Friday, June 29, 2012

China June 29, 2012 Defense firm pleas guilty to trafficking military arms to China

Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC), a Canadian subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation (UTC) defense contractor, pleaded guilty to violating the Arms Export Control Act by crafting false statements, and illegally exported U.S.-origin military software used for the development of China's Z-10 military attack helicopter to the Peoples Republic. In addition, United and its U.S.-based subsidiary Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation (HSC) agreed to pay more than $75 million collectively as part of a global settlement with the Justice Department and State Department. Roughly $20.7 million will be paid to the Justice Department and $55 million is payable to the State Department as part of a separate consent export agreement issues, including those related to the Z-10. The DOJ said up to $20 million could be suspended if applied by UTC to remedial compliance measures. The intensive investigation was led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Advertisement "This case is a clear example of how the illegal export of sensitive technology reduces the advantages our military currently possesses," said ICE Director John Morton. "I am hopeful that the conviction of Pratt & Whitney Canada and the substantial penalty levied against United Technologies and its subsidiaries will deter other companies from considering similarly ill-conceived business practices in the future. American military prowess depends on lawful, controlled exports of sensitive technology by U.S. industries and their subsidiaries, which is why ICE will continue its present campaign to aggressively investigate and prosecute criminal violations of U.S. export laws relating to national security." The Export Scheme During the development phases of China's Z-10 program, PWC supplied the engines. PWC delivered 10 of the development engines to China in 2001 and 2002. Even though the Z-10 helicopter is identified as military equipment, PWC determined on its own that the Z-10 engines did not represent "defense articles," requiring a U.S. export license. According to court documents, “PWC knew from the start of the Z-10 project in 2000 that the Chinese were developing an attack helicopter and that supplying it with U.S.-origin components would be illegal. When the Chinese claimed that a civil version of the helicopter would be developed in parallel, PWC marketing personnel expressed skepticism internally about the ‘sudden appearance’ of the civil program, the timing of which they questioned as ‘real or imagined.’” Nevertheless, PWC saw an opening and "insist(ed) on exclusivity in [the] civil version of this helicopter," and stated that the Chinese would "no longer make reference to the military program." Court documents also show that PWC's illegal action was driven by profit. The DOJ contends that PWC anticipated its work on the Z-10 military attack helicopter would open the door to highly lucrative civilian helicopter contracts with China, which PWC estimates could be worth $2 billion. Today, the Z-10 helicopter is in production and initial batches were delivered to the People's Liberation Army of China in 2009 and 2010. The Z-10 mission is to provide anti-armor and battlefield interdiction by using weapons like 30 mm cannons, anti-tank guided missiles, air-to-air missiles and unguided rockets. "PWC exported controlled U.S. technology to China, knowing it would be used in the development of a military attack helicopter in violation of the U.S. arms embargo with China," said U.S. Attorney Fein. "PWC took what it described internally as a 'calculated risk,' because it wanted to become the exclusive supplier for a civil helicopter market in China with projected revenues of up to two billion dollars. Several years after the violations were known, UTC, HSC and PWC disclosed the violations to the government and made false statements in doing so. The guilty pleas by PWC and the agreement reached with all three companies should send a clear message that any corporation that willfully sends export controlled material to an embargoed nation will be prosecuted and punished, as will those who know about it and fail to make a timely and truthful disclosure." The Chinese arms trafficking plea also highlights the increasing reach of ICE as an international investigative agency. "Today's charges and settlement demonstrate the continued commitment of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and fellow agencies to protect sensitive U.S. defense technology from being illegally exported," said DCIS Special Agent in Charge Bradley. "Safeguarding our military technology is vital to our nation's defense and the protection of our war fighters both home and abroad. We know that foreign governments are actively seeking U.S. defense technology for their own development. Thwarting these efforts is a top priority for DCIS. I applaud the agents and prosecutors who worked tirelessly to bring about this result." For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

It’s contempt for AG Holder

Even Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s staged floor walk out didn’t save Attorney General Eric Holder from a bi-partisan vote to hold him in contempt for his alleged role in the failed ATF “Fast and Furious” program that allowed assault firearms to cross the border into the willing hands of the drug cartels resulting in deaths of two federal agents. The entire Black Caucus and other Democrats totaling 108 walked off the House floor in protest and refused to vote against the black Attorney General. The charge would normally be taken up by the Department of Justice, but since Mr. Holder cannot investigate himself, the Republicans are expected to pass a second measure that would allow Congress to pursue an independent action against the Attorney General. There were 17 Democrats that crossed party lines and the 255-67 final vote sealed Mr. Holder’s fate. Advertisement Stay tuned for updates. For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stunning turn for Obamacare—GOP promises fight

ashington DC-In a stunning turn of events today, the President’s signature Obamacare legislation was ruled Constitutional in a 5-4 decision with Chief Justice, John Roberts joining the liberal side of the Court. Politico watchers inside the beltway said this was a much-needed victory, and Obama’s healthcare reform act will now put the Republicans on defense in the neck-and-neck 2012 presidential race. A stunned Republican party vowed to mount an aggressive fight to repeal the law. GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, responded briefly to the Supreme Court ruling: “I will repeal and replace Obamacare.” He also conceded that health care does need to be reformed and mentioned pre-existing conditions, affordability for all and removing limits as areas the Congress needed to address. At the heart of the legislation, the mandate, five Justices ruled to let it stand, not under the Constitution's Commerce Clause as the government originally sought, but as a tax, a power the Congress can regulate. An example of the taxes Americans’ can expect to pay if they don't have insurance look like this. Beginning in 2014, those earning $50,000 will pay approximately $500 or 1 percent, in 2015 it doubles to 2 percent and finally in 2016 the penalty tax reaches 2.5 percent. To enforce the new law the government will turn to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Additionally, Obamacare counts on approximately $500 billion in new taxes as a funding mechanism, as well as a $500 billion cut in Medicare spending by the government. Currently, nearly 50 million Americans rely on Medicare, more than 40 million of those are senior citizens. Critics have argued that drastically cutting Medicare isn't the way to reform health care, but haven't revealed the best way to fix a broken health care system. According to a recent Forbes story, Mark Bertolini, CEO and Chairman of Aetna Insurance announced at conference, “that the end is near for profit driven health insurance companies. The system doesn’t work, it’s broke today [sic]. The end of insurance companies, the way we’ve run the business in the past, is here.” He continues to say, “While I have long argued that the for-profit health insurance model no longer works, and that some form of a single-payer system is—whether you like it or not— inevitable, the simple fact is that we are no more ready to make single-payer a success in America then we are capable of sustaining the existing for-profit model.” Nevertheless, the ruling was not a complete victory for Democrats, as Chief Justice Roberts protected the states through the Commerce Clause. The ruling now gives states more control to limit the reach of the federal government, according to the majority dissent. Here, the liberal Justices described their skepticism and said under the Commerce Clause Obamacare remains unconstitutional, explaining a states’ refusal to expand the federal-state Medicaid program could not threatened states' existing funding. In essence, the Court said the federal government couldn’t penalize states if they forgo Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. While the issue reclaims 2012 political implications, attendees in front of the Supreme Court were either fans of Obamacare or fans of repeal and replace. “This is a great day for Americans,” said Lorena James. “Now everyone will get healthcare and it will be cheaper for all of us. The President (Obama) promised us universal healthcare with free preventative care and his promise was upheld.” However, those who fought against Obamacare see things much differently. “There is nothing free in life. Do you think doctors and hospitals are giving their time and products away for free? No way, someone is paying for the free ride and its the taxpayer,” said Debbie Monroe. “This issue will only inspire the Tea Party to rise up and vote out the President.” For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Congress adds 26 new synthetic drugs to Controlled Substance Act

In light of the recent spate of cannibalism acts perpetrated by substance abusers using synthetic drugs, Congress, in a rare bipartisan moment, banned of 26 artificial drugs. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) commended the House and Senate negotiators for promptly addressing the issue and quickly crafting the legislation banning 26 synthetic drugs under the Controlled Substances Act. Two specific drugs containing synthetic components that made the list, K2 and Spice, were identified as a contributing factor for the recent cannibal cases in the U.S. The addition of these chemicals to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act are part of S. 3187, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. Typical schedule one substances are highly abused, not used for medical treatment in America and lack FDA safety. In addition to listing the 26 drugs, “the new law would double the length of time a substance may be temporarily placed in schedule one (from 18 to 36 months). In addition to explicitly naming 26 substances, the legislation creates a new definition for ‘cannabamimetic agents,’ creating a criteria by which similar chemical compounds are controlled,” according to the DEA. In recent years, the U.S. has seen an increase in experimentation with synthetic drugs and the DEA finds that a number of products are extremely dangerous. “Products labeled as ‘herbal incense’ have become especially popular, especially among teens and young adults,” the DEA explained. “These products consist of plant material laced with synthetic cannabinoids which, when smoked, mimic the delirious effects of THC, the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana.” According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, more than 100 substances have been synthesized. The cannibalism acts that made headlines prompted the DEA to use its emergency powers to quickly place the harmful chemicals on a banned list. One of the newly developed drugs, dimethoxyphenethylamine has been referred to as synthetic psychedelic/hallucinogens and a contributing factor for a recent death of a 19 year-old in Minnesota. Speculation still swirls around the Miami man who ate the face of a homeless man. The graphic pictures made the Internet buzz and officials warned the influence of dangerous new synthetic drugs like "bath salts" could be behind the horrific action. Among the 26 banned substances were 15 different synthetic cannabanoids that the DEA targeted as potentially deadly if misused. The American Association of Poison Control Centers recently reported that they received 6,959 calls connected to synthetic-laced marijuana in 2011, up from 2,906 in 2010. For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Border Patrol takes $1 million in drugs off the streets

San Diego Border Patrol took more than one million in illegal drugs off the streets. The two thwarted drug smuggling attempts netted methamphetamine (Crystal Meth) and cocaine with a street value of $1,093,000. Border Patrol spotted a suspicious Black GMC Envoy driving along Interstate 8 just east of San Diego near the Pine Valley checkpoint. Once the SUV stopped agents approached and questioned the female driver. Agents said, the U.S. citizen was clearly nervous and they called in the K-9 team to inspect the SUV for illicit drugs. The K-9 team alerted agents to a positive scent and brought the vehicle to the checkpoint for a thorough inspection. “Agents brought the vehicle to the Border Patrol checkpoint near Pine Valley and utilized non-intrusive inspection technology which detected anomalies in the front and rear bumpers,” According to Ralph DeSio, public relations specialist for Border Patrol. “Upon further inspection Border Patrol agents removed a total of 23 bundles of narcotics from the bumpers. Nineteen of those bundles held 30.8 pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $617,000. The four remaining bundles held 11.2 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of $112,000.” A short time later, agents near the San Clemente checkpoint observed a suspicious Toyota Solara with smoke emitting from the car’s engine and approached the driver. “After questioning the driver, he consented to a Border Patrol K-9 team cursory inspection of the vehicle," DeSio said. “This inspection resulted in a positive alert to the rear quarter panel area of the vehicle. Upon further examination agents discovered an aftermarket compartment in the quarter panels that concealed 15 bundles of methamphetamine. The total weight of the methamphetamine was 18.2 pounds with an estimated street value of $364,000.” The suspected smugglers and illegal narcotics were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for further investigation. The U.S. Border Patrol seized both the vehicles. To report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol, contact San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900. For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Friday, June 22, 2012

We’re Fighting to protect China’s economic interests in Afghanistan

Ardent Middle East War critic, Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) voiced his displeasure with the Obama Administration’s latest Afghanistan deal that calls for U.S. personnel and resources to be used to protect Chinese interests’ inside the war ravaged tribal nation. The discovery and confirmation of huge natural resources in Afghanistan has suddenly cast a new light on Obama’s Right War. USGS discovers $1 trillion in natural resources, but China wins the contract Last year it was discovered that Afghanistan was much more useful to western countries than previously thought. After a decade of war, the Department of Defense commissioned an examination for rare earth resources that could be used to support the tribal nation. The U.S. Geological Survey uncovered $1 trillion of potential wealth in the form of minerals, copper, iron, gold, cobalt and most importantly, lithium. The Chinese recognized the mineral bonanza and immediately negotiated with the Afghan government to claim rights for precious resources that Americans use on a daily basis. The research to uncover Afghanistan’s potential natural resources came from a 2009-2011 USGS study that was funded by the DOD Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO). "The USGS is exceptionally pleased by the contribution we have been able to make to future development of Afghanistan's world-class mineral resources, made possible through the application of modern remote-sensing tools," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "There is always increased risk for commercial ventures investing in new mining facilities in frontier areas such as Afghanistan, but by making information on the locations and estimated quantities and grades of ores publicly available, we lower that risk, spurring progress." "The mineral resources in Afghanistan have the potential to completely transform the nation’s economy," said Regina Dubey, Acting Director of TFBSO. "This important new work by the USGS will be a powerful tool for those attempting to accurately evaluate potential investments in Afghanistan." According to the surveys, Afghanistan’s lithium reserves may be the largest in the world. In fact, most U.S. citizens use lithium powered products everyday in the form of cell phones and laptop computers. The New York Times, uncovered a Pentagon memo that said Afghanistan could be the "Saudi Arabia of lithium," rivaling Bolivia who currently holds the world’s largest lithium resources. "There is stunning potential here," General David Petraeus, former U.S. NATO commander and current CIA director. "There are lots of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant." While the rare earth mineral jackpot in Afghanistan is welcome news to the corrupt government, Americans have been left out of the negotiating process as China has gobbled up most of the rights to mine the minerals. It looks like history will indeed repeat itself as America invested trillions in treasure and blood in Iraq hoping oil contracts would help repay President Bush’s “War on Terror.” Fast forward to Afghanistan and America’s inability to procure meaningful rare earth mineral contracts that could bring much needed investment back to the ailing U.S. economy is a complete bust. So President Obama’s “right” War will costs trillions and lives in the name of “spreading democracy.” According to a story in the UK paper the Independent, American and European companies have complained about improprieties from the Afghanistan government allegedly evoking underhanded methods to ensure Beijing gets contracts. Alas, corruption is nothing new in Afghanistan in fact the United States Congress commissioned a study, and the results concluded American troops pay warlords billions a year for protection money. Even Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was a known heroin kingpin. Moving forward diplomats warn the newly discovered mineral jackpot will only lead to more unsavory activities between tribes in the war torn region. Nevertheless American leadership will most likely take advice from Jawad Omar, a senior official at the ministry, who said, "The natural resources of Afghanistan will play a magnificent role in Afghanistan's economic growth. The past five decades have shown that every time new research takes place, it shows our natural reserves are far more than what was previously found. This is a cause for rejoicing, nothing to worry about." This of course is fantastic news for the corrupt government; unfortunately it’s just another lie in a long list of falsehoods about the tribal nation. Which brings us back to Congressman Jones' outrage that came after the Afghan government settled a deal with China’s National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) allowing China to be the first foreign country to access Afghanistan’s oil and natural gas reserves. In a letter to President Obama, Rep. Jones demanded an explanation of U.S. military operations in the Chinese economic zones. “It is completely unacceptable to send our young men and women to protect China’s interest in Afghanistan’s natural resources,” said Jones. “How many more of them have to die for a corrupt leader and a corrupt government? So it was particularly disturbing to learn that the Afghan government had entered into its first oil contract, not with Americans, but rather with China’s National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). This is on top of ongoing reports of US military personnel effectively providing security for Chinese mining activities already ongoing in that county’s mineral-rich provinces. The United States is effectively borrowing money from the Chinese, and then spending that borrowed money to provide security to money making Chinese operations in Afghanistan. This is unacceptable. I would like to request that you provide an accounting of dollars spent directly and indirectly providing security to Chinese mineral extraction activities in Afghanistan, as well as an accounting of Americans killed and wounded providing security to those same operations. American lives are being lost, bodies wounded, and children’s futures mortgaged in order to prop up a profoundly corrupt and dysfunctional regime half a world away. Given that the Karzai government continues to make deals with the Taliban and to demonstrate a preference for our economic rivals, I would urge you to dramatically accelerate your projected time table for withdrawing our forces from that country. The projected 2014 withdrawal date means several more years of lives lost, and several hundred billion more borrowed dollars enabling interests that are at odds with the interests of American taxpayers,” the letter to President Obama said. Rep Jones isn’t the only one who thinks the administration is lying to the American taxpayer. Army LTC Anthony Shaffer (ret), author of NYT bestseller “Operation Dark Heart,” says the Afghanistan War has been off-track for sometime. Shaffer spent a number of years in the Middle East and penned “Dark Heart” after his frustrations were not taken seriously. “Our policy in Afghanistan should focus on U.S. strategic interests and the protection of the American people - it is not. The war in Afghanistan is a basket case, and it provides no clear focus or achievable objectives,” LTC Shaffer explained. “When an individual takes the Oath of Office – he must remain loyal to the Constitution, not to helping the Chinese enrich themselves from extracting minerals from Afghanistan. If most parents of service members serving in Afghanistan knew that we were providing material support to the Chinese they would demand accountability from Congress.” More misguided U.S. priorities come from Global Times reporter Gao Lei, who recently talked to Jeffrey Reeves, a research fellow at Griffith University's Asia Institute in Brisbane about the possibility that China presents a competing prospect for America in Afghanistan. “Since the majority of Chinese investment in Afghanistan will be in mining and mining-related infrastructure, maintaining security at these sites will be a huge challenge for China,” Reeves said. “The U.S. and Chinese interests in Afghanistan, at least at this point, are different enough that direct competition can be avoided. For the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), security remains of paramount importance, which means U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, will be primarily military for the near future.” Following in his predecessor’s footsteps, President Obama “has long sought to cooperate with China in Afghanistan. Last month at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue meeting in Beijing, they agreed to cooperate in training diplomats from Afghanistan at both China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the US Department of State.” More proof China is exploiting Afghanistan resources According to a newspaper report in The Telegraph, headquartered in Calcutta, India, China is trying to open its narrow border with Afghanistan building roads or possibly a tunnel under the Pamir mountain range. This development poses significant strategic implications for India, says General V.K. Singh, India’s former Chief of Army staff who retired a week ago. “It is an outflanking move,” Singh said. “India risks losing the influence it has in Afghanistan because of a China-Pakistan link that is getting stronger and seen in evidence here. China’s objective is to increase connectivity with Afghanistan where it already has considerable presence, like India, in development and other projects.” General Singh explains that the new border crossing “would be physical. And it is interested in this comparatively quieter area, the Wakhan Corridor (that) would facilitate the exploitation of natural resources in Afghanistan.” Backing up his allegation that China is building a new border crossing, Singh said through his research he found evidence of military engineering activity on the Chinese side of the border. As Chief of Staff, “the general red-flagged the presence of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers, mostly engineers, in PoK,” The Telegraph contends. “The building of the Karakoram Highway abutting the Siachen Glacier to its northeast through Shaksgam Valley in Aksai Chin, India-claimed territory that Pakistan has ceded to China, is also a strategic concern of the Indian Army.” The new passage between China and Afghanistan would mark the first border crossing since Mao Tse Tung’s communist forces took over China in 1949 and permanently closed inter-country travel. It’s important to note the 16,000-foot Wakhji mountain pass remains closed half the year due to inclement weather. Singh contends the most reliable border crossing would be a tunnel, but admits designing a tunnel under the mountains would take a true engineering wherewithal. The Chinese certainly know something about building technically challenging infrastructure, they demonstrated that ability where they built its all-weather access railway line to Tibet. Singh’s inkling that China is building a tunnel advances the “garland of pearls” strategy that surrounds India with military bases and logistics centers – stretching from naval outposts in countries like Sri Lanka and the Maldives, to ports in Pakistan and Myanmar completing the circle in the High Himalayas north of Kashmir. This strategy should alert American leaders to China’s true intentions of exploiting resources to gain the wealth required to become a super-power. It’s also been reported that President Karzai had discussed a project with China’s President Hu Jinatao, however Outlook Afghanistan says the proposal has not moved forward. “A direct road connection between China and Afghanistan is important for the increasing Chinese investment and Afghanistan needs land access to Chinese goods. It would also allow us quick access to South East Asia through Chinese ports. There were also talks about construction of an electric plant and a railway system from Tajikistan to Pakistan as part of a $500 million investment from China. Another point American’s may remember is that in December 2009, U.S. diplomats requested Beijing’s authorization to allow U.S. military supply lines to enter Afghanistan through the Wakhan Corridor. Apparently the U.S. wanted the route as an alternative supply line for NATO, however, China refused to grant permission. Conclusion American retaliation against Afghanistan’s Taliban for harboring Al Qaeda came full circle last year when the 9-11 mastermind, Osama bin Laden was killed. The issue for Americans, its allies, and American voters is what are our objectives now? Have we reduced our role to providing security for our major competitor (China) so it can prosper on American blood and ideals? Up next: China Flexes Its Financial Muscle in Afghanistan… For more on Afghanistan: http://www.examiner.com/article/campaign-contributions-war-profiteering-and-president-obama To read more Afghanistan stories in this series: Afghanistan War lingers- military deception for political expediency--http://www.examiner.com/article/afghanistan-war-operational-deception-or-political-hoodwink-1 Afghan War ain't about hearts and minds- 'just win baby'-- http://www.examiner.com/article/afghan-war-ain-t-about-hearts-and-minds-just-win-baby-1 Part one--http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/u-s-troops-fight-and-die-to-preserve-shariah-law-afghanistan Part two-- http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/us-payments-to-taliban-afghan-warlords-threaten-american-nato-troops Part three--http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/billion-dollar-corruption-within-the-u-s-picked-afghan-regime Part four-- http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/terrorism-s-down-payment-the-form-drugs-and-u-s-aid-money-part-4 Part five--http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/obama-begins-to-wind-down-the-costly-war-afghanistan-final-a-series For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

We’re Fighting to protect China’s economic interests in Afghanistan

Ardent Middle East War critic, Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) voiced his displeasure with the Obama Administration’s latest Afghanistan deal that calls for U.S. personnel and resources to be used to protect Chinese interests’ inside the war ravaged tribal nation. The discovery and confirmation of huge natural resources in Afghanistan has suddenly cast a new light on Obama’s Right War. USGS discovers $1 trillion in natural resources, but China wins the contract Last year it was discovered that Afghanistan was much more useful to western countries than previously thought. After a decade of war, the Department of Defense commissioned an examination for rare earth resources that could be used to support the tribal nation. The U.S. Geological Survey uncovered $1 trillion of potential wealth in the form of minerals, copper, iron, gold, cobalt and most importantly, lithium. The Chinese recognized the mineral bonanza and immediately negotiated with the Afghan government to claim rights for precious resources that Americans use on a daily basis. The research to uncover Afghanistan’s potential natural resources came from a 2009-2011 USGS study that was funded by the DOD Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO). "The USGS is exceptionally pleased by the contribution we have been able to make to future development of Afghanistan's world-class mineral resources, made possible through the application of modern remote-sensing tools," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "There is always increased risk for commercial ventures investing in new mining facilities in frontier areas such as Afghanistan, but by making information on the locations and estimated quantities and grades of ores publicly available, we lower that risk, spurring progress." "The mineral resources in Afghanistan have the potential to completely transform the nation’s economy," said Regina Dubey, Acting Director of TFBSO. "This important new work by the USGS will be a powerful tool for those attempting to accurately evaluate potential investments in Afghanistan." According to the surveys, Afghanistan’s lithium reserves may be the largest in the world. In fact, most U.S. citizens use lithium powered products everyday in the form of cell phones and laptop computers. The New York Times, uncovered a Pentagon memo that said Afghanistan could be the "Saudi Arabia of lithium," rivaling Bolivia who currently holds the world’s largest lithium resources. "There is stunning potential here," General David Petraeus, former U.S. NATO commander and current CIA director. "There are lots of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant." While the rare earth mineral jackpot in Afghanistan is welcome news to the corrupt government, Americans have been left out of the negotiating process as China has gobbled up most of the rights to mine the minerals. It looks like history will indeed repeat itself as America invested trillions in treasure and blood in Iraq hoping oil contracts would help repay President Bush’s “War on Terror.” Fast forward to Afghanistan and America’s inability to procure meaningful rare earth mineral contracts that could bring much needed investment back to the ailing U.S. economy is a complete bust. So President Obama’s “right” War will costs trillions and lives in the name of “spreading democracy.” According to a story in the UK paper the Independent, American and European companies have complained about improprieties from the Afghanistan government allegedly evoking underhanded methods to ensure Beijing gets contracts. Alas, corruption is nothing new in Afghanistan in fact the United States Congress commissioned a study, and the results concluded American troops pay warlords billions a year for protection money. Even Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was a known heroin kingpin. Moving forward diplomats warn the newly discovered mineral jackpot will only lead to more unsavory activities between tribes in the war torn region. Nevertheless American leadership will most likely take advice from Jawad Omar, a senior official at the ministry, who said, "The natural resources of Afghanistan will play a magnificent role in Afghanistan's economic growth. The past five decades have shown that every time new research takes place, it shows our natural reserves are far more than what was previously found. This is a cause for rejoicing, nothing to worry about." This of course is fantastic news for the corrupt government; unfortunately it’s just another lie in a long list of falsehoods about the tribal nation. Which brings us back to Congressman Jones' outrage that came after the Afghan government settled a deal with China’s National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) allowing China to be the first foreign country to access Afghanistan’s oil and natural gas reserves. In a letter to President Obama, Rep. Jones demanded an explanation of U.S. military operations in the Chinese economic zones. “It is completely unacceptable to send our young men and women to protect China’s interest in Afghanistan’s natural resources,” said Jones. “How many more of them have to die for a corrupt leader and a corrupt government? So it was particularly disturbing to learn that the Afghan government had entered into its first oil contract, not with Americans, but rather with China’s National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). This is on top of ongoing reports of US military personnel effectively providing security for Chinese mining activities already ongoing in that county’s mineral-rich provinces. The United States is effectively borrowing money from the Chinese, and then spending that borrowed money to provide security to money making Chinese operations in Afghanistan. This is unacceptable. I would like to request that you provide an accounting of dollars spent directly and indirectly providing security to Chinese mineral extraction activities in Afghanistan, as well as an accounting of Americans killed and wounded providing security to those same operations. American lives are being lost, bodies wounded, and children’s futures mortgaged in order to prop up a profoundly corrupt and dysfunctional regime half a world away. Given that the Karzai government continues to make deals with the Taliban and to demonstrate a preference for our economic rivals, I would urge you to dramatically accelerate your projected time table for withdrawing our forces from that country. The projected 2014 withdrawal date means several more years of lives lost, and several hundred billion more borrowed dollars enabling interests that are at odds with the interests of American taxpayers,” the letter to President Obama said. Rep Jones isn’t the only one who thinks the administration is lying to the American taxpayer. Army LTC Anthony Shaffer (ret), author of NYT bestseller “Operation Dark Heart,” says the Afghanistan War has been off-track for sometime. Shaffer spent a number of years in the Middle East and penned “Dark Heart” after his frustrations were not taken seriously. “Our policy in Afghanistan should focus on U.S. strategic interests and the protection of the American people - it is not. The war in Afghanistan is a basket case, and it provides no clear focus or achievable objectives,” LTC Shaffer explained. “When an individual takes the Oath of Office – he must remain loyal to the Constitution, not to helping the Chinese enrich themselves from extracting minerals from Afghanistan. If most parents of service members serving in Afghanistan knew that we were providing material support to the Chinese they would demand accountability from Congress.” More misguided U.S. priorities come from Global Times reporter Gao Lei, who recently talked to Jeffrey Reeves, a research fellow at Griffith University's Asia Institute in Brisbane about the possibility that China presents a competing prospect for America in Afghanistan. “Since the majority of Chinese investment in Afghanistan will be in mining and mining-related infrastructure, maintaining security at these sites will be a huge challenge for China,” Reeves said. “The U.S. and Chinese interests in Afghanistan, at least at this point, are different enough that direct competition can be avoided. For the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), security remains of paramount importance, which means U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, will be primarily military for the near future.” Following in his predecessor’s footsteps, President Obama “has long sought to cooperate with China in Afghanistan. Last month at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue meeting in Beijing, they agreed to cooperate in training diplomats from Afghanistan at both China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the US Department of State.” More proof China is exploiting Afghanistan resources According to a newspaper report in The Telegraph, headquartered in Calcutta, India, China is trying to open its narrow border with Afghanistan building roads or possibly a tunnel under the Pamir mountain range. This development poses significant strategic implications for India, says General V.K. Singh, India’s former Chief of Army staff who retired a week ago. “It is an outflanking move,” Singh said. “India risks losing the influence it has in Afghanistan because of a China-Pakistan link that is getting stronger and seen in evidence here. China’s objective is to increase connectivity with Afghanistan where it already has considerable presence, like India, in development and other projects.” General Singh explains that the new border crossing “would be physical. And it is interested in this comparatively quieter area, the Wakhan Corridor (that) would facilitate the exploitation of natural resources in Afghanistan.” Backing up his allegation that China is building a new border crossing, Singh said through his research he found evidence of military engineering activity on the Chinese side of the border. As Chief of Staff, “the general red-flagged the presence of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers, mostly engineers, in PoK,” The Telegraph contends. “The building of the Karakoram Highway abutting the Siachen Glacier to its northeast through Shaksgam Valley in Aksai Chin, India-claimed territory that Pakistan has ceded to China, is also a strategic concern of the Indian Army.” The new passage between China and Afghanistan would mark the first border crossing since Mao Tse Tung’s communist forces took over China in 1949 and permanently closed inter-country travel. It’s important to note the 16,000-foot Wakhji mountain pass remains closed half the year due to inclement weather. Singh contends the most reliable border crossing would be a tunnel, but admits designing a tunnel under the mountains would take a true engineering wherewithal. The Chinese certainly know something about building technically challenging infrastructure, they demonstrated that ability where they built its all-weather access railway line to Tibet. Singh’s inkling that China is building a tunnel advances the “garland of pearls” strategy that surrounds India with military bases and logistics centers – stretching from naval outposts in countries like Sri Lanka and the Maldives, to ports in Pakistan and Myanmar completing the circle in the High Himalayas north of Kashmir. This strategy should alert American leaders to China’s true intentions of exploiting resources to gain the wealth required to become a super-power. It’s also been reported that President Karzai had discussed a project with China’s President Hu Jinatao, however Outlook Afghanistan says the proposal has not moved forward. “A direct road connection between China and Afghanistan is important for the increasing Chinese investment and Afghanistan needs land access to Chinese goods. It would also allow us quick access to South East Asia through Chinese ports. There were also talks about construction of an electric plant and a railway system from Tajikistan to Pakistan as part of a $500 million investment from China. Another point American’s may remember is that in December 2009, U.S. diplomats requested Beijing’s authorization to allow U.S. military supply lines to enter Afghanistan through the Wakhan Corridor. Apparently the U.S. wanted the route as an alternative supply line for NATO, however, China refused to grant permission. Conclusion American retaliation against Afghanistan’s Taliban for harboring Al Qaeda came full circle last year when the 9-11 mastermind, Osama bin Laden was killed. The issue for Americans, its allies, and American voters is what are our objectives now? Have we reduced our role to providing security for our major competitor (China) so it can prosper on American blood and ideals? Up next: China Flexes Its Financial Muscle in Afghanistan… For more on Afghanistan: http://www.examiner.com/article/campaign-contributions-war-profiteering-and-president-obama To read more Afghanistan stories in this series: Afghanistan War lingers- military deception for political expediency--http://www.examiner.com/article/afghanistan-war-operational-deception-or-political-hoodwink-1 Afghan War ain't about hearts and minds- 'just win baby'-- http://www.examiner.com/article/afghan-war-ain-t-about-hearts-and-minds-just-win-baby-1 Part one--http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/u-s-troops-fight-and-die-to-preserve-shariah-law-afghanistan Part two-- http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/us-payments-to-taliban-afghan-warlords-threaten-american-nato-troops Part three--http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/billion-dollar-corruption-within-the-u-s-picked-afghan-regime Part four-- http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/terrorism-s-down-payment-the-form-drugs-and-u-s-aid-money-part-4 Part five--http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/obama-begins-to-wind-down-the-costly-war-afghanistan-final-a-series For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Congressmen launch “Defending Our Defenders” to stop defense cuts

While the economy may be driving the 2012 election cycle, a couple of Congressmen have hit the campaign trail to raise the awareness about the impending half-a-trillion dollar cuts that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said would hinder America’s national security. Congressmen Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-CA) and Randy Forbes (R-VA) both serve on the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee that is tackling the enormous defense spending cuts set for January 1, 2013. “Defending Our Defenders,” town hall-style events embarked on a seven-city tour to military rich communities hoping residents will acknowledge the regional impact that $500,000 billion in cuts would bring to their cities. “San Diego is rich in military history and tradition,” explained Rep. Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a Middle East War veteran at the San Diego meeting. “The Navy and the Marine Corps have a longstanding relationship with San Diego and their presence is a major part of our regional economy and identity. With the shift in defense strategy to the Pacific, San Diego will remain a strategic asset with its network of resources, infrastructure and technology.” Advertisement Hunter pointed out that the proposed defense cuts will continue to affect San Diego for the next 10 years and no branch of the armed services will escape unscathed. “There will be reductions in strength, meaning a smaller Marine Corps and Army.” In fact, Hunter stressed the U.S. will be forced to control the international waters with a much smaller Navy. And a smaller Navy adversely affects the Naval shipyards in San Diego that employs countless civilian workers. Local San Diego statistics show there are approximately 300,000 jobs directly or indirectly tied to defense industry. "If these cuts go through, we are going to be dangerously close to where we cannot guarantee our national security. An economic tidal wave will hit San Diego and the rest of the country and we could lose as many as one million jobs nationwide," according to Rep. Forbes. As for the Golden State, the massive military cuts are estimated to end 125,789 jobs and remove $10.79 billion in state revenues California desperately relies on to cover its bills. “This is something that ought to be in every Congressional debate, as we go into the November election. I think it’s a fair thing to say, ‘Where do you stand on defense cuts, and what’s your proposal to stop them?’” said Rep. Forbes regarding the consequences from scaling back America’s national defense. The half-empty Shiley Theater at the University of San Diego concerned Republican Congressman Hunter. "This tells me that people don't understand the gravity of the situation." Hunter also lambasted local media for leaving early, and voiced his disappointment that neither San Diego mayoral candidates bothered to show up and learn more about the impending financial set back the city will face next year. One candidate Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) has served on numerous veteran committees in DC during his tenure as a Democrat. Forbes told the roughly 100 attendees that he didn’t understand why Americans don’t care about the Middle East Wars and encouraged the audience to begin a dialog in their neighborhoods. However, critics point to the size and scope of U.S. military compared to the rest of the world and told the Congressmen that America’s constant need to rule the world needs to come to an end. The following is an overview of the proposed armed services cuts: NAVY China Poised to Outpace us in the Pacific As America draws down the Navy, China continues to improve the quantity and quality of its fleet: • Outnumbered 2 to 1: By 2020 the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) will have 75 submarines, while our Pacific submarine force will number less than half that at 32. • Outgunned by 50 percent: China’s anti-ship cruise missiles out-range us by nearly 50 percent, 185km to 124km. Meanwhile the PRC is developing an anti-ship ballistic missile that can strike our carriers far from the coast. • Cuts set to take effect next January would force a reduction in the fleet to just 230 ships, according to Congressional testimony and public statements from Navy leadership. • Last year, “the Navy was only able to source an average of 59 percent of the Combatant Commanders’ requirements. Without question, the Fleet is operating now at an unsustainable level,” according to Nov 2011 HASC Testimony of VADM Clingan, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy. Retiring the Royal Navy The Navy has proposed scrapping seven cruisers well before the end of their service lives. The battle force missile capacity of these ships is more than double that of the entire United Kingdom Royal Navy surface fleet. MARINE CORPS Unable to Fulfill Warfighter Demand Given its current commitments in Afghanistan, the Marine Corps would be unable to meet combatant commander timelines necessary for success in a second major contingency operation, according to 2011 testimony from the Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps GEN Dunford. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE & NATIONAL GUARD Pink Slipping 13 percent of Our Warfighters Roughly 200,000 active duty service members will have to leave service. This would be the equivalent of eliminating the entire Marine Corps. Slashing the National Guard 80-100,000 of these cuts could come from the Army National Guard. This would cripple states’ ability to respond to a natural disaster or terrorist attack, and severely limit the Army and Marine Corps’ flexibility to respond to a major contingency overseas. AIR FORCE Ceding our pre-eminence in the skies In just ten years, the United States has gone from a position of dominant air superiority over the Chinese in a conflict over the Taiwan Strait, according to a study by the RAND Corporation, to a place where the same organization says the United States ‘can no longer be confident in winning’ an air war against China. Over that same period, the Air Force cancelled the F-22, retired 235 legacy fighters early, and is now proposing retiring another 123 combat aircraft. For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Younger illegal immigrants hit the Obama defacto amnesty jackpot

Today the President unleashed a fiery platform pitting unemployed Americans against a critically important voting block Mr. Obama needs to ensure reelection, Hispanics. With the swipe of his Presidential pen, Obama announced that “younger illegal immigrants” are eligible for deferment on deportation and will get work visas. “We have always drawn strength from being a nation of immigrants, as well as a nation of laws, and that’s going to continue,” Obama said from the Rose Garden. “And my hope is that Congress recognizes that and gets behind this effort.” However, the defacto “amnesty” orders bypassed Congress, is effective immediately and will set up key immigration promises for the hotly contested presidential race. GOP nominee, Mitt Romney responded to the President’s Executive Order as an affront to solving the issue without Congress and said it will not give "young illegal aliens" any long term certainty. He went on to say that an Executive Order doesn’t mean it won’t be overturned. Even President Obama admitted this action was only a temporary stopgap measure, but said “it was the right thing to do.” Essentially, those who demonstrate they meet set criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years. The application will be subject to renewal every two years, and will allow applicants to apply for work authorization. “Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” said Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.” Under the directive, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for a deferred action: * Came to the United States under the age of sixteen; * Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum; * Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; * Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; * Are not above the age of thirty. The nation’s unemployment picture isn’t rosy While the Obama Administration plays the “fairness” card, those who can’t find a job are cringing at the prospect of competing with an additional 800,000 Hispanics under the age of 30. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in May of 2012 there were 2.4 million marginally attached unemployed persons. By definition these people were not currently in the labor force, but wanted and were ready for work. These Americans had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. The number edged up from 2.2 million and continues a grim statistic that shows the 2012 unemployment rates have steadily inched upward. “Among the marginally attached, there were 830,000 discouraged workers in May. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.” “Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.8 percent) and Hispanics (11.0 percent) edged up in May, while the rates for adult women (7.4 percent), teenagers (24.6 percent), whites (7.4 percent), and blacks (13.6 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.2 percent in May, down from 7.0 percent a year earlier. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) rose from 5.1 to 5.4 million in May. These individuals accounted for 42.8 percent of the unemployed,” the federal government reported. The Executive Order takes effect immediately, and USCIS and ICE said they expect to begin implementation of the application processes within sixty days. For more information on the new policy www.uscis.gov, ICE www.ice.gov or DHS www.dhs.gov. Beginning Monday, individuals can also call USCIS’ hotline at 1-800-375-5283 or ICE’s hotline at 1-888-351-4024 during business hours. For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Border Patrol confiscates $2.4 million in narcotics by land and sea

Law enforcement officials disrupted three drug smuggling efforts in San Diego and Ventura Counties the past few days. Border Patrol agents apprehended a total of 22 suspects and confiscated approximately $2.4 million in marijuana and crystal methamphetamine. The California National Guardsmen working with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) alerted area Border Patrol agents assigned along the state’s coastline to a suspicious panga-style boat coming ashore near Deer Creek beach in Ventura County. Working with several law enforcement agencies, U.S. Coast Guard, California National Guard, California State Parks and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, agents captured 20 suspected drug smugglers and seized marijuana with a reported street value of $2 million. “Border Patrol agents responded to the scene and, through the collaborative efforts of several agencies, arrested 20 suspected smugglers and confiscated 4,087 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $2,048,095,”according to the CBP. All the suspects, narcotics, and the panga-boat were turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) for further investigation. In another incident Border Patrol agents assigned to the Interstate 5 checkpoint encountered two male American citizens driving a Mazda 626. The men’s nervous demeanor alerted agents who sent the vehicle to the secondary inspection area. After Border Patrol K-9 performed a cursory inspection, the dogs warned agents to a positive scent for illegal drugs. “Agents searched the vehicle and discovered four bundles of methamphetamine inside the trunk in plastic grocery bags,” according to Michael Jimenez, a CBP supervisor in San Diego. “The methamphetamine weighed 12.02 pounds and had an estimated street value of $240,400.” Both the suspected smugglers and the illegal narcotics were taken into custody and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for further investigation. The final incident occurred just north of the I-5 checkpoint at a fast food restaurant parking lot. A Border Patrol K-9 team happened to be patrolling in the area of the restaurant when the dogs alerted agents to a positive drug scent. “As the agent exited his vehicle, the K-9 alerted him to the trunk of a nearby silver 2011 Toyota Camry. A subsequent search of the trunk revealed nine bundles of marijuana,” Jimenez said. “The bundles weighed 231.28 pounds and had an estimated street value of $115,690. The marijuana and vehicle were taken into custody and turned over to ICE HSI for further investigation.” Border Patrol encourages citizens to contact the San Diego U.S. Coast Guard Joint Harbor Operations Center at 800-854-9834 to report any suspicious maritime activity along Southern California’s coastline. For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Afghan operative tied to Taliban gets life for heroin sales in U.S.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that an Afghanistan national that has ties to the Taliban will spend the rest of his life in prison for conspiring to distribute heroin in the U.S. and using the drug proceeds to purchase arms and supplies for a known terrorist organization. Haji Bagcho, a large scale drug trafficker, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle in the District of Columbia, according to Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Administrator Michele M. Leonhart of the (DEA). In addition to prison, Bagcho’s will forfeit the $254,203,032 in drug proceeds as well as his property in Afghanistan. “This is DEA at its finest, working in close collaboration with our Afghan partners to end the long reign of this Afghan drug lord whose drug proceeds financed terror,” said DEA Administrator Leonhart. “One of the world’s most prolific drug traffickers who helped fund the Taliban will spend his remaining days behind bars in a U.S. prison due to the relentless efforts of DEA, our Afghan counterparts and our prosecuting partners.” Heroin is one of Afghanistan’s most profitable crops and it’s a point of contention with American military forces that are not allowed to rid the tribal nation of the profits from poppies that are used to kill soldiers. “Haji Bagcho led a massive drug production and trafficking operation that supplied heroin in more than 20 countries, including the United States,” said Breuer. “In 2006 alone, he conducted heroin transactions worth more than $250 million. Bagcho used the profits of his narcotics trafficking operation to support high-level Taliban commanders in Afghanistan. Today’s life sentence is an appropriate punishment for one of the most notorious heroin traffickers in the world.” The Afghan national was convicted after a three-week trial. Bagcho was found guilty of “one count of conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, knowing and intending that it would be unlawfully imported into the United States; one count of distribution of one kilogram or more of heroin knowing and intending that it would be unlawfully imported into the United States; and one count of narco-terrorism,” the DEA said. In 2006, the U.S. implemented the narco-terrorism statute in an effort to crack down on international drug trafficking. Bagcho was charged in 2010, after he was arrested and extradited to the United States from Afghanistan in May 2009. The DEA worked with their Afghan counterparts to conduct the investigation that uncovered Bagcho as one of the largest heroin traffickers in the world who manufactured the drug in clandestine laboratories along Afghanistan’s border region with Pakistan. According to information presented at trial, “Bagcho, who had been operating his heroin business since at least the 1990s, sent the drug to more than 20 countries, including the United States. Proceeds from his heroin trafficking were then used to support high-level members of the Taliban in furtherance of their insurgency in Afghanistan.” “With the help of cooperating witnesses, evidence showed that the DEA purchased heroin directly from Bagcho’s organization on two occasions, which Bagcho understood was destined for the United States,” a DEA statement read. The DEA also conducted several searches of Bagcho’s residences and his known associates that retrieved evidence consistent with drug trafficking. During the trial, prosecutors presented ledgers recovered from Bagcho that catalogued his drug trafficking activities during 2006 alone. The ledger reflected heroin sales totaling more than 123,000 kilograms, with a street value of more than $250 million. Based on heroin production statistics compiled by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime for 2006, Bagcho’s heroin trafficking business accounted for 20 percent of the world’s heroin supply. “Over several years, evidence at trial established that Bagcho used a portion of his drug proceeds to provide cash, weapons and other supplies to the former Taliban governor of Nangarhar Province and two Taliban commanders responsible for insurgent activity in eastern Afghanistan, so that they could continue their ‘jihad’ against western troops and the Afghan government,” court papers showed. For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hapless or futile war on drugs policy to get a makeover

A bipartisan effort is currently underway to re-evaluate the effectiveness of the “war on drugs.” Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), co-chairs of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, released a bipartisan report entitled "Reducing the U.S. Demand for Illegal Drugs" that highlights education as a way to curtail drug use by Americans. The report openly admits America’s insatiable demand for illicit drugs (the U.S. is the largest consumer) is destroying our youth and directly responsible for the Mexican drug cartel violence that has claimed more than 50,000 lives in the past few years. According to the new report, drug abuse in the U.S. presents a major public health challenge and it also costs the country roughly $193 billion a year in health care, law enforcement and addiction expenses. Even with more drug enforcement resources along the U.S. southern border, approximately 22.6 million Americans over 12 were known illegal drug users. These numbers have consistently edged up during the last decade. Advertisement “Unfortunately, almost nine percent of the U.S. population used illegal drugs in 2010, so it’s hard to argue that enough is being done to reduce demand,” said Senator Feinstein, who’s state borders Mexico. “Only if we address the country’s appetite for illicit drug use can we prevent drug trafficking and the violence and loss of life it brings throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Tragically, just across the U.S. border in Mexico, more than 50,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence over the past five years.” The bipartisan report discloses a number of causes for drug use and explores several different solutions to slow addict rates and prevent minors from experimenting with drugs. “There are multiple causes behind the demand for illegal drugs, so there has to be a multifaceted solution to the problem,” said Senator Grassley. “We know there’s been success with an educational component. For example, we’ve heard from first-time users of synthetic drugs who would have stayed away, had they known the risks and consequences.” Drug cartel reality DVD directed just for kids “Operation Detour” Getting to children before they reach for drugs is imperative. One method showing promise tackles the issue by creating an educational illicit drug use documentary that concentrates on the lifecycle of illegal drugs and redefines the age old statement “just smoking one joint won’t hurt anyone.” Texas has already implemented one such program. “Operation Detour” offers insight into the entire cartel process currently in place to move drugs north of the border. The educational DVD takes the flashback approach to show the life of drugs. It’s not pretty, but children get a birds eye view of the death and destruction associated with illegal drugs. The U.S. Border Patrol’s Marfa sector collaborated with law enforcement agencies and a drug cartel expert to provide a different viewpoint on the “war on drugs” and the result was “Operation Detour.” “Drug smugglers have increased their efforts to recruit teenagers as smugglers, scouts and lookouts,” said Chief Patrol Agent John J. Smietana, Jr. “Being lured into their trap is a very real danger to our young people with severe consequences. Operation Detour is an effort to point out those dangers and to give kids an awareness of the help that is available to them.” “We appreciate the willingness of the schools to provide this opportunity and we certainly couldn’t get the message out without the assistance of our partners from the law enforcement and criminal justice agencies,” he said. The anti-drug program consists of an hour-long agenda made up of two videos showing how the drug trafficking organizations are organized and what the consequences are for partaking in these drug cartel organizations. “The presentation also includes a slideshow that explains the various criminal activities associated with drug smuggling,” the CBP said. “Also included is a panel discussion with law enforcement officials explaining how their organizations enforce the law and what the potential penalties are for getting caught trafficking narcotics.” “For six years, I’ve been investigating the cartels. I went inside one of the cartels for about a year back in 2006-2007. I have worked around the border, particularly in Texas, for these six years, doing nothing but working border security issues and the cartels,” according to Rusty Fleming, Operation Detour filmmaker. 

Once Fleming finished his narco-documentary, “Drug Wars; Silver or Lead,” Border Patrol agents sought his help.

 “Shortly after I released ‘Drug Wars,’ the documentary, I got a phone call from the Border Patrol in Del Rio,” he said. “They wanted to put together a prevention program, a narco-terrorism prevention program.”

Operation Detour, as it was named, is different from past anti-drug abuse campaigns, Fleming said.

 “Historically we’ve always warned kids about getting involved in drugs and using drugs,” he said. But Border Patrol has first hand knowledge of young people getting “busted” for drugs. 

The first part of the Operation Detour program includes 12 minutes of excerpts from his graphic drug cartel documentary.

 “The second part of the film is a reenactment that we scripted to show kids just how subtly they can become involved with these (drug organizations),” Fleming explains. “The most disturbing part of it is that kids that have absolutely nothing to do with drug smuggling get caught up in this and they either get arrested or killed just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person.”

 Fleming says Border Patrol agents are very serious about its effort to keep young people from the drug trade. 

“Once Border Patrol put (Operation Detour) together, I have to tell you, I’ve never seen so many resources put together and thrown at a prevention program, an awareness program as I have in the Rio Grande Valley. ”

Some of the new tactics Mexican drug cartels practice is to lure local street gangs and other, gangs like the Latin Kings, Mexican Mafia or Texas Syndicate to distribute drugs in their Texas communities. Eventually, some American kids will move drugs to major markets, Fleming said. However, the profits will go back to major trafficking organizations not the kids moving the drugs. 

Border Patrol Agent Jose G. TreviƱo said Operation Detour is effective and finds a receptive school audience. The decriminalization of drugs could end the illegal drug insanity On the flip side, there are other experts who believe America may be better served by decriminalizing drugs and ramp up rehabilitation centers to treat the real addiction problem. Ryan Hoskins wrote a paper for George Mason University regarding this very issue (Mexico Drug Violence: Why the Merida Initiative, gun bans and border controls will fail and drug reform is the solution). “It would be great if President Obama would reallocate the money currently set aside for drug interdiction and make an effort to fix the drug addiction problems American’s face each day,” Hoskins proposed.
“During my research (on the drug problems America faces) I came across Portugal’s recent legalization of drugs and I realized we (U.S.) are going about this problem all wrong.” Hoskins contends that drug usage didn’t increase in Portugal as many expected and police actually handed out more “fix-it” type tickets if you will. “By de-stigmatizing drugs, users were more likely to get treatment,” Hoskins explains. While America may be a long way from decriminalizing drugs, states like New York, are moving forward by adding small amounts of marijuana to the “okay” list. Last year, the Golden State’s voters said “no” on proposition 19, a ballot initiative that would have legalized the Mexican drug cartel’s biggest money maker- pot. However, many say it’s only a matter of time before medical marijuana users gain acceptance and convince the voters the state can gain valuable tax revenues. Nonetheless it hasn’t curtailed other states in the union from legalizing cannabis in an effort to tax and regulate the green plant. This plays into Hoskin’s hope. “First we need to decriminalize drugs, gain control of the drug problem and then perhaps we can eventually get rid of the black market by legalizing drugs altogether.” The latter, legalizing drugs would certainly bring an end to most black-market sales, but the notion drugs would be legalized in a country in which excess is the norm, may take a little getting used to. Senators see room for improvement in the anti-drug effort If American’s saw the dramatic escalation of violence and the consequences in drug supplying countries, like Mexico, the senators think it could give some potential U.S. drug users some pause. Another unsuspecting form of illegal drug use stems from the medicine cabinet located in most homes. “We have to reduce the demand fueled by easy access to drugs, such as the dramatic increase in the abuse of prescription pain killers that are readily available in medicine cabinets across the country,” Grassley said. The Iowa senator would like law enforcement to explore options for reducing access to prescription drugs. One method would be “ensuring the proper checks are in place on health care providers who prescribe these dangerous prescriptions drugs without performing enough due diligence and medical oversight.” The report also recommends: • Funding for innovative probation programs that are cost-effective and have significantly reduced recidivism, such as the Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE), which emphasizes quick punishment when individuals violate conditions of their probation; • Passage of the Online Pharmacy Safety Act (S. 2002) which would help stop criminals from exploiting the Internet to illegally sell prescription drugs; • Reorientation of U.S. anti-drug media campaigns to demonstrate the correlation between violence in drug producing and transit countries and consumption in the United States; • Blocking of any efforts to merge substance abuse and mental health prevention programs by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; and • Improved collection of data on U.S. drug use and treatment. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and John Cornyn (R-TX) endorse the illegal drug report. The entire report can be found here. In April, President Obama released the 2012 National Drug Control Strategy, it is the Administration’s primary blueprint for drug policy in America. “The new Strategy supports a ‘third way’ approach to drug policy, proposing alternatives to a law enforcement centric ‘war on drugs.’ The new drug policy strategy outlines 113 specific actions to be undertaken throughout the Federal government to reform U.S. drug policy through innovative and evidence-based public health and safety approaches including reviewing laws and regulations that impede recovery from addiction, expanding access to drug treatment, and expanding community-based recovery support programs,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). For more information about the Office of National Drug Control Policy, visit: www.WhiteHouse.gov/ONDCP. But for now, law enforcement will continue to enforce the country’s drug laws and hope parents and schools are successful at keeping kids off drugs. For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

San Diego Border Patrol seizes more than $1 million in crystal meth

Border Patrol agents reported that they thwarted three separate drug smuggling efforts at San Diego checkpoints netting $1,183,800 worth of methamphetamine. The first attempt occurred at the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 15. Agents stopped a 26-year-old male Mexican national driving a black Dodge Charger. “Agents became suspicious of the driver’s nervous demeanor and requested and received permission to search the vehicle. A subsequent search of the trunk revealed four car batteries containing 16 bundles of methamphetamine. The methamphetamine weighed 49.93 pounds and had an estimated street value of $998,600,” according to Mary Beth Lane Caston, San Diego Border Patrol, Information and Communication Division. Another drug smuggling attempt unfolded near the Border Patrol checkpoint located on Interstate 5 north of San Diego. Agents questioned two 20-year-old male United States citizens parked in seperate cars near the checkpoint in San Clemente. “The agents became suspicious of the two men’s nervous demeanors and requested and received permission to search both vehicles,” according to Caston. “A Border Patrol K-9 performed a cursory inspection of the vehicles resulting in an alert to each vehicle. Agents subsequently located a fire extinguisher filled with methamphetamine in the trunk of each car. The methamphetamine seized from both cars weighed 6.17 pounds and had an estimated street value of $123,400.” Advertisement The last event also occurred at the Interstate 5 checkpoint. Another male United States citizen was taken into custody after a Border Patrol K-9 team inspected the vehicle that resulted in a positive alert. “Agents searched the vehicle and discovered two bundles of methamphetamine under the rear seat. The methamphetamine weighed 3.09 pounds and had an estimated street value of $61,800,” Caston said. The suspected smugglers and narcotics were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The Border Patrol seized all three vehicles used in the attempted drug smuggling. To report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol, contact San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900. For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved. Border Patrol agents near the Interstate 15 checkpoint located methamphetamine inside a 2006 Dodge Charger on June 5 Border Patrol agents near the Interstate 15 checkpoint located methamphetamine inside a 2006 Dodge Charger on June 5

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

War profiteering and campaigns perpetuate the War on Terror

As the 2012 presidential race heats up and campaign donations pour into the candidate’s war chests, voters should pay attention to the “fog of war” contributors. Last month President Obama signed an Executive Agreement, at the dismay of most Americans, to remain in Afghanistan for another 10 years. This wartime news labeled the embattled President as a flip-flopper as well as a DC insider. His once “sterling” image of “hope and change” vanished with the swipe of his presidential pen and transformed him into just another “business as usual” presidential incumbent. Traditionally wartime presidents reap big defense contractor rewards in the form of campaign donations, and by the looks of the pre-election contributions, Obama is poised to be the winner. According to Open Secrets.org, the defense industry is hedging its bets and lavishing the incumbent president with a two-to-one margin over rival GOP presidential wannabe Mitt Romney. Advertisement Since 1999 the defense industry has more than doubled its niche in the American manufacturing sector. The industry guru’s have deduced that campaign donations of $200 million can produce a return on investment of billions in lucrative Pentagon contracts. The defense lobbying effort certainly pays out high returns and the forecast confirms smooth sailing. So why would President Obama risk his “Nobel Peace” prize and commit more resources to the Middle East? The answer lies with big campaign donors. Obama’s new Afghan War 10-year commitment makes a lot more sense after examining his major donors. It turns out that defense contractors are among the President’s largest supporters. To be fair, the money usually follows the party in power, but it appears defense contractors are hedging their bets and donating huge sums of money to President Obama’s reelection coffers. As the “President of Peace” enters the final stretch of the expected rough and tumble election, his quick quid pro quo for the new “right” war is being rewarded by the defense industry. For example, power player David Rubenstein co-founder of the Carlyle group (one of the largest defense contractors) garners direct access to the White House. According to visitor logs, President Obama hosted Rubenstein on six occasions during his first year in office. Rubenstein also loaned the newly minted President his copy of the Emancipation Proclamation. Obama proudly displays the coveted agreement in the Oval Office. Could President Eisenhower’s warning about the military industrial complex finally become reality? And is the Obama Administration banking on support from the largest U.S. defense contractors to pad his reelection coffers ensuring another four years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? American’s should ask who is benefitting from Obama’s “right” war, the soldiers? No. Are the family members of dead and injured soldiers? No. The taxpayers who are covering the billions of dollars per month? No. It appears to be President Obama and the defense industry that is raking in millions of dollars at the expense of service member’s lives and limbs. Waning war objectives lends itself to criticisms According to the latest AP poll only 27 percent of Americans support the Afghanistan War. However, the decade-long war slogs along with no signs of a “winning” strategy or achievable goals. During a recent 60 Minutes interview retired CIA officer, Cofer Black who planned and implemented the original Afghanistan covert mission was asked how important are mission plans in Afghanistan? He replied simply, “very.” “The American mission during the early hours after 9/11 (we) sought to destroy al Qaeda and to do so meant removing the Taliban from power,” Black explained. Not only was he was put in charge of hunting the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, but President George W. Bush tasked the CIA with formulating and launching a war. The classification of war is extremely important, Black explained while he was the CIA counter-terrorism center chief. “My mission was not to ensure little girls go to school in Afghanistan. My mission was not to establish a legal system in Afghanistan. My mission was to destroy al Qaeda and to do that we had to over throw the Taliban.” “We wanted to win,” Black vehemently said. He brazenly told President Bush “that when the CIA was finished, there were going to be flies walking across their eyeballs, this isn’t a joke, this is a statement of fact of what was going to happen.” President Bush didn’t flinch. Black did his job well and engineered a decisive victory with roughly 500 special operation forces that took only a few months to conquer and disband the Talban. (Transcript of this CIA international war found on PBS’s Frontline) Black attributes the success to the CIA’s ability to enter Afghanistan with a lot of cash and their ability to leave a small footprint. If Mr. Romney wins the 2012 election, inside sources say Cofer Black, former CIA spook, former vice chairman of the largest defense contractor Blackwater USA and current VP of Blackbird Technologies, will be his “dark-side” go to guy. In fact, Mr. Romney has already met with and received an intelligence briefing from Cofer Black. Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul told The Daily Beast that Black is “a well-respected figure in the national security community and said we are pleased to have him on the team.” She added that Romney “fields advice from a diverse set of advisers, evaluates their opinions, and ultimately makes his own decisions.” Despite US recession war spending spikes During the 2008 “hope and change” campaign, the junior Senator from Illinois admonished the Bush Administration, especially VP Dick Cheney, for their misguided and off the books wars. However, once candidate Obama became President the wartime watchdogs were disappointed with Obama’s military spending spree. Many continue to be disappointed that war profiteering remains constant under Democratic leadership. Government watchdogs point out the $800 billion stimulus package passed in February of 2009 only encouraged more wartime spending. What better way to keep manufacturing plants humming by offering multi-billion dollar Pentagon military no-bid contracts? During Obama’s first months in the White House the country was shedding jobs at an astounding rate and the new President needed a stopgap measure. The defense industry requires a highly skilled workforce and these jobs accounted for an “increase” in the manufacturing sector, something the Democrats like to champion. While the stagnant economy remains unpredictable, defense contractors, smartly place manufacturing plants in 44 states with influential Congressional districts’ in an effort to flourish off taxpayer money funneled through the Pentagon. "It's (also) about U.S. alliances, it's about maintaining jobs, and it's about America's broader role in the world - and what you have to do to maintain that role," Veteran Defense Consultant, Loren Thompson told CNN News. Waste, fraud and abuse rampant When it comes to reelection contributions, Republicans and Democrats recruit reps across the country to guarantee the Pentagon’s billion dollar contracts. It is the taxpayer that underwrites the large defense contractor manufacturing plants across the country. A prime example of the Chicago-style politics is the Boeing plant located in Obama’s backyard. Wiley contracting firms strategically placed their plant in a blue-collar state in an effort to buy or to twist the arm of greedy politicians. While defense contractors reach into at least 44 states to curry political favor they also pay Washington’s Beltway bandits on K Street a small fortune to cement their interests inside the corporate sector. Many DC lobbyists negotiate billion dollar contracts using insider information they learned while they were employed at the Pentagon. This is the murky world where defense lobbyists intertwine with the military elite to secure no-bid contracts. A perfect example of this revolving door is Army Lieutenant General Robert T. Dail who retired from the service and took a high-powered job with LMI a defense related business. Many retired military officials move to the private sector defense industry and parlay their inside knowledge to secure billion dollar contracts. This practice is legal, but many retired officers say it's shameful. According to a story from CNN, “The money changing hands within the defense industry comes from approximately 85 percent of the Pentagon spending. The industry fat cats have made out since the 9/11-terror attack. The U.S. Defense Department has doubled and spends more in a year than the rest of the world combined. (The U.S. spent $711 billion last year while the rest of the world spent a combined $725).” “There are a number of legal loopholes that allow the Defense Department, as well as other federal agencies, to avoid competition and to select a single company to provide the desired goods and services. In some cases, there may be only one legitimate supplier of needed goods, or the government can argue that it has “an unusual and compelling urgency,” and that holding a competition would have a detrimental impact on government operations or national security,” an iWatch News story contends. But those exceptions have become increasingly abused, according to numerous studies. In fact, an analysis of over a dozen government reports and investigations, and interviews with eight former government officials and experts, found a number of concerns about DOD competition practices — attributable in large part to the past 10 years of war. Those include: • The use of large umbrella contracts to purchase goods and services that could be competed individually, thus resulting in lower price; • Justifying sole source contracts by citing an “urgent and compelling need,” when in fact the urgency stemmed from the agency’s lack of planning for requirements that have been known for years. • Extending large contracts as a “bridge,” rather than re-competing them. • An overall failure to utilize competition in cases that could result in cost savings and better performance. Meanwhile government watchdogs say the enormous spending habits that lead to monumental waste, fraud and abuse show no signs of slowing. A good example of this is the gasoline costs. The American military pays approximately $400 per gallon of fuel to fill up the US convoys inside the land-locked Afghan nation. (The U.S. also pays Warlords hush money for safe travels along Afghanistan’s insurgent lined roads. (Previous Story Here) “The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) warned a military Commission in January of this year that the entire $11.4 billion for contracts to build nearly 900 facilities for the Afghan National Security Forces is at risk due to inadequate planning. This estimate does not include the waste that has resulted from Afghanistan‘s inability to sustain projects. Here is an example of pure waste.” A few years ago a PA company named Defense Solutions wanted to help the Department of Defense by buying and refurbishing old Soviet Union vehicles and weapons. New York Times bestselling author of Operation Dark Heart, Army LTC Anthony Shaffer (ret) explained this particular contract was a great idea for three reasons: First, the Afghan military was already used to using Soviet equipment and vehicles (armored personnel carriers, tanks, helicopters) because they have used the Russian equipment since the Soviet occupation. Second, the military equipment is low tech, durable, cheap to maintain and easy for the Afghans to use. Commonsense dictated that it would be cheaper for NATO, Afghanis and the U.S. to pay for the Russian military paraphernalia. However, U.S. corporations sold the Afghans U.S. weapons in an effort to make a lot of money from the Afghans for U.S. technology. Finally, LTC Shaffer says, “if the Afghan government should fail, we already know how to defeat Soviet/Russian weapon systems - so we would not be providing the Afghans with U.S. weapon systems that are harder to defeat if we had to fight them.” Major U.S. corporations lobbied both the Pentagon and the Hill to push for U.S. weapons to be purchased by the U.S. government and given to the Afghans. "This cost the taxpayers a far greater sum of money than the Russian weapons that could have been purchased from former members of the Warsaw Pack, refurbished and sent to Afghanistan,” Shaffer explained. He also said the cost of refurbishing old Soviet gear and giving it to the Afghans would have cost 1/50th of what the U.S. has spent. It’s projected by military commission reports that money lost as a result of the inability to sustain any number of projects could exceed $35 billion in taxpayer money. As a result, the (DoD) Commission proposed adding new positions and authorities to improve coordination and cooperation, including alignment of agency budgets, among Defense, State, and USAID in order to limit waste, fraud and abuse. So far agencies have failed to set or meet goals for competition in the Middle East Wars. In particular, “they have failed and have repeatedly awarded long-term task orders (on a no-compete contract) …even when competitive conditions improved; extended contracts and task orders past their specified expiration dates, increased ceilings on cost-type contracts and modified task orders and contracts to add extensive new work; favored using existing task- and delivery-order contracts like LOGCAP III over creating more competitive and more targeted contract vehicles; and used cost-reimbursable contract types even though simpler, fixed-price contracts could expand the competitive pool,” the commission concluded. Moving forward requires key reforms Moving forward, it’s imperative that the Pentagon provides adequate staffing and resources to establish procedures that will protect the taxpayer’s interests. It’s also up to Congress to stipulate resources for contingency and contracting reforms through legislation that requires regular assessment and reporting of agencies’ progress. Perhaps the most important task Congress is charged with is providing the money used to fund the "unpopular" wars. Ultimately it is the lawmakers that can end the Middle East conflicts with a Congressional floor vote; but many of these politicians are guilty of taking defense contractor cash that results in the death and injury to thousands of military service members. Despite having the facts at their fingertips, power and greed inside the beltway continues to justify the means for America’s blurry foreign policy. For the last Afghan story; http://www.examiner.com/article/afghanistan-war-not-one-more-drop-of-blood To read more Afghanistan stories in this series: Afghanistan War lingers- military deception for political expediency--http://www.examiner.com/article/afghanistan-war-operational-deception-or-political-hoodwink-1 Afghan War ain't about hearts and minds- 'just win baby'-- http://www.examiner.com/article/afghan-war-ain-t-about-hearts-and-minds-just-win-baby-1 Part one--http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/u-s-troops-fight-and-die-to-preserve-shariah-law-afghanistan Part two-- http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/us-payments-to-taliban-afghan-warlords-threaten-american-nato-troops Part three--http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/billion-dollar-corruption-within-the-u-s-picked-afghan-regime Part four-- http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/terrorism-s-down-payment-the-form-drugs-and-u-s-aid-money-part-4 Part five--http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/obama-begins-to-wind-down-the-costly-war-afghanistan-final-a-series For more stories: http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 4, 2012

California’s revised budget anti-jobs businesses say

Overly optimistic tax receipts combined with higher state expenditures are contributing factors for the Golden State’s financial Armageddon. Gov. Jerry Brown, Democrat, was forced to admit that lawmaker’s enthusiastic projected revenues fell short and his office was forced to submit a revised budget. Overestimating potential revenues in California has become a common practice used to cook the books, however, all good things must come to an end and Governor Brown acknowledged the party is over. According to California Budget Fact Check, California's budget deficit has grown substantially since January from $9.2 billion to $15.7 billion. Three main factors that lead to the larger deficit: (1) the Governor's prior budget projections have proven overly optimistic, (2) spending has grown this year and (3) the Governor's budget anticipates growing spending even more in the next fiscal year. Advertisement Perhaps most inexplicable is the fact that Gov. Brown intends to increase state spending. The small bright spot in the Golden State’s financial balance sheet show the general fund revenues are expected to grow $4.9 billion and as a result the total state’s spending, which includes special funds and federal dollars, will reach $225 billion by next year. “The problem isn't that we don't have enough money. The problem is that is that the Governor and others want to increase spending even faster than the money is coming in,” said George Runner member of the California State Board of Equalization. Runner explains that the Governor and his friends don't seem to realize the state has more than enough revenue to fund their programs, but Californians cannot find any jobs. “Yet rather than fight for jobs, the Governor is pushing tax hikes that will drive even more jobs and investment away from California,” he said. California’s foolishness has only given more prudent governors of other states the opportunity to recruit businesses and highly-skilled workers to move away from the once Golden State. “The answer to California's budget problems has been and always will be jobs,” Runner explained. “When will our Governor realize this?” Why Did The Deficit Grow? According to California Budget Fact Check, the May budget revision proposes a number of changes, including steep tax increases. Some of the highlights of the May Revision include: • The deficit has grown from $9.2 billion to $15.7 billion. This increase was a function of $1.7 billion in spending increases since the adopted 2011-12 budget, a failure of $4 billion of "phantom revenue" to materialize and increased spending proposed for 2012-13. • The Governor's office projects that revenues will grow $4.9 billion before the Governor's tax increase. Unfortunately, absent proposed spending cuts and fund shifts, spending would grow 9.8 percent. Total state spending (from all funding sources) will reach a new historic high of nearly $225 billion in 2012-13. This is $12 billion higher than the 2011-12 (current year) budget and $30 billion higher than 2007-08, before the recession. • The Governor's proposed tax increase is estimated to raise $8.5 billion. Schools would only get a portion of this new funding, approximately $2.9 billion, even though the language of the initiative suggests that the tax increase is dedicated to school funding. The language of the initiative allows the state to reduce state support for schools and use those funds for fast growing health and welfare programs. 2011-2012 carryover deficits added to the woes In January, Governor Brown assumed that the 2011-12 carryover deficit would be $4.1 billion. However, the May revision assumes that the carryover deficit will be $7.6 billion absent his proposed budget solutions. “This dramatic change in the carryover deficit is the result of at least $1.7 billion in increased spending since the adoption of the 2011-12 budget, $400 million from the failure of the legislature to adopt targeted reductions by March, as the Governor asked, and the failure of the $4 billion in "phantom funding" used to close the budget in 2011-12 to materialize,” the California Budget Fact Sheet said. “Phantom funding was the tax revenue that the Governor projected above the amount of funding anticipated by the non-partisan Legislative Analyst.” Spending is up across the board Even with a $16 billion deficit looming, the state of California lawmakers approved a yearly spending increase estimated to be $4.9 billion. Looking at the numbers the drivers for the increases were due to health and welfare expenditures. However, if the state Legislature rejects the Brown’s proposed cuts, spending will grow by $9.7 billion. Gov. Brown’s trigger cuts are on the horizon The Governor's new budget includes a number of cuts totaling $6.1 billion. In an effort to bypass the harsh cuts, Brown is traveling the state urging taxpayers to raise their own taxes. If the voters reject the multi-billion tax increases, schools will brunt 99 percent of the trigger cuts, Brown said. Keeping this in mind, it’s business as usual for the heavily Democratic legislature that reverts to the typical guilt mechanism and proposed tax hikes in place of cutting funds for California’s K-12 schools and colleges. Conclusion Apparently taxpayers cannot teach an old dog, new tricks (this is Governor Brown’s second tenure as governor) as he continues to promise business as usual for struggling Californians. Despite the lingering recession in the Golden-less State, taxpayers can expect higher deficits, higher spending and higher taxes. These lucky residents will also be subject to the new impending federal government’s 2013 taxmageddon (Bush tax cuts expire, payroll holiday tax expires and Obamacare taxes kick in.) California Budget Fact Check; http://www.arc.asm.ca.gov/BudgetFactCheck/?p_id=358 For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak © Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved. California flag. California flag. Photo credit: File Related topics: California budget crisis George Runner Gov Jerry Brown tax increase Budget Cuts