Thursday, July 20, 2017

Exclusive: Bannon & Kushner Want to Outsource Afghanistan to Mercenaries - MARK PERRY

On July 10, the New York Times revealed that the Trump White House had recruited Erik Prince, the founder of the notorious private security firm Blackwater, and wealthy Trump backer Steve Feinberg, the owner of the high-profile military contractor DynCorp International, to “devise alternatives to the Pentagon’s plan to send thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan.” The story suggested that the president and his top advisers were dissatisfied with the military’s thinking on the conflict, the subject of an intense series of a consultations between senior military officers and Trump’s national security team over the last several months.

While the recruitment of Prince and Feinberg, who are close friends, was intended to provide new options for winning the 16-year war, the administration has been hesitant to describe their role. Both men are controversial for their advocacy of the U.S. government contracting out the Afghan conflict to a private company that would build Afghan state capacity, provide logistical support to the Afghan army, and battle the Taliban. At the very least, the new arrangement would mean a lighter footprint for the U.S. military (or perhaps none at all); at the most it would mean that corporate America, and not the U.S. government, would be responsible for running an overseas war—a kind of “War Inc.”

“Dyncorp has its hands all over Afghanistan anyway, and I mean they’re just everywhere,” a high-level former intelligence officer who is privy to the administration’s thinking told me, “so [senior White House adviser Steve] Bannon and crew figure, ‘What the hell, let’s just turn the whole country over to them.’”

But the proposal has shocked the handful of senior Pentagon and CIA officials familiar with it, who point out the difficulty the United States has had in controlling private armies—and those who run them. This was particularly true of Blackwater, whose contractors gave the U.S. military fits in Iraq’s Anbar Province in the aftermath of Operation Iraqi Freedom, where both national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary James Mattis served in key command positions. Senior military officers blame Blackwater for destabilizing Fallujah in 2004 (forcing Mattis to send his Marines into the city in “Operation Vigilant Resolve”) and for the deaths of 20 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad (the “Nisour Square Massacre”) in 2007.

“That Trump’s people would even think that McMaster or Mattis would listen to Prince shows just how tone-deaf they are,” a senior military officer told me after the Times piece was published. “If there’s one name guaranteed to get H.R.’s back up it’s Erik Prince. How you can’t know that is beyond me.” Even so, Bannon and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner insisted that McMaster read a May 31 Wall Street Journal oped written by Prince entitled “The MacArthur Model for Afghanistan.” The president read the article and liked it, McMaster was told.

In fact, Prince’s op-ed read like a plea for new business for his Hong Kong-based Frontier Services Group (FSG), which would supplant the U.S. military in providing “reliable logistics and aviation support” to Afghan security forces, monitor a new effort to exploit Afghanistan’s vast mineral holdings, be charged with building Afghan state capacity and, not least, oversee an aggressive air campaign targeting the Taliban. Prince suggested that a “viceroy,” a Douglas MacArthur-like figure, be appointed to oversee the effort. In sum, Prince’s plan would turn Afghanistan over to an American version of Britain’s famed East India Company—which, as Prince wrote, “prevailed in the region” for 250 years by relying on private military units. It was a neat package: the Prince model would save the U.S. billions of dollars, help build Afghanistan’s economy, and settle the conflict by forcing the Taliban back to the negotiating table.

McMaster didn’t buy it, as he told Prince when they met at the White House soon after Prince’s Wall Street Journal article appeared - Read More

Exclusive: Bannon & Kushner Want to Outsource Afghanistan to Mercenaries

Report: Trump Administration Wants To 'Outsource Afghanistan To Mercenaries'

Steve Inskeep asks Mark Perry of The American Conservative about his article that says some in the Trump administration want to use more contractors in Afghanistan.

Military contractors outnumber soldiers in Afghanistan almost 3-1. They do a lot of the back-office work of warfighting. The question now is whether their role could expand under the Trump administration.

Mark Perry wrote about this in The American Conservative, and he's in our studios this morning. Thanks for coming by, sir. Good morning.

INSKEEP: So the headline on your article is "Bannon And Kushner" - close presidential advisers - "Bannon And Kushner Want To Outsource Afghanistan To Mercenaries."

PERRY: That's right, head of Cerberus International and DynCorp, which has a very large footprint in Afghanistan.

INSKEEP: A very large footprint doing what sorts of things?

PERRY: Logistics, supply - they also train Afghan police. They provide services to American troops, but they also provide security. And of course...

INSKEEP: Meaning some of them carry guns?

PERRY: Absolutely. And under this proposal, more of them would carry guns. And a lot of the fighting and training of the Afghan army would be contracted to private contractors. It's a very controversial proposal, but it was promoted by Prince and Feinberg to the White House. Mr. Trump apparently liked the proposal and wanted it to be considered for the new Afghanistan strategy, which is what's happening. 

ERRY: Well, Americans - American men and women wouldn't be coming home in body bags who wear uniform. This would be a wholly owned subsidiary, a corporate contract for private gain. - NPR

Report: Trump Administration Wants To 'Outsource Afghanistan To Mercenaries'

A daring idea to end our longest war: Mercenaries for Afghanistan - RICHARD COHEN

The Trump administration, like the several that preceded it, is mulling a new approach. This time, there will be no date certain when American involvement will end — a bit of Obama-era silliness that, in effect, told the Taliban to hold on, be patient and the Yanks will leave. President Trump has reportedly left troop-level decisions to Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired Marine general and a man of such reckless courage that he refused to fawn over Trump at a cabinet meeting. Somewhere, a medal awaits.

Mattis, however, is reportedly cool to the plan developed by Erik Prince, which would entail turning over a substantial part of the Afghanistan effort to “contracted European professional soldiers” — what you and I call mercenaries. The term has an odious connotation, but there is no avoiding it. Prince is referring to British, French, Spanish and other European soldiers.

They would not, as is now the case with Americans, be rotated out of the country after a period of time so that, in a sense, the U.S. is always starting anew. These contract soldiers would get about $600 a day to command Afghan troops and be embedded with them — much as U.S. special operations forces now are. Trouble is, the U.S. has a limited number of those forces.

The war in Afghanistan is the longest in American history. A loss would allow the country to revert to a terrorist safe haven. A win would require a commitment in manpower that the U.S. is not willing to make.  - Read More

A daring idea to end our longest war: Mercenaries for Afghanistan ...

Trump hosts Afghanistan veterans as deployment decision looms - washingtontimes

President Trump hosted four U.S. service members who served in Afghanistan Tuesday at the White House, saying he wants the views of “people on the ground” as he debates sending more troops there.

“We’ve been there for now close to 17 years, and I want to find out why we’ve been there for 17 years, how it’s going, and what we should do in terms of additional ideas,” Mr. Trump said. “I’ve heard plenty of ideas from a lot of people, but I want to hear it from the people on the ground.”

His guests at the luncheon in the Roosevelt Room included Army First Sgt. Michael Wagner, Army Master Sgt. Zachary Bowman, Army Master Sgt. Henry Adames, and Air Force Major Eric Birch. Also in attendance were Vice President Mike Pence and White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

The president referred to the service members as “four great soldiers who spent a lot of time in Afghanistan.”

“These are people on the ground — know it probably better than anybody,” Mr. Trumpsaid. “And we’re going to be getting some ideas because we’ve been there — it’s our longest war — we’ve been there for many years.” - Read More, 

Donald Trump hosts Afghanistan veterans as deployment decision ...

Afghanistan must not be abandoned - Washington Times

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

That Drug Expiration Date May Be More Myth Than Fact - MARSHALL ALLEN

The box of prescription drugs had been forgotten in a back closet of a retail pharmacy for so long that some of the pills predated the 1969 moon landing. Most were 30 to 40 years past their expiration dates — possibly toxic, probably worthless.

But to Lee Cantrell, who helps run the California Poison Control System, the cache was an opportunity to answer an enduring question about the actual shelf life of drugs: Could these drugs from the bell-bottom era still be potent?

Cantrell called Roy Gerona, a University of California, San Francisco researcher who specializes in analyzing chemicals. Gerona grew up in the Philippines and had seen people recover from sickness by taking expired drugs with no apparent ill effects.

"This was very cool," Gerona says. "Who gets the chance of analyzing drugs that have been in storage for more than 30 years?"

The age of the drugs might have been bizarre, but the question the researchers wanted to answer wasn't. Pharmacies across the country in major medical centers and in neighborhood strip malls routinely toss out tons of scarce and potentially valuable prescription drugs when they hit their expiration dates.

Gerona, a pharmacist; and Cantrell, a toxicologist, knew that the term "expiration date" was a misnomer. The dates on drug labels are simply the point up to which the Food and Drug Administration and pharmaceutical companies guarantee their effectiveness, typically at two or three years. But the dates don't necessarily mean they're ineffective immediately after they "expire" — just that there's no incentive for drugmakers to study whether they could still be usable.

ProPublica has been researching why the U.S. health care system is the most expensive in the world. One answer, broadly, is waste — some of it buried in practices that the medical establishment and the rest of us take for granted. We've documented how hospitals often discard pricey new supplies, how nursing homes trash valuable medications after patients die or move out, and how drug companies create expensive combinations of cheap drugs. Experts estimate such squandering eats up about $765 billion a year — as much as a quarter of all the country's health care spending.

What if the system is destroying drugs that are technically "expired" but could still be safely used? - Read More, NPR

That Drug Expiration Date May Be More Myth Than Fact

President Trump Lunch with members of Congress. July 19, 2017.

President Trump Lunch with members of Congress. July 19, 2017.

Trump to GOP senators: Cancel your recess

President Trump told GOP senators at the White House on Wednesday that they should cancel their August recess and not leave town until acting to repeal ObamaCare.

"We shouldn't leave town until this is complete," he said during a lunch at the White House. "We should hammer this out and get it done."

Trump also said that repeal isn't enough, and that Republicans should also replace ObamaCare with new legislation.

"We can repeal, but we should repeal and replace,” he said. 

"Frankly I don’t think we should leave town unless we have a health insurance plan, unless we can give people great health care," he continued. "Because we’re close. We’re very close.’’

The president challenged the GOP senators, saying that anyone who votes against beginning debate on the legislation is saying “you are fine with ObamaCare."

Trump’s opening remarks at the luncheon were open to the press and quickly broadcast on cable television.  - More

Trump to GOP senators: Cancel your recess | TheHill

Monday, July 17, 2017

MUHMMAD ZAHIR SHAH - دتاریخ پاڼه محمد ‌ظاهرشاه

Read More:

Daud Khan Speech, July 17, 1973 - بیانیهء رادیوئی سردار محمد داود 26 سرطان

Daud Khan Speech, July 17, 1973

July 17, 1973 بیانیهء رادیوئی سردار  - More

King Mohammad Zahir shah - 1933-1973

Mohammad Zahir shah ( part 1) - YouTube

Mohammad Zahir Shah ( part 2) - More

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Stress And Poverty May Explain High Rates Of Dementia In African-Americans

Harsh life experiences appear to leave African-Americans vulnerable to Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, researchers reported Sunday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in London.

Several teams presented evidence that poverty, disadvantage and stressful life events are strongly associated with cognitive problems in middle age and dementia later in life among African-Americans.

The findings could help explain why African-Americans are twice as likely as white Americans to develop dementia. And the research suggests genetic factors are not a major contributor.

"The increased risk seems to be a matter of experience rather than ancestry," says Megan Zuelsdorff, a postdoctoral fellow in the Health Disparities Research Scholars Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Scientists have struggled to understand why African-Americans are so likely to develop dementia. They are more likely to have conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, which can affect the brain. And previous research has found some evidence that African-Americans are more likely to carry genes that raise the risk.

But more recent studies suggest those explanations are incomplete, says Rachel Whitmer, an epidemiologist with Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research in Northern California.

Whitmer has been involved in several studies that accounted for genetic and disease risks when comparing dementia in white and black Americans. "And we still saw these [racial] differences," she says. "So there is still something there that we are trying to get at." - Read More, NPR

Stress And Poverty May Explain High Rates Of Dementia In African-Americans

Luxury Retailer Neiman Marcus Could Be Sold

Neiman Marcus is reported to be in a deal to be sold for $6 billion. Ares Management and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board are the joint interested parties looking to make the deal, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. - More, NPR

Luxury Retailer Neiman Marcus Could Be Sold

'Dirt Is Good': Why Kids Need Exposure To Germs

As a new parent, Jack Gilbert got a lot of different advice on how to properly look after his child: when to give him antibiotics or how often he should sterilize his pacifier, for example.

After the birth of his second child, Gilbert, a scientist who studies microbial ecosystems at the University of Chicago, decided to find out what's actually known about the risks involved when modern-day children come in contact with germs.

"It turned out that most of the exposures were actually beneficial," Gilbert says. "So that dirty pacifier that fell on the floor — if you just stick it in your mouth and lick it, and then pop it back in little Tommy's mouth, it's actually going to stimulate their immune system. Their immune system's going to become stronger because of it."

Gilbert is now the co-author of a new book called Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child's Developing Immune System. Presented in a Q&A format, the book seeks to answer many of the questions Gilbert has fielded from parents over the years. - Read More, NPR

'Dirt Is Good': Why Kids Need Exposure To Germs

Eight to 10 Republicans have concerns on healthcare bill: Collins

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Eight to 10 Republican U.S. senators have serious concerns about Republican healthcare legislation to roll back Obamacare, moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins, who opposes the bill, said on Sunday.

The Senate, which is delaying its consideration of the bill while Arizona Republican Senator John McCain recuperates from surgery to remove a blood clot, will take it up as soon as all senators are available, Senator John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican senator, said.

McCain's absence casts doubt on whether the Senate would be able to pass legislation to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, Democratic former President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement, commonly known as Obamacare.

Collins is one of two Republican senators who have already said that they would not even vote to open debate on the latest version of the bill released on Thursday, meaning one more defection from the Republican ranks could kill it..

Republicans control the Senate by a 52-48 margin. With the Democrats solidly opposed to the legislation, the Republicans can only pass the bill if all their other members back it and if Republican Vice President Mike Pence casts his tie-breaking vote in favor..

A Washington Post-ABC News poll published on Sunday showed Americans preferred Obamacare by a 2-1 margin. Approaching six months in office, Trump’s overall approval rating has dropped to 36 percent from 42 percent in April.

While Collins said that she did not know if the legislation would ultimately pass, she said as many as 10 Republicans have doubts about it. - Read More, Reuters

Eight to 10 Republicans have concerns on healthcare bill: Collins

Friday, July 14, 2017

Amazing. President Trump salutes U.S. troops in Bastille Day Parade. Paris, France. July 14, 2017.

President Trump at Celebrating Bastille Day Parade in Paris, France with President Macron. July 14, 2017. - More

Amazing. President Trump salutes U.S. troops in Bastille Day Parade ...

American in Paris: Donald Trump's visit to France – in pictures

The Guardian:
American in Paris: Donald Trump's visit to France 

Trump and Macron watch Bastille Day parade in Paris – video | World ...

Computer Scientists Demonstrate The Potential For Faking Video - Morning Edition

An update from the Wild Wild West of fake news technologies: A team of computer scientists have figured out how to make words come out of the mouth of former President Barack Obama — on video — by using artificial intelligence.

If you've been on the Internet at any point in the last year, there's a good chance you've come across fake news articles. Soon we may see a wellspring of fake news videos.

As a team out of the University of Washington explains in a new paper titled "Synthesizing Obama: Learning Lip Sync from Audio," they've made several fake videos of Obama.

Take for example, a time that he discussed the Pulse nightclub shooter and said "the investigation is ongoing, but we know that the killer was an angry and disturbed individual who took in extremist information and propaganda over the Internet."

Obama did in fact say these words. But the computer scientists were able to make it look like he said them in places different from where he actually did — in this instance, in a different room at the White House. Audio and video images could be manipulated to make it look like he said them at a different time — say as a much younger Obama.

Multiple illustrations of the technology are in this video: 

Researchers chose Obama because there's so much high definition video available of him to study. In principle, the artificial intelligence that studied him could be used to make others lip sync too. - Read More

Computer Scientists Demonstrate The Potential For Faking Video

Bill Clinton And George W. Bush Bond In Conversation About Leadership

On Thursday, former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton shared a stage and their ideas on what makes a strong leader in today's world.

The intimate conversation was part of the graduation ceremony for the 2017 class of the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program held at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.

Despite their opposing political affiliations the two say they have been on very friendly terms for decades and their affinity was on full display. They are two of 13 presidents in American history who served consecutive terms.

"He's a brother from a different mother," joked Bush early on, drawing a burst of laughter from the audience.

Bush also confessed that in the early days of his presidency he would often call Clinton for advice. While Clinton admitted his friendship with Bush's father and Clinton's predecessor, George H.W. Bush, was crucial to his success.

Though neither former leader mentioned their current successor by name both made remarks that could be interpreted as slights against President Trump.

When asked by the moderator of the event what is the most important quality for a person to possess if they hope to become president of the United States, Bush replied, "Humility."

"I think it's really important to know what you don't know and listen to people who do know what you don't know," Bush added. - Read More, NPR

Bill Clinton And George W. Bush Bond In Conversation About Leadership

Thursday, July 13, 2017

کنفرانس مطبوعاتی رئیس جمهور غنی پس از سفرش به قزاقستان، ترکمنستان و تاجکستان

کنفرانس مطبوعاتی رئیس جمهور غنی پس از سفرش به قزاقستان، ترکمنستان و تاجکستان - More

کنفرانس مطبوعاتی رئیس جمهور غنی پس از سفرش به قزاقستان ...

FULL President Donald Trump Live Coverage From Paris, France 7/13/2017 Press Conference Live Trump

President Donald Trump Live Speech & News 2017 - Read More

FULL President Donald Trump Live Coverage From Paris, France 7/13 ...

Donald Trump greeted with military fanfare in Paris - The Guardian

The US president, Donald Trump, has begun a visit to Paris, greeted with military fanfare as the French leader, Emmanuel Macron, showed him Napoleon’s tomb before they began talks on Syria and counter-terrorism.

After landing in Paris early on Thursday morning, Trump honoured American first world war veterans in a ceremony at the US embassy to mark 100 years since the US joined the conflict, while Macron was engaged in a separate meeting with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

The US president then arrived at the vast, historic military complex at Les Invalides, built by the Sun King Louis XIV, where he was met with a large French army reception and joined Macron in inspecting the troops. This seemed to flatter the US president, who has described himself as “a big military person” fond of army parades.

Trump will spend 24 hours in Paris, as a guest of honour at Friday’s Bastille day celebrations. - Read More

Donald Trump greeted with military fanfare in Paris

Trump arrives in Paris on second Europe trip in a week - CNNPolitics

Paris (CNN) - US President Donald Trump arrived in Europe for the second time in a week, a trip meant as a pomp-filled celebration of transatlantic ties at a time of anxiety on both continents.

Air Force One landed at Paris Orly airport, south of the city center, early Thursday morning. From there, Trump's took meetings at the American ambassador's residence before being greeted in a formal welcoming ceremony by his host, French President Emmanuel Macron.

He was treated to a grand display of French splendor in the courtyard of Les Invalides military complex: a brass band to play the national anthem, a full review of troops, a warm handshake from Macron, France's charismatic new leader and a European double kiss from Macron's wife Brigitte.

The American leader toured Napoleon's tomb at the Les Invalides before sitting down for extended security talks with Macron at the Élysée Palace. The pair will take questions from reporters in the evening, and dine with their wives in a Michelin-starred restaurant on the second landing of the Eiffel Tower. - Read More

Trump arrives in Paris on second Europe trip in a week

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

رئیس‌جمهور‌غنی در مورد دست‌آوردهای سفرهای اخیرش، معلومات ارائه کرد

محمداشرفغنی رئیس‌جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان، قبل از ظهر امروز در کنفرانس مطبوعاتی حضور یافت و پیرامون دست‌آوردهای سفرهای اخیرش به قزاقستان، ترکمنستان و تاجکستان معلومات ارائه کرد.

این‌ کنفرانس‌ مطبوعاتی که در ارگ برگزار گردید، رئیس‌جمهور گفت‌که سفرهای اخیر به قزاقستان، ترکمنستان و تاجکستان و هم‌چنان سفرهای آینده ما به کشورهای آسیای میانه، از مهم‌ترین اقدامات ماست که جغرافیای افغانستان را به فرصت مبدل می‌سازد.

رئیس‌جمهور اضافه کرد که هدف ما این است تا موقعیت افغانستان را از فرصت به منبع عایدات مبدل سازیم و زندگی مردم خود را به شکل بنیادی تغییر دهیم.

وی در مورد انرژی برق گفت‌که برق، زیربنای زیربناست و ما تلاش می‌ورزیم تا از انرژی برق به‌حیث وسیلۀ ایجاد عایدات استفاده نماییم. رئیس‌جمهور افزود ‌که در گذشته، طرحی برای تولید برق از منابع داخلی وجود نداشت و در صورتی‌که تمرکز بالای این منابع صورت نگیرد، صنعت، خدمات و پیشرفتی صورت نمی‌گیرد.

رئیس‌جمهور گفت‌که ترکمنستان، آذربایجان، گرجستان و ترکیه، راه‌های بدیل واردات و صادرات برای افغانستان می‌باشند و ما را تا اروپا می‌رساند که موافقۀ پنج‌جانبه دراین خصوص در حال اجراست تا به‌این خواست دست یابیم.

وی از گشایش راه‌های بیشتر ترانزیت افغانستان با کشورهای منطقه خبر داده گفت‌که در مورد احداث خط آهن ازبکستان- افغانستان مذاکرات جریان دارد و تأثیرات آن نه‌تنها به شمال کشور، بلکه افغانستان شمول خواهد بود. وی تأکید کرد‌که  کشورهای آسیای میانه از شرکای بنیادی افغانستان محسوب می‌شوند.

رئیس‌جمهور کشور، موقعیت افغانستان را طلایی دانسته افزود‌ که تمرکز ما بالای انتقال پایپ لاین انرژی از کشورهای آسیای میانه به افغانستان است و مذاکرات همه‌جانبه دراین خصوص جریان دارد.

وی در مورد گشایش دهلیز هوایی افغانستان-هند گفت‌که صادرات محصولات افغانستان به‌هند گسترش خواهد یافت و فرصت‌ها و اهداف بیشتر را برای صادرات تعیین خواهیم‌کرد.

وی افزود‌که افغانستان سومین و آخرین فرصت را با جامعه جهانی دارد، ما سالانه ۲,۵ میلیارد دالر از جامعۀ جهانی تعهد گرفتیم، قوای بین‌المللی را برای تقویت نیروهای امنیتی و دفاعی خود قانع ساختیم، وضع منفی روابط با منطقه را بهبود بخشیدیم و این مواردی بود ‌که دیگران شک داشتند.

وی هم‌چنان در مورد استراتیژی امریکا در قبال افغانستان گفت‌که ایالات متحدۀ امریکا دیدگاه مثبت دارد و به‌خاطر تقویت قوای هوایی ما، ۸۶۰ میلیون دالر اختصاص داده‌است و قوای هوایی‌ما تا سال ۲۰۲۰ به‌گونۀ اساسی مجهز خواهند شد.

رئیس‌جمهورغنی در مورد مدیریت آب‌ها به پاسخ پرسشی گفت‌که ۱۸ میلیارد متر مکعب آب‌های افغانستان مهار می‌شود و معاهدۀ هلمند که اساس مناسبات ما را تشکیل می‌دهد، عملی خواهد‌ شد و این زمینۀ همکاری بین‌المللی را فراهم می‌سازد، نه تضاد. وی اضافه کرد که آب، پس از موقعیت جغرافیایی، دومین سرمایۀ ملی ماست.

رئیس‌جمهور محمداشرف‌غنی خاطرنشان نمود‌که طرح مذاکرات دوستی با ایران ترتیب گردیده و کمیته‌های ایجادشدۀ دو جانب، دراین راستا کار می‌کنند. - More

وبسایت ریاست جمهوری افغانستان