Monday, April 16, 2012

U.S. Seniors Eating Dog Food to Stay Alive : The 5th Estate Dog/Cat Food Taste Comparison Part 2

Evil holds sway over the streets of America today, where the very people who worked all their lives to pay our way are now homeless, reviled as being the problem (so-called "Baby Boomers"):  A sick commentary and damning moral/ethical indictment on a largely mentally-ill society that is today's AMERICA

THE 5TH ESTATE
04/16/2012

On the menu today is "Jakarta Little Friskies Tuna Casserole (TM)

In the hellhole that is now America, American Seniors, now homeless after having their homes stolen by the bankers and shyster mortgage companies, are facing death.  This is no exaggeration, not by a long shot.


The recent revelations by homeless advocates regarding the homeless elderly eating dog and cat food to stay alive - and even elderly still in their homes - makes my blood boil.

Determined to see for myself exactly what they were experiencing, at least as far as actually eating dog and cat food goes, we decided that for the cat food experiment, as a result of the contents containing fish, to try a 
"tuna" casserole.  

Living in paradise makes a huge difference, however I will attempt to allow for that while preparing this cat food for consumption (mine).  If today was like yesterday, imagining our revered Seniors eating this, sets the mood all by itself.  What is good enough and even good for dogs and cats does not mean it is O.K.for human consumption.  Animal food is simply NOT MADE FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION, any idiot knows that.  O.K., I have to stop here and get on with this.

We chose a can of Little Friskies, as it was the most expensive and the ingredients at least did not sound vomit inducing.  Surprisingly, when opened it contained nicely severed pieces of anchovy or sardine on top and what looked like... the chicken by-products listed on the label.  Also listed was "ocean fish, (Sardine, sea bream and Tuna)."  It smelled O.K.

First, the noodles were boiled, then the cat food was stirred in, along with two Indonesian chilies, a dash of fennel, salt, pepper, a well-chopped onion and a clove of chopped garlic, adding a splash of Indonesian Sambal (hot sauce) for good measure.

I gave it the gas once more, cooking the mess under a slow flame.  I have eaten a lot of crap in the field in my time, however I never dreamed would be doing this, ever and especially under these circumstances.

After everything was well cooked once more, into a baking pan it went.  It was then baked at 350 degrees for half an hour.

The result didn't look too bad, kind of like... baked cat food casserole.




There was an excess amount of grease that had to be scraped off, and I couldn't help it, I had to have some crackers to put it on as it was just too greasy.

The taste was not vomit producing, but finishing it off - just could not be done.

So, breaking my own rules the left-overs went down to the Jakarta "garbage kitties" as I wanted to get their reaction, and it was better than I imagined.  I'm an animal lover, but I hate these stinking, diseased, verminous bastards with a passion, the diseases they carry contribute significantly to child mortality here and I have sewn up the damage they have done to poor children and treated them with antibiotics, the spectre of rabies playing in the back of my mind, sweating it out....  Terrifying. 

The cats immediately attacked the casserole, and then each other, creating a bloody war zone in front of the garbage bin they live and eat in, leaving pieces of fur and ears on the deck for the rats to eat.  Quite satisfying, and if Little Friskies saw a video of this they would probably use it as an advertising tool.  PETA would not approve however this really matched my mood after trying to visualize Seniors cooking, much less eating, dog and cat food while doing it myself.

So, it it O.K for our Senior citizens to eat dog food to survive?


A few of my thoughts on this ghastly turn of events in America - the printable ones - may be perused in Part 1.  It is pure, unmitigated evil.  There is a special place in Hell reserved for the monsters that created this situation, along with the children of these people that allow it to transpire and believe it is "O.K."

Our Seniors, especially the homeless, need our help and full support.  They raised and provided for us, they built the America we now see disentigrating before our own eyes..  And now Americans turn their backs on them; this Senior citizen extermination by starvation is nothing less than Satanic.


Dr. Bob is an old, broken-down Marine NCO, paramedic and senior citizen with extensive experience operating in jungle and arctic environments.  He is also a decent cook, but not with cat or dog food.

British Lord Calls for Prosecution of Blair, Bush

Momentum slowly building; will Bush/Blair war criminals now flee to Paraguay, where Bush crime family has substantial land holdings

PRESS TV
04/16/2012

A British Lord has called for the prosecution of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US president George W. Bush for committing war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
 

Bush giving Blair fake medal:  It won't work
Lord Ahmed, the first British Muslim life peer in the House of Lords, said Blair and Bush are widely accused of launching “illegal” wars in the two Asian countries and thus should stand trials.

“There have been war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan and those people who have got strong allegations against them - George W Bush and Tony Blair - have been involved in illegal wars and should be brought to justice,” Ahmed said.

He made the comments after the Labour Party accused him of telling a gathering in Haripur, Pakistan, earlier this month, that he “can announce a bounty of £10 million” for the capture of the US “president [Barrack] Obama and his predecessor, George [W.] Bush.”

The Labour party has suspended Ahmed for allegedly offering the bounty, which he denies. 



"Hiding in plain sight" didn't work either - the architect of this malevolent cover scheme, scumbag Karl Rove, will be right alongside his masters, above, at the War Crimes Trials and this time he will not escape by refusing to respond to a subpoena

“I never said those words. I did not offer a bounty,” Ahmed said, challenging the Labour Party to provide evidence to support their claim. He did not, however, deny that he included Obama among the war criminals, reiterating that he has called for the prosecution of Blair and Bush. 



Rumsfeld will escape neither by lying or attempting to claim ignorance, as he has tried in the past

"I do not think there's anything wrong with that. If the Labour Party wants to suspend me I will deal with the Labour Party. They will have to give me some evidence," he said.

Ahmed, who became a life peer in 1998, has been a vocal critic of the anti-Muslim bigotry in Britain. 



War Criminals Bush and Blair are responsible for each and every American and British death in the illegal "wars" of Iraq and Afghanistan, along with over an estimated million civilians in both countries

He was instrumental in the entry ban on Dutch MP Geert Wilders who sought to screen his anti-Islam film in Britain back in 2009.

He was also highly critical of awarding knighthood to the anti-Islam hate writer, Salman Rushdie, back in 2007, saying he was “appalled” by the decision as Rushdie has “blood on his hands.”

AMR/MA/HE 



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Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.


This news site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.



Stunning Alcohol Abuse Revealed at U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan : Inspector General Details "Troubling" Statistics

Troubling?

Global Research
04/15/2012

Each U.S. diplomat in Kabul is limited to no more than one bottle of hard liquor, three bottles of wine and two cases of beer per day.


Getting blown-up isn't fun:  No wonder diplomats are getting 
snot-slinging, commode-hugging drunk
On March 31, 2010 the U.S. Department of Defense issued a document entitled “SOP for Customs Clearance Requirement Operations - U.S. Embassy, Kabul, Afghanistan.” Under the section “Importation of Alcohol,” it reads as follows: “Afghanistan is a Muslim country and the import and consumption of alcohol is forbidden. The U.S. Embassy is exempted from this ban.”


 Despite the fact that all U.S. military bases in Afghanistan are officially “dry,” the State Department has decided that its employees need alcohol on a daily basis, hence the exception. Our inquiry reveals that alcohol is dispensed through at least three mechanisms within the Embassy.

 
Afghan U.S. Embassy bears eerie resemblance to Saigon Embassy
1. The first mechanism is that the State Department uses taxpayer funds to purchase alcohol for diplomatic functions. During the period 2004 - 2009, State Department annual purchases of alcohol officially went from $64,000 to $294,000. 



It is believed that these numbers are low, but they are the numbers that the Department formally reported. WikiLeaks published an August 1, 2006 cable from Ambassador Richard Hoagland at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul describing an alcohol sodden lunch with Tajikistan Defense Minister Sherali Khairulloyev. While the use of public funds for such alcohol parties has been denounced by members of Congress, including Congressman Vern Buchannan, the practice continues.

2 The second mechanism is that the State Department lends its diplomatic privileges to select contractors so that they can import banned alcohol into countries such as Afghanistan. That alcohol is then sold (duty-free) within the grounds of the U.S. Embassy. In Kabul, the contractor is deceptively called the “Kabul Embassy Employees Association” or “KEEA.” It informally enforces the one bottle of hard liquor, three bottles of wine and two cases of beer per day limit for embassy employees. It should be noted that this “limit” was apparently introduced years ago because the drinking was even worse at that time.


Obama Afghan operative Adm. Mullin in throes of DT's
3. The final mechanism is that KEEA and other contractors are permitted to operate bars and clubs within the Embassy grounds. These clubs have cute military names such as “the Recreation Hooch” and “the Duck and Cover club.” This allows diplomats to image that they are part of the military’s counterinsurgency effort. There apparently are no limits as to how much alcohol these clubs can sell.



In Kabul there is a steady stream of alcohol parties. For example, for the supposedly dreary month of February, the Embassy creatively formed a “Feb Club.” The Feb Club stages a drinking party every night of February for the weary diplomats. One of the Feb Club’s signatures is to chug-a-lug alcohol out of a huge silver champion’s cup, similar to what one would win at the end of a Formula One road race.

The State Department has records that detail every pint, quart, liter and gallon of alcohol shipped to and sold at its Kabul Embassy, but it refuses to release this information, classifying it as secret. The U.S. secrecy rules are being misused to cover up misconduct and to protect senior officials from embarrassment, which is not their purpose.


Afghan war monger and U.S. "Ambassador" to UN Susan "Butch" Rice:  "Seriously, I only had ONE extra bottle of vodka a day....HONEST..."

If anyone in Afghanistan needed a cold beer at the end of the day it would be the U.S. troops who have just returned from a hot and dangerous patrol. U.S. diplomats, who sit comfortably in air-conditioned offices in Kabul and who earn $150,000+ per year, with two months annual out-of-country vacation, do not need alcohol. It is an insult to the U.S. troops fighting and dying in the countryside for American diplomats to party every night in Kabul.


"Another CIA-sponsored "suicide bomber?"  Hell, I'll drink to that, tell the Marines to lock and load...."

U.S. tax dollars should not be spent for alcohol. In addition, the unseemly Embassy alcohol parties place the United States is a bad light among Afghans. President Obama can begin to reduce his budget deficit by eliminating the State Department’s alcohol spending and he can begin to improve America’s image abroad by having his embassies show some respect for Muslim values.

Finally, this author might have more sympathy for U.S. diplomats if the civilian surge in Afghanistan was being effectively managed and if it was succeeding, but the multi-billion dollar program remains a failure, as it was in Iraq. If the alcohol parties were canceled, then State Department employees could devote more time to learning Dari and Pashto, and USAID officials might actually begin traveling into the field to manage their projects.




This news site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

CIA TORTURE : The Zelikow Memo; Internal Critique of Bush Torture Memos Declassified Document Sheds Light on Disputes Over Treatment of Detainees

War Crimes trials, NOW

Global Research
National Security Archive04/15/2012

Washington, DC, April 3, 2012 –

The State Department today released a February 2006 internal memo from the Department's then-counselor opposing Justice Department authorization for "enhanced interrogation techniques" by the CIA. All copies of the memo (Document 1), which reflect strong internal disagreement within the George W. Bush administration over the constitutionality of such techniques, were thought to have been destroyed. But the State Department located a copy and declassified it in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archive.


Victim of Abu Grahib
 The author of the memo, Philip D. Zelikow, counselor to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, described the context of the memo in congressional testimony on May 13, 2009, and in an article he had previously published on foreignpolicy.com site on April 21, 2009.

"At the time, in 2005 [and 2006]," he wrote, "I circulated an opposing view of the legal reasoning. My bureaucratic position, as counselor to the secretary of state, didn't entitle me to offer a legal opinion. But I felt obliged to put an alternative view in front of my colleagues at other agencies, warning them that other lawyers (and judges) might find the OLC views unsustainable."

OLC refers to the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.


Philip D. Zelikow, State Department
"My colleagues were entitled to ignore my views," he continued. "They did more than that: The White House attempted to collect and destroy all copies of my memo. I expect that one or two are still at least in the State Department's archives."

Zelikow attached two other memos to his May 2009 congressional testimony (Document 3) that were publicly released at that time (Document 4 and Document 5), but his February 2006 memo remained classified. In later public statements, Zelikow argued that the latter document should also be released since the OLC memos themselves had already been opened to the public by the Obama administration.




The memo released today, labeled "draft," concludes that because they violate the Constitutional ban on "cruel and unusual punishment," the CIA techniques of "waterboarding, walling, dousing, stress positions, and cramped confinement" were "the techniques least likely to be sustained" by the courts. Zelikow also wrote that "corrective techniques, such as slaps" were the "most likely to be sustained." The last sentence of the memo reads: "[C]ontrol conditions, such as nudity, sleep deprivation, and liquid diets, may also be sustainable, depending on the circumstances and details of how these techniques are used."


Rumsfeld will not be laughing at his War Crimes trial, sitting alongside Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Feith, Franks, Perino, Perle, Obama, Panetta, Hillary Clinton, Petraeus, Susan Rice, Carney and many, many others
 
According to Zelikow's accounts, he authored the memo in an attempt to counter the Bush administration's dubious claim that CIA could still practice "enhanced interrogation" on enemy combatants despite the president's December 2005 signing into law of the McCain Amendment, which, in Zelikow's words, "extended the prohibition against cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment to all conduct worldwide."


Abu Grahib will remain a stain on America until the perpetrators of these atrocities are brought to justice

The Zelikow memo becomes the latest addition to The Torture Archive – the National Security Archive's online institutional memory for issues and documents (including the OLC's torture memos themselves) relating to rendition, detainees, interrogation, and torture.


DOCUMENTS

Document 1: Philip D. Zelikow, State Department Counselor, Draft Memorandum, "The McCain Amendment and U.S. Obligations under Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture," Top Secret, February 15, 2006
Source: Freedom of Information Act request

Written following passage of the so-called McCain Amendment against "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment," this memo offers alternative legal argumentation to the opinions that the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel continued to put forward into 2006. According to Zelikow, he was told that some officials in the Bush administration sought to gather all copies of his memo and destroy them, but the State Department located this one and released it under the Freedom of Information Act.

Document 2: Stephen G. Bradbury, Justice Department, Office of Legal Counsel, Memorandum for John A. Rizzo, "Re: Application of United States Obligations Under Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture to Certain Techniques that May Be Used in the Interrogation of High Value al Qaeda Detainees," Top Secret, May 30, 2005
Source: The Torture Archive, the National Security Archive

This memo follows up previous OLC opinions on interrogation methods, providing an even more expansive vision of what kinds of "enhanced techniques" would be acceptable against al Qaeda and other detainees. Zelikow specifically refers to this memo in his February 2006 counter-argument.

Document 3: Philip D. Zelikow, Statement before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, Unclassified, May 13, 2009
Source: Provided by Philip Zelikow to the National Security Archive (originally posted online by the Federation of American Scientists)

After the Obama administration declassified the controversial Office of Legal Counsel opinions on so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques," Congress weighed in on the question. Here, Zelikow lays out his critique of the OLC position in detail.

Document 4: Philip D. Zelikow, State Department Counselor, and Gordon R. England, Deputy Secretary of Defense, "Elements of Possible Initiative," Sensitive but Unclassified, June 12, 2005
Source: Provided by Philip Zelikow to the National Security Archive (originally posted online by the Federation of American Scientists)

Zelikow and Gordon England, the acting deputy secretary of defense, put together this draft of a possible presidential initiative on detainee treatment and interrogation. The document was appended to Zelikow's May 2009 congressional testimony. According to his prepared statement, this memo describes a "big bang" approach to dealing with the larger issues, but after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld rejected its ideas, the National Security Council staff decided to pursue each issue piecemeal.

Document 5: Philip D. Zelikow, State Department Counselor, and John B. Bellinger III, State Department Legal Advisor, "Detainees – The Need for a Stronger Legal Framework," Unclassified, July 2005
Source: Provided by Philip Zelikow to the National Security Archive (originally posted online by the Federation of American Scientists)

In his May 2009 congressional testimony, Zelikow describes this document as part of an attempt by the State Department to enlist other U.S. government agencies to define legal standards for detainee treatment that were less "technical" and more "durable – politically, legally, and among our key allies." The memo was appended to his testimony.

For more information contact:  Tom Blanton - 202/994-7000 nsarchiv@gwu.edu


Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.


This news site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.




Taliban Militants Wage Simultaneous Attacks Across Afghanistan

Taliban have won, as Afghans have driven invaders from their country since the beginning of recorded history; question now is:  Who will be the last U.S. KIA in Afghanistan

Associated Press
04/15/2012

KABUL, Afghanistan -- 
The Taliban launched a series of coordinated attacks across the Afghan capital and at least three eastern provinces on Sunday, targeting NATO bases, parliament and foreign embassies in a complex assault that shows the insurgents can still penetrate Afghan security and hit Western and government targets in the heart of Kabul.
Afghans have handed British their asses on four occasions
Suicide bombers and insurgents wielding heavy weapons and rocket-propelled grenades executed the near-simultaneous attacks in what the Taliban called an opening salvo ahead of the spring fighting season, when warmer weather typically brings increased attacks. One police officer and 17 militants died in the attacks.

The assault, the most widespread in the Afghan capital since September, came as the U.S.-led international force is speeding up the transfer of security responsibility to the Afghans in preparation for an end to NATO's combat mission in 2014. The scale and scope of the violence underscored the challenge that Afghan security forces have in protecting even the country's centers of power.

The Taliban claimed that Afghan and foreign troops suffered heavy casualties, but reports from Afghan authorities said only militants were killed.

The Ministry of Interior reported that 17 insurgent fighters died in the attacks in Kabul, Paktia, Nangarhar and Logar provinces. One police officer was killed and 17 police were wounded - 11 in Kabul and three each in Logar and Paktia provinces, the ministry said. Fourteen civilians also were injured in the attacks.
As with every other invasion of their country, Afghans have taken horrendous casualties, making them even more pissed off and determined to drive out invaders - which they have each and every time, even kicking the crap out of the USSR,forcing them to withdraw after incurring unacceptable casualty numbers

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said the attacks were a kind of "message" to the Afghan and foreign forces, warning them the insurgents remain strong and resilient.
The Russians, like the Americans and NATO had their asses handed to them by the CIA trained Afghan mujahidin, one of whom was CIA trained Osama Bin Laden

He said the assaults were the Taliban's response to recent statements by NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and NATO spokesman Carsten Jacobson saying the insurgents were weak and that there was no indication they were planning a spring offensive.

"Our mujahedeen fighters are fighting with the Afghan forces in all four provinces," Mujahid told The Associated Press by phone as loud explosions rocked Kabul. "It was well-coordinated and planned for almost two months. It took two months to transfer the weapons and explosives and set up fighters in the specific areas that we planned to attack."
The Taliban still have U.S. made Stingers given to them by the CIA during the Russian-Afghan war and are said to be still hoarding them, so, the weapons given to them by the CIA have killed American servicemen and women, it's that simple:  U.S. deaths by U.S. munitions

The attack in Kabul began Sunday afternoon with more than a dozen explosions in the central neighborhood of Wazir Akbar Khan, where a NATO base and a number of embassies, including the U.S. Embassy, are located.

Gunfire erupted soon after the blasts, forcing people caught in the street to scramble for cover.

Militants fired in several directions from a building under construction near an intersection of roads that lead to the presidential palace, various ministry buildings and several Western embassies.
Killing, maiming, imprisoning Afghan children has not helped
"I saw two Land Cruisers pull up and two militants jumped from the car," said Mohammad Zakar, a 27-year-old mechanic who has a shop near the building commandeered by the militants. "They opened fire on an intelligence service guard ... They also fired on ... an Afghan policeman and then they jumped into the building. All the shops closed. I ran away."

Heavy gunfire crackled through the streets for hours as smoke rose over the skyline and sirens wailed. A loudspeaker at the U.S. Embassy could be heard barking: "Duck and cover. Move away from the windows."

Residents reported a blast near parliament as militants opened fire from the building under construction.
Mohammad Nahim Lalai Hamidzai, a lawmaker from Kandahar, said he climbed the tower of the parliament building and fired on the insurgents.

"I shot up to 400 or 500 bullets from my Kalashnikov at the attackers," Hamidzai said. "They fired two rocket-propelled grenades at the parliament. The fight was around the parliament, the Russian Embassy and Vice President (Mohammed Karim) Khalili's house."

Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, said insurgents took up positions mostly in unoccupied buildings outside of the heavily secured quarter that is home to military and diplomatic installations. He said the U.S., German and British embassies and some coalition and Afghan government buildings took direct and indirect fire.
Afghans have made it quite clear for some time now that they want the Americans/NATO out of Afghanistan, and will take their chances with the Taliban

Militants also attacked a NATO site on the outskirts of Kabul, where a joint Greek-Turkish base came under heavy fire and forces responded with heavy-caliber machine guns. A police officer said a suicide bomber inside a building near the base was shooting toward the Kabul Military Training Center.
The recent U.S. massacre in Kandahar was the last straw
At least six rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the base from an apartment building 250 yards (meters) away, according to an AP reporter at the scene. Greek troops responded with small arms, heavy machine guns and grenades, and two attack helicopters supported Afghan troops who tried to storm the buildings.

A French convoy moving on the road initially took fire along with another NATO base near the Greek-Turkish installation. Greek troops fired hundreds of rounds to assist, as explosions rocked the area and gunfire continued into the late afternoon.

Gen. Mohammed Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, said four militants were killed in that attack and one was arrested by Afghan National Army.

In an e-mailed statement, the Taliban spokesman said the attacks in Kabul targeted NATO headquarters, the British and German embassies, the Afghan parliament building, two hotels and sites along Darulaman Road, where the parliament is located.
American servicemen and women have died for nothing

"In all these attacks, tens of mujahedeen fighters equipped with light and heavy weapons, suicide vests, RPGs, rockets, heavy machine guns and hand grenades are attacking their targets," Mujahid said.

"We are strong and we can attack anywhere we want," he said, calling the attacks an opening salvo ahead of the insurgency's spring offensive.
U.S. helicopters evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Saigon after U.S. lost Vietnam war:  Who will be the last out this time around in Afghanistan

U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the coalition was standing by to support the Afghan forces, if needed. "I consider it a testament to their skill and professionalism - of how far they've come - that they haven't yet asked for that support," Allen said in a statement.

However, photos taken by AP photographers showed some NATO troops participating in the response to the attacks.

Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, praised the Afghan forces' response and said the attacks demonstrated why U.S. troops were still needed in the country.
Who will be the last death in Afghanistan?

Speaking in Berlin, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said there was some damage to the grounds of the German Embassy, but no staff were injured. He stressed the attacks would not prompt any change in policy.

At roughly the same time as the Kabul attacks, Taliban fighters launched assaults on Afghan and NATO installations in the capitals of Nangarhar, Logar and Paktia provinces.
 
No mere words may describe the overwhelming agony of family members that have lost loved ones in the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they now must also deal with the knowledge that their fathers, mothers, sons, uncles, aunts, daughters, brothers and sisters died for absolutely nothing

In Nangarhar, four militants - some wearing burqas to disguise themselves as women - entered a coalition base at about 2 p.m. The base, near the provincial capital of Jalalabad, is home to a so-called Provincial Reconstruction Team, a joint civilian and military group that works on development and governance issues. The ministry said Afghan security forces gunned down all four of the militants.

"There were lots of blasts," said Abdul Qahar Safi, a resident of Jalalabad. "I came to take my children from the school."

At the same time, four other attackers traveling in a vehicle loaded with explosives were seen heading for an airport near Jalalabad.

"Afghan security forces were chasing a suspicious four-wheel-drive vehicle en route to the airport," said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for Nangarhar province. "Before they reached the airport, the vehicle exploded."

Three insurgents were killed in the blast. Police arrested a fourth fighter, who was injured, the ministry said. In the wreckage, police found two rocket-propelled grenades, one heavy machine gun, three AK-47s, nine hand grenades and a pistol.

In Logar province, south of Kabul, five militants occupied a building under construction and started firing in several directions, the ministry said. Three police were wounded when the insurgents, who were all shot and killed, threw hand grenades on policemen responding to the scene. Four civilians also were wounded in the attack.

Farther south in Paktia province, a group of armed insurgents - some wearing women's clothes - entered a building near a police training center in Gardez. The ministry said the militants started firing in different directions. Five civilians and three policemen were wounded. Three attackers were killed.

The coordinated assaults showed a sophistication that is reminiscent of the last sustained attack in Kabul in September 2011.

In that strike, six fighters with heavy weapons took over an unfinished high-rise and fired on the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters. They then held out against a 20-hour barrage by hundreds of Afghan and foreign forces. By the time the fighting ended, insurgents had killed 16 Afghans - five police officers and 11 civilians.

That attack was blamed on the Haqqani network, a Pakistan-based group allied with the Taliban.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar expressed concern over Sunday's attacks and said Pakistan condemns terrorism in all forms and has consistently encouraged dialogue to resolve issues in Afghanistan.

Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.


This news site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.







Don't Wait for Social Security Check in the Mail : Social Security Payments, Other Federal Benefits, Switching Soon to Direct Deposit

SSN card a good deal for everybody; if account holders don't want to pay a fee, simply withdraw monthly sum in full in one shot

Associated Press
By Stephen Ohlemacher

WASHINGTON (AP) --

Starting next year, the check will no longer be in the mail for millions of people who receive Social Security and other government benefits.
 

Cards will make life marginally easier for homeless Elderly, Disabled
The federal government, which issues 73 million payments a month, is phasing out paper checks for all benefit programs, requiring people to get payments electronically, either through direct deposit or a debit card for those without a bank account.

The changes will affect people who get Social Security, veterans' benefits, railroad pensions and federal disability payments. Tax refunds are exempt, but the Internal Revenue Service encourages taxpayers to get refunds electronically by processing those refunds faster than paper checks.

About 90 percent of people who receive federal benefits already get their payments electronically, the Treasury Department says. New beneficiaries were required to get payments electronically starting last year, and with a few exceptions, the rest will have to make the switch by March 2013.

"It's just that natural progression of moving to how people are used to receiving their funds," said Walt Henderson, director of the Treasury Department's electronic funds transfer division.

Henderson said electronic payments are safer and more efficient than paper checks; in 2010, more than 540,000 federal benefit checks were reported lost or stolen. The switch will save the government about $120 million a year. Social Security will save $1 billion over the next decade, according to the Treasury Department.


SSN/Disability card a good deal:  No lost checks, which take forever to get replaced, dog-proof, rain-proof, mailman proof, easier to conceal, easy to replace if stolen or lost:  incredible, the first time U.S. government scores a win, even if they have ulterior motives

"You think of that paper check floating out there in the delivery system, with personal information on it, it's much more susceptible to fraud versus an electronic payment," Henderson said.

Advocates for seniors say they understand the government's desire to cut costs and take advantage of technologies that most workers already use. The food stamp program switched from paper coupons to debit cards in 2004.

But they have raised concerns about requiring the switch for older retirees who may not be used to electronic payments.

"This will affect some very frail elderly people who are living by themselves, many of them, and doing well, but usually within the context of that old paper check that they deposit in the bank," said Web Phillips, a senior policy advisor for the National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare.

"The change has to be handled carefully and with a lot of sensitivity so that there aren't people who lose track of a payment or don't understand that they have a card that came in the mail that's the source of their payment," Phillips said. "That's our concern."

The switch is mandated by a Treasury rule issued in December 2010. Since then, the department has worked to educate the public. The government has created a website, www.GoDirect.org and a toll-free phone number, 1-800-333-1795, people can call for assistance.

"Treasury acknowledges they have a lot of education to do for people about how these things work," said David Certner, legislative policy director for AARP. "We're a bit concerned about how easy it's going to be to provide education, particularly for some in this older population who are not familiar with debit cards and don't have bank accounts."

Certner said AARP wants the government to make it easier to get an exemption. Under the Treasury rule, current beneficiaries who are 90 and older won't be required to make the switch. People can get a waiver if using a debit card would impose a hardship, but the Treasury Department says those would be "extreme, rare circumstances."

These waivers are not well publicized on the government's website.

"There are several million people who receive paper checks today," Certner said. "Some of them do it because they have worked out arrangements for them that work."

AARP also has concerns about fees associated with the debit cards. The Direct Express cards are issued by Comerica Bank, Treasury's financial agent. Each month, benefit payments are added to the cards, which can be used to make purchases or withdraw cash from ATMs.

There are no fees for using the debit card to make purchases. They can be used at any retailer that accepts MasterCard debit cards. If a card is lost or stolen, the beneficiary is protected from unauthorized use as long as the missing card is reported promptly.

Cardholders can make one free ATM withdrawal each time a payment is registered in the card. Subsequent withdrawals will cost 90 cents each, and all withdrawals may be subject to fees by the owner of the ATM.

The government's switch to electronic payments also comes with a side effect: less business for the U.S. Postal Service, an agency that is already facing big budget problems with the rise of email and electronic bill paying.

The private sector has been migrating to electronic payments for years, costing the Postal Service millions of customers, said Alan Robinson, editor of the Postal Journal, a trade publication.

"Normally, these things happen one customer at a time," Robinson said. "In terms of payments, this is probably one of the largest."


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