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Archive for February 11th, 2010

Claim: Blackwater Billed US for ‘Morale Welfare Recreation’ Provided by Prostitute

Two former employees have accused Blackwater Worldwide of defrauding the government for years with phony billing, including charging for a prostitute, alcohol and spa trips.

February 11, 2010 |

The world’s oldest profession may have been subsidized by the US government during the war on terror.

“Two former employees of Blackwater Worldwide have accused the private security contractor of defrauding the government for years with phony billing, including charging for a prostitute, alcohol and spa trips,” Carol D. Leonnig reports for the Washington Post.

The article continues, “In newly unsealed court records, a husband and wife who once worked for Blackwater said they had personal knowledge of the company falsifying invoices, double-billing federal agencies and charging the government for personal and inappropriate items whose real purpose was hidden. They said they witnessed ‘systematic’ fraud on the company’s security contracts with the Department of State in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.”

Brad and Melan Davis worked in various Blackwater locations. Brad Davis, a former Marine, served as a team leader and security guard, including in Iraq. His wife, Melan Davis, worked as a finance and payroll employee, starting in Louisiana. They have filed their allegations that Blackwater defrauded the government as part of a false claims lawsuit, which allows the whistleblowers to win a portion of any public money that the government recovers as a result of the information. However, the Justice Department has chosen not to join them in pursuing their civil suit, a decision that led to the Davises’ claims being unsealed this week in a Virginia federal court.

The Davises assert that Blackwater officials kept a Filipino prostitute on the company payroll for a State Department contract in Afghanistan, and billed the government for her time working for Blackwater male employees in Kabul. The alleged prostitute’s salary was categorized as part of the company’s “Morale Welfare Recreation” expenses, they said.

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The End of Influence: What Happens When Other Countries Have America’s Money

America finds itself cash poor, and to a great extent, power follows money. A new book explores the grave consequences this loss will have for America’s place in the world.
February 11, 2010 |

Editor’s Note: America’s leading role in the international economy is waning as other world powers find themselves holding onto trillions in U.S. debt. Recently, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s claimed in his new book that Russian officials encouraged the Chinese to ditch their Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds in 2008 in an attempt to make the United States bail out the troubled mortgage giants. (Russia that year sold all of the bonds it had in both public firms.) And then a few days later came news that Chinese military officers have proposed that their country sell some U.S. bonds to punish Washington for its latest round of arms sales to Taiwan. Power follows money, and Stephen S. Cohen and J. Bradford DeLong’s new book The End of Influence: What Happens When Other Countries Have the Money (excerpted below) explores what will happen in this new world, where other countries have America’s money.

* * *

For more than a quarter century now the countries of the world have been dreaming the neoliberals’ dream. They have been trying to shrink their states back to their core competencies to promote economic efficiency, global economic integration, and growth, and to slash through red tape, rent-seeking, and simple corruption. They have been actively privatizing state holdings. They have hugely reduced their ownership and their active involvement in “national champion” companies. They have cut back on interventions to affect market outcomes and on regulation to scrutinize and control market players.

But now they are waking up. And the neoliberals’ dream is at an end.

To understand why, we need to journey back to the mid-20th century. The coming of World War II ensured that whatever money still remained in Britain left quickly. Franklin Delano Roosevelt ruled an isolationist country that he wished to cajole into engaging in the war with Hitler as early and as completely as he could. But part of Roosevelt’s strategy (and a not-altogether unwelcome consequence, for many who worked in the State, War, and Navy Building-a Victorian-era structure just west of the White House that looked like a French brothel) was to make Britain broke before American taxpayers’ money was committed in any way to the fight against Hitler. Only after Britain had sold off the family silver to pay for the nozzle would America “lend” Britain its garden hose to fight the Hitlerian fire.

MORE HERE

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Palin Unqualified To Be President, Says Vast Majority Of America

HuffPo– First Posted: 02-11-10 12:27 AM   |   Updated: 02-11-10 01:40 AM

The spotlight has been bright, not necessarily kind to former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 71% of Americans do not feel that Palin is qualified to be President. That includes a sharp drop in Republican support, where 45% believe she is qualified compared to 66% who thought she was last fall.

Overall, 37% have a favorable view while 55% have an unfavorable view of the former Alaska Governor.

Palin has been able to count on support from the Tea Party, but the Washington Post indicates that the movement itself has split favorability and is poorly understood:

Nearly two-thirds of those polled say they know just some, very little or nothing about what the tea party movement stands for. About one in eight says they know “a great deal” about the positions of tea party groups, but the lack of information does not erase the appeal: About 45 percent of all Americans say they agree at least somewhat with tea partiers on issues, including majorities of Republicans and independents.

The movement’s supporters were identified as, “overwhelmingly white, mostly conservative and generally disapproving of Obama.”

If Palin intends to become a key player in Washington, she would share something in common with those already there. The poll also shows that two out of every three Americans are “dissatisfied” or “angry” at the federal government. That’s the worst result for Washington in nearly 14 years.

In another revealing question, the poll found that taxpayers estimate 53% of their money is “wasted.”

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