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Monday, Apr 21st

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U.S. funds sent from Iraq to al-Qaeda - source

A former Iraqi investigator said more then $US13 billion of the money allocated for reconstruction projects in Iraq was wasted or stolen, with some of it ending up in al-Qaeda’s coffers.

He said many of the projects funded by the U.S. ‘were not needed, and many were never built’ like an electricity project in Nineveh province that an oversight agency found ‘existed only on paper’, reports the Washington Post newspaper.

Embezzlement schemes were widely used for arms procurement, according to Adhoob. In one case Iraqi Defence ministry officials helped set up two front companies to buy combat vehicles and other equipment with $1.7 billion in U.S. funds. The companies were paid, but for some items only ‘a small percentage’ of the order was delivered and, in one case, the delivered bullet proof vests were defective and absolutely useless.

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Inhalers may up heart death risk

Inhalers prescribed for serious lung disease may increase the risk of deadly heart problems, say researchers.

Trials on more than 15,000 patients found inhaled anticholinergic drugs increased the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death by 58%

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'Punish' those responsible for financial crisis: Sarkozy

Those responsible for the global financial crisis should be punished, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said, calling for more world leaders to recognize the seriousness of the situation.

"Today millions of people around the world are fearful of losing their nest eggs, their apartments, their savings in banks," Sarkozy said at a dinner Monday where he was awarded the Elie Wiesel Foundation's Humanitarian Award.

"We must provide them with clear answers. Who is responsible for this disaster. That those responsible will be held accountable and punished and that we government leaders will assume our responsibilities," he said without specifying those responsible.

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Palin pools media coverage of meetings with Kissinger and world leaders

But, today the Palin camp went to new lengths to control the media, which is covering the GOP Vice-Presidential nominee.

It was decided by the campaign that today’s meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, and Former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger would be pooled. This means only one television network with their camera and producer, plus a print reporter, and wire reporters would be let in at the beginning of the meeting and then be ushered out before the leaders and Palin began talking. This is common practice in presidential campaigns, but this morning a little over one hour before the meetings would begin the pool network television producer and print poolers were told they were not allowed to enter the meetings.

 This means that the Palin camp has the benefit of pictures of her shaking hands with world leaders and have that video broadcast all over the world, but there would be no risk of her having to answer even one question from a reporter at the beginning of the meetings

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TVNL Comment:  It is curious that FOX NEWS is reporting this manipulation of the media. Possibly, they are miffed at being left out of any direct questioning of Palin.  

Rep. Conyers demands answers in Justice's oil decision

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee demanded Tuesday that the attorney general provide an "immediate explanation" for a Justice Department decision that could have cost taxpayers up to $40 million in royalties from a major oil company.

Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers' cited a McClatchy story Sept. 12 that detailed the department’s rejection of the Colorado U.S. attorney’s recommendation to intervene in a whistleblower’s suit against the Kerr-McGee Corp.

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The 50 Richest Members of Congress

Roll Call’s annual attempt to rank the riches of Members of Congress is hampered by one fundamental flaw: It is based on the lawmakers’ financial disclosure forms, which are extraordinarily unreliable sources of information.

The disclosure rules allow Members to report assets in broad categories, so there is no way to tell the difference between a $20 million investment and a $5 million investment. The top category on the Members’ forms is “over $50 million,” so it is impossible to accurately account for anything worth more than that — like a professional sports team, for example. There is also a gaping loophole for assets owned by the Members’ spouse or dependent children; anything worth more than $1 million in value can be reported as “over $1 million.” There is no way to tell whether that is $1.2 million or $1.2 billion.

The rules also don’t require reporting things of value that are not used to produce income — most notably any primary residence or other home that is not used for rentals. That loophole removes from most Members’ portfolios hundreds of thousands of dollars and in come cases millions of dollars worth of assets. Airplanes, fancy cars, antiques or other valuable items are not reported.

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The REAL reason for the decline in Iraqi violence.

The American military began paying many members of the Awakening movement as the program expanded, even including Shiite members who make up about one-fifth of the program. They were paid roughly $300 a month by the United States to guard checkpoints and buildings and — for those who used to be insurgents — to no longer blow up American convoys and shoot American troops.

Although the “surge” is often described as the turning point that led to lower violence, a number of American officers contend the Awakening that began well before the surge in 2006 in Anbar Province and continued in Baghdad last year was the most significant reason for the decline. In some places, American casualties plunged within weeks of the Sunnis joining with American forces. All told, the movement is thought to have about 100,000 members.

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TVNL Comment: The propaganda continues that the Bush 'surge' has been a great success.  The truth about payments to Sunnis and Shiites alike has been carefully hidden from the US public.  The reduction in violence has come at a cost of $300 of taxpayer money a month for EACH of the 100,000 Iraqis who became part of the so-called "Awakening." 

US generals planning for resource wars

Under the auspices of the US department of defence and department of the army, the US military have just published a document entitled 2008 Army Modernization Strategy which makes for interesting reading against the current backdrop of deteriorating international fiscal, environmental, energy resource and security crises.

Against this backdrop, the 90 page document sets out the future of international conflict for the next 30 to 40 years - as the US military sees it - and outlines the manner in which the military will sustain its current operations and prepare and "transform" itself for future "persistent" warfare.

The document reveals a number of profoundly significant - and worrying - strategic positions that have been adopted as official doctrine by the US military. In its preamble, it predicts a post cold war future of "perpetual warfare".

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$13 Billion in Iraq Aid Wasted Or Stolen, Ex-Investigator Says

A former Iraqi official estimated yesterday that more than $13 billion meant for reconstruction projects in Iraq was wasted or stolen through elaborate fraud schemes.

Salam Adhoob, a former chief investigator for Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity, told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, an arm of the Democratic caucus, that an Iraqi auditing bureau "could not properly account for" the money.

While many of the projects audited "were not needed -- and many were never built," he said, "this very real fact remains: billions of American dollars that paid for these projects are now gone."

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