Charlie’s War

Saw “Charlie Wilson’s War” [8/10] which explains the background behind the Soviet’s failure in Afghanistan, and paved the way for the Taliban to later take over. Today I saw “Cars 2″ [6/10] which explains why we have people focused on fossil fuel vehicles.

Each somewhat ties into the 10 year old book I’m reading, Power Down, which has theories on economic declines, including the US and USSR. The Soviet’s oil production, and America’s have slowed economic growth for each, leading to predictable collapses.

Good Ol’ American Sex Scandal

The American media is very primitive, which is why it avoids complex and important issues, and instead resorts to tabloid topics like sex scandals. While their country is embroiled in an unprovoked war in Iraq, occupies Afghanistan (along with Canada), and itches to bomb Iran for oil, they’re worried more about where the wiener Petraeus has been.

It pretty much doesn’t matter, and it’s par for the course, yet it’s popular to talk about because it involves powerful people being shamed. It’s not exactly Wikileaks’ level of interesting, yet it will lead to many old stories being looked at in a slightly new, sexy light.

So far it only offers scant hope to Republicans that they can somehow embarrass Obama or impeach him over an unrelated event in Benghazi, Libya, and a shirtless FBI male agent whose photo was published today with shot-up dummies. No photo bombing, or anything remotely interesting. Expect this scandal to blow over in a month if no new tie-ins are made.

It’s not directly related, but Greenwald had an interesting email exchange with a US Army Colonel years ago.

Osama bin Laden is Dead

“The body of Osama Bin Laden has been found”, and there is speculation in the MSM that he was killed by the US, and they are in possession of his body which is rumored to have been in Pakistan.
Obama is supposed to be on TV soon to announce the official details.

What will go unanswered for some time is when he actually was killed if he’s now dead. If he died years ago, it could make the US and the media look like puppets or string pullers if the infamous Bin Laden tapes from the years gone by prove to be obvious fakes. Bin Laden can not have died before the last tape was released, could it?
ADDED: with his body’s finding in a compound with a firefight, it seems likely that the death was recent as Obama claims.

Updates will come.
May 1, 2011 9:29 MDT
Obama must be on the phone with other world leaders now CBC is saying. He was to be on air a while ago.

9:37 Obama speaking now.
Recalling 9/11.
“Nearly 3000 citizens taken from us.”

When Obama took office, he made the killing or capture of Bin Laden the top priority.
Last August was the tip that made a breakthrough.
A compound deep in Pakistan. Last week authorized the operation targeted in Abadabad.
No Americans harmed, took care to avoid civilian casualties, and after a firefight, recovered his body. Others in Bin Laden’s family also killed there.
Obama promises to remain vigilant against Al Qaida. Does not blame Muslims.
Cooperation with Pakistan led to finding Bin Laden. He says 9/11 was the start of this fight.

(Can we leave Afghanistan now?)

“Justice has been done.” “We give thanks…”
“America can do whatever we set our mind to,” but didn’t mention moon landing.

It was not a Predator strike. The CBC pundits were wrong in their speculation, of course. A military or CIA ground strike based on intelligence gathering actually killed Osama. This begs the question, how much time was wasted by conducting a “war on terror” when an organized strike team did what a decade of war failed to accomplish.
@AmandaMarcotte tweeted the same thing basically as I just wrote.

This does feel like a turning point in America’s history, but which way will it go from here?

Bush says this is a, “momentous achievement.”
9:59
Harper to go on the air soon too to make what could be his last announcement as PM, and what an announcement it could be!

When Flanagan and the Wikileaks haters said that Julian Assange should be hunted down like Bin Laden, we now have a definite time for how many years it is supposed to take.

10:05 Americans are celebrating in the streets in the same way that Islamist countries have celebrations in the streets after their country declares a victory; maybe there will be more understanding in America for those celebrations.

@MMFlint points out that many people were right that Osama was in a mansion, and never living in a cave.

Deadliest Place on Earth

Last night I watched a documentary about the Afghanistan war called “Restrepo” [8/10] which uses real footage from the battlefield and bargaining [table] floor on the front lines of the second worst war America is involved in this last decade. I hate to spoil the ending for you, but the Americans abandoned the region in the film, 3 years after it was filmed. You can see in 2007 they should have simply left the region alone as they are fighting a futile war. They’ve neither captured the hearts, nor the minds of the elders, or rest of the population struggling against Americanization of their homeland.

The trapped cow in the film is a pretty good metaphor for the people of Afghanistan. The Americans, unwilling to pay fair price for what they take, tries to barter with equivalent goods, because giving cash would probably result in funding weapons purchases.

“An Education” [8/10] is an excellent movie about a girl growing up in England in the 1950s, and what social pressures were put on her.

“Beauty in Trouble” [8/10] is also an excellent film I picked up from the Regina Public Library. It’s a Chech film of a woman who has to choose between her criminal and poor husband or a nice wealthy man.

PS3 Copy Protection Blown Open

It’s good to see Sony knocked onto its hindquarters again due to its reliance on Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). GeoHotz devised a method of revealing Sony’s secret key, rendering their media encryption useless. Sony is the company that  became infamous for it’s “rootkit” scandal. They installed what is essentially a malicious program onto their CD customers’ computers.

==

I could have told you in 2001 that the result of the US invasion of Afghanistan would result in permanent US military bases in that country. It’s particularly galling to people like Osama Bin Laden that the result is more bases, when he claimed to have attacked because of the existence of US bases in the Middle East. I don’t feel sorry for Osama for not getting his way, but I certainly feel sorry for all of the people he’s manipulated and killed in both countries.

==

Canadians don’t want to retire? I think they simply can’t afford it, how they go about spending their earnings.

How Do You Know Obama Is Lying?

…His lips are moving.

The Taliban are hopelessly outnumbered. So why are more American and NATO troops needed in Afghanistan?

The troops are needed in the Gulf (of MEXICO), to finish cleaning up the mess BP and TransOcean started this Spring. It will take as long as the Iraq War to get that region back to normal, if it even can be done.

[P]people like Chef Chris Sherrill feel abandoned.

“It’s amazing how quickly the American public forgot that this was one of the worst manmade disasters in U.S. history,” he said. His wedding catering and event business in Gulf Shores, Ala., is teetering because few brides are still coming to the beach for weddings.

I’m nervous about eating any shrimp, or seafood that might come from the Gulf of Mexico. I’m giving up shrimp for the next decade, unless I find a source I trust.

The slight isn’t necessarily intentional. Walking with his girlfriend in a park in Des Moines, Iowa, Michael Gauthier said he wonders about the oil’s lingering impact on the environment, and he fears for Gulf residents.

“It’s not in your face every day so you forget about it. Who doesn’t have bills to pay and work to go to? Who has time to think about what’s going on in Louisiana?” said Gauthier, 26.

What’s going on is the continued arrival of oil washing ashore, although in lesser amounts than during the summer. Dire predictions of environmental Armageddon have yet to materialize, but there’s also no consensus on how badly the ecosystem has suffered.

At first, no one could agree on how much oil was spilling into the Gulf; now there’s disagreement over how much remains. A commission this week faulted Barack Obama’s administration for multiple missteps, including an effort to block scientists from telling the public how bad the spill could be early on.

“If someone could say it will affect this, our shrimp are going to be poisoned for 10 years, people would think this is a bigger deal maybe,” said Scott Peterson, 37, also of Des Moines.

Poppies of Hope, Nope

Thursday night I attended a talk at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum by the Canada Afghanistan Solidarity Committee. CTV was there before the forum, and interviewed Terry Glavin and the Ambassador of Afghanistan to Canada, H.E. Jawed Ludin.

I asked the first questions after the introducing speeches, and may post more notes later. Basically I wondered if my idea of marketing the poppies on a legitimate market level would help empower farmers in the country to avoid the influence of the Taliban, and if education would be helped by Canada spending our money on OLPCs for all children of the country. The laptop idea was welcomed, but the Poppy Board of Afghanistan idea was shot down by someone in the audience who explained that the manual labour required to make the opiates, would mean Afghanistan couldn’t compete against countries with mechanized abilities to produce the same drug (Georgia, USA).

Again, industrialized agriculture in developed countries has rendered a poor country helpless in the global market. Unless infrastructure like roads and rails are built to move wheat from farms, and capital and loans can be provided to each farmer there, there’s little hope for their agricultural sector. Fair trade goods may help some, but westerners tend to pay for cheap goods, not fair trade goods.

Afterward I spoke with Brian, who put out the invite for the night. We discussed what would happen in Afghanistan if we did leave as scheduled, and he was in the process of saying that the war in Iraq couldn’t be used as a way to predict what would happen, when we were interrupted by a teacher and a friend of hers. We then talked about how the media can’t keep more than one story in their collective presentation, at a time. Brian would like to see coverage of the good things done in Afghanistan by the military and aide workers, to give context to the news that prisoners were tortured after being handed over to Afghanistan authorities by the Canadian military.

ADDED: (A portion of notes from the end of the forum after the Q&A)

Glavin – as long as there are people willing to strap crude bombs on a mentally handicapped 12 year old there will be problems in Afghanistan.
Ludin- we shouldn’t compare to WWII in regard to years spent, it’s about effort spent.
The global neighbours wanting to colonize Afghanistan are Iran and Pakistan, not Canada. – Oates

Member of audience claiming to be “legitimate” representative of local Afghan community suggests that Pakistan is the problem furthering the instability. Are western countries following a plan, or reacting to results of other policies?

Concrete actions by Canadians include:
Buy fair trade Afghan resources.
Have pot luck fundraisers to raise $750; it pays a teacher for a year.

Prior to Sept. 11 2001 the country was a “concentration camp” – Glavin; Who begs the audience to view the mission as the most successful in the UN’s history.

ADDED 2: Some more, but not all of my notes, hopefully more complete later:
Keeping Our Promises

His Excellency Jawed Ludin confirms he’s speaking of his own free will. He enjoys the Regina weather, despite hearing prior warnings of it being unpleasant.
He says because we are in the middle of the changes in Afghanistan, we may not now see clearly how Canada has helped Afghanistan gain a democracy. Years later we may see this clearly. He does think the 145 dead Canadians and 10,000 Afghans and 1000 Americans have pushed education further in Afghanistan than there is left to go on the road of implementing a stable system. Wants the mission to remain international. “There’s no question about Canada’s role, …it’s a very major partner.” He wants Canada to remain in training of military and police, but also in 2 other areas, elections, civil society, political parties, human rights, and also on reconstruction and development

Also on the panel is blogger Terry Glavin, who was also interviewed by CTV’s Felicia Yap outside of the RSM theatre. He’s a co-founder of the Canada Afghanistan Solidarity Committee.

7:33PM “The Taliban were birthed from the opposite [of education]” – Lauryn Oates
Teacher absenteeism is high. Few students see textbooks. Kids are only in school for up to 3 hours at a time.
“A robust investment in education is a security strategy.” Kids who can read are less likely to be indoctrinated by the Taliban. A security presence is “integral” to education and aide projects.