Wednesday, September 21, 2005
America Dies In Its Sleep
A British soldier, his uniform in flames, prepares to jump from a personnel carrier during rioting that broke out in Basra when Britain sought the release of two detained commandos. (By Atef Hassan -- Reuters)
Sitting in an outhouse, I concentrated upon this doubt, and as time passed I forgot to leave. Suddenly a violent wind came, first blowing the outhouse door open and then shut again with a loud crash. My spirit instantly advanced and ripped apart my previous doubt; it was like suddenly awakening from a dream, or remembering something forgotten. I began to dance in a way I had never learned, and there are no words to convey my great joy.
A reasonable amount o' fleas is good fer a dog---
keeps him broodin' over bein' a dog, mebbe.
---Edward Noyes Westcott
Corruption is more dangerous than terrorism.
---Hadi al-Amiri, Head of Iraqi National Assembly's Integrity Commission
Americans love a good night's sleep...and we spend tons of money trying to get one here and there. Maybe we spend more money on it, including fees to psychologists and therapists, than almost anything else. Yes, we need oil for all the stuff in our garages...and flying around in airplanes. And we spend lots more on our obesity problems than we contribute to the world's populations of the starving. And of course there is a fortune to be spent finding a sex partner and getting any enjoyment out of the activities. But mostly we really love to sleep...and hate to be awakened!
So let's say that while you were asleep, certain parties "disappeared" $10 billion from the United States Treasury. And let's also say that your sons and daughters were standing guard at those vaults of marble. Not only that, the 10 billion dollars was to be spent for weapons and protection for those duties your children have accepted. In fact, some of those kids are doing that work to get enough money to go to college. If that happened and it was discovered, do you think the story would be in a newspaper the next morning? Maybe? Definitely? Absolutely not?
Iraq Losing Billions to Corruption, Lawmakers Say
"(Al-Sabah) Iraq has lost $10 billion because of financial and administrative corruption, Hussein al-Shahristani, deputy head of the National Assembly, said in a press conference Sunday organized by the assembly's Integrity Commission. Hadi al-Amiri, head of the commission, said corruption is more dangerous than terrorism. He cited contracts the former ministry of defense held with a company known as 'al-Ain al-Jariya' to purchase 24 helicopters for $226.8 million. The helicopters were not bought and no check was made as to where the money went, al-Amiri said." (Al-Sabah is issued daily by the Iraqi Media Network.) http://www.iwpr.net/archive/ipm/ipm_325.html
Tue 20 Sep 2005
Ex-minister faces arrest for 'biggest robbery in the world'
"IRAQ'S former defence minister is expected to be arrested in the coming days in connection with the disappearance of more than $1 billion from the country's defence budget, a senior corruption investigator said yesterday.
"Hazim Shaalan, who served in interim prime minister Iyad Allawi's government, ran a ministry which worked with intermediaries, rather than foreign companies or governments, for the supply of defence equipment including helicopters, armoured vehicles, bullets and weapons.
"Not only were contracts with intermediaries forbidden at the time, but the prices paid for the equipment were vastly inflated and the contracts often not fulfilled. On one occasion, it is alleged more than $230 million had been spent on a collection of 28-year-old, second-hand Polish helicopters whose design life was just 25 years.
"Radhi al-Radhi, the head of Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity, said he handed a file of evidence against Shaalan to Iraq's central criminal court two months ago and expected a warrant for his arrest to be issued within ten days.
"'What Shaalan and his ministry were responsible for is possibly the largest robbery in the world,' Mr Radhi said. 'Our estimates begin at $1.3 billion and go up to $2.3 billion.'
"Shaalan, who lives in Jordan and also spends time in London, has denied any wrongdoing and has said that whatever he did was ultimately approved of by US authorities." http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1964832005
But WHERE, you ask, is American coverage of such a report? Sure, maybe the disappearance of somewhere between 1 and 10 billion dollars isn't from our own US Treasury, but our tax dollars must have sponsored at least some of that procurement budget. And it was for equipment for indigenous soldiers so our kids can get out of there. Check Google News and see how many US papers and media are carrying the story. I find only the Washington Post has an Opinion piece on it. http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/worldopinionroundup/2005/09/iraqi_corruptio.html Of course we're watching all our hurricanes...and wondering how to pay for all that disaster relief (and nothing for disaster prevention). Coincidentally, $10 billion of it will come from cuts to Medicaid. http://www.thehill.com/thehill/export/TheHill/Comment/OpEd/092105_oxford.html Molly Ivins was wondering the other day "exactly why the right-wing Republicans chose to make FEMA a political football." http://www.creators.com/opinion_show.cfm?next=3&ColumnsName=miv Is Molly losing her grip? Girl, disaster relief is where the big bucks are! BILLIONS.
But wait...there's more. You remember the 2004 Election? The long-awaited Carter-Baker Report on our electoral system is out and guess what? Even though there is nothing vitally wrong with our system...except a few computer glitches here and there, the report concludes that public confidence in elections is disappearing. http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/19/2005/1462 Disappearing...just like all that money. Just...gone with the wind. And we wonder why we're losing sleep.