In One Door And Out The Other

Your tax dollars, hard at work, heading for the airport, getting out of town.

Afghanistan: $4.2 billion in mysterious cash flown out of Kabul since 2007

THE “blizzard of banknotes” leaving Kabul airport is worse than originally feared, The Scotsman has learned, with at least $4.2 billion (around £2.8 billion) exported in cash over the last three-and-a-half years.

Congressmen in the United States voted to suspend $4bn in aid to the Afghan government last week, after media reports showed $3bn in cash has been flown out of the country since 2007.

US and British fraud investigators fear that most of the money leaving Kabul has been siphoned-off from international aid contracts, or made from the country’s rapidly expanding opium trade.

Documents seen by The Scotsman show that the Afghan Ministry of Finance puts the real figure at $4.2bn – at least $1.2 billion higher than previously feared.

“Our records show that $4.2bn has been transferred in cash through Kabul International Airport alone during the last three-and-a-half years,” Afghanistan’s finance minister, Dr Omar Zakhilwal, wrote in a letter to US Congresswoman Nita Lowey.

Ms Lowey, chairwoman of the aid appropriations sub-committee in Congress, has vowed not to send another dime to Afghanistan until she was confident “that US taxpayer money is not being abused to line the pockets of corrupt Afghan government officials, drug lords and terrorists”.

Dr Zakhilwal’s letter acknowledges allegations that Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s government is “assisting or partaking in this fraud” but the minister hits back by pointing out that most of the money America spends in Afghanistan circumvents the Afghan government.

. . .

The sheer volume of cash couriered out of the country’s main airport is huge relative to Afghanistan’s gross domestic product which was just $13.5bn last year, and it easily dwarfs the amount of tax revenue collected by the government.

The figure doesn’t include cash exported from any of Afghanistan’s other international airports, which include Kandahar International, Mazar-e Sharif, in northern Afghanistan, and the main US base at Bagram, north of Kabul.

. . .

Afghanistan relies on a cash economy and there is no limit to how much money can be exported, as long as it is declared to customs. Official records show most of the money that was declared leaving Kabul since 2007 formed part of the traditional Islamic hawala system, in transfers to Dubai. The often informal nature of the hawala contracts, based on trust, honour and lender’s reputation, make the transactions almost impossible for financial investigators to track.

See also:
4.2 billion dollars have left Kabul airport: report
4.2 billion dollar worth ‘blizzard of banknotes’ have flown out of Kabul since 2007
Afghanistan minister rejects US corruption allegations
Afghan leader: Foreign contracts fuel corruption
Finance Minister Calls for Probe of Afghan Money Network
US freezes $4b of aid to Afghans
US cuts $5.6b Afghan aid amid graft charges
Afghanistan: US lawmakers block $4 bln in aid
Over $4 bn in cash flies out of Kabul

It looks like Karzai and his cronies have put together quite the U.S. financed retirement fund.

/no wonder it seems that Karzai doesn’t really care which side wins in Afghanistan, as long as he can make it to the airport to don his golden parachute

Who Are These People And Where Are They Now?

Recognize anyone?

/AFP

Dubai police identify 11 suspects in Hamas official’s death

Dubai police Monday identified 11 people suspected in the killing of a top Hamas official last month and vowed “to hunt them down.”

At the same time, police offered a chilling scenario of how Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a founding member of Hamas’ military wing who had survived at least three other previous attempts on his life, was killed in his hotel room January 19 just hours after arriving in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The 11 suspects identified Monday include one woman and 10 men. All of them hold valid European passports — one from France, three from Ireland, six from Britain, and one from Germany. None of the suspects has been arrested or charged in the killing.

According to police, the suspects arrived in Dubai the day before the killing. Five of them carried out the crime while the remaining six served as lookouts, police said.

Police identified a man from France as the logistical mastermind. Police allege the man stayed at a luxury hotel in Dubai, but also booked a room at the al Bustan Rotana hotel where al-Mabhouh was killed. The French suspect requested room 237 — directly across from where al-Mabhouh was staying in room 230, police say, but the suspect apparently never stayed there. Instead, police say the rest of the group used the room to plot the killing and the alleged mastermind left the country before it was carried out.

Footage on security cameras at Dubai International Airport show one of the suspects following al-Mabhouh after he landed, police said. Two others followed him once he arrived at the hotel, police said, taking the same elevator and ensuring al-Mabhouh was staying in room 230.

Police said they believe the suspects entered al-Mabhouh’s room about 8 p.m. after the hotel cleaning crew finished their rotation on the floor, using an electronic device to gain entry.

Al-Mabhouh entered his room at 8:25 p.m., hotel security cameras and an electronic readout of his room key show. Police say the killing took no more than 10 minutes before the suspects left the room and headed immediately to the airport where they boarded flights to various cities in Europe and Asia, police said.

Before leaving, police said, the group took great care to make sure the room looked orderly, removing anything that might indicate that al-Mabhouh resisted. The suspects also deliberately turned the safety lock on the room door from the inside in order to suggest the death was normal, police said.

Police did not provide details about the nature of the killing in its statement Monday, but authorities have told al-Mabhouh’s family that there were signs of five or six electric shocks on his legs, behind his ears, on his genitals and heart. Blood on a pillow led police to believe he was suffocated.

See also:
Dubai: Hamas man assassinated by 11 mercenaries
UAE: European team killed Mabhouh
Anatomy of an assassination
Hamas probing Dubai murder with help of Iran and Syria
Victim was tailed upon arrival
Dubai To Issue Arrest Warrants For 11 Suspects Over Hamas Leader’s Killing
11 European suspects behind Hamas official’s killing: Dubai police chief
Dubai accuses British passport holders of killing Hamas chief
Dubai claims Irish passports used in killing of Hamas chief
Video: Dubai police release footage of alleged Mabhouh killers
Medical Report Confirms Assassination by Strangulation- Al-Mabhouh’s Brother
Report: Mabhouh’s bodyguards couldn’t get plane tickets
Israel: Hamas commander killed in Dubai was key arms smuggler
Slain Hamas commander helped smuggle arms into Gaza, officials say
Slain Hamas Leader Tied to Arms Group
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Gee, I wonder if the Mossad had anything to do with this assassination? You know they’re going to be blamed for it anyway.

/in any case, good riddance to bad Hamas rubbish, don’t [expletive deleted] with Israel

Iran Kidnaps Five More Bargaining Chips

Faced with increasing pressure over its nuclear program, Iran recently upped the ante by detaining five British sailors.

Iran detains 5 British sailors, saying the racing yacht strayed into its waters

Iranian authorities seized five British sailors after their racing yacht may have strayed into Iranian territorial waters, British authorities said Monday.

The group was sailing a 60-foot Volvo racing yacht from Bahrain to Dubai last Wednesday when they were “stopped by Iranian naval vessels,” the British Foreign Office said in a statement. “The yacht was on its way from Bahrain to Dubai and may have strayed inadvertently into Iranian waters. The five crew members are still in Iran.”

Last month, Iran accused three American hikers who were taken into custody in July while trekking on the Iran-Iraq border of espionage. Their families have denied the allegations.

The seizure of the sailors comes against a backdrop of difficult diplomatic relations between U.S. and European leaders and the Iranians, intensified by a long-standing dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. On Sunday, Iran announced plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants. The Iranians say their program is for energy and medical use, but the United States and the European nations are concerned that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.

David Miliband, the British foreign secretary, said in a statement that the British government contacted Iranian authorities on Wednesday night to “both to seek clarification and to try and resolve the matter swiftly” and “remain in close touch.” While the United States no longer maintains a mission in Iran, Britain has an embassy in Tehran.

See also:
British sailors detained by Iran en route to Gulf yacht race
Iran Detains Five British Sailors in Gulf, U.K. Says (Update1)
Analysis: British yacht crew detained by Iran
Iran Holds U.K. Crew and Yacht in the Gulf
5 Britons held in Iran after yacht seized in Gulf
British sailors in Iranian custody
Five British Sailors Detained In Iran
British Racing Yacht Crew Held By Iran
Five Britons held in Iran after yacht seized in Gulf

Let’s recap, Iran is the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism, they kidnap American and British citizens with impunity, they’re directly responsible for the deaths of American and NATO troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, they thumb their noses at international censure and continue moving full speed ahead to develop nuclear weapons, and they threaten to wipe Israel off the map at least once a week, etc., etc.

/how much longer is the civilized world going to put up with this [expletive deleted] before they actually do something meaningful to bring the Iranian Mullahs, who are hell bent on creating global chaos, to heel?

We Spent More Than $50 Billion And All We Got Was This Lousy Perfume

Unbelievable.

New GM to launch fragrance line

It’s not the smell of the interior of a new luxury model, the whiff of gasoline or even the aroma of burning rubber.

It’s much more. It’s the luminous fresh scent from grapefruit and camomile and a mix of geranium, tarragon and cinnamon – plus sweet spice and incense.

Think of “Cadillac, the new fragrance for men.”

Sputtering General Motors Co., just out of a quick drive through bankruptcy court, will soon be using its iconic Cadillac brand to sell a line of fragrance for men.

Beauty Contact Inc., a Dubai-based cosmetic company and holder of the fragrance licence, said yesterday it will launch the Cadillac line in stores this fall to mark the brand’s 100th anniversary.

“Cadillac, the new fragrance for men is part of the recent Cadillac renaissance: Hot new products and redesigns that capture the mantra of life, liberty and the pursuit,” said Alwyn Stephen, a Beauty Contact director.

“Our fragrance is a relevant extension of the Cadillac lifestyle.”

The line includes a spray, aftershave lotion, deodorant stick, hair and body wash. Some products will come in translucent glass bottles with sleek metal caps. The retail price for a 100 millilitre bottle of the eau de toilette fragrance will be $73.

“The design pays tribute to the opulence and extravagance of past eras, as well as the luxury and ease of today,” the firm added.

But marketing expert Alan Middleton, a York University professor, said it’s a bad example of brand extension and indicative of a troubled company. In the past, GM has licensed fragrances for Hummer, Chevrolet and Corvette.

“Anybody who knows anything much about branding would know this is about as bad an idea as when Roots tried to brand an airline,” Middleton said.

“Neither Porsche nor BMW nor any other transportation brand that has tried this silliness has been very successful.”

This is what we paid tens of billions of dollars for? This is how Obama runs a car company? They can’t even make the damn perfume in the United States! Oh yeah, remember Chrysler, the car company that Fiat bought and that the American taxpayer owns a chunk of?

Fiat 2nd-Quarter Net Loss EU168 Million; Analyst Est EU158.4 Mln

Fiat SpA, the Italian carmaker that took control of Chrysler LLC, reported a net loss of 168 million euros in the three months ended June 30, compared with net income of 604 million euros a year earlier, it said in a statement today.

That was higher than the average estimate of five analysts compiled by Bloomberg, which showed a 158.4 million-euro loss.

See also:
Fiat swings to loss as demand suffers
Fiat Reports Second Consecutive Loss on Truck Sales
Fiat CEO Says Chrysler Listing Will Take Time, Maybe 2.5 Yrs
Fiat’s Issue Is Debt, Not Profit

All in all, I think our ridiculously large investment in bailing out Chrysler and GM is being managed quite well and will turn out to be the best money taxpayers have ever spent, don’t you?

/it probably won’t even end up costing us much more than $100 billion or so, give or a take a few billion here or a few billion there