Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm still alive and well

Many changes over the last two years.  I just ordered a camcorder and will be vlogging soon.  this should be fun, informative and have some originality too it.  I'll be searching for truth wherever it me be hiding.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Don't Be Brainwashed by Time's Lies of Omission and Sensationalism...

TIME’s Epic Distortion of the Plight of Women in Afghanistan
Posted by derrickcrowe  at 1:05 am
July 31, 2010

Article printed from speakeasy:

TIME Magazine has done its readers a disservice by grossly distorting how the Afghanistan War affects women. Learn the truth by watching this segment from Rethink Afghanistan:

Help us push back against TIME Magazine’s distortion of women’s issues in Afghanistan.

Tomorrow, TIME Magazine will treat newsstand customers everywhere to one of the most rank propaganda plays of the Afghanistan War. The cover features a woman, Aisha, whose face was mutilated by the Taliban, next to the headline, "What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan." Far more people will see this image and have their emotions manipulated by it than will read the article within (which itself seems to be a journalistic travesty, if the web version is any indication), so TIME should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for such a dishonest snow job on their customers. Readers deserve better.

Let’s clarify something right off the top when it comes to this cover: Aisha, the poor woman depicted in the photograph, was attacked last year, with tens of thousands of U.S. troops tramping all over the country at the time. This isn’t the picture of some as-yet-unrealized nighmarish future for Afghan women. It’s the picture of the present.

Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) recently published report on this issue, The "Ten-Dollar Talib" and Women’s Rights, provides key context for the struggle for women’s political equality in Afghanistan:

Afghan women assert their rights in what is already a deeply hostile political environment. Any assessment of women’s rights, and indeed the prospects for long-term peace and reconciliation needs to be made in the context of the very traditional and often misogynistic male leadership that dominates Afghan politics. The Afghan government, often with the tacit approval of key foreign governments and inter-governmental bodies, has empowered current and former warlords, providing official positions to some and effective immunity from prosecution for serious crimes to the rest. Backroom deals with abusive commanders have created powerful factions in the government and Parliament that are opposed to many of the rights and freedoms that women now enjoy. As one activist told us, “We women don’t have guns and poppies and we are not warlords, therefore we are not in the decision-making processes.”

This is something that folks who put together TIME’s cover better understand right now: the fox is already in the hen-house. There is a very powerful set of anti-women’s-equality caucuses already nested within the Afghan government that the U.S. supports. These individuals and groups are working to reassert the official misogyny of the Taliban days already, independent of the reconciliation and reintegration process. Given the opportunity, these individuals and groups in the U.S.-backed government will manipulate the reconciliation and reintegration process and leverage armed-opposition-group participation in the process to push through policies they’d prefer already as compromises with their "opponents." This is why the propaganda of TIME’s cover is so pernicious: the women of Afghanistan are caught in a vice already, stuck between their opponents in the insurgency and in the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. If one is concerned about the rights of women in Afghanistan, the question is, how do we give women the most leverage possible in this situation?

Further, TIME’s incendiary headline, "What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan," is a total misrepresentation of the issue discussed in the article. Here’s Aisha in her own words:

"They [the Taliban] are the people that did this to me," she says, touching her damaged face. "How can we reconcile with them?"

Here’s another quote from another woman that gets at the issue much better than TIME’s headline:

"Women’s rights must not be the sacrifice by which peace is achieved," says parliamentarian Fawzia Koofi.

And another quote:

"When we talk about women’s rights," Jamalzadah says, "we are talking about things that are important to men as well — men who want to see Afghanistan move forward. If you sacrifice women to make peace, you are also sacrificing the men who support them and abandoning the country to the fundamentalists that caused all the problems in the first place."

If we are to believe the setup on the cover and in the article, the women of Afghanistan see two options: the U.S. can "stay" and ensure the rights of women, or we can "leave" by route of selling them out. But that’s neither what the women’s quotes say nor what Human Rights Watch found when they interviewed 90 "working women and women in public life living in areas that the insurgents effectively controlled or where they have a significant presence to illustrate the current nature of the insurgency." While they found an intense anxiety over the consequences of the Taliban regaining a share of national power, they also found that:

"All of the women interviewed for this report supported a negotiated end to the conflict."

The quotes of the women in TIME’s article express anxiety about the Kabul government negotiated away women’s rights to warlord war criminals, not us "staying" or "leaving." See what TIME did there? They’ve taken these quotes from Afghan women and manipulated them to portray a false dilemma.

TIME Magazine throws out this useless bromide: "For Afghanistan’s women, an early withdrawal of international forces could be disastrous." Early compared to what? How can a pull-out almost a decade into a conflict be remotely described as "early?" Even if we build a shining utopia for women while U.S. troops were there in large numbers, women’s rights would evaporate the day after we departed if U.S. troops were the force holding them in place. That’s what Afghan Women’s Network’s Orzala Ashraf meant when she told Rethink Afghanistan that,

"I don’t believe and I don’t expect any outside power to come and liberate me. If I cannot liberate myself, no one from outside can liberate me."

The struggle is the liberation as Afghan women discover and use their power. Grassroots involvement in social struggle is what creates societies rooted in democratic values, not men with guns from other countries.

Although you wouldn’t know it from TIME’s editorializing within the article or from the horrendously misleading cover, the issue is not even remotely "if" we leave Afghanistan. We will. The questions are "When?" and "How?"


U.S. forces could stay for another twenty years in Afghanistan (would that still be "early?"), and even if they pound Kandahar into dust, no development in the war so far even remotely suggests the possibility of military force eliminating the Taliban as a significant political and armed force. Therefore, the war’s end would still involve some sort of political settlement that involves Taliban (unless, of course, the U.S. wants to guarantee the most ferocious civil conflict possible upon their exit by totally excluding them). At the end of that twenty years, we’d be faced with the same problems regarding the rights of women in Afghanistan, plus the effects of those years of war on the U.S. force and the Afghan population.

TIME’s depiction of the women’s rights issue is based on a faulty premise: that "staying" rather than "leaving" is having the effect of weakening an insurgency hostile to women’s rights. In fact, if we are to believe the official reports from the Pentagon to Congress, the opposite is true. As the first several months of President Obama’s escalation strategy played out, the military reports claim the insurgency gained in strategic and political power in the key areas of Afghanistan. As those trends continue, the political difficulties for women in the eventual reconciliation and reintegration processes increase. Prolonging the massive U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan makes it more likely that the regressive elements in the Kabul government will achieve their agenda through "compromise" with powerful insurgent elements during the reconciliation/reintegration processes.

Some sort of reconciliation process is going to take place. When it comes to securing the rights of women in Afghanistan, all other things being equal, sooner is better.


American policymakers, if they are truly interested in the rights of women beyond their use in sloganeering, are going to have to start playing a higher-level game than they are at present. When President Obama took 35 minutes to explain his rationales for his escalation strategy, he didn’t mention women’s political equality once. If they hope to assist the women of Afghanistan struggling for political equality, they need to understand the game and to start playing catch-up ball, pronto.

The most important work is to prepare the field before the negotiations begin. That means two things: getting women in, and keeping the worst of the worst out.

Two bodies will undertake the lion’s share of work on the peace process in Afghanistan: the High Level Peace Council and the Joint Secretariat for Peace, Reconciliation and Reintegration Programs. According to HRW’s report, key assurances have not been given that women would have a meaningful seat at the table in decision-making capacities. At the time of the report’s publication, the High Level Peace Council had not been appointed, but the Joint Secretariat was effectively functioning and no women were included. The extent to which Afghan women can succeed at inserting themselves into the various levels of this process will be a major determinant in the amount of leverage they’ll have to help them defend their rights as the new Afghanistan takes shape. Afghan women’s advocates have shown some adeptness at this sort of agitation: during the Consultative Peace Jirga, women were promised only 10 percent representation. Through intense agitation, they obtained 20 percent. U.S. policymakers who want to help women in Afghanistan have to figure out how best to support the effort of women to get into these decision-making bodies and exert real influence. The U.S. is a prime funder of the Afghan government. It’s time to figure out how to use that leverage for this purpose. That’s why Human Rights Watch makes this key recommendation:

Make women’s meaningful participation in relevant decision-making bodies a precondition for funding reintegration programs, and ensure that reintegration funds benefit families and communities, including women, rather than individual ex-combatants.

That brings us to the touchy subject of keeping the worst of the worst out. This is a touchy subject because the obstacles to getting this done have come into being due to the active and tacit support of the United States.

Let’s talk about just a couple of these obstacles: Hajji Mohammed Mohaqiq and his Amnesty Law.

Mohaqiq was one of the leaders of the notorious Hezb-e Wahdat, which in late 2001-early 2002 targeted Pashtun civilians for violence because of their ethnic ties to the Taliban. According to Human Rights Watch, Hezb-e Wahdat was:

implicated in systematic and widespread looting and violence in almost every province under their…control, almost all of it directed at Pashtun villagers. …[T]here were several reports of rapes of girls and women. In Chimtal district near Mazar-e Sharif, and in Balkh province generally, both Hizb-i Wahdat [alternative English rendering of Hezb-e Wahdat] and Jamiat forces were particularly violent: in one village, Bargah-e Afghani, Hizb-i Wahdat troops killed thirty-seven civilians.

Mohaqiq’s militia also became widely feared and loathed for their practice of kidnapping young girls, “forcibly marrying” them (what a useless euphemism for rape), and ransoming them back to their parents. They seemed to especially enjoy snatching girls who were on their way to school, leading many parents to keep their girls home rather than risk their abduction and rape.

Following the overthrow of the Taliban, Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq managed to get himself appointed as a vice chair of the interim government and as Minister of Planning. During the 2002 loya jirga that set the basic shape of the new government, Hezb-e Wahdat was named by Human Rights Watch as one of the groups that used threats and intimidation against other delegates. Through their use of these thuggish tactics, Mohaqiq’s militia helped corrupt a process which many hoped would lead to greater civilian control relative to the warlords, but which led instead to the warlords’ solidifying their power. Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, of course, retained his positions of power.

But here’s the real kicker: once legitimized, Mohaqiq was one of the masterminds of the widely condemned 2007 legislation that granted warlords amnesty for their war crimes during the civil war. The UN sharply condemned the amnesty law, declaring “No one has the right to forgive those responsible for human rights violations other than the victims themselves.” Thanks to outcry from the United Nations and human rights advocates (but pointedly, not from the U.S., UK, or the EU, who did not speak out against the law), the law was tabled.

But then came the absolutely corrupted 2009 election: Karzai promised to carve out a new province for Mohaqiq in exchange for his support in the election. Karzai "won," and President Obama declared the government "legitimate." Then, in January 2010, Karzai quietly slipped the Amnesty Law into effect, immunizing Mohaqiq for his crimes against women. Mohaqiq has since publicly decried Karzai’s moves toward negotiations with the Taliban, but even though he doesn’t support it, his handiwork is a malignant shaper of the process with regards to the rights of women.

Here’s HRW’s summary of the law:

The Amnesty Law states that all those who were engaged in armed conflict before the formation of Afghanistan’s Interim Administration in December 2001 shall “enjoy all their legal rights and shall not be prosecuted.” It also says that those engaged in current hostilities will be granted immunity if they agree to reconciliation with the government, effectively providing amnesty for future crimes. The law thus provides immunity from prosecution for members of the Taliban and other insurgent groups, as well as pro-government warlords, who have committed war crimes.

All through this process, the U.S. was either silent or supportive of these developments, and now the Amnesty Law stands as one of the threats most identified by Afghan women’s advocates to the progress of their political agenda during the reconciliation process. Those most dangerous to the women of Afghanistan–powerful fundamentalist warlords with a history of serious war crimes against women and girls–may find their way into influential negotiating positions where they can link up with their anti-women brethren already inside the Kabul government. The solution posited by Human Rights Watch and by women parliamentarians is to repeal the Amnesty Law and institute strong vetting processes that exclude the worst war criminals from the ballot or from political appointment while still allowing participation of their home tribes or groups. This solution goes hand in hand with that discovered last year by UK’s DFID to be preferred by those in insurgency-prone areas: a new "black list" standard for what crimes disqualify one from election or appointment, applied to everyone, including Taliban, other insurgents, or pro-Kabul-government figures.

As the reader can tell, the issue is far more complex than the farcical "stay or leave" choice framed up on TIME’s shameful propaganda cover art. The U.S.’s massive troop presence and the escalating instability is strengthening the hand of the political forces that want to roll back women’s political equality, so the longer we stay, the worse off women will be as they attempt to navigate the eventual political settlement of the conflict. Yet, U.S. inattention to (or outright malignant influence on) the factors shaping the field for that political struggle are affirmatively hurting the struggle for women’s political equality. We will leave the combat field, and we have to do it soon, and while we leave, we have to do our best to help shape a political field supportive of the Afghan women’s struggle to liberate themselves.

Pulling this off will require a deft hand, and it’s not clear whether the Kabul government or our own government, given the atrophied nature of the State Department, is up to the task. Given the vested interests who have a stake in the existence of the Amnesty Law, repealing it will be enormously difficult in Afghanistan’s political arena (and no one should let the U.S. off the hook for helping to shape this political environment through support for known warlords and war criminals). But what is clear is that using the rights of women as a justification for extending our massive U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan is a recipe for failure on this issue and for the betrayal and heartbreak of those who care about the fate of Afghan women.

Shorter version: TIME Magazine’ cover art is rank propaganda, and the current U.S. policy is failing women, badly.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Let's End the Longest War in U.S. History Now

WikiLeaks Bombshell Docs Paint Afghan War as Utter Disaster -- Will We Finally Stop Throwing Money and Lives at This Catastrophe?
By Ray McGovern, Consortium News
Posted on July 26, 2010

The brutality and fecklessness of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan have been laid bare in an indisputable way just days before the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on whether to throw $33.5 billion more into the Afghan quagmire, when that money is badly needed at home.

On Sunday, the Web site Wikileaks posted 75,000 reports written mostly by U.S. forces in Afghanistan during a six-year period from January 2004 to December 2009. The authenticity of the material -- published under the title “Afghan War Diaries” -- is not in doubt.

The New York Times, which received an embargoed version of the documents from Wikileaks, devoted six pages of its Monday editions to several articles on the disclosures, which reveal how the Afghan War slid into its current morass while the Bush administration concentrated U.S. military efforts on Iraq.

Wikileaks also gave advanced copies to the British newspaper, The Guardian, and the German newsmagazine, Der Spiegel, thus guaranteeing that the U.S. Fawning Corporate Media could not ignore these classified cables the way it did five years ago with the “Downing Street Memo,” a leaked British document which described how intelligence was "fixed" around President George W. Bush’s determination to invade Iraq.

The Washington Post also led its Monday editions with a lengthy article about the Wikileaks’ disclosure of the Afghan War reports.

Still, it remains to be seen whether the new evidence of a foundering war in Afghanistan will lead to a public groundswell of opposition to expending more billions of dollars there when the money is so critically needed to help people to keep their jobs, their homes and their personal dignity in the United States.

But there may be new hope that the House of Representatives will find the collective courage to deny further funding for feckless bloodshed in Afghanistan that seems more designed to protect political flanks in Washington than the military perimeters of U.S. bases over there.

Assange on Pentagon Papers

Wikileaks leader Julian Assange compared the release of “The Afghan War Diaries” to Daniel Ellsberg’s release in 1971 of the Pentagon Papers. Those classified documents revealed the duplicitous arguments used to justify the Vietnam War and played an important role in eventually getting Congress to cut off funding.

Ellsberg’s courageous act was the subject of a recent Oscar-nominated documentary, entitled “The Most Dangerous Man in America," named after one of the less profane sobriquets thrown Ellsberg’s way by then-national security adviser Henry Kissinger.

I imagine Dan is happy at this point to cede that particular honorific to the Wikileaks’ leaker, who is suspected of being Pfc. Bradley Manning, a young intelligence specialist in Iraq who was recently detained and charged with leaking classified material to Wikileaks.

An earlier Wikileaks’ disclosure -- also reportedly from Manning -- revealed video of a U.S. helicopter crew cavalierly gunning down about a dozen Iraqi men, including two Reuters journalists, as they walked along a Baghdad street.

Wikileaks declined to say whether Manning was the source of the material. However, possibly to counter accusations that the leaker (allegedly Manning) acted recklessly in releasing thousands of secret military records, Wikileaks said it was still withholding 15,000 reports “as part of a harm minimization process demanded by our source.”

After Ellsberg was identified as the Pentagon Papers leaker in 1971, he was indicted and faced a long prison sentence if convicted. However, a federal judge threw out the charges following disclosures of the Nixon administration’s own abuses, such as a break-in at the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist.

In public speeches over the past several years, Ellsberg has been vigorously pressing for someone to do what he did, this time on the misbegotten wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ellsberg also has praised Assange for providing a means for the documents to reach the public.

Ellsberg and other members of The Truth Telling Coalition established on Sept. 9, 2004, have been appealing to government officials who encounter “deception and cover-up” on vital issues to opt for “unauthorized truth telling.” [At the end of this story, see full text of the group's letter, which I signed.]

Emphasizing that “citizens cannot make informed choices if they do not have the facts,” the Truth Telling Coalition challenged officials to give primary allegiance to the Constitution, and noted the readiness of groups like the ACLU and The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) to offer advice and support.

What’s New?

In a taped interview, Assange noted in his understated way that, with the Internet, the “situation is markedly different” from Pentagon Papers days. “More material can be pushed to bigger audiences, and much sooner.”

Also, the flow of information can evade the obstructions of traditional news gatekeepers who failed so miserably to inform the American people about the Bush administration’s deceptions before the Iraq War.

People all over the world can get “the whole wad at once” and put the various reports into context, which “is not something that has previously occurred; that is something that can only be brought about as a result of the Internet,” Assange said.

However, Assange also recognized the value of involving the traditional news media to ensure that the reports got maximum attention. So, he took a page from Ellsberg’s experience by creating some competitive pressure among major news outlets, giving the 75,000 reports to the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel. Beginning Sunday afternoon, all three posted articles about the huge dump of information.

Assange noted that the classified material includes many heart-rending incidents that fit into the mosaic of a larger human catastrophe. These include one depicted in Der Spiegel’s reportage of accidental killings on June 17, 2007, when U.S. Special Forces fired five rockets at a Koran school in which a prominent al-Qaeda functionary was believed to be hiding.

When the smoke cleared, the Special Forces found no terrorist, but rather six dead children in the rubble of the school and another who died shortly after.

Role of Pakistan

Perhaps the most explosive revelations disclose the double game being played by the Pakistani Directorate for Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). Der Spiegel reported: “The documents clearly show that this Pakistani intelligence agency is the most important accomplice the Taliban has outside of Afghanistan.”

The documents also show ISI envoys not only are present when insurgent commanders hold war councils, but also give specific orders to carry out assassinations — including, according to one report, an attempt on the life of Afghan President Hamid Karzai in August 2008.

Former Pakistani intelligence chief, Gen. Hamid Gul, is depicted as an important source of aid to the Taliban, and even, in another report, as a “leader” of the insurgents. The reports show Gul ordering suicide attacks, and describe him as one of the most important suppliers of weaponry to the Talban.

Though the Pakistani government has angrily denied U.S. government complaints about Gul and the ISI regarding secret ties to the Taliban and even to al-Qaeda, the new evidence must raise questions about what the Pakistanis have been doing with the billions of dollars that Washington has given them.

Two Ex-Generals Got It Right

We have another patriotic truth-teller to thank for leaking the texts of cables that Ambassador (and former Lt. Gen.) Karl Eikenberry sent to Washington on Nov. 6 and 9, 2009, several weeks before President Barack Obama made his fateful decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

In a somewhat condescending tone, Eikenberry described the request from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then commander of allied forces in Afghanistan, for more troops as “logical and compelling within his narrow mandate to define the needs” of the military campaign.

But then Eikenberry warned repeatedly about “unaddressed variables” like militants’ “sanctuaries” in Pakistan. For example, the ambassador wrote:

“More troops won’t end the insurgency as long as Pakistan sanctuaries remain … and Pakistan views its strategic interests as best served by a weak neighbor.”

In Eikenberry’s final try at informing the White House discussion (in his cable of Nov. 9), the ambassador warned pointedly of the risk that “we will become more deeply engaged here with no way to extricate ourselves.”

At the time, it seemed that Eikenberry’s message was getting through to the White House. On Nov. 7, Der Spiegel published an interview with National Security Adviser (former Marine General) James Jones, who was asked whether he agreed with Gen. McChrystal that a substantial troop increase was needed. Jones replied:

“Generals always ask for more troops; I believe we will not solve the problem with more troops alone. You can keep on putting troops in, and you could have 200,000 troops there and Afghanistan will swallow them up as it has done in the past.”

However, McChrystal and his boss, then-Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus pressed the case for more troops, a position that had strong support from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Vice President Dick Cheney, key hawks in Congress and Washington’s neoconservative-dominated opinion circles.

After months of internal debate, President Obama finally caved in and gave McChrystal nearly all the troops that he had requested. (McChrystal has since been replaced by Petraeus as commander of forces in Afghanistan.)

Despite the fact that the Wikileaks disclosures offer fresh support for the doubters on the Afghan War escalation, Jones acted as the good soldier on Sunday, decrying the unauthorized release of classified information, calling Wikileaks “irresponsible.”

Jones also lectured the Pakistanis:

“Pakistan’s military and intelligence services must continue their strategic shift against insurgent groups. The balance must shift decisively against al-Qaeda and its extremist allies. U.S. support for Pakistan will continue to be focused on building Pakistani capacity to root out violent extremist groups.”

[Note: Okay; he’s a general. But the grammatical mood is just a shade short of imperative. And the tone is imperial/colonial through and through. I’ll bet the Pakistanis are as much swayed by that approach as they have been by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s admonitions not to be concerned about India -- just terrorists.]

And regarding “progress” in Afghanistan? Jones added that “the U.S. and its allies have scored several significant blows against the insurgency.”

However, that’s not the positive spin that Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen was offering just four weeks ago. On his way to Kabul, again, Mullen spoke of “recent setbacks in the Afghan campaign.”

“We underestimated some of the challenges” in Marja, the rural area of Helmand province that was cleared in March by U.S. Marines, only to have Taliban fighters return. “They’re coming back at night; the intimidation is still there,” Mullen said.

Of the much more ambitious (and repeatedly delayed) campaign to stabilize the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, Mullen said: “It’s going to take until the end of the year to know where we are there.”

Would you say yes to an additional $33.5 billion for this fool’s errand?

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

© 2010 Consortium News All rights reserved.
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Sunday, July 18, 2010

More Obama Broken Promises

So much for Obama's promise to pull the feds off of busting people using and growing marijuana legally at the State and Local levels. I did not support Obama's election because I was certain he would use us and then dispose of us once elected. The color of a persons skin and the smoothness of ones tongue does not a progressive make. Also the pentagon is now saying we will be in Afghanistan at least another decade. At least Bush was pretty out-front about his agenda. I'm afraid the Obama presidency's purpose is to diffuse the progressive movement while coalescing the Right Wing. Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming....

Feds Raid Legal Marijuana Farm, Destroy Crops
By Steve Elliott, News Junkie Post
Posted on July 12, 2010

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has flouted Mendocino County, California's newly enacted medical marijuana ordinance by raiding the first collective that had applied to the sheriff's cultivation permit program.

A multi-agency federal task force descended on the property of Joy Greenfield, the first Mendo patient to pay the $1,050 application fee under the ordinance, which allows collectives to grow up to 99 plants provided they comply with certain regulations.

Greenfield had applied in the name of her collective, "Light The Way," which opened in San Diego earlier this year. Her property had passed a preliminary inspection by the Mendo sheriff's deputies shortly before the raid, and she had bought the sheriff's "zip-ties" intended to designate her cannabis plants as legal.

In the days before the raid, Greenfield had seen a helicopter hovering over her property; she inquired with the sheriff, who told her the copter belonged to the DEA and wasn't under his control.

The agents invaded her property with guns drawn, tore out the collective's 99 plants and took Greenfield's computer and cash.

Joy was not at home during the raid, but spoke on the phone to the DEA agent in charge. When she told he she was a legal grower under the sheriff's program, the agent replied, "I don't care what the sheriff says."

When she returned to her house she found it in disarray with soda cans strewn on the floor. "It was just a mess," she said. "No one should be able to tear your house apart like that."

Greenfield called the raid a "slap in the face of Mendocino's government."

The DEA has been tight-lipped about the raid, but claims it was part of a larger investigation involving other suspects.

"Here Mendo is trying to step out in front by passing this ordinance, and what do the Feds do but raid the first applicant," said Greenfield's attorney, Bob Boyd of Ukiah.

"The DEA is stepping all over local authorities trying to tax and regulate," Boyd said.

Neither Boyd nor other locals believe that the sheriff tipped off the DEA or gave them any information about permit applicants.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman confirmed Friday that the property owner had the proper paperwork and the marijuana was legal in the eyes of the county.

"This was a federal operation and had nothing to do with local law enforcement," Allman said. "The federal government made a decision to go ahead and eradicate it."

Sheriff Allman has been highly supportive of efforts to bring local growers into the permit program. Nonetheless, observers fear the raid will have a chilling effect on medical cultivators, possibly causing supply problems for local patients.

"This raid is clear evidence that the DEA is out of control," said California NORML director Dale Gieringer. "A change in federal law is long overdue."

"In the meantime, the DEA needs a new director who will enforce Attorney General Holder's pledge not to interfere in state medical marijuana laws," Gierigner said.

The DEA is currently directed by Michele Leonhart, a Bush Administration holdover who has presided over numerous medical marijuana raids, and has obstructed research efforts to develop marijuana for medicine.

President Obama has renominated Leonhart to head the agency — a move strongly opposed by drug reformers, who are calling on the administration to honor its pledge of change.

© 2010 News Junkie Post All rights reserved.
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Just Announced by the least Another Decade in Afghanistan

America: Hooked on War and Getting Poorer

By Clancy Sigal, The Guardian
Posted on July 15, 2010

There's plenty of good money to be made /
Supplyin' the army with tools of the trade
… – Country Joe and the Fish

I hallucinate easily, a hangover from time spent in an acid-rock commune in London in the fevered 60s. Most evenings when I switch on the television 6.30 news with its now cliched pictures of deep sea oil spurting from BP's pipe rupture, I see not bleeding sludge but human blood surging up into the Gulf of Mexico.

I've learned to trust my visions as metaphors for reality. The same news programmes, often as a dutiful throwaway item, will show a jerky fragment of Afghan combat accompanied by the usual pulse-pounding handheld shots of snipers amid roadside bomb explosions, preferably in fiery balls. My delusional mind converts this footage into a phantasmagoria where our M60 machine guns are shooting ammunition belts full of $1,000 bills.

Blood, oil, bullets … and cash.

Why is nobody talking about the Afghanistan adventure as a cause of our plunging recession? Or at least citing the 30-year-old endless war as a major contributory factor in wasting our money to "nation-build" in the Hindu Kush while our own country falls to pieces on food stamps, foreclosures and child poverty – one in five kids – that would put the world's poorest nations to shame?

Iraq was George Bush's war. But, as Republican party chairman Michael Steele correctly says, "Afghanistan is Obama's war of choice", and a losing proposition. Historically, Bush and Dick Cheney merely toyed with Afghanistan while visiting shock and awe on Iraq. But President Obama is really, really serious about it. He told us so on his campaign trail, but most of us refused to believe him. We told ourselves: oh, he's a closet pacifist, or he'll somehow find a way out of the impasse, thus sealing a devil's pact with our own consciences.

Obama's "way out" is to dig deeper in so that he'll be able to get out, it's said. Where have we heard that before? Exit strategy, my foot. Obama is a willing prisoner of his generals, the latest four-star foot-in-mouther being General George Casey, army chief of staff, who a few days ago confessed to CBS News that the US could face another "decade or so" of persistent conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. (He then fudged it, but the cat was out of the bag.)

Our Afghanistan war, which began in 1980 under the Democrats (by weaponising Afghan resistance to the Soviets), and is now truly a bipartisan war, is as bankrupt as our economy. No connection? None that I can hear from Republicans or Democrats and the "liberal base". The war without purpose or common sense is simply a given, like the weather. Other than a few lonely members of Congress, like Florida's Alan Grayson (who introduced a bill titled "The War Is Making You Poor"), the antiwar Texas libertarian Ron Paul and Illinois's Tim Johnson, hardly anybody in public life dares to make a connection between teachers' pink slips, personal bankruptcies (6,000 a day now), our rotting infrastructure, lengthening queues at unemployment offices, child poverty … and the war.

You won't hear a peep from mainstream liberals such as Keith Olberman or Rachel Maddow. Nor, when Pentagon-funded war industry jobs are on the line, from any of the congressional liberals in my Southern California delegation such as Henry Waxman and Maxine Waters, who, after routine grumbling, just voted for yet another $30bn for the lost war that shores up our local weapons and aerospace industries.

Nobody knows whether, if the Iraq-Afghan wars came to a miraculous stop and we shipped the troops home tomorrow, leaving the homegrown Pashtun and Hazara factions to fight it out among themselves, the money would automatically return to our failing economy. But it's a question worth asking out loud. In 2008 Obama Democrats junked the war as an election issue in favour of the economy, and they won by avoiding as a political third rail any connection between the trillions spent fighting colonial wars in the Middle East and the billions we refuse to spend on our own people.

As a people we Americans are hooked on a permanent war economy that only here and there, in drips and drabs, creates immediate jobs while undermining any long-term possibility of recovery. The good news is that contracts for new unmanned Predator drone bases have been awarded to deprived areas of South Dakota, Wisconsin and Missouri, much to the local citizenry's joy. Some stimulus.

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