Archive for the ‘industrial’ Category

One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex

November 30, 2008

In the spring of 2007 a tiny military contractor with a slender track record went shopping for a precious Beltway commodity.
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The company, Defense Solutions, sought the services of a retired general with national stature, someone who could open doors at the highest levels of government and help it win a huge prize: the right to supply Iraq with thousands of armored vehicles.

Access like this does not come cheap, but it was an opportunity potentially worth billions in sales, and Defense Solutions soon found its man. The company signed Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general and military analyst for NBC News, to a consulting contract starting June 15, 2007.

Four days later the general swung into action. He sent a personal note and 15-page briefing packet to David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, strongly recommending Defense Solutions and its offer to supply Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles from Eastern Europe. “No other proposal is quicker, less costly, or more certain to succeed,” he said.

By DAVID BARSTOW
The New York Times

Above: Barry R. McCaffrey is among the retired military officers working as network analysts.
Artwork by the New York Times

Thus, within days of hiring General McCaffrey, the Defense Solutions sales pitch was in the hands of the American commander with the greatest influence over Iraq’s expanding military.

“That’s what I pay him for,” Timothy D. Ringgold, chief executive of Defense Solutions, said in an interview.

General McCaffrey did not mention his new contract with Defense Solutions in his letter to General Petraeus. Nor did he disclose it when he went on CNBC that same week and praised the commander Defense Solutions was now counting on for help — “He’s got the heart of a lion” — or when he told Congress the next month that it should immediately supply Iraq with large numbers of armored vehicles and other equipment.

He had made similar arguments before he was hired by Defense Solutions, but this time he went further. In his testimony to Congress, General McCaffrey criticized a Pentagon plan to supply Iraq with several hundred armored vehicles made in the United States by a competitor of Defense Solutions. He called the plan “not in the right ballpark” and urged Congress to instead equip Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/washin
gton/30general.html?_r=1&hp

China’s Poisoned Milk Scandal: Deaths Went Uncounted, Unreported

November 15, 2008

Li Xiaokai died of kidney failure on the old wooden bed in the family farmhouse, just before dawn on a drizzly Sept. 10.

Her grandmother wrapped the 9-month-old in a wool blanket. Her father handed the body to village men for burial by a muddy creek. The doctors and family never knew why she got sick. A day later, state media reported that the type of infant formula she drank had been adulterated with an industrial chemical.

By CHARLES HUTZLER, Associated Press Writer

Li Xiaoyan sits on the lap of her mother Li Aiqing at their ...
Li Xiaoyan sits on the lap of her mother Li Aiqing at their home in Liti village, near Runan, in China’s Henan province, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008. Li Xiaoyan’s nine-month-old twin sister, Li Xiaokai who had been drinking a brand of milk formula linked to the melamine scandal died from kidney failure.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Yet the deaths of Xiaokai and at least four other babies are not included in China‘s official death toll from its worst food safety scare in years. The Health Ministry’s count stands at only three deaths.

The stories of these uncounted babies suggest that China’s tainted milk scandal has exacted a higher human toll than the government has so far acknowledged. Without an official verdict on the deaths, families worry they will be unable to bring lawsuits and refused compensation.

So far, nobody is suggesting large numbers of deaths are being concealed. But so many months passed before the scandal was exposed that it’s likely more babies fell sick or died than official figures reflect.

Beijing‘s apparent reluctance to admit a higher toll is reinforcing perceptions that the authoritarian government cares more about tamping down criticism than helping families. Lawyers, doctors and reporters have said privately that authorities pressured them to not play up the human cost or efforts to get compensation from the government or Sanlu, the formula maker.

“It’s hard to say how the government will handle this matter,” said Zhang Xinkui, a Beijing-based lawyer amassing evidence of the contamination for a possible lawsuit. “There may be many children who perhaps died from drinking Sanlu powdered milk or perhaps from a different cause. But there’s no system in place to find out.”

In the weeks since Xiaokai’s death, her father and his older brother have talked to lawyers and beseeched health officials, with no result.

“My heart is in pain,” said her father, Li Xiaoquan, a short, taciturn farmer with hooded eyes. From a corner of his farmhouse courtyard in central China’s wheat and corn flatlands, he pulls a worn green box that once held apples and is now stuffed with empty pink wrappers of the Sanlu Infant Formula Milk Powder that Xiaokai nursed on. “We think someone, the company, should compensate us.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081115/ap_on_re_as/as_
china_tainted_milk_toll;_ylt=AhcKMuAvsxWggSPLvIOf.cqs0NUE