Despite 13 years of U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan, opium poppy cultivation continues to thrive, reaching a record this year, notes Grumpy Editor.
Not making headlines, a United Nations report last week indicates the opium harvest this year jumped 17 percent from last year to about 6,400 tons.
One U.N. official calculates the drug trade accounts for 20 percent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product while the industry indirectly employs more than 400,000 people. That’s equal to the population of Minneapolis.
So much for the U.S. influence there, after spending $7.6 billion in Americans' taxpayer money over the past dozen years in efforts to eradicate poppy fields.
Few remember that before U.S. troops entered Afghanistan in 2001, Russians (known as Soviet forces at that time) were involved in an Afghanistan War between 1978 and 1992 with a military that peaked at 100,000.
U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq wars is costing American taxpayers between $4 trillion and $6 trillion, which includes wounded veterans’ medical care and other factors, based on a study last year by Linda J. Bilmes, a Harvard University public policy professor.
FYI, IN CASE YOU MISSED THESE…
Not quite on the same page. In reporting Macy’s quarterly figures, a Thursday front-page “refer” in The Wall Street Journal mentioned the department store “posted weak sales as consumers held back on spending.” The main story’s second paragraph noted, “Macy’s cut its profit and sales forecasts for the year.” But eight paragraphs later, readers saw, “Despite the sales shortfall, Macy’s profit rose 23 percent to $217 million for the period.” Then a few pages later in the “Stocks in the News” section, the WSJ placed Macy’s under “The Good News” category, illustrating the retailer’s stock, on the news, was up $2.98 (or 5.09 percent) to $61.57, pointing out the bottom line “exceeded analysts expectations” and the company was “optimistic about its current quarter”…Get those computers ready for incoming techies. In the wake of the flood of illegal “unaccompanied children” who crossed into the U.S. in recent months from Central America, the New York Times on Friday feels President Barack Obama’s overhaul of U.S. immigration policy “will provide more opportunities for immigrants with high-tech skills”…MapLight, a nonpartisan research group that delights in “revealing money’s influence on politics,” compiles a top 10 list of stocks owned by members of Congress using disclosure forms from 2013. General Electric grabbed top spot, followed by Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Wells Fargo, Apple, IBM, AT&T, Verizon, JPMorgan Chase and Exxon Mobil…Look for the Boston Globe to debut an eight-page stand-alone business section Tuesdays through Fridays starting early next month…American Express mails a glossy pitch to some existing AmEx card holders, feeling it can lure current no annual fee users to fork over $175 a year for a Premier Rewards Gold Card…Getting in turkey-day spirit. A seller of digital hearing devices courts candidates with a free hearing test plus free turkey certificate. Yes, “this week only”…A Sydney, Australia, male TV anchor reveals no viewer noticed he wore the same blue suit for a year to prove how much tougher it is for woman to dress on television.
Headline over a story in Fortune magazine’s Nov. 17 issue: If the U.S. Economy Is So Good, Why Do We Feel So Bad?
It points out a recent Pew poll finds only 21 percent of respondents say the economy is in “good or excellent” condition.