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Stormtrooper

Army investigated soldiers over drug abuse in Afghanistan

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© Goran Tomasevic/REUTERS
U.S. Marines patrol in front of a poppy field in a village in the Golestan district of Farah province, May 4, 2009.
The U.S. Army has investigated 56 soldiers in Afghanistan on suspicion of using or distributing heroin, morphine or other opiates during 2010 and 2011, newly obtained data shows. Eight soldiers died of drug overdoses during that time.

While the cases represent just a slice of possible drug use by U.S. troops in Afghanistan, they provide a somber snapshot of the illicit trade in the war zone, including young Afghans peddling heroin, soldiers dying after mixing cocktails of opiates, troops stealing from medical bags and Afghan soldiers and police dealing drugs to their U.S. comrades.

In a country awash with poppy fields that provide up to 90 percent of the world's opium, the U.S. military struggles to keep an eye on its far-flung troops and monitor for substance abuse.

But U.S. Army officials say that while the presence of such readily available opium - the raw ingredient for heroin - is a concern, opiate abuse has not been a pervasive problem for troops in Afghanistan.

"We have seen sporadic cases of it, but we do not see it as a widespread problem, and we have the means to check," said Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman.

Comment: For those who believe the U.S. is anything but a drug kingpin with a history of trafficking drugs have a look at the following.

US military Admits to Guarding, Assisting Lucrative Opium Trade in Afghanistan
War On Drugs Is A $2.5 Trillion Racket: How Big Banks, Private Military Companies And The Prison Industry Cash In
The CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan


Light Saber

Cindy Sheehan: Peace has a day in Court

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© Unknown
For those of you who know me and have been following my story, you know that part of my resistance to the US Empire is my refusal to pay income taxes.

This morning (April 19th), a new episode unfolded in my ongoing struggle with the IRS and the Empire the agency is nestled in.

I was subpoenaed to appear in the 9th Circuit court of the US Federal Court system in Sacramento, California - my state's capitol.

For background, I have had two meetings with the IRS agent assigned to my case where I expressed to him my unwillingness, due to my principles, to participate in funding a system that commits crimes almost every second of every day. At this point, the IRS is trying to collect 105 grand that it says I owe for the tax years 2005-2006. I first became a war tax refuser in 2005.

Boat

Russian ships arriving in China for naval war game

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© Guang Niu/AP file
Russian missile cruiser Varyag is shown in this 2009 photo docked at Qingdao port, China's Shandong Province.
The Russian guided-missile cruiser Varyag arrived at an east Chinese naval base Saturday ahead of a planned joint exercise with the Chinese navy, news agency Xinhua reported.

The large-scale war game, the navies' first bilateral drill, is scheduled Sunday through Friday off the resort city of Qingdao in the Yellow Sea, Xinhua said.

Russia also sent from Vladivostok three Udaloy class destroyers and three support ships, said Russian news agency Ria Novosti.

China will use 16 ships, including destroyers, frigates and two submarines, in the drill called Maritime Cooperation-2012, Ria Novosti said.

A Chinese aircraft carrier may also participate, the International Business Times said.

Comment: One might wonder, were the signs done in English, paid for by U.S. dollars, made in China?

A "return to Asia" after 10 years of spreading Depleted Uranium Democracy across the middle east, with perhaps more to come.


Attention

Goats Suffer From Cruel Military Training

Animal Mutilation
© PETA
Instructors seen cutting off goat's legs with tree cutters while joking about it.
PETA has released a very disturbing video from a concerned whistle-blower where, at a Coast Guard training course in Virginia, military hired instructors mutilate live goats. The "trauma treatment" training is supposed to help with learning how to care for a wounded person on a battlefield, yet studies have shown that training on simulators is much more effective. Why is the military still using these abhorrent and outdated methods? Read on to learn more about this inefficient training, and to sign the petition to end this pointless suffering. - Global Animal

Each year, more than 10,000 live animals are shot, stabbed, mutilated, and killed in horrific military training exercises that are supposed to simulate injuries on the battlefield. But the training exercises that are taking place in these highly secret courses bear no resemblance to real battlefield conditions - and they don't help soldiers save the lives of their injured comrades.

In disturbing, never-before-seen undercover video footage leaked to PETA showing a Coast Guard training course in Virginia Beach, Virginia, instructors with a company called Tier 1 Group, which was hired by the military, are seen breaking and cutting off the limbs of live goats with tree trimmers, stabbing the animals, and pulling out their internal organs. Goats moan and kick their legs during the mutilations - signs that they had not received adequate anesthesia.

During this cruel exercise, one Tier 1 Group instructor is heard cheerfully whistling on the video as he cuts off goats' legs and a Coast Guard participant callously jokes about writing songs about mutilating the animals.

Later in the day, according to the distraught whistleblower who came to PETA, goats were shot in the face with pistols and were hacked apart with an ax while still alive.

Cruel exercises like these continue regularly across the U.S. even though most civilian facilities and many military facilities have already replaced animal laboratories with superior lifelike simulators that breathe, bleed, and even "die."

Attention

Legalize Marijuana to Reduce Violence Says Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson

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© Flickr user ronpaulrevolt2008
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson (R) knows what it's like to wade out to the fringes of an issue and wait for everyone else to catch up with him.

Back in 1999, he was onto flaking "harm reduction" policies before the whole political establishment, including President Barack Obama's own people, adopted the meme. Today, he's ahead of the curve again, this time on pinpointing a clear strategy for reducing violence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Right now, 75 percent of the cartels' activities revolve around marijuana," the Libertarian Party presidential candidate told Raw Story recently. "I think as a nation, when we legalize marijuana, we're going to take giant steps toward drug reform, which will start off with looking at drugs as a public health issue, rather then a criminal justice issue. I just think legalizing marijuana [will cause] at least a 75 percent reduction in border violence due to the drugs [trade]."

Black Cat

'Obama is Worse than Bush' on Marijuana Policy Says Top Drug Reformer

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© Flickr user vhhammer
Rob Kampia, director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), has been working on drug policy issues for 17 long years, and during that time he's seen a dramatic shift toward legalization in the U.S. political climate.

Unfortunately for reform advocates, he told Raw Story recently that the shift in presidential politics has gone in the exact opposite direction. "We started MPP when Clinton was president," Kampia explained. "Clinton was horrible. Bush was worse than Clinton... and Obama is worse than Bush."

Sheriff

Debtors' Prison USA: Jailed for $280

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© Stockphoto
How did breast cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay end up behind bars? She didn't pay a medical bill -- one the Herrin, Ill., teaching assistant was told she didn't owe. "She got a $280 medical bill in error and was told she didn't have to pay it," The Associated Press reports. "But the bill was turned over to a collection agency, and eventually state troopers showed up at her home and took her to jail in handcuffs."

Although the U.S. abolished debtors' prisons in the 1830s, more than a third of U.S. states allow the police to haul people in who don't pay all manner of debts, from bills for health care services to credit card and auto loans. In parts of Illinois, debt collectors commonly use publicly funded courts, sheriff's deputies, and country jails to pressure people who owe even small amounts to pay up, according to the AP.

Take 2

BP Faces Legal Action From Russia Over Leaks Into the Ob and Yenisei Rivers

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BP has stepped into a new row over oil spills - this time in Russia - less than 24 hours after announcing it was going to pay out $8bn in America for polluting beaches with the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

Shares in TNK-BP, the Russian joint venture, slumped 5% after a meeting chaired by Vladimir Putin heard how legal action seeking damages was being prepared over leaks from pipelines into the Ob and Yenisei rivers. Natural resources and ecology minister Yuri Trutnev, whose ministry has a track record of successfully stripping companies such as Shell of their assets over ecological misdeeds, told Putin he was planning to go to court.

"I ordered Rosprirodnadzor [the environmental regulator] to prepare a lawsuit to seek damages and offered the company to lay out a plan on overhauling their pipeline system," he said, according to the meeting transcripts published on the government website on Thursday. "Please, act in line with the law," Putin was reported to have said in response.

Attention

Meenakshi Thapar- Bollywood Actress Beheaded By Co-Stars

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© Unknown
Bollywood actress Meenakshi Thapar reportedly has been gruesomely killed by two of her co-stars in a failed attempt to extort money from her family.

26-year-old Thapar was strangled and then beheaded after allegedly being kidnapped by two aspiring actors that she met on the set of her latest film Heroine.

Amit Jaiswal, 36, and his lover Preeti Surin, reportedly decided to kidnap Ms. Thapar after listening to her boast about her family's wealth and status in Dehra Dun, in the Himalayan foothills of northern India, according to Britain's Daily Telegraph.

The New York Daily News quotes Indian police as saying Amit Jaiswal and his girlfriend Preeti Surin allegedly lured Thapar on a trip with them to the town of Gorakhpur. According to the report, the pair then took Thapar capitve and sent threatening communications to her mother, saying they would force her to make pornographic films if their demands were not met.

Bomb

Nicolas Sarkozy: Why is the French President so Disliked?

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© Agency France Presse

If President Nicolas Sarkozy fails to win a second term, as many polls are predicting ahead of Sunday's first round of voting, perhaps the biggest factor will be the personal loathing that he elicits in so many of the French. What's behind it?

From the moment he took office in 2007, no French president in modern times has been the object of such blatant dislike.

It is an animosity quite distinct from opposition to his actual policies.

All leaders expect hostility for the things they do. Few get it in such measure for the things they are.

"There is an irrational hatred of Nicolas Sarkozy among much of the public, and it is playing a major part in this election," says Jean-Sebastien Ferjou who edits the news website Atlantico.

"I say 'irrational' because that is what it is. Polls show that if you ask people about this or that policy of Sarkozy's - but don't mention his name - they will tend to support it.

Comment: Perhaps the real reason for "Sarkophobia" is that the French on an unconscious level recognize pathology when they see it. For more information on Sarko's machinations, see these Sott exclusives:

New Sott Report: Toulouse Shootings: Mohamed Merah Sacrificed To Give Sarkozy Election Win?

Sarkozy The American's 9/11: Mohamed Merah: 'Liquidated' French Intelligence Asset

Sarkozy's Backers To Use Toulouse Attacks To Steal French Election - UPDATE!