Sunday, December 29, 2013

Soviet war in Afghanistan --- The Soviet war in Afghanistan lasted nine years from December 1979 to February 1989. Part of the Cold War, it was fought between Soviet-led Afghan forces against multi-national insurgent groups called the Mujahideen, mostly composed of two alliances - the Peshawar Seven and the Tehran Eight. The Peshawar Seven insurgents received military training in neighboring Pakistan and China,[9] as well as weapons and billions of dollars from the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and other countries.[3][4][5][9][26] The Shia groups of Tehran Eight alliance received support from the Islamic Republic of Iran. The decade-long war resulted in millions of Afghans fleeing their country, mostly to Pakistan and Iran. Hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians were killed in addition to the rebels in the war. -- The initial Soviet deployment of the 40th Army in Afghanistan began on December 24, 1979, under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.[27] The final troop withdrawal started on May 15, 1988, and ended on February 15, 1989, under the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. Due to the interminable nature of the war, the conflict in Afghanistan has sometimes been referred to as the "Soviet Union's Vietnam War" or the "Bear Trap". - More, Wikipedia, at:

د امریکا استخباراتي راپور د افغانستان د حالاتو د خرابېدو اټکل کوي --- د امریکا استخباراتو په یوه تازه راپور کې اټکل کړی چې د افغانستان د جګړې په وروستیو درو کلونو کې د امریکا او د هغې د متحدانو له لوري حاصل شوې بریاوې به تر ۲۰۱۷ کال پوري په پراخه پیمانه له لاسه ووځي. -- د رویټرز خبري اژانس د راپور له مخې د امریکا د استخباراتو په راپور کې، چې واشنګټن پوسټ ورځپاڼې ته په لاس ورغلی دی، دا هم ویل شوي چې حتي که لږ شمېر امریکايي پوځیان پاتې هم شي د افغانستان په جګړه کې د وروستیو درو کلونو سوبې له لاسه وتلی شي. -- د امریکا د ملي استخباراتو د ادارې په راپور کې همداراز اټکل شوی چې که افغانستان او امریکا په خپل منځ کې دوه اړخیز امنیتي تړون لاسلیک نه کړي افغانستان به ډېر ژر په ګډوډیو سر شي. -- واشنګټن پوسټ ورځپاڼې د هغو چارواکو په قول، چې دا پټ راپور یې لوستی، ویلي چې په راپور کې د امریکا د ۱۶ استخباراتي ادارو معلومات رایوځای شوي دي. - تاند

Shopping for Spy Gear: Catalog Advertises NSA Toolbox --- After years of speculation that electronics can be accessed by intelligence agencies through a back door, an internal NSA catalog reveals that such methods already exist for numerous end-user devices -- Editor's note: This article accompanies our main feature story on the NSA's Tailored Access Operations unit. You can read it here. --- These NSA agents, who specialize in secret back doors, are able to keep an eye on all levels of our digital lives -- from computing centers to individual computers, from laptops to mobile phones. For nearly every lock, ANT seems to have a key in its toolbox. And no matter what walls companies erect, the NSA's specialists seem already to have gotten past them. - More, Der Spiegel, at:

Afghanistan gains will be lost quickly after drawdown, U.S. intelligence estimate warns --- A new American intelligence assessment on the Afghan war predicts that the gains the United States and its allies have made during the past three years are likely to have been significantly eroded by 2017, even if Washington leaves behind a few thousand troops and continues bankrolling the impoverished nation, according to officials familiar with the report. -- The National Intelligence Estimate, which includes input from the country’s 16 intelligence agencies, predicts that the Taliban and other power brokers will become increasingly influential as the United States winds down its longest war in history, according to officials who have read the classified report or received briefings on its conclusions. The grim outlook is fueling a policy debate inside the Obama administration about the steps it should take over the next year as the U.S. military draws down its remaining troops. -- The report predicts that Afghanistan would likely descend into chaos quickly if Washington and Kabul don’t sign a security pact that would keep an international military contingent there beyond 2014 — a precondition for the delivery of billions of dollars in aid that the United States and its allies have pledged to spend in Afghanistan over the coming years. -- “In the absence of a continuing presence and continuing financial support,” the intelligence assessment “suggests the situation would deteriorate very rapidly,” said one U.S. official familiar with the report. -- That conclusion is widely shared among U.S. officials working on Afghanistan, said the official, who was among five people familiar with the report who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity to discuss the assessment. - More, Washingtonpost, at:

Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy new year - but what exactly will make the news in 2014? --- If 2013 goes down as a year of conflict and protest, then what lies in store in 2014? Give us your tips for what will make the news in the comment thread -- Guardian correspondents report from their patches round the world on what will dominate the headlines in their part of the globe. Elections loom large – in rising economies, in the US with midterms, and also in Europe, with the parliamentary elections in May. Negotiations in the Middle East will prove critical, China will be deciding how to exert its power – and sport may transform the fortunes of Russia, Brazil and Yorkshire. -- Several potential bright spots could lift everyone's spirits, however. A recovering economy may take pressure off America's anaemic job market and shocking social stagnation. US troops should return from Afghanistan – with or without a deal in Kabul to retain a security presence. And progress toward Iranian nuclear detente may give the White House cause to celebrate a rare foreign policy success, even if Congress will still need persuading. - More, Guardian, at:

Snowden says spying worse than Orwellian --- LONDON — National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden invoked George Orwell and warned of the dangers of unchecked government surveillance Wednesday in a televised Christmas message to the British people that reflected his growing willingness to take a public role in the debate he ignited. -- Speaking directly into the camera from Moscow, where he has taken refuge after leaking vast troves of information on NSA spying, Snowden said government surveillance methods far surpass those described in Orwell’s dystopic novel “1984.” -- “The types of collection in the book — microphones and video cameras, TVs that watch us — are nothing compared to what we have available today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go,” he said. “Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person.” - More, Griff Witte, Washingtonpost - at:

‘Civilian Warriors: Blackwater and the War on Terror’ by Erik Prince --- At the time of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. military included 1.4 million active personnel and nearly 1 million more in the reserves — plus hundreds of thousands of civilians at the Pentagon and civilian agencies across the national security complex. It was a smaller force than the one that had fought the first Gulf War a decade earlier, but still enough, in pre-9/11 Pentagon war plans, to fight two simultaneous regional wars. -- However, for the eventual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this force was not enough. And so our government faced choiceS: raise a larger army, call up more reservists, hire more civilians or rely on contractors. At some point, the government exercised all these options. But for the first time in U.S. history, it chose to rely so heavily on contractors that, at the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, contractor personnel outnumbered troops in each theater of war. - More, Phillip Carter, Washingtonpost, at:

Bomb in Beirut Kills Politician, a Critic of Syria and Hezbollah --- Bomb in Beirut Kills Politician, a Critic of Syria and Hezbollah -- Bomb in Beirut Kills Politician, a Critic of Syria and Hezbollah. - More, NYTimes

3 ISAF soldiers killed in Kabul car bombing --- KABUL (PAN): A Taliban suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laden car in Kabul on Friday, killing three NATO-led soldiers and wounding nine civilians, officials said. -- The bomber struck near the Customs Department at 1.00pm when an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) convoy was plying the Kabul-Jalalabad road. -- “Three ISAF service members died following the suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack in Kabul,” the force said in a brief statement. - More, Pajhwok, at:

حمله انتحاری به کاروان نیروهای خارجی در کابل جان سه سرباز خارجی را گرفت --- یک حمله کننده انتحاری، خود را در مسیر کاروان نیروهای خارجی در شرق کابل منفجر کرده است. -- حشمت‌ ستانکزی سخنگوی پلیس کابل به بی‌بی‌سی گفت که این حمله انتحاری با استفاده از یک موتر (خودرو) مملو از مواد انفجاری در مسیر کاروان نیروهای خارجی در نزدیک گمرک کابل انجام شده است. -- مرکز فرماندهی نیروهای حافظ صلح و یاری به امنیت (آیساف) این رویداد را تایید کرده و گفته که سه سرباز مربوط نیروهای آیساف در جریان این حمله انتحاری کشته شده اند. -- از سوی دیگر سخنگوی پلیس کابل گفت که به اساس گزارش های ابتدایی، دست کم شش غیرنظامی هم در این رویداد زخمی شده اند - BBC

From online hacks to plastic fakes: The strange life of a stolen credit card --- Six days before Christmas, Shaw Lash's debit card was used at a Toys R Us in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. -- The problem? Lash wasn't at Toys R Us buying gifts. In fact, she had her card with her when Chase Bank sent her a text message warning that someone had just tried to make a suspicious purchase for $379 using her account numbers. -- "It was kind of sad," Lash, 33, a video producer from Manhattan, told NBC News, noting the holiday timing. She had, however, been shopping at a Target in Vauxhall, N.J., during the first week of December. That convinced her that she was one of the up to 40 million Target customers who had their credit or debit card information stolen between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 from retail stores throughout the United States. - More, Keith Wagstaff, NBC News -

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas (Old English: Crīstesmæsse, meaning "Christ's Mass") is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ[6][7] and a widely observed cultural holiday, celebrated generally on December 25[3][4][5] by millions of people around the world.[2][8] A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide, which ends after the twelfth night.[9] Christmas is a civil holiday in many of the world's nations,[10][11][12] is celebrated by an increasing number of non-Christians,[1][13][14] and is an integral part of the Christmas and holiday season. --- While the birth year of Jesus is estimated among modern historians to have been between 7 and 2 BC, the exact month and day of his birth are unknown.[15][16] His birth is mentioned in two of the four canonical gospels. By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25,[17] a date later adopted in the East,[18][19] although some churches celebrate on the December 25 of the older Julian calendar, which corresponds to January in the modern-day Gregorian calendar. The date of Christmas may have initially been chosen to correspond with the day exactly nine months after early Christians believed Jesus to have been conceived,[20] or with one or more ancient polytheistic festivals that occurred near southern solstice (i.e., the Roman winter solstice); a further solar connection has been suggested because of a biblical verse[a] identifying Jesus as the "Sun of righteousness". -- More, Christmas - Wikipedia, at:

Christmas Day in United States - Time and Date --- Many people in the United States celebrate Christmas Day on December 25. The day celebrates Jesus Christ's birth. It is often combined with customs from pre-Christian winter celebrations. Many people erect Christmas trees, decorate their homes, visit family or friends and exchange gifts. -- People celebrate Christmas Day in many ways. In the days or even weeks before Christmas Day, many people decorate their homes and gardens with lights, Christmas trees and much more. It is common to organize a special meal, often consisting of turkey and a lot of other festive foods, for family or friends and exchange gifts with them. Children, in particular, often receive a lot of gifts from their parents and other relatives and the mythical figure Santa Claus. This has led to Christmas Day becoming an increasingly commercialized holiday, with a lot of families spending a large part of their income on gifts and food. - More, at:

دو موشک آماده پرتاب در کابل منفجر شد --- سخنگوی پلیس کابل گفته که در پی انفجار دو موشک آماده پرتاب به شهر کابل، دست کم سه مامور پلیس زخمی شده‌اند. -- حشمت‌الله استانکزی به بی‌بی‌سی گفت که براساس گزارش‌هایی که به او رسیده، ماموران پلیس در حال خنثی‌سازی موشک‌های آماده پرتاب بودند که دست کم دو موشک منفجر شدند. -- آقای استانکزی گفت این انفجارها که ساعت هفت صبح امروز (۴چهارشنبه، جدی/دی) در محله "قلعه زمان‌خان" در شرق کابل روی داد و سه مامور پلیس را زخمی کرد. -- او افزود که ماموران موفق شدند موشک سوم را خنثی و یک تن را هم به اتهام تلاش برای پرتاب این موشک‌ها دستگیر کنند. -- پیشتر گزارش شده بود که در کابل یک بمب منفجر و دو موشک هم به مناطق شرقی شهر اصابت کرده است. -- سخنگوی پلیس پرتاب موشک ها را تکذیب کرده و گفته است که این موشک ها در محلی که آماده پرتاب شده بودند منفجر شدند. - BBC

Two Taliban Rockets Hit U.S. Embassy in Kabul --- KABUL, Afghanistan — A pair of rockets fired by the Taliban struck the United States Embassy in Kabul shortly before dawn on Wednesday, sending hundreds of American diplomats and aid workers based at the mission scrambling into fortified bunkers to start their Christmas Day, the embassy said. -- There were no reports of casualties at the embassy. But Afghan officials said that another two rockets hit other parts of the city and that three police officers were wounded when one of the rockets, which had not exploded on impact, detonated as they were trying to defuse it. The other rocket, which did explode on impact, did not cause any casualties or inflict significant damage, said Gen. Zaher Zaher, the police chief of Kabul. --- The embassy said it was assessing any damage that might have been caused by the rockets. It was not immediately clear which part of the sprawling and well-fortified compound in the center of the city had been hit or if any part of the embassy had been damaged. Staff members at the embassy were given the all-clear to move around the compound about two hours after the attack, which took place around 6:40 a.m. - More, NYTimes, at:

U.S. Softens Deadline for Deal to Keep Troops in Afghanistan --- KABUL, Afghanistan — With about a week left in the year, the Obama administration is backing away from a Dec. 31 deadline for securing a deal to keep American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014, though it is standing by its warning that a total military withdrawal is still possible if delays continue, American and Afghan officials said. -- The decision is a tacit acknowledgment of what has become obvious in both Kabul and Washington: Neither a hard sell nor soft persuasion has yet induced President Hamid Karzai to go along with the American-imposed timeline for the agreement. -- “I don’t know if I would call it bluffing,” said one American official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “But it looks like that’s what we were doing, and now it looks like Karzai is calling us out.” -- The official insisted that planning for a potentially final withdrawal in 2014 was still underway, and that it was still a very real possibility. “But if we want a deal,” the official continued, “we’re going to have to wait.” --- “We’ve been clear that our preference is to conclude the B.S.A. by the end of the year, and that if we cannot conclude a B.S.A. promptly thereafter, then we will be forced to initiate planning for a post-2014 future in which there would be no U.S. or NATO troop presence in Afghanistan,” said Laura Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the White House. “That has not changed.” -- With the deal in limbo, the official focus in Kabul has shifted to talks on a companion agreement that would allow other NATO members, such as Italy and Germany, to keep forces in Afghanistan after the alliance’s combat mission formally ends next year. - More, MATTHEW ROSENBERG - NYTimes - at:

Egypt arrests Mursi's ex-prime minister on his way to Sudan --- (Reuters) - Egyptian security forces on Tuesday arrested the former prime minister of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi who was sentenced to one year in jail for failing to implement a court ruling to renationalize a textile firm. -- "Security forces managed to arrest Hisham Kandil, former prime minister, in carrying out a court order issued against him. He was caught in a mountain area with smugglers trying to flee to Sudan," Egypt's interior ministry said in a statement. -- Kandil was appointed in July 2012 by Mursi after he won Egypt's first truly democratic elections that followed the fall of autocratic President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Mursi was ousted by the army in July after protests against his rule. -- The judgment against Kandil was issued in April 2012, while Mursi was still in office and was upheld by a higher court in September. The case related to the sale during the Mubarak era of a state-owned firm to a private investor. - More, at:

آلودگی هوا سبب شیوع امراض خطرناک میگردد --- اداره ملی حفاظت از محیط زیست افغانستان با ابراز این مطلب روز پنجشنبه گفته است که به کارگیری مواد سوخت بی کیفیت و تصفیه ناشده هوا در کنار آلوده ساختن هوا موجب شیوع بیماری های خطرناک نیز میگردد. معاون فنی این نهاد افزوده است که مقدار زیادی از مواد سوخت که وارد کشور میگردد با نوعی از مواد کیمیایی مخلوط بوده و منجر به آلودگی هوا شده و صحت انسان را به طور جدی تهدید میکند. در همین حال، داکتران نیز می گویند که مواد سوخت بی کیفیت و آلوده بیماری های مختلف را در میان انسان ها ببار می آورد. -- این در حالیست که که شورای وزیران جواز وارد کردن ۵۰۰ هزار تن پریماگون را به غضنفر گروپ صادر کرده است. اما وارد کننده گان مواد سوخت در کشور می گویند که پریماگون مواد سوخت آلوده ای است که افغانستان توان تصفیه آن را ندارد. این وارد کنندگان هشدار می دهند که اگر جلو این کار گرفته نشود کار گرفتن از پریماگون اثر های بد و جبران ناپذیری خواهد داشت. کابل به یک شهر آلوده مبدل شده است و بسیاری از بخش های این شهر با ذرات خطرناک و بیماری زا آلوده است. -- اداره ملی حفاظت از محیط زیست گفته است: «پریماگون یک ماده است تصفیه ناشده و افزوده بر آن در مجموع نفت بی کیفیت است و هوا را آلوده می سازد.» داکتران نیز هشدار می دهند که به کارگیری از مواد سوخت بی کیفیت و غیرمعیاری بیماری های جلدی، تنفسی، قلبی و حتی سرطانی را به بار می آورد. داکتر عبدالله فهیم گفته است: «نفت بی کیفیت وغیرمعیاری، بیماری های جلدی، بیماری های نتفسی و حتی سرطان ها را ببار می آورد.» شماری از رانندگان و ترمیم کاران موتر مواد سوخت آلوده و بی کفیت را برای موتر ها بسیار مضر می دانند و می گویند که مواد سوخت آلوده ماشین های موتر ها را در اندک زمان از رده خارج میسازد. یک ترمیم کار موتر گفته است: «موتر ها را به زودترین فرصت از کار می اندازد، پارسنگ ها را خراب می کند و دیگر ماشین های موتر ها را از کار می اندازد.» -- شورای وزیران جواز وارد ۵۰۰ هزار تن پریما گون را به غضنفر گروپ داده است، اما وارد کننده گان مواد سوخت شماری از مقام های دولت را به معامله گری در این زمینه متهم می سازند و این کار شورای وزیران را یک جنایت بزرگ می دانند. خواستیم نظر اداره امور را نیز در این باره داشته باشیم اما این نهاد حاضر به گفتگو در این باره نشد. - صدای آزادی

Monday, December 23, 2013

Obama signs up for health care, buying bronze plan the White House calls ‘symbolic’ --- Obama was enrolled in the D.C. exchange over the weekend, aides said, purchasing a “bronze”-level plan that will set him back about $400 a month (with a salary of $400,000, the president doesn’t qualify for subsidies). But aides said he won’t use the plan: Obama and his family will continue to receive, as all recent presidents have, medical care through the U.S. military. -- As this act of political theater played out here in Hawaii, where Obama is vacationing , his administration continued to scramble back in Washington to prepare for the Jan. 1 start of coverage. Administration officials disclosed Monday that they had quietly changed the rules to allow last-minute shoppers an extra day to enroll, pushing the deadline back to midnight Tuesday. -- Aides said Obama’s unique situation as president meant that he was unable to sign up for a plan online. The databases that and related sites use to verify people’s identities did not contain Obama’s personal information, aides said, so staffers had to go in person to the D.C. exchange offices over the weekend to get him enrolled. -- Obama selected a bronze plan — the cheapest of four categories, below platinum, gold and silver, that designate how much of overall health-care costs are covered by an insurer. --- Thus Obama is paying $5,000 a year out of pocket for a plan that a White House official said was merely “symbolic.” - More, Washingtonpost, at:

Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished --- Edward Joseph Snowden emerged at the appointed hour, alone, blending into a light crowd of locals and tourists. He cocked his arm for a handshake, then turned his shoulder to indicate a path. Before long he had guided his visitor to a secure space out of public view. -- During more than 14 hours of interviews, the first he has conducted in person since arriving here in June, Snowden did not part the curtains or step outside. Russia granted him temporary asylum on Aug. 1, but Snowden remains a target of surpassing interest to the intelligence services whose secrets he spilled on an epic scale. -- Late this spring, Snowden supplied three journalists, including this one, with caches of top-secret documents from the National Security Agency, where he worked as a contractor. Dozens of revelations followed, and then hundreds, as news organizations around the world picked up the story. Congress pressed for explanations, new evidence revived old lawsuits and the Obama administration was obliged to declassify thousands of pages it had fought for years to conceal. -- Taken together, the revelations have brought to light a global surveillance system that cast off many of its historical restraints after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Secret legal authorities empowered the NSA to sweep in the telephone, Internet and location records of whole populations. One of the leaked presentation slides described the agency’s “collection philosophy” as “Order one of everything off the menu.” - More, Barton Gellman, Washingtonpost, at:

'Lone Survivor' depicts U.S. Navy SEALs comradery in Afghan tragedy --- (Reuters) - From shooting down a helicopter to firefights, film director Peter Berg spared no details to recreate a tragic United States Navy SEALs mission in Afghanistan in "Lone Survivor," an unflinching account of one of the worst losses of life in the history of the special operations force. -- The film, which opens in limited theaters in the United States on Christmas Day and wider release on January 10, 2014, is based on the best-selling book by Marcus Luttrell, the only man who lived to recount what happened during the covert June 2005 Operation Red Wings in which 11 SEALs and eight soldiers died. -- Two-time Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg plays Luttrell, a medic and a sharpshooter who was one of a four-man team dropped by helicopter in the rugged mountains near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan on a mission to find a Taliban leader. - More, Patricia Reaney, at:

Mission accomplished, says Snowden: Washington Post --- (Reuters) - Former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, who revealed extensive details of global electronic surveillance by the U.S. spy agency, said in an interview published on Tuesday that he has accomplished what he set out to do. -- "For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission's already accomplished," he told the Washington Post. The newspaper said it spoke to Snowden over two days of nearly unbroken conversation in Moscow, "fueled by burgers, pasta, ice cream and Russian pastry." --- "I already won," Snowden said. "As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself." - More, at:

Analysis: Even if foreign troops leave Afghanistan, U.S. has some options --- (Reuters) - U.S. officials have warned of the potential for catastrophe if Afghan President Hamid Karzai fails to sign a security pact to permit foreign forces to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014. -- Unless a deal is reached to enable a modest U.S. force of perhaps 8,000 to stay in the country, the Taliban might stage a major comeback, al Qaeda might regain safe havens and Afghan forces might find themselves starved of funding, the officials say. The post-2014 U.S. force envisioned would train and assist Afghan soldiers and go after the most dangerous militants. -- But even if the Obama administration abruptly pulls out its entire force of 43,000 a year from now, it would still retain a handful of limited security options in Afghanistan. - More, at:

تجمع اعتراضی پناهجویان افغان در شهر مونس بلژیک --- صدها پناهجوی افغان در شهر مونس بلژیک یک تجمع اعتراضی برپا کرده‌اند. آنها گفته‌اند که می‌خواهند الیو دی روپو، نخست وزیر را ببینند. -- قای دی‌روپو نخست وزیر بلژیک، شهردار شهر مونس هم هست. این پناهجویان می‌گویند تا وقتی نخست وزیر را نبینند میدان شهر مونس را ترک نمی کنند. -- این معترضان خواهان پناهندگی از دولت بلژیک هستند و می خواهند به آنها ضمانت داده شود که از این کشور اخراج نخواهند شد. -- یکی از مقامات شهر مونس گفته که پرونده این پناهجویان افغان به زودی بررسی خواهد شد. -- سیصد و پنجاه پناهجوی افغان روز جمعه تظاهرات خود را از بروکسل به مقصد مونس آغاز کردند. -- آنها قبل از این برای جلب توجه عمومی به وضعیت‌شان کلیسایی را در شهر بروکسل به اشغال خود در آورده بودند -- اسقف اعظم، اندره ژوزف لئونارد، رهبر کلیسای کاتولیک بلژیک هم از آنها حمایت کرده است. - More, BBC, at:

Pakistan's ex-ruler Pervez Musharraf to go on treason trial --- Pakistani former military ruler Pervez Musharraf is due to go on trial on treason charges. -- He will appear before a special court in Islamabad - a day after his petition that only a military court could examine his actions was rejected. -- The charge relates to his decision in 2007 to suspend the constitution and impose emergency rule. -- Mr Musharraf, who is on bail in several other cases, says all the accusations against him are politically motivated. - More, BBCnews, at:

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Full transcript: President Obama’s December 20 news conference --- By the end of next year, the war in Afghanistan will be over, just as we've ended our war in Iraq, and we'll continue to bring our troops home. And as always, we will remain vigilant to protect our homeland and our personnel overseas from terrorist attacks. Of course, a lot of our men and women in uniform are still overseas, and a lot of them are still spending their Christmas far away from their family and their friends. In some cases, it's still in harm's way. -- So I want to close by saying to them and their families back home, we want to thank you. - More, Washingtonpost, at:

شبکه نظارت بر منابع طبیعی: جلو تاراج معادن گرفته شود --- مسوولان شبکه نظارت بر منابع طبیعی افغانستان می‌ گویند روند استخراج غیرقانونی معادن سبب شده تا ماهانه میلیون ‌ها دالر حیف ‌و میل شود. این نهاد می ‌گوید با وجودی که استخراج معادن در شماری از ولایات و پایتخت به‌ صورت غیرقانونی و علنی انجام می ‌شود اما دولت مانع این روند نمی‌ گردد. این نهاد با پخش اعلامیه‌ای می ‌گوید که در ۱۴۰۰ منطقه افغانستان معادن به‌ صورت خودسرانه استخراج می ‌شوند و کسی جلو این اقدامات را نمی‌ گیرد. در این اعلامیه آمده است: «روزانه هزاران تن مواد معدنی از قبیل زغال‌ سنگ، کرومایت، سنگ ‌های قیمتی و نیمه قیمتی، سرب، فلوراید، تالک، سنگ، ریگ و سایر مواد به‌ صورت غیرقانونی استخراج می ‌شوند.» -- مسوولان شبکه نظارت بر منابع طبیعی افغانستان روز گذشته در یک کنفرانس خبری در کابل گفتند که وزارت معادن شش ماه پیش فهرستی از نام ‌های ۱۴۰۰ تن از افراد و شرکت‌ هایی را که در فعالیت‌ های غیرقانونی معدن ‌کاری در سراسر کشور دست دارند، نشر کرد ولی با آن‌ هم دولت هیچ اقدامی در برابر کسانی ‌که به‌ صورت غیرقانونی معادن افغانستان را تاراج می‌ کنند، نکرده است. اعلامیه گفته است: «مجلس نمایندگان نیز در مورد استخراج غیرقانونی سکوت اختیار نموده و خواهان پاسخگویی دولت به‌ خاطر عدم جلوگیری از معدن ‌کاری‌ های غیرقانونی نشده است.» -- مسوولان این شبکه گفتند که منابع طبیعی افغانستان ثروت جمعی همه افغان‌ ها است ولی استخراج منابع معدنی به‌ صورت خودسرانه و غیرقانونی ادامه دارد. به باور مسوولان این شبکه استخراج غیرقانونی معادن به یک قاعده تبدیل شده و مردم افغانستان هیچ سودی از این معادن نمی‌ برند. در همین حال شبکه نظارت بر منابع طبیعی می‌ گوید که شش ماه پیش در اثر تلاش‌ های پیگیر نهاد های مدنی وزارت معادن یک فهرست ۱۴۰۰ تن از افراد و شرکت‌هایی را تهیه کرد که به‌ صورت غیرقانونی مصروف استخراج معادن هستند. این شبکه می ‌گوید حکومت افغانستان از نشر نام افراد زورمند که در این فهرست بود خودداری کرده است. در اعلامیه این نهاد آمده است: «دولت خلاصه معلومات را نشر کرده اما از ذکر نام‌ های اشخاص قدرتمند خودداری نموده و فقط از چند شرکت و فردی که از نظر سیاسی نامربوط پنداشته می‌ شوند، نام برده است.» - More, هشت صبح, at:

With U.S. pullout, military burden shifts to Afghan army --- CAMP CLARK, Khost Province, Afghanistan — Across Afghanistan, a once massive network of U.S. military installations has been largely dismantled, shifting the burden of America’s longest war to Afghan troops who are anxiously awaiting the resolution of a dispute between their president and Washington. -- In the few dozen bases that remain, including this dusty camp in the east, U.S. troops are racing to improve the Afghan army’s logistics and supply systems ahead of a year that many see as the war’s turning point. -- “The enemy used to say they were fighting foreign occupiers,” Maj. Gen. James C. McConville, commander of U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, told troops deployed here during a recent visit. “They can’t say that anymore. They’re fighting Afghans.” -- That the Afghan army is fighting is not in dispute. But its odds of success are uncertain in the face of a resilient insurgency and the increasingly bitter relationship between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Washington, the Afghan government’s chief benefactor. Karzai has balked at signing a bilateral pact that would keep a small, U.S.-led foreign military contingent here beyond 2014, and that has jeopardized the billions of dollars Western nations have pledged to spend here in the years ahead. - More, washingtonpost, at:

Obama promises review of NSA spying program, possible reforms --- President Obama signaled Friday that he may halt the National Security Agency’s collection and storage of millions of Americans’ phone records and instead require phone companies to hold the data. -- Speaking at a White House news conference near the end of a very difficult year, Obama said that he would have a “pretty definitive statement” on proposed NSA reforms in January, following his family’s annual holiday break in Hawaii. - More, washingtonpost, at:

NATO starts own talks with Afghanistan on post-2014 mission pact --- (Reuters) - NATO and Afghan officials started work on Saturday on drawing up a framework for the alliance to stay on after 2014 despite the fact that a separate pact with the United States, which contributes the bulk of the forces, has still not been signed. -- But with the clock ticking on the current 49-nation mission ending before 2015, NATO and U.S. officials have said they must have agreements in place very soon to govern what happens afterward or risk being forced to withdraw all of the 84,000 soldiers, 60,000 of whom are American. -- The NATO-Afghan pact would have many of the same provisions as the U.S. one and would not be able to be finalized until after the U.S. agreement was signed. -- Opening negotiations now is designed to make the best use of time, said a NATO official, who asked not to be named. - "Time is of the essence here," he said. -- The talks were launched at a meeting in Kabul between NATO's senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, Maurits Jochems, and Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Spanta. - More, Adrian Croft, at:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

بازی خطرناک کرزی --- رئیس جمهور کرزی با مبارزه طلبی علیه واشنگتن و تاخیر در امضای توافقنامه امنیتی دو جانبه با ایالات متحده آمریکا پس از جهت ادامه کمک های مالی و نظامی برای افغانستان پس ازسال 2012، درهردو مورد- با وجود زیرکی بسیار، در مسأله شخصی و کشوری و تحمیق امریکا، بی نهایت نادان است. - کرزی واضحاً درتلاش جلب حمایت ملی خصوصا میان طرفداران پشتون خود است. -- همچنین وی امیدوار است که با خود داری از امضای پیمان امنیتی، در انتخابات ریاست جمهوری ماه اپریل، دربرابر واشنگتن وسیله نفوذ را در دست داشته باشد که با توجه به اعمال قوانین سخت گیرانه ودموکراتیک غربی، دسترسی به آن دشوار معلوم می شود.. -- آینده ایده آل آقای کرزی به حیث چهره قدرتمند در افغانستان به این مسأله مرتبط است اما وی نیز شاید واقعاً باورمند است که در مدیریت انتخابات مسالمت آمیز ( به جای انتخابات دموکراتیک) که برای حفظ دولت افغانستان بسیار با اهمیت است؛ توانایی دارد. متأسفانه کمک ایالات متحده نیز درآینده افغانستان تعیین کننده است. مسأله پایگاه ها برای امریکا کلیدی نیست؛ مگرپول. -- درحال حاضر یک دهم بودجه افغانستان، به سختی از حساب درآمد های خود کشورقابل وصول است و هیچ چانس واقعی برای سرعت افزایش در درآمد ها وجود ندارد. درواقع تمامی مصارف نظامی و بودجه توسعه ای از کمک امریکا و متحدان غربی تأمین می شود. --- واشگتن بر امضای یک معامله تا پایان امسال اصرار دارد که به حضور نظامیان امریکا تا سال 2024 مشروعیت داده وزمینه را به فراهم آوری میلیارد های دالر کمک های مورد نیاز بین المللی مساعد می نماید. -- درین جاست که حرکت آقای کرزی برای افغانستان خطرناک است. به نظر نمی رسد که وی هدف امریکا و پایتخت های اروپایی جهت خروج کامل از منجلاب افغانستان را درک کند. آقای کرزی به شیوه تخته چرخان قمار روسی، (رولت روسی) با گذاشتن تفنگچه به شقیقه کشور خودش، بازی ای را به راه انداخته که حتی خودش هم درک نمی کند که جاغور ( شارژور) چقدر پُر است. تشدد با افغانستان وبا حلقه کرزی تقریبا از روز های نخست دولت سازی از سوی غرب درآن جا شروع شد. قهروخشم از اتهامات در مورد فساد و معامله برسر هیروئین به وجود آمد. این اتهامات بالطبع سبب آزرده گی راه دهنده گان غربی ونماینده گان آنان شده است. - More, ANATOL LIEVEN, NYTimes, at:

ANATOL LIEVEN -- Karzai’s Dangerous Game --- LONDON — By defying Washington and delaying his signature on the bilateral security agreement with the United States to continue financial and military aid for Afghanistan after 2014, President Hamid Karzai is being both very astute and supremely foolish — astute in a personal and Afghan context, foolish in an American one. -- Mr. Karzai is clearly trying to garner nationalist support, especially among his fellow Pashtuns. He may also hope that withholding his signature may give him some leverage over Washington during next April’s Afghan presidential elections — which he may well need, since these elections are extremely unlikely to proceed according to strict Western democratic rules. Mr. Karzai’s own desired future as a powerful figure in Afghanistan depends on this, but he may also genuinely believe that an ability to manage these elections peacefully (rather than democratically) is crucial to preserving the Afghan state. -- Unfortunately, United States support is also crucial to Afghanistan’s future. The key issue is not American bases, but money. At present, barely one tenth of the Afghan budget is paid for by Afghan revenues, and there is no realistic chance of quickly increasing those revenues. Virtually the entire military and development budgets are paid for through American and Western aid. Washington has insisted that a deal that would allow for an American troop presence through 2024 and sets the stage for billions of dollars in international aid needs to be signed by the end of this year. -- This is where Mr. Karzai’s maneuvering is so dangerous for Afghanistan. For he does not appear to recognize the depth of the desire in Washington and European capitals to be quit of the whole Afghan morass. Mr. Karzai is therefore playing Russian roulette with a pistol pointed at his country’s head, and may not even realize how many of its chambers are loaded. --- Lacking this Western commitment, Mr. Karzai has been forced to pursue the strategy of weak Afghan states throughout much of the country’s history — that of buying off local strongmen, ethnic groups and tribes, and turning a blind eye to their activities. We in the West call this corruption and criminality. Yet this criticism is hardly honest. It was the United States military, with its notorious suitcases of dollars, which helped re-establish warlord control over the Pashtun territories after the fall of the Taliban. American force helped these warlords to eliminate rivals, and in doing so, roused local anger, which helped provide a basis for the return of the Taliban. -- To this day, the United States and NATO actively support a number of criminal chieftains in southern Afghanistan, simply because they see no better alternatives when it comes to fighting the Taliban. How exactly does this differ from the Karzai behavior we so bitterly condemn? It may well be true that Mr. Karzai is neither the most honest nor the most stable of individuals; but the conflicting pressures he faces and the mixed messages he receives could drive anyone to dishonesty or madness. -- It is important to recognize the West’s record, because real or feigned moral outrage is being used today by Western politicians whose real desire is to please their own electorates by ending further commitments to Afghanistan. --- Moreover, the civil war of the 1990s was one to which the United States had contributed immensely, first by stuffing the anti-Soviet mujahideen with American money and weapons, and then walking away from any attempt to broker an agreement between the different Afghan forces. If today we end help to an Afghan state that we have so designed that it cannot survive without our help, then for the second time in a generation we will have betrayed the people of Afghanistan. --- The central fault of the Obama administration’s Afghan strategy is that it has been half-hearted in everything. It launched a half-hearted military surge with an absurdly short deadline, followed by a half-hearted commitment to further military support, and then accompanied this with half-hearted peace overtures. If Washington does not finally start paying attention, it will risk a catastrophe in Afghanistan that would also be the greatest blow to American prestige since the fall of Saigon. - More, NYTimes, at:

Taliban Revenge: The Plight of Germany's Afghan Staff --- Berlin is under pressure following the murder of a former Afghan interpreter who worked for the German army. The Taliban had threatened him for working with foreign troops. But only a small number of Afghan staff are getting German residence permits. -- It was a strange sight on that day in April, when 16 Afghans protested in front of the German military base in Kunduz. They had worked for the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, until recently, most of them as translators and interpreters. Now they were standing outside a barbed-wire fence, holding up protest signs. They had come to beg the German soldiers not to leave them behind unprotected. -- One of the demonstrators was a young man wearing leather sandals. His name was Jawad Wafa, and he had worked as an interpreter for the "Kunduz Task Force" since January 2009. In return for risking his life for the Germans, he was initially paid the equivalent of €400 ($550) and later €660 a month. -- That was until January, when the Bundeswehr began its withdrawal from Afghanistan. Wafa and his fellow translators were no longer needed but, unlike the German soldiers, they had to stay behind in Afghanistan.-- The Bundeswehr employees feared the wrath of the Taliban, who had repeatedly announced their intention to kill anyone who had worked with the foreigners. The Germans' local employees received death threats on a regular basis, prompting Wafa and his co-workers to write on their signs: "We don't want to be killed by the insurgents. We want to live." -- On Nov. 24, Wafa was found dead in the trunk of a blue Toyota Corolla parked in downtown Kunduz. His hands had been tied behind his back with cables. There was a plastic bag over his head, and his face was swollen and covered with large, dark spots. A piece of wire was wrapped around his neck. Wafa had apparently been strangled. - More, Der Spiegel, at:

Friendly Fire: How GCHQ Monitors Germany, Israel and the EU --- Documents from the archive of whistleblower and former NSA worker Edward Snowden show that Britain's GCHQ signals intelligence agency has targeted European, German and Israeli politicians for surveillance. --- The American spy stayed in northern Cornwall for three weeks. He was delighted with the picturesque setting, with its dramatic cliffs and views of the Atlantic. -- In a classified report, the NSA employee also raved about the British signals intelligence agency GCHQ's field of antennas, located high above the Atlantic coast, about 300 kilometers (190 miles) west of London. Her Majesty's agents have been working at the site, where 29 satellite antennas are aimed skyward, for decades. The Cornwall intelligence base, once part of the Echelon global signals intelligence network, was previously known as "Morwenstow." Today the site is known as "GCHQ Bude." - More, Der Spiegel, at:

N.S.A. Spied on Allies, Aid Groups and Businesses --- Secret documents reveal more than 1,000 targets of American and British surveillance in recent years, including the office of an Israeli prime minister, heads of international aid organizations, foreign energy companies and a European Union official involved in antitrust battles with American technology businesses. -- While the names of some political and diplomatic leaders have previously emerged as targets, the newly disclosed intelligence documents provide a much fuller portrait of the spies’ sweeping interests in more than 60 countries. --- Details of the surveillance are described in documents from the N.S.A. and Britain’s eavesdropping agency, known as GCHQ, dating from 2008 to 2011. The target lists appear in a set of GCHQ reports that sometimes identify which agency requested the surveillance, but more often do not. The documents were leaked by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden and shared by The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel. - More, NYTimes, at:

Obama Weighing Security and Privacy in Deciding on Spy Program Limits --- WASHINGTON — If President Obama adopts the most far-reaching recommendations of the advisory group he set up to rein in the National Security Agency, much would change underneath the giant antennas that sprout over Fort Meade, Md., where America’s electronic spies and cyberwarriors have operated with an unprecedented amount of freedom since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. - More, DAVID E. SANGER, NYTimes, at:

Friday, December 20, 2013

The U.S. Senate will vote in early January on temporarily extending unemployment insurance to millions of out-of-work Americans, Senate leaders said Thursday. --- Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said that a bipartisan plan to extend the benefits for three months will get a vote on Jan. 6 or 7, the first two days the Senate is scheduled to meet in 2014. -- "It's a good bill, and it deserves a vote, and I hope my Republican colleagues will work with us to schedule a vote in a very timely fashion, which to this point they haven't," he told reporters. -- But Reid and said that extending unemployment insurance "is just the first step. We need to raise the minimum wage. We need to take other measures that will help address income inequality in this country. We have income inequality." -- The bipartisan budget agreement overwhelmingly approved by lawmakers fails to extend the unemployment benefits for about 1.3 million long-term unemployed American workers. Dozens of House and Senate Democrats protested the oversight, but agreed to back the budget agreement after top Democratic leaders said they would take up the issue of extending the benefits in January. -- Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), the third-ranking Democrat, said the issue of extending unemployment benefits would be "the next test" in the ongoing battle between conservative and mainstream Republicans. - More, Washingtonpost, at:

BSA needs to be signed promptly: Hagel --- WASHINGTON (PAN): US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday insisted that the bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan needed to be signed promptly, as the two sides clung to their positions. -- "What role America and its allies continue to play in Afghanistan to help the people of that country after 2014 must be clearly defined, and it must be defined very soon,” Hagel told reporters at a Pentagon news conference. -- The BSA between Afghanistan and the United States must be signed promptly in order for the Americans and their allies to plan and preserve options for a post-2014 presence, the defense secretary argued. - More, Pajhwok, ast:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Target cyber breach hits 40 million payment cards at holiday peak --- (Reuters) - Target Corp said hackers have stolen data from up to 40 million credit and debit cards of shoppers who visited its stores during the first three weeks of the holiday season in the second-largest such breach reported by a U.S. retailer. -- The hackers worked at unprecedented speed, carrying out their operation from the day before Thanksgiving to this past Sunday, 19 days that are the heart of the crucial Christmas holiday sales season. -- Target, the third-largest U.S. retailer, said on Thursday that it was working with federal law enforcement and outside experts to prevent similar attacks in the future. It did not disclose how its systems were compromised. -- The retailer was alerted its systems might have been compromised by credit card processors who had noticed a surge in fraudulent transactions involving credit cards that had been used at Target, according to a person familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to discuss the matter. - More, at:

How To Make Sense Of Confusing, New Blood Pressure Advice --- If you're confused about the latest recommendations for treating high blood pressure, take heart. Doctors are confused, too. -- On Wednesday, a panel of specialists called the Eighth Joint National Committee published guidelines saying that many people over 60 don't need to start taking medications to lower blood pressure until it's above 150/90 millimeters of mercury. -- If doctors follow the advice, they'll be less likely to prescribe blood pressure drugs to people at milder risk for heart problems. -- Why? There's a lack of conclusive evidence that using drugs to get pressures lower than that will reduce a person's risk of heart attack and stroke — or increase life expectancy. -- That's a substantial change from the current recommendation for all adults to get their systolic blood pressure (the first number) below 140, which is endorsed by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, two big medical professional societies. People with diabetes or kidney disease were told to go even lower, to 130. -- In the new guidelines, the systolic goal for adults under 60 remains at 140, but it wipes out the lower target for people with diabetes and kidney disease. - More, NPR, at:

Outdated Magnetic Strips: How U.S. Credit Card Security Lags --- Criminals may have stolen information from 40 million credit and debit cards used at Target. A possible weakness? The magnetic stripe on credit cards — which fraudsters can pull credit card numbers and expiration dates from to make counterfeit cards. --- Other countries moved beyond this technology years ago. The U.K., Canada and Hong Kong are already using chip-based cards, which are considered more secure. (Magnetic stripe technology is decades old.) Cards using the chip-and-PIN system have an embedded microchip. Instead of swiping the part with a magnetic stripe, you put the card into a terminal, then enter a PIN or sign your name. It's more expensive for criminals to forge these cards, says Brian Krebs, a security journalist who writes for Krebs on Security and broke the story on the breach at Target. -- Target didn't give details on how the breach occurred. But Krebs, citing credit card industry sources, reported that it involved "the theft of data stored on the magnetic stripe of cards used at the stores." -- The newer chip-and-PIN technology "simply raises the costs for the bad guys," Krebs told NPR. "It's not that they can't break the system — but it makes it more expensive for them to fabricate these cards." -- Visa and MasterCard have plans to introduce these cards in the U.S. in around two years. But why hasn't the U.S. already adopted this technology? - More, NPR, at:

Majority of Americans say Afghan war has not been worth fighting, Post-ABC News poll finds --- Americans express near-record discontent and regret over the 13-year war in Afghanistan after its 2,289 U.S. casualties and more than 19,000 wounded soldiers, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. -- Fully 66 percent of Americans say the war, which began with nearly unanimous support, has not been worth fighting. A majority of Americans have doubted the war’s value in each Post-ABC poll since 2010, with current disapproval only one percentage point below July’s record mark. A record 50 percent now “strongly” believes the war is not worth the costs. -- Despite the skepticism, a 55 percent majority favors keeping some U.S. forces in Afghanistan going forward for anti-insurgency operations and training, while just over four in 10 prefer removing all troops from the country. --- The future U.S. military role remains in limbo because Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a bilateral security agreement that would keep an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 U.S. troops in the country after 2014. --- A separate Associated Press-GfK poll released Wednesday found 57 percent of Americans saying the United States did “the wrong thing” in going to war with Afghanistan in the first place, with mixed feelings toward keeping troops in the country past 2014. Obama received negative marks for his handling of the situation, with 53 percent disapproving and 45 percent approving. -- The public’s war weariness stands in stark contrast to its extraordinary support for U.S.-led airstrikes when they began less than one month after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. A Post-ABC poll the day strikes began found that 94 percent of Americans supported military action, and support remained steady at 91 percent six months later, after American forces ousted the Taliban from major cities. - More, Scott Clement, Washingtonpost, at:

Military trial in U.S. being considered for Russian detained in Afghanistan --- The Obama administration is actively considering the use of a military commission in the United States to try a Russian who was captured fighting with the Taliban several years ago and has been held by the U.S. military at a detention facility near Bagram air base in Afghanistan, former and current U.S. officials said. -- The Russian is a veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s who deserted and ended up fighting U.S. forces after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. U.S. officials said the man, thought to be in his mid- to late 50s, is suspected of involvement in several 2009 attacks in which U.S. troops were wounded or killed. He was wounded during an assault on an Afghan border post that year and later captured. -- Little else is known about him except for his nom de guerre, Irek Hamidullan. --- But as it nears the deadline for the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the administration is faced with what to do with several dozen non-Afghans it retained custody of when it turned over thousands of Afghan prisoners to the Kabul authorities under an agreement signed in March. The remaining 53 third-country nationals are deemed a continuing threat to the United States, according to U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. - More, Washingtonpost, at:

Why the U.S. Paid Karzai's Top Aide --- The chief of staff to Afghanistan’s president drew a salary from two U.S. government contractors in 2002 and early 2003 as he was managing President Hamid Karzai’s office, serving as his spokesman and advising him on foreign affairs, according to documents reviewed by The Daily Beast and subsequent interviews. --- The contractor salary provided to Said Jawad was part of a U.S. initiative to directly pay high salaries to Western-educated Afghans who helped rebuild a government from scratch in the midst of an ongoing civil war and foreign occupation. --- This disclosure of the program to pay Afghanistan’s top bureaucrats through U.S. contractors comes as the United States is urging Karzai to sign an agreement setting the terms of U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan after 2014. That is the year the current arrangement, first negotiated in 2002 and 2003, for the presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan will expire. The existing terms were originally spelled out in an exchange of letters between the United States and Afghanistan, and are considered by most experts to be favorable to the United States. For example, the current arrangement does not require the United States to compensate the families of civilians killed in U.S. military operations. --- In 2002, Karzai trusted Jawad. Soon after being hired by Karzai, he was promoted to chief of staff and placed in charge of international relations for the office of the president. In 2003, Jawad was named Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States. He stayed in that post until 2010. --- Andrew Natsios, who at the time was the administrator for USAID, said of Jawad: “We recruited him in 2002 at first to be the media spokesperson for Hamid Karzai to increase the frequency of the President's communication with the Afghan people.” -- Jawad was by no means the only Afghan technocrat to benefit from such arrangements, according to current and former top USAID officials. Natsios said that in the early days of the Afghanistan war, USAID had a program to recruit hundreds of highly trained Afghans living in the West to become technocrats in Karzai’s government to build government capacity. Part of this program, Natsios said, involved providing salaries competitive with their jobs in the West. “These technocrats were recruited through the USAID contractors and served as officials in line ministries,” he said. “The early way we had to carry out our programs was through these kinds of contracts. We did this quietly because there was tension between the Afghan expatriates returning and the Afghan militias allied with us.” --- Larry Sampler, the current USAID Assistant Administrator for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said these types of transactions were a necessity during the initial phases of Afghanistan’s reconstruction. “If the U.S. policy interest was a functioning interim Afghanistan administration, USAID would look for ways to creatively support that. That might include using one of our contract mechanisms to provide temporary salary support to attract qualified employees. To my recollection, in 2002, I’m familiar with about half a dozen people for whom we did that,” he said. “We would do this for high impact players who were essential for the new administration.” -- Given that the interim government of Afghanistan was only months old when some of these men were hired, Karzai’s team actually expected and depended on the Western donors to provide a reliable salary until such time as the interim government could do so, Sampler said. - More, The Daily Beast, at:

Criminal Capture of Afghanistan's Economy --- Integrity Watch urges the Afghan government to end criminal capture of Afghanistan’s economy. -- Wednesday, December 18, 2013 – Kabul: Integrity Watch Afghanistan released a new report today which indicates that Afghanistan’s economy has been captured by strongmen who have monopolized the market and been increasingly engaging in a greater number of diversified businesses countrywide. -- The research, which is based on 100 in-depth interviews with experts from various fields in Kabul, Herat, Balkh, Bamyan, and Nangarhar, reveals that the strongmen have tremendous market power in terms of setting market prices. The report indicates that not only has the Afghan state facilitated an environment for the strongmen to use their political and military power with impunity in order to protect their economic interests, but also, due to a tense security situation, the international security forces and aid agencies have compromised their standards of vetting bidders, allowing strongmen to further assert their power and gain monetarily from development contracts. - More, Integrity Watch Afghanistan, at:

گزارش: اقتصاد افغانستان در انحصار زورمندان است --- دیدبان شفافیت با نشر گزارشی می گوید اقتصاد افغانستان را زورمندان انحصار کرده و این مسأله برای آینده افغانستان بسیار خطرناک است. این نهاد با نشر گزارشی که حاصل یک سال تحقیق است از حکومت می خواهد که برای بیرون کردن اقتصاد افغانستان از تصرف زورمندان اقدام کند. این در حالیست که یافته های گزارش نشان می دهد که مقامات بلندرتبه دولتی در انحصار بازار دخیل هستند. -- دیده بان شفافیت با نشر یک گزارش تازه می گوید اقتصاد افغانستان بشدت در انحصار زورمندان در آمده و بازار توسط عده محدودی از زورمندان که در تعیین قیمت ها در مارکیت قدرت فوق العاده دارند، اداره می شود. به اساس یافته های این گزارش حکومت افغانستان محیط مناسبی را به وجود آورده است که زورمندان می توانند قدرت نظامی و سیاسی خود را برای حفظ منافع اقتصادی خود استفاده کنند. به اساس یافته های گزارش دیده بان شفافیت، اگر یک فرد مقتدر به یکی از تجارتها در افغانستان وارد گردد، رقیبان کم قدرت، بشکل داوطلبانه بازار را ترک می کند و یا مجبور به بستن تجارت خود می شوند. -- در گزارش دیدبان شفافیت از وکلای پارلمان، وزیران، والی ها، معین ها، قوماندان پولیس به عنوان مقامات دولتی دخیل در انحصار بازار نام برده شده است. یما ترابی در این مورد افزود، "زورمند ها والی ها هستند، یک تعداد والی ها، یک تعداد وکیل های پارلمان، زورمند ها وزیرها و یک تعداد معین صاحب ها هستند، قومندان های پولیس هستند، یک تعداد زیادی این حلقات سیاسی کسانی که ما به آنها تصمیم گیر سیاسی میگویم، فامیل های آنها در بازار شرکت های دارند، در بانک ها حتی و شرکت های بسیار بزرگ." -- این گزارش طی یک سال در نتیجه مصاحبه با صد تن متخصصین امور و تحلیلگران در ولایات کابل، هرات، بلخ، بامیان، ننگرهار، انجام شده است. این در حالیست که روز گذشته نمایندگان اتحادیه وارد کنندگان نفت، حکومت را به حمایت از مافیای مواد نفتی متهم کردند و گفتند که به اساس یک فیصله تازه شورای وزیران به شرکت غضنفر گروپ یکی از شرکت های خصوصی اجازه داده شده است که نفت نیمه خام یا تریماگون را با محصول بسیار ناچیز وارد کند -- آقای حافظی گفت: "بخاطر منفعت های شخصی یک گروه معین یک بدنه فاسد حکومت که جزء مافیای اقتصادی هستند و همه می دانند که از هیچ شروع کردند و اگر شما دارایی پدری شان را حساب کنید هر کدام دارای یک سرپناه نبودند ولی حالا دارای یک میلیون دالر، پنجصد ملیون دالر سرمایه هستند، همۀ اینها حاصل چپاول دارایی مردم و حاصل همکاری با مافیایی اقتصادی است." --- اما به اساس یافته های گزارش دیدبان شفافیت، تجارت های ناسالم غالباً به نام خود زورمندان ثبت و راجستر نمی شود و این مساله دست یافتن به اسنادی را که دخالت مستقیم آنان را بازار را روشن کند ناممکن می سازد. دیدبان شفافیت از حکومت می خواهد که سرمایه گذاران بالقوه را مجبور کند که نام سهم داران و روابط آنها را با مقام های دولتی منتشر کنند و از اداره عالی نظارت می خواهد که به شدت رژیم ثبت دارایی ها را اعمال کند، عایدات و دارایی های مقام های بلندرتبه دولتی به شمول اعضای خانواده مانند فرزندان و همسران آنها را ثبت و راجستر کند. به وجود آوردن سیستم برقی و پیاده کردن نورم های بین المللی اقتصادی در افغانستان، تطبیق و اصلاح قوانین و مقررات منع انحصار از سفارشات دیگری است که دیدبان شفافیت ارایه می کند. - صدای امریکا, at:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Obama Panel Recommends New Limits on N.S.A. Spying --- WASHINGTON — A panel of outside advisers urged President Obama on Wednesday to impose major oversight and some restrictions on the National Security Agency, arguing that in the past dozen years its powers had been enhanced at the expense of personal privacy. -- The panel recommended changes in the way the agency collects the telephone data of Americans, spies on foreign leaders and prepares for cyberattacks abroad. -- But the most significant recommendation of the panel of five intelligence and legal experts was that Mr. Obama restructure a program in which the N.S.A. systematically collects logs of all American phone calls — so-called metadata — and a small group of agency officials have the power to authorize the search of an individual’s telephone contacts. Instead, the panel said, the data should remain in the hands of telecommunications companies or a private consortium, and a court order should be necessary each time analysts want to access the information of any individual “for queries and data mining.” - More, NYTimes, at:

Research shows how MacBook Webcams can spy on their users without warning --- The woman was shocked when she received two nude photos of herself by e-mail. The photos had been taken over a period of several months — without her knowledge — by the built-in camera on her laptop. -- Fortunately, the FBI was able to identify a suspect: her high school classmate, a man named Jared Abrahams. The FBI says it found software on Abrahams’s computer that allowed him to spy remotely on her and numerous other women. -- Abrahams pleaded guilty to extortion in October. The woman, identified in court papers only as C.W., later identified herself on Twitter as Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf. While her case was instant fodder for celebrity gossip sites, it left a serious issue unresolved. -- Most laptops with built-in cameras have an important privacy feature — a light that is supposed to turn on any time the camera is in use. But Wolf says she never saw the light on her laptop go on. As a result, she had no idea she was under surveillance. -- That wasn’t supposed to be possible. While controlling a camera remotely has long been a source of concern to privacy advocates, conventional wisdom said there was at least no way to deactivate the warning light. New evidence indicates otherwise. -- Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico, said in a recent story in The Washington Post that the FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording — for several years. --- Now research from Johns Hopkins University provides the first public confirmation that it’s possible to do just that, and demonstrates how. While the research focused on MacBook and iMac models released before 2008, the authors say similar techniques could work on more recent computers from a wide variety of vendors. In other words, if a laptop has a built-in camera, it’s possible someone — whether the federal government or a malicious 19 year old — could access it to spy on the user at any time. - More, Ashkan Soltani and Timothy B. Lee - Washingtonpost, at:

UN votes to protect privacy in digital age --- UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at protecting the right to privacy against unlawful surveillance in the digital age on Wednesday in the most vocal global criticism of U.S. eavesdropping. -- Germany and Brazil introduced the resolution following a series of reports of U.S. surveillance, interception, and data collection abroad — including on Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — that surprised and angered friends and allies. -- The resolution “affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the right to privacy.” -- t calls on the 193 U.N. member states “to respect and protect the right to privacy, including in the context of digital communication,” to take measures to end violations of those rights, and to prevent such violations including by ensuring that national legislation complies with international human rights law. -- It also calls on all countries “to review their procedures, practices and legislation regarding the surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data, including mass surveillance, interception and collection, with a view to upholding the right to privacy of all their obligations under international human rights law.” -- The resolution calls on U.N. members to establish or maintain independent and effective oversight methods to ensure transparency, when appropriate, and accountability for state surveillance of communications, their interception and collection of personal data. - More, Associated Press, at:

Panel urges new curbs on surveillance by U.S. --- A panel appointed by President Obama to review the government’s surveillance activities has recommended significant new limits on the nation’s intelligence apparatus that include ending the National Security Agency’s collection of virtually all Americans’ phone records. -- It urged that phone companies or a private third party maintain the data instead, with access granted only by a court order. -- The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies also recommended in a wide-ranging report issued Wednesday that decisions to spy on foreign leaders be subjected to greater scrutiny, including weighing the diplomatic and economic fallout if operations are revealed. Allied foreign leaders or those with whom the United States shares a cooperative relationship should be accorded “a high degree of respect and deference,” it said. --- The panel also urged legislation that would require the FBI to obtain judicial approval before it can use a national security letter or administrative subpoena to obtain Americans’ financial, phone and other records. That would eliminate one of the tool’s main attractions: that it can be employed quickly without court approval. -- The review group also would impose a ban on warantless NSA searches for Americans’ phone calls and e-mails held within large caches of communications collected legally because the program targeted foreigners overseas. - More, Washingtonpost, at:

Local Turf-Sharing Accord With the Taliban Raises Alarm in Afghanistan --- KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan Army commander stationed in the deadliest corner of Helmand Province brokered a cease-fire and turf-sharing deal with local Taliban insurgents there, according to government and police officials, in an example of the sort of ground-level bargaining that some see as increasingly likely once international troops withdraw next year. -- Details of the accord, which took place in the district of Sangin, remain murky. But the issue was fraught enough that the army scrambled to send a delegation there to investigate on Tuesday, officials said. And local residents say that commanders were promising that the deal would halt immediately and never happen again. - More, nytimes, at:

Tech Leaders and Obama Find Shared Problem: Fading Public Trust --- WASHINGTON — President Obama met with top technology industry executives on Tuesday to discuss two seemingly distinct controversies: a faulty health care website, and the digital surveillance practices of the National Security Agency. -- The meeting started with an announcement by Mr. Obama that he was reaching into the ranks of Microsoft, the software giant, to select Kurt DelBene as the next person to run But the focus quickly turned from the health care site to the concerns of Apple, Microsoft, Google and other technology companies about the spying efforts, the latest illustration of the strained relationship between an industry and a White House that had long been close. -- For months, leading technology companies have been buffeted by revelations about government spying on their customers’ data, which they believe are undermining confidence in their services. The Obama administration has been blasted for the botched rollout of the health site, which prevented many people from signing up for health insurance in the first weeks of the site’s introduction, but seem to have been largely repaired since then. -- The meeting on Tuesday brought those two issues together into a common forum, and at least partly in the public eye. - More, NYTimes, at:

Obama meets with tech execs to talk NSA, health care --- President Obama met privately with several tech executives Tuesday to discuss the administration's efforts to address problems with the federal online health care exchange as well as the fallout that national security leaks have had on their companies, according to the White House. -- Among those who were invited to the White House meeting were Apple's CEO Tim Cook, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt. -- The meeting came as a federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance program that collects millions of Americans' telephone records may be unconstitutional. -- The tech executives wrote an open letter to Obama last week in which they plainly stated their call to curb surveillance. -- "We appreciated the opportunity to share directly with the President our principles on government surveillance that we released last week and we urge him to move aggressively on reform," the executives said in a joint statement. - More, USATODAY, at:

Obama to Meet With Tech Giants Over Surveillance, Obamacare --- All told, 15 executives are expected at the meeting including Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, Netflix Inc.NFLX +0.37% Chief Executive Reed Hastings and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. - More, wall street journal, at:

French Philosopher Finkielkraut: 'There Is a Clash of Civilizations' --- French society is under threat, argues philosopher Alain Finkielkraut in a controversial new book. The conservative spoke to SPIEGEL about what he sees as the failure of multiculturalism and the need for better integration of Muslim immigrants. --- I am pained to see that the French mode of European civilization is threatened. France is in the process of transforming into a post-national and multicultural society. It seems to me that this enormous transformation does not bring anything good. -- It is presented to us as the model for the future. But multiculturalism does not mean that cultures blend. Mistrust prevails, communitarianism is rampant -- parallel societies are forming that continuously distance themselves from each other. -- We are constantly told that immigration is a constitutive element of the French identity. But that's not true. Labor migration began in the 19th century. It was not until after the bloodletting of World War I that the borders were largely opened. -- Immigration used to go hand-in-hand with integration into French culture. That was the rule of the game. Many of the new arrivals no longer want to play by that rule. If the immigrants are in the majority in their neighborhoods, how can we integrate them? There used to be mixed marriages, which is crucial to miscegenation. But their numbers are declining. Many Muslims in Europe are re-Islamizing themselves. A woman who wears the veil effectively announces that a relationship with a non-Muslim is out of the question for her. -- The left wanted to resolve the problem of immigration as a social issue, and proclaimed that the riots in the suburbs were a kind of class struggle. We were told that these youths were protesting against unemployment, inequality and the impossibility of social advancement. In reality we saw an eruption of hostility toward French society. Social inequality does not explain the anti-Semitism, nor the misogyny in the suburbs, nor the insult "filthy French." The left does not want to accept that there is a clash of civilizations. - More, der spiegel, at:

Record Support: Merkel Inaugurated for Third Term --- Angela Merkel began her third term as chancellor on Tuesday, with the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament, electing her by 462 votes to 150. There were nine abstentions. -- The 59-year-old conservative leader accepted the record result and thanked the country's politicians for their trust in her. No chancellor has ever received as many votes by parliament, even though at least 32 members of her own coalition didn't vote for her. -- Merkel's new "grand coalition" government -- which partners her Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) -- now holds 505 of the Bundestag's 631 seats. The alliance came about after Merkel's CDU nearly achieved a parliamentary majority in the Sept. 22 federal election, but saw their coalition partners, the liberal Free Democrats, crash out of parliament by falling short of the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats. -- While the CDU briefly flirted with the environmentalist Greens over a possible coalition, it soon became clear that the rival SPD, Germany's second-largest party after the conservatives, was their only viable option. But the coalition negotiations still took a record three months, during which time the agreement was put to a vote by SPD members, many of whom were apprehensive about the alliance after their party was weakened by the last grand coalition government during Merkel's first term, between 2005 and 2009. - More, Der Spiegel, at:

A Top Iraqi Official’s Advice to Karzai? Take America’s Deal --- KABUL, Afghanistan — With one of the most important chapters of Afghanistan’s history open before him, President Hamid Karzai took time this month for a personal meeting with the longtime foreign minister of Iraq, Hoshyar Zebari. -- It had been years since an Iraqi official had been to Afghanistan, and the trip was nominally meant to ease the passage of Afghan Shiites to holy shrines in Iraq. But it came right as Mr. Karzai had chosen to dig in and delay signing a security agreement with the United States, leaving long-term Western military support, and billions of dollars in aid, hanging in the balance. -- In a moment of candor, Mr. Zebari offered a piece of advice to the president that would have been unthinkable from an Iraqi official just two years ago: Get over your differences with the Americans and sign the deal. -- “Don’t be under the illusion that no matter what you do the Americans are here to stay,” Mr. Zebari told Mr. Karzai. “People used to say that about the American presence in Iraq, too. But they were eager to leave, and they will be eager to leave your country as well.” -- When the last American troops departed Iraq in 2011, after the collapse of a similar security agreement, many Iraqis reveled in a moment of national pride, expressing faith in the government’s ability to maintain security. Since then, the country has fallen back into hellish violence, with thousands killed in sectarian attacks this year. - More, AZAM AHMED, NYTimes, at:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

David Cameron shares bunk bed with Michael Owen on way to Afghanistan --- David Cameron shared a military bunk bed with former England player Michael Owen on their flight out to Afghanistan to promote a new football partnership aimed at boosting national spirit in the war-torn country. -- Owen joined Cameron to announce a new Football Association initiative which will help develop the sport in Afghanistan by inviting talented young players to train at St George's Park, England's new national training centre. It is part of a drive to foster national spirit in Afghanistan after 12 years of warfare. -- Cameron and Owen arrived at the base on Monday morning and left within 12 hours, after watching a football match and eating with troops in the mess tent. Cameron also visited the remote Forward Operating Base Sterga 2, which overlooks the Helmand river. - More, Guardian, at:

کلید -- انتقالي عدالت، دسولې دټینګښت یوازنۍ لاره --- له اوږدې چوپتيا وروسته يو وار بيا د انتقالي عدالت بحثونه اورېدل كېږي او بېلا بېلې ټولنې په دې هڅه كې دي چې دانتقالي عدالت غږ حكومت او نړيوالې ټولنې ته ورسوي. ددې لړۍ په دوام يو تازه اقدام دا دی چې تېره اوونۍ دافغانستان ددادخواهۍ ټولنې (ادا) دجنګي جنايتونو يو ۱۰ زره انځوريز نندارتون په دارالامان ماڼۍ كې پرانست. په دغه نندارتون كې چې لګښت يې دقربانيانو دكورنيو لخوا وركول شوى، دليدونكو پر وړاندې دتېرو لسيزو دبشپړ ناورين داستان، دتصويرونو په ژبه وړاندې شو. دنندارتون دجوړوونكو غوښتنه دا وه چې نور بايد دافغانستان په ۳۰ كلن ناورين كې هغه په جنايت ككړې څېرې چې لا هم په واك كې دي، افشا شي. -- د(ادا) ادارې مشرې ويدا احمد وويل، په دې نندارتون كې يې دكمونیستي رژيم، تنظيمي جګړو، دطالبانو دواكمنۍ او په افغانستان كې دامريكايي ځواكونو دجنايتونو پر مهال اخستل شوي بشپړ انځورونه راټول كړي دي. دنندارتون له ټكان وركوونكو انځورونو څخه يو يې داسې و چې ظاهرا يو طالب له كوم چا دواړه لاسونه غوڅ كړي او له ځان سره يې لېږدوي. يو بل انځور بيا په ۱۳۶۰ كال دډله ييز قبر دراسپړنې او مړو كيسه كوي، دغه راز په هېواد كې دعام المنفعه تاسيساتو دسوځونې او ويجاړۍ بې شمېره عكسونو هم كتونكو ته دتېرې جګړې عيني ثبوتونه په لاس وركول. -- دنندارتون مسوولين وايي، د دې انځورونو راټولونه يې په ۲۰۰۷ كال دفیسبوك او قربانيانو له كورنيو پيل كړه. دوى وايي دتصويرونو دنندارې لپاره يې ددارالامان نړېدلې ماڼۍ ځكه وټاكله چې دا ماڼۍ دډاكټر نجيب الله دحكومت له سقوط وروسته دويجاړيو په يوه ستره نښه بدله شوه. دنندارتون مشرې ويدا احمد دخپل دې اقدام داهميت په اړه وويل: (دامريكا اوسنۍ بمبارۍ، خپل سرې تالاشۍ، ځانمرګي بريدونه او جنسي تيري هغه جنګي جرمونه دي چې هيڅ به ونه بښل شي، موږ ددوى عكسونه هم وړاندې كړل، موږ بايد چې په هر ډول وي ددې عاملين محكمې ته راكاږو، دا نندارتون يو ډول مظاهره هم ده او اهميت يې دا دى چې هر څومره ډېر ګډونوال ولري دجنايتكارانو دافشا ګرۍ كمپاين زور نيسي.) - More, at:انتقالي-عدالت؛-د-سولې-د-ټینګښت-یوازنۍ-لاره

U.S. Credibility Around the World Damaged by Afghanistan War --- As the December 31st deadline for the U.S.-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement gets pushed back, given unresolved disagreements over the post-2014 U.S. presence, it is clear that American clout in Kabul is not what it once was. -- American credibility is not simply at risk but has already suffered damage – and remains in a deteriorating spiral. The gulf between the words and deeds of the United States regarding Afghanistan over the past decade has been so vast that trust in America has been severely degraded. There are real consequences to this loss of trust and if this trend is not reversed, vital American interests may one day be placed at risk. --- Following initial deployment of surge forces into Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of U.S. troops in the country, told the New York Times, "I think we have made significant progress in setting the conditions in 2009 ... and that we'll make serious progress in 2010." Gen. David Petraeus followed McChrystal in command and in March 2011 testified before the House Armed Services Committee that "as a bottom line up front, it is [the International Security Assistance Force's] assessment that the momentum achieved by the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2005 has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in a number of important areas." Next in line came Gen. John Allen, who claimed at his change of command ceremony in February 2013 that in fact, "This is victory. This is what winning looks like". ---- After 12 full years of war, however, this is what "victory" actually looks like: -- •"Afghanistan's opium production surged this year to record levels, despite international efforts over the past decade to wean the country off the narcotics trade, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.N.'s drug control agency," Fox News reported. -- •Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index ranks Afghanistan as dead-last at 174th out of 174 nations evaluated. -- •The United Nations General Assembly Security Council reported that "from 16 May to 15 August [2013], 5,922 [security] incidents were recorded, an 11 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2012 (5,317 incidents)." -- •And the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan documented "1,319 civilian deaths and 2,533 injuries (3,852 casualties) from January to June 2013, marking a 14 percent increase in deaths, 28 percent increase in injuries and 23 percent increase in total civilian casualties compared to the same period in 2012." --- Our actions of recent years have severely tarnished the traditional American values of honor, respect, integrity, trust and moral excellence. But this damage is reversible. --- Given the chaotic, always-changing nature of international affairs, no one expects American leaders to be right all the time. What we should expect, all the time, is for our leaders to be open and honest, both with our own citizens and in the conduct of foreign policy abroad in our name. - More, U.S. News & World Report, at:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Editorial: A Powerful Rebuke of Mass Surveillance --- For the first time since the revelation of the National Security Agency’s vast dragnet of all Americans’ telephone records, a federal court has ruled that such surveillance is “significantly likely” to be unconstitutional. -- In a scathing 68-page opinion peppered with exclamations of incredulity, United States District Judge Richard Leon, of the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia, found that the seven-year-old phone-data collection program — which was established under the Patriot Act and has been repeatedly reauthorized by a secret intelligence court — “almost certainly” violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches. -- Reaching into the 18th century from the 21st, the judge wrote that James Madison “would be aghast” at the degree of privacy invasion the data sweep represents. -- The ruling by Judge Leon, who was nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, was remarkable for many reasons, but mainly because there were real people sitting in open court challenging the government’s lawyers over the program’s constitutionality. - More, THE EDITORIAL BOARD - NYTimes

U.S. Lawyer Works To Change The Afghan Legal System --- In 2008, attorney Kimberly Motley picked up and left her native Milwaukee, where she lived with her husband and two kids, and moved to Kabul. It wasn't just the first time she's been to a conflict zone, it was the first time she'd ever been out of the country. -- And, to be frank, says Motley, she wasn't entirely sure what she was doing either. She thought it'd be a good career move — work in Afghanistan for a year with the State Department, train lawyers there, learn and make some money, then return to her work as a public defender in the U.S. --- But what she saw in Afghanistan shocked her. Motley remembers a prison tour in which prisoners were making tools. Looking around the room, she noticed how the prisoners far outnumbered the guards, and imagined how easily an attack might happen. "In addition ... there wasn't any running water, it was extremely cold because there wasn't any heat, any electricity, you hear coughing everywhere," she remembers. "It was a very eye-opening experience." -- Motley had worked for years as a public defender and believes in the right to a fair trial. So she was shocked to see prisoners languishing without any legal help in Afghanistan's jails. She became the first foreign lawyer to have a practice in Afghanistan, making it her mission to give legal representation to foreigners imprisoned in Afghanistan and then, later, to Afghans. - More, NPR, at:

مشکلات اخذ ویزا برای مترجمین و همکاران نیروهای خارجی در افغانستان --- مترجمین نیروهای خارجی در افغانستان، با پایان یافتن مأموریت نظامی آنان در افغانستان، در تشویش هستند که مبادا در دست طالبان بیافتند.-- از مدت ها به این سو، مترجمین نیروهای خارجی ابراز تشویش و حتی اعتراض میکنند که به آنان باید ویزهٔ ایالات متحده یا کشورهای دیگر غربی داده شود. ولی دادن ویزه در کشورهای غربی به مردم کشوری چون افغانستان ساده نیست. -- اگرچه وزارت امورخارجۀ ایالات متحده، تأکید میکند که آنان در دادن ویزه های اختصاصی، تسهیلات بوجود آورده اند، ولی با آنهم در طول سال 2013، ایالات متحده امریکا، در مجموع تنها 1600 ویزه به افغان‌ها داده است. -- در گزارش آژانس خبررسانی فرانسه در این مورد، حکایت از قضیۀ "محمد یونس شینواری" است که مترجم نیروهای امریکایی بود و بسیار به سختی موفق به دریافت ویزهٔ اقامت در ایالات متحده شد. او یکی از سربازان امریکایی را از مرگ نجات داده بود و این این سرباز در اواخر سال 2008، زمانی که به کشورش برمیگشت به محمد یونس شینواری وعده داده بود که برای او ویزهٔ امریکا را به دست بیاورد. -- این سرباز امریکایی که "مات زلر" نام دارد، میگوید که او هرگز تصور نمیکرد که به دست آوردن ویزه، پنج سال طول بکشد. در حالیکه مسئوولین به این درخواست ویزه جوابی نداده بودند، او در مطبوعات امریکایی سرو صدا ایجاد کرد و حتی اعضای کنگرۀ ایالات متحده را زیر فشار قرار داد. وی طوماری در دفاع از حق این افغان برای به دست آوردن ویزه در انترنت منتشر کرد و مردم را به امضای آن دعوت نمود و بالاخره بعد از این همه فشار، پنج سال انتظار و دوبار رفتن به امتحان ماشین دروغ سنجی، محمد یونس شینواری موفق شد ویزه ایالات متحده را به دست بیاورد. -- تعداد زیادی از همکاران و بخصوص مترجمین نیروهای غربی، برای امنیت خود و خانواده‌هایشان احتیاج به ویزای خروج دارند که تا کنون درمجموع به 3720 تن ویزه داده شده است، ولی هزاران تن دیگر آنان، هنوز هم در انتظار این ویزا میباشند. - رادیو فرانسه

Ordinary Afghans’ anxiety about future grows as security deal with U.S. remains in limbo --- With U.S. officials and President Hamid Karzai deadlocked over the signing of a security pact that would keep American troops and foreign aid in the country, the anxiety here is palpable. The gradual withdrawal of international support has long been a source of concern here, but the prospect that support could now be yanked abruptly at the end of 2014 has heightened fears, ordinary Afghans say. -- One-way, outbound flights have become the backbone of the beleaguered Afghan travel industry. Real estate prices are plunging along with faith in the future. In one of the most dramatic signs of worry, the nation’s currency has lost value month after month this year as Afghans stock up on dollars and euros. -- “Afghans are losing hope,” said Ahmed Shafiq, a manager at one of Kabul’s most popular currency bazaars. “They are not keeping bundles of afghanis on hand or in the bank. They are changing them into foreign currencies.” -- Officials in Washington have become increasingly concerned that the standoff over the bilateral security agreement is taking a psychological toll on Afghans, who have the most to lose if the impasse isn’t resolved and the least power to do anything about it. - More, Washingtonpost, at:

Judge: NSA’s collecting of phone records is likely unconstitutional --- A federal judge in Washington said Monday that the National Security Agency’s widespread collection of telephone records of millions of Americans is likely unconstitutional. -- U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon found that the lawsuit by activist Larry Klayman, the founder of Freedom Watch, has “demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success” on the basis of Fourth Amendment privacy protections against unreasonable searches. -- Leon granted Klayman’s request for a preliminary injunction that blocks the controversial program. But the judge stayed action on his ruling pending a government appeal in recognition of the “significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues,” Leon wrote in a 68-page opinion. -- “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” Leon wrote. --- Snowden, in a statement made to journalist Glenn Greenwald, who received NSA documents from Snowden and first reported on the program’s existence, praised the ruling. “I acted on my belief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts,” he said. “Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.” - More, Washingtonpost, at:

NSA speaks out on Snowden, spying --- The NSA gives unprecedented access to the agency's HQ and, for the first time, explains what it does and what it says it doesn't do: spy on Americans -- The NSA gives unprecedented access to the agency's HQ and, for the first time, explains what it does and what it says it doesn't do: spy on Americans -- The following is a script from "Inside the NSA" which aired on Dec. 15, 2013. John Miller is the correspondent. Ira Rosen and Gabrielle Schonder, producers. --- Gen. Keith Alexander: The fact is, we're not collecting everybody's email, we're not collecting everybody's phone things, we're not listening to that. Our job is foreign intelligence and we're very good at that. - More, JOHN MILLER, CBS - at:

US health watchdog cracks down on antibacterial soaps --- The US health regulator has warned that antibacterial chemicals in soaps and body washes may pose health risks. - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called for a safety review of such products. -- Recent studies indicate an ingredient in such products could scramble hormone levels and boost drug-proof bacteria. -- Manufacturers have until the end of 2014 to submit the results of clinical trials on their products, the FDA said. The new regulations would be finalised in 2016. -- "New data suggest that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh the benefits," Colleen Rogers, an FDA microbiologist, wrote in a statement on Monday. -- Certain ingredients in such products - such as triclosan in liquid soaps and triclocarban in bar soaps - may contribute to bacterial resistance to antibiotics, the agency added. -- Such products may also have "unanticipated hormonal effects that are of concern", according to the statement. - More, BBC, at:

دیوید کامرون: ماموریت نیروهای بریتانیا در افغانستان با موفقیت انجام شد --- دیوید کامرون نخست وزیر بریتانیا گفت که ماموریت نیروهای این کشور در افغانستان "با موفقیت انجام شده" و اکنون، زمان بازگشتن آنها به خانه است. -- آقای کامرون این سخنان را امروز ۱۶ دسامبر (۲۵ آذر) در جریان بازدید از پایگاه نظامی نیروهای بریتانیایی در هلمند افغانستان بر زبان رانده است. -- نخست وزیر بریتانیا گفته که اکنون "حداقل امنیت" لازم در افعانستان برقرار شده و نیروهای بریتانیایی می توانند با "سربلندی" به کشور خود باز گردند. -- وی در عین حال تاکید کرده که بریتانیا با وجود خروج نیروهایش از افغانستان، همچنان خود را متعهد به کمک به این کشور می داند. - More, BBC

Peter O'Toole, Lawrence of Arabia star, dies aged 81 --- Actor Peter O'Toole, who starred in Sir David Lean's 1962 film classic Lawrence of Arabia, died on Saturday aged 81, his agent has said. -- He was being treated at London's Wellington hospital after a long illness, his agent added. -- O'Toole's daughter Kate said the family was overwhelmed "by the outpouring of real love and affection being expressed towards him, and to us". - He received an honorary Oscar in 2003, having initially turned it down. -- In a letter the actor asked the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to delay it until he was 80, saying he was "still in the game and might win the bugger outright". -- But when he finally clasped his statuette, he said: "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, my foot." -- O'Toole's agent said he was "one of a kind in the very best sense and a giant in his field". - More, BBC, at:

Afghanistan mission accomplished, says David Cameron --- UK troops can come home from Afghanistan knowing it was mission accomplished, David Cameron has said as he visited the country. -- The prime minister met forces stationed at Camp Bastion in Helmand, a year before the last British combat forces are due to leave the country. -- He said a "basic level of security" had been achieved and troops could "come home with their heads held high. -- But Labour warned against complacency, insisting the "job was not yet done". -- Military experts said UK troops had been broadly successful in fulfilling their central objectives - set out in their UN mandate - of protecting the Afghan population and institutions from Taliban insurgents and ensuring al-Qaeda did not regain a foothold in the country. - More, BBC, at:

حامدکرزى: دافغانستان دظرفيت په لوړاوي کې دهند رول مهم دى --- کابل (پژواک، ٢٤ ليندۍ ٩٢): ولسمشر حامد کرزي، هندوستان له افغان ځوانانو سره دښوونې او زده کړې په برخو کې مخکښ هېواد بللى او دافغانستان دظرفيت په لوړاوي کې يې ددغه هېواد رول مهم ګڼلى دى. ولسمشر کرزى دليندۍ په ٢١ مه دهندوستان دنړيوالو اړيکو په کنفرانس او دآسيا او افريقا دمشارکت په کنفرانس کې دګډون په موخه دڅلور ورځني سفر په موخه د يوه لوړ پوړي دولتي پلاوي په مشرۍ ډهلي ته تللى دى. -- دجمهوري رياست دمطبوعاتي دفتر له لوري پژواک خبري آژانس ته په رالېږل شوې خبرپاڼه کې ويل شوي، چې ولسمشر کرزي هند ته دخپل رسمي سفر په څلورمه ورځ دنړيوالو اړيکو په کنفرانس کې، چې د"يوې نوې نمونې په لوري دهند، آسيا او افريقا پراختيايي مشارکت" تر عنوان لاندې دسيمبايوسيس (Symbiosis) نړيوال پوهنتون له لوري تر سره شوى، ديوه ځانګړي مېلمه په توګه پکې ګډون وکړ او وينا يې وکړه. خبرپاڼې زياته کړې، چې په لومړيو کې دسيمبايوسيس نړيوال پوهنتون محصلينو دنړۍ د ٨٥ هېوادونو له ډلې څخه ددوو تنو افغان محصلينو په مشرۍ، چې دهېواد ښايسته جامې يې پر غاړه وې، ولسمشر ته دخپلو هېوادونو بيرغونه وړاندې کړل او ولسمشر دغه بيرغونه په يوه خټين لوښي کې کېښودل، چې دنړۍ دهېوادونو يووالى يې په ګوته کاوه. - More, Pajwok

Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he no longer trusts the U.S. --- Visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in New Delhi on Saturday he no longer “trusts” the United States, accusing the Americans of saying one thing and doing another in his troubled homeland. -- Karzai’s statement to journalists came a day after he insisted he would not be “intimidated” into signing a security pact allowing US troops in Afghanistan to stay on after next year. -- “I don’t trust them,” Karzai said in a wide-ranging discussion at a local hotel in which he singled out a letter US President Barack Obama wrote last month assuring him that US forces would “respect” the safety of Afghans in their homes. -- Karzai, who is due to stand down after elections next year, initially endorsed the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement, or BSA. -- But he later said the agreement could only be signed after the presidential election in April, warning against a NATO presence if it just meant “more bombs and killings”. -- His stance has outraged US officials and lawmakers, who have threatened a complete forces pullout if Karzai does not sign by the end of the year. -- “When Obama writes to me that he will respect homes, they should prove it… implement the letter, respect Afghan homes,” Karzai said. -- “Just instruct no more bombings and there will be no more bombings and of course launch the peace process publicly and officially,” he said. -- “I am trying to make it a win-win for all,” he said. - More, Agence France-Presse, at:

Karzai Woos India Inc. as Delay on U.S. Pact Deters Billions --- Abhay Barhate listened with skepticism as Afghan President Hamid Karzai told Indian investors of the riches that await if they pour money into his country, one of the poorest in Asia. -- “Malvinder Singh will profit the second he lands in Kabul,” Karzai said, adding that Afghanistan posed “no risk” to investors. “All those who have come to Afghanistan are millionaires or multimillionaires.” -- As Karzai explains his reluctance to sign a security pact with the U.S. to political and business leaders in the region, investors are voicing concerns. The agreement would assuage businesses seeking to tap mineral resources estimated at $3 trillion and ensure that the country’s 31 million people, who live on an average of less than $2 per day, receive billions of dollars in aid money over the next decade -- During a question-and-answer session, the crowd gasped when Karzai corrected Ajay Sambrani, managing director of Sandvik Asia Pvt., when he mentioned Afghanistan’s $3 trillion in mineral wealth. -- “Actually it’s $30 trillion,” Karzai said. “The U.S. knocked a zero off to keep our assets a secret.” - More, Kartikay Mehrotra, Bloomberg - at:

کېري: کرزی او یا ځایناستی به یې امنیتي تړون لاسلیک کړي --- دامریکا دبهرنیو چارو وزیر جان کېري په دې باور دی چې افغان چارواکي به هغه امنیتي تړون لاسلیک کړي چې له ٢٠١۴ م کال نه وروسته دامریکایي ځواکونو پاتې کیدو ته لاره هواره شي. ښاغلي کېري دیکشبنې په ورځ د اې بي سي دتلویزیون سره په مرکه کې وویل چې تړون به یا پخپله جمهور رئیس کرزی لاسلیک کړې او یا به یې ځایناستی، چې له کرزي وروسته به انتخاب شی، لاسلیک کړي. ددې مرکې په اړه واشنگټن پوست په خپلې ورستۍ ګنې کې یوه مقاله خپره کړې ده. ورځپانه وايي چې جمهور رئیس کرزی اوس هم په خپلو شرطونو ټینگار کوي. -- ښاغلي کېری په مرکه کې زیاته کړې چې امریکا په افغانستان کې بریاليتوب غواړي او دبریا معنی دا ده چې دافغانستان ملي ځواکونه پر خپلو پښو ودریږي او دافغانستان امنیت ونیسي چې دټولنې دپرمختگ بهیر دوام وکړي. دولتي ادارې، دروغتیا او ښوونې او روزنې سیستم یې ښه شي. بلخوا، بریتانوۍ ورځپاڼې ټیلگراف لیکلي دي چې جمهور رئیس حامد کرزي دشنبې په ورځ په هند کې دخبرو په مهال وویل چې یوه جگپوړي امریکایي دیپلومات اخطار وکړیدی چې که امنیتي تړون لاسلیک نکړي، په افغانستان کې به کورنۍ جگړه پیل شي. - More, صدای امریکا

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Saudi Prince Criticizes Obama Administration, Citing Indecision in Mideast --- MONACO — An influential Saudi prince blasted the Obama administration on Sunday for what he called indecision and a loss of credibility with allies in the Middle East, saying that American efforts to secure a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians would founder without a clear commitment from President Obama. -- “We’ve seen several red lines put forward by the president, which went along and became pinkish as time grew, and eventually ended up completely white,” said Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former intelligence chief of Saudi Arabia. “When that kind of assurance comes from a leader of a country like the United States, we expect him to stand by it.” He added, “There is an issue of confidence.” -- More, STEVEN ERLANGER - NYTimes, at:

In South Africa, thousands gather to mourn Mandela at funeral in his childhood village --- QUNU, South Africa — The final journey took many hours and covered many hundreds of miles. Nelson Mandela was honored before his burial with stirring eulogies and soulful music, escorted by presidents and princes, paupers and billionaires. -- His remains were laid to rest during a simple burial ceremony on the green hillside of his cherished homestead, next to the graves of three of his children. -- “While your long walk to freedom is over, our own journey continues,” South African President Jacob Zuma said in his eulogy. “We dare not reverse your achievements. . . . As you take your final steps, South Africa will continue to rise.” -- There was unity among Mandela’s family members inside the tent, with no sign of the public feuds that erupted this year over his wealth and legacy. Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, walked with his widow, Graça Machel. The audience included both critics and allies of the ruling African National Congress, Mandela’s political party. - More, Washingtonpost

Last Australian combat troops leave Afghanistan --- SYDNEY — The last remaining Australian combat troops in Afghanistan were headed home on Monday, as Australia’s military involvement in the 12-year-old conflict draws to a close. -- The final group of Australia’s combat soldiers in Afghanistan pulled out on Sunday, coinciding with the closure of the international military base at Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan province, Australia’s main base in the country, Defense Minister David Johnston said. - more, Washingtonpost, at:

Chinese policy on Afghanistan --- Monday, December 16, 2013 - Despite the fact that China has made a huge investment in the mineral sectors of Afghanistan, one can map out indistinctness in the Chinese strategic and economic outlook about its future role in this neighbouring country. So far China has invested $3-4 billion through its two state-owned companies; MCC and Jiangxi Copper at Mes Aynak, one of the world’s largest copper mines. As per US Geological Survey (USGS), Afghanistan may be sitting on mineral wealth worth around $1 trillion. -- There are two opinions about this vagueness in the Chinese policy on Afghanistan. First, on the issues of its security, China is being benefitting from the NATO and US presence in Afghanistan. Chinese security planners feel that, had there been no foreign troops in Afghanistan, then the Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives would have enlarged their sway of militancy up to its already disturbed autonomous region, Xinxiang. - More, -

'Lawrence of Arabia' star Peter O'Toole dead at 81 --- LONDON (AP) — Peter O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died, his agent said Sunday. He was 81.- O'Toole died Saturday after a long illness, Steve Kenis said in a brief statement. -- The family was overwhelmed "by the outpouring of real love and affection being expressed towards him, and to us, during this unhappy time. ... In due course there will be a memorial filled with song and good cheer, as he would have wished," O'Toole's daughter Kate said in the statement. -- O'Toole got his first Oscar nomination for 1962's "Lawrence of Arabia," his last for "Venus" in 2006. With that he set the record for most nominations without ever winning, though he had accepted an honorary Oscar in 2003. -- A reformed — but unrepentant — hell-raiser, O'Toole long suffered from ill health. Always thin, he had grown wraithlike in later years, his famously handsome face eroded by years of hard drinking. - But nothing diminished his flamboyant manner and candor. -- "If you can't do something willingly and joyfully, then don't do it," he once said. "If you give up drinking, don't go moaning about it; go back on the bottle. Do. As. Thou. Wilt." - More, at:

هند در آموزش و تجهیز نیروهای افغانستان کمک می کند --- درسفر حامد کرزی به هندوستان، دو کشور به تعمیق همکاری های دفاعی و امنیتی توافق کردند و هندوستان وعده داده است که در آموزش و تجهیز نیروهای امنیتی افغانستان کمک می کند. کرزی گفته است که دیگر به امریکایی ها "اعتماد" ندارد. -- رئیس جمهور افغانستان روز جمعه با من موهان سینگ نخست وزیر هندوستان ملاقات کرد. کرزی در سفر قبلی خود به هندوستان "فهرست آرزوهای خود" برای کمک نظامی را به هندوستان تحویل داده بود. وزارت خارجه هندوستان از افشای جزییات این فهرست خودداری کرده است، اما رسانه های هندی گزارش دادند که این لیست شامل سلاح های خفیف و سنگین، طیاره و مهمات است. -- براساس یک اعلامیه مشترک، دو کشور به تعمیق همکاری های دفاعی و امنیتی شان موافقت کرده و هندوستان وعده داده است که در آموزش و تجهیز نیروهای امنیتی افغانستان کمک می کند. اما نوعیت تجهیزاتی که هندوستان به افغانستان می دهد، مشخص نشده است. -- مقام های ایالات متحده امریکا به وضاحت گفته اند که اگر موافقت نامه امنیتی با افغانستان امضا نشود، انتخابی جز "گزینه صفر" ندارند، یعنی همه سربازان شان را در پایان سال 2014 از افغانستان خارج می سازند. در عراق دو سال قبل ایالات متحده امریکا زمانی همه نیروهایش را خارج کرد که با حکومت این کشور در مورد مصونیت قضایی سربازان امریکایی به توافق نرسید. -- More, صدای آلمان

Karzai hits out at US 'threats' over Afghanistan --- A senior American diplomat warned Afghanistan faces civil war unless it signs a deal for US bases to remain in the country, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president said on Saturday -- Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has accused the United States of "threatening" to abandon the country to continuing civil war if he does not allow American and Nato bases to remain in the country for another ten years. -- Speaking in New Delhi, Mr Karzai said the threat had been made by a senior American official but he had warned him Afghanistan is prepared for a so-called 'zero-option' in which all Western troops and financial aid is withdrawn. -- The United States has urged Afghanistan to sign a 'Bilateral Security Agreement' soon to avoid a military vacuum after the bulk of Nato forces are withdrawn by the end of next year. It wants to keep 15,000 Western troops at nine military bases. -- That withdrawal would mean the country could no longer pay police or army salaries – a situation and diplomats have warned could lead to instability and further conflict. -- One senior Afghanistan analyst said 90 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product is from foreign spending and that the $3 billion it raises through taxes doesn't cover the annual $4 billion it costs to run its security forces. "James Dobbins concluded to remain stable Afghanistan has to keep the security forces together and that an abrupt break with the US would be a major threat to stability which could lead to civil war. It's not a threat, it's a scenario," he said. - More, Dean Nelson, New Delhi - Telegraph

Afghan pullout could reverse gains against al-Qaeda, US military chief warns --- Gen Martin Dempsey warns that failure to sign deal keeping US troops in the country could lead to reversal of gains made in Afghanistan -- America’s top military officer has warned that the withdrawal of most US and allied forces from Afghanistan by the end of next year could reverse gains made in the war against the Taliban and further destabilise the region. - More, Associated Press

خیز و جست بعد از وقت آقای کرزی - احسان الله مایار - More, afghan-german, at:

Friday, December 13, 2013

US General: Afghan Pullout Could Reverse Gains --- America's top military officer warned the withdrawal of most U.S. and allied forces from Afghanistan by the end of next year could reverse gains made in the war against the Taliban and further destabilize the region. -- But Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. has no plans to reopen negotiations on the hard-won text. Dempsey said he hasn't started planning for a so-called "zero-option," but he may have to soon if Hamid Karzai doesn't change his mind and sign the deal. -- Much is at stake. Afghan security forces are still struggling against a resilient insurgency despite billions of dollars spent on training during nearly 13 years at war. Instability in Afghanistan, the world's largest illicit producer of raw opium, could also impact the region as far away as Russia. Such concerns, Dempsey said, are what make Afghanistan important to America and its allies despite waning interest in the conflict at home. -- "Were it to become less stable, it would have impact on its neighbors," Dempsey told reporters late Tuesday at this military base north of the capital. "All of us would be concerned about the possibility of ungoverned space producing safe havens for terrorism, so stability in the region is in our national interest." --He said it was important to leave Afghanistan with a functioning government and security forces that can prevent a "re-emergence of al-Qaida and affiliates." - More, PATRICK QUINN Associated Press at:

Execution of Kim Jong Un's uncle recalls grandfather's lethal era --- BEIJING – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's highly scripted execution of his uncle makes one thing abundantly clear: Two years after taking power, the training wheels are now off for the world's youngest head of state. He truly is his grandfather's son. -- Kim's uncle by marriage, Jang Song Taek, was executed Thursday for treason, the country's state-run news service said in a dramatic announcement which characterized him as "despicable human scum." He had also been accused of corruption, womanizing, gambling and taking drugs. - More, Ed Flanagan, NBC News, at:

Karzai warns against 'intimidation' on US troop deal --- Afghanistan will not be bullied into signing a security pact allowing US troops to stay on after next year, President Hamid Karzai said as he pressed India on Friday for more military hardware. -- Karzai met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid at the start of a three-day visit, with the United States hoping New Delhi can persuade him to ink the troubled pact. -- India-educated Karzai has close ties with India, which is keen to ensure that the exit of some 75,000 US-led NATO troops at the end of 2014 does not trigger a return to power of the hardline Taliban militia. -- But speaking to Indian television, Karzai said he would not be "intimidated" into signing the pact which would allow 12,000 US troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014 and sets out their terms of engagement. -- "Aggressive rhetoric won't work... We are not a nation that is known for giving into intimidation," he told NDTV. -- India has poured $2 billion in reconstruction aid into Afghanistan, and Karzai's ambassador to Kabul said ahead of the visit that requests for more military assistance would be high on the agenda. -- Foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin confirmed the troop pact was discussed, saying both India and Afghanistan saw it as "important for stability and safety", but he denied pressure was put on Karzai to sign. -- "India's relationship with Afghanistan is based on three key elements: We don't intervene, we don't prescribe them anything and we are not judgemental," Akbaruddin told reporters. - More, NEW DELHI - Agence France-Presse / hurriyetdailynews

Hamid Karzai Asks India For Defense Assistance --- Hamid Karzai arrived in New Delhi this week for a four-day visit where he is expected to discuss defense cooperation. -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai began a four-day official visit to India this Thursday during which he is expected to meet with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the future of the Afghan-Indian relationship. Karzai will also speak with Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid. Among other issues on the agenda, the visit could precipitate the signing of the United States-Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) — something the United States hopes India will persuade Karzai to do during his visit to the country. The visit comes after Karzai was in Iran to sign a partnership agreement. - More, thediplomat

IEDs won't die after Afghanistan, top general says --- WASHINGTON — The Pentagon's multibillion dollar effort to combat makeshift bombs will continue even after the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan ends next year. -- IEDs have been the insurgents' weapon of choice against American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bombs have killed more than 3,100 U.S. troops and wounded 33,000 more. -- In response, JIEDDO has spent nearly $25 billion to buy equipment to protect troops, train them and target bomb-making networks since 2006. -- American enemies in the "next fight" will use IEDs, Johnson said, because they're effective. -- "They've caused us a lot of pain," said Johnson, who commanded troops in Iraq. "It costs us a lot of effort, and a lot of treasure, to counteract the effects of those weapons systems, protect our forces." -- Makeshift bombs have flourished away from war zones. From September 2012 to Oct. 1, 2013, there were more than 15,000 makeshift bomb explosions outside Afghanistan, according to JIEDDO. U.S troops, diplomats and civilians will face some risk from them while abroad, Johnson said. - More, USATODAY

Carney: Administration 'absolutely expects' Congress to extend jobless aid --- White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday the administration "absolutely expects" Congress to take up an extension of unemployment benefits upon returning from the holiday, after leaders on Capitol Hill signaled they would not address the issue before the winter recess. -- "Unfortunately, the House is leaving tomorrow — they've made clear that they go on recess for the holiday tomorrow," Carney said. "And if Congress does not act in time before those benefits expire, we would absolutely expect them to act as soon as possible upon their return." -- "If it was the right thing to do when President George W. Bush did it, extended unemployment insurance benefits at a time when the unemployment rate was 5.6 percent, and at a time when the average unemployed person was unemployed for 17 weeks, then it's the right thing to do today, as it has been over the past several years since the Great Recession occurred," Carney said. -- On Wednesday, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he had told White House chief of staff Denis McDonough that he would entertain extending the benefits if the president presented a plan that met certain standards. - More, Thehill

Dempsey: Negotiations over on Afghan deal --- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey said negotiations on the U.S.-Afghan security agreement are over, and the pact will not be changed. -- Dempsey said in Afghanistan late Tuesday that while he is not yet planning a “zero option” for a full withdrawal of U.S. troops, the prospect was an “unfortunate possibility” if the deal is not signed, according to The Associated Press. -- He warned that a withdrawal of U.S. and international troops at the end of 2014 would reverse the gains made against the Taliban. -- U.S. officials have demanded Karzai sign the security pact by the end of the year, threatening to withdrawal all U.S. forces if he does not do so. -- The agreement would pave the way for U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan through as long as 2024 to help train Afghan forces and conduct counterterrorism missions. -- In an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, Karzai accused the United States of acting like a colonial power and making threats. - Dempsey disagreed with the assessment. -- "It's not a threat,” he said. “I just simply think that in any negotiation you reach a point when you've made the requirements known. And militarily, by the way, those requirements are actually quite clear." - More, Thehill

Thursday, December 12, 2013

By WILLIAM DALRYMPLE - How Is Hamid Karzai Still Standing? --- It was nearly midnight during the first week of Ramadan. Most business in Kabul had come to a halt, and Karzai, having more time on his hands than usual, had agreed to spend three evenings with me talking about Afghanistan’s future. When I arrived at the palace, security was exceptionally tight. On each visit, my papers and passport were examined seven times. I went through three body scanners, and my BlackBerry and pens were confiscated. When I at last gained admittance, the palace was all but deserted. Only the president’s personal bodyguards were around, clutching their M-16 assault rifles and stalking about under the lights in double-breasted pinstripe suits. - There was good reason for the heightened vigilance. --- Because of all this, I anticipated meeting a careworn Karzai, coming to terms with the unraveling of his regime. Instead, on our very first evening, he bounded into the room and grasped my hand firmly. I commented how well he looked considering the stress, and he laughed: “I don’t feel under pressure,” he said. “The first days of Ramadan are completely off days — nobody comes. Today was my first totally free day in all these 10 years! I did not even leave my room.” His wife, he said, was in Belgium with the children. “I just took naps and read my newspapers.” --- The nervous tic that often makes Karzai wince with his left eye, and which is said to get worse when he is upset, was almost absent. His robust health also gave the lie to the rumor that in adversity, Karzai had become addicted to various narcotics. The rumors had gained credence in Kabul’s gossip mill in part because of the president’s mood swings and fits of anger. They are nonetheless nonsense, according to those who know him well. “He’s very fit indeed,” says Amrullah Saleh, his former security chief, now a political opponent. “He takes at least an hour’s exercise each night and exhausts the guards that have to keep up with him.” Mahmood agrees: “He’s very disciplined physically. And he’s extremely moderate in his eating. You know how delicious our melons are? I’ve often seen his hand hovering over a second slice, and then he resists. He has steely discipline.” After a day of fasting, however, there was no such restraint. As Karzai munched his way through a huge platter of Afghan melons, grapes and figs, as well as mountains of tiny cherries, he merrily began denouncing what he described as the “betrayal” of Afghanistan and its people by what he referred to as his so-called Western allies. --- The United States, Karzai said, was now plotting with Pakistan to abandon his regime and replace it with a divided Afghanistan, too weak to resist U.S. demands. To this end, America had long been deliberately destabilizing the region: “Has the war on terror made this region less radical or more radical?” he asked. “Is this the unintended consequence? Or has this been the result of policy? -- “The picture is now becoming clear,” he continued, thumping the table for emphasis. “The West wanted to use Afghanistan, to have bases here, to create a situation whereby in the end Afghanistan would be so weak that it would agree to a deal in which Afghanistan’s interests will not even be secondary, but tertiary and worse.” --- The Western media was also party to the plot — underrating his successes as instructed by the governments of the West. The New York Times is, he believes, deliberately negative about his achievements. “They behave more like the Pravda of the Soviet Union. The difference is that Pravda does not have the mask of democracy on its face. The New York Times does.” --- Yet however overheated his rhetoric, Karzai is personally charming and has the ability to win over even his critics. During our evenings together, he took pains to assure me that he still believed in democracy and that he enjoyed Western newspapers and movies, particularly British ones. He also spoke about his love for the British royal family, recalling that Prince Charles once invited him for a weekend in Balmoral: “He is a good man: tremendously hospitable . . . Camilla an excellent lady.” As far as he was concerned, he had not changed his position; it was his allies who had let him down. - Did he really feel that he was betrayed by America? I asked. - As a nation,” he replied immediately, “yes, very much.” --- I pointed out that this would come as a surprise to many Americans, given the investment in lives (around 2,000) and money (around $500 billion). “Look,” he replied, “Admiral Mullen said in one of his very important statements to the U.S. Senate, that the Haqqani network” — a leading insurgent group allied with the Taliban — “is the veritable arm of the ISI” — Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency. “Those are his words. . . . So if they know that the terrorist bases — the Taliban bases, the Haqqani bases — are in Pakistan, how could they be killing people and bombing in Afghanistan? This is a betrayal.” -- “And for you this is the big issue?” I asked. -- “Civilian casualties — that is the biggest issue. I don’t care about their money, spent well or spent badly. We can live without that money. It’s the reason for which America came to Afghanistan: the fight against terror. They didn’t fight terrorism where it was, where it still is. They continued damaging Afghanistan and its people.” -- Returning to the subject the following evening, he said: “I would like to give a message through you to the West. Pressure tactics will not work on me. We are only looking for a fair deal — a deal in which the interests of Afghanistan are kept in mind. . . . You will not get an Afghanistan divided into fiefdoms. We will not allow it. Over our dead bodies.” - More, NYTimes, at:

Ex-White House Official Podesta Calls Karzai 'Erratic' --- STEVE INSKEEP, People advising President Obama's administration on Afghanistan include John Podesta. Years ago, he was President Clinton's chief of staff. These days, he's chair of the Center for American Progress and part of an effort to offer independent views on Afghanistan to the administration. Last week, he was in that country just before the many delegates to that assembly of elders approved the U.S. presence in the country, after which President Karzai put off signing the deal, anyway. -- JOHN PODESTA: Karzai has really gone from maddeningly unpredictable to dangerously erratic.-- INSKEEP: William Dalrymple, who wrote a history of Afghanistan, and ended up interviewing President Karzai for something like eight hours this year, was on the program the other day. And he painted a rather sympathetic portrait of this man and said all he's really trying to do is demonstrate his independence from the United States. -- PODESTA: Well, I think he has a hell of a way of showing it. One of the things on my recent trip that really struck me was that the psychology in Afghanistan has really changed. People really are focused on the election. They're focused on succession. They're focused on new leadership. - More, NPR, at:

Another daunting task for John Podesta: an Afghanistan exit strategy --- While incoming White House adviser John Podesta’s portfolio will be largely domestic-focused, there’s one foreign policy issue that will be central to his job: figuring out how the United States will exit Afghanistan next year. -- Podesta has devoted considerable time to studying the conflict in Afghanistan, both during President George W. Bush’s administration and President Obama’s. The think tank he chairs, Center for American Progress, joined with the Heinrich Böll Stiftung foundation to organize a series of workshops for members of the country’s civil society in November 2012 and March 2013, sessions which led to a set of recommendations for Afghanistan’s political transition next year. --It is clear Podesta has no patience for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, given his Nov. 26 interview on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” During the discussion with host Steve Inskeep, Podesta said, “Karzai has really gone from maddeningly unpredictable to dangerously erratic.” -- “People speculate all the time about what motivates Karzai,” said Podesta, who visited Afghanistan last month. “I’ve given up trying to psychoanalyze the man, but I don’t think he’s doing his people any favors.” -- The former White House chief of staff said Obama is open to pulling out of the country altogether if the United States and Afghanistan can’t forge a bilateral security agreement. - More, Washingtonpost, at:

Obama’s Afghanistan Specialists Stumped on Basic Facts --- Three of the Obama administration’s top Afghanistan specialists were unable to provide answers to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R., Calif.) basic questions during Wednesday’s House Foreign Affairs hearing on Afghanistan. -- Rohrabacher asked the witnesses the amount the U.S. was spending, and how many American troops have been killed in Afghanistan this past year. -- “We’re supposed to believe that you fellas have a plan that’s going to end up in a positive way in Afghanistan?” Mr. Rohrabacher asked. “Holy cow!” -- REP. ROHRABACHER: We don’t know what the cost is, and we don’t even know how many killed and wounded there are, and we’re supposed to believe that you fellows have a plan that’s going to end up in a positive way in Afghanistan? Holy cow. -- REP. ROHRABACHER: You know what, I’ll have to tell you something. I’m more interested in knowing how many Americans have been killed, because the Afghans have been killing themselves for centuries. - More, Washington Free Beacon Staff, at:

Simple Question About U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Stumps Officials --- Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R., Calif.) had a simple question Wednesday for three of the Obama administration’s top Afghanistan specialists: How many American troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year? -- None of the witnesses at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Afghanistan had an answer. - No one could say. - “We’re supposed to believe that you fellas have a plan that’s going to end up in a positive way in Afghanistan?” Mr. Rohrabacher asked. “Holy cow!” - Mr. Rohrabacher’s incredulous questioning came during a two-hour hearing on U.S. policy in Afghanistan that revealed increasing congressional frustration with U.S. policy as the administration tries to rescue its plan to keep thousands of troops in Afghanistan through the end of this decade, if not beyond. - More, Dion Nissenbaum, Wall Street Journal, at:

1.3 million set to lose jobless benefits --- It's not looking good for 1.3 million long-term unemployed workers who were overlooked by a budget deal reached by key lawmakers late Tuesday. -- Federal unemployment benefits will expire on Dec. 28. And with the House scheduled to leave town for the year on Friday, it's looking increasingly unlikely that Congress will agree to extend the recession-era program that fills the gap when state unemployment insurance runs out for workers who can't find a job. --- "Congress should extend unemployment insurance, so more than a million Americans looking for work don't lose a vital economic lifeline right after Christmas, and our economy doesn't take a hit," the President said in a statement. - More, @CNNMoney - at:

Extended Unemployment Benefits On Track To Expire Dec. 28 --- Unless Congress acts very quickly, some 1.3 million workers will lose their extended jobless benefits on Dec. 28. -- Democrats were scrambling late Wednesday to link an extension of benefits to a budget deal that is expected to get a vote as soon as Thursday. But if the effort fails, they will come back at it in 2014. -- And House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, did not slam the door shut on the possibility of renewing the jobless benefits eventually. When asked whether he would consider allowing an extension of the funding, he said he told President Obama he would keep such a plan on the table. -- The White House had wanted the benefits included in the budget, saying that besides the 1.3 million people who will lose their benefits on Dec. 28, an additional 3.6 million people will fall out of the unemployment insurance program in the first half of the year without an extension. -- Democrats, along with a few Republicans, want to have a chance to renew the jobless benefits. "For goodness sakes, let the people's House have a vote on these issues," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said Wednesday on MSNBC. "Let us have a vote right now on extending unemployment compensation." -- A group of moderate House Republicans sent a letter to their leaders saying: "We respectfully request that the House consider a temporary extension of emergency unemployment insurance to protect an essential safeguard that has aided Americans who have endured through a weak economy." It was signed by Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., and six other Republicans. -- The benefits extension program was a key element of the government's response to the recession, which sent the unemployment rate up to 10 percent in 2009. Congress poured in money to keep benefits available for up to 99 weeks — far longer than the typical 26 weeks provided by states. Most economists said those checks would help prop up the economy by providing unemployed people with about $300 a week to keep up with the cost of food, shelter and gas. - More, NPR

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

G8 'will develop dementia cure or treatment by 2025' --- Leading nations have committed to developing a cure or treatment for dementia by 2025 at the G8 dementia summit. -- The global number of dementia sufferers is expected to treble to 135m by 2050. -- The G8 said it would "develop a co-ordinated international research action plan" to target the gaps in research and ways to address them. -- Dementia is incurable and ultimately leaves people needing full-time care as brain function wastes away. -- There is growing concern that some countries will simply not cope with the growing burden of dementia. -- It costs the world billions of dollars each year: £370bn ($604bn) in 2010, according to the World Health Organization. - More, BBC, at:

Afghanistan: Kabul blast 'an accident' at arms depot --- A powerful explosion in the Afghan capital, Kabul, was an accident at an arms depot, Afghan officials say. -- Kabul's police chief said a rocket had detonated by accident inside the Afghan National Directorate of Security and there were no casualties. -- The International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) confirmed a blast took place around 10:20 (05:50 GMT) close to Nato headquarters in the city. - More, BBC

Blast near U.S. embassy in Kabul was accident, Afghan official says --- (Reuters) - An accidental detonation of explosives stored in an Afghan facility beside the U.S. embassy in Kabul sparked a brief panic early on Thursday, triggering concerns of an attack, but no immediate reports of casualties. -- The blast happened about 10.30 a.m. (0600GMT), and the U.S. embassy's alarm was heard blaring across the diplomatic area of the Afghan capital immediately afterwards.-- But Farid Shamal, a spokesman for Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, allayed the worries, saying an electrical fault had accidentally ignited explosives stored in the agency's main compound in Kabul. - More

French officials can monitor internet users in real time under new law --- French intelligence and government officials will be able to spy on internet users in real time and without authorisation, under a law passed on Wednesday. -- The legislation, which was approved almost unnoticed, will enable a wide range of public officials including police, gendarmes, intelligence and anti-terrorist agencies as well as several government ministries to monitor computer, tablet and smartphone use directly. -- The legislation, which was approved almost unnoticed, will enable a wide range of public officials including police, gendarmes, intelligence and anti-terrorist agencies as well as several government ministries to monitor computer, tablet and smartphone use directly. -- Article 13 of the new law will allow not just the security forces but intelligence services from the defence, interior, economy and budget ministries to see "electronic and digital communications" in real time to discover who is connected to whom, what they are communicating and where they are. - More, Kim Willsher in Paris - Guardian, at:

A cure for dementia could be found within twelve years, David Cameron has said --- The Prime Minister has said the agreement reached at the G8 summit on dementia meant the developed world was committed to 'the aim of trying to find a cure or disease-altering therapy by 2025'. - More, Telegraph

Pope Francis: TIME Person of the Year --- Pope Francis, The People’s Pope -- Dec 11, 2013 · Pope Francis, The People’s Pope. He took the name of a humble saint and then called for a church of healing. The first non-European pope in 1,200 years ...- More,, at:

Homelessness, hunger climbing in U.S. cities, mayors' survey says -- Dec 11, 2013 · Homelessness and hunger have increased and are expected to keep rising in many cities next year, according to the latest U.S. Conference of Mayors survey .. - More, Los Angeles Times, at:,0,5321182.story#axzz2nEUVNdDp

جیمز دابینر: امریکا به این ساده گی هم از افغانستان دست نخواهد کشید --- جیمز دابینز نمایندهء خاص ایالات متحدهء امریکا برای افغانستان و پاکستان می گوید، سران اکثر کشورهای منطقه به شمول روسیه، چین و پاکستان از حامدکرزی رییس جمهور افغانستان خواسته اند تا توافقنامهء همکاری های امنیتی و دفاعی را با ایالات متحدهء امریکا امضا کند. -- جیمز دابینز در اظهارات اخیرش به مجلس سنای امریکا اظهاراطمینان کرد که حامد کرزی بالاخره این توافقنامه را امضا خواهد کرد. -- یمز دابینز نمایندهء خاص ایالات متحدهء امریکا برای افغانستان و پاکستان گفته است، ولادیمیرپوتین رییس جمهور روسیه، نوازشریف صدراعظم پاکستان و شی چین پنگ رییس جمهور چین از رییس جمهور کرزی خواسته اند تا توافقنامهء همکاری های امنیتی و دفاعی را با ایالات متحدهء امریکا امضا کند. صرف ایران با امضای این توافقنامه ابراز مخالفت کرده است. -- جیمز دابینز تاکید کرده است که ایالات متحدهء امریکا به این ساده گی هم از افغانستان دست نخواهد کشید. -- جیمز دابینز نمایندهء خاص ایالات متحدهء امریکا برای افغانستان و پاکستان می گوید، با آنکه برخی رهبران کشورهای این منطقه مخالف حضور نظامی امریکا اند، اما همهء آن ها می پذیرند که بدون ادامهء مساعدت های نظامی و اقتصادی جامعهء جهانی افغانستان با جنگ های داخلی مواجه خواهد شد. -- به گفته آقای دابینز این جنگ خطر افزایش تندرویی، مهاجرت ها و اخلال در تجارت را دراین منطقه در قبال داشته وتهدید به همهء منطقه افزایش خواهد داد. -- جان مککین سناتور جمهوریخواه از جیمز دابینز خواسته است، تعداد عساکری را مشخص کند که بعد از سال 2014 میلادی در افغانستان باقی خواهند ماند. - More , رادیو آزادی

Impasse Over Security Deal Adds to Afghan Economy’s Troubles --- KABUL, Afghanistan — The stubborn impasse over a long-term security deal with the United States has not only raised concerns about the future of the Afghan security forces, but put an instant and alarming drag on the Afghan business climate, already suffering as Western forces have pulled out. -- Nearly every anecdotal indicator of economic confidence has turned negative in the days since President Hamid Karzai insisted on delaying his signing of the agreement, which would pave the way for a continued American troop presence and billions of dollars in annual international aid after 2014, according to interviews with business leaders and Afghan officials. -- Food and fuel prices have started to rise. Banks have slowed lending, and domestic travel has taken a hit. Private investment, already modest, has all but frozen. -- Even the price of firewood, an essential commodity during the brutal Afghan winter, has risen steeply because of a sharp move in the currency exchange rate and the general cloud of uncertainty over the country’s future. -- There is a broader fear gripping business leaders, as well as politicians. The economy relies almost entirely on foreign aid: In 2010, such aid was equal to about 97 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Spending on government activity in 2012 totaled about $10 billion, according to rough estimates. Only $2 billion of that was from the country’s own revenues. - More, NYTimes

Kunduz Bombing: German Court Drops Case Over Civilian Deaths --- A district court in Bonn, Germany on Wednesday rejected a case brought by the families of victims of an airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan that had been initiated by members of the German armed forces. The court argued that the German government was not liable for the deaths.-- In September 2009, two tanker trucks that had been hijacked by members of the Taliban were bombed at the request of Germany's armed forces, the Bundeswehr, by two American fighter jets. The Bundeswehr believes that 91 people died in the incident. NATO stated in a report that it believes there were 142 dead or injured. Lawyers working on behalf of the victims claim 137 people died. What is certain is that it was one of the most devastating attacks linked to German troops since the end of World War II. - More, Der Spiegel

Car blast hits NATO facility near Kabul Airport --- KABUL (PAN): An explosives-laden car exploded at the entrance to a NATO troops’ facility on the Qasaba Road near the Kabul International Airport on Wednesday, but there were no immediate reports about casualties, officials said. -- The explosion took place near Kaboora swimming pool on the Qasaba road, he added.-- A source said a rocket hit the entrance to the Kabul International Airport, which is home to one of the NATO-led command's most important bases, the ISAF Joint Command, which is responsible for the day-to-day management of foreign troop operations in Afghanistan. -- On Tuesday, the spy service said that 22 insurgents, including a Pakistani suicide bomber and senior Afghan Taliban figures, have been arrested in a plot to attack the Presidential Palace, the Ministry of Defence and the Kabul Airport. - More, Pajhwok

The Transition in Afghanistan, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations --- Hearings to examine the transition in Afghanistan. - Location: Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 419 -- Senator Menendez Statement - More, at:

Chairman Royce Opening Statement at Hearing on Afghanistan --- Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, delivers an opening statement at a hearing on the future of Afghanistan., YouTube -- Hearing: Afghanistan 2014: Year of Transition - 2172 House Rayburn Office Building Washington, DC 20515 | Dec 11, 2013 10:00am -- More, at:

House Committee on Foreign Affairs - Hearing: Afghanistan 2014: Year of Transition --- Opening Statements, Rep. Edward R. Royce, Chairman -- 2172 House Rayburn Office Building Washington, DC 20515 | Dec 11, 2013 -- [full text of opening statement] - More, at:

Hagel Warns Pakistan to Help Open NATO Supply Route --- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Pakistan that it risks losing some U.S. financial aid if a key supply route to Afghanistan remains blocked by protesters. -- Hundreds of Pakistanis have clogged roads in Peshawar and other northwestern towns to protest U.S. drone strikes, leading the Pentagon to announce a week ago that it was halting shipments on one of the main routes into Afghanistan. -- Pakistan has received more than $10 billion in Coalition Support Funds, making it the program’s biggest recipient, according to the Pentagon. - More, Bloomberg, at:

Obama Administration 'Nowhere Near' Decision To Pull All Troops Out Of Afghanistan --- WASHINGTON, Dec 10 (Reuters) - The Obama administration is 'nowhere near' deciding to pull out all troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday, despite mounting frustration President Hamid Karzai has not signed a security deal allowing the military to remain there after next year. -- "I have no doubt that the (bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan) ultimately will be concluded," Ambassador James Dobbins, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. -- While Dobbins said that an ongoing delay to finalizing the deal - which U.S. officials had hoped Karzai would sign weeks ago - would impose "damages and costs" on Afghans, he said the Obama administration was not on the verge of abandoning its effort to extend its troop presence. -- "We're nowhere near a decision that would involve our departing Afghanistan altogether," he said. -- The administration has been urging Karzai to sign the bilateral security agreement (BSA) it negotiated with Karzai's government, which would permit it to keep troops in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014 to support Afghan forces and conduct limited counterterrorism activities. -- "My judgment is no troops, no aid, or almost no aid," Dobbins said. If security conditions were to worsen sharply, he said, United States could conceivably even close its embassy in Kabul. -- There are fears that the Taliban and other militants ultimately could regain strength, the central government could founder, and Afghanistan be plunged anew into civil war. - More, Huffpost, at:

Obama's encounter with Karzai at Mandela memorial just a greeting: White House --- (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's encounter with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai at Nelson Mandela's memorial in South Africa was "just an exchange of greetings," a White House aide said on Tuesday. -- White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters aboard Air Force One during the return flight to the United States that Obama had not seen the venue as a place to do business with Karzai, who has rebuffed what he calls pressure from Washington to accept a new security agreement.

Human Rights Day: US Should Support Victims of Violence Against Women --- On November 21, appropriately in anticipation of these 16 days, US lawmakers re-introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA). This piece of legislation plays an important role in raising the profile of violence against women globally, and it commits the US to do its part to help the world end this epidemic of abuse at home and abroad. It would institutionalize State Department posts dealing with ending violence against women and girls, making the issue a diplomatic priority. Women like Dolores who may never cross the mind of US or foreign officials would become an important focus. - More, HRW, at:

Human Rights Day: UN pays tribute to activists, landmark Vienna Declaration --- 10 December 2013 – Honouring human rights activism, including the legacy of Nelson Mandela, senior UN officials today mark Human Rights Day calling for greater political will and resources to implement laws and standards designed to promote and protect the rights and dignity of all people everywhere. -- “Promoting human rights is one of the core purposes of the United Nations, and the Organization has pursued this mission since its founding,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day. “Then, as now, the key to success is the political will of Member States.” -- The theme for this year’s observance is ‘20 Years Working for Your Rights,’ marking the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action, adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights, convened in the Austrian capital in 1993, which crystallized the principle that human rights are universal and committed States to their promotion and protection, for all people regardless of national political, economic and cultural systems. - More,, at:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Obama’s speech at Mandela memorial (transcript): ‘Mandela taught us the power of action, but also ideas’ --- President Obama addressed the memorial for former South African president Nelson Mandela; this is a transcript of his remarks as delivered. - More, Washingtonpost, at:

NSA uses Google cookies to pinpoint targets for hacking --- The National Security Agency is secretly piggybacking on the tools that enable Internet advertisers to track consumers, using "cookies" and location data to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance. -- The agency's internal presentation slides, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, show that when companies follow consumers on the Internet to better serve them advertising, the technique opens the door for similar tracking by the government. The slides also suggest that the agency is using these tracking techniques to help identify targets for offensive hacking operations. - More, Washingtonpost, at:

House, Senate negotiators reach budget deal --- House and Senate negotiators unveiled an $85 billion agreement late Tuesday to fund federal agencies through the fall of 2015, averting another government shutdown and ending the cycle of crisis that has paralyzed Washington for much of the past three years. -- In a rare display of bipartisan cooperation, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stood side by side in the Capitol with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to announce the deal, which would cancel half of the sharp spending cuts known as the sequester for the current fiscal year. -- The deal would not deliver a key demand of many Democrats, to extend unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless. While they pledged to keep fighting, senior Democrats acknowledged that checks are likely to be cut off at the end of the month for more than a million people, potentially undercutting the strengthening economic recovery. - More, Washingtonpost

Le Monde, Hamid Karzaï : «The United States behaves in Afghanistan like a colonial power» - In a interview with Le Monde, afghan president, Hamid Karzaï, blames the United States for acting like a "colonial power" in the way it "pressures" Kaboul to sign a security agreement. This accord is meant to provide military assistance to Afghanistan after 2014. M. Karzaï says he is not ready to sign it unless certains conditions are met.-- My position has not changed for the past 8 years : the war on terror can't be fought and must not be fought in Afghan villages, in Afghan homes. If there is a war on terror, it has to be taken to the terrorist sanctuaries, where they are trained and nurtured. -- This has been my constant position and the main source of tension between myself and the United States. There are also other issues, but as far as I'm concerned, Afghan civilian casualties are the main problem. --- There is also a lack of visible and genuine effort on behalf of the USA to help us with the peace process. Neither myself nor the Afghan people are opposed to having a good relationship with the USA or Nato. The Afghan people approved the BSA at the recent loya jirga [Assembly of personalities, on November 24th ]. I'm in favour of the BSA. But I want this agreement to bring peace to Afghanistan and to put an end to attacks on Afghan homes. And the Afghan people must notice that these attacks have stopped. --- I had a long conversation with Mr Dobbins, whom I've known for ten years. He said that without the BSA, there will be no peace. -- His remarks can be interpreted in several ways. In a positive way: once you sign the BSA, there will be peace. If they can reassure us, provide the trust we need, this is a good thing. You can also interpret his comments in a different way : “ If you don't sign the BSA, we will cause you trouble and provoke disturbances in the country”. -- Given my experience and the information I have, I believe the USA can considerably help launch the peace process. When I was in Washington one year ago to negotiate the terms of a peace process with the US, I realised the Americans were speaking on behalf of the Taliban. -- Indeed, these secret contacts exist. But when I say the Americans can help with the peace process, it's because they have many other connections. They are friendly with Pakistan and Pakistan is definitely in contact with the Taliban. The USA has the ability, through Pakistan and directly as well, to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan. --- Attacking Afghan homes is an act of aggression. Launching a psychological war on Afghan people is an act of aggression. -- A psychological war is a war against our economy, a war that encourages companies to leave Afghanistan, that encourages money to leave Afghanistan, that frightens Afghan's of the consequences of an American departure, is all this not psychological war ? -- I'm grateful, the Afghan people are grateful, for the assistance that has been given to Afghanistan. And we would like to repeat our gratitude. But when and where the USA has behaved against our interests - and in spite of our repeated warnings -, it's my job to speak out, to tell the truth. --- Why should the Afghan people pay the price of a war on terrorism ? Why would you attack an Afghan home, in the pursuit of a so-called taleb, of which there are many thousands in Afghanistan, and bring death and suffering to children and women? Would the USA launch drone attacks against homes in America in pursuit of a killer, a terrorist ? No. Why should the Americans do it in Afghanistan ? Do they feel an Afghan life is worth less than an American life ? I expect the USA to have an equal respect for an Afghan child as for an American child. We are not less worthy. --- Absolutely. They threaten us by saying “We will no longer pay your salaries, we will drive you into a civil war”. These are threats. If you want to be our partner, we must be friends. Respect Afghan homes, don't kill their children and be a partner. So bluff or no bluff, we want respect for our commitment to the safety of Afghan lives and to peace in Afghanistan. -- We will not cease to be a nation if that were to happen. It will be harsher for us, it will be more difficult, but we will continue to live our lives, we will continue to be a nation and a state. If the USA is here, if Nato is here, with us, with their resources, hopefully properly spent and not wasted, or looted, if our homes are respected, if peace is maintained, the American presence is good for Afghanistan, and we value it. But if their presence comes at the price of destroying Afghan homes, at the price of the security and the dignity of Afghans, if their presence here means continued war, and bombs and killings, then it's not worth it. --- There is corruption in Afghanistan, no doubt. There is corruption within the Afghan system, no doubt. There is corruption also within the international community, especially regarding American contracts and the way those contracts are implemented. For example, the private security firms that the Americans have employed in Afghanistan were one of the biggest sources of corruption, and lawlessness, and insecurity, and – worst of all – they were also responsible for the creation of a parallel structure to the afghan security forces. They have effectively created a state within a state. And a corrupt one. --- I was approached by some countries and also by people acting on behalf of the Taliban, who told me that if the Taliban were given a place in Afghanistan, if they were allowed to officially settle there and run their administrations, that would then lead to a peace process. I saw that as a dangerous path to the creation of two states within one country. -- I called some Taliban personalities, active in the movement, as well as those who have connexions to them, in order to enquire about this proposal. They said: “Yes, they were also approached and offered places in Afghanistan”. But they refused this offer. And I saw that the movement that lead to the opening of a Taliban office in Doha was related to that process. And the way it was announced proved our point. The manner in which certain other activities were conducted in the name of the peace process also indicated that certain forces in the West didn't want talks between the High Peace Council (HPC) and the Taliban but talks between the Taliban and other ethnic groups in Afghanistan. -- They tried to ethnicize the conflict in arranged talks between warlords and ethnic groups. This has been proved. But this initiative failed because the Afghan people reacted strongly. Whatever the plan was, we know that the West, through some foundations and with the help of certain members of the US Congress, tried to force federalism in Afghanistan. We are convinced that a deliberate effort was made to weaken Afghanistan and to turn it into fiefdoms. To have a weak central government. And the reason why the Americans and some European countries tried to undermine the presidential elections in 2009 was also to have a weakened government with less legitimacy. - More, Frédéric Bobin, Le Monde - at:

Afghan President Lashes out at US 'Threats' --- Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai lashed out at the United States, accusing it of making threats in the dispute over an agreement to keep U.S. troops in the country beyond 2014. -- In an interview published Tuesday by the French daily Le Monde, Karzai says the U.S. is "absolutely" acting like a colonial power in its attempts to force him to sign the bilateral security agreement by the end of this year. The paper quoted him as saying: "The threats they are making, 'We won't pay salaries, we'll drive you into a civil war.' These are threats." -- Washington and NATO officials say the pact is critical to the plan to keep thousands of forces in Afghanistan after 2014 for a training and counterterrorism mission. - More, AP, abcnews

The Great and the Humble Pay Tribute to Mandela --- SOWETO, South Africa — In an outpouring of praise, remembrance and celebration, scores of leaders from around the world, including President Obama, joined tens of thousands of South Africans in a vast, rain-swept soccer stadium here on Tuesday to pay common tribute to Nelson Mandela, whose struggle against apartheid inspired his own country and many far beyond its borders. -- “To the people of South Africa — people of every race and every walk of life — the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us,” President Obama said. “His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and hope found expression in his life, and your freedom, your democracy, is his cherished legacy.” - More, NYTimes

Obama, George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton Share Flight to Funeral --- JOHANNESBURG — President Obama, his predecessor, and the woman who might be his successor crossed the Atlantic together Monday in an example of extended bipartisan togetherness to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela at a memorial service Tuesday. -- For more than 16 hours, Mr. Obama hosted former President George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton aboard Air Force One — part of a global pilgrimage that is expected to bring as many as 100 world leaders to South Africa. -- The flight of political opposites was a midair testimonial to the profound impact that Mr. Mandela had on generations of American politicians as he fought against his government’s system of racial oppression and later brought unity and reconciliation to a divided people as their president. - More, nytimes

Nelson Mandela memorial: --- Johannesburg (CNN) -- It's a moment for the ages.- Tens of thousands of South Africans, dozens of presidents and prime ministers, celebrities and street sweepers are all heading to the same place: a stadium in Johannesburg, where they'll honor Nelson Mandela at a memorial service on Tuesday. - With 91 heads of state attending, security will be tight. -- Among the speakers at Tuesday's memorial will be President Obama, who like Mandela was his nation's first black president. Obama has cited Mandela as his own inspiration for entering politics. -- In addition to Obama, former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will attend. More than two dozen U.S. lawmakers also plan to go. - More, CNN, at:

وحید عمر - افغانستان در حسرت ماندلایی که نداشت --- در عصری که فرهنگ فرد محوری و تندیس سازی برای انسان ها آهسته آهسته کمرنگ تر می‌شود، نلسون ماندلا شاید آخرین نمادی است که به تنهایی می‌تواند به عنوان الگوی موفق ترین مبارزه یک نسل در مقابل ظلم، تبعیض، بی‌عدالتی و برتری جویی از او یاد کرد. -- آنچه که از ماندلا و نزدیک به نیم قرن مبارزه آزادیخواهانه اش در تاریخ ماندگار خواهد ماند، الهام بخشی و تاثیرگذاری است که مبارزات او و همرزمانش برای سایر جوامع به ارمغان آوردند. -- از عدم خشونت تا "خشونت کنترول شده" - مدیبا مبارزه خود را علیه آپارتاید، با الهام از آموزه های "مبارزه مسالمت آمیز" و یا "مقاومت منفعل" که مهاتما گاندی در مبارزه اش علیه استعمار انگلیس در هند از آن استفاده کرده بود، در حزب کنگره آفریقای جنوبی آغاز کرد. -- در جریان ۱۳ سال مبارزه مسالمت آمیز، مدیبا به سمبول " نافرمانی مدنی" علیه نظام مبدل شد. میان سال های ۱۹۴۸-۱۹۶۱ فعالیت های مدیبا از طریق مبارزه منفعل توانست مزاحمت ایجاد کند. ولی تا آن سال اکثریت رهبران این حزب یا زندانی شده بودند، یا تبعید شده بودند و یا هم کشته شده بودند و این مقاومت آهسته آهسته از هم می گسیخت. --- در سال ۱۹۶۴ مدیبا و یک تعداد همرزمشانش به اتهام "خیانت به آفریقای جنوبی" زندانی شدند. در دفاعیه مشهوری که مدیبا در محکمه از خود ارائه کرد تمام مسئولیت را پذیرفت و بدون هراس خود را رهبر فعالیت های "سبوتاژ" در مقابل نظام معرفی کرد و با مسوولیت پذیری و شهامت بی نظیر راهی زندان شد و ۲۷ سال زندگی خود را در آن زندان گذراند. -- به گفته خودش وی از شیوه رهبری کار گرفت که بر اساس آن یک رهبر باید "در زمان موفقیت دیگران را وارد صحنه کند ولی در موقع خطر باید پیشگام شود و مسئولیت بپذیرد." آنچه مدیبا را از سایر زندانیان متمایز ساخت، استقامت و اراده متین وی و به تعبیر خودش "خوشبینی" نسبت به فرجام مبارزاتش بود. --- در بیست سال گذشته کشور های زیادی به آزادی رسیدند ولی آفریقای جنوبی یگانه کشوری است که در وضعیت بعد از جنگ فقط عدالت، همدیگر پذیری، کثرت گرایی در آن حرف اول را زد.-- در آفریقای جنوبی بعد از آپارتاید مدیبا بحران را مدیریت کرد، انتقام جویی نکرد، عدالت را به نحوی تامین کرد و آن کشور را از خطر کلان بی ثباتی و جنگ داخلی نجات داد. کاری که متاسفانه در افغانستان عملی نشد. --- در افغانستان، در اولین سال پس از سقوط طالبان تصمیم گرفتند "ثبات سیاسی و اجتماعی" را بر " عدالت" ترجیع دهند و استدلال کردند که افغانستان بیشتر از تامین عدالت و رسیدگی به قربانیان جنگ به ثبات سیاسی و اجتماعی نیاز مند است و بر آن شدند که حکومت "وسیع البنیاد" برپا کنند. -- همان بود که خط فاصل میان گذشته و آینده کشیده نشد، قربانیان جنایات جنگی یک بار دیگر قربانی سیاست مصلحتی شدند، خصومت ها و انتقام جویی های بی مورد از سر گرفته شد، رهبران افغانستان به رهبران قوم ها و منطقه ها تبدیل شدند و درنتیجه افغانستان نه به ثبات سیاسی و اجتماعی دلخواه رسید و نه عدالت در آن تامین شد. -- شاید یکی از دلایلی که تصور "بازگشت افغانستان به گذشته" هنوز هم وجود دارد، عدم اجرای عدالت و رسیدگی به قربانیان جنگ در افغانستان پس از طالبان بود. -- افغانستان پس از طالبان، چیزهای زیادی برای پیشرفت و ترقی داشت و دارد، حمایت گسترده جامعه جهانی، کمکهای اقتصادی، شوق و علاقه سالهای اول مردم به بازسازی و تغییر، اما آنچه شاید این کشور نداشت، رهبری چون ماندلا بود حسرتی که مردم این کشور همیشه داشته است. - More, سخنگوی پیشین رئیس جمهوری افغانستان - at:

Monday, December 09, 2013

Iran says opposes foreign presence in Afghanistan --- TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday his country opposes the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan and the region, saying their presence generates tension, the official IRNA news agency reported. --IRNA quoted Rouhani as telling visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai: “We believe that all foreign forces should leave the region and that the security of Afghanistan should be handed over to people of the country.” -- “We are concerned about tensions caused by foreign forces’ presence in the region,” Rouhani was quoted as saying. He also called for more cooperation between Tehran and Kabul. Karzai left Tehran soon after meeting Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. -- Iran has long opposed a planned agreement to allow U.S. forces to remain stationed on its doorstep in neighboring Afghanistan. The two countries have about 945 kilometers (580 miles) of common borders. - More, Associated Press

Presidents, royalty expected for Mandela memorial --- JOHANNESBURG — The memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela on Tuesday is poised to be one of the largest such gatherings in generations, with tens of thousands of local mourners and dozens of foreign leaders expected. -- South African officials say the normal seating capacity of Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium probably won’t suffice to accommodate all mourners. Security for the event is likely to be tight as the list of presidents, heads of government, royalty and celebrities keeps growing by the hour. -- The South African government said Sunday that 53 heads of state and government, as well as cabinet ministers, have confirmed that they will attend the service. --- Here’s a selection of confirmed attendees compiled by the Associated Press: -- ●President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, as well as former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. - More, Washingtonpost

U.S. needs millions more to complete Afghanistan’s ‘Pentagon’ --- KABUL — The Afghan “Pentagon” being built here is a sprawling symbol of U.S. generosity. -- The American government has already spent about $107 million — double the initial estimate — on the five-story Defense Ministry headquarters, which will include state-of-the-art bunkers and the second-largest auditorium in Kabul. -- But now, four years after the groundbreaking, construction crews have had to effectively halt their work. The reason: The U.S. government has run out of money for the project. -- For years, audits and inspector general’s reports have documented waste and mismanagement in American aid projects in Afghanistan. But the Defense Ministry building is a dramatic example of how poor oversight continues to plague the massive U.S. investment here. -- Since 2005, Congress has allocated about $53 billion to help equip, train, house and feed the 348,000 members of Afghanistan’s army and police force. But as that money has poured into Afghanistan, American military leaders have struggled to contain cost overruns and construction delays and to deal with ill-trained or corrupt contractors.-- U.S. military officials say they have no evidence that the Afghan Defense Ministry project has been set back by missing or stolen funds. But military commanders have requested a U.S. Defense Department audit of the project. -- They say the project was hampered by unrealistic cost projections, a poorly trained Afghan workforce, heavy snow in Kabul during the 2011-2012 winter and delays in getting materials into Afghanistan. - More, Tim Craig, Washingtonpost

Twitter, Facebook and more demand sweeping changes to US surveillance laws --- The world's leading technology companies have united to demand sweeping changes to US surveillance laws, urging an international ban on bulk collection of data to help preserve the public's “trust in the internet”. -- In their most concerted response yet to disclosures by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter and AOL have published an open letter to Barack Obama and Congress on Monday, throwing their weight behind radical reforms already proposed by Washington politicians. -- “The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favour of the state and away from the rights of the individual – rights that are enshrined in our constitution,” urges the letter signed by the eight US-based internet giants. “This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for change.” -- The chief executive of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, said: “Recent revelations about government surveillance activities have shaken the trust of our users, and it is time for the United States government to act to restore the confidence of citizens around the world." -- Silicon Valley was initially sceptical of some allegations about NSA practices made by Snowden but as more documentary evidence has emerged in the Guardian and other newspapers detailing the extent of western surveillance capabilities, its eight leading players – collectively valued at $1.4tn – have been stung into action amid fears of commercial damage. - More, Gaurdian

Not enforcing laws behind endemic graft: candidates --- KABUL (PAN): Pledging efforts at countering endemic administrative corruption on the International Anti-Corruption Day celebrated April 9, presidential candidates for the April 5 vote on Monday called the rampant menace the legacy of government’s failure to effectively implement the country’s laws. -- Presidential hopeful Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who attended a gathering marking the day in Kabul, told participants hollow slogans would not help eradicate corruption, but practical steps. -- Presidential hopeful Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who attended a gathering marking the day in Kabul, told participants hollow slogans would not help eradicate corruption, but practical steps. -- “The stigma of corruption damages a nation’s and a state’s image and reputation. It is a disease that needs to be cured and prevented,” the former finance minister remarked. - More, Pajhwok

Hagel Urges Pakistan to Reopen Afghan Supply Route --- ISLAMABAD—U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel pressed Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to help restart the flow of equipment across the Afghan border, saying a key element of American aid could be cut off if the main route from Kabul was not reopened to coalition supply convoys. -- For his part, Mr. Sharif pushed Mr. Hagel on the issues of drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas, counterterrorism operations which Pakistan wants ended.-- Washington is keen to get the often difficult relationship with Pakistan back on track and American officials repeatedly insisted that despite the difficult issues on the table the talks were amicable. -- Defense officials said Mr. Hagel didn’t threaten to cut off aid, but instead explained to Pakistanis that it would be politically difficult to reimburse them for military expenses if Islamabad can’t reopen the highway linking Kabul to the port of Karachi. -- Protesters affiliated with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party of former cricket star Imran Khan blocked the road around the city of Peshawar to coalition convoys last month, demanding an end to U.S. drone attacks. While PTI sits in opposition to Mr. Sharif in the federal parliament, the stridently anti-American movement controls the Peshawar-based provincial government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on the Afghan border. If Mr. Sharif were to use force to disperse these protests, it could cause a dramatic political crisis in the country. -- The PTI protests have led U.S. officials to halt the transport of MRAPs and other military equipment out of Afghanistan. -- American officials said they believe drivers bringing the American equipment across the Afghanistan border could be threatened. - More, Julian E. Barnes - WSJ

FBI’s search for ‘Mo,’ suspect in bomb threats, highlights use of malware for surveillance --- Phishing for a suspect, The FBI team works much like other hackers, using security weaknesses in computer programs to gain control of users’ machines. The most common delivery mechanism, say people familiar with the technology, is a simple phishing attack — a link slipped into an e-mail, typically labeled in a misleading way. -- When the user hits the link, it connects to a computer at FBI offices in Quantico, Va., and downloads the malicious software, often called “malware” because it operates covertly, typically to spy on or otherwise exploit the owner of a computer. As in some traditional searches, subjects typically are notified only after evidence is gathered from their property. -- “We have transitioned into a world where law enforcement is hacking into people’s computers, and we have never had public debate,” said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Judges are having to make up these powers as they go along.” - More, Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima, Published: December 6 - Washingtonpost

Cellphone data spying: It's not just the NSA --- The National Security Agency isn't the only government entity secretly collecting data from people's cellphones. Local police are increasingly scooping it up, too. -- Armed with new technologies, including mobile devices that tap into cellphone data in real time, dozens of local and state police agencies are capturing information about thousands of cellphone users at a time, whether they are targets of an investigation or not, according to public records obtained by USA TODAY and Gannett newspapers and TV stations. -- The records, from more than 125 police agencies in 33 states, reveal: -- • About one in four law-enforcement agencies have used a tactic known as a "tower dump," which gives police data about the identity, activity and location of any phone that connects to the targeted cellphone towers over a set span of time, usually an hour or two. A typical dump covers multiple towers, and wireless providers, and can net information from thousands of phones. - More, John Kelly, USA TODAY

Afghanistan focus at Hagel talks with Pakistan PM --- Islamabad (AFP) - Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel held talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday as Washington seeks to defuse tensions over controversial US drone strikes and Islamabad's role in Afghanistan. -- After greeting Prime Minister Sharif at the start of their talks, Hagel said Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan had a "lot of common and mutual interests" and that he looked forward to discussing regional issues. -- Hagel was in Pakistan "in recognition of the tremendous support that Pakistan has provided in the war on terror", a senior US defence official told reporters. -- The defence secretary wanted "to deepen our defence partnership" and to affirm continued US military assistance, the official said. -- "There is some friction in the relationship" and Hagel wished to tackle that "head on", he added. - More

قیوم بیسد و تئاتر؛ جدایی پس از هفتاد سال --- عبدالقیوم بیسد از پیشگامان تئاتر افغانستان پنجشنبه چهاردهم قوس/آذر در بستر بیماری در کابل در خانه اش از دنیا رفت. -- خبر درگشت آقای بیسد، بسیاری از اهالی سینمای و تئاتر و فرهنگیان افغانستان را در داخل و خارج از کشو اندوه‌گین کرد. -- او در یکی از آخرین مصاحبه هایش در صحبتی با بی‌بی‌سی گفته بود که مشکل ترین و مهم ترین مرحله کار یک هنرپیشه این است که چطور از خویشتن دور شود و بالاخره به مرحله ای برسد که دیگر خودش نیست. -- عبدالقیوم بیسد حدود هفتاد سال قبل، در نمایش معروف "میراث" اثر عبدالرشید لطیفی نمایشنامه نویس افغان، بازی کرد و از او نقل شده که از اینکه به او نقشی در این نمایشنامه داده شده بود، در پوست خود نمی گنجید. -- استاد بیسد در نزدیک به هفتاد سال زندگی هنری اش ۳۰۰ نمایشنامه از آثار نویسندگان مشهور را کار گردانی کرد و در شماری از آنها خود نیز بازی کرد. -- چنان شجاعانه چهره های بد جامعه را تصویر می کرد و چنان شخصیت های منفی جامعه افغانستان را تمثیل می‌کرد و آنها را به انتقاد می‌گرفت که بسیاری جرات ایستادن در مقابل چنین افرادی را ندارند. او شجاع و بی بدیل بود." -- از او به عنوان یکی از اساس گذاران تئاتر افغانستان یاد می شود و علاقنمدانش به او لقب "پدر تئاتر افغانستان" را داده اند. - More, BBC

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Afghanistan, Iran plan cooperation pact amid tensions with U.S. --- (Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai agreed on a cooperation pact with Iran on Sunday, an Afghan official said, while continuing to resist signing a long-term security agreement with the United States. -- Karzai struck the deal with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran in a move that will be greeted with suspicion by his U.S. ally, which is trying to convince him to sign the security accord governing any post-2014 U.S. presence in Afghanistan. -- "Afghanistan agreed on a long-term friendship and cooperation pact with Iran," Karzai's spokesman Aimal Faizi said. "The pact will be for long-term political, security, economic and cultural -- Many Afghans believe such a bargain with Iran, at odds with the United States since the 1979 Islamic revolution, may harm Afghanistan's uneasy relationship with its Western allies. -- Iran has long opposed NATO's presence in Afghanistan and is the only country to have asked Karzai not to sign the agreement - More, Hamid Shalizi - Reuters

UN reports 'slow, uneven' use of Afghan law protecting women --- 8 December 2013 – Afghan authorities registered an increased number of reported acts of violence against women and girls in the past year, but prosecutions and convictions under a landmark law remained low with most cases settled by mediation, according to an annual United Nations report released today. -- While registration of reported incidents such as forced marriage, domestic violence and rape increased by 28 per cent in 16 provinces since the previous year, the use of the law on the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) as a basis for indictment increased by only two per cent, according to 'A Way to Go' co-authored by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). - More,

Obama presses Republicans to extend unemployment insurance --- President Obama pushed Congress to extend unemployment insurance in his weekly address on Saturday, warning that if the benefits expire as scheduled on Dec. 28, job seekers and the economy as a whole will pay the price. -- “The holiday season is a time for remembering the bonds we share, and our obligations to one another as human beings,” he said, “But right now, more than 1 million of our fellow Americans are poised to lose a vital economic lifeline just a few days after Christmas if Congress doesn’t do something about it.” -- Approximately 1.3 million Americans receive unemployment insurance checks as part of a program offered “so that job-seekers don’t fall into poverty, and so that when they get that job, they bounce back more quickly,” the president said. “For many families, it can be the difference between hardship and catastrophe.” -- Far beyond the damage it could do to individual families, the president warned, a failure to extend unemployment benefits could drag down the entire economy, threatening a recovery that finally seems to be gaining traction in the wake of several months of robust job growth. -- “Unemployment insurance is one of the most effective ways there is to boost our economy,” he explained. “When people have money to spend on basic necessities, that means more customers for our businesses and, ultimately, more jobs.” -- To bolster his case, the president cited two studies: One, from the Congressional Budget Office, predicted “that allowing benefits to expire will be a drag on our economic growth next year,” the president said. The other, a report from the Department of Labor and the president's Council of Economic Advisers, estimated that a failure to extend benefits could cost businesses 240,000 jobs in 2014. - More, Jake Miller - CBSNEWS

Durbin: Jobless benefits not a budget deal-breaker --- Extending long-term unemployment benefits is not critical to reaching a budget deal, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on Sunday. The long-term benefits expire at year's end and while Democrats have pushed for an extension, they appear to be open to passing it outside of a budget agreement. -- "I don't think we've reached that point where we say this is it, take it or leave it," Durbin said on ABC's This Week. He added that he hoped an extension would be a part of negotiations over a year-end budget agreement. -- President Obama used his Saturday address to call for an extension of the benefits. And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said this week that Democrats in that chamber could not support a budget agreement without an extension of those unemployment benefits, though she later walked back those remarks by saying that an extension could come separately. - More, Washingtonpost

'Take extra precautions': Massive wintry storm system hits country hard as it plows eastward --- A wet winter storm, bringing dangerous sheets of ice, snow and plummeting temperatures, was barreling east Sunday after wreaking havoc in western parts of the country, with one emergency official calling it an "historic ice event." -- The storm that started in Washington state hit Texas hard on Saturday, causing event cancellations, travel hindrances and power outages. -- Residents in New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Baltimore were warned to be careful on the roads, as they could be hit by the first major snow accumulation of the season Sunday night, according to The Weather Channel. But the snow is expected to change to rain overnight, the Weather Channel reported, making the morning commute a messy one. -- The storm is expected to move out to the Atlantic on Monday night, according to the National Weather Service. - More, NBC News

Iran opposes foreign presence: Rouhani to Karzai --- KABUL (PAN): Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday told his visiting Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai that his country opposed the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan and the region. -- "We believe that all foreign forces should leave the region and that the security of Afghanistan should be handed over to people of the country," Rouhani was quoted as telling President Karzai in a report by the official IRNA news agency. -- The United States is pressing Karzai to sign the deal to extend its military presence past 2014, when NATO and United Nations mandates expire and all foreign troops leave the country. --- The Presidential Palace in Kabul issued a statement, saying the two presidents are to sign a comprehensive pact of friendship and cooperation between Tehran and Kabul in order to bolster mutual ties. --- Rouhani acknowledged Iranian strong opposition to any foreign presence in the region, especially in Afghanistan, and said Iran is against foreign presence in the region, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. - More, Pajhwok

Hagel: U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan "a very real possibility" --- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that a U.S. retreat from Afghanistan at the end of 2014 is entirely possible if Afghan President Hamid Karzai continues to refuse to sign a security agreement that will keep a handful of American and NATO troops in the country after 2014 to advise the Afghan security forces. -- “I hope he'll come to the right decision on this. Because we need that bilateral security agreement signed for our own planning, for our own purposes, as well as our international partners,” Hagel told CBS News State Department correspondent Margaret Brennan in an interview from Afghanistan, where he is traveling. -- Hagel warned that there is “a very real possibility” that the U.S. will have to make a full retreat from the country at the end of 2014 if Karzai doesn’t sign the agreement. -- “If we don't have a bilateral security agreement, which I've noted, that means we can't protect our forces that would be here after 2014, no international partners will come, Afghanistan essentially will be alone. But we have no other options,” he said. -- “Unless we have the security of an agreement to protect our forces…then we'll have no choice. We will not be able to stay,” he said. - More, cbsnews

Hamid Karzai's Big Bet --- If one could describe in a single word the present state of relations between the United States and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, “convoluted” quickly comes to mind. -- It is no surprise that the US-Afghanistan strategic partnership that both nations have built over the past twelve years has had its fair share of obstacles. US diplomats in the past have done their best to publicly portray a positive picture, and Obama administration officials are quick to release readouts and public statements depicting a constructive partnership with the Afghan government whenever Karzai travels to the White House. In most respects, Afghan officials have returned the favor, beaming with smiles whenever they appear with high-ranking officials from the White House, State Department or Pentagon. --- In private, however, the relationship has often been categorized as muddled, if not confrontational. And Hamid Karzai has all too often been the source of or inspiration for that trouble. - More, Daniel R. DePetris - National Interest

UN honours Nelson Mandela as champion of peace, reconciliation --- 6 December 2013 – The United Nations family today mourned the loss – and celebrated the enduring legacy – of Nelson Mandela, the former South African leader and peace advocate who passed away yesterday at the age of 95.-- As the UN flag was lowered to half-staff over the world body's Headquarters in New York, the 193-member General Assembly held a moment of silence to honour the memory of the man affectionately known as “Madiba,” who emerged from 27 years of imprisonment to become South Africa's first black President and is known worldwide for his compassionate yet determined efforts to dismantle the country's legacy of apartheid. -- “Today, in this Assembly of Nations, we mourn the loss of Mr. Nelson Mandela, one of our world's greatest leaders,” said Assembly President John Ashe, who added that the example of Mr. Mandela's life and actions, “demonstrates the difference one person can make in the face of adversity, oppression and prejudice, while maintaining a disposition of humility, humour and modesty that is so rare amongst people of his stature.” - More,

Saturday, December 07, 2013

دامن زدن به تعصبات خلاف اسلام و قانون اساسى است --- کابل (پژواک، ۱۶قوس ۹۲): صد ها تن با برپايى تظاهرات در کابل، خواهان به محاکمه کشاندن کسانی شدند که تفرقه و تعصب را دامن میزنند و در فکر برتری جویی قومی هستند.این تظاهرات از سوی نهاد های مدنی و اجتماعی افغانستان قبل از ظهرامروز از چهارراهی دهمزنگ آغاز گرديد و در مقابل ساختمان شوراى ملى خاتمه يافت. آنها گفتند، کسانى که در بين ملت تعصب را دامن زده و تفرقه مى اندازند، خلاف اسلام و قانون اساسى عمل کرده و بايد محاکمه شوند. -- " تظاهر کنندگان، با انتقاد از اظهارات برخى رسانه ها در مورد تذکرۀ الکترونيکى، شعار های (مرگ به تلویزیون ژوندون، مرگ به جنرال طاقت، مرگ به نوکران خارجی، افغانستان کشور واحد و مشترک تمام اقوام این سرزمین است و مرگ به تبعیض) را نيز سرمی دادند و خواهان محاکمۀ آنها گرديدند. --- اما محمد اسماعيل يون، رئيس تلويزيون خصوص (ژوندون) گفته هاى مظاهره چيان را رد کرده، به پژواک گفت: (ما هيچ وقت تعصب را دامن نزده ايم، ژوندون يک رسانۀ آزاد است و ما در مقابل يک تعداد نوکران ايرانى و پاکستانى که مي خواستند کلمۀ افغان و اسلاميت را در تذکرۀ الکترونيکى از بين ببرند، ايستادگى کرديم.) وى ادعا کرد که حالا برخى عناصر عليه آنها تبليغات سوء مي نمايند و مظاهرۀ امروزى نيز به تحريک سپاه پاسداران ايران و استخبارات پاکستان به راه انداخته شده است. يون علاوه کرد: (شعار ما شعار افغانيت و اسلام بوده، اما بعضى حلقات مي خواستند، بجاى ملت نام قوم را در تذکرۀ الکترونيکى درج کنند.) --- از سوى ديگر، جنرال عبدالواحد طاقت، يکى از متخصصان نظامى از گفته هايش معذرت خواسته است. اين جنرال متقاعد امنيت ملى رژيم داکتر نجيب الله هفته گذشته از طریق تلویزیون ژوندون يک قوم را مالک اصلی افغانستان تلقی نمود و به اقوام دیگر توهین و اهانت کرد و گفت که این ها ناخلف بوده وساکنان اصلی این سرزمین نمی باشند. جنرال طاقت به پژواک گفت که به قوم توهين نکرده، بلکه هدف از گفته هايش، شخصى بوده که خودش گفته است که از افغانستان نيست، اما از وى نام نبرد. موصوف در معذرت خواهى خود گفته است: "برادران عزیز افغان! من به هیچ وجهه نگفته ام که ملت افغان و یا اقوام (ازبک، تاجک، بلوچ، هزاره، و پشه یی) خدا ناخواسته حرامی و نااهل اند، درست است که من در مورد یک شخص که معلوم الحال است و تمام افغانستان و تمام دنیا آن را می شناسند، این اظهارات را بیان داشته ام. افغانستان از پشتون ها نیست و سرزمین افغان هاست."وى علاوه کرد که خانمش تاجک است و با قوم تاجک خويشى نموده و هيچگاهى در صدد توهين کدام قوم نبوده است. - More, Pajhwok

In Afghanistan, Hagel Presses for Pact on Security, but Is Not Meeting Karzai --- “I never asked for a meeting with President Karzai,” Mr. Hagel said. “I never received an invitation to meet with him. I didn’t expect a meeting with him. This trip is about the troops.” -- “I don’t think pressure coming from the United States, or more pressure, is going to be helpful in persuading President Karzai to sign a bilateral security agreement,” the defense secretary said. -- Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the senior NATO and American commander in Afghanistan, said late Saturday that he was continuing to plan for a continued military presence to train, advise and assist Afghan forces after 2014. -- But he warned that if the agreement was not signed by the end of this year, he would have no choice but to begin “more detailed planning on some other reality,” a nod to the so-called zero option with no foreign troops remaining. - More, nytimes

Hagel Arrives in Afghanistan --- KABUL—U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday for talks with U.S. military commanders but said he wasn't going to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a sign of American frustration over Kabul's failure to sign a bilateral security agreement. -- U.S. officials had wanted an agreement signed by the end of this year. In a meeting with reporters Saturday, Mr. Hagel declined to set a new "cutoff point" but suggested a possible deadline of late February, before a meeting of defense ministers from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. --He traveled to Afghanistan to meet with troops, he said, and didn't seek a meeting with Mr. Karzai. -- "That was not the purpose of the trip," Mr. Hagel said. "I never received an invitation to meet with him. I didn't expect a meeting with him." -- U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the commander of international forces in Afghanistan, told reporters in a separate briefing Saturday that the U.S. doesn't routinely enter Afghan homes and wouldn't regularly do so in the future. But he said the U.S. would need to reserve the right to do so in certain situations. -- "There are some circumstances where we could envision a requirement to enter Afghan homes, for example a hostage situation," Gen. Dunford said. "If there is an issue involving self-defense or force protection, there may be a requirement to enter Afghan homes." --- After arriving in Afghanistan, Mr. Hagel met with his counterpart, Afghan Minister of Defense Bismullah Khan Mohammadi, a meeting also attended by Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Ayub Salangi and the head of the Afghan National Army. - More, WSJ

د امریکا دفاع وزیر نه غواړي چې له کرزي سره وویني --- د امریکا دفاع وزیر چک هېګل نن ماسپښین په یوه نااعلان شوي سفر په داسي حال کې کابل ته راورسېد چې د افغانستان ولسمشر حامد کرزی لا هم له امریکا سره د امنیتي موافقې له لاسلیکولو ډډه کوي. --واشنګټن پوسټ ورځپاڼه وايي چې هیګل د سوزن راييس یا جېمز ډابینز په شان چې له ولسمشر کرزي سره یې ولیدل، نه غواړي چې د افغانستان له ولسمشر سره وویني. -- واشنګټن پوسټ وايي چې امریکايي چارواکي شک لري چې کرزی دې د امنیتي موافقې د لاسلیکولو لپاره له خپلو شرطونو څخه تېر شي. -- د پینتاګون د مطبوعاتي دفتر د ريیس مرستیال کرل ووګ وویل، هیګل غواړي چې د افغانستان له دفاع او کورنیو چارو وزیرانو او دغه راز په افغانستان کې له مېشتو امریکايي پوځیانو سره وویني. -- ووګ وویل:«دفاع وزیر هېګل د دې لپاره افغانستان ته تللی چې له امریکايي پوځیانو څخه له خپل هیواده ډېر لري د خدمت او د افغان امینتي ځواکونو د وړتیاوو په زیاتولو کې د دوی د رول په خاطر مننه وکړي. -More, تاند

Hagel in Kabul for unannounced visit, but no plans to meet with Karzai --- KABUL — U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel arrived in the Afghan capital Saturday for an unannounced visit that comes as Washington and President Hamid Karzai remain at loggerheads over the terms of a plan that would keep American troops in the country beyond the end of next year. -- Hagel is the latest senior U.S. official to visit Kabul in recent weeks, but unlike other dignitaries who have sought to coax Karzai into signing a bilateral security agreement, the secretary of defense opted to steer clear of the president altogether. -- That rare break with protocol seemed to signal a new strategy to end the impasse over the bilateral security agreement that could keep thousands of foreign troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014. U.S. officials appear to have concluded that ignoring Karzai could be more effective than continuing to beg him to ink the deal. - More, washingtonpost

کرزی: بعضی رسانه‌ها عمدا کوشش دارند وحدت ملی ما را تخریب کنند --- حامد کرزی رئیس، جمهوری افغانستان ضمن انتقاد از بعضی از رسانه‌های افغانستان گفته است که شماری از رسانه ها بر خلاف منافع ملی و مردم افغانستان کار می‌کنند. -- در حالی‌که آقای کرزی از هیچ رسانه و هیچ شخصی نام نبرد، گفت که اظهارات این چنینی هیچ تاثیری بر مردم افغانستان نخواهد داشت. -- او افزود که 'وظیفه خود می‌دانیم آنهایی‌که از سر تعصب و وابستگی به خارج از کشور، وحدت ملی افغانستان را تخریب می‌کنند در مقابل شان بایستیم و با تمام قوت، قانون در مورد این افراد تطبیق شود.' -- آقای کرزی گفت'توهین به هر فرد افغان توهین به مردم این کشور است. آنانیکه ملت افغانستان را توهین می‌کنند، زبانی را توهین می‌کنند و تعصب را ترویج می‌کنند، نماینده‌ افغانستان نیستند، بلکه نماینده درماندگی و تعصب خود هستند.' -- او از رسانه‌ها خواست که "به ملت احترام کنید و با تقویت وحدت ملی زبانها را احترام کنید و زبان فارسی و پشتو را با هم مخلوط کنید چیزی که من در ۱۲ سال گذشته کردم." -- چند روز پیش موضوع درج هویت قومی در شناسنامه‌های شهروندان افغان به سنای این کشور رفت و در داخل سنا هم بحث در این مورد میان نمایندگان جنجال برانگیز شد. -- همچنین یکی از تلویزیون‌های خصوصی بنام ژوندون در میزگردی که موضوع آن بحث در مورد ذکر هویت قومی در شناسنامه بود برگزار کرد و یکی از مهمانان این برنامه اظهاراتی داشت که توهین علیه اقوام غیر پشتون در افغانستان تلقی شد. -- آقای کرزی با انتقاد ازرسانه‌ها گفت که ' شما دربرابر نیروهای خارجی از ترس چیزی گفته نمی‌توانید. آنان را توصیف می‌کنید ولی آبادی شما و عواید (درآمد) شما از مردم و از وحدت ملی این خاک است که اگر نباشد یکی از شماها یک ثانیه در کابل نمی‌توانید تاب بیاورید.' -- رسانه‌های افغانستان با جرات دیدگاه‌ها و انتقادهای خود را مطرح می‌کنند و از حکومت در سطوح مختلف و حتی از خود آقای کرزی در مواردی انتقاد می‌کنند. - More, BBC

Retirement Life - How to retire with $1 million --- Saving a large nest egg is not an impossible goal, especially if you start young. These strategies can help you become a millionaire. -- Saving $1 million for retirement is a realistic goal for most workers, but it will take a considerable amount of effort to get there. And there are plenty of fees, taxes and penalties that could make it even more difficult to hit this worthy savings target. These strategies will help you to save $1 million over the course of your career: -- Start young. The easiest way to save $1 million is to begin saving at your first job. If you start saving at age 25, you could save just $4,682 per year and reach $1 million by age 65, assuming 7 percent annual returns, according to calculations by David Fernandez, a certified financial planner for Wealth Engineering in Scottsdale, Ariz. "You could do that by maxing out a Roth IRA or saving in a 401k," Fernandez says. "If you wait until 35, the amount you need to save more than doubles." Beginning at age 35, you will need to save $9,894 each year to accumulate $1 million at age 65. If you further delay saving, you'll need to tuck away $22,798 annually beginning at 45 or $67,643 at 55 if you hope to be a -- Set intermediate goals. While saving $1 million might be your ultimate retirement goal, it helps if you set some intermediate goals along the way. "If you've gotten to save $50,000 or $100,000, then you can do something significant that is important to you to celebrate," says Mary Brooks, a certified financial planner for Brooks Financial Planning in Colorado Springs, Colo. "Your enthusiasm is renewed because you really feel like you have gotten someplace." - More, money.msn - at:

Friday, December 06, 2013

Pakistani protests threaten NATO supply lines to Afghanistan --- Angered by US drone strikes in Pakistan, politician Imran Khan has attempted to prevent truck drivers from ferrying essential supplies to and from NATO troops in Afghanistan. - More, CS Monitor

How Mandela's struggle an ocean away inspired Obama the activist --- US president pays tribute to Nelson Mandela and describes how injustice of South African apartheid spurred him to political action -- The young black university student who walked up to the microphone at an anti-apartheid rally in 1980 was, by his own admission, cynical about the virtues of political activism. -- “I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life,” Obama said. “My very first political action, the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics, was a protest against apartheid. I studied his words and his writings.” -- Barack Obama was born in 1961, the year before Mandela began his nearly three-decade prison sentence. Obama was studying at Harvard Law School when Mandela was released from prison in 1990. -- Obama, of course, is not the only US president to draw inspiration from Mandela. All four living presidents – Jimmy Carter, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W Bush – lauded Mandela’s legacy. - More, Paul Lewis - Guardian

پیشنهاد رییس کمیته امور نظامی مجلس سنای امریکا به بارک اوباما! -- سناتور مهم حزب دیموکرات و رییس کمیته امور نظامی مجلس سنای امریکا کارل لیفین دیروز بر این موضوع تنقید کرد که اداره رییس جمهور اوباما اصرار می ورزد این موافقت امنیتی قبل از پایان سال 2013 به امضا برسد. -- و پیشنهاد کرد که واشنگتن صبر کند تا انتخابات افغانستان در بهار سال آینده برگزار شود و یک رهبر قابل اعتماد به قدرت برسد و این موافقت را امضا کند. -- به اساس گزارش خبر گزاری رویترز، رییس کمیته امور نظامی مجلس سنای امریکا سناتور کارل لیفین در یک نامه به رییس جمهور اوباما نوشته است اصرار بر این موضوع که رییس جمهور افغانستان حامد کرزی قبل از 31 دسمبر سال جاری موافقت امنیتی و دفاعی با امریکا را امضا کند، این مفکوره غلط را تقویه می کند که گویا امریکا نسبت به افغانستان به این پیمان امنیتی بیشتر نیاز دارد. -- سناتور لیفین افزود، اداره رییس جمهور اوباما به آقای کرزی بگوید اگر او این توافقنامه را امضا نمی کند، انتظار به شخصی می شوند که در انتخابات ریاست جمهوری افغانستان موفق می شود. - More, رادیو آزادی

While Karzai might be a pain in the you know what, he's got a point --- Karzai has become an expert at sticking his finger in the eye of the United States – the same nation that has expended significant blood and treasure to keep him in power. Some examples include: once calling the Taliban insurgents ravaging his country "brothers", publicly accusing the United States of working with the Taliban to stage bombing attacks, or declaring that if a war broke between the US and Pakistan, he would side with Pakistan. -- But Karzai's latest gaffe is perhaps his worst and most potentially damaging: namely his continued refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement (BSA) with that United States that will keep American troops in the country for the next 10 years. While this latest action is easy to chalk up as another example of Karzai's propensity for irrational, eccentric and brinkmanship-like behavior, there is a deeper backstory here. This blow-up du jour is not some outlier in the US-Afghan relationship, it's the culmination of years upon years of a poorly conceived US political and military strategy in Afghanistan that has treated Karzai and the Afghan people as a sideshow and collateral damage in the US global war against al-Qaida. -- Of course, the question of who is to blame doesn't change the fact that Karzai's current recalcitrance could have potentially disastrous consequences for the country he leads. Failure to affix his signature to the BSA could lead the US to pursue a so-called "zero option" and bring all of its troops home from Afghanistan. This would have a destabilizing cascade effect. First, the likely departure of all NATO troops; and potential cut off of billions in financial assistance from the United States. Considering that the budget of the Afghan security forces is larger than the revenues brought in by the Afghan government, that could be a serious problem and one that could lead to more instability and an even bloodier civil war than we've seen over the past several years. It is small wonder that one of the few political groups in Afghanistan to endorse Karzai's move is the Taliban. -- Why is Karzai playing such a dangerous game of chicken? First, he knows that once he signs the BSA, he will lose all leverage with the United States, particularly in regard to the April presidential election that will choose his successor. Moreover, he appears to truly believe that the US would never actually withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan (no matter how many times US officials say it). But above all, Karzai simply doesn't appear to trust the United States. -- None of this puts Karzai in a positive light, and his recent actions are impossible to defend. But the fight over the BSA is symptomatic of the way in which US policy in Afghanistan has gone far off the rails. Back in 2008 when Obama was running for president, he pledged to focus his energy on the war in Afghanistan, but he did little to prioritize his relationship with Karzai. -- As Obama coldly noted in 2009, during the midst of his Afghan policy review, he wasn't "interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan" but rather for how it advanced US national security interests. -- For Karzai, the brunt of the US war on terrorism was being borne by his people with little long-term payoff for Afghanistan. When he would say "Al Qaeda was driven out of Afghanistan in 2001. They have no base in Afghanistan. The war against terrorism is not in Afghan villages and is not in the Afghan countryside", he was stating an unpleasant truth that was glossed over by US policymakers. From this perspective, that Karzai's redline appears to be the entry of US troops into Afghan homes is hardly a coincidence. --- In the end, Karzai will likely back down and sign the BSA. Unfortunately for the Afghan people, while the BSA – and the presence of US troops – may prevent immediately dire consequences, there is little reason for optimism that the country's 30+ years of civil war will end any time soon. So while Hamid Karzai might be a mercurial and paranoid leader who has made a bad situation vis-à-vis the United States that much worse, America's leaders would be wise to look at themselves in the mirror when casting blame. There's plenty to go around. - More, Michael Cohen - Guardian

Frozen nation: At least 11 dead as cold, ice and snow grip US --- The deaths of at least 11 people — including three in California and the mayor of a small Missouri town — were blamed on the deep freeze that continued to grip the U.S. on Friday, canceling hundreds of flights and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. -- With icy conditions stretching almost coast to coast, the cold blast was blamed for deaths as far east as Indiana, where a woman died in a four-vehicle crash in Wayne County, and as far south as Arkansas, where an ice-coated tree fell on the camper housing a 62-year-old man in Pope County, authorities told NBC News. - More

Afghanistan won't bow to U.S. 'pressure' over security pact: official --- (Reuters) - A senior aide to Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused the United States on Friday of trying to pressure elements of his government to accept a security deal that would shape the post-2014 U.S. military presence in the country. -- The bilateral security pact (BSA) was thrown into doubt last month when Karzai said he would sign only if new conditions were met, and even then only after April elections. -- If the pact is not signed Washington says it will consider a complete military withdrawal from Afghanistan, which remains embroiled in the insurgency of the Islamist militant Taliban. -- Failure to sign could also put Western aid running to billions of dollars in serious jeopardy, exposing the central Asian country's shaky economy to collapse. -- "If there is a perception in Washington that certain elements in Kabul can force President Karzai to succumb to any pressure, it is seriously flawed and mistaken." -- Faizi declined to elaborate on who these "elements" were. --- On Wednesday Karzai reacted angrily to a comment by Kerry at a NATO meeting in Brussels that the Afghan defense minister, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, could sign the document instead of the president. -- "We cannot allow business as usual for the U.S. after the signing of the BSA," Faizi said. "It simply cannot be another ten-year chapter of raids on Afghan homes, civilian casualties and seeking peace in Afghanistan." - More, Dylan Welch, reuters

ارګ له طالبانو وغوښتل چې د بهرنیانو د حضور د دوام پلمه ختمه کړي --- د افغانستان حکومت پر وسله والو طالبانو ږغ وکړ چې که په خپل دریځ کې صادق وي او د عمل استقلال ولري، نو د سولې لار دې خپله کړي او په افغانستان کې دې د بهرنیانو د حضور او د هغوی د جنګ د دوام لپاره پلمه ختمه کړي. -- ارګ د طالبانو د وروستۍ اعلامیه د تایید په څنګ کې دا ډله په ضمني ډول دا ډله په دې غندلې چې د سولې لپاره یې څرګند پیغام نه دی ورکړی. -- د ارګ په خبرپاڼه کې د طالبانو اعلامیې ته په اشارې ویل شوي چې په دې اعلامیه کې د امنیتي موافقې په اړه د ولسمشر حامد کرزي د شرایطو ضمني تأييد شوی، خو سوله او بین الافغاني تفاهم یو ځل بیا د بهرنيانو پر وتلو پورې مربوط بلل شوی دی. -- د ارګ په اعلامیه کې راغلي: «طالبان وایي، ترڅو چې امریکایان په افغانستان کې شته، دوی به جګړه کوي او امریکایانو له القاعده او طالبانو سره جګړه د خپل حضور لپاره پلمه ګرځولې ده، خو د دغه ناوړه حالت او مرموزې جګړې بیه زموږ ملت اداء کوي.» - More, تاند

Highway 1 shows the difficulties ahead in Afghanistan --- Insurgent attacks are regular occurrences on the strategic highway, and there is a question whether Afghan forces will ever be able to secure it. -- SOLTAN KHEYL, Afghanistan — Light, pale dust trail several U.S. soldiers as they head past twisted and blackened tanker trucks on Highway 1 in search of the insurgents who set them on fire. - More, usatoday

Probe Re-Launched into Unused US Afghanistan Facility --- An inspector general has re-launched a probe into why $34 million was spent on a military facility in Afghanistan that was never used and will be demolished or turned over the Afghan government once U.S. forces pull out. -- John Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, says questions asked about the facility at Camp Leatherneck were never answered by military brass in his original inquiry. -- Sopko said in a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other Pentagon officials informing them of his decision, Fox News reports. - More, newsmax

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Some media outlets fueling racism: Karzai --- KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai on Thursday accused some media outlets of spreading linguistic and ethnic fanaticism in Afghanistan, claiming such prejudicial acts had support from outside to damage the national unity. -- Addressing participants of a conference on “Development of Salang Pass for next 50 years,” the president said those involved in spreading differences among Afghan communities should be dealt in accordance with the law. -- He called on media outlets, particularly TV channels, to avoid fueling such prejudices and instead work to strengthening national unity. -- “Our TVs have been speaking with complete freedom, they criticize the government, they criticize me, say whatever they want to say and we have supported them to develop and proceed ahead with a complete freedom.” -- Karzai said they should not forget that most Afghans had been refugees and homeless, but today they sit with dignity in TV studios, with some wearing neckties and others turbans and pakool (traditional woolen hats). -- The president said it was recently when one of the TVs insulted the people of Afghanistan. “Those who insult the Afghan nation and languages, they are spreading prejudice and they are not Afghans, but those representing their own mindset and miseries.” -- “As a citizen, as a nation and state, it is our duty to protect this country, it is our duty to stand united against those who themselves are fanatics or work as agents of outsiders and out to damage Afghanistan national unity,” the president said. -- He stressed legal action should be taken against individuals with full force and anger involved in fueling racism. - Zarghona Salehi, Pajhwok

کرزی: رسانه‌ ها به اختلافات قومی و زبانی دامن نزنند --- حامد کرزی رئیس جمهور افغانستان، از نشرات برخی از رسانه ‌ها مخصوصآ شماری از تلویزیون ‌ها انتقاد کرد و گفت که اخیرا این تلویزیون‌ ها به اختلافات قومی و زبانی دامن می‌ زنند. آقای کرزی که روز پنجشنبه، ۱۴ قوس، در کنفرانس انکشاف شاهراه سالنگ‌ برای پنجاه سال آینده سخن می‌ گفت، افزود گرچه دامن زدن به اختلافات قومی و زبانی توسط شماری از رسانه‌ ها بالای مردم افغانستان تاثیر منفی بجا نمی‌ گذارد، اما نباید دیگر به مردم توهین شود. -- رئیس جمهور از رسانه‌ هایی که به اختلافات قومی و زبانی دامن می‌ زنند، نام نبرد اما گفت: «بحیث شهروند این کشور و بحیث یک مملکت و دولت و وظیفه ‌ای که برای حفظ منافع ملت داریم، وظیفه خود می‌ دانیم در برابر آن هایی که از تعصب خود و یا وظیفه‌ گیری خود از بیرون وحدت ملی افغانستان را تخریب می ‌کنند، بیایستیم.» رئیس جمهور هم چنین تاکید کرد: «با تمام قوت قانون و خشونت ‌اش، در این مورد قانون تطبیق شود.» حامد کرزی تاکید کرد که اخیرا برخی از رسانه ‌های تصویری به مردم افغانستان توهین کرده‌اند. او گفت نباید پس از این مردم افغانستان توسط رسانه‌ ها مورد تحقیر و توهین قرار بگیرند. -- رئیس جمهور هم چنین گفت کسانی ‌که به اختلافات قومی و زبانی در افغانستان دامن می‌زنند، گماشته‌ شده‌ گان بیگانه‌ ها هستند. وی افزود: «کسانی‌ که تصعب پراکنی می ‌کنند و به مردم افغانستان توهین می‌ کنند، این‌ ها نمایندگان مردم افغانستان نیستند، بلکه از تعصب و بیچارگی نمایندگی می ‌کنند.» با این‌ حال، رئیس جمهور گفت که افغانستان در عرصه آزادی بیان دست ‌آورد های خوبی داشته و نباید از این آزادی‌ در زمینه برانگیختن اختلافات قومی و زبانی استفاده شود. آقای کرزی تاکید کرد که رسانه ‌ها می ‌توانند از عملکرد خودش و دولت انتقاد های شدیدی داشته باشند، اما در حفظ وحدت ملی باید تلاش کنند. به گفته‌ی او، در صورتی‌که وحدت ملی در افغانستان حفظ نمی ‌شد، رسانه‌ ها حتا برای یک ساعت هم نمی ‌توانستند فعالیتی داشته باشند. --- رئیس جمهور در حالی از نشرات برخی از رسانه ‌ها انتقاد می ‌کند که اخیرا شماری از تلویزیون‌ ها عملا در میزگرد ها و بحث‌ های خود اقوام دیگر را مورد تحقیر و توهین قرار داده‌اند. در این رسانه‌ ها بیشتر کسانی به عنوان متخصص دعوت می ‌شوند که دارای نظریه فرقه ‌گرایانه و افراطی هستند.- More, هشت صبح

Obama says he's not allowed iPhone for 'security reasons' --- (Reuters) - The troubled mobile phone maker BlackBerry still has at least one very loyal customer: U.S. President Barack Obama. -- At a meeting with youth on Wednesday to promote his landmark healthcare law, Obama said he is not allowed to have Apple's smart phone, the iPhone, for "security reasons," though he still uses Apple's tablet computer, the iPad. -- Apple was one of several tech companies that may have allowed the National Security Agency (NSA) direct access to servers containing customer data, according to revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The companies deny the allegation. -- Obama fought to keep his BlackBerry after coming to the White House in 2009, though he said only 10 people have his personal email address. Neither George W. Bush nor Bill Clinton used email during their presidencies. - More

Key U.S. senator questions insistence on timing of Afghan deal --- (Reuters) - An influential Democratic senator questioned on Thursday the Obama administration's insistence that Afghan President Hamid Karzai sign a security deal by the end of 2013, suggesting that Washington wait for a "more reliable" leader to take office. -- In a letter to President Barack Obama, Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said demands that Karzai sign the Bilateral Security Agreement by December 31 add to what he termed "the mistaken belief" that Washington needs the deal more than Kabul. -- The United States should tell Karzai that if he will not sign, Washington will wait for whoever is elected Afghanistan's new president in April, Levin said. -- "The next Afghan president, whoever he is, is also likely to be more reliable than President Karzai, and there would be greater confidence in his sticking with an agreement he has signed," the Michigan Democrat wrote. - More

Delaying security deal a risk to Afghan forces: U.S. military chief --- (Reuters) - The U.S. military could wait months for a political decision on whether troops stay or leave Afghanistan, but delaying a security pact would damage the confidence of Afghan forces and undermine NATO's plans, the top U.S. military officer said on Wednesday. -- The comments by General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, came amid an impasse over the security pact, which would allow American troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014. -- President Barack Obama's administration has said the pact needs to be signed this year, despite resistance from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has suggested the deal might not be concluded before presidential elections in April 2014. - Dempsey also said the pact "really needs to be done now." -- A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said delays in finalizing the security pact could damage international support critical to any NATO military presence beyond 2014, when the NATO combat mission ends. - More

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s Liberator as Prisoner and President, Dies at 95 --- Nelson Mandela, who led the emancipation of South Africa from white minority rule and served as his country’s first black president, becoming an international emblem of dignity and forbearance, died Thursday. He was 95. -- Mr. Mandela will be buried, according to his wishes, in the village of Qunu, where he grew up. The exhumed remains of three of his children were reinterred there in early July under a court order, resolving a family squabble that had played out in the news media. - More, nytimes

U.S. Charges Dozens of Russian Diplomats and Spouses With Medicaid Fraud --- Federal law enforcement authorities have charged nearly 50 past or present Russian diplomats and their spouses in a $1.5 million Medicaid fraud scheme, an unusual twist in what has become a familiar criminal story line in New York. -- An F.B.I. investigation revealed “the systemic fraudulent submission of falsified applications for Medicaid benefits” by the diplomats and their spouses, according to a criminal complaint unsealed on Thursday in United States District Court in Manhattan. -- The diplomats and their spouses obtained the benefits for pregnancies, births and first-year-of-life medical needs, generally applying at the same New York hospital, which was not identified, the complaint says. -- “Diplomacy should be about extending hands, not picking pockets in the host country,” said Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, who, along with George Venizelos, who heads the New York office of the F.B.I., detailed the charges at a news conference on Thursday. - More, BENJAMIN WEISER - NYTimes

Couple floored by Paul Walker's selfless gift -- Video: As many mourn the late 'Fast & Furious' actor, one couple has come forward with a heartwarming story of Walker's anonymous generosity. -

Anti-apartheid icon Mandela dies at 95 --- Nelson Mandela, the revered South African anti-apartheid icon who spent 27 years in prison, led his country to democracy and became its first black president, died Thursday at home. He was 95. -- "He is now resting," said South African President Jacob Zuma. "He is now at peace." - "Our nation as lost his greatest son," he continued. "Our people have lost their father." -- A state funeral will be held, and Zuma called for mourners to conduct themselves with "the dignity and respect" that Mandela personified. - More, Tracy Connor, NBC News

دولت افغانستان: تصمیم نهایی در مورد امضای موافقت‌نامه امنیتی با کرزی است --- ایمل فیضی، سخنگوی رئیس جمهوری افغانستان گفته‌است تا زمانی‌که آمریکا شرایط افغانستان را قبول نکند، حامدکرزی به هیچ یک از وزرای کابینه‌اش اجازه نخواهد داد تا موافقت‌نامه امنیتی را امضا کند. -- دولت افغانستان پس از آن به این موضوع واکنش نشان می‌دهد که جان کری، وزیر خارجه آمریکا گفت که موافقت‌نامه امنیتی از سوی وزیر دفاع یا وزیر خارجه افغانستان امضا شود. -- آنریس فو راسموسن، دبیرکل ناتو نیز امروز در این نشست گفت که حامدکرزی تنها کسی نیست که حتما باید این موافقت‌نامه را امضا کند اما مقامات افغان می‌گویند که به جز از رئیس جمهوری افغانستان کسی دیگری نمی‌تواند تصمیم نهایی در این مورد را اتخاذ کند. -- در همین حال وزیر خارجه روسیه که در نشست وزرای خارجه ناتو در بروکسل شرکت کرده، گفته‌است که هر نوع ماموریت جدید ناتو در افغانستان باید از سوی شورای امنیت سازمان ملل متحد تصویب شود. - روسیه یکی از اعضای دایمی شورای امنیت سازمان ملل است که از قدرت وتو برخوردار است. - More, BBC

While Karzai might be a pain in the you know what, he's got a point --- The fact is, from day one there has been little thought given by this White House as to what would come after the Americans left. The result is continued military stalemate and little hope, in the near future, of a political settlement. Indeed, it seems tragically fitting that in the midst of this crisis, a US airstrike last week killed a child in southern Afghanistan – further symbolic evidence of the prioritization of military tactics to the disregard of Afghan politics. -- This speaks to the long-standing divergence between Karzai's interests and those of America's. Ultimately, the US sees Afghanistan through the narrow prism of the war on terrorism – and eliminating a potential safe haven for future al-Qaida terrorists. As Obama coldly noted in 2009, during the midst of his Afghan policy review, he wasn't "interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan" but rather for how it advanced US national security interests. -- This mindset placed the security of Americans over that of Afghans. To protect the former, the US was willing to put the latter in harm's way. At the same time, the administration consistently blanched at the potential domestic "political" blowback that would comes from jumpstarting a negotiating process with the Taliban, preferring instead to kick the military can down the road to 2014 and US troop withdrawal. -- For Karzai, the brunt of the US war on terrorism was being borne by his people with little long-term payoff for Afghanistan. When he would say "Al Qaeda was driven out of Afghanistan in 2001. They have no base in Afghanistan. The war against terrorism is not in Afghan villages and is not in the Afghan countryside", he was stating an unpleasant truth that was glossed over by US policymakers. From this perspective, that Karzai's redline appears to be the entry of US troops into Afghan homes is hardly a coincidence. -- In the end, Karzai will likely back down and sign the BSA. Unfortunately for the Afghan people, while the BSA – and the presence of US troops – may prevent immediately dire consequences, there is little reason for optimism that the country's 30+ years of civil war will end any time soon. So while Hamid Karzai might be a mercurial and paranoid leader who has made a bad situation vis-à-vis the United States that much worse, America's leaders would be wise to look at themselves in the mirror when casting blame. There's plenty to go around. - More, Michael Cohen - Gaurdian

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

NATO Cites Urgency in Reaching Pact Between U.S. and Afghanistan --- KABUL, Afghanistan — International officials signaled new urgency on Wednesday for the United States and Afghanistan to reach an agreement on a long-term security deal, but officials suggested that there had been little movement on either side of the deadlock. -- Coming out of a meeting with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels that included Afghanistan’s foreign and interior ministers, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance’s secretary general, said there had been no progress on signing the bilateral security deal. -- More, nytimes

باختر - رئیس جمهور با عبدالاحد مهمند، فضا نورد افغان دیدار کرد --- حامد کرزی رئیس جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان با عبدالاحد مهمند اولین فضا نورد افغان، قبل از ظهر امروز در ارگ دیدار کرد. -- به اساس معلومات دفتر مطبوعاتی ریاست جمهوری به آژانس باختر، در این دیدار عبدالاحد مهمند در مورد هدف سفر خویش به افغانستان و تجارب و خاطرات سفرش به فضاء، برای رئیس جمهوری کشور معلومات داد و یک جلد کتاب خویش را که آنزمان پس از سفر فضایی اش در مورد تجارب و چشم دید هایش از کیهان به رشته تحریر در آورده بود، به رئیس جمهور کشور به عنوان تحفه تقدیم کرد. -- حامد کرزی رئیس جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان در این دیدار گفت که مردم افغانستان بر فرزندانی مانند شما افتخار می کنند و سفر موفقانه شما به فضاء برای نسل جوان کشور الهام بخش است. -- عبدالاحد مهمند در این دیدار گفت: زمانیکه به افغانستان آمدم، کشورم را در یک حالت بهتر یافتم و آنچنان نبود که در بیرون در باره اش شنیده بودم -- وی پیام ۲۵ سال قبل خویش را که از فضاء برای هموطنان فرستاده بود، دوباره تکرار کرده گفت: افغانها با همدیگر همدست شوید، از سلاح دست بردارید و مشکلات تانرا از راه گفتگو و همدیگر پذیری حل نمایید تا در وطن ما بدبختی از میان برود و زمینه تعلیم و تحصیل فرزندان کشور مساعد شود. -- عبدالاحد مهمند ضمن اینکه از دیدارش با رئیس جمهور کشور اظهار خرسندی کرده گفت که این را یکی از وظایف اخلاقی خود دانستم تا این موضوع را به رئیس جمهور و هموطنانم بیان کنم که سفر خویش را به کیهان بخاطر خودم نه بلکه بخاطر کشورم افغانستان، انجام داده ام. -- وی در مورد جالبترین خاطره اش در فضا گفت: زمانیکه به کیهان رسیدم این را احساس کردم که زمین خانه مشترک ماست و مربوط به تمام انسانها می باشد و همه باید در روی زمین در صلح زنده گی کنند. -- گفتنی است که عبدالاحد مهمند در ۷ سنبله سال ۱۳۶۷ برای یک ماموریت فضایی ۹ روزه همراه با فضانوردان روسی از پایگاه فضایی بایکونور به فضا رفت و در طول اقامت شان به فضا تحقیقات علمی و فضایی را انجام دادند. مهمند در جریان اقامت اش در فضاء از افغانستان عکسبرداری نمود و در آزمایشات مختلف فزیکی، طبی و زیست شناسی اشتراک کرد.

Dobbins in Kabul to help quell uncertainty --- KABUL (PAN): US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador James Dobbins arrived in Kabul late on Wednesday to hold talks with Afghan officials and help quell uncertainty triggered by President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement (BSA) with Washington. -- Frustration is mounting in Washington, and among NATO allies, over Karzai's refusal to sign the bilateral security agreement (BSA). -- "The longer this goes on the more that international support will erode," a US official told news agency Reuters in Washington. -- "It is quite clear to us that the delay in signing this agreement is adding tremendous uncertainty to an already uncertain environment in Afghanistan." -- "President Karzai wants an absolute end to the military operations on Afghan homes and a meaningful start to the peace process, and we are certain that the Americans can practically do that within days or weeks," Aimal Faizi said. - More, Pajhwok

U.S. Aims to Blunt Terrorist Recruiting of English Speakers --- WASHINGTON — Concerned by the attempts of Al Qaeda and its global affiliates to attract more Americans and other Westerners, the State Department is stepping up its online efforts to combat violent extremists’ recruiting of English speakers. -- The campaign is starting at a time when intelligence officials say dozens of Americans have traveled or tried to travel to Syria since 2011 to fight with the rebels against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen now puts English subtitles on its website propaganda. The Shabab, the Islamist extremist group in Somalia, publishes an English-language online magazine. -- State Department officials acknowledge that the new program is a modest trial run that faces a vast array of English-language websites, Twitter feeds, YouTube videos and Facebook pages that violent extremist groups have established largely uncontested in the past few years. But American and European intelligence officials warn that Al Qaeda’s efforts to recruit English-speaking fighters could create new terrorist threats when the battle-hardened militants return home. - More, ERIC SCHMITT - NYTimes

‘Time Is of the Essence,’ NATO Head Says, Urging Afghanistan Deal --- KABUL, Afghanistan — International officials signaled new urgency on Wednesday for the United States and Afghanistan to reach agreement on a long-term security deal, but officials suggested that there had been little movement on either side of the deadlock. -- Coming out of a meeting with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels that included the Afghanistan’s foreign minister and interior minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance’s secretary general, said there had been no progress on signing the bilateral security deal. -- “The ministers didn’t indicate anything as regards time lines as far as the bilateral security agreement is concerned,” he said, referring to Interior Minister Umar Daudzai and Foreign Minister Muqbal Osmani. -- Adding that “time is of the essence,” Mr. Rasmussen underscored that without a finalized deal with the United States, NATO would not be able to conclude its own post-2014 security agreement with Afghanistan on behalf of its member states. - More, ALISSA J. RUBIN - nytimes

Propaganda fails in Afghanistan, report says --- British expert says U.S. commanders are routinely conned by propaganda contractors. -- WASHINGTON — U.S. propaganda efforts in Afghanistan have failed because of poorly designed programs by contractors who often propose expensive marketing solutions to U.S. commanders incapable of making informed choices, according to a study published by the Army's War College. -- USA TODAY, in a series of reports since 2012, has found the Pentagon has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on poorly tracked propaganda programs. A government report obtained by the paper this spring showed the impact of the programs is unclear, and that the military doesn't know if it is targeting the right foreign audiences. These propaganda efforts include websites, leaflets and broadcasts intended to change foreigners' "attitudes and behaviors in support of U.S. Government" objectives, according to the report by the Government Accountability Office. -- The author of the War College study, Steve Tatham, is the longest continuously serving officer in the British military's information activities. Rather than terminate the U.S. information operations programs, Tatham argues for a different approach. He says that contractors' attempt to influence attitudes "may work in convincing U.S. citizens to buy consumer products, it does not easily translate to the conflict- and crisis-riven societies to which it has been applied." It makes more sense to attempt to change problem behavior, for instance understanding why Afghan soldiers desert and addressing their concerns. - More, Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY

Autopsy: Actor Paul Walker died from impact, fire in crash --- LOS ANGELES (AP) -- "Fast & Furious" star Paul Walker was killed by impact and fire in a crash that occurred while he was a passenger in a Porsche driven by his friend, according to an autopsy released Wednesday -- Walker died Saturday when the high-performance car smashed into a light pole and tree, then exploded in flames. -- The 2005 Porsche Carrera GT was driven by Roger Rodas, who was killed by the impact alone, according to the autopsy released by the Los Angeles County coroner's office. -- Results of toxicology testing will take another six to eight weeks. - More, JUSTIN PRITCHARD, Associated Press

The ‘Zero Option’ Is The Best Option in Afghanistan --- As the U.S. wrestles with the Karzai government to finalize a security agreement that would govern thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan for another decade, virtually everyone across every spectrum agrees that pulling out completely – the so-called ‘zero option’ – would be reckless and dangerous for America. -- The U.S.-backed regime in Afghanistan is too weak to sustain itself without continued U.S. presence and aid, say supporters of keeping troops there. The Taliban is still alive and well and could provide al-Qaeda with a safe haven to attack the U.S., they add, so we’ve got to stay! --- First of all, if ten years of nation-building hasn’t established a self-sustaining government in Afghanistan, another ten won’t either. Second, the alliance between the Taliban and al-Qaeda is heavily exaggerated these days. The Taliban have shown zero interest in attacking any Western targets outside the borders of Afghanistan, and their alliance with al-Qaeda has cost them too much over the past decade to eagerly welcome them back in a September 10, 2001 style arrangement. Even if al-Qaeda did set up shop there, it’s hardly an essential ingredient in launching terrorist attacks on America to have a “safe haven” in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda presence in Afghanistan did nothing to enable the 9/11 attacks, which is why the attacks were planned and carried out in Europe and the U.S. mostly. - More, John Glaser - antiwar

The Richest World Leaders Are Even Richer Than You Thought --- Based on available data, HuffPost World has compiled a list of some of the richest world leaders currently in power. The roster includes a mixture of kings, presidents, sultans and queens. Most are male (as the world's political leaders tend to be, too). They skew to the Middle East, and their wealth generally comes from family connections, profitable investments and in some cases, corrupt rule. Unsurprisingly, many of their countries' citizens lead much, much humbler lives. -- For comparison, each country's GDP per capita is juxtaposed with a leader's personal net worth, just to show how different life is for the haves and have-nots. -- Meet some of the world's richest world leaders: -- Putin is believed to be worth between $40 and $70 billion, Bloomberg notes. -- GDP per capita: $14,000 - More, HuffPost at:

ناتو خواهان چهار پایگاهی نظامی در افغانستان است --- ناتو در نظر دارد بعد از امضای توافقنامه امنیتی میان کابل و واشنگتن چهار پایگاهی نظامی، پس از سال ۲۰۱۴ در افغانستان داشته باشد. -- یک مقام ارشد ناتو، از مقر اصلی این سازمان در بروکسل؛ در کنفرانس مقدماتی وزرای خارجه ناتو ـ ایساف دیروز (۲ دسمبر) این مطلب را بیان نموده، افزود که قرار است دراین پایگاه ها حدود ۸ الی دوازده هزار عساکر خارجی مستقر گردند. -- این مقام ناتو همچنان تاکید کرد که همه این مسایل یاد شده ارتباط می گیرد به امضای توافقنامه امنیتی میان حکومت افغانستان و ایالات متحده امریکا. -- موصوف علاوه کرد: اگر این توافقنامه امنیتی امضا نشود ناتو هم نمی تواند به حضور نظامی خود در افغانستان پس از سال ۲۰۱۴ ادامه بدهد. -- همچنان یک دیپلومات امریکای در ناتو که با خبرنگاران صحبت می کرد، از حکومت افغانستان یکبار دیگر خواست تا به فیصله های مردم در لویه جرگه احترام بگذارد. -- وی تاکید کرد که امضای توافقنامه امنیتی میان کابل ـ واشنگتن بر علاوه اینکه دروازه ایست برای ادامه حضور و کمک های امریکا پس از سال ۲۰۱۴ در افغانستان، برای آینده با ثبات کشور نیز مهم است. - وخت

Interview: Sultanzoy Talks Economy, Security Pact --- Sultanzoy said fighting poverty and improving employment opportunities should be top priorities right alongside security. He said to develop a dynamic economy in Afghanistan, the country needs strong leadership and good governance. -- "For example, the extraction of iron, government joint-investment and attraction of Afghan wealth - we should develop our mines in way that Afghans should be involved," Sultanzoy told TOLOnews. "Afghan investment needs to happen and the government help with this." -- "I think Afghanistan has been the victim of the Cold War and the War on Terror," he said. "It is the responsibility of the international community to have treaties to help bring Afghanistan into stability, it is the responsibility of the international community and America to have treaties with Afghanistan that can ensure our security and our ability to stand on our own feet." -- The continuation of the Taliban peace negotiation process, educational reform, as well as agricultural and transportation growth in the country were also subjects Sultanzoy touched on. He said they would be top priorities for him if elected in April. -- Sultanzoy was eliminated by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) during the preliminary list stage, but was then readmitted into the race after the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) reviewed his challenge to the IEC's ruling. He is now one of 11 Presidential candidates running in April. - More, The full interview - TOLOnews

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

ایران از افغانستان خواست تا توافقنامه امنیتی با امریکا را امضا نکند --- وزارت خارجه ایران از افغانستان خواست تا موافقت نامه دو جانبه امنیتی با امریکا را امضا نکند. این موافقت نامه اجازه می دهد تا هزاران سرباز امریکایی و ائتلاف در افغانستان باقی بمانند. -- وزارت خارجه ایران روز سه شنبه (12 قوس / 3 دسمبر) از افغانستان خواست تا موافقت نامه امنیتی با امریکا را امضا نکند. ایران این درخواست را یک هفته پیش از سفر حامد کرزی به تهران بیان کرده است. حامد کرزی، رئیس جمهور افغانستان هرچند امضا موافقت نامه را تایید کرده، اما شرایط جدیدی را پیش کشیده است. -- مرضیه افخم، سخنگوی وزارت خارجه ایران گفت: "جمهوری اسلامی ایران امضا و تایید موافقت نامه را برای منافع بلندمدت افغانستان کارآمد نمی داند". خانم افخم گفت که "ما فکر می کنیم تایید و اجرای موافقت نامه بر گرایش مسائل منطقه تاثیر منفی خواهد داشت". -- ایران همواره مخالف امضای موافقت نامه امنیتی و حضور نیروهای امریکایی در افغانستان بوده است. افغانستان و ایران حدود 945 کیلومتر سرحد مشترک دارند. - More, صدای آلمان

Iran doesn’t want Afghanistan to sign US deal --- TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s foreign ministry on Tuesday asked Afghanistan not to sign a security deal with the U.S. that could keep thousands of American and allied forces in its neighboring country for another decade. -- The request comes ahead of an expected visit to Iran next week by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has endorsed the deal but introduced new conditions before approving it and deferred its signature to his successor in next April’s elections. -- Iranian ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said the “Islamic Republic of Iran does not consider the signing and approval of the pact useful for the long term expedience and interests of Afghanistan.” -- She added that “we think approval and implementation of the deal will have negative effects on the trend of regional issues.” -- Iran has long opposed the agreement that keeps U.S. forces in its doorstep in neighboring Afghanistan. The two countries have about 945 kilometers (580 miles) of joint borders. - Associated Press, Washingtonpost

Pentagon says halts ground shipments out of Afghanistan via Pakistan --- (Reuters) - The U.S. military has halted ground shipments of cargo leaving Afghanistan via its key Pakistan supply route to ensure the safety of drivers following protests in Pakistan over American drone strikes, a Pentagon spokesman said on Tuesday. -- The affected route, which runs from Torkham Gate at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to the Pakistani port city of Karachi, has been crucial for the United States as it winds down its combat mission in landlocked Afghanistan and moves equipment out of the country. -- The route accounts for the vast majority of ground traffic of U.S. military cargo through Pakistan and has been targeted by protesters in Pakistan angered by U.S. drone strikes. -- "We are aware protests have affected one of the primary commercial transit routes between Pakistan and Afghanistan," Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told Reuters. -- "We have voluntarily halted U.S. shipments of retrograde cargo ... to ensure the safety of the drivers contracted to move our equipment," he added, referring to shipments going out of Afghanistan. - More

U.S., NATO warn Afghan troop plan is in peril --- BRUSSELS — Time and patience are running out for countries planning to help support Afghanistan’s military after NATO-led troops depart, NATO and U.S. officials warned Tuesday. -- Meeting in Brussels with Afghanistan’s interior minister and its senior diplomat, NATO officials made clear that they cannot leave even a small contingent of forces behind without guarantees that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is refusing to give. -- “This is not fooling around. This is serious business. There are over 50 nations who are engaged here through NATO in trying to help Afghanistan,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry told reporters. “Those nations have budget cycles; those nations have planning requirements. Those nations have equipment requirements; they have deployment requirements. All of those things are best managed through planning.” --- “It is clear that if there is no signature on the legal agreement, there can be no deployment, and the planned assistance will be put at risk,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. -- Rasmussen declined to specify a deadline for a NATO decision but said planning for troop commitments takes time, money and, in some cases, parliamentary approval. --- Also Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that the U.S. military has temporarily halted ground shipments of cargo leaving the war zone along a primary supply route into Pakistan. Spokesman Mark Wright said military logisticians decided to stop the shipments through the Torkham Gate border crossing because local drivers working for the U.S. military were being targeted by Pakistani protesters angry about American drone strikes. - More, Anne Gearan - washingtonpost

Army general’s report defends decision to build $36 million headquarters in Afghanistan --- This past summer, the Army began investigating why the military spent nearly $36 million to construct a well-appointed 64,000-square-foot headquarters in southwestern Afghanistan that commanders in the area did not want and has never been used. -- The two-star Army general in Kabul who conducted the inquiry has determined that the decision to commission the building was appropriate — and recommended that U.S. troops move in, after more work is done on the facility. - More, Washingtonpost

Uncertainty over security clouds NATO talks on Afghanistan --- Brussels (CNN) -- NATO warned it may be forced to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year if President Hamid Karzai doesn't sign a security agreement with the United States. -- Reached last month, the pact lays out the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after 2014, when the NATO-led force of some 80,000 troops is scheduled to leave. -- Uncertainty over the agreement is causing mounting anxiety among diplomats here, where Afghanistan is dominating talks among NATO ministers, including Secretary of State John Kerry. -- "This is not fooling around. This is serious business. There are over 50 nations who are engaged here through NATO in trying to help Afghanistan," Kerry said in Brussels. - More

Defense chief could sign Afghan pact instead of Karzai: Kerry --- (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry suggested on Tuesday that Afghanistan's defense minister or government, instead of a reluctant President Hamid Karzai, could sign a security pact enabling some U.S. troops to stay in the country after 2014. -- Kerry urged the Afghan government to sign the security deal "sooner, not later" and said this priority was backed by all NATO foreign ministers taking part in a meeting on Tuesday. -- "This is not fooling around ... This is serious business," Kerry told a news conference in Brussels. -- "But I think it is important, for planning purposes, for people who have been extraordinarily patient, who are trying to allocate major amounts of money to sustaining this effort in Afghanistan, to have knowledge of where they are going." -- Kerry said he had personally negotiated the agreement with Karzai and did not believe in unilateral renegotiation. -- Other NATO leaders also urged Karzai to swiftly sign the security pact, saying failure to do so could jeopardize Afghan security and up to $8 billion a year in foreign aid. - More, at:

که تړون لاسليک نه سي ناټو هم مرستي بندوي --- دناټو لوړپوړي ديپلوماتان کواښ کوي چي که ولسمشر کرزی له امريکا سره امنيتي تړون لاس لیک نه کړي خپلي مرستي به ورباندي بندي کړي. دناټو دبهرنيو چارو وزيران دسه او چهارشنبې په ورځو پر دغي موضوع باندي په بروګسل کي ږغيږي. که افغان ولسمشر حامد کرزی له امريکا متحده ايالاتو سره دوه اړخيز امنيتي تړون لاس لیک نه کړي، ناټو به تر ۲۰۱۴ کال وروسته افغانستان ته هيڅ عسکر ونه لېږي او ددغه هيواد دلښکر او پوليسو له پاره په ميلياردونو ډالره ژمنه سوي پيسي به ورباندي قطع کړي. د ناټو د لوړپوړو ديپلوماتانو په حواله دغه موضوع به په بروکسل کي دناټو ددوه ورځنۍ غونډي محوري ټکي وي. -- کرزي ته بايد دای خبره تر لمر روښانه وي چي تر ۲۰۱۴ کال وروسته له افغان امنيتي ځواک سره د ۴،۱ ميليارد ډالرو کلنۍ مرسته هم له منځه ځي. په دغه هيواد کي دبهرنيو ځواکونو په نه موجوديت کي دغه مرستي تر پوښتني لاندي راځي چي آيا نړيوال به بيا دغه مرستي ورکړي که نه؟ افغان حکومت په خپله د کاله يوازي دنزدې ۵۰۰ ميليونو ډالرو د برابرولو توان لري. په افغانستان کي دبهرنيو ځواکونو نه شتون به هغه ۴ ميليارده ملکي مرستي هم له ګواښ سره مخامخ کړي چي دتوکيو په نړيوال کنفرانس کي له افغان حکومت سره ژمني وسوې. مرسته کوونکي هيوادونه وايي چي «زموږ په نه موجوديت کي به شک ولرو چي دغه مرستي به پر سمه لار مصرف سي که نه.» - More, دویچه ویلی - at:که-تړون-لاسليک-نه-سي-ناټو-هم-مرستي-بندوي/a-17267568

Report: Afghanistan, Somalia and North Korea most corrupt --- The United States continues to lag behind the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and numerous Scandinavian countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, a list that is the most widely used indicator of national corruption. -- This year the US ranked 19th out of 177 countries and territories, with an overall score of 73. Scores range from zero to 100, with a higher score indicating less corruption. While the US score remained unchanged from last year, other countries have improved their performances relative to the US. The UK, for example, which was ranked 17th in 2012 with a score of 74, has now climbed to 14th place. Denmark and Finland share the top spot. -- It’s troubling that Afghanistan continues to be plagued by some of the worst corruption in the world despite the US pouring over half a trillion dollars into the country. Earlier this year a dramatic showdown in the Afghan parliament had lawmakers openly flinging allegations of corruption at each other. Following this, the director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan blamed international aid and military organizations for fueling the cycle of corruption in the country.- More, Salon, at:

NATO Secretary General looks forward to timely signature of US-Afghan security accord --- NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomed the recent Loya Jirga's endorsement of the Bilateral Security Agreement between the United States and Afghanistan and said that he looks forward to “its timely signature,” during a short meeting with the media on Tuesday (3 December 2013) at the start of a two-day NATO Foreign Ministerial. -- He added that NATO will be working closely with the Afghan government in the weeks ahead to put in place the necessary legal framework to the deployment of the NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces after 2014. “But it is clear that if there is no signature on the legal agreement, there can be no deployment and the planned assistance will be put at risk,” the Secretary General said. “It is my firm hope and intention therefore to continue our efforts to support Afghanistan, once these agreements are concluded.” -- More,

مبارزه با فساد - انتخابات و مبارزه بر ضد فساد میز مدور از تلویزیون طلوع برای دیدن ویدیو -- Shapoor Bakhtiyar discusses presidential candidates' perspectives on fight against corruption with the following guests:.- More, YouTube -

Where is the world's most corrupt nation? --- (CNN) -- Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia are seen as the most corrupt nations in the world, according to Transparency International's latest survey, released Tuesday. -- More than two thirds of the 177 countries included in the 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index scored below 50, where 0 indicates the country's public sector is seen as highly corrupt and 100 as very clean. -- Denmark and New Zealand performed best with scores of 91. Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia tied last with 8 points each. - More, CNN

Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 - Corruption remains a global threat --- The Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 serves as a reminder that the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery continue to ravage societies around the world. -- The Index scores 177 countries and territories on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). No country has a perfect score, and two-thirds of countries score below 50. This indicates a serious, worldwide corruption problem. Hover on the map above to see how your country fares. -- The world urgently needs a renewed effort to crack down on money laundering, clean up political finance, pursue the return of stolen assets and build more transparent public institutions. - More, - at:

Monday, December 02, 2013

فاینشتاین: تمام فیصله های رئیس جمهور کرزی ناگهانی اند --- رئیس کمیته استخبارات سنای امریکا دیان فاینشتاین روز گذشته در یک مصاحبه تلویزیونی، رئیس جمهور کرزی را برای به تعویق انداختن امضای توافقنامه امنیتی میان کابل و واشنگتن شدیداً مورد انتقاد قرار داد. این سناتور دیموکرات در مصاحبه خود با تلویزیون «سی ان ان» گفته است که تمام فیصله های رئیس جمهور کرزی ناگهانی اند: «کرزی تا حد زیاد از فرط عصبانیت در مورد چیز های که شاید اصلاً وجود نداشته باشند، قربانی فکریست که برای یک لحظه در ذهن اش به وجود میاید.» -- رئیس کمیته استخبارات سنای امریکا دیان فاینشتاین در مورد به قدرت رسیدن احتمالی طالبان نیز هشدار داده گفت: «گزارش های وجود دارند که طالبان در موقعیت برگشت دوباره قرار دارند. گزارش های نیز وجود دارند که نیرو های افغان احتمالاً نخواهند توانست مصارف خود را تمویل کنند و بنابر این امکان آن موجود است که شصت درصد خاک این کشور بدست طالبان بیافتد و این یک نگرانی بزرگ است. پس موضوع این توافقنامه مطرح می شود و چنانچه کرزی به دلایل خاص عصبانی است، نمی خواهد این توافقنامه را امضاء کند.» - More, رادیو آزادی

Attacks Rise on Aid Workers in Afghanistan --- KABUL, Afghanistan — The number of aid workers killed in Afghanistan has more than tripled this year, making the country by far the most dangerous place in the world for relief work, according to data released by United Nations officials here. -- “We are looking at the situation with concern about what are clearly increasing numbers of aid workers affected by the conflict,” said Mark Bowden, the humanitarian coordinator for the United Nations here. -- Through November, he said, there were 237 attacks on Afghanistan’s aid workers, with 36 people killed, 46 wounded and 96 detained or abducted. Through all of last year, there were 175 attacks, with 11 people killed, 26 wounded and 44 detained or abducted - More, ROD NORDLAND - nytimes

حامدکرزی 'پی‌گیری جرایم جنگی را متوقف کرده‌است' --- سازمان دیدبان حقوق بشر از دادگاه بین‌المللی لاهه خواسته که تلاش‌های خود را برای تکمیل مراحل ابتدایی بررسی پرونده‌های جرایم جنگی در افغانستان سرعت ببخشد. -- این سازمان با انتشار گزارشی گفته است که ارتکاب جرایم جنگی و نقض حقوق بشر در ۳۵ سال گذشته جریان داشته و همچنان ادامه دارد، در حالی که به باور مسئولان این سازمان هیچ بازپرسی از مرتکبان جرایم جنگی و ضد بشری وجود نداشته است. -- هیدر بار، پژوهشگر ارشد دیدبان حقوق بشر در افغانستان در صحبتی با بی‌بی‌‎سی گفت که حامدکرزی رئیس جمهوری افغانستان تلاش‌های خود برای دنبال کردن روند حساب‌گیری از ناقضان حقوق بشر و عاملان جرایم جنگی را متوقف کرده است. -- او همچنین گفت که رئیس جمهوری افغانستان به این دلیل که شماری از افراد حکومتی و شرکای مهم دولت در جرایم جنگی دست داشته اند، نمی خواهد پرونده جنایات جنگی را پی‌گیری کند. -- خانم بار افزود:"بسیاری از افرادی که توسط این گزارش و پی‌گیری جرایم جنگی متاثر می‌شوند، در حکومت آقای کرزی کار می‌کنند و یا شرکای مهم دولت هستند و رئیس جمهوری هم برای این که این افراد در وضعیت بدتری قرار نگیرند، از پی‌گیری عدالت برای قربانیان جنگ‌ها، چشم پوشی می‌کند." -- اما ایمل فیضی، سخنگوی رئیس جمهوری افغانستان نکات مطرح شده علیه حامدکرزی در این گزارش را ادعا خوانده و گفته این ادعاها بخشی از تلاش‌ها برای اعمال فشارهای سیاسی بالای رئیس جمهوری افغانستان است. -- در همین حال ریچارد دیکر مسئول عدالت بین‌المللی دیدبان حقوق بشر هم گفته است که یافته های بازرسان دادگاه لاهه نشان می دهد که جرایم جنگی و جرایم علیه بشریت در افغانستان نیاز به پی‌گیری جدی دارد تا به ناقضان حقوق بشر در افغانستان گوشزد شود که نمی‌توانند برای همیشه از عدالت فرار کنند. -- در گزارش دیدبان حقوق بشر افغانستان آمده است علاوه بر این که بازرسان دادگاه لاهه برای شش سال مساله جرایم جنگی را بررسی کرده اند، دیدبان حقوق بشر هم در همین مدت موارد جدی نقض حقوق بشر را مستندسازی کرده است. -- حالا سازمان دیدبان حقوق بشر نگران است که با توجه به خروج نظامی نیروهای بین‌المللی در پایان سال ۲۰۱۴ میلادی، دولت افغانستان و تمویل کنندگان خارجی توجه جدی به مشکل دوامدار "معافیت در برابر ناقضان حقوق بشر" نکرده اند تا عدالت برای قربانیان جنگ‌های افغانستان تامین شود. - Afghanistan: ICC Prosecutor Finds Grave Crimes - More, BBC

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Afghan interpreters who fell in love with US soldiers struggle in visa limbo --- Americans express sense of injustice at immigration process keeping them apart from their loved ones in Afghanistan -- When Mary Ann Rollins was deployed to Afghanistan with the Utah National Guard, she was prepared for bullets, bombs, danger and even death – but not love. -- Rollins' tour ended in 2009, but her close friendship with Zia continued over Skype and email – and grew into something more. Two years after leaving Afghanistan in uniform she was back as a civilian to get married. -- "There's something about all of this that is almost magical. It's like it was meant to happen. It's amazing that I could find the person who is perfect for me, on the other side of the world, on a tiny outpost in a remote area of Afghanistan." -- The wedding was low key, the honeymoon just a couple of days in Kabul, but Rollins had time to meet her new in-laws and get to know the chaotic, lively Afghan capital few foreigners ever see. - More, Emma Graham-Harrison - Guardian -- at:

Hamid Karzai says US cutting supplies to put pressure on security pact --- The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, and his national security council have accused the United States of cutting military supplies, including fuel, to put pressure on the country to sign a security pact, a statement from Karzai's palace said on Sunday. The US embassy in Kabul denied that supplies had been cut. -- Tensions between Karzai and his American backers have escalated since the Afghan president said last week that he would not sign a crucial bilateral security deal until a suite of new requirements had been met – despite the deal already being agreed upon. -- On Sunday Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the US Senate intelligence committee, had strong words for Afghanistan's president over his refusal to sign the deal. Feinstein, appearing on CNN's State of the Union talkshow, said she thinks Hamid Karzai "is such a cipher" and added that Karzai was "so much the victim of what thought occurs to him right at the moment based on some anger that he feels about something that may not even be related". - More, Guardian

From Wikipedia, HIV/AIDS --- Human immunodeficiency virus infection / acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a disease of the human immune system caused by infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).[1] During the initial infection, a person may experience a brief period of influenza-like illness. This is typically followed by a prolonged period without symptoms. As the illness progresses, it interferes more and more with the immune system, making the person much more likely to get infections, including opportunistic infections and tumors that do not usually affect people who have working immune systems. -- HIV is transmitted primarily via unprotected sexual intercourse (including anal and even oral sex), contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic needles, and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.[2] Some bodily fluids, such as saliva and tears, do not transmit HIV.[3] Prevention of HIV infection, primarily through safe sex and needle-exchange programs, is a key strategy to control the spread of the disease. There is no cure or vaccine; however, antiretroviral treatment can slow the course of the disease and may lead to a near-normal life expectancy. While antiretroviral treatment reduces the risk of death and complications from the disease, these medications are expensive and may be associated with side effects. -- Genetic research indicates that HIV originated in west-central Africa during the early twentieth century.[4] AIDS was first recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1981 and its cause—HIV infection—was identified in the early part of the decade.[5] Since its discovery, AIDS has caused nearly 30 million deaths (as of 2009).[6] As of 2010, approximately 34 million people are living with HIV globally.[7] AIDS is considered a pandemic—a disease outbreak which is present over a large area and is actively spreading.[8] -- HIV/AIDS has had a great impact on society, both as an illness and as a source of discrimination. The disease also has significant economic impacts. There are many misconceptions about HIV/AIDS such as the belief that it can be transmitted by casual non-sexual contact. The disease has also become subject to many controversies involving religion. It has attracted international medical and political attention as well as large-scale funding since it was identified in the 1980s.[9] - More at:

ایدز، یکی از فاجعه بار ترین واگیری در تاریخ بشریت --- امروز یکشنبه اول دسامبر مصادف است به روز جهانی مبارزه با ایدز که از سال ۱۹۸۸ تاکنون هر سال برگزار می گردد. -- فعالان مبارزه با اچ آی وی-ایدز میگویند روز جهانی مبارزه با ایدز به دلیلی حایز اهمیت است که به مردم و حکومت ها یادآوری می کند که ویروس ایدز ریشه کن نشده و تهدید جدی صحی به جهانیان است. -- از روز جهانی مبارزه با اچ ای وی ایدز امروز یکشنبه در شهر های هرات، مزار و کابل نیز تجلیل به عمل امد. مقامات صحی در هرات گفته اند تعداد بیماران مبتلا به ویروس ایدز امسال به ١٢٩ نفر رسیده در حالیکه این تعداد سال گذشته ٥٨ نفر ثبت گردیده بود. به اساس مقامات صحت عامه افغانستان در حال حاضر ١٥٠٠ نفر مبتلا به این بیماری در افغانستان ثبت میباشند. -- مرکز جلوگیری از بیماری در امریکا میگوید در حال حاضر ۳۵ میلیون نفر در جهان با اچ آی وی- ایدز زندگی میکنند. اچ آی وی، ویروس عامل بیماری ایدز است. -- روز جهانی مبارزه با ایدز فرصتی برای مردم جهان است تا در مبارزه علیه این بیماری متحد شوند، از مبتلایان حمایت کنند و یاد جان باختگان را گرامی بدارند. -- مبارزین میگویند به جمع اوری کمک های مالی برای یافتن تداوی به این بیماری، افزایش سطح آگاهی عامه، مبارزه با تعصب علیه مبتلایان، و بهبود اطلاع رسانی برای جلوگیری به ابتلا از این بیماری نیاز مبرم وجود دارد. - darivoa

World AIDS Day: UN hails gains in combating virus, urges greater action towards 'zero discrimination' --- 1 December 2013 – While welcoming the solid progress being made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, United Nations officials marked World AIDS Day with urgent appeals for the international community to work even harder to end stigma, discrimination and complacency, to stop new HIV infections among children and to ensure access to care and treatment for all those that need it. -- “On this World AIDS Day, I am more optimistic than ever. Much of the world is accelerating progress in responding to HIV,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with major drops in new infections and deaths and progress in realizing the target of ensuring 15 million people have access to antiretroviral treatment by 2015. “This is crucial to halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic for good,” he added. -- But, the UN chief continued, as revealed in the UNAIDS 2013 World AIDS Day Report, there are still worrying signals that some regions and countries are falling behind. While advances are being made in reaching vulnerable populations through efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination, there is still much to do to end this problem. -- “We must recommit to breaking the remaining barriers, including punitive laws and social exclusion, so we can reach all people who lack access to HIV treatment and services.” -- For the AIDS response, discrimination towards people living with HIV and key populations at higher risk of HIV is a major obstacle to expanding access to HIV services. Country surveys found that 1 in 7 people living with HIV have reportedly been denied access to healthcare and more than 1 in 10 people living with HIV have been refused employment because of their HIV status. - More, - at:

تردید ها در مورد حضور عساکر امریکا در افغانستان --- تأخیر در امضای قرار داد امنیتی میان افغانستان و ایالات متحده بحث های تازه ای را روی شمولیت دوازده ساله ایالات متحده با حضؤر و یا بدون حضور نیروهای امریکا در اینده افغانستان به وجود اورده است. -- اقای کوردزمن میگوید : "افغانستان پس از این محور دهشت افگنی نیست و نه هم مرکز توجه منافع پرمعنی استراتژیک امریکاست. فکر میکنم که اگر به مقدار پولیکه در ان به مصرف رسیده نگاه کنید از منافع ستراتژیک پا فرا تر نهاده است." -- به گفته ای مایکل اوهنلون خروج کامل از افغانستان یک اشتباه خواهد بود. وی اضافه میکند: "ما در اسلحه با هم شریک هستیم. ما با هم یکجا در برابر یک دشمن مشترک تباهکار جنگیده و قربانی داده ایم. ما باهم برای امید بخشیدن به زندگی بهتر به سی میلیون تبعه افغان و فراهم اوری امنیت به اتباع امریکایی که بار دیگر مورد حمله سازمان دهشت افگن قرار نگیرند، کار میکنیم." -- اقای اوهنلون روابط نهایت سرد میان حکومت اوباما و حکومت کرزی را به ازدواج بد مقایسه میکند، اما میگوید: "چرا ما میخواهیم قربانی ها و سرمایه گزاری عظیمی را که با ٦٠٠ میلیارد دالر هزینه، ٢ هزار کشته طی چندین سال بدست اورده ایم، ضایع سازیم و این قمار را ببندیم که گویا افغانستان بار دیگر منبع مشکلات برای ما نخواهد بود." -- عواقب ناکامی امریکا در افغانستان - اقای کوردزمن در مورد چنین ابراز نظر کرد. "اگر ما دفعتاً با حکومت افغانستان قطع رابطه کنیم خطر جدی از پارچه شدن کشور وجود دارد و طالبان در شرق و جنوب کشور به دست اوردهای نایل خواهند امد." اما به قول اقای کوردزمن حتی با امضای قرارداد امنیتی ممکن امنیت در افغانستان بدتر شود. - More ,