Jerry Jackson

Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Tearing down sovereign nations & replacing them with global system administrators.

In Economics, Human Rights, Military, Society, World News on June 21, 2012 at 3:09 am

Part 1: Imperialism is Alive and Well

February 18, 2012 – The British Empire didn’t just have a fleet that projected its hegemonic will across the planet, it possessed financial networks to consolidate global economic power, and system administrators to ensure the endless efficient flow of resources from distant lands back to London and into the pockets of England’s monied elite. It was a well oiled machine, refined by centuries of experience.

While every schoolchild learns about the British Empire, it seems a common modern-day political malady for adults to believe that reality is organized as their history books were in school – in neat well defined chapters. This leads to the common misconception that the age of imperialism is somehow a closed-chapter in human history. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Imperialism did not go extinct. It simply evolved.

Imperialism is alive & well.

There are several pertinent examples illustrating how imperialism is still alive and well, and only cleverly disguised with updated nomenclatures. What we know today as “free trade” actually derives its origins from economic concessions the British frequently extorted from nations under its “gunboat diplomacy” strategy – that is, anchoring gunboats off the coast of a foreign capital, and threatening bombardment and military conquest if certain demands were not met.

Colonial Southeast Asia circa 1850's. Thailand/Siam was never colonized but made many concessions.

Colonial Southeast Asia circa 1850’s. Thailand/Siam
was never colonized but made many concessions.

In the mid-1800’s, Thailand, then the Kingdom of Siam, was surrounded on all sides by colonized nations and in turn was made to concede to the British 1855 Bowring Treaty. See how many of these “gunboat policy” imposed concessions sound like today’s “economic liberalization:”

1. Siam granted extraterritoriality to British subjects.
2. British could trade freely in all seaports and reside permanently in Bangkok.
3. British could buy and rent property in Bangkok.
4. British subjects could travel freely in the interior with passes provided by the consul.
5. Import and export duties were capped at 3%, except the duty-free opium and bullion.
6. British merchants were to be allowed to buy and sell directly with individual Siamese.

A more contemporary example would be the outright military conquest of Iraq and Paul Bremer‘s (CFR) economic reformation of the broken state. The Economist enumerates the neo-colonial “economic liberalization” of Iraq in a piece titled “Let’s all go to the yard sale: If it all works out, Iraq will be a capitalist’s dream:”

1. 100% ownership of Iraqi assets.
2. Full repatriation of profits.
3. Equal legal standing with local firms.
4. Foreign banks allowed to operate or buy into local banks.
5. Income and corporate taxes capped at 15%.
6. Universal tariffs slashed to 5%.

Nomenclatures aside, nothing has changed since 1855 as far as imperialist “wish-lists” go. The Economist argued, as would any 18-19th century imperialist, that Iraq needed foreign expertise to catch up, justifying the evisceration of their national sovereignty and the foreign stewardship (theft) of their resources. Unlike Siam, Iraq refused to concede to the “gunboats” of modern-day Wall Street & London, and often as the British did during the “glory days” of the empire, they made good on their threats.

Continue reading ‘Tearing down sovereign nations & replacing them with global system administrators.’ 

This Is What An Economic Depression Looks Like In The 21st Century

In Activism, Big Business, Economics, Human Rights, Police State, Society, World News on February 11, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Economic collapse in the 21st century Do you want to see what a 21st century economic depression looks like?  Just look at Greece.  Once upon a time, the Greek economy was thriving, the Greek government was borrowing money like there was no tomorrow and Greek citizens were thoroughly enjoying the bubble of false prosperity that all that debt created.

Those that warned that Greece was headed for a financial collapse were laughed at and were called “doom and gloomers”.  Well, nobody is laughing now.  You see, the truth is that debt is a very cruel master.  Greeks were able to live way beyond their means for many, many years but eventually a day of reckoning arrived.

At this point, the Greek economy has been in a recession for five years in a row, and the economic crisis in that country is rapidly getting even worse.  It was just recently announced that the overall rate of unemployment in Greece has soared above 20 percent and the youth unemployment rate has risen to an astounding 48 percent.  One out of every five retail stores has been shut down and parents are literally abandoning children in the streets.  The frightening thing is that this is just the beginning.  Things are going to get a lot worse in Greece.  And in case you haven’t been paying attention, these kinds of conditions are coming to the United States as well.  We are heading down the exact same road as Greece went down, and the economic pain that this country is eventually going to suffer is going to be beyond anything that most Americans would dare to imagine.

All debt spirals eventually come to an end.  For years, Greece borrowed huge amounts of very cheap money, but there came a point when the debt became absolutely strangling and the rest of the world refused to lend the Greek government money at such cheap rates anymore.

Greece would have defaulted long before now if the EU and the IMF had not stepped in to bail them out.  But along with those bailouts came strings.  The EU and the IMF insisted that the Greek government cut spending and raise taxes.

Well, those spending cuts and tax increases caused the economy to slow down.  Tax revenues decreased and deficit reduction targets were missed.  So the EU and the IMF insisted on even more spending cuts and tax increases.

Even after all of the spending cuts and all of the tax increases that we have seen, the debt to GDP ratio in Greece is still higher than it was before the crisis began.  Today, the Greek national debt is sitting at 142 percent of GDP.

Now the EU and the IMF are demanding even more austerity measures before they will release any more bailout money.

Needless to say, the Greek people are pretty much exasperated by all of this.  They created this mess by going into so much debt, but they certainly don’t like the solutions that are being imposed upon them.

Protesters in Greece are absolutely outraged that the EU and the IMF are now demanding a 22 percent reduction in the minimum wage.

Most families in Greece are just barely surviving at this point.  Unfortunately, Greece is probably looking at depression conditions for many years to come.

Over the past three years, the size of the Greek economy has shrunk by 16 percent.

In 2012, it is being projected that the Greek economy will shrink by another 5 percent.

Sadly, that projection is probably way too optimistic.

Over the past couple of months, it has been like someone has pulled the rug out from under the Greek economy.  Just check out the following numbers from an article in the Telegraph by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard…

Another normal day at the Hellenic Statistical Authority.

We learn that:

Greece’s manufacturing output contracted by 15.5pc in December from a year earlier.

Industrial output fell 11.3pc, compared to minus 7.8pc in November.

Unemployment jumped to 20.9pc in November, up from 18.2pc a month earlier.

I have little further to add. This is what a death spiral looks like.

Can you imagine unemployment going up by 2.7 percent in one month?

This is what a 21st century economic depression looks like.

And needless to say, civil unrest is rampant in Greece.

The following is how a USA Today article described some of the protests that we saw in Greece this week….

Scores of youths, in hoods and gas masks, used sledge hammers to smash up marble paving stones in Athens’ main Syntagma Square before hurling the rubble at riot police.

The country’s two biggest labor unions stopped railway, ferry and public transport schedules, and hospitals worked on skeleton staff while most public services were disrupted. Unions were planning protests in Athens and other cities around midday.

Greek citizens are exasperated by the endless rounds of austerity that are being imposed upon them.  They wonder how far all of this is going to go.

How much higher can taxes go in Greece?  Greece already has tax rates that are among the highest in Europe….

Greece has the third highest rate of VAT in Europe, second highest gas/petrol tax, third highest tax on social insurance contributions, fifth highest VAT on alcohol, highest property tax and one of the worst corporate tax rates, without the quality of living or competitiveness to match.

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Chaos On The Streets Of America

In Activism, Big Business, Economics, Human Rights, Police State, Society on September 18, 2011 at 1:10 am

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Should we just expect mass chaos on the streets of America every time a major holiday rolls around? At least 42 people were hit by gunfire in New York City over the Labor Day weekend. The violence got so bad that even the mayor felt compelled to publicly address it. In Chicago, at least 6 people(including a man in a wheelchair) were killed over the Labor Day weekend.

Sadly, this is just a continuation of a trend that we have seen build over the past few years. At the beginning of the summer, there was terrible violence all over America during the Memorial Day weekend. We also saw violence break out during 4th of July celebrations. It appears that wherever large groups of young people gather in America today, there is going to be a very good chance that chaos is going to erupt.

Almost wherever you look, you can see the frustration of the American people starting to boil over. Very few public places seem to be immune.

For example, there have been very disturbing incidents of violence at quite a few NFL games recently. Just check out this video and this video.

There was even one incident recently where coaches and players ganged up to brutally attack a referee during a youth football game in Florida.

What in the world is happening to this country?

People are getting angrier and angrier and they are starting to lash out.

As I have documented previously, there have been a disturbing number of flash mob robberies in the United States this year. When dozens of young people start banding together to loot stores, you know that things are getting bad. Just check out this video of a recent example from the state of Maryland.

When individuals or small groups commit crimes that is bad enough.

But when large groups of people start banding together to commit crimes that is absolutely frightening.

The sad truth is that it is not even safe to take your kids to the state fair anymore. The following is how one local ABC News affiliate described the “flash mob” attacks that took place at the Wisconsin state fair this year….

Milwaukee police said that around 11:10 p.m., squads were sent to the area for reports of battery, fighting and property damage being caused by an unruly crowd of “hundreds” of people. One officer described it as a “mob beating.”

Police said the group of young people attacked fair goers who were leaving the fair grounds. Police said that some victims were attacked while walking. They said others were pulled out of cars and off of motorcycles before being beaten.

Could you imagine your children watching that scene unfold from the backseat of your vehicle?

Could you imagine your wife and your children being pulled out of your vehicle and beaten by rampaging criminals?

Yes, this kind of thing is now happening in the heartland of America.

Even young girls are increasingly participating in violence. Just check out this video of a group of teen girls brutally assaulting a worker outside City Hall in Philadelphia earlier this year.

How in the world did those young girls learn to act like that?

Sadly, that was not an isolated incident. Young women all over the nation have become absolutely brutal. In Minnesota recently, a mob of teen girls beat the living daylights out of a mother and her two daughters until they were black and blue. Apparently the mob of teen girls was enraged over a pair of missing sunglasses.

In America today, the love of most people has grown cold. A growing number of Americans (especially young Americans) seem to have very little empathy for anyone else.

As the economy crumbles, many Americans find themselves doing very low things in order to survive. So far in 2011, dog thefts have increased by 49 percent. These days, people will steal anything of value if it is not bolted down.

What is certainly not helping things is the rampant unemployment all over the nation. Sadly, the younger that you are, the more likely that you are to be unemployed.

According to a recent USA Today article, more than one-fourth of all teens are unemployed at this point….

The unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds ticked up to 25.4% in August from 25% the previous month, the Labor Department said last week. For black teens, unemployment leaped to 46.5% from 39.2% in July. The nation’s jobless rate was unchanged at 9.1%.

But those numbers only tell part of the story. The real picture starts to emerge when you look at how many teens actually do have a job.

Back in the year 2000, more than 50 percent of all Americans teens had a job.

This summer, only 29.6% of all American teens had a job.

So we have a whole lot of teens with a whole lot of time on their hands.

Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough jobs for everyone out there right now. There is intense competition even for the most basic jobs.

The number of Americans with jobs overall continues to decline. For example, the percentage of Californians that are 16 years or older that have a job is the lowest that is has been in over 30 years.

What is even more frightening is that we have just seen another huge wave of layoffs. The following is from a recent CBS article….

It’s been a summer storm of pink slips. Along with Borders, Bank of America, Cisco, Lockheed Martin, and Goldman Sachs have all recently announced mass layoffs.

But a lack of jobs is far from the only reason why the fabric of American society is falling to pieces.

Many believe that another huge reason for all of the chaos on the streets of America is the breakdown of the American family. In 1960, married couples accounted for 75 percent of all households in America. Today, they account for just 48 percent of all households.

Millions upon millions of American children are growing up with only one parent, and that one parent usually has to work so hard that he or she is hardly ever home.

So those kids are being raised by our public schools, by government institutions, by the television, by movies, by video games and by other kids.

Now we are starting to reap what we have been sowing as a society.

Many of our greatest cities have been transformed into rotting war zones. As millions of jobs have been shipped overseas, entire communities have been gutted. Those that remain in these cities find themselves trying to survive in an environment where morality has been thrown out the window.

For example, the following is what one British reporter found during his visit to Detroit….

 

Continue reading “Chaos on the streets of America” at Global Freedom Technology Firm.

War on drugs produced swollen prisons and little else

In Activism, Police State, Society on August 30, 2011 at 6:37 am

American Civil Liberties Union

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By Zachary Goelman
The opinions expressed are his own.

The vast U.S. criminal justice system is under renewed scrutiny, spurred by two things: the fortieth anniversary of President Nixon’s speech declaring war on drugs, and a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that California must reduce its overcrowded prisons because conditions in jail constitute “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Much of the debate focuses on how the former produced the latter. The two were neatly tied together by Neill Franklin, the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and a former Baltimore police officer. Franklin told CNN:

Despite arresting over 40 million people on drug charges since the start of the war on drugs — resulting in huge costs both in terms of dollars and in human lives — drugs today are more available, more potent and cheaper than ever.


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Franklin’s words echo a report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy which stated that the forty-year war on drugs has been an unequivocal failure. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter endorsed this view in a New York Times op-ed piece on the anniversary of Nixon’s drug war declaration.

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These critics share a logic: ineffective drug laws produce little other than an expanding, expensive penal system. A graphic produced by the American Civil Liberties Union presents data of the U.S. prison system, and plainly states, “the war on drugs has helped make the U.S. the world’s largest incarcerator.”
The role and reality of prisons in America is now being contested. Following the Supreme Court ruling on California, other states’ penal systems are under examination. Efforts to ease overcrowding in Nebraska’s prisons, which have hovered near 14o percent capacity for several months, have fallen short of expectations. The Omaha World-Spectator reports that officials in Nebraska hope to see more inmates released on parole:


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Bob Houston, state corrections director, remains confident his department can reach a goal of reducing the state’s prison population by 545 inmates, or about 12 percent, over the next two years.

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But does releasing convicts from prison imperil public safety? Data from the U.S. government’s Bureau of Justice Statistics show that of 300,000 prisoners released in 15 states, two-thirds were back in jail in less than three years. Recidivism rates were almost twice as high for those arrested for robbery, larceny, auto theft and other property crimes. A recent study in the Boston Globe found more than a third of dangerous Massachusetts felons sentenced to life in prison and released on parole wound up back in jail in less than three years.
The recidivism rate is one of the key criticisms of the penal system, but it’s by no means the only one. In a Washington Post op-ed, Marc Mauer and David Cole published “Five Myths” about prisons and prisoners in the U.S., pointing out failures of penal justice in the U.S.
Their primary contention: that high incarceration rates haven’t lowered crime. Crime rates have dropped precipitously in the U.S. in the last two decades, in tandem with the ballooning number of convicts behind bars. But Mauer and Cole say that the correlation isn’t causal:

In Canada, for example, violent crime declined in the 1990s almost as much as it did in the United States. Yet, Canada’s prison population dropped during this time, and its per capita incarceration rate is about one-seventh that of the United States.

They point to research that shows, at most, incarceration accounted for a quarter of the decline in crime. What caused the rest of the drop?
Maybe it’s the economy, stupid. Over the last two decades, Americans enjoyed increasing prosperity, especially in the decade of the 1990′s when employment expanded, government revenues rose and GDP climbed higher. The drop in crime across the country turned previously-perceived dangerous cities like New York into tourist Meccas and capitals of residential revitalization.
But then the economy tanked in 2008. The recovery has been slow and painful, and unemployment still hovers at agonizingly high levels, yet crime rates have remained low. “Steady Decline in Crime Baffles Experts,” read a piece in the New York Times.
 

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SEAL Unit Supposedly Responsible for Osama Hit Killed in Copter Crash

In Afghanistan, Human Rights, Military, Osama Bin Laden on August 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm


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Soon after it was announced – without evidence – that Navy SEALs had killed Osama bin Laden, the corporate media derisively coined a new term for skeptics – “deathers,” a word with about as much originality as “birthers” and “ truthers.”

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Navy Seals from unit that killed bin Laden among those dead in helicopter crash [VIDEO]

CNN said the “deathers” have replaced the “birthers” as the new conspiracy lunatics. It specifically singled out Alex Jones, who said the Osama assassination was a hoax. “My friends, this is a complete and total hoax,” Alex said, and then asked: “Where is the body?”


The corporate media said his body was deep-sixed at sea. Few if any corporate media “journalists” (script-readers) pointed out that this explanation was a totally absurd cover story. Few dared examine why the story changed several times.
Cindy Sheehan had a sharp retort to those who believe whatever the government – caught lying countless times – and its corporate media propaganda wing tell them.
“I am sorry, but if you believe the newest death of OBL, you’re stupid,” she said. “Just think to yourself — they paraded Saddam’s dead sons around to prove they were dead — why do you suppose they hastily buried this version of OBL at sea? This lying, murderous Empire can only exist with your brainwashed consent — just put your flags away and THINK!”

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‘Anonymous’ Hacks U.S. Law Enforcement Sites, Steals Data

In Hacktivist on August 9, 2011 at 3:18 am


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he group known as Anonymous said Saturday it hacked into some 70 mostly rural law enforcement websites in the United States, a data breach that at least one local police chief said leaked sensitive information about an ongoing investigation.

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The loose-knit international hacking collective posted a cache of data to the Internet early Saturday, including emails stolen from officers, tips which appeared to come from members of the public, credit card numbers and other information.

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  Anonymous said it had stolen 10 gigabytes worth of data in retaliation for arrests of its sympathizers in the U.S. and Britain.

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Tim Mayfield, a police chief in Gassville, Ark., told The Associated Press that some of the material posted online – including pictures of teenage girls in their swimsuits – was sent to him as part of an ongoing investigation. He declined to provide more details.

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Mayfield’s comments were the first indication that the hack might be serious. Since news of some kind of cyberattack first filtered out less than a week ago, various police officials said they were unaware of the hacking or dismissed it as nothing to worry about.

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Though many of the leaked emails appeared benign, some of the stolen material seen by the AP carried sensitive information, including tips about suspected crimes, profiles of gang members and security training.

The emails were mainly from sheriffs’ offices in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi. Many of the websites were operated by a Mountain Home, Ark., media services hosting company, and most, if not all, were either unavailable on Saturday or had been wiped clean of content. The company, Brooks-Jeffrey Marketing, declined to comment.


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In a statement, Anonymous said had leaked “a massive amount of confidential information that is sure to (embarrass), discredit and incriminate police officers across the US.” The group said it hoped the disclosures would “demonstrate the inherently corrupt nature of law enforcement using their own words” and “disrupt and sabotage their ability to communicate and terrorize communities.”

Continue reading ‘Anonymous’ Hacks U.S. Law Enforcement Sites, Steals Data‘ at

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Government to Monitor Social Networks For “Extremist Propaganda”

In Activism, Big Business, Economics, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Military, Police State, Society on August 6, 2011 at 10:32 pm


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New White House plan follows Pentagon advisory targeting protests against Federal Reserve

A new strategy document released by the White House promises to “closely monitor…the Internet and social networking sites” in order to “counter online violent extremist propaganda” as the federal government attempts to embed itself further in local communities under the guise of preventing domestic extremism.

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The document, Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States (PDF), focuses on identifying Americans who have supposedly been radicalized or groomed by Al-Qaeda to carry out attacks in the United States.

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As the L.A. Times notes , the plan involves “federal departments not usually associated with national security,” and is heavily focused around increasing the federal government’s involvement with schools and the “emotional and behavioral development” of young people.
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The document defines extremist propaganda as that which is used to “feed on grievances” and “assign blame.” The government vows to “aggressively” combat such ideology by “continuing to closely monitor the important role the internet and social networking sites play in advancing violent extremist narratives.”

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In targeting the Internet and social networking websites for surveillance in the name of fighting domestic terrorism, the White House is continuing in the vein of the previous administration who in 2006 revealed that since 9/11 they had been pursuing a plan to diminish the role of “conspiracy theories” as a primary recruitment tool for terrorists.

The document arrives in the same week that the Pentagon also announced it would be hiring individuals to “detect and track popular ideas on social networks”.
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Government Increases Hysteria Over Cyber Attacks in Push to Crack Down on Internet

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2011 at 11:50 pm


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Last week Republican senator John McCain called for the government to establish a special panel to come up with legislation to address supposed cybersecurity threats facing the United States. “The only way to move comprehensive cyber security legislation forward swiftly is to have committee chairmen and ranking members step away from preserving their own committees’ jurisdiction … (and) develop a bill that serves the national security needs of all Americans,” McCain said.http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1 As if on cue, the Pentagon announced two previously unpublicized attacks following McCain’s call for a bipartisan action. On Thursday, out-going deputy secretary of defense Bill Lynn said a foreign intelligence service had stolen 24,000 files on a sensitive weapons system from a defense contractor’s network. Lynn said the Defense Industrial Base Cyber Pilot was established to work with the private sector in the battle against cyber foes. “Our success in cyberspace depends on a robust public-private partnership,” said Lynn. “The defense of the military will matter little unless our civilian critical infrastructure is also able to withstand attacks.” Lynn cranked up the paranoia in February when he speculated that al-Qaeda might get its hands on the Stuxnet virus. He said “it is possible for a terrorist group to develop cyberattack tools on their own or to buy them on the black market.” The highly sophisticated malware virus was engineered by the United States and with Israeli Mossad assistance placed on an Iranian industrial computer network in order to undermine the country’s nuclear energy program.

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Afghan CIA Drug Kingpin Shot Dead by Own Bodyguard

In Big Business, Military, World News on July 22, 2011 at 10:39 pm


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Afghan President Karzai's brother shot dead

Afghan President Karzai's brother


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Ahmad Wali Karzai, the half brother of Afghan president Hamid Karzai, was assassinated by one of his own bodyguards Tuesday morning. Friend and trusted head of security Sardar Mohammed shot him in the head and chest. Mohammed was in turn shot and killed by fellow bodyguards. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assassination.

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Afghan President

Karzai’s brother shot dead

 

In 2009 it was reported that Karzai was a major player in the Afghan opium trade. According to reports, other members of the Karzai family are involved “head-to-heels” in the drug business.
Ahmad Wali Karzai also worked for the CIA.
“The CIA has been complicit in the global drug trade for years,” a former intelligence official told Newsmax in 2002. “The CIA did almost the identical thing during the Vietnam War, which had catastrophic consequences – the increase in the heroin trade in the USA beginning in the 1970s is directly attributable to the CIA.”
According to a report in Presscore, the former Unocal employee Hamid Karzai and his family are heavily involved in the CIA’s drug business.
“85 per cent of all drugs produced in Afghanistan is being shipped aboard US aircraft. Foreign diplomats have stated that the United States military buy drugs from local Afghan drug lords who deal with field commanders overseeing eradication of drug production,” states the report. The CIA provides protection for the enterprise.
The CIA has been in the drug running business since the 1950s. In Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Latin America, and Afghanistan, the CIA — also known as the “Cocaine Import Agency” — has remained at the forefront of the international illicit drug trade. The journalist Gary Webb and the San Jose Mercury News tied the CIA and the Contras to a large crack cocaine ring in Los Angeles. Webb paid with his life for revealing this information to the public.
Before the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban had imposed a ban on opium production. This resulted in opium production collapsing by more than 90 per cent. It was the U.S. supported Northern Alliance that came to the rescue and began protecting the production of raw opium.
“CIA-supported Mujahedeen rebels [who in 2001 were part of the Northern Alliance] engaged heavily in drug trafficking while fighting against the Soviet-supported government and its plans to reform the very backward Afghan society,” William Blum writes in The Real Drug Lords.
In a Fox News report aired in April of 2010, correspondent Geraldo Rivera interviewed a solder in Afghanistan who admitted the U.S. allows the opium trade to flourish.
Continue reading ‘Afghan CIA Drug Kingpin Shot Dead by Own Bodyguard‘ at Global Freedom Technology Firm. 



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Bradley Manning: American hero – Opinion – Al Jazeera English

In Activism, Human Rights, Police State, Society, Wikileaks on July 10, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Moe turned down the medal during his lifetime;...

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Bradley Manning: American hero – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.


Bradley Manning: American hero
Four reasons why Pfc Bradley Mannning deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom, not a prison cell.

We still don’t know if he did it or not, but if Bradley Manning, the 24-year-old Army private from Oklahoma, actually supplied WikiLeaks with its choicest material – the Iraq War logs, the Afghan War logs, and the State Department cables – which startled and riveted the world, then he deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom instead of a jail cell at Fort Leavenworth.
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President Obama recently gave one of those medals to retiring Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who managed the two bloody, disastrous wars about which the WikiLeaks-released documents revealed so much. Is he really more deserving than the young private who, after almost ten years of mayhem and catastrophe, gave Americans – and the world – a far fuller sense of what the US government is actually doing abroad?

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Bradley Manning, awaiting a court martial in December, faces the prospect of long years in prison. He is chargedwith violating the Espionage Act of 1917. He has put his sanity and his freedom on the line so that Americans might know what their government has done – and is still doing – globally. He has blown the whistle on criminal violationsof US military law. He has exposed the secretive government’s pathological over-classification of important public documents.

Here are four compelling reasons why, if he did what the government accuses him of doing, he deserves that medal, not jail time.

1: At great personal cost, Bradley Manning has given the foreign policy elite the public supervision it so badly needs.

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In the past ten years, US statecraft has moved from calamity to catastrophe, laying waste to other nations while never failing to damage our own national interests. Do we even need to be reminded that our self-defeating response to 9/11 in Iraq and Afghanistan (and PakistanYemen, and Somalia) has killed roughly 225,000 civilians and 6,000 US soldiers, while costing our country more than $3.2 trillion? We are hemorrhaging blood and money. Few outsideWashington would argue that any of this is making the US safer.

An employee who screwed up this badly would either be fired on the spot or put under heavy supervision.  Downsizing our entire foreign policy establishment is not an option. However, the website WikiLeaks has at least tried to make public scrutiny of our self-destructive statesmen and women a reality by exposing their work to ordinary citizens.

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Consider our invasion of Iraq, a war based on distortions, government secrecy, and the complaisant failure of our major media to ask the important questions. But what if someone like Bradley Manning had provided the press with the necessary government documents, which would have made so much self-evident in the months before the war began? Might this not have prevented disaster? We’ll never know, of course, but could additional public scrutiny have been salutary under the circumstances?

Thanks to Bradley Manning’s alleged disclosures, we do have a sense of what did happen afterwards in Iraq and Afghanistan, and just how the US operates in the world. Thanks to those disclosures, we now know just how Washington leaned on the Vatican to quell opposition to the Iraq War and just how it pressured the Germans to prevent them from prosecuting CIA agents who kidnapped an innocent man and shipped him off to be tortured abroad.

As our foreign policy threatens to careen into yet more disasters in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Libya, we can only hope that more whistleblowers will follow the alleged example of Bradley Manning and release vital public documents before it’s too late. A foreign policy based on secrets and spin has manifestly failed us.

In a democracy, the workings of our government should not be shrouded in an opaque cloud of secrecy. For bringing us the truth, for breaking the seal on that self-protective policy of secrecy, Bradley Manning deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

2: Knowledge is powerful. The WikiLeaks disclosures have helped spark democratic revolutions and reforms across the Middle East, accomplishing what Operation Iraqi Freedom never could.

Wasn’t it US policy to spread democracy in the Middle East, to extend our freedom to others, as both recent American presidents have insisted?

No single American has done more to help further this goal than Pfc Bradley Manning. The chain reaction of democratic protests and uprisings that has swept Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, and even in a modest way Iraq, all began in Tunisia, where leaked US State Department cables about the staggering corruption of the ruling Ben Ali dynasty helped trigger the rebellion.


In all cases, these societies were smouldering with longstanding grievances against oppressive, incompetent governments and economies stifled by cronyism. The revelations from the WikiLeaks State Department documents played a widely acknowledged role in sparking these pro-democracy uprisings.

In Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Yemen, the people’s revolts under way have occurred despite US support for their autocratic rulers. In each of these nations, in fact, we bankrolled the dictators, while helping to arm and train their militaries. The alliance with Mubarak’s autocratic state cost the US more than $60 billion and did nothing for American security – other than inspire terrorist blowback from radicalised Egyptians such as Mohammed Atta and Ayman al Zawahiri.

Even if US policy was firmly on the wrong side of things, we should be proud that at least one American – Bradley Manning – was on the right side. If indeed he gave those documents to WikiLeaks, then he played a catalytic role in bringing about the Arab Spring, something neither Barack Obama nor former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (that recent surprise recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom) could claim.

Perhaps once the Egyptians consolidate their democracy, they, too, will award Manning their equivalent of such a medal.

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3: Bradley Manning has exposed the pathological over-classification of America’s public documents.

“Secrecy is for losers”, as the late Senator and United Nations Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say. If this is indeed the case, it would be hard to find a bigger loser than the US government.

How pathological is the government’s addiction to secrecy?

In June, the National Security Agency declassified documents from 1809, while the Department of Defense only last month declassified the Pentagon Papers, publicly available in book form these past four decades. Our government is only just now finishing its declassification of documents relating to World War I.

This would be ridiculous if it weren’t tragic. Ask the historians. Barton J Bernstein, professor emeritus of history at Stanford University and a founder of its international relations program, describes the government’s classification of foreign-policy documents as “bizarre, arbitrary, and nonsensical”.

George Herring, professor emeritus at the University of Kentucky and author of the encyclopedic From Colony to Superpower: A History of US Foreign Policy, has chronicled how his delight at being appointed to a CIA advisory panel on declassification turned to disgust once he realised that he was being used as window dressing by an agency with no intention of opening its records, no matter how important or how old, to public scrutiny.

Any historian worth his salt would warn us that such over-classification is a leading cause of national amnesia and repetitive war disorder. If a society like ours doesn’t know its own history, it becomes the great power equivalent of a itinerant amnesiac, not knowing what it did yesterday or where it will end up tomorrow. Right now, classification is the disease of Washington, secrecy its mania, and dementia its end point. As an ostensibly democratic nation, we, its citizens, risk such ignorance at our national peril.

President Obama came into office promising a “sunshine” policy for his administration while singing the praises of whistleblowers. He has since launched the fiercest campaign against whistleblowers the republic has ever seen, and further plunged our foreign policy into the shadows.

Challenging the classification of each tightly guarded document is, however, impossible. No organisation has the resources to fight this fight, nor would they be likely to win right now. Absent a radical change in our government’s diplomatic and military bureaucracies, massive over-classification will only continue.

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If we hope to know what our government is actually doing in our name globally, we need massive leaks from insider whistleblowers to journalists who can then sort out what we need to know, given that the government won’t. This, in fact, has been the modus operandi of WikiLeaks.

Our whistleblower protection laws urgently need to catch up with this state of affairs, and though we are hardly there yet, Bradley Manning helped take us part of the way. He did what Barack Obama swore he would do on coming into office. For striking a blow against our government’s fanatical insistence on covering its mistakes and errors with blanket secrecy, Bradley Manning deserves not punishment, but the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

4. At immense personal cost, Bradley Manning has upheld a great American tradition of transparency in statecraft and for that he should be an American hero, not an American felon.

Bradley Manning is only the latest in a long line of whistleblowers in and out of uniform who have risked everything to put our country back on the right path.

Take Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers, a Pentagon-commissioned secret history of the Vietnam War and the official lies and distortions that the government used to sell it. Many of the documents it included were classed at a much higher security clearance than anything Bradley Manning is accused of releasing – and yet Ellsberg was not convicted of a single crime and became a national hero.

Given the era when all this went down, it’s forgivable to assume that Ellsberg must have been a hippie who somehow sneaked into the Pentagon archives, beads and patchouli trailing behind him. What many no longer realise is that Ellsberg had been a model US Marine. First in his class at officer training school at Quantico, he deferred graduate school at Harvard to remain on active duty in the Marine Corps. Ellsberg saw his high-risk exposure of the disastrous and deceitful nature of the Vietnam War as fully consonant with his long career of patriotic service in and out of uniform.

And Ellsberg is hardly alone. Ask Lieutenant Colonel (ret) Darrel Vandeveld. Or Tom Drake, formerly of the National Security Agency.

Transparency in statecraft was not invented last week by WikiLeaks creator Julian Assange. It is a longstanding American tradition. James Madison put the matter succinctly: “A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps both.”

A 1960 Congressional Committee on Government Operations report caught the same spirit: “Secrecy – the first refuge of incompetents – must be at a bare minimum in a democratic society … Those elected or appointed to positions of executive authority must recognise that government, in a democracy, cannot be wiser than the people.”

John F Kennedy made the same point in 1961: “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society.” Hugo Black, great Alabaman justice of the twentieth-century Supreme Court had this to say: “The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic.”

And the first of World-War-I-era president Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points couldn’t have been more explicit: “Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.”

We need to know what our government’s commitments are, as our foreign policy elites have clearly demonstrated they cannot be left to their own devices. Based on the past decade of carnage and folly, without public debate – and aggressive media investigations – we have every reason to expect more of the same.

If there’s anything to learn from that decade, it’s that government secrecy and lies come at a very high price in blood and money. Thanks to the whistleblowing revelations attributed to Bradley Manning, we at least have a far clearer picture of the problems we face in trying to supervise our own government.

If he was the one responsible for the WikiLeaks revelations, then, for his gift to the republic, purchased at great price, he deserves not prison, but a Presidential Medal of Freedom and the heartfelt gratitude of his country.

Chase Madar is a lawyer in New York and a frequent contributor to the London Review of Books, theAmerican Conservative magazine, CounterPunch.org, and Le Monde Diplomatique. His next book, The Passion of Bradley Manning, will be published by O/R Books this fall.  He is covering the Bradley Manning case and trial for TomDispatch.com. To listen to Timothy MacBains latest TomCast audio interview in which Madar discusses the Manning case, click here, or download it to your iPod here.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

A version of this article was previously published on TomDispatch.

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