Conditions at the Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, Johnson & Johnson factory that produced now recalled children’s medicines including children’s Tylenol, Motrin, and Benadryl were apparently appalling. “This inspection report is pretty close to being the worst I’ve seen. It suggests that basically the FDA found an issue with almost every system at the plant,” said Temple University professor of pharmaceutical manufacturing, and former Johnson & Johnson employee David Lebo, according to CNN. Fortunately, the FDA report and subsequent recall preceded any reported incidents of sickness among children. That investigation is one big reason why we should value government regulation and involvement. There are too many vested interests at play in modern medicine, William A. Collins observed in his Getting Sick Can Be Darned Risky OtherWords column on April 19.
The victories of Sestak and Halter sent a clear message that the people are sick and tired of the establishment (whether Democrat or Republican) capitulation to special interests. Glenn Greenwald elaborates. And the new GOP candidate for Kentucky, Rand Paul, is against Wall Street giveaways, so that’s something.
Haitian farmers are furious at Monsanto’s donation of genetically modified, pesticide-laden seeds.
Younger people are more likely to oppose restricting immigration, more likely to disagree with the AZ bill (Via Wiretap/Campus Progress).
Small oil and gas companies line up to file lawsuits against BP and Goldman Sachs.
Ugh. Hundreds of tiny fish wash up on Louisiana’s marshes.
Mark Souder is the best thing to ever happen to Richard Blumenthal. Who’s Richard Blumenthal? Exactly.
Bonus: Apparently straight women also play softball. Who knew?
Today in honor of the 85th birthday of Malcolm X, I’m participating in an hour long discussion on the living legacy of Malcolm X and what Malcolm means in Obama’s America.
This discussion will occur on the Marc Steiner show 5pm to 6pm on 88.9FM for those in the Baltimore area. For those not in the Baltimore area, go to Marc Steiner’s website tomorrow and catch the podcast.
Also participating in the show will be:
- Minister Akbar Muhammad, who was in the Nation of Islam under Malcolm X;
- Omar Musa a Washington DC community activist, and
- Lalit Clarkson from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.
In honor of this birthday the lost chapters of the Autobiography of Malcolm X are to be revealed in New York City. These chapters are said to highlight Malcolm’s view of the means to overcome the racial divide in the United States. During this time of America’s war against Islamic terrorism, I believe further discussion on one of the country’s most well known radical, anti-Western Muslims will be quite enlightening.
Whew. I feel so much better now that POTUS has assured us the US has, “begun to reverse the momentum of the insurgency,” in Afghanistan.
Oh. Sorry. Just kidding.
What it really made me think is that Mr. Obama needs to find advisors who haven’t already drunk the Kool-Aid. And / or get his own meds checked.
Here’s why . . .
Afghanistan is not a failing state. It is a non-state — a network of tribes that alternately compete and collaborate. It is a landscape of “sink holes” into which our idea of governance has fallen.
The window to shift that reality (if it ever truly existed) certainly closed with the onset of the global economic implosion. The western commitment to Afghanistan would have died of ‘donor fatigue’ and overstretch sooner or later anyway, but the meltdowns and bailouts have pushed that moment up. It is better, therefore, to leave now.
What’s the downside of an immediate departure?
Loss of prestige? The US has none to lose with any of the groups they’re attempting to defeat.
Loss of deterrence? Misapplied force encourages rather than discourages resistance.
The Taliban take over? Let them. If they succeed in governing and create development and stability, the US wins. If they fail and destroy their popular support, the US wins. (Yes, it will be difficult for some of the Afghan people, but let’s tell truths — the US didn’t care about them before 9-11, and actions have pretty well demonstrated they haven’t really cared since. And, honestly, would you rather have to wear a beard / burqa, or get smoked in an air strike?)
That al Qaeda will flourish? It’s more an identity than an entity, and you can’t defeat ideas with firepower.
The instability in Afghanistan spills over into Pakistan? Too late. That outcome was pretty much assured when the US underwrote the original Muj back in the 80’s and then walked away after the Red Army bolted. (If not in 1947, when parts of Pakistan were incorporated by force, while others were excluded by whim, such as splitting the Pashtun nation.)
The Pakistan government falls and loses control over its nukes? We’re not sure to what extent such control exists today. Nor that US presence and assistance to that government are not more destabilizing.
That heroin will flood the world? Legalize drugs and kill a major funding source for criminals and insurgents. Then shift the DEA budget to recovery and development work.
That Afghanistan will become a training ground (again) for terrorists? As long as there is a sea of disaffected people in which to swim, terrorists will exist. The solution is development and equity — not combat.
Even if all the above were to occur, such outcomes are not necessarily more or less likely whether the US stays or goes.
Science tells us it that “complex adaptive systems” (which include all human organizations, whether your family, nation states, the Taliban or the LA Lakers) cannot be precisely predicted or controlled. The behaviors and outcomes manifested by the system emerge from the complex interactions among the ‘initial conditions’ (which continually “refresh”), the rules of the system, and the relationships among the ‘agents’, or members of the system.
So US prestige / deterrence may be damaged far more by overstretch than by withdrawal.
Al Qaeda may become irrelevant even if the US leaves, or may flourish because of events far from Afghanistan.
The Taliban may win simply by outlasting the invaders. (Remember, the US has to win. They only have to not lose.) Or it may lose because a US departure robs it of legitimacy, and what’s left is a bunch of ignorant thugs the tribes eradicate.
The Pakistani government may fall because of US support, or lack of it. Or simply implode from its internal inconsistencies.
The Pak nukes may be captured by the OG’s in such a collapse, or covertly handed over by the ISI in its ascendance. (Remember A Q Khan?) Or spirited away by a brilliant covert op.
None of these outcomes necessarily emerge because of US presence or absence. They are not really within US control. (Though American policymakers cling to that illusion.)
Most important, AfPak is nowhere near as great a strategic threat to the US as another $10 trillion of national debt. American military adventures in west and south Asia appear on course to add $3 trillion plus. A bloated ‘defense’ budget, corporate welfare and bailouts are on course to add the rest.
When American voters finally figure out how to crunch those numbers, it’s turn out the lights time, because the party’s over.
Better to bail now.
The above is an update of a response to David Kilcullen’s 2/09 piece in Small Wars Journal titled, Crunch Time in Afghanistan-Pakistan, in which he called a “Prevent, Protect, Build, Hand-Off” strategy the only viable option. I suggested “Option C” — bail immediately.
So I’m walking to work today and I suddenly start thinking about Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli PM. Sharon went into a coma back on January 4, 2006. To my knowledge, the man is still alive. Correct?
What an interesting story here. What if Sharon came back to us and wanted to work on a Middle East solution?
Small-scale Haitian farmers are furious about Monsanto’s efforts to “help” their country, Beverly Bell writes. The company is donating 475 tons of hybrid corn seeds and vegetable seeds, “some of them treated with highly toxic pesticides,” she says It’s prompting the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) to plan on burning Monsanto’s seeds. The group is also calling for a protest against Monsanto on June 4, for World Environment Day. As Bell explained in an OtherWords op-ed, Haiti has “a highly organized grassroots movement that has never given up the battle its ancestors began more than 200 years ago.”
The gap between the net worth of African American and white families has exploded in the past generation, according to new research released by scholars at Brandeis University. An initial wealth gap of $20,000 between black and white families expanded between 1984 and 2007 to $95,000 (excluding real estate holdings), researchers found. Why? Tax policies have helped the rich get richer, plus “evidence from multiple sources demonstrates the powerful role of persistent discrimination,” according to this report. “It’s time to finally make a unified thrust to bridge racial and economic inequality,” Dedrick Muhammad said in an OtherWords op-ed that called for a “rededication” to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision.
Researchers found links between organophosphate pesticides and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children in a study the medical journal Pediatrics published. The study identified correlation “at levels common among U.S. children,” possibly boosting the market for organic blueberries, strawberries, and celery. Kathleen Schuler’s February 22 OtherWords op-ed, Warning: Consumer Products May Be Harmful to Your Health, called for reforming “the outdated, ineffective Toxic Substances Control Act to protect the most vulnerable, especially children and pregnant women, phase out the worst chemicals, and require basic safety data for all chemicals before they are put into products.”
The bill for Afghanistan could run into the trillions, as another suicide bomber hits another U.S. convoy. IPS fellow Miriam Pemberton, who studies the military budget, wrote that the era of Bush-style spending isn’t quite over.
Noam Chomsky has to settle for talking to Birzeit University by teleconference in Amman, after he’s denied entry into Israel.
The racial wealth gap has “more than quadrupled over the course of a generation,” according to a new study. Dedrick Muhammad has been studying this for awhile and has said that we need a huge shift in focus if we’re going to narrow this gap.
Undocumented students stage a sit-in at John McCain’s office, calling on him to support the DREAM Act so they can obtain scholarships and work their way through college while going through the process of legal residency.
The Dept. of the Interior, despite the BP oil mess, still continues to approve offshore drilling plans in the Gulf of Mexico without environmental review. The Center for Biological Diversity is suing Sec. Salazar to stop this.
CBPP says that the growing budget shouldn’t be an obstacle to passing the jobs bill: “Most of the provisions in this bill, which is now in the final stages of development, are strictly temporary measures that will stimulate additional demand for goods and services and create jobs while the recovery is still struggling to gain traction; they are not permanent measures that add to the long-term budget deficit.”
The National Priorities Project’s Cost of War counter, which measures the flow of money Congress appropriates for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, will reach the $1 trillion mark on May 30, the organization predicts. Meanwhile, Congress is on track to OK another estimated $37 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. After that happens, NPP will update both its Cost of War amounts as well as the war-spending amounts found in its Trade Offs tool. If you haven’t seen this before, be sure to check it out. NPP makes it possible to know in an instant how much money a state or city has spent on military expenditures. For example, Des Moines taxpayers have paid $523.4 million for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars since 2001. That money, would have covered the cost of building 6,513 affordable housing units.
You can also read this OtherWords op-ed by NPP’s Chris Hellman about government spending.