Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Living like a king off the blood of others

Tomorrow in Babe Ruth Park (Gallup, New Mexico) Cindy Sheehan's Tour De Peace will have a gathering at 6:00 pm.  Hank Woji will be performing.  Details here.

Bomb detectors in Iraq.  Let's drop back to the June 8, 2010 snapshot:

In November of last year, Rod Nordland (New York Times) explained the 'bomb detectors' in use in Iraq: "The small hand-held wand, with a telescopic antenna on a swivel, is being used at hundreds of checkpoints in Iraq. But the device works 'on the same principle as a Ouija board' -- the power of suggestion -- said a retired United States Air Force officer, Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack, who described the wantd as nothing more than an explosive divining rod." They are the ADE 651s with a ticket price of between $16,500 and $60,000 and Iraq had bought over 1,500.  More news came with arrests on January 22: "Caroline Hawley (BBC Newsnight -- link has text and video) reports that England has placed an export ban on the ADE-651 'bomb detector' -- a device that's cleaned Iraq's coffers of $85 million so far. Steven Morris (Guardian) follows up noting that, 'The managing director [Jim McCormick] of a British company that has been selling bomb-detecting equipment to security forces in Iraq was arrested on suspicion of fraud today'." From the January 25th snapshot:

Riyad Mohammed and Rod Norldand (New York Times) reported on Saturday that the reaction in Iraq was outrage from officials and they quote MP Ammar Tuma stating, "This company not only caused grave and massive losses of funds, but it has caused grave and massive losses of the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians, by the hundreds and thousands, from attacks that we thought we were immune to because we have this device."  Despite the turn of events, the machines continue to be used in Iraq but 'now' an investigation into them will take place orded by Nouri. As opposed to months ago when they were first called into question. Muhanad Mohammed (Reuters) adds that members of Parliament were calling for an end to use of the machines on Saturday.  Martin Chulov (Guardian) notes the US military has long -- and publicly -- decried the use of the machines,  "The US military has been scathing, claiming the wands contained only a chip to detect theft from stores. The claim was based on a study released in June by US military scientists, using x-ray and laboratory analysis, which was passed on to Iraqi officials." 
Today the BBC reports police raids took place at "Global Tech, of Kent, Grosvenor Scientific, in Devon, and Scandec, of Nottingham. Cash and hundreds of the devices have been seized, and a number of people are due to be interviewed under caution on suspicion of fraud."  Michael Peel and Sylvia Pfeifer (Financial Times of London) add, "Colin Cowan, head of City police's overseas anti-corruption unit, said investigators were seeking further information from the public about the manufacture, sale and distribution of the devices. Det Supt Cowan said: 'We are concerned that these items present a real physical threat to anyone who may rely on such a device for protection'." 

Yesterday, Melanie Hall (Telegraph of London) reported that the "useless devices, based on novelty golf-ball finders worth less than 13 pounds," were sold to "the Iraqi government, the United Nations, Kenyan police, Hong Kong prison service, the Egyptian army, Thailand's border control and Saudi Arabia" for "as much as 27,000 pounds."  13 pounds today would be about $19.86 US dollars.  27,000 pounds?  $41,247.83 US dollars.  A device that cost less than 20 dollars to make was sold at about a 2,000% mark up -- the greed and the duplicity are usually intertwined.  Robert Booth and Meirion Jones (Guardian) add, "A jury at the Old Bailey found Jim McCormick, 57, from near Taunton, Somerset, guilty on three counts of fraud over a scam that included the sale of £55m of devices based on a novelty golfball finder to Iraq. They were installed at checkpoints in Baghdad through which car bombs and suicide bombers passed, killing hundreds of civilians. Last month they remained in use at checkpoints across the Iraqi capital."  Caroline Hawley and Meirion Jones (BBC -- link is text and video) note:

But his main market was Iraq, where lives depended on bomb detection and where the bogus devices were, and still are, used at virtually every checkpoint in the capital.
Between 2008 and 2009 alone, more than 1,000 Iraqis were killed in explosions in Baghdad. Thousands more were injured, including 21-year-old Haneen Alwan, who was two months pregnant and had gone out to buy ice cream when she was caught in a bomb in January 2009.
"My life was completely destroyed, everything gone in an instant," she said. "I lost the baby and my husband divorced me."

Richard Smith (Daily Mirror) explains of Jim McCormick, "He bought a £3.5million six-bedroom Georgian mansion from actor Nicolas Cage, homes in Florida and Cyprus, flash cars and a yacht he barely used. Detectives believe guards have been blown up while using the dodgy devices which landed the 57-year-old Scouser a £60million fortune."   The Georgian mansion is Midford Castle which was built in the 1700s.  McCormick was living like a king off the blood of others.

ITN's video report is here and it shows Superintendent Nigel Rock of Avon and Somerset Police discussing the device: "[. . .] is completely incapable of detecting explosives, drugs or any other substance.  The court has heard evidence that the device has no basis in science.  In fact, there are no working parts in that device.  It is empty."

Transparency International's Leah Wawro observes, "The hundreds that are estimated to have died because of these useless devices are the most visible victims of this crime. But the impact of this type of systemic, high-level corruption extends beyond that immediate loss of life. A quick glance at the UNDP website for Iraq shows how bad services are for normal Iraqis: 75% identify poverty as the most pressing need; 20% of Iraqis cannot read or write; just 26% of the population has access to the public sewage network. Would those numbers, and lives, be different if that £55 million had been spent in a transparent way on education, infrastructure, and enterprise? How many lives could have been saved if the £55million the Iraqi government wasted were spent on effective bomb detection mechanisms?"

The following community sites -- plus Adam Kokesh,, Pacifica Evening News, The Diane Rehm Show and Chocolate City -- updated last night and this morning:

In addition, Isaiah should have a comic this morning. Should?  He's finished it.  He's having trouble getting it to load to Flickr.  I'll try to take a look at that while I'm finishing the second entry this morning.

Senator Patty Murray is Chair of the Senate Budget Committee.  Senator Kelly Ayotte serves on the Committee.  (At yesterday's Budget Committee hearing, Ayotte made a strong case to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki on why New Hampshire needs a full-service VA medical center to serve its population -- she noted over 10% of New Hampshire's population are veterans and that they are having to cross state lines to get most health care needs addressed.  She made a strong case and noted that she and New Hampshire's other US Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, are not going to drop this issue.)  (For Chair Murray at yesterday's hearing, you can see the snapshot which includes her first round of questioning and her opening statement.)  Senators Murray and Ayotte have joined forces to declare April the Month of the Military Child:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                     CONTACT: Murray Press Office (202) 224-2834
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013                                                           Ayotte Press Office (202) 224-3324

MILITARY: Senators Murray, Ayotte Lead Bipartisan Resolution Designating Month of the Military Child

Resolution seeks to recognize daily struggles and personal sacrifices of children of members of the Armed Forces

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) led a bipartisan group, including Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mark Warner (D-VA), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Joe Machin (D-WV), Dean Heller (R-NV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and introduced a bipartisan Senate Resolution recognizing the month of April, 2013 as the National Month of the Military Child.  

“Too often the sacrifices families make when their loved ones serve go unnoticed,” Senator Murray said.  “I am so proud to join Senator Ayotte in co-sponsoring this resolution to honor the unprecedented sacrifices that military children have made, and continue to make.”
“As the spouse of a veteran and the mother of two young children, I know firsthand the commitments required of military families, including the children of service members,” Senator Ayotte said.  “I am pleased to join Senator Murray in introducing a resolution that recognizes the daily sacrifices made by military children while their loved ones are away serving our country.”
It is estimated that of the more than 2 million men and women serving in the Armed Forces, 43.9% leave families with children behind.  As of March 2013, 4,802 children had lost a parent serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. 

The full text of the Resolution follows:
Honoring military children during National Month of the Military Child.
Whereas more than 2,000,000 men and women are demonstrating their courage and commitment to freedom by serving in the Armed Forces of the United States;
Whereas 43.9 percent of members of the Armed Forces, when deployed away from their permanent duty stations, leave families with children behind;
Whereas no one feels the effect of deployments more than the children of deployed members of the Armed Forces;
Whereas, as of March 2013, 4,802 children had lost a parent serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom;
Whereas the daily struggles and personal sacrifices of children of members of the Armed Forces too often go unnoticed;
Whereas countless children live with a service member parent who bears the visible or invisible wounds of war;
Whereas the children of members of the Armed Forces are a source of pride and honor to the people of the United States and it is fitting that the Nation recognize their contributions and celebrate their spirit;
Whereas the National Month of the Military Child, observed in April each year, recognizes military children for their sacrifices and contributes to demonstrating the Nation's unconditional support for members of the Armed Forces;
Whereas, in addition to Department of Defense programs to support military families and military children, various programs and campaigns have been established in the private sector to honor, support, and thank military children by fostering awareness and appreciation for the sacrifices and the challenges they face; and
Whereas a month-long salute to military children will encourage support for those organizations and campaigns established to provide direct support for military children and families: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate--
(1) joins the Secretary of Defense in honoring the children of members of the Armed Forces and recognizes that those children also share in the burden of protecting the United States; and
(2) urges the people of the United States to join with the military community in observing the National Month of the Military Child with appropriate ceremonies and activities that honor, support, and thank military children.


Sean Coit
Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray

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