Bumper Poppy Crop in Afghanistan
Afghanistan has produced another banner crop of poppies for 2007 solidifying its status, according to the Baltimoresun.com, "as the worlds[sic] near-sole source of heroin..."
The Sun reports that this year's harvest represents about a 15 percent increase over 2006 poppy yields in the country, and that Afghanistan produces approximately 95 percent of global poppy production.
Also, a newly resurgent Taliban is allegedly linked to the poppy-producing source of heroin; a radical about-face for an organization who, when they ruled Afghanistan, strictly forbade poppy production.
Apparently, the Taliban has rethought its strategy: better to make money off of an indigenous, high-yield, money-making crop with the added benefit of getting Americans stoned.
It seems that America has not just been sowing the seeds of democracy in the nation that produced the al-Qaeda operation responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the United States: the first attack on the US mainland by a foreign outfit since the War of 1812.
The obsessive-compulsive US focus on the deteriorating conditions in Iraq have, apparently, proven a distraction for concentrated efforts to stamp out the Taliban and bring al-Qaeda to justice in Afghanistan.
And, the impact of increased heroin production, considering the billions of US investment in Afghanistan, seems misplaced: how will continuing banner poppy crops affect the global HIV pandemic?
US Healthcare is failing
The NY Times today, Sunday, August 12, 2007 has acknowledged that:
"Many Americans are under the delusion that we have 'the best health care system in the world,' as President Bush sees it, or provide the 'best medical care in the world,' as Rudolph Giuliani declared last week. That may be true at many top medical centers. But the disturbing truth is that this country lags well behind other advanced nations in delivering timely and effective care."
The real news this week, however, concerning US health care, is the latest life expectancy figures for the USA. They're down.
That's not news; it's a trend that has been taking shape for years and is in direct correspondence to the American failure to invest in its health care system and to provide all citizens with health coverage regardless of ability to pay, racial or gender identity, class status, or age group.
Simply put: the US role as "sole superpower" is a hollow missive if we can destroy the world several times over with our weaponry, but we lag behind most of Europe, Japan, Jordan, Guam, and the Cayman Islands in caring for the health of our people.
The Cayman Islands is a particularly ironic competitor to US life expectancy rates serving, as it does, as a tax haven for corporate entities, including hundreds of insurance companies, and wealthy individuals seeking to evade federal taxes.
The US, according to the AP, now ranks 42nd in life expectancy: an American newborn in 2004 may expect to live to about 80 years, but that is down from a rank of 11th in 1984.