Archive | April 2011

Syria’s crackdown on protesters leaves hundreds dead

While the storyline in the Middle East is still developing the plot centers around the sustainment of government protests by oppressed citizens that has captured the world’s attention.

In recent years it has been the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that dominated the headlines, but something has changed, the people have risen up, ousted brutal dictators and they’ve done it with the help of social media- not military invasions.

There is no question the Internet has sustained these revolutions and provided a podium for oppressed peoples to question authority and change their destinies.

Protesters in countries like Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Egypt have demanded their authoritarian leaders step aside and give the people a say in their own government. Even the lukewarm reception from the Obama Administration hasn’t stopped these young people from risking their lives in order to enact change.

The latest, and perhaps most surprising country to stir the caldron, is Syria.

It’s been subjected to nearly 50 years of brutal and barbaric rule by the Ba’ath Party and the Assad dynasty. Perhaps more astonishing is the fact that the ruling Assad party makes up less than 10 percent of the country’s total population.

“The Syrian people are ready to reclaim their country,” says Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, the founder of American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

Syria fell into dictatorship 1970, when Hafez Assad swept the thriving European-style country into a vacuum and begin a powerful totalitarian regime that remains in power today. Under the Assad rule, Syrians that speak out in opposition to the ruling party are subject to torture and death.

Dr. Jasser, whose family hails from Syria, contends that the country “has been tragically immune to the world attention, opinion and pressures.”

“The time is now for America to act. Syria is a republic of fear. The dissenters in the streets have now begun to breach the divide of its own government’s terror.”

Like many of the regions’ dictatorships, President Bashar Assad has promised the western world change and said the regime would lift the 40-year emergency rule and acknowledged that the Syrian people have “legitimate grievances.”

However, Assad announced a severe warning to the protesters already in the streets that further unrest would be deemed sabotage. And as such the government would use a heavy hand to end the protests. “We will not tolerate any attempt at sabotage,” he lamented.

Meanwhile the European Union called for President Assad to “change his ways” or face stiff sanctions. The EU will meet again tomorrow to discuss sanctions against Syria’s government. This threat carries serious financial implications for Syria as 23 percent of its trading, $7.9 billion, is with the EU.

Perhaps more concerning for the anti-government protesters in the streets, is the United Nation Security Council’s inability to put forth a statement condemning the violence and deaths of hundreds of dissenters.

According to Al Jazeera, “Russia insisted that the violence in Syria did not meet certain criteria that justified international action against the Syrian government- namely that it was not a threat to international peace and security- and that foreign intervention would pose a threat to regional security.”

However, hundreds of Ba’ath Party members have already announced their resignation after reports of regime henchmen murdering hundreds of innocent protesters began circulating within the media.
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The Wall Street Journal released a portion of one letter and it read in part; “Considering the breakdown of values and emblems that we were instilled with by the party and which were destroyed at the hand of the security forces… we announce our withdrawal from the party without regret.”

As news of the defections and murders continue to be released via social media networks, primarily Facebook, the world is finally able to see how an authoritarian regime operates in the face of adversity.

One of those sites was started in the United States. “Save Syria Now,” was created by influential U.S. individuals with a Syrian descent. The Facebook page provides the latest Syrian uprising information for those inside the country and provides a conduit for Americans who wish to lend a hand or follow the events unfolding in the repressive country.

“It is precisely the social media that is providing a platform for Syrians to stay connected. Many are getting the posts out by using technology and satellites from neighboring countries,” Jasser said.

Also Jasser cautions the Obama Administration to not let this opportunity slip away. “The Syrians you see on the street protesting are not only putting their lives on the line, but their families. If the U.S. allows Syrian leaders to stay in power and squash the protesters, the American people will be reading about hundreds of Syrians that have ‘gone missing’ over the next year. That’s how this dictatorial government operates.”

Dr. Jasser as well as 21 others wrote the Obama Administration a letter explaining the urgency that the Syrian revolt represents and the importance of U.S. support.

Even Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) stepped into the fray and said, “We should use the diplomatic weight and authority of the United States to undermine the Syrian dictatorship. I think we are witnessing the slow end of the Assad dictatorship, and we should stand with the people of Syria.”

Dr Jasser agrees with the senator and goes further in explaining the importance of democratic Syria. “A democratic change in Syria could create one of the greatest obstacles to the continuing dangerous ascendancy of Iran, Hezbollah and other pan-Islamist interests in the Middle East.”

“The deep diversity of Syria with its Sunni, Christian, Druze and Alawite populations has been significant reason for its predominantly secular history.”

At the behest of Dr. Jasser, Syria needs to be held accountable for its actions and the best way for that to happen is for the U.S. to place tough economic sanctions on Syria. “These sanctions need to cripple the regime’s ability to inflict harm upon her people; the international media must be allowed to fully cover the protests; and the American government must insist the entire Syrian government resigns and welcomes U.N. observers to oversee a clear roadmap toward democracy.”

So far the 2011 Middle East uprisings have seen Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya successfully fight dictatorial regimes. The question remains will Syria be added to that list?

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved

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Obama asks lawmakers to end oil subsidies to ease gas prices

President Obama released a letter today addressed to the nation’s top four lawmakers, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, encouraging them to immediately draft legislation to end government subsidies to the oil industry.

The letter pointed out that American families are feeling the pain of surging fuel prices and the need for lawmakers to address the issue immediately.

“The recent steep increase in gas prices, driven by increased global demand and compounded by unrest and supply disruptions in the Middle East, has only added to those struggles,” Obama wrote.

While Obama said there is no “silver bullet” to bring down the cost of fuel in the short term, eliminating unwarranted tax-breaks for oil and gas companies could free up $4 billion per year to invest in alternative energy.

Commodities traders say taking money from oil and gas companies will do only one thing – force companies to pass the cost onto the consumers.

Oil and gas companies continue to face an uphill battle from the Obama Administration when it comes to drilling domestically. Shell Oil is the latest victim of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and will scrap their plans to drill this summer in the Arctic Ocean.

Shell spent five years and roughly $4 billion on their plans only to meet road block after road block from the EPA. Shell paid the government $2.2 billion for the leases only to have the EPA conclude that drilling would be hazardous for people who live in the area. The nearest village is 70 miles off shore and has a population of 245 native Alaskans.

Also a month ago the President came under fire for giving Brazil $2 billion to explore for oil and even said “America will be your best customer.” And more recently the Obama Administration gave Columbia a $2.84 billion loan to expand and build oil refineries in their country.

Obama also claims that CEO’s of the big oil companies stated that high fuel prices means they will make enough profit to invest in domestic exploration and no longer need subsidies.

According to American Petroleum Institute (API) President and CEO Jack Gerard, “It’s no surprise the administration is proposing yet again to raise taxes on the U.S. oil and natural gas industry. But it’s still a bad idea and comes at one of the worst times in our economic history.” He goes on to explain that the industry is among the nation’s largest job creators and pays more than $100 million per DAY in taxes to the government.
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More speeches

Last week the President spoke to more than 1,000 students at elite Georgetown University (one of the most expensive colleges in America) and reminded them of his presidential bid when soaring gas prices help secure a White House victory.

“Remember, it was just three years ago that gas prices topped $4 per gallon…You had all kind of gimmicks and outraged politicians – they were waving their three-point plans for $2 a- gallon gas (drill, baby, drill),” Obama told the students.

Today’s letter reaffirmed Obama’s push for reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil that leaves the U.S. vulnerable to price fluctuations.

“Without a comprehensive energy strategy for the future we will stay stuck in the same old pattern of heated political rhetoric when prices rise and apathy and neglect when they fall again,” Obama said.

The President called on lawmakers to focus on a new energy plan and referred to oil-base fuel as “yesterday’s energy sources,” and the need to “invest in tomorrow’s” 21st century clean energy. “That’s the key to helping families avoid pain at the pump and reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” he finished.

One thing is certain, high fuel prices hurt economically-challenged families who are unable to purchase “the green cars” the President often speaks of as the solution to the energy crisis.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Obama asks lawmakers to end oil subsidies to ease gas prices – San Diego County Political Buzz | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/obama-asks-lawmakers-to-end-oil-subsidies-to-ease-gas-prices#ixzz1Keo1cLMK

IED device found outside Brownsville, Texas closes highway on Easter

The Brownsville Police Department confirmed reports that an IED device was disarmed by bomb disposal experts on Easter Sunday.

The Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was located by a passerby who alerted authorities about the Highway 77/83 location. The scene of the IED bomb is located just 15 minutes north of the Texas/Mexico border.

Bomb squad personnel used a robot to successfully dismantle the explosive that closed the highway for several hours on Sunday afternoon.

Public Information Officer for the Brownsville Police Department, Eddie Garcia said the device had no detonation mechanism attached.
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However, authorities say they are taking the IED device seriously as Mexico has seen an increase in the use of bombs by the drug cartels in Mexico.

So far there are no leads in this case and an investigation is ongoing. Additional reports will be made available as officials release new details.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Continue reading on Examiner.com: IED device found outside Brownsville, Texas closes highway on Easter – San Diego County Political Buzz | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/ied-device-found-outside-brownsville-texas-closes-highway-on-easter#ixzz1Ka2dwjsa

U.S. federal land provides a safe haven for drug and alien smuggling

Last week former Border Patrol Agent, George Taylor, testified before a Congressional Committee hearing regarding America’s growing border security issues. After 43 years law enforcement experience Taylor calls it like he sees it and this former BP Agent points to the National Parks and designated Wilderness Land along the southern border as the main culprit in the uptick of cartel smuggling activities.

“The root problem remains, Federal Wildlife Refuges, Wilderness and Designated Wildernesses of various varieties that serve to keep Border Patrol Agents from effectively and safely securing the border on these federal lands,” Taylor explained.

Retired Border Patrol Agent Taylor, who testified on behalf of an organization he co-founded, National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFPBO), a non-political group committed to securing the nation’s borders, gave Congressional members a frank assessment of the unrelenting violence along the border region.

The designation of millions of acres in Wilderness Parks means one thing- keeping Border Patrol out. The result is much more ominous- drug cartels can now operate without law enforcement distraction.

“The violence continues to escalate. Thousands of pounds of illegal drugs and thousands of illegal aliens from all over the world are traversing the area,” Taylor contends. With this new right-of-way, the smugglers are now free to commit atrocities like rape, murder and robbery as well as considerable environmental damage.

This vast federal land set the stage for the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December of last year.

On that fateful day, Terry’s Border Patrol team was responding to reports that “rip crews” (those who rob/rape illegal aliens making their way into the U.S.) were operating in the area. It is well-known to Border Patrol Agents that “rip crews” are heavily armed and very dangerous.
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“As the violence becomes more common it begins to spread out and become more prevalent. Wounded, robbed, raped and murder humans have begun showing up in the periphery, on streets, in yards and at homes,” Taylor says.

So what’s the solution? Taylor educated the Congressional panel that Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) has put a bill forward that would tackle the Border Patrol’s inability to monitor these Wilderness areas.

“This legislation takes the necessary and responsible steps to address the unacceptable restrictions that prevent Border Security experts from doing their jobs,” Bishop said.

Currently there are more than 20 million acres of federal land along America’s southern border most of which is off limits to Border Patrol Agents.

“Allowing public land managers and restrictive environmental policies, not Border Security experts, to dictate how we secure our nation’s borders and keep our country safe is counterintuitive, and as a result, has jeopardized the safety and security of all Americans,” Bishop said.

Bishop also contends that these “protected lands” inadvertently creates a safe haven for criminals to operate. “The same environmental policies that are supposed to be protecting the lands are actually allowing them to be destroyed.”

As for the solution, Taylor says it is imperative that Border Patrol Agents have unencumbered access to every inch of land along the southern border. “Also they must be willing to give Border Patrol Agents on the ground all the tools necessary to secure the border.”

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Continue reading on Examiner.com: U.S. federal land provides a safe haven for drug and alien smuggling – San Diego County Political Buzz | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/u-s-federal-land-provides-a-safe-haven-for-drug-and-alien-smuggling#ixzz1KZBWb16N

Texas snatches 1,000 high-paying eBay jobs from California

On a recent trip to Los Angeles, Texas governor, Rick Perry, met with wealthy business types to boost the number of companies doing business in the Lone Star State. The trip paid off as eBay, formerly run by Meg Whitman, agreed to tax incentives in exchange for relocating to Texas.

The average salary for these “green economy” jobs is $122,500 and they would have made California’s progressive peddlers very happy. Austin City Council members referred to the coup as “green software programming jobs” that will provide sustained economic growth in the state.

The Internet giant eBay says they will employ approximately 1,000 new workers at their new location.

“This is precisely the kind of company we would like to see expand in Austin. This project will include great jobs for Central Texans,” Mayor Lee Leffingwell said.

Gov. Rick Perry’s office claimed the eBay move would bring an estimated $5.1 million in capital investment to the state.

“Austin’s high-tech economy and skilled workforce are perfect for eBay, and I’m pleased to welcome this expansion and the more than 1,000 quality jobs it will bring to Texas,” he said.

By moving to Texas eBay will not only save money they will avoid those pesky regulations that plague California’s business sector.
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“Austin is a vibrant, exciting city with a strong heritage for technology expertise and lots of growth potential,” says eBay Vice President Mark Carges. “Our state-of-the-art facility there has room for expansion and the support we have received from the state of Texas and the city of Austin reinforces our commitment to attracting top talent in regions where we operate.”

Currently Texas offers one of the country’s best tax environments for corporations. The state tax burden in Texas is 8.40 percent and in California it’s 10.50 percent. Texas also offers healthy double-digit personnel income growth 67.6 percent versus 56.6 percent in California.

With no personal state income taxes in Texas, eBay should be able to recruit California’s best and brightest minds to relocate in a state looking to expand commerce and provide lucrative jobs for young families.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Texas snatches 1,000 high-paying eBay jobs from California – San Diego County Political Buzz | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/texas-snatches-1-000-high-paying-ebay-jobs-from-california#ixzz1KC3nLk2g

Terrorism’s down-payment in the form drugs and U.S. aid money (part 4)

Afghanistan’s corruption is legendary (see Part 3 in this series). The war-torn tribal nation provides fertile fields for training terrorists and growing poppies, is home to al Qaeda, and is where the 9/11 plotters hatched their terrorist attack on America. But sadly, in the worst kept secret in Central Asia, the U.S. condones and encourages the growing of poppies, the base ingredient for heroin and cocaine. We do so, not to keep the poor farmers happy, but to line the pockets of the Taliban, warlords, and the Karzai government. In other words Americans are fighting and dying protecting the poppy fields.

According to Colonel (ret) Eugene Khrushchev (son of the former Soviet Premier) writing for the Salem-News.com, “What Secretary of State (Hilary Clinton) called the ‘best decision in the face of an array of less-than-perfect options’ has set in motion the worse-case nightmare scenario- a boon for the drug lords, a bane for the drug busters.” Colonel Khrushchev contends that America’s drug eradication policy is nothing more than a ruse. Instead it supplies criminal elements with the means to destabilize the Afghan government while destroying the tribal population to ensure terrorists sympathy in the region forever.

The incentive for narcotic trafficking is the $2.7 billion in annual sales, according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). And in Afghanistan, the drug trade accounts for more than half the country’s entire GDP.

Making matters worse is Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government’s involvement. Afghan Parliament member, Amanullah Paiman has studied the illicit drug-trade and claims the government runs approximately 70 percent of the narco-fields. “The chain of narco dollars goes from the districts to the highest levels of government.”

Perhaps the most well-known trafficker is President Karzai’s brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai. A Newsweek article described it this way; “He (the president’s brother) is the unofficial regional governor of southern Afghanistan and leads the whole trafficking structure,” said a senior Interior Ministry official. However, Ahmed Karzai flatly denies any involvement in the drug trade.

One US argument for letting the farmers grow their lucrative poppy crops rings hollow. Skeptics point out that those farmers could turn to insurgents to earn a living without the poppies. The second focuses economic hardship farmers would suffer if they were forced to grow another crop. Both arguments are false.

The New York Times reported in July of 2008 that Afghanistan was already a narco-state. “Karzai had long opposed aerial eradication. Why? More than 95 percent of the residents of the poppy growing provinces of Helmand and Kandahar- voted for Karzai.”

“Poppy cultivation was becoming limited to the south, more associated with the insurgency and disassociated from poverty…UNODC convincingly demonstrated that poor farmers were abandoning the crop and that poppy growth was confined to the wealthiest parts … ‘poverty doesn’t appear to have been the main driving factor in the expansion of opium poppy’,” according to the NYT.
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“UNODC shattered the myth that poppies are grown by destitute farmers…Eighty percent of the land under poppy cultivation in the south had been planted with it only in the last two years …these farmers didn’t need an alternative livelihood. They had abandoned their previous livelihoods…to take advantage of the security vacuum [which coincides with the UK military presence] to grow a more profitable crop: opium…Yet Afghan officials continued to say that poppy cultivation was the only choice for its poor farmers,” the UNODC states. The truth is the insurgents pay the poppy farmers an advance in pay to plant poppies, according to the latest 2011 report.

“The ‘starving farmer’ was a convenient myth. [NATO] …wanted to avoid any uptick in violence from [counternarcotics] strategy; even if the strategy would result in long-term success…the Taliban loved it because their propaganda campaign consisted of trotting out farmers whose fields had been eradicated and having them say that they were going to starve.”

The question of what to do with the poppy fields has plagued every commander in the now 10-year-war. A Newsweek article describes the fear of Afghan officials who fear, “We are losing the fight against drug traffickers. If we don’t crack down on these guys soon, it won’t be long until they’re in control of everything.”

The question remains will the program that started under the Bush Administration and continues with the Obama Administration be the albatross that sinks the war effort? Or does President Obama realize his mistakes and correct them before the American people cry foul?

Part five; Afghanistan- the counterinsurgency- will it work?

Part three; Billion-dollar corruption within the U.S. picked Afghan regime

Part two; U.S. payments to Taliban & Afghan warlords threaten American/NATO troops

Part one; U.S. troops fight and die to preserve Sharaih Law in Afghanistan

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Terrorism’s down-payment in the form drugs and U.S. aid money (part 4) – San Diego County Political Buzz | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/terrorism-s-down-payment-the-form-drugs-and-u-s-aid-money-part-4#ixzz1K6S2Zm9J

Welfare checks can be used to buy alcohol and cigarettes in California

On a straight party-line vote California lawmakers gave the green light for welfare recipients to purchase alcohol and tobacco products using taxpayer money. The insanity in the Golden State continues despite the state’s $23 billion deficit and double-digit unemployment.

Recently California changed the way it disperses food stamps. In an effort to take the stigma away from food stamps the state issues welfare beneficiaries with an Electronic Benefits Card which look and work like an ATM card.

The Golden State doles out welfare benefits through the CalWORKS program. In the past welfare recipients were not allowed to buy beer and cigarettes, but compassionate state lawmakers decided it wasn’t fair to stop TAXPAYER money from being used to subsidize non-essential bad habits.

“You would think a simple common sense reform like trying to make sure taxpayer money is not used for the purchase of alcohol and tobacco would find bi-partisan support,” said GOP State Senator Bob Dutton.

No such luck in California, Dutton, SB417’s sponsor saw his legislation to save taxpayer money fail on a straight party-line vote.

California’s EBT/ATM card caught national attention last year when the Los Angeles Times uncovered several documents proving the welfare cards were being used for vacations to Hawaii, Las Vegas and strip clubs. Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger quickly quashed the vacation perks, but failed to stop the alcohol or cigarette buying ability.

“These funds are designed help the neediest in California meet their basic requirements of providing food, clothing and shelter,” Senator Dutton quipped. “I doubt there’s not a taxpayer in this state who believes purchasing alcohol or tobacco with welfare money constitutes a basic need and should be allowed.”

Senator Dutton also explained that more than half of welfare beneficiaries are parents who are no longer eligible for state aid, but still receive cash assistance on behalf of their anchor baby children.
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“With over half of the caseload consisting of ‘child-only’ cases, it is unconscionable to allow designated caregivers the ability to purchase tobacco and alcohol products on behalf of a minor,” Senator Dutton said. “I was quite frankly surprised that Democrats believe that this practice should continue. I remain committed to continue working on real reform measures, like SB 417, to ensure that all taxpayer money is used as it is intended,” Senator Dutton concluded.

In an effort to reform welfare Senator Dutton sought the assistance of the California Grocers Association to implement a ban on alcohol and tobacco purchases with the state’s EBT/ATM card.

This year California taxpayers will support nearly 600,000 families by enrolling them into CalWORKS. The program disperses more than $100 million to help welfare recipients purchase groceries.

Something else taxpayers should consider is that California Governor Jerry Brown is seeking to raise the tobacco tax another dollar in order to fund cancer research; while Democrat Senator Alex Padilla already introduced a bill to raise the cigarette tax by a whopping $1.61 to be used to curb smoking. Neither program will cut the $23 billion deficit.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Billion dollar corruption within the U.S. picked Afghan regime

After reviewing Afghan custom records, the Wall Street Journal reported that during a three-year period more than $3.1 billion in U.S. dollars left Afghanistan through the airport destined for Middle Eastern countries like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. More than $3 billion has been shipped from a country the CIA Fact Book claims only collected $1 billion in taxes annually.

However, U.S. officials believe the number to be much higher. A senior U.S. official said one courier alone removed $2.3 billion in the second half of 2008 and into 2009.

Investigators believe the cash is being siphoned from legitimate Western aid programs and being declared, placed in suitcases and pallets, and shipped to safe havens with the knowledge of the U.S. and NATO officials. For example, NATO gave Afghanistan approximately $14 billion last year.

“More declared cash flies out of Kabul each year than the Afghan government collects in tax and customs revenue nationwide. It’s not like they grow money on trees here,” said one U.S. official investigating the corruption and Taliban. “A lot of this looks like our tax dollars being stolen. And opium (poppies), of course.”

President Karzai’s brother, Mahmood, who coincidentally is a U.S. citizen (under investigation for racketeering in the U.S.), contends it is the political opponents who are skimming money and sending it out of the country.

“Yes, millions of dollars are leaving this country but it is all taken by politicians. Bribes, corruption, all of it,” Mahmood Karzai says.

Even more perplexing is the fact Mahmood Karzai fears nothing and even dares the U.S. to investigate. “Let’s find out who is taking it. Let’s not go on rumors.” He continues to explain that he has talked with U.S. officials about this corruption and maintains his innocence when it comes to profiting from U.S. contracts.

Afghanistan’s Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal confirmed there is missing money at a press conference, “We do not even know about it. We don’t know whose it is, why it is leaving, or where it is going.”

Senior officials are complaining that money is leaving faster than anyone realizes. “You get boxes loaded on the back of airplanes. You get guys, literally, bringing boxes of cash onto the plane.”

Another method used to get money out of Afghanistan is the airport’s VIP area. Often the VIPs are driven straight to their planes where they load their cash directly on board and fly off, according to Afghan General Asif and U.S. officials.
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General M. Asif Jabar Khail, the chief customs officer at Kabul airport, described a recent incident where he came across one VIP who was taking undeclared millions out of the country and when they tried to stop the VIPs flight to Dubai, they were met with fierce opposition from higher-ups in the Afghanistan government. “It came from very, very senior people. They told me there was an arrangement with the central bank and told me to let it go.”

President Hamid Karzai sees the money changing hands differently. “Making money is fine and taking money out of the country is fine. The relatives of government officials can do this, starting with my brothers. But there’s a possibility of corruption.” If this is true why does America and NATO continue to send billions to such a corrupt country?

Middle men just making a buck

The preferred method of money transfer in Afghanistan moves through “hawalas.” This is a system the Muslim countries have used for many centuries.

The rules surrounding the money changers or “hawala” are sketchy and the handlers keep track of millions/billions in a simple notebook. There is no electronic process for the centralized government to monitor the money exchanging hands.

According to U.S. officials, Afghan couriers reportedly name the hawala responsible for handling the first transfer of the money as well as the second handler accepting the cash in other countries like Dubai.

These hawala’s are the backbone of the Afghan financial sector and the State Department discloses that 80-90 percent of all the monetary matters pass through the primitive hawala system.

While this fraud is sure to anger the U.S. taxpayer, there is even more money being carried through Afghanistan’s porous borders. Afghan officials claim there is more than $10 million that crosses the border each day. This adds up to an additional $3.65 billion a year.

Officials agree that much of the insurgency money is derived from the illicit opium trade, as drugs have long been an easy way for rebels to earn the capital needed to fight a war.

Part four; Terrorism’s down-payment in the form drugs and U.S. aid money

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Tax-Day Tea Party ignites citizens to stay involved in politics

More than 2,000 citizen’s show-up for the ‘Stop Taxing Us’ annual Tax-Day Tea Party held at the Oceanside Pier, just north of San Diego.

The speakers at the event were not elected politicians, just community activists making the trek to the beach to show their solidarity with the movement that spontaneously erupted shortly after Barrack Obama became president and rammed through the very unpopular “stimulus” bill.

The weather was a balmy 75 degrees and attendees were treated to a wide-range of speakers.

After the traditional Pledge and National Anthem, Mary York, a college student spoke to the crowd about the youth in America and the need for the most “plugged in” generation to learn history and get involved in their own destinies. She explained her “sound-bite” generation needed to learn from the past while engaging in the future.

“Im2moro’s mission is to educate, inspire and rally young American’s to get active and use their voices and votes to preserve and defend our nation’s first principles… Generations before us remember and cherish the good old days of the past, and rightly so. In fact, they will stand and say, ‘I am yesterday and I will never forget. But I am also today and I will actively engage to preserve these truths.’”

Crowd favorite Ted Hayes, electrified the audience and started off saluting the “hippest flag in the world.” He continued to go after the Obama Administration especially on foreign policy. “We’ve lost our spirit,” he says. “We are letting every punk nation pick on the U.S. and it ain’t right.”

Yet Hayes pointed out that every time the world gets into trouble, “who do you think they call? Yep, us.”

Hayes, who has his own radio program and website talks a lot about the black guilt this country continues to feel. “We have been bamboozled by the Democratic leaders like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who continue to give us more Jim Crow politics. We need to stop following their welfare agenda. Name me a nation that’s perfect?”
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Unlike many leaders Hayes is not afraid to talk about slavery. “I’m not going back to Africa where black leaders sold us into slavery. No way.”

And what would a Tea Party be this year without mentioning the ‘tell it like it is,’ Donald Trump?

“Let me tell you about Trump,” Hayes said. “This white boy is making that cat (Obama) sweat.”

Hayes is also very outspoken on the topic of illegal immigration. “We are the home of the free, because of the brave. And the illegal aliens need to start respecting our immigration laws.”

Other speakers included syndicated talk-show host, Rick Roberts, who braved the 5:00 Friday afternoon traffic to enlightened the crowd about the importance of staying involved.

Meanwhile the main stream media has been reporting that the Tea Party movement has faded into the backdrop. However, co-founder of Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition, Sara Bond said, “After the GOP leaders failed to live up to their deal on $100 billion spending cuts, our website and phone lines went crazy.”

She also cautioned recently elected politicians to be careful because the same folks that elected them will insist they run primaries in order to hold them accountable to the people that they represent.

“House Speaker John Boehner is nothing more than an establishment politician and the Tea Party is on to his type of politics. We expect change from our leaders or we will change them,” Bond said.

One thing is certain, this Tax-Day Tea Party saw thousands of supporters who are still watching during this off-election year and promises to gain momentum as the 2012 election nears.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

US payments to Taliban & Afghan warlords threaten American/NATO troops

(Part two of the series on Afghanistan)

According to separate Congressional and Senate reports, the American government pays more than $2 billion for Host Nation Trucking (HNT) or in layman’s terms, private security firms that protect U.S. military convoys and materials in dangerous tribal areas.

Currently the HNT contracts are a $2.16 billion dollar boondoggle that provides indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts ground transportation in Afghanistan for over 70 percent of Department of Defense goods and materiel, including food, water, fuel, equipment, and ammunition.

A report titled “Warlord, Inc., Extortion and Corruption along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan” was published by Congressman John Tierney (D-MA) in June of last year. The report detailed the billions of dollars spent to protect U.S. military supply convoys in Afghanistan- the majority of the money is paid by the DOD through defense contractors and finds its way into the hands of Taliban leaders and warlords.

According to the comprehensive report, the principal private security subcontractors on the HNT contract are warlords, strongmen, commanders, and militia leaders who compete with the Afghan central government for power and authority in the region.

“Providing ‘protection’ services for the U.S. supply chain empowers these warlords with money, legitimacy, and a raison d’être for their private armies. Although many of these warlords nominally operate under private security companies licensed by the Afghan Ministry of Interior, they thrive in a vacuum of government authority and their interests are in fundamental conflict with U.S. aims to build a strong Afghan government,” the Congressional inquiry explains.

The large infusion of U.S. cash into Afghanistan should raise eyebrows because a good number of these warlords and Taliban fighters are also connected to the production of poppies (the illicit opium trade). And according to recently leaked documents from WikiLeaks there are billions of dollars flowing out of Afghanistan that remains unaccounted for due the country’s rudimentary banking practices. (See part three of this series)

The eye-opening report comes at a time when Afghan President Hamid Karzi is stirring anti-American passions about U.S. private contractors operating in the warzone and deadly Afghani rioting over the burning of the Quran by a Florida pastor.

The dilemma for both sides regarding the use of private contractors is that U.S. and NATO members operating in Afghanistan, as well as civilian organizations and news media, need private contractors to get around a country with little to no infrastructure.

Taliban fighters and tribal leaders look to the supply line convoys as a source of income; however, the outsourcing of these contractors has significant unintended consequences.
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The HNT contract fuels warlordism, extortion, and corruption, and it may be a significant source of funding for insurgents. In other words, the logistics contract has an outsized strategic impact on U.S. objectives in Afghanistan, according to the Congressional report.

Congress also contends that the “Department of Defense has been blind to the potential strategic consequences of its supply chain contingency contracting. U.S. military logisticians have little visibility into what happens to their trucks on the road and virtually no understanding of how security is actually provided. When HNT contractors self-reported to the military that they were being extorted by warlords for protection payments for safe passage and that these payments were ‘funding the insurgency,’ they were largely met with indifference and inaction.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee also sent staffers to investigate the “convoy protection” issue. Their report titled, “Inquiry into the Role and Oversight of Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan” concluded the U.S. pays trucking contractors billions of dollars a year much of it ends up in the hands of local warlords.

Another concern the Senate report highlighted that the U.S. seemed to be unknowingly fostering the Taliban and other militias when the country is struggling to build its own security forces.

“Almost all are Afghans, almost all are armed,” Senior Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) explained. “We need to shut off the spigot of U.S. dollars flowing into the pockets of warlords and power brokers who act contrary to our interests and contribute to the corruption that weakens the support of the Afghan people for their government.”

Like the Congressional Report, the Senate oversight testimony concluded that private security contractors suffered from systematic failures with management and widespread failures in vetting or training armed-security personnel.

Even Secretary of State Hilary Clinton acknowledged the supply line corruption activity during a December, 2009 Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting when she said, “One of the major sources of funding for the Taliban is the protection money.”

Up next, part three “Billion dollar corruption within the U.S.-picked Afghanistan government.”

Read part one of the series; US troops fight and die to preserve Shariah Law in Afghanistan

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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