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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 11/15/2009 - 11/22/2009
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"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Friday, November 20, 2009

In Afghanistan, corruption starts at the top


hamid karzai was just sworn in to a second term, so let's take a look at the corruption record so far and see what's likely in store in his coming five-year term...

this is from karzai's official biographer, nick mills, writing in foreign policy...

At the start of his second term, Karzai is under immense pressure from the new governments in Washington and London to grasp the nettle and clean house. But since the day in December 2001 when he was named head of the new post-Taliban government and had the support of the vast majority of the Afghan people, he has shied away from the hard decisions that might have set Afghanistan on a more promising course. I'm not sure if he has it in him to do it now.

this from pratap chatterjee in tomdispatch...
Hamid Jalil, the aid coordinator for the Ministry of Finance, points out that wasting money on unnecessary projects ... has helped to hobble Afghanistan's progress in the last eight years. "The donor projects undermine the legitimacy of the government and do not allow us to build capacity," he says, adding in the weary tone you often hear in Kabul today, "corruption is everywhere in post-conflict countries like ours."

Former Afghan finance minister Ashraf Ghani summed up the whole profitably corrupt system that has run Afghanistan into a cul-de-sac this way. "It's not crazy, it's absurd," he says. "Crazy is when you don't know what you're doing. Absurd is when you don't provide a sense of ownership and a sense of sustainability."

and, in spite of all the damning evidence, the u.s. decides to make nice...
As President Obama nears a decision on how many more troops he will dispatch to Afghanistan, his top diplomats and generals are abandoning for now their get-tough tactics with Karzai and attempting to forge a far warmer relationship. They recognize that their initial strategy may have done more harm than good, fueling stress and anger in a beleaguered, conspiracy-minded leader whom the U.S. government needs as a partner.


The new approach, which one official described as a "reset" of the relationship, will entail more engagement with members of Karzai's cabinet and provincial governors, officials said, because they have concluded that the Afghan president lacks the political clout in his highly decentralized nation to purge corrupt local warlords and power brokers. The CIA has sent a longtime field officer close to Karzai to be the new station chief in Kabul. And State Department envoy Richard C. Holbrooke, whose aggressive style has infuriated the Afghan leader at times, is devoting more attention to shaping policy in Washington and marshaling international support for reconstruction and development programs.

'round and 'round she goes, and where she stops, nobody knows...

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The Yes Men strike again, this time on bottled water

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yet another CIA "black site"?

i've posted extensively on the existence of cia "black sites" in locations from poland to the indian ocean island of diego garcia (see here)... here's some current info from the wapo about another possible site in lithuania...

People in Antaviliai were suspicious of this building,
originally windowless, that may have housed a CIA
secret prison.

(Craig Whitlock/the Washington Post)
Residents of this village were mystified five years ago when tight-lipped American construction workers suddenly appeared at a mothballed riding stable here and built a large, two-story building without windows, ringed by a metal fence and security cameras.

Today, a Lithuanian parliamentary committee is investigating whether the CIA operated a secret prison for terrorism suspects on the plot of land at the edge of a thick forest for more than a year, from 2004 until late 2005.

Lithuanian land registry documents reviewed by The Washington Post show the property was bought in March 2004 by Elite LLC, an unincorporated U.S. firm registered in the District.

Records in Lithuania and Washington do not reveal the names of individual officers for Elite but identify its sole shareholder as Star Finance Group and Holdings Inc., a Panamanian corporation. There is no record of Elite owning other property in Lithuania.

The company, which has since had its registration revoked by D.C. authorities, in turn sold the property to the Lithuanian government in 2007, two years after the existence of the CIA's overseas network of secret prisons known as black sites -- including some in Eastern Europe -- was first revealed by The Washington Post.

so, naturally enough, the whole project was done by a cia "cutout" company as a way to shield the responsible parties but also to sidestep any and all accountability...

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The critical unraveling of U.S. society

t'ain't pretty, by any matter of means and also rather long but, nonetheless, pretty damn right on...
The economic elite have launched an attack on the U.S. public and society is unraveling at an increased rate.

I: U.S. Societal Breakdown

The Critical Unraveling of U.S. Society: We are in a NATIONAL EMERGENCYYou may have missed it in the mainstream news media, but statistical societal indicators are reading red across the board. Before exposing the root causes of this breakdown, let’s look at some vital statistics and facts:

* The inequality of wealth in the United States is soaring to an unprecedented level. The US already had the highest inequality of wealth in the industrialized world prior to the financial crisis. Since the crisis, which has hit the middle class and poor much harder than the top one percent, the gap between the top one percent and the remaining 99% of the US population has grown to a record high.

* As the stock market went over the 10,000 mark and just surged to a 13-month high, the three big banks that took taxpayer money and benefit the most from the government bailout have just set a new global economic record by issuing $30 billion in annual bonuses this year, “up 60 percent from last year.” Bloomberg reported: “Goldman Sachs, the most profitable securities firm in Wall Street history, had a record profit in the first nine months of this year and set aside $16.7 billion for compensation expenses.” Goldman Sachs is on pace for the best year in the firm’s history, they are also benefiting by only paying 1% in taxes.

* The profits of the economic elite are “now underwritten by taxpayers with $23.7 trillion worth of national wealth.”

As the looting is occurring at the top, the US middle class is just beginning to collapse.

* Workers between the age of 55 - 60, who have worked for 20 - 29 years, have lost an average of 25 percent off their 401k. During the same time period, the wealth of the 400 richest Americans went up by $30 billion, bringing their total combined wealth to $1.57 trillion.

* Home foreclosure filings “hit a record high in the third quarter [of 2009]… They were the worst three months of all time… 937,840 homes received a foreclosure letter” in this three month period. “3.4 million homes are expected to enter foreclosure by year’s end, with some experts estimating that next year will be even worse.”

President Obama has enacted a $75 billion taxpayer funded program that has been a spectacular failure in stemming the foreclosure crisis and has proven to be another massive waste of billions of taxpayer dollars.

* 25 Million people are unemployed or underemployed.

This means we have 25 million people who urgently need to increase their income, and they’re quickly running out of options. The unemployment rate is expected to rise further and remain high for several years. “The president’s chief economic adviser warned that the nation’s unemployment rate could stay ‘unacceptably high’ for years to come.”

The NY Times reports: “Americans now confront a job market that is bleaker than ever in the current recession, and employment prospects are still getting worse. Job seekers now outnumber openings six to one, the worst ratio since the government began tracking…” As this ratio continues to grow, it will lead to a further reduction in wages - average worker wages have seen a sharp decline over the past year.

Economist Nouriel Roubini, a man who accurately predicted our current crisis, just reported on unemployment stating: “Think the worst is over? Wrong. Conditions in the U.S. labor markets are awful and worsening…. So we can expect that job losses will continue until the end of 2010 at the earliest. In other words, if you are unemployed and looking for work and just waiting for the economy to turn the corner, you had better hunker down. All the economic numbers suggest this will take a while. The jobs just are not coming back.”

* As the few elite banks thrive, there have been 123 US bank failures thus far this year. Recently, three banks that the government declared “healthy” and gave taxpayer money to have folded. The Wall Street Journal reports: “U.S. regulators have seized or threatened at least 27 banks that got capital infusions from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, including some lenders government officials knew were troubled when they awarded the money. The troubles put taxpayers at risk of losing as much as $5.1 billion invested in the banks since TARP was launched in October 2008.”

* As bankruptcies surge across the board, 10 US states are on the verge of bankruptcy, with several ready to declare a financial state of emergency. California, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin are all “barreling toward economic disaster, raising the likelihood of higher taxes, more government layoffs and deep cuts in services.”

This is occurring at a time when the “federal budget deficit for the fiscal year that just ended was $1.4 trillion, nearly a trillion dollars greater than the year before.” In total, “US public debt topped 12 trillion dollars for the first time in history… The public debt topped 10 trillion dollars in September 2008. The debt is quickly approaching the statutory limit of 12.104 trillion dollars, meaning Congress would have to raise the ceiling to prevent a shutdown of government operations.”

Economist Dean Baker explains the risk of running such a large deficit: “The debt limit must be increased at regular intervals in order to allow the government to function normally because the government is currently operating at a deficit. If the debt limit is not passed, then at some point the government will not be able to pay workers and contractors. It won’t be able to send out Social Security checks or make payments for Medicaid and unemployment insurance to state governments. And, it will not be able to make interest payments on government bonds, effectively defaulting on the national debt.”

Needless to say, all of this will make life drastically more difficult for citizens of the US. As the middle class continues on the path of economic decline, the number of citizens living in poverty has already hit an all time high.

* Although the government’s official figure tries to low-ball the number, 47.4 Million US citizens live in poverty, and the US poverty rate is the highest in the industrialized world.

Predictably, homelessness is rising at an increased rate as well. “The US government does not tally the numbers but interested organisations say that more than 3 million people were homeless at some point over the past year…. The fastest growing segment of the homeless population is families with children.”

Children have been hit especially hard by the economic crisis:

* 50% of US children, one out of every two children, will need to use food stamps to eat.

One out of every two children in the United States of America will need to use a food stamp… to EAT!

If you didn’t think starvation was a serious threat in the US, just read this new Washington Post report: “The nation’s economic crisis has catapulted the number of Americans who lack enough food to the highest level since the government has been keeping track, according to a new federal report, which shows that nearly 50 million people — including almost one child in four — struggled last year to get enough to eat… Several independent advocates and policy experts on hunger said that they had been bracing for the latest report to show deepening shortages, but that they were nevertheless astonished by how much the problem has worsened. ‘This is unthinkable. It’s like we are living in a Third World country,’ said Vicki Escarra, president of Feeding America.”

The United States Department of Agriculture released these findings in a study that was completed in December 2008, which means these numbers don’t take into account the millions more unemployed throughout 2009. The numbers of people living in poverty and struggling to eat has seen a significant increase since then.

This a national tragedy. But it gets much worse.

* In 2008, according to the Census Bureau, the number of US citizens without healthcare grew to a record 46.3 million. “The new figures, however, understate the severity of the economic downturn because a large portion of nation’s job losses and unemployment rate increases occurred after the Census survey data was collected in March as part of the annual Current Population Survey.”

* Lack of health Insurance has caused 45,000 preventable U.S. citizen deaths in the past year. The American Journal of Medicine recently released a study that stated “Nearly two out of three bankruptcies stem from medical bills, and even people with health insurance face financial disaster if they experience a serious illness.”

A Johns Hopkins Children’s Center study reported that 17,000 children have died due to lack of healthcare. You can also add in a recent report that revealed that 2,266 US Veterans have died in 2008 due to lack of insurance.

The 50 million now uninsured and the 45,000 preventable deaths per year statistics are expected to drastically rise over the next few years. As the Senate continues to strip meaningful amendments from a healthcare bill that wouldn’t even take effect until 2013, it has become clear that, despite the media hype, the healthcare bill is going to fall far short of meaningful reform and continue to rig the game in favor of large insurance company profits at the expense of the US population. With the highest cost healthcare in the world, current trends will continue and much needed change is not on the horizon.

Never before has the United States had so many citizens with so little means, little to no income and heavy debt. Debt and costs of living have now shackled US citizens just as it has shackled people throughout the world. The economic hit men have now hit the US as well and millions of US citizens are now effectively sentenced to a slow death.

Economic Imperial blowback has hit the mainland.

And the clock is ticking louder by the day…

Here’s another fact for you:

* The gun and ammunition manufacturing industry in the United States has over 200 companies producing billions of dollars in annual revenues. This huge manufacturing base cannot fulfill demand quickly enough. The demand for guns and ammunition has hit a record high and the gun industry cannot produce enough bullets to keep up with orders.

American’s are arming themselves to the teeth!

* In the past year, 100 new armed militia groups have been formed, as militia members have doubled in numbers. Federal authorities are gravely concerned about the “uptick in militia activities.” One federal authority recently said, “All it’s lacking is a spark. I think it’s only a matter of time before you see threats and violence.”

So let’s breakdown these numbers.

You have a population of 50 million people who are in desperate need of money, they most likely have no health insurance and can’t afford to get healthcare or help of any kind. Part of this population probably also has loved ones who can’t get life sustaining medical treatments, or loved ones that have already died due to lack of costly medical treatment. The clock is ticking loud for these people and they are running out of options fast, and time delayed is time closer to death.

While the richest one percent have never had it so good, a significant percentage of the US population now has firsthand experience in this. Millions upon millions of Americans are poor, broke, struggling, starving, desperate… and armed.

We are sitting on a powder keg!

We are now witnessing the critical unraveling of US society.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

II: Environmental Crisis

Add to this picture an environmental crisis the likes of which humanity has never faced.

Considering our current economy, what will happen when another extreme weather event like Hurricane Katrina hits a major US city? What will happen when storms, droughts and fires continue to spread with increasing intensity? How many have to die before even modest actions are taken to prevent environmental catastrophe?

Extreme weather events are pounding the globe, it is as if the environment has declared war on us as a species. Humanity has become a polluting cancer in the environmental system, and if we don’t urgently act to stop the bleeding, things are going to get drastically worse in a pace faster than anticipated. And this is not an opinion; it is happening now, there is plenty of empirical evidence that anyone can see before their own eyes, if they care to look.

US public opinion on the climate crisis has been distorted by the mainstream US media in stunning fashion. A recent Pew Research study revealed that only 36 percent of the US population thinks the climate crisis is a result of human activity.

Regardless of your beliefs, due to climate change, we are on the verge of experiencing major water shortages spreading “across the country. Sooner rather than later…” California has already been hit by extreme drought and water is in very short supply. As the Arctic continues to melt, California will continue to experience extreme drought. A new study revealed: “when Arctic sea ice disappears, the jet stream—high-altitude winds with a profound influence on climate—shifts north, moving precipitation away from California.” A recent “sweeping water-reform bill” in California temporarily eased public outcry, but the problem remains. The U.S. is confronted by a serious water crisis.

For a global example, there is currently an extreme drought in East Africa as well, which has 23 million people on the verge of dying from starvation. Due to the drought, crops have been killed in unprecedented fashion. Events of this nature are happening all over the globe.

Of the worldwide record one billion people going hungry, the leading cause is destroyed agriculture due to extreme weather.

As a significant percentage of humanity faces death due to climate change, we are in the midst of our planet’s sixth great extinction. Over 17,000 species are threatened with extinction, “more than one in five of all known mammals, over a quarter of reptiles and 70 percent of plants are under threat.”

The Critical Unraveling of U.S. Society: We are in a NATIONAL EMERGENCYFor those of you unaware, the earth’s ecosystem is a very delicate balance. Being in the midst of the earth’s sixth great extinction is not a matter to be ignored.

The upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen was considered by leaders throughout the world to be the most critical environmental summit in the history of civilization. International headlines read: “We only have months, not years, to save civilization from climate change.”

However, the United States and the head of the United Nations just announced that no legally binding treaties are expected to come out of the summit. This is devastating news!

The reason why no deal will be reached at the summit: the United States is refusing to take necessary action.

In a PR move to calm criticism in advance of the summit, the US and Japan announced a vague agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions… in 2012. However, the “agreement on this ambitious reduction target could not be reached during the APEC summit, and so was dropped from the draft statement.”

It would be smart of the public relations department to at least get one photo op with Obama actually at the climate summit. Instead of being at the most important summit, perhaps in the history of civilization, it appears Obama will be blowing it off to give his speech on how it feels to win the Nobel Peace Prize… H E L L O.

We are living in an insane asylum.

The Goldman Sachs PR guy is out giving speeches on how cool it is to cast the illusion of peace and hope, while the earth burns.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

III: The Obama Myth

I don’t mean to dismiss the Obama myth, his words, the change we need is real, its just his actions don’t even come close to measuring up. Just read the legal documents he has signed his name to. Read them. His actions are most often the opposite of what he says. I venture to say a 10 year old can recognize that after doing a school day’s worth of research.

Obama is a national tragedy. He is a symbol of the times. He is not a leader, just a symbol. He projects the change we need. He was our shortcut to correcting our diseased political system, a way to rid it of corruption. He symbolized the change millions so desperately need. People came out in the millions for the first time “hoping” if they could work and organize to put him in office, we would have some representation to defend against the economic elite that have put the overwhelming majority of US politicians on the payroll and brought humanity to a breaking point.

The Critical Unraveling of U.S. Society: We are in a NATIONAL EMERGENCYPeople just need to research how the Obama myth was hatched. Goldman Sachs saw Obama early on and said, “He’s our guy!” When Obama became THE MAN in Iowa, he was on the Goldman Sachs pay roll. Goldman financed the psychological operation that is the Obama myth, the Illusion of HOPE - something to keep a suffering nation pacified just a little bit longer. Obama is truly a national tragedy. His failure and inaction has disillusioned millions upon millions of desperate citizens who turned to him as their best chance for justice.

As further evidence of Obama’s duplicity — beyond repeatedly signing his name to documents covering up the Bush Adminstration’s highest crimes and increasing an already bloated military budget — in one of his very first moves as President he put Goldman Sachs’ criminal mastermind Tim Geitner in charge of the treasury.

A new report from the TARP Inspector General further exposes Tim Geithner’s role “in overpayments that put billions of extra tax dollars in the coffers of major Wall Street firms, most notably Goldman Sachs.”

Which brings us to the ultimate theft of wealth in history, and to the root cause of our current crisis.

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IV: Economic Coup - Theft of Trillions


This crime makes Bernie Madoff’s look like an elementary school lunch money stickup. No, I’m not talking about the hundreds of billions in the housing crisis scam cooked up by JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs that left millions homeless and investors suckered the world over, or even the $2.75 trillion oil futures market scam that has siphoned 50% of all our spending on gas and fuel.

These huge scams are just diversions from the ultimate crime.

Trillions of dollars, trillions of our money, of our tax money — the money that comes out of your paycheck every week of your working life, all the thousands upon thousands that have been taken away from you and your family and are supposed to fund our government and keep our society functioning — have been handed over to the economic elite, to the Llyod Blankfeins and Jamie Dimons of the world.

Hank Paulson and his confidant Tim Geitner, the Goldman Sachs wonder twins, have looted the US treasury. There has been an economic coup in the United States!

Trillions of our dollars have vanished! You need to understand this!

We have just witnessed the greatest theft of wealth in history, the greatest transfer of wealth from the working class to the economic elite ever. An organized banking cartel has seized the US treasury and they are making up the “laws” and the rules to this rigged game. The covert economy has grown at a staggering rate due to taxpayer-funded injections. As a result of this, economic shackles are just beginning to fall upon the American public like never before. 99% of our nation is now sentenced to a slow death.

The Critical Unraveling of U.S. Society: We are in a NATIONAL EMERGENCYJust as economic hit men have done to governments throughout the globe, they have gained complete control of the US government and have now shackled US citizens as well. The economic elite do not want to deal with “spoiled Americans” anymore, that’s how they see it. To them the middle class was always an annoying nuisance to be tolerated so the economy could keep functioning well enough to allow their scams to perpetuate. But once their scam known as the US stock market came crashing down, and they were threatened with losing their ultimate power, they turned to the US middle class and opened fire. “Enough with you, we are taking over your government and stealing your tax money!”

This is exactly what happened!

The economic elite are operating under the belief that the world is theirs, they own it, and to hell with everyone else. They also take the view that as the environment grows more destructive, they don’t want us around to compete for resources.

This is self-evident after some research into policy actions that have been carried out. Research it for yourself!

Recent investigations into the illegal practices of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have revealed the US economy and stock market to be a fraud. As more of the world becomes aware of this, the dollar will continue to plummet and the U.S. public will pay a devastating price - things are just beginning to unravel.

The US economy has been hit by a deathblow, it lay in ruins naked and exposed to “Too Big Too Fail” thieves who have raped and pillaged, who are looting public wealth in unprecedented fashion.

The economic elite are vultures feeding off the carcass that is the US economy. The whole political structure has been gutted by corruption. Democracy was the façade that this house of cards was built on - a pyramid scheme that was built on the illusion of law and freedom.

Historians will look back at this time as a period in which corrupt despots ruled the masses with utter short-sighted greed and casted an illusion over the base population to keep the scam rolling along, until the end of the American empire, until the public driven economy came crashing down in a thunderous economic cloud of greed and corruption.

The smoke is still in our eyes, but the masses are beginning to see, to realize.

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V: National Emergency

Many middle class US citizens don’t realize all of this yet, I understand their lack of action and confusion because I have also been bred as a middle class American in the propaganda system known as the US mainstream media, but I’m writing this to let you know…

Our survival instinct has to quickly override our conditioned naiveté and passivity that has been bred into us. We are threatened as a country and a species at the same time.

We, as a nation, must overcome heavy doses of propaganda administered by the mainstream media for hours a day, every day of our existence. Shake off your conditioned naiveté and passivity. This is a brutal world we live in, and we are now at war…

The American dream state is over. It’s time to get real, time to sound the alarm.

I am of the sincere hope that we will be able to rise up as a counterweight to the economic elite. In the overall scheme of things, history has placed us in a pivotal position. We are a vital countervailing force to the economic elite and must immediately start exercising our rights of redress.

People throughout the world understand that the US middle class has to serve as a counterweight to an economic cartel that has brought humanity to a breaking point.

The economic elite also understand this, this is why they have launched a war on us.

Now that our existence is directly threatened as well, people are awaking from a propagandized existence and realizing the gravity of our crisis.

We must sound the alarm and discard our illusions.

It is time to evolve from a state of “Hope” to a state of “Action.”

We desperately need intelligent leadership, free from the shackles of the banking cartel.

We, as a nation, cannot continue to settle for the politics of corruption. We must begin by addressing the root cause of our troubles and hold accountable those directly responsible for the greatest theft of wealth in history.

We must flood the halls of Congress; we must engage our House of Representatives and begin to rein in the economic elite.


Economic justice is possible, it may be hard to believe here in the US, but a nation of law is still possible. It is possible only if YOU begin to act.

for your consideration...

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What is the difference between Palin and a Muslim fundamentalist? Lipstick.

given the recent unfortunate increase in the public profile of sarah palin, juan cole feels moved to revive his salon article from september 2008...
Sarah Palin, more resemble those of Muslim fundamentalists than they do those of the Founding Fathers. On censorship, the teaching of creationism in schools, reproductive rights, attributing government policy to God's will and climate change, Palin agrees with Hamas and Saudi Arabia rather than supporting tolerance and democratic precepts. What is the difference between Palin and a Muslim fundamentalist? Lipstick.

i've been of this same opinion for quite some time... there is very little daylight between fundamentalist religious extremists of any stripe... all of them are obsessed with control over the lives of others and use their supposed direct "pipeline" to "god's truth" to justify it, and it's all nothing but pure, unadulterated shit...

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"More than military solutions" for Afghanistan...? I've said this from the beginning...


when i first got to afghanistan in march 2008, i was stunned at the level of poverty... almost every afghan i spoke with over six trips between then and now has said virtually the same thing cited in this survey... it's a no-brainer...
Poverty and unemployment are overwhelmingly seen as the main reasons behind conflict in Afghanistan, according to a survey in that country.

British aid agency Oxfam - which questioned 704 Afghans - said seven out of 10 respondents blamed these factors.

Taliban violence was seen as less important than government weakness and corruption, according to the poll.

Oxfam said the survey showed that the country needed more than military solutions.

One respondent in Nangarhar, whose name was concealed in order to protect his identity, described the impact of the conflict on his fellow Afghans.

"What do you think the effect that two million Afghans martyred, 70% of Afghanistan destroyed and our economy eliminated has had on us?" he asked.

"Half our people have been driven mad. A man who is 30 or 40 years old looks like he is 70. We always live in fear. We are not secure anywhere in Afghanistan."

Another man interviewed said: "If people are jobless they are capable of anything."

The survey suggests that many Afghans believe foreign aid does not reach those who need it most.

yep, yep and yep... sigh...

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Tell ya what... THIS kid may only be 10 but he's got cast-iron cojones

how cool is this young man, will phillips...? just check it out at this link...

Will Phillips

i can honestly say there is no way in hell i could have even THOUGHT about such a principled stand at his age... a kid like this gives me hope...

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How come it is that the TWO countries the U.S. is dumping BILLIONS into are at the BOTTOM of the corruption scale?

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

huh...? inquiring minds want to know...
Afghanistan and Iraq, countries that receive billions of dollars a year in international support, are among the world's most corrupt nations, a watchdog group said in a report released Tuesday.

Lawless Somalia remained the world's most corrupt country, followed by Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan and Iraq, Transparency International said in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index.

oh, yeah... it's just coincidental... that's right... just coincidental...

p.s. the u.s. ranks 19, after the uk and before barbados... my part-time home, argentina, ranks 106 out of 180 AFTER liberia - 97 - and zambia - 99, but BEFORE djibouti - 111 - and ethiopia - 120...

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Monday, November 16, 2009

The horror of war, up close and personal

this is the kind of photo that our esteemed media generally chooses not to publish because it brings the reality of war too close to home, but it's precisely this kind of photo that we need to see...

here is a young boy who has obviously been seriously wounded in a rocket attack today on a market in tagab, afghanistan... if that sight by itself isn't enough to choke you up, check out the mickey mouse covering he's lying on...

In this photo released by the French Army, Nato French soldiers
evacuate a wounded boy from Tagab, Afghanistan, Monday Nov.
16, 2009. Insurgents fired two rockets Monday into a crowded
market northeast of Kabul where the head of French forces in
Afghanistan held a meeting with tribal elders. The attack killed
at least twelve and wounded 20 other people, the French military


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Bagram, Afghanistan


i've posted extensively on bagram, otherwise known as "guantánamo east" (see here)... i have been aware that they've been constructing a "bigger, better" bagram but it's evidently now "open to the public"...

as usual, al jazeera has the scoop, not to be seen in u.s. media...

Journalists have been allowed to inspect refurbished facilities at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, the largest US military hub in the region and home to a controversial prison.

Al Jazeera's correspondent James Bays, who was among those who inspected the facilities on Sunday, said Bagram, unlike its Guantánamo counterpart, was clearly not going to be shut down soon.

"The new prison wing cost some $60 million to build ... and is meant to be part of a new era of openness and transparency," Bays said.

keep in mind that, besides housing the detention facility, bagram is also a HUGE u.s. military base, "home" to over 24,000 military and contractors...
Bagram Air Field is the largest US military hub in Afghanistan and is home to about 24,000 military personnel and civilian contractors.

Tens of millions of dollars continue to be spent on expanding and upgrading facilities - turning Bagram into a town spread over about 5,000 acres.

The air field part of the complex is already handling 400 tonnes of cargo and 1,000 passengers daily, according to Air Force spokesman Captain David Faggard.

and new facilities evidently don't mean better treatment (why are we not surprised?)...
Omar Dighayes, a former detainee at Bagram and Guantánamo Bay, said the Bagram prison resembled a concentration camp.

"People were beaten, dragged, tortured in it. There were high places where guards stood with guns. It was a hard, difficult place," he told Al Jazeera.

But he said he doubts the newly refurbished Bagram prison will improve conditions for its detainees, one of which includes his brother-in-law, whom Dighayes says was recently "badly beaten" inside Bagram.

"I don't think it's the facilities which make the difference, it's the treatment of people inside.

"Everybody who worked in Bagram - from the American side - will tell you that the things I'm describing did happen. People from the military intelligence [and] people from the FBI have spoken about the barbaric treatment at this facility."

here's al jazeera's riz khan on the "new" detention center...

Part 1

Part 2

here's an al jazeera clip on the "tour" of the new facility given to journalists...
Barack Obama, the US president, has pledged to close down Guantanamo Bay, the military prison in Cuba.

But in Afghanistan, hundreds of people are still detained without charge at a "secret" prison in Bagram airbase, the largest US military hub in the region.

The US authorities recently permitted journalists to see the updated and expanded facility, which cost nearly $60m.

change we can believe in...

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Greedy big pharma bastards

like they aren't already hauling in money fast enough...
Even as drug makers promise to support Washington’s health care overhaul by shaving $8 billion a year off the nation’s drug costs after the legislation takes effect, the industry has been raising its prices at the fastest rate in years.

In the last year, the industry has raised the wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs by about 9 percent, according to industry analysts. That will add more than $10 billion to the nation’s drug bill, which is on track to exceed $300 billion this year. By at least one analysis, it is the highest annual rate of inflation for drug prices since 1992.

The drug trend is distinctly at odds with the direction of the Consumer Price Index, which has fallen by 1.3 percent in the last year.

check out this load of crap...
[D]rug companies say they are having to raise prices to maintain the profits necessary to invest in research and development of new drugs as the patents on many of their most popular drugs are set to expire over the next few years.

ya know what...? there's no longer even a graceful ATTEMPT to disguise naked greed... sure, the drug companies will put out the obligatory totally bullshit statement about WHY they're having to raise prices but it's all eyewash... they might just as well drop all pretense and give you and me the famous one-finger salute because THAT'S what they're really communicating...

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Peshawar - paralyzing a population with fear


i've been following the increasing violence in the northwest frontier province of pakistan and the city of peshawar in particular... in all honesty, the violence in afghanistan and kabul pales in comparison to the horrific atrocities being perpetrated against pakistanis by their own people, not only in number of deaths but also frequency of occurrences and overall destruction... if the intent is to destabilize the government of pakistan and render the population helpless with fear, they're doing a damn good job...

al jazeera on the latest...

Residents of the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar are are becoming increasingly fearful as car bomb attacks continue to plague their hometown.

At least 11 people were killed in the latest attack on Saturday, which happened within 24 hours of a similar one.

The attacks appear to be aimed at weakening the government's military operation against Taliban groups.

i know many afghans in kabul who have relatives in peshawar and it pains me greatly to see this happening... when i was first in afghanistan, i knew several individuals who chose to have their immediate families live in peshawar expressly because it was considered safer than kabul... several have since moved those families back to kabul in a remarkable twist of fate...

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