Archive for November, 2009

Legalize Opium, Help Afghanistan’s Tribal People Make A Living, Dubai Meltdown, Protests

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Dubai has decided to let all those investors swing. Too bad for people who went long. The people making money are the ones who went short there. I wonder how Halliburton is doing, they skipped town for the tax free shores of Dubai. Now with the real estate bubble collapsed we are getting the commercial real estate shoe dropping that people were predicting last spring.
This is from the Toronto Globe & Mail National Edition.

“In Dubai, a blunt refusal amid a market sell off

Investors had been confident Abu Dhabi and Dubai itself would back Dubai World’s debts. Not so fast, says a senior Dubai official
An eerie calm engulfed Dubai’s financial centre, even as the city-state’s two stock exchanges and another down the road in Abu Dhabi took a hammering.

Investors rushed to unload shares of several corporations expected to bear the brunt of a sharp downturn in Dubai’s economy, the result of the announcement last week that the powerful holding company Dubai World needs a break from making payments on its $59-billion (U.S.) in debts.

Abu Dhabi’s market was down a record 8.3 per cent Monday, and the Dubai Financial Market fell 7.3 per cent, with several banks, transportation and construction firms at or near the daily allowable loss of 10 per cent. Over at the more modern NASDAQ Dubai, DP World, a major subsidiary of Dubai World and one of the few subsidiaries listed on an exchange, lost 14.88 per cent of its value, hovering all day just above the exchange’s 15-per-cent loss limit per day.

Global markets have been gyrating wildly since Dubai World first announced plans for a debt standstill last Wednesday, just before holidays began. Emerging markets and Asia were hard hit last week, but largely bounced back Monday as investors hoped Dubai’s problems would remain largely contained.

In Dubai, government and private offices had almost all been given a 10-day holiday with the religious festival of Eid al Adha, ending later this week with the celebration of the United Arab Emirates independence day.

Eid al Adha commemorates the sacrifice the patriarch Abraham was about to make of his son Ishmael. This year, however, the holiday might also be said to mark the sacrifice of those holding stocks in vulnerable Dubai companies.

Together, the Dubai and Abu Dhabi markets shed about $10-billion in capitalization yesterday. They would have shed more, but for the exchanges’ strict limits. In both cities, there were many orders to sell; almost none to buy.

But people here also have been confident that Dubai itself would back Dubai World’s debts – after all, they reasoned, the government owns the giant holding company.

Not so fast, said a senior government official Monday. There’s a difference between ownership and being a government entity.

“It is correct that the government owns Dubai World,” Abdulrahman Al Saleh, director general of Dubai’s Department of Finance, said in an interview with Dubai TV. “But the decision when it was set up was that it should receive financing based on the viability of its projects, not on government guarantees,” he said. “The lenders should bear part of the responsibility.”

Those holding bonds of Nakheel PJSC, Dubai World’s lavish property development subsidiary that has run up the most debt, have “almost no legal leg to stand on” to recover assets from the Dubai government in the event of non-payment of debt, says RBC Dominion Securities Inc.

“The prospectus makes it clear that there is no recourse back to the sovereign’s assets,” wrote analysts led by Nick Chamie at RBC in Toronto in a research note Monday. Dubai World yesterday unveiled a restructuring plan that would include its property firms and $26-billion of debt, including $6-billion relating to the Nakheel bonds.

Why are these governments that have enjoyed the success of Dubai, and the prestige it has offered the UAE as a whole, now so reluctant to pony up?

In Dubai’s case, analysts here are blunt: Dubai doesn’t have the money. Its wealth has been based on borrowing and it would only have to borrow more money to pay Dubai World’s loan payments.

When that became painfully clear a few months ago, the Emir, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, took action, though he didn’t tell the people. The ruler sacked the chief of the finance department (bringing in Mr. Al Saleh), brought in a chief restructuring officer and, soon after, started to lay off large numbers of staff.

The government statement last Wednesday, announcing its intervention and suggesting a standstill on payments by Dubai World’s loans, was just the latest step in distancing itself from the corporation. In effect, it has chosen to blame company management for company extravagance.

It doesn’t seem to matter that it was the al Maktoum family that had the dream of taking a small fishing port and turning it into a world class financial centre and trading hub.

It’s a harsh reminder, say some, that Dubai is not a democracy, but a monarchy. The ruler of the 1.6 million people is never to blame when things go wrong.

However, the consequences of this situation will be felt by all – as they will be paid by the city-state’s reputation. “This is a big blow to Dubai’s status,” said Charlie Parker, chief analyst for Citywire in London, “and to its goal of becoming a major financial centre.”

It also “can have a big effect on emerging markets’ bond issues,” Mr. Parker said.

Abu Dhabi has strong incentives not to let Dubai collapse, said a note issued yesterday by Eurasia Group. But any support it gave would come with a price. “Longer term, Abu Dhabi will use this opportunity to establish greater influence over political and economic decision-making in Dubai, and Dubai will consequently adopt a more conservative financial model,” the consultancy wrote.”

Interesting nothing about the nasty treatment of Amy Goodman who was harassed at the Canadian border when she was going the Vancouver on Thanksgiving day to speak about her new book. The Canadians were so paranoid that she was going to join the groups opposed to the Olympics being held there next year that they gave her a control visa with only a 48 hour stay in the country.

Obama announced today that he had made his choice about the surge in Afghanistan. He has decided to add 30,000 to 35,000 more troops as his exit strategy. Pretty ass backwards if you ask me. This is from the ANSWER coalition.

“Join anti-war protests tomorrow & Wednesday
to oppose the widening war in Afghanistan

When President Obama tells the nation that he is expanding the war in Afghanistan, the anti-war movement will be taking to the streets in protests staged in cities and towns throughout the United States. Demonstrations will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 1 and Wednesday, Dec. 2.

Today, representatives of 34 antiwar organizations, including the ANSWER Coalition, delivered an open letter to President Obama strongly opposing his anticipated decision to expand the war in Afghanistan.

The letter pledges to “to build the kind of massive movement –which today represents the sentiments of a majority of the American people–that will play a key role in ending U.S. war in Afghanistan.”

The U.S./NATO military intervention in Afghanistan is not a so-called war of necessity. It is a colonial-type war. The people of Afghanistan will resist until the foreign occupation ends. The U.S. war effort is doomed. Tens of thousands more troops will be sent into the country because the Pentagon cannot figure out what else to do. The continued war and its escalation threaten the lives of untold thousands of Afghan people and U.S. soldiers.

The ANSWER Coalition is demanding the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan as well as Iraq.”

According to Rachel Maddow the escalation will take a year and a half. That means we will reach approximately 100,000 US troops in Afghanistan in 2011. That will make this the longest war.

Reports by the US Senate Armed Services Committee says that Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks decided to not send troops in the get Osama Ben Laden and let him slip across the border into Pakistan.
Dan Rather says on Rachel Maddow’s show that the war has been realigned with the retreat from rural areas and a concentration on protecting urban areas. Corruption, cronyism, mismanagement and the vast amount of opium along with the desire to get rid of the foreign infidels. That is what Dan Rather is saying. But he says we might be spending our selves into oblivion. He says it is tribal, predominantly rural and illiterate. There is only a 10% literacy rate according to Rather. The change of strategy might give them time. The Russians tried it and we tried it in Vietnam.
This is patently an absurd attempt. They will have to buy every tribal leader in Afghanistan and the easiest way to win the hearts and minds is to pay off each village leader and let him police his followers. Putting every tribal leader on the payroll is what worked in Iraq but there it was relatively simple because the tribes were fairly large. In Afghanistan you have a much more decentralized network.
The problem is that there is no way of knowing if they will play both sides and simply work for whomever sticks around longest. That is why we should turn this over to the Pakistanis. They are the ones with the interest. They are there. Also to be more effective we should be doing business with them. That means we should be buying the Opium wholesale. Simply cut out the middle man, buy direct. Pay the villagers more than the Taliban or anyone else could and then sell it to the domestic market by making opium smoking a fashionable activity again as it was a couple centuries ago when people like Coleridge made it popular with his poems about Kublai Kan etc. Now that will get this whole thing over with. Better marketing. That is using the capitalist system the way it was meant to be used. And we can regulate it and tax it it could fund the entire military operation there and since everyone would be making money off of it the groups like the Taliban would be cut out of the operation. We could even cut out Karzai’s brother. The NATO should be escorting Opium convoys not wasting their time going after rebels in the hills. Business. That is what I mean… Lets cut to the chase and forget all this BS about creating a safety zone for the Afghani military to take over.
They don’t have the infrastructure to support a 300,000 man army. It would bust the economy. We can set them up to support the convoys. We can provide a few bases with air support to blast any competition out of the sky. Pakistan can run things on the ground with the local tribals and we can make sure the supply makes it to the international market. What could be simpler. This could be done with a NATO force on the ground of maybe 20,000 troops max. Divided up between each nation it would mean only a brigade from each country, a helicopter strike force, some drones and lots of transports to move the crop.
A local military of 100,000 should be adequate with tribal militias on the ground protecting each crop. So it would work like this Pakistani ad visors with Afghani troops escort convoys of opium to pickup points. NATO forces protect the pick up points and airlift the product to distributors around the world. This could be self sustaining and profitable. Addicts get their drugs safe and legal. Opium inspires languid poetry and a more laid back culture around the world. Terrorism is out of business and everybody is happy.

That is how the British funded their empire selling Indian Opium to China, so why not sell Afghani Opium to the hard working masses around the world? You deserve a break today with a puff from the magic dragon. Sound good? Sure it does. It happens anyway all the time, just not up front and legal.

Semi-Modern Nomadism, Dubai Crisis, Obama’s War

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

As a youth I was pretty nomadic. I traveled across the country hitch-hiking, driving beater cars and once even on the bus. I grew up on the remnants of a dairy farm. It had been converted to a horse stable by my mother and I was one of those people who was on a horse before I could walk as is the case in all steppe nomadic peoples. But growing up in suburban Connecticut 50 miles from Manhattan made it pretty tough to take on the cowboy values that my parents had and the alternative hunt club culture of the eastern elites did not appeal to my more libertarian instincts. I grew up on westerns. My people were the western horse riders, cattle herders and showmen ie Rodeo performers.
But I did not accept that as a model for my life. There was no future for it that I could see in Connecticut. Instead I was attracted to an urbane bohemian nomadic culture. It was the road and the vehicle of choice for the modern nomad was the car. Hitch hiking or driving, it was the gas guzzling automobile that got me from place to place. Not that I was a raider, I was more of a trader. Although an argument could be made that the traveling protester, hitching from protest to protest could be considered by the local authorities to be a modern day equivalent to the barbarian invaders, crashing the gates of the new Rome. Biker movies and tales have made that analogy more directly but back in the sixties and seventies we had a huge number of youth on the road traveling to concerts, anti war protests and simply places that had a reputation for being simply centers of hippie lifestyle.
I used my contacts on the road to do a small business in illicit substances. Transporting from the urban centers to the suburban milieu where I made a few dollars to provide me with the occasional book or fast food product and of course more substances to indulge my own version of the shamanistic venture into inner space.
I subscribed to the radical politics of my day that emanated out of the urban centers and propagated the ideologies of the urban dispossessed into the suburban hinterlands. It was somewhat comical to see a white teenager with a load of Black Panther Newspapers hawking them at an all white high school. The one black guy there became my buddy once he had decided I was not competition in his constant hunt for female companionship. I was more into ideas than sex, although I did not let opportunities pass when offered. But I often found myself treated with approbation by the parents of said females who saw me as a corrupting influence with my communist notions, long hair and drugs.
But mostly it was the freedom of the road that I liked. Seeing new places, or merely seeing how fast I could get from one point to another. 33 hours hitching from Denver to Connecticut was pretty good in 1974. It was not for the sake of the destination but for the trip. It was all about being on the road, yet it was an effort to get to a destination with speed that counted. I would base myself in Colorado and from there take trips around the country. Eventually I made it to every state except for North Dakota, Alaska and Hawaii.
As I got older I settled into a California lifestyle. I had not intended to move here. My buddy from high school enamored with Joni Mitchell saw California as a promised land. I merely saw it as another place on the map. I wanted the world. But by a fluke I went to San Francisco to visit a friend and his girlfriend a mysterious Turkish woman when I decided I did not want to be part of the New York City Underground. It was a simple matter, when I got stoned the noise of Manhattan got on my nerves. I ran a night club there for the Yippies and managed to sleep through the worst part of the morning rush hours, but I simply could not get used to the sheer volume of noise after living in Colorado for a few years.
When I got to San Francisco I was hooked on the physical beauty, the mystique of the radical culture and the walkable size of the place. It had the culture and intellectual appeal of New York and more of the laid back attitude and calm physical environment of Colorado. I spent about 6 months getting to know San Francisco before my political involvements got me chased out of town with a reward on my head from then mayor now Senator Feinstein. Enough nostalgia.

Obama is about to announce the increase in troop levels in Afghanistan. This is mostly for the sake of domestic consumption. The concern is not for the people of that nation or to chase the Al Qaeda ghost. It is really all about placating the right in America and securing the conservative electorate for the 2010 elections. The peace groups are uniting and calling for protests on December 2nd and 3rd. It was announced on KPFK. But the problem is, Obama is not likely to pay attention. Most likely he will parlay the protests as proof that he is pursuing a middle path. The ANSWER Coalition is calling for protests on December 2. The National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles is calling for protesters to gather at the Federal Building in Westwood at 5 PM on the day the troop increases are announced.
Today on KPFK Noam Chomsky was quoted as saying that the protests against the Iraq war forced the government to moderate the violence and not use methods like saturation bombing as in Vietnam. In fact the entire policy of Rumsfeld to outsource war and minimize casualties, carried over from Clinton, are all part of the response to the anti war movement from the Vietnam era. They did not want to encourage another massive round of protests. That was one reason why the financing of the war was outsourced to China. Domestically the housing boom and loosening of credit was an attempt to get Americans to consume as if there was no war. We had a dual policy of creating a national security state, largely a propaganda device to keep consumers shopping, while on the other hand we had a war on terror that justified a perpetual war machine. But it could not be the old world war two style war machine because the American people had to be kept consuming. It was the consumption of Chinese products and the consequent Chinese policy of buying US debt that financed the war and if the people did not go along then the policy would not work. Ultimately the balancing act collapsed. But by then Bush and his crew were headed home and the Obama clean up crew would be left to deal with the mess.

Dubai has got financial problems. It has debt that is 107% of its GDP. It is a place that has been built on cheap labor from India and Pakistan. The laborers come there thinking they will make money and end up spending 3 or 4 years paying back the debt of $5000 to $10,000 that they spent to get there. They then live in slums with no sanitation in the surrounding states of the United Arab Emirates. 5% of the population are Emirates natives but most people are virtual slave laborers or westerners who are almost oblivious of the state of affairs.
The Bank of the Emirates is sending money to Dubai to try and bolster the economy and to prevent a run on the banking system. Dubai is one of the most ecologically unsustainable places in the world taking up a huge carbon footprint. It survives on oil and the myth that Dubai is a nation that is run by the rule of law.

The over-leveraged nature of the economy there may be another harbinger of the unstable foundation of modern capitalism and the oil economy in particular. Dubai is one of those unregulated pockets of the world economy where the financial crisis has its gestation.

This is the view from the Hindu Business-Line. Mumbai being a potential rival business center is not likely to be particularly upset with the problems of Dubai.

“Dubai debt crisis will have limited impact’

N.K.Kurup
Mumbai, Nov. 29

Dubai’s debt crisis has rattled markets across the world as the problem revived worries about the health of the global financial system. Although the exposure of Indian companies and banks to the Emirate is negligible, concerns linger about the fallout on the broader economy.

Dubai World, the investment conglomerate of the sheikdom at the centre of the crisis, has a debt of $59 billion — a major component of Dubai’s total debt of $80 billion.

Authorities from Dubai to New Delhi have tried to play down concerns, but there is fear a sovereign debt default - should it happen – could have a cascading effect on the global financial markets.

Broking firm Geojit BNP Paribas has a large presence in the United Arab Emirates. Its West Asian joint venture Barjeel Geojit Securities LLC is headquartered in Dubai. Mr C.J. George, CEO of the firm, spoke to Business Line on the likely impact of Dubai World’s current debt trouble on Indian markets, NRI inflows and on his own business in the Emirates. Excerpts:

Dubai World’s debt crisis impacted the Indian markets on Friday. Will it continue to haunt the Indian markets?

The panic reaction we saw during the opening of the market on Friday was on account of the absence of any firm indication from Gulf markets due to Eid holidays. International investors do not perhaps worry too much about the impact on Indian markets. India has never been bracketed with GCC countries in the past and, hence, there will be more mature reaction in equity markets in the days to come.

Do you expect major selling by FIIs in the Indian market?

One of the most significant outcomes of crisis-ridden global financial markets during the last two years has been a growing recognition of India’s uniqueness. FIIs have a more balanced and knowledgeable view of India today than in 2008. Hence, there is unlikely to be major FII selling. If that happens, there are others waiting to buy.

Will the crisis impact the NRI inflows?

There will be increase in inflows in the short-term since NRIs may consider India as a safe haven than domestic bank deposits in UAE and perhaps GCC. However, any protracted crisis can lead to job losses and business closures with impact in the medium term. In the long term, Dubai will continue to attract talent from India apart from unskilled workers, as the city will continue to be the centre of a booming GCC as long as oil is a precious commodity and Dubai is a tax haven with modern infrastructure.

What will be the impact on Kerala given the number of people from the State employed in Dubai and other Gulf countries?

During the last one year we have seen some amount of job losses leading to the return of many NRIs from Kerala. However, as Abu Dhabi started massive construction projects, a large number of them have shifted base from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Today construction workers are shifting to Saudi Arabia as well where there is a real estate boom driven by real residential demand.

I am of the view that the worst is over for Kerala, as the current crisis is likely to be managed between Dubai and the federal government. The UAE and GCC cannot afford to leave this debt restructuring unsuccessful particularly with ample resources in federal hands.

Is Dubai World’s trouble just a trigger? Do you think it could lead to a major crisis? Will it escalate to other Emirates?

Fortunately, the real estate bubble was limited to the Emirate of Dubai only and, hence, I am of the view that this will be the end of crisis for Dubai. The other Emirates are relatively stronger in terms of debt obligations. GCC countries are in better shape today after the recovery in oil prices and, hence, Dubai will continue to retain the position as a global centre in the region leveraging the proximity of Indian sub- continent.

India will be to Dubai what China is to Singapore, unless “one day” Mumbai claims that position. In short, this debt crisis will have only sentimental impact on other GCC countries and limited impact on other Emirates. This observation is on the strong circumstantial evidence that the federal government of UAE will have to support Dubai as the domestic banks have a state guarantee.

How do you see it impacting your business in West Asia?

Barjeel Geojit has been operating in the UAE for the last eight years and the customer segment is predominantly Indian expatriates. We see Abu Dhabi booming, while Dubai slowing down with a neutralising effect. After the global financial crisis we are seeing more Indian investors putting money in Indian assets than before. Hence, if there is any panic there will only be improvement in our business in the short-term. However, in the unlikely event of this development leading to a protracted crisis and job losses at higher levels there will be an impact on our business too.

Will it lead to a liquidity crunch in the global economy, given the fact many central banks are planning to exit from accommodative monetary policy?

If this had happened a year ago it would have been perhaps disastrous than today as the amount involved can now be managed within GCC itself with the bounceback of oil. Moreover, the real estate bubble in Dubai was recognised by global financiers sufficiently long ago when the global real estate market started to crack. There is unlikely to be a second leg of liquidity crunch emanating from this event.

What do you make out of Dubai World’s move?

Dubai World’s move to restructure the debt should be seen as a genuine effort to restructure both debt and business since the announcement talked about just six month’s “standstill” whereas the $60 billion consists of different maturities up to even 2014.

Currently, while the media around the world and international investors are showing panic there is relative calm and confidence internally, perhaps originating from the trust that finally it is a problem of the whole country and not of Dubai alone. Dubai has been growing on the strength of its capability to attract capital and talent globally and they know for sure that Dubai has to continue attracting these scarce resources to remain a vibrant non-oil economy surrounded by oil-rich countries.

Nevertheless, when the stock exchanges open for trading on Monday in Dubai, there will be selling pressure from global investors.

What in your view led to the current crisis?

On the strength of the oil boom in the region, Dubai one among seven emirates of UAE, has been positioning itself as a global centre for finance, trade and tourism due to negligible oil resources at home. During the early years of the current decade seeing growing demand for real estate, the Government started marketing housing projects offering 99 years of residence permit. Such a residence offer for investors in housing projects was neither denied by the Government nor approved. This led to an unprecedented boom in real estate, attracting rich investors from India, Russia, Europe and other places.

Both accounted and unaccounted global money started chasing real estate leading to even “day trading” in real estate.

There were even cases of buying in the morning and selling in the evening! Finally, when the global financial system cracked, the Dubai real estate bubble also crashed. The construction-driven economy was slowing down with highly leveraged projects. Dubai World, the real estate and infrastructure arm of the ruler of Dubai, was excessively leveraged during the boom years and when the demand disappeared had to catch up with debt repayments without positive internal cash flows.

While the boom in real estate collapsed, the federal government finally came out with a clarification that the buyers of real estate can only have six months renewable VISA in place of the highly publicised perception of 99 year’s VISA. This was a bolt from the blue which was the last nail.

However, while Dubai was declining, Abu Dhabi, the cash-rich Capital city Emirate started booming on investment-driven by own capital. Abu Dhabi has been a lender of last resort for Dubai with vast oil resources and global financial investments of more than a trillion dollars. Abu Dhabi came out with a landmark announcement a year ago by declaring State guarantee on all bank deposits which led to calm in banking sector.

If Dubai announces any investor-friendly revision of VISA period, it can dramatically change the fortunes of domestic real estate market.”

NRI - Non-Resident Indian
FII - Foreign Institutional Investor
GCC - Gulf Cooperation Council
UAE - United Arab Emirates
Eid Holidays-Eid al Adha or Feast of Sacrifice
VISA Period - Time allowed for foreigner to stay in country that requires VISA permit.

Pissing It All Away- American Military Hubris

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

That is what Obama is doing. Instead of doing the smart thing and getting out of Iraq he is listening to the next generation of Neocons. The Brzezinski crew that works in tandem with the Kissinger gang to end the Soviet Union were successful in their global war games. They got the Soviet Union embroiled in Afghanistan, bled it and then used Saudi Oil to depress the world price of oil to dry up funding for the Soviet War machine. It broke their backs and when they couldn’t get loans to feed their people in the late 1980’s the game was up and the Soviet Union pulled out of eastern Europe and Transoxiana.
The blow back was the Muslim fundamentalism. This is from the Wikepedia site on Brzezinski
“Brzezinski, known for his hard line policies on the Soviet Union, initiated in 1979 a campaign supporting mujaheddin in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which were run by Pakistani security services with financial support from the CIA and Britain’s MI6. This policy had the explicit aim of promoting radical Islamist and anti-Communist forces to overthrow the secular communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan government in Afghanistan, which had been destabilized by coup attempts against Hafizullah Amin, the power struggle within the Soviet-supported Parcham faction of the PDPA and a subsequent Soviet military intervention.

Years later, in a 1997 CNN/National Security Archive interview, Brzezinski detailed the strategy taken by the Carter administration against the Soviets in 1979:

We immediately launched a twofold process when we heard that the Soviets had entered Afghanistan. The first involved direct reactions and sanctions focused on the Soviet Union, and both the State Department and the National Security Council prepared long lists of sanctions to be adopted, of steps to be taken to increase the international costs to the Soviet Union of their actions. And the second course of action led to my going to Pakistan a month or so after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, for the purpose of coordinating with the Pakistanis a joint response, the purpose of which would be to make the Soviets bleed for as much and as long as is possible; and we engaged in that effort in a collaborative sense with the Saudis, the Egyptians, the British, the Chinese, and we started providing weapons to the Mujaheddin, from various sources again—for example, some Soviet arms from the Egyptians and the Chinese. We even got Soviet arms from the Czechoslovak communist government, since it was obviously susceptible to material incentives; and at some point we started buying arms for the Mujaheddin from the Soviet army in Afghanistan, because that army was increasingly corrupt.
Milt Bearden wrote in The Main Enemy that Brzezinski, in 1980, secured an agreement from King Khalid of Saudi Arabia to match US contributions to the Afghan effort dollar for dollar and that Bill Casey would keep that agreement going through the Reagan administration.

In 1998, Brzezinski was interviewed by the French newspaper Nouvel Observateur on the topic of Afghanistan. He revealed that CIA support for the mujaheddin had started before the 1979 Soviet invasion. Brzezinski saw the invasion as an opportunity to embroil the Soviet Union in a bloody conflict comparable to the US experience in Vietnam. He referred to this as the “Afghan Trap” and viewed the end of the Soviet empire as worth the cost of strengthening militant Islamic groups.

He went on to say in that interview, “What is most important to the history of the world? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?” When the interviewer questioned him about Islamic fundamentalism representing a world menace, Brzezinski said, “Nonsense!”
In his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard, Brzezinski says that assistance to the Afghan resistance was a tactic designed to bog down the Soviet army while the United States built up a deterrent military force in the Persian Gulf to prevent Soviet political or military penetration farther south (see the Carter Doctrine).”

This makes it pretty obvious that the same case can be made that there are forces in the world that would like to see the USA weaker. The Europeans are not putting nearly the manpower in country in Afghanistan and the Muslim fundamentalists only grow stronger with the continued presence of American and allied Crusader troops. Who benefits the most? China. With the USA embroiled China gets to go around the world offering financial aid with no strings attached. All they ask for is economic relations.
Here is Brzezinski again on the current state of affairs in Afghanistan from the New York Times.

A Somber Warning on Afghanistan Sign in to Recommend
By ALISON SMALE
Published: September 13, 2009
GENEVA — Western powers now in Afghanistan run the risk of suffering the fate of the Soviet Union there if they cannot halt the growing insurgency and an Afghan perception that they are foreign invaders, according to Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former U.S. national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter.

In a speech opening a weekend gathering of military and foreign policy experts, Mr. Brzezinski, who was national security adviser when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in late 1979, endorsed a British and German call, backed by France, for a new international conference on the country. He also set the tone for a weekend of somber assessments of the situation.

He noted that it took about 300 U.S. Special Forces — fighting with Northern Alliance troops — to overthrow Taliban rule after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

Now, however, with about 100,000 U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan, those forces are increasingly perceived as foreign invaders, much as the Soviet troops were from the start, Mr. Brzezinski said.

For President Barack Obama, Afghanistan is the foreign policy issue that has “perhaps the greatest need for strategic review,” said Mr. Brzezinski, who met with Mr. Obama during the presidential campaign last year, and endorsed his candidacy but was not a formal adviser.

“We are running the risk of replicating — obviously unintentionally — the fate of the Soviets,” Mr. Brzezinski said in his speech Friday night.

The presence of so many foreign troops underpins an Afghan perception that the Americans and their allies are hostile invaders and “suggests transformation of the conflict is taking place,” he added.

A new international conference would help devise a more refined strategy, Mr. Brzezinski said in a brief interview Sunday. Using the military to support a development strategy would help prolong the European presence, he suggested — “our European friends are less likely to leave us in the lurch.”

If the United States is left alone in Afghanistan, Mr. Brzezinski said Friday night, “that would probably spell the end of the Alliance.”

Why did NATO go into Afghanistan in the first place? It was a case of finding a job for an outdated military alliance. Bush did it and now Obama seems to be caught up in the same policies as the Bush administration. Gates is the same Secretary of Defence and Obama does not seem to be ready to listen to Brzezinski’s words of wisdom. But he is an old cold warrior. In his mind it was always about freeing Poland and eastern Europe from the Soviet Union. The rest of it, especially the traditional concern for Israel is to him small potatoes.
And he is right on that score. Israel is an outpost of western European cultural imperialism in the Caliphate. The Muslim world sees the Jews, formerly neutral in the conflicts between Islam and Christianity now taking sides with Christianity for reasons that seem to be more of a Faustian bargain than anything else. Western guilt over Nazi Germany’s attempt to exterminate the Jews converted into a British inspired attempt to maintain second hand control over the Middle East using European Jewish bodies and American military and financial might and British guile to keep control of the sea lanes and access to oil in Arab hands.
Brzezinski wanted to see his people set free from the Russian Bear. The Polish people had been dominated by Russia for two centuries. He finessed that one and in the process set off a chain of events that led to 9-11.
Regan with his obsession to bring about the end of history by destroying the Soviet Union and the American labor movement at home, making the world safe for capitalist domination led him to continue the Brzezinski policies in Afghanistan and add his own dimension the oil deal with the Saudis.

In this CIA Chief Casey made the deals alright. This is from a book review by Jim Blair, from Big Issue Ground.

“Victory : The Reagan Administration’s Secret Strategy That Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union
By Peter Schweizer, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994.

William Casey had developed his skills in economic warfare during WW II when he was promoted from a junior officer to direct the OSS economic campaign against Nazi Germany.

He was appointed Director of the CIA by Reagan and was given support find the weak points in the Soviet economy and to take action to cripple the USSR.

Casey decided that the sale of energy was critical to the USSR. Oil provided half of the hard currency they needed to buy technology from the West. And they needed Western technology both to develop their energy reserves and to keep their military current in the face of new technology developed by the USA.

The USSR also faced unrest in Eastern Europe, especially Poland, and from Muslim minorities in many of the central Asian republics.

Casey immediately started taking action to exploit these weaknesses. In April 1981 he took a 3 week trip in a specially outfitted black C-141 Starlifter. First to Cairo to meet with Anwar Sadat about using Egypt to supply the Afghani mujahedin with more and better quality Soviet made weapons.

Next stop was Saudi Arabia to talk with members of the Royal family about the price of oil. He wanted the Saudis to pump more and thus lower the price. They were concerned about the protection of their air force. They knew from the 1967 Six Day War that a surprise air attack can destroy an air force in minutes, and wanted an airborne radar protection system. The US had what the Saudis wanted in AWACS. For Saudi Arabia, AWACS for more oil production was a win-win situation, since they also got more revenue from the greater volume, even at the lower price.

While a Saudi AWACS was more for protection against Iran than Israel, Casey knew Israel would voice strong objection to the US giving it to Saudi Arabia. And Casey also wanted a favor from Israel. The previous CIA director, Admiral Stansfield Turner, had stressed satellite and electronic intelligence and had permitted the US “on the ground” spy network to dry up. Casey wanted to tap into Israel’s “ratline” network of spies that operated in Poland and Russia, because he didn’t have the time to recreate a US spy network.

So how to get help from the Mossad ratline and sell Saudi Arabia the AWACS? He had to give Israel something that they valued enough to offset AWACS.

So his next stop was Israel, where he provided Mossad with something they wanted very much: detailed satellite photos of the exact location and state of development the nuclear facility under construction in Iraq. Israel was very concerned about the prospect of a Iraqi nuclear bomb, and soon sent an F-16 Falcon to bomb the Iraqi nuclear plant.

The US issued a formal protest of the bombing, but we were clearly not very unhappy about it.

Meanwhile, Casey was off to Rome to meet with Vatican officials. He wanted the Catholic Church to provide information on events in Poland, and now he had two sources of information: Catholic priests and the Jewish ratline. Casey knew that the government in Poland was going to crack down on Solidarity, and that communications would be critical to the survival of the movement. So he provided Solidarity with small portable radio and communication equipment, which proved very useful when the government declared martial law and tried to wipe the labor movement out.

This short trip indicated the general plan. Cut off the source of currency the USSR needed to buy technology by lowering oil prices (which also aided the US economic recovery), and also try to restrict the sale of US technology to the USSR. Meanwhile aid rebel groups within the Soviet block, like Solidarity and Muslims, and shift the Cold War to high technology, where the Soviets could not keep pace without the ability to buy US technology. This was the game plan but the book includes information on many of the details.”

Bringing down the Soviet Union and the labor movement around the world was a big deal. Capitalism had almost convinced the world that it had ended history as we know it. But it didn’t. And now we can see the repercussions of allowing a unipolar world. The USA has pissed away its advantages by a classic case of over reach. Hubris. Instead of learning from the lessons of history and working with the world we formed under President Bush fortress America. The increased military against what are really minor threats are the modern equivalents of the Roman Empire increasing its military under Diocletian to confront the threat of the Germanic tribes. They were not serious threats but they were irritants. But the Romans militarized their state, decreased the autonomy of the provinces, eliminated the civic pride of the cities and created a massive bureaucracy focused on feeding the military. They even encouraged a new state religion to replace the old pluralism of paganism with a militant Christianity. It did work for a while but then the strain of the system brought down the western empire and the people found that rule by easy going German tribes was preferable to the strain of taxes under the Romans.
Our barbarian invasions were the 9-11 attacks, we responded with the Homeland Security Department and a military invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. We have gone into debt to the Chinese and our wealth has been drained to the east just as Roman silver and gold was drained to the east for luxury goods from the orient. We have done more, we have outsourced our entire economy all in the name of maximizing profits. Capital has destroyed its base because it could not stand to alow the american serfs, I mean workers a few honest dollars. So for the sake of a quick buck the economic engine was sent to China. Not even as smart as the Romans who with proper disdain kept merchants in their place, as did the ancient Chinese. They knew that unbridled capitalism, or mercantilism would lead to social instability. Their civilizations lasted for millennia. Will modern capitalism see 300 years? I doubt it. We have devised a complex system that does not take into account the needs of the majority of the people. It is designed to serve the needs of an elite that is based around a military industrial complex that has a very small base of interested parties. The only way to keep the masses willing to put up with it is through repression mixed with bread and circuses. We have TV the biggest circus ever and food stamps for bread. But is it enough?
My own thoughts are that the Chinese and Indians are utilizing more of their human potential than we are and will soon dominate the world especialy the Chinese who have traditionally been the central power. Europe if it unites can form a powerful counterweight and America will drop in importance as a source of cheap grains but we have too small of a population base to ultimately compete with a united Europe or East Asia and if the Moslem world ever restores the caliphate then they will be able to take their place as the middle man between China and Europe again.

Sick Day, Smallpox Among Native Americans

Friday, November 27th, 2009

I had big plans for today. I was going to buy a Christmas gift for my son, take the car into the garage to get much needed body work done and look at a new place to live in Culver City that I saw yesterday when I was at the Krisna Temple getting my Vegan and Vegetarian Thanksgiving feast for my Dad and I.
Instead I spend the day vomiting, shitting and sleeping. I was suffering from either a bad case of food poisoning or I had picked up a virus from one of the servers at the Krisna temple. All I could do was sleep and read and make trips to the toilet. I even took a bath to see if I could relive the stress on my kidneys. It was pretty rough. I even considered going to the hospital but since I had recently changed insurance companies I had no idea where to go and the idea of dealing with an unfamiliar series of health bureaucrats was enough to keep me at home using my own remedies.
I drank some lime water that got me to vomit and later ate half a banana that caused me no end of bowel pain and finaly later in the day drank some vegetable broth mixed with some weak left over miso. Now I don’t feel so bad, but man, it is tough being sick and to think that it was my vegan dinner that did me in left me wondering if there is any safe food in this country. I have determined that every time I eat food that I do not prepare at home I suffer consequences for in the form of diarrhea or in this case intestinal flu. The only place that does not happen is when I go to have lunch at Subway. Even when I had a shrimp rice bowl at a Japanese place last week the next night I was suffering from constipation. I don’t know if I have become hyper sensitive to food that has been handled by others or if there is an increase in unsanitary practices that is making the food supply more dangerous but man it is taking a toll on my health.
So this is the deal. I avoid canned foods as much as possible. Perhaps the canned Cranberries did me in but my dad ate them and suffered no side effects. He also ate food from the Krisna temple but he had the vegetarian menu and I had the vegan one. So I suspect it was one of the vegan handlers or preparers that passed some bug on to me.
I avoid non organic fresh veggies and fruits if I can. But it is not always possible. Perhaps it was the bottled apple cider that got to me. I had three glasses. Or maybe it was the organic grape juice that I drank this morning after leaving it out for a few hours on the counter. I normally water it down but I drank it straight. Shortly after that I felt queasy. I thought it was because I ate too much food yesterday but I have always overindulged in the Vegetarian Turkey on Thanksgiving. Who knows in any case in this day and age we have to be especially vigilant about our food supply as it has been adulterated so much by the lax standards in recent times. We are now suffering the consequences, another side effect of unbridled and unregulated capitalism in action.

On a brighter note I got to finish an excellent book on nomad relations with the Chinese empires through history. ‘The Perilous Frontier” by Thomas Barfield. It primarily covered the period from the 3rd century BC until the demise of the last free nomad state in the 18th century, massacred by the Manchu Dynasty. It could be seen as a prototype for the subsequent exterminations in south Africa and in South and North America by the Spanish and Anglos. But I don’t know how generally known the massacre of the Zunghars in 1757 was in the west. Interestingly enough there was a smallpox epidemic that broke out at the same time among the nomads that killed their leader Amursana and half of the Zunghar people. Was this deliberate policy as was giving smallpox infected blankets to Native Americans by the British at approximately the same time?

This is an interesting article about Smallpox among the Native Americans.

Plains Indian Smallpox
by
O. Ned Eddins

Native populations of the Americas lacked immunity to the infectious diseases that had ravaged Europe and Asia for centuries. Sparse populations on the Plains, and in the pristine valleys of the Rocky Mountains, prevented a buildup of communicable diseases. The “white man” diseases…measles, chicken pox, typhus, typhoid fever, dysentery, scarlet fever, diphtheria, and after 1832, cholera…were devastating to the American Indian. Lumped together, these diseases did not equal the havoc of smallpox in terms of number of deaths, realignment of tribal alliances, and subsequent changes in Canadian and American Indian Cultures.

Smallpox in the New World:
African slaves were used on the sugar plantation of the West Indies, and with them came smallpox that they were probably exposed to on the ships. The first of these slaves were brought by Columbus. In 1495, fifty-seven to eighty percent of the native population of Santa Domingo and in 1515, two-thirds of the Indians of Puerto Rico were wiped out by smallpox. Ten years after Cortez arrived in Mexico, the native population had been reduced from twenty-five million to six million five hundred thousand a reduction of seventy-four percent. Even the most conservative estimates place the deaths from smallpox above sixty-five percent (Bray).

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, various sources estimate native population in North and South America at ninety to one hundred million. In the fifteen hundreds, the American Indian population in North America has been estimated at approximately twelve million, but by the early nineteen hundreds, the population had been reduced to roughly four hundred and seventy-four thousand. It is impossible to arrive at a number for the millions of American Indians killed during this period by European diseases with smallpox the deadliest by far.

Smallpox reached what was to become the United States either from Canada or the West Indies. The first major outbreak of an infectious disease recorded on the northeastern Atlantic coast was 1616-19. The Massachusetts and other Algonquin tribes in the area were reduced from an estimated thirty thousand to three hundred (Bray). When the Pilgrims landed a year later in 1620, there was few Indians left to greet them. Many observers believe this infectious disease was smallpox.

By the end of the sixteen hundreds, smallpox had spread up and down the eastern seaboard and as far west as the Great Lakes. Stearn and Stearn estimated there were approximately one million one hundred and fifty thousand Indians living north of the Rio Grande in the early sixteenth-century, but by 1907, there were less than four hundred thousand (Bray). This decline was not due to smallpox alone. Other diseases played a role, as did inter tribal warfare and conflicts with the United States.

It was inevitable that when Europeans came to America that European diseases were going to run rampant through the indigenous populations of the Americas. The native populations of North and South America had no immunities, or genetic tolerance, to any of the European diseases, and not all white Americans had immunities to them either. It is commonly believed that syphilis spread from Native Americans to Europeans. There is developing DNA evidence that suggests syphilis (Yaws) was in Europe prior to Columbus’s time. Like every other disease there is growing evidence that Europeans brought syphilis to America.

With the exception of man’s oldest disease, Malaria, the scourges of mankind have resulted from dense populations living in small compact areas…overcrowded cities with little or no sanitation. Before the arrival of the white man, the Plains Indians as primarily hunter-gatherers were free of communicable diseases.

Smallpox passes through the air in droplets discharged from the nose and mouth. It spreads from the lungs of an infected person into the lungs of a susceptible person. Smallpox can survive years on the clothing and bedding used by smallpox victims. In the early seventeen hundreds, a smallpox outbreak in Quebec resulted in many deaths. In 1854, a pipeline laid through where the victims had been buried resulted in another smallpox outbreak.

History of Smallpox Vaccination:
An English physician, Edward Jenner observed that dairymaids with a relatively mild disease called cowpox were immune to smallpox. On May 14, 1796, Jenner infected James Phipps with serum taken from a dairymaid, Sarah Nelmes. After being infected with the cowpox, Phipps survived repeated attempts to infect him with smallpox.

Despite Jenner’s vaccination procedure, smallpox still took its toll over the next hundred years; 800,000 Russians died from smallpox during the eighteen hundreds (Bray). By 1840, smallpox vaccination in Britain was free for all infants. Vaccination was made compulsory by an Act of Parliament in the year 1853; again in 1867; and still more stringent in 1871. Deaths from smallpox in the first 10 years after the enforcement of Vaccination was 33,515, and from 1864 to 1873 the figure more than double to 70,458 deaths (see, Compulsory Vaccination in England by William Tebb).

The mortality rate in vaccinated infants was so high that many mothers did all they could to not vaccinate their babies. Eighty-eight years after Jenner’s first use of serum (lymph) for vaccination, William Tebb wrote, “ The lymph used [for vaccination] was of unknown origin, kept in capillary glass tubes, from whence it was blown into a cup into which the lancet was dipped. No pretence of cleaning the lancet was made; it drew blood in very many instances…..no one can estimate the number of healthy, innocent children, as well as adults, who are inoculated with syphilis or other foul disease…An article in the Glasgow Herald for March 4th, 1878 stated: it is, indeed, a most serious matter to find that the deaths from the 15 diseases have increased in England and Wales from 124,799 in 1847, to 217,707 in 1875, whilst the population has only risen from 18 millions to less than 23 millions (see, Tebb Article).”

Vaccination in America:

Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse introduced vaccination to the United States in 1800. Due to contamination and lack of preservation, the vaccines were often infected with bacteria, which sometimes resulted in sickness or death. An article in the New York Times for June 19th, 1880, stated,

“A former surgeon of an immigrant steamer informs me that it is the usual custom of steamship surgeons to get a large supply of vaccine virus at one time, and use it until it is gone, however long. This will serve to account for the serious and fatal cases of septic poisoning following Vaccination, so common in the United States, according to the information communicated by correspondents, and also for the various efforts now being made in several States to get the Vaccination Laws abolished.”

How effective was vaccination?:

…Not only had poor sanitation and nutrition lain the foundation for disease, it was also compulsory smallpox vaccination campaigns in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that played a major role in decimating the populations of: Japan (48,000 deaths), England and Wales (44,840 deaths, after 97 percent of the population had been vaccinated), Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, Holland, Italy, India (3 million — all vaccinated), Australia, Germany (124,000 deaths), Prussia (69,000 deaths — all re-vaccinated), and the Philippines. The epidemics ended in cities where smallpox vaccinations were either discontinued, or never begun, and after sanitary reforms were instituted (Smallpox Vaccination).

Historians and many others have asked, “Why weren’t the Indians vaccinated against smallpox?” In 1832, Congress appropriated twelve hundred dollars to begin the fight against smallpox in Indian country. One year later, actual expenditures were down to seven hundred and twenty-one dollars. Based on this, there are those that believe the Government deliberately withheld smallpox vaccine from Native Americans, and thus committed Indian Genocide. If this is what you believe, consider this….why is there a controversy raging today over the safety of vaccinating large numbers of Americans with the smallpox virus (see, Smallpox Vaccination). With a perceived danger from vaccination based on today’s medical technology (healthfreedomusa.org), what would have been the danger in the early eighteen hundreds to vaccinating American Indians that had no immunity to European diseases?

Smallpox vaccination of the Native Americans could have had disastrous results. What would have been the results of smallpox vaccination on the Native American Indians that had no immunity to European diseases, or to the domesticated animals of the Europeans? The cowpox virus could have been as deadly to Native Americans as the smallpox virus.

To understand the problems associated with any vaccination program in the eighteen hundreds, the efficacy of the vaccine and the dangers of introducing other diseases must be considered. Completely unknown at that time were such health safeguards as sterile procedures, sterile instruments, sterile vaccine, refrigeration, attenuated viruses, overnight transportation, etc, etc. During the eighteen hundreds, a great many Americans feared vaccination more than they did the risk of catching smallpox.

Lack of funding a smallpox vaccination program and the Amherst letters have been taken by some writers and organizations to justify a cry of Indian Genocide - iwchildren.org. To this charge, I have one question…how many Native American Indians, with a well-founded distrust for the white man, were going to have their arms scratched with something out of a bottle that had previously wiped out entire Indian villages? If the Indian Nations had been vaccinated with the cowpox virus, the ensuing death loss among Native Americans would have raised a hue and cry across the land…then the cry, and rightly so, would have been the Government is committing genocide by vaccinating Indians with the cowpox virus.

A reader referred me to this site on an interesting and unique vaccination program by the King of Spain, Carlos IV, to vaccinate Spanish subjects around the world.

Francisco Xavier Balmis, (1753–1819), was a pioneer of international vaccination. Born in Alicante, Spain, a physician and army surgeon Francisco Xavier Balmis, was the author of the first translation into Spanish of Moreau de La Sarthe’s book on vaccine. In his edition, Balmis added a foreword to make the book more complete and understandable to the Spanish readers of both hemispheres.
Recognition of his work in this translation and his previous travels in America to collect plants and medical data, made him the best candidate to conduct his own project of spreading the vaccine in all Spanish territories from Spain and through America to the Philippines.
By order of King Carlos IV, an expedition sailed from La Coruña with the aim of sailing round the world and spread Jenner’s vaccine overseas. On board the corvette “María Pita” were Balmis as commander of what was already called “Real Expedición Filantrópica de la Vacuna”, Antonio Salvany as second in command, three surgeons, two first aid practitioners, four male nurses, and 22 orphan children.
Besides the usual medical items the expedition carried two thousand copies of Balmis’ translation of Moreau de La Sarthe’s book, which were to be handed to the medical and political authorities everywhere they were to stop along their journey.
The vaccine was maintained during the journey by sequentially vaccinating arm to arm every 9 or 10 days the 22 children who thus constituted a living transmission chain.
The expedition and the men who took part in it were an example of the spirit of that century of enlightenment, philanthropy, and a faith in science and ability of men to know and change the world. It took almost four years to complete the voyage round the world, and that task can now be considered the first global campaign in what we now call public health, and a success in spreading world wide Jenner’s vaccine that cannot be praised enough. http://jech.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/56/11/802

It would be interesting to know the efficacy and mortality rate from Balmis’ vaccination program. The procedure used by Balmis was far superior to the use of the non-sterile cowpox virus, but this technique was basically what Larpentuer did with the Indian women at Fort Union.

Smallpox and the Plains Indians:
A smallpox outbreak in 1780-82 followed the distribution and trade route of the Indian horse (Haines). The outbreak in 1800-02 spreads from the Plains Indians to the Indians along the Pacific coast. Despite heavy losses during these periods, the most devastating outbreak of smallpox was yet to come.

In 1832, the first steamboat, a small side-wheeler named, Yellow Stone, reached Fort Union at the mouth of the Yellowstone River. The use of steamboats on the Missouri allowed large quantities of trade goods to move up and down the river. The buffalo hide trade now become more important than the trade in furs. Remote Indian villages brought their buffalo hides to the American Fur Company posts. This set the stage for ensuing disaster.

In June of 1837, the St. Peter arrived at Fort Clark, sixty miles north of present day Bismarck, North Dakota. Knowing there were men aboard the boat with smallpox, F. A. Chardon and others of the American Fur Company tried to keep the Mandans away from the boat, but to no avail. The two Mandan villages that had provided aid to Lewis and Clark during the winter of 1804-05 were devastated. Thirty-one Mandans out of a population of sixteen hundred survived the epidemic…these figures vary, but needless to say it was devastating to the Mandans.

The 1837 smallpox outbreaks were initially confined to the Indian tribes that lived by, or had come to trade at, the upper Missouri River trading posts. The Mandan, Blackfeet, and the Assiniboine nations suffered the highest number of deaths. The 1837-40 smallpox outbreaks were said to have a ninety-eight percent death rate among those infected (Bray).

Despite warnings from the traders, Hidatsa, Arikara, and Sioux warriors raided the empty Mandan villages and carried smallpox back to their people. Hundreds of lodges like the one above stood as mute testimony to the devastation of smallpox. As one writer wrote, “No language can picture the scene of desolation which the country presents. In whatever direction we go we see nothing but melancholy wrecks of human life. The tents are still standing on every hill, but no rising smoke announces the presence of human beings, and no sounds, but the croaking of the raven and the howling of the wolf interrupts the fearful silence (Chittenden).”

The St. Peters continued on to Fort Union arriving there on June 24, 1837. The only Indians at the post were the Indian wives of thirty employees. Hoping to control the infection before the Assiniboine arrived for the September trade, Larpentuer noted that, “prompt measures were adopted to prevent an epidemic.” The measures taken were to vaccinate the Indian women. According to Larpentuer, “their systems were prepared according to Dr. Thomas’ Medical Book and they were vaccinated from Halsey himself…the operation proved fatal to most of our patients.” Larpentuer goes on to say, “About fifteen days afterwards there was such a stench in the fort that it could be smelt at a distance of 300 yards. It was awful–the scene in the fort where some went crazy, and others were half eatin by maggots before they died.” This was during the hottest part of the summer (Chittenden). Jacob Halsey was in charge of Fort Union, and had been infected coming upriver on the boat. Five months later, he claimed only four died from the attempted vaccination. Halsey statement is in contrast to Larpentuer comments, and his account seems highly unlikely based on the virulence of the smallpox virus.

The Assiniboine started arriving at the post while the “controlled infection” was in full force. Infected Assiniboine carried smallpox back into Canada. From Fort Union smallpox spread by boat to Fort McKenzie near the junction of the Marias and the Missouri rivers. Basically, the same story was repeated with the Blackfeet. There is no way to know how many Indians of the upper Missouri and the Plains of Canada were infected with smallpox. Estimates on the number killed range from sixty thousand to one hundred and fifty thousand. The most conservative estimate puts the number at more than 15,000 deaths (Chittenden).

The American Fur Company traders can certainly be criticized for the handling of the 1837 smallpox outbreak, especially the vaccination of the Indian women. However at the time and under the prevailing circumstances, the traders did the best they could. Even though the Indians were repeatedly warned to stay away from the posts, they insisted on trading their goods. It is hard to believe there was any malicious intent on the part of the fur traders when the fur company’s economic survival depended on the Indian buffalo robe trade.

The Indian Culture played a part in the high death rate. The use of the sweat lodge-cold water plunge may well have doubled the fatalities among the Plains tribes (Haines). This is not meant as criticism of the Sweat Lodge which was, and is, extremely important in the Indian Culture, but to point out that the Plains Indians had little or no concept of the dangers involved with the white-man diseases.

Indian warriors played a significant role in the spread of the smallpox. Warriors saw this as an opportunity to take lodge items, horses, and even scalps from corpses in enemy villages, and thus carried the smallpox virus back to their own people.

Indian Genocide:

Added Note: I have had a lot of “hate” emails from ‘idiotic liberals” on Indian Genocide. Most of them were so ridiculous that I didn’t post them. Here is my position on Indian Genocide…There is absolutely no question that some settlers, some military leaders, some government officials, and some states i.e., Georgia and especially California would have exterminated all Indians…But…There is absolutely no evidence that the American Government had an official (or as some claim unofficial )policy of exterminating all Indians…Or that…the American Government gave smallpox blankets to any Indians (Ecuyer was British).

Indian genocide is a controversial subject on the internet and on this site. Genocide and Holocaust are words that are easy to throw around, often to grab a reader’s attention, but proving them is something else. What one group calls genocide, another group may call progress. This statement is used in the same context as the saying…one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

The argument for Indian genocide is based primarily on a postscript in a letter written by General Jeffery Amherst to Colonel Bouquet during the French and Indian War. Letters by General Amherst and Colonel Bouquet mentioning spreading smallpox to Indians does not mean that this was ever carried out. Assumptions derived from letters and oral traditions are not proof of anything. Oral traditions tend to change over time and with the times. The stories also tend to change in a manner convenient to the tellers…If you tell a story long enough, it acquires the semblance of fact. (http://www.hartwilliams.com/imdpart1.htm ).

The postscript in the letter from Amherst to Bouquet, written several months after Ecuyer had handed out two smallpox blankets at Fort Pitt, stated, “Could it not be contrived to send the Small Pox among those disaffected tribes of Indians? We must on this occasion use every stratagem in our power to reduce them.”

Bouquet replied that he would try and use infected blankets as a means of introducing the disease among the Indians, but was wary of the effects that it would have on his own men…at least twenty-five percent or more of Bouquet’s soldiers would have been susceptible to the smallpox virus.

The Amherst letter has been used to support the proposition of germ warfare or genocide against native populations. Amherst may have discussed it in correspondence with Bouquet, but there is no evidence that Colonel Bouquet carried it out. As he mentioned in his reply, Bouquet was afraid of what it would do to his own men and with good reason. 1763 was twenty-three years before Jenner’s work on vaccination, and one hundred years before Pasteur advanced his germ theory. The only thing known about smallpox in 1763 was…age, color of skin, social status meant nothing to the smallpox virus…an infected person died or, if lucky enough to survive, was often disfigured for life. No matter how bad Amherst may have wanted to be rid of the Indians, it seems doubtful that Bouquet would unleash a disease on his soldiers that had already killed millions of his own countrymen.

There is no evidence that Col. Bouquet took any action on Amherst’s letter, but while Fort Pitt was under Indian siege, Captain Ecuyer wrote to Bouquet…

“Out of our regard for them (two Indian chiefs) we gave them two blankets and a handkerchief out of the smallpox hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect (William Trent).”

The incident with Captain Ecuyer occurred during the Pontiac Rebellion. There is also evidence that Ecuyer tried to control the spread of smallpox, at least from his own men.

In a letter to Bouquet, Captain Ecuyer writes that Fort Pitt is in good state of defense against all attempts from Savages, who are daily firing upon the Fort; unluckily the Small Pox has broken out in the garrison, for which he has built an Hospital under the Draw Bridge to prevent the Spreading of that distemper (Peter d’Errico, nativeweb.org).

In 1763, Fort Pitt was under siege by Indian forces under the command of Chief Pontiac (Pontiac Rebellion by Tebbel). With smallpox in the garrison at Fort Pitt and Indians attacking the fort, two blankets would have had little to do with the spread of smallpox among the Indians. A by far greater source for spreading the smallpox virus would have been infected blood from mutilated soldier and settler bodies, scalps, clothing, and in some cases cannibalism, which occurred during the Pontiac Rebellion. Every warrior that returned from Fort Pitt to Indian villages up and down the East coast with smallpox infected war trophies carried the smallpox virus with them. Contaminated warriors spreading the smallpox virus is never mentioned by proponents of Indian Genocide; it does not fit their biased agenda. This statement on smallpox is going to make a lot of people furious…good, that is the purpose.”

The rest of this article then degenerates into an attack on Ward Churchill for sloppy science. I am not going to repeat that part as it is mostly full of emotional content. What I am interested in is the fact that around the world nomadic peoples were devastated by the diseases of the sedentary peoples that came with the so called age of exploration. It could be better called the age of exportation of diseases.

Real Cowboys & Dead Journalists in Philippines

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Benefits of Cow - From an Indian Yahoo discussion group.

“For those of us who grew up in villages, mention of cow brings nostalgia. Our dawn was through the cowshed beside the house. Milking cows was a loving early morning ritual for the mothers. Mother would move to the shed with a shining pot, lovingly stroke the cow on its back, calling it with its favourite name. The milk that the cow spared for the household nourished the whole family, especially the children, even like it nurtured its own calf.
The cow is a moving temple, being abode of thirty three crore Gods of the Hindu pantheon. She has given sacred Panchagavya with immense medicinal value and is a moving hospital.

Cow is the mother of the universe (Gavo Vishwasya Matharaha). She helps in agriculture, transportation, food, medicine, industry, sports, religious functions, emotional stability, economy, etc. From time immemorial, cow has a special place in Indian society.

Being part of farming, food, medicine, and industry, cow also contributes to the health of environment.
•Ancient scripture state that “Suryaketu” nerve on cow’s back absorbs harmful radiations and cleanses atmosphere. Mere presence of cows is a great contribution to environment.
•India has approximately 30 crore cattle. Using their dung to produce bio gas, we can save 6.0 crore ton of firewood every year. This would arrest deforestation to that extent.
•Cow dung has important role in preserving environment.
•When we burn cow dung, it balances atmospheric temperature and kills germs in the air.
•Cow dung has antiseptic, anti radioactive and anti thermal properties. When we coat the walls and clean the floors of house with cow dung, it protects the dwellers. In 1984, gas leak in Bhopal killed more than 20,000 people. Those living in houses with cow dung coated walls were not affected. Atomic power centres in India and Russia even today use cow dung to shield radiation.
•African deserts were made fertile using cow dung.
•We can reduce acid content in water by treating it with cow dung.
•When we offer ghee in fire as part of ritualistic sacrifices, it strengthens the ozone layer and shields the earth from harmful radiations from Sun.
•A relationship between increasing number of butcher houses and earth quakes is being proven.

Joys of Cow Based Farming

Indian agriculture has variety. There is no farm-product that we don’t cultivate. Our land grows all kinds of grains, pulses, vegetables, fruits, flowers, cotton and silk.
About 70% of our population has embraced agriculture as profession. Majority of them are small farmers, owning one or two acres of land.
Our agricultural landscape is diverse and vivid – in land topology, soil type and quality, irrigation method and frequency of harvesting.
Cattle are integral part of this huge canvas of agriculture. We use oxen to plough, to pick and move harvested crops, in irrigation, cow manure as fertiliser, and cow urine as insecticide.
Unique Role of Cow in Agriculture :
•In our country with small holdings and small scale farming, there is no better alternative to employing cattle in farming.
•While ploughing, the oxen stride with gentle gait, not harming the surface of the earth, unlike tractors.
•Even as they plough the land, the oxen defecate and urinate, fertilising the land.
•Cattle Manure : organic manure, green leaf manure, earth-worms, and slurry manure with cattle manure bond with the nature and make the land fertile. They do not create the challenge of chemical waste.
•99% of the insects in nature are beneficial to the system. Insecticides prepared from cow urine or well fermented butter milk do not affect these helpful insects.
•Dung from one cow is adequate to fertilise 5 acres of land and its urine is can protect 10 acres of crop from insects.
•As per the Supreme Court, cow dung produced by one oxen can support a family for 4 years.
•Oxen do not pollute the atmosphere.

Cattle in Transportation

India has more than 6,00,000 villages, many which do not have asphalted motorable roads. In hilly regions where even a horse cannot tread, oxen can pull their carts with ease.

Superiority of Ox Carts :
•Boasting of the largest rail road network of the world, Indian Railways transported 55.7 crore tons of goods in 2004-05. In the same year, the humble ox carts transported 278.5 crore tons!
•In that year, trains moved 511.2 crore passengers while ox carts had 2044.8 crore customers!
•Oxen have carried up to 14 ton goods non-stop 24 hours, without water and food.
•Most importantly, the carts do not produce air or sound pollution.

Food
Food from Cow : from the start to end of a meal

A mother nursing her infant depends on cow’s milk for her own nourishment. A mother feeds her child for a year or two; then cow is lifelong refuge for us all. Cow feeds its own calf and spares plenty for us too.

Uses of cow products :

•Different popular beverages like coffee, tea, etc. require milk as an important ingredient.
•Scores of sweet dishes are milk based.
•Curd, butter, and ghee are essential part of Indian meal. Taste of items deep fried in ghee is unmatched.
•Butter milk quenches thirst in addition to being a base for many popular dishes in our cooking.

Cow Products as Medicine

World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as a combination of physical, mental, spiritual and social wholeness. WHO has also predicted that bacteria will become immune to antibiotics by the year 2020. That does not scare us! We can depend on Panchagavya – milk, curd, ghee, cow urine and cow dung. These have excellent medical qualities individually as well as a concoction, without any adverse side-effect. In addition, if we are already under some other medication, consumption of panchagavya acts as a catalyst.
Ancient books on Ayurveda state that consumption of cow urine increases resistance to diseases by up to 104%.
Note : increase to 104% is an increase of 4%. What do we mean?
Health from Panchagavya :

•Milk : Charaka Samhita states, “Milk is the best life strengthener.” While Casin protein in milk helps growth of infants, calcium and sulphur strengthen our bones. Milk is also rich in vitamins D and B-complex.
•Curd arrests diarrhoea, controls fat, and resists cancer.
•Ghee improves intelligence and beauty. It is used to treat eye diseases.
•Distilled cow urine is effective in treatment of flu, arthritis, bacterial diseases, food poisoning, indigestion, oedema, and leprosy.
•Panchagavya Mix : Various medical formulations like Panchagavya Ghrita, Amritasara, Ghanavati, Ksharavati, Netrasara etc. are invaluable medicines in Ayurvedic system.
Cow in Industry

Milk and milk products from cow are used in preparing wholesome dishes and food products. Cow products are effective in treatment for cancer, hypertension, diabetes, heart diseases, neurological problems, psychological problems, skin diseases, ENT problems, fever, cold, hair loss, etc. They can also be used in cosmetic products like soap, shampoo and beauty aids. They help in farming and provide manure and insecticides. We can get cooking gas and electricity from cow dung.

Cow Industry is Practical :

Gobar Energy

•India leads the world in milk production. In 1998 – 99, India produced 7.5 crore ton milk. 70% of this produce is from small farmers.
•South India has more than 75,000 gobar gas installations, achieved by the S.K.G. Society of Kolar.
•A scientist named Bug Jones established Inland Energy Corporation in California. They collect 1500 ton cow dung a day from the neighbourhood and produce 50 MW of electricity.
•Gurjarat State Government purchases cow urine at Rs. 3 per kg and cow dung at Rs. 2 per kg.

Cow’s Role in Economy

•70% of our people depend on agriculture. 98% of them depend on cattle based agriculture.
•India produces more milk than all other countries.
•Goods carried by ox carts is 4 to 5 times as much as by trains. This saves considerable foreign exchange. E.g., Transportation worth Rs. 50,000 crore was done by ox carts in 2005.
•By expanding cow based industry, cow would have a defining stature in our economy. Sadly its already important position is not accepted by our people.

Satbir Singh Bedi, BH(Poorvi) 682, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi-110088″

As I said in reply at least in India they don’t eat cows.

Also I want to say something about the masacre in the Philipines. 18 journalists and dozens of others slaughtered but a political gang that runs the island of Mindano. It is also the same place where the USA has a military commitment to help root out terrorism. It seems strange that the US is always involved where the worst attrocities occur.

This is from the Myrnamar News site.

“Mass graves opened in Philippines political murders
Myanmar News.Net
Tuesday 24th November, 2009
An emergency has been declared in the Philippines in the aftermath of a savage political massacre that left at least 46 people dead.

Police on Mindanao island have been pulling bullet-riddled bodies from shallow graves, blaming the murders on a local political chief.

Philippine authorities have said a group of people, driving in convoy, were abducted by gunmen linked to Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan, the head of a Muslim clan.

The abducted group were relatives and associates of Esmael Mangudadatu, the head of a rival Muslim clan in Maguindanao

A large group of journalists was also travelling with the Mangudadatu group when it was fired upon.

The group had been travelling to an electoral registration where Mangudadatu’s wife was going to register her husband to run for governor against Ampatuan’s son in next year’s national polls.

She was among those killed.

President Gloria Arroyo has declared a state of emergency for the area that will allow curfews and road checkpoints to be imposed.

24 bodies were recovered on Tuesday, on top of 22 that had been found on Monday.”

Obama And Singh, Hating the Holidays, Group Sex

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

President Obama is having a dinner party with the Prime Minister of India. This it Obama’s first state dinner and some people have been concerned that India has been feeling left out since the USA has been giving so much attention to Pakistan.
We must remember that this is the first year anniversary of the attack on Mumbai.

This is from the BBC
“Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is in Washington for talks that many people see will shape foreign policy in the coming years.”

The rest of the article is about the Indian textile industry. It is a traditional source of wealth for India. Indian cottons have been trade goods for centuries.

Today on NPR Mrs. Obama, the first lady mentioned that President Obama kept a picture of Mahatma Gandhi in his office. This was because he respected the influence of Gandhi in bringing about change and freedom to his people while preaching a message of peace.
It is because of that comment that I decided today that I myself must try to bring peace in my own life and attempt as much as possible to bring freedom to people in whatever way I can. I am not being pollyannish here. After years of believing in violent revolution, I have limited my belief in violence to self defence and even then only if the lives you are defending are those who are in your charge. In other words I don’t believe in violence merely to protect my own skin. Other than that the only time violence is justified is when the people grab a traducer and violator of the liberties and lives of the people and uses the power of the state or of their influence over the community to aggrandize wealth and power to themselves. That sort of person when taken by the outraged people may forfeit their life due to the rage of the people. Other than that, I am pretty much against violence.

Tonight on MSNBC Howard Dean is sitting in for Rachel Maddow. Senator Bernie Sanders says that he is not sure if this health care legislation is going to be worth voting for if the bill that passes is stripped of the public option or is so expensive that it becomes simply a giveaway to the Health Insurance industry.

Not much to say tonight. I am in a state of semi suspended animation and entering the season I hate the most, the holidays. I have never enjoyed these periods of enforced artificial giving. I give to people when I feel like it and really resent these artifacts of a culture that I don’t identify with. But I have learned to keep my mouth shut in public and not be as overtly critical as I used to be as a youth. Now I just tend to sleep through them or latch onto a temporary family to pretend to feel like I am vested into a commercial event that produces more alienation and suicidal feelings of failure than anything else.

I would much rather watch a special on the history of the planet on one of the semi-scientific channels on TV and detach from my own personal human condition at these times. I know that it is the ultimate symptom of alienated individuation but what can you do? Join a revolutionary sex cult and have an orgy? Well it is not a bad idea, but I have never been a good orgy participant. I ejaculate too fast or become nervous around unfamiliar naked bodies and lose my erection. Sex for me is something best done when I feel safe and secure, with one or two partners at a time in a cave I am familiar with preferably with some pot, Viagra and a partner or two that turn me on and can hold a conversation.

Or if not that then I would rather be reading a well written history of some period that I am not as familiar with as I should be. I am studying the history of the Chinese border regions and their relations with the nomadic peoples of the north in particular. It is quite fascinating. And that is what I am going to do now. Goodnight.

Drug Dealing On Afghani Border

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

This is an excerpt from an article in this Months Harper’s Magazine on smuggling on the Afghani-Pakistani Border by members of the Government of Afghanistan.

“Harper’s Magazine
December 2009

Letter from Kandahar
The master of Spin Boldak

Undercover with Afghanistan’s drug-trafficking border police

*After the first round of national elections closed on August 20, the men
forcibly took Spin Boldak’s ballot boxes into his house for “safekeeping”
overnight. It was just one of the many reports of electoral fraud in
Kandahar Province, which polled overwhelmingly for President Karzai,
according to the independent Election Commission of Afghanistan. The count
from Spin Boldak’s polling stations: Karzai, 8,341; his main challenger, Dr.
Abdullah Abdullah, 4.*

By Matthieu Aikins

Matthieu Aikins is a freelance writer and photographer based in New York
City.

When I arrived in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s restive Baluchistan
Province, … a Toyota Land Cruiser stopped just ahead of me and two men in the front beckoned to me. When they learned I was a foreign visitor, they invited me for a
sumptuous lunch, and later we drove around the city’s crowded bazaars and
toured a restricted area of the military cantonment. I decided not to
introduce myself as a journalist; they seemed to accept that I was simply a
young traveler interested in poking around their rough corner of the world.

A few days later, one of the men, Jahanzeb, introduced me to his cousin,
Sikander, who soon began taking me out around the city himself. As I had
already discovered, Pashtuns are a frank and friendly lot with visitors, and
one night, cruising around in the Lexus that Sikander used as a mobile
office, he confided to me that he was shipping forty *mon,* or two metric
tons, of opium once a month from the Afghan border town of Spin Boldak. The
drugs were carried by a convoy, a few dozen heavily armed men in Land
Cruisers, through the desert into Baluchistan and then into Iran. Although
the police in Afghanistan and Pakistan were bribed to give the convoy safe
passage, the Iranian police were not, and encounters with them out in the
desolate borderlands often turned into violent, desperate battles. Once the
convoy made it across the border, the opium was delivered to a group of
Iranian Baluchis. Sikander didn’t accompany the convoys personally, but by
organizing and funding the operation, he said, he was making between
$125,000 and $250,000 in profits each trip.
The most important of Sikander’s connections was Colonel Abdul Razik, the
leader of a tribal militia and border police force that extends across
Kandahar and Helmand provinces—which produce 80 percent of Afghanistan’s
opium, which in turn is nearly 90 percent of the world’s crop. Sikander was
taking care to cultivate his relationship with the colonel. “I am growing a
baby tiger,” he told me. “When it gets large, I will gift it to Razik.” At
thirty years of age, Razik was the most powerful Afghan Border Police
officer in the southern part of the country—a former child refugee who
scrambled to power during the post-9/11 chaos, his rise abetted by a ring of
crooked officials in Kabul and Kandahar as well as by overstretched NATO
commanders who found his control over a key border town useful in their war
against the Taliban. With his prodigious wealth, loyal soldiers, and
connections to top government officials, Razik was seen as a ruthless,
charismatic figure, a man who brooked no opposition to his will. I asked
Sikander if he would take me to Afghanistan for a day to show me Razik’s
operation, and he agreed.
——————————

Two months later, on a hazy morning this past March, we arrived in the town
of Chaman after four hours on a crumbling road over the Khojak Pass. The
town’s Afghan counterpart, Spin Boldak, sits just a few kilometers away,
separated by a high concrete arch and a few dozen rifle-toting guards. After a few tense hours in Chaman, a white Corolla with a gold plastic
armani air-freshener on its dashboard arrived for me. The driver, tall and
clean-shaven with a gap-toothed smile, looked me over as we accelerated
north. “Do you speak Pashto?” he asked me. I shook my head. “Urdu?”

“I speak Persian,” I offered in that language.

“Then just don’t say anything,” he muttered in Dari, the Afghan dialect of
Persian. He examined my half-Asian features and wiry beard, which together
gave me the look of an Afghan from the north—an Uzbek or Hazara, perhaps—and
then placed his red embroidered cap, a typical Pashtun accessory, on my
head.

At the checkpoint, cutting into a side lane, my driver wove, honked, and
waved his way past the black-clad Pakistani and camouflage-clad Afghan
guards. They waved back in recognition. We drove around the arch and onto a
wide, rough-paved highway swirling with dust and traffic. “How are you, my
dear?” the driver asked in Dari, grinning widely. “This is Afghanistan!”
——————————

On the latest United Nations Department of Safety and Security map, which
color-codes Afghanistan to denote levels of risk for U.N. operations, we
would have been, just then, in a tiny island of “high” orange surrounded by
a wide sea of “extreme” red. The orange island is Spin Boldak and the road
to Kandahar city; the red sea stretches across most of the provinces of
Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul, and Uruzgan, and farther to the southeast. This
schema is illustrative of four striking facts. First and foremost, it
depicts how a ferocious and increasingly sophisticated insurgency—the
“neo-Taliban,” as many now call them—has spread across the predominantly
Pashtun south and southeast. Second, that red sea also corresponds with the
indefinite deployment of 20,000 additional U.S. soldiers, sent here during
the months leading up to the eighth anniversary of the 2001 invasion, in
October. Intended to bolster the International Security Assistance Force
(ISAF), a patchwork of different nations, the increase was a belated
recognition of just how badly the country has fared after years of neglect
and mismanagement. Third, all the red regions on the UNDSS map serve as a
rough approximation of the areas with opium under cultivation, representing
a billion-dollar industry whose tentacles grip both the neo-Taliban and the
fledgling Afghan state, from foot soldier to government minister. And last,
our little island of “high” orange in the sea of “extreme” red is Colonel
Razik’s private domain. Together, these four facts—the intensifying
insurgency, the massive deployment of international troops and assistance,
the opium, and Razik’s relatively secure territory—go a long way toward
explaining why an uneducated thirty-year-old warlord remains firmly
entrenched as an ISAF ally and drug trafficker at a crucial border crossing
like Spin Boldak.

The Afghan-Pakistani border region has long been awash in opium, which is
grown in Afghanistan and then generally smuggled west to the Balkans, via
Iran and Turkey, or shipped out of the port of Karachi to the Gulf states
and Africa. The trade boomed during the Eighties, when both the CIA and the
Pakistani government were happy to turn a blind eye to the drug operations
of the mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan, since it helped fund the war
against the invading Soviet Union. After the Soviets left, the drugs
remained, and since then opium production in Afghanistan has increased
fourteen-fold, from around 500 tons in the mid-1980s to 6,900 tons this
year. Recent counter narcotics efforts have dramatically reduced cultivation
in the north and east of the country, and so both cultivation and
trafficking have shifted to the south, where security is most tenuous.

Like much of Afghan life, drug operations tend to be organized by tribal and
family affiliations. Colonel Razik has built his own militia around his
Adozai, a prominent branch of the Achakzai, a Pashtun tribe. Historically,
the Achakzai, along with a rival tribe, the Noorzai, have controlled the
smuggling routes around the Khojak Pass, one of the two major mountain
passes that connect the Middle East with the Indian subcontinent, the other
being the more famous Khyber.

My driver, as it turned out, was Razik’s paternal cousin, also named Abdul
Razik—a twenty-nine-year-old lieutenant in the Border Police force, whom the
locals, when they want to distinguish him from his slightly older relation,
call Small Razik.
Colonel Abdul Razik’s rise exemplifies a classic Afghan narrative: the
sudden ascent to power through violence and foreign patronage. Born in Spin
Boldak around the time Soviet troops first entered Afghanistan, Razik grew
up during a period of unprecedented social disruption. His family’s fortunes
soared when Esmat Muslim, a warlord from the same Adozai branch of the
Achakzai, came to prominence in the region. A former military officer who
had been trained by the Russians, Esmat became a mujahideen commander during
the early 1980s and organized a force drawn mainly from his tribe; Razik’s
uncle Mansour became one of his principal lieutenants. Notorious for his
treachery and cruelty, Esmat shattered the delicate peace that had existed
between the Achakzai and Noorzai smuggling clans, and he eventually sided
with the Communist government in return for control over the border trade.
In the end, Esmat was driven out of Spin Boldak in 1988 by a combined
mujahideen offensive, and later died of cancer in Moscow.

With the collapse of the central government in the early 1990s, Kandahar
descended into anarchy. Local warlords divided up and pillaged the province.
Even the city of Kandahar itself was split among several commanders, and
throughout the province roads were strangled by hundreds of checkpoints at
which theft, rape, and murder were common.

It was in reaction to such depredations by the warlords that the Taliban
emerged, in 1994, from the districts around Kandahar city. Their first major
victory was the capture of Spin Boldak on October 12, 1994, an event
encouraged by the Pakistani trucking mafia, who saw the group as a means of
clearing the roads north to Central Asia. Consequently, the balance between
the Achakzai, who were linked to the traditional aristocracy, and the
Noorzai, who were more congenial to a radical Islamist movement, swung
again. Noorzai tribal figures such as Mullah Akhtar Jan Noorzai, a former
commander in Spin Boldak, and Hajji Bashir Noorzai, one of the region’s
largest drug smugglers, became influential supporters of the Taliban. (In
April, Bashir Noorzai was sentenced to life in a U.S. prison on
drug–trafficking charges, after having been lured to New York City by
federal agents.) Razik’s uncle Mansour, who had survived Esmat’s departure
by rejoining the mujahideen, was hanged from the gun of a tank north of Spin
Boldak by the Taliban. Razik’s father also was killed, and his family, along
with many Achakzai tribal leaders, fled into exile in Pakistan—until the
U.S.-led invasion arrived like a thunderbolt.

In November of 2001, the CIA paid Gul Agha Shirzai, who had been the
ostensible governor of Kandahar during the chaos before the Taliban, to
assemble an anti-Taliban militia in Quetta with the goal of capturing the
province. Shirzai put together a force that drew mainly on Achakzai
tribesmen. “The Americans said, ‘We will help you take your country back
from the terrorists,’” recalled Fayda Mohammad, the commander of this
Achakzai contingent, when I visited him on a return trip in May at his
modest, somewhat dilapidated two-story house in Spin Boldak. Abdul Razik
also had been part of the unit, but few remember him from that time; he was
then about twenty-two years old and completely obscure. “No one knew who he
was,” said Abdul Wali, a Mohammadzai tribesman who had been a fighter with
the group and later joined the Afghan National Army.

The Americans had given the group cash to buy weapons in Pakistan and
directly supplied more by helicopter—along with a group of Special Forces
soldiers—once the militia had infiltrated Afghanistan and occupied
Takht-e-Pul, a strategic pass between Spin Boldak and Kandahar city. With
U.S. airstrikes clearing the way, Shirzai’s forces advanced to the airport.
The provincial capital itself was in the process of being handed over, after
extensive negotiations between Hamid Karzai and the Taliban, to Mullah
Naqib, a well-respected retired mujahideen commander. But American advisers
had come to believe that Naqib was too close to the Taliban, and so they
encouraged Gul Agha Shirzai—against Karzai’s wishes—to wrest control from
Naqib and retake the governorship of the province. Naqib, fearing U.S.
airpower, backed off.

Shirzai, who is from the Barakzai tribe, had relied heavily on the Achakzai
for muscle, and now they wanted to claim their reward. “There was a deal
between me and Gul Agha,” Fayda told me. “He went to Kandahar city, and he
said, ‘You and your tribe take the security of the border.’”

That summer saw the return of widespread opium cultivation in the south of
Afghanistan, after the Taliban had banned it the year before. With stocks
running low, the price paid to farmers for opium shot up to $250 per kilo at
harvesttime, compared with $28 in 2000. The nascent central government had
little influence; every warlord was running his own small fiefdom, and the
economic incentives were clear. Fayda Mohammad, tasked with policing one of
the world’s largest drug-smuggling routes, soon found his job impossible to
do with any honor. He and his men would stop trucks full of opium or hashish
only to find them under the protection of prominent officials. On one
occasion, he claimed, he was forced into releasing a truck under direct
pressure from a powerful minister in Kabul. Another driver carried a letter
from Bacha Shirzai, Governor Shirzai’s brother.

I was learning, however, that Boldak is a special sort of border town. The
big business there is cars—right-hand-drive cars, to be precise, used cars
bought mainly in Japan and shipped in duty-free via Dubai. Afghanistan is a
left-hand-drive country, but the vehicles are intended for Pakistan. They
are sent overland from Karachi in sealed containers, unpacked in Spin
Boldak, and sent right back across the border, with forged papers and
baksheesh given to various officials along the way.

This may seem like a strange journey, but it’s a simple matter of
comparative advantage. Under the Afghan Transit Trade agreement, which dates
to 1965, Pakistan allows Afghanistan-bound goods to traverse its territory
duty-free. Afghanistan is a free port with minimal duties, whereas in
Pakistan taxes and customs can double or even triple a vehicle’s cost. This
price differential, combined with widespread corruption and inefficient law
enforcement in both countries, has created an enormous market for smuggling.
In fact, the smuggling of goods may be the biggest economic sector in
Afghanistan, larger even than the opium trade, according to World Bank
reports.

As a result, places like Spin Boldak have become markets for all sorts of
goods to be smuggled back into Pakistan. Each day, new shipping containers
arrived, and Samiullah and I would often go to watch them being cracked open
and unloaded. The haul was not just vehicles. It was all the cast-off crud
of the First World, anything conceivably worth being shipped here: used
microwave ovens, guitars, DVD players, bicycles, car stereos, TV sets, Beta
camcorders, keyboards, propane stoves, motorized wheelchairs, generators,
winches, children’s toys, clothing. I watched one bent, beturbaned old man
hauling a tangled bundle of PlayStation controllers slung over his shoulder
like a bushel of thatching.

Maintaining a sort of order in this chaos was Razik’s Border Police, who
protected the trade and in turn fed off it. Of course, some Border Police officers were engaged in the serious business of securing Spin Boldak. The most active I met was Commander Hajji Janan, who wore a U.S. Army combat uniform with a captain’s insignia and a 1st Infantry Division patch. Janan had been a police officer in the Taliban
regime before he sensed the changing winds of fortune, shaved his beard, and
joined his tribesmen in the new border force. Today, he roams around town in
a green police Dodge Ranger, accompanied by a posse of five young soldiers
carrying grenade launchers.
The most consistently uttered praise of Colonel Razik in Spin Boldak is that
he has maintained a level of security unparalleled in Kandahar Province. The
town is now far safer than Kandahar city, an hour and a half’s drive north.
“There is no water, no trees, no gardens here,” one refugee from Helmand
told me, “but there is *amniat,*” pronouncing the Persian word for security
as if it were a sacred name. Razik’s success was attributed to his prowess
in combat—“He was always at the front of the fighting,” said a cousin of
Samiullah’s—and also to his equally well-known ruthlessness. Stories abound
of men chained to the rocks at Takht-e-Pul and then executed with rockets;
of long stretches spent in Razik’s private prisons; of thieves’ corpses
being left, on orders, in the streets for three days.

Essential, too, were groups like Commander Janan’s, which, relative to
typical Afghan police, were trained and paid better. Nor was Razik the only
one who found them useful. The Border Police’s hand-in-glove cooperation
with the local ISAF forces in Boldak was evident the first day I met Janan.
That evening, Samiullah got a call and handed me his phone. A somewhat
baffled-sounding American accent came through on the line: “Hi, yeah, is
this Matthieu? This is Captain Cowles, with the U.S. Army. We heard from
Hajji Janan that there was a Canadian citizen alone here in Spin Boldak,
and, well, we just wanted to make sure that you were all right.”

I assured him that I was, but the next morning Janan came by the house and
asked if I would come to the ISAF just outside of town. “It is optional,” he
said.

I got in the truck and we rode out with his men to Forward Operating Base
Spin Boldak, which is manned by a mix of Canadian, U.S., and Afghan National
Army soldiers. A gruff American sergeant named McDermott drove out with an
interpreter to meet us and bring us back to the base. I noticed that Ahmad
Shah and his crew were allowed to bring their weapons, though McDermott
frisked me.

Captain Cowles, a young and solicitous type, got me a soft drink. I produced
my passport, and the officers started questioning me, with a combination of
suspicion and concern, about what I was doing in the region. I couldn’t say
that I was a journalist in front of Janan, for whom the interpreter was
translating our conversation, but I managed to convince them that I wasn’t a
spy, or worse. “We thought maybe it might be another case of that American
Taliban, what’s his name, Lindh,” said Tim Bonnacci, a Canadian Army
captain, only half in jest.

“You know, this is a battle space,” Cowles told me. I said I was fine, since
I was under the protection of the local Achakzai tribe. “Well, this is a
mixed Noorzai and Achakzai area, so you should be concerned,” he said. While
a Canadian sergeant went off to photocopy my passport, some of the officers
spoke privately to Janan in a corner. I sat down next to Cowles and asked
him if perhaps Janan’s wearing a U.S. Army uniform—with the Stars and
Stripes on it, no less—might be sending the wrong message. “Oh, the locals
know who he is,” answered Cowles. I said I meant that his policies and
actions might be interpreted as being American. “I don’t think there’s any
worry about that,” he said, sweeping the air with his hand. “Hajji Janan is
one of our best guys. We don’t go anywhere without them.”

Mohammad Naeem Lalai, a thirty-five-year-old Achakzai from Spin Boldak,
joined the Border Police about the same time that Abdul Razik did. He and
Razik once were close friends, but they had a bitter falling-out that led to
Lalai’s quitting the force in February of last year. Lalai told me he had
become disgusted with Razik’s corruption and had tried, unsuccessfully, to
persuade him to change course.

Lalai estimated that Razik pulls in between $5 million and $6 million per
month in revenues, money he has invested in properties in Kabul and Kandahar
and also abroad, in Dubai and Tajikistan. The racket itself is run directly
by a select group of his commanders, who facilitate drug shipments and
collect payment from the smugglers. Lalai showed me a list with their
names—Janan was among them—and the names of the five biggest drug dealers in
Spin Boldak. He said that Razik’s men also had imported shipping containers
full of acetic anhydride, a chemical used in heroin manufacturing, from
China.

Lalai was the only person I found who would openly accuse Razik of drug
smuggling. The conjoined mention of “Abdul Razik” and “drug smuggling” by a
Western journalist in Kandahar was enough to cast a chill over most
interviews. But on condition of anonymity, two other Kandahari
politicians—Achakzai tribal elders with clean reputations and who were
widely respected—made similar assertions to me about Razik’s involvement in
drug smuggling, his private prisons, his vast wealth, and his entanglement
in a network of corrupt high officials and major drug smugglers. An official
at the Kandahar office of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission,
who asked not to be named, agreed that Razik was operating his own prisons
and conducting extrajudicial executions.

A grim irony of the rising pro-Taliban sentiments in the south is that the
United States and its allies often returned to power the same forces
responsible for the worst period in southerners’ memory—the post–Soviet
“mujahideen nights.” In the case of Gul Agha Shirzai (now governor of
Nangarhar but still a major force in Kandahar), the same man occupied the
exact same position; in the case of Razik, nephew of the notorious Mansour,
it is the restoration of an heir. By installing these characters and then
protecting them by force of arms, the ISAF has come to be associated, in the
minds of many Afghans, with their criminality and abuses. “We’re doing the
Taliban’s work for them,” said one international official with years of
experience in counternarcotics here.

In the initial scramble to invade Afghanistan in 2001, there was a certain
pragmatism to enlisting the mujahideen, who represented the best means of
taking over the country in the absence of a substantial U.S. ground
presence. But those troops were diverted to Iraq, and the ISAF was cobbled
together slowly, arriving too late and with too few soldiers to upend the
warlords’ rule. Canadian forces didn’t deploy to Kandahar until 2006, and
even then their contingent of 2,500 was stretched far too thin to control
one of the most critical provinces in Afghanistan; the base at Spin Boldak
was largely abandoned for seven months at the end of 2006, when troops were
needed for the offensive in Panjwaii.

“We were facing the worst-case scenario in 2006—a conventional takeover by
Taliban forces,” said Brigadier General Jonathan Vance, the Canadian
commander of ISAF forces in Kandahar Province. He was proud that his
country’s small contingent had been able to hold the insurgency more or less
at bay. But he admitted that the life of the average Kandahari had become
less secure as the Taliban began to tighten their grip on Kandahar city. “I
don’t have the capacity to make sure someone doesn’t rip their guts out at
night.”

I asked General Vance if he was aware that Razik was directly involved in
the drug trade. “Yes,” he said. “We are completely aware that there are a
number of illicit activities being run out of that border station.” He had
few illusions about Razik, with whom he interacts directly. “He runs
effective security ops that are designed to make sure that the business end
of his life runs smoothly, and there is a collateral effect on public
order,” he told me. “Ideally, it should be the other way around. The tragedy
of Kandahar is that it’s hard to find that paragon of civic virtue.”

I cut out about half the article. You can read the whole piece at Harpers. The essential thing here is that this is a complex situation and we are entering into a culture that has been involved with the trade of high value commodities for centuries. This is part of the old Silk Road. The author is simply describing a reality. But what he does not describe is the centuries of traditions in which have developed these networks. New persons come and go but the essential traditions of tribes trading over these passes in valuables, whether it is Toyotas or opium, it is not going to change.
These people who are now smugglers would in a different time be traders. The borders that exist now are recent historical constructs that have only modified the nature of the profit making opportunities of the tribal leaders and traders. The entry of the Soviets in the 1970’s and the USA in the 00’s has only distorted the local balance by giving guns and power to warlords that will cause a reaction against them by the other factions of the civil society. Once the weapons and money from the west are gone then the locals will be able to sort things out themselves.
India, Iran and Pakistan have interests in the region to the south east and west. To the north is Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. They should be the ones working directly with the regime in Afghanistan. Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have interest because they have borders with Afghanistan and India because it is the major regional power.
NATO’s involvement in this region is simply stirring up the pot and causing unnecessary deaths. We need to get out of the region and limit our efforts to diplomacy, economic aid and perhaps a CIA strike force operating behind the scenes to keep an eye on Al Qaeda. That is all we should have had in the first place instead of this incredibly stupid and wasteful invasion.

Senate One Step Closer To Passing Healthcare Legislation. Anarchists Hold Another Book Fair In LA

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

The Senate voted 60 to 39 to allow a vote on Healthcare. This is important. This is from some site called Chattabox.
“(ChattahBox)—- After hours of floor speeches in a rare weekend session, the Senate Democrats, with all 60 voting yes, moved forward the health care reform bill. In a procedural motion of cloture, House Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid’s (D- NV) health reform bill will now move to the floor for the debate and amendment process.
There was little suspense, as a voice vote was taken on the Senate floor shortly before 8:00 PM this evening. The last Democratic holdouts, Senators Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu and Blanche Lincoln, announced earlier that they would vote yes to allow the health care bill to proceed to debate. Still, it’s a major step in the process and moves the prospect of affordable and quality health care for all Americans that much closer.

The final voting tally was 60-39, with all Republican Senators voting no. The Senate bill to reform our broken health care system barely squeaked through cloture, requiring the yes vote of every Democratic lawmaker.

The debate process is scheduled to start when Senate lawmakers return from their Thanksgiving recess. And the debate on the public option will begin anew. The centrist Democratic Senators, including Blanch Lincoln of Arkansas remain strongly opposed to a public option.”

One step closer and the anti-health care reform forces are fighting tooth and nail to stop it. Now that it is almost here and it passed in the House and is now on the floor in the Senate, the opposition is going to pour on the heat and try and bribe the the conservative Democrats or possibly Lieberman into blocking it or stripping out the public option. We have to fight hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.
We have finaly moved in the direction of national health care and we have to make sure it happens. What we really need is single payer but that is probably another decade away.

I missed out on a Socialist conference put on by one of the old Trotskiest groups. I almost went. I was tempted but I am too much of an anarchist to buy into the Trotskyism. He was too much of an authoritarian and in the clinch he let Stalin take over in Russia and ruin the revolution. He also supported the destruction of the Anarchists in Russia and no matter how much I am critical of modern day anarchists I am still more aligned with them that with any Trotsyist group. Even if they call themselves the Party for Socialism and Liberation. If I were to be a Marxist I would be closer to the Maoists or the Council Communists. But I sure do like the Marxist propensity for organization. That is the one thing about anarchists I really get frustraited with the lack of organization. There is lots of idealism but it wears thin and then people move on and you get a new batch of idealists.

There is a new Anarchist Bookfair in January of next year being held at the Barnsdale Art Park. I don’t know if any anarchists today know it but the founder of the park was a buddy of the anarchists of LA from a century ago.

This is an article by someone who knows.

“California Dreaming: Team Aline!
by Rebecca Schoenkopf

Barnsdall Art Park was given to the city of Los Angeles—which didn’t want it, thanks—by oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, back when heiresses did something interesting with their time. (For what it’s worth, there’s at least one interesting and educated—Princeton and MIT, for fuck’s sake—and really quite lovely Annenberg heiress around these days, god bless and keep her, and that’s why L.A. has Farmlab.)

Barnsdall was a feminist, and a single mother back in the ’20s, when being a single mother wasn’t the load of laughs it is today. She was friends with Emma Goldman—the name under which my mother used to get arrested come Mother’s Day nuclear test site protests—and was followed by the FBI, which named her part of the “lunatic fringe,” for 24 years, until her death in ’46. She was also a passionate producer of experimental theater, and had commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build Hollyhock House on Olive Hill as an artists colony for poor undercultured L.A.

But Frank Lloyd Wright was an unbelievable asshole, an early Hiker of the Appalachian Trail, a shabby man who’d been for all intents and purposes run out of the U.S. following his desertion of his wife and six kids for the wife of a friend (his mistress was later axed to death by a servant during dinner at their home, along with her kids and a few guests). The house he built for Barnsdall—the celebrated Hollyhock House, which you can tour for a very doable $7, and we did, the day after being so angered by presumably very nice people doing nothing more objectionable than getting out of the house for an afternoon—is spectacular and infuriating and slapdash. My sister once had to leave a Christo retrospective in a huff because his wrapped Bundestag, she said, connoted secrets, and she didn’t like secrets. I never understood; I laughed and laughed; she was okay with his umbrellas killing people, but didn’t like whatever intent she’d surmised in the wholly nonlethal Bundestag? Ha ha! And then I entered Hollyhock and was angered for exactly the same reason.

Here are more than 6,500 square feet on the crown of a beautiful hill with gentle breezes and views to the ocean, and it manages to feel entirely cramped, because what does Mr. Great Brilliant Architect of the 20th Century do? He encases it in concrete, a miserable fortress. It’s claustrophobic and sarcophagal; Wright’s idea of contraction and expansion—crushing you like an ant so you’d be even more enthralled with the sudden open spaces—means here that the entryway features a six-foot-high ceiling of concrete blocks of unknown thousands of pounds crushing down right over your poor little head. I haven’t been that terrified since I drove the 5 past Mt. Shasta and couldn’t see the top; it was as though the mountain was a giant that could reach down and pluck us stupid mortals right from the road. So this was like that, but less eerie and otherworldy and more next-worldy. You know: because it will kill you.

Aline Barnsdall hated the house, which came in at triple-budget, years late, and with a staggering inattention to how houses work. It was drafty and damp from the concrete in the un-summer months, and it’s blazing hot now; the side of the house facing the sunset is all glass that doesn’t open, and the windows that do open are as narrow as archery slits. Aline Barnsdall could have roasted a turkey in it, no convection oven needed, if she were the kind of socialist who didn’t actually have an army of servants to do her turkey roasting for her.

I am all on Team Aline, and when I make my millions, I too shall spend them and my time getting innocent anarchist bombers released from prison, and employing servants, who after all do need the work. Screw Frank Lloyd Wright.

There’s a fun slideshow on Slate this week, about Philip Johnson’s terrible Glass House, and how badly made it is, and a rip-off of the Farnsworth House to boot. Frank Lloyd Wright may not have taken inspiration from anyone but himself for Hollyhock House, but only because he apparently considered all other human beings as beneath his emulation. He designed beautiful furniture for Aline Barnsdall, grand and broad and substantial and of a piece with the breathtaking living room (breathtaking, of course, because you’ve just come from being buried alive in the foyer). He designed her dining table for six, because he felt that was the maximum number for a successful dinner party. For another client, he designed not only the furniture and the art work, but the missus’s clothes.

Control freak much? Ugh. His second or third (or something) wife, by the way, was a morphine addict. I can’t imagine why.

I know the rest of society forgives its geniuses for any manner of ickiness; I don’t. I wouldn’t want to dine with Bukowski, and I told my hippie punk high school friends so every time they brought up how fuckin’ awesome it would be. I wouldn’t have wanted to take tea with Hunter S. Thompson or Jackson Pollock.

Maybe Picasso. I guess. He, at least, was never called an asshole.”

I don’t know much about the author but she did write an entertaining piece about Barnsdale. I totaly disagree with her about Bukowski. He was my idea of a great poet.

Here is the info about the bookfair. Maybe they will even ask me if I want to help out.

“US, 2nd Los Angeles Anarchist Bookfair
Date Thu, 19 Nov 2009 11:23:05 +0200

——————————————————————————–

The 2nd Los Angeles Anarchist Bookfair is in the works. —- Actions, Conversations, and
Intersections: 2nd Anarchist Bookfair 2010 -After months of doing research and maneuvering
through intricate social mazes we have chosen a location for the 2nd L.A. Anarchist
Bookfair. —- It will be taking place in mid to late January 2010 on the beautiful
grounds of Barnsdall Art Park 4800 Hollywood Boulevard. —- We are already in the process
of organizing speaker panels, tabling, etc. If you would like to help or contribute to our
efforts please get in touch via our contact form on this site. - Also to keep abreast with
the latest activities in L.A. please check-out http://barnsdall.org/ The L.A. Anarchist
Bookfair Collective http://www.barnsdallartpark.com/ — http://laanarchist.org/”

Unfermented Soy Products Bad For Health

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

It seems that Tofu straight from the box is not good for you. I guess I will stick to Miso and Tempeh.

“The War on Soy: Why the ‘Miracle Food’ May Be a Health Risk and Environmental Nightmare

By Tara Lohan, AlterNet. Posted November 21, 2009.

Vegetarians aren’t the only ones who should be concerned; there’s soy in just about everything you eat these days — including hamburgers, mac ‘n cheese and salad dressing.

These days, you can get soy versions of just about any meat — from hot dogs to buffalo wings. If you’re lactose-intolerant you can still enjoy soy ice-cream and soy milk on your cereal. If you’re out for a hike and need a quick boost of energy, you can nibble on soy candy bars.

Soy is a lucrative industry. According to Soyfoods Association of North America, from 1992 to 2008, sales of soy foods have increased from $300 million to $4 billion. From sales numbers to medical endorsements, it would seem that soy has reached a kind of miracle food status.

In 2000 the American Heart Association gave soy the thumbs up and the FDA proclaimed: “Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Over the course of the last decade medical professionals have touted its benefits in fighting not just cardiovascular disease, but cancers, osteoporosis and diabetes.

But soy’s glory days may be coming to an end. New research is questioning its health benefits and even pointing out some potential risks. Although definitive evidence may be many years down the road, the American Heart Association has quietly withdrawn its support. And some groups are waging an all-out war, warning that soy can lead to certain kinds of cancers, lowered testosterone levels, and early-onset puberty in girls.

Most of the soy eaten today is also genetically modified, which may pose another set of health risks. The environmental implications of soy production, including massive deforestation, increased use of pesticides and threats to water and soil, are providing more fodder for soy’s detractors.

All of this has many people wondering if they should even be eating it at all. And you are most likely eating it. Even if you’re not a vegetarian or an avid tofu fan, there is a good chance you’re still eating soy. Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved, explains that soy is now an ingredient in three-quarters of processed food on the market and just about everything you’d find in a fast food restaurant. It’s used as filler in hamburgers, as vegetable oil and an emulsifier. It’s in salad dressing, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets.

“Even if you read every label and avoid cardboard boxes, you are likely to find soy in your supplements and vitamins (look out for vitamin E derived from soy oil), in foods such as canned tuna, soups, sauces, breads, meats (injected under poultry skin), and chocolate, and in pet food and body-care products,” wrote Mary Vance for Terrain Magazine. “It hides in tofu dogs under aliases such as textured vegetable protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and lecithin–which is troubling, since the processing required to hydrolyze soy protein into vegetable protein produces excitotoxins such as glutamate (think MSG) and aspartate (a component of aspartame), which cause brain-cell death.”

Health Risks or Rewards?

“I grew up in Houston on po’ boys and the Wall Street Journal,” said Robyn O’Brien. “I trusted our food system.” But all that changed when one of her kids developed a food allergy and O’Brien began doing research to find out what’s actually in our food and the companies behind it.

Her work led to the book,The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It, and she’s become an incredible crusader on multiple fronts when it comes to food. She’s also been educating consumers about soy’s double-edged sword.

To understand why, it helps to know a little history about soy. It’s been cultivated, starting in China, for 3,000 years. While Asian diets have generally included soy it has been in small amounts eaten fermented — primarily via miso, natto and tempeh. “Fermenting soy creates health-promoting probiotics, the good bacteria our bodies need to maintain digestive and overall wellness,” wrote Vance. “By contrast, in the United States, processed soy food snacks or shakes can contain over 20 grams of nonfermented soy protein in one serving.”

It’s not that all soy is bad; in fact, eating it in small doses can be quite healthy, if it’s fermented. But when it’s not, that’s where the problems begin. Soy is a legume, which contains high amounts of phytic acid. Phytic acid binds to minerals (like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc), interfering with the body’s ability to absorb them (which is usually a bad thing). Soy is also known to contain “antinutrients,” among them enzyme inhibitors that interfere with protein digestion. The Chinese figured out about 2,000 years ago that antinutrients and phytic acid could be deactivated during fermentation, but in the processed-food laden land of the West, we’ve chosen cultural ignorance in favor of quick and cheap. Most of the soy we eat is unfermented.”

We in the west have a lot to learn about proper diet. I know I am trying to avoid canned foods with plastic liners, food in plastic containers, cooking in plastic, and all meat except eggs and fish and even that I try to keep down to once a week. Anyway who knows how much longer we have on planet earth.

Senate On Healthcare, Katrina Payback, Afghani Corruption, Terrorists On Trial

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Today Senator Reid presented the Senate version of the Healthcare bill.

This is an excerpt from CNN Money today.

“Senate’s health care bill cost: $849 billion
Congressional Budget Office says the Senate’s version of the the health care overhaul would cost $849 billion over 10 years and would cut the deficit by $127 billion.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the Senate health care bill would cost $849 billion over 10 years, according to a senior Democratic source and an administration official.

The CBO projects the measure would reduce deficit by $127 billion and insure an additional 31 million Americans, according to the sources.

Ninety-four percent of Americans would be covered under the bill, the sources noted.

The news came as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, met behind closed doors with Senate Democrats to unveil the bill before a news conference later Wednesday.

Reid needs to round up 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to overcome a certain GOP filibuster attempt and open the chamber’s debate on the bill. Democratic leadership sources have said a Saturday vote to start debate is likely.

It remains unclear, however, whether Democrats will have enough votes to fend off a filibuster.

Earlier Wednesday, Reid met with Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska — three moderate Democrats who have expressed concerns about the cost and scope of health care reform proposals.

The trio will play a pivotal role in the success or failure of health care reform in the Senate. If Republicans stay unified in opposition to the health care bill, Reid would need the support of all 58 Senate Democrats as well as independent Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to reach the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.

If the Senate manages to pass a bill, a congressional conference committee would need to merge the House and Senate proposals into a consensus version requiring final approval from each chamber before moving to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

Democratic leaders in both chambers have been wrestling with a series of controversial issues tied to health care reform, including abortion and immigration. They’re also at odds over how to pay for reform.

They have, however, reached agreement on a broad range of changes that could impact every American’s coverage.

Among other things, they’ve agreed to subsidize insurance for a family of four making up to roughly $88,000 annually, or 400% of the federal poverty level.

They’ve also agreed to expand Medicaid and create health insurance exchanges to make it easier for small businesses, the self-employed and the unemployed to pool resources and purchase less expensive coverage.

They also would limit total out-of-pocket expenses and prevent insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Insurers under the Democratic plans would be barred from charging higher premiums based on a person’s gender or medical history.”

Tonight I heard a great idea. Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck run for President and Vice President as a conservative team. They run as a third party. Great. Wonderful take the base away from the Republican Party. And let the Republicans run as the party of Business, their traditional position. That would make the Republicans the centrist-right party again.
The Democrats can be the centrist party they are now and what is missing. Hmm, let me think. A conservative party a center right party, a center left party and oh I remember a left wing or labor party. Gee I wonder if any group will get their act together and provide a decent left perspective. Maybe the progressives will leave the democrats and join the greens and turn America into a real multiparty democracy. Wow that would be something!!

Attorney General Holder spoke today at hearings. This is an excerpt from a McClatchy Newspaper story.

McClatchy D.C. Bureau
Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009
GOP senators, Holder clash over New York trials for 9/11 plot
James Rosen - McClatchy Newspapers WASHINGTON — Republican senators confronted Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday over his decision to try the Sept. 11 terrorism suspects in civilian court.

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, expressed certainty that they’ll be found guilty and executed.

Holder didn’t go as far as Obama did in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, though the nation’s top prosecutor said he was confident that justice would be delivered to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other accused plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“I think you’ve made a fundamental mistake here,” South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a military lawyer who’s served active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, told Holder.

“You have taken a wartime model that will allow flexibility when it comes to intelligence gathering, and you have compromised this country’s ability to deal with people at war with us by interjecting into the system the possibility that they may be given the same constitutional rights as any American citizen,” Graham said.

Holder said he foresaw no judicial obstacles to convicting the five terrorism suspects and putting them to death, though he acknowledged that prosecutors will have to persuade jurors.

“I do not see any legal impediments to our seeking the death penalty,” Holder said. “We will obviously have to convince a jury of 12 people that the death penalty is appropriate.”

Obama, in a TV interview during his tour of Asia, suggested that death sentences will vindicate Holder’s and his decision to hold a federal trial for Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 assault, which killed almost 3,000 Americans.

When the president was asked whether he understood why some people might take offense at the decision, which Holder announced last week, he told NBC News: “I don’t think it will be offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him.”

Obama, a former law professor, appeared to realize immediately that such a statement risks harming the constitutional presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial.

“What I said was people will not be offended if that’s the outcome,” he added. “I’m not prejudging” the verdict.”

Oops, is this a fair trial or a show trial. It seems more to me like this trial is about as real as the Soviet Union trials in the 1930’s of the persons Stalin wanted to get rid of. I am not suggesting that Obama is another Stalin, far from it. He is more like a Gorbachev if he is like any Soviet leader. But it seems to me that they are more concerned with relieving right wing fears that these guys might get away than with any desire for justice. It seems to me that anyone who was water boarded over 100 times deserves to be found not guilty due to illegal arrest and torture. But it will be interesting to see how they twist the concept of justice to make liberals breathe a sigh of relief that the forms of democracy were maintained while the substance was torn apart to appease the right wing.

Karzai was reappointed Ruler of Afghanistan and Hillary Clinton was there to give him a list of approved candidates for office and to put some muscle on him to make sure he knows that giving deals to the Chinese for big bribes is not kosher. Those bribes should go to Americans.

This is from the USA Today.

Afghan official said to take bribe for copper deal
Posted 11/18/2009 6:40 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior Afghan official allegedly took a $20 million bribe to steer a copper mining project to a Chinese company, a glaring example of the claims of corruption clouding the Obama administration’s deliberations over expanding the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan.
In Washington, two U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports said that Afghanistan’s minister of mines, Muhammad Ibrahim Adel, allegedly accepted the money soon after the $3 billion contract was awarded in late 2007 to China Metallurgical Group Corp.”

On another matter remember Katrina? Well a judge in New Orleans today awarded money to litigants who sued the US government for not properly maintaining the ship canal built by the Army Corp of Engineers.

This from the NY Times.

Ruling on Katrina Flooding Favors Homeowners
By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON
Published: November 18, 2009
NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge found Wednesday evening that poor maintenance of a major navigation channel by the Army Corps of Engineers led to some of the worst flooding after Hurricane Katrina. The ruling was a major victory for homeowners who suffered damage in the aftermath of the storm.

It was the first time that the government has been held liable for any of the flooding that inundated the New Orleans area after Aug. 29, 2005, vindicating the long-held contention of many in the region that the flooding was far more than an act of God.

If upheld, the ruling could force the federal government to pay tens of millions of dollars, if not more, to homeowners whose property was lost or damaged by water from the navigation canal, the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, known as MR-GO (pronounced Mister Go).

“It is the court’s opinion that the negligence of the corps, in this instance by failing to maintain the MR-GO properly, was not policy, but insouciance, myopia and shortsightedness,” wrote Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr. of Federal District Court.”

This means the Federal Government gets to pay. Unfortunately that means we the tax payers pay. But this should never have happened. Another Bush Administration holdover effect. As I have said elsewhere Obama is the janitorial president. He is the clean up man.


  • famvir
  • hardi sprayer booms
  • moen danika 82833
  • death defying hoodoo gurus wiki
  • meds peds
  • astelin
  • i'm bringing the party to you gif tumblr
  • bontril
  • argo 6x6 top speed
  • superdrive macbook pro not working
  • epipen
  • wow privat pvp server instant 80 deutsch
  • macrobid
  • new screamo heavy metal bands
  • carbohydrate deficient transferrin normal range
  • hyzaar
  • kennedy group home kinston
  • important facts elizabeth van lew
  • haak austin video
  • d100 wifi router manual
  • why can you only take prevacid for 14 days
  • oreck sweeper parts
  • cod world war nocd
  • freecycle baltimore yahoo group
  • timolol
  • famciclovir
  • antivert
  • sure romance online apotheke
  • medroxyprogesterone
  • sony dsc-t99 charger
  • lamotrigine
  • tadalis
  • coller .001
  • poornam boorelu moong dal
  • rosuvastatin
  • tiffen dfx mac free
  • paddock publications inc company
  • azathioprine
  • happy wanderer vine lilac care
  • can i take ambien and benadryl
  • suncoast rv koa campground in lake park ga
  • educomp smart class
  • direccion comision estatal de derechos humanos xalapa
  • jokiel grzegorz marcin
  • lorna wikipedia singer
  • paranoid black sabbath video
  • slowdown football 2010
  • polycell mould killer
  • dail dinwiddie wikipedia
  • vial crimper tool
  • plaque stability atherosclerosis
  • you've attempted to upload a document but the feature
  • completion contract method tax
  • code of chivalry of european knights
  • leave the pieces lyrics youtube
  • minion mod yogbox
  • cabinet belletoile maisons-alfort
  • yoga pier malibu kiis fm
  • oracea
  • kaczmarek electric mtb
  • nebivolol
  • system abend 80a
  • prodigy omen song download
  • skin care products chemo patients
  • aldactone
  • anatomy ribs male female
  • nokia 5800 software download for pc
  • amlodipine effects
  • luana rodriguez suarez
  • what kind of choke for 00 buckshot
  • mapa aeropuerto cancun zona hotelera
  • castelli italiani famosi
  • b-cell chronic lymphocytic lymphoma
  • ntsb safety recalls
  • blunauta roma villa paganini
  • sarge's heroes n64 rom
  • mertz 9716
  • uroxatral
  • coverall buildings
  • animales sin hogar foro
  • pages blanches canada sherbrooke
  • damn regret lyrics meaning
  • disable hotkeys autohotkey
  • incisional biopsy vs excisional biopsy
  • used auto parts rockford il
  • provincia di enna
  • momo wang violin
  • escentric molecule perfume
  • ponder gondho
  • cheatham palermo & garrett
  • paroxetine hcl oral suspension
  • lorelei hammond ukiah ca
  • acadian lines antigonish
  • diablo iii characters wiki
  • amoxil
  • gnomish army knife mop
  • max prilosec dose
  • homogeneous vs differentiated oligopoly
  • husqvarna sewing embroidery designs
  • 2000 diesel pajero for sale
  • neoral
  • air canada aircraft a319 seating
  • route demonstration saturday 26th march
  • celadon pokemon fire red
  • sony dsc-s40 white screen
  • 10 worst serial killers usa
  • bahama momma drink recipes
  • evernote plugin safari lion
  • paroxetine qt prolongation
  • dhc-6-300 wiki
  • universidades particulares ciudad xalapa
  • best buy honeywell air purifier
  • knotted plow line
  • dragonball z tenchi budokai 3
  • libreria arquitectura santiago chile
  • .avi codec for kmplayer download
  • when do babies lose their gag reflex
  • posturepedic foam mattress reviews
  • 2-56 countersink
  • darmowe gry dla dzieci dora poznaje swiat
  • shift-jis art generator
  • antabuse
  • crofton skating rinks maryland
  • st anthony padua cyo basketball
  • ssbb subspace emissary 100 walkthrough
  • fcr breakpoints diablo 2 sorc
  • movies does amanda bynes play
  • ingmar relling siesta
  • abacavir
  • que es hydroxyzine pam
  • what is this thing in the jewish doorway
  • generic paxil price
  • tribble testing rewards
  • flora llanos orientales venezuela
  • birte quitt xing