Friday, October 31, 2024
By Steven Taylor

No surprise here: Afghan Farmers Turn to Opium Poppy to Survive

They are already sowing next year’s poppy crop in the fields of Afghanistan’s remote and mountainous North, openly farming the opium that will one day end up as heroin on the streets of Europe.


“During the civil war people lost everything, and it is only through poppy farming that they are able to provide for their families and build a decent home,” said Haq Abdur Rahim, standing among his fields as his workers plowed and sowed.

The economics make this inevitable:

Rahim says he earns $3,000 for the 22 pounds of opium he can produce from a single, tiny field, compared with just $10 for growing the 132 pounds of wheat the same plot would yield “which isn’t even enough to pay the wages of the workers.”

It is hard to blame these people for planting, and it raises the question of how you create the appropriate incentives to stop them in the first place.

And then you have this tale from Peru: Peruvian Coca Farmers Ripe for Bolivia-Style Revolt

Coca leaf growers, or “cocaleros,” were a key part of a bloody revolt this month that toppled the president of Bolivia, the world’s third-largest cocaine producer, removing a key U.S. ally in the anti-narcotics war.

Across the Andes in No. 2 producer Peru, some 200,000 angry coca farmers are gaining political clout. Critics say if Washington wants to prevent a repeat of the Bolivian crisis, it should re-examine its drug policy there.

“This should be a wake-up call to U.S. policymakers as to coca eradication policies which basically come with the promise of development and leave people to feel like they’re holding nothing,” said John Walsh, senior associate for the Andes and drug policy at the Washington Office on Latin America, a think tank.

Our current policies aren’t working, and further, as I pointed out the other day, they are helping to provide the fund to fuel terror (here and here).

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By Steven Taylor

Since I have been quite the critic of Clark and his chances to win the nomination, it is only fair to report some good news for him: Poll Shows Clark Taking Lead in S.C.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark has taken the lead in South Carolina, bumping John Edwards from the top spot in the state with a Feb. 3 presidential primary, according to a poll out Friday.

Clark had the support of 17 percent, while North Carolina Sen. John Edwards had the backing of 10 percent in the poll by the American Research Group of Manchester, N.H. More than a third, 36 percent, were undecided.

Although this is clearly bad, bad news foe Edwards.

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By Steven Taylor

Perhaps I am getting old, and I have always been terminally unhip, but what’s with the ugly new uniforms in the NBA this season? First I flip past the Phoenix game last night and thought I had found some minor-league basketball game (what’s with the logo that looks like an airport code?) and now the Mavs waive new uniforms after 1 game. I didn’t see Dallas’ new duds live, but the photo speaks volumes. Shiny silver? Who thought that was a good idea?

Cross-post: SportsBlog.

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By Steven Taylor

CNBC Hires Dennis Miller to Host Show

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By Steven Taylor

I meant to mention this yesterday, but Matthew J. Stinson has moved to his own host, leaving his B*S-based blog behind.

Go pay him a visit.

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By Steven Taylor

November marks the 100th anniversary of the independence of Panama from Colombia with the (*cough*) help of the United States.

Source: addthis_url = ''; addthis_title = 'Trivia%3A++A+Milestone+in+US-Colombian%2FPanamanian+Relations'; addthis_pub = '';

By Steven Taylor

Lest anyone think that in my comments on the economy I am in any way stating that Bush is responsible for the recovery, please note that I agree with James of OTB on this subject: Presidents get too much credit for good economies and too blame for bad ones.

Indeed, I have noted before that Presidents have less control over budgets (especially vis-a-vis deficits and surpluses) than they like to pretend. I made specific comments on Presidents and the economy itself here.

Now, I do think that various policies, such as the monetary policy fostered by the Fed, and the tax cuts, helped, but I do not believe that they explain the recovery.

However, it is clear, that regardless of where the credit should be placed, there is one thing that is clear: if the economy is good, that helps a president running for re-election.

Also, enough with the “Is she going to run?” stories on the cable news nets. She isn’t–especially if the economy is going to recover (and if you don’t know who “she” is, what are you doign reading a political blog? :)

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By Steven Taylor

Joining the, “Yes, 7.2% growth is nice, but will it conitue, and what about the jobs?” crowd is Paul Krugman.

While I take the point that one quarter does not a recovery make, most analysts seems to think that there is more going on here than one good quarter, althought granted, we shall see. Still, it is hard not to read some of these pieces with a straight face, as it so clearly the case that partisanship is radically coloring the analysis. (What? Paul Krugman placing partisanship before good analysis, surely you jest!-ed.).

Another example is a Slate piece from yesterday.

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By Steven Taylor

This is undoubtedly true: Economic Memo: Are Happy Days Back for the Economy? Bush Hopes So (although my guess is that pretty everyone hopes so…).

The article itself it worth a read, as it contain a rundown of several key factors concerning the propsects of a strong recovery.

One key political point was made, and it is quite true, if overly simplistic:

It could even turn out that the difference between the two Presidents Bush was a matter of timing as much as anything else.

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Thursday, October 30, 2024
By Steven Taylor

Cocaine found in snack peanut bags on Avianca flight to Miami

Federal investigators Thursday found about $20,000 worth of cocaine disguised as snack-sized bags of peanuts on an Avianca flight from Colombia to Miami.

No passengers on the plane ate any of the 51 bags of peanuts that held a total of 2.6 pounds of the drug

Good thing, cuz:

“Our concern is that people who eat them just rip the bags open and pop them in their mouths,” Mann said. “For all practical matters it would have killed them.”

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