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We’re #1...in the heroin business!

US Lost in Afghanistan, But Did Manage to Make Afghanistan the World's Top Heroin Exporter

 

Afghan Brigadier General Abdul Sama was accused recently of smuggling over 40 pounds of heroin.

It should come as no surprise that an Afghan general was caught smuggling heroin, the surprise is that any high official in that country should be charged with a crime for profiting from the trade in illegal drugs while under the watchful eye of American forces.

Under American occupation, Afghanistan quickly became the world's leader in opium production, producing over 90% of the world's supply. The Taliban had almost shut down opium production prior to the US invasion in 2001 to the chagrin of international drug runners, and no doubt the international banking industry, which earns big profits laundering billions of dollars in illegal drug money annually. Illegal drugs account for about 8% of all international trade.

Few Americans are aware of the long history of the CIA's running illegal drugs internationally, thanks to the untiring efforts of the mainstream press. Were citizens aware, few would be surprised that heroin production has skyrocketed under US occupation of Afghanistan.

The tragic case of journalist Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News is a case in point, and represents perhaps the widest-known attempt at suppressing the story of CIA drug-running endeavors, with the mainstream US press shamelessly and dutifullly attacking Webb for attempting to expose the inconvenient truth.
Afghan harvests opium as US Troops ignore him (or protect him?)Afghan harvests opium as US Troops ignore him (or protect him?)

We don't do body counts

Have Millions of Deaths from America's 'War on Terror' been Concealed?

 

How many days has it been
Since I was born?
How many days
'Til I die?

Do I know any ways
I can make you laugh?
Or do I only know how
To make you cry?

― Leon Russell, Stranger in a Strange Land
 

The US invasions of Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2001 have produced holocausts in both countriesThe US invasions of Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2001 have produced holocausts in both countries
 

The mass media in the US have covered up the most important fact in America’s ongoing wars: the number of people slaughtered. Even before the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the mainstream media served as cheerleaders for the bloodshed, spreading the major lies that led us to war.

As a combat vet still shocked by what I saw almost 50 years ago in Vietnam, where we earlier slaughtered millions in another war based on lies, I decided to look into what is happening in the current wars. I discovered that as many as seven million innocents may have been slaughtered in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I say "innocents," because even most combatants American forces have killed were merely defending their homelands from invasions by foreigners (that is us). The invasion of Afghanistan was avoidable ― the Taliban had offered to give up bin Laden if the USA would show them proof that he was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
The invasion of Iraq meanwhile violated international law and was little more than genocide.

I first looked for government or mainstream media reports in researching this article, but found little help there, forcing me to conclude they are not at all interested in counting victims. Anything they've put out to date is so simplistic that it should be ignored by anyone seeking facts. They wouldn’t even report on or take seriously a 2006 report by the respected UK medical journal, the Lancet, which, based upon household surveys and other data, concluded that between the March 2003 US invasion of Iraq and the beginning of 2006, Iraq had suffered over 650,000 war-related deaths, representing an astonishing 2.5% of the country’s population.

It should go without saying that nobody has a completely accurate count of the dead. But over the years, the impact of a corporate media and National Security State have taken their toll on the truth, warping it to imply that relatively few people have died in America’s phony "War on Terrorism."

The charge of a cover-up by the mass media seems obvious, as it is unconscionable that major media, a multi-billion dollar industry, could not find the numbers if they made even a feeble attempt. It seems obvious as well that such numbers would shock the public and turn them against the wars, which probably explains the silence of the mainstream, which is in line with their avid war support and simply echoes the words of General Tommy Franks that "We don't do body counts."

Guest poet:

I feel like I should send you a poem or something

 

Something about how life or God or who ever is behind the curtain of
all things pulling all our strings,
the strings that jerk us up out of the void and into the light and
heat and cold and make us put on
our boots and start walking and talking and eating cornflakes for
breakfast and slaps us around and
dumps us in the middle of deep dark holes of despair and desperation
where monsters come out of the night
and gobble up our happiness when we aren't looking and then throws us
in the ocean of self doubt and confusion that dries up the
next minute and leaves us spread out like dead butterflies on the
specimen table of alienation...
Only to have the phone ring and someone tell us that the person we
love most in the world just died
and now we have to look at the sunrise and wonder what we ever thought
was beautiful about it and if it will
ever look beautiful again. . .
And how wonderful it is that after all that happens Life or God or
who ever it is that is behind the curtain of all things pulling
our strings now Jerks up out of the void the most incredible being
that says, "Look at me! I'm going to start it all over again.
And I'm so beautiful none of what has come before me matters a flea's
butt because I bring with me the promise that
life can be different and nobody can deny that who looks at my tiny
fingers or by big bright eyes and the way I wiggle my toes
at the cosmos because I'm alive and that's all that matters and if
there's anything
at all close to pure being it's me!”
 
 
  -- Frank Asch
 
 
This poem was offered to ThisCantBeHappening! by Frank Asch, the noted children's book author/illustrator. He lives in Hawaii. (It is copyrighted may not be reprinted without permission of the author.)

Coming next: Year-round worker protests at Walmart

Walmart Black Friday Strikes Become a Thanksgiving Holiday Tradition

 

Bellevue, WA -- Yesterday marked the third annual Black Friday protests and strikes at Walmart, the largest private employer in this country. The Walton family, controlling owners of the company, is America’s richest family, with holdings valued at almost $150 billion dollars. For decades, Walmart has remained an employer powerhouse based upon a business model of low wages, poor benefits and union busting.

Walmart officials categorically deny any efforts to squelch workers’ organizing. At the protest at Bellevue, WA, yesterday, officials are quick to argue that the small percentage of employee participation in the strikes proves that the vast majority of workers are happy. When I asked their public relations representative to comment on the counter interpretation that limited employee participation could be due to an intimidating environment that scares would-be strikers into silence, she had no comment.

And though the spin-doctors of Walmart would have you believe that these protests and strikes are simply exaggerated demonstrations from a very vocal minority, the growing number of petitions, strikes, and studies say otherwise.

Walmart’s abuses are too numerous to catalog in their entirety. The most famously egregious includes a company-backed Walmart employee food drive during Thanksgiving last year for other Walmart workers living on Food Stamps and too poor to buy food for the holiday. In 2011, a class action lawsuit was filed alleging that women are paid, on average, $5,200 less per year than their already low-paid male counterparts. In 2005, Walmart shut down a profitable store in Quebec simply because it successfully unionized. In 2012, Walmart helped sabotage a safety improvement movement in their contracted overseas sweatshops, including a building that collapsed in Bangladesh and killed over 1,000 people.

It’s not just the Walmart workers who suffer. While folks might think that they’re saving money by shopping at Walmart, a 2013 a congressional report found otherwise. Walmart’s wages are so low that many of their employees require public assistance such as food stamps. The report calculated that a single “Walmart Supercenter” cost taxpayers anywhere from $904,542 to nearly $1.75 million dollars a year in taxpayer subsidies for employees. Another study estimated that that total annual cost to tax payers nationally was a staggering $6.2 billion dollars. And the kicker? Eighteen percent of the food stamp distributions are spent at Wal-Mart stores; that means that taxpayers essentially subsidized the $16 billion dollars in profits that Walmart made last year twice—once to subsidize wages, and once to subsidize the shoppers buying company products on sale in the stores.

Walmart protesters in Bellevue, WA on Black Friday, part of a nationwide movement against the giant chain (photos by Stefan Moritz)Walmart protesters in Bellevue, WA on Black Friday, part of a nationwide movement against the giant chain (photos by Stefan Moritz)
 

Ten Acres & A Yard Tractor

Plowing Under The Great Kansas Corpone Revolution

 

North Jefferson County, Kansas -- The Sept. 6, 2014 Kansas State Fair debates in Hutchinson, with a maximum arena crowd of 2500, had satellite trucks linked to MSNBC, CNN and reporters from as far away as New York. Certainly proof something was happening in Kansas, but for too many in the state that “something” remains unknown.

The “something” is easily found, though, by shaking any distracted screen grazer, instructing them to google “Traditional Republicans for Common Sense” and informing the techno-dummies that the holiest of holy, the Republican Party of Kansas, is split. Over 100 trusted, life-long members of the “Traditional Republicans” have stood up in name and print against Brownback’s Great Cornpone Revolution.

The True Believers’ Coup

The True Believers in the New Republican Party of Kansas are a mixed-blood group, part Tea Party, part “conservative” libertarian, with a sprinkling of government conspiracy freaks and “pro-life” religious zealots, many secretly funded by the infamous “non-profit” Wichita plutocrats like the Koch brothers. 

Invoking fear of “Big Government,” the New Republicans of Kansas, reliably stark raving mad about funding bigger war industries, have kept the Great Bush/Cheney Recession going here by letting every millionaire and billionaire run loose, mostly tax-free.

The New Republican Party was long in coming; I date it to before the abortion wars of former state Attorney General Phill Kline, but the 2010 elections parovided the decisive battle. That was when the True Believers took over and started targeting their own party members for political oblivion.

 Charles Koch and the man he's backing in Kansas, incumbent Gov. Sam BrownbackFair game: Charles Koch and the man he's backing in Kansas, incumbent Gov. Sam Brownback

Labeling Latino Kids as Gangsters:

DA says Speaking Spanish in Public and Wearing Sportswear Signify Gangsterism

 

Santa Barbara, CA -- What can we learn from the medieval church about biometric identification? Quite a lot it turns out, at least according to Santa Barbara city officials.

Biometrics is the science of human identification based upon an individual’s unique characteristics, which are used to classify them for authorized activities and pursuits. This technique gathers information about the appearance and mannerisms of an individual, using markers like fingerprints, iris scans, facial recognition and gait to determine whether or not the individual will be permitted entry to restricted sites or become the target of surveillance.

Social classification is a function of institutional paradigms in any epoch. In the Middle Ages, the dominant social institution was the church and one of its greatest concerns was identifying those suspected of heresy, witchcraft or demonic possession. Church officials developed several ingenious methods for identifying such individuals. For example, they could examination the suspect’s body for telltale warts, moles, birthmarks and other signs of heresy, or even test them by throwing them into a pond to see whether they would float. Individuals who floated were deemed witches and promptly burned at the stake, while those who sank...well. Many an alleged heretic and witch met their fate at the stake for failing such church biometric standards.

Since at least the 18th century, the dominant social institution involved in such “scientific” stigmatization of individuals based on physical characteristics or behaviors has been the state, and one of its biggest concerns has been the identification of those considered to be predisposed to criminal behavior.

Nineteenth century biometric techniques included the “science” of phrenology, a method of cranial measurement that was believed to map the human head for signs of unusually concentrated brain activity as evinced by the bumps, protrusions, and other outward manifestations of potentially deviant cognitive dispositions. Though later dismissed as psuedoscience, dedicated phrenologists nevertheless played a role in the development of the idea -- still widely held -- of the innate criminality of certain groups based on the observable traits and mannerisms of their members.

Fast forward to present-day biometric discussions prompted by the national security state and its growing interest in the identification of terrorists — particularly domestic terrorists as defined by the Patriot Act. On that front, Santa Barbara’s city prosecutor Hilary Dozer last month made the case for a gang injunction in the Superior Court of Judge Colleen Stern. His goal is to combat the alleged public nuisance posed by Latino youth in this university city about 100 miles north of Los Angeles.

Latino protesters against proposed Santa Barbara, CA gang injunctionLatino protesters against proposed Santa Barbara, CA gang injunction
 

The Case of the Dead Brazilian Torturer Gets Murkier

 

They haven't killed him yet.

Paulo Malhaes, the confessed Brazilian torturer whose death I recently reported on this site may not have been murdered after all. At least that’s what police investigating the case have been loudly proclaiming for the past week.

The former Army officer who had been an active agent of repression during Brazil’s military dictatorship in the nineteen seventies was found dead in his home on April 25th. It was immediately and widely assumed that Malhaes had been assassinated by former comrades disturbed by his recent testimony before the Brazilian Truth Commission. But the police in Nova Iguacu, a commuter city on the periphery of Rio de Janeiro, are saying that Malhaes died of a heart attack while being restrained during a routine house robbery gone wrong.

Retired Colonel Paulo Malhaes testifying last month and his recent funeralRetired Colonel Paulo Malhaes testifying last month and his recent funeral
 

Based on what’s being reported in Brazil and via international wire services, however, the line of inquiry being pursued by the police is so rife with contradictory evidence and unanswered questions that the case is already showing all the earmarks of a cover up, if not a full blown conspiracy. At this point it’s still impossible to distinguish hearsay from fact, but the story goes something like this, beginning with a few scant details on the victim’s background:

While on active duty in an intelligence unit more than three decades ago, Paulo Malhaes was in command of what the Brazilian Army dubbed its House of Death located in a mountain town near Rio. It was where high profile militants involved in armed resistance were taken to be interrogated. Most never left alive, Malhaes has testified, and their bodies were partially dismembered, then dumped in a local river. “They paid a high price for playing cops and robbers with the Army,” Malhaes once gloated to reporters of the Brazilian daily, O Globo. During his testimony Malhaes said he did not repent his acts, and would do it all over again. The former colonel did refuse, however, to provide the names of those with whom he served, which may have not been enough to save him.

Malhaes had retired from the military sometime in the early eighties. He settled in the rural zone surrounding Nova Iguacu on a property next to a local police official, who, it has been revealed, also served under Malhaes in the House of Death. The police official raised horses. One article from O Globo claims that Malhaes “imposed his violent brand of law on the region” by riding the dirt roads of his neighborhood on horseback hunting for drug traffickers. When he saw them he would take out his gun and begin to shoot. It was also reported that Malhaes grew close to a local chief of organized crime involved in the numbers racket, and that he stayed in touch with some of the interrogators who had been his subordinates in the army’s torture unit.

Punishment or Witness Elimination?

Confessed Brazilian Torturer Found Murdered

 

            At approximately four o’clock this past Thursday afternoon, Paulo Malhaes, a retired officer who served in the ‘70s during the years of Brazil’s military dictatorship, was murdered at his small farm outside of Rio de Janeiro.

            Malhaes had become infamous in recent weeks, as I wrote in this space recently, for his lurid testimony before the Brazilian Truth Commission, where he described in graphic detail how the bodies of opponents of the repressive regime had been disappeared after being killed under torture.

            According to news reports, Malhaes, his wife and a house mate, in some reports described as a valet, had arrived at the farm around two p.m. and were confronted by three intruders already in their home.  The wife, Cristina Malhaes, and the house mate, later identified by police only as Rui, were restrained and led off into one room, while the former lieutenant colonel was taken to another.

            Cristina and Rui were later released unharmed as the assailants departed the scene by car.  Neither of the survivors reported having heard a sound to suggest the Malhaes had been worked over or “tortured.” But when police examined Malhaes’ body Friday morning they found marks on his face and neck, and have tentatively concluded that he died from asphyxiation.  The only items the murderers removed from the premises were a computer, a printer, and several weapons that had belonged to the victim.

            The announcement of Paulo Malhaes’ murder, reported in front pages all over Brazil, has sent shock waves through the country, including among surviving junta participants. The big question being debated is which side did him in.

Admitted Brazil junta torturer Lt. Col. Paulo Malhaes resting at the home where he was slain after testifying (left) before a TrAdmitted Brazil junta torturer Lt. Col. Paulo Malhaes resting at the home (left) where he was slain after testifying before a national Truth Commission (right) investigating the 1970s tortures and disappearances that took place under the US-backed junta
 

The Night of the Generals

When Brazilians Were Tortured and Disappeared

 
“The Face of Evil,” flashed the eye catching headline in Brazil’s major daily on a morning late this March, and the accompanying photo of Army lieutenant-colonel Paulo Malhaes, retired, could not have portrayed a more convincing ogre had it been photoshopped by central casting. Malhaes, a self-described torturer and murderer operated in the early 1970′s, the most repressive period in Brazil’s harsh era of prolonged military rule.

Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Paulo Malhaes testifying to torture in the early 1970sRetired Army Lieutenant Colonel Paulo Malhaes testifying to torture in the early 1970s

In depositions covering many hours, first recorded by the journalists of O Globo who got the scoop, and then before the Rio de Janeiro State -- and the Brazilian Federal Truth Commission -- Malhaes described in dispassionate but grisly detail how bodies of dissidents who died under torture were disposed of. “There was no DNA at the time; you’ll grant me that, right? So when one was tasked with dismantling a corpse, you had to ask which are the body-parts that will help identify who the person was. Teeth and the fingers alone. We pulled the teeth and cut off the fingers. The hands, no. And that’s how we made the bodies unidentifiable.” After which, the mutilated dead were dumped at sea, having first been eviscerated to prevent them from floating to the surface.

In marking the recently passed 50th anniversary of Brazil’s April 1, 1964 military coup that deposed popularly elected President Joao Goulart, Brazilians have been offered a kaleidoscope of opportunities to revisit and discuss that troubling past, and, for some, to overlay the impact of the dictatorship years on a society restored to democracy for over a generation, but in which the deepest structural problems remain unchanged. Many axes were being ground on these topics in the rich offering of articles and opinion pieces in the daily press as the coup’s anniversary day approached. Very few, of course, sought to defend the dictatorship, which, nonetheless, appears to have been the sole motivation behind Paulo Malhaes’ sudden impulse to seek repeat performances for his macabre confessions on the public stage, an agenda cruelly underscored by his brazen refusal to express remorse or reveal the names of his commanders.

In one bizarre aside, Malhaes confided a disassociated feeling of “solidarity” for the family of Rubens Paiva, a federal deputy allied with Goulart’s party whose murder and disappearance in 1971 Malhaes himself apparently had a hand in. It was “sad,” the colonel said, that Paiva’s family had to wait 38 years to learn the specifics of his fate, already made public from other sources. Malhaes quickly insisted that his comment not be interpreted as “sentimentality.” He hadn’t questioned his mission back then, and he still didn’t. “There was no other solution. They [my superiors] provided me with a solution,” written broadly enough for Malhaes to justify his butchery.

Common Sense on Cannabis

Legalizing Medical Marijuana Long Overdue in Pennsylvania

 

A big reason why Philadelphia State Representative Mark Cohen keeps pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania is reality: many people need the substance for treatment of their illnesses and other states have already approved medical use of marijuana.

“Right now, marijuana is readily available to the vast majority of Pennsylvanians, but it’s illegal. This bill sets up a statutory framework which legalizes the use of marijuana for medical purposes,” Cohen said about his legislation (House Bill 1181) introduced on April 15, 2013 that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in the state.

Medical marijuana is already legal in 20 states including two states adjacent to Pennsylvania: New Jersey and Delaware. Maryland, another adjacent state – recently approved medical marijuana legislation and similar approval is pending New York state, located north of Pennsylvania.

California, in 1996, became the first state to approve the medical use of the substance that was once one of the most widely prescribed medications in the United States until the early decades of the 20th Century. Illinois and New Hampshire legalized medical marijuana in 2013. Medical marijuana is also legal in America’s capital, the District of Columbia, with one dispensary for medical marijuana located blocks from Capitol Hill.
Pot can be inhaled or ingested.Pot can be inhaled or ingested.
 

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Fightin' Cock FlyerFightin' Cock Flyer

Listen as Chuck, John, Dave and Linn Join Prairie Radical Mike Caddell of the Fightin' Cock Flyer on Radio Free Kansas

Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

Also, listen to Dave Lindorff on Chris Cook's Gorilla Radio on CFEV Radio in Victoria, Canada.

Donate $50 to ThisCantBeHappening.net and get a free signed copy, postage paid, of Dave's classic tome The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin's Press, 2006). Just click on the cover image to go to the Paypal payment page, make your payment, and send a note to Dave calling his attention to the payment, and giving your mail address and the name you want the inscription addressed to.

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