Monthly Archives: January 2016

Breaking News: 1 Activist Killed, Bundy Brothers and 6 Others Arrested in Oregon

For weeks, law enforcement had kept their distance from the isolated wildlife refuge. They wanted to avoid a massacre out in Oregon’s high desert.

Since Jan. 2, former rancher Ammon Bundy and several other armed activists had chosen the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as the site of a daring protest that riveted and infuriated many Americans.

The men, who gave news conferences in their cowboy hats, opposed the government’s prosecution of two local ranchers — as well as federal administration of the West’s vast public wildlands. The local sheriff, fearing violence, pleaded for the men to leave.

They called his bluff and refused, and on Tuesday afternoon, the government finally played its hand.

At least one occupier was killed and eight others were in custody on federal charges Tuesday night after law enforcement struck in a flurry of surprise arrests that caught protesters who had temporarily left the occupied refuge, apparently to attend a community meeting.

Gunshots broke out when the FBI and the Oregon State Police apparently intercepted Bundy and several of his supporters on a rural stretch of U.S. Highway 395.

The protesters had been en route to a meeting with hundreds of Oregon residents, many of them supporters of the occupation, about 100 miles north of the refuge in the town of John Day. They never made it.

Details of what happened during the showdown were scant. Officials would only say that shots were fired.

His brother, Ryan Bundy, 43, of Bunkerville, Nev., was shot in the arm, and Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, a 55-year-old Arizona rancher who had acted as a spokesman for the group, was killed in the highway confrontation, according to Nevada state Assemblywoman Michele Fiore.

Ammon Bundy, 40, who has acted as a leader of the occupation, told his wife in a phone call that the group had been cooperative when law enforcement agents confronted them, according to Fiore, a Bundy family supporter who spoke with Bundy’s wife on Tuesday.

She said Bundy told his wife that Finicum was shot three times while he had his hands up in the air. This account could not immediately be confirmed.

“It’s very unfortunate. The only saving grace is there are six witnesses to it,” Fiore said in an interview.

“My perspective is our government has acted lawless and we have got to stop” it, she said.

Ryan Bundy, a resident of Bunkerville, Nev., was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, treated and released into FBI custody.

The Bundy brothers are the sons of Cliven Bundy, a southern Nevada rancher who was at the center of a tense armed standoff of his own with federal Bureau of Land Management officials in 2014.

When federal officials seized some of the family’s cattle over an estimated $1million in unpaid grazing fees, a ragtag band of armed militiamen rode to his defense at his ranch about 90 miles outside Las Vegas. The BLM backed down and released the cattle.

“Isn’t this a wonderful country we live in?” the elder Bundy said sarcastically Tuesday night when the Los Angeles Times informed him about the arrests and the death.

“We believe that those federal people shouldn’t even be there in that state, and be in that county and have anything to do with this issue. … I have some sons and other people there trying to protect our rights and liberties and freedoms, and now we’ve got one killed, and all I can say is, he’s sacrificed for a good purpose,” he said.

In addition to the Bundy brothers, those arrested on the highway included Brian Cavalier, 44, also of Bunkerville; Shawna Cox, 59, Kanab, Utah; and Ryan Waylen Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Mont.

Within two hours, officials had also arrested Peter Santilli, 50, of Cincinnati and Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy, 45, of Cottonwood, Ariz. Another occupier, Jon Eric Ritzheimer, 32, turned himself into police in Peoria, Ariz., without incident, officials said.

All face a federal felony charge of a conspiracy to impede federal officers from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats.

The group of about 15 men and women took over the wildlife refuge Jan. 2 after a march in support of Oregon ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond, a father and son who had been sentenced to prison for setting fires on federal land.

The protesters have issued a muddled set of demands for ending the occupation. They demanded freedom for the imprisoned Hammonds and asked that federal land be returned from the U.S. government to local landowners, the county and the town of Burns, near the refuge.

They made it clear they were willing to resort to violence if the federal government moved against them, but also said they did not want such a confrontation.

Firearms were a constant presence at the wildlife refuge. Men walked around casually with assault rifles slung over their shoulders or with handguns holstered on their hips. One day a reporter saw a man dressed in military clothing with a patch that read “MILITIA,” cleaning a Russian rifle.

When asked on Jan. 15 about all the weaponry, Ammon Bundy replied, “That’s ridiculous that you would connect walking around with arms to violence. That’s what keeps it peaceful.”

Through it all, the protesters won support from around the country, and also among some local residents. But they also angered many. Around Burns, signs popped up declaring: “Bundy militia go home” and “No Bundy caliphate.”

The occupiers repeatedly said they were protesting on behalf of their fellow citizens.

“We’re trying to accomplish the task of restoring rights to the people who have lost them or surrendered them,” Ryan Bundy said earlier this month.

“We don’t want it to end with violence. We’re not looking for bloodshed,” he said in an interview with The Times.

But around Burns, frustrated community members wondered when the occupation might end.

“We can enforce the Constitution in Harney County, and that’s what we intend to do,” Ammon Bundy told reporters one day. “We have a lot of plans.”

Georgia Governor Warns Lawmaker Who Passed Medicinal Marijuana

Now that the fight over medical marijuana has moved into the realm of law-breaking and civil disobedience, Gov. Nathan Deal seems to have a message for the measure’s chief sponsor: Put your money where your mouth is.

The governor said it was “problematic to say the least” when he read that state Rep. Allen Peake told the AJC’sPolitical Insider that he’s getting medical marijuana from states where it’s legal and bringing it across state lines for a child suffering from debilitating seizures.

What he described could be considered a felony in the eyes of federal and even local prosecutors. Said Peake:

“We made sure families that were properly registered with the state have gotten the product that they needed for their child.

“Listen, I made a commitment to these families when I got involved, that I was willing to do whatever it took make sure they had access to a product from a reputable manufacturer. I’ve made good on that promise. If it involved civil disobedience, it’s been absolutely worth it….

“I got a text this morning from the mother of a young child who I delivered product to, and the heartfelt thanks from this mother, the difference in this child – the increase in cognitive ability, the reduction in seizures, has been worth every bit of risk that I’ve taken.”

Deal, when asked Tuesday about Peake’s admission, paused before issuing a carefully-worded response:

“Everybody has to make their own decision. I would point out, however, that in the truest tradition of civil disobedience – Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. – the real emphasis of civil disobedience is accepting the punishment to what you consider to be unjust. I’ll leave it at that.”

The medical marijuana bill that took effect last year made it legal for people who suffer from cancer, sickle cell disease, and other illnesses to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil if a physician signs off. It covered parents, patients and other caregivers – but not others, like Peake, without a license to obtain the drug.

But it’s still illegal to cultivate marijuana in Georgia, which means families have to trek to Colorado and other states that have legalized the drug for medical purposes. That makes travel a tricky prospect, since most states, as well as the federal government, make possessing the drug a crime.

Peake’s House Bill 722 would expand the number of diseases and conditions for which cannabis oil could be prescribed and allow for the in-state cultivation of the drug. But it’s also raised eyebrows from critics who worry it would pave the way to legalize recreational use of the drug and others fearful that it gives medical marijuana patients too much leeway.

Until now, the prospect of handcuffs for those who could be violating that law has been a remote specter. But what Deal just suggested was that Peake should be willing to pay the price for potentially breaking the law.

It is also the latest sign of a growing divide between the governor and a state lawmaker who was once among his most trusted lieutenants. Peake has already managed to muster enough support in the House to pass the measure despite Deal’s objections.

Peake, a Macon Republican, declined to comment. But Blaine Cloud, who is using the drug to treat his daughter Alaina’s rare genetic disorder, said he was stunned by Deal’s comments.

Said Cloud:

“He’s admitting that the law that we passed last year forces parents to break federal law to get the product back. He’s not just threatening Allen Peake. He’s threatening every parent that the law helped last year.

“Every single one of us is breaking federal law to get the product back here. And that’s the compromise that he put forth. Now that he’s backed off in-state cultivation, we’re left with breaking federal law.”

Another Town Just Got Caught Covering up Lead Contamination in Its Water Supply

Claire Bernish
January 26, 2016

 (ANTIMEDIA) Sebring, OH — Residents in Sebring, Ohio, can commiserate with those in Flint, Michigan, considering their water supply has also been contaminated with lead that “exceeds the action level,” according to the state’s EPA. Like Flint, the case of Sebring — involving some 8,100 water customers in Sebring, Beloit, Maple Ridge, and parts of Smith Township — already has the appearance of criminal negligence and a possible cover-up.

“The first the notifications were discussed with the EPA and my staff was [Thursday] morning [January 21],” said Village of Sebring Manager Richard Giroux, as reported by WKYC. This statement is virtually inexplicable, as evidenced by an Ohio EPA notice posted by WKBN, dated the same day, that the village was in violation for its failure to inform residents back in November of elevated lead levels in the drinking water supply.

Yet, on Thursday, according to WKBN, pregnant women and children received the first warning not to drink the city’s water due to lead contamination. That warning, as local NBC affiliate WKYC reported, was expanded to include the entire Village of Sebring on Saturday.

Documents posted online by WKBN clearly show the EPA’s ongoing contact and discussion with village officials, who were aware of the lead contamination — and who were repeatedly advised to issue a notice to residents.

A letter from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency addressed to Giroux states the agency’s testing found the “water system has exceeded the lead action level” and lists steps the village should have taken to inform the public — by November 29, 2015. According to the EPA’s requirements for actionable lead levels, as stated clearly in that letter, dated December 3, Giroux was supposed to “distribute informational notices to each person served by the [village’s water] system,” as well as “post informational notices”in public common areas “in each building.” According to WKBN, Giroux “initially denied” having received letters from the EPA. Another EPA letter, dated January 15, reiterates a public notice should have been issued by November 29.

A letter from the EPA, originally dated November 23, includes a Verification of Lead Consumer Notice Issuance form signed by Bates, whose hand-written date indicates delivery of alerts about lead contamination to customers on December 18. However, according to the agency, a drinking water alert had been in effect officially since December 3 — which residents would have been aware of had notifications been delivered on or before November 29, as required.

“We agree it took too long for the village of Sebring to notify its customers,” said Heidi Greismer, Ohio EPA Director of Communications, in an email Friday, according to WKYC. “When it became clear they weren’t taking the corrective action necessary in a timely manner, we issued a notice of violation to force them to take action. The village does have a good water system, but they must take steps to stop the corrosion that is causing some residents to see higher than allowed levels of lead.”

On Monday, the state EPA issued an emergency order barring Bates from working in Sebring’s water treatment facility and giving notice of intent to revoke his operating license for endangering public health and submitting “misleading, inaccurate or false reports,” according to CBS News. Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler has requested the U.S. EPA conduct a criminal investigation of Bates, calling Sebring’s questionable fumbling of the situation — despite the agency’s continual prodding for action — a “‘cat and mouse’ game.”

Sebring schools were closed Friday, and again Monday and Tuesday, as a precautionary measure and for further testing after residents were finally informed Thursday about excessive lead levels. In some locations, they measured at 21 parts per billion, exceeding the EPA action level of 15 ppb. On Friday, the Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency began distributing bottled water from the Sebring Community Center.

 Residents attending a village council meeting Monday night were outraged at having been left uninformed for so long. “A lot of us have kids in the home and we’re extremely afraid, and we need a mayor to stand up, be honest with us, hold people accountable, and fix this problem,” said one man, reported WKBN.

According to local WFMJ, the Ohio EPA said it suspects Bates of falsifying documents though he denied that claim.

With two cities now having been exposed for epic and likely criminal mishandling of lead contamination of public water, it’s reasonable to imagine similar problems in other locations will be revealed.

This is a developing situation and Anti-Media will report as updates become available.


This article (Another Town Just Got Caught Covering up Lead Contamination in Its Water Supply) is a free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, emailedits@theantimedia.org.

(Video) Videographers Indicted, Lawsuits and Planned Parenthood Cleared by Texas Grand Jury

AUSTIN, Texas, Jan 25 (Reuters) – A Texas grand jury has indicted two anti-abortion activists in a case involving covert videos on fetal tissue procurement talks with Planned Parenthood and found there was no wrongdoing on the part of the health group, a district attorney said on Monday.

“After a lengthy and thorough investigation by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, the Texas Rangers, and the Houston Police Department, a Harris County grand jury took no action Monday against Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” the Harris County District Attorney’s office said in a statement.

The grand jury decision was a result of a probe launched last year under Texas Governor Greg Abbott who accused Planned Parenthood of the “gruesome harvesting of baby body parts.”

No evidence was provided by Texas to back the claim. Planned Parenthood has denied the accusation and called the probe politically motivated.

David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt have both been indicted by the grand jury for tampering with a governmental record, said prosecutors for the county in which Houston is located.

The two were involved in covert videos last year in which a discussion was held with a Planned Parenthood official on the procurement of fetal tissue.

 

People Over Politics: Michigan Militia Joins Michael Moore to Protest Flint Water Crisis

Carey Wedler
January 22, 2016

(ANTIMEDIA) Flint, MI — The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has inspired an unlikely partnership: a local militia group is coordinating with outspoken liberal filmmaker Michael Moore to demand accountability and clean water for residents.

Moore, a Flint native who first gained notoriety for his documentary on the town’s economic hardships, has spoken out against the state and local government’s negligent handling of the disaster. The high volume of lead in public water supplies has contaminated children’s blood and led Flint’s mayor to declare a state of emergency.

The crisis has drawn widespread attention and outrage.

At a rally on January 16, Michael Moore said, “I am standing in the middle of a crime scene. Ten people have been killed … because of a decision to save money.” The city’s water supply was changed from Detroit’s water supply to the Flint River in 2014, in spite of the new source’s reputation for being filled with contaminants like raw sewage and tires.

As Anti-Media previously reported, “The shift in supply was a result of failed procedures and negotiations to continue purchasing the water.”

Further, the state’s Department of Environmental Quality has admitted its failure in not requiring that non-corrosive additives be added to the water during treatment to counteract the lead that seeps into the water from old pipes. Authorities at the state level reportedly belittled concerns from Flint’s local community about the quality of their water. The national EPA has also been criticized for its involvement (or lack thereof) in the water crisis.

These examples of incompetence and corruption, along with the residents’ ongoing suffering, led Moore to speak out. Meanwhile, the Michigan militia, known as the Genesee County Volunteer Militia, has been working with the Red Cross to deliver clean water door-to-door, making stops that include a senior living facility and an elementary school.  The Detroit Free Press reported that in a news release, the militia said, “It is nothing less than shocking that our elected officials would try to hide the hazards that residents are being subjected to just by drinking a simple glass of tap water!!!” Further, the group demanded more information from the government on who was “involved in the cover-up.

Details have emerged that suggest Governor Rick Snyder and his administration ignored warnings about the looming crisis — and that Snyder has since tried to hide this prior knowledge. He released emails this week that were largely redacted, and Michael Moore has called for his arrest.

The militia is planning a rally for Sunday at 2 pm at the City of Flint Municipal Center and is working with Moore to ensure voices of dissent are continually heard.

We’re trying to coordinate so the protests don’t stop,” Dave McKellar, a member of the militia said. He owns a tree service business in Flint.

McKellar expressed his willingness to work with Moore in spite of differences of opinion on other matters. “We don’t see eye-to-eye on many things,” said McKellar. “For him to step forward and say something good… this time, I agree with him.”

As McKellar said of the militia, “What we are is a constitutional defense force. We protect people who can’t protect themselves in time of disaster, be it man-made or other.” Still, the militia has made it clear its focus is not on weapons, but on the crisis at hand. The group posted on Facebook about its upcoming Sunday protest, noting, “We ask that you only wear side arms and not long rifles, this is not about our 2nd Amendment, this is about the infringement on the good people of Flint.

The alliance between the militia and Michael Moore is admittedly unlikely. One of Moore’s most successful films, Bowling for Columbine, focused on the negative effects of guns in America, and the left’s reaction to the Oregon standoff — including calls to drone strike the so-called “domestic terrorists” have highlighted contentious, long-running divisions between armed protest movements and liberal causes. Animosity between left and right in the United States has reached fever-pitch on countless issues, from health care to police brutality to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Nevertheless, the two seemingly conflicting parties have placed the health of their fellow citizens above partisan hatred. Though they do not appear to have established a permanent relationship, Moore, and the militia’s collaboration suggests that, perhaps, Americans can share a common cause.

Indeed, a wide variety of groups has stepped up to help residents of Flint. In addition to Michael Moore, the militia, and the Red Cross, an Islamic charity, local activists, and a Native American tribe have committed to helping the struggling community, along with countless Americans across the country.


This article (People Over Politics: Michigan Militia Joins Michael Moore to Protest Flint Water Crisis) is a free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Carey Wedler and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. Image credit: Kai Schreiber. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

Martin Luther King, Jr: The Truth and History the U.S. Doesn’t Want You To know

MLKflickruserangelanFor many, the words “I have a dream” are the only thing they associate with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King’s legacy is mostly depicted in the context of civil rights, with history books lauding his noble achievements of the Civil and Voting Rights Acts being passed.

But Dr. King gave hundreds of unpopular and controversial speeches ranging from the dangers of the Vietnam War to mass commercialization. During his life, he was attacked and marginalized from the white and black community alike.

The US government coined Dr. King the most “dangerous Negro leader in the country”, routinely spied on him and even went as far as writing him a letter in 1964 urging him to commit suicide.

In fact, MLK Jr.’s surviving family filed a civil suit in Memphis, TN, in which the jury found elements of the US government complicit in his assassination.

Having been arrested thirty times, Dr. King routinely threw his body upon the gears of the machine to show that change doesn’t roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but through continuous struggle against institutionalized injustice.

Focusing on America as the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, Dr. King spent the last year of his life fighting what he called the triple evils of the word: racism, militarism, and economic exploitation.

In fact, when MLK was assassinated he was planning the “Poor People’s Campaign” – a mass march and occupation of DC until the US government granted poor people an “Economic Bill of Rights”.

Listen to his profound speech “Beyond Vietnam”, given exactly one year before Dr. King’s assassination.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Beyond Vietnam”

It’s a topic Tavis Smiley explores in amazing depth and clarity in his new book, Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s’ Final Year in which he talks about the unvarnished truth about Dr. King’s life, and last sermon entitled “Why America May Go to Hell”.

Breaking the Set speaks with Smiley about Dr. King and Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi, about why structural and passive violence are the most inhibiting factors for peace.

Breaking the Set with Tavis Smiley and Arun Gandhi

Abby Martin | @Abby Martin

Photo by flickr user Angela N.

NAVY SEAL TURNS OVER PICTURE OF BIN LADEN’S BODY, FACES INVESTIGATION OF BUSINESS TIES

Maryland Senate Overrides Governor’s Anti-Marijuana Veto

The Maryland Senate dashed Republican Gov. Larry Logan’s efforts to prevent the decriminalization of marijuana Thursday.

The Democrat-controlled assembly mustered the three-fifths majority needed to override the Republican governor’s veto in a vote on the bill that would decriminalize the use of marijuana in public, as well as possession of cannabis paraphernalia like pipes and papers.

The bill’s advocates said it fixed an anomaly in the law, where marijuana use was decriminalized, but paraphernalia remained illegal. Sen. Robert A. Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said the bill “is really a correction to what we did a couple years ago.”

Maryland originally decriminalized marijuana in 2014. Carrying 10 grams of marijuana or less is a civil offense punishable by a fine.

After the veto override on Thursday, the governor’s office issued a statement:

With these votes taken, we are at least hopeful that members of the General Assembly can now partner with the governor to move Maryland forward, instead of dwelling on last year’s issues.

The state’s legislators have a mixed record when it comes to marijuana reform. Maryland’s former governor and current Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley was a fierce opponent of moving the law in a more libertarian direction.

Even as recently as last year, O’Malley said of marijuana legalization “I’m not much in favor of it,” adding, “because of seeing what drug addiction has done to the people of our state and the people of our city and I also know that this drug and its use and its abuse can be a gateway to even more harmful behavior.”

In 2012, O’Malley said he would veto legislation that would legalize medical marijuana. But he shifted his position in 2014 and signed legislation that decriminalized small amounts of marijuana for medical purposes.

O’Malley attended a “marijuana legalization listening session” in September to hear the views of those with deep connections to the cannabis industry and legalization movement in Colorado. He has not come out in favor of legalization, and said it would be several years before the necessary data could be gathered to measure the success of Colorado’s reforms.

Guy Bentley
Displayed with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

 

Study: Cannabis Oil Mitigates Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s-Induced Dementia

JANUARY 19, 2016

 

Israeli investigators assessed the use of cannabis oil as an adjunct pharmacotherapy treatment in ten Alzheimer’s disease patients over a period of several weeks. Researchers reported that drug administration was associated with a significant reduction in patients’ symptom severity scores. Specifically, cannabis oil ingestion corresponded with decreased levels of aggression, irritability, apathy, and delusions.

Investigators concluded, “Adding medical cannabis oil to Alzheimer’s disease patients pharmacotherapy is safe and a promising treatment option.”

The administration of dronabinol (oral synthetic THC in pill form) has previously been reported to reduce Alzheimer’s-induced agitation and improve weight gain, while preclinical studies have theorized that cannabinoids may be neuroprotective against the onset of the disease.

An abstract of the study, “Safety and efficacy of medical cannabis oil for behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia: An open-label, add-on, pilot study,” appears online here.

Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

This piece first appeared on the NORML Blog.

War for Profit: U.S. Has Spent a Half Billion Dollars on Mining in Afghanistan

Megan McCloskey
January 17, 2016

 (PROPUBLICA) The United States has spent nearly half a billion dollars and five years developing Afghanistan’s oil, gas and minerals industries — and has little to show for it, a government watchdog reported today.

The project’s failings are the result of poorly planned programs, inadequate infrastructure and a challenging partnership with the Afghan government, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction wrote in its newest damning assessment of U.S. efforts in the war-torn country. The finding comes after some 200 SIGAR reports have detailed inefficient, unsuccessful or downright wasteful reconstruction projects. A recent ProPublica analysis of the reports found that there has been at least $17 billion in questionable spending.

The United States Agency for International Development and a Pentagon task force were in charge of developing a so-called “extractive” industry in Afghanistan — basically a system for getting precious resources out of the ground and to the commercial market. SIGAR called out both USAID and the Defense Department last year for their failures to coordinate and to ascertain the ability of Afghans to sustain the project, which unsurprisingly is not promising. In fact, when international aid stopped supporting the Afghan office responsible for oversight of the petroleum and natural gas industries, two-thirds of the staff were fired.

Exploiting these resources, which are estimated to be worth as much as $1 trillion, is pivotal to Afghanistan’s economic future. SIGAR noted that the Afghan government has shown progress under USAID’s tutelage in regulating and developing the commercial export of the resources. But the report said the project was still hampered by corruption, structural problems and a lack of infrastructure for the mining industry, such as reliable roads. Many of the mines operate illegally, with some profit going to the insurgency, SIGAR said.

When it came to individual extractive projects, there was little progress made, the IG found.

The controversial Pentagon task force in charge of much of the effort, the Task Force for Business Stability Operations, spent $215 million on 11 extractive programs, but “after operating in Afghanistan for 5 years, TFBSO left with nearly all of its extractive projects incomplete,” SIGAR found. Three of the programs technically met objectives, but one of those is of questionable value at best. The task force built a gas station for an outrageously inflated cost and in the end, it didn’t have any customers. So while the objective to create the station was achieved, SIGAR doubted it was a worthwhile venture.

The task force, made up of mostly civilian business experts and designed to develop the Afghan economy, has come under fire from SIGAR and Congress for demanding unusual and expensive accommodations in the country, allegedly punishing a whistleblower, and lacking overall accountability. The Senate is holding a hearing on the task force next week.

In today’s report, SIGAR highlighted that the task force spent $46.5 million to try to convince companies to agree to develop the resources, but not one ended up signing a contract. About $122 million worth of task force programs had mixed results, SIGAR said.

The Defense Department declined SIGAR’s request to comment on its findings. In its response, USAID said it has helped Afghanistan “enact investor-friendly extractive legislation, improve the ability to market, negotiate and regulate contracts, and generate geological data to identify areas of interest to attract investors.” Any conclusions and criticisms, USAID told SIGAR, “need to be substantially tempered by the reality that mining is a long-term endeavor.”

This article (The U.S. Spent a Half Billion on Mining in Afghanistan With ‘Limited Progress’) originally appeared onProPublica.com and was republished under a Creative Commons license. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org