Friday, July 10, 2009

Obama will not Eradicate Afghanistan Opium Crop

The Heroin produced by Afghanistan poppy crops end up on the streets of America killing our people. So why is the Obama administration refusing to try and eradicate the crops. The greatest victims of heroin: blacks in the inner cities of America. I guess the White House believes that if can't beat them, join them. This stupid policy stems from a military strategy without much hope of succeeding. What makes it so foolish is that the Taliban, which is getting rich from the opium trade, is using that wealth to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Obama just proved to me that he is totally clueless when it comes to national security.

The 4,000 U.S. Marines now pushing deep into Taliban-controlled tracts as part of an expanded war in southern Afghanistan are setting up fire bases amid some of the most productive poppy fields in the world's opium-producing capital.

It's not harvest time in Helmand province, the center of Afghanistan's thriving opium poppy industry. But even if the flowers were blooming, it's doubtful the Marines would do much about it.

Convinced that razing the cash crop grown by dirt-poor Afghan farmers is costing badly needed friends along the front lines of the fight against Taliban-led insurgents, U.S. authorities say they are all but abandoning the Bush-era policy of destroying drug crops.

"Eradication is a waste of money," U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke told The Associated Press last month.

On a small scale, the new live-and-let-live policy on poppy farming neatly illustrates the redrawn goals for a nearly eight-year war that all the military might of the United States and its allies has failed to win.

Heroin may be a deadly scourge, but there are more pressing concerns, U.S. officials say, and ways to fight drug production without driving Afghan farmers into the hands of the Taliban.

"You're able to put a hurt on the Taliban without necessarily putting the hurt on the people who happen to live there," said William Wechsler, deputy assistant secretary of defense for counter-narcotics and global threats.

The United States has spent about $45 million annually in recent years to support poppy eradication in Afghanistan, and the policy has also been a cornerstone of the United Nations anti-drug program.

Afghanistan is the world's leading source of opium, cultivating 93 percent of the world's heroin-producing crop. While opium cultivation dropped 19 percent last year, it remains concentrated in Afghanistan's southern provinces where the Taliban is strongest. The U.N. estimates that opium poppies earned insurgents an estimated $50 million to $70 million last year.

U.S. officials said they will now "greatly de-emphasize" eradication, which has been carried out by Afghan forces with U.S. backing. The U.S. military stays at arms' length, and NATO forces fighting alongside the U.S. do not participate.

The shift away from eradication is still more plan than policy, and it has little practical effect right now. The announcement came after the largest harvest was in for the season.

"The real difference as we move from how we were focusing on Afghanistan in the past (to) the president's new focus on counterinsurgency is this is a policy that defines the strategic interest, that defines winning over the population," as the primary goal, Wechsler said.

As a forthcoming mission statement from the new American commander in Afghanistan is expected to conclude, the Obama administration will measure success in Afghanistan not by the number of insurgents killed but by the number of civilians protected.

Poll: World has Little Confidence in Leaders' Economic Measures

The world, like the U.S., have little faith in their governments being able to get us out of this financial mess. With good reason. They failed to prevent to the crisis in the first place. So why should we trust them not to be pawns of international finance and corporations.

As President Barack Obama and other world leaders meet in Italy , a global survey released Thursday reflects wide concern that governments won't meet their budgets in this economic climate — and a universal preference to respond by cutting services rather than raising taxes.

What kinds of cuts? The top choices internationally in the Ipsos / McClatchy poll were reducing aid to foreign countries (57 percent) and cutting the salaries and benefits of government workers (56 percent). People drew a distinction, however, between general foreign aid and disaster relief, which few wanted to reduce.

Cutting military spending was the third most popular choice (43 percent), though less popular in the United States , where only 35 percent favored it.

Least popular internationally were cuts to education and health care (only 4 percent favored each). Only 9 percent of the international respondents favored slashing social welfare, but 20 percent of Americans were willing to clip welfare recipients.

If higher taxes become necessary, the most palatable targets internationally were cigarettes (65 percent), alcohol (53 percent) and junk food (35 percent), all of which were preferred to raising corporate, property, vehicle or sales taxes.

While just 33 percent internationally expressed confidence that their governments could meet their budgets, two nations stood out in contrast: Eighty-three percent were confident that China would stay on budget, and 77 percent said so of India.

Some Imported Chinese drywall may be Radioactive

More evidence of Chinese products that could harm our people. And especially how the Bush administration had no concern for our welfare. It's up to the Obama administration to show that they put American safety above profits.

Some Chinese-made drywall imported into the United States contained radioactive material, news reports suggest, but state and federal tests so far haven't detected it.

Copies of customs reports obtained by The Los Angeles Times show drywall made with a radioactive waste product was shipped to the states in 2006 by at least four Chinese manufacturers and trading firms.

The substance, called phosphogypsum, has been banned from use in nearly all products made in the United States by the Environmental Protection Agency since 1989.

The EPA says that phosphogypsum, a fertilizer byproduct, contains uranium and radium.

Radium decays to form radon, a cancer-causing, radioactive gas. A geoscientist interviewed by The Times said the material can cause corrosion.