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War is Good for Business & Organized Crime: Afghanistan’s Multibillion Dollar Opium Trade. Rising Heroin Addiction in the US

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    This article was written by Dr.Michel Chossudovsky, an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. Posted here with permission.

  • Reflect On:

    Originally published at GlobalResearch.ca, this article exposes one of many reasons why war on this planet seems to be continuous. Soldiers don't seem to be fighting for our protection and freedom, but are made to believe they are.

Afghanistan’s opium economy is a multibillion dollar operation which has a direct impact on the surge of  heroin addiction in the US.  

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Despite president Trump’s announced US troop withdrawal, the Afghan opium trade continues to flourish. It is protected by US-NATO occupation forces on behalf of a nexus of powerful financial and criminal  interests. 

In 2004,  the proceeds of the Afghan heroin trade yielded an estimated global revenue of the order of 90 billion dollars. This estimate was based on retail sales corresponding to a total supply of the order of 340,000 kg of pure heroin (corresponding to Afghanistan’s 3400 tons of opium production) (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Chapter XVI, Global Research, Montreal 2005)

Today a rough estimate based on US retail prices suggests that the global heroin market is above the 500 billion dollars mark. This multibillion dollar hike is the result of a significant increase in the volume of heroin transacted Worldwide coupled with a moderate increase in retail prices.

Based on the most recent (UNODC) data (2017) opium production in Afghanistan is of the order of 9000 metric tons, which after processing and transformation is equivalent to approximately 900,000 kg. of pure heroin.

With the surge in heroin addiction since 2001, the retail price of heroin has increased. According to DEA intelligence, one gram of pure heroin was selling in December 2016 in the domestic US market for $902 per gram.

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The Heroin trade is colossal: one gram of pure heroin selling at $902 is equivalent to almost a million US dollars a kilo ($902,000) (see table below)

Flash back to to 2000-2001.

In 2000, the Taliban government with the support of the United Nations implemented a successful drug eradication program, which was presented to the UN General Assembly on October 12, 2001, barely a week after on the onset of US-NATO invasion. Opium production had collapsed by 94 percent.

In 2001 opium production had collapsed to 185 tons down from 3300 tons in 2000. (see Remarks on behalf of UNODC Executive Director at the UN General Assembly, Oct 2001, excerpt below)

The US-NATO led War against Afghanistan served to Restore the Illicit Heroin trade

The Afghan government’s drug eradication program was repealed.  The 2001 war on Afghanistan served to restore as well as boost the multibillion dollar drug trade. It has also contributed to the surge in heroin addiction in the US.

Opium production had declined by more than 90 per cent in 2001 as a result of the Taliban government’s drug eradication program.

Immediately following the invasion (October 7, 2001) and the occupation of Afghanistan by US-NATO troops, the production of opium regained its historical levels.

In fact the surge in opium cultivation production coincided with the onslaught of the US-led military operation and the downfall of the Taliban regime. From October through December 2001, farmers started to replant poppy on an extensive basis.” (see Michel Chossudovsky, op cit.)  

Since 2001, according to UNODC, the production of opium has increased 50 times, (compared to 185 ton in 2001) reaching 9000 metric tons in 2017. It has almost tripled in relation to its historical levels. (See Figure 1 below)

Heroin Addiction in the US

Since 2001, the use of heroin in the US has increased more than 20 times. Media reports rarely report how the dramatic increase in the global “supply of heroin” has contributed to “demand” at the retail level.

There were 189,000 heroin users in the US in 2001, before the US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan. By 2012-13, there were 3.8 million heroin users in the US according to a study by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Extrapolating the 2012-2013 figures (see graph below), one can reasonably confirm that the number of heroin users today (including addicts and casual users) is well in excess of four million.

In 2001, 1,779 Americans were killed as a result of heroin overdose. By 2016, the number of Americans killed as a result of heroin addiction shot up to 15,446. (see graph below)

“My Administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic” says Donald Trump.

Those lives would have been saved had the US and its NATO allies NOT invaded and occupied Afghanistan in 2001. 

The first thing they did was to undermine the drug eradication program, restore the opium economy and the drug trade.

The 2017 Afghanistan Opium Survey (released in May 2018) by UNODC confirms that the farm areas allocated to opium are of the order of 328,000 hectares with opium production in excess of 9,000 tons.  

War is good for business. It contributed to spearheading heroin use. The Afghan opium economy feeds into a lucrative trade in narcotics and money laundering.

It is worth noting that in 2010 UNODC modified the concepts and figures on opium sales and heroin production, as outlined by the  European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

UNODC estimates that a large proportion of the Afghan opium harvest is not processed into heroin or morphine” (UNODC, 2010a). …EU drug markets report: a strategic analysis, EMCDDA, Lisbon, January 2013 emphasis added.

What this new methodology has done is to obfuscate the size and criminal nature of the Afghan drug trade, intimating –without evidence– that up to 20% of Afghan opium is no longer channeled towards the illegal heroin market.

More than Half a Trillion Dollars

The profits are largely reaped at the level of the international wholesale and retail markets of heroin as well as in the process of money laundering in Western banking institutions, an issue which is not addressed by the Vienna based UNODC.

The global monetary value of the heroin market (which is protected by powerful groups) is colossal.

Estimation

The retail price of heroin (sold by the gram) can vary dramatically from one country to another, it also depends on the percentage of pure heroin. This does not facilitate the process of estimating the monetary value of the global trade in heroin.

Recorded retail street prices for heroin with a low level of purity must be converted to a dollar value which corresponds to pure heroin.

What is sold at the street level usually has a low percentage of pure heroin. The process of estimation requires transforming the street level prices into what the DEA calls heroin price per gram pure (PPG)

From one ton of opium you can produce 100 kilos of pure heroin. The US retail prices for heroin (with a low level of purity) was, according to UNODC (2012) of the order of $172 a gram (namely $17,200 per kilo)

The estimated price per gram of pure heroin, however, is substantially higher.

In December 2016, the heroin price per gram pure (PPG) was of the order of $902 in the US, according to DEA intelligence  ie. $902,000 a kilo.

Heroin Prices in the UK

In the UK which is the entry point of Afghan heroin into the EU market, the recorded retail price (according to a 2015 estimate quoted by the Guardian) is consistent with that estimated for the US market by the DEA:

“An imported kilo [of heroin] cut at 25% street purity provides enough raw material for 16,000 individual deals at £10 a hit – pushing the takings to £160,000 [a kilo] (The Guardian, December 20, 2015)

GBP160,000 (25% purity) converts into GBP 640,000 per kilo for pure heroin, ie. approximately  US$960,000 per kilo (December 2015 GBP USD exchange rate).

Rough Estimate of the  Monetary Value of  Afghanistan’s Global Heroin Market

According to the UNODC, 7600-7900 tons of opium were available for heroin production and export (out of a total of 9000-9300 metric tons). According to the UNODC, approximately half of the opium is processed into heroin within Afghanistan.

The global monetary value for heroin can be roughly estimated using the US price equivalent PPG measurement for pure heroin of US 902,000 a kg. (December 2016, DEA) and the (lower) production figure of 790,000 kg of pure heroin (estimated by the UNODC).

Using the US retail price equivalent of pure heroin (DEA), the global monetary value generated by the Afghan heroin trade (2017) is of the order of  $712,580,000,000 (712.58 billion dollars), an amount equivalent to the US defense budget.

This is a conservative estimate based on adopting the “lower figure” of 7900 metric tons (2017)  (recommended by the UNODC methodology which is arbitrary and questionable, see above).

If we had based the calculation on the total production of opium which is in excess of 9ooo metric tons (2017), the global monetary value of the heroin market would have been in excess of $800 billion. It should also be mentioned that this estimate relies solely on the the US price for pure heroin (DEA).

Back in August 2018, President  Trump signed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act “which authorizes a top-line [defense] budget of $717 billion”, just a few million dollars in excess of the estimated global monetary value of the Afghan heroin market.

The global monetary value of the heroin market is of the same order of magnitude as the defense budget of the USA.

Needless to say, the Pentagon not to mention the CIA which launched the opium economy in Afghanistan in the late 1970s  are intent upon protecting this multibillion dollar industry. The proceeds of the Afghan drug trade were initially used to finance the recruitment of Al Qaeda Mujahideen mercenaries to fight in the Soviet-Afghan war.

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Spring Has Sprung In Sweden With No Coronavirus Quarantine Or Police Enforced Lockdown

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Sweden has not enforced a mandatory quarantine or police enforced lock-down, they are still experiencing deaths as well as infections, but have not enforced policies in place.

  • Reflect On:

    Just because many governments have taken an extreme approach to "flattening the curve" does not mean that this is the best approach. Sweden trusts it's citizens to make appropriate decisions for themselves and their families, why don't ours?

While the majority of rest of the world is under a state of quarantine and some places with a police enforced lockdown, the country of Sweden takes an entirely different approach. The Western approach has triggered mass panic, fear and confusion about what is going on and when and if they will ever get to go back to how things were. The Swedish government, on the other hand has a close bond with their citizens and they have developed a sense of trust over the years by treating the adults, as adults who are capable of making informed decisions and taking appropriate measures to keep themselves and their families safe.

Sweden Takes A More Relaxed Approach

Unlike most of their European neighbours, Sweden has not closed non-essential businesses, borders or schools. They also have not banned gatherings containing two or more people. Sweden’s response to the global pandemic is being overseen mostly by the country’s Public Health Agency, which by the way, is a separate entity from their government. Sweden puts the power in the hands of the people, trusting that they will voluntarily adopt the recommended measures to delay the spread of the virus. They are still encouraging those who are vulnerable to stay at home and practice social distancing, and those who are ill to do the same, but they are not using force, hysteria, fear and panic to do so.

But in view of the evident worsening of the situation, Lena Hallengren, Minister of Social Affairs and Health and Johan Carlson, Director General of the National Institute of Public Health, presented new guidelines and regulations to try to limit the damage caused by the Covid-19 virus.

The most important of these guidelines concerns the number of customers in shops and stores, public transport and the activities of the country’s sports clubs.

Johan Carlson said, “Everyone should avoid participating in large social events, such as baptisms, weddings and big parties.” (source)

Controversial Measures

Of course, considering the state of the rest of the world, Sweden has attracted a lot of criticism from within the country and outside of it. The leading epidemiologist for the Public Health Agency, Anders Tegnell told CNBC in an interview that although his country was attempting a different strategy to defeat the spread of the virus, their aim was the same, “My view is that basically all European countries are trying to do the same thing — we’re trying to slow down the spread as much as possible to keep healthcare and society working … and we have shown some different methods to slow down the spread. Sweden has gone mostly for voluntary measures because that’s how we’re used to working, and we have a long tradition that it works rather well.”

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Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Lofven has announced that times will be tough and has put the responsibility on the individual Swedes rather than having governments enforce strict measures, saying, “We all, as individuals, have to take responsibility. We can’t legislate and ban everything.”

Is Sweden In Danger?

It is interesting to note that as of today (April 3rd) there have been only 6,131 cases of Covid19 reported in Sweden, this ranks Sweden as 19th on the worldmeters.info list. So, in comparison to 18 other countries Sweden is actually doing alright with the measures they have put in to place.

Only time will tell if the measures taken by Sweden were appropriate or not. If they are able to manage the problem and still effectively “flatten the curve” it may be upsetting to the all the countries that are currently being asked to stay inside at all costs. A positive aspect to Sweden’s approach is that they are not using fear tactics as a means to control their citizens, less fear/stress means stronger immune systems.

Imagine if your government trusted you as a citizen enough to make the best decisions for you and your family based off recommendations instead of enforcing measures to control its citizens. I mean, can we get a little credit here to make appropriate decisions on our own during times like these? Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, a specialist in microbiology and one of the most cited research scientists in German history shared his thoughts on the measures that are being taken to combat the new coronavirus, he referred to them as “draconian.” You can see his statement and read more about that here.

According to 21stcenturywire.com,

Only time will tell what the best response to this year’s outbreak turns out to be, but for the moment Sweden’s more laissez-faire approach should be heartening to its population. The government entrusting its citizens to observe advice and adjust their behaviours accordingly without the threat of police intervention is something that should be applauded in a free society. It also maintains a higher level of trust going in the other direction, from the public to the government. On a practical level, not employing draconian measures immediately prevents hysteria from taking hold amongst the public and allows for a slower escalation of measures should they be needed.

Trust is an important factor in a democracy where a government rules by consent of the people. Public trust in Sweden is exceptionally high, with citizens having faith that their politicians are acting in the public interest. Their propensity to treat adults like adults is key to that trust remaining.”

Final Thoughts

Just because many governments worldwide have enforced these strict measures doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the only option we have and they are the only way to effectively stop the spread. There are a lot of points worth pondering when it comes to the approach taken by most of the western world and it’s important to always keep asking questions. Absolutely stay home if you’re sick or have a compromised immune system, but for those who aren’t don’t forget to get out in the sunshine, get some fresh air, go for walks in nature and try to mitigate some of the fear and stress you may be feeling.

We are all in this together.

Articles From Collective Evolution That Go Into More Detail About The New Coronavirus.

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What Is Humanity Capable Of? This Man Got 152 Million Mangrove Trees Planted In 10 Years

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Haidar el Ali, who once served as Senegal's Minister of Environment, has led one of the largest reforestation projects the world has ever seen. The program that has successfully planted 152 million mangrove buds in the Casamance Delta, Senegal.

  • Reflect On:

    If one person can do this, why can't the 'global elite' who have access to tremendous resources do more of this type of thing? What's really on?

Haidar el Ali, who once served as Senegal’s Minister of Environment, led a program that has successfully planted 152 million mangrove buds in the Casamance Delta of souther Senegal over the past decade. This represents one of the largest reforestation projects the world has ever seen.  He’s been planting since 2009, and the success of the project truly goes to show what the human race is capable of, let alone one person.

As most of you reading this know, forests are one of the most exploited habitats on our planet, and a number of industries are responsible for their rapid destruction. Animal agriculture, alone, for example, makes up the large majority of amazon deforestation. It’s linked to 75 percent of historic deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. Nearly a third of biodiversity loss to date has been linked to animal agriculture. According to some estimates,  27 per cent – more than a quarter – of the Amazon biome will be without trees by 2030 if the current rate of deforestation continues. (source)

To truly begin exploring how new ideas can be implemented practically, watch the following video we recently put out: Regenerate: beyond The CO2 Narrative

Deforestation is a tragedy that plagues our world, and it’s something that can be solved as we have the potential as one human race to initiate large scale tree planting and reforestation, and this example from Senegal is a great example of that.

In a video interview with BBC, Haidar described how the original mangrove forest in Southern Senegal was disrupted in the 80s and 90s as the nation began to build roads which diverted or ended the flow of rivers. “At the time there were no environmental impact studies, of course.” After this he described lumbermen who clear-cut the mangroves, and then goes on to explain that the salt from sea water ended up coming in as a result and poisoning nearby rice fields. This really got peoples attention to the point where they began thinking about replacing what had been lost.

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The truth is, the human race has a tremendous amount of potential. All we hear from politicians and mainstream media seems to be nothing but talk, without the implementation of actual solutions. They’ve been doing this for years, yet you have people like Ali out there who are actually getting things done without access to the resources that the world’s elite have access to. If one man can do something as tremendous as this, imagine if the most wealthiest people in the world came together, pooled their resources and started something similar? It seems that ideas are always given, and conferences are always held and initiatives are always started, but nothing ever seems to get done when it comes to the political sphere. Countries agree to enter into certain accords that really do nothing for the planet, and crisis’ like climate change and pandemics, for example, always seem to be used for the elite to somehow profit off of them.

It’s time to ask the question, do our ‘leaders’ really have the intention to change our world for the better? Are our global organizations and politicians put in place to tackle these issues really making planet Earth a priority?

It’s hard to imagine that we couldn’t change this planet and clean it up in the blink of an eye if it actually were a priority.

If we can shut down the planet for months due to an outbreak, why can’t we do the same to make sure everybody is fed? Why can’t we do the same to spark a massive global reforestation campaign? Why are there so many barriers and obstacles to implementing solutions that can help change our world? The solutions are abundant and available, so one should ask themselves, if the solutions to our problems aren’t the issue, what is? Something to think about…

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White House: Out of 327 Million Americans – Coronavirus May Kill Up To 200,000

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In the latest White House press conference regarding the novel coronavirus, President Trump and his team predicted that, with the current data available, between 100,000 and 200,000 may die from Coronavirus.

  • Reflect On:

    Are we doing the right thing here? How accurate is the date, do we have enough data? Why haven't we taken these measures before for previous outbreaks and already existing coronaviruses that infect millions of people every single year?

In one of Donald Trump’s latest press conferences, it was suggested that up to 200,000 American citizens will die from the new coronavirus. The briefing included projections between 100,000 and 200,000, as a possible best-case scenario, and indicated that they are working hard and that they can end up with a number below one hundred thousand if everything goes well. You may be thinking that one hundred thousand and two hundred thousand deaths out of three hundred and twenty seven million Americans is nothing, and in a sense, compared to other viruses and diseases that are circulating out there, you’re right. The difference with the coronavirus, however, is that the deaths are accumulating in such a short period of time.

That being said, the world, as well as America, has been through major pandemics before, with the last one receiving major media attention being the swine flu. This particular strain of the flu virus infected 1.4 billion people around the world, and in one year took approximately 60,000 American lives. The flu alone is responsible for up to 70,000 deaths every single year in America alone. In fact, a large portion of this with a flu virus, prior to the new coronavirus, already have some sort of coronavirus infection within them. (source)

Some doctors and scientists around the world are raising red flags and calling into question the measures that are being taken as a result of the new coronavirus. Claiming that there is unnecessary panic and hysteria going on. For example, Dr. Martin Dubravec, an allergist-immunologist, wrote an article for the  Association of American Physicians and Surgeons published on March 29th, in it he states the following in an attempt to provide people with perspective.

Of all the deaths reported in the United States as of today, only 2 have been in patients under 18 years of age.  Currently, our death rate (deaths/confirmed cases) has been as high as 2.3% and as low as 1.1% over the past 2 weeks.  The President’s COVID-19 Taskforce estimated that as many at 1/1000 New Yorkers may have the virus.  If this were projected to the entire United States (population 328,239,523), then the total number of COVID-19 would be approximately 328, 239 and deaths from COVID-19 (1.8% death rate) at 5,909.  Even if this ends up being wrong by 1,000 percent, the death rate would still be 59,000, i.e., within range of the estimates for influenza deaths.  You can look at it in another way.  98% of people who get COVID-19 fully recover!

As of today (March 29, 2020) there are 123,828 confirmed cases and 2229 deaths (1.8% death rate) from COVID-19 in the United States.  Compare that with the influenza estimates so far this year:  29,000 deaths!  And the flu season is not yet over, with the CDC estimating as many as 59,000 will die of influenza by May of this year.

The CDC estimates a death rate of 7.4% for influenza like illnesses and pneumonia this year.  This death rate is similar to previous years.  Who in the media is discussing this? (source)

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Coronaviruses have been in existence for a number of years, they infect tens of millions of people every single year worldwide and also contribute to their deaths. It appears that the novel coronavirus will be no different, but I don’t have a crystal ball.

 paper recently published in The International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents titled “SARS-CoV-2: fear versus data” claims that the problem of SARS-CoV-2 is probably being overestimated. (source)

Contradictory Reporting?

In the recent White House briefing where the president provided the White House’s estimates, Dr. Deborah Leah Birx, an American physician and diplomat who specializes in HIV/AIDS immunology, vaccine research, and global health who is currently serving as the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, stated that there is not a shortage of ventilators in New York City, as claimed by multiple mainstream media outlets, like CNN. This is also confusing, to see these comments in a White House Press conference directly contradict what mainstream media outlets are reporting.  Not to say hospitals are not overwhelmed right now, but mainstream media also using hospital footage from Italy and claiming it’s from New York further contributed to the distrust people have of mainstream media.

Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, a specialist in microbiology and one of the most cited research scientists in German history recently shared his thoughts on the measures that are being taken to combat the new coronavirus. Bhakdi created a YouTube channel on March 18th, and has since posted four videos that have received more than one million views, total, in a very short span of time. Based on his reasoning, the current measures being put in by global governments are unnecessary and “draconian.” You can watch his last video, which was in the form of a letter written to the German Chancellor, here.  If you can’t understand German, be sure to turn on the English subtitles.

Implementation of the current draconian measures that are so extremely restrict fundamental rights can only be justified if there is reason to fear that a truly, exceptionally dangerous virus is threatening us. Do any scientifically sound data exist to support this contention for COVID-19? I assert that the answer is simply, no.

Dr. Wolfgang Wodargm, a well known pulmonologist sharing his thoughts on the new coronavirus. In it, he questions the current lockdown measures being taken by governments worldwide. You can watch that video and read more about it here.  Again, if you can’t understand German, be sure to turn on the English subtitles.

These sentiments also echo those of three Stanford professors of medicine who recently shared their expert opinion that extraordinary claims require extraordinary data. You can read more about that specifically, here.

Will Donald Trump and his staff be correct? Will the death toll in the United States be no higher than 200,000. We have yet to see. It should be noted that models are always very inaccurate, and new data is constantly coming in that are changing the projections.

For the most part, it seems that the measures we are taken and have may not be warranted, but is it better to be safe than sorry, or is something else going on here? Just simply suggesting that something else could be taking place will have ‘fact-checkers’ all over one’s platform, censoring it and also flagging it as ‘false news.’

According to Dr. Ron Paul. people should ask themselves whether the actual danger of the disease massively exaggerated by those who seek to profit – financially or politically – from the ensuing panic. He was flagged by fact-checkers for simply sharing his opinion.

Beyond Fear

Nonetheless, we have provided many tools to not only move beyond fear, but to increase your immune system with food, breathwork and quality supplements. We have also put out some of our latest content o help people shift conversations away from a far narrative and into one where we can question our reality and how we can effectively change it. See the links below for details.

How To Take Vitamin C Orally. It MAY Help Protect Against Viruses

How We Can Regenerate Our Environment & Planet (Documentary)

Enjoy This Free Conscious Breathing Course To Bring Peace & Heightened Immunity

Foods That Weaken Your Immune System

Join Our Telegram Channel For Updates

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