Pakistan Seizes Nearly 500,000 lb. of Poppy Seeds

Poppy love: forget heroin, start worrying about Khaskhash

By Ikram Hoti

ISLAMABAD: Is Turkey the new poppy Helmand of Europe? Is the question worrying many key diplomats in Islamabad who are aware of the ongoing probe into the seizure of a 13-container load of poppy seeds (called Khaskhash in Urdu), which had been cleared by the Customs and had already been loaded onto a waiting cargo ship? What has set the alarm bells ringing is the realisation that only a highly organised network could have collected almost 224,000 kg of the commodity from small and medium traders, then packed it marked as rice, and bribed its way through Customs to ship the entire lot to Turkey, where a region is said to offer excellent soil and environment for growing poppy, which provides opium and which, in turn, is the raw material for producing heroin.

Sources told The News that the Anti Narcotics Force was probing the chain of dealers involved in building the necessary supply chain and arrests were expected in the next few days. The bulk of the poppy seed shipment, sources told, came from Helmand, Afghanistan, and from within Pakistan from areas of the Malakand Division, Bajaur and Momand belt of Fata.

The seized shipment had been gotten cleared from the Customs by a Karachi-based Pakistani export firm, M/s Spark Enterprises, whereas the recipient company in Turkey was identified as M/s European Spice, the Directorate of Customs Intelligence (DCI), Islamabad, confirmed to The News.

An intelligence official said details of this cache came with a lot of other material that indicated how the DCI had lately been pushing for physical checking of consignments at different Customs stations like the Model Collectorate, Karachi, Dry Port, Peshawar, and the Customs Station, Torkham, on the Pak-Afghan border.

Advertisements

Elitism and Empathy in American Presidents: Who Cares for the Suffering Children?

Elitism and Empathy in American Presidents:

Who Cares for the Suffering Children?

William John Cox


Who cares that millions of children are suffering and dying around the world, in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Gaza, Sudan, the Congo, Colombia, and Mexico, and in the United States?

Why are American voters only given the choice of voting for members of the political, social and economic elite to be their president, rather than for leaders who care for and identify with the needs of ordinary people?

Do presidential candidates supplant their empathy with loyalty to the ruling elites, or do the elites only select pliable candidates with an absence of empathy?

Elitism and the Seizure of Political Power

Webster’s defines elites as “a group of persons who by virtue of position or education exercise much power or influence.”

Elitism was exemplified by the royals of Europe who sat on the thrones of England, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Russia and other countries. They intermarried and for hundreds of years controlled the lives of their subjects, while occasionally sending them to die in family squabbles with their cousins.

The royal’s concern for those they ruled was famously illustrated by Queen Maria Antoinette who, when told that the peasants had no bread, exclaimed, “Then, let them eat cake!” The hoi polloi returned the favor during the French Revolution by cutting off her head, along with that of her husband, King Louis XVI.

Although the American Revolution was fought to establish a government of the people, the will of the people has often been subverted by wealth and influence. Franklin Roosevelt once said, “The real truth of the matter is … that a financial element … has owned the government ever since the days of Andrew Johnson.” Most critically, over the past 30 years, an ever-more-powerful elite has seized complete control of the U.S. presidency.

Earning millions of dollars a year from salaries, bonuses, investments and fraud, the individuals and their families who control major financial institutions, foundations and corporations are the new royalty and, like the kings and queens of old, they have little care or concern for anyone other than themselves, their own, and their profits.

With little allegiance to the United States or its people, these elites seek a “New World Order” within which to exercise their power, and they meet secretly on Hilton Head Island and in the Bohemian Grove to network and they conspire at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg Group to complete their arrangements.

Since 1980, all U.S. presidents, including the current incumbent, have shared an allegiance to the ruling elite, and they have governed with policies that favor the rich and powerful over the poor and disadvantaged.

Three Decades of Elite Presidents

The cast of subservient presidents was led by Ronald Reagan, a “B-grade” movie actor, who was an articulate spokesman for the controlling elite. He not only had the ability to perform the script written by his corporate sponsors, but he had profited handsomely from the association. Reagan lived on Rancho Del Cielo overlooking the Pacific Ocean and vacationed in Palm Springs with his wealthy friends. As president, he elevated greed to a national creed by pursuing politics in “which people still can get rich.”

Reagan not only redecorated the White House, ordered new china, and threw glittering parties, he provided tax incentives to corporations to move high-paying jobs out of the U.S., and he organized the transfer of the tax burden to the workers and the fruits of the national bounty to the bosses. In doing so, he made millionaires out of 1.3 million devotees by 1988, including more than a 100,000 decamillionaires.

Reagan cut the personal tax bracket of his wealthy friends from 70% to 28%, and he transformed America from a creditor to a debtor nation, encouraged the creation of massive debt to finance corporate takeovers, mergers, acquisitions and leveraged buyouts, and he promoted wild speculation in the stock and financial markets.

Retiring in senility to fashionable Bel Air, Reagan was succeeded by his vice-president, George H. W. Bush (Sr.), another product of the ruling elite. Both of Bush’s grandfathers earned millions from the First World War as founding members of the “military-industrial complex,” and his father, Senator Prescott Bush was a wealthy banker, who profited from the Second World War by helping Hitler fund his war machine.

Bush Sr. married the daughter of a wealthy publisher, who was a descendant of President Franklin Pierce. Following World War II, Bush Sr. served as a CIA asset in establishing a petroleum company that funneled money and supplies to CIA operations in the Caribbean and Central America. Sponsored by the CIA and supported by Presidents Nixon and Ford, he became a Congressman, Delegate to the United Nations, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Director of the CIA, before becoming Reagan’s vice president.

As vice president, Bush Sr. had presided over Reagan’s deregulation and government reduction programs. As president, he inherited the massive deficits provided by Reagan’s “voodoo economics” and the savings and loan collapse caused by his own deregulation efforts. Bush Sr. became increasingly unpopular with republicans when he was forced to raise taxes and with democrats when he failed to reduce the unemployment and poverty resulting from an economic recession and corporate reorganizations.

Bipartisan disenchantment with Bush Sr. resulted in the election of William “Bill” Clinton in 1992, who was from a family of small business owners in Arkansas. Clinton attended the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University on an academic scholarship and University College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, before obtaining a law degree from Yale University (where he met his wife, Hillary Rodham).

Clinton had been fascinated with politics from a young age and, following his return to Arkansas to teach law, he was elected as the state’s attorney general and to multiple terms as governor. Clinton was a “New Democrat,” who believed in the “Third Way” of governing whereby he advocated free trade, welfare reform, smaller government and financial deregulation. He and his wife made political and professional liaisons with law firms that represented corporate interests and with financial and investment companies doing business in Arkansas.

Although he positioned himself as a “centralist,” Clinton’s failures, particularly health care reform, were on the left, while his successes, such as welfare reform, free trade agreements and financial deregulation, were on the right. Most telling, in light of future events, including the “Great Recession of 2008,” was his support of the Financial Services Modernization act of 1999, which eliminated essential restrictions on the integration of banking, insurance and stock trading.

Since leaving office in 2001, Clinton has earned more than $109 million, including a $15 million advance for My Life, primarily from his speaking engagements. Among the groups paying him up to $450,000 for a one-hour speech are AEG London, Goldman Sachs, and the Chamber of Commerce. He told one audience, “I never had a nickel to my name until I got out of the White house, and now I’m a millionaire, the most favored person for the Washington Republicans.” Senator Hillary Clinton has also profited from corporate sponsors, among which Goldman Sachs and Citigroup have been her most generous benefactors.

With the inauguration of George W. Bush (Jr.), the ruling elite placed its own crown prince on the throne. Not only descended from political royalty, Bush Jr.’s intellectual limitations and business failures made him the most pliable of all recent presidents. He harmed workers and benefitted businesses by eliminating regulations in areas such as on-the-job injuries and overtime compensation, he refused to enforce the regulations he couldn’t change, or he emasculated the enforcement agencies, such as the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Coming into office, Bush promised that he would sign a tax cut every year. He almost succeeded. With a great fanfare, he signed major tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, and a smaller one in 2002. Bush very quietly signed a major revision of corporate tax law in 2004 that provided billions of additional tax breaks to corporations. In 2008, he signed extensions of tax cuts that were set to expire, and he slipped another $120 billion of “tax relief” into the financial rescue bill.

In combination, these laws lowered the marginal tax rate for high-income household, eliminated estate taxes, and reduced taxation of stock dividends and capital gains. The tax burden of the super rich fell by one third, allowing the amount “earned” by the top 1% of total U.S. personal incomes to more than double from 9.97% in 1979 to 23.5% in 2007. The top 3% of households raked in almost half of the national income!

The Obama Administration

In October 2008, Senator Obama endorsed and voted in the Senate for the economic bailout package prepared in secret by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke and outgoing Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and signed by President Bush. Thus, even before commencing his term in office, Senator Obama rewarded a cadre of corrupt international bankers, while failing to include any rescue efforts for the hard-working American people who were facing foreclosure, bankruptcy, unemployment, homelessness or hunger as a result of the bankers’ fraud.

Why would Senator Obama fail to demand consideration for the poor and downtrodden in the bailout bill? One answer can be found by an examination of the political contributions he was receiving at the time. Top securities and investment firms were Obama’s fourth largest source of funds, contributing $7.9 million, even more than for his republican opponent. Of these, Goldman Sachs was responsible for almost one million dollars, closely followed by Citigroup and JPMorgan.

It is increasingly difficult to find any differences between the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Even though he has increased enforcement of some labor regulations, President Obama has failed to push passage of the Employee Free Choice Act for workers. In all other respects, ranging from enforcement of environmental regulations and approving offshore drilling, to his reappointment of Ben Bernanke as the Federal Reserve Chairman and Robert Gates as the Secretary of Defense, Obama has encouraged continued massive profits and bonuses for Wall Street, followed harmful environmental policies, including allowing off-shore drilling, supported renewal of police-state legislation, and expanded the profitable wars of the military-industrial complex.

Obama’s much touted health care reform bill is proving to be a bonanza for the health care, pharmaceutical and insurance companies. It provided few benefits for working people, while forcing them to buy expensive health insurance from the very companies which are victimizing them.

Rather than marshaling the resources of the government to directly help the people, Obama continues to throw away hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars on the U.S. wars of aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Every day, children are being horribly injured and are dying in these countries as a result of the militaristic policies he pursues on behalf of the ruling elite, while denying the suffering children of his own country the food, education and relief the wasted money would otherwise provide.

Commander-in-Chief Obama has appointed a military assassin to command U.S. troops in Afghanistan and has silently endorsed war crimes, including a confirmed report that his Special Forces murdered three gagged and bound women, one of whom was pregnant. The soldiers cut into the women’s bodies to remove evidence of their slaughter, and tried to blame the carnage on their innocent victims.

In other night raids, Obama’s assassins executed eight handcuffed boys, the youngest of whom was 11 years old, and machine gunned another family, including two youths and an infant, on the roof of their home as they tried to escape what they believed to be robbers breaking in. In each case, the military initially claimed that “insurgents” were killed during firefight operations, before admitting their “error.” Meanwhile, President Obama has remained silent on these and a multitude of continuing war crimes committed under his command.

Presidential-elect Obama also failed to condemn Israel’s military attack against the civilian population of Gaza during December 2008 in which hundreds of children were slaughtered, and he has remained silent while Israel has denied humanitarian aid for its Gaza victims. The White House “stood with Israel” and voted against the UN Human Rights Commission report that found Israel to be guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Today, in the U.S., one out of every six adults is unemployed or underemployed, and one third were without work at some point in 2009. One of every four children in the United States lives in poverty. Yet, the nation is still without a dedicated jobs program.

With one in six children living in a household suffering from food insecurity, the nation is still without a targeted food program. President Obama has promised to eliminate hunger in America by 2015 and to create millions of jobs through his overall economic recovery program; however, all across America, tonight, there are millions of children
going to bed hungry with little “hope” for their future.

President Obama promised hope and change for the United States. He is certainly one of the most articulate presidents ever; however, is he merely mouthing words, or does he have real feelings for others?

The Presence or Absence of Empathy

Empathy is a capacity for understanding and sympathizing with the feelings, thoughts and experiences of another person. An empathic person does not have to be poor or to have personally suffered to “feel the pain” of another person; however, empathy does require real feelings and not just an expression of concern.

Franklin Roosevelt was born into a family of wealth and privilege; however, he quickly demonstrated upon being elected president that he truly cared for the well-being of the poor and disadvantaged. He immediately established job and relief programs and directed public spending to put money into the pockets of workers, rather than profits onto the balance sheets of corporations.

Roosevelt did not cater to the ruling elite. Rather, he said “the transmission from generation to generation of vast fortunes by will, inheritance, or gift is not consistent with the ideals and sentiments of the American people.” FDR believed in an essential human right to be free from want, in order to enjoy a healthy peacetime life, and to be free from the fear caused by military armaments.

For Roosevelt, empathy was not a rhetorical device; it was a deeply felt identification with those with the least power and those who suffered the most.

Like Roosevelt, George W. Bush (Jr.) was also raised in great wealth and privilege, and he held himself out as a “compassionate conservative.” However, it was no secret that Bush was anything but. He once bragged to an audience of wealthy New Yorkers, “This is an impressive crowd. The haves, and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base.”

Bush may have spoken these words: “Those who are poor, those who suffer, those who have lost hope are not strangers in our midst; they’re our fellow citizens.” However, when a citizen dared to criticize him during a promotional event for his “faith-based” programs, he snarled, “Who cares what you think?”

Ernest Partridge writes that the “‘absence of empathy’ is ‘the one characteristic that connects’ most of the immoral and misbegotten tenets of Bushism: that dogmatic mix of market absolutism, libertarianism, corporatism and simple greed that falsely describes itself as ‘conservatism,’ and which I choose to call ‘regressivism.’ ‘Absence of empathy’ is the essence of evil which, if unchecked and unreversed, is certain to bring about the demise of the American republic as we know it, just as it led to the advent of the Third Reich.”
One has to ask: has the United States evolved an electoral system that deprives its presidents of empathy, or are presidental candidates selected because they have an absence of that quality?

Is President Obama a Member of the Ruling Elite?

President Obama was not raised with wealth, but by a single mother who, at one time, had to draw upon food stamps. However, he was privileged to receive an upper-class education. He received a scholarship to the exclusive Punahou School at age 10, where he spent the next eight years on the lush hillside campus preparing for college. Following graduation, Obama received scholarships to attend Occidental College in Los Angeles and Columbia University in New York City.

After taking a break to work as a community organizer, Obama received a scholarship to attend Harvard Law School, where he served as editor and president of the law review journal, and he clerked for two prestigious law firms in Chicago during his summer vacations.

Upon graduation in 1991, Obama returned to Chicago where he was employed by the University of Chicago Law School as a visiting fellow in order to complete his book, Dreams from My Father.

In 1992, Obama married Michelle Robinson, who was a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. Their two daughters have attended the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and, after they moved into the White House, the children were enrolled in the private Sidwell Friends School.

Like Clinton, Barack Obama relied upon scholarships to raise himself by education from modest circumstances, but can it be said that his experiences resulted in empathy for other underprivileged children who do not qualify for such assistance, or who do not have the family or community support to take advantage of available opportunities? Does he blame these children for their own failures?

In September 2009, President Obama recorded a message to American students, and the Department of Education suggested that teachers have their students “write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president” and “to make students accountable to their goals.” The government also recommended that, after listening to the speech, students should discuss what “the President wants us to do.” Obama laid his expectations upon the students, but he failed to mention what they could expect from him.

After a year in office, the evidence is convincing that Obama is willing to make politically advantageous deals on behalf of his corporate sponsors and, in doing so, fail to serve the interests of the voters who elected him, and their children.

The world has seen that President Obama is also willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent civilians, including children, to achieve the objectives of the ruling elite. These lives are simply “collateral damage” in the wars being fought around the globe against “terrorism,” “drugs” and in support of Israel’s program of apartheid in Palestine.

One must conclude that, irrespective of his race, creed, or culture, President Obama is much more a part of the international ruling elite, than the ordinary people of America, who seized upon his message of hope and change and elected him as their president. Sadly, it appears his soul was already spoken for.

Who Cares for the Suffering Children?

Children continue to suffer and die around the world and in the United States because the presidents placed in the White House by the ruling elite have no empathy for those who suffer from the policies they pursue, or the critical problems they ignore, all in response to the dictates of their masters.

By adhering to the “ethics of the marketplace,” by allowing the politics of greed, the culture of militarism, and the pursuit of an empire to dictate his administration’s policies, President Obama has betrayed the American people who believed and trusted in him.

If the President of the United States fails or refuses to take action on behalf of children, the most vulnerable victims of the unlawful wars he continues to fight on behalf of the ruling elites, or the corrupt policies he pursues for their benefit, who shall speak for the children?

Who cares for the suffering and dying children, the homeless, those without hope, those abandoned or ignored by the politics of power, the little ones who cry themselves to sleep each night, cold, hungry and alone? The lights may be on in the White House, but is there anyone at home?

William John Cox is a retired prosecutor and public interest lawyer, author and political activist. His 2004 book, “You’re Not Stupid! Get the Truth: A Brief on the Bush Presidency” is reviewed athttp://www.yourenotstupid.com, and he is currently working on a fact-based fictional political philosophy.

The drawing of “Who Cares for the Suffering Children” is by Helen Werner Cox, who was trained as a classical painter at Boston University. She is nearing retirement as a nationally-certified library media teacher, who has made extensive use of art in her literacy programs. Credit for photographs used as models include: French Association Friends of Afghans and Afghanistan; Gaza1.wordpress.com; Helen_01 on photobucket; Andy Graham, the hobo traveler; starving_child-sudan21 on wordpress.com; and Marrilee Boyack.

The Rottweiler of Islamofascism is cannibalized by his own ilk

Perfect Karma

– by Omar Khattab

LUBP Exclusive

The Rottweiler of Islamofascism is cannibalized by his own ilk

By Omar Khattab in Islamabad

Khalid Khawaj’s bullet-ridden body thrown onto a rubbish mound in Waziristan reminds one of William Shakespeare’s central theme in his tragedies: Evil is self-destructive. Khalid Khawaja was an extremely evil man who was one of the ISi experts who dedicated their lives to undermining democracy and promoting Islamofascism in Pakistan. He cheered the Lal Masjid terrorists when they terrorized the people of Islamabad for not following the Dark Ages ethos of Wahabism.

It was Khalid Khawaja who in 1989 arranged a meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Osama bin Laden to bring down the democratically elected government of Benazir Bhutto. It was Khalid Khawaja who barked up every right and wrong tree to prove that the terrorists of the Lal Masjid were saintly, peace-loving Muslims. It was he who set up a “human rights” group to tell the world that the Taliban were a bevy of Islamic Che Guevaras fighting for justice and international brotherhood against imperialism. He used his financial resources (stolen from the national exchequer just like his fellow ISI Islamist-robbers) and political contacts to hide the unspeakable atrocities the Taliban have been carrying out in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He was a de facto ambassador of the Wahabi Monarchy of Saudi Arabia in Pakistan. His wickedness was boundless and he was able to corrupt an already-anti-People’s Party Supreme Court. The evidence? Here is the evidence: According to PML-N leader Senator Pervez Rashid, “Khalid Khawaja offered us that Nawaz Sharif should file a petition against Zardari [challenging his ability to become Pakistan’s president] and he will manage a Supreme Court verdict against Zardari within 24 hours but we refused to play in the hands of Khawaja.”

But he was relentless. He filed a case in the court of the fellow Islamofascist Chaudhry Iftikhar against the constitutional immunity of the president of Pakistan. He did not live to see the day, but Chaudhry Iftikhar may oblige him posthumously.

Again, he was able to stop the government of Pakistan from extraditing terrorists like Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and five American youths to the United States. He was right: the Islamofascist judges of Pakistan were at his beck and call. One after the other he filed petitions in various courts for the release of terrorists and murderers. He cheered on as Ahmedis, Christians, and Shias were killed by his fellow Talibanic Islamofascists.

But in the end, the evil of which he was a part came full circle. He was killed by the Lashkar-e-Jhangivi terrorists, the group whose mission is either to kill all the Shias of Pakistan or force them to convert to Wahabism. The evil created by the ISI is so stupendously insane and paranoid that it is suspicious of everyone including its own creators.

Khalid Khawaja’s funeral prayer was led by the Imam of the Lal Masjid; Lal Masjid, the infamous bastion of Islamofascism in Islamabad. His friends, followers, and supporters have dispatched to him to paradise where he will sleep with 70 ever-virgin houris till the Doomsday. Meanwhile the evil of which he was a part will continue to doom the minorities in Pakistan.

The words of Khalid Khawajs’s widow—that he is a martyr and she is proud of him—have been echoing with a shattering noise for their emptiness, hypocrisy, and madness. He was not martyred, but cannibalized by his own ilk. Like Shakespeare’s Iago and Edmund, the Satanic Khalid Khawaja will inspire revulsion in anyone who stands for goodness.

Dems spark alarm with call for national ID card

By Alexander Bolton – 04/30/10 06:00 AM ET

A plan by Senate Democratic leaders to reform the nation’s immigration laws ran into strong opposition from civil liberties defenders before lawmakers even unveiled it Thursday.

Democratic leaders have proposed requiring every worker in the nation to carry a national identification card with biometric information, such as a fingerprint, within the next six years, according to a draft of the measure.

The proposal is one of the biggest differences between the newest immigration reform proposal and legislation crafted by late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

The national ID program would be titled the Believe System, an acronym for Biometric Enrollment, Locally stored Information and Electronic Verification of Employment.

It would require all workers across the nation to carry a card with a digital encryption key that would have to match work authorization databases.

“The cardholder’s identity will be verified by matching the biometric identifier stored within the microprocessing chip on the card to the identifier provided by the cardholder that shall be read by the scanner used by the employer,” states the Democratic legislative proposal.

The American Civil Liberties Union, a civil liberties defender often aligned with the Democratic Party, wasted no time in blasting the plan.

“Creating a biometric national ID will not only be astronomically expensive, it will usher government into the very center of our lives. Every worker in America will need a government permission slip in order to work. And all of this will come with a new federal bureaucracy — one that combines the worst elements of the DMV and the TSA,” said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU legislative counsel.

“America’s broken immigration system needs real, workable reform, but it cannot come at the expense of privacy and individual freedoms,” Calabrese added.

The ACLU said “if the biometric national ID card provision of the draft bill becomes law, every worker in America would have to be fingerprinted.”

A source at one pro-immigration reform group described the proposal as “Orwellian.”

But Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), who has worked on the proposal and helped unveil it at a press conference Thursday, predicted the public has become more comfortable with the idea of a national identification card.

“The biometric identification card is a critical element here,” Durbin said. “For a long time it was resisted by many groups, but now we live in a world where we take off our shoes at the airport and pull out our identification.

“People understand that in this vulnerable world, we have to be able to present identification,” Durbin added. “We want it to be reliable, and I think that’s going to help us in this debate on immigration.”

Implementing a nationwide identification program for every worker will be a difficult task.

The Social Security Administration has estimated that 3.6 million Americans would have to visit SSA field offices to correct mistakes in records or else risk losing their jobs.

Angela Kelley, vice president of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, said the biometric identification provision “will give some people pause.”

But she applauded Democrats for not shying away from the toughest issues in the immigration reform debate.

“What I like about the outline is that Democrats are not trying to hide the ball or soft-pedal the tough decisions,” Kelley said. “It seems a very sincere effort to get the conversation started. This is a serious effort to get Republicans to the table.”

Reform Immigration for America, a pro-immigrant group, praised Democrats for getting the discussion started but said the framework fell short.

“The proposal revealed today [Thursday] is in part the result of more than a year of bipartisan negotiations and represents a possible path forward on immigration reform,” the group said in a statement. “This framework is not there yet.”

Democrats and pro-immigration groups will now begin to put pressure on Republicans to participate in serious talks to address the issue. The bipartisan effort in the Senate suffered a serious setback when Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) pulled back from talks with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“We call on Republican Senators to review this framework and sit down at the negotiating table in good faith,” Reform Immigration for America said in a statement. “This is a national problem that requires a federal solution and the input of leaders in both parties.”

Durbin said Democratic leaders are trying to recruit other Republican partners.

“We’re making a commitment to establishing a framework to work toward comprehensive immigration reform, and I think it’s a good framework and now we’re engaging our friends on the other side of the aisle to join us in this conversation,” Durbin said.

Used Up And Thrown Away

[These tragic tales are typical examples of the Army abuse of those unfortunate men who are physically unable to carry-out the soldiers’ primary mission–to kill on command.  Described in military documents as “inadequate soldiers,” these men all became guinea pigs in the American mind-control experiments, where every conceivable drug (LSD) and every known coercive technique or treatment (electro-shock, sleep deprivation, insulin shock) was used to persuade or brainwash them into becoming “warriors.”  The whole “warrior culture” of today’s military is macho bullshit, comic book patriotism,  infused by criminal mind-control into these mens’ minds, reinforced with a wide range of legal drugs, turning many of them into ticking time-bombs, others merely suicidal.

The military culture is killing this Nation, just as it is the world itself.]

Used Up And Thrown Away

Military Resistance 8D16: Used Up And Thrown Away – 28 April 2010

Thomas F. Barton

Military Resistance: thomasfbarton@earthlink.net 4.28.10 Print it out: color best. Pass it on.

Military Resistance 8D16

NOT ANOTHER DAY

NOT ANOTHER DOLLAR

NOT ANOTHER LIFE

A wounded U.S. soldier is carried off of a C-17 transport airplane to an ambulance at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., April 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Used Up And Thrown Away

“Warehouses Of Despair, Where Damaged Men And Women Are Kept Out Of Sight, Fed A Diet Of Powerful Prescription Pills And Treated Harshly By Noncommissioned Officers”

“All They Do Is Make Things Worse”

“Many Soldiers At Fort Carson Complained That Discipline And Insensitive Treatment By Cadre Members Made Wounded Soldiers Feel As If They Were Viewed As Fakers Or Weaklings”

One Army Specialist “Said He Was Ordered To Perform 24-Hour Guard Duty Repeatedly Against The Orders Of His Doctor”

[Here it is again.  Same old story.  Used up, thrown away, and the politicians couldn’t care less.  To repeat for the 3,543rd time, there is no enemy in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Their citizens and U.S. troops have a common enemy.  That common enemy owns and operates the Imperial government in Washington DC for their own profit.  That common enemy started these wars of conquest on a platform of lies, because they couldn’t tell the truth: U.S. Imperial wars are about making money for them, and nothing else. Payback is overdue.  T]

[Thanks to SSG N (ret’d), Phil G & Clancy Sigal, who sent this in.]

April 24, 2010 By JAMES DAO and DAN FROSCH, The New York Times [Excerpts]

Christina Perez, the wife of a transition unit soldier from Fort Carson, said she got into an ugly fight with a member of the cadre who was furious that she had gone over his head to request additional therapy for her husband, a sergeant first class who had sustained a brain injury during one of two tours in Iraq as a tank gunner.

In a meeting, the noncommissioned officer shouted that Ms. Perez’s husband did not deserve his uniform and that he should give it to her instead, Ms. Perez said in a police complaint

April 24, 2010 By JAMES DAO and DAN FROSCH, The New York Times [Excerpts]

COLORADO SPRINGS — A year ago, Specialist Michael Crawford wanted nothing more than to get into Fort Carson’s Warrior Transition Battalion, a special unit created to provide closely managed care for soldiers with physical wounds and severe psychological trauma.

A strapping Army sniper who once brimmed with confidence, he had returned emotionally broken from Iraq, where he suffered two concussions from roadside bombs and watched several platoon mates burn to death.  The transition unit at Fort Carson, outside Colorado Springs, seemed the surest way to keep suicidal thoughts at bay, his mother thought.

It did not work.

He was prescribed a laundry list of medications for anxiety, nightmares, depression and headaches that made him feel listless and disoriented.

His once-a-week session with a nurse case manager seemed grossly inadequate to him. And noncommissioned officers — soldiers supervising the unit — harangued or disciplined him when he arrived late to formation or violated rules.

Last August, Specialist Crawford attempted suicide with a bottle of whiskey and an overdose of painkillers. By the end of last year, he was begging to get out of the unit.

“It is just a dark place,” said the soldier, who is waiting to be medically discharged from the Army.  “Being in the W.T.U. is worse than being in Iraq.”

Created in the wake of the scandal in 2007 over serious shortcomings at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Warrior Transition Units were intended to be sheltering way stations where injured soldiers could recuperate and return to duty or gently process out of the Army.  There are currently about 7,200 soldiers at 32 transition units across the Army, with about 465 soldiers at Fort Carson’s unit.

But interviews with more than a dozen soldiers and health care professionals from Fort Carson’s transition unit, along with reports from other posts, suggest that the units are far from being restful sanctuaries.

For many soldiers, they have become warehouses of despair, where damaged men and women are kept out of sight, fed a diet of powerful prescription pills and treated harshly by noncommissioned officers.

Because of their wounds, soldiers in Warrior Transition Units are particularly vulnerable to depression and addiction, but many soldiers from Fort Carson’s unit say their treatment there has made their suffering worse.

Some soldiers in the unit, and their families, described long hours alone in their rooms, or in homes off the base, aimlessly drinking or playing video games.

“In combat, you rely on people and you come out of it feeling good about everything,” said a specialist in the unit. “Here, you’re just floating.  You’re not doing much.  You feel worthless.”

At Fort Carson, many soldiers complained that doctors prescribed drugs too readily.

As a result, some soldiers have become addicted to their medications or have turned to heroin.

Medications are so abundant that some soldiers in the unit openly deal, buy or swap prescription pills.

Heavy use of psychotropic drugs and narcotics makes it difficult to exercise, wake for morning formation and attend classes, soldiers and health care professionals said.

Yet noncommissioned officers discipline soldiers who fail to complete those tasks, sometimes over the objections of nurse case managers and doctors.

At least four soldiers in the Fort Carson unit have committed suicide since 2007, the most of any transition unit as of February, according to the Army.

Drugs and Addiction

Sgt. John Conant, a 15-year veteran of the Army, returned from his second tour of Iraq in 2007 a changed man, according to his wife, Delphina. Angry and sullen, he reported to the transition unit at Fort Carson, where he was prescribed at least six medications a day for sleeping disorders, pain and anxiety, keeping a detailed checklist in his pocket to remind him of his dosages.

The medications disoriented him, Mrs. Conant said, and he would often wander the house late at night before curling up on the floor and falling asleep.

Then in April 2008, after taking morphine and Ambien, the sleeping pill, he died in his sleep.  A coroner ruled that his death was from natural causes. He was 36.

Mrs. Conant said she felt her husband never received meaningful therapy at the transition unit, where he had become increasingly frustrated and was knocked down a rank, to specialist, because of discipline problems.

“They didn’t want to do anything but give him medication,” she said.

Other soldiers and health care workers at Fort Carson offered similar complaints.

They said that most transition unit soldiers were given complex cocktails of medications that raised concerns about accidental overdoses, addiction and side effects from interactions.

“These kids change their medication like they change their underwear,” said a psychotherapist who works with Fort Carson soldiers and asked that his name not be used because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the transition unit.

“They can’t even remember which pills they’re taking.”

Some turned to heroin, which is readily available in the barracks, after becoming addicted to their pain pills, according to interviews with soldiers and health care professionals at Fort Carson.

“We’re all on sleep meds, anxiety meds, pain meds,” said Pfc. Jeffery Meier, who is in the transition unit and said he knew a dozen soldiers in the unit, including a recent roommate, who had used heroin. “The heroin is all that, wrapped into one.”

Jess Seiwert offers a cautionary tale. A staff sergeant and sniper who was knocked unconscious by roadside bombs in Iraq, he returned to Fort Carson in late 2006 with post-traumatic stress disorder, burns and a variety of aches. Prone to bouts of rage, he often drank himself to sleep and began abusing the painkiller Percocet.

Medical records show that Sergeant Seiwert’s captain thought he was a danger to his wife and needed inpatient psychiatric care. Instead, the sergeant was transferred into Fort Carson’s transition unit in 2008.

In a recent interview, Mr. Seiwert, now discharged from the Army, said he received minimal therapy in the unit but was given ample medication, including the painkillers he abused. “I should have been in inpatient rehab to get me off the drugs,” he said.

Last summer, just months after being medically discharged, he badly beat his wife while bingeing on alcohol and Percocet. He pleaded guilty to a second-degree assault charge and is likely to face five years in prison.

‘Making Things Worse’

Like private outpatient clinics, Warrior Transition Units aim to provide highly individualized care and ready access to case managers, therapists and doctors.

But the care is organized in a distinctly Army way: noncommissioned officers, known as the cadre, maintain discipline and enforce rules, often using traditional drill-sergeant toughness with junior enlisted soldiers.

At the top of the command are traditional Army officers, not health care professionals: Brig. Gen. Gary Cheek, head of the Warrior Transition Command, was an artillery officer, and Colonel Grantham an intelligence officer.

Beneath them is what the Army calls its triad of care. Members of the cadre keep a close eye on individual soldiers, much like squad leaders in regular line units. Nurse case managers schedule appointments and assist with medications and therapy. And primary care managers — doctors, physicians’ assistants or nurse practitioners — oversee care and prescribe medicines.

The structure is intended to ensure that every soldier gets careful supervision and that Army values and discipline are maintained.

But many soldiers at Fort Carson complained that discipline and insensitive treatment by cadre members made wounded soldiers feel as if they were viewed as fakers or weaklings.

James Agee, a former staff sergeant who transferred into the transition unit after returning from his second tour of Iraq in 2008, said he frequently heard cadre members verbally abuse medicated soldiers who were struggling to get out of bed for morning formation or stay awake for all-night duty.

“They would say, ‘These guys can’t do this because they are crazy,’ ” said Mr. Agee, who received a medical discharge from the Army.

“It would make you feel like you were inferior.”

One Army specialist in the unit, who received diagnoses of post-traumatic stress syndrome and traumatic brain injury, said he was ordered to perform 24-hour guard duty repeatedly against the orders of his doctor.

The specialist, who asked to remain anonymous because he feared repercussions, said he experienced flashbacks to Iraq during the long hours by himself.

In many cases, the noncommissioned officers have made it clear that they do not believe the psychological symptoms reported by the unit’s soldiers are real or particularly serious.

At Fort Hood, Tex., a study conducted just before the shooting rampage there last November — which found that many soldiers in the Warrior Transition Unit thought their treatment relied too heavily on medication — also concluded that a majority of the cadre believed that soldiers were faking post-traumatic stress or exaggerating their symptoms.  (read HERE)

Saudi-based NRIs funded Mumbai blasts: ATS

Saudi-based NRIs funded Mumbai blasts: ATS

Somit Sen, TNN, Aug 2, 2006, 01.15am IST

MUMBAI: More than nine lakh riyals – nearly Rs 1.2 crore – were transferred from Saudi Arabia to Mumbai in the past one year for the 7/11 blasts, said anti-Terrorists squad sources on Tuesday.

A part of the money was used over a period of six months to plan and execute the blasts on Mumbai’s suburban

trains, which highly placed sources said was the job of Lashkar-e-Taiba, which had used ex-SIMI members.

An officer, involved with the 7/11 investigations, told TOI that NRIs in Saudi Arabia had funded the Gujarat Muslim Revenge Force in 2003, when it carried out twin explosions at Gateway of

India and Mumbadevi – killing 53 people.

“A similar group of NRIs funded the train blasts and the motive again is revenge for the Gujarat carnage. If you see a list of casualties, 12 men are Gujarati diamond brokers while 25 injured are Gujarati businessmen. The entire operation was meticulously planned and terrorists had studied the profile of passengers,” the officer stated.

Sources told TOI the money was sent to India through hawala and at least a dozen locals were involved, including two from

Pune, two from Mumbai and one from Bihar. Those detained in this connection include Altaf and Badrul Jama, but a key operator, identified as Kamrul, is still absconding.

Police said while part of the funds received were used to carry out dry runs, to procure or transport material for explosives, to arrange accommodation and transport for operatives, a significant amount is still lying around.

The ATS suspects some of the money has been stashed away in bank accounts and fixed deposits. At least 10 banks are under scanner and even the economic offences wing is looking into the matter.

The bank accounts of LeT’s operator Faizal and Tanvir Ansari are being closely studied for

transactions in the past six months, sources said.

A senior ATS officer said investigators have got identities of those who planted explosives. He added, “There were only three planters and one chief co-ordinator. The chief’s role was to time the bombs and wait in the subway at Churchgate station.”

The modus was simple. The planters waited for the chief co-ordinator to give a bag and a ‘go-ahead’ signal following which they walked up to a platform and boarded a train. While one went in and kept the bag, the others provided a camouflage.

The trio got down just as the train left the platform and returned to the subway, where they picked up the next bag. Four bags were planted on platforms 3 and 4 and three on platforms 1 and 2. The four then escaped from the subway, police said.

Said an officer, “We are in the process of finding out names of the funders in Saudi. One of them is called Abu, but that is not his real name. It is just a title you acquire after receiving Lashkar training in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.”

Militarily Defining Post-Soviet Space

Militarily Defining Post-Soviet Space

Security fence, courtesy of Dominika & Jacek Wrzeszcz, flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Former secret Soviet submarine base in Balaclava.

Governments with foreign military bases tend to shy away from publicity about their colonial outposts, and recent events in the post-Soviet space shine an unwelcome spotlight on US and Russian military establishments, John CK Daly writes for ISN Security Watch.

By John CK Daly for ISN Security Watch


The US Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan and Russia’s lease extension on Ukraine’s historic port of Sevastopol are presently earning much unwanted attention, which is serving to agitate the local populations in both countries.

Furthermore, Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenko, who provided sanctuary to ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, has used the opportunity to berate Russia for failing to pay for its early warning missile base near Baranavichy and a Russian navy communication base near Vileyka.

While the Manas facility remains the sole US military base in Central Asia outside of Afghanistan, Russia in fact has a number of facilities scattered across the former USSR. In an era of rising nationalism, Russia and the US will pay a high political price to maintain these bases.

Manas, asset or liability?

Resentment against the Manas Transit Center and Washington’s cozy leasing arrangements with Bakiyev’s corrupt regime was a substantial element in the popular unrest that eventually deposed him.

Pentagon concern about maintaining its access to Manas at any cost has already produced congressional inquiries in Washington centering on shady fuel deals the US Department of Defense (DoD) signed for the facility.

On 12 April, House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs Chairman John Tierney requested documents related to fuel supply contracts for Manas and the Bagram air base in Afghanistan from the DoD, the Department of State, the FBI, Red Star Enterprises, Ltd., and the Mina Corporation.

Opening hearings 10 days later, Tierney observed, “We are left with the fact that both [former Kyrgyz president] Akayev and President Bakiyev were forcefully ousted from office amid widespread public perception that the U.S. had supported the regimes’ repression and fueled – no pun intended – their corrosive corruption.”

The Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency has acknowledged awarding $1.4 billion in no-bid contracts to Red Star Enterprises, Ltd., and Mina Corporation, beginning with the Akayev administration.

The Manas air base was established in December 2001, and companies controlled by Akayev’s family were soon awarded contracts to provide fuel for US military aircraft using the facility even as the rent remained a relatively low $2 million annually.

After Akayev was ousted by the March 2005 ‘Tulip Revolution,’ the Pentagon reached a similar fuelling arrangement with companies connected to his successor’s inner circle, while last year the rent was increased to $67 million. In July 2009, Mina Corporation signed an annual agreement with the DoD to provide up to $239 million in fuel.

During a 22 April congressional subcommittee hearing on the issue, Professor Eugene Huskey, a political science professor and director of Russian studies at Stetson University in Florida,  said, “Difficult decisions have to be made in wartime, but our embrace of the Bakiyev regime in Kyrgyzstan was far tighter than it needed to be in order to retain our basing rights in the country.

“The Manas air base granted President Bakiyev a kind of ‘get‐out‐of‐jail free card’ with the US. Not only did the United States help to enrich his family with lucrative contracts from the base, but in most cases we were willing to overlook the brutality that had driven the opposition and the broader population to the point of desperation,” he said.

It is estimated that companies headed by Bakiyev’s son Maksim were skimming as much as $8 million per month from the fuel deliveries. While the new Kyrgyz provisional government under Rosa Otunbaeva has indicated that the lease for Manas will be extended another year, the furor over the DoD’s fueling contracts is certain to roil both Bishkek and Washington for some time.

Johns Hopkins Central Asia-Caucasus institute scholar Erica Marat told ISN Security Watch: “Manas turned into a central issue shortly after the 7 April events when Russia showed its support of the provisional government and the US was slow to react. Even the strongest supporters of cooperation with the US inside the provisional government, including Otunbaeva and Defense Minister Ismail Isakov, shied away from expressing their pro-US and pro-western views as Manas and the US [appeared to be] sources of strength for Bakiyev, who tried to instigate more chaos in the days following his ouster.”

For now, Marat said, the issue is on hold, and “the provisional government prefers not to make any major decisions until it gains legitimacy.”

The future of Manas will depend on who comes to power following October presidential and parliamentary elections.

Most political leaders realize that without a US presence in the country, Russia interest may also decline, Marat said. But they also see “anti-US rhetoric as a source for easy popularity among the local population […] it is very difficult to de-link the US and Manas from Bakyiev and corruption among local public, with good reason.”

Less spotlight on Russian bases

Largely overlooked in the international media is the fact that Russia also had an airbase in Kyrgyzstan. The Kant airbase was established in 2003 and was Russia’s first foreign military base established since the 1991 collapse of the USSR.

Unlike Manas, Russia pays no rent for the facility. While the Kant facility is about one-quarter the size of Manas, it is still highly useful to the Kremlin. During the recent disturbances in Kyrgyzstan, the base allowed Russia to sent 150 paratroopers to protect its citizens.

Even further out of the Kyrgyz spotlight is the Russian navy’s telecommunications station in Kara-Balta, much less its Karakol anti-submarine weapons testing base on Lake Issyk-Kul.

If Russia gloated over Washington’s Manas discomfort, its own post-Soviet basing arrangements came under scrutiny during the chaotic 27 April vote in the Ukrainian Parliament to extend for another 25 years the Russian navy Black Sea Fleet’s lease on the deepwater port of Sevastopol, due to expire in 2017. In return, energy-starved Ukraine would get discounted natural gas from Russia.

The session erupted in fistfights and smoke bombs on the parliament floor. Thrown on the defensive, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that Russia would pay a high price for Sevastopol, noting that the rent and gas discounts over a decade would total $40 billion, enough to build several military bases.

In Belarus, Lukashenko used Putin’s remarks and the opportunity of providing sanctuary to Bakiyev to draw attention to the Kremlin’s miserly approach to Baranavichy and Vileyka, complaining that Minsk is paid “zero rubles, zero kopecks and zero dollars.”

Besides its facilities in Kyrgyzstan and Belarus, Russia also maintains a missile tracking radar station in Qabala, Azerbaijan; the 102st military base in Gyumri, Armenia; peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia; space radar facilities in Gulshad, Kazakhstan; the 171st aviation command in Karaganda, Kazakhstan; the Operational Group of Russian troops in Transnistria, Moldova; the 201st Motorized Rifle Division in Kulyab and Kurgan-Tube, Tajikistan; and a space radar station in Nurek, Tajikistan.

Redrawing the Eurasian map

Speaking to ISN Security Watch about Russia’s ongoing military presence across post-Soviet space, University of Kent Senior Fellow Roger McDermott said: “Russian basing strategy is based upon two essential factors. First, there are clear geostrategic plans, aimed at prolonging the Russian ‘footprint’ in the former Soviet space, which denies the more obvious long-term rise of China. Additionally, there is a calculation in Moscow that Obama is weak, or at best ‘idealistic,’ and while he makes declarations that seem fantastic to Russian policymakers, this provides ample opportunity for Moscow to redraw the Eurasian map. Obama, in Moscow’s view, is playing into the long-term aspirations of the Kremlin. America, if this is correct, must expect policy problems ahead.”

Kyrgyzstan proves the exception to the rule of Russia seeking new bases; in all other cases the facilities date back to Soviet times and the Russians never left. The biggest single difference between the US and Russian military presence is that Washington is much more willing to be financially generous.

While the Pentagon will remain fixated on Manas as long as Afghanistan remains a high US priority, as the brief August 2008 Russo-Georgian conflict proved, Russia’s legacy of post-Soviet military bases can come in very handy.

While there are few certainties in the post-Soviet space, it is obvious that Washington will have to develop a new paradigm if it is to maintain its presence in Central Asia, while for Russia, with the notable exception of Ukraine, it is business as usual.

That, and Lukashenko’s check is most likely not in the mail.


Dr John CK Daly is a non-resident Fellow at John Hopkins Central Asia-Caucasus Institute in Washington, DC.


Logo International Relations and Security Network (ISN)