While objective, ethical, non-tabloidy CNN blasts Kellyanne and Ivanka clickbait at us nonstop here’s some real news we might have missed this week. Afghanistan’s US commander Gen. John Nicholson has asked the Senate for about 30,000 additional troops. We’re 15 years into this so-called war — and this is only one of our wars in that region — and it’s going backwards while countless Muslim civilians suffer and die for no apparent reason.
Not only that, Nicholson also says the Russians are now secretly backing the Taliban there. Yikes. Now why, why, would Russia back the Taliban? Think this through with me. First, as always with government, we follow the money. The Russians aren’t Islamic fundamentalists so why support the Taliban?
It’s the heroin, y’all. Read it and weep. This is why the CIA keeps supporting the Taliban even as our military tries to defeat them. Out of the billions (with a B) we’ve spent fighting in Afghanistan a whopping $8 billion of that has gone directly to stopping opium production but instead, somehow, production has skyrocketed to the point that today a whopping 90% of the world’s illegal opium originates there (UN figure).
In short, we have turned Afghanistan into a narco state by accident or design. This is a fact, not a conspiracy theory. The conspiracy theory would be that this is no accident and we did it on purpose, but that’s another conversation. Oh heck, let’s have it now.
The heroin trade has been aided and abetted at the top levels of our government. ‘Almost everywhere in the world I worked, I had static with the CIA,” says ex DEA agent Edward Follis in his memoir The Dark Art: My Undercover Life in Global Narco-Terrorism. “We’re often working the same terrain, but with different legal and moral parameters … They exist completely in the shadows.” And let us not forget the CIA’s history of profiting from the opium trade using Air America.
So, who is profiting from selling all this Afghan opium? The Taliban who control the fields, the farmers and the crops. Also anyone who works with the Taliban must surely get a hefty return on their investment. This is CIA v. SVR in a drug lord smackdown with billions of dollars of profits at stake on the world market. It’s worse than laughable, it’s diabolical. I say let the Russians have the freaking heroin but no one’s gonna walk away from that much dough, so here we are.
A Shaheb’s Guide to India
I realize there are numerous examples of horrific cruelty in our history — the Middle Passage and Concentration Camps always come to mind first and foremost — but here’s one more. We might want to call such crimes unspeakable but they need to be spoken.
Look up Reginald Edward Harry Dyer for the full scoop. The thousands of citizens, including entire families, who gathered were attempting a Gandhian peaceful protest and also during a religious festival when the city of Amritsar was packed. This is just down the hill from the Sikhs’ Golden Temple.
The protest was on rented private property in a back alley courtyard. Dyer had stupidly issued a Jim Crow-like order barring Indians from congregating in groups of 6 or more (in their own country) and decided to make an example of this particular group that included children. British sources gave a figure of 379 killed with 1,100 wounded. The Indian National Congress counted more than 1000 dead and 1500 injured.
Churchill later called it a “monstrous” and UnBritish act. Dyer was also all about half-naked public floggings of private citizens and his soldiers fond of stopping pedestrians and making them slither down the street like worms at gunpoint. The British parliament viewed Dyer as a hero. By the way, it’s reenacted in the movie Gandhi as one of the watershed moments leading up to the widespread popularity of the independence movement.
“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?” But, conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”
– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Does anyone remember Hollywood actress Jean Seberg? She made the mistake of supporting the Black Panthers and going against the FBI. Here’s what they did to her, straight from the NY Times, 1979. The lie caused her to miscarry and commit suicide.
“WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 — The Federal Bureau of Investigation acknowledged today that its agents plotted in 1970 to besmirch the reputation of Jean Seberg, the actress who committed suicide last week, by planting a rumor with news organizations that she was pregnant by high‐ranking member of the Black Panther Party.
The action against Miss Seberg, part of the F.B.I.’s counterintelligence program COINTELPRO, was intended to discredit her support of the black nationalist movement.
According to a document dated April 27, 1970, the Los Angeles office of the F.B.I. requested permission from J. Edgar Hoover, then Director of the bureau, to publicize Miss Seberg’s pregnancy, saying it was “felt the possible publication of Seberg’s plight could cause her embarrassment and serve to cheapen her image with the general public.”
Former Husband Assails Bureau
Romain Gary, the prominent French author and diplomat who was Miss Seberg’s husband in 1970, said at a news conference in Paris last week that the baby was his and that the F.B.I. had destroyed the actress’s life. (continue reading…)
A Shaheb’s Guide to India
Great story here about how I finally scored a hookah with my name on it after multiple letdowns in Kolkata, Varanasi and Lucknow. The short version – these guys in Delhi at Sharma Handicrafts were the bomb and we made a good deal on my last day thanks largely to shrewdness and translation help from my cousin.
I’ll have to post a photo of this 42″ stunning work of art, black with polished brass inlays in the Moradabad (ancient Muslim city) style. The owner stuck by his product, bargained fairly and gave me his card and said if there were any problems to come back and see him.
As soon as I left with hookah in hand and turned to take a pic of the shop he came out and posed without waiting to be asked. Then his two assistants trailed out one by one and struck poses on either side of him (they must have been a rock band in a previous career given how they naturally fell in line as though posing for an album cover).
I promised them I’d give the shop a plug online so here it is. If you’re ever in Delhi and looking for a brass shop, head to Sharma Handicrafts, Janpath Market, Stall 6. Tell them the saheb who bought the big black hookah sent you.
If anything comes from this new round of media attention about racial incidents I hope it’s a fostering of dialogue among teachers, parents and kids about the wrongness of racism and bullying.
I am, though, troubled by the major media’s using racist attacks as click bait and making it appear that racism suddenly started happening in the past two days or that there’s been an “uptick” (stats proving that, please).
I’m concerned about well-meaning white people posting such news stories online with ominous comments like “it’s starting” and “so it begins” which is laughable to any person of color I know. Talk about speaking from a position of privilege! For many, and I include those closest to me, racial slurs, attacks and graffiti have been a fact from childhood on, so no, it isn’t starting, it’s ever present.
Even now, I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that in my daily travels through NYC and Philly I regularly encounter racist graffiti that far predates Trump. Has anyone counted the swastikas and tested for the age of the spray paint and determined that there really are more of these per capita in the past two days? This is an absurd proposition, yes?
If we go back to 2015 and before, we can easily find a slew of local news accounts and youtube stories about these same kinds of incidents, and since when is racist graffiti in a middle school worthy of national news coverage? My god, when I think back to my middle school, probably yours too, a small group of rabble-rousing minors chanting a cruel slur was a typical day for some students (and teachers) of color. Swastikas, the n-word, and every other slur you can think of, carved into desks and scrawled on bathroom walls was sadly the norm.
Were these childish acts Reagan and Bush’s faults? I never saw any news trucks outside my school to cover it. This doesn’t mean it’s acceptable and that it should be disregarded; again, I hope this week’s media spotlight fosters dialogue and teaching opportunities.
My fear is that what’s happening is that profit-driven major media news editors are finding it of interest to cull every local story they can find about racists acting out (mostly minors but I realize not entirely) and cobble them into a sensational front page news story. (continue reading…)
Mitt Romney video leaked in September 2012: “All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.”
Hillary Clinton video leaked in September 2016: “There’s just a deep desire to believe that we can have free college, free healthcare, that what we’ve done hasn’t gone far enough, and that we just need to, you know, go as far as, you know, Scandinavia, whatever that means, and half the people don’t know what that means, but it’s something that they deeply feel. Some are new to politics completely. They’re children of the Great Recession. And they are living in their parents’ basement. They feel they got their education and the jobs that are available to them are not at all what they envisioned for themselves. And they don’t see much of a future. If you’re feeling like you’re consigned to, you know, being a barista, or you know, some other job that doesn’t pay a lot, and doesn’t have some other ladder of opportunity attached to it, then the idea that maybe, just maybe, you could be part of a political revolution is pretty appealing.
And the last thing either major party wants is a political revolution.
One thing is clear. Both Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton really can’t stand Barack Obama.
[photos via biography.com]
How a Bogle, St. Mary and their Mysterious Human Operative Saved the Day
Yesterday morning I hop off the train from Philly at NY Penn and head toward the A train to zoom down to NYU to teach when I realize my wallet is gone. Had I been pickpocketed or had it fallen out in my train seat? Argh! I make a mad dash back but then realize in the packed rush hour station that I have absolutely no clue which of the 21 tracks we’ve just come up from onto the main floor. Who pays attention to what track number they came in on? Besides, all of the escalators leading down to the platforms are still set to “up” so I have no immediate way down to any newly arrived train.
I run and find a uniformed employee hanging around a back corridor who tells me I have to check with customer service, on the far end of the building, naturally, and that they can tell me exactly which track my train had come in on. By that time my train and my wallet would be long gone anyway but I have no choice.
So I sprint through a million wrong turns and find the customer service office. They’re helpful but can only tell me they’re “pretty sure” my train would have arrived on track 1. I run down to track 1 and a train (my train?) is still sitting there but — Murphy’s Law — it’s locked. Coincidentally a motorman comes along at that time and unlocks the train. I hop on, explain my situation and he tells me to have a blast and look all I want because the train isn’t leaving anytime soon. I walk through the entire train to be safe, looking in the seats, under the seats, in the aisles, nothing. I have to face the fact that my wallet is gone. (continue reading…)
My second dive, the final training dive after the written PADI international certification courses and two sessions of pool training offered by the Scuba Quatic watersports shop, occurred 12 meters down and was near the wreck of the Astron but it was just the trainer and myself with no photographer (sadly no pix). I am now continuing to dive with PADI-certified groups in the States. I’m not gonna lie to you, I am psyched to have discovered this exciting new hobby.