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Archive for Afghanistan

Detroit vs Egypt/Afghanistan: Where is the Outrage?

If you’ve been following me for a while – you know I’m a news junkie…

So when I heard this story on the CBS Evening news, my ears perked up!

tank

M1A1

It concerns the Abrams M1A1 tank – made in America – and the centerpiece of U.S. aid to Egypt.

We give Egypt a billion dollars in aid per year…

ONE BILLION…

But if you try to give Detroit IN AMERICA a few hundred million dollars, Republicans will cry blue murder! So Detroit and American citizens living there are stagnating.

You will hear about mismanagement in Detroit…and waste etc. blah blah…

But do you hear about mismanagement in Afghanistan detailed in a report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The report was sent to Defense Secretary Charles Hagel, (April 2013).

 MY CHART

AFGHANISTAN

DETROIT

Source

CIA/UN

Online Article

 

Assistance

100 Billion From US Taxpayers So Far…

?

Debt/Unfunded Liabilities

$1.28 Billion.

$20 Billion. Owes More Than 100, 000 Creditors

GDP per capita

$33 Billion

Highest Per-Capita Income  In USA, 1960

Jobs

 Due To Infrastructure Projects – Roads, Bridges, Irrigation Facilities, Retaining Walls, Micro Hydro Plants, Nearly 483,000 People (Skilled, Unskilled) Have Gained Jobs/ Improved Economic Conditions

296, 000 In 1950; Today  27, 000. Between 2000-2010, 48-% Of Jobs Lost

Houses

Detroit Houses Cost $500 Or Less

Abandoned Homes

78,000

Building Density

1/3 Vacant Or Derelict

Literacy

28% (Age 15+)

48% Illiterate

Unemployment

35% (2008)

Less Than Half Employed Over 16

Poverty

36% Afghans

60-Percent Of Kids

Population

31 Million (2010). 3% Projected Growth 2010-2015

4th Largest US City. Population Fell By 63-% In Past 60 Yrs

Revenue

Opium (Used To Make Heroin) – World’s Largest Producer. Funds Taliban

Casinos 11-Million A Month

Hazardous Waste Sites

70 Sites In Detroit

Street Lights

40% Don’t Work

Ambulances 

1/3 Running. (Some Have Logged More Than 250, 000 Miles)

Parks

2/3 rds Closed

Police

Grew From 50,000 -120,000 since 2002

Detroit Police Cut By 405

Respond Time For Police Call

About An Hour (58 Minutes)

Police Stations

Closed To Public 16 Hours A Day

Violent Crime

5 X  Higher Than National Average

Murder Rate

11 X  Higher Than National Average

Crime Solving

Less Than 10%

Warning:

State Dept: Visit Afghanistan At Your Own Risk

Detroit Police: Enter Detroit At Your Own Risk

US CITIZENS

NO YES!

According to SIGAR’s 2-year bipartisan report, Contracting with the Enemy:

  • More than 80 percent of taxpayer-funded Defense Department contracts were vulnerable to direct funding of terrorists, including the Taliban.
  • $5 million was paid to contractors affiliated with the Taliban. (Afghanistan’s GDP per capita: $1,000 in 2011).

SIGAR’s July 2013 report says: The Defense Department is moving forward with a $771.8 million purchase of aircraft the Afghan National Army cannot operate or maintain. Anything Detroit needs?

A 2012 Associated Press report found that the Taliban could be using U.S. tax dollars to kill American soldiers. The U.S. military estimates that up to $360 million ended up in the hands of Taliban and criminal elements in Afghanistan over the past decade.

billion

ONE billion dollars. Afghanistan got 100 of these!

SIGAR says when security for aid workers is figured in, the total amount of nonmilitary funds Washington has appropriated since 2002 “is approximately $100 billion”—more than the US has ever spent to rebuild a country. That estimate came out in July. Since then, Congress has appropriated another $16.5 billion for “reconstruction.”

Meantime, those new schools America is building for Afghan kids: The UN says The Taliban have attacked, bombed, or blown up hundreds of them—more than one hundred just last year. Do I hear Republicans at the Capitol squabbling over NO Child/Every Child Left Behind, Headstart and school choice vouchers?

school

Taliban militants blew up this school in Afghanistan’s northwestern Faryab province, Qaisar district.2011

 Did you even KNOW about this SIGAR report? Outrage? NONE! You heard anything?

Healthcare for Americans…too expensive!!! If you want the US government to pay for your healthcare, go to Afghanistan…’cause Republicans are not going to care about wasted money…OVER THERE!!!

Back to Egypt, where the billion dollars in aid Congress approves for that country does not go directly to Cairo. According to CBS news, it goes to places like Archbald, PA.

131 people working at The General Dynamics factory there are earning VERY GOOD wages…on your dime! The factory makes parts for the Abrams tank…and workers are filling an order for 125 tank kits for the Egyptian Army…so it can shoot at more of it’s people, hopefully without the tank!

GDtank

The mayor says those jobs are “extremely important” to the community…and describes them as: “some of the best jobs we have in the community…the kinds of jobs that sustain communities and families.”

Hooah!

According to CBS news, there are 44 companies in Pennsylvania alone involved in making the tank. Other factories in Ohio and Michigan are helping out.

The lone voice in the wilderness…(no, NOT in Egypt’s Sinai Desert, but in the Outrage wilderness) is NOT Paul Ryan or fiscal king of Fiscality, Rand Paul.

Springborg

Robert Springborg

Robert Springborg calls the M1A1 Tank a weapon for show, not a weapon that the Egyptian military under any conceivable scenario is going to use in the immediate, near or even the distant future.”

Show or real – that tank is keeping Americans in Ohio and Pennsylvania living middle class lifestyles…and if you tell this bastion of Republicanism (Ohio 12 Republicans-4 Democrats in the House. PA 13 Republicans-5 Democrats)  that we need to cut waste, they reply:

“It impacts every community.”

They want the government to cut waste, cut spending everywhere else but in their back yard. Keep those fantasy, middle class lifestyle providing jobs that are subsidized by taxpayers – but cut food stamps for the poor, because tax payers should NOT, in fact CANNOT – continue to carry this burden!

A Senate panel voted May 2012 to authorize $631.4 billion in defense spending for the 2013 fiscal year…

CBS says they tried to speak with plant workers and General Dynamics but got nowhere…

This from Wiki:

The U.S. Army is planning to close the Lima Army Tank Plant from 2013 to 2016 in an effort to save over $1 billion; it would be reopened in 2017 to upgrade existing tanks. General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS), which operates the factory, opposed the closure, arguing that suspension of operations would increase long-term costs and reduce flexibility.

Specifically, GDLS estimates that closing the plant would cost $380 million and restarting production would cost $1.3 billion. If passed, a bill in the U.S. Senate from the first session of the 112th Congress would allocate $272 million in funds toward the plant to allow it to continue regular operations through 2013.

See what happens…to the plant, to Detroit, to programs for the poor when Congress returns from its recess in September and Tea Party Republicans TRY (are they still planning this)? to close the government over waste!!!

Pentagon’s 143-million-dollar White Elephants.

SOURCE: ABC News

Did you catch that story about those Air Force Fighter Jets, the Stealth F-22 Raptors, that pilots are afraid to fly…?

The F-22 Raptor is America’s most expensive fighter jet!

F-22 Raptors. Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii (2007)

Yet, at 143-million-dollars each, those advanced Lockheed engineering marvels are sitting idly…because pilots (Air Force says some pilots) are too worried to get in and FLY them. Pilots are asking NOT to fly the next-generation fighters or to be reassigned…

Seems these planes have a “mysterious oxygen system problem” the Air Force hasn’t been able to solve despite years of investigation.

According to the ABC News report: “For years the F-22 has been plagued with an extremely rare, but potentially deadly problem in which its pilots experience what the Air Force describes as “hypoxia-like symptoms” in mid-air. Hypoxia is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain and can be characterized by dizziness, confusion, poor judgment and, eventually, loss of consciousness”.

One F-22 pilot apparently became so disoriented that his plane dropped down and skimmed treetops before the pilot was able to recover and head back to base.
F-22 instructor pilot Jeff Haney died in an Alaska crash in 2010 after a critical malfunction cut off his oxygen completely in mid-air. The Air Force denies any relation to hypoxia but says it does not know what originally caused that malfunction.

In 2011 the Air Force grounded the entire fleet of F-22s…more than 180 planes…for nearly five months.

The planes cost about 79-billion-dollars! That’s $79, 000,000,000.00. (one billion = one thousand million.)

That’s what ONE (1) Billion Dollars…looks like! The Air Force’s Stealth F-22 Raptors cost 79 billion!

  • In April 2011, when the government nearly Shut Down over budget negotiations, House Republicans, led by John Boehner, were determined to fully fund the Pentagon while negotiators were fighting over how deep to cut domestic programs and government agencies. Boehner also vowed to pass the measure despite strong opposition from President Obama and Democrats. 
  • Republican Paul Ryan’s Budget, supported by Boehner, cuts all domestic discretionary spending programs other than defense nearly in half.
  • The Pentagon’s budget is about 530 BILLION dollars.

Contractor Lockheed Martin was awarded a defense contract of nearly 25-million for various F-22 related projects – including helping find the cause of the oxygen issue. John Boehner must have been asleep when THAT one slipped by!

A Lockheed Martin building. Bethesda, Maryland

In other words, The Pentagon is paying the manufacturer to find the problem. I guess the Air Force designed the Raptor then gave it to Lockheed Martin who then followed those instructions to a T? 

Imagine buying an I-Pod, discovering it doesn’t work – then having to PAY Apple so Apple can find out why it’s product does not work!

Republicans have NO compunction to cut Food Stamps, Health Care, Medicaid, Medicare, Subsidized Housing, Insurance for Children (CHIP) and Unemployment Benefits. Yet they support and DEFEND building these $143 million-dollar white elephants and THEN tell YOU, Americans, that paying for health care for YOU is TOO expensive?

You know…or should know…that Republicans absolutely refuse, RE-FUSE! to put the military budget on the chopping block.

Pentagon

• Nobody is telling Republicans to STOP the Pentagon from developing new or more sophisticated weapons.

• Nobody is suggesting that the Pentagon shuts down and merges with Homeland Security! 

• NOBODY (I hope) wants the military go without. But everybody in America knows …or SHOULD know…that the Pentagon is a bottomless pool of waste and mismanagement.

Well, everybody except Republicans.

600-dollar toilet seats? Nearly one-and-a-half MILLION travel credit cards – more than 200-thousand purchase cards? I suspect cleaners at the Pentagon probably have credit cards too…so they can buy 400-dollar mops!

So, let Republicans explain HOW it comes to pass that: America’s most advanced and expensive fighter jets are sitting idle because pilots refuse to fly them. Not ONE of the $143 million-dollar planes has ever been used in combat.

Not ONE of these super-sophisticated fighter jets saw combat in Iraq OR Afghanistan…or even the no-fly zone over Libya last year.

The Pentagon originally ordered hundreds more of the planes from Lockheed Martin,

Fighter pilot Jeff Haney. Died in F-22 crash in Alaska (2010)

But in 2009 critics of the program pressured Congress to cancel more funding for the F-22s.

The Air Force has glowingly described the F-22 as the future of American air dominance. But critics (including John McCain and President Obama) call the F-22 Raptor a waste of money in today’s combat environment and a danger to its own pilots.


Sections in whole or in part from: ABC News/Nightline

Photos: Google

Afghanistan Conundrum

The Soviets invaded and occupied Afghanistan but it was such a headache – they packed up and left. Well they didn’t pack up that much – they just left!

The Soviets started moving into Afghanistan December 24, 1979. The last Soviet troops started withdrawing in 1988 and by February 1989, they were all gone.

The U.S was best friends with the “resistance” then – the Mujahideen. The CIA armed/supplied and trained the Mujahideen to the tune of 600 million dollars per year. (Multiply that by 10 and tell me again why we can’t fund Health Care for Americans?).

Is yesterday’s Mujahideen today’s Taliban?

Over a million Afghans were killed in that war. Millions were displaced within their own country and millions more sought refuge in neighboring countries like Pakistan and Iran…

Millions more were maimed or wounded and according to Wikipedia: In the 1980s, one out of two refugees in the world was an Afghan.

Today, when we talk about the Afghan War, we’re not talking about the Soviet’s Viet Nam – we’re talking about our current quagmire.

In October 2001, a U.S. led invasion ousted Afghanistan’s Taliban government. The al-Qaeda terrorists responsible for the September Eleven terror attacks were Taliban protégés.

But instead of focusing on Afghanistan, President George W. Bush invaded Iraq.

That wild goose chase was a mistake, a distraction, a dead end, a regional destabilizer and anti-American incubator.

Now President Obama’s top Afghanistan commander is asking for as many as 40-thousand more soldiers. Congressional Republicans are also pushing for more troops. No surprise there – these people would send troops to fight Polar Bears in Iceland!

But there is division among the ranks. The Pentagon’s top three military commanders overseeing the war want to accept McChrystal’s recommendations. Others, like Vice President Joe Biden, want the U.S focus on counterterrorism. That would involve using unmanned drones and Special Forces to target top Taliban and al-Qaida leaders…without involving more troops.

So which can we afford or are willing to pay for? More troops and more war – or Health Care?

It would have been easier to decide if things were quiet. But a fierce Taliban attack over the October 4 weekend killed eight U.S. soldiers – and added to the pressure.

So what can America do? What can President Obama do?

There are at least three things that He/America CAN do.

1. He/we can pack up and leave.

Either tell the Afghans to heck with you…

I’ve had enough of your corruption, your flawed elections, your infighting and your traditions that don’t make sense to me. In short, I’ve had enough of you.

Or:

Thank you very much. But I don’t want any more dead soldiers. I don’t think Afghanistan will ever be “safe” and “secure” and “democratic” – whatever that means.

I/We tried. We really, really wanted to help. But this war is too expensive and we, regrettably, have to leave now.

To which the Afghans will say: You’re screwing us (would they say screwing? maybe not) deserting us again.

And we say: Sorry!

Or:

A combination of the above where we say: To heck with you. We tried and we
got nowhere.

2. He/We can say: I AM sending more troops. I am NOT leaving until I am sure that the elements of the Taliban I’m after are completely routed from Afghanistan AND Pakistan! Not only will I send more troops, if you kill those troops, I will keep on sending troops until that corner of The Axis of Evil is no longer evil!

Or:

He/We can keep the status quo – no new troops and limp along.

I’m just happy I’m not making that decision, but if I was, I’d pack up, call the Soviets, ask them the easiest way out of Afghanistan, then get the hell out! Fast!

Leaving would be sad. We’ve poured billions of dollars into that war and have little, if anything, to show for it. Yet we can’t afford health Care Reform.

America – are you listening – and deciding? Or are you too busy returning to your old shopping ways to bother about trivial things like the Afghan war or Health Care Reform? No demonstrations, no phone calls to representatives, no town-hall style denunciations – Nada?

According to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs:
I don’t think we have the option to leave. That’s quite clear.” Sometimes I wonder about Gibbs! You don’t have the option to leave? Why? We started off with it, I hope? So where did that option go?

When President Obama installed Stanley McChrystal as commander in Afghanistan earlier this year, Obama asked the general to assess the war. McChrystal told the President that if America did not significantly increase its troop strength in Afghanistan, the U.S. would NOT be able to gain the upper hand over the Taliban and Al-Qaida.

Supposing he’s right and we rout out current Taliban elements, what are the guarantees that future elements will not appear?

White House officials say the President is likely to take weeks before making a decision.

So here we are, back at Square One. President Obama could of course take the middle road and say: I don’t support sending more troops, but since the general is there on the ground and HE wants more troops, I’m going to send some more. If things don’t turn around by a set date, I’m pulling the plug.

Let us remember, though, that bombs are not necessarily the way to go, these days. The new century calls for a new kind of war. Schnitzel has become more potent than shrapnel. Détente is more embraced than detonations.

…..Meantime, A new poll finds 42-percent of Americans now think we made “a mistake” in sending military forces to Afghanistan”.

A similar poll in January 2002 found only 6-percent of Americans thought the Afghan war was “a mistake.

Michael Capuano

As a relatively recent Massachusetts resident, I know about Mike Dukakis. I have heard about Mayor Kevin White. I could have recognized Ted Kennedy anywhere.

John Kerry, Mitt Romney, Deval Patrick are household names. I’ve seen Martha Coakley so much on TV; I’d probably know her anywhere.

How can I not know about Barney Frank or the intrepid Steven Lynch.

(Lynch, in my opinion and in the eyes of many others) embarrassed himself before America by chastising Edward Liddy, the new CEO of A.I.G, American International Group. AIG and its convoluted deal-making was the catalyst behind the financial meltdown.

Mr. Libby left retirement because the government asked him to come and help unravel the AIG mess and help clean house…a job Libby decided to do for a dollar-a-year!

But at a Congressional Hearing, our representative, Mr. Lynch, decided to live up to his name and lynch Libby for paying out huge bonuses after AIG’s bailout.

Libby, who was just one cog on a bigger wheel of blame, took offense at Mr. Lynch’s statement. To which our congressman replied, with a mixture of pomp, sarcasm and Shakespearean drama: “Well, offense was intended…so you take it rightfully, sir.” At least he was polite!

Yes, I know about Mr. Lynch. He made his mark with this one!

I even know about Sheriff Andrea Cabral, the die-hard Hillary Clinton supporter and of course Mayor Menino and challengers Michael Flaherty, Sam Yoon and even Kevin McCrea. But who is Mike Capuano?

He’s running for Ted Kennedy’s vacant seat, but I had to Google him. I don’t know whom it says more about – Capuano, or me?!

According to his website, Michael Everett Capuano is serving his sixth term as a Representative in Congress for Massachusetts’ Eighth District, which includes Cambridge, Chelsea, Somerville and approximately 70-percent of Boston.

Boston? Really? Where have I been?

Mr. Capuano is a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the House Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on House Administration. He is chair of the Subcommittee on Capitol Security.

In November of 2006, Capuano was appointed to head the Transition by then Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi as Democrats prepared for a majority role in the 110th Congress. In January of 2007, Speaker Pelosi appointed Capuano to chair the Special Task Force on Ethics Enforcement.

The current congressman was Mayor (1990-1998) of Boston’s neighboring city of Somerville, MA and holds a law degree from Boston College Law School.

I have heard the name Capuano before in connection with politics. But I knew nothing about him. And for somebody who’s serving his sixth term in congress, I find that odd.

But now, I shall not forget congressman Capuano. Just like Congressman Stephen Lynch, he burned his id on me (Can that happen?) on Sunday (October 4, 2009).

Boston’s local ABC affiliate, WCVB, started a new Sunday morning show called: “On The Record”. It’s a bit like “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” meets the Jim Braude Show (NECN).

According to WCVB, the weekly show (hosts Ed Harding and political reporter Janet Wu) aims to ask some of the tough questions of politicians in the Bay State, getting candidates to speak about the issues On The Record.

Sunday’s guest was U.S. Representative Michael Capuano…and boy, did he go On My Record.

Mr. Capuano is running for senate on the premise that HE can best carry on Ted Kennedy’s legacy.

In the question segment Harding suggested that since Capuano wants to be the Senator from Massachusetts, should he win, these questions on current events are likely to cross his desk at some point.

1. Who is the PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN?

Mr. Capuano didn’t know
.

Answer: Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani (56)

(Not that I know either. But I’m not running for the senate and so I can Google the answer.)

2. Next question: Since 2001, what’s the cost of the Afghanistan war?

Mr. Capuano didn’t know. Harding said: 227.9 million. Capuano said he’d have guessed lower; about 180 million. Harding said, not million, Billion – with a B! I can’t figure out if Harding made an honest mistake!

3. Question number 3: What is HR3200?

Capuano didn’t know. Even I know that one. Hello? Angry town hall meetings? Public Option? It’s The Health Care Bill.

4. Question number four (multiple choice): How many kids/teens in the U.S. are obese: 1 in 3, one in 30, one in 300, one in 3-thousand?. Capuano got it.

Yes!

I don’t know what else they talked about – I tuned out after that.

Really congressman Capuano..? What if Harding had asked you about the viability of Ireland’s Technology Industry and whether it was siphoning jobs away from Massachusetts?

Oh well, what can I say?

Clearly, Mike Capuano is NO Ted Kennedy!

Planned Parenthood, Palin and Sancho Panza!

Planned Parenthood is benefitting from John McCain’s choice of running mate. Pro-choicers are reportedly so outraged over Sarah Palin’s anti-abortion views, (she supports abortion only if the mother’s life is in danger: would not allow her daughter to have an abortion, even if she was raped) about 50-thousand people have contributed more than a million-dollars to Planned Parenthood, in Sarah Palin’s name! The majority are first-time givers.

If donors choose, Planned Parenthood will send a thank you post card to the McCain campaign, for every donation they get. Oops! (I don’t support abortion, but I do support a woman’s right to choose, even if she ends up making what I think may be the wrong decision!)

• I watched footage of a McCain campaign stop where angry supporters demanded to know why he wasn’t clobbering Obama over the head with past associations. They didn’t seem interested in McCain’s solutions to deal with health insurance; the current state of the economy; a tanking housing and stock market and tepid support from allies to achieve U.S. foreign policy goals.

Their focus was not on how to end the Iraq war that’s draining the already drained economy or the apparently unwinnable Afghanistan morass. (According to the British commander in Afghanistan, that war cannot be won. He says America should negotiate a settlement with the Taliban. Something the Afghan government led by President Hamid Karzai is already reportedly doing!?).

Nope, those McCain supporters seemed more concerned with “swift-boating” Obama.

One man grabbed the mike and professed: “I’m mad, and I’m really mad… It’s not the economy. It’s the socialist taking over our country…When you have an Obama, Pelosi*, and the rest of the hooligans up there gonna run this country, we’ve got to have our head examined…we are mad.” (*House speaker, democrat Nancy Pelosi.)

Hooligans..? Running the U-S government? Hello angry peoples! You know you’re pissed off at George Bush for wrecking your party; and at yourself for picking John McCain as your nominee; and at McCain for picking Sarah Palin as his running mate; and at Palin for not being able to zealously embrace republican family values like morality, abstinence and chastity, among others. Come on, now!

• Leading columnist George Will (Washington Post) is one conservative who’s calling a spade a spade…or a Sancho Panza! Will knows whom he’s not happy with — the McCain/Palin ticket! He says “It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?

Will refers to Palin as McCain’s female “Sancho Panza.” (Sancho Panza is a character in Spanish author Cervantes’ novel “Don Quixote.” Panza is illiterate and proud of it.) According to George Will, given the economic crisis that America is now going through, “the McCain-Palin campaign’s attempt to get Americans to focus on Obama’s Chicago associations seem surreal – or, as a British politician once said about criticism he was receiving, ‘like being savaged by a dead sheep’…”. OUCH!

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