM PDT
Monday, 24 May 2010
Drug lord in Jamica shootouts wiith police and his US extradition
Now Playing: Dudas Coke - an interesting person - Now the USA is about tto get him
Topic: BIG MONEY PLAYERS
Gunmen clash with Kingston police in bid to halt extradition of ‘drug lord’
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 6:51 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 24 May 2010 7:00 PM PDT
Thursday, 25 February 2010
Get The Lobbiest Out - California's new beta ballot experiment
Now Playing: A test of a fair election in California, with lobbiest out of the way
Topic: BIG MONEY PLAYERS
A report from
February 26, 2010
THIS WEEK IN THE BLOGOSPHERE
A Neat Little Ballot Experiment in California
There's an interesting initiative on the California ballot this June. It's called the California Fair Elections Act, and it's an attempt to get voters to approve public funding of statewide campaigns.
But that's not why it's interesting. Public campaign funding is hardly a fresh idea after all. The basic idea behind Proposition 15 isn't that fresh, either. In a nutshell, it would require all state-registered lobbyists to pay an annual fee of $350, which supporters estimate would raise about $2 million per year. (This is a funding mechanism that, if not interesting, is certainly cheeky: The idea of making lobbyists pay the bill for a system that would undermine the influence of lobbyists is, at the very least, sort of a delicious irony.)
Candidates who want access to this money would first have to raise five dollars from at least 7,500 registered voters. Candidates who do this would receive enough money from the CFEA fund to run a statewide campaign, but only if they agree not to raise money from any other source. This is designed to eliminate the need to raise money from special interests, and it's similar to public funding laws passed in other states, including Arizona.
But that's still not why I find Proposition 15 sort of fascinating. What's new and different about it is that it's basically a beta test. It applies only to one office—secretary of state—and only to the elections in 2014 and 2018. On January 1 of the following year, it automatically disappears for good unless voters decide they like it and want to extend it.
I'm generally not a fan of ballot initiatives. They tend to be badly written, they've long since been captured by wealthy corporate interests, and they routinely expend money that doesn't exist. Proposition 15 falls into none of those traps, but what really makes it appealing to me is that I like the idea of short-term experiments. If Prop 15 fails, not much harm is done. If it works, it will have proven itself in the toughest arena of all: real life. It's a small-bore way of allowing voters to find out if they like the idea before committing themselves to a sweeping and permanent change. We could use more initiatives like this.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PST
Friday, 31 July 2009
Hot Dogs and getting cancer
Now Playing: the meat industry and your health
Topic: BIG MONEY PLAYERS
Z3 Readers I quit eating hot dogs a few years ago ...after I read how Ralph Nader quit eating them, I "wised up" and did the same
Lawsuit: Hot dogs need warning label
Posted Jul 30 2009, 11:30 AM by Karen Datko
This post comes from Jon Hood at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.
Many modern-day baseball stadiums prohibit smoking, but cancer danger apparently still lurks around the corner: An anti-meat consumer group alleges in a class-action that hot dogs pose serious health risks and need to carry warning labels.
The lawsuit was filed in Essex County, N.J., by The Cancer Project on behalf of three New Jersey residents. Among the named defendants are Nathan's Famous; Kraft Foods, which manufactures Oscar Mayer wieners; Sara Lee; ConAgra, which makes Hebrew National franks; and Marathon, manufacturer of Sabrett, "the frankfurter New Yorker's [sic] relish."
The plaintiffs envision a warning label similar to the one on cigarette packages. The wording would look something like: "Warning: Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer."
The suit notes that a two-year-old study from the American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that eating the amount of processed meat in a single hot dog -- about 2 ounces -- every day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 21%. That study recommends limiting red meat consumption to 18 ounces per week, and avoiding processed meats altogether. Another study, released this year by the National Cancer Institute, found that people who eat large amounts of red and processed meats are more likely to die from cancer or cardiovascular disease.
Nitrites, used to keep hot dogs fresh, are the main culprit, according to the suit: They join themselves to naturally occurring amines, forming carcinogenic compounds.
The Cancer Project, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., is focused on promoting a healthy diet that decreases the risk of cancer. The group specifically recommends a diet that is "free of animal products, high in plant foods, and low in fat."
According to The Cancer Project, Americans ate 1.5 billion pounds of hot dogs in 2006 and the average person eats 32 pounds of processed meat a year.
Related reading at ConsumerAffairs.com:
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PDT
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
Money going up in smoke? Just tax it, and save the damn economy
Now Playing: taxing marijuana - lets get real
Topic: BIG MONEY PLAYERS
Hey there Z3Readers...
You knew it was coming...you smelled the smoke before the fire.... hell I have been saying this or "years" .... sit back relax ...get mellow and read this three part article on "Leagalize It"
By John Dyer, MSN Money
(click link for origan article and a video)
Daniel Stein says the salvation of U.S. taxpayers could be marijuana.
As Washington breaks the bank on Wall Street bailouts, President Barack Obama's stimulus package and other spend-now, pay-later measures, most observers agree that politicians will eventually need to increase revenue or cut spending to cover the federal government's debts.
Stein believes Washington could begin to balance its books now if politicians would take a serious look at his industry. The owner of two retail outlets that he claims generate $1 million in revenue annually, Stein says he pays around $80,000 a year in sales taxes to the state of California. But the federal government, which does not acknowledge Stein's sales as legitimate commerce, gets nothing from his business.
Sound odd? Not if you know that Stein sells marijuana. See inside a cannabis dispensary
In fact, because federal authorities have spent time trying to close his and other medical-marijuana clubs, Washington is losing money on him.
Imagine how much the feds would save if they stopped cracking down on sellers, Stein says. Lawyer: Why US should legalize pot
"Cannabis is good for the economy," he said. "It's been here the whole time, but it's had a bad rap the entire time."
As more people begin to see the merits in Stein's logic, that bad rap is changing. While legalization, decriminalization and the medical use of marijuana continue to be debated in terms of public health, lawmakers and policy analysts are increasingly touting the economic benefits of regulating and taxing weed, which the Office of National Drug Control Policy says is the most popular illegal drug in the U.S.
Critics of legalizing marijuana say the potential economic benefits of regulating and taxing the drug would obscure the less-tangible, long-term downsides of making it more prevalent in society.
"The argument wholly ignores the issue of the connection between marijuana and criminal activity and also the larger picture of substance abuse," said David Capeless, the district attorney of Berkshire County in Massachusetts and the president of the state's district attorneys association. "It simply sends a bad message to kids about substance abuse in general, which is a wrong message, that it's not a big deal."
A 2004 report by the drug policy office said drugs cost Americans more than $180 billion related to health care, lost productivity and crime in 2002. That study lumped the effects of marijuana in with more-dangerous drugs, such as cocaine and heroin.
But marijuana advocates say history is on their side. They muster arguments similar to those that led to repealing Prohibition during the Great Depression.
"In the early 1930s, one of the reasons that alcohol was brought back was because government revenue was plummeting," Harvard economist Jeff Miron said. "There are some parallels to that now."
Definitive figures on the size of the untapped marijuana market don't exist. It's a gray market, after all. But there are plenty of studies indicating we are not talking about chump change.
In a 2007 study, Jon Gettman, a senior fellow at George Mason University's School of Public Policy, valued the American marijuana trade at $113 billion annually. Between drug enforcement and potential taxes, the federal government and the states were losing almost $42 billion a year by keeping marijuana illegal, the study indicated. Gettman is a former staff member of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a nonprofit that lobbies on Capitol Hill for marijuana legalization.
"It's a very large, significant economic phenomenon, and it is diverting an incredible amount of money from the taxable economy," Gettman said.
Miron says he is interested in the topic as a libertarian who believes the government shouldn't ban any drugs. He offers more-conservative numbers, estimating that federal and state treasuries would gain more than $6 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like alcohol or tobacco. At the same time, relaxing laws against use of marijuana would save nearly $8 billion in legal costs, he says.
The Obama administration seems to be inching toward a more permissive stance on marijuana. Last month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced he would end raids on clubs like Stein's, fulfilling a pledge Obama had made on the campaign trail.
"It's a major break from the 'just say no' mentality," said Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of NORML, referring to Holder's announcement.
Stein is somewhat relieved. The raids had been wreaking havoc on California's budding marijuana industry, he says. Two years ago he was forced to move one of his clubs, The Higher Path, to a new location on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, after the Drug Enforcement Administration sent his landlord a letter saying agents could seize the building.
"Medical marijuana is very, very satisfying, but it's very nerve-racking and dangerous," Stein said.
St. Pierre says 13 states have adopted laws to allow medical marijuana, while an additional handful have decriminalized possession, meaning the penalties associated with marijuana are negligible.
Of course, critics of decriminalization are also vocal. Calvina Fay, the executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, says Gettman, Miron and others fail to account for marijuana's adverse side effects, from lethargy to impaired driving to tendencies among weed smokers to try more-serious drugs. "Those who are using drugs are less productive than those who aren't," Fay said.
A spokesman for the drug policy office declined to comment, saying the office wanted to wait until the Senate has confirmed Obama's drug czar nominee, Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske.
But according to the FBI's most recent data, approximately 870,000 people nationwide were arrested on marijuana violations in 2007. Nearly 15 million Americans use marijuana on a monthly basis, according to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The same study found that more than 100 million Americans had tried marijuana at least once in their lives. Advocates of decriminalization say those statistics argue against the vision of mass lassitude put forward by their opponents.
"Most people either did the drug themselves or their friends did," Miron said. "They know those extremes are not right."
California has come closest to outright legalization of the marijuana industry. Sacramento already collects around $18 million in sales taxes a year from $200 million worth of medical-marijuana purchases, according to data supplied by California's State Board of Equalization. Now Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco Democrat, is sponsoring new legislation that would legalize marijuana completely -- and tax it. The state estimates the proposal could generate $1.3 billion a year.
"The war on drugs has failed," Ammiano said. "It seems to me there is across both aisles that assessment, and California is in an egregious economic abyss. The economic situation makes (legalization) viable."
The pro-marijuana lobby argues that U.S. agriculture could expand significantly if farmers were allowed to openly cultivate weed. In a 2006 study, Gettman calculated that marijuana was one of the biggest cash crops in the U.S., with 56 million plants worth almost $36 billion.
In the United Kingdom, where restrictions on marijuana research are less onerous than in the U.S., companies such as GW Pharmaceuticals are moving quickly to develop other drugs from the plant. In the company's 2008 annual report, GW executives said they had received approval to market Sativex, a cannabis-derived painkiller, in Canada. The report said the company is seeking approval of the drug from European regulators and is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as well.
A spokesman for the company, John Dineen of the London public-relations firm Financial Dynamics, says executives would prefer not to be quoted in a story about the economic consequences of marijuana legalization.
David Goldman, a patron of the Green Cross, a medical-marijuana dispensary in San Francisco, had no such compunctions. To Goldman, medical marijuana looks like a godsend that should be studied and expanded. After groin surgery a few years ago, he found he had troubling reactions to other painkillers, and he turned to marijuana.
"The constant pain is something I need to accept and is something for which cannabis has been invaluable," he said. "Why should we cede medical cannabis research to the U.K. when some of the best minds in medicine are in this country?"
Produced by Elizabeth Daza
Published April 30, 2009
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PDT
Thursday, 23 April 2009
Blind Amputee and his fight with AIG for medical needs
Now Playing: AIG = cheapskates and bailout exploiters
Topic: BIG MONEY PLAYERS
Blind Amputee Has to Fight AIG for New Plastic Leg, Wheelchair
While Executives Get Bonuses, John Woodson Gets "Cheapest They Could Get Away With"
By AVNI PATEL and BRIAN ROSS
April 16, 2009—
VIDEO --> http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=7352630
An Oklahoma man who lost an eye and a leg in Iraq says the giant insurance company AIG refused to provide him a new plastic leg and fought to keep from paying for a wheelchair or glasses for the eye in which he has 30 percent vision.
"They bought the cheapest thing that they could get away with," said 51-year old John Woodson, a truck driver for the KBR contracting firm who lost his leg when his truck hit a roadside bomb in Iraq.
"Everything's been a struggle, a constant fight," said Woodson, injured in Oct. 2004. "It's been hell since."
Watch 20/20 Friday at 10pm E.T. to see this joint investigation involving the Los Angeles Times and Pro Publica, a non-profit investigative group.
Woodson is covered by AIG under a government-mandated program that provides medical and disability benefits for employees working for U.S. contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. AIG covers about 90 percent of the claims for overseas workers.
Still in constant pain, Woodson says he was infuriated to see AIG executives receive huge bonuses, travel on private jets and be pampered at a California spa.
"They're getting their bonuses but they fight you, they'll constantly fight in order to try to get you to give up," said Woodson, of Poteau, Oklahoma.
Woodson is one of a number of injured contractors whose alleged difficulties with AIG were examined in the joint investigation.
AIG said it could not discuss any specific case, but that it strives to provide "quality" care.
"We think we're helping the military with our insurance program," said AIG executive John Russo.
In Woodson's case, when his fuel truck hit the hidden bomb outside Baghdad, he was blown through the roof of his cab and thrown about a hundred feet away, also damaging his back and breaking his pelvis.
Woodson says he was told by an AIG representative in the hospital that he would be fully covered by AIG, but that when he returned home, he quickly discovered AIG was prepared to challenge almost all of his medical needs.
AIG Refused to Buy Him a New Leg, Woodson Says
"I've had to argue for everything, you constantly stay on the phone, writing letters, e-mailing, trying to get things to happen," Woodson said.
To cushion the impact on his injured back and pelvis, Woodsen asked AIG for a new plastic leg with a spring in the foot.
"It was just so painful just to walk," Woodson said.
He says AIG refused to buy him a new leg, which he says would have cost about $8,000.
AIG also refused, he said, to provide him a water-proof leg so he could remain standing and take a shower.
U.S. military amputees are normally provided three different legs, to cover a full range of walking, showering and exercising.
In the end, Woodson says he thinks it was pressure from his lawyer and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that forced AIG to finally provide an improved leg, with replacement parts, but not a new one as his doctor had ordered.
Woodson's lawyer, Toby Cole, says he sees a pattern of AIG "delaying and denying" claims from contractors injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It's difficult for me to think it's anything but a concentrated effort just to ignore these guys," said Cole.
In its statement, AIG says the "vast majority" of claims are "paid without dispute when the proper supporting medical evidence has been received."
More than 30,000 contractors have filed claims for injuries suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 1,400 have died.
Click Here for the Investigative Homepage.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PDT
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
Where is all the missing billions of dollars in Iraq
Now Playing: Hell...the money was "given away to war profiteers"
Topic: BIG MONEY PLAYERS
Fellow Z3 Readers ... we knew this was happening years ago.
My cousin in 05 said it was greed and corruption.
Now 6 years latter "we dont know where the monesy went?"
Give me a break! The cheating lieing war machine stole it all!
Wake up and swallow the shame, which we here at the Z3 Report were all very aware of .....years ago!
Billions Wasted In Iraq?July 9, 2006
(CBS) This story originally aired on Feb. 12, 2006.
The United States has spent more than a quarter of a trillion dollars during its three years in Iraq, and more than $50 billion of it has gone to private contractors hired to guard bases, drive trucks, feed and shelter the troops and rebuild the country.
It is dangerous work, but much of the $50 billion, which is more than the annual budget of the Department of Homeland Security, has been handed out to companies in Iraq with little or no oversight.
Billions of dollars are unaccounted for, and there are widespread allegations of waste, fraud and war profiteering. As 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft first reported in February, only one case, the subject of a civil lawsuit, has been unsealed. It involves a company called Custer Battles, and provides a window into the chaos of those early days in Iraq.
When U.S. troops entered Baghdad in the spring of 2003, there was no electricity, widespread looting and little evidence of postwar planning. With the American military stretched to the limit, the Pentagon set up the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to govern the country under Ambassador Paul Bremer, who began hiring private companies to secure and rebuild the country.
There were no banks or wire transfers to pay them, no bean counters to keep track of the money. Just vaults and footlockers stuffed with billions of dollars in cash.
"Fresh, new, crisp, unspent, just-printed $100 bills. It was the Wild West," recalls Frank Willis, who was the No. 2 man at the Coalition Provisional Authority’s Ministry of Transportation.
The money was a mixture of Iraqi oil revenues, war booty and U.S. government funds earmarked for the coalition authority. Whenever cash was needed, someone went down to the vault with a wheelbarrow or gunny sacks.
"Those are $100,000 bricks of $100 bills and that’s $2 million there," Willis explains, looking at a photo of brick-shaped stacks of money wrapped in plastic. "This, in fact, is a payment that we made on the 1st of August to a company called Custer Battles."
Willis says the bricks of money were also sometimes referred to as footballs, "… because we passed them around in little pickup games in our office," he says laughing.
Asked if he has any evidence that the accounting system was a little loose, Willis says, "I would describe it as nonexistent."
The $2 million given to Custer Battles was the first installment on a contract to provide security at Baghdad International Airport. The company had been started by Scott Custer, a former Army Ranger and Mike Battles, an unsuccessful congressional candidate from Rhode Island who claimed to be active in the Republican Party and have connections at the White House. They arrived in Baghdad with no money. Yet within a year they landed $100 million in contracts.
"They came in with a 'can do' attitude whether they could or not. They always said yes," Willis says.
Did they have any experience?
"They were not experienced. They did not know what they were doing," Willis says.
Complaints about Custer Battles performance at the airport began almost immediately. Col. Richard Ballard, the top inspector general for the Army in Iraq, was assigned to see if the company was living up to its contract, such as it was.
"And the contract looked to me like something that you and I would write over a bottle of vodka," Ballard says. "Complete with all the spelling and syntax errors and annexes, to be filled in later. They presented it the next day, and they got awarded a — about a $15 million contract."
Custer Battles was supposed to provide security for commercial aviation at Baghdad airport, including personnel, machinery and canine teams to screen passengers and cargo. But the airport never re-opened for commercial traffic.
Instead of canceling the contract or requiring Custer Battles to return the money, the Coalition Authority instead assigned them to operate a checkpoint outside the airport.
Asked how they did on that job, Ballard says, "They failed miserably."
Was anybody paying attention to this money and where it was going?
"There was significant concern," Ballard says. "But there just were not the people in theatre to monitor that kind of thing on a day-to-day basis."
The basic answer to the question, Ballard acknowledges, is "no."
As for the bomb sniffing canine teams, Ballard says, "I eventually saw one dog. The dog did not appear to be a certified, trained dog. And the dog was incapable of operating in that environment."
Asked what he meant by "incapable of operating in that environment," Ballard says: "He would be brought to the checkpoint, and he would lie down. And he would refuse to sniff the vehicles."
The handler, Ballard says, "had no certificate and no evidence."
"So neither the dog nor the handler were qualified?" Kroft asked.
"I think it was a guy with his pet, to be honest with you," he replied, laughing.
In a memo obtained by 60 Minutes, the airport's director of security wrote to the Coalition Authority: "Custer Battles has shown themselves to be unresponsive, uncooperative, incompetent, deceitful, manipulative and war profiteers. Other than that they are swell fellows."
"I would agree with most of that," says Frank Willis.
"Even the 'war profiteers?' " Kroft asks.
"I think that what they were doing was of the nature of what I understand war-profiteering to be about — which is to get into a chaotic situation and milk every penny out of it you can, as fast as you can, before the opportunity goes away," Willis says.
The Coalition Authority not only refused to throw Custer Battles off the airport job, it wrote them a glowing review and continued to give them contracts including one to supply logistical support for a massive program to replace Iraq’s currency.
How did Custer Battles perform that contract?
"Absolutely abysmally. I mean, it was beyond a joke," says British Col. Philip Wilkinson.
Wilkinson was a colonel in the British Army and was assigned to the Coalition Authority’s Ministry of Finance and charged with providing security to convoys that traveled all over Iraq, loaded with $3 billion in cash. The trucks were supplied by Custer Battles.
"And you can imagine, open trucks with that sort of money on the back, was just a red hot target for not only terrorists, but criminals," Wilkinson says. "And, therefore, we needed trucks that were going to work. When those trucks were delivered to us, some of them were physically dragged into our compound."
Wilkinson says some of the trucks "were towed into the camp."
And Custer Battle’s response?
"When questioned as to the serviceability of the trucks was, 'We were only told we had to deliver the trucks.' The contract doesn't say they had to work," Wilkinson says. "Which, I mean, when you're given that sort of answer, what can you do?"
How did they get away with it?
"Oh," says Wilkinson laughing, "I really don't know. I mean it was just a joke. The assumption that we had was that they had to have high political top cover to be able to get away with it. Because it was just outrageous: their failure to deliver that which they were contracted to do."
In fact, the company continued to work in Iraq for another year, even after Robert Isakson, one of Custer Battles' major sub-contractors, went to federal authorities with allegations of criminal misconduct. Isakson and another whistleblower claim Custer Battles bilked the government out of $50 million, and they're suing the company on behalf of U.S. taxpayers to recover some of the money.
"Well, they approached me three times to participate in a — defrauding of the United States government," Isakson says. "They wanted to open fraudulent companies overseas and inflate their invoices to the United States government."
Asked if the fraud actually took place, Isakson says, "Two weeks later, apparently, I heard they began exactly the fraud they described to me."
According to a subsequent investigation by the U.S. Air Force, Custer Battles set up sham companies in the Cayman Islands to fabricate phony invoices that it submitted to the Coalition Authority with the intention of fraudulently inflating its profits.
According to a Custer Battles spreadsheet, which was left behind after a meeting with U.S. officials, the company submitted invoices on the currency contract totaling nearly $10 million, when its actual costs were less than $4 million.
Electricity costs of $74,000 were invoiced to the Coalition Authority at $400,000. And those trucks that didn’t work were bought on the local market for $228,000 and billed to the Coalition Authority for $800,000.
Mike Battles and Scott Custer are currently under federal investigation by the Department of Justice and declined to be interviewed for this story. But in videotaped depositions for the whistleblower lawsuit, Custer disavowed any knowledge of the phony invoices.
"Would you agree with me that it is highly improper for a contractor working under a time and materials contract to simply fabricate invoices and then hand them in for payment?" attorney Alan Grayson asked during the deposition.
"Yes, the short answer, I am not a government or legal expert, but I would think it is improper to fabricate anything you would know to be true," Custer replied.
Custer and Battles blame their problems on former employees, competitors and the bureaucratic incompetence of the CPA.
"I know we were supposed to do one thing for a certain amount of money and by the time it was said and done they asked us to do many, many more things for a different, a greater amount of money," Battles said in deposition.
To date, the only action taken against them has been a one-year suspension from receiving government contracts; it has since expired.
"I think what’s happening over there is an orgy of greed here with contractors," says North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan.
He is the chairman of the Democratic Party Policy Committee, and says Custer Battles is small potatoes compared to behemoths like Halliburton and its subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR), who have collected half of all the money awarded to contractors in Iraq, and, according to Department of Defense auditors, have over-billed taxpayers more than a billion dollars.
Dorgan’s committee has held hearings and heard testimony that Halliburton has overcharged for meals, and fuel and gouged taxpayers on items like hand towels.
"Instead of buying a white towel, which would be $1.60, this company said, 'No, no, no. Put, embroidery our logo on it. Five bucks,' " says Dorgan. "So, what's the difference? Well, the American taxpayer's gonna pay the bill."
Halliburton says the towels were embroidered to keep them from being stolen or lost, and that allegations it over-billed by a billion dollars are exaggerated. But Dorgan says none of this is being seriously investigated.
"Let me tell you that there’s very little oversight by anybody on anything in this Congress. We have a president and a Congress of the same party. They have no interest in doing any aggressive oversight," Dorgan says.
The only one really looking into it is Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, a position created by Congress in 2004 to monitor construction and development projects to rebuild Iraq.
Asked how he would describe the oversight early on with the CPA, Bowen says, "It was relatively non-existent."
In two lengthy reports, Bowen’s staff outlined suspected fraud and incompetence of staggering proportions. Like the $8.8 billion dollars that the coalition seems to have lost track of.
Bowen says that money is "not accounted for" and acknowledges that nobody really knows exactly where it went.
Some of the money Bowen says was spent on projects it was intended for. It’s just that there are no receipts. But some of it, like the funds to buy books and train personnel at a library in Karbala, simply vanished.
Four people have already been arrested on bribery and theft charges and more arrests will follow.
Bowen says he there are nearly 50 investigations going on right now, involving suspected "fraud, kickbacks, bribery, waste."
"Involving American companies?" Kroft asks.
"That's right," Bowen replies.
Shortly after this story aired, a federal jury found Custer Battles guilty of 37 separate fraudulent acts. It demanded the company repay $10 million dollars in damages and penalties to the U.S. government and whistleblowers.
The Air Force debarred the company from receiving government contracts until March 2009. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has kept busy too. He arrested another person for fraud and is now investigating more than 70 cases of abuse in Iraq.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 10:52 AM PST
Updated: Tuesday, 17 February 2009 10:58 AM PST
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Is Joe Anybody a Marxist?
Now Playing: Tax the Super Rich
Topic: BIG MONEY PLAYERS
I found this article on Portland Indy Media
GM, The NY Times,
and Marxism 101
|As Socialists, we are consistently asked to present our ideas in a clearer, easier to understand manner. To achieve this goal, I'll enlist the help of former Governor of Massachusetts and candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, who appeared in the New York Times Op-Ed section on Nov. 19th. |
Romney's piece, entitled "Let Detroit Go Broke," laid bare the intent behind the angry rhetoric used by politicians against the proposed bailout for the "Big Three" automakers. Whereas the giant Wall Street banks received over
1 trillion dollars — so far— without barely having to ask, an industry that actually produces something has to beg for a handout. Why the difference?
|Romney doesn't mince words, and makes it known that money can't simply be thrown at the Big Three: they have to fix the problems that landed them in this mess. It soon becomes clear that the biggest problem needing fixing is the wages and benefits of the autoworkers. |
"First, their [the automakers] huge disadvantage in costs relative to foreign brands must be eliminated. That means new labor agreements to align pay and benefits to match those of workers at competitors like BMW, Honda, Nissan and Toyota. Furthermore, retiree benefits must be reduced so that the total burden per auto for domestic makers is not higher than that of foreign producers."
Conclusions such as these are inescapable within a market economy. Marx gave similar examples long ago to explain how competition between capitalists inevitably forced an attack on the workers, since it is more difficult to cut the costs of raw materials and machines.
To accomplish the destruction of workers' wages, Romney demands new management, too, and says that "the new management must work with labor leaders to see that the enmity between labor and management comes to an end." This has always been a dream of the capitalist: eliminating the hostility of workers towards management, especially when management is hell-bent on destroying workers' standard of living. Unfortunately for shareholders, class conflict is inherent in an economic system that is divided between workers and owners.
The bureaucracy that controls the autoworkers union (UAW) has done its best to dampen this intrinsic conflict. The UAW "leaders" have "cooperated" in drastically lowering workers' wages and benefits, and as recently as last year, pushed through a devastating contract for workers.
But it wasn't enough.
Romney — and the corporate establishment as a whole - are demanding that the Big Three declare bankruptcy so that existing labor contracts can be torn up. Then the real "restructuring" will begin.
The lack of compassion that the ruling class shows for the families that would be affected by such polices shouldn't come as a surprise. An economic system that produces goods for a market — instead of social need — will always produce similar outrages to the conscience.
As the economic crisis deepens, similar attacks on workers will develop. This is foreshadowed by Romney's comment, "Companies in the 21st century cannot perpetuate the destructive labor relations of the 20th." In the same paragraph Romney implies that unions in general are to blame for the sad state of the economy. This is not merely the opinion of one man, but of one social class. Again it should be stated: the current crisis is being used as a justification for an unprecedented assault on the living standards of workers, beginning with the auto industry.
A defeat for the autoworkers in this fight will set a devastating precedent for workers all over the country. It is the absolute duty of every working-class person to stand in solidarity with the autoworkers in their coming struggle. It is likewise in the interest of all who work for wages to oppose the continuing bailout of the Big Banks at taxpayer expense. Taxing the Super Rich is the common sense solution to the problem you'll never hear from a politician's mouth.
More on Marxism can be found here
Extra bonus link is the word " proletariat "
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 11:09 PM PST
Updated: Tuesday, 25 November 2008 11:15 PM PST
Monday, 15 September 2008
Middle Class - Banking Bailout - and the Bad Economy
Now Playing: Sept 15 2008 - overnight the banking industry slips and trips
Topic: BIG MONEY PLAYERS
BofA Buys Merrill;
Lehman Files for Bankruptcy;
AIG, WaMu Teeter
Another firm wasn't so lucky: Unable to find a buyer over the weekend, 158-year-old investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy Monday morning. Lehman's liquidation will mark the largest collapse of a Wall Street bank since Drexel Burnham Lambert folded in the wake of the junk bond scandal almost two decades ago.
The problems don't end there. "We will see other major financial firms fail," Greenspan said on "This Week." Giant insurance company American International Group (A.I.G.) asked the Federal Reserve for $40 billion, "without which the company may have only days to survive," according to the Times. Washington Mutual, too, may be in trouble, after its shares plummeted late last week and Moody's Investor Service downgraded the bank's debt to "junk" status.
And in Europe, a Swiss newspaper reported that Swiss bank UBS will have to take another $5 billion in write-downs.We'll see what happens over the course of the day on Monday, but A.I.G., at least, seems to be in serious trouble. Adam Bakhtiar, a CNBC analyst, called Sunday's events a "tidal wave of horrific news." James K. Galbraith, an economist and contributing writer for Mother Jones, wrote in an email that while he has "a pretty good record on attacking Wall Street," his "schadenfreude is very much under control at the moment":The world will not be a better place with two free-standing investment banks—Goldman [Sachs] and Morgan [Stanley]—and a half-dozen major commercial banks, if that, running everything. Further, there is a risk that the unraveling will become disorderly and out of control from this point, as assets hit the market in fire sales and do not find takers.
This will affect pension funds and greatly compound the collapse of the wealth position of the middle class.... The collapse of Wall Street will hit Main Street like Ike hit Houston.
So how do we get out of this crisis? Well, the prime mover of all of these problems is the collapse of the housing bubble in the United States. "There's no question that this is in the process of outstripping anything I've seen, and it still is not resolved and it still has a way to go," Greenspan said Sunday. "And indeed, it will continue to be a corrosive force until the price of homes in the United States stabilizes."
The collapse of Lehman and the broadening crisis will undoubtedly be topic "A" for the presidential campaigns this week.
Barack Obama and John McCain want to lead this country.
How do they plan to respond to Monday morning's news?
This article was copied from the Mother Jones Website link here:
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 1:05 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 15 September 2008 1:11 PM PDT
Monday, 5 November 2007
Farm Bill is really helping the rich - Contact Congress Today
Now Playing: FARM BILL - TAKE ACTION my fellow Z3 READERS
Topic: BIG MONEY PLAYERS
The 2007 Farm Bill provides a powerful opportunity to reduce poverty at home and abroad. The Farm Bill passed by the House of Representatives, however well intentioned, maintains an unfair system of harmful commodity subsidies.
Zebra 3 Readers....
TAKE ACTION TODAY
Don't let the Senate play trick or treat with the Farm Bill
The Senate is playing trick or treat with the Farm Bill.
The Senate's trick: claiming the Farm Bill is good for everyone when in truth it hurts poor farmers here and abroad. And who gets a treat from the Senate? Millionaire farmers who receive unfair subsidies.
This is our last chance to enact real reform, but the Senate won’t listen unless thousands of people take action. Poor farmers are counting on you!
The Senate bill being considered, like the House version that passed, favors a relatively small number of producers at the expense of most farmers and rural communities, and it falls short of meeting its obligations to families that depend on food stamps and to conservation programs that protect rivers and streams. To make things worse, the Farm Bill would actually hurt poor farmers in developing countries—if we don't take action to fix it.
Please contact your senators and ask them to insist that the Farm Bill that comes to a vote in the Senate reduces trade-distorting subsidies and uses the savings to support programs that provide public benefits such as nutrition, conservation, and rural development. The Farm Bill only comes up once every five years, so it is critical that you take action today.
CLICK THE LINK I PROVIDED BELOW:
These subsidies undercut farmers and rural economies at home and abroad. Only one-quarter of American farmers receive commodity subsidies. Of these, the largest 10 percent of producers receive 75 percent of all payments. Contrary to the notion that subsidies help promote economic growth in rural America, the counties that receive the most commodity subsidies have seen job gains below the national average. Moreover, the commodity subsidies that our taxpayer dollars support lead to excess production, reducing world market prices, undermining the livelihoods of millions of small farmers around the world.
Your leadership can bring about change. As a voting constituent, I urge you to:
1. Vote yes on the Lugar-Lautenberg Farm Ranch Equity Stewardship and Health (FRESH) Amendment. The FRESH Amendment will provide a more effective safety net for all farmers regardless of what they grow or where they farm. The amendment reinvests $16 billion in savings over five years into several programs: $1.5 billion will go to new support for specialty crop farmers; $2.0 billion will go to improve diet and health; $6.2 billion will go to invest in popular conservation programs; $4.3 billion will go to help more hungry Americans; $3.0 billion will go to reduce the federal deficit; and $1.6 billion will go to support investments in renewable energy. The amendment will also bring our farm policy into compliance with international trade rules-removing the threat of real threat of retaliation.
2. Vote yes on the Grassley-Dorgan Payment Limits Amendment. The Grassley-Dorgan Payment Limits Amendment will place a real limit on the amount of money any one entity can receive, and it will close loopholes that allow some producers to evade limits altogether. This amendment will level the playing field for family farms and rural communities by producing budget savings that can be reinvested into programs?such as nutrition, conservation, and rural development-that deliver enhanced social benefits.
3. Provide mandatory funding for all programs, including $15 million for the 2501 Outreach and Education Program to match H.R. 2419. Mandatory funding will allow this program to help address inequities faced by farmers of color here at home.
4. Vote yes on amendments that would reduce cotton subsidies that hurt poor farmers around the world. Cotton subsidies maintained by the Agriculture Committee are especially troubling, with just 12,000 farms receiving up to three billion dollars in subsidies annually. These subsidies have a devastating effect on poor cotton farmers around the world. Failure to reform these trade-distorting subsidies will mean that those who don't need subsidies in the US continue to benefit at the taxpayers' expense while those who need the most help -the 10 million people in West Africa for whom cotton is their only source of income - suffer more. Cotton is often the only source of cash income for these families, most of them living on less than $1 a day. Reforming U.S. cotton subsidies would increase world cotton prices, resulting in added income that could feed an additional million children for a year who live in extremely poor West African cotton growing households.
Commodity subsidies hurt family farmers and cheat taxpayers. The Senate can succeed where the House of Representatives failed by making the Farm Bill fair.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 5:48 PM PST
Newer | Latest | Older