Afghanistan

NATO is Building Up for War

April 6, 2015 // 0 Comments

The German city of Frankfurt is continental Europe’s largest financial center and host to the country’s Stock Exchange, countless other financial institutions, and the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) which is responsible for administering the monetary policy of the 18-nation Eurozone. The place is awash with money, as demonstrated by the plush new ECB office building which is costing a fortune. The original price of the bank’s enormous palace was supposed to be 500 million euros, about 550 million dollars, but the bill has now been admitted as €1.3 billion (£930 m; $1.4 bn).  This absurdly over-expensive fiasco was directed by the people who are supposed to steer the financial courses of 18 nations and their half billion unfortunate citizens. If the ECB displays similar skill sets in looking after Europe’s money as it has in controlling the cost of constructing its huge twin-tower headquarters, then Europe is in for a rocky time. Intriguingly, the Bank isn’t alone in contributing to Europe’s bureaucratic building boom. There is another Europe-based organization of equal ambition, pomposity and incompetence which is building a majestically expensive and luxurious headquarters with a mammoth cost overrun about which it is keeping very quiet indeed.

The Real Afghan War

April 6, 2015 // 0 Comments

The sky clotted gray and the winds gusted cold as the men crowded into an old roadside gas station. It was daybreak in Band-i-Timor, early December 2001, and hundreds of turbaned farmers sat pensively, weighing the choice before them. They had once been the backbone of the Taliban’s support; the movement had arisen not far from here, and many had sent their sons to fight on the front lines. But in 2000, Mullah Omar had decreed opium cultivation to be un-Islamic, and whip-wielding police saw to it that production was halted almost overnight. Band-i-Timor had been poppy country for as long as anyone could remember, but now the fields lay fallow and children were going hungry. With the Taliban’s days numbered after the U.S. invasion, the mood was ripe for a change. But could they trust the Americans? Or Hamid Karzai? An enfeebled elder, Hajji Burget Khan, rose to speak. A legendary war hero and a chief of the millions-strong Ishaqzai tribe, Burget Khan commanded respect that few present could rival. “He was an inspiring leader,” a tribal elder told me later, “as pure as the rain falling from the sky.” He was also a consummate pragmatist, having forged alliances

The Great Game in Afghanistan (Twenty-First-Century Update)

April 2, 2015 // 0 Comments

Call it an irony, if you will, but as the Obama administration struggles to slow down or halt its scheduled withdrawal from Afghanistan, newly elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is performing a withdrawal operation of his own. He seems to be in the process of trying to sideline the country’s major patron of the last 13 years — and as happened in Iraq after the American invasion and occupation there, Chinese resource companies are again picking up the pieces. In the nineteenth century, Afghanistan was the focus of “the Great Game” between the imperial powers of that era, Britain and Czarist Russia, and so it is again.  Washington, the planet’s “sole superpower,” having spent an estimated $1 trillion and sacrificed the lives of 2,150soldiers fighting the Taliban in the longest overseas war in its history, finds itself increasingly and embarrassingly consigned to observer status in the region, even while its soldiers and contractors still occupy Afghan bases, train Afghan forces, and organize night raids against the Taliban. In the new foreign policy that Ghani recently outlined, the United States finds itself consigned to the third of the five circles of importance.  The first circle contains neighboring countries, including China with its common border with Afghanistan, and the second is restricted to the countries

Body Count Report Reveals At Least 1.3 Million Lives Lost to US-Led War on Terror

March 30, 2015 // 0 Comments

How do you calculate the human costs of the U.S.-led War on Terror? On the 12th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, groups of physicians attempted to arrive at a partial answer to this question by counting the dead. In their joint report— Body Count: Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the ‘War on Terror—Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival, and the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War concluded that this number is staggering, with at least 1.3 million lives lost in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan alone since the onset of the war following September 11, 2001. Read More

Institute Finds US Medical System Wastes $750 Billion Per Year

March 24, 2015 // 0 Comments

Now surely that’s a big number, and it’s really concerning just considering this fact — but I want to put this figure into perspective for you. After all, it’s hard to envision a billion dollars let alone 750 billion. The amount we’re talking about here is not only more than the entire budget for the US Department of Defense, or more than the 2008 banker bailout that everyone is so upset about. It’s also enough to completely cover healthcare costs for 150 million US workers. That’s how much the medical system is blowing each and every year. And it’s not on providing excellent care. In fact,according to the report, the ridiculous waste can be categorized a number of really disturbing ways: Over $75 billion is wasted in straight up fraud. A total of $55 billion or more is lost due to lack of preventative education and opportunity. More than $190 is blown on unnecessary paperwork and administrative costs. A plentiful $210 billion is spent on what has been deemed ‘unnecessary services,’ as in repeating tests over and over for really no reason. Read

There are too many scientific studies, says scientific study

March 17, 2015 // 0 Comments

Scientists are being overwhelmed by too much science. A new scientific study concludes that there are too many scientific studies. Written by researchers in Finland and California, it is entitled “Attention Decay In Science” (pdf). The paper outlines some very simple and difficult realities. For example, it notes that scientists simply can’t keep track of all the studies in their field. And it concludes that the citation rate of papers is rapidly declining over time. “Nowadays papers are forgotten more quickly,” says the study. The ultimate result for these researchers is that the “attention of scholars depends on the number of published items, not on real time.” The problem, the paper says, is remarkably modern and so very Facebook: “Attention, measured by the number and lifetime of citations, is the main currency of the scientific community, and along with other forms of recognition forms the basis for promotions and the reputation of scientists.” Read

As Afghan Opium Production HIts All-Time High, ISIS Makes Billions

March 16, 2015 // 0 Comments

Since around 2003, when Afghanistan was raided by the US government, opium poppy cultivation and heroin production has risen exponentially. Prior to the US invasion, Afghanistan’s opium production had been nearly eradicated by the Taliban. In 2014, reports concluded that Afghani opium/heroin production is at an all-time high. The poppy fields, guarded by the US military at times, are the source of most of the world’s opiates. These fields are the origin of most black tar heroin on the United States’ west coast,  and a heroin epidemic now going on in Russia that is having unforeseen consequences. Lack of funds for heroin is driving many Russians to Krokadil, an opiate that literally rots your flesh and causes your limbs to fall off (improperly made Desomorphine). More info is coming out showing that ISIS has a source of funding through the opium trade, quite opposite of the practices of The Taliban. According to FSKN head Viktor Ivanov, The area of poppy plantations is growing. This year, I think, we’ll hear news about a record-high poppy harvest, therefore a high yield of opium and heroin. So this issue should be raised not only in Moscow, but also in the UN in general, because this is a threat not only to our country, but

Ten reasons to vote against the use of military force

March 12, 2015 // 0 Comments

Dear Colleague, I was honored to serve in Congress for 16 years. During that time I provided information and helped to create debates over U.S. policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other nations, defending the Article I, Section 8 responsibilities of Congress on matters of war and peace. Those of you who know me are aware that I avoid partisanship. I have challenged Republican and Democratic administrations alike. Congress rightfully lacks confidence in this administration, given its bungling of a war against Libya and its general mishandling of international policy. Why would Congress, as a co-equal branch of government, be so ready to give up its constitutional power to this president with an Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), which represents a wholesale appropriation of war power? Read

Virulently Anti-American: 81 Percent Of Russians Now View The United States Negatively

March 11, 2015 // 0 Comments

Russians view the United States much more unfavorably today than they did during the end of the Cold War era.  As you will read about below, an astounding 81 percent of all Russians now view the United States negatively, and only 13 percent have a positive opinion of this country.  In all of the years when Russians have been surveyed on their attitudes toward the U.S., they havenever been this negative.  But of course Americans generally do not view the Russian people unfavorably.  So why is this happening?  Well, it all comes down to the actions of the Obama administration.  The Russian people are convinced that U.S. organizations organized, funded and armed the rebels that violently overthrew the democratically-elected Ukrainian government.  And once it was overthrown, the Obama administration immediately recognized the rebels as the legitimate government of Ukraine.  And now most Russians are convinced that the U.S. government is trying to promote a similar revolution inside Russia.  In recent years, the Russian people have become increasingly nationalistic, and at this point they view U.S. meddling in their affairs as a direct threat to their way of life.  Even while most Americans are extremely apathetic about what is going on over

Has America Become a PTSD Nation?

March 10, 2015 // 0 Comments

It has been more than 13 years since 9/11, and some things that have become routine weren’t so in those blissfully ignorant days before that trauma, when the biggest news stories focused more on cheating politicians and shark attacks. With yet another fear-mongering alert that Al-Shabaab (the latest variation on a theme) is somehow targeting every mall in the entire North American continent, our media and other public institutions have kept the war on terror going. Fueled by a changing, Internet-driven culture and shifting profits, the media and political pundits are going for the quick sell; clickbait for people stuck in a post-recession reverie. But they wouldn’t be feeding us if we weren’t biting. Why are we such easy prey for this kind of ongoing hysteria? What is it about constant premonitions of doom that continue to thrill and excite us as mass media consumers in America? Post-traumatic stress disorder manifests in some individuals who experience a life-threatening trauma, but it can also show similar signs in a larger culture that has undergone mass trauma as well, such as war or genocide. One might argue that 9/11, despite relatively few casualties compared with major wars, was still a major psychological
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