Blackwater Operatives Found Guilty of Committing Iraqi Massacre

Originally published on October 24, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Four former Blackwater USA contractors have been convicted of murdering 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 others in the 2007 Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad. The defendants falsely claimed they had been under attack when the shooting occurred, but surviving witnesses and fellow Blackwater operatives testified against them in federal court. After lying under oath to Congress, Blackwater’s founder and former CEO Erik Prince later fled to Abu Dhabi to elude Justice Department investigations.

On September 16, 2007, a Blackwater convoy codenamed Raven 23 disobeyed orders from US Embassy officials to remain in the Green Zone and instead established a blockade at Nisour Square. While driving his mother to an appointment, Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y stopped his white Kia sedan at the checkpoint and waited for the Blackwater mercenaries to let them pass. Hiding inside the convoy’s command vehicle, Nicholas Slatten aimed his SR-25 sniper rifle through a gun portal and murdered Ahmed.

As Ahmed’s head exploded, his car slipped into neutral and slowly began to approach the Blackwater convoy. While attempting to stop the car, Iraqi police officer Ali Khalaf Salman raised his left arm signaling the shooters to stop firing. Inside the sedan, Ahmed’s mother, Mahassin Mohssen Kadhum Al-Khazali, clutched his bleeding head screaming, “My son! My son! Help me, help me!”

A turret gunner, Jeremy Ridgeway, opened fire killing Ahmed’s mother. Another Blackwater shooter launched an M-203 grenade that caused the sedan to erupt into flames. Unleashing sniper fire, machine guns, and grenade launchers, the Blackwater convoy murdered ten unarmed men, two women, and two boys, ages 9 and 11. At least 18 victims were wounded. The only damage inflicted upon the convoy’s command vehicle came from shrapnel by an American grenade fired at close range by a Blackwater operative.

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Less Than 4% of Pakistanis Killed by CIA Drone Strikes Named as al-Qaeda Members

Originally published on October 23, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Although the U.S. government claims only confirmed terrorists at the highest level are being targeted in drone strikes, the CIA does not know the names or identities of the majority of people the agency has killed in Pakistan since June 2004. After a decade of drone strikes in Pakistan, less than 4% of the victims have been identified as named members of al-Qaeda. Since the inception of the drone program, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have unconstitutionally murdered at least four American citizens.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the CIA has launched 400 drone strikes in Pakistan killing at least 2,379 people. Only 704 of these drone strike victims have been identified. 295 have been classified as militants belonging to either the Afghan Taliban or the Pakistani Taliban, while only 84 have been positively identified as members of al-Qaeda.

At least 168 Pakistani children have died in drone strikes, but only 99 have been identified by name. Sixty-seven of these children were executed in a drone strike on a madrassa in October 2006 that left 81 civilians dead.

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Vice Detective Caught Obstructing Justice for French Prostitute

Originally published on October 20, 2014, at NationofChange.org

A former detective from the Dallas Police Department’s Vice Unit was convicted on three counts of obstruction of official proceedings and one count of obstruction of the due administration of justice for exchanging sex for protection with a French prostitute. Although the vice detective claimed he was simply protecting a confidential informant, the unidentified prostitute testified against him in court confirming she had traded sexual favors for sensitive information about the DPD Vice Unit’s investigations and prostitution raids.

In early 2009, the DPD Vice Unit raided an adult entertainment establishment in Texas. During that raid, vice detective Jose Luis Bedoy met a French prostitute working for that establishment. Bedoy assisted her later when she attempted to reclaim property seized during the raid. According to the prosecution, Bedoy targeted the prostitute because she was in the U.S. illegally and had no family in the area.

From 2009 to 2013, the French prostitute engaged in a sexual relationship with Bedoy and fondled him during massages in exchange for police protection and sensitive information about active vice investigations. During their encounters, Bedoy advised her to work at massage parlors that were not under investigation and taught her how to screen her clients to avoid arrest.

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City Employees Caught Stealing Over $300,000 from Parking Meters

Originally published on October 19, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Four employees from Buffalo’s Department of Parking Enforcement have been convicted of stealing over $300,000 in coins from the city’s parking meters over the course of almost a decade. The FBI began investigating the city employees after Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer noticed Buffalo’s new computerized pay stations were collecting nearly ten times the amount of money brought in from the old quarter-fed parking meters. The employees have been sentenced to prison and ordered to pay back all of the money that prosecutors were able to prove they stole.

In 2011, Parking Commissioner Helfer realized the city’s new computerized stations were bringing in roughly $100,000 per month, while the older meters were only collecting $15,000 to $20,000 per month. About 128 computerized stations covering approximately 1,300 parking spots collected $100,000 each month, while roughly 1,200 older parking meters only brought in up to $20,000 per month.

On August 16, 2011, Buffalo Police discovered over $1,300 in coins hidden inside Franklin Lopez’s work vehicle. Employed part time as a coin collector for Buffalo’s Department of Parking Enforcement between 2002 and 2011, Lopez was responsible for collecting money deposited into parking meters. Instead of depositing the coins into the city treasury, Lopez made numerous cash deposits and cash payments for various items. Between November 2002 and August 2011, Lopez stole over $69,000 from Buffalo’s parking meters. On Thursday, Lopez was sentenced to 12 months in prison and ordered to pay $69,000 in restitution.

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Cartel Leader Commits Suicide After 36 Corrupt Cops Arrested

Originally published on October 16, 2014, at NationofChange.org

In response to the disappearance of 43 students last seen in police custody and the recent discovery of ten mass graves, hundreds of protesters torched the Guerrero state headquarters on Monday demanding the immediate resignation of Governor Angel Aguirre. Infiltrated by a local drug gang called Guerreros Unidos, the police detained the students last month before handing them over to the violent cartel. Suspected of colluding with Guerreros Unidos, the mayor and police chief have fled in disgrace and a formal search has been launched to find them.

Committing an act of civil disobedience, students from the Ayotzinapa Normal school stole three buses to travel to the state capital of Chilpancingo and solicit donations for a demonstration. As the students were returning home from fundraising on September 26, municipal police officers opened fire killing three students and wounding 25 others. A few hours later, masked gunmen appeared at the crime scene shooting at two taxis and a bus transporting a local soccer team. Three more people were gunned down including a child on the bus.

According to witness testimony and recent confessions, local police detained the students before handing them over to members of Guerreros Unidos. Although the police denied killing anyone, State Attorney General Inaki Blanco Cabrera found bloodstains in the back of their pickup trucks. One cop admitted to handing over at least ten students to unidentified gunmen. An alleged Guerreros Unidos gang member later confessed to executing 17 of the students and burying their bodies on a hillside outside of town.

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Boston Bombing Suspect Allegedly Knew His Brother Participated in Triple Homicide

Originally published on October 13, 2014, at NationofChange.org

According to a recent motion to compel discovery, the attorneys for Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have requested the production of evidence revealing Tsarnaev knew his older brother, Tamerlan, had participated in a 2011 triple homicide in Waltham, Massachusetts. Claiming the revelations could potentially harm the open homicide investigation, prosecutors have refused to provide the evidence to the defense.

Instead of defending Tsarnaev’s possible innocence, attorneys for the surviving Boston bombing suspect seek to establish Tamerlan’s radicalization and psychological dominance over his susceptible younger brother. By proving that Tsarnaev knew of Tamerlan’s involvement in the Waltham triple murder, the defense will be able to argue that Tamerlan used fear and intimidation to coerce his little brother into committing the Boston Marathon bombings.

On September 12, 2011, the bodies of three MMA fighters were found with their throats slashed in Waltham, Massachusetts. Brendan Mess, Erik Weissman, and Raphael Teken had been murdered inside Mess’ apartment. Their bodies were covered in marijuana, and investigators discovered $5,000 in cash at the crime scene.

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Wal-Mart Cuts Health Benefits for 30,000 Employees as Profits Continue to Rise

Originally published on October 10, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Despite rising income and sales figures, Wal-Mart announced plans on Tuesday to terminate health benefits for 30,000 part-time employees at the end of the year. Majority shareholders and heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune, the Walton family refuses to provide a living wage to their workforce who requires public assistance in order to survive. Endorsing international slave labor, Wal-Mart purchases inventory from a food conglomerate that routinely commits human rights violations against unpaid and abused workers.

In a blog ironically titled “Providing Quality Health Benefits for Our Associates,” Wal-Mart Senior Vice President Sally Welborn declared America’s largest retailer will no longer provide health benefits to part-time employees working less than 30 hours per week. In 2011, Wal-Mart cut benefits for new associates working less than 24 hours per week. And in 2012, the corporation ceased offering coverage to new employees working less than 30 hours per week. But starting on January 1, 2015, all associates working less than 30 hours will be affected.

Wal-Mart joins Home Depot, Target, Trader Joe’s, and Walgreens in dropping health benefits for part-time employees despite increases in net income and sales. In Wal-Mart’s most recent quarterly filing, the company reported $4.09 billion in net income and $119.3 billion in net sales. That is a growth of 2.8% from last year’s $116.1 billion in net sales.

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