Posts tagged ‘afghanistan’

Giffords wants to escalate Afghanistan war. What do you think?

From Tuesday’s Arizona Daily Star, a response to my congresswoman Giffords’ argument for escalating the Afghanistan war.

Justifying war

Re: the Oct. 12 guest opinion “Afghanistan war was worth fighting in 2001, still is today” by Gabrielle Giffords.

When we talk about a war being worth fighting, very rarely is it mentioned what exactly it will cost. It will cost American troops’ lives. It will cost many injuries. It will cost many soldiers their mental health or other recurring physical issues from injuries sustained while fighting.

Is it really worth so many American lives and so much money during our recession? If so, then how many American lives, how many wounded and how many trillions of dollars? This should be clearly stated before any escalation.

Abie Morales

UA grad student, Tucson

via Letters to the editor | www.azstarnet.com ®.

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October 22, 2009 at 11:46 am Leave a comment

Poppy production… crazy!

The problem with poppy comes at harvest. Most farm work is still done by hand in Afghanistan, and harvesting anything is difficult. Take wheat, for example. Lacking a gas-powered combine, farmers reap the old-fashioned way—by swinging a scythe or an even less efficient sickle. (Most communities or extended families do share a mechanized thresher—a not-insignificant capital expense—to separate the wheat from the chaff.) But poppy is more costly by at least an order of magnitude.

Workers slice into the pod, permitting the crude opium sap to ooze out and dry on the shell. They return later in the day to scrape the sap, then scrape once or twice more the next day. Because individual farmers cannot complete the process for even a small field before most of the pods die, they have to hire an army of migrant laborers from throughout South Asia. More than 350,000 workers are required for the Helmand Province harvest alone. Because the harvest is limited to about a six-week window, labor is expensive. The process is also dangerous.

Most harvesters, many of them children, develop opium addictions or serious health problems by absorbing the sap through their skin. (Some farmers can tell when it’s time to harvest poppy because they wake up with headaches and nausea from the fumes.)

via The cost of poppy production. – By Brian Palmer – Slate Magazine
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June 29, 2009 at 8:14 pm 1 comment


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