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Archive for June 7th, 2010

Some Coral Atolls Growing Despite Rising Seas

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 7th, 2010 4:51 am by HL

Some Coral Atolls Growing Despite Rising Seas
Some South Pacific coral atolls have held their own or even grown in size over the last 60 years despite rising sea levels, research showed Thursday — despite the concern that many of the tiny, low-lying islands will eventually disappear under rising sea levels. “They’re not all growing … but the consistency [with which] some of them have grown is a little surprising,” said Auckland University environmental professor Paul Kench.


Late Late Night FDL: High Hopes

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 7th, 2010 4:50 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: High Hopes
Frank SinatraHigh Hopes, from The Frank Sinatra Show, 1959.

Frank SinatraHigh Hopes, from The Frank Sinatra Show, 1959.

What’s on your mind?


Marijuana Delivery Services Evade Bans on Dispensaries

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 7th, 2010 4:49 am by HL

Marijuana Delivery Services Evade Bans on Dispensaries
By Gary Cohn and Michael Montgomery, California Watch A flourishing and unregulated industry of pot delivery services is circumventing bans on storefront dispensaries and bringing medical marijuana directly to homes, offices and more unconventional locations across California, records and interviews show.

By Gary Cohn and Michael Montgomery, California Watch

A flourishing and unregulated industry of pot delivery services is circumventing bans on storefront dispensaries and bringing medical marijuana directly to homes, offices and more unconventional locations across California, records and interviews show.


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Frank Dwyer: What the “A” Stands for in CapitalAism

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 7th, 2010 4:48 am by HL

Frank Dwyer: What the “A” Stands for in CapitalAism
BP’s Hayward proves again: every bottom line comes with an asshole….

Don C. Reed: Harry Truman, Harry Reid
America will always need leaders of compassion, conscience, and courage. People like Harry Truman. And Harry Reid.

Helen Thomas Speech Canceled Over Israel Flap
BETHESDA, Md. — A high school graduation speech by veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas has been canceled because of controversial remarks she made about…

Bradley Manning, U.S. Intelligence Analyst, Arrested In Wikileaks Video Probe
Federal officials have arrested an Army intelligence analyst who boasted of giving classified U.S. combat video and hundreds of thousands of classified State Department records…

Alberto Torrico: Focus on Attacking California’s Problems – Not Fellow Democrats
We are now hours away from holding our state’s primary election to nominate our Democratic Attorney General candidate. But, as is all too unfortunately common,…


Liz Cheney rushes to defend Halliburton, ignores gov’t fraud allegations

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 7th, 2010 4:47 am by HL

Liz Cheney rushes to defend Halliburton, ignores gov’t fraud allegations

On ABC’s This Week, Liz Cheney ridiculed Arianna Huffington for her statement that Halliburton defrauded the government out of hundreds of millions of dollars. In fact, federal agencies have repeatedly accused Halliburton and its former subsidiary, KBR, of fraud with regard to its work in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cheney: The “assertion that Halliburton defrauded the U.S. Government” has “no relationship to the facts”

From the June 6 edition of ABC’s This Week:

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Right here we have the poster child of Bush-Cheney crony capitalism — Halliburton — involved in this, and you haven’t said about that. They, after all, were responsible for cementing the well. Here’s Halliburton, after it defrauded the American taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars–

LIZ CHENEY: Arianna, I don’t know what planet you live on —

HUFFINGTON: — it’s involved again.

CHENEY: — but it’s not — it’s not facts.

HUFFINGTON: I’m living on this planet, you’re living in a planet that is —

CHENEY: Arianna, what you’re saying has no relationship —

HUFFINGTON: — continuing —

CHENEY: — to the truth. No relationship to the facts.

HUFFINGTON: It is completely — Halliburton was involved in this. How can you say —

[crosstalk]

JAKE TAPPER [host]: Halliburton was cementing the pipe.

HUFFINGTON: How can you say there’s no relationship?

CHENEY: Her assertion that Halliburton defrauded the U.S. government —

HUFFINGTON: It did.

CHENEY: — that there was Bush-Cheney cronyism. These are the left’s talking points.

HUFFINGTON: Hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraq —

CHENEY: Arianna, it’s absolutely not true. It is absolutely not true.

HUFFINGTON: OK, I’m so glad PolitiFact is going to be covering this.

CHENEY: Good.

HUFFINGTON: I’m so glad.

DOD auditor referred dozens of cases of suspected fraud, irregular conduct by Halliburton subsidiary, suspended or disapproved hundred of millions in billings

DOD audits of Halliburton’s Iraq and Afghanistan contract found at least $1.4 billion in questioned and $441 million in unsupported costs. In December 2001, the federal government announced it had separated from KBR. At a May 4, 2009 hearing of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) – a Department of Defense agency that audits Pentagon contracts — presented data on its audits of KBR’s LOGCAP III contract. According to the data, DCAA audits completed* prior to Halliburton’s separation from KBR found more than $1.4 billion in questioned costs and $441 million in unsupported costs. According to the DCAA, questioned costs are “costs proposed or claimed by the contractor which DCAA considers to be unallowable in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulations or contract terms and conditions,” and unsupported costs are “costs for which the contractor has not provided sufficient rationale for their estimates.”

DOD audits led to $452M in suspended or disapproved costs. According to the DCAA document, when an audit finds a questioned or unsupported document, “if the contractor does not voluntarily remove the costs from billings” the “DCAA issues a Form 1, Notice of Contract Costs Suspended and/or Disapproved, to suspend or disapprove costs.” DCAA suspended or disapproved over $452 million in costs claimed by KBR through the LOGCAP III contract that were completed* before Halliburton separated from KBR.

Examples of suspended or disapproved costs include “KBR charg[ing] the government for significantly more meals than were actually served.” As an example of an exception produced by the audits, DCAA director April Stephenson stated:

For instance, the Army’s Statement of Work required KBR to provide up to a specified number of meals per month to be served at a particular camp. Our audit determined KBR’s subcontractors served significantly fewer meals. DCAA took exception to the costs of the excess meals and issued over 90 “DCAA Forms 1” suspending or disapproving over $130 million.

DOD audits noted 32 examples of suspected “fraud or other suspected irregular conduct” by Iraq and Afghanistan contractors, the “vast majority” of which were from KBR. According to the DCAA’s data, the agency referred to investigative agencies 32 cases of suspected fraud or other irregular conduct with regard to Iraq and Afghanistan contractors. Of those 32, 21 were referred prior to the date Halliburton severed ties with KBR. At the May 4, 2009, hearing, Stephenson testified that the “vast majority” of those 32 referrals were related to KBR’s contract. She added: “That is unprecedented, and any program that we have had in the past to have that many referrals, it absolutely concerns us,” adding that “in the history of DCAA I do not think we are aware of a program, a contract or a contractor that has had this number of suspensions or referrals.”         

DOJ suing KBR for “improper charges to the United States”

DOJ has announced a lawsuit against KBR for charging “improper costs” in Iraq from 2003 to 2006. On April 1, the Justice Department Justice Department:

James N. Sellman, 31, of Raeford, N.C., and Wallace A. Ward, 25, Columbus, Ga., were charged yesterday in a seven-count indictment with conspiracy, making a false writing, bribery, and making a false claim to the Department of Defense. The indictment alleges that between May and September 2006, while assigned to oversee fuel deliveries to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, Sellman and Ward conspired to accept bribes from Afghan truck drivers in return for falsifying government documents indicating receipt of the fuel and then diverting over 80 truckloads of fuel for sale outside the airfield. According to the indictment, the conspiracy involved over 784,000 gallons of fuel valued at more than $2.1 million.

Justice Department records show Sellman was sentenced in 2008 to 26 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $675,000 in restitution; Ward was sentenced in 2008 to 26 months in prison and ordered to pay $216,000 in restitution. A third former employee, Raschad L. “Sean” Lewis, was found guilty in 2009 “of conspiracy, false writing, bribery of a public official, and false claims” for his part in the scheme.

Halliburton worker pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks on Iraqi subcontracts. According to an August 23, 2005, Washington Post article, Glenn Allen Powell, a KBR employee in Iraq from October 2003 to January 2005, “admitted to taking 20 percent off the top of a subcontract, or more than $110,000.” The Post also noted: “While the scheme was ongoing, KBR had been unwittingly billing the U.S. government an inflated amount for reimbursement because of the 20 percent kickback. The difference has since been refunded.”

KBR employee pleaded guilty to participating in kickback scheme with a Kuwaiti contractor. In July 2007, the Houston Chronicle reported that former KBR employee Anthony Martin “pleaded guilty to participating in a kickback scheme related to the award of a $4.7 million contract in 2003 to a Kuwaiti firm, the Department of Justice said.” The Chronicle reported that Martin told a federal jury that in 2003, “he worked with the manager of the Kuwaiti firm to hide more than $50,000 in kickbacks within a subcontract for heavy trucks and refrigerator trailers.”

 *These costs do not include audits that were completed after April 5, 2007, but covered the time period in which Halliburton owned KBR.


Haley’s Damage Control Strategy: Blame Her Enemies (VIDEO)

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 7th, 2010 4:46 am by HL

Haley’s Damage Control Strategy: Blame Her Enemies (VIDEO)
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Nikki Haley’s response to claims of infidelity has not been her denials, but the gusto with which she is blaming her opponents for orchestrating the allegations.



South CarolinaNikki HaleyLt. Gov. Andre BauerUnited StatesRepublican

SC GOPer Apologizes For Calling Obama And Haley ‘Ragheads’: I Was Just Joking
South Carolina State Sen. Jake Knotts (R) has apologized for referring to President Obama and Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley as “ragheads,” saying that he meant the comment as a joke. “We’ve already got a raghead in the White House,…


Nikki HaleyJake KnottsSouth CarolinaRepublicanBarack Obama


Trouble over BART cop case?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 7th, 2010 4:42 am by HL

Trouble over BART cop case?
The specifics of what precisely happened, who did what, and how much resistance was the suspect offering will be topics for debate during a trial that is just starting the jury selection process in Los Angeles.


Democrats Avoid Primary to Challenge Bachmann

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 7th, 2010 4:41 am by HL

Democrats Avoid Primary to Challenge Bachmann
Maureen Reed (D) announced that she is dropping out of the primary race to unseat Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, allowing Democrats to unify behind one candidate, Tarryl Clark (D).

“The surprise announcement changes the dynamic of the Sixth District race, which was already shaping up to be one of the most heated in the state. Though Bachmann represents a solidly conservative area, national eyes and wallets are keenly focused on the race because of the lawmaker’s controversial style of politics.”

Inglis Trails Primary Rival
A new Public Policy Polling survey shows Rep. Robert Inglis (R-SC), who has drawn flak from his party for his perceived lack of conservative orthodoxy, trails primary rival Trey Gowdy (R), 37% to 33%.

South Carolina’s primaries will take place Tuesday. If no candidate achieves 50%, a runoff will be held on June 22nd.

Crist Denies He Approved Diversion of Funds
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist “personally signed off on his former Republican party chairman’s confidential fundraising role with the state party — according to Jim Greer’s attorney, whose allegation contradicts the governor’s statement that he ‘didn’t know anything’ about the deal now part of a criminal investigation,” the Miami Herald reports.

Investigators say Greer “secretly set up a shell company” to divert party money and enrich himself.

In a CNN interview, Crist was quick to deny the allegations.

Said Crist: “Sometimes desperate people say desperate things, and it’s very sad.”


Like Blowing Up the Alps: Swiss Banking Giant UBS and Massey?s Energy Big Coal Mayhem

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 7th, 2010 4:40 am by HL

Like Blowing Up the Alps: Swiss Banking Giant UBS and Massey?s Energy Big Coal Mayhem

And then there was one. Swiss banking giant UBS is now reportedly Massey Energy’s last primary financier. Go figure. If any lending institution might understand the human rights and environmental factors in preserving mountains and mountain heritage, Zurich-based UBS should hold a special place. Not like anyone would ever consider strip-mining the beloved Alps; like Appalachia, mountains stretch […]


END THE GAZA BLOCKADE

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 7th, 2010 4:39 am by HL

END THE GAZA BLOCKADE
There is a lot of misinformation flying around about what is going on in Gaza. Didn’t Israel evacuate Gaza? Are people in Gaza starving? What is going on with the Egyptian side of the border? Does Hamas want peace with…


HamasGaza StripIsraelGaza CityMiddle East

Goodbye Redneck Riviera
Just before his daily briefing Wednesday, Admiral Thad Allen, the President’s military point man in the Gulf, had the BP logo removed from the podium. The White House apparently wants to distance itself from Bad Petroleum. But confusion over who’s…


FloridaEmerald CoastUnited StatesThad AllenBP

Put Jobless Young People to Work Cleaning Up BP’s Mess and Order BP to Pay
Friday’s job report was awful. For most new high school and college grads finding a job is harder than ever. Meanwhile, states are cutting summer jobs for disadvantaged young people. What to do with this army of young unemployed? Send…


BPUnemploymentMississippiUnited StatesHigh school