That ‘No Torture’ Memorandum Scam Again

Those cover-your-ass pieces of worthless paper the UK use to pretend they are not outsourcing torture and in which we are a world leader, this time in Afghanistan-

RAWA:- Britain ‘hands over prisoners in Afghanistan to face torture’. British troops are handing over Taliban suspects to the Afghan security service to face “horrible abuse” and torture, the High Court has been told. By Duncan Gardham

Government denials of such abuse are the result of a “head in the sand” attitude, partly borne out of a close intelligence relationship with the Afghans, the judges were told.

They are the latest allegations of British complicity in torture following investigations into MI5 and MI6.
Human rights lawyers have assembled details of nine cases involving allegations of beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions, electrocution, and whipping with rubber cables.

They are arguing that Britain has breached the Human Rights Act by handing over prisoners to a country known to participate in torture.

They say the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), the domestic security service, had a reputation for mistreating prisoners and British officers should have known what was happening.

The Ministry of Defence is opposing the application for judicial review and Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, has said that detention is an important and necessary ability for British forces operating in Afghanistan, and safeguards are in place to prevent mistreatment.

But Michael Fordham QC told the court that the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office were seeking to protect their detainee transfer policy by adopting the approach “of seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil”.

In legal documents put before the court he said there are many reputable reports that torture and ill-treatment is “endemic” in the NDS “even at a very high level”, which has been described as a relic from the days of Soviet occupation.

The NDS was said to have been created in the image of the KGB and allegedly still has a reputation for torturing and killing.

Mr Fordham said the British government had chosen to rely on a “manifestly unsafe” memorandum of understanding with the Afghan authorities that international human rights obligations would be observed by the NDS.

But Britain adopted a “head in the sand” because it did not want to uncover evidence of human rights abuses and therefore refused to investigate thoroughly, he said, adding that the fact the NDS supplied intelligence to the UK was no secret.

Freedom’s On The March

Prosthetic legs line a wall in Kabul, Afghanistan ©Lynsey Addario / VII Network

The Obama Torture Regime

Hilary Andersson BBC News, Bagram:- Afghan prisoners are being abused in a “secret jail” at Bagram airbase, according to nine witnesses whose stories the BBC has documented. The abuses are all said to have taken place since US President Barack Obama was elected, promising to end torture.

The US military has denied the existence of a secret detention site and promised to look into allegations. Bagram was the site of a controversial jail holding hundreds of inmates, who have now been moved to another complex. The old prison was notorious for allegations of prisoner torture and abuse. But witnesses told the BBC in interviews or written testimony that abuses continue in a hidden facility.

“They call it the Black Hole,” said Sher Agha who spent six days in the facility last autumn. “When they released us they told us we should not tell our stories to outsiders because that will harm us.”

Sher Agha and others we interviewed complained their cells were very cold. “When I wanted to sleep and started shivering with cold I started reciting the holy Koran,” he said. But sleep, according to the prisoners interviewed, is deliberately prevented in this detention site.

“I could not sleep, nobody could sleep because there was a machine that was making noise,” said Mirwais, who said he was held in the secret jail for 24 days. There was a small camera in my cell, and if you were sleeping they’d come in and disturb you,” he added.

The prisoners, who were interviewed separately, all told very similar stories. Most of them said they had been beaten by American soldiers at the point of arrest before being taken to the prison. Mirwais had half a row of teeth missing, which he said was from being struck with the butt of a gun by an American soldier. No-one said they were visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross during their detention at the site, and they all said that their families did not know where they were.

In the small concrete cells, the prisoners said, a light was on all the time. They said they could not tell if it was night or day and described this as very disturbing. Mirwais said he was made to dance to music by American soldiers every time he wanted to use the toilet. The ex-prisoners said they were imprisoned at the secret jail before being taken to the main detention centre at the Bagram airbase, a new complex called The Detention Facility in Parwan.

Bagram’s prisoners were moved to the Parwan complex from the old notorious Bagram prison site on the airbase earlier this year. In 2002, two prisoners were killed in the Bagram prison while in US custody after being suspended from the ceilings of their cells and brutally beaten. The BBC was allowed into the new Bagram prison for an hour. This was one of the first opportunities any outsider has had to set eyes on Bagram’s interned prisoners since a jail was first established at Bagram soon after 9/11. In the new jail, prisoners were being moved around in wheelchairs with goggles and headphones on. The goggles were blacked out, and the purpose of the headphones was to block out all sound. Each prisoner was handcuffed and had their legs shackled.

Prisoners are kept in 56 cells, which the prisoners refer to as “cages”. The front of the cells are made of mesh, the ceiling is clear, and the other three walls are solid. Guards can see down into the cells above. The BBC was told by the military to wear protective eye glasses whilst walking past the mesh cells as prisoners sometimes throw excrement or semen at the guards. Prisoner accounts we logged painted a much better picture of the Parwan Detention Facility.

The US military itself has admitted that about 80% of those at Bagram are probably not hardened terrorists. It is the process of giving every detainee an internal military trial of sorts, called a Detainee Review Board. The prisoners are represented by soldiers who are not lawyers.

“To this date, no prisoner has ever seen a lawyer in Bagram”, said Tina Foster, who represents several of Bagram’s prisoners in cases she has filed in on their behalf in the US. Guantanamo Bay’s prisoners are able to see their lawyers. About 100 prisoners have been released through this process, but due to an increased intake, the number of prisoners at Parwan is now 800, up from about 650 in September 2009.

The BBC put the allegations of ongoing abuses as a secret site on the airbase to the US military at Bagram. The military categorically denied the existence of a secret detention site. “I’ve never heard of it. This is the only detention facility in Afghanistan” said Vice Admiral Robert Harward who is in charge of the Detention Facility in Parwan. The US military promised to investigate any allegations of abuse.

The Afghan Narco War

A must read, Can Anyone Pacify the World’s Number One Narco-State? The Opium Wars in Afghanistan By Alfred W. McCoy, extract-

Although this area had zero heroin production in the mid-1970s, the CIA’s covert war served as the catalyst that transformed the Afghan-Pakistan borderlands into the world’s largest heroin producing region. As mujahedeen guerrillas captured prime agricultural areas inside Afghanistan in the early 1980s, they began collecting a revolutionary poppy tax from their peasant supporters.

Once the Afghan guerrillas brought the opium across the border, they sold it to hundreds of Pakistani heroin labs operating under the ISI’s protection. Between 1981 and 1990, Afghanistan’s opium production grew ten-fold — from 250 tons to 2,000 tons. After just two years of covert CIA support for the Afghan guerrillas, the U.S. Attorney General announced in 1981 that Pakistan was already the source of 60% of the American heroin supply. Across Europe and Russia, Afghan-Pakistani heroin soon captured an even larger share of local markets, while inside Pakistan itself the number of addicts soared from zero in 1979 to 1.2 million just five years later.

After investing $3 billion in Afghanistan’s destruction, Washington just walked away in 1992, leaving behind a thoroughly ravaged country with over one million dead, five million refugees, 10-20 million landmines still in place, an infrastructure in ruins, an economy in tatters, and well-armed tribal warlords prepared to fight among themselves for control of the capital. Even when Washington finally cut its covert CIA funding at the end of 1991, however, Pakistan’s ISI continued to back favored local warlords in pursuit of its long-term goal of installing a Pashtun client regime in Kabul.

Druglords, Dragon’s Teeth, and Civil Wars: the 1990s

Throughout the 1990s, ruthless local warlords mixed guns and opium in a lethal brew as part of a brutal struggle for power. It was almost as if the soil had been sown with those dragons’ teeth of ancient myth that can suddenly sprout into an army of full-grown warriors, who leap from the earth with swords drawn for war.

When northern resistance forces finally captured Kabul from the communist regime, which had outlasted the Soviet withdrawal by three years, Pakistan still backed its client Hekmatyar. He, in turn, unleashed his artillery on the besieged capital. The result: the deaths of an estimated 50,000 more Afghans. Even a slaughter of such monumental proportions, however, could not win power for this unpopular fundamentalist. So the ISI armed a new force, the Taliban and in September 1996, it succeeded in capturing Kabul, only to fight the Northern Alliance for the next five years in the valleys to the north of the capital.

During this seemingly unending civil war, rival factions leaned heavily on opium to finance the fighting, more than doubling the harvest to 4,600 tons by 1999. Throughout these two decades of warfare and a twenty-fold jump in drug production, Afghanistan itself was slowly transformed from a diverse agricultural ecosystem — with herding, orchards, and over 60 food crops — into the world’s first economy dependent on the production of a single illicit drug. In the process, a fragile human ecology was brought to ruin in an unprecedented way.

Located at the northern edge of the annual monsoon rains, where clouds arrive from the Arabian Sea already squeezed dry, Afghanistan is an arid land. Its staple food crops have historically been sustained by irrigation systems that rely on snowmelt from the region’s high mountains. To supplement staples such as wheat, Afghan tribesmen herded vast flocks of sheep and goats hundreds of miles every year to summer pasture in the central uplands. Most important of all, farmers planted perennial tree crops — walnut, pistachio, and mulberry — which thrived because they sink their roots deep into the soil and are remarkably resistant to the region’s periodic droughts, offering relief from the threat of famine in the dry years.

During these two decades of war, however, modern firepower devastated the herds, damaged snowmelt irrigation systems, and destroyed many of the orchards. While the Soviets simply blasted the landscape with firepower, the Taliban, with an unerring instinct for their society’s economic jugular, violated the unwritten rules of traditional Afghan warfare by cutting down the orchards on the vast Shamali plain north of Kabul.

Posted in Afghanistan. Tags: . Comments Off on The Afghan Narco War

Not Quite Short Enough To Go On Twitter

Which may or may not be a regular posting type thingy, anyways…

I do wonder if the vitriol against Kucinich by Kos & co. was also indulged in to distract from the Afghanistan debate, this being the good Obama war etc.

Questions from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities in regard to the triple suicide of the Serykh family-

1. What level of cooperation does the YMCA afford to the UKBA enforcement removal team seeking to remove asylum seekers from the YMCA flats?

2. How much money does the YMCA receive per asylum seeker for its UKBA contract at the Red Road flats?

3. We suspect many asylum seekers are being driven to desperation by the combination of inhumane practices being perpetrated by the UKBA and the YMCA to the point they have said firsthand that they fully understand why the Serkhi family threw themselves from the 15th floor of one of your flats. Will the YMCA be evicting any more asylum seekers during this troubled time at the Red Road when so many people are in the depths of despair and hopelessness?

Joe Glenton was sentenced to 9 months, please show your support by writing to him-

Lance Corporal Joe Glenton
Military Corrective Training Centre, Berechurch Hall Camp
Colchester CO2 9NU, UK
Email:
defendjoeglenton@gmail.com

Nick Clegg leader of the LibDems decides outflanking to the Right is a good progressive idea with his praise for Thacther and savage cuts, so no big surprise neoliberalism retains its hold on all 3 parties leadership…was that the sound of thousands of voters now binning ideas they were entertaining of voting for them (ht2 LC)-

Not only does the Lib Dem leader say he’ll end the structural deficit with 100 percent spending cuts (not the 20 percent tax rises, 80 percent cuts combo that the Tories advocate), but he even heaps praise in Lady Thatcher. More, he describes her as something of an inspiration: just as she took on vested interests in the 1980s, so he will take on the banks now.

He equates unions with banks, no really, he does! Which means to wee Nick he thinks millions of working people working together to improve their lives and raise themselves out of poverty and oppression is comparable to bankers destroying society with their gambling and greed. Bless his little middle class socks. Wanker.

Richard Murphy daily uncovers evidence of the Class War waged by Capital, today’s little wheeze-

Finance chiefs at two of the UK’s most powerful companies have called for corporation tax to be slashed to 15% in what would represent one of the most sweeping changes to the UK tax system since VAT was introduced 30 years ago.

How do I know 15% corporation tax is the aim of the Oxford Centre? because Chris Wales – who was instrumental in setting it up – told me that was the case, in person when I was at Oxford two or three years ago before Prof Mike Devereux, the head of the centre, contrary to all UK academic ethics, withdrew my invitation to all events there.

And let’s be clear what this call is. It’s another blatant attempt at re-engineering the social structure of the UK so that the rich get richer and the rest fall further behind.

Glaxo and Vodafone and their friends at Oxford want to increase the gap between rich and poor in this country. It’s the only explanation for their proposal there is.

So in the absence of any politician’s standing up to corporations Defend The Welfare State which among full union support is also supported by the British Medical Association, good to see medical opinion recognises the threat to human wellbeing that neoliberal dogma represents. This also important because global capital has conspired with far right tories to bring the Tea Party astro turf corporate lobby to the UK.

Since 1948, Britain has supported the idea that state pensions, health care, education and other public services are best provided by society as whole. But this idea is now under threat.

  • The state pension is totally inadequate, leaving at least 1 in 4 older people to live in poverty
  • 7m households have a child living in poverty and existing benefits provide a very limited safety net
  • Unemployment now stands at over 2m and workfare offers no solution
  • 10m adults are disabled and face huge barriers to escaping financial hardship
  • The NHS is slowly being privatised behind a smokescreen of choice and competition, and patients are suffering as a result
  • Our public services are now facing massive cuts and further privatisation

The welfare state and public services are an essential part of any civilised society – pooling the risk across the population and providing support and services to us all.

Whoever wins the next general election will be looking at the welfare state and public services as a way of cutting public expenditure. This demonstration must therefore send a clear message to all the political parties that the majority of people do not want to see further cuts and privatisation.

Defending the Welfare State & Public Services

March & Rally
Sat 10 April 2010
Assemble 12 noon for 1pm
Temple Place, Embankment
Rally 2pm
Trafalgar Square
Speakers, Music & Entertainment

Also sign the petition here.

Surging On

(AFP) – The United States plans a major offensive this year in the Taliban bastion of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, a senior official said Friday, calling a hard-fought ongoing operation a mere prelude. The remarks were the latest sign that President Barack Obama’s administration plans to step up the fight against the Taliban as part of its strategy of pouring thousands more troops into Afghanistan.

PS.

Kabul – The United Nations said Wednesday that 346 children were killed in Afghanistan last year, more than half of them by NATO forces, mostly in airstrikes. “In 2009, 346 children were killed,” Radhika Coomaraswamy, the special representative of the UN secretary general for children and armed conflict, said in Kabul after a seven-day visit the country. She said 131 children were killed in airstrikes, while 22 were killed in nighttime raids by international special forces. Taliban militants were responsible for the deaths of 128 children last year, with seven of the children used by militants as suicide bombers, she said. In 38 cases, it was not possible to determine who had killed the children. More than 2,400 civilians were killed last year, the deadliest for Afghan civilians since the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001, according to the UN.

Coomaraswamy said she met with NATO commander in Afghanistan US General Stanley McChrystal, who assured her that troops “will work with the UN to ensure better protection for children.” But she noted that “recent events in the past months are cause of concern.” About 50 civilians have been killed since the NATO forces began their biggest-ever operation in the southern province of Helmand nearly two weeks ago. At least 27 of the casualties were caused by a NATO airstrike, and 12 others were killed by NATO rockets. McChrystal said he has put protecting civilians at centre of his war strategy and has ordered the 113,000 international troops to limit the use of airstrikes. Attacks by Taliban on schools reached their highest level in 2009, with more than 600 incidents recorded, Coomaraswamy said.

Posted in Afghanistan, Imperialism. Tags: . Comments Off on Surging On

The Loan Sharks of War

I guess this is inflation, the Friedman unit is played out, it’s time for the McChrystal unit, c’mon just another 12-18 months-

The general overseeing the US military campaign in Afghanistan has warned that the offensive against the Taliban in southern Helmand province’s Marjah town is just the start of an operation that could last 18 months. General David Petraeus, the commander of US Central Command, said on Sunday that the months ahead will be “tough”.

Petraeus said the campaign, which started on February 13, would not stop with Marjah and nearby Nad Ali.  “This is just the initial operation of what will be a 12 to 18-month campaign as General [Stanley] McChrystal [the head of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan] and his team mapped it out,”

Moazzam Begg Responds

This latest article by Moazzam Begg is well worth reading and I do hope he does not withdraw from the wider public sphere, people such as him provide engagement as points of nexus, it is not necessary to agree with all he has to say but it is necessary to communicate, the smears against him remain unfounded and are designed to close down communication, that only benefits extremists of all kinds-

Hatred and Another Agenda: A Response by Moazzam Begg
In the Name of Allah Most Compassionate Most Merciful

I had not imagined that the poorly researched Sunday Times article last week with the suggestion that it promised to expose a tangible link between Amnesty International, the Taliban and I was actually a prelude to something far more sinister against Cageprisoners and I in the days to come.

What I’ve found most puzzling about this whole episode is the timing and what the argument claims to be about. So here I wish to point out some glaring facts that have been purposefully neglected by those leading the charge against me, including I’m afraid, Gita Sahgal, who I’d really hoped would have applied a little more wisdom before she began her crusade.

The first and only time I’ve ever met Ms. Sahgal was on a BBC Radio 4, Hecklers programme hosted by Mark Easton, in 2006. She made a presentation which alleged that the Blair government was pandering to fundamentalists in its fight against terrorism by engaging with groups like the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) – who she alleged were linked to ‘some of the most dangerous movements of our time’. Responding to her I joined a panel that included Daud Abdullah (MCB), Tariq Ramadan, Tahmina Saleem of the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB) and Nazir Ahmad of the House of Lords.

Ms Sahgal now avers that Amnesty’s relationship is damaged through association with me but, her ideas seemed a little more paradoxically amenable when I suggested that her thesis was flawed because the MCB, ISB, Mr. Ramadan and Ahmed – with all due respect – were largely regarded as sell-outs by some of the very people we needed to engage. I gave her the example of the British government’s banning the BBC from broadcasting Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams’ voice during the Irish ‘Troubles’. I said, based on this experience that the government should in fact be speaking to people like Abu Qatadah, no matter how unpalatable that sounded. Ms Sahgal responded unexpectedly by saying she had no quarrel with my analysis.

So if Gita Sahgal in fact does not oppose dialogue with ‘extremists’ then why all this fuss now? I have been harking on about engagement for years. This seems even more bizarre because only a couple of weeks ago Gordon Brown met in London with Hamid Karzai and outlined a new policy to engage with the Taliban. How ludicrous it seems therefore that I am described the very next week as ‘Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban’. Does anyone really believe this? Surely if that was the case I’d have been invited to the discussions with Messrs. Brown and Karzai about talking to the Taliban, being their ‘most famous supporter’?

If this matter was not so serious I’d be rolling over in laughter. But it is – deadly serious. Over the past few days we have received numerous death threats at Cageprisoners – and this is just the beginning. No doubt, the police will be trawling through the copious hate-mongering posts on right-wing, anti-Muslim blogs but, I doubt that will solve anything.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Afghanistan, Human Rights, Media. Tags: . Comments Off on Moazzam Begg Responds

Operation Moshtarak Propaganda

Back in Afghanistan, McClatchy’s Saeed Shah reports that only about 1200 residents have fled the Afghan city of Marjah in Nad Ali district, ahead of a major NATO/ Afghan invasion planned for later this week. The city of 80,000 is controlled by some 2000 Taliban fighters and there are many heroin labs, the profits of which help to support the Taliban.

The lucrative poppy crops grown in this region are all that is left of a 1950s & 1960s US irrigation scheme that went bad, and Marjah and environs were nicknamed “Little America.”

The refusal of locals to leave in any large numbers may be what prompted US commanders to begin telling the people of Marjah to ‘stay inside their homes’ and stay out of the way of the fighting. This message is a 180 degree reversal of the earlier message, that locals should leave.

CBS News reports embedded with the US Marines outside Marjah, to the southwest of the Helmand capital of Lashkar Gah. This report gives the impression that substantial numbers of civilians have left or are leaving, but this assertion appears not to be true.

The NATO / Kabul plan is to chase the Taliban out of Marjah, win local hearts and minds, and garrison it with Afghan army troops in the aftermath to ensure that the Taliban do not return. This plan requires that the operation not do so much damage to the city and kill so many locals that they are alienated in the long term.

This would require a good deal more care than the US led forces have taken so far, so I expect the in/em -bed reporters of corporate news will be again working overtime to portray a favourable spin to mass civilian deaths. Expect stories of tragic yet heroic soldiers killed by eveel swarthy hordes and maybe in a throwaway last line ‘and 400 Afghans killed today’. The BBC is going with- Afghan villages abandoned before Nato-led operation Hundreds of villagers living in a Taliban-controlled area of southern Afghanistan are leaving before a major Nato-led offensive gets under way. -While carefully avoiding mention of the vast majority, the thousands who are still there except in a little fact box that is entitled ‘MARJAH: ‘TALIBAN STRONGHOLD’ see how that works? So while the on the ground assault is called Operation Moshtarak, is that also the name for the media warfare operation that is clearly already being deployed?

Posted in Afghanistan, Media. Tags: . Comments Off on Operation Moshtarak Propaganda

TomDispatch- Nick Turse: America’s Shadowy Base World

Nearly a decade after the Bush administration launched its invasion of Afghanistan, TomDispatch offers the first actual count of American, NATO, and other coalition bases there, as well as facilities used by the Afghan security forces.  Such bases range from relatively small sites like Shinwar to mega-bases that resemble small American towns.  Today, according to official sources, approximately 700 bases of every size dot the Afghan countryside, and more, like the one in Shinwar, are under construction or soon will be as part of a base-building boom that began last year.

MORE

Posted in Afghanistan, War on Terror Scam. Tags: . Comments Off on TomDispatch- Nick Turse: America’s Shadowy Base World

Dogs Of War

Le Monde diplomatique, February 9, 2010, Marie-Dominique Charlier:-
Estimates of the numbers of PMC personnel in Afghanistan vary from 130,000 to 
160,000, the second-largest deployment after Iraq, which it is set to overtake in the near future. The 30,000 extra US troops bound for Afghanistan could be accompanied by up to 56,000 additional contractor personnel. PMC contractors will then account for nearly two-thirds of all the Pentagon’s personnel in Afghanistan, the highest ratio in any conflict 
in the history of the US.

The best known PMCs, Xe (Blackwater), DynCorp, MPRI (Military Professional Resources Inc) and Kellog Brown and Root, are all part of a grouping known as Private Security Companies of Afghanistan. Their involvement takes a big bite out of the funds intended for the reconstruction of the Afghan National Army (ANA).

Although they are supposed to play an auxiliary role to the coalition, and to the US army, the legal status of the PMCs is vague. But behind the “turnkey” solutions they offer lie big business interests, which influence military decisions in the field. There is a convergence of financial interests between the PMCs and big US industrial conglomerates: most PMCs have been bought up by conglomerates through mergers and acquisitions, many since 2001.

Moreover, the boom in outsourcing coincides with the need of the US military to assure their own redeployment: most of the senior management of the PMCs are former military officers, who find it easy to make the transition from the public to the private sector. Former senior officers of US armed forces working for PMCs enjoy a close relationship with the Pentagon, which gives them easy access to classified information and guarantees a degree of impunity.

A British contractor said recently that the Americans, the British and other armed forces were in Afghanistan to win the war, but for his firm, the more the security situation deteriorated the better. This is not necessarily compatible with conflict stabilisation and the “Afghanisation” of peace.

MORE

Sales Conference…

I do enjoy it when people who call the rational (albeit ruthlessly criminal) business motivations that play a part in warfare as ‘conspiracy theories’ as if all human history didn’t contain repeated evidence of the venal motivations behind various conflicts. They may not be the prime reason, or even in the top three but no aggressive war was ever engaged in without regard to the potential treasure the blood would obtain. I suppose they think that was the bad brutal unevolved past and we would never be so unenlightened now, bless ’em. And arguing over what was the prime reason (especially in the war on terror theatre where almost no one can agree what the reasons really are) is a bit of an angels dancing on the head of a pin exercise, surely we can agree that the motivations were not those of a good faith engagement with the human rights of everyone concerned and war inevitably is a generator of atrocity (again that seems to a contentious issue for those who think humanity has left its dark past behind and war will follow laws and troops really are free to refuse illegal orders). I think there are various reasons for Afghan war, an outraged Empire, the need to move a population into a war mindset with an easy victory that also meant assets could begin to be deployed for the big push on Iraq (and having a client state on another border with Iran, certainly the neocons/zionist axis are always keen on anything that does that or projects US, and therefore to their thinking Israeli, sphere of influence across the Middle East), disgust at the Taliban that in their uninformed romanticism thought the Norther Alliance were ‘good guys’ and even some actual good faith belief that even though Bush came to power in a coup this invasion would bring a better govt to Afghanistan and better human rights. Anyways, as I say there are many factors few of which however are particularly noble and when you come to the actual decision makers, I would say none. So now Karzai is trying to promote the treasure aspect, it does not mean the invasion was simply about this, but it does mean those who reject rational capital interests as playing any part should maybe pack it in, get a subscription to the Disney channel and enjoy that fictional children’s world which will not challenge their shiny worldview unduly.

RAWA:-

KABUL — Afghanistan, one of the world’s poorest countries, is sitting on mineral and petroleum reserves worth an estimated one trillion dollars, President Hamid Karzai said Sunday. The war-ravaged nation could become one of the richest in the world if helped to tap its geological deposits, Karzai told reporters. “I have very good news for Afghans,” Karzai said. “The initial figures we have obtained show that our mineral deposits are worth a thousand billion dollars — not a thousand million dollars but a thousand billion,” he said.

He based his assertion, he said, on a survey being carried out by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), due to be completed in “a couple of months”. The USGS, the US government’s scientific agency, has been working on the 17-million dollar survey for a number of years, Karzai said.

While Afghanistan is not renowned as a resource-rich country, it has a wide range of deposits, including copper, iron ore, gold and chromite, as well as natural gas, oil and precious and semi-precious stones. Little has been exploited because the country has been mired in conflict for 30 years, and is embroiled in a vicious insurgency by Islamist rebels led by the Taliban.

More than 100,000 foreign troops under US and NATO command are battling the insurgents, with another 40,000 due for deployment this year. China and India have bid for contracts to develop mines, with the Chinese winning a copper contract. An iron ore contract is due to be awarded later this year.

In 2007, China’s state-owned metals giant Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) signed a three-billion-dollar contract to develop the Aynak copper mine — one of the world’s biggest — over the next 30 years. First discovered in 1974, the site, 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Kabul in Logar, is estimated to contain 11.3 million tonnes of copper.

The Hajigak iron ore mine in Bamiyan province, north of Kabul, is currently under tender, with one Chinese and half a dozen Indian firms bidding. The contract is for exploitation of almost two billion tonnes of high-grade ore, involving processing, smelting, steel production and electricity production.

Self-Immolation Still Rising Among Afghan Women

RAWA- More Afghan women are choosing suicide to escape the violence and brutality of their daily lives, says a new human-rights report prepared by Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department. The 2008 annual assessment paints a grim picture of a country where violence against women and girls is common, despite rising public awareness among Afghans and international condemnation. “Self-immolation is being used by increasing numbers of Afghan women to escape their dire circumstances, and women constitute the majority of Afghan suicides,” said the report, completed in November 2009. The document was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

RAWA photo essay on self immolation, very disturbing images.

The director of a burn unit at a hospital in the relatively peaceful province of Herat reported that in 2008 more than 80 women tried to kill themselves by setting themselves on fire, many of them in their early 20s. Many of those women died, the report said. The frank evaluation of the plight of women was written against the backdrop of international debate last year over the Afghanistan government’s so-called rape law. The legislation, aimed at courting votes in the minority Shiite community, legalized rape within a marriage. It prompted outrage in Canada and many other countries. The move was an attempt to codify social and religious practises, but the international condemnation forced the government to review the law. It was eventually enacted with some amendments, although the basic tenets remained unchanged.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Afghanistan. Tags: , . Comments Off on Self-Immolation Still Rising Among Afghan Women

I Got My Orange Crush

But critics believe the U.S. is playing a grim waiting game: waiting for people to die in order to avoid potentially costly lawsuits. For a country currently engaged in two wars, accepting comprehensive responsibility for wartime damages could set an expensive precedent. “They know what the problem is and where it is,” says Chuck Searcy, country representative of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. “Why do they now need an environmental impact assessment? They are studying this to death.”

Since 2007, Congress has allocated a total of $6 million to help address Agent Orange issues in Vietnam. Not only does the amount not begin to scratch the surface of the problem or get rid of the tons of toxic soil around the nation, but there are questions about how the money is being spent. And several parties have noted with growing frustration that the money is primarily going to study the issue and hire consultants rather than implementing measures to prevent new generations from being exposed.

Luckily there will always be plenty of money to pay pundits to write ‘Why Do They Hate US?’ articles ad infinitum to soothe the imperial ego.

.Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja Iraqi former battle zone sees abnormal clusters of infant tumours and deformities

Ad infinitum.

Sorting the Imperialists From The Liberals

This is risible. What Moore is doing is giving Obama the benefit of the doubt and hoping (foolishly but still) he might live up to the peace prize winning rhetoric, so to attack him on grounds of pedantry belies the utter poverty of the pro-escalation policy. Just as New Labour going along with the wars of aggression this seems it will split ‘progressives’ or to be more precise it will reveal those whose beliefs had more to do with hating Republicans than actually objecting to violent US domination of earth.
It’s the imperialism stupid.