Green Beret Electrocuted To Death in Iraq

May 28, 2008

A highly decorated Green Beret, Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth died a painful death in Iraq this year. He died not on the battlefield. He died in what should have been one of the safest spots in Iraq: on a U.S. base, in his bathroom.

The water pump was not properly grounded, and when he turned on the shower, a jolt of electricity shot through his body and electrocuted him January 2.

The next day, Cheryl Harris was informed of his death. A mother of three sons serving in Iraq, she had feared such news might come one day.

“I did ask exactly, ‘How did Ryan die? What happened to him?’ And he had told me that Ryan was electrocuted,” she said.

Her reaction was disbelief. “I truly couldn’t believe he would be electrocuted … in the shower,” she said.

Maseth, 24, was not the first. At least 12 U.S. troops have been electrocuted in since the start of the war in 2003, according to military and government officials. mom describe horror, heartbreak over son’s electrocution »

In fact, the Army issued a bulletin in 2004 warning that electrocution was “growing at an alarming rate.” It said five soldiers died that year by electrocution, with improper grounding the likely culprit in each case.

The Army bulletin detailed one soldier’s death in a shower — eerily similar to Maseth’s case — that said he was found “lying on a shower room floor with burn marks on his body.”

Maseth’s mother says the Army was not immediately forthcoming with details about her son’s death.

At one point, she says, the Army told her he had a small appliance with him in the shower on his base, a former palace complex near the Baghdad airport.

“It just created so much doubt, and I know Ryan, I know Ryan, I know how he was trained, I know that he would not have been in a shower with a small appliance and electrocuted himself,” she said.

The Army refused to answer CNN’s questions about the case, citing pending litigation by Maseth’s family.

Maseth’s mother says she pressed the military for answers, eventually uncovering more details about her son’s electrocution. The surging current left burn marks across his body, even singeing his hair. Army reports show that he probably suffered a long, painful death.

Fellow soldiers had to break down the door to help, said Patrick Cavanaugh, an attorney for Maseth’s parents.

“When they kicked down the door, they smelled burning hair, and they rushed over, saw Sgt. Maseth lying there unconscious, and one of the rescuers himself was shocked electrically and sustained a fairly good jolt because the water and the pipes were still electrified,” Cavanaugh said.

Army documents obtained by CNN show that U.S.-paid contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) inspected the building and found serious electrical problems a full 11 months before Maseth was electrocuted.

KBR noted “several safety issues concerning the improper grounding of electrical devices.” But KBR’s contract did not cover “fixing potential hazards.” It covered repairing items only after they broke down.

Only after Maseth died did the Army issue an emergency order for KBR to finally fix the electrical problems, and that order was carried out soon thereafter.

In an internal e-mail obtained by CNN, a Navy captain admits that the Army should have known “the extent of the severity of the electrical problems.” The e-mail then says the reason the Army did not know was because KBR’s inspections were never reviewed by a “qualified government employee.”

Larraine McGee is the mother of Sgt. Christopher Everett, another soldier electrocuted in Iraq.

“The impression I got was that this was the first time that it had happened,” McGee said.

Her son was cleaning a Humvee on his Iraqi base with a power washer that was not properly grounded in 2005.

“I thought Chris was the first and that because of that, they were going to correct the problem, and it wasn’t going to happen again,” she said.

When she learned of Maseth’s electrocution, she was stunned.

“It makes me very angry, because there is no reason for this to be going on,” said McGee.

The electrocution of soldiers is prompting anger in Washington.

“How did this happen?” asked Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

Waxman has called for an investigation. “Why wasn’t it corrected when we had the first signs that people were dying from electrocutions?”

In a statement to CNN, the U.S. Department of Defense said it “considers this to be a serious issue and has referred it to the DoD Inspector General’s office for action.”

The Defense Department said that there are nearly 40,000 structures and housing units in the Iraqi theater and that “we believe there was adequate oversight of the KBR contractors.”

“In the past 12 months, KBR performed over 2 million service or work order repairs across the theater,” the Defense Department said.

It went on to say that the Pentagon has “no information” that personnel with Defense Contract Management Agency, which handles the KBR contract, was aware of the 2004 Army bulletin or that they “failed to take appropriate action in response to unsafe conditions brought to our attention.”

The Defense Department inspector general’s office said it could not comment on the new investigation at this time.

KBR declined a CNN interview, but in an e-mail the company said it found “no evidence of a link between the work it has been tasked to perform and the reported electrocutions.”

The Defense Contract Management Agency declined to answer CNN’s questions.

Harris says she will continue to fight to make sure other soldiers don’t die similar deaths.
“I’m not going to sit around quietly,” she said. “I want the answers surrounding Ryan’s death — the accountability. And even further, I want to make sure that our troops are taken care of that are left on the ground … [so] they don’t have to wake up and worry about taking a shower and electrocution.”

Original article found @ CNN.com

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French Serial Killer Couple Sentenced

May 28, 2008

Michel Fourniret, 66, was given the maximum sentence by the jury in northeast France having been accused of seeking young virgins to rape and kill. He was sentenced to life in prison, and he cannot be considered for parole before serving 30 years behind bars. His wife, Monique Olivier, 59, also was convicted of complicity in four of the murders and sentenced to life in prison, too. At least 28 years must be served before she can be considered for early release.

The verdict closes a two-month trial that shocked France and neighboring Belgium, the location of one of the murders. All aged 12 to 21, the victims were strangled, shot or stabbed with a screwdriver between 1987 and 2001. These acts, according to prosecutors, were done in an effort to feed Fourniret’s obsession for virgins. Fourniret also was convicted of kidnapping and rape (or attempted rape) of all seven victims.

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Picture of Cult Leader Warren Jeffs Kissing a Girl as Evidence

May 28, 2008

Pictures showing the leader of a polygamist sect kissing a girl who appears to be a minor have been introduced into evidence in the legal battle over the more than 400 children from the ranch in El Dorado, Texas. The pictures seem to show Warren Jeffs, the now jailed leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with two females who appear to be under 18. In both sets of photos, Jeffs and the females are kissing. One of the sets was found to be labeled “January 26, 2005 – First Anniversary.”

More on this story as it unfolds.

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Change the Rules When You Need To

May 28, 2008

I highly recommend reading this blog entry from Aimster Blog about Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, class in the presidential race, and the future of the democratic party and its nominee.

READ THIS: Aimsterblog

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Man Attacked By Homeless with MoonPies

May 28, 2008

Police in Galesburg, Illinois said a homeless man was arrested for allegedly attacking an 84-year-old man with a box of Moon Pies.
According to the elderly man, he was on his way out of a dollar store on Friday when he felt something hitting him repeatedly in the back. He said he turned around and saw 53-year-old homeless man, Michael Farquer, hitting him with something inside a yellow plastic bag.
The victim went back inside the store, and Farquer followed him, at which point the clerk called police. Officers determined that the weapon was a one-dollar box of Moon Pies, which they confiscated as evidence before taking Farquer to the Knox County Jail on a battery charge.

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Jail For Sale for 200-Thousand

May 28, 2008

If you’re in the market for a roomy brick-and-stone Victorian – complete with some pretty impressive security features – look no further.
The Somerset County Jail in downtown Skowhegan is for sale. It has a price tag of $200,000.
“It’s an interesting building. It could be used for many, many things,” said Philip Roy, chairman of the Somerset County commissioners.
The 14,000-square-foot lockup, which was built in 1897, is scheduled to shut down later this year when a new 200-bed county jail opens in Madison.
One of the selling points, said Tonya Allen, an assistant real estate broker, is that the building is situated in the heart of downtown Skowhegan, with no zoning or permit-use restrictions.
Roy said some ideas for the old jail include turning the property into a restaurant, an art gallery, a gift shop or even a bus station.
The razor-wire fencing comes included.

Original story found @ Associated Press

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Patrick Swayze’s Statement on His Cancer

May 28, 2008

Patrick Swayze, the now infamous actor from Dirty Dancing, has released a statement about his health and state of being since entering into the hospital for treatment of pancreatic cancer.

“Thought I’d give you guys a little update. Lisa and I have been back and forth from New Mexico enjoying the arrival of spring and new baby calves. This past weekend, we spent a fun time with friends in Reno for Lisa’s birthday, where I took her jewelry shopping at Kenny G & Company and (we) were able to find her something really special and much deserved! In the meantime, I am continuing treatment at Stanford and the great news is I continue to respond well.”

We at iNPLACENEWS wish him the best and hope that he gets better soon.

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Former Bush Spokesman Says President Used Propaganda

May 28, 2008

The spokesman who defended President Bush’s policies through Hurricane Katrina and the early years of the Iraq war is now blasting his former employers, saying the Bush administration became mired in propaganda and political spin and at times played loose with the truth.

In excerpts from a 341-page book to be released Monday, Scott McClellan writes on Iraq that Bush “and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war.”

“[I]n this regard, he was terribly ill-served by his top advisers, especially those involved directly in national security,” McClellan wrote.

McClellan also sharply criticizes the administration on its handling of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

“One of the worst disasters in our nation’s history became one of the biggest disasters in Bush‘s presidency,” he wrote. “Katrina and the botched federal response to it would largely come to define Bush’s second term.”

Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino said the White House would not comment Tuesday because they haven’t seen the book.

Frances Townsend, former Homeland Security adviser to Bush, said advisers to the president should speak up when they have policy concerns.

“Scott never did that on any of these issues as best I can remember or as best as I know from any of my White House colleagues,” said Townsend, now a CNN contributor. “For him to do this now strikes me as self-serving, disingenuous and unprofessional.”

Fox News contributor and former White House adviser Karl Rove said on that network Tuesday that the excerpts from the book he’s read sound more like they were written by a “left-wing blogger” than his former colleague.

In a brief phone conversation with CNN Tuesday evening, McClellan made clear that he stands behind the accuracy of his book. McClellan said he cannot give on-the-record quotes yet because of an agreement with his publisher.

Early in the book, which CNN obtained late Tuesday, McClellan wrote that he believes he told untruths on Bush’s behalf in the case of CIA agent Valerie Plame, whose identity was leaked to the media.

Rove and fellow White House advisers Elliot Abrams and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby were accused of leaking the name of Plame — whose husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, had gone public with charges the Bush administration had “twisted” facts to justify the war in Iraq.

Libby was convicted last year of lying to a grand jury and federal agents investigating the leak. Bush commuted his 30-month prison term, calling it excessive. At the time, McClellan called the three “good individuals” and said he spoke to them before telling reporters they were not involved.

“I had allowed myself to be deceived into unknowingly passing along a falsehood,” he wrote. “It would ultimately prove fatal to my ability to serve the president effectively.”

McClellan wrote he didn’t realize what he said was untrue until reporters began digging up details of the case almost two years later.

A former spokesman for Bush when he was governor of Texas, McClellan was named White House press secretary in 2003, replacing Ari Fleischer. McClellan had previously been a deputy press secretary and was the traveling spokesman for the Bush campaign during the 2000 election.

He announced he was resigning in April 2006 at a news conference with Bush.

“One of these days, he and I are going to be rocking in chairs in Texas talking about the good old days of his time as the press secretary,” Bush said at that conference. “And I can assure you, I will feel the same way then that I feel now, that I can say to Scott, job well done.”

This story was found @ CNN.com

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