February 24, 2012
By Charlie McGrath
Is it time to panic? If you listen to the current administration, then the answer is, No. Things are getting better, and an 8.3% unemployment rate proves it.
With the exception of Ron Paul, the GOP candidates seem to be more concerned with reproductive choice and lowering gas prices. In fact, the rhetoric from both ‘teams’ is about what we’d expect, being that we’re headlong into political playtime.
Looking at the world through twisted prism of the mainstream may leave you feeling that things are a bit challenging, but under control. But nothing could be further from the truth. We have a gathering storm front, and it promises to be a vicious storm indeed.
The fact that US military expansion is not the number one story nightly by Western media is utterly amazing. Ron Paul works hard at every opportunity to show how military projection is not only destroying our country financially, but also in the eyes of much of the world we are rapidly turning into the freedom-hating, terror-loving fanatics we claim to be fighting.
This world perception of the U.S. is with good reason: 900 bases in over 100 countries is one reason, but the constant beating of the drums of war is nearly deafening to the rest of the world, yet is barely mentioned on the nightly news or in one of the neverending GOP debates, unless it is in the context of how we need more war.
Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Nigeria, Uganda, Yemen, Syria, and the list keeps growing. Iran seemed to have sealed its fate when announcing the end of support of the petro dollar, but of course the public is told it is because they hate freedom, Israel, rights, women, Democracy, Christians, puppies, anything and everything but the truth — control over the region’s energy resources.
If the tension over the threat of war is bad, then the economic condition of the planet is catastrophic. Countless billions have been spent, swelling ‘sovereign’ debt globally to save Big Banks from loss; bringing an end to representative Government to most of the world — that is, of course, unless you can pay to be represented.
August 12th, 2011
The Raw Story
By: Agence France Presse
US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer on Thursday began long-awaited compensation payments to families over a 1996 drug trial blamed for the deaths of 11 children and disabilities in dozens of others.
But even as the compensation process began, the company faced further criticism since only four families were paid in the initial disbursements, while some 200 children participated in the trial of meningitis drug Trovan.
Parents of four of the children who died received cheques of $175,000 each at a ceremony in the northern Nigerian city ofKano, where the trial took place.
A dispute over whether DNA testing should be used to verify the identification of victims had held up compensation payments.
Thursday’s payments followed the release of eight results of DNA tests of 546 saliva swabs of claimants, said Abubakar Bashir Wali, who heads the claims verification committee.
“Out of these eight results, four died as a result of their participation in the clinical trial and each is entitled to … $175,000 as full and final settlement of compensation,” Wali said at the ceremony.
The other four claimants suffered deformities and would be paid compensation commensurate with their disabilities, Wali said.
“We are pleased that these four individuals, the first group of qualified claimants…have received compensation,” Pfizer said in a statement it issued from New York.
The statement described the initial payments as a “milestone in the implementation of the settlement agreement reached by Kano state government and Pfizer”.
“The compensation cannot replace my loss, but will only cushion the hardship the drug trial caused me and my family,” Hauwa Umar, who lost a child, said between sobs.
Outside the ceremony, a group of claimants accused the compensation committee of unnecessary delay in the verification and payment of claims.
“It is frustrating that 10 months after taking over 500 swabs for DNA tests only eight results have been released despite assurance that the results would be out within six weeks,” Surajo Hassan said.
Hassan said his nephew suffered deafness from the trial.
“The procedures contained in the settlement agreement are quite cumbersome, and we appeal to all stakeholders to be patient…,” Wali said at the ceremony.
The payments were part of a $75 million out-of-court-settlement reached between Pfizer and Kano state government in July 2009 over the drug trial.
The trial occurred during a meningitis epidemic that, according to Pfizer, killed nearly 12,000 people.
Pfizer says it was given approval from government authorities and about 200 children were involved in the trial, half of whom were treated with Trovan. It has argued that Trovan helped save lives.
But France-based medical charity Doctors Without Borders, which was at the time urgently trying to treat meningitis victims in Nigeria, has harshly criticised Pfizer over the trial.
January 18th, 2011
U.S. diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks show that drugmaker Pfizer hired investigators to find evidence of corruption against Nigeria’s attorney general, in an effort to convince him to drop legal action against the company.
Pfizer was sued for $2 billion over testing of the meningitis drug Trovan. Nigerian authorities said the tests killed 11 children and left dozens disabled. Pfizer eventually agreed to a $75 million settlement.
“… [A] memo leaked by WikiLeaks referenced a meeting between Pfizer’s country manager, Enrico Liggeri, and U.S. officials suggesting the drug company did not want to pay to settle two cases brought by Nigeria’s federal government … Pfizer had hired investigators to uncover corruption links to federal Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa … Pfizer’s investigators were passing this information to local media.”
A series of damaging articles detailing Aondoakaa’s alleged corruption ties were published by local news agencies subsequent to the meeting
December 30th, 2010
In April 2009, Pfizer reportedly reached a tentative agreement on lawsuits regarding the vaccine trials it had conducted in 1996. Pfizer tested Trovan, an oral antibiotic, on children of Nigeria’s Kano state. To avoid the lengthy clinical trial process required by the Food and Drug Administration, Pfizer decided to expedite the production of Trovan.
It tested its efficacy on Kano children during a meningitis epidemic, with the aid of the non-profit, Doctors Without Borders. This bypasses national and international standards on medical ethics and put the lives of the Kano children in danger.
Since the testing, there has been one civil suit and one criminal case in both the Kano State and Federal High Courts. The Pfizer lawyers have worked closely with a former Nigerian Head of State on a $75 million settlement. The breakdown of the settlement would provide $10 million for legal fees; $30 million to the Kano State government; and $35 million to participants and families.
The US government was fully aware of the cases against Pfizer in Nigeria and helped Pfizer develop a new framework to conduct future testing in Nigeria. Pfizer considers Nigeria to be a major growth market and is working hard to restore its image there.
December 16th, 2010
The Raw Story
By: John Byrne
The massive industrial conglomerate Halliburton has reportedly offered to pay $250 million to settle charges against its former chief executive, ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, in a multi-million dollar bribery case.
Nigeria filed charges against Cheney last week in an investigation of alleged bribery estimated at $180 million. Prosecutors named both Halliburton and KBR in the charges, as well as three European oil and engineering companies — Technip SA, EniSpa, and Saipem Construction. Eleven Halliburton officials were arrested last month and freed on bail Nov. 29.
The charges allege that engineering contractor KBR, until 2007 a subsidiary of Halliburton, was among companies that paid bribes to secure a $6 billion contract for a natural gas plant. KBR pleaded guilty to the same bribes in a US court in 2009, and agreed to pay a $382 million fine. The Nigerian charges appear to stem from the US case — though, in that trial, Cheney was never directly charged.
The $250 million figure would include a direct $130 million fine by the company and an agreement to repatriate another $120 million from Switzerland.
Representatives for Cheney and Halliburton met with Nigerian officials in London over the weekend.
In the United States, KBR has already admitted bribing Nigerian officials. In February 2009, the company agreed to pay a $402 million fine. Halliburton itself paid $177 million to settle allegations paid to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), but didn’t admit wrongdoing. Still, despite the settlements, Halliburton’s spokeswoman said “there is no legal basis for the charges” in a statement Dec. 8.
Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission spokesman Femi Babafemi told Reuters the company had offered to pay up to $250 million.
“They have made offers of fines to be paid in penalties. They offered to pay $120 million in addition to the repatriation of $130 million trapped in Switzerland,” Babafemi said.
“It will need to be ratified by the government and we expect a decision by the end of the week,” he added.
Earlier this month, Halliburton said they hadn’t seen the new charges, but still denied their involvement.
“Halliburton’s oil-field services operations in Nigeria have never in any way been part of the LNG project and none of the Halliburton employees have ever had any connection to or participation in that project,” Tara Mullee Agard, a spokeswoman for the Houston-based company, said in an e-mailed response to Bloomberg.
Cheney led Halliburton as CEO and Chairman of the Board from 1995 to 2000.
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December 6th, 2010
By: Mara Gay
Julian Assange may be getting some unlikely company.
If Nigeria has its way, former Vice President Dick Cheney will be next on Interpol’s international “wanted” alert, for bribery charges related to his time as the CEO of Halliburton.
Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency says it plans to file charges against Cheney in connection with $180 million in bribes a Halliburton subsidiary paid to Nigerian officials to help secure a $1.2 billion contract during his tenure as head of the company. “We are filing charges against Cheney,” Femi Babafemi, the country’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission chief, told Reuters today.
Halliburton admitted to the charges in a U.S. court last year and paid $579 million in civil penalties, but Cheney himself was not implicated.
Now, though, Nigerian officials want to try Cheney, and on their own turf at that. Apparently they plan to ask Interpol, the international police agency, to issue an alert for the former vice president in the next three days, similar to the one issued for WikiLeaks head Assange. The alert “will be issued and transmitted through Interpol,” Godwin Obla, chief counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, told Bloomberg.
July 8, 2010
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday called the United States a global dictator and lashed out at Israel after arriving in Nigeria to meet fellow Muslim leaders at a summit.
“They are the self-proclaimed leaders and everybody should know that self-proclaimed leadership is dictatorship,” Ahmadinejad, referring to the United States, told an audience of hundreds at the Iranian embassy in Abuja.
“The era of dictatorship is over,” he added through an official translator.
The Iranian leader, whose country was recently hit with new sanctions by Western nations over its nuclear programme, said “the occupiers … should dismantle their evil forces from the face of earth.”
Ahmadinejad’s appearance in the West African country, where Muslims make up an estimated half of the 150 million population, drew a rapturous welcome from the crowd, which chanted “Nigerians support Iran.”
“We are going to put an end to the suffering of the people of Palestine,” he said. “The Palestinian refugees will return to their homeland … soon we are going to celebrate our victory.”
New UN sanctions were slapped on Iran last month, and both the United States and the European Union later took additional measures against Tehran unilaterally.
Western governments suspect Iran’s nuclear programme is cover for a weapons drive, something Tehran has repeatedly denied, insisting it is aimed solely at power generation and medical research.
Ahmadinejad was in Nigeria to attend a one-day summit of the Developing Eight (D-8) group on Thursday in Abuja.
The Istanbul-based D-8 groups Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, with a total population of 930 million people.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul also arrived in Abuja Wednesday for the summit, raising the possibility that damaged relations between Turkey and Israel following a deadly raid on Gaza-bound aid ships will be examined.
The D-8 was established in 1997 to promote economic ties and solidarity among member states.
April 28, 2010
A top Al Qaeda leader in the Arabian peninsula region Tuesday said he trained the US major who killed 13 people at a military base as well as the Nigerian bomber who attempted to blow up a US-bound plane last year.
Anwar al-Awlaqi claimed to have trained UK-educated Nigerian Islamist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who attempted to blow up a jet bound for Detroit Dec 25, 2009.
He also said he was ‘proud’ to have trained radical Islamist Nidal Hassan, a US-born doctor of Palestinian descent who shot dead 13 people and wounded 30 others at the Fort Hood military base in Texas in November last year.
‘I am proud to have been their teacher,’ al-Awlaqi, who has dual Yemeni-US citizenship and was an imam of mosques in San Diego and Virginia, said in a video aired by Al-Jazeera channel.
March 11, 2010
By Kim Zetter
You may be dying, figuratively, to get off the government’s no-fly list, but death won’t guarantee removal.
The government’s no-fly list includes the names of dead suspects to help catch people who may try to assume the suspect’s identity, according to government officials who spoke with The Associated Press.
The no-fly list has been shrouded in mystery since it was first developed after the 9/11 attacks. How people get on the list or get off it has been a closely guarded secret, with only bits of information made public during congressional hearings.
The AP has pieced together the broad steps it takes for someone to get on the list, and some of the changes the list has undergone since it was created nine years ago.
The no-fly list has grown from 3,400 people to about 6,000 since last December, but it did not contain the name of airline passenger Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, the AP said. The Nigerian tried to bomb a Detroit-bound Northwest airlines flight on Christmas Day using explosives packed in his underwear.
Abdulmuttalab’s name appeared in a terrorism database after his father tipped off U.S. embassy officials in Nigeria that his son might be involved in extremist activity. The government determined that the information did not meet the standard for placing him on the list or for revoking his U.S. visa.
The new names added to the list since his bombing attempt include people associated with al-Qaida’s Yemen branch (with whom Abdulmuttalab had ties), as well as other people from Nigeria and Yemen who might be connected to Abdulmuttalab, the AP said.
The current number on the no-fly list represents a pared down version of the list in 2004 when 20,000 people were on it. Those numbers were culled in 2007, and people who were no longer considered a threat were removed. These included, for example, some former members of the Irish Republican Army who were considered no longer active in terrorist activity.
As AP notes, sometimes it takes just minutes to get on the no-fly list; other times it takes days or months, depending on the information amassed on a subject.
The first step might be a simple tip to law enforcement or an intelligence agent or may come from information gleaned from a wiretapped conversation. The tip is submitted to the National Counterterrorism Center in Virginia, where it’s entered into a classified database known as Terrorist Identities Datamart Enterprise, or TIDE. The database might include a suspect’s name and relatives and associates. About 2 percent of the names in the database belong to Americans.
Here information is data-mined to connect dots and flesh out partial names and identities. If enough information can be connected to a Terrorist Watchlist target, it’s escalated to the Terrorist Screening Center, also in Virginia, for more analysis. About 350 names are sent to the screening center daily.
Depending on what the analysis turns up, a suspect might wind up on the FBI’s terror watchlist, which includes the names of about 418,000 people — including a New Jersey eight-year-old who regularly gets frisked at the airport. Airport security personnel use the list to single out some travelers for extra screening or interrogation, and the watchlist is also used for screening U.S. visa applicants and gun buyers, as well as suspects stopped by local police.
To get on this list, there must be “reasonable suspicion” that the person is involved in terrorism, according to the AP. People whose names are on this list are singled out for questioning at U.S. borders, but they can still fly. A Justice Department inspector general report last year found that the FBI was mishandling the watch list and failing to add legitimate suspects under terrorist investigation to the list; at the same time not properly updating and removing records from the list so some U.S. citizens are subjected to unjustified scrutiny.
In order to get on the no-fly list, authorities must have the suspect’s full name and age and have information indicating that the suspect is a threat to aviation or national security. The final decision for adding a name to the no-fly list rests in the hands of about six people from the TSA, the AP said.
At this point, a suspect can either be added to a “selectee list,” a list of about 18,000 people who are singled out for extra screening at airports or be put on the no-fly list. Not all people on the no-fly list are prevented from flying, however. Sometimes authorities allow them to travel unimpeded, but place a tail on them to monitor their activity, the AP said.