“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Then Why Are They Growing Heroin Poppies?

Is this a source of future trouble?

South Asia hit by food shortagesBBC

People across South Asia are struggling to cope with a severe shortage of affordable wheat and rice.
There have been queues outside Pakistani shops in towns around the country, and flour prices have shot up.

Wheat flour is a staple foodstuff in Pakistan, where rotis or unleavened bread are eaten with almost every meal.

Last week Afghanistan appealed for foreign help to combat a wheat shortage while Bangladesh recently warned it faced a crisis over rice supplies.

Global wheat prices are at record highs. Problems have been compounded by crop failures in the northern hemisphere and an increase in demand from developing countries.

Afghan Commerce Minister Mohammad Amin Farhang said wheat shortages could lead to serious problems during the winter.

His call came amid rising discontent inside Afghanistan at the spiralling cost of wheat and other basic foods.

The price of rice in many parts of South Asia is rising fast
Afghanistan does not grow enough wheat to feed all its people and is partially dependent on imports.

On Thursday, the chief of the Bangladesh army, Gen Moeen U Ahmed, said that he was "very concerned" about the problem of rice supplies which he said must be redressed immediately.

Many people in the country have been hit hard by spiralling food prices, which in some cases have doubled over the last year, mostly because of damage caused by heavy monsoon rain.

A delegation from Bangladesh is now in India to discuss importing rice to offset the shortages.

Increase in demand

Pakistan's government says it has no lack of wheat supplies and blames distribution problems and hoarders, as well as smuggling by suppliers.

Officials say the price is fixed in consultation with representatives of flour mill owners.

The BBC 's M Ilyas Khan in Karachi says that the Pakistani government buys wheat in bulk at the time of harvesting, and then releases stocks to flour mills according to a pre-determined quota.

It now says it has increased the quota allocated to the mills, warning them of penalties if they are found selling flour at prices higher than fixed by the government.

Pakistanis consume an estimated 22m tonnes of wheat annually, and last season's yield was more than 23m tonnes.

Officials accuse suppliers in Punjab, the breadbasket of Pakistan, of smuggling wheat intended for domestic use to Afghanistan and Central Asia to take advantage of price differences.

Flour ran short in Pakistan when many areas saw rioting after the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in late December.

With the security situation in Pakistan now calmer, correspondents say it is not clear why apparent problems in distributing flour are persisting.

One reason cited is frequent power cuts which have led to flour mills stopping work.

"It's not fair," one retired worker, Younis, told Reuters news agency. "We are very angry."

He said he had waited for hours outside a government store in the southern city of Karachi, hoping to buy flour - but to no avail. Dozens of others went empty-handed, Reuters reported.

Initially, flour shortages pushed up the price on the open market in Pakistan to as much as 60 rupees (about $1) per kilogram in some areas. The average day labourer earns only 100 rupees a day.

The state-run Utility Stores Corporation has been selling flour at 18 rupees per kilogram, but it does not have enough outlets to serve the population of 160 million.


  1. Wiki will tell you that:

    William Huntington Russell William Huntington Russell (12 August 1809, Middletown, Connecticut - 19 May 1885, New Haven, Connecticut) was co-founder of Skull and Bones along with Alphonso Taft. ...

    ...William was first Cousin to Samuel Russell, the richest Opium dealer in the World.


    Samuel Wadsworth Russell, born in Middletown, Connecticut (August 25, 1789 � 1862) was an American entrepreneur and trader, and founder of Russell & Company, the largest and most important American trading house in China from 1842 to its closing in 1891.
    He arrived in Canton, China, in 1819, engaging in trade on behalf of the Providence firm of Edward Carrington & Company in various goods and products including opium, an extremely profitable activity despite being outlawed-yet protected by foreign forces.

    The profits made by Russell enabled him to found Russell & Company in Canton, China, in 1824. Dealing mostly in silks, teas and opium, Russell & Company prospered, and by 1842, it had become the largest American trading house in China.

    The song remains the same,
    the band plays on ...

    Notables of Russell & Company
    Warren Delano, Jr., the grandfather of Franklin Roosevelt (32nd President of the United States) served as the Chief of Operations of Russell and Company in Canton.
    John Murray Forbes, the great-granduncle of 2004 presidential candidate John Forbes Kerry (Skull & Boner, too).
    Robert Bennet Forbes, his son, was the head of Russell and Company.

  2. Funny that the Frat House that both Bush41 & 43 pledged in, as well as JFKerry, was originally funded and the Club House built with opium smuggling profits.

    That upon the US gaining control of the ground, in Afghanistan, opium production volumes exploded.

    Coincidence, for sure.

  3. Speaking of money, all those black entertainers that kept their money in their wallets, not jumping on the Obamawagon, waiting to see which way the wind was going to blow, showed some damned good sense. Also adding to the proof racism really is dead in American politics.

  4. high oil prices?

    blame the black rockers...

    even in AZ the black rockers can make DR pay more for food, clothing and shelter...

    now that FOOD shortages are up BECAUSE OIL IS UP this is a good thing...

    OPEC verse the American Bread Basket...

    let the games begin...

    I can wrap a blanket around my ass when i am cold...

    but I cannot eat a barrel of oil when i starve....

  5. Not according to Ron Paul, it is not the suppliers that have raised the price of oil, it remains constant, in gold.

    It is the debased dollar that has caused prices to rise.

    GIBSON: When 2007 began, oil was $61 a barrel. It was $100 last week. We haven't even begun to see the demand that India and China is going to put on the world's oil markets.

    Don't you have to, in the end, level with people that gas prices are at this level to stay and, if anything, they're going to go higher?

    And isn't not to do so intellectual dishonesty?


    PAUL: I'll be glad to answer that question, because it's something I talk about all the time and it's a very important question.

    The Wall Street Journal yesterday had a very good chart that explains this. If you look at the price of oil in the last 10 years, if you look at it in terms of dollars, it went up 350 percent.

    If you look at it in euros, it went up about 200 percent.

    If you look at it in the price of gold, it stayed flat.

    It's the inflation, it's the printing of money, it's the destruction of the value of the dollar.

  6. From the WSJ piece
    When crude oil hit its 1980 high, drivers squealed and the economy slumped. So far there is no comparable pain, and America, which consumes a quarter of the world's crude, retains its taste for big cars and energy-devouring homes. That's largely because the U.S. economy is more efficient and most Americans spend less of their disposable income -- about 4% -- on gasoline than in 1980, when they spent about 6%.

    There are two charts to view to correspond what Mr Paul was saying
    Charted 30yr gold prices

    And the WSJ inflation adjustedOil pricing

    Which when factored with the gold and GDP numbers substantiate Mr Paul's position.

  7. The Clintons campaign.

    The Trail of Tears

    You folks remember ol' Bill Clinton yukking it up at Ron Brown's funeral--until he realized the cameras were on?

    Big girls don't cry...

    These people don't cry.

    Hillary is a grown up girl.

  8. The price of oil has remained constant, the value of the dollar has fluctuated.

    Truth be known.

  9. Dick Morris's take on the tears----



    Published on January 8, 2008.

    Why did Hillary cry during an ABC interview yesterday?

    Some say it was phony, contrived to make her appear more human and empathetic. Wrong. She must have known the political consequences, particularly for a female candidate, of tears. Ed Muskie watered his political grave in New Hampshire in 1972 by crying in public over the false accusation that he had used a derogatory ethnic term to describe French Canadians. Nixon’s dirty tricks people had planted the phony story. But the tears ended Muskie’s candidacy.

    Others say that the tears reflected genuine emotion and sorrow for the diminished future prospects of America now that it would not have Hillary Clinton to lead it into the future. Wrong again. Even she is not that arrogant.

    The real reason was that her frustration at not being able to control events boiled over and metastasized into tears.

    I know because I saw it once before in 1994 after the Democrats lost Congress due, in large part, to her failed health care reform initiative. A few days after the election, she sobbed to me over the phone that she was “bewildered” and that “nothing I do seems to work out.” She confessed to being “totally at a loss” and not to grasp why “nothing is working.”

    Hillary is a control freak whose most admirable quality (yes, there are some) is her amazing self-discipline. She wears the right clothing, exercises properly, eats sensibly, stays on script when she answers questions, memorizes the briefing papers, follows the strategy, hits all the right talking points, gets her makeup and hair just right. So why is she losing? The essential equation for her is that if she disciplines herself sufficiently and prepared arduously, she will prevail.

    But when she doesn’t, she is at sea. She becomes frustrated by her loss of control and doesn’t know where to turn. She has great faith in gurus and chooses them carefully. But once she invests her faith in one of them, she follows their lead to the end of the earth. But if she doesn’t achieve her objective, if the guru’s instructions prove flawed, she is at a loss as to what to do and she becomes very emotional.

    A person who never bends, she sometimes breaks.

    Contrast her reaction to adversity with Bill’s. The former president becomes furious. He rants and raves to all who will listen about the injustices being done to him (or to Hillary) and demands redress. He refuses to concede the merit in his attackers but, red in the face, screams in rage at his adversity.

    For us the question is which we would rather have as president, an angry, determined, energized chief executive or one who is lost, awash in self-pity and confused by failure? The answer is obvious. Hillary lacks the temperament to be president.

  10. Again, the foreign boogie man turns out to be just another apparition of smoke & mirrors.

    Our Saudi allies maintaining the costs of their commidity, in real terms, for over thirty years.
    Now that's loyalty, especially if the world thinks the Sauds have US over the barrel.

    Gamesmanship Extraordinaire

    For US, it's self inflicted economic woes, based upon a debased currency. Fiat money, fancy engraving on pieces of high-grade paper.

    Been in the printing & publishing business for years now. Better than counterfeiting twenty dollar bills. The paper and ink, cost next to nothing.
    Distribution costs can get to you, though.

    Ignorance is bliss

  11. The dollar is down vs the euro about 35%, or so, since 2000. Oil is up about 900%, I think (I'd have to look back, but there are errands to run. :)

    That Poppy land is too dry, and poor to grow much wheat; BUT, they could turn the poppies into biodiesel, and have plenty of money to buy wheat.

    Or, (and I'm pretty sure they could do this) they could raise jatropa, and get a much higher yield than even from poppies.

    It's our fault for having the "failure of IMAGINATION."

  12. Turning poppies to opium is much more profitable.

    Has nothing to do with imagination.
    Barney the Dinosaur is not in the decision loop, won't ever be.

    Corruption, bribes and trafficking: a cancer that is engulfing Afghanistan
    24 Nov 2007
    Anthony Loyd
    The general made an elementary mistake. Told by his superiors that his new posting as chief of police in a drug-rich northern province would cost him “one hundred and fifty thousand”, he assumed the bribe to be in Afghan currency.

    He paid the money to a go-between at a rendezvous in Kabul’s Najib Zarab carpet market. For two days he was lorded in the office of General Azzam, then Chief of Staff to the Interior Minister, helping himself to chocolate and biscuits. “I must have eaten a pound of the stuff,” he recalled.

    But on the third day he received a different welcome. “Get this mother****** out of my office,” Azzam screamed, said the general. Hustled outside, he quickly discovered his error. He should have paid $150,000 (£73,000) rather than a paltry 150,000 Afghanis for the bung.

    Now living in disgruntled internal exile in northern Afghanistan, his verdict on his former employers is succinct.

    “Everyone in the Ministry of Interior is corrupt,” he told The Times. “They wouldn’t sleep with their wives without wanting a backhander first.”

  13. The Times of London, Mr Murdock.

    Good source, the entire article worth reading. More than a couple of quotes that could make a fella cry.

    If he was as emotionally connected to their inner-self as Billary is.

  14. This summer a border police vehicle was stopped outside Kabul and found to have 123.5kg of heroin, with a value of nearly $300,000, bagged in the back.

    That works out to around $1,100 per pound.

    That'd be a awful lot of subsidies for bio-diesel, in the pursuit of peace, to match the economic impact of opium and its' derivatives.

  15. I don't think that poor old rock farmer is getting quite that much, Rat. But, we can't, COMPLETELY, put him out of business by plowing up his fields. We COULD probably give him about as much as the Drug Dealers are giving him, and still come close to breaking even on the proposition.

    I bet you (and, I) would have a heart attack if we found out what the U.S. Military is paying to get Diesel in those trucks over there.

  16. No doubt of that, but it's not just the farmer that needs to be paid.

    The drug trade finances the entire economy, it so appears from the Times of London piece.

    Right on up to Karzai and his brother. But no convictions ...

    But no prosecutions, either.

    No firing up the Taliban when standing in formation, in a grave yard.

    What's the Goal, in Afghanistan, now-a-days any way?

    The only folks getting prosecuted in Afghanistan, Marines Differ on Deadly Afghan Shooting