Wednesday, August 31, 2005

American Red Cross

Preparing for and Responding to Hurricane Katrina -- 1 800 HELP NOW

Middle East | Iraq stampede deaths near 1,000

Almost 1,000 people are known to have died in a stampede of Shia pilgrims in northern Baghdad, Iraqi health officials have said.

Opium Yield Drops Only Slightly in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is still estimated to produce 87 percent of the world's supply of opium and its derivative, heroin, Costa said.

Hurricane Katrina - The New York Times

Water engulfed much of New Orleans after breaches in the levees sent the waters of Lake Pontchartrain pouring into the city.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Much of Gulf Coast Is Crippled; Toll Rises

As rising water and widespread devastation hobbled rescue and recovery efforts, the authorities could only guess at the death toll in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast.

U.S. Poverty Rate Was Up Last Year

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 - Even as the economy grew, incomes stagnated last year and the poverty rate rose, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

Katrina Kills Dozens and Leaves Millions Devastated

It's "very very sobering," Michael Brown, head of the Federal Emrgency Management Agency said on CBS' "The Early Show." "The flooding is just everywhere . . . New Orleans, all through Mississippi and Alabama.

Hurricane Katrina Slams Into Gulf Coast; Dozens Are Dead

The storm was potent enough to rank as one of the most punishing hurricanes ever to hit the United States.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Foreign Policy: Ranking the Rich 2004

Poverty and weak institutions are breeding grounds for public-health crises, violence, and economic volatility. Fairness is another reason to care. No human being should be denied the chance to live free of poverty and oppression, or to enjoy a basic standard of education and health.

Coffee found to be high in health-giving antioxidants

Studies have associated coffee drinking with a reduced risk of liver and colon cancer, type two diabetes, and Parkinson's disease. But Professor Vinson urged moderation, recommending that people should drink only one or two cups of coffee per day.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Manmohan calls on Zahir Shah

Kabul, August 28-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called on “Baba-e-Millat” King Zahir Shah today. The meeting took place in the first floor of the presidential palace in an area referred to as the “Harem Sarai”.

Karzai equates gift House to Afghan Taj

Rahul Gandhi was also present at the event. “Afghanistan has always fascinated me,” Rahul said, adding that “I have come here only on a visit.”

India PM in historic Afghan visit

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has arrived in the Afghan capital, Kabul for a two-day visit aimed at strengthening relations.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Kabul, a city with many problems--Anis (in Dari)

Kabul, Afghanistan
August 04, 2005

After four years of peace and despite the influx of extensive international assistance to Kabul, the city is not yet like a capital, still looking like a ruin. Kabul's numerous problems are not the fault of just one single government department. Like a network, all departments are involved in this.

Kabul has been the capital of the country and the centre of political and cultural developments for hundreds of years. But due to factional wars and abuse of power, it has been destroyed to an unprecedented extent.

The city has never experienced so much cruelty and its residents have never witnessed so much looting and plundering as under the Taleban. The Taleban robbed the country of all its cultural and artistic heritage, turning Kabul into a ghost city.

With the establishment of the interim administration and the influx of international assistance to Afghanistan, the people hoped that the tormented city would turn into a capital, providing a benchmark for the international community to assess the performance of the interim, transitional and elected governments.

Some of the city's residents are natives of Kabul, the rest come from other places. The population is hitting the 4.5m mark.

Kabul's residents have barely attempted to lay one brick on top of another to reconstruct their city. Still the small signs of reconstruction seen over the past four years have all been the result the people's efforts alone. And the government has failed to complete the projects it started years ago, let alone new projects.

Like any other capital city, Kabul needs asphalted roads, drinking water, electricity, health services, parking lots, parks, public
hygiene services, nursery schools, schools, universities, traffic lights, a clean environment, pavements, urban services, bus stations, public telephones, a sewage system, cinemas, theatres, gyms, public toilets, terminals and dozens of other things. If all these things are not provided in a balanced way, providing one or two of these services alone will not improve the tragic situation in Kabul.

Small narrow roads and tens of thousands of vehicles rushing into Kabul paralyze the city. It takes hours to get from one side of the
city to the other. This has resulted in an increase in taxi fares. It is quite impossible to do things on time. Most of the pavements have
been blocked off by cement walls, security blockades and kiosks. And all human and animal traffic has to use the roads. The municipality
and the Interior Ministry have not taken even the slightest measure to tackle this problem. The head of the Kabul traffic department has
rightly pointed out that he has been unable to take action against such irresponsible and unauthorized actions on pavements because he
does not enjoy support [from the authorities].

When senior officials are supposed to move from one place to another, the main streets and other roads are blocked for hours and the traffic rushing to adjacent streets adds to the chaos. The angry people can do nothing but swear.

Wazir Akbar Khan [a neighbourhood of Kabul] has just gone through a war, but another war is about to begin there. The fortified walls and
the men standing at crossroads with guns are horrifying. They sometimes block even the remaining small passageways with tanks.

Do all these organizations and institutions have permission to put all these security fortifications and kiosks on pavements? Is anybody authorized to issue permits to block pavements?

The influx of tens of thousands of unemployed people from villages into Kabul where there is neither an industry nor manufacturing centres is the main problem of the capital. The unemployed can only find work as roadside peddlers, which leads to many environmental problems. Many people sit close together on roadsides selling things, but there are no public toilets for them. One can guess what implications this has for the city's hygiene.

Most of Kabul's narrow streets have many potholes. And the new wide streets have been left incomplete. Even where construction work is
ongoing, it proceeds at a snail's pace. The first thing that shows the competence or incompetence of a government is the state of the
roads and streets of its capital. They have done little in this regard in Kabul and the city has a dusty air. Pedestrians have to take a bath every single night. Otherwise, their faces and bodies will be covered in a thick layer of dust.

Kabul also suffers from rubbish dumps which are teeming with flies and mosquitoes. Germs spread everywhere when afternoon winds blow around the plastic scattered on those rubbish dumps. So it is quite meaningless when the authorities say they are paying attention to the health and hygiene of the city and taking measures to ensure it is improved.

Many destitute and orphaned children sell homemade snacks in the current badly polluted air of Kabul. This spreads diseases in a
horrifying way among schoolchildren, who are the main customers. The air is dusty and those snacks are put on roadsides and are not covered up. It is clear how many health problems this can cause for Kabul. The large number of bacterial illnesses in Kabul explains a lot.

Kabul lacks drinkable water. Diseases spread when water is drunk from open wells in this polluted environment. Recent research carried out on tap water in Makrorayan [a residential area in Kabul] have shown it is contaminated and unhealthy.

Kabul's schools are nothing but ruins full of children and teenagers. Students study either in open air or in tents. They suffer from extremes of hot and cold weather and grapple with lethal diseases. The death rate of 750 children a day clearly shows what the situation is like.

The construction of high-rise buildings without taking into consideration engineering and social standards and the destruction of parks and greenery by powerful gunmen is making the chaotic situation in Kabul city worse. If roads are not expanded and remain surrounded by 12-storey buildings, they will become narrow dark passes which will not see sunlight in the future. Parts of Zarnegar Park, which is in the most crowded part of the city, are said to have been given to Aqakhan's Serena Hotel to be turned into a parking lot. If this is true, a large part of this much needed park at the heart of the city will be completely destroyed.

There are more than 40,000 young orphans in Kabul. Poverty is widespread and the standard of living is low. Many armed groups have rushed into the city, which will increase crime in Kabul. Kabul is suffering from many robberies, petty theft, killings, murders, prostitution, addiction and mafia bands. In this way, Kabul has turned into one of the most chaotic cities of the region.

Prices are high. There are no authorities to make decisions on various spheres of life in Kabul. Government agencies do not duly discharge their duties and there is a great deal of overlap between various government departments. The police are doing the duty of those in charge of traffic and those in charge of traffic do the duty of the municipality and the head of a department does the duty of a governor. National and international security organs are working
without coordination.

No one feels responsible and there are many complaints.

The lack of coordination between the government's various organs increasingly diminishes the capital's civic and security status, driving it towards disorder and anarchy.

Overcoming the capital's present shortcomings requires commitment, national zeal and coordination between the various government
institutions. If the government fails to do so, there will be more and more crime. And complaints and dissatisfaction will grow among
the masses in Kabul. The many demonstrations staged by the various groups in Kabul over the past two years reflect the capital's current
situation. The people's dissatisfaction will be expressed in different ways, and the government should expect some kind of social explosion if it fails to tackles all these problems.

U.S. Ambassador Urges Afghans To Elect Representatives Carefully-US Department of State

“These elections are important to the future of Afghanistan, and they are an opportunity for the people of Afghanistan to pick representatives,” Neumann told reporters August 18, one day after the official campaign period opened.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Her eyes have captivated the world since she appeared on our cover in 1985. Now we can tell her story.

“There is not one family that has not eaten the bitterness of war,” a young Afghan merchant said in the 1985 National Geographic story that appeared with Sharbat’s photograph on the cover.

UK: New security measures are a serious attack on human rights - Amnesty International

The new measures, proposed today by the United Kingdom (UK) government, targeting non-nationals considered to be threatening public order, national security and the rule of law, violate basic human rights and the UK's international obligations, Amnesty International said today.

Afghanistan: Protect Women Candidates (Human Rights Watch)

“Women candidates in Afghanistan are courageously defying the Taliban, warlords, and conservative social norms that exclude them from public life,” said Nisha Varia, Asia

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Bush: 'We Will Stay, We Will Fight'

"So long as I'm the president, we will stay, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror."

Loan or war reparations: Kabul, Moscow lock horns

KABUL, August 23 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Moscow's call for the repayment of $10 billion debt by Kabul has drawn ire from Afghan officials and analysts, who in turn asked Russia to pay their country war reparations.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Foreign Policy: There Goes the Neighborhood

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has always had plenty of problems at home. Now, he’s got trouble brewing outside his borders, too.

European press review

Floods have hit southern Germany hard just weeks before the country's general election, reminding some papers of similar scenes along the River Elbe in August 2002, little more than a month before Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder won a second term in office.

Europe | Floods cause havoc across Europe

Torrential rains have caused havoc across central and eastern Europe, killing up to 36 people.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Bush Says U.S. Will Stay and Finish Task

Bush struck a defiant tone in rejecting critics' views. "Terrorists in foreign lands still hope to attack our country," he said. "A policy of retreat and isolation will not bring us safety."

A Schizophrenic War: Peace in Afghanistan Is a Boon for Drug Lords - SPIEGEL

While the drug squads and social workers continue their desperate battle against heroin on the home front, German troops stationed in Afghanistan can do little more than stand by and watch as poppy cultivation expands dramatically.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Warlords in Afghan poll could spell trouble

KABUL: Afghanistan is headed for its first parliamentary polls in 30 years, but the decision to allow scores of warlords and rights violators to stand in the election could mean trouble ahead, analysts say.

Two U.S. Embassy Staff Hurt Near Kabul's Blast

KABUL (Reuters) - Two U.S. embassy officials were hurt by a roadside bomb that hit their convoy near the Afghan capital on Sunday, a spokesman said.

The Afghan struggle

IOWA CITY, Iowa - With much media attention focused on the situation in Iraq, reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan are easily overlooked. Although the road to stability is still long and fraught with difficulties, the tremendous progress provides hope for the future of the country.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Fear Keeps Afghan Candidates Off Streets

Human Rights Watch warned that a widespread ''lack of security means that many women candidates may curtail their campaigning.''''The Afghan government and international monitors must take special measures to protect women from attacks and intimidation,'' the New York-based group said in a statement.

Troops Use Persuasion, Force In Evacuation of Gaza Settlers

"I'm appealing to everyone: Don't attack the men and women in uniform," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said hours after troops entered the settlements. "Don't accuse them. Don't make it harder for them. Don't harm them. Attack me. I am responsible for this -- attack me."

In Gaza, Defiance Tempered by Tears

For Some Settlers, Reality of Evacuation Comes With a Knock on the Door

Monday, August 15, 2005

Cash Said to Drive Afghanistan's Militia

"I got them all: Taliban, al-Qaida, Hig, foreign fighters, smugglers and other criminals," said Lt. Col. Peter Munster, a U.S. Army commander in Kunar. "They are like the Mafia."

U.S. Lowers Sights On What Can Be Achieved in Iraq

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Pullout Focuses Israel on Its Future

After Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war, Israeli Jews moved to settle the newly occupied territories.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Nuclear Agency Raises 'Serious Concerns' over Iran

The governing board of the U.N. nuclear watchdog voiced "serious concern" over Iran's resumption of nuclear activities this week, while leaving the door open for more negotiations.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Islamic Caliphate: Myth or Reality

Earlier in time around the seventh century, the Islamic world had taken the lead in sciences, philosophy, politics, government and propagation of institutions of education and learning in the world. Europe lived in the dark ages and Christianity was monopolized by the clergy and confined to inside the great basilicas in Vatican and elsewhere.

Pashtuns and Palestinians: On Two Fronts of the Same War

"Two kinds of forces are fast emerging: the forces for bringing about the pan-Islam federation or the establishment of the now inevitable single Islamic entity, and the forces determined to break up even the existing units that are considered strong enough to provide some kind of impetus to the creation of such a State."

Bush Says Troop Levels in Iraq Will Stay Unchanged for Now

"No decision has been made yet," he said. "I know there's a lot of speculation and rumors about that."

Reluctant ABC Faces Its Nights After Jennings

Indeed, after Charles Gibson announced on ABC just after 11:30 Sunday night that Mr. Jennings had died, his colleagues on "Good Morning America" worked through the night to prepare the two-hour morning program that would pay tribute to his four decades at the network.When

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

AP: Artist to Re - Create Destroyed Buddhas

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- When the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan destroyed two 1,600-year-old Buddha statues lining Bamiyan Valley's soaring cliffs, the world shook with shock at the demise of such huge archaeological treasures.

Monday, August 08, 2005

U.N.: Afghan Elections Face Funding Gap

The U.S. Embassy said its new donation would supplement $32 million already given for the election, which is being organized by Afghan authorities and the United Nations.

CBC News Indepth: Peter Jennings

Above all, he wanted his newscast's style to be straightforward and approachable. "Good evening. We begin tonight in …" was his trademark start to each program.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

ABC News anchor Peter Jennings dies of cancer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Peter Jennings, prime-time anchorman for ABC News for more than two decades, died of lung cancer on Sunday at his home in New York, the network said. He was 67.

Afghanistan's Forgotten War

Afghanistan is out of the headlines, but its war against the Taliban goes on. These days, it is not going well.

Friday, August 05, 2005

BBC NEWS--Blair vows hard line on fanatics

Tony Blair has outlined a raft of plans to extend powers to deport or exclude foreigners who encourage terrorism.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Muslim-Americans Discuss Islam and Violence in Today's Society -- August 4, 2005

IMAM SHAKER ELSAYED: Islam is a religion that comes through two primary sources of text: The Koran and the traditions of the prophet. Those are the ones, if we talk about Islam, reforming Islam, for example, we're talking about the text. But reforming Muslims is something very needed. It is about Muslims not about Islam. When Timothy McVeigh does something, we don't call it Christianity, we don't call it Catholicism, or whatever school of thought he belongs to. We call it Timothy McVeigh. This is Osama bin Laden having a war of ideas.

Foreign Affairs - Europe's Angry Muslims

Summary: Radical Islam is spreading across Europe among descendants of Muslim immigrants. Disenfranchised and disillusioned by the failure of integration, some European Muslims have taken up jihad against the West. They are dangerous and committed -- and can enter the United States without a visa.

Bush mourns Marine deaths, sees no early pullout

"We're at war. We're facing an enemy that is ruthless. If we put out a (pullout) timetable, the enemy would adjust their tactics," he said in a speech in Grapevine, a Dallas suburb.

Straw provokes outrage claiming 'terrorism justified by Islam'

"His phrase 'terrorism justified by Islam' is utterly meaningless and deeply offensive to Muslims," chair of the Muslim Council of Britain's Media Committee, Inayat Bunglawala said.

BBC NEWS |World criticism angers Musharraf

President Pervez Musharraf has said he is angered when Pakistan is blamed for fostering extremism in the world.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

S Korean scientists unveil Snuppy the cloned pup

South Korean scientists on Wednesday unveiled Snuppy the Afghan hound, the first canine to be cloned.

Rumsfeld Says Extremist, Moderate Muslims at Odds

``This is not a war between the United States and the Muslim faith, or between the West and the Muslim faith. It is a struggle within the Muslim faith, between the extremists and the moderates, with the extremists representing an extremely small minority,''

Italy Becomes International Force in Afghanistan

KABUL (Reuters) - The international force tasked with keeping the peace in Afghanistan's capital and other key areas changes command on Thursday at a time when security in the country is at the worst it has been since the Taliban's fall.

List of Dignitaries at Fahd's Funeral

Heads of state and dignitaries attending ceremonies for the late King Fahd this week:

Monday, August 01, 2005

New King Faces Old Challenge of Maintaining Saudi Stability

CAIRO, Aug. 1 - With the death of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, the reins of power were quickly turned over today to his half-brother, Crown Prince Abdullah, who has effectively ruled the world's top oil-producing country since the king fell ill almost a decade ago.