BBC: Afghanistan has a monopoly on illegal opium production that has devastating global consequences, a UN report says. UN findings say an opium market worth $65bn (£39bn) funds global terrorism, caters to 15 million addicts, and kills 100,000 people every year. The UN says corruption, lawlessness and uncontrolled borders result in only 2% of Afghan opiates being seized locally. The UN says more Russians die annually from Afghan drugs than Soviet soldiers were killed during its Afghan conflict. Afghanistan produces 92% of the world’s opium, with the equivalent of 3,500 tonnes leaving the country each year. Most of the opium that leaves Afghanistan makes its way through Pakistan, Central Asia and Iran, leaving a trail of addiction, criminality and death in its wake, according to the report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). It says more people die globally from Afghan opium than any other drug but just a tiny percentage of what is produced is seized on route.

Graphic showing worldwide heroin consumption 2008 Source: UNODC

In addition, the UN says one of its most surprising finds is that addiction is costing more lives in consumers than the numbers of foreign soldiers killed fighting in Afghanistan. For example, in Nato member states more than 10,000 people die from Afghan heroin each year – a figure five times higher than the total number of Nato troops killed in Afghanistan since 2001. In Russia, the country worst-affected by the drug, the annual 30,000 death toll is higher than the total Soviet death toll during the USSR’s Afghanistan campaign of 1979-1989, the UN says. MORE

RELATED: Afghan opium kills more people every year than any other drug on the planet, claiming up to 100,000 heroin.jpglives annually, according to a United Nations report released Wednesday. U.S. officials have pointed to the last two years of lower opium production in Afghanistan, but the country still produces 90% of the world’s opium, which the report says now threatens to sow havoc in much of central Asia. The Afghan opium crop, used to produce heroin, dropped from 7,700 metric tons in 2008 to 6,900 this year, but because of massive overproduction, there are more than 12,000 metric tons of opium in stockpiles, enough to meet world demand for more than two years. MORE

HUFFINGTON POST: National Priorities Project (NPP) just released The Cost of War in Afghanistan, a report examining the exorbitant human and economic costs of this rapidly expanding war, which estimates the war has currently cost taxpayers over $172 billion. When you factor in the projected costs of long-term military occupation, interest, and veterans’ benefits, we’re talking about a war that will cost close to $1 trillion. “All told,” the report concludes, “this is more than the size of the recent bailout of Wall Street and rivals the historic economic stimulus bill just passed by Congress.”

NPP is tracking the costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq using an individual cost of war counter, calculating the state-level numbers and trade-offs of supplemental war spending. In my home state of Pennsylvania, for instance, taxpayers will have to pay $2.9 billion of the proposed $83.4 billion tab. Want to know what $2.9 billion could do instead of fund more war? NPP claims it could provide:

  • 725,689 People with Health Care for One Year OR
  • 3,533,713 Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year OR
  • 29,863 Affordable Housing Units OR
  • 460,546 Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR
  • 46,575 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR MORE

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