Sunday, February 11, 2007

Chaotic Iraq and a media frenzy

Millions of dollars were wasted by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) that ran Iraq after the fall of Baghdad, a former official has said. Huge cash payments were made to Iraqi contractors out of the back of pick-up trucks, in scenes reminiscent of the "Wild West."

Paul Bremer the former head of the CPA summoned in front of a Congressional committee investigating allegations of waste and fraud told that he had done his best to kick-start Iraq's economy.

"Who in their right mind would send 360 tons of cash into a war zone? But that is exactly what our government did," Henry Waxman, the Democratic chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said during the hearing last Tuesday.

The Democrats, who took control both houses of the US Congress last month, are overwhelmingly critical of the Bush administration's decision to go to war.

Indeed, $9bn in cash was flown in pallets from the US - and as revealed in the Senate hearings, some of this cash may have ended up in enemy hands. This is a pathetic situation and just shows what the lack of oversight on unbridled executive power can do with appalling consequences.

The week also saw the unravelling of a superstar, the tabloid’s dream come true - a diaper-clad, wig-sporting space shuttle astronaut travelling 900 miles by car to confront her perceived rival in a juicy NASA love triangle.

And at the center of it all was an attractive, 43-year-old married mother of three, a rocket scientist no less. Lisa Nowak had flown on the Discovery as recently as July.

She was the ultimate high achiever whose credentials were impeccable: a U.S. Naval Academy grad with master’s degrees in aeronautical engineering; a decorated Navy vet and test pilot, and an astronaut since 1996.

Before the authorities were able to determine the causes of Nowak's affection that seemingly turned into obsession, comes in another headline grabbing tragedy.

On Thursday, the entertainment industry mourned the sudden and shocking celebrity death of Anna Nicole Smith, the topless dancer who made the cover of Playboy magazine in 1992.

Even as the coroner continues to investigate the causes of her death, details coming from the bouncers, waiters and others at her hotel depict Smith as a hard partying, falling-down drunk who could barely walk herself back to her drug-filled hotel room.

Controversy followed her in life and even more controversy is following her in death. At 26 years-old she married J. Howard Marshall, the 89-year-old billionaire who died 14 months after marrying Anna Nicole Smith. Marshall has left an inheritance case that is wide open even after ten years.

Now that Smith has died, there are three men who have come forward to claim paternity on Smith's 5-month old daughter. Whoever will be proved to be the father of the child, will not only get the custody of the child but will eventually inherit a multimillion inheritance, after the legal battles run out in the courts.

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