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Pakistan supply lines closure will have little effect on NATO – New supply lines via Tajikstan and Uzbekistan to NATO

Pakistan border closure will have little effect on Nato’s Afghanistan campaign

New supply lines via Tajikstan and Uzbekistan mean Islamabad will only be able to push up costs and inconvenience war effort

By Jon Boone in Kabul

Pakistan’s government once had the power to bring Nato’s war machine to a shuddering halt through its control of a key route into landlocked Afghanistan. But today it can only aspire to cause inconvenience and slightly push up the cost of a war already running at $120bn a year.

As Washington’s relationship with Islamabad soured in recent years, Nato’s logistics chiefs tried to break their reliance on Pakistan for getting enough food, fuel and other vital supplies to their troops in Afghanistan.

Such goods used to arrive almost entirely through what is known as the southern distribution network, which runs from Pakistani container ports on the Arabian Sea over road and rail links to the border towns of Torkham and Chaman.

Those two crossing points are currently closed to Nato traffic following the killing of at least 24 Pakistani soldiers in a US air strike on Saturday.

The supply line has also proved vulnerable to attack from insurgents inside Afghanistan, who have attacked convoys, blowing up dozens of fuel tankers at a time and looting goods intended for troops.

In 2008, Pakistani television showed shots of gleeful insurgents driving around in bullet proof Humvees that had literally fallen off the back of a truck. The vehicles had been en route to Afghan security forces.

Many of the lorry drivers currently stuck in Pakistan because of the closed borders have complained that they are vulnerable to Taliban attacks.

Pakistan has used its power to shut down the supply line before. Last year it did so for 10 days after Nato forces ….

Read more » guardian.co.uk

The United States of Prisons

21st-Century Slaves: How Corporations Exploit Prison Labor

In the eyes of the corporation, inmate labor is a brilliant strategy in the eternal quest to maximize profit.

By Rania Khalek

There is one group of American workers so disenfranchised that corporations are able to get away with paying them wages that rival those of third-world sweatshops. These laborers have been legally stripped of their political, economic and social rights and ultimately relegated to second-class citizens. They are banned from unionizing, violently silenced from speaking out and forced to work for little to no wages. This marginalization renders them practically invisible, as they are kept hidden from society with no available recourse to improve their circumstances or change their plight.

They are the 2.3 million American prisoners locked behind bars where we cannot see or hear them. And they are modern-day slaves of the 21st century.

Incarceration Nation

It’s no secret that America imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in history. With just 5 percent of the world’s population, the US currently holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. “In 2008, over 2.3 million Americans were in prison or jail, with one of every 48 working-age men behind bars,” according to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research(CEPR). That doesn’t include the tens of thousands of detained undocumented immigrants facing deportation, prisoners awaiting sentencing, or juveniles caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline. Perhaps it’s reassuring to some that the US still holds the number one title in at least one arena, but needless to say the hyper-incarceration plaguing America has had a damaging effect on society at large.

The CEPR study observes that US prison rates are not just excessive in comparison to the rest of the world, they are also “substantially higher than our own longstanding history.” The study finds that incarceration rates between 1880 and 1970 ranged from about “100 to 200 prisoners per 100,000 people.” After 1980, the inmate population “began to grow much more rapidly than the overall population and the rate climbed from “about 220 in 1980 to 458 in 1990, 683 in 2000, and 753 in 2008.”

The costs of this incarceration industry are far from evenly distributed, with the impact of excessive incarceration falling predominantly on African-American communities. Although black people make up just 13 percent of the overall population, they account for 40 percent of US prisoners. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), black males are incarcerated at a rate “more than 6.5 times that of white males and 2.5 that of Hispanic males and “black females are incarcerated at approximately three times the rate of white females and twice that of Hispanic females.”

Michelle Alexander points out in her book The New Jim Crow that more black men “are in prison or jail, on probation or on parole than were enslaved in 1850.” Higher rates of black drug arrests do not reflect higher rates of black drug offenses. In fact, whites and blacks engage in drug offenses, possession and sales at roughly comparable rates. ….

Read more » AlterNet

New opportunity and old challenges — Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi

The threats to the Pakistani state include socio-cultural intolerance, religious extremism and the use of violence to pursue self-articulated narrow ideological agendas. If these negative trends are coupled with a faltering economy, there is little hope for a stable, democratic Pakistan. …

Read more : Daily Times